Table of contents

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

A note on political freedom & war

We mentioned that the wizard is the first to show the willingness to sacrifice his life for his cause. His friends take the lesson to heart. We reflect that good men are easily lost to necessity this way, their cause none the better. So what was the wizard’s mistake? Better to say: Why did he think to give the ring to the halfling?

He learns upon seeing the mad wizard who used to be his friend that the alternative to madness is war. He goes to hell & emerges naked, bloody, victorious, having killed the particular devil in his way; he also kills that other wizard. This wizard will now encounter other rulers who have gone insane or cowardly. He will learn to promote young captains when the old are weak; he will learn the importance of fear & anger.

The broken alliance is replaced by an alliance of nations fighting a common enemy. The first of the allies is a race of horsemen. Though fast, they have cities & castles, so they are not unreasonable. But the horses, we have already seen, show nobility. These men will fight for freedom, & do not need much prodding. They go to war daringly, charging the enemy. They know that speed puts fear into enemies.

The new alliance requires changing principles. The old order, such as it was, rested on its antiquity. Men were ruled in the way in which they were told their forefathers of old had been ruled. Now these men must be appealed to on this hallowed ground, that they now defend that which they have & which their forefathers also had, who are dead & cannot defend it. The new order is likely to be much more democratic & much less beautiful. It is born in blood & battle; men fear death equally.

Now, back to the ring, which perhaps teaches us of what men are made. The halfling hero has for his only support a stouter, more resilient halfling; & his only guide is another, insane halfling, corrupted by the fear connected with the ring. This long journey into hell tests this creature’s all too human compassion.

A note on elves. They are graceful & fragile; they are a kind of man, if man could see in nature authority. They are nearly immortal & very learned; perhaps in the sense in which forests are immortal; they fight with bows, which may indicate their courage & invisibility. They are opposed to creatures that come of earth & fire. Let us note the suggestion that forges especially forge evil; weapons are made of metal. Perhaps the decisive maneuver in the battle we see involves a moving forest…

The beginning of the war.