Week 13: Lord of the Rings, Book V (The Return of the King)

return-of-the-king

Write about ONE theme in Book V, demonstrating how it occurs with three pieces of literary evidence, OR analyze one character in terms of strengths, weaknesses and role in the plot development. Write TWO  questions on your assigned chapter. You must write the questions on your assigned chapter. Make comments in response to TWO questions.

Chapter 1: Carolyn, Eric
Chapter 2: Jessica, Diana
Chapter 3: Kristen, Sonja, Anna
Chapter 4: Carmen, Jaime
Chapter 5: Emily, Heather S., Tarah

Chapter 6: Jason, Heather G.
Chapter 7: Sierra, Lexi
Chapter 8: Miranda, Mysti
Chapter 9: Nuha, Chris
Chapter 10: Katelyn, Meredith

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52 thoughts on “Week 13: Lord of the Rings, Book V (The Return of the King)”

  1. In Book 5 of Lord of the Rings, Pippin makes leaps and bounds in his character development and shows the “shedding” of his youth. This is the first time we see Pippin without Merry and has to do things on his own and in his own way, which causes him to grow up tremendously. His new-found maturity does not mean he is without flaws, which is seen when he looks into the Palantir (which causes the separation from Merry) in the previous book. Pippin also accidently leaks information to Denethor about Boromir’s death and about Gandalf’s upcoming plans. His innocence is seen in this conversation as he does not even realize that he has revealed as much as he did. This slip of tongue by Pippin ends up being a good thing as Denethor becomes less suspicious and seems to trust Pippin. His mistakes made in innocence brings him into a position of honor, which seems likely in a story written by Tolkien. A lot of Pippin’s growth is observable in his newly formed friendships with Beregond and Bergil. Beregond admits “you have endured perils and seen marvels that few of our greybeards could boast of” after hearing about Pippin’s adventures. Bergil teases Pippin upon first meeting him and Pippin warns him “when you are older, you will learn that folk are not always what they seem; and though you may have taken me for a soft stranger-lad and easy prey, let me warn you: I am not, I am a halfling, hard, bold, and wicked!” This is the first time we see Pippin take on this “adult” role instead of playing the kid in the situation (especially with Gandalf). Pippin’s new boldness is used again when he saves Faramir from being burned to death and again when he marches into battle at the Gates of Mordor. Pippin is no longer being contrasted with the wisdom of Gandalf but with the despair and defeated attitude of Denethor. Pippin is showing that he is not only tough and brave but able to make up his own mind, even to go against the man in whose service he is in. This is a type of self-confidence, bravery and Pippin’s amazing growth.

    “Minas Tirith”
    Question One: Why did Pippin choose to swear an oath of fealty to the Stewart, Lord Denethor? Was this simply a rash action by Pippin or was there a readiness to take a last stand and stop travelling?

    Question Two: Bergil, son of Beregond, is similar to Pippin in many ways. Why would Tolkien choose to make Pippin comparable to a child of only ten years old? Is there easy friendship meant to tell us something of the innocence of youth?

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    1. Hobbits to people who know not of them are always compared to children. Bergil connects to Pippin because they make look similar. Pippin’s boyish demeanor can also appeal to kids.

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    2. I think that Pippin chose to swear fealty to Denethor because he felt it was his only way to contribute to anything. Pippin felt the he no longer had a useful role in the greater mission of destroying the ring or fighting battles, that the choice to remain in Gondor was to keep himself safe and to hopefully be significant to Denethor. I think that it may be as far as Pippin believe he can make an important difference in his Lord’s life and begin to change his attitude towards life as a whole. Additoinally, Pippin feels as though he owes Denethor his life because he feels responsible for the death of Boromir. SO he gives his life to Denethor as compensation for the death of his favorite son.

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    3. Pippin swears an oath of fealty to Lord Denethor rashly. He is in the moment of just relaying everything that transpired that led up to Denethor’s beloved son’s death. Pippin is experiencing survivor’s guilt and believes that Boromir’s death is partially his fault. The only way that he knows how to make it up to Lord Denethor is to swear an oath of servitude to him.

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    4. I think Pippin chooses to swear an oath to Denethor because he feels bad about Boromir, and knowing this is his father, this is all that Pippin feels he can do for the family and maybe even for Boromir. He likely also feels a bit useless, as he and Merry have just been riding around with people, not doing too much up until this point, so this is probably a way for him to feel like he can do something, like someone can maybe use his help.

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    5. Pippin chooses to swear an oath to Lord Denethor because hobbits have honor. Pippin was saved by Boromir and because of that Boromir was killed. Pippin felt that it was his duty to repay that debt of life back to Lord Denethor by swearing to serve him. Pippin is trading in the life that he would have had to repay the life that Boromir will never have.

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    6. To answer your first question, I believe Pippin chose to swear an oath of fealty to honour the memory of Boromir and to show Denethor that he is capable of service beyond a story-teller. I believe this was a deliberate move on Tolkien’s part to show that Pippin is piecing together what the cost of war truly amounts to, and to also show discernment where he once was foolish.

      To answer your second question, I believe Tolkien used youth to show the indomitable spirit of hobbits. Pippin is easily the youngest and most vulnerable to foolishness and rash actions, which has already been seen several times throughout the story. However, Tolkien is showing readers that even in despair and horrors of war, light and joy can still be found in those who still retain the innocence of a child–the lightheartedness that comes from within, before the evils of the world stain one’s perception and taint their ability to love.

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      1. I agree with you, but think that Tolkien also has Pippin and Bergil contrasted to show the growth that is taking place in Pippin. He is growing up before our very eyes and war makes people mature very quickly.

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  2. In this chapter, we see Merry in a different light that we have seen the other hobbits. All four of the hobbits are a bit out of place in this journey. Frodo and Sam were given their objectives early on in the story, which left Merry and Pippin acting almost as comic relief, just for being there. In chapter one we see Pippin giving his life in return for the loss of Boromir, which shows courage and strength in repayment. This chapter we see from the perspective of Merry. Merry is riding with Theoden and the riders of Rohan. He feels as though he is a burden. When Theoden offers to have Merry ride with him to Helm’s Deep fills him with a feeling of acceptance. To which he responds with devoting his sword and life to Theoden in the coming battles. I feel as though this signifies a great change in the hobbit and in the story. The two young hobbits who in the beginning of the story had no real path, other than to follow their friend, now have set themselves into roles in which they feel as though they can make a difference.

    Question One: Is there significance in Theoden’s acceptance of Merry’s sword in the coming battle? It would be as though a child (in stature) was fighting for him,but he accepts anyways. Why?

    Question Two: Aragorn travels down the path of the dead and gathers the Oathbreakers based off the an ancient song about Isildur’s heir. What does this say about the importance of mythos and legend? Does this moment make Aragorn more ‘christ-like’?

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    1. Aragorn’s faith in the myths and legends are quite outstanding. He bets his life (literally) that the songs of old are true and that he, as the heir of Isildur, will be able to not only survive his chosen path, but be able to gather a dead army and release the dead from this World. Others seem to doubt the truth of the stories that have been passed down but Aragorn does not even bat an eye at the possible danger. I do not think this makes him “Christ-like”, but like a Christian many generations after Christ had left the earth. Having faith without seeing and being surrounded by others who doubt and have fear of death seems more like a Christian today than like Christ himself.

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    2. The importance of mythology and legend cannot go unnoticed especially in this chapter. Knowing what we know about the Bible, Christ goes into Hell and rescues sinners from Hell in what is called, the Harrowing. This definitely relates the what Aragorn does in this chapter because he is taking betrayers and giving them a chance to redeem themselves and be free. With this in mind, I would think that it makes Aragorn seem more Christ-like.

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    3. Théoden accepts Merry as his squire because he likely sees that Merry wants to help and wants to be useful in this battle, and the more “soldiers” they have, the better. Even if Merry can’t fight like the others, his dedication and desire to help makes him useful, potentially more than other soldiers who may just be there because it’s their job.

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  3. In this book, there seems to be many instances with feelings of dread. These instances are significant because they differ from the dark moments that we have seen in the Hobbit. These instances are darker and there are times in this book where all seems lost. For instance, Eowyn and the soldiers of Rohan become disheartened when Aragorn leaves them to venture into the Paths of the Dead. While they did not know Aragorn’s reasoning, they believed they were being deserted, and that caused them to feel abandoned. Another instance where dread is evident is when Faramir is injured, and the insane steward, Denethor, is disillusioned and thinks his son is dead and attempts to burn him along with himself. This moment made Pippin feel distressed, and was at a loss because he would have go where the battle was happening to find Gandalf. This was a frightening moment for him, and though he was able able to find Gandalf, Denathor still perished at his own hand. Another moment where dread was felt in this book was when Theoden is killed. This scene is just the beginning to a series of triumphs, but it is still noteworthy as a dreadful circumstance in book 5.

    Questions for Chapter 6:
    1) Who is Dernhelm really and what is their role in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields? Why is this significant and how do their actions influence Merry?
    2) At the end of chapter 6, there are many things to consider victories, yet the ending of the chapter is somber. What is the significance of this tone and would Tolkien’s experiences in war affect the way the end of the battle is perceived?

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    1. I think that the seemingly endless somber tone in this chapter and in the story overall is a testament to winning battles within a war. I think that this tone is trying to help the readers understand the emotions that come along with being part of something greater that yourself. I think that this absolutely mirrors the tone and atmosphere that surround Tolkien during his time in the war. He could have been a part of a winning battle, but that did not indicate the end of the war. The tireless effort of the ‘foot soldiers’ or the fellowship in our case, is shown in the each of our characters. We have seen everyone from to Frodo have a change in attitude about their future and the future of middle earth. Some are hopeless and some hope for the best.

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    2. 1. Dernhelm is Lady Éowyn posing as a solider and rider of Rohan. She poses as a man to be able to fight for what she loves, believes in, and for the future of man kind. Her being denied the participation with the Rohirrim in the war is the same rejection that Merry experiences. This is significant because Dernhelm, with the help of Merry, is the defeater of the nazgûl. Her gender, what disqualified her from the war, is what allowed her the victory over the nazgûl and this influences Merry to step up, be heroic, face his fears, and to disregard others telling or making him feel like he can’t. She serves as an example of an unlikely hero and how anyone can rise up and surprise you.
      2. The tone works so well with the concept of bittersweet victory in war. It raises the question of whether what is being fought for is worth the cost. The losses that are experienced are unfortunate but it’s for the overall future of man in general. Tolkien’s experience in war definitely contributes to the tone. He reflects his feelings of war in the chapter heavily with the loss we feel. He too lost his close friends to the war and he believes war is unnecessary and not worth the price.

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  4. Both Pippin and Merry do a lot of growing in Book V. Both hobbits pledge themselves to kings, and though hobbits aren’t known to be great fighters, both do whatever they can in the battles against Mordor. In Merry’s case, he sticks around with Legolas, Aragorn and Gimli, while Pippin goes off with Gandalf. Although not physically strong, Merry pledges himself to Théoden, who happily accepts, and Merry becomes the king’s squire. This shows that he is no longer the same hobbit from the Shire, but a hobbit that’s willing to fight if needed, and to help the right cause in battle. Even when he’s told he can’t go because it’s dangerous and he may be a burden on the riders, he sneaks along anyway. Merry just wants to be useful.
    During the battle against Mordor in Minas Tirith, he immediately tries to help. And he and Eowyn end up defeating the Black Captain of the Nazgul, even though Merry knows he’s putting himself at risk by attacking the leader, he was solely focused on helping Eowyn.
    Ch. 8 Questions:
    1. We see Aragorn essentially healing all the wounded once the battle is over, and we know he’s had a prophecy over his head since he was born. Any connection to the Bible, specifically Jesus? Is this significant?
    2. Aragorn could easily take the throne of Minas Tirith; it would just be given to him. Why doesn’t he take it?

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    1. The largest Christ comparison from Aragorn comes from his trip to the Paths of the Dead where he stirs up the souls of the Dead Men of Dunharrow to follow him, which directly reflects Jesus’ trip to and harrowing of Hell.

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    2. I think that Aragorn does not take the throne of Minas Tirith yet because he knows that he has to win against the army of Sauron before there can be peace in the land and he feels that he has to prove to the people that he will make a good king and a good leader. I think that Aragorn also has to prove to himself that he can lead his people and that he can save his people from evil and other threats. He has lived with this prophecy for so long and now that it is time for it to be fulfilled Aragon is not sure that he can lead and be the king that Minas Tirith needs.

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      1. I do not think Aragon waits to take the throne because of self doubt, but rather to avoid turmoil within his people who do not know there is a king. He does not want to divide his people between believers and non believers but focus on the war ahead of them. He also wants to take his place on the throne according to custom and honor the old days and the ways things have always been done. With the Steward ill, Aragon is unable to come to his thron in the traditional manner.

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    3. Aragorn does not simply take the throne because he knows what will happen if he does. He doesn’t want his reign to stray the focus away from the bigger events at play. He knows that his time will come when it has to but at the current moment, it is not that time. Aragorn Is well-versed and experienced in war and knows what can cloud the minds of humanity. Tolkien’s experience with war and the mindset a soldier may have, or even a commanding officer for that matter, is to do what must be done to keep everyone focused on the war so that they may win rather than doing anything that may cause a distraction.

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    4. 1) I think there is a huge connection to religion in the way that Aragorn is healing the wounded just as it has been told Jesus had. This is significant because Tolkien is drawing on religion in order to stress the importance of Arargorn.
      2) Aragorn does not take the throne right away because he feels he must prove himself to his people before he takes the throne. He does not want to just simply take the throne, he wants to feel like he earned it.

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  5. A major theme in The Return of the King is the significance of sacrifice for one’s cause, whether big or small as well as showing the consequences that follow said sacrifice. While Lord of the Rings is a massive story, the little victories count. Halbarad says to Aragorn that Hobbits are worth more than they know, because the Rangers spend “long labour for the safekeeping of their borders” and yet he is happy to do so even if it goes unrecognized, probably because he is afraid that if Hobbits understand how much work is put into keeping them safe, then they won’t be so merry (Tolkien, 51). So not only are the Rangers sacrificing their physical selves in their labor to protect the Shire, they’re also sacrificing what praise and esteem they may deserve by choosing to also protect the Shire’s spirit. Sacrifice is such a big deal that it even concerns Gandalf, who is perceived as an almighty being. When Pippin asks why Gandalf can’t just save Faramir as well as stop the Nazgul from reaching Theoden’s party, he says that he could, but by doing so, others that need him now may die. He ultimately chooses to save Faramir because he feels obligated to, but he mourns that “evil and sorrow will come of this” now that Theoden won’t have his help (129). Tolkien has created a world so grave and grounded that not even a super wizard angel can save everyone, and him being stuck in a dilemma of who to save and who to potentially let die shows how important sacrifice for the greater good is. One of the final moments in Book V that foreshadow a truly great sacrifice is when Legolas ponders sailing away on the sea, and Gimli does not like the idea of the Elves leaving Middle-Earth once the war ends, saying “if all the fair folk take to the Havens, it will be a duller world for those who are doomed to stay” (155). Unfortunately for Gimli, the great beings of Middle-Earth will have to leave once it is all over, because there is a sense that their truly good presence forces a true evil to be born to conflict that. At the end of the novel, Gandalf and many others sail away hoping that peace will follow, and to Gimli and Merry, this is a sacrifice almost too big to make because they dread living in a world without their powerful friends. It will be safe, but also dull.

    Questions on Chapter 1
    1. How does Denethor compare/contrast with Theoden as leaders and people?
    2. How do the physical descriptions of Minas Tirith describe its state, its citizens, and its fate?

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    1. Both Théoden and Denethor are rulers in one way or another, but even though Denethor is not a legit king, it seems like he has more power over Théoden. One way they are the same is that they both become corrupted with ruling that they eventually fall. A way they are different is that Théoden is recovered from his fall where Denethor’s ending was not quite as lucky.

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    2. Both Théoden and Denethor are requires of their people, however, Théoden is a king. Both leaders are corrupt but Denethor manages to resist Sauron’s efforts to dominate him, proving to be the most powerful of the rulers.

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    3. The physical description of Minas Tirith conveys a kingdom that is rich in history, strength, and prestige but that is in decay without a proper king. The fact that there are so few children in Minas Tirith shows that it is a kingdom that is fading and entering a new age, and that the possibility of a future generation is at risk. Because Gondor is in such close proximity to Mordor, the powers of Sauron are despairing Denethor, and propelling him into vulnerable isolation, which is represented in the isolation and vulnerability of the city itself. And the withering of the kingdom and Denethor’s mental state is symbolized in the withered state of the tree of Gondor which will only return to life with the return of a rightful king and heir.

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  6. Chapter 10 is a strong chapter, but it is a chapter used to set up a later part of the story. The reader is left with the cliff hanger of if the army of men will fall at the gates of Mordor or if they beat all odds and break through. Are the eagles really there to help the army of men and is Pippin really dead? These questions will be in the readers mind when we move on to book 6. This chapter sets up so many questions for the reader but does little else. We do not see the progress in the war against evil, we see a hard battle that seems to be lost before it has even truly started. We do not get any character development and the story is not really moved forward. Chapter 10’s main function in this book is to end book five in an eventful way and make the reader want to keep reading. This I think is the weakness and the strength in this chapter. It is a short chapter with a lot going on so it can be hard to fallow. It also ties in part of Frodo’s story by showing the reader that the company will soon be together either in victory or in death. All hope seems to be lost in this chapter for the characters. The company knows that Frodo has been taken and is not sure if Sauron has the one ring, but the company does not know what has happened to Sam and the reader is not told what Gandalf’s thoughts on the matter are. The reader has to remember back to book four that Sam has the ring and he is still running around causing problems inside of Mordor. The end of book five sets up the reader to find out what Sam and Frodo are doing inside of Mordor. We just have to remember when we are reading that this war is going on. That is what I think that Tolkien intended for this chapter was to give the reader enough information on what is happening with part of the company before he turns back to the other part of the story. And ties them both together for the end of the books.

    Chapter 10 questions:
    1. Why do you think that the Nazgul came and fallowed the army’s movements? Was it a prestrike so that the army would lose hope and be over taken by fear before they reached the gates of Mordor? Or do you think it was so Sauron could herd the army to his front gates and the trap that he set up for them?

    2. “’Bilbo!’ it said. ‘But no! That came in his tale, long long ago. This is my tale, and it is ended now. Good-bye!’,” (874). Do you think that Pippin was remembering Bilbo’s tail or has the tide turned for the army of men?

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  7. In this chapter, Legolas the elf orally tells the story of Dead’s assault. Telling the story aloud represents Tolkien’s emphasis on the importance of oral traditions, especially on midieval cultures. Although Legolas isn’t a major character and comes off pretty depressed ever since leaving middle-earth, telling the story out loud gives it a sort of folktale vibe and is very crucial to understand the way Tolkien works. Also, his majestic hair is a major plus. 🧝‍♂️

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    1. Questions:
      1) Do you believe Legolas in corporates more important aspects into the plot? If so, explain.
      2) One of the most important things to remember about Legolas is his song explaining life as an elf, does the song emphasis his struggles or the great things that may come with being an elf?

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      1. In my opinion, I do not think that Legolas incorporates very important aspects to the story,m. Yes, he is nice to have around with his useful skills and his friendships with the characters, but I feel like he does not make nor break the story. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of Legolas, but I feel like he is a character that is along in the journey and he uses his archery skills and hunting like skills to Hell the other characters. So, I guess without Legolas other characters could have a less chance of survival.

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  8. A Major theme I have noticed throughout the book would have to be the theme of sacrifice. Sacrifice seems to be in almost everyone and in almost everything within this novel. I notice sacrifice in the Hobbits, merely in Frodo. He sacrificed his entire life and well being just for this quest of the ring. He did not really have to do this quest if he truly felt in his heart that he couldn’t, but he sacrificed everything to go on this journey. Frodo, of course, is on the smaller scale if sacrifice. We also see sacrifice in much bigger areas such as the death of Denethor. He sacrificed his own life for the better interest of others, in a way. His death was not courageous, but I feel like it can be seen as a use of sacrifice. An even greater area of sacrifice, in my opinion, would have to be the Elves leaving Middle Earth. This is something they completely did not have to do, but it had come to the point where it seems as if they were no longer comfortable in Middle Earth. They sacrificed everything they know for the interest of their growth. These sacrifices may seem minor, but when looked at in the bigger picture, there are all things that these character did not have to do, but they willingly wanted to, in a sense. Whether it was putting themselves in danger for a journey, sacrificing ones self life for others, or completely leaving the life that they were used to, these are all very significant forms of sacrifice. Also, I feel as if these sacrifices tie together with a theme I had staffed previous weeks ago of fate. It is almost as if these sacrifices that had been made was apart of their fate and they were going to happen regardless.

    CHAPTER 7 QUESTIONS:
    1. Who (if anyone) seemed to make sacrifices in this chapter?
    2. Gandalf offers Denethor a choice, but he still chooses the evil, can this be seen as a religious context?

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    1. I don’t think I would necessarily see this as anything with religious context but more of the fallen man. Denethor has been consumed and corrupted by evil and like in real life, his lust for power and control has taken over his mindset towards humanity. Whether or not it is a time of war, some humans in power use it to place themselves in a greater advantage but ultimately causes their own demise.

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  9. Chapter 9 carries with it the theme of wisdom through oral tradition. Throughout most of Tolkien’s work, he has given first-hand accounts of the events that took place in the life of his characters. In this chapter, Legolas tells the story regarding the Paths of the dead. The experience both Legolas and Gimli had was dark but they had learned. Legolas telling the story to Merry and Pippin is a great example of Tolkien’s experience with oral stories from ancient cultures. In telling stories of past events, Legolas can pass his wisdom and experience to Merry and Pippin so that they may learn more of what awaits them.

    Questions:
    1) Why is the story of the Path of the Dead relevant and important to the overall story?

    2) Why does Gandalf continue to want to attack Mordor even if he knows it will be fatal?

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    1. To your second question, Gandalf does not “know” attacking Mordor will be fatal, but he does believe there are great odds that it will be fatal. Life is not as important to Gandalf as the future of all of Middle Earth. He is willing to do whatever he can to tip the scale in the favor of Frodo and the completion of his mission, so an attack is simply a distraction to give Frodo a chance to save Middle Earth.

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    2. The Path of the Dead is crucial to establishing Aragorn as the true king of Gondor. For those common folk who were unaware of Aragorn’s lineage, seeing his power representing in commanding the armies of the dead demonstrates to all his right to rule. This is also demonstrated when he heals the fallen. Great kings of old should be fearsome to face in their wrath, but also compassionate for those who show them loyalty.

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  10. In book V of LOTR, we see a different type of sacrifice – ones that prove to be shockingly realistic. Each character has their own limits and is subject to make their own sacrifices. Gandalf has to choose between fighting the Lord of Nazgul and saving Faramir. Even though it is Middle Earth, he cannot just waltz into a room and save everybody. The elves sacrificed their homes and their status when they left Middle Earth. Frodo also realizes the toll the adventures have taken on him and leaves Middle Earth as well. In book V, it is clear that there are good sacrifices and bad sacrifices. Good sacrifices are those that are selfless, like those of the elves and Frodo. Bad sacrifices are selfish, like Denethor willing to give up his own life.

    Chapter 5
    1. Theoden is “reinvigorated” when he sees a light flash from the city. Why?
    2. The Black Captain flees from the city gate when he feels the tide of the battle is turning and the darkness is fading. What does this say about him? About Theoden and the others?

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    1. The Black Captain flees because he is a coward, and I think that this ties to the theme of leadership and rule within The Return of the King. Sauron’s armies are just disposable objects to him Because power is their only bond and motivation, they are not really fighting for anything. They can only destroy. And when their destruction is met with the fight to preserve goodness and virtue, they can only flee or be defeated. I think Tolkien is also expressing his own cynicism about the act of war as a whole, and how rulers and governents send men to fight wars for them rather than fighting their own wars. The way in which Sauron sends his armies into battle as opposed to how Theoden and Aragorn fight with their armies, is meant to be a commentary on how modern wars are fought.

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  11. A consistent theme in LOTR The Return of the King Book V is the opportunity of redemption and the showing of mercy as well as heroic actions from the least expected. The act is simple but strong and proves the growth of the characters. There are many opportunities that present themselves for our characters to extend mercy that put the overall mission at risk. But by doing so, Tolkien is trying to portray the necesity of showing mercy regardless of the repercussions. In the previous book Frodo on several occasions offers mercy and kindness to Smeagol despite his previous offenses.
    Pippin feels as if he owes his services to Denethor due to Boromir’s death in the attempt to save him and Merry. He offers himself for any needs Denethor may have and his seek for redemption may not even have been necessary. Boromir was fully aware of his heroic actions but Pippin was most likely feeling a bit of survivors remorse.
    Éowyn, with the help of Merry take down the Black Captain. Both are unlikely heroes in the sense that Éowyn had to disguise herself as a male solider, Dernhelm. Merry was an unlikely hero to himself in the way that he fought through his fear and came to her aid which allowed her to destroy the Black Captain.
    The Men of the mountains broke their allegiance to Isildur causing their curse of not being able to rest until they fulfill their oath. They too are in need of redemption from the breaking of their oath and Aragorn is there to provide them with the opportunity to do just that. They need each others help to succeed and accomplish their wants and needs.
    Tolkien emphasizes that the principles of sacrifice, redemption, and forgiveness are central to the way the world is. This emphasis on the opportunity of second chances highlights the free will our characters have, especially because it is something that is at risk if Sauron gains power over all.

    Book 5 Chapter 2
    1. What was tolkien’s intention in having the chapter told from Gimili’s perspective?
    2. In what ways does Aragorn’s trip down into the Paths of the Dead reflect him as a Christ figure?

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    1. The reason for chapter 2 to be told from Gimli’s perspective can only be to demonstrate how fearful the Path of the Dead was. Aragorn, Legolas, and the other Dunedain refused to allow themselves to be frightened, but by showing us Gimli’s secret thoughts and fears, we realize how terrifying and risky this venture is.

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  12. Sam Gamgee has always been a great friend to Frodo throughout their journey. However, in The Return of the King, we see Sam evolve from an uneasy sidekick of Frodo’s to more of a courageous character. Sam is more protective over Frodo rather than just being his sidekick or assistant on his journey. This is a huge strength for Sam because he develops more of a backbone and is a huge help to Frodo as he becomes more of a guardian to Frodo. Sam was faced with a challenging task and grew from it and became a stronger character and friend of Frodo’s.

    Questions for chapter 7:
    1) When reaching the House of Stewards, the sight of Gandalf is described as a burst of white light. What could this symbolize?
    2) Why does Denethor throw himself into the fire with the palantir?

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  13. Through the book merry goes through incredible growth. He pledges himself to King Theoden and becomes the king’s squire. When he is surrounded by incredible people, e.x. Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, Merry does not hide away and tries to fight against the evil even though he is a Hobbit. When Merry becomes a squire he is proving that he too can fight against the evils of Mordor even though he is but a Hobbit of the Shire. By sneaking along with the riders he is able to further prove his bravery and yet also his nativity. Merry is able to help Eowyn in the battle against the Black Captain and in the process shows off just how much his character has grown. In the battle in Minas Tirith, he does because even though he is a small Hobbit he is willing to put his life at risk for others and that is what inspires so many other characters.
    Questions
    Is Aragron supposed to be seen as a Jesus figure? Or is he suppose to be viewed as a saint-like figure? Or is he to be viewed as neither?
    Why did Tolkien make Aragron able to heal people?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Aragorn is supposed to be a Christ figure for sure. I also think that he acts as a sort of Arthurian figure, but those two are very similar and interwoven. Aragorn seems to be universally respected, even before people really know who he is. He is the leader of the fellowship, even though he does not always want to be, and he is very self sacrificing. He isn’t perfect, but he tries really hard to do the right thing. There are more direct Christ figures in literature, but I think Aragorn has a place among them.

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  14. Duty seems to be a prominent theme in the fifth book. First Pippin becomes part of the King’s guard in Minas Tirith, because he felt that he owed his life to Gondor after Boromir’s sacrifice. In this book, Aragorn reveals to Sauron that he is the heir to the throne of Gondor, which he had spent the entire series leading up to this point trying to hide from most people. He accepts that it is his part to play in this ongoing quest, and decides that his future is something he can face. Aragorn really grappled with his responsibilities regarding Gondor, and his desire to be with Arwin, and allowing his enemy to know his secret is a huge moment of growth. Merry also seeks a position among the fighters at Helm’s Deep, and becomes Théoden’s squire. Pippin and Merry both have spent much of the series separated from most of the action, and they feel like it is their duty to give back to those who have protected and helped them.

    Chapter 5 Questions:

    Are the Woses a sort of “deus ex machina,” or do they have greater symbolism within the story?

    What are some similarities between the Woses and the Ents from The Two Towers?

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  15. Jason C Warren

    Theme: “Unexpected Power”

    1) Eowyn defeats the flying creature of the Lord of the Nazgul. “‘No living man may hinder me!’…’But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him'” (Book 5, Ch. 6) Part of what empowers Eowyn to defeat the Lord of the Nazgul’s mount is that he understimates her and overestimates himself. When she reveals herself and her powerful lineage, he is awestruck for a moment, long enough for Merry to sneak up and strike him.

    2) Merry kills the Lord of the Nazgul. “Suddenly the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke” (Book 5, Ch. 6). Had Merry been screaming and charging from the beginning of the battle, he would have made himself a target, but since he seemed so weak of stature, he remained hidden until the crucial moment when he was able to take the Witch King by surprise.

    3) Eomer charges into the field to avenge his fallen sister. “The great wrath of his onset had utterly overthrown the front of his enemies, and great wedges of his Riders had passed clear through the ranks of the Southrons, discomfiting their horsemen and riding their footmen to ruin” (Book 5, Ch. 6). Eomer has proven himself on the battlefield at this point, but once he sees that his sister has been slain, he flies into such an unexpected wrath that he is able to cleave his way into the midst of the enemy’s forces.

    Ch. 6 “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” Questions

    1) Did Tolkien create Eowyn as a celbration of womanly strength, or as a warning against it?

    2) What gave Merry and Eowyn the power to defeat the Lord of the Nazgul?ture of the Lord of the Nazgul. “‘No living man may hinder me!’…’But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Eowyn I am, Eomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him'” (Book 5, Ch. 6) Part of what empowers Eowyn to defeat the Lord of the Nazgul’s mount is that he understimates her and overestimates himself. When she reveals herself and her powerful lineage, he is awestruck for a moment, long enough for Merry to sneak up and strike him.

    2) Merry kills the Lord of the Nazgul. “Suddenly the slow-kindled courage of his race awoke” (Book 5, Ch. 6). Had Merry been screaming and charging from the beginning of the battle, he would have made himself a target, but since he seemed so weak of stature, he remained hidden until the crucial moment when he was able to take the Witch King by surprise.

    3) Eomer charges into the field to avenge his fallen sister. “The great wrath of his onset had utterly overthrown the front of his enemies, and great wedges of his Riders had passed clear through the ranks of the Southrons, discomfiting their horsemen and riding their footmen to ruin” (Book 5, Ch. 6). Eomer has proven himself on the battlefield at this point, but once he sees that his sister has been slain, he flies into such an unexpected wrath that he is able to cleave his way into the midst of the enemy’s forces.

    Ch. 6 “The Battle of Pelennor Fields” Q’s

    1) Did Tolkien create Eowyn as a celbration of womanly strength, or as a warning against it?

    2) What gave Merry and Eowyn the power to defeat the Lord of the Nazgul?

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    1. I think that Tolkien created Eowyn not as a celebration of womanly strength or as a warning against it. I think he created Eowyn as a form of temptation for Aragorn. Eowyn, at least to me, exists first as a test of Aragorn’s faith and to make him look better. I think Tolkien managed to spin it in a way where we don’t automatically think of Eowyn as an insult to women’s power as fighters and leaders, but ultimately that is what she is reduced to.

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    2. I think he did create her as a celebration of womanly strength because of all her virtues and just how Tolkien presents her. I believe it’s to demonstrate the strength that this woman holds in war amongst all these men. This shows how it is that women are just as equally strong as men and are willing to sacrifice themselves for their people just like men are under these circumstances. I could see how some readers wouldn’t think so but, I think it is a celebration of women and that is how Tolkien is presenting it.

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    3. I think what gave them the power was the ring and also theodens death. Seeing his strength and bravery and how his death played out gave them the strength to fight and be more focused.

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  16. I found the following text from Tolkien in his essay Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics straight forward to the theme of courage in not only Book V but throughout the entire trilogy, specifically the fusion of Christian and pagan belief.
    Tolkien writes:
    One of the most potent elements in that fusion is the Northern courage; the theory of courage, which is the great contribution of Northern literature…A Christian was (and is) still like his forefathers a mortal hemmed in a hostile world. The monsters remained enemies of mankind, the infantry of the old war and became inevitably the enemies of the one God…Even so the vision of war changes. For it begins to dissolve, even as the contest on the fields of Time thus takes on its largest aspect. The tragedy of the great temporal defeat remains for a while poignant, but ceases to be finally important.
    It is no defeat, for the end of the world is part of the design of Metod, the Arbiter who is above the mortal world. Beyond there appears a possibility of eternal victory (or eternal defeat), and the real battle is between the soul and its adversaries.

    In linking the tradition of Beowulf to LOTR, I also found the following point about conflicts and foes highly relevant to how courage is conveyed by the characters of Tolkien. He writes:
    It is just because the main foes in Beowulf are inhuman that the story is larger and more significant than this imaginary poem of a great king’s fall. It glimpses the cosmic and moves with the thought of all men concerning the fate of human life and efforts; it stands amid but above the petty wars of princes, and surpasses the dates and limits of historical periods, however important.

    In essence, Tolkien is timeless as are the struggles to be courageous in the face of fear.

    Another source directly refers to the courage of different characters as they exemplified Tolkien and his definition of it:

    Solopova, Elizabeth (2009), Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary Background of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Fiction, New York City: North Landing Books, ISBN 0-9816607-1-1

    Courage in the face of overwhelming odds is a recurring theme in Tolkien’s literature. As he wrote in The Monsters and the Critics, Tolkien was inspired by the apocalyptical Norse legend of Ragnarök, where the gods know that they are doomed in their final battle for the world, but they and their allies go to fight anyway. This “northern courage” as he called it is seen in the fate of Frodo and Samwise, for example, who have little prospect of returning home from their mission to Mount Doom.
    Page 28
    Another kind of courage was defined by Tolkien in the difference between humility and the arrogant desire for glory. While Sam follows Frodo out of loyalty and would die for him, characters like Boromir are driven by pride and would risk the lives of others for their personal glory. Likewise the rejecting of the ring by Sam, Faramir, and Galadriel can be seen as a courageous rejection of power and glory and of the personal renown that defeating Sauron would have brought about.
    Page 42.

    Questions for Discussion
    Chapter 3
    1. Why would Aragorn request that Merry be outfitted with gear for battle?
    2. Why does Théoden discount Merry as a warrior yet accept him as a sword thain? Why is it significant that Merry refuses to be left behind?

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  17. In this book, chapter 5 two of the major themes I notice here is war and conflict. I feel that the war for the ring is stronger in this chapter and that more emotions are surfacing over protecting and obtaining the ring. In the midst of this war there is conflict within the characters themselves because, certain characters are unable to define with which side they want to remain and others are finding difficulty in not picking a side. There is also the conflict of merry emotions of how he feels the riders will accept him he feels conflict in his emotions that he prefers to stay hidden and not show his appearance to them. This chapter also ends on the note of war between theoden and southern chief. In this chapter Theoden proves to be a hero by going past his own strength and fighting as a leader. It is crucial that he is viewed as brave and strong moments before his death. I think it gives him that sense of respect from those around him. As he is proven to be a great leader that fights and dies for his people while fighting along side of them. This also forms a comparison with eomer who he has named heir moments before his death. These two chapters are important because, of Theodens death and the aftermath of his death. It was also important for readers to know who would be his heir and how it was special who he chose .

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  18. Ideal leadership is demonstrated through almost every important male character in Book V of The Return of the King. Leadership is shown to not only be crucial for victory in war, but to be crucial for the individual spirit in times of war and despair. Throughout Book V, nearly every male character shows strength in leadership by going to battle with their men, and in doing so, those who follow are more willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater good. Merry willingly gives an oath to fight alongside Theoden, and Gimli and Legolas willingly follow Aragorn into the Paths of the Dead, despite almost certain death. Both Theoden and Aragorn comfort their men and followers with words of encouragement, and they demonstrate strength by facing death and danger with their men.
    Unlike Denethor who stays protected within the walls of his own kingdom, Theoden, Imrahil, and Faramir face battle with their men, which demonstrates that the lives of the soldiers that are fighting on the frontlines have value, and that they are not seen as disposable to their leaders. Denethor tells Pippin that Sauron, “uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise” which shows that Denethor has lost his ability to govern and lead his kingdom to victory (800). Because Denethor sees the men of his kingdom, and his son, as disposable, he destroys himself out of fear and despair. Through Denethor, Tolkien illustrates the emotional distance and isolation that can occur in a ruler who does not engage with the people of his kingdom in times of war and struggle, and that such distance can lead to the destruction of the kingdom.

    Questions for Chapter 4:

    1. What is the dynamic of Denethor’s relationship with Faramir?
    2. How does Denethor differ from other rulers and figures of leadership?

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