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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: December ::
Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2413  Monday, 22 December 2003

[1]     From:   David Williams <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Dec 2003 08:25:10 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)

[2]     From:   Laurie Richards <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Dec 2003 07:59:47 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)

[3]     From:   Al Magary <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 Dec 2003 13:35:23 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)

[4]     From:   Debra Murphy <
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        Date:   Saturday, 20 Dec 2003 10:39:21 -0800
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)

[5]     From:   Richard Burt <
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        Date:   Fri, 19 Dec 2003 12:21:23 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Williams <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Dec 2003 08:25:10 -0600
Subject: 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)

In his letters, Tolkien wrote about the influence that Birnam Wood had
on the ents.  He described his feeling that Shakespeare had been a let
down.  He thought that the actual moving of the woods would have been
far more powerful than a bunch of soldiers carrying branches.  He said
that he had always wanted to do this scene correctly.  I don't have my
copy of "Letters" here at the office, but if anyone is interested I can
look up the actual quote over the weekend.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Laurie Richards <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Dec 2003 07:59:47 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)

Well this is a coincidence! I was watching The Two Towers last night and
thinking about the connection between Shakespeare and Tolkien. You
brought up some points I hadn't thought about. I was thinking how King
Theoden reminded me of King Lear and I think there was a line that
reminded me of the last few lines Albany speaks:

The weight of this sad time we must obey;
Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.
The oldest hath borne most: we that are young,
Shall never see so much, nor live so long.

I was also thinking of the relationship between Sam and Frodo and how
intense their master/servant relationship is; very similar to that of
Kent and King Lear....or Horatio and Hamlet.

~Laurie

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Friday, 19 Dec 2003 13:35:23 -0800
Subject: 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)

Brian Willis wrote of LOTR/Return of the King:

>The chief Dark
>Rider is portrayed by Gandalf as impossible to be slain by man. Of
>course, it runs across Eowyn at the Battle of Minas Tirith and
>pronounces to her: "I can not be slain by mankind". Eowyn takes off her
>helm and defiantly asserts "I am not man" before impaling its face(?) on
>her sword. Perhaps not a direct parallel but the closeness of the
>deception made me immediately think of Macbeth.

...Or the Odyssey?  "Nobody--that's my name," says Odysseus to Cyclops.
And when he blinds the giant's only eye, Cyclops wails, "Nobody's
killing me now by fraud and not by force!"  (Bk 9, Fagles trans.)

But I'm seeing the movie tonight and will look for Shakespearean echoes
in more than Aragorn's Henry V speech (that echo is in one of the
trailers).

Cheers,
Al Magary

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Debra Murphy <
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Date:           Saturday, 20 Dec 2003 10:39:21 -0800
Subject: 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)

Tolkien, being the passionate purist-scholar of old English that he was,
did not much care, it would seem, for anything written after 1066, when
Latin influences began to muddy (in Tolkien's view) the pure stream of
ancient Anglo-Saxon speech and culture.

I can't remember now whether I read it in his letters or in one of the
biographies, but while Tolkien grumped frequently about Shakespeare, he
was, perhaps in spite of himself, intrigued by the Scottish Play; only
he was disappointed with the play-wright for having missed such a grand
opportunity at "Faerie-ish" storytelling with Burnam Wood coming to
Dunsinane. In this light, Tolkien's March of the Ents was his attempt,
one might say, to get the thing "right."

(SPOILER ALERT--RETURN OF THE KING)

Eowyn's dispatching of the Witch King of Angmar, who boasts that "no man
can kill me") would indeed appear as yet another (perhaps reluctant)
homage.  But then it *is* rather hard to write anything on a large
scale, in English, and completely avoid Bard-ish references, even if
you're a pre-Norman curmudgeon like Tolkien.

Debra Murphy
http://www.bardolatry.com
http://www.debramurphy.com

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard Burt <
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Date:           Fri, 19 Dec 2003 12:21:23 -0500
Subject: 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.2402 Tolkien and Shakespeare (Again)

I had the same thought about Macbeth.  By the way, a trailer for the
next Harry Potter film played when I saw Return of the King, and it
repeats "something wicked this way comes" several times (the line's part
of a chorale sung by kids).  After the trailer finished, a kid sitting
behind me said "hmmm, using Mr. William Shakespeare."  I smiled.

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