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.
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