Full Title   The Two Towers, being the second 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.

Point Of View The Two Towers is narrated in the third person, primarily following the exploits of Merry and Pippin in Book III and the exploits of Frodo and particularly Sam in Book IV. The narration is omniscient, which means the narrator not only relates the characters’ thoughts and feelings, but also comments on them.

Tone The narrator is unobtrusive, not allowing himself any authorial commentaries on the fate of the characters or any exclamations about the story as it unfolds. The tone is somewhat reminiscent of the tone used in the Odyssey and other ancient poetic epics: it focuses on actions in a simple, direct manner, and generally avoids psychological explorations in the narrative. There are minor exceptions to this rule, especially in the narration of the thoughts and feelings of the hobbits at moments of crisis, but these are infrequent.

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 Rohan, the Forest of Fangorn, Edoras, Helm’s Deep, Isengard, and Mordor

Protagonist  Primarily Merry and Pippin in Book III and Frodo and Sam in Book IV, though the Fellowship as a whole might be considered a single protagonist

Major Conflict  Frodo struggles with the ever-heavier burden of the Ring as he and Sam convey it to Mordor. Meanwhile, Gandalf attempts to obstruct Saruman’s quest to gain power in support of Mordor.

rising action  Boromir’s death; Aragorn’s attempt to reunite his group with the hobbits after the battle separates them; Aragorn’s meeting with Gandalf, and later Pippin and Merry; the group’s collective pursuit of Frodo and Sam; Frodo and Sam’s wanderings, and their acceptance of Gollum as a guide; Frodo and Sam’s passage into Mordor

climax  Gollum’s betrayal of Frodo and Sam; the hobbits’ struggle with the spider-monster Shelob

falling action  Frodo’s paralysis from Shelob’s bite; Sam’s assumption of the role of Ring-bearer; Sam’s anguished uncertainty about how to proceed with the quest

Themes  The decay of civilization; the value of fellowship; duty

Motifs  Songs and singing; the natural world; suspicion

Symbols  The two towers; the palantír; Pippin’s pipe; the Dead Marshes

Foreshadowing  Frodo’s assertion that Gollum is full of wickedness; Sam’s repeated doubts about Gollum’s trustworthiness