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.
Reconciliation with the Past in Tolkien’s Ring Trilogy
Reconciliation with the past is a major theme throughout Tolkien’s trilogy, and the gap between the powerful, undying beings of the past and the mortal men of the present and future is starkly evident when the characteristics of the ancient domains are held up against the kingdoms of men. In the first book of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien creates a rhythmic fluctuation between pleasure and disquietude, which gives the novel an almost serial quality as the characters go back and forth from imminent danger to homely safety. As the story progresses beyond the breaking of the Fellowship in the next two novels, however, the distinction between peril and safety becomes increasingly blurred. The havens of western Middle Earth described in The Fellowship of the Ring are maintained by ancient, well-established beings like Tom Bombadil, Elrond and Galadriel whose power is strong within their own respective lands, but these figures of the past are only remnants of a dying age. Bombadil is at the extremity of natural history while Elrond and Galadriel represent the original adversaries of the Enemy, and the preeminence of all three, especially the elves, is destined to fade with the coming of the Fourth Age, the Age of Man.When the Fellowship is intact, the elder havens that provide respite from their perilous journey are undisputed strongholds which no evil can penetrate, but the bastions farther east that the broken Fellowship encounters are much more unstable and guarded by mortal men rather than the ancient, powerful beings. At this point, the story enters fully into the world of men, where elves are viewed with suspicion and the balance between good and evil is in perpetual physical contention. The two great kingdoms of mankind, Gondor and Rohan, are susceptible to the evil powers of Middle Earth as their rulers, Denethor and Theoden, are indirectly influenced by Sauron and Saruman respectively. Compared to the Eden-like Lorien and Rivendell, “the Last Homely House east of the Sea,” (I, 272) the bastions of man seem pitiful, but they are to be the bulwarks of the new age. The relative inactivity of the archaic guardians is indicative of the fact that the past must be left behind so that the men of the future can forge ahead unfettered by atavistic nostalgia.Tom Bombadil is the self-proclaimed eldest denizen of Middle Earth, “Mark my words my friends: Tom was here before the river and the trees; Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn,” (I, 168) and his power is demonstrated by his ability to compel Old Man Willow to release the hobbits and the fact that he is unaffected by the Ring. At the Council of Elrond, Gandalf explains that Tom’s unique place in history does not give him power over the Ring, it is just that, “the Ring has no power over him,” (I, 318). Since Tom existed before the forging of the Ring, and even before Sauron himself, he is essentially a remnant of a long forgotten past. Even Elrond must jog his memory to recall the many names of the cheery creature who never took part in the wars against the Enemy. Bombadil provides an element to the story that goes back farther than the Elder Days, and he is, therefore, not an active participant in the War of the Ring, as he only helps the four hobbits while they are within the borders of his land. After Tom leaves the hobbits, they find themselves pursued by the Nine Riders, and protection from this danger comes at Rivendell, which is protected by the aged half-elven Elrond.Elrond, who is one of the select few beings to have faced Sauron directly, is ancient by any mortal measure, but he is not primeval like Bombadil. Having already taken part in a physical assault on Mordor in the Second Age, Elrond’s place in the War of the Ring is as an advisor, not a fighter. His years on Middle Earth have given him a Ring of Power and the ability to maintain a bastion against evil in the shadow of the Misty Mountains, but his power beyond his domain goes only in the form of advice. Despite his extensive wisdom and prowess, when asked if he or any of the other Elf-lords have the strength to withstand Sauron, Elrond’s response is, “I have not the strength…neither have they,” (I, 319). These powerful Elf-lords, who had defeated Sauron and his master in the past, are no longer able to contend with him directly, because the age of their power is passing and the future is in the hands of men and the little men as Elrond states, “This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the great,” (I, 324). Galadriel, whose haven and power is even more lustrous than Elrond’s, is still in essentially the same position as the half-elven.Tolkien’s descriptions of Galadriel’s Lorien on which “no shadow lay” (I, 413) make it a veritable Eden, “a timeless land that did not fade or change or fall into forgetfulness,” (I, 415). Frodo’s observations are not wholly accurate, however, as he himself recognizes the fact that this land is from the distant past, “it seemed to him that he had stepped over a bridge of time into a corner of the Elder Days, and was now walking in a world that was no more,” (I, 413). With her ring and ancient knowledge of the Eldar, Galadriel is able to preserve the unstained glory of the forest, but the Ring-bearer’s ominous perception hints at the fact that the blissful stasis of Lorien is doomed to fade with the destruction of the One Ring. Even though her power is comparable to Sauron’s, Galadriel herself knows that Frodo’s quest signifies the end of her forest kingdom, and she accepts this fate with dignity, “I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel,” (I, 432). After this last and greatest haven, the Fellowship breaks and the survivors go their separate routes into the precarious kingdoms of men.A noble kingdom over 500 years old, Rohan has endured for a long time in the eyes of men, while to elves like Legolas it has been “but a little while,” (II, 132). Although Wormtongue impedes the muster of the Riders of Rohan, once Theoden’s army is fully mobilized, it is a force to be reckoned with and probably outclasses any other army of men besides that of Gondor. From the vantage of the ancient elves, a culture and kingdom were established only a short while ago that gained ascendancy almost immediately. The slow progression of elvish time is already giving way to the short lives and generations of mankind. With a powerful army, Theoden is able to hold Helm’s Deep against Saruman’s larger army, but the mortal man is unable to bar evil from his kingdom like Bombadil and the Elf-lords. Men, who are destined to rule Middle Earth with the passing of the elves, cannot isolate themselves like the ancient beings and must directly face the elements of their environment be they good or evil. While Rohan is young in elvish time, the men of Gondor can trace their lineage back to the Numenoreans at the beginning of the Second Age, which precedes the initial forging of the Rings of Power.When Pippin first sees the inner circles of Minas Tirith, he is overawed by its splendor, but the impressionable hobbit does not realize that the city is depopulated and “in truth falling year by year into decay,” (III, 25). The men of Gondor, under the shadow of Sauron’s growing power, desperately cling to their noble past and heritage that is now in the ancient past. Faramir expresses his own patriotism with nostalgia for the past, “I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return…The city of the men of Numenor…I would have loved her for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty,” (II, 331).Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that Gondor will never be what it once was, because the past is irrecoverable, and as Gandalf says, “Whatever betides, you have come to the end of the Gondor that you have known,” (III, 24). Since the memory of Numenor reaches almost as far back as the Elder Days, it is doomed to fade with the passing of the other ancient elements and beings of Middle Earth. The Numenoreans were the last men to form an alliance with the elves, and this close relationship ties the fate of the men of Westernesse in with this archaic race.Although Aragorn plants a new sapling from the White Tree and brings glory to Gondor with his kingship and victory over Sauron, it is a glory of the present triumph over evil, not a longing for the grandeur of the past. The reign of King Elessar stretches across Middle Earth with an overarching influence that had not existed in the past. Soldiers of Gondor and Rohan protect previously dangerous roads, and the two kingdoms themselves form an alliance that was impossible in the suspicious environment of the past. As a further sign of the changing times, Galadriel, Celeborn and Elrond leave their dominions for the first time in an Age in order to greet the new king.Aragorn is able to expand and change the nature of his kingdom, because he looks toward the future, while Bombadil, Galadriel and Elrond were simply holding on to the remains of what were once vast and powerful domains. Slowly fading and shrinking, the Old Forest, Rivendell and Lorien must give way in the end to the new, expanding kingdom of men. Even though Aragorn’s kingship is ensured by his ancient heredity, the wise king does not rely on the past for legitimacy as he almost immediately begins to administer his kingdom justly, which gives him prestige through merit. As wise, benevolent beings, the Elf-lords know that their time has passed and depart from the Grey Havens into the West with quiet dignity. Remembrance of the past is important to all of the cultures and races of Middle Earth, but an excess of nostalgia like that of Gondor before Aragorn is detrimental to the progress of the present and future. Heritage contributes to the richness of life, but one must not live in the past or else the present will be lost. Tolkien ends his epic with the future generation sitting on Sam’s lap, and little Elanor Gamgee is a view of hope towards an unknown future built on the foundation of the past.
Parallels Between Gandalf and Saruman: Good and Evil
The relationship between Gandalf and Saruman in J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous trilogy The Lord of the Rings is not only a depiction of good versus evil, but a depiction of the corruption of magic and power. Gandalf and Saruman are two incredibly powerful wizards, both of which are looked up to by many throughout the novel, in both admiration and in fear. Gandalf and Saruman began their journeys as wizards on the White Council together, using their powers for the greater good. However, once greed, jealousy, and a fierce desire for power set in, Saruman started to use his magic for evil, and began plotting to take over Middle-Earth by joining forces in an attempt to unleash the Dark Lord, Sauron. It can be debated who the stronger, or more powerful wizard is between Gandalf or Saruman, thus why Tolkien demonstrates the pair of wizards as a juxtaposition to represent both the good, and the evil side of magic and power. Despite their obvious physical similarities, Saruman can be seen as a representation of Gandalf’s ‘evil twin’ who willingly turned into a villain once he submitted to the temptation of greater power, supremacy, and domination.
In The Lord of the Rings, there are only two sides — good and evil. Those who are depicted as good side with Gandalf, fighting for morality, ethics, and overall peace among all the hobbits, elves, dwarves, and free people. Those who are depicted as evil coincide with Saruman, and share a severe desire for power in order to control or take over Middle-Earth. On two completely opposite sides of the spectrum, Tolkien uses Gandalf and Saruman to illustrate extreme good and extreme evil. Gandalf and Saruman are a juxtaposition, as they both possess a great deal of power and prestige as wizards, yet use their powers so drastically different, as they have two completely opposite motives.
Both Gandalf the Grey — protagonist and noble member of the Istari — and Saruman of Many Colours — antagonist and tainted leader of the Istari — were sent by the Valar to stop Sauron’s upheaval. Saruman’s attraction to Sauron’s ability to dominate and control all of Middle-Earth resulted in him joining forces with Sauron in an attempt to rule Middle-Earth himself. In the same way that Saruman allies with Sauron to gain power, he allies with Gandalf prior to turning evil. Saruman sought out Gandalf as an ally; however, once Gandalf surpassed Saruman as a wizard, out of bitterness and resentment, he joins forces with Sauron to gain even greater power. It was noted by Gandalf that, “Saruman has studied the arts of the enemy himself” (Tolkien, 63). Although Saruman obtains a great deal of power, he recognizes that he is not powerful enough to conquer Middle-Earth on his own. Saruman studies his enemies, in order to become stronger than those who are a challenge or threat to him. As a result, Saruman’s choice to join force with Gandalf and Sauron was a strategic move to further assist himself in increasing his powers so that he would soon be able to take over Middle-Earth.
The temptation of power, corruption, and evil is an incredibly powerful notion throughout this trilogy. The power that comes to the possessor of the One Ring, for instance, is something that many may desire, but are unwilling to submit to as a result of the evil ramifications that come with such power. In the same sense that Gollum is unable to resist the temptation and powers that come with the One Ring, Saruman is unable to resist the temptation of using his powers to help unleash Sauron and rule Middle-Earth. One of the many reason’s why Gandalf is so admired and sought after as a wizard is because he uses his powers for the greater good of humanity. Gandalf shares the same powers and capabilities as Saruman, yet he does not use his powers as a means of command. Saruman has the same, if not more potential to be a great and noble wizard like Gandalf, however he chooses to use his powers for evil, which ultimately secures his defeat. If Gandalf and Saruman had joined forces and fought against the Dark Lord together, they would be an unstoppable entity and potentially rule the Middle-Earth together as White Wizards. Saruman’s decision to betray Gandalf and join forces with Sauron ultimately led to his demise.
In order to create literary symmetry, it is necessary for Tolkien to illustrate Gandalf and Saruman as equal binaries that are also enemies fighting against one another. Gandalf is such an incredibly powerful and noble wizard that in order for the story to progress, there needs to be a threat. Sauron is not a threat on his own if he does not have the One Ring, but the threat of Saruman joining forces with Sauron in an attempt to put the power once again back into his hands to conquer Middle-Earth is what makes The Lord of the Rings both a captivating and compelling trilogy. Gandalf and Saruman are both powerful enough on their own, that if they had remained allies, Sauron would be unable to rise back into power, the One Ring would destroyed, and Middle-Earth would remain in harmony. Saruman is an essential character in this trilogy, even more so than Gandalf because he creates conflict by challenging Gandalf and puts Middle-Earth into a state of turmoil, thus creating a profusion of climactic elements.
Tolkien chooses to represent Saruman and Gandalf as pairs, because they are both highly skilled and knowledgable wizards that possess similar powers and capabilities, yet have taken two different paths with their magic. In a trilogy full of temptations and evil — such as the One Ring — Tolkien allows us to see the repercussions of power in the hands of evil, as it leads to a desire of even greater power and corruption. Saruman and Gandalf are both incredibly powerful, however, Gandalf is able to control himself and use his powers for the greater good, while Saruman uses his powers in order to deploy his control over others. Saruman’s decision to turn evil, and of ‘many colours’ serves to further highlight Gandalf’s noble status and allows him to be recognized as an upstanding, virtuous wizard to a greater extent. Tolkien’s representation Gandalf and Saruman as not only enemies, but as a pairing is integral to the story, as it stresses that they are supreme equals to one another. Despite Gandalf symbolizing a Godly figure, and Saruman symbolizing a Satanic figure, the two serve to inexplicably compliment one another as a pairing.
“I said I’d carry him, if it broke my back… and I will:” An Analysis of the Development of Frodo and Sam’s Relationship in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings Trilogy
In the Lord of the Rings trilogy, author J. R. R. Tolkien creates a relationship between Frodo and Sam that people struggle to define in modern parlance because of its depth and complexity. Neither lovers nor merely friends, the essence of Frodo and Sam’s relationship cannot be captured by contemporary words because they oversimplify the nature of the relationship. At the beginning, their relationship is reciprocal as both Frodo and Sam benefit from one another, however their reciprocity develops into codependence throughout the course of the novel. At the conclusion, Frodo and Sam’s relationship evolves into an altruistic one in which they are able to let each other go at a cost to themselves because they want to benefit the other. There is no contemporary all-encompassing definition for Sam and Frodo’s relationship because it is not one sole thing as it evolves over time and eventually reaches the pinnacle of Agape, demonstrating that their love for each other is true.
The suggestion that Frodo and Sam are actually homosexual lovers is a common conjecture about the characters’ relationship in today’s popular culture as a result of “the enormous outpouring of fan fiction” after the Peter Jackson film adaptations (Smol 949). Many people began to write alternate origins and endings of Sam and Frodo’s relationship, “the majority [of which] incorporate a sexual element as an expression of a strong, romantic love between the two males” (Smol 970). Frodo and Sam exhibit “an intimacy that includes emotional attachment and gestures of physical tenderness” (Smol 955). Suggesting that Frodo and Sam are homosexual simplifies the depth and complexity of their relationship. Sam and Frodo share “a love beyond that of a traditional male friendship” and “raise questions about the role of male friendships” that people are unfamiliar with in todays society because of homophobia (Madill par. 12; 14). “Homophobia is a strategy to police and regulate masculinity for males” and so the phobic language that exists today is insufficient in describing the male intimacy present in Lord of the Rings (Madill par. 11). The fan fiction about Frodo and Sam’s homosexual relationship proves that there is an intensity between the two male characters, however contemporary culture struggles to discuss strong emotional bonds between men. The response of the fans with this fiction shows the need for a more nuanced description of their relationship.
Frodo and Sam’s relationship at the beginning of the narrative is reciprocal as both Sam and Frodo benefit from one another at no personal cost to themselves. Sam Gamgee works for Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and tends to their garden. Sam is a curious hobbit who “has more on his mind than gardening” and dreams of the world outside of the Shire filled with Elves and Tree-men (Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring 60). Sam’s only resources to learn more about legends and tales are Bilbo and Frodo, and Sam “listens because [he] can’t help [himself]… he love[s] tales of that sort… and believe[s] them too (Tolkien, FR 84). While the other hobbits dismiss Frodo and Bilbo as being “cracked,” Sam’s longing for knowledge about the world outside the Shire strengthens (Tolkien, FR 60). He is unlike the traditionally happily ignorant hobbit and Frodo’s stories provide him with the knowledge he craves. When Sam is invited to go away with Frodo, he “spring[s] up like a dog invited for a walk” and “burst[s] into tears” (Tolkien, FR 85). He acquires knowledge and experience from Frodo, which is something he cannot get from anybody else in the Shire. He is elated to discover that he, too, will get to travel with Frodo and see all of the legends he believes in.
In his own way, Frodo benefits from having Sam accompany him on the journey. At first, Frodo is terrified of the journey that lies before him, crying that he is “not made for perilous quests… wish[ing] [he] had never seen the Ring!” (Tolkien, FR 81). He fears the quest bestowed upon him and as he speaks to Sam he “realize[s] that fleeing from the Shire [will] mean more painful partings than merely saying farewell to the familiar comforts of Bag End” (Tolkien, FR 84). Frodo’s pain at the idea of leaving home suggests the comfort and safety both Bag End and Sam provide for him. It would be very tough for Frodo to leave the Shire on his own and conquer the quest by himself. Sam is a necessary element of Frodo’s journey as he provides Frodo with someone he “can trust, and who [is] willing to go by [his] side — and that [Frodo is] willing to take into unknown perils” (Tolkien, FR 83). Sam follows through with all of these requirements and proves to be the most loyal and daring companion Frodo could have on the quest. Sam and Frodo’s reciprocal relationship at the beginning of the quest is beneficial to both of them without either character having to sacrifice anything, but it does not stay at this point of reciprocity for long.
The transformation of their relationship along the journey complicates the nature of Sam and Frodo’s relationship as the pair become increasingly codependent. At the end of The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo decides to continue the quest on his own because he sees the dangers of war that lie ahead of the Company. However just as he is about to leave, Sam stops him and is appalled that Frodo would continue “all alone…without [Sam] to help [him]” (Tolkien, FR 534). Sam cries out: “I couldn’t have borne it, it’d have been the death of me,” demonstrating Sam’s dependency on Frodo and his need to serve him (Tolkien, FR 534). Sam’s insistence that he would die if Frodo left him behind shows his dependency on Frodo and his need to stay with him. Sam needs to go with Frodo on the quest because they depend on one another. Their relationship is no longer just reciprocal, but rather intensifies to a codependency. Later on, Frodo collapses under the weight of the ring on the way up Mount Doom and even though Sam knows the road is dangerous and “would dearly like to see Bywater again, and Rosie Cotton and her brothers, and the Gaffer and Marigold and all” he still insists that he “said [he’d] carry [Frodo] if it [breaks his] back…and [he] will!” (Tolkien, Return of the King 225; 233). Frodo heavily relies on Sam for survival and the success of the quest. Sam helps complete the task of the Ring-bearer and Frodo would likely die if not for Sam’s help when climbing Mount Doom. When compared with the early stage of their relationship on the quest when it was just beneficial to have one another, the relationship is now necessary for both characters. The nature of their relationship evolves as they depend on each other more and more.
At the end of the series Frodo and Sam’s relationship becomes even more intense as it transforms into an altruistic relationship. After their return to the Shire and the scouring of the Shire, one would expect Sam and Frodo to live happily ever after in a blissful friendship, however “Tolkien is much too honest to end with such a pious fiction” (Auden 98). Over the course of the quest Frodo is “wounded with [a] knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden,” and “though [he] may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for [he] shall not be the same” (Tolkien, RK 290). Frodo endures the most physical and mental pain on the quest and returns to the Shire as a completely different hobbit who is unable to reintegrate into society. Sam transforms into a leader with great potential and the knowledge he longed for and more before they left for the quest. Sam is capable of reintegrating into society and settles down to start a new life, however, “Frodo’s presence is an unsettling reminder of the disruptive force of war that hampers Sam’s full return to ordinary life” (Smol 967). Frodo knows that he is “wounded” and that “it will never really heal” but that Sam is “meant to be solid and whole, and [he] will be” (Tolkien, RK 333; 335). As hard as Frodo tries to heal in the Shire by living with Sam and his wife Rosie, he knows he cannot heal here and that Sam is “torn in two” between his year away with Frodo and his new life in the Shire (Tolkien, RK 337). Frodo decides to depart for the Havens and leave Sam as the heir to everything he has. Frodo does not ask Sam to come with him, even though he can as a Ring-bearer, because he knows Sam will be “as happy as anyone can be” staying in the Shire with his family in Bag End (Tolkien, RK 338). Leaving Sam behind and giving him everything he owned is an entirely selfless act as Frodo could have easily asked Sam to come with him. However, Frodo wants what is truly best for Sam, demonstrating an ultimately altruistic love. He sacrifices his desire to keep Sam in his life because he loves him so truly.
Similarly, Sam understands that Frodo no longer belongs in the Shire and as much as it pains him to see Frodo leave as “tears started in his eyes,” he returns to his family and acknowledges his spiritual wholeness and return to the Shire, holding his child and saying “‘Well, I’m back’” (Tolkien, RK 337; 340). The development of the relationship is illustrated by Sam’s tears. As mentioned earlier, at the beginning of the quest Sam bursts into tears because he is so happy he will get to leave the Shire to see all the legends he hears about. In this instance, his tears are out of happiness for himself and the benefit he derives from his relationship with Frodo, demonstrating their originally reciprocal bond. As Frodo leaves, however, Sam’s tears are not for himself but rather for Frodo and the loss of his friend. The difference of the feelings behind the tears at the beginning of the novel and at the end show the development of their relationship from a reciprocal one to an altruistic one. Sam sacrifices his relationship with Frodo and understands why he must leave. As much as Sam wants Frodo to stay in the Shire, he lets him go because he knows it is what will heal Frodo. Both Sam and Frodo endure a major loss by parting ways, but by letting each other go they know they are benefiting one another, demonstrating Agape love. Agape is neither erotic or brotherly, but a description of a self-sacrificial love with the purpose of benefitting another. By the end of the novel, Frodo and Sam reach the epitome of Agape when they let each other go selflessly for the benefit of the other.
Frodo and Sam develop a deep and complex relationship over the course of the novel that evolves so intensely that it cannot be defined by just one word. While the relationship they share begins reciprocal, it quickly intensifies into a codependency where the two need each other to survive. Their self-sacrifice at the conclusion in order for the other to heal exhibits Agape and demonstrates the depth and complexity of their relationship. This type of close male intimacy is foreign to people in contemporary society because of the insufficiency and phobic nature of today’s language, and therefore no single modern word is able to accurately capture the true essence of Frodo and Sam’s relationship. Tolkien creates a complex relationship that is too nuanced to be described by one word. The evolvement of Frodo and Sam’s relationship, eventually reaching a peak of Agape, the highest form of love, cannot be described by any single word because it is not just one thing — it is deep and complex as true love often is.
On the Nature of Evil: Comparing the Villains of Spenser and Tolkien
Despite the wide range of worlds occupied by different fantasy series, a universal theme of the genre is the presence of evil forces working in opposition to a band of heroes. Most often the band of heroes is embarking on a quest to vanquish evil and naturally said evil forces are trying to stop them. No different are the fantasy works of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Both sagas feature villainous sorcerers operating in direct opposition to the heroes: Spenser’s Archimago, an old sorcerer, and Tolkien’s Saruman, the onetime head of the Wizarding Council. But despite this parallel, the two authors create characters who drastically differ in methods and motivation, revealing the fundamental difference in how Spenser and Tolkien view the nature and influence of evil. For Spenser, evil is the absence of righteousness and a rejection of religious obedience, whereas Tolkien views evil as the corrupting influence of power and selfishness which originates from within. Examining how the authors write their villains and understanding the context in which they wrote provides evidence for their respective interpretations on the nature of evil.
Archimago is one of the principal villains in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. He is a master of deception and disguises, relying on his magic to seduce others away from the straight and narrow path by manipulating emotions and reason. The allure of his brand of evil is to forsake Godliness and religious obedience, instead giving in to indulgence. We meet him in the first canto, at which point he immediately starts causing trouble for the band of heroes, consisting of Redcrosse the knight, Una the Lady, and a dwarf. The resulting trickery exemplifies Archimago’s character and methods.
First, he attempts to disturb the integrity of the trio by tempting the chastity of Redcrosse with a lusty dream from Morpheus, God of dreams, and a sprite-imitation of Una:
“Who all this while with charmes and hidden artes, Had made a Lady of that other Spright, And fram’d of liquid ayre her tender partes So lively and so like in all mens sight, That weaker sence it could have ravish quight: The maker selfe for all his wondrous witt, Was nigh beguiled with so goodly sight: Her all in white he clad, and over it Cast a black stole, most like to seem for Una fit.” (Canto 1, p19-20)
This Una-imitation will go on to try and tempt Redcrosse to sleep with her, thereby dishonoring his chastity. Note that Archimago does not rely on convincing arguments for his purposes, but instead relies on “charmes and hidden artes” i.e. his magic. Granted, the imitation-Una tries to talk Redcrosse into fornication, but since she is a conjured façade, we can argue that she is merely an extension of Archimago’s magic. This is a prime example of Archimago using his magic to manipulate existing feelings in his targets, such as the lustiness he has instilled in Redcrosse via Morpheus’s dream.
It is also interesting to note that Archimago targets chastity with his deception. Chastity was one the most valued rules in the Christian practice in Spenser’s time period, providing evidence that Spenser believed evil to mainly be rooted in disobedience to God’s law. However, Redcrosse proves to be too staunch in his obedience to the chivalrous knight’s order and the law of chastity. In his next showing of deception, Archimago manipulates Redcrosse’s strict obedience to divide the heroic trio by taking the imitation-Una and another sprite disguised as a young squire and placing them “in a secrete bed, Covered with darkenes and misdeeming night, Them both together laid, to joy in vaine delight” (Canto 2, p.24). This time the ruse is successful and Redcrosse abandons Una in anger. Again, Archimago did not need to use persuasive arguments, but instead relied on his magic to accomplish is evil objectives.
Archimago’s methods are in stark contrast to those employed by Saruman, as seen in the latter’s attempt to persuade Gandalf to join him. Gandalf has ridden to Saruman’s home, Isengard, in search for answers and wisdom to the rumors of the nine ring-wraiths and what to do with the Ring of Power. However, it soon becomes apparent that Saruman has abandoned the good side in favor of the rising evil forces and is intent on Gandalf joining him.
The resulting encounter is remarkably more tamed than in Peter Jackson’s film adaption, where there is a great battle of magical strength involving mighty staffs and spinning wizards. Instead, the written scene does not involve any use of magic, such as Archimago might use, but rather a speech by Saruman. He opts to persuade Gandalf with an intellectual argument: “The time of the Elves is over, but our time is at hand: the world of Men, which we must rule. But we must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the Wise can see” (p.259). The power Saruman is referring to is the might of Sauron in Mordor. Sauron represents absolute evil, but Saruman is more interesting in that his brand of evil is more seductive and subtle.
Saruman’s speech to Gandalf boils down to the classic argument that the ends justify the means:
“the Wise, such as you and I, may with patience come at last to direct its courses, to control it. We can bide our time, we can keep our thoughts in our hearts, deploring maybe evils done by the way, but approving the high and ultimate purpose: Knowledge, Rule, Order; all the things that we have so far striven in vain to accomplish, hindered rather than helped by our weak or idle friends. There need not be, there would not be, any real change in our designs, only in our means” (p.259).
He proposes that by riding the coattails of Sauron, a far easier strategy than fighting Sauron, they can eventually control his power and achieve an ultimate purpose of knowledge, rule, and order. This seductive argument for gaining power is repeated later in the series, first by Galadriel and then by Boromir when he attempts to take the Ring from Frodo. It can even be found in other series outside of the Lord of the Rings universe, as in Star Wars when Darth Vader attempts to persuade Luke to join him in overthrowing the Sith Lord to rule over the galaxy or also in the Harry Potter series, when Grindelwald tries to persuade a young Dumbledore into setting up a Magician’s empire over muggles.
In all cases, the approach is to appeal to the intellectual side to rationalize evil deeds. As Saruman tells Gandalf, “We may join with that Power. It would be wise, Gandalf” (p.259). This brand of evil does not deceive with magical illusion, like Archimago’s methods, but rather through rationalizing the pursuit of power for a greater good. By tapping into the natural selfish desire for power, evil can cause even those who initially stand for good to be misled into darker paths. Tolkien portrays a far more sinister version evil that is able to harness inner desires in other wise good characters to accomplish nefarious purposes. This seduction of power is far more nuanced and imitative of real life than Archimago’s magical deceptive methods.
This difference in Archimago and Saruman’s methods can be traced back to the motivational factors for each of the sorcerers. Combing through the first four cantos of The Faerie Queene does not reveal any immediate motivator for Archimago’s trickery. When the heroic trio happen upon his abode, he seems to merely delight in meddling with their affairs by going to extreme ends, such as sending sprites to Morpheus and going through the trouble of conjuring up fake Una’s. Spenser does not provide us with any backstory to Archimago nor is there a rehearsed speech as in Saruman’s case to clue readers in to his objectives.
Looking at the results of Archimago’s trickery, one could infer that he desires Una for himself. This would explain why he is so intent on driving Redcrosse away from Una. Further support for this can be found when Archimago disguises himself as Redcrosse to trick Una into thinking she has been reunited with her companion: “But now seemed best, the person to put on Of that good knight, his late beguiled guest…And when he sate upon his courser free, Saint George himselfe ye would have deemed him to be” (Canto 1, p.26). Choosing Redcrosse as his disguise must have been a deliberate choice, so perhaps Archimago harbored some jealousy against the knight when he beheld Una. This choice would have been reinforced when Una was almost overly ecstatic to have found Redcrosse supposedly.
While this explanation might be plausible, a stronger argument can be made that Archimago as a character is far more symbolic in nature than the dynamic player that is Saruman. Archimago seems to serve more as a generic tempter’s snare rather than a nuanced villain. His trickery with Redcrosse indicates that his main goal is to get the hero to fall by the wayside in sin. This supports Spenser’s interpretation of the nature of evil as a rejection of righteousness and its allure as mainly temptation for indulgence, which in this case is the breaking of the law of chastity.
Understanding the context in which Spenser wrote The Faerie Queene provides us with further insight into Archimago’s symbolism and purpose in the text. Spenser wrote this series in the late sixteenth century, after the Protestant Reformation had swept through England. The smattering of not-so-thinly-veiled references to the Catholic Church throughout the first few cantos indicate one of the main purposes of at least the first book, which is to criticize Catholicism and praise the virtues of Protestantism. When we are first introduced to Archimago, he is described as wearing “long blacke weedes” and on “his belt his booke he hanging had” and “all the way he prayed as he went, And often knockt his brest, as one that did repent” (Canto 1, p.14). As seen in the footnotes, these descriptions are attributes of a Roman Catholic clerical. It is also interesting to note that Una is a modification of the latin word “unus,” which means unity and truth while the red cross that Redcrosse is name for is a symbol of the Anglican church. With this in mind, one could interpret Archimago as Catholicism trying to separate truth from the Anglican church. This provides another take on Spenser’s view on evil as being the absence of truth or Godliness.
While Archimago is more of a static character of a symbolic nature, Saruman’s motivations are more easily defined. He selfishly desires power for himself, which he tries to disguise as concern for the common good and as something he would share: “Why not? The Ruling Ring? If we could command that, then the Power would pass to us.” But, as Gandalf replies, “only one hand at a time can wield the One, and you know that well, so do not trouble to say we!” (p.260) The main motivator of Saruman’s sort of evil is to gain power, an end for which all deeds can be rationalized.
This gives readers a sense of Tolkien’s interpretation of the nature of evil. Saruman was once the head of the wizarding council and proponent of good, fighting off Sauron many a time. Tolkien uses Saruman’s betrayal to show that evil does not simply exist as an Other, but rather has roots even in the best of us. It preys on the selfish desires for power that inhabit all people and parades under the pretense of righteous control to rationalize evil deeds. This is the very nature of the Ring of Power; it feeds on existing selfishness and paranoia within characters, blooming into monstrosity. It helps to remember that Tolkien published The Lord of the Rings in 1955, when the memory of World War II’s atrocities was still fresh in public memory. The ease with which ordinary citizens condoned and even committed heinous crimes against humanity must have had a significant influence on Tolkien in his treatment of evil in this series, especially having fought in World War I and lived through World War II. To Tolkien, evil was not a shadowy figure foreign to man, but rather a shadow that continually exists within.
The portrayal of Saruman and Archimago reflect the interpretations of the nature of evil by Tolkien and Spenser, respectively. Spenser seems to support a black-and-white version of good versus evil, in that there isn’t a persuasive argument to be made for evil. Instead magic and deception are required to get heroes to turn away from good. Additionally, since Archimago lacks convincing motivation for his evil deeds (besides just wanting to watch the world burn), this supports the interpretation that Spenser views evil as a force whose mere existence is motivation enough for its nefarious actions. On the other hand, Tolkien views evil as a force that comes from within people and is allowed to nourish when characters prioritize selfish desires over everything else. This interpretation is found in the corruptive manner the desire for power – as embodied by the Ring – has on Bilbo, Frodo, Galadriel, Boromir, and especially Saruman. Understanding how Spenser and Tolkien view evil not only enriches readings of the respective texts, but also allows readers to heed the parallels and warnings the authors wish to impart for their own world.