The Nazgûl firmly belong to the category of the most terrifying characters in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Legendarium. Many a reader have undoubtedly had their dreams haunted by Sauron’s evil servants: their appearance is enough to chill one’s blood. The Lord of the Nine is especially powerful and horrifying. Fear goes before him and, when gathered together under their leader, the Nine are a true terror. As it was often the case with Tolkien, the Professor used several names in reference to the Lord of the Nazgûl, all of which reveal various traits of his personality. Today we are going to look at the title of the Witch-king of Angmar and what it can tell us about its bearer.
J. R. R. Tolkien never seemed to choose words accidentally. He was careful when assigning references to characters or places to convey various shades of meaning that might not be obvious straight away. It is also the case with how the Professor used the word sorcerer and its various derivatives in his books.
In J. R. R. Tolkien’s world of Arda names bear a great significance. Characters, objects or places are called what they are for a reason, and that is rarely a coincidence: names accurately describe the nature of whatever or whoever they were given to. The healing plant athelas is no exception.
‘And you, Ring-bearer,’ she said, turning to Frodo. ‘I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts. For you I have prepared this.’ (Fellowship of the Ring, p.495 ). The parting gift from Lady Galadriel to Frodo was a small crystal phial filled with the light of Eärendil’s star. Little did the Hobbit know then the potency and power of the gift and how helpful it would be to him and Sam on their dark road.
Some J. R. R. Tolkien’s stories contain unpleasant characters of different kinds, and in order to irritate a reader they do not even have to be at the forefront of the narrative. Sometimes it is enough for them to appear just a few times to leave a bitter aftertaste and a long-lasting impression. The millers of The Lord of the Rings firmly belong to this category.
J. R. R. Tolkien’s love of nature and, especially trees, was well-known. He drew inspiration from the green growing things and was undoubtedly saddened by the damage humans could inflict on the natural world. During his life Tolkien witnessed the unflattering change of certain landscapes due to the merciless strides of technological progress, and that could not leave him indifferent.
There are a lot of characters in Tolkien’s works that are connected with nature in one way or the other. Whether they are those that care deeply about nature, or are part of the natural world themselves, Tolkien made sure to give them quite a prominent voice in his tales. One of the best representatives of the sentient nature is the race of the Ents.
In many ways Elvish immortality in Tolkien’s Legendarium is more like a doom for its bearers, rather than a blessing: being not permanent living per se, it is rather the state of an immensely long life until the end of Arda without any knowledge of what comes afterwards. Thus, alongside moments of joy, Elves carry great burdens of battles lost, dear ones dead and sorrows experienced over the courses of their really long lives, and the burden becomes only heavier with years. As Men are growing stronger and more powerful, Elves are waning and fading gradually. In Tolkien’s own words, they “are concerned rather with the griefs and burdens of deathlessness in time and change, than with death” (Letters, № 131).
On their way to Mordor Frodo and Sam encounter various places with a different degree of weirdness to them. However, few of them stand out in the same manner as the Dead Marshes. Lying between the plain of Dagorlad and the Emyn Muil, they become a grave test for the travellers en route to an even darker place.