Allegory, whether you like it or not

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From quotefancy

I’m sorry, Tolkien – I love your work and all, but this is happening.

Per the quote above, and the message in the foreword, it’s not incredibly hard to figure that Tolkien was not fond of allegory and especially its application to his work. While the times might indicate that the War of the Ring has some pretty strong parallels to some of the recent events of the time (namely World War II), Tolkien and his followers have strongly protested this idea, and said they had nothing to do with each other. And others have connected his work to religious texts, namely the Bible (Frodo as Jesus, Melkor as Lucifer, etc.), which would (and likely has been refuted by his fans).

Unfortunately for Tolkien and many of his fans, that’s not really the way literary criticism and allegory works. The intent of the author is not necessarily considered when reviewing texts and parallels with other texts. Even if Dante Alighieri had not planned on making his own epic journey through Hell laden with images of his political rivals, the parallels between his depictions of members of society and his expulsion and dissatisfaction with how Florence was conducting itself were not invisible, and connections can be made.

So it is with Tolkien. Allegory doesn’t require the author to have written the text with allegory in mind. And as it is, many writers write things with parallels that are discovered after the fact and that were completely unintentional. Unfortunately for Tolkien, his Catholic upbringing and fellowship with writers like C.S. Lewis allow there to be a solid injection of hidden meanings and ideals thrown into the mix.

While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the idea of religious allegory, the makings are there. As previously mentioned, there are characters who bear resemblances to Biblical figures – Frodo carries the ring (sins of the world) and he alone is capable of making the sacrifice necessary to destroy it; Melkor was an Ainur (essentially angel) and corrupted many Maiar (lesser angels) to follow him, including Sauron and the balrogs; other examples that elude me.

There are plenty of unintentional allegories that exist in the world. You don’t have to look much further than this year: “Warcraft,” the fantasy movie based on the strategy game series, has been linked by some Redditors to the Syrian refugee crisis despite preceding the crisis by decades. And even if Tolkien is sincere in saying no allegory is meant to exist within The Lord of the Rings, it exists.

And even if it can be vehemently ripped apart and destroyed, the story is good enough stand alone; in fact, if the reason Tolkien was and Tolkienites are so vehemently against the trilogy as being described as allegory was/is to establish it as a root text for future allegories, I’ll gladly support it.

 

Team 7: Castle Joyous Plains

by: Calvin Patimeteeporn, Breon Guarino, and Aneel Henry

Book 3, Canto 1 Stanzas 20 – 30

From the forest, the PC is thrown into the midst of a small village in the plains surrounding Castle Joyous. Though the path to Castle Joyous is, indeed present, the road is blocked with construction, leaving the player at the hands of the villagers, who are in desperate need of assistance. It would seem as if the Lady of Castle Joyous, has neglected the villagers’ cries for help and has left the town completely isolated. Those townspeople with weak minds and souls have already left the town for the hedonistic castle of Lady Malecasta, leaving a handful of loyal and chaste villagers to deal with the problems. With no one to rely on, the town has fallen to a destitute state, being attacked by both wolves and bandits alike that emerge from the forest at night.
As the player enters the town past a rundown barn and two already abandoned watchtowers, the player witnesses the ruins of a once busy town square. A worried innkeeper is fretting over his dwindling food supplies that are continuously being pilfered by a wolf pack that has taken residence in an area of the forest near the town. Meanwhile, a small group of villagers are holding a meeting at the town well, discussing the bandit situation. While these villagers face these pressing matters, the rest of the village also holds a fair share of menial tasks that the townspeople cannot do alone. A small girl has lost her chickens around the town square and a young boy wishes that he could retrieve his family heirloom from one of the bandits.
While the menial tasks are up to the player to decide, the wolf and bandit situation, however cannot be left alone. Something must be done. Will the player pilfer the innkeeper’s store and blame it on the “undefeatable” wolves or will the player banish the wolves once and for all? Will the player help the bandits destroy and loot the entire village or will the player remain good and repel their advances? Regardless of choice, it would appear that after these events the road opens to Castle Joyous, allowing the player to move forward of his or her journey.
However, the player encounters a struggle between the six knights of the castle and a sole, brave knight, Redcrosse. The player must now defeat four of the six knights in order to gain entry to the next part of the journey, and gain access to the hedonistic castle that is Castle Joyous.

Main Quests:
1. The Road is Blocked (part 1)
•The player encounters road construction that obstructs the player from reaching the castle.
•The player must complete Quest 2 to proceed

2. A. The Wolves that Bite and Bandits That Catch!
•The player must talk to both the Innkeeper and the villagers meeting by the well

B1. The Wolves of the Forest
•In the forthcoming night, the player must confront the wolves that plague the Innkeeper
-Option A: Defeat the wolf pack that comes to raid the Inn’s storage (Chaste).
-Option B: Pilfer all the Inn’s store and lie to the Innkeeper and blame it on the wolves (Unchaste).

B2. Traveling Bandits
•In the forthcoming night, the player must confront the bandits.
-Option A: Kill all bandits that dare set foot in the town, expelling them forever from the village (Chaste).
-Option B: Join the bandits and raid and loot the entire town. Nothing escapes your wrath (Unchaste).

3. The Road is Blocked (part 2)
•After the Quest 2, the road is cleared and the player can move on.

4. Redcrosse and the Knights
•The player encounters Redcrosse and must defeat 4 of the 6 knights that are attacking them.
•The player is allowed entry to Castle Joyous.

Side Quests:
1. The Chickens
•The player talks to a young girl who seems to have lost her chickens.
•The player must collect all three chickens that are running around the village.
-Option A: Give back the chickens to the small girl (Chaste)
-Option B: Demand payment who in the end gives up a rare gem that has been passed down her family for years (Unchaste).

2. Lost Heirloom
•The player talks to a young boy in the square.
•The player must find and locate the heirloom which happens to be in the hands of a lone bandit near the village.
•Player must defeat the bandit.
-Option A: Return the heirloom to the boy (Chaste).
-Option B: Pretend you did not find the heirloom and keep it for yourself (Unchaste).

NPCs:
The Innkeeper: A worried middle-aged man in commoner clothing. Owns and operates the Inn which is plagued by wolves nightly.
The Villagers: A group of emaciated townsfolk with tattered clothing who are concerned about the future of their village with the pressing matter of bandits.
The Small Girl: A young girl with dirty and torn clothing who has lost all of her chickens.
The Small Boy: A young boy with dirty and tattered clothing with no other desire than to reclaim his family’s honor by having their stolen heirloom back in his hands.
Lone Bandit: A lone bandit in bandit attire, furs and ragged clothing. Though weak, he still poses somewhat of a threat. He has stolen the boy’s family heirloom.
Bandits: Gang of bandits dressed in furs and very aggressive. They raid the towns every night or so.
Wolf Pack: A group of 6 or so wolves that raid the Inn’s store nightly.
Redcrosse: A brave knight who refuses to succumb to Lady Malecasta’s knights and needs the player’s help to defeat them.
The Six Knights: Black knights of the Lady of the castle. Aggressive and intent on serving her.