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