Week 7: LOTR: Fellowship of the Rings, Book I, Chap. 1-6 and 7-12

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Read about major themes in The Fellowship of the Ring here:

One Wiki to Rule Them All:
Themes in the Lord of the Rings

Write a summary-analysis of your chapter, discussing 1-2 of the major themes in Book I of the LOTR: FOTR. Then write two questions on your assigned chapter. Note 1-2 points of interest from the essay “Who is Tom Bombadil?” (by Beal). Make sure to respond to 1 question posted by a peer as well.

Prologue: Hannah

Chapter 1: Matt
Chapter 2: Mark
Chapter 3: Alyssa A.
Chapter 4: Kate
Chapter 5: Alina
Chapter 6: Alexis R.

Chapter 7: Dominic
Chapter 8: Hugh
Chapter 9: Justine
Chapter 10: Nickolas
Chapter 11: Jaysin
Chapter 12: Aaron

18 thoughts on “Week 7: LOTR: Fellowship of the Rings, Book I, Chap. 1-6 and 7-12”

  1. Chapter 4: A Short Cut to Mushrooms

    Chapter Review:

    In this chapter Frodo, Pippin, and Sam have just woken up after the Elves have left them. There is still a way to go in order to be safe, the black riders are hunting them down. As the chapter progresses the three enter Farmer Maggots land. Frodo is nervous about being on his land, because as a child he was once caught stealing from the farmer. Maggot told Frodo that if he ever stepped foot on his land again the dogs would be let loose on him. Maggot comes out ready to release his dogs when he notices Pippin, who has visited a few times prior with Merry. Frodo hopes the Maggot does not recognize him, for he fears that the old farmer will hold truth to his threat; Maggot indeed recognizes Frodo, but all is forgiven. Maggot starts to welcome Frodo back and tells him about his previous encounter with a Black Rider, warning him that coming home was a good thing because they will protect him. Frodo is still concealing the ring and the dangers that he brings with him wherever he goes; and is contemplating the long journey ahead. Maggot invites the three hobbits to supper with him and his family, then offers to take them in his small wagon to the ferry after. Maggot and his sons set out in the dark to help aid Frodo, Pippin, and Sam, when they think that they’ve run into a black rider, who turns out to be Merry. The four are now together and are taking the ferry away, when Frodo is given a bag from Farmer Maggot containing mushrooms.

    Analysis:

    In this chapter we see the struggle of Frodo and his thoughts on asking his friends to come along on such a dangerous journey. Not only is he worried about his safety but now he is fearful for what is hunting him along the way. As they come upon Famer Maggot and what seems like a past life for Frodo, we also come across what he is doing to those closes to him. Here Frodo has an old “enemy” Maggot, helping him out and turning a relationship from fear to thankfulness. Maggot could also be seen as guardian angel in this moment, not only does he offer protection if Frodo stays, but also is pushing Frodo to complete what is asked of him. Frodo has people all around him coming to his aid, those he feared, those who are his friends, and even people he didn’t really know, it is about the friendships he is making along the way.

    Major Themes:

    One of the major themes that I notice is Frodo’s circle of friends, it keeps growing as he journeys along. First there is Bilbo, Gandalf, Sam, Merry, and Pippin; but then there becomes the Elves, Famer Maggot, Tom Bombadil, and then Strider. Here Frodo is feeling like he is alone on this impossible quest and there are so many who come to his aid and wish to see him succeed. This really struck out to me in the terms of the mind and how we as individuals see ourselves, we can feel alone in our thoughts and world, and not see how others around us unify to help as much as they can. Each of these individuals gave as much as they could to his success and in giving, they have become assistance in the narration of how the ring is to be destroyed. Frodo would not have succeeded if he was not provided all the help along the way.

    Questions:

    1. Do you think that Frodo would have been safe back in Buckland, or would he have succumbed to a horrible fate, that would have been shared with all of the Shire?
    2. What do you think of Frodo thus far? What characteristics stand out to you, and do you see a flaw in his character?

    “Who is Tom Bombadil?”- Beal:

    1. “This is a remarkably poignant, even paternal, moment in which Gandalf perceives that Frodo’s terrible wounding and miraculous healing has given him a powerful potential: to be filled “with a clear light” – if only “for eyes to see that can.”
    a. This “clear light” in Frodo’s eyes was something that really interested me. I found it really different that only Sam and Gandalf can see the difference in his eyes. I also liked the connection of the Simaril and Frodo’s light. This “Christ-like light” that Frodo has is evident in his nature to want to hold out hope and destroy the ring in order to help middle-earth. He sacrifice’s himself, his happiness, home, safety, all to bring peace to all.
    2. “Tolkien’s idea of heroism, informed by his Christian world-view, is not that the hero will achieve the goal of his quest in his own strength, but rather that he will develop and maintain his moral character on the quest to which he is called. “Providence” will ensure that the quest is actually fulfilled.”
    a. I can see this in the first 12 chapters of the book, Frodo needs the help of others to succeed, without it he wouldn’t have been able to even get to Mordor. While he may be the one that needs to throw the ring into the fires, he needed Gollum to be the one to finish the task for him. His journey and strength got him to where he needed to be in order for the job to be fulfilled by “Providence.”

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    1. -What do you think of Frodo thus far? What characteristics stand out to you, and do you see a flaw in his character?
      It is interesting to me how Frodo shares similarities and differences with Bilbo, who also embarked on a quest rife with danger at a young age. Bilbo’s quest was more of an adventure, an ‘unexpected journey’, whereas Frodo’s is a Quest with great importance in the grand scheme of Middle Earth. Bilbo had all sorts of titles, such as Luck-wearer or Barrel-rider, but for Frodo there is only one title and it is that of Ring-bearer, which is somehow both lesser and greater than all of Bilbo’s various nicknames combined. I feel empathy for Frodo, as his quest is one that will inevitably result in a chain of misfortune far more serious than anything any Hobbit has had to face and leaves him irrevocably changed. In the Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo is resolute and hopeful, still believing in his friends and in the possibility of victory against Sauron. He is not as burdened by the ring yet; it has not had enough time to truly exact a toll against him, but the strain is beginning to show in his restrained merriment and the erosion of his trust towards men such as Boromir or Aragorn even. I believe that his lack of trust is a crucial flaw in his character, one that the ring exploits the more he wears it. It is partially due to his mistrust in the rest of the fellowship that causes Frodo to leave without them, and if Sam had not been such a stalwart friend then Frodo’s tale would have had a much darker end when the ring became too much for him to bear on his own.

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    2. 1. Do you think that Frodo would have been safe back in Buckland, or would he have succumbed to a horrible fate, that would have been shared with all of the Shire?
      Sadly, I think he would have been found out eventually. Gollum has told too much of where the ring is, and the dark riders/ring-wraiths know of the ring. It has come to the attention of the evil that created the ring that it is indeed in Middle-Earth. Prior to having this knowledge, it was thought to have been destroyed because there was no sign of it at the bottom of a river. Even when Gollum had the ring, it was hidden from sight because he was too deep in the mountainous caves. It is out in the open now and they all know of it; therefore, it must be destroyed. So, off to Mt. Doom they must go.

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  2. Chapter 2 Summary and Theme analysis:
    Frodo ends up not seeing Gandalf for about 17 or so years. So we find Frodo at about fifty years old. All the while, rumors of a rising evil flows through the shire. The hobbits of the shire are ignoring the harrowing rumors, but one particular hobbit by the name of Sam Gamgee take a peculiar interest in this information. Meanwhile, Gandalf visits Frodo with very bad news regarding the ring,

    Noticing the effect it had on Bilbo. He conducted a couple of tests. And realizing the message inscribed on it. Concludes that it’s the ring of Sauron. He explains the story of the rings to Frodo and the origin of Gollum. He learned about the story of Gollum when he initially left the shire after Bilbo’s birthday. Tracked Gollum down and interrogated him. With the unwise mistake of letting Gollum go after he finished. Gollum went to Mordor, gets interrogated by Sauron’s goons. And gives Sauron the information that can lead him to the Hobbits, specifically the Baggins.

    This chapter does have a lot to do with the theme of power and how it effects people. How it corrupted Bilbo for example. Or the story of how Gollum came to be. The power of the ring not only made Deagol refuse to give the ring away. It also caused Smeagol to murder Deagol for it. And eventually turned him into the character we know as Gollum.

    Who is Tom Bombadil:
    One very interesting point from this essay is the concept of heroism. I like that the fact that Frodo took this quest out of love, and a sense of duty. A clear and truly transparent character. His heroic nature is a solid reflection of Tolkien’s values.

    Question:
    What do you think would change if Gandalf didn’t allow Gollum to escape?

    Peer Answer:
    What do you think of Frodo thus far? What characteristics stand out to you, and do you see a flaw in his character?

    I think Frodo is a good protagonist. A very different atmosphere from Bilbo. And so far, I don’t see anything I consider as flaws.

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  3. -Chapter 9
    Departing from Lórien, the remaining fellowship make their way south along the river, sailing on boats gifted to them by Lady Galadriel. They are closely tailed by Gollum as they go. Boromir acts strangely around Frodo, an indication of the insidious effect that the ring has on him. They approach the rapids swifter than expected and end up paddling against the current to no avail. At this unlucky moment they are attacked by orcs. The fellowship escapes unharmed and continues onward until they pass through the Argonath, the Pillars of the King, and on to the last stage of the Quest.
    Several of Tolkien’s major themes not only in the Lord of the Rings series but in a variety of his works make an appearance in this chapter. One of the most notable is the theme of birds, which comes into play when Aragorn spies an eagle, uncharacteristically far from the mountains, circling their party (p. 376). The eagle preludes their misadventure with the rapids and the orcs, which is fitting since eagles are often present in times of great calamity and are used as methods of eucatastrophe with which Tolkien introduces an unexpected but welcome turn of fate. Birds are used classically to represent hope, and eagles in particular represent freedom. They are symbols of power and associated with salvation in Christian lore (which Tolkien drew influence from).
    Another major motif that made an appearance in this chapter was the presence of stars in conjunction with elves. Legolas shoots down the dark presence tailing the fellowship alongside the orcs, and when he does, he is described as being “crowned with sharp white stars that glitter[ed] in the black pools of the sky behind,” (p. 378) a similarity to how Starbrow is detailed in The Smith of Wootton Major. In Tolkien’s literature, elves have strong connection with stars, which is fitting since stars represent light in the darkness and are unaffected by mortal affairs. Elves were even named Eldar by Oromë, which translates to ‘the People of the Stars’.
    Finally, it is worth mentioning that the theme of heritage and Kings is shown in this chapter, illustrated when Frodo glimpses Aragorn’s inner nobility shining through his exterior: “Frodo turned and saw Strider, and yet not Strider; for the weatherworn Ranger was no longer there. In the stern sat Aragorn son of Arathorn.” (p. 384) Aragorn shares many parallels with Beren, least of all his driving motivations being the love he harbors for an elf woman and, too, the ever-clinging fate of his ancestors.
    I was stunned by the connection the essay made between the Hobbits’ experience with Tom Bombadil and the act of baptism. It was something I had never considered and now that I have, I cannot stop thinking about it. Baptism is something used in many works of fiction, literary and otherwise: for example, in the video game Bioshock Infinite, baptism is a motif that appears throughout the story to emphasize change in character. It is a defining moment for the main character, to the extent that who he is before the baptism and who he becomes afterward are two entirely separate people. Interesting to consider how it is classically meant as redemption and atonement for sin but used in this scene where, arguably, none of the Hobbits have yet committed any sins to atone for. Perhaps, like the essay quotes, Bombadil’s baptism of the Hobbits is a “healing from trauma”, (p. 27) a rejuvenation rather than an atonement. Something to prepare them for the journey ahead. Tom Bombadil is indeed a Christ-figure, so it is not out of the question that he knows what lies in store, particularly where Frodo is concerned.
    Discussion Questions:
    1) Whose character do you think undergoes the most drastic change in the Fellowship of the Ring, and how does that affect your view of them?
    2) Is it sustainable to keep separate two distinct aspects of one’s personality as Aragorn does with the Ranger side and the son-of-Arathorn side of himself? What effects might this have on one’s sense of self?

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  4. What do you think would change if Gandalf didn’t allow Gollum to escape?

    I think that if Gollum hadn’t been able to escape there would be a much different narrative to the story. Frodo wouldn’t be in such a rush or be hunted as furiously, I also believe that the name Baggins wouldn’t have been know. Which could have protected the hobbits and the Shire for longer. I believe that the Ringwraiths would have found the Shire, but at a much later time. However that could also mean that Gandalf would have waited to longer to find out if the ring was Sauron’s. I personally feel it would have just given both sides a little more time, versus the rush that was placed on Frodo and the quest being that much more dangerous.

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  5. Summary of “Fog on the Barrow-Downs” (Chapter 8 FR)

    This chapter opens with the hobbits sleeping. It is not clear if they are awake or sleeping. However, one can gather that (given their current circumstances) they are most probably sleeping. They have been on the run from black riders and are not accustomed to having such pleasantries that are depicted within this chapter and the one prior. In the said prior chapter the hobbits have the pleasure of meeting whom we come to know as Tom Bombadil and Goldberry (the daughter of the river). However, in the beginning of chapter eight, they must part from Tom and Goldberry. As they are doing so, Frodo realizes that (whilst departing from the house of Tom) they have forgotten to say goodbye to Goldberry and she most magnificently comes down to meet them and says farewell. As they are leaving, it is noticed that the ponies they have been given to ride out on are not tired at all, nor are they themselves; furthermore, they have food and beverage from Tom for a good couple of days. Tom tells them that they, perhaps, shall not come across any dark riders for the night or maybe even the next couple of days. However, he does make mention that he is not all knowing about what they do. Unfortunately for the hobbits their good fortune is short-lived as they fall victim to “the dreadful spells of the Barrow-wights about which whispered tales spoke (FR 137). What is fascinating in this chapter is that the reader learns that both Gandalf and Bilbo thought Frodo to be “the best hobbit in the shire” (FR 137). Frodo gets separated from his company (Sam, Merry, and Pippin) via a fog overcoming their sight, but he finally does finally find them. Too bad for them they are about to get their heads chopped off by a sword! Luckily for the hobbits, Tom taught them a song to sing if ever they needed his help. Frodo does this and Tom comes to the rescue. This is when “real light” is seen and the hobbits are saved by Tom’s song (FR 139). With this song and magic, Tom can ward off the evil Barrow-wight that was about to kill the three hobbits. Tom then awakens the three hobbits (which is why they could not sing the song themselves and Frodo had to do so). All is well…for now at least. The chapter ends with the hobbits parting ways with Tom as they make their way to The Prancing Pony—an inn with a bar that they hope will be reminiscent of The Green Dragon back at the Shire. Frodo is quick to remind them that once they arrive there, he will be going by the name of Mr. Anderhill and that no one is to call him by Baggins for his name has cost them enough turmoil already and he must keep his identity a secret. This is because the dark riders (ring wraiths) and evil knows that he is in possession of the ring and they will stop at nothing to retrieve it from him.

    Analysis of Chapter 8 with the theme of good trumps evil

    I read this chapter, as with the one prior, as a sort of dream-vision. It becomes clear toward the end of the book and by reading Dr. Beal’s “Who is Tom Bombadil?: Interpreting the Light in Frodo Baggins and Tom Bombadil’s Role in the Healing of Traumatic Memory in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings” that this is a vision of sorts of what is to come for Frodo and where he goes at the end of this trilogy. I would hold to the idea that Tom Bombadil is Eru Ilúvatar, also known as The One. One would not know this unless they had read The Silmarillion, however we have! As Tolkien was a devote Catholic, he must have gained such an inspiration from his upbringing within the faith. However, as mentioned in Dr. Beal’s essay, there are many interpretations of who is Tom Bombadil. I read him as being the creator of Middle-Earth mainly because he says he has no father and was always here. Who could that be other than The One. Tolkien would not dare mock Christianity because he respects it very much, but he does have to create a fantasy, and ultimately Middle-Earth. So, where else would one go to other than what one knows when creating a world. He could not mimic his faith exactly, but the idea that there is one creator pays tribute to that of his Catholic faith. This is especially true when it is explained that “true light” comes from Tom (FR 139). It could be said that they are awakened once they set out to find The Prancing Pony, but their dream has inspired and will guide their epic adventure/quest that lies ahead.

    Questions pertaining to Chapter 8

    1. How did you view Tom Bombadil? I am curious to hear responses that differ than mine. It would be great to hear another response that differs entirely.
    2. Do you think that the hobbits were stuck in a dream, as a dream-vision, or could it have really happened for the hobbits? Do you think that Tom Bombadil is a real character, or does he reside in us all? Think of Tolkien’s faith.

    Points of Interest from “Who is Tom Bombadil”

    I had thought, as apparently many others have, that Tom Bombadil was Eru Ilúvatar and it was refreshing to read that I was not alone. However, I did not think of all the other possibilities as to whom he could be. It remains quite mysterious indeed!
    Also, very interesting is that some think of him as Tolkien himself because he was the creator of Middle-Earth. Therefore, could he have been making a cameo appearance much like Stan Lee did in his films? I do not think so, but I could see how one might come to this conclusion and I thought it very interesting.

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  6. Chapter twelve “Flight to the Ford”.
    This chapter picks up after the black riders attack the hobbits and strider on Weathertop. Frodo was stabbed in the shoulder by one of the black riders, he awakens in pain and surrounded by the other hobbits. Strider realizes the extent of Frodo’s injury and searches for athelas, a plant known to help cure the curse from the blade that Frodo was stabbed with. Frodo begins to heal but is still struggling, his struggles slow the party down as they travel further towards Rivendell. During their travels, the group comes across the stone trolls from Bilbo’s journey and the group’s mood lightens at the sight and reminder of Bilbo. The group is alert and defensive when they hear horses hoof beats coming towards their camp, fearing it may be the black riders the group prepares to fight until they are greeted by an elf, Glorfindel. Glorfindel and Strider are friends and Glorfindel has been sent by Elrond to aid the party. The party is chased by all nine of the black riders, and Glorfindel puts Frodo on his horse and tells him to run towards the Ford of Brunien river. Glorfindel’s horse and Frodo make it past the black riders and their trap and across the river, Frodo then tells the wraiths to return to mordor. The wraiths begin to cross the river when they are swept away from a flooding and wave from the Brunien river, saving Frodo’s life before he slips out of consciousness.

    Analysis:
    This chapter had some moments that correlated with some of the themes of the FOTR. One of the more repetitive themes in chapter twelve, is when “nature versus technology”. Once Frodo is stabbed by the black rider blade, he is wounded and poisoned by dark magic, the poison is held at bay when Strider finds and uses the athelas plant. The Athelas plant is a perfect example of nature versus technology, the athelas can be seen as nature fighting technology because of its healing abilities against the dark magic that comes from the blade that stabbed Frodo. Another prime example is the climax of the chapter, the wave and washing away of the ring wraiths from the Brunien river. The river floods and washes away the wraiths just before they are about to seize Frodo, the wraiths in this instance would be cast into the technological role and the river the force of nature. The dark creatures, more created than born, and their washing away by the river is without a doubt an instance of nature versus technology.

    Questions:
    Frodo refuses to leave his friends when the ring wraiths come to seize him, it is only when Glorfindel shouts orders in elvish to his horse that it carries Frodo away and to safety. Why would Frodo be so insistent on staying with the party, even though he is wounded and poisoned by dark magic? Is it because he is loyal, or possibly because he is scared?

    Tom Bambadil – two points of interest:
    Trauma and Transparency: This section specifically about Frodo and his four major traumas, and how all of the traumas that Frodo experiences are leading up to the ring’s ultimate destruction. I loved how the link is made that gollum is the one to destroy the ring and not Frodo, Frodo is the divine light because evil must destroy itself, and Gollum does just that by plunging to his death with the ring. The aspect of trauma giving way to transperency and divinity was really interesting.
    Conclusions: I also enjoyed the comparisons of not only Tolkien into Frodo’s character, but that of his son Michael. Specifically how Frodo’s approach into the Valinor could have been seen as Tolkien’s son healing from PTSD from his service in world war II. Tom Bambadil and Frodo are made up of various characteristics and virtues that can be defined to several people, fictional and real.

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  7. Peer Question:
    How did you view Tom Bombadil? I am curious to hear responses that differ than mine. It would be great to hear another response that differs entirely.
    Tom Bombadil was very much one of the more interesting characters encountered in the LOTR universe. I agree that it almost felt as if the Hobbits were in a dream and they were talking to someone more powerful or all knowing than they had realized. I took his singing and the powers it gave him, to be linked with the Silmarillion and the story of creation and its use of music and song into creating the middle earth universe. I viewed him to be some type of greater being from middle earth, almost like Zeus coming down into human form in some of the Greek god myths. He had power but it all seemed fuzzy and confusing at times, making me believe he was someone who did not want to be known but felt need to help. A kind of divine aid out of nowhere.

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  8. LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring (Book One): Prologue

    Summary:
    The Prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring, like the beginning of The Hobbit, begins with a basic description of Hobbits. In this prologue however, Tolkien is a lot more elaborate and detailed in his description of the creatures. He describes them as obtrusive, ancient, and peace-loving, as well as going as far as to inform us that their favourite colours are yellow and green. Tolkien then goes on to inform us of the little known history of the Hobbits. We are told that there were originally three types of Hobbits: Harfoots, Stoors, and Fallohides. They lived in different terrain and all varied in look and habits. From there, Tolkien gives us the history of how the Shire came to be and their reasons for not needing or recording their histories beyond a genealogy, which they find very important. He then dives into the history of smoking pipe-weed, and how it began with the hobbits, most likely in Bree, and then spread to other beings like wizards. Next comes the ordering of the Shire, in which the power starts with Thain and works its way down to the mayor of the Shire and then the Shirriffs, basically a hobbit police. Next, Tolkien goes through a recap of Bilbo’s encounter and experiences with the ring, which we are already familiar with from our reading of The Hobbit. He does, however, give us some insight as to the happenings of Bilbo in the ring following The Hobbit. He explains that Bilbo still muddles the truth of his story of acquiring the ring, which upsets Gandalf once he hears how he has been bending it. Finally, Tolkien ends the Prologue with a note on the shire records, where he speaks further on the growing interest of history among the Hobbits and just how little of it is known.

    Analysis:
    The Prologue to The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring gives the reader an extended background on the lives of Hobbits beyond the small glimpses we are given in The Hobbit. Upon further analysis beyond the basic history and attributes of the Hobbits, it can be seen that the Hobbits represent the English. Their lack of a history beyond a certain point as well as a defined set of legends or lore. This parallels Tolkien’s disappointments in English histories and lack of legend beyond that of King Arthur. We also see some of Tolkien’s ideals come through his description of the Hobbits and the little known history surrounding them. We see his beliefs on wealth with the Hobbits when he states “They were hospitable and delighted in parties, and in presents, which they gave away freely and eagerly accepted.” (p.2) The Hobbits hold giving to a high standard like Tolkien and the peace-loving aspect of their nature may be a reflection of his own as a result of the World Wars.

    Themes:
    One of the major themes that I caught onto in the first book of The Fellowship of the Ring was that of relationships. We may not see them to be that important in our everyday lives, but through the relationships and friendships of the characters, we can easily reflect on the impacts they make through the characters. Tolkien gives us many relationships throughout his stories, but in this work specifically, we are given a major look at how friendships can help push people along and achieve things we wouldn’t normally see ourselves achieving.

    Points of Interest form “Who is Tom Bombadil?”:
    One main point of interest that I took away from this essay was the connection of Tolkien’s religious background with the characters and their relationships. I personally wouldn’t have ever really come to the realization that Frodo represents the Christian attempt to reach a Christ-like image. From the use of light imagery and symbolism to the resistance of temptainton, it now seems almost obvious, but I found that point to be really eye opening.

    Questions:
    -In what ways can you find similarities between the Hobbits’ history and that of the English?
    -Upon reading The Fellowship of the Ring, do you believe the extensive descriptions of the prologue were necessary, or does The Hobbit suffice? Why or why not?

    Peer Question and Response:
    “Frodo refuses to leave his friends when the ring wraiths come to seize him, it is only when Glorfindel shouts orders in elvish to his horse that it carries Frodo away and to safety. Why would Frodo be so insistent on staying with the party, even though he is wounded and poisoned by dark magic? Is it because he is loyal, or possibly because he is scared?”
    -I personally think it may be a combination of both loyalty and fear that gives Frodo the drive to stay. I think at this point there is a connection between him and his friends that is sort of family-like. That being said, in such a dire situation there is a basic need to want to stay for the reason that no matter the odds, Frodo wants to remain with his friends because of loyalty and although he isn’t in fighting shape, he may still feel a need to be with them. There is also the possibility that he is scared too, because with everything going on the last thing Frodo would want is to be separated from his party and friends. The idea of safety in numbers is a real thing and that may also have an impact. There is definitely a fight or flight argument going on in his head regardless of his condition, and it could very well be a mixture of both loyalty to his friends and fear for his and their fate.

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  9. Peer Question:
    What do you think of Frodo thus far? What characteristics stand out to you, and do you see a flaw in his character?

    I personally really like Frodo, I think he’s a great change up from Bilbo because he’s similar to Bilbo but very different. I think this was evident in chapter 2 when Frodo questions why Bilbo didn’t just kill Gollum and be done with everything and Gandalf explained that’s why Bilbo was able to resist the ring for so long. I think that moment showed a glimpse in one of the core differences between Bilbo and Frodo.

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  10. Summary of Chapter 6 “The Old Forest”:

    Chapter 6 begins with Frodo waking up from his nightmare and setting off to the old forest in the morning with Fredegar staying behind. When they reach the edge of the forest, Merry recounts stories about the forest being alive and not liking strangers. Merry specifically mentions that nighttime is supposedly when things get dangerous and how hobbits long ago cut down a bunch of trees to start a bonfire to stop a tree attack. Merry mentions that there’s a path from the Bonfire Glade and that’s the path he’s going to try and find. The crew pushes forward into the forest, however, they get lost relatively fast and begin to feel hot and stuffy. As they begin to feel depressed, Frodo sings a song which doesn’t really help but make them feel a bit worse; suddenly they could see a path directly ahead. However, as they try to head northward, the trees themselves would block their path and send them towards Withywindle valley. Once there, the hobbits begin to feel extremely sleepy and all (but Sam) decide to sleep under a giant old tree. Sam decided to go check on the hobbit’s horses when he heard two distinct sounds: a splash and a click of a lock. Sam runs over and finds Frodo in the river with a root of the tree pinning him down. Sam frees Frodo and the two of them see that Pippin is missing (he was trapped inside) and Merry is trapped in a crack of the tree with half of his body laid out. Sam smacked the trunk and tried to pull Merry out- which didn’t work. Then they tried to light a fire but when they did; Merry screamed out that the tree said if they didn’t put out the fire, it would crush him and Pippin. Frodo, freaking out, runs down the river for help and runs into Tom Bombadil who seems to be familiar with “Old Willow”. Tom sings into the crack of the tree, telling the tree to release Merry and Pippin- which it does. Tom then asks the hobbits to join him at his home for dinner. The hobbits follow Tom (who is singing) along the river and they leave the Old Forest.

    Analysis:
    This chapter shows the theme of hope vs despair that Tolkien uses in his other work- specifically the Hobbit of when all hope is lost, suddenly a new hope is on the horizon. I think that is the most integral part of this chapter is the fact that all the hobbits felt despair including Frodo and that even Frodo’s singing didn’t cheer anyone up that it actually made things worse. There’s also an emphasis on nature with the trees actually being in a way sentient with their own agenda. It reminds me of the Silmarillion where Yavanna was worried about her most favorite creation, the trees and who would be able to protect them. The trees in the Old Forest are focused on their survival which is loosely connected to the technology vs nature theme with fire being argued of being mankind’s first invention. While the tone of this chapter was honestly dark and creepy, the ending with Tom Bombadil getting the tree that was devouring the hobbits to spit them out with a song- lifted the tone to be lighter and sillier which is eucatastrophic in of itself.

    Major theme (s):
    The biggest theme of the Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring is the theme of bonds. Frodo’s group is ever expanding and without them, he wouldn’t be able to do this quest at all. Even linking back to his original bond with Bilbo, who adopted him and gave him a nice home- the idea of relationships is immediately introduced in the first chapter. This is important as Tolkien really valued the relationship he had with his loved ones in his life and he wants to impart that importance onto the reader. I think that’s an important concept especially in regards to nonfamilial relationships/ support systems. It’s like the old saying goes: the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.

    Question: Why do you think Tolkien decided to include the meeting of Tom Bombadil in this chapter? Why not earlier or later?

    What other legends or myths could the Old Forest with the living trees be based on?

    Points of Interest:
    My first point of interest is that Tolkien’s idea of a hero is one that will develop and maintain his own moral character- also that this doesn’t stray from depicting trauma. I think this point is really significant as the essay mentions that this is a huge departure from heroes most of us are used to, which are Greek heroes that fight until their quest is done and trauma isn’t really touched upon. Except in the instance of the play Ajax where the titular character’s PTSD is really the main focus but I digress. This point reminds me that when analyzing Frodo’s heroism, I have to change the lens I’m using to do so.
    That Tom Bombadil could be a God, more specifically either Illuvatar/Christian God or a pagan God. Which is really interesting as there is a mystery about Tom Bombadil and I think that would fit especially in what we saw in chapter 6 with his way with the tree. I just find this idea really cool because Tom does give me trickster vibes- that he’s hiding who he is but not really and I think this adds another layer to his character.

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    1. The Old Forest could be based off a number of Pagan beliefs; many Pagans believe nature is alive and she can feel pain when trees and plants are uprooted. Some pagans believe there are spirits that inhabit and personify the trees, while others believe the wind blowing through the trees is their language.

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  11. Summary of Chapter 7:

    In this chapter, titled “In the House of Tom Bombadil,” Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin enter the house of Tom Bombadil. In the house they meet Goldberry who introduces herself as the “daughter of the River.” She is described as having long yellow hair, wears a green dress with a gold belt and she “seemed to be enthroned in the midst of a pool.” The Hobbits look upon her in great amazement and wonder while she prepared their supper. Frodo asks her who Tom Bombadil is and she describes him as “the Master of wood, water, and hill.” She keep repeating that Tom Bombadil is “master.” Tom enters and shows the hobbit-guests to a guest room where they could wash up before supper; they also notice very soft looking beds with green slippers ready for them. During their meal the hobbits unknowingly break into song, noting it was “easier and more natural than talking.” After they finish the meal, Tom sends them to bed and tells them to “heed no nightly noises!” Frodo has many questions for Tom but he tells him they can wait for morning. In the night, Frodo has a vague dream of “the figure of a man” standing on top of a vast tower holding up a staff that light flashes from and “a mighty eagle” swooping down and taking him away. Just before he awakes from the dream he hears the sounds of the Black Riders horses galloping from the east. Frodo wakes but soon falls back asleep peacefully. Pippin also had a rough night, waking up in the middle of it and thinking he hears the sounds of willow-trees scraping against the walls, but he is reminded of Tom’s words and falls asleep again. Merry dreamed of drowning, but he soon remembers he is safe in Tom’s house and goes back to sleep. Sam slept through the night “in deep content.” They wake up in the morning and eat breakfast. Frodo thinks of leaving but he feels like he is safe there and does not want to leave because of the rain. Tom tells them that it is Goldberry’s “washing day” and her “autumn-cleaning,” noting it is “too wet for hobbit-folk.” He finally begins to talk with them telling them many amazing stories about the forest and its creatures, of which he knows a great deal about. He clearly is older than the forest itself and knows much more about the ancient history of middle-earth than the hobbits. Frodo finally asks him who he is and Tom describes himself as “Eldest,” since he “was here before the river and the trees.” He even notes that he was there before Sauron, the dark lord. Soon they all eat supper and the hobbits realize they may have missed a few meals (!) while talking with Tom. After they eat Tom begins to ask questions of them and he even asks for the ring from Frodo. He puts it on without disappearing and seemingly the ring has no power of desire over him; he even laughs at it and flings it in the air making it disappear before giving it back to Frodo. Frodo puts on the ring for the first time in this chapter and Tom can still see him while he is invisible. Soon Tom tells the hobbits which way to go in the morning and tells them a song to sing should they need his help again. They return to their bedrooms for the night.

    Analysis of Chapter 7:

    This chapter had a very dreamlike quality throughout, which is suitable since the hobbits seem to fall into a dream for most of their time in the house of Tom Bombadil. In this chapter, Tolkien expands the depth of the myth he is creating in middle-earth through the meeting of Tom Bombadil. The character of Tom Bombadil is obviously important for LOTR since Dr. B wrote an essay about him and his effect on Frodo. I have not previously read the books but always been a fan of the movies, so I was interested in finding out more about this character since he was not in the movies. I found the origin of the character explained in the essay to be most interesting for me. I like the fact that Tolkien created him after a doll his son Michael had, since it personally relates to me and my creative process when I am writing my stories about a childhood stuffed animal I had. As far as who Tom Bombadil actually is, I looked at it from one point that Dr. B brought up in the essay. “Tom Bombadil has renounced the control sought by those on the side of either good or evil, and he represents “a natural pacifist view” (Beal 19). I think this is crucial to understanding the character as an extension of Tolkien and his thoughts, views and ideas about the world and war. It is logical to think that after returning from WWI Tolkien and many other soldiers would become pacifists not wanting to engage in any more conflict for the rest of their lives. In many ways, they would want to live comfortably for the rest of their days just like the main concerns of the hobbits of the shire, including Bilbo.

    Question for Chapter 7:

    From a composition standpoint, how does this chapter stand out from other chapters in LOTR so far?
    How does Tolkien create the dream-like feel for this chapter and create a great sense of mystery around Tom Bombadil?
    How does Tolkien expand his mythology in this chapter?

    Peer Question (Kate):

    What do you think of Frodo thus far? What characteristics stand out to you, and do you see a flaw in his character?

    Response:

    I really think Frodo is one of the greatest main characters in a work of fiction, even more so than Bilbo. Whenever I think of Frodo I am always reminded of how he was still able to surprise Gandalf with his courage after he had spent so many years studying hobbits. The main draw of Frodo’s character for me is his selflessness which is why out of all other beings of middle-earth he was chosen to destroy the ring. As far as flaws, even in the early chapters, Frodo has taken a great toll from the power of the ring, and if it were not for his friends to help keep him grounded, I am not sure he would be able to overcome many of the obstacles he faces.

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  12. Peer Question:
    Frodo refuses to leave his friends when the ring wraiths come to seize him, it is only when Glorfindel shouts orders in elvish to his horse that it carries Frodo away and to safety. Why would Frodo be so insistent on staying with the party, even though he is wounded and poisoned by dark magic? Is it because he is loyal, or possibly because he is scared?

    I believe that Frodo has a lot of loyalty, like his uncle, Bilbo, did. They are very respectable hobbits that put others before themselves and that has made them so remarkable. The fact that Frodo stood while wounded shows that he put the party above his own life which says a lot about his personality. Frodo maya have viewed his party as a family that he never had, which could have given him a sentimental attachment as well. This shows that he is willing to fight with them through thick and through thin.

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  13. Chapter 1
    Summary:
    In this chapter Mr Baggins is introduced and we find out that he has adopted his favorite nephew, Frodo. Frodo lives with him at Bag End and they are preparing for Mr Baggins Eleventy-First birthday, and Frodo’s Thirty-Third birthday as well. (They happen to share the same birthday). Gandalf arrives on the scene before the party with fireworks for the big day, and Mr Baggins is planning on surprising his party guests on the big day. Mr Baggins gives the crowd a speech and then he disappears into the night right before their very eyes. It is at this point that we realize that he has put on the ring which makes him invisible. From here Bilbo prepares to leave and he does not plan on coming back. Gandalf convinces Bilbo to leave the ring to Frodo, which would give Bilbo inner peace. Bilbo leaves the ring and he leaves with the intentions of never returning. Gandalf tells Frodo to try not to ever use the ring for he knows there is something mysterious about the ring.

    Analysis:
    Mr Baggins showed some similar traits to Gollum when he calls the ring his “precious”. This shows that there is an unseen power that lies inside of the ring. The fact that he was able to let go of the ring after all these years says a lot about Bilbo’s inner strength. He is a very wise hobbit, as we saw in The Hobbit, and he may very well live a very happily ever after life. Frodo is now the holder of the ring which could be a cause for concern due to the fact that he is holding onto something that contains power beyond belief. Gandalf will have to keep an eye out for Frodo as he begins his life with the ring.

    Questions:
    Without the help of Gandalf, do you think Bilbo would have been able to let go of the ring and live life in peace? Or do you think he may have fallen into the same trap that Gollum fell into when possessing the ring?

    As Bilbo embarks on a new chapter in his life, do you think he will be able to find his inner peace and have a nice ending to his long and adventurous life as a Hobbit?

    Peer Question:
    Frodo refuses to leave his friends when the ring wraiths come to seize him, it is only when Glorfindel shouts orders in elvish to his horse that it carries Frodo away and to safety. Why would Frodo be so insistent on staying with the party, even though he is wounded and poisoned by dark magic? Is it because he is loyal, or possibly because he is scared?

    I believe that Frodo has a lot of loyalty, like his uncle, Bilbo, did. They are very respectable hobbits that put others before themselves and that has made them so remarkable. The fact that Frodo stood while wounded shows that he put the party above his own life which says a lot about his personality. Frodo maya have viewed his party as a family that he never had, which could have given him a sentimental attachment as well. This shows that he is willing to fight with them through thick and through thin.

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  14. Chapter eleven is laden with themes of myth and growing up. Sam starts it by telling the tale of Gil-galad, the last of the great Elven kings who rode to Mordor and never returned. When the party is hiding from the Black Riders in the dell, Strider comforts them by telling myths of Tinúviel, which we know as the meeting of Beren and Lúthien. Strider, however, adds to the tale we know, speaking of Dior-their son-and his children. There are also strong themes of growing up because this is the first time the hobbits take a stand and fight an enemy.

    Question:
    Are the Black Riders similar to creatures in other tales?

    I noticed two key points of interest in “Who is Tom Bombadil?”; the first being “Tolkien’s inspiration for this character was a brightly-dressed, peg-wood, Dutch doll (with a feather in his hat!) that belonged to his second son, Michael.” It’s interesting Tolkien’s inspiration for a character in such a complex world would come from something as simple as a doll. This inspiration also says a lot about the type of character Tom is supposed to be; dolls bring joy to children, and Tom is a pretty happy character. Another key point of interest is “some have thought Tom Bombadil is a representative of Tolkien himself or perhaps a representative of the reader.” I thought it this was a plausible theory, especially considering the elves call him “oldest and fatherless.” Tolkien is kind of the god of this realm because he created it and dictated the rules of nature.

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  15. Chapter 10 Summary
    Frodo introduces Pippin and Sam to the mysterious Strider, who warns the hobbits that they are in danger from the Black Riders. Also known as Ringwraiths, these creatures have many spies in the village Bree. Strider offers to aid the hobbits in their journey by guiding and protecting them. The hobbits do not trust Strider, though Sam is the most vocal of his doubts. The four are interrupted by the innkeeper, who suspects Frodo’s true identity. He then entrusts the hobbit with a letter from Gandalf once Frodo confirms his identity to the innkeeper. The letter details Gandalf’s instruction that both the innkeeper and Strider would provide aid to Frodo and company. This was to ensure the safety of their journey given that the wizard was preoccupied to help them personally. Gandalf also warns the group to be wary of imposters and reveals Strider’s real name: Aragorn. Frodo shows the letter to all but the man in question, prompting the hobbits to interrogate him to find out if he is the real Strider. The man reveals that his name is Aragorn without being asked. He then recites a line from the poem Gandalf left on the letter to provide further proof. Satisfied with Strider’s knowledge of the letter without ever reading it, the hobbits start to trust him. They are then interrupted by Merry and the innkeeper’s helper. The two explained how Merry was put under a brief sleep spell by the Black Riders before the helper discovered stumbled upon the scene and scared them off. The hobbits opt to stay under the watchful eye of Aragorn for the night.
    Chapter 10 Theme Analysis
    Chapter Ten has much to do with the theme of fate and the eucatastrophic events that allow the hobbits to continue on their journey. In this chapter, the readers really get a sense that something bigger is at play with how much help the hobbits are receiving seemingly by chance. First, Strider just so happened to overhear the hobbits mention Frodo’s secret name and discover their identity. Secondly, the innkeeper’s apparent failure to mail Gandalf’s letter ends up being a blessing as the letter is delivered at the perfect time for Strider to prove he is indeed Aragorn. Aragorn reciting the line of the poem on Gandalf’s letter seemed coincidental, but Gandalf had a specific intention in mind when adding it in the first place. The poem is very much tied to Aragorn’s fate, so Gandalf likely knew it would be useful in helping Strider prove his identity. Nob, the innkeeper’s helper, then discovers Merry just before the Black Riders were about to kidnap him. All these unlikely blessing give readers the impression that there is a grand design to the hobbits’ quest, affirming that they are meant to be in Bree under the watchful eye of Strider. Tolkien, influenced by Catholic doctrine, believed in miracles and good fortune from divine sources. He uses this divine function to reinforce the importance of Frodo’s quest. With the amalgamation of these chance events happening at once, it can be assumed that there are multiple forces outside of Frodo’s knowledge aiding him. This was done to give readers the impression that world is much larger than they have been shown.
    “Who is Tom Bombadil?”
    The paper’s emphasis that Bombadil was a benevolent pacifist is a point of interest. It is worth examining because Bombaldi chooses not to leave his own domain despite being powerful enough to fight the dark forces (even showing an indifferent, almost playful attitude to the One Ring’s power). His refusal to move becomes a saving grace as Bombaldi turns out to be in the exact place where he can assist the hobbits. His timely rescue and implied power suggests that he may have a connection to the Valar or Iluvatar himself.
    Questions for Chapter 10
    Why does Tolkien hide Aragorn’s true name only to reveal it soon after? What effect does this have on the story?
    Why do you think Aragorn was specifically chosen to protect the hobbits? Do you think it was solely due to his capabilities or was there greater meaning to assigning someone which such a significant past to assist the hobbits?
    Peer response
    Do you think that the hobbits were stuck in a dream, as a dream-vision, or could it have really happened for the hobbits? Do you think that Tom Bombadil is a real character, or does he reside in us all? Think of Tolkien’s faith.
    We are not quite there yet, but Bombadil is discussed at the Council of Elrond, which affirms his status as a character that physically exists in Middle Earth. He is tied to his domain by his own nature, which is why he does not aid the fellowship. I do not believe he exists within all of us as there are many who are intrinsically materialistic or actively despise pacifism, nor do I believe that he exists within every character in the book. He obviously has no part in Sauron’s being and is fundamentally different from other characters in the book by being a strict pacifist. It is even stated in “Who is Tom Bombadil?” that his benevolent and pacifistic ways are enabled by the characters who actively fight evil. This, however, is not to say he is without purpose or importance.

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