From Gandalf to Gollum: Study The Lord of the Rings
By: FUN Monster
The Lord of the Rings is an epic fantasy adventure series originally released in the mid-20th century and written by the British author J.R.R. Tolkien. The series consists of three novels, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, in addition to a prequel novel, The Hobbit. The action takes place in a fictional fantasy world called Middle-Earth, which is inhabited by a number of fantastic creatures, such as elves, dwarfs, orcs, balrogs, and hobbits. All the events of the books concern the possession of the One Ring, a gold ring that grants its owner immense power and renders them invisible. Frodo Baggins, a hobbit, is left ownership of the One Ring and must travel across Middle-Earth to the land of the evil sorcerer Sauron, creator of the One Ring and the bane of all free peoples in Middle-Earth, in order to defeat evil and bring about peace.
The main Lord of the Rings epic is broken up into six books, which were published as three novels containing two books each. The novels are The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King.
- The Fellowship of the Ring: Frodo Baggins, heir and relation to Bilbo Baggins, is left possession of Bilbo's magic ring, which renders the wearer invisible. At the beginning of the novel, the wizard Gandalf the Grey is made aware that this magic ring is the One Ring, Sauron's One Ring of power that was cut off of his hand more than 3,000 years prior. Sauron has reemerged in his lair in Mordor and only needs this ring to complete his return to power and cast darkness and misery over all of Middle-Earth. Frodo, his loyal gardener Sam, Gandalf, and six other companions undertake the long and difficult trek to return the ring to Mount Doom in the heart of Mordor, the only location where it can be destroyed and Sauron's evil power defeated. As they travel across a Middle-Earth that is preparing for a great war, they encounter a number of friends and foes, chief among these being the corrupt wizard Saruman. He sends orcs to capture and kill them, and their party is attacked and divided.
- The Two Towers: With the group scattered, Frodo and Sam continue the arduous trek to Mordor alone, guided by the unstable and sneaky Gollum, who has his own plans for the ring. The rest of the party travels west to Isengard, Saruman's realm, and the land of Rohan. They are able to defeat Saruman and his army and begin to plot their next move against the dark forces of Sauron.
- The Return of the King: Sauron and the armies of Mordor have declared open war on the kingdom of Gondor, one of the last free remaining human societies. Many great battles take place between the evil orcs of Mordor and the combined forces of Gondor and Rohan, all while Frodo, Sam, and Gollum inch closer to Mount Doom, the cursed mountain of fire in the midst of Mordor. As they draw closer to their final goal, the burdens of the ring and the long, taxing journey begin to weigh on Frodo.
The overarching story of The Lord of the Rings is an epic struggle between good and evil. The evil in Tolkien's universe is absolute and represented by Sauron. His land of Mordor is a harsh wasteland surrounded by jagged mountains and overrun with orcs and foul creatures. Frodo, hobbits, and the Shire, the home of the hobbits, represent good. The race of humans is both good and bad, as they have more free will, than, say, the elves. Humans are seen as fallible in that they refused to destroy the ring the first time it was in their possession, leading to Sauron's rise once again. However, their better traits shine through in The Return of the King when the kingdom of Rohan selflessly joins Gondor's fight against Mordor. Heroism and loyalty is another trait that Tolkien visits, especially in the relationship between Frodo and Sam. Tolkien served in World War I in the British army, and Sam's relationship to Frodo is likened to that of a soldier and his commanding officer. Sam is seen as an unflinchingly loyal and brave servant to Frodo.
- Frodo Baggins: The bearer of the ring of power and the chief protagonist, Frodo is a hobbit, or half-person, a race of small-statured people. He leaves his comfortable home in the idyllic Shire to traverse Middle-Earth into Mordor and cast the one ring into Orodruin, or Mount Doom.
- Gandalf: Gandalf is a great and powerful wizard originally known as Gandalf the Grey and later Gandalf the White. He is old and wise and possesses tremendous magical power which, he uses to fight the forces of evil throughout the story.
- Aragorn, aka Strider: Aragorn is first introduced as Strider the ranger, a wandering outdoorsman with excellent survival and tracking skills. It is eventually revealed that he is Aragorn, a direct descendant of the kings of Gondor of old and the rightful heir to the throne of Gondor. He assists Frodo and Gandalf in their battle against Sauron's forces.
- Samwise Gamgee: Frodo's loyal gardener, he is initially reluctant to leave the Shire, but his love and support for Frodo overtake his apprehensions. When the fellowship is fractured midway through the story, Sam is the only character who travels with Frodo into Mordor and to Mount Doom.
- Sauron: The main antagonist of the story, Sauron is thousands of years old and once had a physical form. An alliance of men and elves marched on the stronghold of Mordor and cut the ring from Sauron's hand, defeating him and his armies but not killing him. Sauron hid away in the shadows of Mirkwood, gathering his power and searching for the One Ring. His stronghold of Mordor is a barren wasteland of jagged rocks and lava.
- Saruman: Saruman is a wizard much like Gandalf, only more powerful and the leader of their order. However, he has been under Sauron's control for some time through the use of an ancient seeing-stone known as a palantir. His betrayal of Gandalf sets in motion many of the events in the first novel.
- Gollum: Gollum was originally known as Smeagol and was once a hobbit. He murdered his best friend and stole the One Ring after his friend discovered the ring in a river while fishing. Shunned by society for using the ring's power to become a sneak and a thief, Gollum lived underground for hundreds of years until a chance encounter with Bilbo led to him losing the ring. Gollum is obsessed with the ring, calling it his "precious," and will stop at nothing to possess it once again.
About J.R.R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on on Jan. 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. When he was 4, his father died, and his remaining family settled in England. Tolkien served briefly in World War I and attended Exeter College. He became an accomplished professor of the English language and English literature, focusing in particular on the Old English epic poem Beowulf. In fact, Tolkien's writings and studies of the ancient poem revived interest in it. Tolkien was obviously inspired by these fantastic tales and borrowed heavily from them when writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien died on Sept. 2, 1972.
- "One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them. One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."
- "Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment."
- "All that is gold does not glitter. Not all those who wander are lost."
- "The wide world is all about you: You can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out."
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