(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Central to The Fellowship of the Ring is Frodo Baggins and his friendship with his faithful servant, Samwise Gamgee. Although Frodo may hail from the middle class and Sam from slightly humbler origins, both represent the ability of the common person to rise to the occasion and accomplish uncommon tasks. Both Frodo and Sam, and particularly the latter, bring a commonsense "everyman" approach to problem solving, even when the problems confronting them seem far beyond those with which most people would consider themselves equipped to deal. Fellowship ends with the breaking of the company of nine, with Frodo and Sam headed into the "Land of Shadow," but together at least, largely because of their close relationship and Sam's ability to predict his master's actions.

Tolkien uses both Aragorn and Gandalf as Christ-figures in the novel. Aragorn is actually descended from a long line of western kings, although he appears to come from the most humble of origins, to the extent that even many of those whom he protects as a leader of the rangers scorn him or remain ignorant of his existence. His power, represented as his sword, has lain dormant (broken) for some time, but in Fellowship that sword is re-forged. Gandalf performs numerous supernatural feats and faces death in his confrontation with the Balrog of Moria, sacrificing himself to free the rest of the party from a devil-like creature and destroying the Balrog's power even as he loses his...

(The entire section is 581 words.)