The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring Compassion and Forgiveness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph) / (Prologue.Section.Paragraph)
"Travellers scowl at us, and countrymen give us scornful names. 'Strider' I am to one fat man who lives within a day's march of foes that would freeze his heart, or lay his little town in ruin, if he were not guarded ceaselessly. Yet we would not have it otherwise. If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so. That has been the task of my kindred, while the years have lengthened and the grass has grown. (2.2.68)
Aragorn has been fighting evil with the Rangers for many long years in secret, with little credit or acknowledgment from the country folk he is protecting. He doesn't work against the agents of Mordor for the glory of it. He does it because he wants to protect the innocent people of Middle-earth. But what do you think of this notion that the knowledge of evil itself would be dangerous to the countrymen Aragorn is protecting? Would you rather know the worst or live in blissful ignorance? If these countrymen were aware of what was lurking on their borders, do you think they would help protect themselves? What are the potential dangers of keeping people unaware of their danger?
"I am sorry, Sam," said the Wizard. "But when the Door opens I do not think you will be able to drag your Bill inside, into the long dark of Moria. You will have to choose between Bill and your master." [...]
Sam stood sullenly by the pony and returned no answer. Bill, seeming to understand well what was going on, nuzzled up to him, putting his nose in Sam's ear. Sam burst into tears, and fumbled with the straps, unloading all the pony's packs and throwing them on the ground. (2.4.82, 85)
Tolkien seems to have a special liking for horses and ponies: he gives Bill the pony a proper send-off here, when poor Bill can't accompany his beloved Sam into Moria. But more important than Tolkien's representation of Bill the pony is what this scene shows us about Sam: Sam has an unusual way with animals, and he is so big-hearted that he bursts into tears at the thought of send his pony off (possibly) to die in the wilderness. Sam's compassion shines through in this scene. At the same time, Sam's sentimentality and impracticality make him seem rather child-like, in sharp contrast to sturdy men like Aragorn. This scene might make it harder for us to take Sam seriously as a character. Why should Sam's compassion make him seem less serious?
"Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dûm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone." She looked upon Gimli, who sat glowering and sad, and she smiled. And the Dwarf, hearing the names given in his own ancient tongue, looked up and met her eyes; and it seem to him that he looked suddenly into the heart of an enemy and saw there love and understanding. Wonder came into his face and then he smiled in answer.
He rose clumsily and bowed in Dwarf-fashion, saying: "Yet more fair is the living land of Lórien, and the Lady Galadriel is above all the jewels that lie beneath the earth!" (2.7.28-9)
Galadriel single-handedly overcomes the tension between Gimli and all Elves when she recites to him the words, "Dark is the water of Kheled-zâram, and cold are the springs of Kibil-nâla, and fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dûm." These are the same lines Gimli recites before he sees Moria (see 2.3.98). Gimli immediately realizes that Galadriel has compassion for his plight. His people have long been exiled from their ancestral home, and he was eager for a glimpse of Moria – and who wouldn't be? If your family had a castle they couldn't live in because of a "nameless fear" (2.2.14), wouldn't you jump at the chance to see it? There is an important moral lesson in Galadriel's compassion for Gimli: all it takes is a little unexpected sympathy for Gimli to (figuratively) fall at Galadriel's feet. Along with Bilbo's compassion for Gollum, this scene of understanding between Galadriel and Gimli reaffirms the importance of compassion to Tolkien's moral system.