The Lord of the Rings Topics for Discussion
by J. R. R. Tolkien

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Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

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1. How does Tolkien develop the nature of the Black Riders so that their identity as Ringwraiths does not come as a surprise?

2. Many characters convey pieces of information at the Council of Elrond. Information about the history of the Ring, about events that have happened more recently, or about their own presence at the Council. What information is new to the reader?

3. What shows that the Ring has no effect on Tom Bombadil? What is later given as an explanation for this? Why is Gandalf unwilling to entrust the Ring to Tom?

4. When Frodo offers his Ring to Galadriel, she refuses it, as had Gandalf and Aragom. Why does she refuse it? How do the three elven Rings, one of which she wears, differ from the other Rings of Power?

5. Pippin, Aragorn, and Denethor all use one of the palantiri. What happens in each case? What accounts for the different effects that the palantiri have on Denethor and Aragorn?

6. In the trilogy many characters and objects have powers beyond the "natural." Such supernatural powers are part of the inner consistency of Middie-earth. The most pervasive of these elements are the Rings of Power, the palantiri, and Gandalf. Select three or four other supernatural objects or characters and show how they fit into Tolkien's concepts of Middle-earth.

7. Tolkien often shows how evil can unintentionally work for good. How is this demonstrated by Grishnakh? By Grima?

8. After the Battle of Minas Tirith, Gandalf tells Pippin that if Elrond had not allowed Merry and him to come along "then far more grievous would the evils of this day have been." What are the contributions of Merry and Pippin?

9. Although Galadriel and the other elves of Lorien are not part of the fellowship, they contribute to the success of the quest. Discuss their major contributions to the work and well-being of the fellows.

10. According to Tolkien's essay "On Fairy-stories," evil should be recognizable because of its ugliness. How does this principle reinforce Tolkien's portrayal of the orcs as evil characters?

11. Aragorn's claim to kingship is indicated in many ways. What are the actions or circumstances which prepare the people of Gondor for Aragorn's eventual coronation? Why are they significant?