Commentary: The Two Towers

Posted 30 August, 2012 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Two Towers
By: J.R.R. Tolkien

The Company of the Ring is sundered. Frodo and Sam continue their journey alone down the great River Anduin – alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.

A bit off topic but I actually own a copy of the 1954 (or thereabouts) paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings; I came across it during a book sale and immediately snatched it up. Very cool. Anyways, continuing on my re-read of LOTR following up on The Fellowship of the Ring (commentary). Contains references to all three volumes of the book!

It’s always sad how war forces people to inhabit a particular role or coax them into grim and worried individuals. I was reading the chapter where Frodo and Faramir were talking and Frodo described how Faramir had this grave and concerned expression about him. It was interesting because Frodo also noticed how young Faramir is. I also thought it was interesting how Faramir mentioned that Frodo and Sam had leave in Ithilien by proxy to the Steward of Gondor and that they would have to ask for leave after a year from the steward himself; it mirrors Eomer granting the Three Hunters (Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli) permission to travel in Rohan despite his wanting to take them to Edoras first to get King Theoden’s approval. Eomer and Faramir are my favourite characters so I thought it was interesting how they portrayed similar roles here. (Both also end up heirs to their uncle and father respectively at the end of the final volume which is also interesting)

I do admit coming to appreciate how different the book and movies are as media for storytelling. I remember a lot of people were upset at how movie!Faramir was susceptible to temptation towards the One Ring, something that book!Faramir shunned completely. I understand why Peter Jackson made such a radical character change for the movies–to exemplify the power and temptation of the One Ring and to highlight Aragorn’s ability to shun it as a direct descendent of the Numenoreans. There just wasn’t enough time in the movie to highlight the fact that the Stewards of Gondor are also descendents of the Numenoreans, etc., etc. and showing other Men being able to overcome the power of the Ring would be too confusing. I found book!Faramir’s ability to absolutely ignore the power of the Ring to highlight the wisdom the character had and how he represented a different facet of Gondorian culture and history. This is not of course to say that Boromir is weak or anything in that regard, it was just that Boromir’s desire to protect Gondor was peverted by the Ring.

Once again some other random thoughts that occurred to me as I was re-reading The Two Towers:

  • I remember reading how some people did not like how Gimli was relegated to the comedic character in the movies. Reading the book again, I can see why he ended up with the role; approached different
  • I don’t know why but re-reading the book this time around, I’m found it a little funny how often Aragorn makes references to his lineage, to Anduril the Sword that was Reforged, his claim to the thrones, etc, etc.
  • I thought it was pretty lol how the Three Hunters and Merry and Pippin met up. Gimli was pretty much flailing about how they experienced all that trouble trying to find the two hobbits only to come across them eating and smoking.
  • Hobbit pockets must be very deep and made of steel because how is it that Pippin’s two pipes were still intact after all that running and escaping and climbing?
  • Have I mentioned how much I love the Elvish languages? The Sindarin version of A Elbereth Gilthoniel is just amazing, so fluid. Tolkien once again amazes me at how he was able to create (two!) languages from scratch. I also love how the words come to Frodo and Sam whenever they’re holding something Elvish, like it’s this spirit or presence that overcomes them in a moment of need

The Two Towers is the darkest of the three volumes I think (although the first two chapters of Book 6 in The Return of the King is also quite harrowing) because we’re nowhere near the finish line at this point (then again there’s just that fact that this is the second volume in the three books). War is upon all of the Free Peoples of Middle Earth and although they’ve dealt with Saruman at Helm’s Deep and the aftermath, it just seems like overall victory is still far off.

Two of my favourite quotes from this volume:

Legolas already lay motionless, his fair hands folded upon his breast, his eyes unclosed, blending living night and deep dream, as is the way with Elves.

I love this passage. You not only learn how Elves sleep but I especially love the phrase “blending living night with deep dream.”

[Gandalf] ‘A most unquenchable hobbit! All Wizards should have a hobbit or two in their care–to teach them the meaning of the word, and to correct them.’

I could not help but laugh when I read this–setting a new fashion trend, are we Gandalf?

Anyways, on to The Return of the King (soon-ish)!

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