Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lord of the Rings characters: a modern interpretation

The Lord of The Rings is not only a great fantasy, but a great psychological drama. What makes it great is that the characters and themes are ones that we can relate to in the modern world. The ring represents the lust for money and power/control and we embody all the characters to a greater or lesser extent. There is a great  emphasis on war and battle, but these can also be taken metaphorically, as both internal battles, and spiritual battles between the lovers of Life and the lovers of Empire.

It is also a story of a declining civilization and a discerning of what needs to be saved, and what needs to be let go or integrated into consciousness. Can we keep our tolerance for diverse ways and ideas, our gender equity, our compassion, our science, our love of learning and innovation? Can we let go much of our out-of-human-scale-technology, our lust for power over others and nature, our other addictions?

Especially relevant to this luddite blog are the contrasts between Saruman's industrial path and The fellowship's path of heart, love and valor internally. Also the attempt to go through the mountainpass of Caradhras, foiled by Saruman, and the successful attempt to go through the mines of Moria (the subconscious realm) and facing the Balrog (the internal demon).

Here are some of my translations to the psychology of modernity:

Aragorn: This is man who is a perfect leader because he is naturally humble, but also perceptive. He is one who has resisted the corruption by Power. Gone into hiding, he is coming out as a man and a leader. He is the hero (who dares ask questions and seek answers outside the mold), the warrior (who takes action) and the magician (who uses his imagination to see what could be, not only what is).
Gandalf: The scientist or engineer who has gotten disillusioned with the mainstream and decided to use his talents for something he believes in. A scholar and a mage (I have a big Gandalf component).
Denethor, The Steward of Gondor: This is the hurt idealist, who has become cynical and sarcastic and eventually goes mad (I hope I don't go into that archetype more than I already have).
Theoden, The King of Rohan: A great leader, who is not only wise, but leads from the heart, with love. Also, a fierce warrior, ready to sacrifice his life for his people.
Eowyn: the feminist (not the man-hating wave, whichever wave that is) heroine who wants to follow her bliss. A perfect combination of a nurturer (though a terrible cook) and a warrior, preferring to die with dignity, than to live the living death of how society expects her to live.
Boromir: A great warrior, perhaps a businessman (the modern equivalent of battle), but not quite immune to corruption by Power/money.
Faramir: A loyal son, and a man of honor, able to act beyond self-interst, motivated by ethical ideals.
Galadriel: A goddess more than a woman. The divine feminine archetype. Beauty, wisdom, nurturance, magic and fearlessness combined. One of the only people to be able to resist the ring of power, though she knows she can succumb to it if not careful. Such women are rare indeed. We need more of them, and more men who are in touch with Her.
Frodo: The pure hearted simple country boy (but relatively wealthy) who is willing to sacrifice for a cause.
Sam: Also pure hearted and loyal, perhaps more practical than Frodo. Also resisted the ring because not interested in power.
Smeagle: The addict, who has lost his consciousness to his addiction.
Arwen: The daughter of pious conservative (or classic liberal, or Religion of Progress) and privileged people who gives up her privilege for love. Insulated from the nasty world of modernity, she may also give up her religious faith for love. I know a few of these, one lives nearby.
Elrond: The wise conservative leader and family man.
Tom Bombadil: the spiritual hermit.
Gimli: the salt of the earth, blue collar worker or craftsman.
Legolas: The golden boy military man. The white supremacist or just privileged upper class white man, who can befriend the other as long as trust is built.
Saruman: The sell-out academic, working for corporations or the military.
Sauron: Not a person anymore. The culture of Empire. Powers and principalities.
Treebeard: The archetype of the environmental movement
Balrog: The subconscious muck that needs to be dealt with/confronted before spiritual growth can happen.
Orcs: Our nasty little animal side: selfish, greedy, violent, fearful, lustful, unrefined. The Orcs were themselves oppressed and traumatized previously and now they project their fears onto others, just like SJWs project their fears onto father figures or whatever the oppressor du jour is. Though they have a spark of divinity in them, they must be resisted and not othered or dehumanized, like they do to humans.

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