“One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters”.

One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters.

(Two Towers, p. 203)

Aragorn’s words to Pippin on returning a Lórien brooch to the Hobbit reflect one of the fundamental concepts of the whole Tolkien Legendarium: it is dangerous to become unhealthily possessive of something as it can lead a character to either death, or moral downfall, or both. Fëanor grew proud and possessive of the Silmarils and turned into a rebel, who led himself and his people into dire perils and the wrath of the Valar. Morgoth became addicted to Arda in his desire to control it, and dissipated his powers only to be reduced to a pitiful, weakened state. The One Ring ensnared the wills of most of those taking it into their possession and changed them beyond recognition. Inability or, in some cases, unwillingness to disentangle from all these treasures when necessary caused the ruin of many characters. Read more

Feline fall from favour: cats turn villains in Tolkien’s stories.

In the letter sent to Allen & Unwin in reply to a cat-breeder, who wished to use names from The Lord of the Rings to name her cats, Tolkien famously said: “I fear that to me Siamese cats belong to the fauna of Mordor….” (Letter 219).  It is hard to tell whether the Professor’s comment referred only to the cats of this particular breed, or expressed his general attitude towards felines, but cats in Tolkien’s literary works are presented mostly in a negative light.  Read more

Challenged with a song.

The significance of songs in Middle-earth has long been established. By including poetry and verse into his books, Tolkien assigned different roles to them: transmission of historical information, telling of tales, giving messages. There are a lot of songs that give a sense of continuity and connect the events in Middle-earth throughout the times, linking the Ages of Arda together and showing how interdependent they are. A special place is given to the songs of challenge. Read more