1. Julie D says:

    The discussion of the Wood Elves becomes more interesting if one knows all the things the Noldor did in the Silmarillion. Three Kinstrifes, general infighting, imprisoning Luthien, etc… Elves are not safe, nor are they “good” in the traditional sense of the world. The Wood-Elves here are not Noldor, but SIndar, the grey-Elves and descendants of those who never journeyed to Valinor. They live in a more dangerous environment and have a bad history with strangers–even their own kin, so it makes sense they’d be really suspicious.

    • That is why we simply can’t think of the Elves as enemies in the traditional sense, and Tolkien never, ever lets the reader get that far. One of the victories of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, as with The Lord of the Rings, is that the story rarely lets the Elves be “safe.” Here’s hoping The Desolation of Smaug preserves this perspective. However, adding Legolas (who could have been at the book’s Mirkwood, but isn’t in the book) and a new character could lead viewers to over-identify with a group who, in the book, is a more-distant group of incidental antagonists.

      • Julie D says:

        Well, the whole Mirror of Galadriel scene helped with that in FOTR, thought the Hobbit seems to set Thranduil as “arrogant snob” than “concerned monarch…”

  2. notleia says:

    The easy answer for dark, evil forests is that mankind has lived next to dark forests for a long, long time and is well aware of how dangerous they are. Though it seems to me to be projection and personification to label a collection of trees “evil.” (Don’t see what bearing Romans 8 has on this.)
    Then again, one shouldn’t ignore symbolism. It’s been too long since I last cracked open The Hobbit (not my favorite of the LOTR collection, but who knows, it might grow on me if I read it again), but one possibility is that Mirkwood represents fear, uncertainty, etc, especially since they are lacking Gandalf. Or it could represent the essence of evil: threatening, predatory, etc. Or it could be both. Or something that might not occur to me until 4 hours after posting this. Symbolism: Your Mileage May Vary.

    • Romans 8 is relevant because in this passage, the apostle Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) says that “the creation itself” groans in pain, not because it is evil but because sinful man subjected it to futility. Paul goes on explicitly to say creation is awaiting redemption and resurrection, just as God’s people await final resurrection. When I read about “evil places” in most fantasy, I recall that even in those worlds, the places are not intrinsically evil. They’ve only been subjected.

What do you think?