(1892-1973), British

J.R.R. Tolkien Best Quotes

Within J.R.R. Tolkien’s oeuvre, readers can find quotes that speak on everything from change and transformation to learning the truth about one’s own courage and strength.

In Middle-earth where the bulk of his writing takes place, the world is marked by good and evil. The various races work in favor of either side while at the same time enduring unavoidable changes on a grand scale. This creates an ideal backdrop for intimate personal narratives that include some of the following quotes. 

J.R.R. Tolkien Best Quotes

Strength and Self-Realization

Let’s have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet.

These lines come from the beginning of The Hobbit, shortly after Bilbo is told that he’s going to be accompanying the dwarves on their quest. They’re spoken by Gandalf as he chastises the dwarves for doubting that Bilbo is the right person for the job of “burglar.”

The speech shows Gandalf’s ability to take on an authoritative role, one that he doesn’t always make use of. Gandalf also alludes to how important h thinks Bilbo is going to be on the quest. This is something that Bilbo has to learn for himself. 

There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world

This passage also comes from The Hobbit and can be found towards the end of the novel as Thorin Oakenshield is dying. He asks Bilbo to forgive him for his behavior and greed before the beginning of the Battle of the Five Armies. He speaks of Bilbo’s inherent goodness and how his Hobbit character traits made him the perfect person for the job of “burglar.” He’s kind-hearted in a way that most people in Middle-earth aren’t.

I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

These lines can be found at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring. Gandalf and Frodo are talking about the state of the world and Frodo has just learned the facts of the Ring. When Frodo describes “it” he is speaking about the return of Sauron. He expresses a desire to live in a time when such horrible, important things were not happening. Gandalf’s response is brave and wise. He acknowledges this sentiment but adds that “we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Frodo might not be able to control the time in which he was born, but he does get to decide how he’s going to use that time. The lines allude to the importance of the quest that Frodo is about to embark on. 

Journeys 

[Bilbo] used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary.

These lines can be found in The Fellowship of the Ring. They mention Bilbo, the main character of The Hobbit, and Frodo’s uncle. These lines appear in Chapter 3 just as the Hobbits are about to start on their journey to bring the Ring to Rivendell. Bilbo’s thoughtful words, and Frodo’s understanding of them, tap into one of the most important themes in the novels, that of the road and the characters’ journey down it. The road represents the path their world is on and the way in which the darkest and the lightest places are connected. 

But do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.

Frodo speaks these lines at the end of The Return of the King after the One Ring has been destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom. Despite all the struggles Frodo and Sam endured, of which Gollum was one, they have succeeded. Frodo muses calmly, despite their dire circumstances, on the fact that without Gollum, the quest would not have been completed.By this point in the novel, Frodo and Sam have endured so much, grown so close through it all, and are now physically exhausted, that they’re able to have an honest conversation about what they went through.

J.R.R. Tolkien juxtaposes the eruption and destruction of Mount Doom with this calm exchange, a literary device that makes his work incredibly powerful. 

Change and Transformation 

The old wisdom and beauty brought out of the West remained long in the realm of the sons of Elendil the Fair, and they linger there still. Yet even so it was Gondor that brought about its own decay, falling by degrees into dotage, and thinking that the Enemy was asleep, who was only banished not destroyed.

In these lines, Faramir is describing the history of Gondor to Frodo and Sam in The Two Towers. He describes the changes that came over the great city and allude to the broader changes that the world of Middle-earth is going through. With the new darker world that’s emerging, the characters are having to come to terms with the role that all races played, from the men of Gondor who fell into dotage to the Hobbits who sought to ignore everything outside the borders of the Shire. 

I would have things as they were in all the days of my life . . . and in the days of my longfathers before me: to be the Lord of this City in peace, and leave my chair to a son after me, who would be his own master and no wizard’s pupil. But if doom denies this to me, then I will have naught: neither life diminished, nor love halved, nor honour abated.

Denethor speaks these words in the moments before his death in Chapter 7 of The Return of the King. He has spent the novel, and his life, consumed by the power that his temporary position afforded him. He struggles with greed, mental instability, and the knowledge that he won’t have a son to take over as Steward of Gondor.

Denethor has been under the control of the palantir, an object of knowledge and power that’s used for manipulation more than once in the novel. He has been influenced by Sauron that the return of the king, Aragorn, will reduce his importance and power. 

About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.

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