A few underrated Tolkien Quotes

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

So technically the title of this blog is Lord of the Rings (and other such things.) and if anyone out there in cyberspace has bothered reading any of my posts, you are probably none-too-pleased when you come a cross all of these lovely blog posts and not-a-one of them remotely related to Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, or anything of the sort. Deceitful, I know. But I am pretty sure that only Peter reads this block, so to be honest, I don't feel that bad.

Recently, however, I came across a couple Tolkien quotes that are solid gold, and I just couldn't not put them up here. And no, the only awesome line from Tolkien's work is not "not all those who wander are lost." (Though I must say that is a pretty great one. tried to use it as our roadtrip blog URL and pretty much every variation we attempted was taken. boo.) Ληπόν, here you go friends Peter!

"War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend." 
Yea. He wins over Boromir any day.

 This is essentially everything Tolkien believed about war and pacifism wrapped into one beautifully simple line. It also makes me love Faramir's character that much more in the books. It really shaped my beliefs growing up as well.

"Never laugh at live dragons."
Tolkien's Illustration of the Conversation with Smaug

I bet you all know where this is from. I don't know why this quote isn't more well-known. I mean, that's a classic adventurer life lesson, you know. It really ought to be rule numero UNO in all books on How to Be an Adventurer. But I don't suppose people who go on adventures read books about how to do so. That would take all the fun out of it. Silly me and my practicality. Sometimes I think I act more English than Greek.

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us."
This is a lovely quote. Jackson and his writers moved it from it's original place in the books, when Frodo is first discussing the ring with Gandalf in The Shire, and it still fits perfectly into the scene, movement and flow of the moment. As a Christian it brings home the importance of free will- God has given us the freedom to do what we live with our lives; it is up to us to decide how we choose to lead them. This is the incomprehensible beauty of the lives we have been given: they are ours, to do with as we will, free of any yolk of compulsion. What we do in this life is completely in our own hands.

"The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like 'religion', to cults or practices, in the imaginary world."

I first heard this in my Harry Potter and Fantasy Literature class, the best course I ever took at FSU, and though it may seem strange at first, this fundamental lack of religion in a purportedly religious text makes sense when we take a closer look. Tolkien wanted to take Christian themes out of our daily life and hide deep within his texts- within the phial of Galadriel which protects Frodo and Sam from the evil spider spawn, within the fleeting glimpses of Christ we see in fragments of various characters (although it should be made clear that there is no Christ figure in Lord of the Rings! more on that later), even within Tom Bombadil, a man whose disinterest in earthly treasures allows him to be impervious to the temptation of the one ring- to allow us to see with fresh eyes these elements of Christianity that we often lose sight of, or forget in the material world. There is so much more to say here, but perhaps I will leave the rest of these thoughts for later.

"Many that live deserve death. and some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be so quick to deal out death and judgement. Fore even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Another excerpt from the conversation between Gandalf and Frodo in Bag-End. "It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand," says Gandalf; and I think they did a beautiful job of illustrating this subtle point in the first film installment of The Hobbit. Both Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman were at their absolute best in this tiny moment- go re-watch it, you'll see what I mean ;-)
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

Thorin Oakenshield says this, I believe on his deathbed (it would be out of character for a Dwarf to say such a thing otherwise!) But one of the central and binding themes throughout Tolkien's fictional works.
AHEM. If only we were all like Tom. Source
“May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.” 
 "I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn"
Two of the few times we see what seems to be some clear reference to a Holy Spirit of any sort is when Sam uses the Phial of Galadriel to chase off the evil spider Shelob (the light in dark places, first quote) and when Gandalf uses the Secret Fire to battle the Balrog in Moria. Apart from these moments there are few times (possibly none) when the Holy Trinity is not carefully veiled and deeply embedded in Tolkien's text. One must go digging to find them :) 

That's all for tonight. This and also this article are two short pieces on Tolkien's work that I hope to get to soon. If you beat me to it please let me know what you think.

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