Fantasy Debate

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by Cascador, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    30,515
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +384 / 0 / -0
    I have watched all Narnia films and yeah there's certainly a religious theme in every one of them. Certainly in the first one where the crucifixion is all too obvious when Aslan is brought to shame and is killed and brought back alive.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  2. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Messages:
    7,088
    Likes Received:
    47
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Scotland.
    Ratings:
    +64 / 0 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    From having read Tolkien's biography, Jack (C.S. Lewis) comes through as very religious, always trying to “convert” people.

    I have also seen seminars organised by churches where they analyse Lewis' works, because they're so religious (read all the books but the last one and it is very clear).
     
  3. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    30,515
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +384 / 0 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    Indeed, it's something Tolkien didnt approve, despite being friends with C.S Lewis. Tolkien found the message to obvious, unlike his own work with LOTR, which uses a more subtle approach.
     
  4. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Messages:
    6,537
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +342 / 1 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    The message is more obvious in Lewis's work; but part of that is because its also more current. If you look at the old Norse mythologies you can fast identify many of the themes and elements that shine through in Lord of the Rings; its just taht because its so old most who don't study the subject are simply unaware of the connections that are presented to them.

    The Narnia tales are likely just as innocent appearing to those who lack a christian understanding
     
  5. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    30,515
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +384 / 0 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    Well, tbh I think more people would unaware of the Norse mythology in LOTR rather than the Christian elements in Narnia. Personally I feel that Tolkien, while I don't agree with him in many aspects, was right to state that the signs were too obvious. They're already obvious to someone who's not Christian like me in LOTR, let alone Narnia.
     
  6. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    I have to agree. I thought the Narnia series had a strong undercurrent of Christian religion to it. I thought LoTR did too, but it was much more subtly woven into the story.
    In some cases (though not with Lewis' work) I think we over-analyze themes in stories. Most major religions have the same basic tenets anyway, regardless of the rituals and words that are used to describe or define them. That makes it easy to find whatever religious theme you want in some stories, regardless of which religion the author actually based them on.
     
  7. JNK

    JNK King of tards

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2012
    Messages:
    5,909
    Likes Received:
    90
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Bern, Switzerland
    Ratings:
    +138 / 4 / -2
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    I don't know... I kinda enjoyed the movies... but never to the extent of wanting to read the books... for me Narnia just lacks something...
     
  8. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    Messages:
    2,823
    Likes Received:
    159
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    here and there
    Ratings:
    +251 / 3 / -1
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    What troubles me most about the CoN books is Lewis' treatment of girls/women... they are essentially sexless children. When Susan Pevensie grows up, becoming more worldly, she is soon cast out of Narnia.

    You all should read Neil Gaiman's short story "The Problem of Susan"... it's a very strong rebuttal to CS Lewis and his treatment of Susan at the end of the Narnia books.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  9. JNK

    JNK King of tards

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2012
    Messages:
    5,909
    Likes Received:
    90
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Bern, Switzerland
    Ratings:
    +138 / 4 / -2
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    well if you really look closely, Tolkien was also terrible: racist (westrn humans good, eastern - evil), sexist (no females in the fellowship of the ring), etc.
     
  10. Taliesyn

    Taliesyn It's a feral reality out there, kids.

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2012
    Messages:
    6,350
    Likes Received:
    254
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Ratings:
    +423 / 2 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    How dare they! BURN them all, I say! :D
     
  11. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    I haven't read the Gaiman short story, but I may have to give it a go now...
    But .... if we want to over-analyze (lol):

    That kinda makes sense with the virgin Mary being the mother of Christ in the Christian religion. If CS Lewis was strongly Christian, it's likely he would have associated virginity with purity and thus only sexless children were "pure" enough to enter Narnia. Once they begin to grow up, all that goes out the window. The mythos surrounding unicorns in fantasy is often similar. I don't think this could be restricted to Susan (and by extension girls) though because Peter didn't get to go back to Narnia after awhile either: only Edmund and Lucy did.

    Alternatively you could look at it in another way. Narnia is a fantasy world and imaginary worlds are real enough to children. When they grow up and have real-world responsibilities to occupy their time and minds they spend less and less time in their imaginations. Adults clearly distinguish between fantasy and reality and to indulge themselves in fantasy is considered to be a waste of time by society. The fear being that an adult will neglect their real-world responsibilities if they spend too much time in their imagination and then they, and maybe others, will suffer for it. Thus adults are strongly discouraged (or too busy) to "enter Narnia" any longer. You could also argue that Susan and Peter were told they weren't going to come back again because they had earned their rite of passage into adulthood and that Aslan knew they needed to move on with their lives. He had to let them go because he didn't want to hold them back any longer.

    @JNK: While it's true that there weren't many strong female characters in LoTR and the Hobbit (even Arwen and Eowyn were somewhat watered down in the books when compared to the films), there were some pretty strong women in the Silmarillion. Look up Haleth if you don't believe me. ;)
     
  12. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Messages:
    7,088
    Likes Received:
    47
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Scotland.
    Ratings:
    +64 / 0 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    Tolkien was catholic and was quite a religious man (his son became of priest); he wanted certain things to appear in his works, whilst also keeping his love of Norse mythology in there.

    Actually, the only woman Tolkien ever enjoyed spending time with was his wife, so it would have been very hard for him to have many female characters. There is also the fact that the Lord of the Rings is supposed to have a pre-1066 setting, a time in which women did not exactly have the best place in society.
    He was also writing it in a time where women didn't have a very big place in society.

    As to the east-west thing, I don't believe that it's racism but simply a connection to our own history; something that we can relate to. Remember that he wrote most of this during WWI (where he fought and survived at the battle of the Somme) and was Gallophobic (did not like the french) and during Stalin's regime in the USSR. He explains that during the period of the Lord of the Rings, once Sauron is beaten, the evil men of the east are not really into being evil anymore, so they were under a certain amount of control (although the evil ones in the Silmarillion are truly evil).

    --- I've written about those themes in a research project that I wrote two years ago, analysing the links between Tolkien and Eddings' works and our world. There are chapters about women and about east-west. ---
     
  13. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    30,515
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +384 / 0 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    Yeah I agree with Sparrow that there is a level of sexism and even racism in both LOTR and Narnia. Phillip Pullman was heavily aware of it and actually wrote His Dark Materials as books that would counter them. He wanted them to be his own Narnia in some respect, but without any of the discrimination that can be found in LOTR And Narnia. Now many have said, it were the times, the thirties... It was 'normal'. And I say that it doesn't justify it. H.G. Wells lived long before Tolkien or Lewis and supported woman rights and no sign of discrimination took place in his novels towards sex or race.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Druid of Lûhn

    Druid of Lûhn The Little Lamb.

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Messages:
    7,088
    Likes Received:
    47
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Scotland.
    Ratings:
    +64 / 0 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    As I said though, Tolkien had very little interaction with women other than his wife, and he was writing about a time when women weren't much more than child-bearers, cooks and cleaners, so I wouldn't exactly say that he is sexist.
     
  15. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    30,515
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +384 / 0 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    A Song of Ice and Fire is fantasy and also based on medieval times. You have lots of strong female characters there. After all it's fantasy, you're stretching history. Considering how much fantasy there is in LOTR, I'm sure Tolkien could have stretched it a little himself while keeping things accurate, after all, ASOIAF is pretty realistic compared to other fantasy tales. The real fantasy in LOTR you could say is that women didn't have any power at all in medieval times. They did use their sex to manipulate men, as Cersei does. It still even happens now.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2013
  16. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    GRRM is a modern author and so he's going to write from a modern perspective on women and their role in his fantasy society, even if he's still staying true to history. Tolkein and CS Lewis were only doing the same thing and that has to come across because of when they were writing. Attitudes toward women in their day were undeniably sexist compared to those of the modern world. How a person regards a written work is all about their own perspective. Anybody reading Tolkein's or Lewis' stuff back in the day would be unlikely to question the role of women in it like we're doing here. I'm guessing they would have regarded their role as being accurate to what they were familiar with. Back in those times I'm guessing they also would have thought HG Wells was a little nuts or "out there" for his views on women. Today I would consider him to be "ahead of his time".
    Looking back from a modern perspective, I see what modern-day people call "sexism" in these works but I choose to interpret them in the context of when they were written. It doesn't even cross my mind that either Tolkein or Lewis were deliberately trying to disrespect or demean women in their works. They were only writing them based on what they knew about the world at the time. Since I hold that perspective, they don't offend me. Being a modern author, if GRRM had written women into his novels the same way Tolkein and Lewis did, I think he might have found that his fan-base was much diminished compared to what it is now. This modern woman, at least, expects modern authors to know better.
     
  17. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    30,515
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +384 / 0 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    No, there were other writers, who didn't write in such a way. With all respect, but that's just a terrible excuse just so you can saythe books are "guilt-free". Just because people were more tolerant of discrimination, shouldn't mean you should accept that. I brought H.G. Wells in as an example in in my earlier posts, and there were others. But Wells was an advocate when it came to women's rights and he existed long before Tolkien, even in another century. So surely he should have had a worse view on women, race etc.. than Tokien and Lewis going by what you said. But he was way advanced compared to them. Tolkien lived actually in a time where women did have a voice to a point. They were participants in WWII and could help with the cause. They did start to rise in their rights. While yeah in WWI it would have been different. But after the first World War they did start to get the vote to a point. In 1928 all women over 21 started to get the vote.

    Let me bring up something else. Gay couples. Widely not accepted in the world now, particularly by governments who won't legalize gay marriage and so forth. And in the states where GRRM lives, it still a big struggle. Yet he does write of gay couples in his work. But should he just go with the majority. Should I just go with the majority and turn my back against gay couples, just because the majority does? That actually quite compares to Tolkien's time when it came to women. He turned his back to them and that is evident in his work. And he just did it because the majority did? No, I don't think so. It just shows how he thought of women as is evident in his work.
     
  18. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    I am sorry, but with all due respect, you aren't allowed to tell me what I say is "guilt free" and what I don't. lol! I would love to hear your opinion on what you consider to be "guilt free", but you may not assume anything about my stance on the issue. :)
    I did say that I agreed there was an element of sexism in the books, hence I believe that the books are "guilty" of sexism.

    I don't understand why you think that I would be "tolerant of discrimination" simply because I wasn't offended by it's inclusion in a story by a writer who lived in a time when sexism was a mainstream belief. Yes indeed there were "forward-thinking" individuals and writers in that era (and earlier ones), but their ideology was simply not the norm for the majority of people. "Tolerance" implies to me that I would accept those sexist beliefs and internalize them, making them my own and perpetuating them. That simply isn't true. I don't promote sexism in my daily life, and in my experience, neither do many other modern people.
    There is "bad" and "good" in all things. The "bad" in Lewis' and Tolkein's works doesn't even come close to cancelling out the "good" for me or make me dislike reading their stories. Frankly, the mainstream beliefs of past generations is not something that I can do anything about anyway. I can only learn from their mistakes. To do that I have to quit judging people for their beliefs and understand where they're coming from. If I rejected and refused to read any book that didn't fall exactly in line with my own ideals, my goodness, I think I'd become some kind of fundamentalist. :p

    I never said that individuals have to believe in the ideals of the majority. The fact is that everybody goes through life doing the best they can with what they think is right at the time. Opinions on "right" and "wrong" differ and HG Wells and Tolkein apparently didn't agree. One believed in the commonly held belief of the times, the other didn't. I think we're making the same point here Anakin. The difference being that I'm guessing you are offended by Tolkein and Lewis' view of women, while I choose not to be (and how ironic is that? lol). I'm looking at how it was likely to have developed in them. I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that you're looking at it only from your own point of view. If I'm right about that, then that doesn't mean that either of us is endorsing their point of view. I get the impression that you're trying to convince me that I am doing that simply because I'm not offended by it.
    To explain why I'm not offended I would say: context is everything. I don't believe that the sexism in those books had anything to do with a malicious intention to demean women. I seriously doubt that either author ever even considered the possibility of doing that when they wrote those stories. I believe they only wrote from a societal context that was familiar to them. Consider that in some future time, people may look back on our currently held societal beliefs and condemn us for them too. From the glass house that I live in, I choose not to throw stones. ;)
    Having said that, if I thought any author was trying to deliberately demean or disrespect anybody in their writings (ie. I had good reason to believe it was done with malicious intent), I doubt that I would enjoy their work. As I said before, context is everything. Life is full of shades of grey and nothing ever seems to be black and white.
     
  19. Cascador

    Cascador Who's Anakin?

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    30,515
    Likes Received:
    362
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Location:
    Belgium
    Ratings:
    +384 / 0 / -0
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    Well excuse me for assuming too much. (no sarcasm). I'm glad you at least acknowledge that there is a problem. But yeah just to clear a few things up and to add a few things I said. Oh and don't be offended by anything I write. I'm not trying to offend you and if I do that is not my intention. Now I'm not offended really by anything Tolkien wrote, or Lewis for that matter. I just don't really enjoy their books because of the context. Because of the racism, sexism and such. And I am of opinion that the context in these books project pretty much what was the mindset were of these writers, so you can tell what kind of men they were. And I disagree that they were not on purpose demeaning or disrespecting women in what they wrote. Again it just projects the mind. And to use Tolkien as an example he's a great writer. He was a very intelligent man, so I think he was fully aware of what he was writing about. He must have thought hard about what he would write down so if you look at all the characters. Surely he'll have studied them, just like we study them now? And this is something about what you said earlier:

    "Their ideology was simply not the norm for the majority of people." That is an assumption. It was actually the norm of the Elite. Of the ones who were in power, who these days stop gay marriage and such. But it doesn't project what the majority of the people think. I think there's a large difference between what the people think and the elite. In the future if they think that it was mainstream belief that gay couples weren't accepted. That wouldn't be accurate. It's the voice of those in power that is remembered, not that of the people. George Orwell was of the same time as Tolkien and he was one of the elite. He came from an extreme wealthy family. But after his experiences in war, he was so ashamed of it, saw how wrong it was and rejected everything. He even changed his actual name which was Eric Arthur Blair, to give up everything from his former life. It's like he really learned from his time in war, Tolkien didn't. Not that I think everyone should have reacted that Orwell did. Because that was extreme, but it just proves what kind of man he was. He lived in a time that Tolkien did and member of the Elite, that disagreed with him. But that didn't stop him doing what was right.

    And yeah, to take it a more extreme level. Let's take a book like 'Mein Kampf' by Hitler. Just to say at first. No way do I compare Tolkien to someone like Hitler. But just read. People say that they can enjoy reading Mein Kampf. Personally I can't read a book like that, and we know from what kind of mind it comes. So yeah I can't appreciate it. But others can.. Fine, but just as long as they don't forget who wrote it in the first place and what kind of mindset he had. The same goes for Tolkien. If you can enjoy it fine, but don't deny that he was sexist, racist and such. (I'm speaking in general not about you personally) And again sorry but it still sounds like you're trying to excuse the writer of some guilt to a point, which he had in writing these books because you say that he didn't put those messages in on intention. You said yourself earlier in your post that you aware of these evident messages, so at least you don't consider them completely guilt-free. And something else about intent. We can put a vale over Tolkien in that aspect because it isn't clear enough. But with C.S Lewis, there have been books about his judgemental opinion on women in the Narnia books. J.K Rowling said this, "There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes interested in lipstick. She has become irreligious, basically because she found sex. I have a big problem with that."
    And Phillip Pullman had this to say about that, "Susan, like Cinderella, is undergoing a transition from one phase of her life to another. Lewis didn't approve of that. He didn't like women in general, or sexuality at all, at least at the stage in his life when he wrote the Narnia books. He was frightened and appalled at the notion of wanting to grow up."

    What this refers to is a line in the Narnia books. I believe it's the third or fourth book, I'm not sure, where Susan is said to be "No longer a friend of Narnia." Basically she is dismissed because she interested in dressing up, dinner invitations and so forth. The oldest boy who is older than Susan also grew up and could not return to Narnia, but he is never considered not to be a friend to Narnia. Even in the final book of the series all of the children make a cameo appearance except her. So I think Lewis was definitely trying to make a point when it came to Susan.
    And something concerning Tolkien that Phillip Pullman had also said which I have to agree with, "Tolkien, who created this marvellous vehicle, doesn't go anywhere in it. He just sits where he is. What I mean by that is that he always seems to be looking backwards, to a greater and more golden past; And what's more he doesn't allow girls or women any important parts in the story at all. Life is bigger and more interesting than the LOTR thinks it is."

    There's other examples. A man like Mel Gibson. We all know he's right-winged, sexist, racist and again it's evident in his films. But I can appreciate films he starred in that weren't made by him, such as Mad Max, Lethal Weapon.
    And about Tolkien. There was something else I read which was interesting. The reason that he criticized Lewis for the highly obvious Christian messages in the Narnia books was because they were too obvious in their messages and metaphors, because when it came to religious messages they had a very different opinion. What I found interesting was that Lewis was actually an atheist and the reason he placed in these Christian messages was to repent for his former sinful life he had before he turned Christian, thanks to help of his friend Tolkien. Now Tolkien decided for a subtler approach because he was of the mindset that if he put in a fake religion in the LOTR, he would almost imply that all religion is made up and not true. It would be a form of blasphemy. But Lewis decided that instead of no religion to put in Christianity. And my point here is that the fact Tolkien pointed out to Lewis being too obvious with metaphors, which implies he was being subtle with his own, which begs the question: Are you so sure that his sexist, racist content is not intended and he is just not being subtle as he suggested Lewis should be? But to end this, I do want to make clear that I am glad you see that there is a problem. What really annoys me is when people deny when there is a problem. That I do find offensive, but I can see you're not like that. And I do wish I could appreciate things like you do, but I just find it difficult to.
     
  20. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2011
    Messages:
    2,823
    Likes Received:
    159
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    here and there
    Ratings:
    +251 / 3 / -1
    Re: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair

    There are different ways to look at fiction that spin a tale with christian allegory or have christian underpinnings. First, most classic western literature uses christian motifs and themes because our cultural foundation is built on them. No surprise, so why be offended? As an atheist I don't begrudge writers infusing their stories with christian symbolism and whatnot, or their own racial prejudices, or subjugating women to minor roles... I however do not like being preached to by a writer, or that writer who is unwilling to explore the other side of a belief system and find the hypocrisy in things they hold dear.

    Frank Herbert of DUNE fame was not a guy I would get along with in real life. But what he did in his Dune novels was unravel and finally tear apart his own belief system and found it wanting. In the Dune books there is a great suspicion of artificial intelligence and a great love of ecology and rebirth. But as with anything epic there's always unintended consequences and as they say, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". At some point Frank Herbert realizes this and was brave enough to write in an opposing message to his own. In fact by the end he turns the entire thing upside down.

    Dune is often compared to Lord of the Rings with its intricate world building and depth of story... but where Frank Herbert seems to have grown and allowed himself to be tempered by opposing ideas, Tolkien and CS Lewis never question their point of view and LotR and CoN are lesser for it.

    I think when it comes to philosophy and ideology in fiction it should be somewhat muddy. Because after all, it is muddy in real life, isn't it? The Chronicles of Narnia just doesn't make it muddy enough for my liking.
     
    • Like Like x 1