About the Book

Book Protagonist: Frodo Baggins
Publication Date: 1954
Genre: Classic, Fantasy, Teen and Young Adult

Historical Context

The Fellowship of the Ring

By J.R.R. Tolkien

'The Fellowship of the Ring' is one of the most influential works of fantasy ever written. It has been adapted into film and stage productions and has had a deep impact on literary culture.

‘The Fellowship of the Ring‘ is the second book written by author J.R.R. Tolkien. In the decades since it was published, it has grown immensely popular, and deeply influenced popular culture. It has been adapted into several mediums, including animation and movies, in several European countries. J.R.R. Tolkien’s other novels include ‘The Hobbit‘ (1937), ‘Farmer Giles of Ham‘ (1949), and ‘The Silmarillion‘ (1977).

Influence of A Changing World on ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’

The author J.R.R. Tolkien had numerous influences, but the first of them is seen throughout his work and life. During his childhood, Tolkien spent time between the industrial city of Birmingham and the rapidly developing, but still rural, Worcestershire. Rural Worcestershire and its countryside-inspired places like The Shire. The despoiling of nature around the once-rural Worcestershire for the growth of civilization, including the felling of trees for building materials and fuel, influenced the Scouring of the Shire and the destruction of the forests around Isengard by Saruman to make way, and create fuel, for his war forges.

The Ents, who were also called the Shepards of the trees, were inspired by Tolkien’s sadness over deforestation. Ents were created to protect trees after Eru sanctioned the Vala Aule’s creation of Dwarves. Knowing that the dwarves will cut trees for their forges and industry, the Vala Yavana begged Eru to create beings whose duty it will be to protect the trees and forests.

Influence of World War 2 ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’

Many critics have often likened Frodo and his Hobbit friends’ leaving the Shire to go on an adventure in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ to boys leaving home to go fight in the two World Wars. The story of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring realistically captures the very essence of the two World Wars as seen through the eyes of the generations that lived through them, with lively and vivid friendships, with a foreground of merriment and a background of despair.

Other influences include the dragons, whose existence was whispered by the Hobbits during Bilbo’s party. They were inspired by warplanes which were first used in combat in World War 1. They were steel creatures who rained death from above. They were used to frightening effect during the Battle of the Somme, which Tolkien engaged in as a signals officer.

Influence of Mythology on ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’

J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Fellowship of the Ring‘ and ‘World War Z’ by Max Brooks are heavily influenced by mythologies, folklore, and traditions from across Europe. The Old Norse saga Volsunga and the Old High German Nebelungenleid, both from the same ancient sources, told the story of of the ring Andvaranaut and the sword Gram, which inspired the ideas that spawned the One Ring and the Numenorean sword Narsil, which was broken at the Last Alliance of Men and Elves under Sauron’s foot. Tolkien’s Gandalf is also a direct derivation from the Norse god Odin, who is depicted as an old man with a white beard, wearing a wide-brimmed hat and carrying a staff.

Other inspirations derived from Norse and Germanic references include Balrogs and the collapse of the bridge of Khazad-dum, which was derived from the legend of the fire giant Sutr who destroys the Bifrost, a bridge that linked Earth (Midgard) to Asgard. The Finnish legend of the Sampo also greatly influenced ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ and the larger ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. The Sampo was a magical object coveted by the forces of both good and evil, who coveted and warred over it. The artifact was destroyed in the end and lost to the world. The central figure of the story, Vainamoinen, was another inspiration for the wise Wizard Gandalf. Vainamoinen shared Gandalf’s wisdom and mysterious origins.


What is the main message of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring?’

‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ has themes that tie deeply into the messages of the book. These messages include the triumph of good against evil, the power of friendship and loyalty, the burden of responsibility, the perils of temptation and corruption, and the preservation of nature and the consequences of industry.

How do real-life events affect ‘The Fellowship of the Ring?’

Several real-life events affected the story of ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ During World War 1, Tolkien fought with the 11th Battalion of the Lancaster Fusiliers and engaged in the Battle of the Somme. His experiences during the War provided the background for a large portion of his work in his ‘The Lord of the Ring’ legendarium.

Why were the Fellowship members shadowed by Gollum?

When the Fellowship entered the Mines of Moria, they were noticed by the creature Gollum, who had become a slave to the Ring. He had felt the Ring near, and realizing that it was in Frodo’s possession, he followed them, bidding his time till he could sneak in and retrieve it.

Why was the Ring not handed to Tom Bombadil in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring‘?

Whilst more powerful than Sauron and unaffected by the Ring’s allure, Tom’s carefree nature made him an unsuitable keeper of the Ring. I would also be useless in the end because the continued existence of the Ring meant that Sauron would have all the time he needed to build up his army and destroy the other free peoples of the world. In the end, he might grow too powerful for Tom to withstand alone.

About Michael Chude
Michael Chude graduated with a BSc in Parasitology and Entomology. He has years of experience writing flash fiction and dissecting books with his book club members. He is also an avid reader who loves great stories and breathtaking world-building.
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