From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
Of the three books of the Lord of the Rings series, The Two Towers is the one with the most distinct separation between its two volumes: the stories of Aragorn & Co. in Book Three and Frodo and Sam in Book Four barely overlap at all. How would it change the pacing and feel of the novel to alternate chapters between the two sets of characters, as Peter Jackson chose to do in his 2002 film adaptation? Do you find one storyline more entertaining or compelling than the other?
It's always struck us as a little weird that Gandalf reappears magically in the middle of The Two Towers after supposedly dying in Moria. We mean, yes, we get it, he's kind of an angel—he can't just be killed by some moldy old Balrog of Morgoth. But if Gandalf hadn't reappeared to help out Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, would The Two Towers have continued on in the same way? What would change in The Lord of the Rings with the permanent disappearance of Gandalf in the Mines of Moria?
It seems to us that Aragorn never considers Éowyn seriously as a romantic partner for a second in The Two Towers. He is "troubled and he did not smile" (3.6.147) when he realizes that Éowyn is attracted to him, which is not exactly a hopeful sign for their future relationship. How would The Two Towers be different if it did feature a bit more romance? Why does Tolkien choose to include Éowyn if she is only going to get her heart broken by aloof Aragorn?
At the beginning of The Two Towers Book Four, we get confirmation that Gollum has been tailing Frodo throughout pretty much all of TheFellowship of the Ring (since Frodo departed Rivendell with the Company at least). Gollum has seen nearly everything that has happened to Frodo up until this point. And starting with Book Four, Gollum has his own, active part in Frodo's adventures. How would the story of the War of the Ring look different if Gollum were telling it? What do you imagine a story told by Gollum would be like? Would you want to read it?
Of all the coincidences in this book, it feels pretty extreme that Frodo, Sam, and Faramir all happen to be in Ithilien at just the right time to run into each other before Frodo and Sam head into Mordor. Why does Tolkien include this accidental meeting between Faramir and Frodo? How does Faramir's behavior set up his plot arc in The Return of the King? How would Frodo's story change without this Faramir interlude?