After reading the LOTR trilogy I felt the buzz of good literature and the romance of epic storytelling for a week. No more than a week, because even now I can recall the buzz. Of course I’ve taken to listening to the soundtrack while I paint, so that keeps the experience alive. It was hard to say good-bye and figure out where to turn next in the Land of Lit.
After some disorientation, I finally decided to take up where I left off last year in Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles and started in on Doctor Thorne, which is a delicious treat of book so far. But before I travel further down that path, I will write one more little LOTR post. I promised to tell you which character I most related to and which part of the story really got to me……
Of course if I pose the question as which character I’d like to be, I’d have to say an elf. Definitely an elf. Who wouldn’t want to be a Tolkien elf – you get to be a beautiful creature with supernatural eyesight, all kinds of magic things such as vials of evil-repelling light, a rich lyrical language, and immortality. Also you always get to be above the fray. Heck, if these elf people were so perfect, where are they now? Over the sea on the eternal island I suppose.
But the question I put to myself if not what I’d like to be but who I relate to now, as I am. There are so few females in the trilogy and even fewer human females.Most of the other major females are elves. The one major human female character is Éowyn , the lady of Rohan, but I don’t really relate to her at all. She is too perfect, too devoted to duty, too blonde.
To be honest I have to say I relate most to the hobbits, and if I had to choose one hobbit in particular it would be Merry. I really felt for him, wanting so badly to contribute to the struggle, but feeling out of his depth, having no idea what he could do to help, feeling alone, outside the loop, an insignificant presence among mighty heroes. I was so happy when he got to do something really brave, a thing that only he could do, and I was thrilled when he actually got the credit for it. (I won’t tell you what that thing is because if you have not yet read the books, I would not want to be a spoiler.)
As for which part of the epic got to me most, there are so many dramatic, pivotal, beautiful events in these books that many qualify as candidates for “most satisfying moment.” But only one of them brought tears to my eyes. It was is that part of Return of the Ring when the stronghold city Gondor is in its darkest darkest hour. The fearsome and powerful leader of the Nazgûl is at the gate and Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, has gone mad and suicidal. Lots of people are dead and the rest of them are expecting to be dead in the next few minutes. Suddenly they hear the horns of Rohan – the powerful equestrian army of their ally has arrived in the nick of time.
The part that swept me away was when we are with King Théoden and the Rohan army as they approach the burning mess and carnage of Gondor in its final hour. They hesitate for moment and then shout their war cries, blow their horns, brandish their swords, and ride into battle. You have to read it. I am pretty much a pacifist so it surprised me that a war scene could so move me. It opened a door to understanding about the whole appeal of war: the opportunities it presents for ultimate courage, friendship, and self-sacrificing love. I never quite understood this, at least on an emotional level, until I read this scene.