‘The Two Towers‘ by J.R.R Tolkien is one of the most important books in the fantasy fiction genre. It challenges the reader to consider several of its strong narratives, like the decline and decay of civilization, duty and honor, and the value of friendship.
Loss and Decay in The Two Towers
Songs we have that tell of these things, but we are forgetting them, teaching them only to children, as a careless custom. And now the songs have come down among us out of strange places, and walk visible under the Sun. Yet I should also be sad, for however the fortune of war shall go, may it not so end that much that was fair and wonderful shall pass for ever out of Middle-earth?
Theoden, king of the Rohirrim, made this quote in ‘The Two Towers’ when he saw Ents for the first time. These creatures were known to the people of Rohan from their songs and the legendary tales they told each other, but no one in their memory had ever seen one. He was marveled to bear witness to a piece of legend coming to life.
He was also saddened about the potential effects of Sauron’s war on the free peoples of Middle-earth. He mourned the potential loss of these legendary creatures from the memory of the world because of the devastating effects of the war. And at that point he played the role of a prophet, seeing from afar the things that were yet to come.
I have spoken words of hope. But only of hope. Hope is not victory. War is upon us and all our friends, a war in which only the use of the Ring could give us surety of victory. It fills me with great sorrow and great fear: for much shall be destroyed and all may be lost. I am Gandalf, Gandalf the White, but Black is mightier still.
No, it has gone beyond our reach. Of that at least let us be glad. We can no longer be tempted to use the Ring. We must go down to face a peril near despair, yet that deadly peril is removed.
In this quote from ‘The Two Towers,’ the recently returned Gandalf the White was addressing the Three Hunters, a fragment of the Fellowship including Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas. He reminded them of the coming storm of the war of Sauron and their slim chances for success. He briefly regretted his and the White Council’s decision to let the Ring go instead of depending on its power to withstand the onslaught of Sauron’s armies.
Gandalf admitted his fear of their inability to decisively checkmate the power of Mordor and the consequences of that failure. He soon overcame that regret and proclaimed he was indeed glad that the Ring was already too far out of their reach to tempt any of them to use it because to use and depend on the One Ring would only postpone their doom, not avert it.
The Fight for a Just Cause in The Two Towers
For myself, I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens: not a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves.
War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the men of Numenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.
So fear me not! I do not ask you to tell me more. I do not even ask you to tell me whether I now speak nearer the mark. But if you will trust me, it may be that I can advise you in your present quest, whatever that be – yes, and even aid you.
Faramir, Captain of Gondor, was explaining to Frodo his motivations for fighting in the wars against Sauron for long years. Even though he was a great warrior of renown in the story of ‘The Two Towers,’ Faramir was a kind and gentle man and due to Gandalf’s influence, he was also a deep thinker. He was not a warrior who was in live with the art of war, strategies, and brave deeds. He fought because it was necessary to stand against the evil of Sauron to protect his home and his city.
He supposes that we are all going to Minas Tirith; for that is what he would himself have done in our place. And according to his wisdom it would have been a heavy stroke against his power. Indeed he is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind.
Gandalf the White was explaining to Aragorn the things that was probably going on in the mind of their Enemy Sauron. Sauron had long known that the One Ring had been found and that it was in the hands of a Hobbit. He also knew that the Ring was in Rivendell in the home of Elven lord Elrond, and that the Bearer left in the company of other Hobbits, an Elf, Gandalf, a Dwarf, and two Men.
Because the sensible thing to do when the enemy’s most powerful weapon falls into your hands is to find a way to use it against them, Sauron readily thought the Fellowship would head to the citadel of Gondor in Minas Tirith to prepare an assault on Mordor and usurp him as the Lord of Middle-earth. It would never occur to a creature so evil that his enemies would rather choose to destroy the weapon instead of claiming it for themselves.
From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak I fought with the Balrog of Morgoth. Until at last I threw down my enemy and smote his ruin upon the mountain side. Darkness took me and I strayed away through thought and time. Stars wheeled overhead and every day was as long as a life age of the earth. But it was not the end. I felt life in me again. I’ve been sent back until my task is done.
When Gandalf returned in ‘The Two Towers,’ he recounted his experience after he fell into the chasm in Khazad-dum. He had fallen to the very roots of the Mountain where he fought the Balrog through the deep tunnels of the Misty Mountains and up the Endless Stair which led to the tip of the Silvertine Mountain, built by Durin’s Folk. High up on that peak Gandalf finally defeated the Balrog and threw him down the slopes where its body broke on the rocks.
Having exhausted his spiritual energy and exerted his body beyond its limits, Gandalf lay on the cold rocks and gave up his Spirit. He was returned to his body by the Valar because his work was yet to be completed, and he was allowed more power than he had as Gandalf the Grey, making him Gandalf the White, and the leader of the Order of Wizards.
Friendship The Two Towers
Come, come! We are all friends here, or should be; for the laughter of Mordor will be our only reward if we quarrel. My errand is pressing. Here at least is my sword, goodman Hama. Keep it well. Glamdring it is called, for the Elves made it long ago. Now let me pass. Come, Aragorn!
When Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas got to the Great Hall of King Theoden in Edoras in ‘The Two Towers,’ the king’s guards refused the company entrance with their weapons. This surprised Gandald and Aragorn the most because they have each had a long friendship with the king. Each member of the company had reasons why they hold their weapons dearly and were loathe to hand them over to the guards.
Aragorn carried Anduril, the reforged blade of his ancestors and an heirloom of his House, Legolas had the bow and arrows given to him by Lady Galadriel of Lothlorien, and Gandalf carried the ancient Elven blade made in the days of the Elf lord Turgon of Gondolin. As they argued before the doors of the Golden Hall of Edoras, their tempers rose and as they almost came to blows, Gandalf stepped in in his wisdom and admonished them all that they would only make their Enemy happy by coming to blows and fighting.
It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something. That there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.
In this quote from ‘The Two Towers,’ Samwise Gamgee was trying to cheer Frodo up as they climbed the Stairs of Cirith Ungol. They were running low on lembas bread and water, and the Ring was taking a massive toll on Frodo’s spirit. Earlier they had encountered the Witch King riding his fell creature, and his influence nearly overcame Frodo. Sam reminded him not only of the importance of their quest, but of all the good things that awaited them at home in the Shire.
Why did Gollum lead the Hobbits through the Stairs of Cirith Ungol in ‘The Two Towers’?
As Gollum was leading the Frodo and Sam to Mordor he realized that they were too strong for him to overpower and reclaim the One Ring, and Sam also had the bright Elven knife. He devised a plan to lead them up the Stairs and into the Tunnels of Cirith Ungol where the giant spider Shelob lived, hoping to recover the Ring after she had eaten them.
Was Sauron aware of Shelob’s presence in the Tunnels in ‘The Two Towers’?
It was possible that Sauron knew of her presence and saw her as an ally. At the end of the Age of the Trees, Sauron’s master Morgoth allied himself with Shelob’s ancestor Ungoliant to invade Valinor and kill the Two Trees. Her presence in the Tunnels also served to protect Mordor’s western flank.
Why did Theoden’s guards demand that Gandalf and the Three Hunters leave their weapons by the doors of Meduseld in ‘The Two Towers’?
At the time Gandalf and the Three Hunters arrived at the Golden Hall in Edoras, Theoden, and his palace was under the control of Saruman’s servant, Wormtongue, who he had made his advisor. Under Wormtongue’s influence, Theoden’s mind had dulled, he was under a depressive spell, and his mind was poisoned against his friends. He was cured when Gandalf and his companions finally gained entrance, and Wormtongue was cast out.
Where did Ents originate from?
Ents were created by Eru for the Vala Yavanna when she discovered Aule’s children, the Dwarves, and knew they would cut down the trees she created and held dear for their forges. The Ents were charged with protecting trees and forests, and herding them.