Matt’s piece on The Lord of the Rings a few weeks ago nicely summed up one of the major ways in which Peter Jackson’s view of the world diverges from Tolkien’s: its profoundly different moral vision. But Jackson’s storytelling sense diverges from Tolkien’s in other, equally profound ways — not least in its approach to conflict.
There are two fundamental types of conflict in literature: external and internal. External conflicts pit the character against forces in the world around them: other men, society, or nature itself. Internal conflicts pit the character against himself. For prototypical examples, one might think of Odysseus and Hamlet. While each faces a variety of conflicts, Odysseus spends of the majority of his time confronting external enemies, and Hamlet spends a great deal of his time wrestling with himself. One of the literary strengths of Tolkien’s works is that they contain just about every sort of conflict imaginable. Continue reading