103 votes

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

The phrase “the Lord of the Rings” is ambiguous in the same way in English: it might, in theory, refer either to the One Ring, which rules the other rings, or to Sauron, who can use it to rule all the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.2k
80 votes

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

TL;DR: In this scene Aragorn confirms to Pippin that their relationship remains one of liege-lord and vassal within the feudal system of Gondor and Arnor. This confers high status and honour upon ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.2k
79 votes

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

Tolkien said that Bombadil represented a sort of passive pacifism, which was important to represent in the story but couldn't play much of a role in the actual plot. From Tolkien's Letters, letter #...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
71 votes

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

You should read The Silmarillion after reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy. To start off with an analogy: The Silmarillion starts on such a gigantic scale that if you begin with it everything ...
Voronwé's user avatar
  • 759
44 votes
Accepted

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

Bombadil is indeed an anomaly, and does not appear to fit very well into Tolkien's overall narrative. He comes from nowhere (although he has been there all along, unobserved), and disappears equally ...
Mick's user avatar
  • 1,339
39 votes
Accepted

Did Frodo want Bilbo to die?

He's referring to Bilbo's retirement to Rivendell. Bilbo's plan was to relax, listen to the songs, translate some books, and work on his memoirs. As Gandalf put it in the next line: ‘He felt better at ...
Joshua Engel's user avatar
  • 5,038
37 votes

Isn't Gríma Wormtongue a very revealing name?

No, except yes TL;DR: ‘Wormtongue’ is a deliberately negative name given by his enemies, so it can’t be faulted for being pejorative, even if it’s not as unflattering as it might seem to modern ears. ...
Tim Pederick's user avatar
36 votes
Accepted

Bilbo’s song of Eärendil in “The Fellowship of the Ring”

This answer grew too long for a single post, so I’ve split it in two, with history and analysis in this part, and detailed line notes in the other part. Summary Bilbo’s poem retells the myth of the ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.2k
36 votes

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

I agree with the content of the answers of Gareth Rees and hobbs, however, aside from the content of what he said, I think it's also important to address Aragorn's tone here. In particular: He's ...
reirab's user avatar
  • 461
35 votes
Accepted

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

It was an allegory because, in spite of his dislike, Tolkien felt it was necessary and inevitable that it should be one. In several lesser-known quotes, the author freely admits that the tale is ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
  • 22k
34 votes

Does Théoden actually say that he misses Gríma (his "old advisor") at one point in The Two Towers?

The word "to miss" usually means "to regret no longer having". But it may mean simply "to no longer have", "to have lost", without experiencing regret. This ...
IMil's user avatar
  • 565
30 votes
Accepted

Is there any animal internal monologue in The Lord of the Rings?

Yes. When leaving the Shire, the hobbits disturbed a fox: A fox passing through the wood on business of his own stopped several minutes and sniffed. 'Hobbits!' he thought. 'Well, what next? I have ...
Pat Dobson's user avatar
  • 1,873
28 votes

Bilbo’s song of Eärendil in “The Fellowship of the Ring”

This is the second part of my answer, containing detailed line notes for the poem. If I’ve omitted any difficulties, let me know in the comments. I have preferred to use illustrative quotations from ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.2k
26 votes

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

Voronwë's answer is excellent, but I'm going to post the answer I was planning to anyway. LotR is a gripping tale; the Silmarillion is more like a textbook or encyclopedia. This is a slight ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
25 votes

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

While I agree almost entirely with Gareth Rees' answer, I think it can be made simpler with a bit of cultural context. Aragorn is a king. He's in a position to command, and while he's not the king of ...
hobbs's user avatar
  • 695
22 votes
Accepted

What's the meaning of Tom Bombadil's poem?

Here’s a bit more context from chapter 6: He [Frodo] turned round and listened, and soon there could be no doubt: someone was singing a song; a deep glad voice was singing carelessly and happily, ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
  • 55.2k
20 votes

Isn't Gríma Wormtongue a very revealing name?

Grima calls Gandalf "Lathspell" -- Ill News -- because he hated him and wanted Theoden to mistrust him. Likewise, "Wormtongue" is what people who already hate him call him. It is ...
Mary's user avatar
  • 6,035
18 votes

What were the ages of Bilbo and Frodo for these six major plot points?

The Lord of the Rings contains several appendices at the end of The Return of the King, and Appendix B, called The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands), contains a timeline of events. The ...
Glorfindel's user avatar
  • 1,145
17 votes

How to read é, ä, û?

For vowels the letters i, e, a, o, u are used, and (in Sindarin only) y. As far as can be determined the sounds represented by these letters (other than y) were of normal kind, though doubtless many ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 23.9k
17 votes

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

Another point that hasn't been mentioned. The Silmarillion has a summary of the Lord of the Rings as its final chapter, "Of the Rings of Power and The Third Age". It is a full summary of LoTR and ...
BoredBsee's user avatar
  • 279
16 votes

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

I would agree with the posters saying: first LotR (to enjoy it fully, and it is an easier read, and the huge scale of the Silmarillion events will not "dwarf it down"). But not in your specific case. ...
Olivier Dulac's user avatar
16 votes

Does Théoden actually say that he misses Gríma (his "old advisor") at one point in The Two Towers?

This is the original passage from the chapter Helm's Deep: ‘It will go ill with Wormtongue, if Gandalf comes upon him,’ said Théoden. ‘Nonetheless I miss now both my counsellors, the old and the new. ...
Glorfindel's user avatar
  • 1,145
15 votes

In what way is The Lord of the Rings metafiction?

Metafiction is self-conscious about language, literary form, storytelling, and directly or indirectly draw attention to their status as artefacts (From Wikipedia's description of metafiction.) I'd ...
auden's user avatar
  • 4,742
15 votes

What were the ages of Bilbo and Frodo for these six major plot points?

All timeline information can be found in The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B: "The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands)". Selecting the relevant pieces of information for your answer: ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 72.3k
14 votes
Accepted

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

Tolkien himself reflected on the original prices of his works, which was twenty-one shillings (one Guinea) each. The price seems to have been high for the times but set because that was the lowest ...
Skooba's user avatar
  • 4,011
13 votes

Why are Orcs associated with the colors red, yellow, and black in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings?

First, it is not yellow that is evil, it is gold, and not always. Yellow is in fact more commonly associated with positive things than negative in Tolkien's work. The Sun is the Yellow Face and ...
Obie 2.0's user avatar
  • 848
13 votes
Accepted

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

Yes From Appendix A, we get a description of dwarf-women from Gimli, also mentioning the rarity of them (only 1-in-3) and their unwillingness to go abroad. He also describes the with the following ...
Edlothiad's user avatar
  • 409

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