Sunday, January 30, 2011

Her WHAT?!?!

#17 in the series "J.R.R. Tolkien--Smut Peddler!"

In all this talk of love and lust in the Lord of the Rings, one poor guy seems to have been left out completely. Our wallflower's name: Frodo.

My personal fave
Frodo is, on one level (of the many possible) the story's Christ-figure. We might expect a devout Christian to weave a Jesus into his tale; plenty of others more talented than C.S. Lewis have done so, and even agnostics like Faulkner have had a go. But Tolkien goes beyond them all by giving us not one but three Christs: there's Gandalf, master of elemental powers and ageless wisdom, and Aragorn, rightful and righteous king, and Frodo . . . sacrificial lamb. We might also expect a typical Christian not to attach any sexual energy to Jesus. Though the Bible portrays him as an ordinary human man who like good food, good wine, and good foot-rubs, the traditional view of Jesus was of someone who--despite being awful chummy with Mary Magdalene--had not the slightest sexual aura

By Tim Kirk, from the 1975 Tolkien Calendar
Surely Frodo has no such aura. He isn't as much as chummy with a single female of any species throughout the entire story. Galadriel is one of only three women with whom he has any kind of contact, and she is more mother than mate. (Recall that Frodo is an orphan and was raised by his uncle. And of the other females, Goldberry is a Maia, and Arwen he talks to only after she's married.) I've already asserted that the Phial of Galadriel is not a sexual symbol, and I believe the above data reinforce this view. Frodo's suffering, his receipt of the Phial, and his lack of any percepti- ble libido, make him otherworldly in a way that even Elves are not: other- worldly in the way of wizards. After his wounding with the Morgul blade he even becomes slightly dematerialized: there is a certain transparency about him that can be detected by those with eyes to see like Gandalf. As a Catholic, Tolkien was taught that sexuality and spirituality are not compatible: note St. Paul's "I would that all men were like me." And Paul means not merely abstinent, nor celibate, but "chaste": not even thinking about sex. This was the ideal of the "spiritual" life that Tolkien lived with on a daily basis from childhood--between the ages of 12 and 21 he was even raised by a priest. We can say, then, that the kind of otherworldliness we find in Frodo is a defining characteristic of "spirituality" as Tolkien understood the term. "My kingdom is not of this world," said Jesus, and neither is Frodo's, in the end.

But all that Frodo might have had in this world he bequeaths to Sam. And unlike his ethereal master, Sam is . . . well, Sam is downright earthy. Sure, he's a gardener, but that in itself should clue us in to the central role fertility plays in his life. We've already seen the overtly sexual nature of his temptation by Galadriel, and his powerful reaction to it. We know exactly with what Galadriel is tempting him--or rather, with whom--and we also know he's been fantasizing about this certain someone throughout the story. He thinks about her in Lorien, he thinks about her in Mordor--on the very slopes of Orodruin!--and no sooner is he back in Bywater than he's getting his mack on with Rosie Cotton before the War of the Ring is even over. Shy stumble-bum he may be, but he knows what he wants. And he wants it bad.

And Galadriel knows it. Which is why her gift to Sam is particularly dirty. Literally.

"G" marks the spot
It's . . . dare I say it? . . . a box. Her box. It's even got a G-rune on it. A box full of dirt. A bunch of dirt with a seed in it. A white seed. And Sam knows just what to do with his seed. After marrying Rosie, that is. Forget the darn mallorn--and remember that Sam and Rosie end up with thirteen children.

La vala Manwe! No more! I can't go on . . . it's all too smutty . . . her box . . . oh, the humanity . . . parents, tell your children. . . .

And how does our "gardener and lover of trees" respond to Galadriel's act of generos- ity? "Sam went red to the ears and muttered something inaudible." So, I imagine, have many young men upon receiving the gift of a lady's . . . box.

Galadriel devotes more time to describing Sam's gift (and telling him what to do with it) than she spends on any other gift she bestows--with one exception. That exception is the entire (paperback) page she spends on her gift to Gimli. And at first she doesn't even know what she's going to give him. But if the previous interaction between the Elf-queen and the Dwarf is any guide, we know that--in the immortal words of James Brown--whatever it is, it's got to be funky. . . .

to be continued

1 comment:

  1. Way off track, but amusing nevertheless... I recall my moments of writing things like this. Especially about the symbols... The truth is a long way down the road. Long long way.
    Please note that Sam never ever fantasizes about Rosie - but about a quiet way of life. On the other hand, he is ready to throw it away to be with Frodo and give Frodo a quiet way of life (early drafts by Tolkien even feature a happy ending where Frodo and Sam just go live together in a cottage by the Sea!). When that becomes impossible, he considers Rosie for marriage so that he can still give life, what he and Frodo worked for (to save the Shire). Read the book, you'll never find Sam/Rosie as a Sacred Marriage, just normal marriage. On the other hand, there is Frodo & Sam with more than plenty of hints about their Sacred Marriage.

    The comments about sexual energy have no basis whatsoever. Tolkien was FAR from being "a typical Christian". He was a natural initiate (meaning, not a formal one like the Freemasons etc) and had a hard time integrating his knowledge but it's still a case of YOU making a polarized judgment about what you see and don't see. Quote, "Sam had his deep concerns" (Sam quote, "I love him. He's like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow").