Good in a Tale

Twice in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien had the hobbits observe that even something dreadful, even Gollum, can be good in a tale. The reason that even danger and hardship and troublesome characters are good in a tale is because the greatest gift that fantasy gives us is the Happy Ending or the Eucatastrophe. The Happy Ending “depends on the whole story[…]and yet it reflects the glory backwards” so that even Gollum shines in its light. Everything in the story is an expression of the happy ending and the happy ending is an expression of everything in the story. To understand this, we have to cultivate a holistic way of seeing, a two-fold way of seeing in which even the sadness and trouble are not to be understood apart from the glory of the whole. We can apply this even to our own lives. When I am suffering or when someone hurts me I can remember that it is because of where I am in the story– a story that is much, much bigger than I will ever be. It is not just that things will get better eventually; it is that they are just as they should be even when they feel terrible. Samuel Taylor Coleridge insisted that “no sound is dissonant which tells of Life,” even the sounds we make when we are hurt or angry or afraid. Life is what is expressing itself through this great story. That means that there are no ordinary moments, no ordinary lives as long as we understand that we are Life telling its own incomparable story. No matter how often I may forget, even I am good in a tale.

3 thoughts on “Good in a Tale

  1. You have expressed this like an apple of gold, and I am going to print it out and read it to my students, post it on my wall, memorize it.–Beth (sorry we missed the last Grey Havens meeting–it’s Craig’s big push to the end of the semester).

  2. Pingback: The Scrolls of Badgaladriel | The Grey Havens Group

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