Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsThe Two Towers Book 3 Chapter 7 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 7) : Helm's Deep | Summary

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Summary

Aragorn, Gandalf, Gimli, and Legolas accompany the Riders of Rohan as they travel toward Helm's Deep and the fortress called the Hornburg. Saruman's Orcs and other Men he's been able to recruit are out and about in Rohan, causing trouble, and Théoden gets word Erkenbrand of Westfold, a leader in Rohan, is on his way to meet Théoden's forces at Helm's Deep, where they will all make their stand against Saruman. Gandalf goes his own way, promising to catch up with the rest later.

Arriving at the Hornburg, they are disappointed that Erkenbrand has not yet arrived, but they enter and take up positions to defend it anyway. Outside the Deeping Wall, Saruman's forces gather all night long, and in the morning the fighting begins. Aragorn and the others fight tirelessly, but they are outnumbered and the battle does not go well.

When it looks as if they might lose, however, Gandalf arrives, leading Erkenbrand and his soldiers. Saruman's forces are trapped between those defending the Hornburg and the newly arriving army. They scatter, running frantically into a forest that has mysteriously appeared nearby. They are never seen again.

Analysis

The Hornburg, a fortress first built by Gondor and later given to Rohan, is located in the deep valley or ravine called Helm's Deep, among the White Mountains. Its location and the surrounding mountains make it easily defensible. This strong position provides a bit of drama, as an overwhelming number of Orcs assemble and attack such a legendary fortress known for its impenetrability. Had Saruman's forces won, the blow would have been great—both physically and mentally.

The mysterious moving forest is Tolkien's reworking of an event in Macbeth. In Shakespeare's play, one of the prophecies concerning Macbeth is that he will not be defeated until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane Hill. Of course, the prophecy was fulfilled when men carrying tree branches attack Macbeth. Tolkien found this unsatisfying, so he created the Ents and the huorns—trees that have become somewhat sentient—to create a moving forest that can take an active part in the battle.

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