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Free Study Guide for The Lord of the Rings J. R. R. Tolkien

 

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BOOK SUMMARY/CRITICISM - Lord OF THE RINGS


The Field of Cormallen


Summary

Gwaihir the Windlord and the eagles join in the battle below the mountain. As the Ring falls into the Crack of Doom, the Black Gate collapses. Sauron is destroyed and his evil forces flee. The victors below celebrate Frodoís victory, and the enemy knows their battle is lost.

Gwaihir and the Eagles carry Gandalf to Mount Doom, where he rescues Frodo and Sam from the erupting volcano. Frodo, who has thought Gandalf dead, is overwhelmed. He and Sam rest until they are healed, then they are treated as heroes. They are surprised to find that Strider has become Aragorn, the King. Aragorn calls Frodo, "Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom". Eventually they all depart for Minas Tirith, at which point Aragorn will be able to claim his throne in Gondor.


Notes

Another touching reunion between Frodo and someone he has thought dead simply reinforces his position as a likeable and important hero. Also, he is a true hero. Everyone celebrates his victory, and for days on end he is lauded for his hard work in disposing of the Ring.


The Steward and the King


Summary

Back in Gondor, Eowyn is restless. She is still recuperating from her wounds and she is restless for Aragorn to return. Meanwhile Faramir, also recuperating, takes an interest in Eowyn. For days, he spends time with her, talking and waiting for the news from the great battles. And they grow close and comfort one another, the Eagles come carrying news of the victory and of the coming of the king.

Faramir knows that Eowyn had loved Aragorn, but he also knows that Aragorn did not return this love. He confesses that he is in love with her and asks her to be his wife. She consents.


All is ready and the New King arrives in a procession through the city. Gandalf crowns Aragorn the King of Gondor and a new age begins.

Beregond is forgiven of the treachery that Faramirís father accused him of, and is named Guard of Faramir. Aragorn asks Gandalf to be his counselor, but Gandalf says that now that Sauron is defeated, Aragorn must rule alone.

Arwen, the daughter of Galadriel, is brought to Minas Tirith. She confesses her love for Aragorn, though their union would render her mortal and therefore subject to death (though she had been immortal).


Notes

The romance of the novel is neatly wrapped up as Eowyn finds new love with Faramir and Aragorn is pursued by Arwen, who had sent him gifts when he was at battle. Arwenís sacrifice of her own immortality is testament to her passion and loyalty; like others in the novel, she will give up important things for a cause she truly believes in.


Many Partings


Summary

When all the days of rejoicing are over Frodo tells Aragorn that he wishes to go back and visit Bilbo. King Theoden is placed upon a golden bier and the company follows him to Rohan for burial. After the burial, Eomer is crowned King in Theodenís stead. He then gives Faramir and Eowyn his blessings for marriages, as does Aragorn.

Legolas visits the Glittering Caves. Gimli visits Treebeard. Together, these two remain in Fangorn while the rest travel on. At the gap of Rohan, Aragorn takes his leave of the hobbits and at the Misty Mountains the remaining company comes across Saruman, now old and beggarly. Gandalf once more offers Saruman help, but the old wizard scorns him. He leaves with Wormtongue still in tow. As he goes, he reminds them that the Shire has been destroyed, as Galadrielís mirror had shown

Bilbo is at Rivendell and though he has aged considerably, he is happy to see his friends. He is very old and happenings of Mordor do not hold much interest for him anymore. When the time comes for the hobbits to depart Bilbo gives Frodo the mithril coat and sword, forgetting that he has already done so. To Sam he gives a bag full of gold for his marriage and to Merry and Pippin he gives a load of advice and elven pipes made of pearl and silver. He also gives Frodo three books that he has written--records so that Frodo can continue them with news from his adventures.


Notes

This chapter is mingled with sadness, as it appears that Bilboís life is near an end. He tells Frodo that he need not return next year, suggesting by innuendo that his life may have ended. And even Frodo, who no longer has the Ring, feels aches and pains that he never felt as long as he had the Ring.


Homeward Bound


Summary

With Sarumanís warning that the Shire is destroyed ringing in their ears, the hobbits head for Bagís End. On the way they stop at the Prancing Pony, where the Landlord Butterbur is delighted to see them. He tells them that the old pony Bill returned safely and is quite well. Sadly, though, he tells them that the Shire is in trouble. There are ruffians, wolves and highway robbers. Also, the Shire seems to be under the control of some bad hobbits.

Near the Barrow-downs Gandalf takes leave of the hobbits, saying that they must handle their own troubles from now on, of which they will have plenty. He goes off on Shadowfax to meet and talk with Tom Bombadil, and the four hobbits are left alone, just as they were when they first started out. Merry says that having left the others behind one after another feels like a dream fading away. But Frodo says that, to him, it is like falling asleep once more.


Notes

The action begins to wind down after the dramatic fight with Sauron, and the destruction of the Ring. But Tolkien is ever the plotter, so he reminds his readers that all is not over. The Shire is in trouble and the adventurers have much work to do to restore their old way of living.

The dream-like dropping-off of their companions is a gentle way of winding down the narrative, one that contributes to the fable-like atmosphere of the novel.


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