The Lord of the Rings

by J. R. R. Tolkien

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1. Throughout the trilogy Tolkien uses foreshadowing and flashbacks to draw the scattered events of his narrative together. Select at least eight scenes and events in the trilogy (drawing from all three volumes) and show how Tolkien uses these techniques effectively.

2. Songs and verses play a major part in the trilogy, both artistically and structurally. Referring to sections from all three volumes, identify several different types of songs and verses and explain their relevance to the overall narrative and their function in the creation of settings and characters.

3. Even though Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf are the "heroes" of the trilogy, Samwise Gamgee is in many ways more "real." Analyze the development of Sam's character. How does Tolkien make him such an appealing character? How does Sam change during the quest?

4. Tolkien stated his preference for "history, true or feigned" as a subject for his writing. Among the "historical" devices incorporated into the trilogy is the set of appendices at the end of The Return of the King. How does "The Numenorean Kings" in the first appendix throw light on situations in the trilogy?

5. Select one of the places in Middle-earth (e.g., Mordor, Lorien, the Shire) and explain some of the laws or principles that operate there. Compare it with our world. What are the abilities which animate and inanimate beings have there, and what customs or situations are taken as a matter of course?

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