“Three Rings for the Eleven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his Dark throne, In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them, In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie(Tolkien).” Master of storytelling J.R.R. Tolkien continues the lives of the fictitious creatures that he introduced in The Hobbit, in his modern classic The Fellowship of the Ring. He artfully illustrates the truths of the evil that plague the hearts of man. He tells a story of greed, destruction and how mortal men are enslaved by their delusions of grander and how they feast upon the misery of others to elevate their own pitiful egos, that prove to be their worst vices.
It is a struggle of good and evil that begins with a cursed gift of a powerful ring, the One Ring, that leads one wise hobbit on the most important journey of his life-time thus far, for he isn’t only fighting for his own soul that is threatened to be claimed by the very ring he is given, but those of all of his people. The ring is sought after by its very creator Sauron the all powerful sorcerer, and Dark Lord of the middle-earth to aid in his evil deeds.
In his sin blackened hands the ring has the power to rob the creatures of middle-earth of their one fundamental right endowed by God himself; their precious freedom. The story follows Frodo on his journey to the Crack of Doom a fiery mountain in the layer of Mordor where the Dark Lord himself reigns with a swift hand. There and only there may he not only destroy the symbolic ring but put to rest the very demons that drove at his soul and threatened to over power him.
J.R.R. Tolkien was Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, South Africa on January 2, 1892 and died on September 3, 1973. (St. James 558) He delighted and titillated readers of all ages by first introducing them to the middle-earth in The Hobbit, a story of Frodo’s cousin Bilbo. The story detailed his mythical journey in which he was accompanied by wizards and elves in search of rumored treasures. The One Ring that plays a major role in The Fellowship of the Ring was the fruit of Bilbo’s struggles in The Hobbit. Although The Hobbit was a large success, his greatest literary accomplishment was not from the prequil but the actual trilogy which he entitled The Lord Of the Rings. The trilogy was hailed as a work of absolute genius by Raynor Unwin, Architect of Middle Earth, in 1974 (112).
Despite that The Lord of the Rings has been a huge success world wide being translated into six different languages, The Fellowship of the Ring alone selling eight million copies by 1980, (St.James 560) to date spawning a motion picture trilogy, infiltrating the ideals of such cults as the 1960 Hippies and the 1990 Russian Idealist movement,(St. James 560) being hailed as a modern literary classic, it was something that almost didn’t occur. British publishers were leery about taking on the project entitled The Lord of the Rings. In comparison to their American counter parts the publishing company was relatively poor and feared losing money in the investment that was an adult follow up to a children’s novel, that would be sold to an adult audience, at an adult price.(Grotta 113) The production was originally to be published in a large volume, rather than its actual printing in a three separate installments which included The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. Against the feuding authors wishes in 1954 HarperCollins released The Fellowship of the Ring,(Grotta 113) the second chapter in the lives of his extravagantly esteemed inhabitants of the middle-earth.
Many critics waited upon the release of the last volume of the series, which was published in 1955, before allowing publication of their opinions of the novel into mainstream journalism,(Grotta 116) Fellow British writer and author of Through the Looking Glass C.S. Lewis wrote in Time and Tide “here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron; here is a book that will break your heart…good beyond any hope.” (Grotta 114) The Guardian hailed Tolkien as a “born story teller”,(Grotta 114) and the New Statesman and Nation called it “a story magnificently told with every kind of color, movement and greatness.” (Grotta 114) After a long await and dealing with bickering publishers Tolkiens Lord of the Rings Trilogy, finally arrived.
The story follows heroic Frodo the Ringbearer. An unlikely sort who had been an out cast among fellow Hobbits do to the shenanigans of his cousin Bilbo, for hobbits were short hairy little creatures that had simple desires and led simple lives. Being adventurous was a trait that had passed them by and they in turn discouraged romping about the Shire and fighting for legendary treasures. They looked upon Bilbo and his descendants in disparagement. Tolkien makes this point in the first part of his trilogy The Fellowship of the Ring :
… the general opinion in theneighborhood was that Bilbo, who hadalways been rather cracked, had at lastgone quite mad, and had run off into the Blue. There he had undoubtedly fallen into a pool or a river and had come to a tragic, but hardly an untimely, end. The blame was mostly blamed on Gandalf.
If only that dratted wizard will leaveyoung Frodo alone, perhaps hell settledown and grow some hobbit sense,theysaid. And to all appearance the wizard did leave Frodo alone, and he did settle
down, but the growth of hobbit-sense was
not very noticeable. Indeed, he at once
began to carry on Bilbos reputation for
Frodo is heir to Bilbo’s treasures which include the One Ring, a ring of awesome power that Bilbo begrudgingly passes down to the young Frodo. Unlike his cousin Frodo is heroic, courageous, crafty, wise, and strong willed. With the encouragement of Gandalf, the high wizard only second in line to Sauron, Frodo sets off for the Crack of Doom where the powerful ring must be destroyed once and for all to preserve Fordo’s true liberation, the liberation of his spirit. (Miller 96) Throughout his journey Frodo exudes the vibes of a true leader and takes on challenges with chivalrous courage.One night while traveling to Elvendell Frodo and his comrades encounter the ghoulish Ring Wraith’s, employed by the Dark Lord himself, Frodo fights the urge to allow the ring to control him and instead of using the ring to his advantage he meets up with a man named Aragon and with his assistance leads his people to safety(Tolkien 222-264).
With the backing of Gandalf the powerful wizard of great works, Sam, Frodo’s good friend, and gardener who adds great insight, fellow friends and hobbits Pippin, and Merry, and Aragon one of the last mortal men to inhabit the middle earth they form the Fellowship of the Ring. Together they each add their own oddities, eccentrics, strengths and weaknesses as they battle against the forces of evil and search for their own redemption. They play a major role in the book especially Aragon. He takes command over the Fellowship at the chasm of Khazad after Gandalf falls into a pit while protecting his comrades from the snarling demon Balrog.
Throughout the book Frodo struggles with the inner convictions that are waging a war in his soul. The temptation of the all powerful Ring almost proves to be too much for the hobbit to handle. The evil ring which possesses much of Sauron’s power, is a representation of the evils which we sometimes allow ourselves to subcome to.The ultimate power of the ring serves as his greatest temptress.
The structure relates to that of rising action. Throughout the book Frodo faces hardship after hard ship, test after test, each growing harder and harder, and each allowing him to grow as a leader and enabling him to contain the urge to allow the ring and it’s powers to seduce him. The gift of the ring began the peerless journey, and the story built from there.
The Fellowship of the Ring is told through the use of limited third person. This allows the reader to have insight into all of the characters instead of limiting it to one character’s perspective.It allows the reader to see beyond what only Frodo sees, hears, touches, and tastes. You can perceive the story from many different aspects. I feel that the use of third person was essential to the development of the story that intricately in-twined several characters into such an involved and deep plot.
The theme of the book applied the idea that man is man’s greatest enemy and we are yet to over come our own twisted nature. Despite the fact that many believed that the idea or theme in the book was influenced by a world beset by the war that Tolkien had so recently lived through. In actuality the themes that were implied in the book can be applied to any time period.We seem to believe that we are supreme and modernized individuals, but many don’t realize the problems that lay within and beyond our own back yard. The plight of man is man’s own fault. We have slowly dug our own cold graves but are unwilling to lie in them. Yet at the same time are unwilling to repent of the very sins that have put us there. It is about human nature’s yearning to destroy. In our country alone people lay down their life every day in the name of hate, anger and those extreme emotions that involuntary consume the mind and body causing us to react in such inhumane ways that we seem to delve into willingly. Seemingly enjoying our own impious deeds. I also feel that the theme expresses man’s unwillingness to overtly lay down our own freedom at the feet of another as a gift. Throughout history we have marched off to war in defense of our freedom, and that is what Frodo’s journey symbolizes. The thirst for freedom, and the will to overcome. It also naively expresses the idea that good can over come evil, but how can the good of a few over come the evil of so many?
I believe that Tolkien is a supreme storyteller. The very idea of creating a mythical land of middle-earth to allow so much versatility is ingenious alone. The characters are so real they seem to leap from the pages. They are the result of great thought. They have their own very developed vocabularies, eccentrics, and weaknesses yet each character draws an impeccable strength from one another. I believe that this work is a classic because of the very developed plot, characters, and its openness to each individuals interpretation. Whether the reader believes it is implying religious values, social values or telling a unique story unlike any others it is a must read for anyone who enjoys great literature.
GrottaKurska, Daniel. J.R.R. Tolkien Architect of Middle Earth. Philadelphia: Running PRess, 1976.
Miller, David M. Narrative Pattern in The Fellowship of the Ring.A Tolkien Compass. Ed. Jared Lobdell.
La Salle Il.:The Open Court Publishing Company, 1975.
Pringle, David. Ed. St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers.
New York: St. James Press, 1996.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring. New York: Ballantine books, 1955
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