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  emhasis on war and battle, but these can be taken metaphorically, as both internal battles, and battles between the lovers of Life and Empire.

Especially relevant to this post 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 outside the mold), the warrior (who take 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.
Denethor, The Steward of Gondor: This is the hurt idealist, who has become cynical and sarcastic and eventually goes mad.
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 the Quest.
Eowyn: the feminist 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. Beauty, wisdom, magic and fearlessness combined. Such women are rare indeed.
Frodo: The pure hearted simple country boy who is willing to sacrifice for a cause.
Sam: Also pure hearted and loyal, perhaps more practical than Frodo.
Smeagle: The addict, who has lost his consciousness to his addiction.
Arwen: The daughter of pious conservative and privileged people who gives up her privilege for love. Insulated from the nasty world of modernity, she may also give up her faith for love.
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.
Saruman: The sell-out academic, working for corporations or the military.
Sauron: Not a person anymore. The culture of Empire.
Tom Bombadil: the spiritual hermit.
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.

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