Thursday, June 21, 2012

My favorite scenes from The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Like many fantasy fans, the novels by J.R.R. Tolkien made me fall in love with the genre. This love led me to become a writer. My fantasy novels are not really like The Lord of the Rings, but the river of inspiration that gushes from Tolkien's writing certainly waters the fields of my imagination.

The greatest stories trigger our emotions and our intellects at the same time. The following scenes are those that I find especially moving and thought provoking in The Lord of the Rings.

The Temptation of Boromir

In The Fellowship of the Ring Boromir said, "It is a gift, I say; a gift to the foes of Mordor. It is mad not to use it, to use the power of the Enemy against him. The fearless, the ruthless, these alone will achieve victory."
Boromir has always been one of my favorite characters. Even when I first read this story as an adolescent, the pressures acting upon Boromir immediately gained my sympathy. He had been fighting Mordor for a long time. He knew what the stakes were. He was committed to doing anything to defend the good peoples of the world. Unlike some readers who prefer to revile Boromir, I forgave him instantly for his attempt to take the Ring from Frodo. Boromir's good heart had led him astray. His intentions were pure and his reasoning was right. To walk the Ring into Mordor was madness. The sound mind of this stout warrior could not reject the temptation. He could only see how evil had tricked him when he saw the horror on Frodo's face.

Eowyn kills the Lord of the Nazgul

From The Return of the King: "Still she did not blench: maiden of the Rohirrim, child of Kings, slender but as a steel-blade, fair yet terrible."
This is the part in the trilogy that makes all the girls cheer. There is no denying that The Lord of the Rings is quite male-centric, which is fine, but the story needed a good shield maiden to thin the testosterone a little. Her devotion to her Uncle Theoden and fearlessness in the face of the Lord of the Nazgul when all the other warriors could not face him were inspiring. She also serves as a metaphor for the strength of women and how they face evil just as often as men do. With help from the hobbit Merry, she slays the Nazgul Lord and contributes greatly to the victory.

Samwise resists the power of the Ring

From The Return of the King: "And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit."
True to his character, Sam's delusions of grandeur inevitably turn to agriculture. When he uses the Ring while rescuing Frodo from the Tower of Cirith Ungol, he is afflicted with fantasies of becoming the Lord of the Ring and setting things right in the world, but his natural "hobbit-sense" helps him overcome the evil temptations to keep the Ring. He realizes that its power is trying to trick him. He knows that he is just a regular guy who could never actually be king of the world. The power would corrupt him and consume him.

I find Sam's fortitude in the face of ultimate temptations to be a beautiful thing. It's like he throws away a winning lotto ticket because he knows that his new riches will turn him into a degenerate gambling addict. His ordinary goodness is not entirely above temptation, but it certainly helps insulate him from it. Unlike Icarus who flew too close to the sun and perished, Sam stays the course and prevails.

The many inspiring and touching moments presented by the characters in Tolkien's classic trilogy are what induce love among its readers. Good literature helps us see the temptations and heroics in our own lives.
I invite readers of this article to leave comments about their favorite scenes in this epic. How do these stories help you? I know that more than once I've bolstered my courage by thinking about how Sam and Frodo walked alone in Mordor.