The Fellowship of the Ring
full title · The Fellowship of the Ring, being the first part of The Lord of the Rings
author · J.R.R. Tolkien
type of work · Novel
genre · Epic; heroic quest; folktale; fantasy; myth
language · English, with occasional words and phrases from various languages of Middle-earth that Tolkien invented
time and place written · 1937–1949; Oxford, England
date of first publication · 1954
publisher · Allen and Unwin
narrator · The whole of The Lord of the Rings is told by an anonymous, third-person narrator. The Prologue and later notes are somewhat academic in nature, and are presumably added by the same narrator.
point of view · The Fellowship of the Ring is narrated in the third person, following Frodo throughout most of the narrative, but occasionally focusing on the points of view of other characters. The narration is omniscient, which means the narrator not only relates the characters’ thoughts and feelings, but also comments on them.
tone · The narrator’s tone varies somewhat over the course of The Fellowship of the Ring, though it maintains an aura of myth and nostalgia throughout. During the opening episodes in the Shire, the tone is light and casual, but it quickly becomes more serious as the Company moves into the perils of the world beyond—especially in the Mines of Moria, the darkest section of the novel. The episodes in the Elven lands, most notably the forest of Lothlórien, feature a more elegiac tone, seemingly mourning the inevitable passing of the Elves and their beautiful creations from Middle-earth.
tense · Past
setting (time) · The end of the Third Age of Middle-earth
setting (place) · Various locales in the imaginary world of Middle-earth, including the Shire, Bree, the Old Forest, Rivendell, Moria, Lothlórien, and the Anduin River
protagonist · Primarily the hobbit Frodo Baggins, though the Fellowship with whom he travels might be considered a single protagonist
major conflict · Frodo struggles with the opposing forces of the Ring’s corrupting influence and pull and the responsibility and burden fate has placed upon him as the Ring-bearer. Frodo’s uncertainty, reluctance, and perceived weakness work against his inner heroism and strength of character. As he continues on the quest, he feels the burden of his responsibility grow stronger, but also feels increasingly resigned to the role fate has given him.
rising action · Bilbo’s handover of his ring to Frodo; Gandalf’s identification of the ring as the One Ring; the Council of Elrond and the formation of the Fellowship; Gandalf’s sacrifice of himself in Moria; the Fellowship’s debate about whether to take the Ring to Minas Tirith or to Mordor
climax · Boromir tries to seize the Ring from Frodo, causing Frodo to realize that the Ring has the power to corrupt his companions and compelling him to shoulder responsibility for destroying it on his own.
falling action · Frodo and Sam’s departure toward Mordor; Boromir’s shame and regret about betraying Frodo
themes · The corrupting influence of power; the inevitability of decline; the power of myth
motifs · Songs and singing; the road; prophecy
symbols · The Rings of Power; the sword of Elendil; the mirror of Galadriel
foreshadowing · Gandalf’s prediction that Gollum still has a part to play in the fate of the Ring; Elrond’s prediction that the quest will only be completed successfully by someone weak and largely disregarded; Aragorn’s warning that Gandalf, in particular, should not enter Moria; the visions Frodo sees in Galadriel’s mirror
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!