Book II, Chapter Seven: The Mirror of Galadriel
Caras Galadon is the central city of the elves in Lorien and this is where the group meets Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel. They had been expecting Gandalf to arrive and so, they are deeply saddened to hear about his death at Moria. Several times, Galadriel looks into the hearts of the travelers so that she can perceive their intentions. She is testing them to see if they are steadfast on their quest. In Lorien, Frodo and the others are enjoying a peaceful and beautiful country and this lasts for several days. Of course, this must soon come to an end and one afternoon, Galadriel invites Frodo and Sam to look into the Mirror of Galadriel. When Sam looks, he sees that the land of the hobbits is being destroyed and he desires to return home. When Frodo looks into the mirror, he sees the great and evil eye of Sauron searching for him, but while Frodo can see Sauron, Sauron cannot see him. After this awakening, Frodo can also see that Galadriel is wearing one of the rings. Discussing the rings with Galadriel, Frodo offers to give her his ring, so that Lorien might not be destroyed. Galadriel is sorely tempted but in the end she passes the test and refuses to accept the ring. For even if she operates with the best of intentions, the evil of the ring must eventually overtake her. She would much rather se the rings destroyed and lose her own power, even as Sauron's reign is destroyed.
Lady Galadriel stands as a symbol of her people and of sacrifice. Here, she has the opportunity to claim limitless power and immortality for herself, but she understands that there must be a balance between one era and the next. Furthermore, she understands the contaminating powers of the ring and she warns Frodo that he must use his enhanced sight but nonetheless avoid wearing the ring. Otherwise, Sauron will be able to find him. The themes of vision, hiding and surveillance have been a part of this novel from the start, but the mirror motif adds another element to the story. In one sense, the "mirror, mirror on the wall" is familiar from children's literature (fairy tales). At the same time, the mirror allows the viewer to see himself - or in the cases of Sam and Frodo, the viewers see themselves in what is most dear to them. The literary tradition of the elusive oracle dates back to ancient Greek mythology. Galadriel and her mirror are definitely within this vein; instead of offering simple prophecies, the mirror presents scenes of "things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be."
Book II, Chapter Eight: Farewell to Lórien
When the group prepares to leave, they have the option of staying in Lorien, but they are all going to leave and continue on their journey. It is not clear that they are all going to the same place, however. As they are traveling by boat, they have a few days left to decide whether they are going to go their separate ways. It is clear that Boromir wants to go to Minas Tirith but this is not along the route that directly leads them to their mission. Galadriel gives each of them a gift (including a phial of water containing a brilliant light - for Frodo). As she sings to the group, the distance between Lorien and the boats only widens. Lorien seems to fall into the sea and voyagers clearly see that they will never behold that beautiful place ever again.
Again, the tone of the story has become depressing and somber. Without the imminent battle-sounds or the drums of Moria, Lorien is dying. The courage of the elf-queen is seen in her willingness to sacrifice her power to defeat the evil of Sauron - and yet, it is unclear whether the voyagers are agreed on a purpose. Frodo is growing wiser and his character is increasingly distinct from the others. The light of Earendil's star is a symbol of hope and goodness; if the elves cannot preserve Lorien for all of time, Galadriel can nonetheless, pledge her allegiance to Frodo's cause and offer a gift that may prove useful in the long run. The length of the voyage ahead is daunting - remember we are approaching the end of the first novel of a trilogy. The group's inability to agree on a course foreshadows the inevitable dissolution of the group. At this point, all seems guided by fate: the gift of the sword, Anduril, to Aragorn and the arrival of Frodo, the ring-bearer were both pre-ordained and destined to come to pass. While Lorien enters her twilight though, we can only hope that Frodo is only now coming into his own; while Lorien is in her archetypal autumn, Frodo is entering the summer of his middle-age and strength.
Book II, Chapter Nine: The Great River
This chapter recounts ten days of travel along the Anduin River. The first few days are peaceful but one night, Sam spots a log in the water that seems rather ominous. There are two eyes shining in the murk and it does not take long to confirm that this is Gollum. After escaping from custody (quite a few chapters ago), Gollum began tracking the group once they left the caves of Moria. When the company reaches the challenging rapids of Sarn Gebir, they discover themselves in an ambush, with arrows flying overhead and an abundance of orcs. An incredible shadowy shape rises from the east and speeds towards the ship, churning up the evil groans of its compatriots, as it glides upon the water. Legolas shoots a perfectly aimed arrow into the creature, felling it. After this, they hear sounds of mourning and while Frodo has a good suspicion regarding this creature's identity, it remains unsaid. After the rapids, the company continues to Amon Hen at the river's end.
One of the more interesting details of this chapter is Tolkien's consistent reference to the East as the source of the evil winged spirits that threaten to overtake the company. We might recall the people of Westernesse for a suitable contrast. Considering Tolkien's context, writing in the wake of the Second World War, several critics suggest an equation that links the dark and alien orcs with the multiple foes of Britain and her allies - all to the East (Germany, Japan). The black winged creatures that are presented in this chapter are all symbolic of the fallen angel, Lucifer, as understood in Biblical terms. The fall of the especially fearsome shadow-bird is an image consistent with the lightning-bolt fall of Lucifer, from heaven. Especially in the night scenes, Frodo's character takes on more of a leadership role as a guardian and his decision to forego an explanation of who/what the dark shadow was suggests that he has inherited the wisdom exemplified by Gandalf and Galadriel, before him. Again, it remains so important to leave evil things and names unspoken; at the same time, Legolas knows to call upon the name "Elbereth Gilthoniel" and we can only conclude that this is what supplied him with the courage and power necessary for felling the wicked creature. Finally, the themes of sight and surveillance are demonstrated first, in the continued necessity for the company to hide from Sauron's forces and more dramatically, in Gollum's submarine-style espionage.
Book II, Chapter Ten: The Breaking of the Fellowship
The conclusion of the first book of the trilogy is not very pleasant, by any standard. Frodo must decide whether he will divert his course to Minas Tirith or continue towards Mordor. Frodo takes some time alone, to make his decision, but Boromir follows Frodo into the forest. Explaining his point-of-view, Boromir ultimately decides that Frodo ought to give up the Ring; of course, Frodo has grown more perceptive over time and he has long held Boromir in suspicion. When the man lunges at Frodo, to get the ring, Frodo slips the ring on - and disappears.
In this, Frodo leaves one adversary and finds several more. With his spiritual eyes, Frodo sees all of the forces of evil gathering in immense flocks; he sees Minas Tirith under siege and Mordor, in all of its evil splendor. But then, Frodo feels the probing eye of Sauron; Frodo has worn the ring too long and the evil eye has felt itself being spied upon. The eye is furiously searching and a voice, resembling Gandalf's, tells Frodo: "Take it off! Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!" Frodo takes off the ring and he is only barely spared. Looking up at the sky, Frodo sees a menacing dark arm that was headed towards him; now, it has veered towards the west, having missed its mark.
Frodo intends to go to Mordor alone; he does not want his friends to suffer and he also knows that they will talk him out of his journey - this is something he knows he must do. After Frodo has been gone for well over an hour and Boromir re-appears at the scene, the rest of the company begins searching for Frodo. Sam eventually finds his friend and, unswerving to the end, he refuses to leave his side. And so the two hobbits continue without the others: "shouldering their burdens, they set off, seeking a path that would bring them over the grey hills of the Emyn Muil, and down into the Land of Shadow."
The tone of the final lines of the book are considerably lighter than what immediately precedes; the friendship and reunion of Sam and Frodo is unmarked by any catastrophes. The second book, The Two Towers, promises a new series of challenges, however. Already, the ring has corrupted Boromir, and for all of the "fatalism" and working of destiny in the book, Tolkien's final emphasis is on individual responsibility, the burdens of our own choosing and the ultimately determining power of free will. In regards to the destructive temptations of Frodo's ring, we find Frodo's struggle to be an allegory for the struggle of man between good and evil, duty and betrayal: "The two powers strove in him [Frodo]. For a moment, perfectly balanced between their piercing points, he writhed, tormented. Suddenly he was aware of himself again. Frodo, neither the Voice nor the Eye: free to choose, and with one remaining instant in which to do so. He took the Ring off his finger." Frodo's understated heroism comes without fanfare and valor in battle. He masters his will, and so long as he can continue to do this, he can outlast his overpowering enemy. In allegorical terms, Boromir's betrayal of Frodo in the forest is intended to parallel Judas' betrayal of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, the emphasis is not on Frodo's sacrificial potential, but on the loneliness of his path. Fortunately, Sam will accompany him at least a little while longer, for, as Merry said, "it would be mad and cruel to let Frodo go to Mordor." Here, Frodo must fulfill the duty that has been assigned to him, regardless of the associated peril.