The Return of the King

by: J. R. R. Tolkien

Suggested Essay Topics

1. Compare and contrast Frodo and Sam as heroes. What are their heroic virtues? In what ways are those virtues distinctively Hobbit-like?

2. What are some of the various powers Gandalf displays throughout the novel? Which of these is the most effective in the conflict against Mordor? What religious overtones, if any, surround the wizard’s role and actions?

3. How does Tolkien use the geography of Middle-earth to contribute to the themes he explores in the Ring-quest?

4. Describe some of the various races of Middle-earth that Tolkien portrays in The Lord of the Rings. What are their distinguishing characteristics? How do their different physical appearances relate to their personalities, beliefs, customs, and so on?

5. Few female characters are mentioned in The Lord of the Rings. Describe some of the various appearances of female characters. How does Tolkien depict women? Is this depiction intended to be realistic? Idealistic? Ironic? Archaic?

6. In what sense might The Lord of the Rings be read as an allegory for Tolkien’s Christian beliefs or the history of modern England? Are such readings of the novel apt or inadequate? What other methods does Tolkien use to convey his moral or religious intentions in the text?