But Tolkien goes further than Milton in subcreation. On a more artistic level, Tolkien thought God also gives humans the opportunity to participate in creative imagination. We can design, build, or imagine our own designs and artwork. That artwork--if it is beautiful and true--can echo, enhance, mimic, or even go beyond the beauty of the natural world--thus expanding God's creation and pleasing the Creator that we imitate His activities. For Tolkien, humans had a moral and artistic duty to use their imaginations and to create fictional worlds, following the divine example. In particular, Tolkien thought writers, poets, and artists had a moral obligation to provide an "inner consistency of reality," i.e., that they must take the time to fill out the world and inhabit it--to give it a history, depth of detail, and sufficient scope for it to be a complete world where readers or viewers can lose themselves (see Duriez 191-92). Subcreators could craft their art to make it self-consistent and large enough to evoke wonder, a sense of what Tolkien calls "" or what David Sandners calls the . Just as the rational mind desires "a unified theory to explain or cover all phenomena in the universe, the imagination also seeks a unity of meaning appropriate to itself," as Duriez puts it (192). Such world-building would be a moral good, per se, regardless of any didactic teaching or moral message tacked on top of it. In this regard, Tolkien often heavily criticized C.S. Lewis's Narnian books. He felt Lewis was too focused on allegory and didacticism, and that misfocus caused the "inner consistency of reality" (Duriez 192) in his tales to suffer.
In more recent examples, in Richard Connell's short story, "The Most Dangerous Game," the reader is in suspense regarding whether or not the hero or the villainous hunter will survive as the two face off in a final battle. In Hamlet, much of the suspense arises from the protagonist's continuing procrastination--will he or won't he take up the task of killing his uncle? The more Hamlet delays, the more bodies pile up until the final climactic scene in which swordfights, poison, and invading foreign army all collide on stage practically simultaneously. Other authors might frustrate the reader's desires deliberately, as in Frank Stockton's "The Lady or the Tiger," in which a somewhat sadistic narrator describes a thought-provoking scenario. In this scenario, a young man is to be put to death. He is locked in an arena with two adjourning gates, and his young lover must decide his fate. This jealous young girl must choose whether to open a gate releasing a starving tiger into the arena from one gate, or instead open a second gate that would release a beautiful girl into the arena with him, a sexual competitor for the young man's attentions. The narrator describes at length why she might open one gate or the other, either saving her lover but throwing him in the arms of another woman, or killing her lover but blocking the advances of her rival. In the final lines, however, the narrator declares he is not a position to know what happened "historically," and thus leaves it to the reader to determine, "which came out of the open door--the lady, or the tiger?"
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