Thursday, April 24, 2014

Moral Complexity in the Lord of the Rings

just something I drew
I was talking with my reading friend about having morally complex characters in YA lit, and I gave the example that, in Tolkien’s book, orcs are all evil and wear black and Gandalf is good and wears white. You know who is good and who is evil.

She retorted that Gollum/Smeagol is a morally complex character because of the both good and evil intent, and I’ve been thinking about that. I don’t think he is. Gollum is evil, and Smeagol is good. It’s not really complex, because when one personality takes over then it goes from one extreme end of the moral grayscale to the other. Black or white. Either Smeagol is good Smeagol, help good hobbitsis OR Gollum *gol’lum* hates filthy fat hobbit and they stole its from us.

To really be complex, characters need to exist within that gray area. Smeagol/Gollum is always one extreme or the other. I think a morally complex character needs to make decisions where the reader doesn’t know if they would agree with the choice or not.

What do you think? Leave a comment and tell me!

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