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J. R. R. Tolkien´s "The Lord of The rings" - Mythology, Philosophy, Allegory
"Facharbeit" - Essay by Manuel Steiner, written ´00 p.r.i.

I. Summary of The Lord of the Rings

The content summary I am going to provide hereby is a necessary basis for an understanding of this essay, though it can neither cover the whole of the book in detail, nor form a basis for serious criticism. For the latter, complete and attentive reading of the novel is inevitable.

The Fellowship of the Ring
The story starts in the Shire, a rural, idyllic area, in which Frodo, a hobbit - their own native word for halfling -, heir of his uncle Bilbo, is told by Gandalf, the wizard, about the hidden powers of the ring he inherited from. It is a ring of extreme power, forged by the lord of all evil, Sauron, and an item capable of granting him, who has just stirred from banishment again, the power to conquer the world and lay it in ashes. Three rings of good and nine of evil can be controlled by the one ruling Ring, but as the Ring corrupts and seduces those near it, and as it seeks its master, the Dark Lord, the only possibility is to destroy it where it was created, in Mount Doom, deep in Mordor, the shadow-land of the enemy. Frodo travels, all the time persecuted and looked for by black riders of the enemy, together with his fellow hobbits Samwise, Peregrin and Meriadoc, later joined by the mysterious ranger Aragorn, called Strider, towards Rivendell.

There, in the council of Elrond Half-Elven, Frodo accepts the duty of journeying to Mordor; and the company formed by Gandalf, Frodo, Sam, Pippin, Merry, Aragorn, Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf and Boromir of Gondor, the land closest to Mordor, departs. On their way to the enchanted Elven wood of Lórien, they lose Gandalf in a fight against a demon in the mines of Moria underneath the Misty Mountains. Aragorn acts as their leader from now on and the company re-supplies in Lórien and travels down the river Anduin by boat. On an island in the river, Boromir tries to convince Frodo of giving him the ring, and when he assaults him, Frodo flees from the company, joined by Sam. Boromir is immediately afterwards killed by orcs when defending the remaining two hobbits, who are captured and taken away.

The Two Towers
During a quarrel among the orcs, Merry and Pippin flee into the forest of Fangorn, where with the help of the Ent - a tree-creature- Treebeard, they are able to cause the forest to rise and attack Isengard, the fortress of treacherous Saruman the wizard. At first, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli encounter riders of Rohan, and later the returned Gandalf in new splendour. In Edoras, they stir the King of the Mark, Théoden, from the influence of Gríma Wormtongue and to fight against Saruman. They take a stance at Helm´s Deep which they defend successfully. In Isengard, they meet the hobbits again and the Ents who are tearing down its walls, overthrowing Saruman.

Frodo and Sam, on their way towards Mordor, capture Gollum, the former ring-owner, who followed them secretly to regain his precious ring. With him as a guide, they bypass the closed gate to Mordor and head south. Gollum, twisted between loyalty to Frodo due to the vow he had to swear on the Ring, and craving for its possession, finally leads them, after a while they spent with rangers of Gondor, into a trap in the pass of Cirith Ungol. There, Shelob, the giant spider, poisons Frodo, who is taken away by orcs, leaving Sam with the Ring.

The Return of the King
While Gandalf and Pippin head for Minas Tirith, Aragorn, who has just revealed himself as the rightful heir of the long deserted throne of Gondor, takes the Paths of the Dead southwards, together with his retinue of rangers and Gimli and Legolas. Théoden rides with Merry towards Dunharrow to muster the Rohan army. These riders appear just in time as Minas Tirith is already besieged by Sauron´s forces. In the battle of the Pellenor fields Théoden King is slain, but, in turn, his niece Éowyn fells the enemy army leader, the Lord of the Ringwraiths. Together with King Aragorn, who appears backed up by undead bonded to him by an old vow, the tide is turned in favour of the defenders of Minas Tirith. In the city, where Denethor the Steward burnt himself before, Aragorn heals the wounded and then rallies an army to march towards the Black Gate of Mordor. On a hill, they stand their ground in the decisive final battle. In the tower of Cirith Ungol, Sam is able to help Frodo to escape, and they continue their journey through the wasteland of Mordor to Mount Doom, where they meet Gollum again. Frodo refuses to sacrifice the Ring to the flames in the chambers of fire beneath the mountain, but Gollum bites off his finger, and, in his joy, falls into the abyss. With the Ring destroyed, Sauron´s Dark Tower collapses and its master vanishes. After being honoured on the field of Cormallen, the hobbits return back to the Shire, only to see it controlled by Saruman, whom, now powerless, they have to drive off first, and who is then killed by his follower. The last ever to be seen of Frodo in Middle-earth is his sailing into the west with the other ringbearers, leaving, besides others, a married Sam and an enthroned Aragorn behind.

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