Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Two Towers Book 3 Chapter 4 Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | The Two Towers (Book 3, Chapter 4) : Treebeard | Summary

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Summary

The two hobbits, entering Fangorn Forest, find themselves soon lost. They try to figure out where they are, and come to appreciate the forest. But when Pippin says, "This shaggy old forest looked so different in the sunlight. I almost felt I liked the place," a strange voice says, "Almost felt you liked the Forest! That's good! That's uncommonly kind of you." It turns out to be the voice of an Ent named Treebeard, an ancient, tree-like creature who shepherds the trees in the forest. Treebeard becomes friends with Merry and Pippin, and carries them back to a place where they can stay overnight.

Treebeard gives Merry and Pippin a drink of water he says is sustenance for Ents, and asks them to share their story. In turn, he tells the hobbits a little about the history of Ents. Eventually, the subject comes around to wizards, and Treebeard wonders aloud about Gandalf and Saruman. Because Saruman lives nearby, Treebeard is aware of his destructive actions: the wizard has been breeding a new kind of Orc (the Uruk-hai) and cutting down many trees.

Treebeard decides he will try to get the other Ents to do something about Saruman. Several of the Ents gather for an Entmoot—a kind of council—and after days of talking about the issue, they decide to take action against Saruman. They set off, singing, for Isengard. The trees of Fangorn forest seem to follow the Ents.

Analysis

In this chapter, readers are introduced to Treebeard, an Ent, and to the race of Ents. They are an ancient race of tree-herders—and as a result, they have accumulated a great store of knowledge about the world, including a summary of the four "free peoples" of Middle-earth: "Eldest of all, the elf-children; Dwarf the delver, dark are his houses; Ent the earthborn, old as mountains; Man the mortal, master of horses." The hobbits complain they are not represented in this list.

Through Treebeard, several important ideas about language and storymaking are expressed. Ents evidently have memorized lists of the names of all the creatures, and Treebeard notes it was Elves who "made all the old words." He also suggests a person or place's name tells part of its story: "Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language." As an example, he tells them Lothlórien was once called Laurelindórenan, which makes sense because the shorter name reflects the fact that it is fading. Treebeard also notices Pippin and Merry speak about Gandalf in the past tense: "But you speak of Master Gandalf, as if he was in a story that had come to an end." Pippin replies, "The story seems to be going on, but I am afraid Gandalf has fallen out of it."

The sentience of the trees of the Old Forest—and Old Man Willow—is also explained in this chapter. Treebeard tells them many of the trees "are half awake. Some are quite wide awake." He says when trees awaken, "you find that some have bad hearts." He admits the Old Forest, near the Shire, likely has some of these bad-hearted trees. The theme of fighting the good fight comes into play here once again, as Treebeard calls the Ents to fight Saruman for the cause of all Ent-kind.

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