Everyone who has fallen in love with The Lord of the Rings has a story to tell about the experience; mine is one of my first blog entries—Tolkien and Lewis: A Friendship That Changed My Life. Here I highlight famous quotes from each part of the book to refresh avid fans and, I hope, engage the minds of people who may have described themselves as "Bored of the Rings." Professor Tolkien's student Christopher Lee, who played Saruman in the movies, said he tried to read LOTR once a year, as do I—it is that good! Each pass I appreciate something new or see it in greater depth, so I intend to update these illustrated quotes as time goes on.
andalf the wizard tells Frodo the hobbit about the shadowy past of the evil Ring in Middle Earth that Frodo has inherited from his Uncle Bilbo. The story is so dark, Gandalf waits for the light to finish the long tale that only recently could be pieced together. Frodo begins to groan under the weight of an inheritance that now seems an unbearable burden, but Gandalf observes, "Beyond that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought."
wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo. 'So do I,' said Galdalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.'"
rodo makes a pronouncement upon the vile creature Gollum, whose actions now put the hellish Ring-maker on Frodo's trail, forcing Frodo to flee his beloved homeland: "He deserves death." Gandalf responds, "Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."
uch was the virtue of Rivendell," the temporary refuge Frodo and his traveling companions managed to flee to when Galdalf disappeared, "that soon all fear and anxiety was lifted from their minds. The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song."
|A Refuge for Healing and Council|
lrond draws the Council to its conclusion, considering this final word from Galdalf: The Enemy "weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning." "At least for a while," responds Elrond, adding, "The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. For such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere." With great effort Frodo speaks, "as if some other will was using his small voice. 'I will take the Ring,' he said, 'though I do not know the way.' Elrond raised his eyes and looked at him, and Frodo felt his heart pierced by the sudden keenness of the glance. 'If I understand aright all that I have heard,' he said, 'I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will. This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the great....But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right.'" Frodo accepted the burden and was blessed with companions willing to accompany him. Their company became known as the Fellowship of the Ring.
leeing their darkest trial thus far together, the Fellowship enters the haven of the realm ruled by the Elven Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel. Their guide, Haldir, remarks, "In nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him." The Lady Galadriel spoke kindly to the Dwarf member of the company, who at first was not made to feel welcome, and she smiled at him as he sat glowering and sad. "And the Dwarf, hearing...names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seemed to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. Wonder came into his face, and then he smiled in answer." Later, as the Fellowship prepares to resume their Quest, the Lord and Lady pledge their help. "'Good night, my friends!' said Galadriel. 'Sleep in peace!' Do not trouble your hearts overmuch with thought of the road tonight. Maybe the paths that you each shall tread are already laid before your feet, though you do not see them. Good night!'"
|The Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel Address the Fellowship|
s the Fellowship prepares to leave the elven realm of Lorien, they discuss their route with the Lord Celeborn. He warns them not to become entangled in the Forest of Fangorn, but Boromir mildly dismisses that warning, stating, "What I have heard seems to me for the most part old wives' tales, such as we tell to our children." Celeborn graciously responds, "Then I need say no more, but do not despise the lore that has come down from distant years; for oft it may chance that old wives keep in memory word of things that once were needful for the wise to know."
|Making a Friend of an Enemy by Understanding|
he Lady Galadriel gives parting gifts to each member of the Company. When she came to Gimli, however, instead of presenting him with a gift she asked, "What gift would a Dwarf ask of the Elves?" He answered, "None, Lady: It is enough for me to have seen the Lady of the Galadhrim, and to have heard her gentle words." At once she cried out, "Hear all ye Elves! Let none say again that Dwarves are grasping and ungracious!" Gently questioning Gimli further, she received this reply, "Nothing, unless it might be...permitted to ask, nay, to name a single strand of your hair, which surpasses the gold of the earth as the stars surpass the gems of the mine." Tolkien writes, "The Elves stirred and murmured with astonishment, and Celeborn gazed at the Dwarf in wonder, but the Lady smiled. 'It is said that the skill of the Dwarves is in their hands rather than in their tongues...yet...none have ever made to me a request so bold and yet so courteous. And how shall I refuse, since I commanded him to speak? But tell me, what would you do with such a gift?' 'Treasure it, Lady,' he answered, 'in memory of your words to me at our first meeting. And if ever I return...it shall be set in imperishable crystal to be an heirloom of my house, and a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days.' Then the Lady unbraided one of her long tresses, and cut off three golden hairs, and laid them in Gimli's hand." Love, patience, understanding, and kindness are the essential tools of diplomacy.
n Elvish boats on the great River Anduin flowing swiftly, the Company saw in the distance two great rocks approaching. "A narrow gap appeared between them, and the River swept the boats towards it. 'Behold the Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings!' cried Aragorn.... Upon great pedestals founded in the deep waters stood two great kings of stone...they frowned upon the North. The left hand of each was raised palm outwards in gesture of warning; in each right hand there was an axe; upon each head there was a crumbling helm and crown. Great power and majesty they still wore, the silent wardens of a long-vanished kingdom. Awe and fear fell upon Frodo.... 'Fear not!' said a strange voice behind him. 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, proud and erect, guiding the boat with skilful strokes; his hood was cast back, and his dark hair was blowing in the wind, a light was in his eyes: a king returning from exile to his own land."
hen the boats land, the Company must decide which direction to head. Boromir contrives to be alone with Frodo, the Ringbearer, because he wants to bring the Ring to his city, Minas Tirith, to use as a weapon against the Enemy. Frodo rebukes him: "Were you not at the Council? We cannot use it, and what is done with it turns to evil." Tolkien now expresses what it is like dealing with people bent on their way despite all costs: "Boromir got up and walked about impatiently. 'So you go on,' he cried.... 'All these folk have taught you to say so. For themselves they may be right.... Yet often I doubt if they are wise and not merely timid. But each to his own kind. True-hearted Men, they will not be corrupted.... The fearless, the ruthless, these alone will achieve victory. What could not a warrior do in this hour, a great leader?'... Boromir strode up and down, speaking ever more loudly. Almost he seemed to have forgotten Frodo, while his talk dwelt on walls and weapons, and the mustering of men; and he drew plans for great alliances and glorious victories to be.... 'Surely you see it, my friend? he said, turning now suddenly to Frodo again, 'You say that you are afraid. If it is so, the boldest should pardon you. But is it not really your good sense that revolts?' 'No, I am afraid,' said Frodo. 'Simply afraid. But I am glad to have heard you speak so fully. My mind is clearer now.'" The Ring, therefore, does not go to Minas Tirith. Boromir tries to seize the Ring from Frodo by force, but is foiled in his attempt and later repents of his deed. (At the beginning of the next book, The Two Towers, Boromir bravely defends Merry and Pippin at the cost of his own life. With his dying breath he confesses to Aragorn, "I tried to take the Ring from Frodo. I am sorry. I have paid." His last words are, "Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed." "No!" said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. "You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!")
rodo escapes Boromir's clutches by using the Ring. "Everywhere he looked he saw the signs of war. The Misty Mountains were crawling like anthills: orcs were issuing out of a thousand holes. Under the boughs of Mirkwood there was deadly strife of Elves and Men and fell beasts. The land of the Beornings was aflame; a cloud was over Moria; smoke rose on the borders of Lorien. Horsemen were galloping on the grass of Rohan; wolves poured from Isengard. From the havens of Harad ships of war put out to sea; and out of the East Men were moving endlessly: swordsmen, spearmen, bowmen, upon horses, chariots of chieftains and laden wains. All the power of the Dark Lord was in motion.... Then as a flash from some other point of power there came to his mind another thought: Take it off! Take it off!... Take off the Ring! The two powers strove in him. For a moment, perfectly balanced between their piercing points, he writhed, tormented. Suddenly he was aware of himself again. Frodo...free to choose, and with one remaining instant in which to do so. He took the Ring off his finger. He was kneeling in clear sunlight.... A black shadow seemed to pass like an arm above him...and faded. Then all the sky was clean and blue and birds sang in every tree."
ividly aware of the Ring's corrupting power, Frodo resoves to set out to Morder on his own. Sam, running desperately to find Frodo, stops and says to himself, "Whoa, Sam Gamgee! Your legs are too short, so use your head.... Steady...think if you can!" He figures out how to find Frodo at the risk of his own life, dismaying Frodo at first, but then "Frodo actually laughed. A sudden warmth and gladness touched his heart.... 'So all my plan is spoilt!' said Frodo. 'It is no good trying to escape you. But I'm glad, Sam. I cannot tell you how glad. Come along! It is plain that we were meant to go together.'" As Aragorn commented as their search for Frodo began, "There are other powers at work far stronger."
- Illustrated Quotes from The Lord of the Rings—Part 3: The Return
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Reviewed by C.S. Lewis
- J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit Reviewed by C.S. Lewis
- J.R.R. Tolkien on Númenor’s Meneltarma, the Pillar of Heaven
- J.R.R. Tolkien on Foul Language—Orc Speech!
- Are you interested in learning more about J.R.R. Tolkien and how he came to write The Lord of the Rings? See A Tale of Two Lieutenants: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien