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Course Hero. "The Lord of the Rings Study Guide." December 2, 2016. Accessed January 16, 2019.


Course Hero, "The Lord of the Rings Study Guide," December 2, 2016, accessed January 16, 2019,

The Lord of the Rings | Motifs


Character Pairs

Characters often occur in pairs in the story. Pairs of friends, such as Sam and Frodo, or Legolas and Gimli, show the comfort to be found in friendship, even a bond between unlikely friends such as a Dwarf and an Elf. Pairs of characters also show the effect of good versus evil choices: Gollum is a hobbit-like creature who gave in to the Ring's corruption, while Frodo shows what the same type of person looks like if he resists evil. Saruman shows what a wizard is like when he makes evil choices and becomes corrupt, while Gandalf shows what the influence of good can do. Boromir shows how the Ring can corrupt a man, while Faramir shows what happens to a man when he resists its evil.

Parting Ways

Farewells play a large role in the plot and set the bittersweet mood of The Lord of the Rings. The Third Age is passing away, and the Age of Men begins with the destruction of the One Ring and the restoration of the line of kings to Gondor. The Elves, who are strongly connected to nature, are leaving Middle-earth—crossing the sea in large ships. In helping to destroy the Ring, they hasten their own departure, as Galadriel points out. Therefore, the partings that take place in the book—the initial breaking of the Fellowship at Amon Hen, the parting at Lothlórien, the final parting of Frodo and Bilbo from the Shire, among others—echo this overall parting of ways that provides the backdrop of the story.


The quest moves from city to city, and the cities reflect important aspects of those who live in them. For example, Caras Galadhon, the city of Lothlórien, has dwelling places built on platforms in tall trees, showing the Elves' preference for living in harmony with nature, and with trees especially. Minas Tirith, in contrast, though built into the side of a mountain, rises imposingly out of the landscape and is a large, complex city. It is fashioned in seven levels, the uppermost being the level on which the king's residence and throne room are located. This structure reflects the way Men stand strong and proud in opposition to Mordor.

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