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Life Lessons: Tolkien’s the Fellowship of the Ring

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Tolkien’s colourful world of Middle Earth has been a place of escapist adventure in the minds of many since its humble beginnings in the mid-1950s

Ever since his novel The Fellowship of the Ring debuted, it has inspired minds with its epic tales of unheard bravery, touched hearts with its scenes of sacrificial love and graced people’s souls with its deeper philosophical comments who we are as a society and as individuals.

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Some characters are able to foresee misfortunes of the Ring before it is too late. Frodo offers to pass the Ring to Gandalf, but the wizard intelligently refuses

Gandalf responds to Frodo, "Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself" (p. 60). The Dark Lord himself created the Ring, it is all together evil. No matter whose hands the Ring falls into, they would slowly decay into an evil tyrant just as Sauron did when he made the Ring. Gandalf successfully refuses the Ring and if he had not, his mind would have been corrupted. Not everyone is as clever as Gandalf; in fact most are not, and they suffer. The great power of the Ring corrupts a Hobbit named Smeagol. At the first sight of the Ring, he was immediately entranced. When he wears the Ring, he becomes invisible to all eyes. His new trick enables him to perform evil deeds, consequently everyone hates him and calls him 'Gollum' in disgust. He moves as far away from civilization as possible, and lives under the mountains. He possesses the Ring for too long, and it begins eating up his mind. His mind became angry, and the Ring torments him. "He hated the dark, but hated light more. He hated everything, but he hated the Ring most of all." (p. 54) His Ring began to look after itself rather than Gullom looking after the Ring. He could not get rid of it, because the Ring would not let him. Gullom begins to wither away, and if he were able to maintain ownership of Ring for longer, he would have "faded" and become invisible permanently. When Gullom lost his Ring he committed treason, and became a servant of the Dark Lord, hoping to regain it.

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The logical idea would be to get the most experienced and valuable people available to be part of the Fellowship, but Gandalf knows that the commitment to the task is more important than any skills (Sale, Roger, 1968). This is reminiscent of Frodo as the quest hero; he succeeds because of commitment and not because of skills or strength. According to scholar Colleen Donnelly, “...Tolkien definitively chooses to portray a...society, where the needs of the ‘common good’ of the whole society and one’s contribution to it far exceed the significance of an individual’s needs and accomplishments” (18). During WWI there was a spirit of “doing your part” for the cause and instead of waiting to be drafted Tolkien willingly enlisted upon graduation. He and his friends wrote letters of encouragement and support to one another throughout the war. The Fellowship is important because Frodo may be the one carrying the Ring, but he needs help and support. Tolkien could have simply written about Frodo journeying on his own to destroy the Ring but instead shows how each individual plays an important role that impacts all of society. By the loyalty and commitment of every individual society is saved

This is a reflection of Tolkien’s time during WWI and the feeling that prevailed about doing one’s part to assist in the war effort in whatever way possible. Every person has an important part to play no matter how great or small he appears (Raffel, Burton, 1968).

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In the long run, the collaboration of departments, proper storyboarding, and detailed plan of the work were the three signs of success of Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. This professional director comprehended that the failure of one point could lead to the failure of the rest of the work. This is why a proper evaluation of each step and attention to Tolkien’s intentions made this movie one of the most remarkable in the film industry.

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Raffel, Burton. “The Lord of the Rings as Literature.” Tolkien and the Critics: Essays on J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Ed. Neil D. Isaacs and Rose A. Zimbardo. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968. 218-246. Print.

Sale, Roger. “Tolkien and Frodo Baggins.” Tolkien and the Critics: Essays on J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Ed. Neil D. Isaacs and Rose A. Zimbardo. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1968. 247-288. Print.

Smith, Ross. “Tolkien the Storyteller.” English Today 85.22 (2006): 45-50. ProQuest. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

Thomson, George H. “The Lord of the Rings: The Novel as Traditional Romance.” Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature 8.1 (1967): 43-59. JSTOR. Web. 11 Feb. 2015

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