By Matthew Dickerson
A professional at the Hobbit and The Lord of the jewelry trilogy indicates how a Christian worldview and issues undergird Tolkien's vintage works
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Extra resources for A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth
Nearly all of The Lord of the Rings focuses on a single war, moving (or so it seems) from one battle to another: the skirmishes at Weathertop, Moria, and Amon Hen; the Battle of Helm’s Deep; the skirmish in Ithilien between Faramir’s men and the Southrons; the Siege of Minas Tirith and the Battle of the Pelennor Fields; and the battle on the Morannon in front of the Black Gate of Mordor. The same can be said for The Silmarillion, in which the battles are given lofty elvish names, such as Dagor Agloreb, Dagor Bragollach, Dagor-nuin-Giliath, and Nirnaeth Arneodiad.
In a letter written in 1956, Tolkien responds to a critic who argued that Frodo was a failure because he could not destroy the Ring on Mount Doom. Tolkien defends Frodo by comparing his fate to that of prisoners of war who had been tortured: “It seems sad and strange that, in this evil time when daily people of good will are tortured, ‘brainwashed,’ and broken, anyone could be so ﬁercely simpleminded and self righteous [as to condemn Frodo as a failure]” (Letters, 253). This was not the ﬁrst time he’d made that connection.
Tolkien must do this to convince the reader just how much power the Ring wields over its bearers. Without such a description at the start, not only does the scene at the Crack of Doom lose its power, but much of the entire narrative regarding the struggles of Frodo loses its power. I don’t think Tolkien wrote that description of Gandalf and Gollum in order to justify the torture of a criminal, no matter how guilty that prisoner is (and Gandalf makes it clear that Gollum is indeed guilty and deserving of death).
A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth by Matthew Dickerson