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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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NOTE: NATURE OF GOOD AND EVIL
In this scene you will find many of Tolkien's ideas about
good and evil. Nothing ever starts out evil-even Sauron was
good once. Elrond's experience has shown him that evil can
never be completely vanquished, for it always reappears in
a new form. And even the temporary victories of good over
evil are won only at great cost. Yet despite its power, evil
has a weakness in that it cannot imagine good-for
example, Sauron thinks that all people desire power as he
does, and so he does not expect them to destroy the Ring.

The power of good can be seen in the three rings that the
elves possess. Elrond said that the elven rings were not
made to obtain wealth or dominion over others, but were
made to be used for healing, understanding, and creating.
This more passive kind of power is an alternative to
Sauron's (and Saruman's) desire to control the world.
However, the fate of the elven rings is tied up with the fate
of the Ruling Ring. If Sauron should regain possession of
his Ring, he will be able to control the elven rings. If the
Ring is destroyed, Elrond believes that the power of the
elven rings will end, and many good and beautiful things
will pass from Middle-earth. This is another example of
Tolkien's theme that the forces of good achieve victory only
at great cost to themselves. It also presents another facet of
Tolkien's complex theme of the relationship between good
and evil; often evil purpose can unintentionally bring about
beneficial results. In this case, the elven rings were forged
at Sauron's direction, to win control over elves. Instead the
rings have brought about much good and are invaluable in
the struggle against him.



Not everyone accepts the fact that the Ring must be
destroyed. Some feel that to bring the Ring to Mordor
would be an act of despair or folly. But Gandalf says that
it's the only possible path. It must be taken even if it seems
doomed to failure. Elrond suggests that this quest may be
undertaken by the weak as well as the strong, for neither
strength nor wisdom will insure success. Here Tolkien
stresses his theme of the power of the common man: "Yet
such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the
world: small hands do them because they must, while the
eyes of the great are elsewhere." Frodo agrees to take on
the task of destroying the Ring, something that until now he
had hoped to leave to someone else. Elrond says that he
believes Frodo was chosen for this task and that only he
can succeed. Yet it's important that he accepts the task of
his own free will. With this, Tolkien brings up the last of
his major themes, that of free will. While destiny seems to
play a hand in the lives of Tolkien's characters, they are
free to refuse that destiny, just as Frodo is free to refuse to
be Ring-bearer.

Elrond chooses eight companions for Frodo: Gandalf,
Aragorn, Gimli the dwarf, Legolas the elf, Boromir, Sam,
Merry, and Pippin.

Aragorn's broken sword is reforged, and he renames it
Anduril. In place of Frodo's broken sword Bilbo offers him
his own sword Sting. In this scene between the two hobbits,
Tolkien suggests a comparison with legendary heroes, such
as King Arthur, who draw a sword from a stone or tree
where it has been imbedded for many years. Here, Bilbo
thrusts Sting into a beam and Frodo draws it out. The Lord
of the Rings has many such allusions, which, while not
crucial to an understanding of the story, add richness to
Tolkien's work.

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