The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring
The Corrupting Power of The One Ring
The Lord of the Rings has survived decades, spanned language barriers, and spoken to generations of people. J.R.R Tolkien managed to convey themes and ideas that have remained relevant (despite being published over half a century ago) through the lens of a fantasy world of magic, hobbits, elves, good, and evil. A clear theme throughout The Lord of the Rings is how power is corrupting and addicting. The corrupting power of the One Ring can be analyzed by studying how Tolkien’s past impacted his literary decisions, the way the One Ring is portrayed in the series, and how the theme of the corrupting influence of power is still relevant in contemporary American society.
Tolkien used the One Ring to convey the ultimate corrupting power of evil, a literary decision that makes more sense when you analyze his past. Tolkien was a war veteran, like many men of his generation he fought in World War I. He was part of the Battle of Somme, a brutal fight with heavy casualties, and after the war most of his friends were dead. Tolkien also worked at a codebreaker during World War II. While it is inaccurate to label the One Ring as a metaphor for war, Tolkien’s experience in the military changed him. The One Ring is not a symbol for the Nazis or the Atomic Bomb, this is part of why The Lord of the Rings has lived through the years: the Ring can be applied to many different situations. However, no matter the person the experiences they live through, especially the traumatic encounters, end up shaping them and their world view. Tolkien saw the world he was living in very clearly – he lived and fought in two World Wars and he saw his friends die while he lived. It would be absurd to suggest these traumatic experiences had no effect on his writing. The One Ring represents a theme (corrupting power) many writers from this era were picking up on; from George Orwell to William Golding authors who lived through death and destruction represent it in some way or another in their books.
One of the most interesting aspects of the One Ring is the influence it has over various characters. Gandalf makes clear that no matter who holds the One Ring, the power of it will eventually destroy them. The power the Ring has over characters is psychological at heart; it twists the creature’s inner-feelings to work for the Ring. In addition, it acts more like an addiction than anything else. Specific case studies to look at the Ring’s addiction include Bilbo, Gollum, and Boromir. When analyzing the Ring’s effect on characters the most obvious comparison to make is an addiction. Bilbo is the first character we see the Ring’s power over. Bilbo intends to leave to travel again and bequeath the Ring to Frodo. However, Bilbo has extreme difficulty parting with it when he goes to actually leave the Ring behind. “‘I won’t give away my Precious away, I tell you.’ His hand strayed to the hilt of his small sword” . Bilbo is depicted ready to fight his friend, Gandalf, instead of parting with the Ring. However, Bilbo’s addiction to the Ring is not that serious, as he only used it a few times. This is why he is eventually able to willing give up the Ring.
On the other end of the spectrum, Gollum’s addiction to the Ring’s power is very intense. African-American Muslim groups that rose to prominence lead by the likes of Malcolm X, were well known for being able to get addicts to stop using drugs. Their methods were so effective in his autobiography Malcolm X wrote about how Muslim groups were approached by drug rehabitalition centers for advice on how to curb addiction. The process to get an addict to stop using was long but it centered around forcing the addict to not use again because they would be constantly surrounded by Muslim brothers/sisters to help during the withdrawal period. This is similar to what happened to Gollum. As Gandalf describes the Ring’s hold over Gollum, he says “‘He hated it and he loved it, as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter”. Gandalf is describing an addiction. When the Ring was under Gollum’s power, he called himself Gollum and the Ring “his precious”. As he underwent a long period of time without the Ring (when he was captured) he started referring to himself as his original name, Smeagol. Gollum was forced to be without his drug of choice, which eventually started leading to him shaking of its hold. Due to the amount of time Gollum spent wearing the Ring, he is never able to fully shake the Ring’s hold on him. Furthermore, Gollum does not want to separate himself from the Ring as he is so addicted to its power.
Lastly, another example of the Ring being an addiction is to Boromir at the end of the Fellowship of the Ring. Even during the Council of Elrond, Boromir is hesitant to destroy the Ring believing it can be used to fight Sauron. During the Breaking of the Fellowship, Boromoir attacks Frodo trying to convince Frodo to give him the Ring. However, once Frodo fleas in fear, Boromir releases what he did was evil and calls to Frodo, “‘What have I done? Frodo, Frodo!… Come back! A madness took me, but it has passed. Come back!’”. Boromir is a warrior, so the Ring appeals to his need to be a powerful leader. However, he is not addicted to the Ring’s power shown his latter realization that he attacked Frodo and that was wrong.
The reason The Lord of the Rings has become a cornerstone of popular culture is that it is timeless. The themes present in Fellowship of the Ring were not exclusive to Tolkien’s generation, they still are relevant in contemporary American society. The Founding Fathers envisioned the presidency as a rather weak position, however, in our post-FDR America Presidents have consistently held immense power. As Lord Acton said “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men”. This is clearly applicable to the United States presidency. When we think about corruption in the Oval Office, a clear example of this is the quid pro quo the Trump administration created with Ukraine. Using the presidency for political gain by launching an investigation into Hunter Biden clearly is an overstep of presidential powers. Mick Mulvaney, acting White House Chief of Staff, admitted the quid pro quo’s existence. This is a perfect example of a president being corrupted by power; President Trump tried to use his position to damage the standing of his most prominent opponent in the 2020 election. As stated before, the One Ring is not a metaphor for the Atomic Bomb which makes the The Lord of the Rings span generations. The One Ring in the The Lord of the Rings is a clear metaphor for how addicting power is. The ability for the One Ring to be compared to a President who holds power decades after the The Lord of the Rings shows how the literary genius of J.R.R Tolkien. In conclusion, Tolkien was influenced by his experience as a war veteran to write about the dichotomy between good/evil, the One Ring symbolized addicting power, and the theme of addicting power is still relevant in contemporary American society. Tolkien’s works are still worth reading/learning about as the themes he presented live on.
Plot Summary And Review Of The Fellowship Of The Ring By J. R. R. Tolkien
The story of The Fellowship of the Ring takes places in the world of Middle-earth, a vast mysterious land containing many different groups of creatures and men. The book begins by announcing that Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a grand party in Hobbiton. Bilbo was very rich from his past journeys to distant lands in Middle-earth. Long ago, he had stumbled upon a ring while trying to escape a cave in which he was lost. He decided to take the ring back to the Shire, where the Hobbits dwell. Bilbo is quite aware that when he slips the gold ring on, he becomes invisible to others. Therefore, he decides to keep the ring to himself and not tell others, other than Frodo Baggins, his cousin, and Gandalf the Grey, a great Wizard. Bilbo Baggins had planned to go on holiday away from the Shire for good on his birthday, so he is to leave the ring to his heir, Frodo. When it became time for him to do this, Bilbo’s behavior changes into something quite peculiar. He acts reluctant into giving up the ring, though, Gandalf urged him to and succeeded. Gandalf, Bilbo’s good friend, suspects that the ring is possibly the One Ring of the legend. He encourages Frodo to leave the Shire with the ring because it may bring danger to the area. He explains to him that Sauron’s power is beginning to grow stronger. Frodo and his friends: Sam, Merry, and Pippin are sent out and make it to the town of Bree. Though, on their way they were being chased by nine Ringwraiths, servants of Sauron who are searching ruthlessly for the Ring of Power, which is what Frodo carries with him. Finally, when the hobbits make it to Bree, they were met by Aragorn, a Ranger, also known as “Strider. ” Aragorn is heir of the Kings of the ancient Men of Westernesse. He advises that the hobbits should sleep in a different room than they were planning to stay in. By doing this, he saves their lives as the Ringwraiths try to assassinate the hobbits in their initial room. The hobbits receive a letter from Gandalf advising them to leave for Rivendell, a realm of the Elves. Later, Frodo becomes wounded by a weapon of a servant of Sauron. When they reach Rivendell, Elrond, the master of Rivendell, heals Frodo and holds a meeting to find a solution about the Ring. The conclusion of the Council was to destroy the Ring of Power in the place where it was forged, the mountain of Orodruin, in Sauron’s realm of Mordor. The Council creates the Fellowship to help escort Frodo on his journey: Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, and Boromir. The Fellowship passes through the Mines of Moria, unfortunately, Gandalf falls into Khazad-dum while fighting the Balrog of Moria.
The group continues onto Lorien, the forest of the Galadhrim Elves, which is where Lady Galadriel dwells. She strengthens the group and gives them gifts to help them on their journey. The Fellowship then travels down the Anduin River and camp on the shore. During the night, they saw Gollum, a creature that used to have the Ring in his possession. He had lost it to Bilbo Baggins a long time ago. The Fellowship arrive at the Falls of Rauros and have to decide either to head toward Mordor or to Minas Tirith, which is a safer route. Frodo is quite aware that the Ring he possesses may corrupt his friends, so he decides to leave secretly in the night and continue the journey alone. Though, Samwise Gamgee decides to sneak out with him because he is worried that Frodo going alone would be too dangerous. There are so many important characters in The Fellowship of the Ring that it is difficult to choose a favorite. However, one of my personal favorites is Gandalf the Grey. Gandalf is a Wizard of exceptional power and wisdom. He one of the five great Wizards of Middle-earth and is second in the order of authority among the them. His superior is Saruman the White, though, Gandalf has a much stronger foundation in the doing of good rather than evil. He would make visits to the Shire to see Bilbo Baggins once in a while. In reality, most Hobbits view Gandalf as a creator of great fireworks. Gandalf is one of my favorites because he always means well in everything he does.
Throughout the story, Gandalf remains motivated even in the most undesirable of situations. Gandalf is ambitious to bring peace to Middle-earth amongst the great evil power that is growing and causing disturbance across the land. He puts forth his best effort in everything he does. If he can’t solve a problem, then he will continue to try to solve it, despite others lack of motivation. For example, when Gandalf and the Fellowship were at the secret entrance of Moria, it was a challenge to figure out the password to make the door open. Gandalf sat there thinking deeply of what the password was, and he didn’t give up.
Another instance is when the Balrog of Moria puts the whole Fellowship in danger. Gandalf tells the others to go on without him because he was going to battle this creature to protect the Fellowship. One of Gandalf’s greatest strengths is wisdom. He always has a plan for the Fellowship even when things are going badly. Since he is also a great Wizard, he is very powerful in the field of magic, which comes in handy throughout this story. The only weakness that Gandalf shows in this story is a short temper, which is not necessarily a negative character trait. He is able keep the Fellowship in line when things get out of order or when one of the hobbits make a mistake. For example, he calls Pippin “a fool of a Took” when he backs into a skeleton in the Mines of Moria causing a loud echoing noise through the chambers. This gives away the position of the Fellowship, and they are discovered by the orcs. I personally think that Gandalf is a somewhat relatable character because he strives to do the right thing. Likewise, I try to do my best, though, I am not a wizard. He has quite an advantage. Gandalf’s background, motivation, strengths, and weaknesses affect the story greatly in many ways. Another one of my favorite characters is from the great race of Men. Aragorn, the rightful heir of Isildur, is a Ranger in the North and protects the Shire from evil. He is known locally by the name of “Strider. ” He has considerably similar qualities to Gandalf. He is a man of many strengths and little weaknesses. Aragorn’s strengths would include bravery, kindness, wisdom, skillfulness, powerfulness, and humbleness. He shows this in many occasions of the story. For example, Aragorn saves the lives of Frodo, Sam, Pippin, and Merry on the hill Weathertop when the five Ringwraiths, or Nazgul, attempt to take the One Ring and kill Frodo. He fights them off with flame and they fled off the hilltop into the night.
Another example is when Aragorn advises the hobbits to sleep in a different room than they were planning to stay in at The Prancing Pony. Because of this wise decision, the four hobbits were saved from being assassinated in their sleep by Ringwraiths. The only weakness of Aragorn is his vulnerability of his identity. He doesn’t prefer to share with others that he is the heir to the throne of Men. Aragorn plays a big role in the Fellowship, escorting Frodo to destroy the Ring. He is a relatable character because he strives to help restore order to Middle-earth. Likewise, I would like to help restore peace in the world today. Aragorn is a strong leader who gradually becomes more kinglike throughout his journeys.
This story is full of many inspiring and well-known quotes. One of my absolute favorites is this: “I wish it need not have happened in my time. ” said Frodo. “So do I, ” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. ” This quote is significant because in the story, Gandalf had just told Frodo the story behind the Ring. Frodo becomes frightened and wishes that he had never received the Ring from Bilbo because of the trouble it would bring. This quote is my favorite because it inspires me to be thankful and make use of the life that God has given to me. We live in a fallen world of sin, just like Frodo’s realm, but there is hope. Another one of my favorite quotes is this: “All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost. ” This quote is significant because in the story, Gandalf had written a letter to Frodo helping to confirm that this “Strider” was actually Aragorn. Aragorn was a mysterious ranger who did not look like someone of trust, but in reality he was. I really like this quote because it sends a message that good people aren’t always going to be the ones dazzled in gold and fine clothes. It may be the ones who look rattier than most. There are these and many other quotes that are worth noting in The Fellowship of the Ring.
I would highly recommend that everyone should read The Fellowship of the Ring at some point in their life. The author J. R. R. Tolkien is one of a kind and writes like no other. His writing style attracts the reader to want to read more and more of the story. I think that people who have not read this book are missing out on an exquisite piece of modern literature. This story is the ultimate quest to bring order and peace to a world that is falling under the shadow of evil.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Book Report
The Lord of the Rings the Fellowship of the Ring.In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and the Dark Lord, forged the one ring, filing it with his own power so that he could rule all other. But the one ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-Earth, it remained lost to him. After many years it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit of all creatures. In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task as his elderly cousin entrusts the ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-Earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.
Gandulf, who is a dear, old friend of Bilbos, tells Frodo what the ring is, and what should happen if the Dark Lord shall get it back. Frodo asks Gandulf what he must do, to help with this heavy burden. Gandulf tells Frodo to Bree with Sam, but he has to be careful because of the Ringwraiths. Ringwraiths are dark creatures working for Sauron, and they are trying to get the ring back for their master. As they are on their way they run into Merry and Pippin, two close friends. Frodo decides to tell Merry and Pippin what they are doing out here, and whats going on. Merry and Pippin know a shortcut to Bree, and they deicide to help Frodo and Sam.
Once they get to Bree they are supposed to meet Gandulf, but he isnt there, and instead this man named Strider comes to them. He explains he is a friend of Gandulfs, and is going to help then to make it to Rivendell. They take off, and around night time they make camp on hills which are called, Weathertop. Though while they are sleeping, Ringwraiths come, and begin to attack them. The hobbits run to the top of the hill, and they begin to fight. Frodo is stabbed by a ringwraith, and then Strider comes and begins to fight them off. Once the Ringwraiths are gone, Strider goes to Frodo and tries to help him, but he cant. Frodo has been stabbed with a Morgual Blade; the only person who can save Frodo is Lord Elrond, who lives in Rivendell. Once Frodo wakes up he realizes that he is in Rivendell, and Elrond had saved him from dying. Elrond tells Frodo to stay in bed, and rest until the council meeting in the afternoon. In the afternoon all creatures of Middle-Earth come to the meeting, and discuss what to do with the ring. Of course they deicide that they must destroy it, but the problem is none will volunteer themselves to go into the Lands of Mordor, and throw it into the Cracks of Doom. The council begins to fight, and then suddenly Frodo stands up and says, â€œI will take the ring to Mordor, though I do not know the way.
So Gandulf decides he will go so does Strider, Merry, Pippin, Sam, and three others from the council. Boromir, Legalous, and Gimil, Elrond decides to name these nine creatures The Fellowship of the Ring. They next day they head off, taking the passage way of the South, near Minias Tritih in Gondor. This would be Boromirs home, he wants to get the ring and give it to Gondor to use against Sauron. While they stop to take a break they are spotted by spies, working for the evil wizard Sauman. Saurman wants to get the ring, and give it to his master, Sauron. Since they knew they were spotted Gandulf tells them we must take the dangerous mountains of Caradhras. Once they realize that is impossible for them to travel on, they decide to take the path of the Mines of Moria. They find the door to enter the mines, but to open it they must answer a riddle. As they wait a giant squid comes out of the water, and grabs Frodo, and brings him up into the air. One they have the door open, they rescue Frodo and run inside the mines, but a rock fall suddenly happens as they are going in.
The rocks fell in front of the way they came in so there is now way for them to leave that way, they must now travel through the mines of Moria. As they get towards the middle of the mines they awake the dark demon, Balrog. They begin to run, and Gandulf sees a bridge, and tells them to go over the Bridge of Khazad-dum. On the bridge Gandulf fights the Balrog, and kills it too. Gandulf makes the bridge collapse, but in a horrible turn of events Gandulf falls in to. Strider orders them to head toward the forests of Lothlorien. As they reach the woods they are approached by the queen elf, Galadriel. She offers them to stay the night, so they accept. In the morning they take boats, and begin to travel down the Great River of Anduin. After traveling many, weary miles they make camp near some woods. After everyone gets settled, Merry notices that Frodo and Boromir are missing. As they start to look for Frodo and Boromir thats when the trouble begins. Frodo is off in the woods exploring, when he is startled by Boromir, who is picking up wood for the fire. Boromir tells Frodo that he shouldnt be out here alone, it could be dangerous.
So Boromir and Frodo begin to talk, and then Boromir mentions that there are other paths that they could take. Frodo knows what he wants so he says there is no other way. Suddenly Boromir lunges at Frodo trying to grab the ring away from him. Frodo puts the ring on and becomes invisible. Boromir cant see Frodo, and so Frodo gets his chance to escape. As Frodo is running away he climbs onto a tower, and stumbles then falls off, then he decides that is safe for him to take the ring off. As he takes the ring off he looks up, and sees Strider, and tells him what Boromir tried to do. Frodo offers the ring to Strider, but he says, â€œThis is your burden, and I cant intervene.
Strider tells Frodo to go on without the other, so Frodo goes. Strider turns around to find orcs standing there, and he begins to fight them off. Legalous and Gimil soon come to Striders aid. Frodo hides behind a tree to catch his breath, and sees Merry and Pippin. They tell Frodo to come over with them and hide, but he says no. Merry realizes that he is going off alone, and tells Frodo to go. Merry and Pippin distract the orcs their way, and then they get trapped. Boromir come out of now where, and saves Merry and Pippin from begin attacked. While Boromir is fighting his gets pierced with 3 arrows, and dies. Merry and Pippin are taken captive by the orcs. Sam spots Frodo and wont let him leave with out him. So Frodo decides that Sam can go, and they head off. The Fellowship is Broken. Gandulf and Boromir died, Merry and Pippin are taken captive. Frodo and Sam are headed off to Mordor, and Strider, Legalous, and Gimil are after Merry and Pippin. They hope that one day soon they will all see each other again, and that the Fellowship will be reunited. There are many themes to this book. I choose a few simple ones such as sticking together, friendship, honor, and trust.
The biggest theme would have to be sacrifice. I mean Frodo, and the other Fellowship members are sacrificing their lives to destroy the ring. Gandulf sacrifices his life to save the others from being harmed by Balrog. Boromir sacrifices his life by protecting Merry and Pippin from orcs. Everyone in the Fellowship is risking something to save Middle-Earth from its doom. They are sacrificing their lives for each other, and thats truly brave, and courageous. This story takes place back in the Dark, and Medieval Ages. Why this might be considered the setting is because back in those ages there were swords,arrows, shields, and spears. Every member of the Fellowship had swords, axes, or arrows. Strider has a sword, Legalous has arrows, Gimil has an axe, and the four hobbits have swords. In the dark ages bad people would come, and attack other people. Just like in this book, orcs attack the Fellowship, and Boromir attacks Frodo. This is why that this is a perfect setting for this story.
Major conflicts in this story would have to be when the Ringwraiths attacked Frodo, and when Gandulf fights the Balrog. The major conflict would have to be Boromir and Frodo fighting over the ring. This is an external conflict because, it is man verses man. Also Frodo fighting the ring would be external to. This would be external because, Frodo is fighting himself in a way, and he is fighting the ring. These conflicts are man verses man. The other conflicts would have to be internal conflicts because; they are many people fighting many others.There are three main characters in this story, Frodo, Gandulf, and Aragorn. Frodo would be the main character out of them all because this book is about him trying to destroy the ring of power. Frodos traits would have to be smart for his age, young, determined, out going, and he is very interested in the world and whats out there to see. Gandulfs traits would have to be very wise, talented, open-minded, a leader, and a follower.
As odd as that may sound Gandulf does have to follow Frodos decisions, and his own decisions. Aragorns traits would have to be strong, dangerous, risk-taking, adventuress, and daring. Aragorn helps Frodo when Gandulf dies, and he leads the other to safety. These are the main characters and their traits. All and all this is an excellent story to read, and there are two other books to finish off what happens. This is my book report on The Lord of the Rings The Fellowship of the Ring.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Nature of Man in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Novel
The nature of man. A simple statement that has badgered human minds for many centuries. Though many authors and philosophers have attempted to tackle this statement, only a few did achieve making sense in their answers. One of these authors happens to be J.R.R Tolkien who wrote the fantasy novel called The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring is a story about a mystical land called middle-earth that contains many peculiar creatures. The story centers around a ring that represents power and the great journey a Hobbit must take to protect this ring yet not become corrupt in the process of it. Along the way he meets a sundry of characters who represent the different parts of humans and help him protect the Ring by becoming the Fellowship of the Ring. This book targets many of the great questions that face humans. It trys to explain our basic characteristics. It talks about our fate and free will. It deciphers the true balance of man and how this balance is preserved. These ideas or concepts all try to clarify the true nature of man. The nature of man is justified through our true characteristics, out fate and free will, and the balance that man truly is and how it is preserved.
The nature of man is truly portrayed through the characteristics of good and evil. In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien talks about the true characteristics of man. At the council of Elrond many creatures meet to discuss what to do with the Ring. While there, Elrond describes how evil comes into play with good.
If any of the Wise should with this Ring overthrow the Lord of Mordor, using his own arts, he would then set himself on Sauron’s throne, and yet another Dark Lord would appear. And that is another reason why the ring should be destroyed: as long as it is in the world it will be a danger even to the Wise. For nothing is evil in the beginning. Even Sauron was not so. I fear to take the Ring to hide it. I will not take the Ring to wield it. (Tolkien, 300)
This is a significant quote because it shows even the wisest part of every man can become evil. Power can turn a good man corrupt yet our true characteristic is being good. In the beginningof the book Frodo and Gandalf are talking about the ring and how it got into the hands of Gollum. Gandalf tells Frodo about Gollum and how the evil inside him came to be. “But that, of course, would only make the evil part of him angrier in the end – unless it could be conquered. Unless it could be cured…Alas! there is little hope of that for him. Yet not no hope.”(60) Aftermentioned, Gandalf is stating that there is a part of us that is evil yet that part can be cured. Gollum represents man’s weak and corrupt side but he also represents hope. The ending of the book ends with Frodo sneaking away to Mordor by himself. Sam catches up to him and refuses to leave so he ends up going. “But I am going to Mordor.’ ‘ I know that well enough, Mr. Frodo. Of course you are. And I’m coming with you.” (457) Sam represents the innocence of humans. He displays true friendship by deciding to go on the journey with him and shows the good side of man. The nature of man, as explained by J.R.R Tolkien, is characterized by good dominating over evil. Man is truly good, yet there are things that may corrupt him and turn him evil. Good and evil will always co-exist and give us our ability to decide our fate.
The true nature of man is illustrated by whether man can determine his own fate through the use of free will, or having his fate already determined for him. When Frodo wakes up in the beginning of Book II, after surviving a Morgul wound, he is greeted by Gandalf who gives him small pieces of information as to where he had been while Frodo explains parts of his story as well. Gandalf looks at Frodo and thinks to himself about what will become the of Hobbit.
Gandalf moved his chair to the bedside, and took a good look at Frodo. The colour had come back to his face, and his eyes were clear, and fully awake and aware. He was smiling, and there seemed to be little wrong with him. But to the wizard’s eye there was a faint change, just a hint as it were of transparency, about him, and especially about the left hand that lay outside upon the coverlet. ‘Still that must be expected,’ said Gandalf to himself. ‘ He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell.’(250)
This shows how Elrond is able to predict what will happen in the future, yet it also shows how even he can’t see what will become of Frodo. The statement represents our fate and how it is set for us, but ultimately we have the ability to change it. In the beginning of the book, Gandalf explains to Frodo the true power of the Ring. Frodo wishes that the ring was not given to him and things could have happened at a different time. “ I wish it need not have happened on my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” (55-56) Stated here, Gandalf explains how only man can decide how their fate plays out by doing the best we can with the time we have. Tolkien is trying to get the point across that we write out own destiny with the choices we make. Throughout the book a multifariousness of characters are introduced. One of these characters is a man who goes by the nickname of Strider even though his true name is Aragorn. Gandalf sends a note to Frodo when he is at The Prancing Pony that tells him to look for Strider but to make sure it is truly him.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king. (193)
Established in the prophecy above, it is shown that destiny is written out and our fate is determined. Tolkien tries to get the point across that even through fate is decided, man has the power to change that by the choices he makes. J.R.R. Tolkien tried to explain how no matter what, man is the true decider of his own destiny. This shows how it is the nature of man to change and mold his own fate. Having the ability to decide between good and bad is what keeps the balance within man.
The nature of man is to keep the balance within the species of man through good and bad. In one of Gandalf and Frodo’s conversations, Frodo wishes death upon the creature Gollum. Gandalf explains to him how he should not be so quick to judge. “He deserves death.’ ‘Deserves it! I dare say he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement.” (65) In the quote shown, Tolkien is trying to explain how the balance of man is maintained. Preserving some good yet also allowing some bad to stay keeps the balance within man who is portrayed by the representation of every character. After Frodo wakes up from his surgery in Book II he has a conversation with Gandalf. At one point of the discussion they talk about Strider and what Frodo feels towards him.
‘I am glad,’ said Frodo. ‘For I have become very fond of Strider. Well, fond is not the right word. I mean he is dear to me; though he is strange, and grim at time. In fact, he reminds me often of you. I didn’t know that any of the Big People were like that. I thought, well, that they were just big, and rather stupid: kind and stupid like Butterbur, or stupid and wicked like Bill Ferny. But then we don’t know much about Men in the shire, except perhaps Breelanders.’(247)
Frodo describes the balance of man when he mentions the wickedness of one and the kindness of another. Aragorn represents the perfect balance of man because he is grim and has fears yet he is becoming wiser everyday through learning from his mistakes and those mistakes of others and he loves. Throughout the journey, The Fellowship of the Ring comes across the land of the elves called Lothlórien. When the Fellowship arrives they meet an elf named Haldir who they converse with during their journey. “The ethough in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”(391) Haldir explains the balance within man as love and grief. Tolkien shows that there is evil but that there is also good which keeps the balance in man. He uses one of the most common contrasts of light and dark to exhibit the balance. The nature of man is to be good and bad. Some men are very good while others are evil yet most men lie in between those two opposing sides which keeps the balance of man.
Our true characteristics, our fate and free will, and the balance that man truly is and how it si preserved are the true justifications for the nature of man. Good and evil truely portray the nature of man. Man’s ability to determine his fate through the use of free will illustrates the true nature of man. By keeping balance within the species of man through good and bad, the nature of man is exhibited. The nature of man is something that will not change drastically but instead will evolve over time. Man is good and bad, man can love and hate, but because of mans nature, authors, philosophers, and poets have been able to continue discovering answers and posing more questions. In the end human’s may never know the true answer to each question that has badgered man since the beginning of time but ultimately each man will draw their own conclusion.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Movie Analysis
At the end of his one hundred and eleventh birthday, Bilbo Baggins mysteriously disappears, or so he citizens of Hobbiton had thought. Bilbo merely slipped his most prized possession on his finger; a golden ring that he won through a game of riddles from the creature Gollum, nearly sixty years before. Being of special powers unknown to Bilbo except for it being able to transform him invisible, the ring was used occasionally and kept at his house in Bag End. After Bilbo slips away from the crowd he gets his belongings and leaves for Rivendell, an ancient Elvish residency. Bilbo therefore leaves his house at Bag End to his nephew Frodo, along with most of his possessions, including the ring, although this is no ordinary ring. This is a ring of power. A ring in which only the Dark Lord Sauron can use to obtain its fullest capacity. On the ring, in elvish script it is written: One ring to rule them all. One ring to bind them. One ring to find them all, and in the darkness bind them. With this ring Sauron can mold all of Middle-Earth to his will. Middle-Earth would be an extremely dark and dangerous place. It is up to Frodo, along with eight other companions to take a journey to the fiery depths of Mount Doom to cast the ring into the fiery chasm whence it came and destroy evil from enduring forever.
In the movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins makes countless decisions on what to do with this situation that he has found himself in. Hes not an adventurous person. In fact, he has never been out of the Shire, (the place where all of the hobbits live) before he was given the ring. But he decides to take the ring to Mount Doom to destroy the ring. Being only three and a half feet tall hobbits this says a lot about hobbits and Frodo in general; the size of their hearts are what make them so unique not the size of their bodies. Frodo has a pure heart to go along with the tremendous amount of strength that it carrys as well. In the movie other people, including his Uncle Bilbo were corrupted by this ring. Even if the ring was never placed in the hands of these people the power of the ring can still corrupt you, so it says a lot about Frodos will and determination. He is by far the strongest of heart in the movie, backing up the statement that size doesnt necessarily matter. Frodo endures a lot of pain and suffering because of this ring, but show s that the integrity in him is too much to give in and give up. Even the smallest of creatures can change the course of the world.
Gandalf the Grey, the wandering wizard as he is known to the hobbits in the Shire, is one of two wizards in this movie. Gandalf is the undeclared leader of the Fellowship and the chief advisor to Frodo on this quest. This immortal wizard is about nine feet tall and has unimaginable power. His power is not only in his wizardry, but also in the uncountable amount of knowledge that he has available whenever or wherever needed. He ends up saving the Fellowship numerous times by his powers and knowledge. After saving his own self once, while being held prisoner by the evil wizard Saruman, Gandalf the Grey cant save himself again when a Balrog ( a very large and extraordinarily powerful, ancient demon) drags Gandalf into the depths of Khazad-dum (an ancient dwarf mine). Gandalf has a very kind face and disposition to go along with a compassionate heart. He turns down the chance to be the keeper of the ring, inevitabley stopping an even greater power from ruling than even the Dark Lord could let loose. Gandalf rarely changes as the movie goes on but remains constant in his intentions to destroy the ring.
Of the nine companions, one has a part that will compel him to be the king of men in Middle-Earth, if the one ring and the Dark Lord are destroyed. Aragorn, son of Arathorn or as he is introduced in the book, Strider, is the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. Gondor is the main kingdom and most powerful city that inhabits Middle-Earth. Aragorn was the nine and thirtieth heir to the right line of Isildur, the one who cut the ring from Saurons hand. Isildur had this one chance to destroy the ring and Sauron forever, but he decided to keep the ring for himself, not being able to pass up this possibility for inconceivable power. But while agents of the Dark Lord try to get the ring from Isildur, the ring gets lost in the great river Andrudin , while Isildur is attempting to swim to safety. Evil is allowed to endure. Its because of this error that shapes Aragorn into the man he is. Aragorn feels that because he has the blood of Isildur flowing through his veins he will be doomed to the same fate as well. But as we see in the movie, Aragorn uses that fear as a source of motivation and strength to overcome the persistence of evil. Aragorn is highly intelligent and extremely gifted in size as well as his ability to use that size in fighting. He is the captain of the Dunedain, or Rangers who patrol and roam many northern lands as guardians to many borders. He is uncontested my favorite character in this movie. He portrays the type of man every person of the male sex would want to be compared to. His mannerisms and the kindness towards all that is good in Middle-Earth truly make him very righteous and noble. He also intends to marry Arwen, an elf, daughter of Elrond a lord of elves, head of the elves of Mirkwood and Rivendell. Aragorn shows his true strength; his strength of heart when Frodo offers Aragorn to take possession of the ring, but Strider denies this offer to show his strength of strong will. Strider will have a tough task ahead of him to keep the determination of completing the task appointed to him as well as the eight others. Decisions that he will have to make along the journey will prove his worth to the throne of Gondor.
Samwise Gamgee is the definition of what a true friend is. Even after Frodo secretly leaves the group to take the One Ring to Mordor himself, Samwise chases after him to make there not an ounce of doubt that he will stick with Frodo no matter what the stakes. Samwise, or Sam as he is called by his companions, is another hobbit who happens to be Frodos best friend. He is a stout hobbit who proves to be filled with courage in battle, as well as on the journey, that could take the place of ten hobbits. Sam was Frodo and Bilbos gardener at Bag End when they still lived there. Since they were kids Sam and Frodo were great friends, always hanging out together doing the things young hobbits did at their age. Sams strength of courage is something that he never realized he had, until this perilous journey. Sam helps to save Frodo a few times in this movie. The most memorable was in the mines of Moria when Sam helped to defeat numerous Orcs as well as a Cave Troll. He is not the brightest of hobbits, but make no mistake that he is one of the truest and strong willed of the companions, especially to Frodo. As the movie progresses we see Sam getting stronger, and hungrier. He has a big appetite for food, as do all hobbits. Not to mention his love for a drink of good ale!
Nine determined companions on a perilous journey to determine the outcome of Middle-Earth. The One Ring to be destroyed. Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Merriedoc Brandybuck, Perigrin Took all hobbits from the Shire, Gandalf the Grey, Strider, Boromir from Gondor, Legolas an elf from Mirkwood, and Gimli the dwarf all are in the most incredibly challenging pursuit of defeating evil that anyone has ever had to face to date. Only time will tell how these nine comrades deal with the problems and stumbles they encounter along their way to Mordor.
I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had ever happened, said Frodo. So do all who live to see such times, replied Gandalf reassuringly, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to you.
The Fellowship of the Ring: Comparing the Text and the Film
Tolkien’s colourful world of Middle Earth has been a place of escapist adventure in the minds of many since its humble beginnings in the mid-1950s. Ever since his novel The Fellowship of the Ring debuted, it has inspired minds with its epic tales of unheard bravery, touched hearts with its scenes of sacrificial love and graced people’s souls with its deeper philosophical comments who we are as a society and as individuals. It was the responsibility of carrying these elements into a new medium that Peter Jackson gladly received in 1997 when he won the rights to begin producing a film adaptation. Although under much pressure to recreate the world of The Lord of the Rings accurately, Jackson excelled, creating a film which reflects the book almost seamlessly and is a classic in its own right. Effective casting, award winning soundtracks and captivating film techniques are all used to enhance Jackson’s detailed and accurate retelling of a timeless story. Readers of the novel connect emotionally with Tolkien’s characters, and creating a consistency in the movie required the casting of appropriate and effective actors.
Characterisation is always a major aspect in any adaption from one form media to another. The way that characters are portrayed in order to meet previous expectations of readers is a pivotal element of any successful adaption. Actors were chosen in The Fellowship of the Ring to reflect the appearances, mannerisms and personalities of the original characters. Jackson went to great lengths in order to cast actors who effectively fulfilled their characters, and one clear example of this dedication is found in the casting of the character Aragorn. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn is a confident, knowledgeable, and strong character. His rough appearances are somewhat deceptive, as he is actually an heir to the throne, and this regality becomes increasingly evident throughout the novel. After Stuart Townsend’s offer to play the role was declined, Viggo Mortensen was chosen; because of his commanding presence, older appearance, and his capability to demonstrate the concerned yet confident personality of Aragorn. The main character throughout the film and the movie is Frodo Baggins, an inexperienced, knowledgeable and somewhat introverted hobbit with whom the duty of destroying the Ring is bestowed. In casting this character, a young adult was required who could portray the immense emotion experienced by Frodo in the novel while also playing the role of a happy, carefree young man found in the opening chapters. Elijah Wood was extremely successful at developing the dynamic characterisation that is found in the literary character, and his wealth of acting experience; in both comedy and philosophical drama, made him appropriate for the role. Due to the fantasy nature of the novel, makeup artists and visual effects were utilised in order to match appearances with the characters dwelling within the imaginations of readers. These attempts at creating characters which reflected the comprehensive descriptions from Tolkien were award-winning, with the film being receiving Academy Awards for ‘Best Makeup’ and ‘Best Visual Effects’. The cast of The Fellowship of the Ring film successfully reflect the characters in readers’ imaginations, seamlessly bringing them to the silver screen. However, other elements of a novel must also be considered when transferring a story from one medium to another.
Iconic scenes are one such element, and as they are etched in the memories of readers, great care must be taken to successfully retell in another medium. Tolkien’s novel is filled with iconic scenes, masterful strokes of detailed narration, which provide the reader with vivid visuals of the environment, characters and actions that take place. Due to the time constraints imposed on films, however, many scenes must be shortened or omitted. Straight omission often leaves readers dissatisfied, and not all scenes can be shortened. For these reasons, Jackson combined several scenes, retaining the meaning and significance of the original scenes whilst shortening the time taken to portray them. One such scene is present when the Fellowship is introduced to the Ringwraiths. Various cinematic techniques are deployed in order to bring tension and a sense of innate horror to the scene. As they are travelling down a forest path, the sound of horse hooves is heard, and they quickly dive off the path, aware that they are being chased. They take refuge beneath a large tree root, and all ambient bird noise ceases. The camera pans low, looking up through the undergrowth at the hiding hobbits and the Ringwraith above. This low angle gives a sense of vulnerability, and vilifies the Ringwraith immediately, showing its immense power and evil intent. The sharp, angular iron armour that he wears provides strong connotations of cruelty and strength. The next camera angle positions the hand of the Wraith directly above the hobbits, revealing how close he actually is. Insects and worms then squirm out of the soil around the hobbits, showing the repulsiveness of the Wraith, that even nature is repulsed. At this point, quiet, eerie music rises, deepening the tension and providing an element of suspense. The evil presence of the Wraith begins to overpower Frodo, and he goes to place the Ring on his finger. The soundtrack’s volume increases, signalling the importance of this action, and close-up shots of the characters convey their emotional reaction. The Wraith is then distracted and leaves with a hideous shriek. The Foley used for the shriek utilities various animal-like noises to create a terrifying sound effect which reflects the book. Tolkien writes, “darkness went with them, and they cried with the voices of death”, and this is accurately depicted in the film. This timeless scene is a result of combining two pivotal experiences from the book. In one, Frodo “threw himself down in a patch of long grass behind a tree”, with the other hobbits hiding in a dip off the side of the road. The second scene in the book describes how the Hobbits “had no time to find any hiding-place better than the general darkness under the trees.” In this scene, they hid behind a tree trunk, and Frodo cautiously crept towards the road to view his enemy. The clever mixture of these two scenes retains the scenery and actions of characters, as they hide behind a tree from an unknown enemy. It also conveys the intense fear and horror of the Ringwraith which is present in the novel. This scene in the film uses multiple semiotic codes in order to successfully meets reader’s expectations and convey the concepts present in the book.
When successfully utilised, Semiotic Codes provide deeper meaning and understanding to viewers of a film, better recreating aspects of a novel in a movie. Howard Shore’s musical composition for The Fellowship of the Ring is extremely clever in the way that it utilises the musical device of leitmotifs throughout the film. This technique involves assigning a musical score to a particular group of people, or a place, and creating variants of that score to mirror the tensions throughout the story. One especially effective leitmotif is that of the Fellowship. This simple tune is played with varying instruments, in different keys throughout the movie, revealing the emotions of the group of hobbits. Initially, it is played with a single French horn, in a happy major key. In the following scenes, two additional French horns join the ensemble, representing the growing nature of the Fellowship. When enemies begin chasing the group, a timpani drum beat signals a sense of urgency. Much later in the movie, the score is played in a minor key, as they are overcome by dark forces. Finally, in the closing scenes of the movie, and entire brass band and orchestra play the tune loudly, providing a sense of joy and accomplishment. The musical score compliments the book excellently, conveying the same emotions and tensions that are found in Tolkien’s novel. Whilst composing the score for the film, Shore is recorded saying, “Tolkien spent fourteen years writing The Lord of the Rings. And now you’re writing a musical image, creating a musical mirror, if you will, to his writing. “Jackson had similar thoughts when selecting a composer for the film. He stated, “I wanted the music to reflect Tolkien. I wanted the music to also bring the world of Middle Earth to life.” Music is one aspect which aided the adaption greatly, and contributed to its overall success, eventually winning an Academy Award for Best Original Music Score. However, not all aspects of the adaption are this successful.
For instance, many scenes and characters are overlooked in the film, and this has a major impact on the film due to preformed expectations from readers of the novel. One such character and his corresponding scene is completely omitted from the film, to the dismay of many readers. This character is Tom Bombadil, the whimsical, benevolent and generous man who saves Frodo and Sam before inviting them into his home. This scene was omitted in order to reduce the length of the film, and also to avoid overcomplicating the plot. However, this scene is also a place of great character development, and by removing it from the film, significant characterization and plot structure is lost. Tom Bombadil is the first and only person that the Hobbits meet who is not affected by the power of the ring, and this development reveals to them that there is a greater, stronger good in their world than the evil which seems ever-present. This provides much needed relief to the plot, and gives Frodo and Sam a sense of hope, and strength to continue their journey. The omission of various scenes, including Tom Bombadil’s, which aid characterization in the book conflicts with the preconceived ideas of the readers. However, effective casting, visual effects and makeup, combined with semiotic codes, supplement characterization, reflecting Tolkien’s text accurately.
Peter Jackson’s adaption of The Fellowship of the Ring from novel to film is very successful, despite several omissions of characterization and plot structure. Appropriate casting and makeup enabled the viewers of the film to recognize and relate Tolkien’s characters. Howard shore’s musical composition employs various leitmotifs, cleverly weaving a musical and thoroughly emotional response throughout the film, bringing an additional element and another level of accuracy to the storytelling. This musical brilliance is present in one of the movie’s most iconic scenes, when the Hobbits first meet a Ringwraith. This scene epitomises the utilization of cinematic techniques and semiotic codes which are present throughout the duration of the film, each mirroring certain aspects of the original novel. Peter Jackson has masterfully created a classic film, which captures the heart of Tolkien’s novel, and brings it to an even wider audience than ever.
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy as an Epic
From within the Shire, an unlikely hero arises. Equipped with a golden ring forged from the fires of Mount Doom, assigned an adventerous quest to save Middle Earth, and accompanied by clumsy yet loyal gardener Samwise Gamgee, young hobbit Frodo Baggins assumes the role of ringbearer, journeying through various wordly realms in order to destroy an ancient evil force and restore peace to the land. Through the extraordinary and often unpredictable endeavors of Frodo and his companions, the Lord of the Rings films reveal numerous criteria essential to an epic, exemplifying the tendency for good to thrive in the face of evil. Crucial to their success as an epic, the iconic films depict a quest of grand importance. With origins explained in the opening scene of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, the trilogy portrays a continuation of a past conflict, wherein “a master ring to control all others” was created by the dark lord Sauron, and re-emerged years later as the cause of Frodo Baggin’s journey.
This backstory is the first epic criterion to present itself in the films, mimicking the thorough description of past events that is common to the genre, and first presenting the malicious force to be confronted in the expedition. Continuing in this vein, Sauron, as the main antagonist and root of Frodo’s mission, exemplifies the good versus evil element vital to an epic quest. Ruler of the flame-encompassed land of Mordor, occupied by ghastly orcs, Sauron stands in stark contrast to the benevolent and mild-mannered Frodo, a humble hobbit who has been chosen by the Council of Elrond to defend Middle Earth from corruption. Not only is this aspect of the quest essential in that it depicts conflicting forces of morality and maliciousness, but it also shows the vast importance of Frodo’s mission. Upon pushing the creature Gollum and the One Ring into to the flames of Mount Doom, Frodo ends a war that would have most likely brought about the death of his friends and allowed Sauron to assume control of Middle Earth, proving the extreme significance of his assigned task, and displaying the eternal triumph of good when faced with evil.
Frodo’s adventure, featuring an extensive back-story, moral individuals battling a spiteful force, and a paramount task, excellently fills the criteria of an epic quest. Yet alongside Frodo, characters such as Aragorn, Legolas, and Samwise present themselves as important defenders of good throughout the trilogy; each individual, in his actions and attributes, represents qualities essential to an epic hero. Frodo and Samwise, two righteous hobbits, Legolas, a wise elf, and Aragorn, a brave human, all display the values of their societies through their endeavors, a popular aspect of epic heroes. As the only individual out of the Council of Elrond capable of carrying the One Ring without experiencing corruption, Frodo exemplifies the good-nature of the hobbit species, and also reiterates the epic quality of good versus evil as he is a pure individual. This idea also presents itself in the actions of Aragorn, who represents the leadership qualities possessed by humanity as he guides Frodo and his friends away from the Nazgûl, servants of Sauron. Moreover, each of these characters is known to perform extraordinary feats in order to defend goodness, another essential quality of an epic hero. During the final movie, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Samwise attempts to help Frodo accomplish his journey to Mount Doom, exclaiming, “I can’t carry [the ring] for you, but I can carry you!” Thus, Samwise, a small hobbit, is able to carry Frodo up a mountain so that he may finish his task and save Middle Earth, displaying both an act of tremendous strength as well as a success of good despite discouragement from evil.
With an intriguing storyline, colorful characters, and a notable setting, The Lord of the Rings trilogy has found success as one of the most influential and popular film series of all time. Although unique in creation, many of the trilogy’s prominent aspects are deeply rooted in historical literary tradition. As the endeavors and ideals of Frodo and his companions unfold throughout the films, it becomes apparent that this series depicts qualities essential to an epic, and instills within the viewer the eternal message that in the face of evil, good will always be victorious.
Temptation in The Lord of The Rings
Temptation is a central theme in J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. Many characters throughout the novel are tempted to use the power of the Ring to change the world as they see fit. Some seek to use its power for selfish, personal gain, while others, out of ignorance, believe they can accomplish great acts of good with the power of the Ring at their disposal. Regardless of their intentions, the Ring is able to influence people in mysterious ways, making them lash out or act abnormally. Tolkien did an excellent job demonstrating the perils of temptation in The Lord of The Rings; and as temptation is a major theme in Christianity and Tolkien a devout Catholic, there are parallels between how temptation is portrayed in his work and how it is presented in Christianity.
Tolkien’s mother was a Catholic convert and a single mother for much of his childhood. His father had fallen ill and died in South Africa leaving his wife to care for Tolkien and his brother in the UK. Tolkien’s mother worked very hard to maintain her family but sadly passed away while Tolkien was still a child, “Overworked and isolated for her Catholicism, she died not long after Tolkien’s First Communion, but not before assigning guardianship of her sons to a priest and friend at the Birmingham Oratory, Father Francis Morgan, who continued their instruction in the faith (they celebrated Mass with him each day before their studies)” (How Did J.R.R. Tolkien’s Catholicism Influence His Writing?).
Tolkien remained a devout Catholic for the rest of his life. In a 1953 letter to a friend and priest, Father Robert Murray, Tolkien explained how religion affected his writing, “The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion’, to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”
Tolkien’s Christian upbringing has undoubtedly affected the subjects and themes of his writing. One of the most noticeable being the struggle against temptation. Featured heavily throughout his writing in The Lord of The Rings, it is also large aspect of Christianity. In The Oxford English Dictionary temptation is described as “The action of tempting or fact of being tempted, esp. to evil; enticement, allurement, attraction” (“Temptation”). The struggle against temptation not only is a constant throughout The Lord of The Rings but is also very prevalent throughout the Bible. “No evils shall happen to him that feareth the Lord, but in temptation God will keep him, and deliver him from evils” (Sirach 33:1) and “Let no temptation take hold on you, but such as is human. And God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able: but will make also with temptation issue, that you may be able to bear it.” (Corinthians 10:13)
Being vital to the story, Tolkien made sure to establish the allure and temptation of the Ring early within the first chapter. Directly after Bilbo’s speech and disappearance, he headed back to his home to prepare for his departure. Gandalf came in shortly after and began conversing with Bilbo concerning his future plans, and more importantly, to ensure Bilbo left the Ring according to their prior agreement. At first Bilbo comes across as somewhat hesitant and annoyed at the prospect of giving up the ring, yet still compliant. He tells Gandalf, “‘I don’t like parting with it at all, I may say. And I don’t really see why I should. Why do you want me to?’ he asked, and a curious change came over his voice. It was sharp with suspicion and annoyance” (The Fellowship of The Ring 41). But then as Gandalf proceeds to explain to Bilbo the truth of the matter Bilbo becomes visibly angry and hostile towards the prospect of losing the Ring.
“Bilbo flushed and there was an angry light in his eyes. His kindly face grew hard. ‘Why not?’ he cried. ‘And what business of is it of yours, anyway, to know what I do with my own things? It is my own. I found it. It came to me.’ ‘Yes, yes,’ said Gandalf. ‘But there is no need to get angry.’ ‘ If I am it is your fault,’ said Bilbo. ‘ It is mine, I tell you. My own. My precious. Yes, my precious'” (The Fellowship of The Ring 42).
However with some persuasion from Gandalf, Bilbo is able to overcome the temptation of the Ring and leave it behind. This scene is especially significant as it is the first time the Ring’s influence and power over people is alluded to in the story. Tolkien is able to set a sort of precedent for how the Ring is to affect characters throughout The Lord of The Rings and establish the threat it poses to those who possess it.
Not everyone is resilient enough to resist the temptation of the Ring, and those that are able to resist are by no means immune to its allure. Tolkien demonstrates what becomes of those who succumb to the Ring in Chapter 2 when Gandalf is explaining to Frodo the history of the Ring. Gandalf tells Frodo of how Gollum was overcome by his desire for the Ring and murdered his friend Deagol. “…he caught Deagol by the throat and strangled him, because the gold looked so bright and beautiful” (The Fellowship of The Ring 62). The Ring consumed Gollum and he paid dearly for his weakness. According to Alberto Mingardi, “The Lord of the Rings is the epic journey to destroy the One Ring, which symbolizes power – and this is very clear when you understand that the Ring not only confers power but also imposes serfdom on the wearer. The man who wears the Ring becomes a slave at the same time as he is made supremely powerful.” This idea is later reinforced when Gandalf says “It was not Gollum, Frodo, but the Ring itself that decided things” (The Fellowship of The Ring 65). So the Ring doesn’t entice people to take control as much as it ensnares them with lust for power. The idea that one is tempted and ensnared by sin appears frequently within the Bible. One such example was used in reference to the worship of idols, “Therefore there shall be no respect had even to the idols of the Gentiles: because the creatures of God are turned to an abomination, and a temptation to the souls of men, and a snare to the feet of the unwise” (Wisdom 14:11). According to the Bible, giving into the temptation of sin will result in one becoming an abomination in the eyes of God.
Bilbo himself was tempted by the Ring once again in Chapter 1 of Book II. Frodo encountered Bilbo during his stay in Rivendell and after a brief but happy reunion Bilbo immediately began to inquire about the Ring. “‘Have you got it here?’ He asked in a whisper” (The Fellowship of The Ring 244). Hesitantly, Frodo allowed Bilbo to look at the Ring. Bilbo put out his hand. But Frodo quickly drew back the Ring. To his distress and amazement he found he was no longer looking at Bilbo; a shadow seemed to have fallen between them and through it he found himself eyeing a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands” (The Fellowship of The Ring 244). Luckily Bilbo was able to resist the temptation once more and told Frodo to put the Ring away.
The Ring’s temptation doesn’t always come in the form of malice. Many mistakenly believe they can use the Ring’s power for good. Gandalf himself refused to touch the Ring because he was well aware of its ability to corrupt even those with good intentions. Initially Frodo didn’t want to bear the burden of the Ring and offered it to Gandalf. “‘Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good” (The Fellowship of The Ring 71). Similarly in the Bible it is mentioned how temptation isn’t necessarily born out of a place of malice and even people with noble intentions and a strong will can be ensnared. “Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh weak” (Matthew 26:41). Boromir was also tempted to use the Ring’s power for good. “For you seem ever to think only of its power in the hands of the Enemy: of its evil uses not of its good… It is a gift, I say; a gift to the foes of Mordor. It is mad not to use it, to use the power of the Enemy against him” (The Fellowship of The Ring 414). After ranting on about his plans to use the power of the Ring against Sauron he came to the realization that Frodo would not give up the Ring willingly and attempted to take it through force. “‘For I am too strong for you, halfling,’ he cried; and suddenly he sprang over the stone and leaped at Frodo. His fair and pleasant face was hideously changed; a raging fire was in his eyes.” Frodo was able to escape Boromir by putting on the Ring and becoming invisible. Boromir later came back to his senses, realizing the Ring’s power had tempted him. Here Tolkien has shown that individuals who wish to do good are still at risk of temptation by evil just as how it was described in Mathew 26:41.
As the Ring’s temptation was a constant throughout the Lord of The Rings it plays a pivotal role in the climax in Return of The King. Frodo and Sam had traveled very long and far to destroy the Ring once in for all in the fires of Mt. Doom. The destruction of the Ring was the sole purpose of their quest and they had resisted it’s temptation thus far. However, when confronted with the opportunity to destroy the Ring once and for all, Frodo hesitated.
“Then Frodo stirred and spoke with a clear voice, indeed with a voice clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard him use, and it rose above the throb and turmoil of Mount Doom, ringing in the roof and walls. ‘I have come,’ he said. ‘But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!’ And suddenly as he set it on his finger, he vanished from Sam’s sight” (Return of The King 223).
After resisting its allure for the majority of The Lord of The Rings, Frodo finally gave into the temptation of the ring. Luckily for the sake of Middle Earth Frodo wasn’t the only one to give into the temptation of the Ring on Mount Doom. Gollum attacked Frodo, bit off his finger, and wrestled the Ring from him. “‘My Precious! O my Precious!’ And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped to far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail Precious, and he was gone” (Return of The King 224). Ultimately Gollum’s lack of self control and enslavement to the Ring were his demise, but at the same time his weakness inadvertently saved Middle Earth and accomplished Frodo’s quest during his time of weakness. Thus proving that those unable to break free from the Ring’s grasp and resist temptation will ultimately be brought to their doom. The concept that giving into temptation will ultimately result in loss and suffering can be seen in the Bible as well. In the story of Eden, Eve gives in to the temptation to eat the fruit and pays the price when she and Adam are cast out of the Garden of Eden. “This temptation and punishment is paralleled in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. In Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, those who are tempted and take the Ring may get what they want, but in the end they pay a price just like Eve did” (Temptation and the Ring in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring). Gollum never truly gave up his desire for the Ring and paid with his life when he snapped on Mount Doom. Frodo fell into the Ring’s temptation as well, and he did not escape unscathed as his inaction during the moment of truth ultimately cost him his finger.
The temptation of the Ring plays a major role in The Fellowship of The Ring, both driving the plot forward and forcing characters to confront and resist the urge to use its power as they see fit. Furthermore, witnessing how different characters deal with the Ring plays a vital role in character development. Tolkien was able to draw upon lessons taught during his Catholic upbringing and apply this aspect of temptation as a driving force behind his novel.
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J.R.R. Tolkien: The True Lord of the Rings
There is little doubt that J.R.R. Tolkien has become, in his short reign within literary fiction, nothing short of legendary. His stories, while only recently presented in blockbuster films, have ensnared and enthralled thousands of readers around the world. While many “cultured” critics still scoff at this work, the effect Tolkien has had on everyday readers is nearly as profound as the control he had over Middle Earth in his novels. Tolkien, while certainly a master of all elements of fiction, displayed unquestionable proficiency in the areas of character and setting.
Ann Charters defines character simply as “any person who plays a part in a narrative” (Charters 1045). Charters also defines flat characters as those which are, “simple, one-dimensional, unsurprising, and usually unchanging,” and round characters as those who are, “complex, full, described in detail, often contradictory, and usually dynamic,” or changing (Charters 1045). The interesting part of Tolkien’s work is that there are absolutely no flat characters. The world of Middle Earth is changing and all the creatures within it change as well. Tolkien’s ability to control the fates of the hundreds of characters in his novels may be the single most important aspect of his novels. It is with these characters that readers identify, and this identification moves the readers from a detached, on-looking relationship to an involved, personal experience within the world Tolkien creates. His development of characters seems to focus on one main character at a time, shifting purposefully from one to another.
Specifically, Tolkien shifts from Bilbo to Frodo Baggins. In developing these characters, the author teaches his readers much about the world of Middle Earth and characters that populate it. In the first chapter of Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien introduces Bilbo Baggins and seemingly focuses entirely on him. An observant reader will, however, notice that we are given insight into the personalities of dozens of characters. For instance, Ham Gamgee, “The Old Gaffer,” tells other hobbits, “Elves and Dragons! I says to him. Cabbages and potatoes are better for me and you” (Tolkien 24). When no one objects to this statement, readers are enabled to understand the general character of all hobbits. While Ham Gamgee may play only a small part in the rest of this story, readers also learn about the background of Sam Gamgee through this and other quotes from his father. It is this background that gives Tolkien’s characters the depths into which readers may delve. By telling us not only what a character is like and how he or she changes throughout the story, but also why and how he or she became a certain way within Middle Earth society, Tolkien gives his readers a sense of personal attachment, as if they really know the characters intimately. Tolkien, even while introducing minor parts, never fails to develop specific traits. Even Radagast the Brown, a wizard who is mentioned briefly on no more than two occasions is no exception to this rule. Tolkien tells his readers where Radagast used to dwell and explains his relationship with Gandalf, the only character with whom Radagast interacts (Tolkien 250). Glorfindel, the Elf-Lord whose horse Frodo rides across the ford to Elrond, is also a well developed-character, as Gandalf explains his nature and background to Frodo after their arrival in the House of Elrond at Rivendell (Tolkien 217-218). Through these descriptions of all the characters in his novels, Tolkien provides an emotional connection with Middle Earth and makes the story seem less fiction and more like a detailed dream in which readers are completely immersed.
This immersion, while an exceptional accomplishment, is only one part of what brings readers into Tolkien’s world. The characterization makes readers feel as though they actually know the creatures in the story, while the setting makes readers feel as though they are walking alongside these characters on their journey through Middle Earth. When these two are combined, readers feel that they have become an integral part of the story. In her essay, “Master of Middle Earth,” Alina Corday stated that Tolkien’s, “penchant for perfectionism slowed his progress mightily” while writing his novels (Corday 3). She also mentions that Tolkien found it necessary to learn how to stew a rabbit before including such an event in his novel (Corday 3). This perfectionism is evidenced greatly in his development of the setting. After the prologue and before the first chapter, Tolkien includes a detailed map of The Shire. At the end of the novel, he includes six additional maps, all of which are drawn in great detail and depict parts of the world he has created. Charters defined setting as, “The place and time in which a story’s action takes place” (Charters 1051). This simple definition is certainly fulfilled nowhere better than in the maps and, perhaps, a dozen exceptional pages of the novel. Charters does not, however, end her definition there. She goes on to state that setting includes “the culture and ways of life of the characters and the shared beliefs and assumptions that guide their lives” (Charters 1051). Tolkien even goes so far as to explain what hobbits smoke in pipes, the history behind the practice, and where the best “pipe weed” is grown (Tolkien 7-9). As the story progresses, detailed descriptions are given of every area through which the story takes us. In fact, Tolkien often presents background on parts of the setting before they are formally introduced to his readers. For instance, The Old Forest through which the Hobbits pass upon leaving The Shire is discussed in detail before the party even decides to travel through it. It is described as a dark, treacherous place, and is obviously a place that the Hobbits fear (Tolkien 104-109). Because they have this background, readers are able to experience the feelings of apprehension, surprise, and wonder in the same way that the characters experience them.
In his obsession with perfection, Tolkien created an entirely new world, complete with customs, languages, races, songs, and countries. He also created a plethora of individuals through whom his story is conveyed and with whom his readers identify. While he created this world and everything in it, he could not stray from the characters and lands he crafted. Because of this, he had little control over the events once he set them in motion. Tolkien, like the Lord of the Rings in the novel, became unable to govern actions beyond himself. He could only set obstacles and helping hands before the characters and allow them to play out the story as they would, as if they were, in fact, real people in a real world that began in one man’s mind and now exists in the minds and hearts of thousands of readers.
Norse Influences on Galadriel in The Fellowship of the Ring
J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is a testament to the man’s passion for mythology. As was also the case with his zeal for philology, Tolkien utilized elements of mythology to reinvent the past, creating a living, breathing, nearly palpable world through great depth of detail and breadth of material. One of the manifestations of these interests can be found in the character Galadriel in the first book of his trio, The Fellowship of the Ring. In it, Tolkien infuses Galadriel with facets of Norse mythology, namely the goddess Freyja with her power, beauty, and magic crafts, and the all-knowing Norns. The influence of the Norse goddess Freyja on the creation of Galadriel suffuses her (Galadriel’s) character with an aura of authority and supremacy among all other elves. One apparent manifestation of this power is in the names of Freyja and her twin brother Frey, which respectively translate to “Lady” and “Lord” (Sturluson 52). This title undoubtedly reflects the prominent status of both of these deities, with Frey called “an exceedingly famous god” (52) and Freyja “the most renowned of the goddesses” (53). Celeborn and Galadriel are also referred to as “the Lord and Lady” (Tolkien 338) of the fabled Lothlorien, which Legolas describes as “the fairest of all the dwellings of my people” (326). Galadriel and Celeborn have clear supremacy in this land, as do Freyja and Frey amongst the pantheon of gods and goddesses. The environment of Lothlorien itself is similar to Freyja and Galadriel. The mythical land is depicted as a place where “no shadow lay” (340) and “no blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lorien there was no stain” (341). The ability to ward off evil, combined with this idea of “no blemish,” reflects the description of Freyja with Freyr and Galadriel with Celeborn as simultaneously “beautiful and powerful” (Sturluson 52) / “grave and beautiful” (Tolkien 345). Power and gravity are demonstrated in the way both Freyja and Galadirel use their dwellings. Freyja allows one half of humans slain in battle to sit in her hall, where warriors are soothed by her enchanting music and loveliness until they are reunited with their wives (Anderson 186), while Galadriel invites the fellowship to Lothlorien for similar respite. “I feel as if I was inside a song, if you get my meaning,” says Sam while traveling to Lothlorien, to which Haldir knowingly replies “You feel the power of the Lady of the Galadhrim” (342). Additional traits common to Freyja and Galadriel are their gift-giving and their affinity for jewelry. Freyja is known for craft, and a few of her alternate names – particularly “Gefn” (Giver) and “Syr” (Sow) – affirm this talent (Sturluson 59). One example is the magical “cloak of bird feathers” she makes that allows the wearer to disguise himself as a bird (Cotterell and Storm 192). Galadriel also creates enchanted gifts, including cloaks described as “light to wear, and warm enough or cool enough at need” and could provide “great aid in keeping out of sight of unfriendly eyes” (Tolkien361). Freyja’s greatest treasure is a necklace likened to “a constellation of stars in the night sky” which she acquired by sleeping with four dwarfs, but for having “debased her divinity” she must “stir up war in Midgard” as punishment from Odin (Cotterell and Storm 198, 187). Galadriel possesses a ring that “twinkled as if the Even-star had come down to rest upon her hand’ (Tolkien 355) and is tempted by another “Great Ring,” but she admits that taking it would have yielded destruction just as Freyja’s greed stirred up war: “Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning. Stronger than the foundations of earth. All shall love me and despair!” (Tolkien 356). Freyja’s magic art of seidr resembles Galadriel’s powers. Seidr, “an ecstatic kind of sorcery… [in which] it seems the mind can be sent forth” (Dobat 166) allows Freyja to see and affect the future. She introduces the art to the Norns, nearly omniscient beings said to “shape the lives of men” by predetermining their destiny (Sturluson 44). Galadriel can also tell the future, as when she predicts the arrival and blindfolding of the fellowship before the arrive: “It seems that the lady knows who and what is each member of your company” (Tolkien 341). She also admits to “knowing what was and is, and in part also what shall be” but insists she “will not give… counsel, saying do this, or do that. For not in doing or contriving, nor in choosing between this course and another, can I avail” (348). Water is another theme that runs through these stories. The Norns preserve Yggadrasil, the tree on which everything lives, using healing water from the spring of Urd (translated as “destiny”) where they reside (Sturluson 45); Galadriel uses a well as a mirror to “show things that were, things that are, and things that yet may be” (352), which helps Frodo and Sam accomplish their quest to save the world. Also, water in both places has curative powers. The spring of Urd is said to be so sacred “that everything that comes into the spring becomes white as the film that lies within the eggshell” (Sturluson 46), while one crossing the curative river Nimrodel in Lothlorien “felt that the stain of travel and all weariness was washed from his limbs” (330). Tolkien uses Norse mythology not simply for cultural reference or comparison but as material with which to construct his new kind of folklore. By drawing upon the characteristics of Norse deities Freyja and the Norns to create Galadriel, he infuses her with history and authenticity that would be absent from a character totally invented. Tolkien’s use of myth extends well beyond Galadriel, and scholars continue to scour the trilogy for new evidence of this significant, but often subtle, influence. Works CitedAnderson, Rasmus. Norse Mythology. 4th. Charlottesville, VA: S. C. Griggs and company, 1884. Web.Andren, Anders, Kristina Jennbert and Catharina Raudvere. Old Norse Religion in Long Term Perspectives: Origins, Changes and Interactions. Nordic Academic Press, 2006. Web.Cotterell, Arthur and Storm, Rachel. The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology. London: Anness Publishing, 2008. Print.Keary, Annie. The Heroes of Asgard. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1871. Web.Sturluson, Snorri. “The Deluding of Gylfi.” The Prose Edda. Ed. Jean I. Young. Berkely: University of California Press, 1992. Print.Tolkien, J.R.R.. The Fellowship of the Ring. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994. Print.