(Orthanc / Isengard-Saruman / Minas Morgul-Sauron)

Aragorn expresses the theme of: the volume and the plight
of the company

"Let me think. And now may I make a right choice
and change the evil fate of this unhappy day. I will follow
the orcs. I would have guided Frodo to Mordor and gone
with him to the end; but if I seek him now in the
wilderness, I must abandon the captives to torment
and death. My heart speaks clearly at last: the
Company has played its part. Yet we that
remain cannot forsake our companions while
we have strength left. Come! We will go now."

1. Consider the biblical allusions.
2. Why is this a very Tolkien thing to do:

3. Keep Dr. Freitas' questions in mind

4. Tolkien thus fragments the narrative: morally looking at the Meditations of John Donne might offer a perspective here. During WW II, Churchill noted that despite virtually unlimited power, Hitler remained to the last insecure having elaborate police agencies to monitor everyone, 1984 style. How is this replicated here? Note that the good characters endure and accept fragmentation: why is there perspective different?

5. We will note how Aragorn's FATE parallels Frodo's in "The Forbidden Pool" chapter.


A. As we know by now, Tolkien frequently uses interlacing motifs to thread his narrative back to the creation myth. How does the opening of this chapter accomplish that, and why here?

B. How, morally does Boromir die? What biblical allusion allows us to determine whether Tolkien wishes him redeemed? Is he evil? Note the funeral he receives, and what Aragorn says.

C. Catholic philosophy clearly establishes Tolkien's moral perspective in this chapter; recall as well Locke's Essay on Human Understanding.

D. Keep Dr. Freitas' questions in mind, especially those discussing the origin of evil. She mentions an evil soul, for example? Does Boromir have one? Remember too our Aristotelian interpretation of Frodo's so-called flaw, misunderstanding, moral error? Apply to Boromir.

E. One critic called Boromir's crime "incredible wretched." Does Tolkien think so? Recall the Monsters and The Critics Essay.


A. Readers of Beowulf should note the parallels.

B. Epics are often told "in medias res" with normal time order being inverted. This technique in echoed in gothic novels including Frankenstein and Dracula, especially the latter where we learn for instance that a predatory wolf has been ravaging Londoners from a newspaper account before we know the details that led to the article's publication. Why is this done? (See my Gothic web site for details)

C. Tolkien's use of prophecy from overt statement to allusion should be noted: how do we know in this chapter that evil will destroy itself? What is underestimated as usual in Tolkien? Relate this chapter to the Council of Elrond.

D. Note the poetry / uses of language in this chapter. Can they classified?

E. Often the good is tempted to question the wisdom of the creator, for like Boromir, the expedient seems almost by definition the correct path to follow. See the Aragorn - Gimli conversation on Galadriel's light.

F. Eomer's role as an ideal Anglo-Saxon warrior, sustained by his recitation of credentials as befits an oral culture, is meant to contrast with Boromir. His wisdom, however, does not equal Aragorn's as evidenced by....? Note too that Aragorn likewise recites his lineage, but readers of Beowulf will recall the admonition of the coast guard as Beowulf seeks an audience with Hrothgar.

G. Is Tolkien's Anglo-Saxon perspective influenced by his Catholicism? If Eomer could read Hrothgar's advice to Beowulf after fight two with Grendel's mother, how would he react?

Here find thy lesson!
Of virtue advise thee! This verse I have said
for thee,
wise from lapsed winters. Wondrous seems
how to sons of men Almighty God
in the strength of His spirit sendeth wisdom,
estate, high station: He swayeth all things.
Whiles He letteth right lustily fare
the heart of the hero of high-born race, --
in seat ancestral assigns him bliss,
his folk's sure fortress in fee to hold,
puts in his power great parts of the earth,
empire so ample, that end of it
this wanter-of-wisdom weeneth none.
So he waxes in wealth, nowise can harm him
illness or age; no evil cares
shadow his spirit; no sword-hate threatens
from ever an enemy: all the world
wends at his will, no worse he knoweth,
till all within him obstinate pride
waxes and wakes while the warden slumbers,
the spirit's sentry; sleep is too fast
which masters his might, and the murderer nears,
stealthily shooting the shafts from his bow!
Under harness his heart then is hit indeed
by sharpest shafts; and no shelter avails
from foul behest of the hellish fiend.
Him seems too little what long he possessed.
Greedy and grim, no golden rings
he gives for his pride; the promised future
forgets he and spurns, with all God has sent him,
Wonder-Wielder, of wealth and fame.
Yet in the end it ever comes
that the frame of the body fragile yields,
fated falls; and there follows another
who joyously the jewels divides,
the royal riches, nor recks of his forebear.
Ban, then, such baleful thoughts, Beowulf dearest,
best of men, and the better part choose,
profit eternal; and temper thy pride,
warrior famous! The flower of thy might
lasts now a while: but erelong it shall be
that sickness or sword thy strength shall minish,
or fang of fire, or flooding billow,
or bite of blade, or brandished spear,
or odious age; or the eyes' clear beam
wax dull and darken: Death even thee
in haste shall o'erwhelm, thou hero of war!
So the Ring-Danes these half-years a hundred I ruled,
wielded 'neath welkin, and warded them bravely
from mighty-ones many o'er middle-earth,
from spear and sword, till it seemed for me
no foe could be found under fold of the sky.
Lo, sudden the shift! To me seated secure
came grief for joy when Grendel began
to harry my home, the hellish foe;
for those ruthless raids, unresting I suffered
heart-sorrow heavy

Recall also the Monsters and Critics Essay.

H. "Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass," exclaims Eomer in response to Aragorn. Later when a rider argues the same regarding Hobbits, Aragorn again responds: "Do we walk in legends or on the green earth...?", how does Aragorn reply, and what does he mean? Recall too the FT Essay.

I. How could Spinoza help with what Eomer learns of Gandalf and Theoden?

J. As an aside, and at the risk of incurring Tolkien's denial, the events in this chapter seem to mirror English and French diplomacy of the 1930's. How?

K. After the Riders' account the successful attack on Saruman's Orcs, Tolkien provides the clearest statement of his moral philosophy in the trilogy through Aragorn: what does he say, and do you notice a pattern in the Aragorn - Eomer conversations. There are at least three instances when philosophy evaluates drama.

L. Whom did the company see at the chapter's end dramatically and morally? Any biblical allusions?

M. We will meet Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn and someone else later in Chapter V.

N. The myth-legend-reality correspondences will appear again in Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbits.


A. Often we have said that evil defeats itself. How does that happen here? Recall Gandalf, Saruman and Radagast at Elrond's council. Note the narrative now switches to Merry and Pippin.

B. The interlacing narrative becomes an important dramatic device, a macrocosmic STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS as suggested by William James or as far back as Heraclitus' remark that no one steps into the same river twice. What Eomer has just related, we now experience first hand. The shifting points of view enhances irony and helps to develop one of Tolkien's most important Catholic themes, that of.....?

C. Saruman (Ugluk) vs. the "great eye" ( Grishnakh) = ___________vs.___________ (1941)

D. Now we learn of the battle described in the previous chapter wherein Eomer's forces attack the Orcs holding Merry and Pippin.

E. How does Tolkien mature Pippin in this chapter? What is the Catholic theme? "Desire" appears again, and what does Pippin realize? Was the escape 'fated' to happen, or are the events a culmination of what the Hobbits orchestrated? Is there still providence in the fall of a sparrow?

F. How are legends born?

G. Do those who want the ring (Boromir / Grishnakh) share the same fate?


A. With Merry and Pippin again, one could sum this chapter in two words: Romanticism and trees. We know that Tolkien loved both. Thus, Poetry is important. Joyce Kilmer's poem defines the tone...

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree
Joyce Kilmer

An irony: Kilmer was killed in action on July 30, 1918, at Seringes, France during World War I

B. Many romantic period themes emerge, such as the healing power of nature. It would be well to review the themes: click here.

C. Quickbeam (an Ent) defines personification or the other way around!! At any rate, this chapter is quite short on plot, but long on description. The pace slows dramatically after the events of Rohan, but of course Tolkien wants just that!!!

...the Ents are alive and well...

Photo thanks to Aaron Whitman

D. From their poetry and Tolkien's character sketch, give a profile of the Ents. Perhaps they are a personification of Wordsworth's Presence in Tintern Abbey in which he speaks of ...

that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world, Is lightened:
--that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,--
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.
...And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,--both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

E. Age and tradition emerge as well: why are songs important? Where in the creation myth (Valinor) have we seen the importance of trees? Recall as well what Galadriel gave Frodo. Where else have trees appeared in the trilogy? There are flashbacks in the chapter to Lothlorien.

F. Here in is Tolkien's romantic / moral conviction that God will not allow evil to prevail. As a final note, there might be an autobiographial element in the Ent-Entwives relationship.


A. Obviously what is the Christian theme?

B. The narrative twists again to Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn last seen in Chapter II which ended with the appearance of a mysterious figure, walking about cloaked and hooded, but as Aragorn noted, this figure had a hat?

C. Does the reappearance of Gandalf (now Gandalf the white) suggest the presence of the good, however remote it temporally may appear? Interestingly, Stanton's Hobbits, Elves and Wizards, p.58, cites Tolkien's comment on the chapter; "The incarnation of God is an infinitely greater thing than anything I would dare to write." Stanton then warns against superficial "Christ figure" identifications, saying that Gandalf is not one. Do you agree?

D. Prior to the appearance of Gandalf, Legolas warns that the environment feels tense, and Gimli thinks the figure is Saruman

E. The philososphical -moral themes in the reunion should be studied. Comment on each...

  1. Tense shift. "I was Gandalf."
  2. "The tide has turned"...(Recall Churchill after the Battle of Britain)
  3. Imagery of fire and water appear--why in terms of Medieval philosophy and Christian symbolism?
  4. What does Gandalf mean when he argues he is Saruman as he ought to have been.
  5. It is clear from the Gandalf's flashback, especially regarding Frodo and Sam, that he knows a great deal more than he reveals--why the equivocation?
  6. How does the flashback demonstrate that good comes from evil...Gandalf's interpretation of Boromir's death is especially important.
  7. What would have happened if Boromir had not taken the ring? Is there a divine plan at work?
  8. How does evil miscalculate here? What would evil do that would appear self-evident to anyone not willing to wait for the good unfold its will in due time. Recall the dilemma of Macbeth.
  9. There are clear references Gandalf's account to Hitler and time.
  10. Regarding Gandalf's analysis of Saruman, there is a parallel to the Radagast episode--what does evil continue to do and why?

11. The parallel with Saruman is instructive. What in this context makes evil different from the good?

12. What does evil forget in this chapter? Why? In effect, the actions of Boromir bring about a greater good that could not be foreseen, even by Aragorn.

13. Why does Tolkien use the word 'dangerous'?

14. This chapter contains references to Jung's archetypes--the shadow and descent especially. Note for example, Aragorn's assessement of Gandalf's return: "He has passed through the fire and the abyss, and they shall fear him." Explain why the events at Moria were necessary for Gandalf's moral and psychological growth. What did he have to confront, and what were his errors that had to be corrected for the quest to be successful?



A. This Chapter is Tolkien's tribute to Beowulf, and its events parallel the poem almost identically.

B. Check these Beowulf episodes for parallels these episodes:

        [To the door of the hall
Wulfgar went] and the word declared:—
“To you this message my master sends,
East-Dane’s king, that your kin he knows,
hardy heroes, and hails you all
welcome hither o’er waves of the sea!
Ye may wend your way in war-attire,
and under helmets Hrothgar greet;
but let here the battle-shields bide your parley,
and wooden war-shafts wait its end.

UNFERTH spake, the son of Ecglaf,
who sat at the feet of the Scyldings’ lord,
unbound the battle-runes. 1—Beowulf’s quest,
sturdy seafarer’s, sorely galled him;
ever he envied that other men         5
should more achieve in middle-earth
of fame under heaven than he himself.—
“Art thou that Beowulf, Breca’s rival,
who emulous swam on the open sea,
when for pride the pair of you proved the floods,
and wantonly dared in waters deep
to risk your lives? No living man,
or lief or loath, from your labor dire
could you dissuade, from swimming the main.
Ocean-tides with your arms ye covered,
with strenuous hands the sea-streets measured,
swam o’er the waters. Winter’s storm
rolled the rough waves. In realm of sea
a sennight strove ye. In swimming he topped thee,
had more of main! Him at morning-tide
billows bore to the Battling Reamas,
whence he hied to his home so dear,
beloved of his liegemen, to land of Brondings,
fastness fair, where his folk he ruled,
town and treasure. In triumph o’er thee
Beanstan’s bairn his boast achieved.
So ween I for thee a worse adventure
—though in buffet of battle thou brave hast been,
in struggle grim,—if Grendel’s approach
thou darst await through the watch of night!

C. Compare the shaper's poetry to Beowulf's. What role did the Scop have in an oral culture?

D. Compare Book VIII of The Odyssey for a comparison Tolkien would undoubtedly endorse;

A servant presently led in the famous bard Demodocus, whom the muse had dearly loved, but to whom she had given both good and evil, for though she had endowed him with a divine gift of song, she had robbed him of his eyesight. Pontonous set a seat for him among the guests, leaning it up against a bearing-post. He hung the lyre for him on a peg over his head, and showed him where he was to feel for it with his hands. He also set a fair table with a basket of victuals by his side, and a cup of wine from which he might drink whenever he was so disposed.

The company then laid their hands upon the good things that were before them, but as soon as they had had enough to eat and drink, the muse inspired Demodocus to sing the feats of heroes, and more especially a matter that was then in the mouths of all men, to wit, the quarrel between Ulysses and Achilles, and the fierce words that they heaped on one another as they gat together at a banquet. But Agamemnon was glad when he heard his chieftains quarrelling with one another, for Apollo had foretold him this at Pytho when he crossed the stone floor to consult the oracle. Here was the beginning of the evil that by the will of Jove fell both Danaans and Trojans.
Thus sang the bard, but Ulysses drew his purple mantle over his head and covered his face, for he was ashamed to let the Phaeacians see that he was weeping. When the bard left off singing he wiped the tears from his eyes, uncovered his face, and, taking his cup, made a drink-offering to the gods; but when the Phaeacians pressed Demodocus to sing further, for they delighted in his lays, then Ulysses again drew his mantle over his head and wept bitterly

E. Characterize Wormtongue. Is he evil? Note Tolkien's use of RING imagery to describe his unmaking. What is the source? Gandalf as to be expected has a broader perspective. Will good come of his dissertation when given the choice to fight or leave? Recall Dr. Freitas' questions.

F. What has happened to Theoden? How does Gandalf convince him to join the war?

G. Feminist readers will be interested in Eowyn, Eomer' sister. Her character will be important the Battle of Pelennor Fields, but not all feminists would agree with what she has to do to be there. Her relationship with Aragorn may also have autobiographical elements.

H. Would these events have occurred if Gandalf had not "died" in The Bridge of Khazad-dum, and if Merry and Pippin had not been captured by Orcs?


A. BATTLE SCENES are hard to analyze for philosophical content, but of course epic-like literature must have them. They can be on a grand scale (Iliad), personal-individual (Beowulf) or both as here.

B. Tolkien alludes to the Iliad early in the chapter:

They saw torches, countless points, of
fiery light upon the black fields behind
scattered like red flowers, or winding up
from the lowlands in long flickering lines.
Here and there a larger blaze lit up.

...and from the Iliad, Book VIII:

A thousand fires were burning there on the plain
and beside each fire sat fifty fighting men
poised in the leaping blaze, and champing oats
and glistening barley, stationed by their chariots,
stallions waited for dawn to mount her glowing throne.

Parenthetically, when Michael Woods' documentary, Inside the Trojan War, aired on PBS, he interviewed General Sir John Hackett, a veteran of the North African Campaign in WW II, who noted these lines as being "..about the kind of people" he knew.

C. What accounts for Theoden's behavior as the battle starts? How does Aragorn respond?

D. What turns the tide, and what ethical norm of Tolkien's is therefore vindicated?


A. We known Tolkien's view of technology. Although as with most romantics it may be debated whether his dislike was for its misuse or its very existence, these chapters dramatize what he saw as a lieutenant in WWI.

B. What philosophically (as an application of the generic good vs. evil) is the central conflict in the chapter? Note an allusion to Volume I.

C. Comment on the irony and humor herein. What does Tolkien intend?

D. Notice again reference to legend--who this time is surprised about what? How according to JRRT do legends arise? Recall The FT Essay.and again an allusion to British foreign policy prior to WW II.

E. Why does Gandalf say, "The evil of Sauron cannot be wholly cured, nor made as if it has not been. But to such days we are doomed."? There is something Shakespearean about this: click here for A. C. Bradley.

F. What has happened to nature in this chapter? Remember who wins the battle for the Company.

G. "Shafts were driven deep into the ground; the upper ends were covered by low mounds and domes of stone, so that in the moonlight, the Ring of Isengard looked like a graveyard of unquiet dead." an allusion to?

H. Describe Isengard, and the nature of the evil there--what happened, and how? Note Tolkien foreshadows what will be dramatized in the Gandalf-Saruman meeting.

I. Who are the door-wardens? How and why does Tolkien change the tone. As a parallel, recall Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator film. What does parody accomplish? [Once again, legends are validated, this time regarding Hobbits.]

J. Tolkien ends the chapter with a very clear statement combining the three influences that foreshadows why evil will be defeated.


A.Critics have commented on the appearance of tobacco. Why? What Anglo-Saxon theme is in evidence.

B. How is renunciation a theme again?

C. What power resides in the Ents?

D. Tolkien once again foreshadows why the evil of Saruman will not prevail. Examine the Merry-Aragorn conversation.

E. As the corrupting and destructive power of Saruman's technology is revealed, what word does Tolkien use to dramatize definitively what he believes?

F. The destruction wrought by the ents recalls Book XXI as Achilles' murderous rage angers Xanthus:

Meanwhile Achilles sprang from the bank into mid-stream, whereon the river raised a high wave and attacked him. He swelled his stream into a torrent, and swept away the many dead whom Achilles had slain and left within his waters. These he cast out on to the land, bellowing like a bull the while, but the living he saved alive, hiding them in his mighty eddies. The great and terrible wave gathered about Achilles, falling upon him and beating on his shield, so that he could not keep his feet; he caught hold of a great elm-tree, but it came up by the roots, and tore away the bank, damming the stream with its thick branches and bridging it all across; whereby Achilles struggled out of the stream, and fled full speed over the plain, for he was afraid.


A. Tolkien dramatizes Plato's dialectic here by interlacing an event in the MIRROR chapter with something here: recall how evil defeats itself: Wormtongue chooses to flee rather than fight with Theoden; he winds up captured at Isengard...something happens that Aragorn calls fate...What?

B. The Saruman-Gandalf conversation has been analyzed by Stanton (Elves, Hobbits, Wizards): "By trying to deal in different and contradictory modes of speech with different constituencies in the audience below him--addressing this one as an equal, patronizing that one, showing contempt for yet another--Saruman betrays the inadequacy of his rhetorical powers. The duplicity of Saruman's speech reveals the doubleness of his mind..." (p. 59)

C. Analyze carefully what he says, how he says it and Gandalf's response. Have we been prepared all along for this confrontation?

D. Use the following as guides:

1-Click here to examine the elements of a classical oration (Cicero)

2-Examine the elements in the context of this excerpt from Milton and make the comparison: Satan begins his task:

The Tempter, but with show of zeal and love
To Man, and indignation at his wrong,
New part puts on; and, as to passion moved,
Fluctuates disturbed, yet comely and in act
Raised, as of some great matter to begin.
As when of old some orator renowned,
In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence
Flourished, since mute! to some great cause addressed,
Stood in himself collected; while each part,
Motion, each act, won audience ere the tongue;
Sometimes in highth began, as no delay
Of preface brooking, through his zeal of right:
So standing, moving, or to highth up grown,
The Tempter, all impassioned, thus began.
O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving Plant,
Mother of science! now I feel thy power
Within me clear; not only to discern
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest agents, deemed however wise.
Queen of this universe! do not believe
Those rigid threats of death: ye shall not die:
How should you? by the fruit? it gives you life
To knowledge; by the threatener? look on me,
Me, who have touched and tasted; yet both live,
And life more perfect have attained than Fate
Meant me, by venturing higher than my lot.
Shall that be shut to Man, which to the Beast
Is open? or will God incense his ire
For such a petty trespass? and not praise
Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain
Of death denounced, whatever thing death be,
Deterred not from achieving what might lead
To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;
Of good, how just? of evil, if what is evil
Be real, why not known, since easier shunned?
God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;
Not just, not God; not feared then, nor obeyed:
Your fear itself of death removes the fear.
Why then was this forbid? Why, but to awe;
Why, but to keep ye low and ignorant,
His worshippers? He knows that in the day
Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,
Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then
Opened and cleared, and ye shall be as Gods,
Knowing both good and evil, as they know.
That ye shall be as Gods, since I as Man,
Internal Man, is but proportion meet;
I, of brute, human; ye, of human, Gods.
So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off
Human, to put on Gods; death to be wished,
Though threatened, which no worse than this can bring.
And what are Gods, that Man may not become
As they, participating God-like food?
The Gods are first, and that advantage use
On our belief, that all from them proceeds:
I question it; for this fair earth I see,
Warmed by the sun, producing every kind;
Them, nothing: if they all things, who enclosed
Knowledge of good and evil in this tree,
That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains
Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies
The offence, that Man should thus attain to know?
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree
Impart against his will, if all be his?
Or is it envy? and can envy dwell
In heavenly breasts? These, these, and many more
Causes import your need of this fair fruit.
Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste!
He ended; and his words, replete with guile,
Into her heart too easy entrance won:
Fixed on the fruit she gazed, which to behold
Might tempt alone; and in her ears the sound
Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregned
With reason, to her seeming, and with truth:
Mean while the hour of noon drew on, and waked
An eager appetite, raised by the smell
So savoury of that fruit, which with desire,
Inclinable now grown to touch or taste...

E. Notice the following elements / tactics: CLICK HERE FOR COMMON PROPAGANDA TECHNIQUES from George Mason University

F. The left column contains words associated with Saruman; the right the response of the allies...Gandalf and company:

enchantment liar
delight honey
juggler corrupter
enthralled men's hearts
spell-bound proud
anger laughed
snake fantasy vanished
hissed jester
grieved think...

..THINK about what? A good clue would be to examine the soliloquy of Satan in Book IV of Paradise Lost, and he contemplates his relationship with God:

O thou, that, with surpassing glory crowned,
Lookest from thy sole dominion like the God
Of this new world; at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
Of Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell, how glorious once above thy sphere;
Till pride and worse ambition threw me down
Warring in Heaven against Heaven's matchless King:
Ah, wherefore! he deserved no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.
What could be less than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompence, and pay him thanks,
How due! yet all his good proved ill in me,
And wrought but malice; lifted up so high
I sdeined subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burdensome still paying, still to owe,
Forgetful what from him I still received,
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged; what burden then
O, had his powerful destiny ordained
Me some inferiour Angel, I had stood
Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised
Ambition! Yet why not some other Power
As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,
Drawn to his part; but other Powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations armed.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand?
Thou hadst: whom hast thou then or what to accuse,
But Heaven's free love dealt equally to all?
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, cursed be thou; since against his thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair?
Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell;
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven.
O, then, at last relent: Is there no place
Left for repentance, none for pardon left?
None left but by submission; and that word
Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame
Among the Spirits beneath, whom I seduced
With other promises and other vaunts
Than to submit, boasting I could subdue
The Omnipotent. Ay me! they little know
How dearly I abide that boast so vain,
Under what torments inwardly I groan,
While they adore me on the throne of Hell.
With diadem and scepter high advanced,
The lower still I fall, only supreme
In misery: Such joy ambition finds.
But say I could repent, and could obtain,
By act of grace, my former state; how soon
Would highth recall high thoughts, how soon unsay
What feigned submission swore? Ease would recant
Vows made in pain, as violent and void.
For never can true reconcilement grow,
Where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep:
Which would but lead me to a worse relapse
And heavier fall: so should I purchase dear
Short intermission bought with double smart.
This knows my Punisher; therefore as far
From granting he, as I from begging, peace;
All hope excluded thus, behold, in stead
Mankind created, and for him this world.
So farewell, hope; and with hope farewell, fear;
Farewell, remorse! all good to me is lost;
Evil, be thou my good; by thee at least
Divided empire with Heaven's King I hold,
By thee, and more than half perhaps will reign;
As Man ere long, and this new world, shall know.
Thus while he spake, each passion dimmed his face
Thrice changed with pale, ire, envy, and despair;
Which marred his borrowed visage, and betrayed
Him counterfeit, if any eye beheld.
For heavenly minds from such distempers foul
Are ever clear. Whereof he soon aware,
Each perturbation smoothed with outward calm,
Artificer of fraud; and was the first
That practised falsehood under saintly show,
Deep malice to conceal, couched with revenge:

Compare with Saruman's 'ANGUISH OF A MIND IN DOUBT.'

G. What is the final assessment of Saruman, and note especially Gandalf's line...

H. What does Wormtongue do which involves Pippin? Is it an error? Will good come from his act?


A. What is a palantir? What does the name mean, and note its history. Does it flashback to anything else we have seen?

B. Pippin seems again to function childishly. What trait does he most evidence, and is it dangerous per se? Does he? Does good come of it?

C. What does Sauron conclude as a result of the "contact?" Will that help later? A phrase is repeated again; this time in italics. Obviously a core of Tolkien's belief, it echoes something of Shakespeare's "order and degree" speech in Troilus and Cressida:

Take but degree away, untune that string,
And hark, what discord follows! Each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy. The bounded waters
Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores,
And make a sop of all this solid globe.
Strength should be lord of imbecility,
And the rude son should strike his father dead.
Force should be right, or rather right and wrong,
Between whose endless jar justice resides
Should lose their names, and so should justice too.
Then everything includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite,
And appetite, a universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power,
Must make perforce a universal prey,
And at last eat up himself.

D. Place Ulysses' words in a Catholic context, and relate to Saruman.




To study Gollum's character, review the following:

1-Click here to review Chapter V of The Hobbit.

2- Click here to review notes for how novelists create character, especially by using the Stream of Consciousness technique from Georgetown University.

3-Click here for notes on point of view as a literary device.

4-Classics in the History of Psychology--William James (Stream of Consciousness)

Smeagol - Slinker

pre-murder of Deagol
Has pale eyes
some good left?
Uses the pronoun "I"
Gollum knows him

Gollum - Stinker

consumed with the Precious
has green eyes
uses pronouns "Us," "We"


Note: click here for a more indepth discussion of Gollum-Smeagol from the perspective of dual diagnosis: the mentally ill addict.


Unlike the movie which cuts to Frodo-Smeagol scenes during the previous book, Tolkien separates the narratives. Part of his Catholic perspective demands that we, as travelers on earth journeying to heaven, not see every element that contributes to our salvation. Aragorn knows that when he decides to "abandon" Frodo and Sam: "My heart speaks clearly at last: the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer. The Company has played its part. Yet we that remain cannot forsake our companions while we have strength left." (The Departure of Boromir). Knowers of Tolkien's beliefs understand that FATE means God's will that brings ill to good. The fact that he chooses to good will not go unrewarded even if at the moment, all choices seem ill. Kant notes that the intention of the doer is a significant indicator of an action's moral worth. Such is the case here, so as Tolkien does the story, we are not supposed to know in Book III the events of Book IV.

Certainly the most complex issue in this book is the character of Gollum. Epic characters tend to be one dimensional with limited psychological - moral depth, and with LOTR, so molded by JRR's moral perspective--good is good and evil, evil, which as Aragorn reminds us, has not changed. Today of course due largely to romanticism's influence (click here for details), moral ambiguity pervades with judgements often determined by the will of the agent. Tolkien disliked this view, so it its interesting to note that in assigning that perspective to Gollum-Smeagol, a significantly more psychologically and morally complex character emerges, one who sorely tests the resolve of Frodo and especially Sam. In this context, we might recall from Volume I what Gandalf said regarding how he ought to be treated. It would be well to check Dr. Freitas' questions on the nature of good / evil.

A. Frodo's initial evaluation to Sam of his situation as ring bearer sets the tone, ["I am tired Sam. I don't know what is to be done."] and should be evaluated in light of the previous comments. What is the only sin that God "cannot" forgive, given as a model, Milton's most important theological belief? Notice too in these chapters that environment becomes character--Tolkien reconstructs macrocosmic-microcosmic correspondences wherein Frodo and Sam's consciousness are writ large as Plato does in The Republic. One perspective mirrors the other.

B. Tolkien slowly begins to differentiate between Frodo and Sam regarding their perspective attitude toward Gollum. How do they each feel, and are the perspectives plausible in term of what we know of their characters thus far?

C. What is Sam's most endearing trait? How does JRRT feel about him?. His letters offer clues.

D. Often for romantics, the seemingly most insignificant objects carry a much greater weight: for good or evil. We recall that Saruman views the ring as a mere "trinket," while here by contrast what does an apparently simple ROPE represent? For Tolkien, there is providence in the fall of a sparrow.

E. To what is Gollum compared? Recall the history of Smeagol. There are foreshadowing implications? Discuss the kind of language Tolkien uses to describe Gollum. Does he agree with his own diction--think irony?

F. Study carefully the Gollum-Sam-Frodo confrontation from a moral and psychological perspective? How do each treat Gollum? Why? How is fate important? Given the nature of the ring, Gollum has often been compared to a drug addict needing a new 'fix.' Does that make sense here? Pay special attention to the flashback in italics. Obviously Tolkien's catholicism prevails.

G. Gollum of course appears to have a dual personality: what accounts for each? Are they in competition morally? Stanton, Hobbits, Elves and Wizards, notes. "Gollum is a classic case of split or dual personality, as conceived by the popular or literary imagination, not the clinical report." (p. 63). Do you agree? As a parallel in gothic literature, a distinction may be drawn between a psychological and literary dream, the latter often having foreshadowing capabilities as in Frankenstein: Click here. Stanton's further observations on Gollum are important, and should be read.

H. What Christian virtue best reflects how Tolkien dramatizes Gollum? What adjective qualifies the noun?

I. As the chapter ends, the description of Gollum's moral worth is not without irony regarding Frodo. What does Tolkien intend?


A. How does Gollum's character, however slowly, begin to change?

B. As noted, environment is character. Study several examples in this chapter: one word seems to be repeated as a motif.

C. Why must trust be an issue in the quest? The moral issues are complex, but evidence of a Divine plan slowly emerges, and its fulfillment is contingent on what Frodo and Sam choose to do, and what they remember? Evidence exists that evil is defeating, however slowly, itself.

D. HISTORY: what are the dead marshes? (End of the Second Age: War of the Last Alliance-Battle of Dagorlad). Why does Tolkien have it here?

E. As the three move closer and closer to Mordor, Frodo too begins to change; look for some of Tolkien's favorite words to describe what is happening.

F. Construct a macrocosmic-microcosmic analog for the fifth day. Contrast the imagery with, for example, Sam in another place being "inside a song."

G. Near the end of the chapter, stream of consciousness again appears: "Gollum was feeling the terrible call of the ring." Would you characterize the conflict as heroic, and if so according to what criteria? Explicate the conversation dialectically in which Gollum / Smeagol treat ideas as assumptions, subject therefore to revisions. If a synthesis of opposites occurs, characterize it here? (Who is the SHE to whom Gollum refers?)

H. How does the chapter end? Is Gollum rewarded? What motif appears? How would you described the tone?


A. Notice the description of Mordor--grass and trees and stars have become teeth.

B. Gollum/Smeagol debate again, while Frodo invokes FATE. Much here has to do with trust. Must one trust evil? Will good come of it? Dr. Freitas' questions should help:

The Nature of Evil. From where does evil find its source? What exactly constitutes evil; from what is it comprised? Is it a force? May it be reduced to acts? - Can something be at the same time both good and evil? What is the relationship between evil and the good?

• The Roots of Evil. Is evil something objective (completely outside of us, transcendent) or subjective (arising from within the individual)? How does one become evil? Is one driven to it, or does it come totally from within? If evil comes from without, from where does it arise and how does it come to settle in a particular person?

• Evil and Redemption/Forgiveness. Are any individuals/characters absolutely unredeemable? Is there any act which is unforgivable? Is it possible to be evil through and through?

• Relationship Between Evil, Reason, and the Passions/Emotions. The passions or the emotions are traditionally more closely associated with evil than human reason. Aristotle and Plato certainly suspected that to be the case. Why do you think the passions would be more likely to lead one to evil than the intellect? In your own opinion, does one (reason or the passions) tend more toward evil than the other? Use examples from the texts to support your ideas.

• Evil and Fate. Does fate play a role in who/what is evil? Is it possible that some individuals / characters in our texts are destined for evil, regardless of what they intend for themselves in life? If evil is tied with destiny/fate, then we may conclude that at least to a degree, evil action is out of the control of humans, If this were the case, then could we still hold people accountable for their deeds (think the Monk for example).

• Evil and the Soul. What relationship if any does evil have to our souls? Is it possible to be an "evil soul"? If so, give an example of one. Do evil and the good wage battles within the soul? If so, use one of the literary texts to illustrate the way in which this battle within the soul is being waged.

C. Using these questions, how good a "psychologist" is Sam as he probes in his own mind the thoughts of Gollum. Does Tolkien's own assessment resolve the issue? What Tolkien thinks of Sam merits consideration. Often using a 19th Century unlimited omniscient point of view technique, Tolkien will comment directly on his characters. His letters of course contain more substantiative critical commentary.

D. Tolkien barely conceals his moral perspective as the three characters debate. Fraternal correction looms large in Frodo as well as__________, while Sam continues to ponder his friend's "blindness" in treating Gollum less harshly than he thinks he deserves.

E. As Gollum continues to lead, Minas Ithil [Tower of the Moon] seems his directional choice. Recall Isildur built the city, but it was captured by the Nazgul and renamed Minas Morgul. Its connotation is both positive and negative morally, especially concerning the Palantir.

F. Gollum's chosen path to Cirith Ungol implies what archetype? Why does Gollum use "I"?

G. Tolkien near the end of this chapter shifts time and space--to whom and where? Why? What is the point of view? Notice that Tolkien is directly addressing the reader through the character. Why is animal imagery important? What kinds of animals are described?

H. How is Sam typically Sam as the chapter ends? Note that Tolkien (see his letters) regarded the ending of Chapter III as "...the most tragic moment in the tale, when...." To what and whom did he refer?

I. Linguistically, how does Tolkien dramatize the moral conflict Smeagol / Gollum faces? The path to Mordor, both physically, psychologically and morally is fraught with danger. Note the following exchange and non-dramatic narrative regarding the path to Cirith Ungol:

"I don't like the sound of it at all," said Sam..."Wasn't it guarded, Gollum?"
As he said this, he caught or fancied he caught a green gleam in Gollum's eye.
"Is it not guarded, asked Frodo, sternly. "And did you not escape out of the
darkness, Smeagol? ...That at least is what Aragorn thought, who found you
by the dead marshes some years ago."

"It's a lie" hissed Gollum, and an evil light came into his eyes...
He lied on me...Indeed I was told to seek for the Precious, and I have searched..."

Frodo felt a strange certainty that in this matter Gollum was for once not far
from the truth...For one thing, he noted that Gollum used I, and that seemed
usually to be a sign, on its rare appearances, that some remnants of old truth
and sincerity were for the moment on top...but Frodo did not forget the wiles
of the enemy....

But menace it was Frodo thought too...Gollum huddled himself together like a cornered spider.

J. How do you evaluate this passage?


A. Recall The Mythopoeia (CLICK HERE) and how its contents are dramatized here. There is a link to the previous chapter, and to a format we saw in The Riders of Rohan.

B. How does nature imagery change, at least for a time?

C. "EYE" imagery also predominates. They are being watched? By whom?

D. New characters of course are introduced. Who are they, and of whom is Frodo reminded? Should they be trusted?

E. How does Gollum's character mature?

E. Right away Tolkien contrasts Faramir and Boromir? How? What do you notice that distinguishes the two?

F. Men fight men as the chapter concludes.


A. Tolkien continues to contrast Boromir with Faramir. How does that become manifest here?

B. At least two of Tolkien's favorite moral protocols emerge in this chapter. What are they? Flashbacks to previous incidents should help? A clue appears at the very outset of the chapter. Later, Frodo knows.

C. What quality does Faramir have that Boromir never seemed to master?



D. Does Frodo lie to Faramir? What is the moral issue? Think equivocation which in Macbeth can be used in multiple ways.

E. How :"Anglo-Saxon" is Faramir compared to his brother? How does he admonish Sam? What quality does he especially seem to have that his brother lacked? Notice too he is an excellent judge of character.

F. Faramir's history lesson tells much of him and Boromir. What most seemed to upset the latter. Why? Recall Hrothgar to Beowulf after fight Two. About something, Frodo tells Faramir, he is quite wrong. Beyond the mechanics of plot, why does it matter morally?

G. What is the most impressive moment for Faramir in this chapter when we absolutely know how Tolkien feels, and how Frodo and Sam should feel about him? He has passed two crucial tests.

H. How does Faramir use nature imagery? Fate predominates--are elves and men alike doomed? Do we find here Tolkien's conservative pre-Vatican II Catholicism? A good literary allusion would be Keats' Ode to Autumn, and Shelley's Ode to the West Wind. Note that the wisdom of Faramir prevails--what does he say, and will good come of it? Knowing of Ar-Pharazon would help here. Tolkien tells the story in Akallabeth, (The Downfall of Numenor) in The Silmarillion.

J. Faramir's greatest quality is his__________; by all rights, he is a ________, as evidenced especially in his analysis of Sam's blunder. Compare the text with the movie here. Who else, earlier in the narrative, committed a like blunder? Did good come of it?


A. A critic refers to Gollum as a criminal who "...does not necessarily deserve mercy." Would Tolkien agree? Is Gollum Judas?

B. The title of this chapter recalls what other one? Although obviously the context is different in the earlier reference, is the moral element the same?

C. Frodo prevails philosophically when Gollum is again taken? How? Notice that Frodo is almost Solomon like. Explain.

D. Does Tolkien assign limits to the wisdom of Faramir especially in the dialogue concerning Gollum? From where do the limits originate? Why is Frodo's view more profound? Is it out of necessity?: Discuss Faramir's view of evil using...

Friar: The grey-ey'd morn smiles on the frowning night,
Check'ring the Eastern clouds with streaks of light;
And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels
From forth day's path and Titan's fiery wheels.
Non, ere the sun advance his burning eye
The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry,
I must up-fill this osier cage of ours
With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers.
The earth that's nature's mother is her tomb.
What is her burying gave, that is her womb;
And from her womb children of divers kind
We sucking on her natural bosom find;
Many for many virtues excellent,
None but for some, and yet all different.
O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities;
For naught so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give;
Nor aught so good but, strain'd from that fair use,
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied,
And vice sometime's by action dignified.
Within the infant rind of this small flower
Poison hath residence, and medicine power;
For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;
Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.
Two such opposed kings encamp them still
In man as well as herbs- grace and rude will;
And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.

So oft it chances in particular men
That, for some vicious mole of nature in them,
As in their birth,- wherein they are not guilty,
Since nature cannot choose his origin,-
By the o'ergrowth of some complexion,
Oft breaking down the pales and forts of reason,
Or by some habit that too much o'erleavens
The form of plausive manners, that these men
Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,
Their virtues else- be they as pure as grace,
As infinite as man may undergo-
Shall in the general censure take corruption
From that particular fault. The dram of e'il
Doth all the noble substance often dout To his own scandal

--Does Shakespeare help with Faramir and Frodo's dilemma?

E. When Faramir cautions Frodo not to go to Cirith Ungol, Tolkien clearly intends a biblical allusion that defines both characters. What is it?

F. What archetype ends the chapter, and why is it appropriate? Recall the parallel moment faced by Aragorn after Boromir tries to take the ring.


A. Critics have noticed an important symbol in this chapter, both linguistically and in terms of the settings regarding man and nature. What is it, and does its presence imply hope and / or despair?

B. It what sense is BLINDFOLDING literal and metaphoric? Where have we seen it before?

C. Setting is character: note Tolkien's language: what macrocosmically and microcosmically is being described?

D. Sam's dream should not be overlooked...Where did a similar event occur before, and recall in reasoning this out what a major character said that now should make more sense than before.

E. Sam of course continues to mistrust Gollum...

F. Reference Argonath [STONE OF THE KINGS]. The references are to Isildur and Anarion, his brother slain in the Last Alliance. Notice how Tolkien describes the setting.


A. The symbolism and imagery in this chapter is complex. Several motifs and two important archetypes are present. Continue to evaluate Gollum. There are likewise echoes of The Silmarillion in terms of description.

B. What is happening to Frodo in this chapter, and how does Tolkien dramatize it? Look at the techniques used to create Gollum?--[See the chart above.]


D. 'THE DARKNESS BEFORE HIM WAS IMPENETRABLE" implies Conrad's Heart of Darkness: Marlow narrates...

"I looked around, and I don't know why, but I assure you that never, never before, did this land, this river, this jungle, the very arch of this blazing sky, appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness...I felt an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, the darkness of an impenetrable night. . . ."

Compare to Frodo's thoughts...recalling an incident that happened to Frodo in the first Volume. Comment on: WILL, GALADRIEL. What dialectically is happening to Frodo, and what is the antithesis?

E. What Good Friday allusion appears?

F. Right in the midst of the horror, Tolkien writes what in Paradise Lost or Homer what would be an epic simile? Why? What is its purpose? What does Sam say, wherein is his considerable wisdom, and how does Frodo' respond? What is his wisdom? Even there is a flashback to Beren, Tolkien's favorite Silmarillion tale. The Mythopoeia should also be recalled. Epic similes often foreshadow, so...

G. What does the digression have to do with Gollum?

H. "PEACE WAS IN BOTH THEIR FACES...." How does Gollum respond when he comes upon the scene? Never is Tolkien's psycho-moral intent clearer than in the development of Gollum's character. Think of someone you know who may be a drug addict.

I. What happens next? Why?


A. We know now the identity of SHE. Look too for an allusion to a poem Tolkien rather liked. Recall a Silmarillion episode: the two trees, their light and Ungoliant. Ironically, had that destruction not happened the quest might prove unsuccessful. Trace the history to Middle Earth in the Third Age: see The Council of Elrond. Stanton traces an illusion to SIN and DEATH guarding the gates of hell in Book II of Paradise Lost: (And readers of Carpenter's Biography of Tolkien's should recall a incident.) Writes Milton:

Before the gates there sat
On either side a formidable Shape.
The one seemed woman to the waist, and fair,
But ended foul in many a scaly fold,
Voluminous and vast--a serpent armed
With mortal sting. About her middle round
A cry of Hell-hounds never-ceasing barked
With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung
A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep,
If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb,
And kennel there; yet there still barked and howled
Within unseen. Far less abhorred than these
Vexed Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts
Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore;
Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, called
In secret, riding through the air she comes,
Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance
With Lapland witches, while the labouring moon
Eclipses at their charms. The other Shape--
If shape it might be called that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be called that shadow seemed,
For each seemed either--black it stood as Night,
Fierce as ten Furies, terrible as Hell,
And shook a dreadful dart: what seemed his head
The likeness of a kingly crown had on.
Satan was now at hand, and from his seat
The monster moving onward came as fast
With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he strode.
Th' undaunted Fiend what this might be admired--
Admired, not feared (God and his Son except,
Created thing naught valued he nor shunned),
And with disdainful look thus first began:--
"Whence and what art thou, execrable Shape,
That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance
Thy miscreated front athwart my way
To yonder gates? Through them I mean to pass,
That be assured, without leave asked of thee.
Retire; or taste thy folly, and learn by proof,
Hell-born, not to contend with Spirits of Heaven."
To whom the Goblin, full of wrath, replied:--
"Art thou that traitor Angel? art thou he,
Who first broke peace in Heaven and faith, till then
Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms
Drew after him the third part of Heaven's sons,
Conjured against the Highest--for which both thou
And they, outcast from God, are here condemned
To waste eternal days in woe and pain?
And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heaven
Hell-doomed, and breath'st defiance here and scorn,
Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more,
Thy king and lord? Back to thy punishment,
False fugitive; and to thy speed add wings,
Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue
Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart
Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before."
So spake the grisly Terror, and in shape,
So speaking and so threatening, grew tenfold,
More dreadful and deform

B. What do you think of Gollum?

C. What in this moment of horrid despair brings hope? Who is involved? Notice the contrasting use of color imagery. As usual, Tolkien provides the necessary Shelob history.

D. From anything other than a faith - based motif, why would this chapter be absurd? Historically Winston Churchill said, "Never have so many owed so much to so few?" To what did he refer?

E. How do you evaluate the Gollum / Shelob relationship? Is Gollum a victim? Is Sam Beowulf? What happens to Frodo?


A. What biblical allusion governs this chapter? (Parallel what Jesus said to his disciples as they began their public ministry).

B. What obviously are the moral issues involved?

C. Romantics often contrast intelligence with emotion and passion. In Othello, Iago warns Roderigo that they work to destroy not by witchcraft (here meaning romantic predispositions), but by wit (cunning intellectual plotting). Iago had also noted he was nothing "if not critical." Using this template, contrast the actions of Sam and Gollum. Sam often feels his way along, is staunch in protecting Frodo from anyone (Faramir, Gollum, Shelob: "You've hurt my master, you brute, and you'll pay for it."), and tends to act without thinking, but...

E. How does Shelob die? Recall Beowulf--are there third fight parallels, with Sam as...?

F. This chapter makes no sense literally. What would Tolkien argue? What event in a previous volume should be recalled here? What did that event when first dramatized stipulate? How is free will such a necessary condition here, morally?

G. What is Sam's mistake? What choice does he make? Will good come from it? The phrase "CRACK OF DOOM" comes from Macbeth, wherein he reacts with trust, suspicion and horror to the second set of prophecies from the witches:

Thou art too like the spirit of Banquo: down!
Thy crown does sear mine eye-balls. And thy hair,
Thou other gold-bound brow, is like the first.
A third is like the former. Filthy hags!
Why do you show me this? A fourth! Start, eyes!
What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom?
Another yet! A seventh! I'll see no more:
And yet the eighth appears, who bears a glass
Which shows me many more; and some I see
That two-fold balls and treble scepters carry:
Horrible sight! Now, I see, 'tis true;...

H. What is the etymology of DOOM?

I. Detail exactly the circumstances that lead to Sam's fatal choice. Will good come from it? More precisely, did he have a choice? What does Sam himself say is the best guide to an action?

J. What does Sam know that the ring does NOT confer? Why? What animates Frodo completely when he hears the ORCS? Are his priorities established? Is he acting by what he knows or feels should be done? Once again, implicit herein is that the EYE will blind itself.

K. The Book ends of course in apparent despair. Frodo is alive but captured, and Sam, Sam!! stands on the brink of Mount Doom literally and morally.