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  1. #1
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    Sauron - an alternative view on motivation

    I just searched for Sauron and found a thread on this forum very much related to this topic and was debating with myself to post the following in there, but decided against it as it would probably end lost. Therefore apologies of starting my own thread with this, but I wish to put this alternative view independantly forward. Hopefully this is allowed.

    -----


    When I first read the Lord of the Rings a long time ago, I could not help but felt things were missing from the Sauron story. I was a child back then in this world, and did not go in search for explanation, but have done so since, and what I found has only strengthened my initial believe that there is more to Sauron than just the archetype villain, so many wish to see him as.

    A bit of background story to this, to explain where I am coming from, for those who might not be familiar with this...
    Eru the All Father created the Ainur from his thoughts. Each Ainu had access to some of Eru's thoughts, but not all. Only Melkor (later to be known as Morgoth) had access to all of Eru's thoughts, or at least Melkor was unique among the Ainur in ability. At some point Eru thaught the Ainur to play music, and eventually he gathered them to play a melody of his making. All the Ainur joined into this, but after a while, Melkor began to change tune and introduced his own sequence of notes. Some of the Ainur began to follow Melkor's tune instead, but Mairon (later to be become known as Sauron) was not one of those Ainur.
    Eru let the Ainur continue with the music, even though Melkor had introduced discords, but after a while he brought the melody to a halt and told the Ainur he would take the music and create the world from it, to show them what they had played. He then offered the Ainur who so wished, to enter that creation and work on it further. Many Ainur took this offer up, among them Melkor as well as Sauron, and also those more powerful Ainur we now know as the Valar.

    Eru at this point seems to have withdrawn from the creation. He does not seem available as an advisor, not even to the Valar. Sauron (still Mairon at this stage) joined Aulë, one of the Valar. Mairon is described as a perfectionist, who loves strength and proves an amazing talented 'smith'. Melkor on the other hand seemed to aim at gaining 'rule' over Eru's creation right away, and eventually he approaches Mairon, and through means I do not believe have ever been described in detail, manages to win Mairon for his cause, who then rises fast within Melkor's (Morgoth's) hierachy, until he turns to be the Sauron we all experience in the Lord of the Ring triology.

    *

    I know many wish to see Sauron as an incarnation of 'evil', but looking at all this, and another detail of the story, I personally have come to a very different conclusion about Mairon/Sauron and his motives. It appears from what I researched, that Eru hinted at that one day he will take the creation back, to gather the Ainur once more, so that they once again shall play a melody.

    So here comes the point...
    I personally believe Sauron is not evil as such at all. He is not driven by the vanity which drives Melkor/Morgoth. The fact that he never thrives to be worshipped himself, indicates this. Instead he tries to force others to worship Morgoth, even after Morgoth's banishment into the void by the Valar. So why then does he do what he does? Why does he commit all the cruelty and aims to plunge the creation into darkness?

    I have arrived with the opinion that Sauron in truth is hurt and deeply disappointed by Eru himself. Sauron was a perfectionist. He played the melody as Eru intended it, but Eru allowed Melkor to introduce those discords, which ultimately allowed to taint the creation with Melkor's greed, vanity and hate. Eru, all knowing, took the tainted music and formed the world from it. Eru may did so to teach the Ainur what would happen if the meldoy is not followed to the note, but Mairon would more than likely not have had access to those thoughts of Eru. Instead Mairon probably entered the creation, full of enthusiasm and love, but found how badly Melkor's influence had mis-shaped what could have been perfect. Eru's withdrawl would surely additionally have left Mairon to feel abandoned and that Eru did not care, as well as maybe that he began to believe Eru was just not strong enough to put Melkor in his place. This could explain why he succumbed to Melkor/Morgoth's path, albeit I would suggest due to very different motives.

    Sauron's motivation could be to drive Eru forth. To force the All Father to take the creation back and start anew. Viewed like this, Sauron would actually rather be a twisted martyr than an archetype evil. Morgoth is the latter. Morgoth is the incarnation of vanity and ambition and self centeredness, the foundation stones of all evil that we see in humanity as well. Sauron on the other hand to me has very possibily sacrificed himself to the task of showing Eru how bad it really can get, if Eru does not intervene. This would far more explain his 'fall', than a sudden and total shift of Mairon's personality. Mairon wished for everything perfect. He followed Eru, and we probably can assume that he also loved Eru deeply. No matter where he would have looked, he would have seen traces of Melkor's discords within the creation, especially within the 'thinking' creatures. The race of man (including the hobbits) as well as the dwarves definitely carry much of Melkor. They surely also carry of Eru, but for Mairon, I doubt this would have been enough to come and love them. To him they must be abominations, if we follow the path of alternatively explaining his actions and motivations...


    So yes, how about Sauron isn't the all easy to grasp representative of 'evil' as many wish to view him? How about he in truth is one of the purest heroes in the whole of the story, albeit an utterly contorted one? Maybe he in truth has been praying in his dark tower to his All Father over and over, to finally step forth and end the madness.. even under the prospect of severe punishment for his deeds... (?)


    I would though advice to not take his path, as in the story Eru does seem to remain silent and absent (the Valar are only acting as they believe Eru wishes them to act, there is no indication that Eru himself gives them 'orders' still). Like in the so called 'real world' which we experience, cruelty continues, unintervened by some higher power, and many wonder why, some simply stating that the higher motivations of such a power can not be understood by the simpletons, and that eventually all will be judged. If Mairon/Sauron aimed to force Eru to act, then for all we know, he failed, albeit we have no idea what happens to Mairon after the ring gets destroyed. Yes, there is that cloud of smoke in form of a fist and what not, but that does not tell us truly of Mairon's fate.

    Middle Earth may ends saved from the 'dark forces', but will humans not commit crimes thereafter? Will greed and vanity not continue to live on within the creatures of the creation? The age of men is at the rise, and maybe Sauron just wished to prevent this, to force forward a new start, a new music, which eventually could become a second creation, free of all the discords, as the Ainur would have learned what terrors can await if Eru's melody is not followed to the last perfect note...



    -------


    I am not going to spell check, apologies, and English is not my first language, but I am a published writer myself and know how stories as well as characters can 'run away' and become a mystery at times, while one ends more a 'recorder' than a creator. Tolkien himself stated that some things should remain mysterious in any mythology, hidden even to its inventor, quoting this in regards to Tom Bombadil, but I feel Sauron and his motives are a mystery in their own right just the same, and Tolkien always remained vague about this. I however refuse to take the easy 'villain' route, feeling this would pay neither justice to Tolkien's intellect nor to the character of Sauron, but of course.. this is a story and we will never be able to truly tell, as Tolkien is with us no more, and anything thereafter is but pure speculation.....
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  2. #2
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    Nothing about Sauron appears to be a case of the character getting away from the writer. He fits the role of "dark lord" and villain of the Lord of the Rings books very comfortably. I'm not sure I see what you're saying.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoggy View Post
    Nothing about Sauron appears to be a case of the character getting away from the writer. He fits the role of "dark lord" and villain of the Lord of the Rings books very comfortably. I'm not sure I see what you're saying.
    It is Morgoth who fits that bill. Sauron from his background story, does not. The triology does not deal with this aspect, it is more in Tolkien's other work and his notes.
    Last edited by Starina; Aug 15 2012 at 08:41 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    It is Morgoth who fits that bill. Sauron from his background story, does not. The triology does not deal with this aspect, it is more in Tolkien's other work and his notes.
    But the Lord of the Rings was what he wrote and published. The Silmarilion is still just a collection of his unpublished notes strung together by his son.

    I say deal with what he actually wrote for publication. It's the far stronger source. And in that source, Sauron is clearly the dark lord. The villain. And evil.

    He's barely mentioned in the Silmarilion until you get to the Akallabeth. And in that part of the story he's again, quite clearly evil. The character does not appear to get away from Tolkien at all. And in the work Tolkien wrote for publication it is quite clear that Tolkien intended for him to be the evil villain not a misunderstood martyr.

    While I find your theory interesting and a refreshing take on Sauron, I think your suggestion that the character got away from Tolkien is a bit much.
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  5. #5

    Fascinating

    This is fascinating i have not read all of tolkeins books but i have read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings and all through the books i wondered what had caused sauron to be as he is. But after reading this i find a different side to him thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoggy View Post
    While I find your theory interesting and a refreshing take on Sauron, I think your suggestion that the character got away from Tolkien is a bit much.
    I do not believe he 'got away' as such, but rather that Tolkien had his thoughts on the matter, but as the story progressed, the story itself began to press Sauron more and more into this role, and it would have been difficult for Tolkien to explain Sauron's motivation without interrupting the flow.

    What interests me is simply what could truly have led to such an outstanding Maia as Mairon was, to succumb to Melkor's betrayal. Morgoth was 'evil' from the beginning of his creation, it appears, and of course we are also with this part of the story left to wonder, why Eru allowed himself to create Melkor in the first place... Maybe Mairon was left pondering this too? Maybe he came to the conclusion Eru 'had made a mistake', which for a perfectionist and lover of strength as Mairon has been depicted, could indeed have created a considered dilemma. His latter actions could therefore find explanation in Eru having created Melkor, as well as that Eru allowed the world to be tainted in the way it came to be. He could have turned to hating Eru for this, or he could have turned to feeling at least deeply hurt and disheartened, but still wishing for Eru to step forth and correct the 'mistakes' made. Watching the creation develop further (after Eru's withdrawl), he may would have come to the conclusion that it could never be saved, that the flaws in it were to severe to ever get it repaired, thus deciding it had to be destroyed, by all means.

    To me this part of the story, not simply put down in black and white, is rather fascinating, and leaves us to wonder, unless we just wish to blindly stick to some 'good versus evil' version, easy to digest and with no neeed to gain further understanding, which of course, is just as valid ^^
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eldonanor View Post
    This is fascinating i have not read all of tolkeins books but i have read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings and all through the books i wondered what had caused sauron to be as he is. But after reading this i find a different side to him thanks!

    Yes same, it never has left me in peace >.< lol, as it just does seem too 'easy' to say "Sauron is just a bad guy, all that's to it", and when I began to research it, I stumbled upon all these little things, which seem to offer explanations, albeit not claiming the one I arrived with, is the only one possible ^_^
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    thanks for the viwepoint.guess its time to pick up Tolkien again. could it be Sauron sneaking into my hobbit house at night and going ocd on my storage chests?
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    Actually Sauron got Eru to intervene once, when the Numenoreans invaded Valinor and the world was changed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fusei View Post
    Actually Sauron got Eru to intervene once, when the Numenoreans invaded Valinor and the world was changed.
    Yes, that is indeed true *nods* so are we now left to wonder why Eru did not intervene further? He proved still capable of getting involved, if he so wished.

    It is of course also possible that Tolkien wished to use Mairon/Sauron as a straight forward example of how 'good' can succumb, and that Sauron's only motivation for the switch was 'his love for strength', judging that as Morgoth had managed to taint the creation and bring so much disorder, he had to be the 'stronger' one. But Sauron has never been depicted as a simple fool. It remains pretty clear that Eru could at any point take the creation back, plus even the Valar in conjunction proved stronger than Morgoth, considering they managed to ban Morgoth from the creation and into the void.

    It is a fictional story and we will never know what Tolkien truly thought about it, but it is still interesting to speculate


    And lol @ Deliguy
    yes who knows, or maybe it is Gandalf, as I could swear at least in the movies his eyes are wondering about to find Bilbo's fridge :P
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    In the case of the Numenoreans Eru only intervened after the Valar laid down their guardianship of the world and asking for the intervention.

    In my eyes a common theme that Tolkien uses in going down the path of Evil is pride. Happened to the Noldor and the Numenorians and followed them around. At the end of the first age Sauron repented, but when he was supposed to return to Valinor and receive the judgement of the Valar he fled and returned to his evil ways.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoggy View Post
    But the Lord of the Rings was what he wrote and published. The Silmarilion is still just a collection of his unpublished notes strung together by his son.

    I say deal with what he actually wrote for publication. It's the far stronger source. And in that source, Sauron is clearly the dark lord. The villain. And evil.

    He's barely mentioned in the Silmarilion until you get to the Akallabeth. And in that part of the story he's again, quite clearly evil. The character does not appear to get away from Tolkien at all. And in the work Tolkien wrote for publication it is quite clear that Tolkien intended for him to be the evil villain not a misunderstood martyr.

    While I find your theory interesting and a refreshing take on Sauron, I think your suggestion that the character got away from Tolkien is a bit much.
    Tolkien wanted to publish all his work, but the editor was not interested in the history before the lord of the rings, since it concern more about elves and the appeal for the readers would not be strong. In Tolkien's opinion (and he was strong about it) publishing the lore before Lord of The Rings was crucial for the readers understand better the events of Lord of The Rings.
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    Line from Elrond explaining why only someone who have already great power of their own can wield the ring, but it would be even dangerous: "... For nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so ...".

    That was Elrond answer to Boromir in the council when Boromir suggested using the ring and its power to obtain victory.

    Chapter 2 - The Council of Elrond - Lord of The Rings Book 1.
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    This is a very interesting view, it's been hammered to death in the other thread in terms of quotes from Tolkien etc backing up the fact that Sauron was never intended to be "pure evil" in the way that Melkor is. He was intended, at least as far as the texts/Tolkien's letters etc, lead me to believe, to be a perfectionist (as you say) deeply disgusted and troubled by the indecisions, frailties and general inefficiency of the "Free Peoples". The things he did were certainly evil, but he wasn't driven by evil.

    I agree with you on that, although I don't think this happened without Tolkien's intent. I think he had a very clear idea of the relationship between Sauron, Melkor and good and evil and set it out very deliberately and clearly in his works. His original idea has suffered by Americanised, simplified film releases and also comparisons with far more straightforward fantasy works, people have distilled it down into "good versus evil" in a way Tolkien never intended.
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    Starina, I appreciate your thoughtful, and I think essentially accurate, take on Sauron's motives.
    Remember that he originally created The One Ring in order to control all of the others so that he could enforce his ideal of "order" and not so that he could create an "evil" dominion.
    He loved and craved "order" and felt that what had evolved on middle-earth was messy and not progressing in a logical and "correct" manner.
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    @fusei
    Yes, I agree, Melkor was driven by pride, and as such it seems to be an important cornerstone of the evil in Tolkien's view. Why Sauron eventually refused to return to be judged by the Valar is not 100% clear though. I personally find this is the beauty of Tolkien's work - we are confronted with the views and quotes of other characters, which are just as our own selves, left to guess work and personal interpretations of the happenings. Sauron's refusal could have been pride, but also the worry that the Valar would not understand his deeper motives or would have agreed with them, if he indeed carried deeper motives.

    @Tchad
    Yes, agree, and I do believe his notes are of great importance, too. It is unfortunate he was not encouraged to write us a full history, which no doubt would have been of great beauty. As for quotes though, as just mentioned above, a quote from any of Tolkien's characters is not a 100% guarantee for anything. Elrond is not all knowing, he has only available a subjective recollection of the happenings. He would not be able to tell what truly has been going on in Sauron's mind, and what eventually led to Mairon turning into Sauron. Therefore I would personally not take Elrond's or any other character quote that contains the word 'evil' as a sign that Sauron 'is evil'. His acts certainly are(!) but his motivation remains hidden...

    @Curandhras
    I believe Tolkien additionally found himself somewhat en-caged within religious boundries. He had already encountered criticism and knew he had to tread carefully. He was a religious man himself, but I can not help feel some of his work has also been an attempt to understand his own belief. Sauron, if viewed in this light, could be the voice which questioned the wisdom of a God who had allowed vanity and cruelty to become part of creation, but Sauron can also be seen as a reminder of what can happen if one drives this questioning too far and loses faith (?) The published triology is not what could ever lead to pondering this, but his notes, I feel, show a deeper reaching nature of Tolkien's work.
    He has though also been seeking to create a lore for what he felt a vaccum of such for the English speaking tradition. It might be that is all he attempted, but the way he describes the creation of the world does lean on certain aspects of his religion, as well, or so I at least view it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boraxxe View Post
    Starina, I appreciate your thoughtful, and I think essentially accurate, take on Sauron's motives.
    Remember that he originally created The One Ring in order to control all of the others so that he could enforce his ideal of "order" and not so that he could create an "evil" dominion.
    He loved and craved "order" and felt that what had evolved on middle-earth was messy and not progressing in a logical and "correct" manner.
    *nods* Yes, he is driven not by vanity but an obsession with order, question though is whether he is trying to force Eru to start the creation anew, or whether he has come to believe to 'know better' and just wishes to enforce his own views upon the already existing creation. So wish we could bug Tolkien with this to find out what he thought >.<
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    Really Sauron is just plain evil, no "alternate motives". His dominion, his craftmanship, all his perfetionism is aimed at capture, torture, kill the Children of Iluviatar more specifically "Man Race" his focus seem to be there, but he i just the continuation of Morgoth but in lesser degree.

    Sure he may started "good", but even that is uncertain, just like Morgoth his pride and will to dominate lesser beigns was his motive, they turned out to be purely evil.

    Both Sauron and Melkor were into dominating the Children of Iluviatar, was was their purpose in life, so yeah they were evil.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Al. View Post
    Really Sauron is just plain evil, no "alternate motives". His dominion, his craftmanship, all his perfetionism is aimed at capture, torture, kill the Children of Iluviatar more specifically "Man Race" his focus seem to be there, but he i just the continuation of Morgoth but in lesser degree.

    Sure he may started "good", but even that is uncertain, just like Morgoth his pride and will to dominate lesser beigns was his motive, they turned out to be purely evil.

    Both Sauron and Melkor were into dominating the Children of Iluviatar, was was their purpose in life, so yeah they were evil.
    I agree. The fact that Sauron was not evil from the start don't change the fact that he is pure evil now. He seeks power and wants to dominate everything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Al. View Post
    Really Sauron is just plain evil, no "alternate motives". His dominion, his craftmanship, all his perfetionism is aimed at capture, torture, kill the Children of Iluviatar more specifically "Man Race" his focus seem to be there, but he i just the continuation of Morgoth but in lesser degree.

    Sure he may started "good", but even that is uncertain, just like Morgoth his pride and will to dominate lesser beigns was his motive, they turned out to be purely evil.

    Both Sauron and Melkor were into dominating the Children of Iluviatar, was was their purpose in life, so yeah they were evil.
    No one denies his acts are evil, but what we discuss here is what led him on to this path *smiles warmly*
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    what led him on to this path *smiles warmly*
    The will and evil designs of Melkor put Sauron on that path. I really do think Sauron is a very simple representation of evil in how he is presented in the stories. The dominion, the tyranny, the slavery, the torture, the pillaging and pollution of the land, the sorrow and fear he brings is all really straightforward evil.

    If order and perfection was his aim, why was his kingdom so polluted and filled with decay? Mordor's not a very perfect or ordered place to live.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoggy View Post
    The will and evil designs of Melkor put Sauron on that path. I really do think Sauron is a very simple representation of evil in how he is presented in the stories. The dominion, the tyranny, the slavery, the torture, the pillaging and pollution of the land, the sorrow and fear he brings is all really straightforward evil.

    If order and perfection was his aim, why was his kingdom so polluted and filled with decay? Mordor's not a very perfect or ordered place to live.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoggy View Post
    If order and perfection was his aim, why was his kingdom so polluted and filled with decay? Mordor's not a very perfect or ordered place to live.
    Which would lead to the conclusion that he wishes to force Eru to undo the creation and start anew. Mairon was a perfectionist, there is no debate within Tolkien's work about this, it is clearly stated. The 'mess' he creates does not seem coherant with this personality trait, unless his motive is to force Eru's hand?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snoggy View Post
    The will and evil designs of Melkor put Sauron on that path. I really do think Sauron is a very simple representation of evil in how he is presented in the stories. The dominion, the tyranny, the slavery, the torture, the pillaging and pollution of the land, the sorrow and fear he brings is all really straightforward evil.
    Couple of quotes from Tolkien (from the other thread)

    ‘In my story I do not deal in Absolute Evil. I do not think there is such a thing, since that is Zero. I do not think that at any rate any 'rational being' is wholly evil. Satan fell. In my myth Morgoth fell before Creation of the physical world. In my story Sauron represents as near an approach to the wholly evil will as is possible. He had gone the way of all tyrants: beginning well, at least on the level that while desiring to order all things according to his own wisdom he still at first considered the (economic) well-being of other inhabitants of the Earth. But he went further than human tyrants in pride and the lust for domination, being in origin an immortal (angelic) spirit.’



    ‘Some reviewers have called the whole thing simple-minded, just a plain fight between Good and Evil, with all the good just good, and the bad just bad. Pardonable, perhaps (though at least Boromir has been overlooked) in people in a hurry and with only a fragment to read and of course without the earlier-written but unpublished Elvish histories [The Silmarillion]. The Elves are not wholly good or in the right. Not so much because they had flirted with Sauron, as because with or without his assistance they were 'embalmers'. In their way the Men of Gondor were similar: a withering people whose only 'hallows' were their tombs. But in any case this is a tale about a war, and if war is allowed (at least as a topic and a setting) it is not much good complaining that all the people on one side are against those on the other. Not that I have made even this issue quite so simple: there are Saruman, and Denethor, and Boromir; and there are treacheries and strife even among the Orcs. [Besides], in this 'mythology' all the 'angelic' powers concerned with this world were capable of many degrees of error and failing, between the absolute Satanic rebellion and evil of Morgoth and his satellite Sauron, and the fainéance of some of the other higher powers or 'gods'. The 'wizards' were not exempt. Indeed, being incarnate, they were more likely to stray, or err. Gandalf alone fully passes the tests, on a moral plane anyway (he makes mistakes of judgement). Since in the view of this tale and mythology, Power, when it dominates or seeks to dominate other wills and minds (except by the assent of their reason) is evil, these 'wizards' were incarnated in the life-forms of Middle-earth, and so suffered the pains both of mind and body.’
    He's not straightforward evil at all, indeed Tolkien did not want people to take such a simplistic view. He is as close to "true evil" as you get in the story of LotR, but that is not to be confused with being absolute polar evil.




    Quote Originally Posted by Snoggy View Post
    If order and perfection was his aim, why was his kingdom so polluted and filled with decay? Mordor's not a very perfect or ordered place to live.
    It's pretty efficient though, Orcs live and breed there without complaint and it serves its purpose as a place in which he can build his armies, forges and forts since it is practically a natural fortress thanks to it's mountain ranges. It's suitably dark and unwelcoming as to deter any would be heroes from venturing in without second thought too. Seems like as good a place as any (if not one of the better ones) to set up his base of operations. Plus it has the added benefit of having Mt Doom, for all his ring forging needs.

    We're just going over the same argument that was had in the Sauron was not evil? thread really.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starina View Post
    Which would lead to the conclusion that he wishes to force Eru to undo the creation and start anew. Mairon was a perfectionist, there is no debate within Tolkien's work about this, it is clearly stated. The 'mess' he creates does not seem coherant with this personality trait, unless his motive is to force Eru's hand?
    I don't think that it does lead to that conclusion. You're ascribing part of his personality from his origins to the many thousands of years of evil he performed and represented for the bulk of his representation in the stories.

    The mess he creates seems to be far more congruent with his goal to rule over Middle Earth in his own foul way. Before he met Melkor he was a perfectionist. Ok. But for most of his existence he was "a sorcerer of dreadful power, master of shadows and of phantoms, foul in wisdom, cruel in strength, misshaping what he touched, twisting what he ruled, lord of werewolves; his dominion was torment."

    I don't think the case has been made that he's trying to force Eru to reboot the system because he wants more order. He's not nihilistic and he doesn't set order in his own kingdom or show order in his own designs. He wasn't trying to destroy the world in a ragnarok like event to bring about an ordered rebirth. He was just trying to shape it to his will.
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