Concerning "Lord of the Rings":
If you doubt Galadriel, Queen of Elves, then it reflects only your own evil, so says Aragorn.
How quickly did we pass this one over when we first read it... this homage to keeping someone immune to critical scrutiny, this making of her into Kim Jong-on?
- - - - -
Saruman has always been jealous of Gandalf.
Really? Saruman is the head of the council, the innovator, the only one in Middle-earth who doesn't not want the old ways to always dwarf the efforts of the new, and he's the one who's jealous? Gandalf IS favoured by Galadriel, and always has been, and though this surely means a lot to Gandalf, it may not actually mean much to Saruman if he's passed on from finding much pleasure in being so obedient of old rules principally because it makes you mom's favourite, towards finding pleasure in accomplishing his own goals. When Gandalf lists all the ways in which Saruman has not ACTUALLY accomplished all that he seems to have, how it's all in truth a copy of someone else, doesn't he seem here a bit someone who is speaking in jealousy of another's accomplishments? Isn't this behaviour we would expect of someone suffering from envy?
- - - - -
"Faithful heart may have forward tongue." So says Eomar to Theoden.
How deeply is this lesson manifested in the text? Who has a more forward tongue than Wormtongue, Sauron's Messenger, and Saruman, and who are they but those who must cease their slippery, snakish dialogues by nothing better than a quick fist to the face? What is this but an attempt to make it seem like you've owned every possible criticism of you -- like that you generally make it impossible to criticize people because the very act of criticism defines you as the one critical attention must actually be put to -- i.e., Aragorn's crime.
- - - - -
Gandalf has Merry and Pippin along on his trail as sidesaddle.
Saruman the wanderer has Wormtongue on his trail as sidesaddle.
What is this matching but to communicate that should Merry and Pippin go further along on their tendency to be disobedient, they're due not to be those who can still learn their lessons via suffering "burned hands" but those who can be kicked viciously about by a grumpy, intimidating master, they'll still find themselves needing to cling to? Wormtongue, his fate -- miserable, endlessly picked on, humiliated -- is the abject lesson everyone else intuits from, that keeps them from rebelling against ancient authorities and striking out on their own.
- - - - -
Bilbo lives a great life, but is to some extent pressured the whole way by relatives and kinsmen who think there is something unnatural about his wealth and immunity to aging. His ample gift-giving helps -- especially that of his troll-treasure, which he gives away entirely for it not really being his but stuff belonging to other travellers --but he's holding onto things -- the text even admits -- much longer than he should, without earning RIGHTEOUS retribution.
Frodo gets none of this. He's barely got his inheritance before he forsakes it to Bilbo's most pressing relative, Lobelia. He goes out adventuring and gets stabbed by a wraith, buried in with undead ghouls, is grabbed at lustily by a great warrior who looms over him, is molested by Orcs, and withers into a faint shell that must be carried around by his servant. Afterwards, he can barely celebrate victory with his comrades for being so drained, and is lost quickly enough to Middle-earth entire. He has, in short, this adopted son of Bilbo, exactly none of the good fun Bilbo had, even though there are times where he comes across in quite excellent stature -- i.e., the way he engages with Galadriel, Gollum, and Faramir.
This is what but the sacrifice of young for elders' accruing guilt-inspiring wealth and prosperity? The text hardly proves true in really lamenting when a son dies before father... it encourages it so much it seems the whole point of the book: because Bilbo had actual fun with a dragon and got buckets of treasure to boot, Frodo has to know only the fire.
- - - - -
Galadriel and Gandalf become by the end absolutely outside others' rightful questioning. But isn't there something a bit guilty about Galadriel's being identified -- almost caught out -- as still being in possession of a ring of power herself? The text plays out a bit as if someone had caught site of it and allowed itself to register THAT, but otherwise strove to seem as loyal to her as possible so to not be caught out in this register of suspicion: hence, the subsequent plot development of Gimli declaring life-long fidelity to her. By Return of the King we're long passed doubting Gandalf -- he's right about everything. But somewhere ensconced in this reign of absolute fidelity to him, he himself registers that Merry's aid in the defeat of the Nazgul King proved that he was right to have resisted Elrond and insisted Merry and Pippin be the final members of the Fellowship, something he had actually been doubting. Somehow the text has served to make "doubt" something he himself could own up to but which we've long been dissuaded from. It's made us the very opposite of those who'd ever speak forward tongue against him, but only those who can be shown up and shamed, put back in place -- if need be -- for being so ready to agree we couldn't offer requisite unflattering feedback even if such was absolutely called for.
- - - - -
The text is everywhere forwarning against taking the easy way.
If you take an easy way, is it because you'll be caught out more quickly or because that way you won't be able to display bravado in face of fears, accumulate as many scars that show how much you'd born upon yourself? Bilbo still lived at a time where the best way to be was to come out of adventures and seem happy as can be: absolutely ready to lounge and enjoy oneself. Sam, Merry and Pippin at a time when the best way to return is where there's always a glint of steel to be found in your eyes, and that you never quite forget amidst all the golden days returned that Orcs once tortured you and that evil will never be quite quit from the world.