The Lord of the Rings: Our Motivation in Committing Evil Acts

analytical Essay
3559 words
3559 words

The following analysis deals with the nature and source of evil and whether, given our innate motives and moral obligation, we willingly choose to succumb to our desires or are slaves of our passion. From this argument, I intend to show that our human nature requires that we play into our desires in order to affirm our free will. This is not to say that our desires are necessarily evil, but quite the opposite. In some sense, whatever people actually want has some relative value to them, and that all wanted things contain some good. But given that there are so many such goods and a whole spectrum of varying arrangements among them, that there is no way we can conceive anything as embodying an overall good just because it is to some degree wanted by one or a group of persons. In this light, there arises conflict which can only be resolved by a priority system defined by a code, maybe of moral foundations, which allows us to analyze the complexities of human motivation. I do not intend to set down the boundaries of such a notion, nor do I want to answer whether it benefits one to lead a morally good life, but rather want to find out how the constructs of good and evil affect our freedom to choose.

The Starting Point:

Free will can be wholly responsible for my motivation to write this paper. I was really hoping for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to come out in time to be used as the film for analysis, but to my disappointment, it opened in theaters the day this paper was due. So, I chose to write instead on The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The films, though not really about our freedom to choose, inspired me to look into the topic of whether it is in our nature to willingly choose the path of evil to gain personal fulfillment. Our motives are not as clear cut as the archetypes portraying good and evil are in the film, but part of me thinks their embodiment in such fantastical creatures as elves, hobbits, orcs, and demons say something about the human desire to approach our weaknesses with understanding and strengths with humility. For if we learn from our mistakes we may grow stronger, while withdrawing from our arrogance, might we refrain from ruling out perfectly possible and desirable changes as impossible. This is the essence of our freedom.

The Assumptions:

My assumptions are few and hopefully essential. Firstly, the sciences do no...

... middle of paper ...

... moderation? Could we control the intake of our impulses? Is it so evident that given that freedom to take everything in would saturate one’s desires to point where the person would be compelled to turn the other way? Moderation of the good is, of course, the alternative, and like Plato said, the moral life is ultimately more fulfilling than the immoral one. That being said, I kick myself now for not looking deeper into the ethical dilemma raised by the struggle between good and evil. Still, it does not seem as interesting. The wicked person gets a far higher head-turning quotient, even if that person doe not intend to be so.


Bassham, Gregory and Eric Bronson (eds.) The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy.

Chicago: Open Court, 2003.

Benjamin, Anna and L.H. Hackstaff (tr). St Augustine On the Free Choice of the Will.

Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1964

Fromm, Erich. The Anatomy of Human of Human Destructiveness. London: Jonathan

Cape, 1974.

Jowett, B. (tr). Plato’s Republic. New York: W.J. Black, 1942.

Midgley, Mary. Wickedness. London: Routledge, 1984.

Stent, Gunther S. Paradoxes of Free Will. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society,


In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes the nature and source of evil and whether we willingly choose to succumb to our desires or are slaves of our passion.
  • Opines that free will can be wholly responsible for their motivation to write this paper. the lord of the rings trilogy inspired them to look into whether it is in our nature to choose the path of evil to gain personal fulfillment.
  • Argues that the sciences do not attack our freedom in their efforts to administer predictability in a world where events are causally determined, random, or at the will of an unknown power.
  • Analyzes how lord of the rings conveys the longstanding struggle between good and evil and delves into its relationship to the power of personal free choice.
  • Analyzes how frodo baggins' quest to destroy the one ring parallels our nature when faced with temptations in our lives.
  • Analyzes manicheanism, which postulates that good and evil are locked in an eternal struggle for world domination.
  • Analyzes how st. augustine's view of evil as an opposing force to good provides that evil exists as a value, though negative, in relation to the positive value of good.
  • Opines that when one removes measure, number, and order, nothing remains. if all good is completely removed, no vestige of reality persists.
  • Analyzes how the shire represents purity and vivacity as its residents follow simple, yet fulfilling lives, while mordor is a desolate, barren wasteland.
  • Analyzes how mordor exists due to its parasitic nature on goodness, not because of its opposition to it.
  • Explains that evil can arise even when good creatures, like frodo, want to have more than their share of good things in the world. this desire serves as the root of all evil.
  • Explains that neither the goods desired by sinners, nor the free will itself, are evil in any way. evil is turning away from immutable goods and turning toward changeable.
  • Explains st. augustine's view that evil comes from free will. good acts alone would make the world devoid of moral responsibility.
  • Argues that nietzsche's generalization is illicit and unwarranted as it disrupts the balance of morality. glaucon concludes that even a just man would give in to the power of ring
  • Opines that no one could be found of such adamantine temper as to persevere in justice and refrain his hands from the possessions of others.
  • Analyzes how plato's argument is for the sake of morality, but can we hold frodo responsible for his own action?
  • Argues that if we confine will to the construct of morality, it breeds corruption. frodo is tempted, but never experiences temptation until he wears the ring.
  • Argues that the ring serves as an external force that embodies everything, including every act, which causes frodo to lose his real free will.
  • Explains that determinism provides the rational foundation for our intuitive concept of an orderly world and scientific understanding and highly successful manipulation of nature.
  • Concludes determinism is not a superstition, but in accordance with the laws of science and nature.
  • Analyzes how frodo succumbs to the temptation of the ring and the superstitious acceptance of unnecessary evil, based on his false belief in the helplessness to do anything about it.
  • Argues that the ring in lord of the rings exemplifies something that can be completely devoid of any good. sauron represents corruption in its highest form, and his essence could parallel even the most malice men of our own world.
  • Explains the main fallacy which prevents people from recognizing potential hitlers before they have shown their true faces.
  • Analyzes how the lord of the rings does not convey the manichean view of evil. both examples show it is impossible for someone or something to be completely evil, negating the idea that evil exists as a completely independent principle.
  • Argues that treating natural motives as natural brings up the dilemma of morality, for there develops fear of fatalism and power-worship.
  • Opines that the freedom of choice is affected by the boundaries of good and evil. the wicked person gets a far higher head-turning quotient.
  • Describes benjamin, anna, and l.h. hackstaff's st augustine on the free choice of the will.
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