Questions tagged [j-r-r-tolkien]

Questions about the works of the English author J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien or his life as a writer. Tolkien is best known for 'The Lord of the Rings', 'The Hobbit', 'The Silmarillion' and the other works making up the Middle-Earth legendarium.

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7 votes
2 answers
490 views

Did Frodo have a prophetic dream?

Right before Frodo and company head into the Old Forest, Frodo has this dream. Eventually he fell into a vague dream, in which he seemed to be looking out of a high window over a dark sea of ...
4 votes
2 answers
383 views

What is the population of the Shire?

In The Lord of the Rings, the Shire is essentially a provincial backwater within Middle-earth, where the people (hobbits) largely get on with their own very local business and remain blissfully ...
24 votes
6 answers
28k views

If Tolkien disliked allegory, why are there so many allegorical readings of The Lord of the Rings?

There is a famous quote from J.R.R. Tolkien in which he states his hatred of allegorical writing. "I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old ...
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

What essentially does Tolkien mean by "Fall, Mortality and The Machine"?

I recently started reading The Silmarillion, and came across the below passage in a letter Tolkien sent to Milton Waldman. Anyway all this stuff is mainly concerned with Fall, Mortality, and the ...
4 votes
1 answer
516 views

What did Bilbo mean by telling Frodo that Aragorn "thought the whole thing rather above my head"?

This phrase is taken from The Fellowship of the Ring, book II, chapter 1, page 265 (emphasis added): "You needn't," said Bilbo. "As a matter of fact it was all mine. Except that ...
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Where did Saruman know Frodo from?

Near the end of The Return of the King, the last Volume of the Lord of the Rings, the hobbits return to the Shire. There, they meet Saruman and his follower Grima (Wormtongue). When Saruman ...
2 votes
4 answers
539 views

Why is Minas Tirith called "Gondor" in Return of the King by king Théoden?

As I understand it, Gondor is the big country where a lot of important stuff happens. Minas Tirith, with its series of walls going in circles, is simply the main city of Gondor. The capital if you ...
1 vote
2 answers
553 views

Why did Gandalf not have the Eagles simply transport Frodo almost straight to Mount Doom and drop the ring in there?

While thinking about "holes" in the wonderful, epic The Lord of the Rings story, I had a thought: Why did they go through all this trouble of very slowly sneaking around with a whole ...
5 votes
5 answers
453 views

What exactly makes Lord of the Rings "not a trilogy"?

Yes, I know that Tolkien, the author, originally intended to release it as one single book. But for practical/various reasons, it was instead split up into three ones (confusingly consisting of two &...
7 votes
1 answer
653 views

Evidence that meeting the T.C.B.S. society resulted in 'a strong dedication to writing poetry' for Tolkien?

The section of the Wikipedia article about J. R. R. Tolkien that discusses the author's youth contains the following paragraph (emphasis mine): In 1911, while they were at King Edward's School, ...
51 votes
7 answers
12k views

What is Tom Bombadil's importance in The Lord of the Rings?

Tom Bombadil is definitely one of the weirdest characters in all of The Lord of the Rings, he just comes out of nowhere, stumbling upon Frodo and Sam while singing. His actions are just incredibly ...
11 votes
2 answers
15k views

Do the female Dwarves in Tolkien's Legendarium also have beards?

In The Return of the King, Appendix A, there's this quote about female dwarves: Dís was the daughter of Thrain II. She is the only dwarf-woman named in these histories. It was said by Gimli that ...
2 votes
0 answers
117 views

How important are the songs in The Lord Of The Rings for the development of the story?

There are many songs sung by different characters at various occasions in the book. I normally skip them since I found they normally don't tell more about the story and to be honest I don't quite ...
2 votes
1 answer
574 views

Is The Lord of the Rings particularly difficult for second-language speakers of English?

I am reading The Lord of the Rings. As a non-native speaker, I found it particularly hard to visualize in my head the settings of the scenes and also the landscapes established by the author, ...
7 votes
2 answers
317 views

What's with the beyond-casual introduction of "stone-giants" in The Hobbit?

In Chapter 4, "Over Hill and Under Hill", I suddenly read this: When he peeped out in the lightning-flashes, he saw that across the valley the stone-giants were out and were hurling rocks ...
19 votes
2 answers
12k views

Does Gandalf ever say this in the book "The Hobbit", or is it made up for the movie?

In one scene in the movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012), before they set out on the adventure, Gandalf says to Bilbo: You've been sitting quietly for far too long. Tell me, when did ...
1 vote
1 answer
170 views

Why does Tolkien keep referring to the Fellowship as "the Company"?

I noticed that the group making the journey from Rivendell is called "the Company" rather than "the Fellowship". The title of the book has "The Fellowship", yet he doesn'...
6 votes
1 answer
3k views

Why does Tolkien use neither quotes nor cursive writing, and all lower-case, in this specific "quote"?

Above the arch there was a lamp, and beneath it swung a large signboard: a fat white pony reared up on its hind legs. Over the door was painted in white letters: the prancing pony by barliman ...
1 vote
2 answers
424 views

If Sauron made The One ring, why couldn't he just make another, even better, instead of searching for the first?

As all of us who have read Silmarillion know, Sauron wasn't the original "Lord of Darkness". In fact, he is a much lesser, and later, one. Melkor (AKA "Morgoth") was the original. ...
1 vote
2 answers
253 views

How did the elves not check the barrels which they noted were "probably not empty"?

So I realize that they were eager to go back to the party, and the person responsible for the barrel management said they were empty, but surely they must have felt that they were obviously not empty ...
3 votes
2 answers
534 views

How is it possible that Sam only realizes that Gollum wants the Ring so very late?

At roughly page 277 (I'm reading a translation) of The Two Towers, where Gollum is talking to himself as Frodo is sleeping, it says: Sam had lain still, fascinated by this debate, but watching every ...
27 votes
4 answers
8k views

Isn't Gríma Wormtongue a very revealing name?

Something which strikes me both while reading the book and watching the movie is the very striking name "Wormtongue". He might as well be named "Evil Dude". He seems over-the-top ...
3 votes
3 answers
2k views

Is it known why Tolkien made Sam be Frodo's servant rather than very close and trusty friend "on equal terms"?

If I have to find one "flaw" about The Lord of the Rings, it may be the fact that Sam is more or less the slave of Frodo, albeit a willing servant. This fundamentally bothers me, for some ...
2 votes
2 answers
327 views

What errand did Gollum think that the hobbits have in Mordor with the Ring?

Since he doesn't suspect that they are going to destroy it, just like the Dark Lord doesn't suspect this, what did he think? Why else would these mysterious hobbits be traveling to such a place, with ...
3 votes
2 answers
431 views

Why exactly did Bilbo, Frodo and Sam have to leave?

The reason I phrased the title like that is to avoid spoiling the story for somebody who might see it and haven't read the books. I've just finished the last one in the trilogy, minutes ago, but I don'...
14 votes
1 answer
917 views

Have any Elves explored Rhûn or the lands to the east?

According to The Silmarillion and Tolkien's legendarium as a whole, the Elves first awoke in Cuiviénen, by a gulf in the Sea of Helcar. We learn that in The War of Wrath (Chapter 3, Quenta ...
37 votes
11 answers
26k views

Should I read The Silmarillion before or after reading The Lord of the Rings?

I spent an extensive amount of time as an undergrad writing about and researching The Hobbit, especially in terms of Tolkien's famous essay on Beowulf. Getting a sense of what inspired Tolkien greatly ...
-2 votes
3 answers
197 views

What happened with the Fem-Ents?

While reading the third book, I was waiting constantly for the moment when the Ents would show up on the final battlefield, together with their newly found Fem-Ents, combining their powers into one ...
22 votes
6 answers
14k views

What's the deal with Bilbo being some kind of "burglar"?

I may only be 37 pages into The Hobbit, re-reading it after 20+ years, but several things already confuse me. First of all, and this is what I'm mainly asking about, Bilbo is casually mentioned as ...
19 votes
5 answers
10k views

Did Frodo want Bilbo to die?

I was reading in the first volume of the Lord of the Rings recently, and ran across this quote when Gandalf and Frodo are talking about the Ring for the first time after its true nature has been ...
4 votes
2 answers
589 views

What did Tolkien mean by "The Eagles are a dangerous 'machine'"?

I'm very confused by this quote, found in Sean Crist's article Could the eagles have flown Frodo into Mordor? "The Eagles are a dangerous 'machine'. I have used them sparingly, and that is the ...
6 votes
2 answers
667 views

Tolkien character names inspired by Early Modern English

I have been browsing through A Glossary of Tudor and Stuart Words, Especially from the Dramatists by Walter W. Skeat (completed by A. L. Mayhew and published in 1914). It contains several entries that ...
3 votes
1 answer
194 views

How did people assume that Bilbo's house was abandoned after only a year, and how did they get in?

Bilbo may not have told anyone about going away, but Gandalf did lock the door after him. (At least that's heavily implied.) About one year is not a very long time. What kind of society is Hobbiton ...
-1 votes
1 answer
741 views

What do "nothing that lived" and "doughty at bay" mean?

The following quote is from the chapter "Concerning Hobbits" in The Fellowship of the Ring: Though slow to quarrel, and for sport killing nothing that lived, they were doughty at bay, and at need ...
1 vote
2 answers
330 views

What does "set out fair and square" mean in the characterization of the Hobbits?

This is taken from from The Fellowship of the Ring prologue where JRRT lays out some of the characteristics of Hobbits: The genealogical trees at the end of the Red Book of Westmarch are a small ...
43 votes
2 answers
11k views

Was the title "The Lord of the Rings" picked on purpose to be ambiguous?

In one sense, it might refer to "the lord of" the rings, as in the person or entity currently in possession of The One ring. In another way, it could (IMO) mean that The One ring is "...
15 votes
4 answers
582 views

Is it a common motif in (western) storytelling that the antagonists are located to the east?

I'm not sure if this is the correct place for this question. I was reading some Lord of the Rings-lore the other day and it got me thinking about the location of "evil" in storytelling. In ...
4 votes
1 answer
733 views

Where can I locate the letter J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to A.A. Milne?

Where can I locate the letter J.R.R. Tolkien wrote to A.A. Milne, the author of Winnie the Pooh? The web page Creator / J. R. R. Tolkien on TV Tropes claims far far down that Tolkien once wrote a ...
18 votes
5 answers
2k views

What are the Riddle Rules?

In J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, while Bilbo is in the cave and has the ring, he and Gollum end up asking each other riddles. After the exchange, Gollum or Bilbo mentions some riddle rules. These ...
4 votes
1 answer
297 views

How could Merry know about who "Sharkey" was just before he showed up in end of The Return of the King?

Merry looked round in dismay and disgust. 'Let's get out!' he said. 'If I had known all the mischief he had caused, I should have stuffed my pouch down Saruman's throat.' 'No doubt, no doubt! But you ...
9 votes
1 answer
328 views

Was J.R.R. Tolkien building on a past tradition when relying heavily on languages he made up?

It is a uncontested and well known fact that Tolkien was a linguist, and he wrote Middle-Earth as a setting for his languages. However, what interests me is whether the approach he took was out of ...
-6 votes
2 answers
6k views

How does the ring end up where Déagol found it?

In the Lord of the Rings series Sméagol/Gollum murders his friend Déagol for the ring. It is also stated that Déagol found the ring in Gladden Fields. How did the ring get there? And which book this ...
2 votes
1 answer
307 views

Did the original "The Hobbit" really feature that five-army battle in the end?

I first read The Hobbit over 20 years ago, when I was still a child. I remember it as an extremely cozy and "non-epic" story about a bunch of dwarves, a wizard and of course Bilbo. In ...
15 votes
6 answers
5k views

How could Thorin and co. journey all the way to Erebor without discussing how to deal with Smaug?

Thorin and co. with the hobbit take such an immense journey to Erebor as known to everyone who has read the book. But isn't it absurd that 14 men do undertake such a perilous journey without ever ...
3 votes
1 answer
139 views

Where does Tolkien talk about hybridization of humans and other beings, in "On Fairy Stories"?

Where does Tolkien talk about hybridization of humans and other beings, in "On Fairy Stories"? I just re-read it, and can't find the spot. Is it just a small mention, related to the Frog Prince or ...
7 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why did Tolkien take such extreme offense to the original Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings?

I may be mistaken, but allegedly, Tolkien really took great offense to the first (and only, during his entire lifetime and decades beyond) Swedish translation of The Lord of the Rings. He called the ...
6 votes
2 answers
750 views

What is the English name for "Bilbo Secker", and why is Bilbo Baggins apparently "alternatively" called that?

When Frodo is leaving Rivendell for home, Bilbo gives him a bunch of notes which are signed "B. S." (in the Swedish translation), or "B.B." in the English original, for Bilbo... S? ...
3 votes
1 answer
267 views

Did Saruman exclusively want to mess with the Hobbits in the end of the third book?

As the hobbits are on the way home, they meet Saruman walking around, defeated and angry. When they finally get back to their home village(s), they find that they are utterly destroyed and turned into ...
37 votes
5 answers
14k views

Why is Aragorn so weird to Pippin when they make their final farewell before going back to the Shire?

But the Palantir of Orthanc the King will keep, to see what is passing in his realm, and what his servants are doing. For do not forget, Peregrin Took, that you are a knight of Gondor, and I do not ...
12 votes
3 answers
2k views

Could Shelob have kept the ring for herself?

In the Lord of the Rings, Gollum/Smeagol’s plan is to lead Frodo and Sam into the pass of Cirith Ungol, where he was gonna leave them to be consumed by Shelob and take the ring from the remains. ...