The Two Towers
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Tolkien chooses to keep Frodo entirely absent from Book III, directing our attention instead to the wanderings of Merry, Pippin, and Aragorn’s group. Why does the main protagonist of the novel not appear in Book III at all?
2. Though there are several figures of powerful evil in the novel, such as Sauron and Saruman, the greatest and most immediate danger to Frodo is arguably Gollum, one of the weakest characters in the novel. Why do you think Tolkien has Frodo fall prey to such a small, pathetic creature rather than a much more powerful evil force?
3. Saruman is arguably the primary adversary in The Two Towers, yet we learn that he and Gandalf used to be allies. Why does Tolkien choose to make Gandalf’s opponent a former colleague?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Which of the main characters in The Two Towers changes the most throughout the course of the story? Does Frodo change by the end in any way?
2. Though Gollum is clearly hateful and scheming, Tolkien emphasizes a childish, even innocent side to Gollum as well. At times, the creature appears almost sympathetic. Why do you think Tolkien shows this soft side of Gollum?
3. Critics often note how few of the major characters in The Lord of the Rings are female. Why do you think Tolkien’s Middle-earth is so male dominated? Does the absence of women change the world in which the characters live?
4. Discuss the role of prophecy in the novel. Why are prophecies so important, but frequently also so vague?
5. Cooperation and fellowship figure prominently in the novel, as characters of many races cooperate in the war against Sauron. Conversely, characters who act on their own—Boromir, Saruman, and Sauron, for instance—often do so corruptly. Does this pattern imply that Tolkien is against individualism in general? Or is he only against a certain kind of individualism?
by CBCoulter, July 11, 2012
In the Sparknotes guide to The Lord of the Rings, on page 186 in the Character List for The Return of the King, Eomer is mis-identified as Theodan's son and heir. This is incorrect; Eomer is Theodan's nephew. Theodred was Theodan's son, and he was killed by Orcs, making Eomer, next in line for the throne, the new heir.
Is this error put in to trip up folks who aren't going to read the book, or is it a serious editing oversight?
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