| Quote #1
"The counsel of Gandalf was not founded on foreknowledge of safety, for himself or for others," said Aragorn. "There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark." (3.2.195-8)
Just before Aragorn gives us this dose of Middle-earth wisdom, Gimli was busy regretting that Merry and Pippin ever came on the expedition in the first place. To be fair, he thinks they have been murdered by orcs. All the same, Aragorn answers that there "are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse," even if you might die at the end of it, and that's why Gandalf was all for the hobbits tagging along for the journey. What things do you think he's talking about? What do you think might be worth starting, "even though the end may be dark"?
| Quote #2
"Hoom, hm, I have not troubled about the Great Wars," said Treebeard; "they mostly concern Elves and Men. That is the business of Wizards: Wizards are always troubled about the future. I do not like worrying about the future. I am not altogether on anybody's side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me: nobody cares for the woods as I care for them, not even Elves nowadays. […] And there are some things, of course, whose side I am altogether not on; I am against them altogether: these—burárum" (he again made a deep rumble of disgust) "—these Orcs, and their masters." (3.4.84)
You know whom Treebeard reminds us of here? The Riders of Rohan (whom we discuss in the "Quotes and Thoughts" section on "Isolation"). Like them, he doesn't want to declare himself against or for Sauron. He just wants to be left alone. But even though he is a mostly neutral party by inclination, the presence of Saruman as his neighbor is bringing the war to him. Treebeard can't stay out of the coming conflict now that Saruman's damaging power is spreading to the Forest of Fangorn. That's the horrifying thing about a world war: it cannot be contained to one place by definition, so no one can truly stay out of it, not even, apparently, a tree-herd.
| Quote #3
I think that I now understand what [Saruman] is up to. He is plotting to become a Power. He has a mind of metal and wheels; and he does not care for growing things, except as far as they serve him for the moment. And now it is clear that he is a black traitor. He has taken up with foul folk, with the Orcs. (3.4.89)
All of the things that are lovely in this novel are associated with nature: the elf-realms of Lothlórien and Rivendell are both wooded paradises. That's not to say that nature is without its dangers (just see the Old Forest chapters of The Fellowship of the Ring) but still, the elves' attention to beasts, trees, and the natural world is one of the things that marks them as Good People. Then you've got the baddies, like Saruman, whose mind is of "metal and wheels." This juxtaposition of human machinery (bad) with nature (good) tells you something about what Tolkien probably thought of industrial development and factories.