Pardoning Saruman? The queer in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

— Christopher T. Vaccaro, Senior Lecturer, University of Vermont

Paper given 4 July 2021 at Tolkien Society Summer Seminar 2021: Sunday session № 1

The Silmarillion is J.R.R. Tolkien’s work in which his Christian upbringing and influence can be seen through the story and the characters. From the song that brings Arda to life to Morgoth’s fall, the book is part of an original pre-history to Middle-Earth and an allegory to Christian’s mythology. In The Lord of the Rings preface, Tolkien comments about the difference between applicability and allegory, and how the reader is free to read it according to his point of view (LRC §0.3.08). Therefore this paper aims to read The Silmarillion character Manwë as an archetype of the rightful and lawful leader. For this manner, we will compare him to Xangô, the Orixá from the African-Brazilian religion Umbanda according to the concepts of the archetypal literary criticism. The reason why we trace a comparison between a literary character and an Orixá is to show that archetypes are not reserved to myths, dreams, arts and old religions. Instead, it still lives in our daily lives, especially in religion, even though we can not see it sometimes. Manwë is described as the noblest between the Valar and the one who understands Iluvatar’s purpose. Because of that, he is chosen as the King. He commands the winds and the air and represents justice. In Umbanda, the Orixás represent an aspect of nature and human psychology. Therefore, Xangô represents lightning and thunder, and justice. He is King among the Orixás because he was able to unify all nations. We also can see this archetype in other mythological characters, such as Zeus and Odin. The cultural differences in the archetype representation and the fact that it still is worshipped show us that perhaps the need for a rightful leader is part of the human psyche whether in art or religion.

permalink 🔗︁
date recorded 📅2021-08-16
scribe 🖋worblehat