The Return of the King
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Return of the King Good vs. Evil Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph).
"Good tidings!" cried Éomer. "Even in this gloom hope gleams again. Our Enemy's devices oft serve us in his despite. The accursed darkness itself has been a cloak to us. And now, lusting to destroy Gondor and throw it down stone from stone, his orcs have taken away my greatest fear. The out-wall could have been held long against us. Now we can sweep through—if once we win so far." (5.5.36)
In one of Tolkien's many, many letters to his son Christopher, he comments: "All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labours with vast powers and perpetual success—in vain: preparing always only the soil for unexpected good to sprout in" (source, pg. 76) In other words, even as evil works hard to achieve its goals, all it does is pave the way for "unexpected good." Evil holds the seeds of its own destruction. Here, Éomer echoes his creator's words: Sauron's darkness is actually giving cover to the side of Good, as the Riders of Rohan travel to Gondor. In the middle of all of the wickedness that is covering Middle-earth, the Good side can still find hope in the fact that Evil is so destructive that it even damages itself. Smooth move, Sauron.
Do I not know thee, Mithrandir? Thy hope is to rule in my stead, to stand behind every throne, north, south, or west. I have read thy mind and its policies. Do I not know that you have commanded this halfling here to keep silence? That you brought him hither to be a spy within my very chamber? And yet in our speech together I have learned the names and purpose of all thy companions. So! With the left hand thou wouldst use me for a little while as a shield against Mordor, and with the right bring up this Ranger of the North to supplant me. (5.7.36)
Um, jealous much, Denethor? Even before Denethor looks into the palantír, there is obviously trouble brewing between him and Gandalf. And it is difficult to imagine such a proud man willfully stepping aside for Aragorn once he arrives. Unfortunately, this means that when the time comes, Sauron plays on Denethor's pride and ego like a violin. All of the things Denethor shouts at Gandalf in the House of the Stewards are merely amplifications and exaggerations of his own, earlier jealousy of Gandalf, suspicion of Pippin, and resentment of Aragorn. Denethor is a strong man in many ways, but his pride makes him vulnerable to Sauron's manipulations. His big ego makes him an easy target for evil.
Concerning this thing [the Ring], my lords, you now all know enough for the understanding of our plight, and of Sauron's. If he regains it, your valour is in vain, and his victory will be swift and complete: so complete that none can foresee the end of it while this world lasts. If it is destroyed, then he will fall; […] And so a great evil of this world will be removed.
Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who life after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule. (5.9.61-2)
Gandalf's account of the war against Sauron contains hints of a larger Good-vs.-Evil spiritual worldview. For example, Gandalf notes that, as wicked as Sauron is, he is also "but a servant or emissary" of a larger Big Bad, implicit in creation itself. By contrast, Gandalf describes himself as "a steward" of "all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands" (5.1.87). In other words, he, too, is a servant or emissary, but of the light force rather than the dark. So while we are watching a war between servants of larger forces of light and dark, the actual nature of these forces (be they God and Satan or Good and Evil more generally) remains pretty undefined in The Lord of the Rings.