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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40
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2answers
10k 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 "...
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4answers
511 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 ...
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2answers
108 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 ...
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1answer
182 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 ...
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5answers
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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 ...
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5answers
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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 ...
5
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1answer
376 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 ...
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1answer
171 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
270 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 ...
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7answers
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
99 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 ...
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1answer
65 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 bizarre society is ...
2
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1answer
67 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
191 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 ...
3
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1answer
126 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 ...
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1answer
135 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 ...
3
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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2answers
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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? ...
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2answers
139 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'...
3
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1answer
109 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 ...
3
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1answer
207 views

What Tolkien essentially means 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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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2answers
155 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 ...
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3answers
996 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. ...
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3answers
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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 ...
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6answers
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Does Théoden actually say that he misses Gríma (his “old advisor”) at one point in The Two Towers?

At roughly page 155 of The Two Towers, assuming that the English original follows roughly the same page numbers as my rather sloppy Swedish translation from 1970, king Théoden mentions that he now ...
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0answers
149 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. ...
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225 views

Was the One Ring's malevolent nature foreshadowed in the Hobbit? If so, how?

Tolkien's legendary series The Lord of the Rings is centered around a magical artifact known as the "One Ring", and part of this story recounts the tale of a Hobbit traveling to destroy this ...
3
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1answer
191 views

Why does Tolkien barely mention the Ring in terms of Frodo's physical handling of it?

As I'm approaching the end of The Two Towers, I'm increasingly frustrated by how, other than in the very beginning of the story in the first book, we never hear a single phrase such as: Frodo ...
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1answer
268 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 ...
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1answer
335 views

How did the dwarves possibly “dig out” gigantic hallways in the mountains to create Moria with such “primitive” technology?

I've just come out from Moria with the Fellowship of the Ring. They didn't quite see or hear me, but I was hovering around there and mentally "saw" their journey through reading about it in ...
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Why are Orcs associated with the colors red, yellow, and black in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings?

In Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings series, Sauron, and characters allied with Sauron, are frequently associated with the colors red, yellow, and black. For example, here is a description of the ...
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Why did Gimli think that Gandalf would sneak around their camp in the middle of the night, not say a word and scare away their horses?

I'm a quarter into The Two Towers. Just before Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli enter the Ent woods, they camp outside in the night as they suddenly see a sketchy, strange old man standing there, not saying ...
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0answers
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Is a fish “Alive with breath” or “Alive without breath”?

J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit contains many lovely riddles, posed in-universe by Gollum and Bilbo to each other. Most of them are original compositions by Tolkien himself, as he explained in one of ...
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What were the ages of Bilbo and Frodo for these six major plot points?

I recently begun re-reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I'm over halfway through The Fellowship of the Ring now. In spite of having the story in "fresh memory", I still can't remember the ...
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What exactly did the hobbits eat in the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring when journeying for many days?

Near the very end of the first part, it's mentioned that they now only have "old bread and dried fruit" left of their food, having wandered around for many days in the nothingness outside of ...
9
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1answer
186 views

In the middle part of The Fellowship of the Ring, how did Strider find and interpret that rock message supposedly from Gandalf?

Maybe this is explained later, and if so, please don't mention the resolution. However, if it's never mentioned again, I'd like to hear some reasoning. Basically, Strider leads the hobbits and that ...
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Bilbo’s song of Eärendil in “The Fellowship of the Ring”

In The Fellowship of the Ring, the character Bilbo Baggins recites a poem beginning with these lines: Eärendil was a mariner that tarried in Arvernien; he built a boat of timber felled in Nimbrethil ...
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1answer
249 views

What does “cheek” mean in the following phrase below in “The Fellowship of the Ring”?

This is taken from The Fellowship of the Ring, book II, chapter 1, page 266: If he had the cheek to make verses about Eärendil in the house of Elrond, it was my affair.
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1answer
172 views

Is there something I'm missing about the numerous songs in “The Fellowship of the Ring”?

I'm currently re-reading The Fellowship of the Ring (Swedish translation from 1971) after 20+ years. I'm 170 pages in. One thing that strikes me, and which I didn't remember at all, is the numerous ...
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2answers
556 views

How much did The Lord of the Rings cost when it was first published in 1954/1955?

What was the original price (first edition/first printing by Allen & Unwin, London) of The Lord of the Rings books when they were first sold in 1954/1955?
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How was Thangorodrim “broken” in “The Fellowship of the Ring”?

From The Fellowship of the Ring, book II, chapter II, page 273: 'And not so many, nor so fair, as when Thangorodrim was broken, and the Elves deemed that evil was ended for ever, and it was not so.' ...
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What did Elrond mean by telling the council “it is so ordered …”?

This phrase has been taken from The Fellowship of the Ring, book II, chapter II, page 271: Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, we must find ...
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136 views

What is the meaning of “Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good.”?

From Book 1, Chapter 2, of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien: Don't tempt me! For I don't wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity ...