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Evil Under the Shadow

« Evil Under the Shadow »

Mordor is the land of shadow. The landscape here advertises the fact. The shadow in this landscape is not confined to Mordor but is imperialistic. The belching smoke blocks out the light to the kingdoms surrounding. The shadow issues from the mountain and conquers from the air. The smoke searches for light and denies it to others.

The shadow is an imposition. From the surging smoke evil is imposed on the ground below. Under this shadow in the kingdom of Mordor we would expect to find evil at work. We might expect to discover legions of evil beings in the service of the shadow. The legions would be as imperialistic and warlike on the ground as the smokey shadow is from the air. The landscape announces that an air and ground war has begun. To those who see the land from afar war is coming. An evil blade tears into the sky.

We sense the evil in shadow because there is a long tradition of portraying evil in this way. See in this detail from Hieyronomous Bosch’s paintings of The Garden of Earthly Delights. It is striking how the shadow conveys evil into the landscape.


In Orthanc we see another aspect of evil under the shadow. In the depths of Isengard the orcs work at some devilish industry. At once this industry is creating something as it destroys something else. Surrounding nature is torn down and cast into a pit of evil. This industry is also chaotic and self destructive, some beings kill another as they ascend in some grotesque evolution. Chaos and industry, a making that also destroys.

Once again a source of this imagery is Bosch. Consider these scenes of chaotic evil.

Here we have a dark tower with chaotic evil beneath. Subterranean destruction and bizarre creation take place in the pits. We must wonder whether the darkness of Bosch stretches into Isengard and Mordor.

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