One of my favorite book series turned movies growing up was J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy, Lord of The Rings. I haven’t read the books in well over a decade, but after listening to Dan Carlin’s series on World War I I have been wanting to revisit the books. Carlin explained how Tolkien was a veteran of the first world war, and how much of the imagery and themes from the book were influenced during his time in the war.
With this in mind I have been looking to reread the series, not just to be entertained, but also with a more critical eye on what lessons Tolkien is sharing with his readers. This blog series will start with “The Hobbit” through the full trilogy, now focusing on “The Fellowship of The Ring”, I hope you enjoy it.
As I was reading through The Fellowship of The Ring there have been a couple of themes that stuck with me: amor fati, trust, and ego.
One of the most quotable lines in the whole book (and movie) goes like this: “‘I wish it need not have happened in my time’, said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.’” This powerful line reminds me of what the ancient Greeks would refer to as amor fati, or, love of fate. Bad things happen, we cannot wish them away. Rather, all we have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to us.
Another theme that stood out to me is that of trust. The four hobbits who set out from the Shire are not exactly prepared for the perils they will face, and they are being pursued by people they don’t know. Yet, there is a sense of an open heart and an open mind that the hero’s exhibit as they lend trust to others they have not met before, namely: Strider & Tom Bombadil. Proving the old proverb: if you want to go far, go together.
Finally, within the fellowship there is an ego-lessness to the nature of the leaders. All are quick to gain input from the group. One line from Aragorn stands out to me above the rest, after the near catastrophe trying to pass over the mountain: “you followed my lead almost to disaster in the snow, and have said no word of blame. I will follow your lead now.” This line so powerfully encapsulates two of Dale Carnegie’s rules on how to influence others by letting the other person save face, and admitting quickly and emphatically when one is wrong.
Throughout these books I have not only been entertained but also blown away by the wisdom found in the pages. I’m excited to dig into The Two Towers now, and will leave you with my favorite poem from The Fellowship.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be the blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.