The concepts of hope and courage permeate the tales written by J. R. R. Tolkien through and through. They are vital and, I do not think it will be an exaggeration to say, central to his narratives. There are many examples of how hope and courage make a big difference, help characters achieve almost the impossible and thus influence the course of events dramatically. In this special reflection for Tolkien Reading Day 2021, whose main theme is Hope and Courage, I would like to look at how hope helped Sam Gamgee lead Frodo and himself through the perils of Mordor to the final destination of their deadly quest.
Sam Gamgee famously said that there are “Elves and Elves”. Indeed, he was right. While the Elves are considered among the noblest in Middle-earth, there are Elves of various kinds. They differ from each other in personal qualities, just like all individuals do, as well as in a collective attitude to life inherent to some clans. The Silvan Elves occupy a seemingly lower place in the Elvish hierarchy, but they are just different: their lifestyle and philosophy set them apart from most of the other Elves.
Hobbits are known as hearty eaters: they love food and are not ashamed of admitting that. Hobbits are very hospitable and fond of parties where food is usually plenty. On a usual day they may take up to six meals, if they can get that many. Besides, it is very common for hobbits to grow most of their own food and be able to cook very well.
Now, feeling the way become steep before
his feet, he [Frodo] looked wearily up; and then he
saw it, even as Gollum had said that he would:
the city of the Ringwraiths.
(Two Towers, p. 388)
On descrying the dreadful citadel of the Nazgûl, Frodo cowers in terror at the sight: Minas Morgul, the formerly beautiful Minas Ithil, instills great fear with its uncanniness. In the long years that the Ringwraiths had been holding it, they turned Minas Ithil into the place reflecting their own unsettling eerie ghostliness. It is thus no wonder that Minas Morgul is one of the creepiest places in Middle-earth.
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.
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.