Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Lord of the Rings—Part 2: The Towers—Illustrated Quotes

Here I highlight famous quotes from the second part of The Lord of the Rings. C.S. Lewis's cover endorsement of The Two Towers reads, "Here are beauties which pierce like swords or burn like cold iron; here is a book that will break your heart...good beyond hope." The Fellowship of the Ring has divided into two groups: Frodo and a fellow hobbit named Sam heading to Mordor to destroy the Ring, and three heroes hotly pursuing two other hobbits  kidnapped by brutes called Orcs. The heroic hunters are Aragorn the Man, Gimli the Dwarf, and Legolas the Elf.

The Three Hunters Resolve to Set Out

ay leaped into the sky. The red rim of the sun rose over the shoulders of the dark land. Before them in the West the world lay still, formless and grey; but even as they looked, the shadows of night melted, the colours of the waking earth returned: green flowed over the wide meads of Rohan; the white mists shimmered in the water-vales; and far off to the left, thirty leagues or more, blue and purple stood the White Mountains, rising into peaks of jet, tipped with glimmering snows, flushed with the rose of morning....
"They seemed to have left winter clinging to the hills behind. Here the air was softer and warmer, and faintly scented, as if spring was already stirring and the sap was flowing again in herb and leaf. Legolas took in a deep breath, like one that drinks a great draught after a long thirst in barren places.
"'Ah! the green smell!' he said. 'It is better than much sleep. Let us run!'

"'Light feet may run swiftly here,' said Aragorn. 'More swiftly, maybe, than iron-shod Orcs. Now we have a chance to lessen their lead!' They went in single file, running like hounds on a swift scent, and an eager light was in their eyes. Nearly due west the broad swath of the marching Orcs tramped its ugly slot; the sweet grass of Rohan had been bruised and blackened as they passed....

"At dusk they halted....'Now do I most grudge a time of rest or any halt in our chase,' said Legolas. 'The Orcs have run before us as if the very whips of [their masters] were behind them.....'

"Gimli ground his teeth. 'This is a bitter end to our hope and to all our toil!' he said.

"'To hope, maybe, but not to toil,' said Aragorn. 'We shall not turn back here. Yet I am weary....There is some will that lends speed to our foes and sets an unseen barrier before us: a weariness that is in the heart more than in the limb'....The night grew colder. Aragorn and Gimli slept fitfully, and whenever they awoke they saw Legolas standing beside them, or walking two and fro, singing softly to himself in his own tongue, and as he sang the white stars opened in the hard black vault above."
The Hunters in Pursuit

he hunters come to a temporary standstill when crossing paths with the Lord Éomer and his riders of Rohan, but the Lord Aragorn wins him over. What is more, Éomer is moved in heart to help our heroes at great personal risk, yet asks, "'How shall a man judge what to do in such times?' 'As he ever has judged,' says Aragorn. 'Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them.'"

The Lord Éomer Becomes Willing to Help the Hunters

ith a great shock, our hunters will receive good news about their quarry from the last person they could have imagined: the resurrected Gandalf. "They all gazed at him. His hair was a white as snow in the sunshine; and gleaming white was his robe; the eyes under his deep brows were bright and piercing as the rays of the sun; power was in his hand. Between wonder, joy, and fear they stood and found no words to say." He who fell with flame into the watery depths of the world then spoke: "Be merry! We meet again. At the turn of the tide. The great storm is coming, but the tide has turned."

The Three Hunters Are Awed by the Resurrected Gandalf

eanwhile, Frodo and Sam continue their quest of seeking to get into Mordor to destroy the Ring of doom. They receive help from the most unlikely creature imaginable: Gollum, the shriveled hobbit-like being whose lust for the Ring brought so much misery Frodo's way. He leads them through the fair land of Ithilien, where Sam hopes to find food to make a hot meal for a change. Wishing out loud, he expresses his longing for "taters." Gollum asks, "What's taters, precious, eh, what's taters?" "Po-ta-toes," says Sam, "rare good ballast for an empty belly."

Sam with Gollum and Something Hot from the Pot

oon the little trio is overtaken by Rangers of Ithilien in the realm of Gondor, but Gollum eludes capture. The Rangers are about to wage war on troops marching into Mordor to serve the Enemy, the Lord of the Ring, so they keep Frodo and Sam out of harm's way. The troops are put to flight and hunted down one by one. Some get close to Sam's position and one comes crashing down. "He came to rest in the fern a few feet away, face downward, green arrow-feathers sticking from his neck below a golden collar. His scarlet robes were tattered, his corslet of overlapping brazen plates was rent and hewn, his black plaits of hair braided with gold were drenched with blood. His brown hand still clutched the hilt of a broken sword. It was Sam's first view of a battle of Men against Men, and he did not like it much. He was glad that he could not see the dead face. He wondered what the man's name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace."
Sam Sees a Grim Sight

aramir, the Captain of Gondor, leads the Ithilien Rangers and must decide what to do with Frodo and Sam. He tells Sam, "I spare a brief time in order to judge justly in a hard matter. Were I as hasty as you, I might have slain you long ago. For I am commanded to slay all whom I find in this land without the leave of the Lord of Gondor. But I do not slay man or beast needlessly, and not gladly even when it is needed." Frodo had reason to be terrified of Faramir because his brother, Boromir, betrayed Frodo's trust even though he was part of the Fellowship of the Ring sent to aid Frodo in his quest. Boromir attempted to seize the Ring from Frodo so he could take it to Gondor as a weapon. That led to the sundering of the Fellowship and the death of Boromir. Nevertheless, Frodo "felt in his heart that Faramir, though he was much like his brother in looks, was a man less self-regarding, both sterner and wiser." Sam, hoping to secure their release, says to Faramir, "Handsome is as handsome does....Now's a chance to show your quality." Faramir replies, "We are truth-speakers, we men of Gondor. We boast seldom, and then perform, or die in the attempt. Not if I found [the Enemy's Ring] on the highway would I take it....I am wise enough to know that there are some perils from which a man must flee." Sam replies, "You took the chance, sir...and showed your quality: the very highest." Faramir responds with keen perception and humility: "The praise of the praiseworthy is above all rewards."
Faramir Questions Frodo in His Quest to Judge Justly (Art by Catherine Karina Chmiel)

s Frodo and Sam draw far too close to Mordor for any comfort, Frodo sighs and says, "I'm afraid our journey is drawing to an end." "Maybe," says Sam, "but where there's life there's hope."
Sam Often Encourages Frodo to Have Hope

am says to Frodo, "'We shouldn't be here at all, if we'd known more about it before we started. But I suppose it's often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs ...adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and look for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull.... But that's not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually—their paths were laid that way...but I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't. And if they had, we shouldn't know, because they'd have been forgotten. We hear about those who just went on--and not all to a good least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end.... I wonder what sort of a tale we've fallen into?' 'I wonder,' said Frodo. 'But I don't know. And that's the way of a real tale.... You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is...but the people in it don't know. And you don't want them to.... You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all to likely that some will say at this point: "Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read any more."' 'Maybe,' said Sam, 'but I wouldn't be one to say that. Things done and over and made into part of the great tales are different.'"

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