The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring Fear Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph) / (Prologue.Section.Paragraph)
Terror overcame Pippin and Merry, and they threw themselves flat on the ground. Sam shrank to Frodo's side. Frodo was hardly less terrified than his companions; he was quaking as if he was bitter cold, but his terror was swallowed up in a sudden temptation to put on the Ring. The desire to do this laid hold of him, and he could think of nothing else. He did not forget the Barrow, nor the message of Gandalf; but something seemed to be compelling him to disregard all warnings, and he longed to yield. Not with the hope of escape, or of doing anything, either good or bad: he simply felt that he must take the Ring and put it on his finger. (1.11.144)
Even though Merry and Pippin have seen the Black Riders, at least from a distance, this direct confrontation still fills them with so much terror that they simply throw themselves to the ground in fear. Sam also can't raise a hand against them. Frodo is torn: the Black Riders do succeed in compelling him to put on the Ring, but Frodo also raises his sword against the Witch-king of Angmar, which none of the other Hobbits manage. So he's both more vulnerable and stronger than the others.
Pippin felt curiously attracted by the well. […] Moved by a sudden impulse he groped for a loose stone, and let it drop. He felt his heart beat many times before there was any sound. Then far below, as if the stone had fallen into deep water in some cavernous place, there came a plunk, very distant, but magnified and repeated in the hollow shaft.
"What's that?" cried Gandalf. He was relieved when Pippin confessed what he had done, but he was angry, and Pippin could see his eye glinting. "Fool of a Took!" he growled. "This is a serious journey, not a Hobbit waling-party. Throw yourself in next time, and then you will be no further nuisance. Now be quiet!" (2.4.160-1)
Here, Pippin throws a stone into a deep hole in the Mines of Moria, thus alerting the Orcs to the Company's presence. The fear is two-fold in this section: first, there is Pippin, who does not have enough fear for his own good. If he were more fearful, he would also be more cautious. Courage is all very well, but you have to know when not to draw attention to yourself, and that's a lesson Pippin hasn't learned yet. But there is also the intense suspense that this scene provides for the reader. Tolkien has already ramped up our sense of dread by emphasizing Frodo's fearfulness as he keeps all of his senses on high alert in the dark of the tunnels. Pippin's little adventure with the old well raises the reader's fear of what's going to happen next. The whole Mines of Moria sequence is incredibly tense.
"It is grim reading," [Gandalf] said. "I fear their end was cruel. Listen! We cannot get out. We cannot get out. They have taken the Bridge and second hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there. Then there are four lines smeared so that I can only read went 5 days ago. The last lines run the pool is up to the wall at Westgate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin. We cannot get out. The end comes, and then, drums, drums in the deep. I wonder what that means. The last thing written is in a trailing scrawl of Elf letters: they are coming. There is nothing more." Gandalf paused and stood in silent thought.
A sudden dread and a horror of the chamber fell on the Company.
This confrontation with the fates of Balin, Ori, and Óin thirty years before in the Mines of Moria plays on common human fears. First, the fear of being buried alive. They can't get out of their tunnels! It makes us claustrophobic just to think about. And second, the fear of being hunted. There is absolutely no escape, and the Dwarves know it. *Shudder*. The content of this passage is terrifying enough, but Tolkien also ramps up the horror by showing us that even brave characters like Gimli and Aragorn are filled with "a sudden dread." If this material is scary enough to frighten this Fellowship, then the average reader is going to be doubly horrified.