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IN the essay, "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics," J.R.R. Tolkien contends with early critics who debunk the poem's poetic and structural artistry: "[T]he monsters are not an inexplicable blunder of taste; they are essential, fundamentally allied to the underlying ideas of the poem" (19). Because of Tolkien's insistence on the significance of the monsters in Beowulf, the study of monsters in Tolkien's own work is without question an essential task for scholars seeking to discover meaning in his narratives. The conception of many of his own monsters reveals an underlying classical Christian doctrine that declares that evil is not created as an autonomous force; rather, it is only the perversion of good. Therefore, evil functions as a kind of parasite, corrupting the pure for its own dark purposes. As Frodo reminds Sam, "the Shadow [...] can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own" (The Lord of the Rings [LotR] 893). Some monsters of Middle-earth seek to guard the passages that allow the progress of the good, some seek to feed on the good to satisfy their dark lusts, and some seek to possess the good in order to corrupt it to their own evil wills. Interestingly, Tolkien empowers many of his monsters with the weapon of vision as they struggle to achieve these ends. Through a close study of three of the monsters in The Lord of the Rings, The Watcher in the Water, Shelob, and Sauron, the reader can discern a distinct, objective characterization of evil as a 'watcher' which seeks to control its victims through the power of the visual gaze. This concept can then be taken a step further to examine the relationship of audience to text in Peter Jackson's film adaptation. Unlike the reader, the audience as viewer can be seen as inherently resembling this distinct, objective characterization of evil 'watcher.' Middle-earth is perceived through the lens of the camera that characteristically behaves like an 'evil eye.' Through an examination of the function of the camera in the adaptation of the text from a written to a visual medium, one can see how Jackson's audience is cast in a role like that of Tolkien's monsters, seeking to control and dominate through the means of the visual image. The Gaze in the Book

Professioneel en technisch
22 maart
Mythopoeic Society

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