By Matthew Dickerson
A professional at the Hobbit and The Lord of the jewelry trilogy exhibits how a Christian worldview and issues undergird Tolkien's vintage works
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Additional info for A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth
Just the cinematic trailer to Jackson’s ﬁlm version of The Two Towers, with the violent battle scenes depicted there, might be enough to convince some that Tolkien gloriﬁes violence. The officially licensed video games with graphic and gory depictions of orcs spilling blood (and having their blood spilled) were inevitable. In light of this, it is instructive to explore how exactly Tolkien portrays war. How does he describe battle scenes? What images does he use? What narrative devices? What voices?
Given that Tolkien lived through the two world wars, that he fought on foreign soil in the ﬁrst of these, and his son Christopher served in the British Royal Air Force (RAF) in the second, it is perhaps not surprising that his books would contain some mention of the treatment of prisoners. What might be surprising is just how many examples there are. Our ﬁrst observation is that the enemy (Sauron and Saruman in the Third Age of Middle-earth and Morgoth and Sauron in the First Age) and the servants of the enemy (most notably orcs) do torture their prisoners.
Even in the midst of war, the virtue of gentleness—a virtue that seems inherently antithetical to war itself—should still be practiced, and indeed is practiced by Tolkien’s heroes. In particular, war does not justify the torture of prisoners. Not even the most desperate of circumstances and needs brought on by war are sufficient to justify the torture of a prisoner. indd 36 6/12/12 2:06 PM E pic B attles not only modeled this principle in his heroic characters but was explicit about it in at least one posthumously published passage on the nature of orcs.