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Parallels between SW and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

Discussion in 'General Movie Discussion' started by Lock_S_Foils, Jan 21, 2018.

  1. Lock_S_Foils

    Lock_S_Foils Red Leader

    Feb 26, 2017
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    As a lifelong fan of both the SW Universe and also Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, I've always thought about delving into the similarities between the two. In Tolkien, the One Ring has always fascinated me -- what it represents, how it affects the bearer, etc. In SW, the Force has fascinated me as well -- what it represents, for those "force attuned" how it affects them, etc. On another thread, we started to delve into this topic, I have pasted below what we started with. Interested in any follow-on discussion from anyone interested in SW and Tolkien. Beyond the Ring and the Force, how about any other similarities.

    @Jayson I have read all of your analysis on here with great interest. Thank you!

    I was wondering if you were a fan of or you have read Tolkien's Lord of the Rings saga? I am a huge fan and used to spend many hours online discussing the books and movies, etc.

    If you have, do you see any parallels with Tolkien's themes, hero arcs, or the structure of the plot and the entire SW saga?

    I think an argument could be made that the One Ring could be roughly analagous to The Force, as far as the corruptive nature and temptations for evil of the Ring and the Dark Side of The Force?



    I'm happy to have provided good reading, and thank you! :)

    I did read the series, but I was pretty young. Well. I didn't exactly read them. I listened. They were read to me as a kid along with the Chronicles of Narnia, and a Wrinkle in Time, and the like.

    To be honest, it's been so long that I couldn't tell you if I was remembering something from the book or the film.
    I think I'll have to propose this to my wife as our next series for nightly reading (I read to her nightly) after we finish Discworld (which...that'll be a while, but hey! We've finished the Watch tangent, and are on Rincewind's series now - almost done, so after that it's the Witches, and then we might be done).

    Anyway, I am nevertheless pretty familiar with Tolkien's methods, however, because I studied him and how he went about writing at one time.

    I would say that they aren't directly correlated, but that they ring a bell of the same cast because Tolkien - like Lucas - studied story telling of mythology.
    Tolkien did it without the modern aid of such folks as Campbell, and really learned everything by being a sharp student of literature and myth; specifically mythologies.
    This is someone who translated Beowolf first-hand, and is the one who put it back on the map as a worthy classic by pointing out the poetic symbolism and allegory in the work which, at the time, no one was paying attention to - just considering it simple monster tale literature.

    He was very interested in what makes a myth, and like Lucas, wanted to make a modern mythological story, and so he examined his breadth of knowledge with exactly this in mind, and started out in similar ways which Lucas did - with world building right along narrative building - each feeding the other in a loop.

    I honestly don't know if we have Campbell without Tolkien. He was really the rebirth of myth. Before Tolkien, there's just a giant gap in myth outside of local oral superstitions, but most of those were just variously remembered from older myths, and they weren't woven into a modern narrative.
    Tolkien was really the first one to do that.

    I have never read Tolkien's work from the perspective of examining the structural form, but I do recall that he thought of the ring as a mythical representation that power, or force, will, however we wish to think of it, must be externalized to be power or else it isn't anything, and that by the very act of externalizing the power some control of that power is inherently forfeited - regardless how much we may attempt to bind it up and keep it all.
    But that man tries to keep that power under his direct control, regardless.

    So, everyone is after the one ring that keeps the power of the power. (ring of rings)

    I would say that this is different than the Force in that it's not egalitarian like the Force, nor a neutral concept which resonates back the individual.
    I mean, the ring definitely resonates back the individual as everyone goes through various existential and moral issues regarding it even by being in its proximity, and I think that's where the two are capable of being compared (the Force and the Ring), but I think that is about as close as they seem to me.

    After that, it's more that one is about the paradox of power inherently requiring the loss of power to be expressed (the Ring), and the other is about the civic responsibility and the individual's response to being aware of a larger responsibility than one's own ambitions (the Force).

    I do think, however, that they both are similar in their role within the story's as the prime mover of the narrative exploration of their character's moral dilemmas, however. I just think they explore different parts of humanity than each other.

    Now, as I mentioned, it's been ages, and I've never examined Tolkien for symmetrical structural form like there exists in Star Wars and old myths scattered about antiquity.
    Is there a symmetrical form to Tolkien's structure that you've noticed? It's been ages since I picked up anything with his name on it. I think the last thing I read was back in high school at the local library - the history of middle-earth, and the atlas of middle-earth.


    @Jayson I was rereading Tolkien again last night (I have the LOTR Trilogy as one of a few books on my nightstand) --- I have read and re-read portions probably 100s of times over the past 40+ years!!!

    My refined theory is that the One Ring in Tolkien is more nearly analagous to the Darkside of the Force. I think we can agree there were no "good" aspects to the Ring - it slowly and inevitably corroded the soul of the current owner, much like the Darkside.

    What I would like to do is put some quotes from characters in Tolkien describing the Ring side by side with characters in SW describing the Force. I can work on the Tolkien part of this but need help on the SW side, I only own a couple SW books and am not well-read. Can you come up with several quotes from SW characters describing the Force?

    Thanks for your insight into SW, you are really an incredible font of knowledge!


    Sure, I'll do my best. :)
    (I'll be honest, most of my interpretations of the Force are from how Lucas et. al. talk of it, and from the symbolism in the films' relations to matching religious ontologies.)

    I would think that our current cultural perspectives would render Tolkien's One Ring as evil, but I think it translated a bit differently during his time - considering the differences in morals and ethics at the time.
    Keep in mind that Frodo could wield the ring and fend off the urge to do evil with it; though it strained him.
    Also keep in mind that at the time, having the ability to do something, but not actualizing anything with it was not looked upon well - it was your duty to do something if you had the ability to.

    This was Tolkien's philosophical dilemma that he was setting up, I believe.
    Power is nothing without actualization, but actualization of power is easily employed for evil and inhumane governance.
    Sauron is a victim of the paradox of power, from this perspective, and not purely evil. He himself becomes chained by the very actualization of his power to his power.
    Once he puts it out into the world, it owns him, and he is dependent upon it.

    Which I think has many relations to the Dark side and the Light, but that the Dark is, as you note, defined by the sufferings and trappings of Sauron, while the Light seems more along Frodo - in regards to the struggle to use power as per one's duty, but not to be owned by it.

    On a related note, we should probably move over to PM's and then once we have something compiled, have you kick off a thread dedicated to the idea. :)

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