This post is a continuation of my reflections from my fall reread of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. An introduction to this series can be read in this post. The other parts in this series can be found via the links below.
The Fellowship of the Ring
The book begins in Hobbiton with much the same lively writing style found in The Hobbit. You can tell that neither Tolkien nor the Hobbits realise the dark roads they will travel in this sequel.
The hobbits’ evening with Gildor and his company is my favourite scene in The Fellowship of the Ring (though it rivals closely with ‘At the Sign of The Prancing Pony’ and ‘Strider’). It endures in my mind for the same reasons as the Rivendell of The Hobbit: ‘…it smells like elves’, as Bilbo says in The Hobbit.1 If starlight under the trees and silver voices can have a smell…
Frodo to Gandalf: ‘…I have become very fond of Strider. Well, fond is not the right word. I mean he is dear to me; though he is strange and grim at times. In fact, he reminds me often of you.’2 I agree, fond is not quite the right word. I think Frodo means the type of love that comes with respect and trust: the emotion you feel when you have been through something with someone, knowing it was not their first time in such danger. But if there is a word expressing precisely this, I do not know it.
Legolas and Gimli’s friendship blossoms suddenly in Lothlórien. I, too, marvel at this change. Though I am familiar with this aspect of the story, I had forgotten how quickly it occurs. The two were never enemies, though you can sense tension between them at times.3 What can be the cause of this abrupt shift? I think it has a great deal to do with Legolas witnessing Lady Galadriel’s reception of Gimli, and Gimli’s reception of Lady Galadriel. Legolas senses Gimli’s profound respect and admiration and observes that the Lady completely accepts Gimli, Dwarf though he is. Legolas respects this and I think it gives him the freedom to accept Gimli himself.
In the last chapter, I am pleased with how accurately Sam discerns Frodo’s true dilemma: he does not hesitate whether to go to Minas Tirith or straight to Mordor; he knows he must go to Mordor, but fear holds him back. Sam constantly proves himself a very quick detector of evil. He notices immediately the uncanniness of the hobbits’ sudden sleepiness as they travel along the banks of the Withywindle in the Old Forest and also detects Boromir’s queer attitude before anyone perceives it. His eyes and ears are wide open.
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1J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Chapter 3
2J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, Chapter 1
3For example, on the way to Moria, concerning the breaking of friendship between Elves and Dwarves: ‘“It was not the fault of the Dwarves that the friendship waned,” said Gimli. “I have not heard that it was the fault of the Elves,” said Legolas.”’ Ibid., Book 2, Chapter 4