Last time I talked a bit about providence in the Lord of the Rings, first chronologically, and then when it was getting too complicated to do that, I switched to topics, though it mainly involved people. Today I am just going to pick up from where I left off. If you haven’t read part one, click here to read it, and then come back to read more.
Boromir is next. He had enormous pressure put on him by his father Denethor, and this caused him to be less cautious in his dealings with the Ring. What if he didn’t have that pressure? I mean we see Boromir’s treachery as an evil thing. But was it? If Boromir had not attacked Frodo and tried to take the Ring, Frodo would not have necessarily have had the courage to run away from the Fellowship. What if he had not had that push, and had hidden with Merry and Pippin? Would he not have been captured by the Uruk-kai, for we all know that Frodo was not much help when it came to fighting. In the three or four days that the hobbits were prisoners, would he not have felt several fits come upon him to slip in the Ring and brought more attention to himself? Sam would not have been there with him to stop him from succumbing to it.
Also, if Frodo had stayed with the Fellowship, I do not think Gollum would have dared to try to attack Frodo, which turned out to be a good thing for the Quest, as he was able to lead them, ultimately, to the only possible way for them to get into Mordor. Aragorn would have taken the Fellowship to Minas Tirith, and Denethor, or another man, would have taken the Ring for their own. Of course, I can only surmise that this would happen, as Frodo left the Fellowship, and the Ring was taken into Mordor by route of Cirith Ungol.
What about the capture of Merry and Pippin? Wasn’t that a “disaster” that turned out to be the best thing that possibly could have happened? If Merry and Pippin hadn’t been captured, Aragorn would have gone directly to Minas Tirith and wouldn’t have been there for Rohan when they needed him. The two hobbits also wouldn’t have been able to meet Treebeard and stir up the Ents for war. Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the two hobbits would also have not rejoined Gandalf, who was now the White Wizard.
Because Merry and Pippin were taken to Isengard by the Ents, Pippin got a hold of the palantir, which bought Frodo and Sam more time, as the enemy thought that Pippin had the Ring and was held captive by Saruman. Also, Aragorn was able to use the palantir at the opportune moment.
Because Pippin looked into the palantir, he went to Minas Tirith with Gandalf, and was both able to build his own character apart from Merry and save Faramir when his father threatened to burn him alive.
Moving on, we get to Frodo and Sam. I have already mentioned that it was good that the whole Fellowship didn’t go to Mordor, but I don’t think I said anything about why it was absolutely necessary for Sam to go. Sam is, I believe, the true hero of this story. Frodo wouldn’t have gotten far without Sam.
It was Sam who prevented Frodo from slipping on the Ring several times, and it was Sam who ended up carrying Frodo bodily up the sides of Mount Doom. Ir was Sam who saved Frodo on several occasions, like after Frodo had been captured by the orcs after the attack of Shelob, and Sam comes in, after saving everybody by taking the Ring, and frees Frodo. All this while still being so humble and encouraging. And you wonder why Sam is my favorite character.
Hang in there; we are almost at the end.
Next comes the attack of Shelob and the treachery of Gollum. You don’t get the full feel of it in the movie, but in the books, Frodo and Sam are wondering with dispair how on Middle Earth they are going to get past the sentries who guard the pass into Mordor. The Sentries are there because orcs try to get out and desert. When Shelob stings Frodo, and the orcs take him into the Tower of Cirith Ungol, where they fight over Frodo’s mithril shirt, and kill off one another, until there’s just a few left. Sam finds some courage and kills the remaining orcs, and free Frodo. Now they are disguised in orc gear, which helps them get across the plains of Gorgoroth later.
The last remaining act of providence that I will mention here is when Frodo claims the Ring for his own. First I am going to tell you the implications it had on the actual story, and then I will add my own sort of reflection. Frodo had to claim the Ring. He had to. You can’t blame him. Blame Tolkien. Because he claimed the Ring, Gollum was able to step in and fight him, and since we all know what happens to Gollum, I needn’t say more. I personally believe that Gollum couldn’t have shaken off the power of the Ring, and would have been so torn up inside that he would have killed himself or worse. Feel free to disagree with me, and even feel free to present your case in the comments below, for I am not set in this opinion.
Now, here’s why I think Frodo had to claim the Ring.
We all play with fire. Don’t try to deny it. We have all played with something we knew was dangerous for us, physically and spiritually, and most of us got burnt. We all fall short. Every single one of Tolkien’s characters are not capable of finishing this job on their own. If one of them could do it, and throw the Ring in the fire after carrying it all the way to Mordor, they would be too great to be real. Hobbits seem to be able to resist the evil better than the others, but they are not invincible. They are weak, same as the rest of us. If Tolkien, who didn’t mean for the trilogy to be an allegory I don’t think, had shown us one person who could have resisted the evil and thrown it in, even with a lot of hesitation, it would be almost as though he were telling us that we, real people, can defeat evil on our own. Oh sure, we get help from our friends, who are all trying to defeat their own problems, but ultimately, it is us who defeats it. Us, and us alone.
This is not true. We are incapable of defeating any evil on our own. God alone must help us, and that is exactly what happened all throughout the Lord of the Rings. We see through the acts of providence, moving towards the defeat of this evil, that everyone work together, and that though none can see all ends, nevertheless the ends are set. Every person has a job to do, but if left unto themselves, they would only hasten their defeat. As it is, because we are directed by an all knowing God, we can be used for His purpose.
For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, Not of works, lest any man should boast himself. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath ordained, that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:8-10)
Thus passes the long account of Providence in the Lord of the Rings.
Let me know in the comments section below what acts of Providence you found that I didn’t mention, or just feel free to expound on ones I did talk a little bit about. And, as I said above, if you disagree with me about Gollum, well, you know what to do.