The Battle for Middle-Earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in Lord of the Rings

By Fleming Rutledge | Go to book overview

chapter four
Book IV: The Ring Goes East

Frodo and Sam on Their Own (or Maybe Not)

As Book IV opens and we rejoin Frodo and Sam, we are again moving on at least two levels. The surface narrative itself is skillful enough to please most readers, dealing as it does with an epic test of courage in a horrific landscape, and many a reader (including this one) has greatly enjoyed the exercise of learning Tolkien’s topography. In the deep narrative, however, the hobbits’ adventures are played out on a panoramic scale far larger than the maps of Middle-earth beloved by all Tolkien fans. Satisfying as it is to master the geology of the Emyn Muil with its twisted ridges, shelves, and gullies, it is still more challenging to understand that what is occurring in this drear region is part of a cosmic war between vast unseen hosts contending not only for human souls but ultimately for control of the created order. Each reader is thereby invited to understand himself or herself as similarly tested and strategically placed. Moreover, in passages like this, Tolkien, by building up the pressure during each stage of the journey, is directing us toward a climax of great subtlety as well as high drama.

Frodo and Sam are utterly lost in the fissures and ledges of the Emyn Muil. The horror of their circumstances is made plain in Frodo’s words as he looks fixedly at the satanic red glow on the other side of the Ephel Dúath (Mountains of Shadow) and says, “Mordor! If I must go there, I wish I could come there quickly and make an end!” It is not too much of a stretch to compare this to Jesus in the wilderness, looking down from the pinnacle where Satan has placed him. The devil reminds him that he has the power to will himself instantly out of his circumstances. The alternative to this powerful temptation is to embark upon a

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The Battle for Middle-Earth: Tolkien's Divine Design in Lord of the Rings
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Prologue - The Hobbit 21
  • Chapter One: Book I 47
  • Chapter Two: Book II 89
  • Chapter Three: Book III 147
  • Chapter Four: Book IV 195
  • Chapter Five: Book V 239
  • Chapter Six: Book VI 321
  • Acknowledgments 373
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