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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:33 pm 
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[Note: I moved this discussion from the Aragorn vs. Book Aragorn thread in the Tolkien Movies forum -VtF]

yovargas wrote:
It has nothing to do with him being "good" or dutiful or whatever. He's just a boring character (to most people (I suspect)).


I've never heard of anyone calling him boring. Less interesting than some other characters? Maybe. Too idealized or too distant, above mere mortals? Perhaps. But boring? :shock: His life is simply too eventful to be boring :D

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Characterization was not Tolkien's strong suit, simple as that.


Meaning what, exactly? Lack of consistency? One-dimensional characters? No heroes you can't relate to? No character development?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:38 pm 
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I think "characterization" was not Tolkien's intention, with characters such as Aragorn.

He certainly could do it when he saw the need.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 3:47 pm 
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Primula Baggins wrote:
I think "characterization" was not Tolkien's intention, with characters such as Aragorn.

He certainly could do it when he saw the need.


Yes, precisely. I repeat myself, but the hobbits belong to the modern face of the tale and are perfectly round, modern characters. Aragorn belongs to its older, mythic face and is handled accordingly.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:18 pm 
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Siberian wrote:
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Characterization was not Tolkien's strong suit, simple as that.


Meaning what, exactly? Lack of consistency? One-dimensional characters? No heroes you can't relate to? No character development?


Meaning Tolkien by and large didn't bother giving his characters a soul.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:21 pm 
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Dave has the right of it: LOTR (book) moves from the mimetic to high romance as the scene shifts from the Shire to Rivendell, and into the epic by the time we get to Rohan and Gondor. Strider becoming Aragorn (from the hobbits pov) is part of that shift.

The problem with replicating that in a movie is that, even without something like the epic prologue, it's impossible for the audience not to be smacked in the face with the fantastic elements from the moment they see Gandalf next to Frodo, the firework dragon, the disappearance of Bilbo...even though the story itself is being told mimetically at that point, the visuals keep pushing it towards the fantastic. And for most viewers, fantasy = romance or even epic.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:49 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
Siberian wrote:
Quote:
Characterization was not Tolkien's strong suit, simple as that.


Meaning what, exactly? Lack of consistency? One-dimensional characters? No heroes you can't relate to? No character development?


Meaning Tolkien by and large didn't bother giving his characters a soul.


LOL I don't even know what to say to that :shock:

Ok, then, how should the characters "with soul" look like compared to Tolkien's? Just trying to understand what you mean. That they lack emotions, motivations, temptations, beliefs?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:57 pm 
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Siberian wrote:
yovargas wrote:
Siberian wrote:
Quote:
Characterization was not Tolkien's strong suit, simple as that.


Meaning what, exactly? Lack of consistency? One-dimensional characters? No heroes you can't relate to? No character development?


Meaning Tolkien by and large didn't bother giving his characters a soul.


LOL I don't even know what to say to that :shock:


Me neither. :shock:

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:00 pm 
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When I read The Sil, I often thought how much it's language struck me like the Bible. That high, grandiose, remote tone of voice, I suppose. All sorts of intetesting stories and happenings in the Bible and lots of beautiful language so that's not a bad thing. But the Bible doesn't exactly rich, well-drawn characters. We know what Cain and Abel did, but do we know who they were? They aren't defined to us by their personalities - their "souls" - but by their actions. They are characters we watch, not characters we know. Tolkien more often than not wrote like this - LOTR far less than the Sil but still to a high degree - and while that's not necessarily a bad thing, it makes it hard to care about them as people. The characters are remote from us, like characters in myth tend to be.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:08 pm 
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Sure, but that's sort of the whole point. ;) I see all those things as positives. I don't need to know the characters personally. This is history and myth we're talking about; the only "character" that matters in the end is Middle-Earth, and the people only matter inasmuch as they help tell its story.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:15 pm 
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It's true that Silmarillion is more distant (doesn't but we're talking about LOTR, aren't we? Most of it is told through hobbits' eyes, are you saying you don't understand them or care for them at all? That there're no sad nor joyful moments to move you?


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:17 pm 
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The hobbits are the big exceptions. :) (I sw000n for Sam. :love: :D) Probably on purpose and probably to good effect in the book. But that doesn't change the point - I didn't care about book Aragorn; I did care about film Aragorn. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:40 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
The hobbits are the big exceptions. :) (I sw000n for Sam. :love: :D) Probably on purpose and probably to good effect in the book. But that doesn't change the point - I didn't care about book Aragorn; I did care about film Aragorn. :)


Tastes differ, of course. But when you claim lack of characterization it requires more objectivity and factual evidence from the text.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:52 pm 
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I think it's pretty well established that many of his characters were written in the remote, "mythic" style several here have mentioned. It's not a style suited to bonding with a character.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:59 pm 
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Bonding with characters is something modern fiction offers, not myths. Now I am with you that far, yov: I like reading about characters I care about, that I'm worried about, characters who might make mistakes. It is still possible for a "rounded" character to be larger than life—Frodo and Sam have foibles and failures, but which of us could do what they did? But because of the connection I feel with the hobbits, their struggles move me. I admire what Aragorn does. But I'm right there with the hobbits.

But everyone's mileage varies.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:06 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
I think it's pretty well established that many of his characters were written in the remote, "mythic" style several here have mentioned. It's not a style suited to bonding with a character.


But I'm not talking about bonding. It's highly personal and I don't think we can always rationalize why we like or dislike certain characters. But characterization is defined the way the the personality appears on the pages regardless of our sympathies. For example, I'm not fond of Denethor (books) but I admit that he's a complex and tragic figure because that's the way he appears by his words and actions (and we don't even get inside his head). He's not one-dimensional, at any rate.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:00 pm 
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yovargas wrote:
I think it's pretty well established that many of his characters were written in the remote, "mythic" style several here have mentioned. It's not a style suited to bonding with a character.


But that is very, very different from your previous statement that Tolkien's characters "don't have soul." Even the "mythic" characters in the Silmarillion like Fëanor and Beren and Lúthien and Túrin and Húrin and Finrod and Fingolfin and Turgon and Maeglin and Ulmo and and Maedhros and Yavanna and Ungoliant and Tulkas and Morwen and Huor and Tuor and Voronwe_teh_Faithful all have soul up the yahoo (note that those are just a few characters chosen at random thought and also that when I refer to "the Silmarillion" I am thinking as always of the broader work of Tolkien's then the limited 1977 published text).

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:18 pm 
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Are any of those characters ones that you find yourself able to bond with and care about? If so, I'm betting you are the exception, not the rule.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:32 pm 
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What does that have to do with whether they have "soul"? As I said, those are two completely different things.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:29 pm 
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How much did you bet, yov? :P

Seriously, bond? I don't know. :shock: Care about? You bet! (Oh wait, you just did.) I wish I could grab Túrin by the shoulders and yell, "All your choices are going wrong, get a clue already!" Silm characters in particular are epic, flawed, and very careable.

Aragorn now. I think this came up on a different board - Tolkien very successfully carried out the conceit that LOTR is a collective memoir of the four hobbits, supplemented with the Gondorian records. With a single exception (I don't count the fox), only that which the hobbits experience, or heard second hand, is on the page.

Aragorn is what he appears to the hobbits - competent, weathered, a little aloof, until the spark of Elessar breaks through. It's not, IMO, that he never has the moment of fear or doubt, it's that he is good at hiding them from the hobbits. He is a seasoned leader, and even thoroughly human RL officers learn to appear infallible to raw recruits no matter what. We can catch a glimpse of this at the breaking of the Fellowship. Notice that the hobbits are out of earshot, and Gimli and Legolas are experienced enough warriors that they don't panic when Aragorn admits to making a mistake.

Only after Merry stabs the WiKi, and after Pippin rescues Faramir does Aragorn begin to kid them about pipe-weed - he is ready to treat them as equals.

You sort of have to read very closely to catch glimpses of Aragorn's soul. It's really not unlike meeting people in RL. You don't know who they are, how they were raised, what they really feel, and they don't always tell you. If they don't, you have to pick up on clues to see behind the facade. That's another thing I love about Tolkien.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 10:39 pm 
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Well said, Frelga. :)

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