Saturday, November 28, 2015

Classics Club 22: The Fellowship of the Ring

I'm not really a fan of fantasy and I have never watched any of The Lord of The Rings movies. I did not come to The Fellowship of the Ring completely cold though since I had read  The Hobbit aloud several times to my children when they were younger.

The plot line is fairly simple. Frodo inherits a ring from his uncle. It turns out that it is the One Ring, which contains the power of the Dark Lord, Sauron. The ring will corrupt anyone who wears it and if Sauron gets the ring back he will wield total power in Middle Earth. Obviously the ring must be destroyed so Frodo, accompanied by his cousins Merry and Pippin and his faithful gardener Sam, begin an epic journey to Mordor, where they aim to throw the ring into the volcano at Mt Doom, hopefully destroying it forever. Along the way they meet a range of interesting characters such as Tom Bombadil, face threats like the Dark Riders and receive help from  a variety of sources. At the end of this novel, the first of  the trilogy, Frodo realises how much danger the ring poses for everyone in his group. He plans to continue alone but faithful Sam guesses Frodo's plans and insists on carrying on with him

There was much to admire and value about this novel. The world of Middle Earth and the elves, dwarves, people, wizards and other characters  who inhabit it were described in intricate fashion, so that the fantasy world was made real to the reader. Frodo may be a hobbit, but he is also everyman, an ordinary character who has been asked to do a great thing, to make sacrifices himself for the good of others. Even though his chances of success seem unlikely we root for him anyway. He keeps on keeping on and we admire his perseverance, imagining (but not always believing) that we would do the same thing should circumstances require it.

However, I constantly found myself watching the novel from the outside rather than losing myself inside it.  I even found myself visualising other novels and movies at times - particularly replacing Gandalf with Dumbledore. I'm sure this says more about me than about Tolkien and in fact can be seen as a sign of the influence of this classic work. I'm still undecided as to whether I'll read the rest of the trilogy or not. Perhaps at another time I'll be more receptive and thus able to fully immerse myself in the world that Tolkien has so lovingly created.

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