Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pity and The Lord of The Rings -

"What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature [Frodo declares] when he had a chance!"

"Pity? [Gandalf replies] It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that [Bilbo] took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity."

"I am sorry" said Frodo. "But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum."

"You have not seen him," Gandalf broke in.

"No, and I don’t want to," said Frodo. ". . . Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death."

"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies, but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part to play yet, or good or Ill, before the end; and when that comes, the
pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many -- yours not least."


"The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many" is the only declaration to be repeated in all three volumes of The Lard of the Rings. (Says Notre Dame professor Ralph C. Wood)

It is the leitmotiv of Tolkien’s epic, its animating theme, its Christian epicenter as well as its circumference. Gandalf’s prophecy is true in the literal sense, for the same vile Gollum whom Bilbo had spared long ago finally enables the Ring’s destruction.

Great literature teaches us something. And here, Tolkien gives us a great nugget of knowledge that might just make us a little uneasy. By nature, humans want to strike back when hit- we want to dole out our version of justice and call it right. But is it right? In this section from The Lore of The Rings, Tolkien gives us one answer to this question- no, it is not right.

There is a place for anger, and while many voices may call for quick vindication -- there must also be a voice like Gandolf's in society pleading for us to be to be slow to anger and quick to forgive.


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