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Original Sin in Heorot and Valinor

Original Sin in Heorot and Valinor Richard Z. Gallant .R.R. Tolkien used Germanic heroic elements in his fiction to great effect, but he was also personally deeply conflicted about their dual nature: Germanic heroism can be noble and defiant, but it is also often cruel and gruesome. Tolkien wanted to esteem the laudable as- pects such as we find in Beowulf. He writes, We do not deny the worth of the hero by accepting Gren- del and the dragon. Let us by all means esteem the old heroes: men caught in the chains of circumstance or of their own character, torn between duties equally sacred, dying with their backs to the wall. But Beowulf, I fancy, plays a larger part than is recognized in helping us esteem them. (M&C 17) But he was deeply critical of the adverse aspects of Germanic heroism such as, for example, overmastering pride. If we look closely, we may observe this conflict in his characters and in the narrative structure of his fictional works, particularly in the fiery imagery and ruthless deeds of his pivotal character, Fëanor. It is those very negative heroic ele- ments, such as Fëanor’s oath and the sin of the kin-slaying of the Teleri, that are http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Tolkien Studies West Virginia University Press

Original Sin in Heorot and Valinor

Tolkien Studies , Volume 11 – Nov 27, 2014

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 West Virginia University Press.
ISSN
1547-3163

Abstract

Richard Z. Gallant .R.R. Tolkien used Germanic heroic elements in his fiction to great effect, but he was also personally deeply conflicted about their dual nature: Germanic heroism can be noble and defiant, but it is also often cruel and gruesome. Tolkien wanted to esteem the laudable as- pects such as we find in Beowulf. He writes, We do not deny the worth of the hero by accepting Gren- del and the dragon. Let us by all means esteem the old heroes: men caught in the chains of circumstance or of their own character, torn between duties equally sacred, dying with their backs to the wall. But Beowulf, I fancy, plays a larger part than is recognized in helping us esteem them. (M&C 17) But he was deeply critical of the adverse aspects of Germanic heroism such as, for example, overmastering pride. If we look closely, we may observe this conflict in his characters and in the narrative structure of his fictional works, particularly in the fiery imagery and ruthless deeds of his pivotal character, Fëanor. It is those very negative heroic ele- ments, such as Fëanor’s oath and the sin of the kin-slaying of the Teleri, that are

Journal

Tolkien StudiesWest Virginia University Press

Published: Nov 27, 2014

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