Week 14: Lord of the Rings, Book VI (The Return of the King)


Write about ONE theme in Book VI, 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. For those writing on Appendix A, how do the re-tellings of the stories of Beren and Lúthien and Aragorn and Arwen enlarge (or emphasize) key themes of the LOTR? Write TWO questions on your assigned chapter. You must write the questions on your assigned chapter or appendix. 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
Appendix A: Katelyn, Meredith


47 thoughts on “Week 14: Lord of the Rings, Book VI (The Return of the King)”

  1. Throughout the entirety of “Lord of the Rings,” Frodo has proven to be able to, for the most part, resist the Ring. It isn’t till the last moment, when he’s about to toss it in Mount Doom, that he can no longer resist the Ring’s power. He’s been accepting the weight of the Ring, not allowing anyone else to deal with the burden. It’s likely selfishness and the Ring’s corruption that makes Frodo angry at the thought of not possessing the Ring, but also that he doesn’t want it to control and corrupt anyone else, as he has seen in multiple people that have had or even just want the Ring. Frodo isn’t physically strong, Sam is even probably stronger than he is, but mentally, Frodo has proven to be strong, able to handle the Ring with little outer-change as long as he has.
    Frodo finally succumbs to the Ring, at the very end, where he betrays the quest and attempts to take the Ring for himself. However, Gollum finally shows his purpose as he takes the Ring from Frodo, finger included, before falling to his death with his precious. Frodo apologizes to Sam and is finally released from the Ring’s control, which leaves Frodo very different. In fact, this quest has changed all of the hobbits, like it had Bilbo back in “The Hobbit.” Frodo especially seems as though he no longer cares about living in the Shire, like he’s too old to be around the other hobbits who lead simpler lives.
    Chapter 8 Questions:
    1. Do you think, had the situation in Chapter 8 happened prior to “Lord of the Rings,” that Frodo and company would react differently? Why?
    2. After all that Saruman has done, and even now in the Shire, why is Frodo against killing him?

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    1. Frodo has been in close contact with evil throughout his journey. He was able to be rid of the evil (though not of his own will) and I think that avoiding killing others has helped Frodo remain good .If Frodo were to murder Saruman now, the personal journey he took would have been in vain. Gandalf spared Saruaman for reasons Frodo does not understand, but Frodo trusts Gandalf’s judgement and has constantly followed his direction and example.

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    2. Frodo is against killing Saruman because that is not his nature. He watched what happened to Bilbo with the ring and after the ring was taken from him. He heard stories of what the ring had done to others, like Smeagol. I think that Frodo is against killing Saruman because he does not want to repeat the history of the ring bearers. I feel almost as if he is giving Saruman a pass to keep the light within himself alive. The saying evil begets evil, comes to mind because I feel has though Frodo is trying to push the opposote: good begets good. Killing Saruman would not do anything for Frodo, so why push for it?

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    3. I think that Frodo and company would have reacted differently if it had happened before the LOTRs. If they had not gone on a long journey and see so much of the world I don’t think that they would have been as quick to action or as likely to use force as they were in this chapter. The company of Hobbits has always been brave, but in this chapter, they do not let anyone stand in their way. Merry climbs the gate ad threatens a man with a sword. That is something that Merry never would have done before. Sam also stands up for himself and his friends not just Frodo. They have all grown and become stronger and more likely to fight then they would have been before they left.

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    4. I think Frodo is against killing Saruman because he remembers what Gandalf said: “Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.” Frodo knows he cannot hold the power decide someone’s fate.


  2. “The Tower of Cirith Ungol”
    Sam started off the Lord of the Rings as very meek and insecure, but that is not the Sam Gamgee we see in Book Six. He has grown into a remarkable hero, full of courage that is tempered by his love of Frodo and spontaneity. Sam does not look for adventure but faithfully and loyally follows Frodo into it. He does not just run into Cirith Ungol; instead we hear Sam almost talking himself into it and fumbling absentmindedly for the phial of Galadriel. Sam’s heroism does not lie in quick decisions and impulsiveness (he never really runs towards danger) but in his choices, which he consciously makes to perform heroic deeds (which he sees more as actions of loyalty). Sam often expects defeat and is consistently surprised by his successes. It seems Tolkien made a hero that does not feel “brave” but instead acts out of his love for another. This devotion to Frodo and Sam’s sacrifice for him embodies a true friendship as Sam does not concern himself with his own safety and needs (like carrying Frodo or giving Frodo the last of the water), but only those of Frodo.
    Question One: Tenacity and bravery seem to go hand and hand to Tolkien. There were many instances when Sam felt defeated or overwhelmed in this chapter, but he kept moving forwarding. Do you think tenacity is required for bravery? Do situations bring forth bravery or is it an innate trait of the character?

    Question Two: Fate is a theme we have spoken about in this class quite a bit. Do you think fate brought to Sam’s minds songs in a dark time or was it simply despair? “…there at the end of his long journey and his grief, moved by what thought in his heart he could not tell, Sam began to sing” (pg. 908). Since Middle Earth was created with song, does it hold a special power there?

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    1. I think tenacity is bravery. I think that the shear force of will to keep going on, even throughout everything that has gone against them,embodies bravery. I think that you can be brave without being tenacious, for example doing something that scares you (IE; skydiving) is brave. I Think that tenacity equates to bravery, because sometimes it is the hardest thing to do. I also think that bravery is both innate and circumstantial. I think that someone will be brave in a situation that requires it, if in their heart, they are already brave. I do not think a cowardly person would suddenly become brave in a situation where there is choice. Personally however, I lean a little more towards bravery being situational.

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    2. Tenacity may come with bravery because a truly brave person would not back down and would fight for what they believe in. In the context of Sam, I would definitely consider him both tenacious and brave.

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    3. I think tenacity and bravery go hand and hand. I also don’t even know if i would simply describe Sam as brave or tenacious. I think Sam more embodies perseverance and determination, duty. Sam is driven by his desire to help Frodo finish his mission. Sam might be brave, but it’s less a character trait and more of a matter of circumstance.

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    4. I believe songs hold a special power. Words themselves are powerful and songs can weave magic and give hope, comfort, and ease the mind of those singing and hearing. Sam’s singing is cathartic; he has a strong emotional feeling, cannot quite express it, but can release the emotions through song. I think it also ties into the creation of Middle Earth, but we see songs throughout the whole trilogy and also in the Hobbit. Songs on stories is prevalent in many epics and Middle English stories as well. For Tolkien, it was a multitude of things.


  3. Chapter two of book VI highlights the thematic ideal that looking ordinary does not keep you from being extraordinary. Sam and Frodo are trying to get to Mount Doom to destroy the ring. However, their path out of Cirith Ungol was plagued with intermittent orc parties preparing for the war against Aragorn. Our two hobbits were unable to avoid one of the big war parties, but their ordinary features caused them to be mistaken by the party leader as just other orcs. I think that this scene is important because it is emphasizing one of the reasons that Frodo was chosen to take the ring to mordor. I think that any of the other members of the fellowship would have just been kidnapped or murdered, but because the hobbits are so small and average looking, they were able to trek across mordor with an orcs party. Their ordinary-ness made them more invisible in plain sight than they would have been trying to sneak around. It also ties back to advice given by Elrond early on in the story about how the journey was set in such away that the small could be just as successful as the strong. Everyone has their own assets to utilize and you see Sam and Frodo doing that in this chapter to safely move through mordor. You also really begins to see a physical transformation in Frodo and the ring. As the ring is carried closer and closer to its doom, it is getting heavier. I think that this is an important notion and detail about how heavy and difficult things can get as they reach their end.

    Question One: What does the slow increasing weight of the ring mean? How does its effect on Frodo symbolize the journey up until this point?

    Question Two: What is the relevance of the orcs whispering about a great elf that is on the loose in mordor? Who are they actually talking about and why is that significant?

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    1. The ring growing heavier as it gets closer to Mount Doom is representative of the increasing burden the quest is on Frodo. So many lives are depending on him making this perilous journey, and that is a massive weight on his shoulders (or neck in this case).

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    2. The relevance of the great elf in Mordor, is that it is a warrior that can fight and kill orcs quickly and quietly without anyone seeing them. The orcs are actually talking about Sam. Sam has always loved they elves and wanted to meet them and now he is being compared to not just an elf, but a great warrior elf. It is like all of his dreams have come true. Sam has grown so much in these books. He has gone from the quiet gardener who loves to hear stories to this strong warrior who kills orcs and saves Frodo.

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  4. Chapter 3: Mt. Doom

    Chapter 3 is told entirely from Sam’s perspective. An appropriate theme in this chapter is “resolve.”
    Sam begins to understand rather early that there probably will not be a return trip home. “So that was the job I felt I had to do when I started,” thought Sam: “to help Mr. Frodo to the last step and then die with him? Well, if that is the job, then I must do it.”
    And while there is understandable trepidation, there is complete acceptance of the situation and thereafter, Sam is resolved to see the task completed and, should the need arise, give his own life to save Frodo’s. Tolkien writes, ‘Even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned into a new strength. Sam…grew stern, almost grim, as the will hardened in him.’ Tolkien describes a renewed sense of responsibility within Sam, and the rest of the chapter follows his decision making from rationing food and water, to maneuvering through barren lands of ash, to carrying Frodo up the hill. Every ounce of Sam is poured into keeping Frodo alive and carrying out the mission, even if “I’ll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind, and I’ll carry Mr. Frodo up myself, even if it breaks my back and heart.”
    I think the most powerful message of this chapter comes from the very end, when Frodo remembers Gandalf’s belief that even Gollum had a part to play in this pilgrimage. These words and their eventual realization remind us that even though the world might be split between good and evil, ALL things serve a purpose. We might go a step further and say that Frodo might be wrestling with a future or alternate version of himself by fighting Gollum at the very end, and losing a part of himself (literally) in the process. It seems rather poetic to me that Frodo must lose his finger to lose the ring; it wouldn’t be relinquished any other way.


    1. Sam sacrifices his needs to keep Frodo alive. Is this because he loves Frodo as a friend and Master, or would he have done the same thing if it were Pippin, or Merry, or even Aragorn carrying the ring?

    2. Is there significance that when Frodo has his final fight with Gollum, he is invisible? Also, how does Gollum know exactly where Frodo is, despite his invisibility?

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    1. I believe it is just in Sam’s nature to want to care for and help people. We see this even in his role in the Shire as a gardener. He tends to plants and other things that grow. We can see that good, kind-hearted nature in the Shire has been brought with him in his journey.

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    2. As a lover of all things that grow, Sam is a healer by nature, and would tend as much to people as he would to plants. I believe Sam’s inner strength, diligence, perseverance, patience, and kindness influence his desire to nurture others and keep them in his care. Even as destructive as the machinations and weapons of the Enemy may be, Sam does not lose his ability to cultivate in others a sense of thriving and life itself.

      Frodo is in the ‘realm’ of the Ring, of the world inhabited by the spirit of Sauron and his servants, as in the unseen. It marks his final fight with Gollum as a battle for the soul, not the body. As for Gollum being able to know where Frodo is, I think it has more to do with the overall influence of the Ring. Both of them were corrupted by it–Gollum more than Frodo, but Frodo nonetheless was affected. I think the fact that the Ring is more than just metal–it is an object imbued with evil–that anyone who bears it for longer than Sam does–is bound to sense whenever another person (in this case Frodo) has it–regardless of physical ability. It is more a spiritual sense–similar to a ‘sixth’ sense that allows both Frodo and Gollum to perceive past illusions. It is the very nature of the Ring, and this ability would doubtless pass to anyone who wields it.

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  5. In the final book of the Lord of the Rings, the theme of good triumphing over evil cannot go unnoticed. This book, in particular starts off in a hopeless mood. While Sam represents all that is good when he rescues Frodo from Cirith Ungol, there is a foreboding feeling as the two hobbits continue on their journey. Another moment where good triumphs over evil is when the ring is finally destroyed. This was no easy task, and it could not have been done without Gollum. His blind rage and addiction are what lead him to forego his own safety and lead him to falling to his own and “the precious'” death and destruction. Another moment in this last book when good triumphs over evil is seen in the last couple chapters in the book. The hobbits, who are tired from their long journey, must fight for their own home. They defeat the evil that his tainted their once happy home, and they start to rebuild it.
    Questions for Chapter 6-Many Partings:
    1) What was Arwen’s gift to Frodo? Do you think it was wanted and/or needed?
    2)What is the significance of Saruman appearing before the hobbits, Galadriel, and Gandalf? What has changed since their last encounter with him?

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    1. Saruman has been LITERALLY “brought low” by his experiences. He no longer TOWERS above them (see what I did there?) and now crawls in the dirt like the debased creature he is. The only major function of this meeting again upon the road is to portend a danger to the Shire.

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    2. Arwen gives Frodo two gifts, however, the gift of the white jewel to soothe him when he remembers all the darkness and troubles he has previously gone through. This gift is well needed because it will help Frodo and give him the peace he deserves.

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  6. The theme that dominates the second half of book 2 is restoration. We see restoration in many ways. First, the bond between Sam and Frodo, which was strained by Frodo’s turn at Mount Doom as well as their physical separation at the end of The Two Towers, is restored after the Ring is destroyed. Frodo says that since their quest is over, he is now glad to be with Sam “here at the end of all things” (Tolkien, 238). However, this is far from the end, as there are still six more chapters to go. Over the course of these chapters, the Hobbits grow (literally for Pippin and Merry) as their merriment is restored. In terms of power, Gondor is restored to its rightful heir in Aragorn, and Gandalf says that the Fourth Age will be an age of prosperity for the race of Men. In the final chapters of the book, there is a physical restoration as Sam uses his gift from Galadriel to restore The Shire to the peaceful and pure place it once was, free from Sauruman’s industrial destruction. All of these heroes struggled endlessly from the beginning, and now having finally triumphed over evil, Tolkien takes his time to depict an extended epilogue for most of Book VI to show that it was all worth fighting for, and amidst all the struggles and sufferings, there is restoration and rebirth.

    Questions on Chapter 1
    1. How does the way the Orcs at Cirith Ungol compare/contrast to the way the forces of Mordor have been shown in other parts of the series?
    2. Why would Tolkien create a character (Sam) that is so much more fit to hold the Ring but then make Frodo the primary protagonist/Ringbearer?

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    1. I think that during the last stretch of the journey, Sam appears to be much more fit to carry the ring because it is necessary for the narrative. In a sense, Sam functions as a eucatastrophic figure in his own right, and his character strengths are emphasized in order to make the motivations of his actions believable and emotionally powerful for the reader. But as a character, Sam is able to resist the ring because he hasn’t had to carry it as long as Frodo has, and he is not meant to carry it to its destruction. Bearing the ring is not Sam’s duty, but Frodo’s. Sam’s duty is to protect and serve his master, and throughout the story, this is emphasized. I think that duty and status is tied to the temptation of the ring, and because Sam is continuously depicted as a protector and holder of Frodo’s well being, he is somewhat hierarchically placed below him, and therefore, any temptation that he feels in regards to the ring will only be in relation to his status and his desire to achieve his own ends. And because Sam’s only true goal, or want, is to protect Frodo, the temptation of the ring is not convincing. He is a subservient and loyal figure, which in nature does not desire power. It can also be argued that Sam has gained wisdom about the ring from watching Frodo succumb to it; he is more aware of its tricks and falsehoods and can more easily divert them because he has seen what they have done to his friend and companion. He could not have carried the ring from the beginning because he knew nothing of its power, but along the journey he has gained wisdom.

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    2. I don’t feel like the orcs in Cirith Ungol are that much different than other orcs we have encountered. I wrote this week about evil turning on itself and this is the perfect example: each time we have seen the interactions amongst orcs, they are ALWAYS in-fighting. Sauron musters his forces through fear rather than love, therefore whenever he or his Nazgul are not present, the orcs fall to bickering and fighting among themselves.

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    3. I think Tolkien made Sam the way he is specifically to asssist Frodo on his quest. He uses an unlikely hero to be the one who volunteers to help Frodo on his quest and they end up successfully executing it. Also, since Sam had become Frodo’s right hand man he started growing as a character. Also, I may be reaching here, but I don’t think anyone is necessarily “fit” to hold the ring since anyone can be corrupted by its powers. I think Sam is the perfect character to assist Frodo on his quest.

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    4. I have been questioning this for quite some time, however, after finishing the book I do believe Sam is more fit to hold the ring than Frodo. Although Frodo has the ring most of the time, Sam is able to resist it and is hardly ever tempted to keep the ring in his hands. This shows his actual strength and ability to protect rather than seize the ring from Frodo. Sam’s strength makes him most capable of holding the ring.

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  7. Readers can see quite a change in character for Frodo in book 6. He was once so full of youth and energy but after his quest he seems to be drained and even though he has completed the quest that no one else wanted to, he does not feel whole. He is a hero and yet he does not seem to feel that way. Once he had returned to the Shire, he seems unhappy or bored there. When reading this, I made a connection to when Bilbo had a similar feeling when returning to the Shire and he eventually left. Frodo’s strength shines through when he was the only one brave enough to complete the quest and I believe his weakness is how he feels wounded from the quest. This character development contributes to the plot because it shows how much damage or influence the Ring can have on its bearer- even when it is not noticeable from the start.
    Chapter 7 Questions
    1) Butterbur explains to Gandalf and the hobbits that their warrior gear frightens to locals. Why do you think this is?
    2) Do you think Tolkien’s description of how Frodo feels when returning from the quest relates to how soldiers feel when coming home from war? Why or why not?

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    1. I think that Frodo’s emotional state and physical state are both reminiscent of soldiers returning home from war or anything that has vast traumatic effects on their minds. Many leave their homes with this feeling of great adventure and engulfed with strong positive energy, but when they return they may feel depressed, isolated, or uncomfortable by anything. We can see how this varies between the other hobbits as it does in real life. Many of them come back having faced the death of people they have become close to, witnessed horrendous acts, killed, and more leading to PTSD.

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  8. One of the most important themes in Book VI of The Return of the King is healing. During the last stretch of the journey into Mordor, Sam works as Frodo’s guide and companion, but he also takes on the role of his healer. Frodo increasingly shows signs of mental, emotional, and physical trauma as they get closer to Mount Doom; and Sam increasingly tends to Frodo’s condition by forcing him to rest, feeding him Lembas bread and water, and caressing him by holding his hand and hugging him close to his breast. But because Frodo bears the ring, his despair has become too great, and he is unable to fully heal from any of the traumas that he endures. Nevertheless, Sam retains enough hope for the both of them, and works to tend to Frodo’s pain as best he can until the ring is finally destroyed.
    The lembas bread that Sam and Frodo eat along the journey has a healing power that aids them and gives them strength. When Sam himself begins to despair and debate with himself, he thinks of the lembas bread:
    The lembas had a virtue without which they would long ago have lain down to die. It did not satisfy desire…yet this waybread of the Elves had a potency that increased as travellers relied on it alone and did not mingle it with other foods. It fed the will, and it gave strength to endure, and to master sinew and limb beyond the measure of mortal kind (915).
    After eating the bread, Sam feels lighter and his able to overcome his dark and despairing thoughts, which suggests that lembas has not only the capacity to heal physical weakness, but emotional weakness as well. The bread may also be an allusion to the body of Christ, or sacramental bread, that is shared during the Eucharist in catholic mass. The communal sharing of the bread that Sam practices with Frodo, and the act of Sam giving the last of his own food to Frodo, resembles the ritual of feeling Christ’s presence and healing power. But it also suggests conceptions of an ultimate sacrifice, which emotionally strengthens Sam’s actions, but more importantly, highlights Frodo’s condition. In bearing the ring, Frodo has completely sacrificed the whole of his being, which is exemplified in his emotional and physical transition.
    In the Houses of the Healing, Faramir and Eowyn continue their physical healing under the Ward, but it is not until they meet one another that they are able to emotionally heal from the traumas that they have experienced. Eowyn’s healing is especially emphasized, for it is not until Faramir looks upon her without pity, but as an equal in suffering and valor, that she able to experience a change of heart, “I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun, and behold! The Shadow has departed!” (943). Eowyn gives up her identity as a shieldmaiden, which suggests that she was emotionally guarded and acting out in an attempt to gain control in her life as a warrior. Her decision to face almost certain death and to slay in battle suggests that she felt internally hopeless and in need of purpose. And while the virtues of strength and pride remain intact in her character, she comes to terms with the sorrow that was driving her actions through Faramir’s understanding and love.

    Questions for Chapter 4 “The Field of Cormallen”

    1. Why does Tolkien refer to Frodo and Sam as “wanderers” in this chapter? And why are they asked to wear the clothes of their journey to their return ceremony?

    2. What is the significance of Frodo’s wounded hand? What might it represent or allude to?

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  9. Chapter 9: “The Grey Havens”

    As the books come to an end, I really see Tolkien bringing back his characters to their roots, especially in chapter 9. In this chapter, the hobbits return back to the Shire and once again, restoring order into their world. Although lots has changed since the beginning of the story, this chapter certainly places emphasis on life’s simplicities. At the start of the series, Bilbo Baggins stresses on the greatness of life when it is most simple, and at the end if chapter nine, Sam also reminds us of this importance. When Sam returns, he is greeted by his loving wife who has been waiting in their warm home for her husband to come home. He then sits back, takes it all in, and simply says to his wife and daughter, “I’m back.” The scene in this chapter is peaceful and simple; just as Bilbo would say, nothing bad can happen when you stay indoors and strive to live as casually as possible!

    1) When Sam returns from the journeys, why do you think he tells his wife that he is “back” instead of saying he is home? Do you believe the Shire is no longer home to the Hobbits?
    2) Is the Shire ultimately where the hobbits belong?

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    1. Home is where the heart is. I believe that Sam’s heart is divided between those he loves, so his home is with both his wife and his long time companion and friend, Frodo. I think this is true of all those that serve in combat and form a brotherhood with those they fought with. Frodo does not seem content in the Shire and so I would say his heart was wandered away from the Shire. Pippin and Merry seem at home in the Shire, but some of that might be their love for each other. I think the Hobbits will always be welcome in the Shire, it is simply a matter of where they want to be.

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    2. I think the Shire is a great home for hobbits who like to be comfortable and have never stepped out of their comfort zones. It seems as if once the hobbits who leave the Shire come back, they no longer want to be there. They feel there is no action there or like they are doing absolutely nothing compared to whatever quest they were just on.

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    3. Much like when soldiers return from war or serving time, they no longer have that “home” feeling they once did before they left. The Shire is where they belong but now the idea of what home is has changed and carries with it a different meaning. Saying “back” rather than “home” is only to show that he has returned to his normal duties and role and must continue to abide by his natural part of life rather than return to what he originally left behind. Home is no longer home and more of a destination for his journey in life.

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    4. I think that Sam says he’s back instead of home because he feels like his home has shifted from a place to a person. Frodo and the Fellowship were Sam’s home on the quest, and returning to the Shire is going to be as much of an adjustment as leaving the Shire was at the beginning of the series.

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  10. A theme I have noticed in this last book would have to be the theme of appreciation of home. The Hobbits finally return to their shire and they pretty much feel better than they ever have before. They have been through some amazing, terrifying and unbelievable journeys, but none of these journeys will give them the thrill that compares to finally being home. After all of their craziness, they now have a better appreciation for their home. They want to take better care of their shire and make it richer than it has ever been. It is rather sad that it took such drastic events for the Hobbits to see how beautiful their land is and how much potential it has. We see this new appreciation through Frodo, he wants to love his land and he wants others to love it as well. According to him, the shire is going to be better than it has ever been before. We also see this appreciation through the journey that have been on. If it was not for these horrific journeys, then they would never have seen a reason to appreciate their land. The fear of death could be another way we see the new appreciation. If it was not for the near death experiences, they would not appreciate the safety of their shire.

    1. Why does Gandalf choose now to leave the Hobbits?
    2. Gandalf has the potential to find out what has happened in the shire and he can probably help with whatever has happened, why doesn’t he want to?

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    1. Gandalf leaves the Hobbits periodically through the epic, but seems to appear when he is really needed. I think Gandalf’s current departure is to show the readers his faith in the Hobbits’ ability to handle the matters of the Shire without him. He is not needed, so he does not stay.

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  11. The re-telling of the stories of Beren and Lúthien and Aragorn and Arwen emphasize the key themes of the Lord of the Rings by giving the reader background that they do not get when reading the Lord of the Rings. The reader knows that Arwen and Aragorn are in love, but that they can not yet be together, until the end of The Return of the King when Aragorn had proven himself. Appendix A shows what Aragorn had to do to make himself worthy of Arwen. One of the key themes in the Lord of the Rings is this idea of being worthy. Frodo has to prove that he is worthy to destroy the one ring by not allowing the ring to corrupt him. Sam has to prove his worthiness to Frodo by saving him, Marry and Pippen prove their worthiness by fighting and helping the men in the war. Aragorn has to win back his kingdom and show Arwen that he is the true king and that they must reunite their lines of people by getting married and having children. The reader also does not know that Aragorn has a much longer lifespan then a normally man which makes sense that he has been able to go to so many places and make so many friends know that you know how old he is. It also explains why Aragorn is always so cryptic when the company would go to a new place and ask him if he had ever been. He was in his fifties when the company set out from Rivendell. It is also interesting this idea of keeping your family name secret. That idea brings Aragorn and Arwen closer that they had to hide who their fathers are and live with there mothers so that they could be protected. Which is a theme in LOTRs, the idea of false safety and hiding one’s identity.
    Appendix A questions:
    1. Are there similarities between the relationships of Ar-Pharazôn and Sauron, and King Théoden and Gríma?

    2. What is the significance of Aragorn choosing when he dies?

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  12. In chapter 9 of book VI, we have come full circle in some ways to see the power of friendship but also are granted with a feeling of peace in terms of departure. The Shire is again a much relaxed and comfortable place for the hobbits but it is not their “home”. It is a place where they belong and are much needed for its restoration, especially after it being corrupted and overtaken in the previous chapter, showing that hobbits too can be corrupted by the same evil as any other beings. Now, Frodo is set to leave the shire and meets Gandalf with his white ship waiting for him. Elrond and Galadriel now wear two of the three Elven Rings. When the rest of them return to the Shire, Sam finally goes home and ends by saying, “Well, I’m back.”

    1) What does the white ship symbolize for Frodo’s departure?

    2) Is there any significance to Elrond and Galadriel’s possession of the two rings? If so, what does the significance of them wearing two of the three rings have on the closure of their part in the story?

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  13. Appendix A: The love stories of Beren and Lúthien and Aragorn and Arwen emphasize the themes of friendship, fidelity, loyalty, compassion, and perseverance within the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Aragorn first meets Arwen when he’s twelve. He meets her while singing about Beren and Lúthien, foreshadowing of their interspecies romance. Aragorn mistakes Arwen for Lúthien because of her ethereal beauty. When Aragorn vows to love her and her only, these themes become prevalent. As a child, Aragorn did not grasp the complications of a human/elf relationship, nor did he account for their social status; he knew he loved her and that was all he needed. When Aragorn’s mother tells him their love cannot be, it is too late, he is already determined to make their love work. This is where the themes of fidelity, loyalty, and friendship come into play. They commit themselves to each other and, through that commitment, they harvest their relationship. Between their story and Beren and Lúthien, compassion and perseverance are strong themes. They have to overcome difficulties of approval, war, life and death, but also they have to grapple with mortality and immortality. Arwen and Aragorn were separated for many years, their love wasput to the test and they persevered.

    At the end of Appendix A, we learn about female dwarves. There are few and some do not take husbands. Why didn’t Tolkien incorporate the female dwarves? Were they not prevalent to the plot or was it just brushed off as unimportant?

    Why does Tolkien attribute the tale of Aragorn and Arwen to Barahir, grandson to Faramir and Eowyn?

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  14. A theme I noticed in the last book is humility, and overcoming adversity. From the beginning of the series, the fellowship has been at a disadvantage, but the never saw themselves as incapable of finishing their mission. Over the course of this last book, they start off feeling down, but they rise past In the first chapter, Sam imagines that he is “Samwise the Strong” and fancies himself a bit of a hero. He is quick to remind himself that he is just a hobbit, and merely a gardener. The ring gives him a weird kind of confidence that he seems to be wary of. As the ring gets closer to Mount Doom, it drags Frodo down. It weighs him down, symbolically trying to keep him in his place. In the third chapter, after Sam and Frodo are reunited and they split off from the orcs, Sam has to physically carry Frodo up the mountain. He becomes Sam the Strong, overcoming the tiny place he thought he had in the universe.

    Chapter 5 Questions
    What is the significance of Gandalf crowning Aragorn?

    Are there similarities between Arwen’s offer to Frodo and Greek Mythology?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s significant because Gandalf is important to him and someone who truly in a sense represents guidance To him is like a mentor for Frodo.


    2. Yes I believe there are similarities that is why the mythology is even presented because it’s to compare it so that readers can see the similarities in the first place.


  15. Jason C. Warren

    Theme: Evil Turns on Itself

    Sauron attracts all those inherently evil and forces them to his will by threat of punishment, however, by doing so he only ensures loyalty when he or the few who are bound to him are present, which is how Frodo and Sam are able to escape the tower of Cirith Ungol: the orcs fight over following orders or stealing wealth for themselves, “The Black Pits take that filthy rebel Gorbag… a nice mess you two precious captains have made of things, fighting over the swag” (Ch. 1, pg. 182). Sauron rules by fear rather than love, this means that those who follow him do so not out of loyalty, but out of pure self preservation, therefore, when an orc sees an opportunity to desert without punishment, they take it, as we see later in ch. 2 when a tracker and a hunter orc fight “‘I’m going home’… ‘That’s cursed rebel-talk, and I’ll stick you, if you don’t shut it down'” (Ch. 2, pg. 202). Finally, the moment that Sauron is defeated all the hordes of his army flee for their lives, having no more reason to fight without the threat of punishment hanging over them, “As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling and holds them all in sway, ants will wander witless and purposeless and then feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless; and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope” (Ch. 4, pg. 227). Also, we see Saruman upon the road, the biggest traitor to Sauron.

    Ch.6 “Many Partings” Q’s

    1) Why does Gimli claim that Arwen represents the “Evening” and Galadriel represents the “Morning?”

    2) At the very beginning of the story Bilbo has his 111 birthday, then in Book 6 Gandalf says that after all their adventures, less than a year has passed, but when they see Bilbo again he claims that his birthday is coming up and he would be “129.” How is this possible?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This answer borrowed from an online source (cited below):

      “It was 17 years after Bilbo’s 111th birthday that Gandalf told Frodo to leave the shire. You can pick up on this by rereading chapter 2. Note that Frodo was turning 33 when Bilbo turned 111, and that Frodo was approaching 50 when Gandalf showed up with the news about the Ring. Both Bilbo and Frodo set out on their adventures (Bilbo’s being treasure hunting) at age 50, and both turn 51 before returning home.
      So Bilbo was 128 during the counsil of Elrond and whatnot, and turning 129 when Frodo stopped by Rivendell on his way back home.”



  16. In Chapter 3 and throughout the entire story, the character of Frodo has undergone extreme change, from an innocent hobbit of the Shire to something he never expected–a hero and wounded warrior in the War of the Ring. The following article analyses his character from a psychological perspective, referencing Tolkien’s view of war from his own experiences, and expanding Frodo’s journey into a spiritual quest for healing after trauma.

    Article: ‘Frodo’s Journey’
    As part of our occasional ‘Eye on fiction’ series, Paula Jean Manners offers a Kleinian perspective on The Lord of the Rings in this 2006 piece.


    The author writes:
    At the time of its publication Tolkien’s work attracted notions of anti-establishment or anti-nuclear messages, which irritated him immensely. He said, when pushed, that the theme of The Lord of the Rings is death (see Foreword to the second edition). Tolkien’s concept of death is similar to Vygotsky’s (1978), who said that to develop is to die. The Ring presents a special challenge to those who come close to it, and it is through their response to this that characters develop (again a Vygotskian concept: the zone of proximal development). In Kleinian terms, development is seen as striving towards resolution of conflicting states (Hinshelwood et al., 1997), particularly the oscillation between paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions (Bion, 1963).

    Frodo’s development

    Frodo’s quest to destroy the Ring, before it destroys him, is a powerful story punctuated by choice points where the solution is not always obvious, and the outcome is never certain. Set against a stage of war, the real battle is an internal, psychological struggle.

    Although Klein’s theory is referred to as an ‘object relations theory’, the word object should not be taken too literally. The focus should be on the word relations, a dynamic process occurring between the individual and the object. The One Ring, therefore, is not the object – the ‘objects’ to which Frodo relates are Gollum, a strange creature, twisted after his time spent as a ring-bearer, and trusty, down-to-earth Sam.

    Paranoid-schizoid position

    Klein (writing at a time when child-rearing was perhaps more regimented than today) describes the child in an intolerable state of anxiety, in the face of potential annihilation. To survive, the child develops defence mechanisms such as splitting. So, for example, the child is in the crib wailing for food, with no idea when or if ever it will be fed. The mother enters and feeds the child and the anxiety is quelled; however this is temporary because when the feeding stops and the mother leaves, the child is anxious about when the next feed will come. The Kleinian analogy for this is ‘the good breast, bad breast’: the splitting of the mother into the mother that feeds and the mother that abandons.

    In The Lord of the Rings, the good object, in Kleinian terms, is the hobbits’ home, the Shire; the bad objects are beyond the Shire’s borders. This splitting of the world into goodies and baddies (the paranoid-schizoid position) is typical in early childhood; however it is also common in adults. It is far more tolerable to think of people as either all good or all bad, than to consider that people can be both.

    Frodo knows that if he remains in the idyllic Shire, evil will infiltrate and so he sets out. This is a parallel process of the young men who went to war in 1914–18 in an effort to keep ‘evil’ away from their homeland. But the evil encountered was just like them: young men, fighting for the same things: their home, their family, and their lives. The paranoid-schizoid position is fragile and challenged constantly; Frodo’s first challenge is to see the hobbit Sméagol in the wretched remains of his alter ego, Gollum, a good hobbit turned bad.

    The depressive position

    Klein’s distinction between depression and the depressive position is played out in Frodo’s pity. When he pities himself he becomes depressed, suffering a kind of psychological death: the loss of hope. He loses a sense of who he once was; no longer able to trust himself, or continue resisting the compulsion to use the Ring. Frodo surrenders his despair initially to fate but most importantly to Sam.
    ‘All right, Sam,’ said Frodo. ‘Lead me! As long as you’ve got any hope left. Mine is gone. But I can’t dash, Sam. I’ll just plod along after you.’ (The Return of the King, Book VI, chapter 2)

    But when he truly pities Gollum he no longer splits, assimilating the good and bad objects internally. This introjection or acceptance of both good and the bad parts of the self is essentially a maturing and loss of innocence. This is arguably one of the most challenging developmental processes.


    As the Ring takes hold of Frodo, he oscillates between the depressive position, recognising that good and bad objects are one and the same, and splitting. An original split between Gollum (the enemy) and Sam (the ally) diminishes, and in the film version even reverses. Throughout this process, defences are activated. Projection is evident when the Ring is considered the source of evil rather than the medium through which Frodo relates. Projective identification occurs when Frodo relates to Sam as a threat, where the real threat to himself is in fact himself, for if he puts on the Ring all is lost. In the films, events are created to illustrate the struggle (e.g. Gollum frames Sam, leading Frodo to believe that Sam has eaten their precious elven bread, when in fact Gollum has thrown it away). The book, in contrast, describes the more internal battle of Frodo’s love and hatred of the Ring, and the hold it has over him:
    And as he waited, he felt, more urgent than ever before, the command that he should put on the Ring… there was no longer any answer to that command in his own will, dismayed by terror though it was, and he felt only the beating upon him of a great power from outside. (The Two Towers, Book IV, chapter 8)

    This development through Frodo’s inner conflict is not linear, although it is progressive. The knowledge and wisdom Frodo ultimately achieves as a consequence is overwhelmingly damaging. Understanding the potential to be corrupt and kill he wonders if he can remain in the Shire when wounds, physical and psychological, refuse to heal. Seeking counsel from the elves, he decides to leave Middle-earth for ever.

    A cause for optimism

    While Klein presents a negative perspective of the child in a state of intolerable anxiety, her theory offers an optimistic view of surviving insurmountable suffering. Similarly, in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo, suffering increasing physical and psychological torment, without any reason to hope, continues with his self-appointed impossible quest. Here, the fight to carry on is an adaptive defence against death: a hopeful response to the depressive position supported in survivor stories and the concept of resilience. This developmental view also offers an optimistic perspective in psychology, which is otherwise dominated by discourses of damage and disorder. The challenge for psychologists is to be alert to tales of everyday heroism and to be less quick to pathologise the struggle.

    I believe the article makes a very significant point about good and evil–that people are not all good or all bad; but rather a mixture of both. This points directly to the character of Gollum as a victim of trauma and also a villain under the influence of the Ring; thus his two identities/personalities.

    1. Why does the Ring carry a physical weight to burden the bearer? How does this translate in the definition of trauma from PTSD?

    2. Despite bearing the Ring for a short time, Sam seems unaffected by its influence, and is able to assist Frodo in completing the Quest. How does Sam’s unwavering support and strength reflect Tolkien’s philosophy that heroes are not alone in achieving success?

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  17. The final stretch of the mission to destroy the ring does not prove to be easy. As if our characters haven’t given enough of their lives and their selves to the journey it seems that the final moments seem to really test the level of sacrifices willing to be made in order to succeed. Reflecting back through the books through the end it is clear that there have been so many individual sacrifices. These sacrifices are the reason Middle Earth continued to exist over the threat of darkness and evil. Although Frodo carried and is the ring bearer, Sam Gamgee was the strength when Mr. Frodo was running on empty. Sam was a simple and clumsy gardener at the beginning but evolved into a valiant and loyal fighter. As he encountered face to face danger and life threatening situations he learned to adapt, be more alert, and to defend himself. During those rough and difficult times his average ordinary character diminished and instead became a knowledgeable, strong (physically and mentally), hero and friend. His perseverance and willingness to sacrifice his life is a major contribution to to the success of the quest. Frodo carried the ring and Sam carried them both (separately and simultaneously).

    Ch. 2
    1. Is there any other significance for water (it is a symbol for life) and there is lack of it in this chapter?
    2. Is it fate or simply luck/coincidence when Sam and Frodo encounter and escape the two orcs fighting when one kills the other ? and when they also escape the orc company in the commotion?

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  18. In book 6 chapter 5 the themes that I most see present is love and melancholy. There is love because, of the love that faramir develops for eowyn. He developed these feelings for her that create the main theme for this chapter as we see the growth in his feelings for her and his wants to give her more and more attention. It’s an unexpected love for him however, for us readers it is predictable through the events that take place that give us to understand that will be happening.
    The second theme that is present is melancholy since the whole chapter is told out of of order. Since we are going back in time in a sense to understand the entire chapter and how it ties into the rest of the story. Then there is also the whole wedding which brings back the theme of love and ties it all back into the rest of the chapter. I liked this chapter because of their love blooming and the wedding arrangement between the two.
    1. Do you feel faramirs love is genuine?
    2. Is eowyn in love as well or do you think she may just be conflicted and that is why she agreed to wed?


  19. In book 6 chapter 5 the themes that I most see present is love and melancholy. There is love because, of the love that faramir develops for eowyn. He developed these feelings for her that create the main theme for this chapter as we see the growth in his feelings for her and his wants to give her more and more attention. It’s an unexpected love for him however, for us readers it is predictable through the events that take place that give us to understand that will be happening.
    The second theme that is present is melancholy since the whole chapter is told out of of order. Since we are going back in time in a sense to understand the entire chapter and how it ties into the rest of the story. Then there is also the whole wedding which brings back the theme of love and ties it all back into the rest of the chapter. I liked this chapter because of their love blooming and the wedding arrangement between the two.


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