Thread: Psychoanalysis and LOTR
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But your thesis is absolutely stunning on the other hand .. not only was it most beautifully written but also very insightful. hey .. just a suggestion but you could have dont your thesis on Sil. i mean personally among all of Tolkiens works that is the one that most captures my imagination. and the story of Beren and Luthien would really go to prove the pleasure/reality concept. but i have a question for you Eruwen .. how would the story of Hurins children fit into this .. i mean thats a serious case of Oedipal complex. could you give your psychoanalytic views on the story of Turin and Nienna ?? i hope im not troubling you.
And i hope you get the best grade or whatever for your thesis .. its truly amazing.
could you give your psychoanalytic views on the story of Turin and Nienna ??
Túrin and Níniel, not Túrin and Nienna.
I can understand and sympathize that you should want to bring a work you love very much, LOTR, into the field of study you have pursued, psychoanalysis. However, to point out what Tolkien probably said more succinctly, I wonder how accurate a psychoanalysis of a work of literature can be without recourse to a living author. In essence, you must not merely analyze the one work to get at Tolkien, you must analyze all his works and then sit down with him--not once but many times--to come to a valid conclusion. It is true that we can learn a great deal about a writer from his works. I would hardly argue against that and remain an English teacher! But we cannnot claim to know nearly enough through one work alone.
Then of course there is the framework of the analysis. If we adhere to the tenets of Freud, largely abandoned by the psychiatric community itself, then we will see the universe through a very confined prism. Any validity in the field has been the product of concrete observations without preconceived theories. Since the experts in this field deliberately exclude the supernatural from the life of man--something foreign and abhorent to Tolkien--then recourse must at least be had to those whose theories have been borne out in solid observable results.
As for the Romantics, Blake's idea seems to me to faintly echo Emerson's of the "oversoul"--also foreign to Tolkien's notion as expressed in LOTR and elsewhere. There are indeed many elements used (abused?) by the Romantics which Tolkien has made use of. But the overview he held, and the themes to which he returned again and again, are not Romantic.
Eruwen, I wish you well on your theses. I hope you continue to study and write after you take your masters--even if you do not pursue a doctorate in the same field. It is well worth the effort to study works of literature. Your present paper will do the most good if it opens up to you (and to others) the vista of the many facets of Tolkien that have yet to be generally understood and pursued.
Did'nt most of Freuds theories revolve around sexuality ??
Yes, they certainly did, and I really do not want to ignore these theories for I believe they are a significant in regards to both the pleasure-principle and the reality-principle. I simply have a difficult time with the Oedipus Complex as well as believing that women envy a certain part of the male anatomy. Also, many psychoanalysts, for example, would look at Sam and Frodo and discuss their hidden sexual motives for one another...and those are things I just do not believe and cannot discuss in a paper about LOTR. I think that's where I hold back in regards to Freud and his theories.
And yes, I probably could have incorporated the Silmarillion or completed an entire thesis on it, but there is so much to cover in LOTR that I don't have enough paper or time.
Thanks for your feedback!
Response to Gandalf-olorin:
Hey, I,too, am an English teacher (well, a certified, non-practicing one.) I have done some due diligence though. You know, it's funny how in the world of academia I must defend both my love for LOTR as well as my use of psychoanalytical theory. Yes, most modern academians look upon psychoanalysis as an out-of-date theory, but I really can't stomach theories such as Derrida's -- if it's not stated clearly, then it's not thought out clearly I always say.
I fear to say too much, Eruwen. Earlier in this thread, I posted what Tolkien himself thought of this subject, though I may not have posted ALL he said. You will have to look up that subject in his Letters and see for yourself.
I've read his letters regarding psychoanalysis (as well as many of his works), but one does not have to disregard a critical theory because the author does not like it. Sorry Tolkien. What I understood from his letters though was that Tolkien himself does not want to be psychoanalyzed through his text, and I agree that it is difficult to gain psychological insight into an author through his writing, but again, I don't think it's impossible, and I don't think it means people won't or can't do it. However, I'm simply using his text to demonstrate why it psychologically moves us, the readers, members of society, people who need something to help us explain our own lives and motives.
Going back to critical theory though -- there are many ways to approach a work, and the way I have chosen is to use the text of LOTR in particular (a very close reading) and to look at how it affects the reader, why it mirrors our own journey through life. I could have looked at the work and psychoanalyzed Tolkien, but I agree that that is not fair to him. Not quite what I was going for.
Any validity in the field has been the product of concrete observations without preconceived theories.
Validity to whom? The scientific community? Or to you? I must disagree here, for concrete observations stem out of preconceived theories (hypotheses). And in any case, I am not a scientist, I am a literary critic who likes to use psychoanalytical theories to interpret works. I use what I believe and feel is true, which is what literature is all about. Besides, I am not one who greatly appreciates what the scientific community and society validate anyway, which you might see from my paper, for they are blinded by reality.
Since the experts in this field deliberately exclude the supernatural from the life of man--something foreign and abhorent to Tolkien--then recourse must at least be had to those whose theories have been borne out in solid observable results.
I'm not quite sure what you are saying here. First, I'm not sure exactly what you are referring to regarding the "foreign and abhorent to Tolkien?" Supernatural itself? (Which I doubt you mean) Or the fact that experts in the field of psychoanalysis deliberately exclude the supernatural? In which case, psychoanalysts do refer to the supernatural, but only as images rising out of our unconscious. And then, I'm not sure what you mean by the recourse bit. In any case, even though I am pulling on Freud's theories, I am using more modern interpretations of his theories, utilizing a great deal of Norman O. Brown.
As for the Romantics, Blake's idea seems to me to faintly echo Emerson's of the "oversoul"--also foreign to Tolkien's notion as expressed in LOTR and elsewhere. There are indeed many elements used (abused?) by the Romantics which Tolkien has made use of. But the overview he held, and the themes to which he returned again and again, are not Romantic.
I don't know much about Emerson, but Blake probably does faintly echo his ideas of the oversoul, which are not the Blakean ideas I am referring to in Tolkien. I am referring to the fact that Tolkien says we are spiralling upward to a higher plane of Paradise, and Blake believes in this as well.
Thanks for your feedback!
I am not sure I can agree with you that observations must proceed from some hypothesis. If we first observe, without any preconceived notions, we are more apt to find the cause of a problem. If we proceed from a psychiatric/psychologic hypothesis, then we have a tendency, however sublimated, to try to bolster our hypthesis. This is what I call the "pride principle," found in abundance in psychiatric circles.
Now you say, "I am referring to the fact that Tolkien says we are spiralling upward to a higher plane of Paradise, and Blake believes in this as well." I cannot recall ever reading anything like this in Tolkien anywhere, nor does the language sound like Tolkien. Do you have a quote or reference which I can read? I would have to say at the outset that Tolkien would not speak in this vein at all, since he would not share the Romantic notion that we are "spiralling upward to a higher plane," even naturally speaking. He might say that we are destined for heaven, but I don't know that that requires any "spiralling." And that destiny is on the supernatural level--i.e., needing the help of God. This supernatural level both psychoanalysis and the Romantics generally do not admit, but which Tolkien certainly did.
In a letter to Christopher Tolkien dated Jan. 30, 1945, Tolkien mentions that repentance does not work in "a closed circle," but "works spirally," and that we will not obtain Eden once again, but will recover "something like it, but on a higher plane.”
Tolkien loved nature--no doubt about that. But he would never have imagined that his writings would of themselves, or even with the concerted love of all his fans, elevate so much as a molecule to a higher plane. He believed that God stooped down to us and raised us up through a specific revelation--and that by following what God has laid down and by using His supernatural aid we can obtain that goal, the terminus of the "spiral." This difference might also be ascertained in his discussion, in the foregoing letter, of forgiveness. To Tolkien, as to any Catholic, forgiveness means asking God for pardon. To the Romantic, however, forgiveness means begging the pardon of Nature, or at the most of one's fellow men as representing Nature.
You have a legitimate goal in mind, Eruwen, in analyzing LOTR to see what makes us love it. My point is, make sure that the things you compare really do compare.
I hesitate to make two tiny suggestions. One, purely technical, is please do not start a paragraph with the words "Don't get me wrong..." It sounds trite and detracts from the excellent presentation of the rest. "Do not misunderstand..." would sound better, to me at least.
Secondly, the journey through life.... I would say that those who journey successfully journey with others. No one can stand alone thoughout life. Tolkien sets Sauron up as a 'loner'; he uses others but he doesn't share nor does he accept from others. He merely takes and discards. Likewise Saruman, who sets himself above the lowly mortal beings and as a result falls from grace. On the side of good, however, all rely on one another. Even Denethor, who stands alone more than anyone - look what happened to him when he did. Tolkien sets each with an 'escort'. Frodo has Sam, The Fellowship have each other, Aragorn has Gimli and Legolas (and others), Eowyn has Merry, Pippin and Merry were for a time together - no one is alone. Even Tom has Goldberry. They are relationships of trust. United we stand, divided we fall. Only together, whether it be individuals or races (The Last Alliance), can we win against evil or, as I understand you, journey through life with any success and satisfaction to it's conclusion.
I have often thought that we should focus on our similarities as human beings, rather than our differences of race, religion or culture. I think Tolkien shows this with his mix of races and characters and their interaction with each other.
I'd like to do an analogy between LOTR and 'Desiderata'.
You have a legitimate goal in mind, Eruwen, in analyzing LOTR to see what makes us love it. My point is, make sure that the things you compare really do compare.
Well, there wouldn't be much fun in analyzing literature if we compared like to like all the time. One last thing about Blake, he loved Nature, but mostly because he thought God was within it as he is within us. He is a "Romantic" per se, but he is often not included in their (not-so) little group. He truly does stand outside of them. Blake's idea of the "Oversoul" is God, and that when we break down the boundaries of the Self, we will all be one with God.
I hesitate to make two tiny suggestions. One, purely technical, is please do not start a paragraph with the words "Don't get me wrong..." It sounds trite and detracts from the excellent presentation of the rest. "Do not misunderstand..." would sound better, to me at least.
I agree. It's funny how everytime there's a sentence that I'm not quite happy with, or that I'm trying out to see if informality works or not, someone points it out. I just find it interesting that people can tell what you're not comfortable with. I'm sure my professor would have pointed out the same thing (I hand these pages into him tomorrow)...it never fails.
Secondly, the journey through life.... I would say that those who journey successfully journey with others. No one can stand alone thoughout life.
I like this thought (and your thoughts following it), and it fits in with what I am trying to say about society dividing itself, but that it is, truly, capable of coming back together -- which is not a Freudian thought, for he was very pessimistic in this regard, but is a thought of Brown's, who I am mostly using to illuminate my paper.
I'd like to do an analogy between LOTR and 'Desiderata'.
I had never read that. I love it! Beautiful.
HISTORICAL ARTIFACTS OF MIDDLE-EARTH
Throughout LOTR one finds scattered remnants of kingdoms past, which give the novels an historical feeling, feeding our own need to validate “being” through documented time. When we see the images in LOTR of great kingdoms that once existed, we experience a great sense of loss, as we do in our own lives. As time passes, we fixate on past objects that we had to lose and will never obtain again; in order to feel some relief from these longings, we must recreate the objects in other objects, causing us to repeat the past in a dialectical manner. Buildings and other monuments are a reflection of these longings on a grand, societal scale. One of the most striking artifacts in LOTR that reflects this fixation to the past are the Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings:
Upon great pedestals founded in the deep waters stood two great kings of stone: still with blurred eyes and crannied brows they frowned upon the North. The left hand of each was raised palm outwards in a gesture of warning; in each right hand there was an axe; upon each head there was a crumbling helm and crown. Great power and majesty they still wore, the silent wardens of a long-vanished kingdom. (508)
As the Company approaches the Argonath, floating down the Great River, Frodo cowers before them, “Giants they seemed to him, vast grey figures silent but threatening,” reminding him of his own mortality, since the people who made them are no longer a part of Frodo’s world and have been dead for ages (508). The Argonath were created by the Númenóreans, who were attempting to recreate their culture and society from Númenor in order to escape the pain of the loss of their island (see note “i” below), as a form of therapy. They also created them to fight death, for the giant monuments would live on long after any of the Númenóreans who built them.
The life of Aragorn is tied into the images of these Pillars as much as the lives of the men who created them were tied into Númenor, consequently, this links Aragorn back to the fate of Númenor. In the presence of the pillars, Aragorn himself is transformed from a “weatherworn Ranger” to the “son of Arathorn, proud and erect, guiding the boat with skilfull strokes [sic]…a king returning from exile to his own land” (509). Even though this image makes our emotions stir, for we catch a glimpse of the greatness of the past kingdom that may be recovered, we can also see through this portrayal that essentially “Mankind is a prisoner of the past” (Brown 12). We are able to understand that the history of Arnor, Gondor and Númenor are reflected in their artifacts and that the memories of the kingdoms are in the mind of Aragorn and in turn, controlling his actions, for “The bondage of all cultures to their cultural heritage is a neurotic constriction” (Brown 12).
The Fellowship continues floating downstream between the pillars, and just as quickly as the picture of Aragorn as king appeared, it disappeared, and Aragorn wishes for Gandalf and the guidance of his superego, asking “whither now shall I go?” He asks this just as the Fellowship is born through a “long and dark” chasm between the cliffs of the Pillars, passing across the ancient border of Northern Gondor. This chasm which passes through these towering representations of eternal life and death “bent somewhat towards the west so that at first all was dark ahead; but soon Frodo saw a tall gap of light before him, ever growing. Swiftly it drew near, and suddenly the boats shot through, out into a wide clear light” (509). As they are born into the calm waters of Nen Hithoel, a long oval lake, three islands stand before them; two of the islands – Amon Lhaw and Amon Hen – are known as the “Hills of Hearing and of Sight.”
“High seats” were built atop Amon Lhaw and Amon Hen which is where watches were kept “in the days of the great kings” (510). Frodo climbs to the top of Amon Hen, The Hill of Sight, while running away from Boromir who tries to steal the Ring from him. When he gets to the top of Amon Hen and sits “upon the ancient chair,” he feels “like a lost child that had clambered upon the throne of mountain-kings” (518). As a “child” in the world of men, Frodo has the wisdom of one who has yet to split his psyche and repress his desires. As he gazes out at Middle-Earth from the top of “the Hill of the Eye of the Men of Númenor,” he has true, clear vision. He can see both the beauty of the world – the mountains, the Great River and the fields of Rohan – as well as the destruction of war and industry that Saruman and Sauron are creating. All of these images berate Frodo’s psyche at once causing him distress. While wearing the Ring, he begins to feel a great deal of guilt surrounding his desires, identifying more with the guilt passed down from Isildur, for paranoia strikes Frodo again at this point; as he gazes out at Middle-Earth from the Hill of the Eye, he feels the same Eye that he spotted in Galadriel’s Mirror looking for him in return. He jumps from the chair and hides. The two instincts, life and death, then pull at him at the same time “perfectly balanced between their piercing points,” and he “writhe[s]” with “torment,” hearing “himself crying out: Never, never! Or was it: Verily I come, I come to you? He could not tell.” (519). Frodo hears a distant voice, (which we later learn is the voice of Gandalf), telling him to take off the Ring. This brings Frodo back to his senses, and he realizes what he must do, he must go directly into Mordor and destroy the Ring, thereby repressing his desires. He must welcome the reality-principle into his world, so that he does not have to deal with the constant pain of desire that the Ring is causing within him. Aragorn climbs up to the high seat of Amon Hen shortly after Frodo, but he could see “nothing save the distant hills” (Towers 17). Aragorn as a man does not receive the clarity of vision that Frodo does at this moment, and he questions his choices and decisions up to this point.
At this stage in FOTR and the beginning of The Two Towers, the Fellowship begins to break apart, the psyche begins to divide. Frodo leaves the Company so that he can face his desires and overcome them, and in turn, accredit Man as the rightful keeper of Middle-Earth. Aragorn must wait for the reality-principle to be instituted in Middle-Earth before he can sit on the throne of Gondor and rule with the sanity that deludes the Ruling Steward of Gondor, Denethor. He progresses in his own direction to strengthen his psyche, searching for his superego, Gandalf, who had fallen in Moria. Boromir also dies at this point, demonstrating the self-destructive dangers of desire, and he admits that his death was payment for his yearning for the Ring. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas all agree that they cannot leave Boromir lying amongst the Orcs, so they place him in a boat with the weapons of those he killed, and he floats away “upon the bosom of the flowing water…out into the Great Sea at night under the stars” (22). Just as he was delivered into this world, he is born back into death and will have peace by losing the boundaries of self and all the divisions that take place during life. With the division of the Company, we are reminded of the peace that comes with wholeness and unity of death, freeing Boromir from his torments. The divisions of our psyche are replicated in society by the many cultures we create amongst ourselves, harkening back to our own memories, myths and legends of the Tower of Babel, continually breaking away from the union we all once had with one another. As society grows, these divisions become greater, and we long for a core, a way to pull ourselves back together, and documented history, as well as myths, legends and artifacts, allow us a small way in which to do this, linking us back to the beginning.
It is fitting that at the beginning of The Two Towers Merry and Pippin meet Treebeard in the same fashion that they met Tom Bombadil at the beginning of FOTR. After they are taken by the Orcs from whom Boromir tried to defend them, they escape and wander into the tangled darkness of the Forest Fangorn. The hobbits are feeling lost and overwhelmed in a wilderness of trees, and just when they need help and guidance, a natural being, an Ent, appears to show them the way, and nurture them back to health. They return to their roots, gaining strength to move forward onto the unknown paths of life. Treebeard is a tree-herder, the oldest living thing that walks Middle-earth. Pippin describes the way Treebeard looked at them upon their first meeting “as if something that grew in the ground – asleep, you might say, or just feeling itself as something between root-tip and leaf-tip, between deep earth and sky – has suddenly waked up, and was considering you with the same slow care that it had given to its own inside affairs for endless years” (83). Treebeard, like Bombadil and all the trees throughout LOTR, is a symbol bringing together the roots of our beginnings with the eternal boundless self. He is a being that seems to be close to the end of his life, and the hobbits are just at the beginning of theirs; both are brought together to show how closely related our beginnings and ends really are. By the end of their time together, the hobbits have grown both physically and mentally, and Treebeard feels as if he is getting hasty “growing backwards towards youth” (244).
Everything the hobbits do Treebeard calls “hasty,” especially when it comes to their speech. Talking in Entish takes extreme patience, for everything in Entish “takes a very long time to say”; therefore, the Ents “do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to” (86). Treebeard truly makes us think about the one-word names we have given to most things, such as the word “hill” for something “that has stood here ever since this part of the world was shaped” (87). We begin to think that something such as a hill or a tree or even a person deserves much more respect than a one-word description, for can that one word truly summarize what that thing or being is all about? Of course, since we are obsessed with time, though, we must shorten everything we say in order to feel like we accomplish more and progress faster. However, if we were not so concerned with time, and were more like the Ents and Elves, then we too might actually give everything the consideration that it deserves, and be “less interested in [ourselves]…and better at getting inside other things” (89).
Fangorn Forest is a place of little change. Merry and Pippin can barely breathe because the air is so stuffy. Fangorn cannot regenerate itself because the Ents lost their Entwives, and the place has become stale. Pippin compares the forest to an “old room in the Great Place of the Tooks away back in the Smials at Tuckborough: a huge place, where the furniture has never been moved or changed for generations” (80). The forest, like the Elves, does not change, it just endures. The Ents cannot have children without the Entwives. Mother Nature, like the Elves, is fading, and Treebeard says that in their old tales, they will not meet the Entwives again until they “have both lost all that [they] now have” (100). This is reflective of our own lives and our faculty of losing our own attachments to all the material things that surround us, which is what separates us from the external world. Only when we lose these attachments will we regain Paradise and return to the beginning. The Ents, too, will be whole again when they lose their own divisions in the self.
Like Bombadil, Treebeard does not involve himself in the affairs of Men and the Great Wars, claiming “that is the business of wizards: wizards are always troubled about the future” (95). Wizards were put on Middle-earth to guide Man. Acting as the super-ego, they are concerned with the long-term satisfaction of the ego rather than short-term. They are concerned, as Treebeard says, with the future. However, as the hobbits tell Treebeard more and more about the state of the world, and especially, about Saruman, Treebeard begins to get riled. Tolkien often makes things as he feels they “should have been,” satisfying his own and most of the time our own wish fulfillment, which is another reason we enjoy reading LOTR so much. The Elves are as Man should have been, Gandalf is as our super-ego should have been (rather than like Saruman), and the Ents are as Mother Nature should have been. As Treebeard gets “roused” and informs the other Ents of the affairs of the world, (such as the felling of old, good trees by Saruman only so he can gain and generate power), we see that the Ents are Mother Nature if she could defend herself, and revenge herself upon all the wrongs done to her.
The Ents go to war with their destroyer, Saruman, who is also a representation of Reason.
Treebeard describes Saruman as one whose “face…became like windows in a stone wall: windows with shutters inside…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” (96). Saruman loses touch with true Imagination and the world that surrounds him, closing himself within the boundaries of his body and shackling himself with the chains of Reason. He has closed the shutters of his senses, and therefore, cannot feel what others are feeling, cannot relate to them. The attack on Science from the psychoanalytic viewpoint relates Science to an attempt for humans to gain mastery over objects, which relates to our denial of death and pushing the death instinct outside of the self. But, what would Science look like if we were not obsessed with defying death? As Brown states, “It would presumably be erotic rather than (anal) sadistic in aim. Its aim would not be mastery over but union with nature” (236). It would be more like the science and technology of the Elves, which brings wholeness, balance, and harmony, and seems to us to be a form of magic, since it is in tune with feeling and Imagination, touching senses beyond the surface of the guarded self. This would be as opposed to our own science, which brings division, separation, and the building of borders around the self so as to shut the self off from others: for just as we strive for power, we strive to close our self off so that others cannot gain that same power over us.
Isengard, the home of Saruman, which is also known as Orthanc, has “a twofold meaning; for in the Elvish speech orthanc signifies Mount Fang, but in the language of the Mark of old the Cunning Mind” (204). This summarizes how our own minds have deceived us, for through our knowledge, which in Western culture was given to us by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden, we have let loose poison and destruction in the world. Saruman is our super-ego as it is now driven by the death instinct. We believe everything we do is bringing us closer to finding satisfaction even though we are merely advancing toward our own destruction. As Gandalf, our super-ego as it should be, clearly explains, Saruman was “deceived” by his progress, “for all those arts and subtle devices, for which he forsook his former wisdom, and which fondly he imagined were his own, came but from Mordor” (204), or what we can equate with Hell, the Devil, the unconscious and our death drive, and therefore, morbid, anal-sadistic science. (See pages 50-53 of this paper for a more detailed explanation connecting Sauron and his scientific knowledge to the Devil.) Even as the men of Rohan and the remainder of the Company confront Saruman, he appears as “a snake coiling itself to strike” (237). By taking the advice of the Serpent, he has become the Serpent himself within Eden. Gandalf casts Saruman out of the Council, and he therefore loses his identity. Saruman’s robes, which were once white, the reflection of all color, become unidentifiable with any color. Scientifically speaking, not being able to identify him with a color means he is not reflecting any light away from himself. Psychoanalytically this means he is not one with whom we are able to identify as an “other,” which only comes by being able to see one’s own self in that “other” as a sort of mirror. We will not gain knowledge of our own true self from him; he is a false super-ego, for he has no true knowledge to reflect back to us.
As Gandalf leads the men of Rohan and the remainder of the Company through The Wizard’s Vale, (which is where Isengard is located), they reminisce about all once being “fair and green,” but Saruman’s search for power and advancement had destroyed the land, which “had become a wilderness of weeds and thorns…No trees grew there; but among the rank grasses could still be seen the burned and axe-hewn stumps of ancient groves” (202). As King Théoden of Rohan looks out on the butchered land, he questions “May it not so end that much that was fair and wonderful shall pass forever out of Middle-earth?” (197). Gandalf answers that “It may,” for, unfortunately, “The evil of Sauron cannot be wholly cured, nor made as if it has not been” (197). We may learn to identify with nature once again, but we will never be able to undo all of the harm we have caused it. For even as the Ents unleashed the power of Mother Nature on Orthanc, they were not able to destroy the Tower of Isengard itself, for the rock was too strong. It serves as a conscious reminder of our neurotic self, and the stage through which we must pass in order to gain a more elevated self. We must become aware of the destruction we are bringing upon ourselves in our false search for satisfaction.
When Merry and Pippin are captured by the band of Orcs, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli set out after them. They follow the ruinous trail of the Orcs, looking for clues to the hobbits’ survival. Aragorn is unsure whether he made the right decision to follow after the two hobbits as opposed to helping Frodo or riding on to Gondor. One gets the sense that he feels as if he is backtracking and being led astray for a short time, but he is loathe to abandon his friends. The three track the hobbits to the edge of Fangorn, and realize that they must venture into the tangled roots and branches of the forest as well. They, like the hobbits, are daunted by the vast forest before them and feel the stuffiness of the air; and just when they need guidance, they receive it as they stand on a hill rising out of the wilderness of Fangorn, swelling out of the unconscious, the very place that the hobbits met their guide, Treebeard. However, rather than a figure associated with nature, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli meet one that will lead Man to maturity and to the fading or incorporation of such legends and myths as Elves and Dwarves, one that will help in the repression of the id and the establishment of the reality-principle; they meet – Gandalf. Gimli exclaims, “Beyond all hope you return to us in our need! What veil was over my sight?” for they all believed Gandalf upon first appearance to be Saruman (125). Gimli’s exclamation applies to us all, for what veil is over our own vision for us to have taken the guidance of a super-ego such as Saruman to neurotic extremes? What true vision do we have when we separate ourselves from those that surround us and never identify with the other as fellow human beings, losing a part of our own identity? Gandalf answers, “Indeed I am Saruman…Saruman as he should have been” (125). Saruman should have been a counselor and a guide rather than a tyrant, enforcing knowledge with the restraints of Reason alone.
Only a super-ego that has experienced the equivalent of both life and death can be truly knowledgeable and give us genuine guidance. A super-ego, such as Saruman, that has experienced the id and never risen out of the darkness of the unconscious, cannot give us the guidance that we need to live in harmony with our world. Gandalf informs the three travelers that the abyss beneath Durin’s Bridge into which he fell does indeed have a bottom, a bottom that is “beyond light and knowledge,” for “under the living earth, time is not counted” (134). In death, time is no matter, and once we accept death, time will not matter in life either, for life and death will work in a unity that does not currently exist.
The fall of Gandalf and the Balrog is reminiscent of the fall of Satan, which can be identified as the repression of our guilt and aggression, especially since Tolkien “ventures to say that [Gandalf] was an incarnate ‘angel’,” but Gandalf, unlike Satan, Sauron, and Saruman, rises from his fall, working his way beyond the guilt of past ages (Letters 202). (For more information relating guilt to Satan, the substitute father figure, see pages 50-53 of this paper.) Gandalf fell, and the Balrog he was fighting on the Bridge fell with him; life and death fall out of existence together. “His fire was about me. I was burned. Then we plunged into the deep water and all was dark. Cold it was as the tide of death” (134). Gandalf fell through the fires of “hell” before dying and returning to the waters of birth. He then was lost and had to find his way out of the tunnels of death, back to the living. He followed his enemy through the deep caverns of Khazad-dûm, and they climbed together up “the Endless Stair.” This stairway, climbs “from the lowest dungeon to the highest peak,” it ascends in an “unbroken spiral in many thousand steps” and like the trees of Middle-earth, connects the darkness and eternity of death with the light and expansiveness of life (134). The stairway not only connects life and death, heaven and hell, but also spirals, vacillating through experience as Frodo and Aragorn are doing, searching for the right path.
Gandalf defeats his enemy, throwing him down from the peak of the mountain, out of consciousness, returning him to the unconscious. By defeating the Balrog, Gandalf assists in repressing the death drive so that it will no longer rule the lives of the men of Middle-earth, determining all of their actions, oppressing them almost to the point of inactivity. The Balrog breaks the mountain-side as it falls, breaking the symbol of the womb and the tomb, bringing them together in life for acceptance, leading to true knowledge and insight. Gandalf is then reborn. He is given the chance to help defeat the false knowledge of Sauron, which has been made to look like progress, but is only the neurotic self, continually binding and separating. Gandalf lay naked “upon the mountain-top” as a newborn, “staring upward, while the stars wheeled over, and each day was as long as a life-age of the earth” (135). He gains the ancient knowledge of all time and ages from primitive man to modern civilized man so that he can advise those in Middle-earth appropriately, for “the repressed unconscious which produced neurosis is not an individual unconscious but a collective one” (Brown 13). The ancient knowledge of the land to which man is a prisoner speaks of the universal struggle between life and death. As Gandalf lay there he heard “the gathered rumour of all lands: the springing and the dying, the song and the weeping, and the slow everlasting groan of over-burdened stone” (135). The earth is burdened with the constant struggle between life and death, the cycle of warfare of the body, mind and spirit. It has been forced to carry the burden of time that Man bears on his shoulders, and the weight of all the monuments that have been raised to defy death and exemplify immortality. It also must bear the delving deep into its own core, into its womb, in Man’s attempts to raise eternal life in stone outside of itself.
Gwaihir the Windlord, a giant eagle, a representation of the Imagination and Creativity, then finds Gandalf and carries him away to Lothlórien. Everything Gandalf experiences in this rebirth is a breaking down of barriers and an acceptance of the whole. Gandalf is life and death, he is Imagination and Reason, he is the earth and the sky, and he is outside of time within time. Gwaihir takes Gandalf to Lothlórien, and he “tarried there in the ageless time of that land where days bring healing rather than decay” (135). In a place where time does not rule, healing occurs because thoughts are not bent toward moments lost and the passing of time, toward the division of life into minutes and seconds, but toward wholeness and unity. Gandalf is healed in the same place that the others were healed after the adversity they faced in Moria. He follows their same path, but to a more extreme level. He is sacrificed in Moria (as Frodo will later be sacrificed), so that they do not need to experience this untimely death, but he is able to pass on the knowledge to them. He is like a guardian angel, sent to “train, advise, instruct, arouse the hearts and minds of those threatened by Sauron to a resistance with their own strengths” (Tolkien, Letters 202). With that knowledge extended to him, Man ultimately must choose his own path.
It is necessary for Gandalf to return to Middle-earth after he “fell into shadow” in Moria because Man, Aragorn, is lost without the instruction and authority of his super-ego, constantly questioning in which direction he should travel. Yet Gandalf reassures Aragorn that he “chose amid doubts the path that seemed right: the choice was just, and it has been rewarded. For so we have met in time, who otherwise might have met too late” (132). Sometimes it is necessary for us to backtrack, to reflect and to find our youthful and natural attachments, such as in Aragorn’s search for the hobbits in Fangorn Forest. This way, we may gain knowledge and rely on our own senses and instinctual direction before moving forward. Now we too must find our true super-ego to lead us out of our own denial. We must find our super-ego that acknowledges death, leading us back to nature and the ability to truly experience living before it is too late, before we completely divide and are never able to become whole again, as Freud’s pessimistic theories would lead us to believe.
Gandalf now can serve as an even better advisor than Saruman because he has wrestled with the enemy and beaten him, unlike Saruman who fell victim to the enticing power of Sauron just as we have. Gandalf has incorporated into his being knowledge, such as death, rather than allowing it to merely rest in unconsciousness as we do. Gandalf is reincarnated after experiencing death, and he rises as the powerful White Rider; his robes are white, reflecting all light and knowledge from his self, making the identity of others stronger. Aragorn is but a “grey figure of the Man,” not fully formed or present, a person that the beings of Middle-earth only believe lives in legend. He does not yet have the knowledge to lead, for he has yet to truly experience darkness and loss, and he has yet to incorporate the wisdom and guidance of Gandalf back into his life. Being grey, he is a mixture of black and white, of all color and an absence of color; he is a blending of all aspects of life, which eventually will develop into the boundaries of a mature psyche and contribute to his wisdom and greatness as a leader. Gandalf was once grey, and arose with even greater power after passing through death as Aragorn will. Gandalf asks, “Will you come now with me?” (133). Aragorn agrees and is relieved to not have to make all of the decisions without any instruction; he is incorporating the super-ego back into his life and will move forward with assurance, dignity and the confidence of being able to establish an identity.
Readers often have the uncanny feeling while reading LOTR that they have actually visited Middle-earth before. This feeling may be attributed to the placement of cultures in the books such as that of the people of Rohan, which harkens back to many of our own ancestral roots, for as Tolkien said:
If you want to write a tale of this sort you must consult your roots, and a
man of the North-west of the Old World will set his heart and the action
of his tale in an imaginary world of that air, and that situation: with the
Shoreless Sea of his innumerable ancestors to the West, and the endless
lands (out of which enemies mostly come) to the East. (Letters 212)
The language of the Rohirrim is related to Anglo-Saxon and Old English, languages with which we are familiar, yet cannot quite decipher. When Merry rides with the Rohirrim he tries to make sense of their language, “in which there seemed to be many words that he knew, though spoken more richly and strongly than in the Shire, yet he could not piece the words together” (ROTK 77). The language and culture of the Men of Rohan is something for which we feel nostalgic. We long to experience it, for it is in our memory and a part of who we are. Works such as LOTR give us the opportunity to participate in this distant part of our self.
The Men of Rohan as representatives of Old English are a part of a culture that is caught between the old world and the new; they are caught, as many of us, between the decision of holding onto our roots or repressing them. We are torn by our neurotic nature to believe that repressing our roots is leading us to a higher state of civilization and therefore perfection, and yet, we also feel that it may be a false perfection and that by losing this attachment to our roots, we are letting go of something valuable. The Rohirrim are men who have yet to completely lose their ties to the earth and the old ways, and are being forced into a new way of doing things. Aragorn describes them as “wise but unlearned, writing no books but singing many songs, after the manner of the children of Men before the Dark Years” (40). They are men in an adolescent state, “Men of the Twilight” as Faramir calls them (364), associated both with hobbits in the youth of humanity who do not have great ties with history and do not feel the desire to document all their actions on paper, and between the men of Númenor who have forgotten the wisdom of children and can no longer find answers to the riddles of nature (197).
Yet, they are not as distant from the earth and nature as the men of Númenor, for they are “horse-masters,” wearing horsetails on their helms to identify themselves. They revere their horses, and treat them almost as equals, having an awareness of their feelings and a belief that the horses’ ancestors understood the speech of men; yet their horses seem to be losing this quality, which is probably because the Rohirrim are slowly separating themselves more and more from their animals, identifying their horses as lesser beings than themselves, as we also have done by differentiating ourselves from animals in the process of fully engaging our neurotic self. As for the horses, they may be “losing” their ability to communicate simply because the Rohirrhim unconsciously do not choose to recognize it anymore.
On a different level, the way in which the Rohirrhim treat their dead also shows that they have not separated themselves from nature as much as the Númenoreans. They bury their dead in great mounds in the earth, unlike the Men of Gondor who are buried in stone tombs, and the flower Simbelmynë grows in all seasons on the graves of the Rohirrim. They are not obsessed with eternal life and do not have the same fear of death as the descendants of Númenor. They are not afraid of riding into battle, believing greatness will come with such a death, again, relating to the culture of heroism of the Anglo-Saxons.
The Rohirrim simply want “to live as [they] have lived, keeping [their] own,” but they are being pushed into a new era. Aragorn brings to them, “The doom of choice…None may live now as they have lived, and few shall keep what they call their own” (44). Choice is what has doomed Man from the beginning. Choice makes us uncomfortable, causing internal stimulation, stirring up thoughts and instincts from the unconscious that will need to be bound in order to move forward with what civilization accepts as a healthy psyche. Lack of choice, while taking away certain freedoms, actually makes us feel settled, which is why the Rohirrim are subject to the tyranny of Saruman. I would not go so far as Keenan, agreeing neither that “The pride of Théoden and his people makes them…ally with Saruman, the tool of the Dark Lord” (65, italics my own), nor with his contradicting statement later in his essay, claiming that Rohan is an “unfallen state” in which Théoden “leads his men against Sauron’s forces and laughs to scorn the wiles of Saruman” (78). I, however, would say they are susceptible to the words of Saruman simply because his words tell them what they want to hear, their own wish fulfillment – that they will be able to retain their land and go on living as they have in the past if they align themselves with Saruman, which they never actually do.
The Rohirrim are struggling to maintain their own identities, separating themselves from the actions of surrounding communities, yet by doing this, they are not creating wholeness within Middle-earth. They are merely striving for differentiation and individuality, which again is a sign of a civilization in the early stages of development:
Human life in communities only becomes possible when a number of men unite together in strength superior to any single individual and remain united against all single individuals. The strength of this united body is then opposed as ‘Right’ against the strength of any individual, which is condemned as ‘brute force’. This substitution of the power of a single man is the decisive step towards civilization. The essence of it lies in the circumstance that the members of the community have restricted their possibilities of gratification, whereas the individual recognized no such restrictions. (Freud, Civilization 59)
Because they long to maintain their own identity and not bring the men of Middle-earth together as a community, Saruman has the opportunity to infiltrate their community through Gríma Wormtongue, the counselor of King Théoden, playing on their weakness, since tyranny is associated with the individual. It is Gríma who actually gives the order that no strangers shall pass through the land or enter the gates of the city. On the one hand, this may seem like just advice in a time of war, yet if no strangers can enter, then the Rohirrim create an isolated land, left to stand on its own in a sea of war. As Gandalf wisely counsels in opposition to Wormtongue, “all friends should gather together, lest each singly be destroyed.” Brown believes community is how we eventually will regain the wholeness of self once again, breaking down the borders of the self, which are currently wrapped up in a cyclical tyranny of the super-ego over the id and the id over the super-ego vying for control of the ego. Saruman knows the importance of community, which is why his counsel is for them not to get involved in the wars of other lands, giving him the opportunity to divide and conquer (149). Wormtongue also turns the king against the counsel of Gandalf by calling him “Gandalf Stormcrow” and always associating him with bad news; yet it is during times of struggle when the super-ego really launches into effect, attempting to bind and repress the stimulation, guiding a person to make choices that will hopefully give one long-term peace until death.
Gandalf is able to convince the king that Gríma is a traitor, and when Gríma is cast out of the courts of Edoras, he, like Saruman, also resembles a serpent, or the guilt and aggression that rises up out of our unconscious. Gandalf yells, “Down snake!...Down on your belly!” and Gríma bares his teeth and spits before he departs from the king’s side (159). The Serpent, (as one whose counsel brought death to man), also poisoned King Théoden’s thoughts, consuming him with guilt and turning him into a withering old man waiting to die rather than one, like his forefathers, who would ride out and meet death. By the time Gandalf intervenes, Théoden is the only one who still calls him Gríma; to the rest of the Rohirrim he is known as “Wormtongue,” for as worms eat the dead, their king acts as one who is dead. As Gandalf explains to Théoden, Wormtongue’s “whispering was in your ears, poisoning your thought, chilling your heart, weakening your limbs, while others watched and could do nothing, for your will was in his keeping” (160). Even though his men did not agree with the counsel, they would not disobey their king outright, for they revere him, and if he listens to the advice of Wormtongue, then they also will suffer to listen to it.
The only one who actually disobeys the instructions of Wormtongue is Éomer, the king’s nephew and next in line to the throne, which makes us believe that the next generation will not be as susceptible to false words and the guilt of the past. He will align Rohan with Gondor, bringing peace and stability through community to the ego that is Middle-earth. When Wormtongue departs, the king realizes he maintains a portion of his former strength, and he summons his troops to battle, agreeing with Gandalf that hope lies in the way “where sits our greatest fear” (154). They ride out to meet death and doom on their own terms rather than allowing it to overwhelm them. Even when they take shelter in the womb of Helm’s Deep, where the troops of Saruman crash against its walls like a stormy sea, attempting to destroy the identity and borders of the self of the Rohirrim, they only stay in the gorge long enough to gather strength and again, to ride out and meet death. They want to die in a way that is best for them. Every step they take is closer to the Land of Shadow. They do not flee danger, but turn to face it, confronting guilt and death.
In childhood, we take pleasure in the body and not in the mind of science and rationale. Once we reach adulthood, we begin to turn toward scientific thought and what we believe is progress, repressing our bodily desires and searching for gratification in external objects. In this stage, we are supposed to accept the reality-principle as the ruler in our lives, but if our death drive gets the upper-hand, then our search for gratification in external objects becomes a desire to self-destruct. Sauron, who lacks physical form, or at least works only from the shadows in LOTR, represents our search for satisfaction (without the desire to procreate) as driven by the death instinct. He is completely the rational self without bodily desires; he is a sexless being, as are his creations, (for we do not really know how Orcs procreate, or if they are even a gender-oriented race). Sauron desires only The One Ring, for in the making of it, he put his own essence into it. Without the Ring, the female object, he is an incomplete form of his androgynous self; and since Isildur did not destroy the Ring when he had the chance, Sauron remained in Middle-earth as a diminished form of his previous self. The Ring wants to return to Sauron as much as he wants it back, contributing to Frodo’s torment as he journeys into a land that both attracts and yet repulses him. If the Ring were ever to return to Sauron, he would be able to fully establish his presence in the world, the establishment of the pleasure-principle, the id as ruler, satisfaction unfettered by the thought of destruction.
Linking neurosis and history, and represented as the stage between the childhood and adulthood of Man is religion, which according to Freud “corresponds to the stage of object-finding in which dependence on the parents is paramount” (Brown 14). Religion is a direct reflection of the difficulty we endure in repressing the pleasure-principle in our lives, looking toward our parents and the super-ego to be our guides in establishing the reality-principle. Most importantly, religion is not only a form of neurosis, but also a way for us to acknowledge the unconscious, and, in doing so, to cure ourselves. Tolkien accomplishes this aspect of religion in LOTR by having Frodo journey into Mordor, for it is a way for Frodo to cure the communal conflicted self as represented in Middle-earth. In Mordor, Frodo confronts the Oedipal aspect of the self, which includes facing Sauron as a representation of the ultimate father-substitute, the Devil. In religion, our ambivalent feelings toward our father are represented in the opposing characters of God and the Devil. The Devil is the hate we feel toward our father, and the guilt we experience in connection with the Primal Crime and the sin of the original murder of the father. The repetition-compulsion guarantees “the historical law of the slow return of the repressed,” and Sauron, our guilt, slowly rises out of repression, out of the unconscious of the world to redirect man’s intentions (Brown 93). Freud says that when people "feel an obscure fear -- a dread of rousing something that, so they feel, is better left sleeping -- what they are afraid of at bottom is the emergence of this compulsion with its hint of possession by some 'daemonic' power" (Beyond 36). Sauron and the Ring are this "daemonic" power, something beyond a compulsion simply seeping out of our unconscious; they are our destructive tendencies looking to take their turn to drive our actions.
In his essay, Keenan mentions that “Sauron can be […] viewed as the objectification of the fears and self-destruction (death instinct) of the inhabitants of Middle-earth,” and briefly discusses that the land of Mordor is sterile and desolate, representing death and the destructive nature of technology (66). Yet he fails to link Sauron directly to Mordor, the land in which he lives; and even though he discusses the desolation of Mordor, he does not mention the stench and filth that cause this desolation, keeping many creatures and plants from living and growing in Mordor. This is important to point out, for as an “objectification of the fears and self-destruction (death instinct) of the inhabitants of Middle-earth,” Sauron and Mordor, like the Devil and Hell, represent the anal-sadistic nature of turning the death instinct outward. And Keenan, however, believes that the creatures in Tolkien cannot be tied to the Devil, for the world of Tolkien “is almost nonreligious” (65). As previously stated, however, Tolkien consciously made LOTR a Catholic work, meaning that even though Sauron may not be the Devil himself, he still is a direct representation of Original Sin, for as “the sub-creator” he “wishes to be the Lord and God of his private creation” (Tolkien, Letters 145). Just as the Devil played a part in the Fall, convincing humans that they should have knowledge of all things as well as eternal life, Sauron played a part in the Fall of the Númenoreans. Sauron, like the Devil, not only tries to tell men that they can be gods, but also tries to become a god himself.
As one who is likened to the Devil, Sauron also is associated with darkness, blackness, and sterility -- or anal-sadism, the twisted pleasure that comes from turning the death instinct outward. As Frodo and Sam separate from the Company and journey into Mordor, they wander into a gloomy land full of stench and defilement. “The color pre-eminently associated with the Devil and the Black Mass is black – not because of his place of abode (a circular explanation) but because of the association with black and filth” (Brown 207). This connection of the Devil and Sauron with foul matter and impurity stems from their “confusion in the valuation of things […] and devaluation of the human body. It reduces the drives…to greed and competition (aggression and possessiveness, as in the anal character)” (Brown 238). As the anal character begins to love objects, he becomes possessive of those objects; and as he begins to love the body less, he becomes aggressive toward others wanting death and unpleasure for all. Sauron wants the Ring so he can deny death for himself, and eternally rule Middle-earth, making all others his slaves.
Nowhere in Middle-earth can mountains be more of a representation of the unconscious rising into the conscious as in Mordor, for the most prominent ones are volcanoes, an eruption of the deepest and darkest areas of the unconscious into the conscious, “as if the mountains had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands about.” Mordor is a place “defiled, diseased beyond all healing – unless the Great Sea should enter in and wash it with oblivion” (302, italics my own). Only by breaking down the borders of this land and washing it clean, not into oblivion, but with oblivion, the forgetfulness that is the eternal self or the Great Sea, will the land be made whole with the rest of Middle-earth. But, until that time, Frodo and Sam drudged their way through Mordor, as we all do, often “stepping or falling hands-first into waters as noisome as a cesspool, till they were slimed and fouled almost up to their necks and stank in one another’s nostrils” (298). They “floundered” without a clear path through the repulsive land, lost in everything repressed that stewed in the blackness of the unconscious, attempting to sort out the ego.
As Frodo and Sam continue their journey into Mordor, the guilt that the Ring produces in Frodo begins to bear down heavily on him. “With every step towards the gates of Mordor Frodo felt the Ring on its chain about his neck grow more burdensome. He was now beginning to feel it as an actual weight dragging him earthwards,” reminding him of his mortality through his longing for eternity (301). Yet, he continues to deny the Ring, rejecting both the death and desire that it represents, not wanting to incorporate either of these into his self. However, as Brown mentions: “Denial is always accompanied by affirmation of the denied, and therefore results in a split in the ego” (278). The split ego arises to deal with the guilt of acknowledging that which is repressed. Glimpses of Frodo’s double started to appear as the Fellowship wandered through Moria, which is where “Frodo began to hear, or to imagine that he heard…the faint fall of soft bare feet” (FOTR 407). He continues to hear those same sounds, “a stone falling, or the imagined step of flapping feet on the rock,” as he treks through Mordor, until his double, Gollum, fully emerges (267).
Gollum at one time was a hobbit-like creature much like Frodo, but since he had the Ring in his possession for hundreds of years, he became a shrunken and withered visage, living beyond the number of years for which he was meant to be on this earth. Therefore, he continued to exist, but as one drained of life. The Ring caused him to seek out those dark places that we deny, living in caves beneath mountains, in the unconscious. As he adapted to the darkness, he developed large, lamp-like eyes, and as one reverting to the roots of the self, and gaining the beginning unnaturally through the denial of death, he developed into a frog-like, amphibious creature, living in the dark water of the womb without the hope of peace through death or even a rebirth. The division represented by Gollum is even more emphasized by the fact that he, himself, is schizophrenic. He refers to himself as “we” and “us,” and he talks aloud to himself in two different personas, debating whether or not to betray Frodo (304).
The blurring between life and death often occurs when the double is present, for the double, according to Otto Rank, as a representation of the immortal soul is also a constant reminder of the mortality of the flesh (86). By constantly confronting one with death, the double almost seems to haunt a person, making him paranoid. Gollum, as a double of Frodo, reminds him of the inconstancy of life and the division that takes place with birth; this inconstancy is unpleasure according to Freud. Instead of facing small bouts of paranoia, as Frodo had previously experienced, he becomes continuously paranoid, and death seems to be watching and hovering over him. “It was that more than the drag of the Ring that made him cower and stoop as he walked. The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable”; and as Frodo’s double, “Gollum probably felt something of the same sort” (301). As one who is paranoid through guilt of fear and death, Frodo feels not only like he is being watched, but also like the Angel of Death is brooding over him, for he spots “A small cloud flying from the accursed hills; a black shadow loosed from Mordor; a vast shape winged and ominous…the shadow of horror wheeled and returned, passing lower now, right above them, sweeping the fen-reek with its ghastly wings” (299--300).
Frodo realizes that in order to cure ourselves and to feel long-term pleasure, we must experience some unpleasure. He tells Gollum that if he wants to stop being drawn back to Mordor and the darkness of his unconscious, if he really wants “to be free of [Sauron] again,” then he must help Frodo, which “means finding…a path towards him” (282). This path toward Sauron is a constant confrontation with death, just as Aragorn will journey through his own passages facing death. Gollum leads the hobbits through the Dead Marshes in which Elves, Men and Orcs, the fair and the evil, lie together, and they can see their “pale faces, deep deep under the dark water,” yet whether fair or grim, all are “foul, all rotting, all dead. A fell light is in them,” reminding us that all things eventually will pass from this world (297). As Keenan points out, it is this confrontation with “the pathos of mortality through the passing of the fair and the beautiful” that causes Frodo, as it does many of us, to lose some of his “vitality,” becoming “isolated, less humorous, more rational, and even mystical, in contrast to his old emotional, animal self. In other words Frodo grows up; he becomes adult in a human sense” (Keenan 67).
As the hobbits mature, they begin to wonder if they will be immortalized in song and story, if they will leave their mark on history and be remembered through time, if their lives will continue beyond the passing of their flesh. This is when they realize that they play but a small part in the ongoing story of the earth, but that they are indeed playing a part. Sam exclaims “Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on” (408). They understand that they are but a continuation of all the tales before them, for the light in the phial that Galadriel gave to Frodo is the same light that existed in a story that they heard when they were children, the story of Eärendil. History is created because man’s guilt has accumulated to a point at which he cannot seem to purge it all, and through this guilt, the repressed ever resurfaces as a continuation of the story.
Beyond the Dead Marshes Gollum leads the hobbits through the pass called Cirith Ungol, which is where Shelob lives, in hopes that it will lead to Frodo’s death so that Gollum will be able to regain the Ring. He is tormented by the division and inconstancy of his self as much as Frodo. He is attempting to bring wholeness to himself again, both through the destruction of his double and the possession of the female object, the Ring. Gollum, like Sauron and Shelob, is a sadistic creature who has turned his death instinct outward onto others. He has transformed "the desire to die into the desire to kill, a transformation achieved by Eros so as to reduce the innate self-destructive tendency in the organism and turn it into a useful ally in the erotic task of maintaining and enriching life" (Brown 80). By gaining possession of the Ring, his “Precious,” Gollum is convinced that he will achieve all of his desires and have eternal life; therefore, he will achieve sadistic pleasure through the act of harming another, although those desires and actions will lead to his ultimate demise and destruction. Gollum worships death in order to defy it, just as men do with their tombs. He pays homage to Shelob, the personification of death, and brings her sacrifices in order to save himself.
Keenan speaks of Shelob as the female counterpart to Sauron, but she is not the rational, prosaic mind like Sauron (72); she is pure death instinct, for she “only desired death for all others, mind and body, and for herself a glut of life, alone, swollen till the mountains could no longer hold her up and the darkness could not contain her” (423). She is a creature that has erupted from the unconscious like the purging of the volcanoes. It is easier to describe her and to think of her as a counterpart to Tom Bombadil, especially since images of Tom appear during the hobbits’ confrontation with Shelob to counteract her all-devouring darkness. She is natural, irrational malice, intent on killing others rather than healing and rejuvenating them. Like Tom, “She served none but herself,” and had no desire “for towers, or rings, or anything devised by mind or hand” (423). She does not want power to take over the earth; she is the master of her domain, but rather than working in harmony with it, she devours it like a black hole swelling her own existence, “weaving webs of shadow; for all living things were her food, and her vomit darkness” (422). As the hobbits face the emptiness of this irrational, untimely death with Shelob, they are stimulated back to life, and wish for their animistic beginnings; they wish to gain peace through the proper road to death. Their rising fear causes their life instincts, their instincts of self-preservation, to increase accordingly. Sam therefore is stimulated to think of Tom Bombadil, which brings the light of life back to his mind, “a light…almost unbearably bright at first, as a sun-ray to the eyes of one long hidden in a windowless pit,” and then he remembers the gift that Galadriel gave to Frodo for this very moment, “when all other lights go out” (417-18). The light is their exit back to life, their rebirth.
As with Gollum and Sauron, Shelob’s desire to kill and the pleasure received from it is sadistic in nature, which is reflected by the “foul reek” of her cave “as if filth un-nameable were piled and hoarded in the dark within” (414). Like Moria, her “cave is a dwelling as well as a tomb; the vessel character of the Feminine not only shelters the unborn in the vessel of the body, and not only the born in the vessel of the world, but also takes back the dead into the vessel of death, the cave and coffin, the tomb or urn”; however, unlike Moria, life, light and air do not escape from her womb of darkness (Neumann 45). The cave is a vacuum in which nothing but Shelob can exist:
the air was still, stagnant, heavy and sound fell dead. [Frodo and Sam] walked as it were in a black vapour wrought of veritable darkness itself that, as it was breathed, brought blindness not only to the eye but to the mind, so that even the memory of colours and of forms and of any light faded out of thought. Night always had been, and always would be, and night was all. (415)
Life, past, present and future, fades from memory in the presence of Shelob, for she represents the timeless mental processes of the unconscious. Time is unnecessary in a world like Tom’s where death is a part of the natural course of life, but time simply turns into nothingness in Shelob’s world where death is the focus of all things, for one does not need time to devote to living or overcoming the guilt of the past. The many dimensions of color, form and light that make up our manifold world and mind were emphasized in the dwelling of Tom Bombadil, where the senses of the hobbits were expanded due to the breaking down of their boundaries with their surroundings; in turn, these exceptionally clear pictures fade into blackness in Shelob’s lair, where senses are bound through the torment and repression brought on by death unlooked for; one is rendered blind both physically and mentally. However, the light from Eärendil’s star overwhelms the gluttonous Shelob and saves the hobbits; she cannot swallow all of existence or turn all of life into death; therefore, the light of our eternal and faithful guides, the stars, symbols of the heavens and our super-egos, remains.
Even though Shelob is taken aback by the light of the starglass, she still manages to sting Frodo, who then falls into a state of unconsciousness. Throughout the centuries, the spider has been a great archetypal symbol of the negative feminine, the mother who holds and keeps her children captive, not wanting them to gain the independence they seek; Shelob even kills many of her own children before they can escape from her nest (Neumann 66). However, as Bettelheim mentions, “Many fairy-tale heroes, at a crucial point in their development, fall into deep sleep or are reborn. Each reawakening or rebirth symbolizes the reaching of a higher stage of maturity and understanding. It is one of the fairy tale’s ways to simulate the wish for higher meaning in life: deeper consciousness, more self-knowledge, and great maturity” (214). Frodo is on the path to gaining experience and maturity. He is moving into adulthood, and will long for the nostalgic peace his childhood contained when experience did not stimulate disruption to his internal balance. When Frodo awakens and is freed from the webs of Shelob, tangles of chords in which victims usually await death, he will be reborn into maturity as a butterfly who emerges from a cocoon, but his will be the cocoon of knowledge and experience.
LIVING THROUGH THE PATHS OF THE DEAD
As Frodo confronts death passing through Shelob’s lair, Aragorn in The Return of the King (referred to throughout as ROTK) also confronts death as he chooses to travel the Paths of the Dead. The characters in LOTR repeatedly pass through darkness underground and in tunnels to symbolize their continual parley with death. Keenan mentions these passageways in his essay, but he does not build upon this thought, and simply states that “Some are associated with death and corruption, such as the lair of Shelob, the Paths of the Dead, and the tunnels of Moria. But in the Shire and at Helm’s Deep, tunnels are linked with health, happiness, and safety” (Keenan 74). However, these images simply cannot be separated out like this, for they are so intertwined that even though some may seem blatantly tied to death, in many ways, they are also tied to a stimulation forward through life; and even though others may be symbols of health and safety, death and destruction battle at their doors and step inside their realm of refuge. The Paths of the Dead specifically are not only related to death and corruption, but also reflect redemption and peace for both the restless souls residing within and for Aragorn as he comes to terms with his mortality.
As death keeps resurfacing and the characters pass through these tunnels, upon exiting they are reborn with greater wisdom; they confront death and incorporate it into their lives in order to move forward and not be wholly oppressed by it. “Freud, assuming a connection between Eros and the pleasure-principle, contrasted with the pleasure-principle that compulsion to repeat which in many cases produces fixations to traumatic experiences in the past and daemonic compulsion to bring suffering on oneself” (Brown 88). A character, such as Aragorn, who chooses to walk the Paths of the Dead and bring suffering upon himself, is repeating and working through his ancestors’ fear of death and the actions they took to repress and deny it, which caused their fall from greatness. Death soon became all on which they could focus, for their sole purpose in life was to defy it. Aragorn is bringing this fear out of the unconscious to acknowledge it rather than to have it haunt and shadow him throughout life. If he can work with it rather than letting it lie in the depths of his self, then he will be able to overcome past fears and perhaps live life to a fullness that could not be reached for many centuries due to the complete repression of this fear.
The opening to the Paths of the Dead is “at the mountain’s root,” an entrance into the unconscious, “and right in their path stood a single mighty stone like a finger of doom” (69). The Sleepless Dead who hide in this passageway had once broken an oath to Isildur. These men did not come when they were called into battle with Sauron, for they secretly worshipped Sauron in his greatness, believing, as the men of Númenor believed, that by worshipping death they would save themselves from it and have everlasting life. However, all they truly achieved was a sort of everlasting death, for Isildur cursed them to live in the mountains, the unconscious, thereby existing as the dread of death in the back of our minds, never to have peace until they fulfilled their oath. They only could do this by following Isildur’s heir, Aragorn, out of the mountains into battle. Once they fulfilled their oath, working in conjunction with life, they would be released from this world. Isildur forced them into the unconscious, and Aragorn’s task is to repeat and work through this repression in order to acknowledge this part of the unconscious and gain constancy through its disruption.
At first, Aragorn is not sure which road to take to Minas Tirith. He knows he must reach the city, challenge Sauron, and establish himself as the rightful heir to the throne, but the path is not clear before him. Galadriel once foretold Aragorn that
Near is the hour when the Lost should come forth,
And the Grey Company ride from the North.
But dark is the path appointed for thee:
The Dead watch the road that leads to the Sea. (TTT 136)
The “Lost” she speaks of are both Aragorn’s company, known as the Grey Company, as well as the Company of the Dead; both are stuck in the twilight between form, one not completely alive and the other not completely dead, one tormented by the thought of dying too soon, the other tormented by the thought of living forever. She mentions that “The Dead watch the road that leads to the Sea,” for it is where they long to be. They are yearning for their completely inorganic, boundless self; they are still tormented by a psyche which has not completely absolved; and Aragorn is tormented by a psyche that has not yet fully developed. He must lead the Dead to the Sea, release them by acknowledging them, and then himself come forth from the Sea, establishing the new boundaries of his psyche.
When Aragorn still wants to avoid the Paths of the Dead, he is reminded by the ancient wisdom of Elrond that: “The days are short. If thou art in haste, remember the Paths of the Dead” (56). Aragorn answers, “Always my days have seemed to me too short to achieve my desire…But great indeed will be my haste ere I take that road” (56). Those such as Galadriel and Elrond who act along with Gandalf as Aragorn’s super-ego urge him to take the dark route, for they know that even though it may cause unpleasure, it will lead to long-term pleasure. However, it is not until Aragorn faces a battle of the wills through the Palantír with Sauron, the representation of desire and destruction, the quick satisfaction of the pleasure-principle, that he clearly understands what it would mean to his own life and the lives of others if he did not travel the Paths of the Dead. He must choose the dark paths in order to overcome death rather than succumb to it within life. All of the Seeing Stones or Palantíri show others only what Sauron wants them to see; however, the Stones cannot lie, only mislead, for the actual meaning of the scene depends on the interpretation of the viewer. Sauron shows Aragorn a group of black ships of the enemy approaching Minas Tirith from the South, rather than affecting him as it may have affected kings of the past, quelling them by their own fear of death, Aragorn is impelled to move forward and walk the Paths of the Dead. He ends up wrenching one of the Palantír to his own will, aging him considerably physically and mentally in a matter of hours, signaling his readiness to take control of Middle-earth, the death of the Ranger persona and the birth of the mature King.
Aragorn passes through the tunnel and summons the Dead to the Stone of Erech on which they first made their oath to Isildur. As the Company leaves the Paths of the Dead, “small stars glinted” in the narrow chasm guiding them back toward life, and they “heard the tinkle of water, a sound hard and clear as a stone falling into a dream of dark shadow.” As with the other passages, water is connected with the water of the womb; the breaking water wakes them from their dream, re-establishing the border between the external world and the unconscious, but acknowledged death follows them out of the unconscious as it follows us all. The water that the group hears is from the river “Morthond, the long chill river that flows at last to the sea…Blackroot men call it” (73). This river leaves the blackness of the unconscious and flows to the sea, connecting the timeless unconscious with the eternal boundless self. The entire company, including the dead, carry on down to the sea, on the way to which Aragorn is hailed by villagers as “The King of the Dead” (73). He masters death, and calls the Dead into battle to overtake the black ships, the ships of the Corsairs. Gimli says, “Strange and wonderful I thought it that the designs of Mordor should be overthrown by such wraiths of fear and darkness. With its own weapons was it worsted!” (186). By confronting death, the fear of death was defeated. Once the Dead fulfill their oath, Aragorn releases them and they disappear into the wind; both the Dead and Aragorn have a new found peace.
Aragorn then takes the ships, and leads them out of the Sea, up the river Anduin to Minas Tirith. As the people of Minas Tirith see the black ships approach, they lose hope. The wind they once believed to be blessed, for it was washing away the darkness of Mordor, they now viewed as cursed, for to them it was bringing the ships of their enemy; however, with “the last stroke of doom,” comes renewed hope, just as death often brings a fresh stimulation forward through life. (149) “Thus came Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elessar, Isildur’s heir, out of the Paths of the Dead, borne upon a wind from the Sea to the kingdom of Gondor” (150). Aragorn’s journey through death in life, leads to an acceptance of his mortal fate and a triumph over death, or at least premature death that comes to those whose only focus is attempting to defy it.
The pleasure-principle helps to explain part of our obsession with creating societies and advancing civilization, bringing forth the idea that we do not want to die without finding satisfaction. As we advance forward searching for satisfaction other than in ourselves, longing for immortality, we create cities to defy death, both by the security they offer, as well as the fact that we believe we will live on through the objects we build, for as Brown states, “to endure is to conquer death,” and “Civilization is an attempt to overcome death” (284). Unfortunately, we will not be truly gratified until we learn to look to the self and its reunification in the complete rest of the inorganic self; and while cities may pretend to emulate this final unification as well as the security we find in the womb, they actually create further division and boundaries between different people and cultures, which is demonstrated in our own myth of the ancient city of Babylon. Like the myth of Babylon and the mighty artifacts of Middle-earth such as the Argonath, the great, fortified cities of Middle-earth, especially Minas Tirith, create an oppressive history that follows the characters throughout the books, making true satisfaction difficult to obtain.
Keenan mentions both the cities of Minas Tirith and Minas Morgul as the contrasting representations of life and death, which, although fairly obvious, is very important. He even goes so far as to mention the decay of the city of life, Minas Tirith, but he does not quite connect its decadence to the extreme repression of death in the city. And in order to continue along the theoretical lines of both Freud and Brown, we must pursue the movement of the Company as it rejoins in Minas Tirith, which is where Keenan really falls short; for as Man matures and prepares to take on his new role in Middle-earth, it is important to point out his movement from nature to civilization, which follows our own path through life.
Minas Tirith itself is a city made out of stone, not only built out of stone, but literally molded out of the side of a mountain: “And upon [Mount Mindollion’s] out-thrust knee was the Guarded City, with its seven walls of stone so strong and old that it seemed to have been not builded but carven by giants out of the stones of the earth” (24). Its presence is so overwhelming that as Pippin approaches the city, it seems to have been built by men who were larger than life. It is a place, being located on a mountainside, that rises out of the unconscious; a place where the reality-principle sits on guard, pushing back darkness into the unconscious of both the mountain and Mordor; and yet the pleasure-principle saps the City of vitality by leading its people to dwell on the extension of life, giving them the hope that with this extension they may surely find satisfaction. Minas Tirith’s
war against death takes the form of a preoccupation with the past and the future, and the present tense, the tense of life, is lost […] And mankind’s diversion from the actuality of living-and-dying, which is always in the present, is attained by reactivation in fantasy of the past and regressive attachment to fantasy of the past, ultimately the womb from which life came. Thus again the incapacity to accept death only results in the morbidity of an active death wish. (Brown 284-85)
Upon entering the city, Pippin cannot help but notice all of the images of infertility and decadence. He sees images of greatness mixed with images of degeneracy, great homes and courts with distinguished names carved over their entrances, but “now they were silent, and no footstep rang on their wide pavements, nor voice was heard in their halls, nor any face looked out from door or empty window” (26). But perhaps the most potent image he views is the “sweet fountain,” which “played there in the morning sun” in the Court of the Citadel, where “a sward of bright green lay about it; but in the midst, drooping over the pool, stood a dead tree, and the falling drops dripped sadly from its barren and broken branches back into the clear water” (27). This tree, the White Tree , was the original tree that was brought over from Númenor and planted by Isildur; it served to remind the men of Gondor of their roots, but it also reminded them of their guilt – what was lost in the West. Images of life surround the Tree, but it refuses to grow; the men of Gondor are surrounded with life, but they refuse to acknowledge the mistakes of their past, and in their own turn, to fully live. As Beregond takes Pippin on a tour of the city, he even tells Pippin that “there were always too few children in this city” (41). The city is not regenerating itself. Their past is haunting and shadowing over them, so that they cannot move forward in life. Faramir, the son of Denethor, the Steward of Gondor, even speaks of this memory-trace, saying that the City of Gondor reminds him “of the land of Westernesse [or Númenor] that foundered, and of the great dark wave climbing over the green lands and above the hills, and coming on, darkness unescapable,” and that he “often dream[s] of it” (297). Aragorn is working through this past, so that he can bring fertility and life back to the City of Gondor. He will help the people move forward out of their oppressive past to focus on the present and living once again.
Under the rule of previous kings and stewards, “The desire to escape death produced a cult of the dead, and [the people of Gondor] lavished wealth and art on tombs and memorials;” yet these tombs and memorials also served to remind people of their mortality (Tolkien, Letters 155). As Pippin enters the Hall of the Kings he is struck by these memorials to death, for “Between the pillars there stood a silent company of tall images graven in cold stone…awe fell on [Pippin], as he looked down that avenue of kings long dead” (28). The tombs of Gondor also play an important role in the history and tradition of the City, and they are fittingly located in a space between the tower and the mountain, between life and death. Again, the living do not quite let the dead go, for they do not want to admit that they themselves will ever die, and the dead are trying to obtain rest in the peace of the darkness of the womb of the earth, becoming one with their separated and repressed unconscious. But in Gondor, “Death was ever present, because the Númenoreans still, as they had in their old kingdom, and so lost it, hungered after endless life unchanging,” the life of the Elves. “Kings made tombs more splendid than houses of the living, and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of sons” (TTT, 363). The more important eternal life became, the more important death became than any living person or thing as Denethor proves when he goes mad, which ends with him taking his own life and attempting to take that of his son, Faramir.
Our journey through life both as individuals and as a society leads us down a path on which we will never find gratification, and as a result, we become more and more hostile toward life. Just before Denethor is able to burn Faramir alive within the tomb of their ancestors, Gandalf appears and reminds Denethor that “The houses of the dead are no place for the living;” he also tells him that “Authority is not given to you, Steward of Gondor, to order the hour of your death” (156-157). An individual must battle through life and death in order to reach peace in death in his own way, and Denethor was taking that opportunity away from not only himself but also his son. As the super-ego, Gandalf instructs Denethor that “only the heathen kings, under the domination of the Dark Power, did thus, slaying themselves in pride and despair, murdering their kin to ease their own death” (157). We soon discover that Denethor’s madness stemmed from the fact that he had been struggling for years with Mordor through one of the Palantír, but Denethor had succumb to the destructive power of Mordor rather than wrenching it to his own will as Aragorn had done. (See endnote “iv”.) Denethor had become masochistic, turning the death instinct on himself, for dwelling on death so much and with the constant reminders of death constantly surrounding him, he was brought to despair; he felt that the only pleasure he would feel was in the immediate destruction of both himself and his family. Gandalf is able to save Faramir, but Denethor wraps himself in flames, ending his life as well as the struggle of his psyche. The tombs of their ancestors also are destroyed by the fire, giving rise to the hope that the houses of the dead may be replaced by houses of the living. Denethor’s servants, who were loyal to him until the end, “in terror…fled and followed Gandalf;” they followed the super-ego hoping for the establishment of the reality-principle (160). Denethor’s servants are the symbol of what the people of Gondor really want, they do not want to live for death, they want to die for living; and they will get this with Aragorn as their new leader.
“Neurosis is an essential consequence of civilization or culture,” for as mentioned before, the surrounding objects serve almost as doubles, reminding us of both our immortality and our mortality; it is almost as if the weight of the city bears down on us repressing both life and death with its weight (Brown 10). Before Aragorn’s arrival in Gondor, a shadow of darkness grows over the city, causing its people to become even more neurotic. When Beregond, one of the Guards of the Citadel, takes Pippin on a tour of the City, they can see Mordor in the distance, prompting him to mention that the people of Gondor “have dwelt ever in sight of that shadow…It is growing and darkening now; and therefore our fear and disquiet grow too” (42). As with the dead Tree, the image of Mordor in the distance serves as a guilty reminder – that Isildur failed to destroy the One Ring. As the darkness grows, shutting out the Sun, the people of Gondor become more paranoid that they are going to be completely enveloped in the ever-expanding shadow. The Nazgûl hover over the City like the Angel of Death as they were doing with Frodo: “Ever they circled above the City, like vultures that expect their fill of doomed men’s flesh. Out of sight and shot they flew, and yet were ever present” (118). The increasing neurotic symptoms of the people of Gondor and the images in the text in which there is no clear separation between the external and internal world, or between life and death, reflect the “compromise between the two conflicting systems” of consciousness and the unconscious “thus exhibiting the reality of the conflict” within us all (Brown 5).
The people of Gondor once had faith that their city would protect them from death as a womb does prior to division from the mother and the ushering in of mortality. They even “laughed and did not greatly fear such devices” as those that the enemy from Mordor brought to their gates, “For the main wall of the City was of great height and marvelous thickness, built ere the power and craft of Númenor waned in exile; and its outward face was…unconquerable by steel or fire, unbreakable except by some convulsion that would rend the very earth on which it stood” (116). However, the devices of Mordor, break down the gate and the unconscious erupts into consciousness looking for acknowledgement: “In rode the Lord of the Nazgûl, under the archway that no enemy ever yet had passed, and all fled before his face.” Gandalf, the super-ego, attempts to push him back, telling him that he “cannot enter,” but the Nazgûl simply replies “This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it?” (125). Despair rides into the place where hope is supposed to reign. Just as the houses of the dead are not for the living, the houses of the living are not for the dead. The reality-principle had temporarily failed to hold back the unconscious; however, not all is lost, for as “Gandalf took command of the last defence of the City…Wherever he came men’s hearts would lift again, and the winged shadows pass from memory” (119). The super-ego attempts to hold back the darkness, helping us to endure the disruption of the moment for the stableness of tomorrow.
Beregond mentions to Pippin that “Ever we bear the brunt of the chief hatred of the Dark Lord, for that hatred comes down out of the depths of time and over the deeps of the Sea” (43). The Primal Crime has not only followed Aragorn through life, but has followed all the people in the City as a memory-trace, which was also shown by Faramir’s dreams of Westernesse, a place he had never actually seen. They all feel the guilt of their forefathers as they desired to become gods, to have all knowledge and power as well as eternal life; the same guilt we feel through our own history and myths, such as those of Eden and Babylon. As a consequence of this guilt and its repetition, “historical time” is created and three “specifically human characteristics – the pleasure-principle, the fixation to the past, and the aggressive negativism – [which] are aspects of the characteristically human mode of being” are reflected in the City (Brown 104). Expanding on these characteristics, the pleasure-principle is the pleasure we get from attempting to deny our guilt and defy death, finding substitute pleasure in objects; the fixation to the past is the reminder of this guilt and our own mortality, which is visited upon us in every object that our forefathers built; and the aggressive negativism comes from us turning our death instinct outward, being aggressive and negative toward life, relishing objects instead, despairing from the shadow of the guilt and death which we attempt to deny. Modern guilt has grown to a point that we can no longer purge it, and instead it continues to accumulate as we are constantly confronted with it in the civilization that we built to repress ourselves, which in turn, creates the cycle of history and time. Minas Tirith serves as a warning to us to show us how civilization can break down from the weight of that guilt, and the reality-principle may no longer be capable of holding back the unconscious.
Minas Tirith is in need of help, which is where Aragorn “a captain of the Rangers, who are unused to cities and houses of stone,” enters on to the scene (167). The line of the kings was absent from Minas Tirith for so many years because they were charged with the task of working through their guilt passed down directly from Isildur, as well as through the City’s. Their absence from the City most likely helped them to succeed, for they were not consumed by the weight of the surrounding stone. Aragorn was able to repeat and work through many of the actions of his ancestors, which allowed him to begin the process of establishing a healthy psyche. We know that since he was able to confront and acknowledge death, he is capable of conquering the Shadow of Mordor that hangs over Minas Tirith. He will bring life and death together within the City as he did in his own life, which will lead to long-term satisfaction in the community. Minas Tirith will be great once again, for Aragorn, the King, will establish his presence in the City with images of Spring and youth, bringing healing and fertility as he replants the White Tree and marries Arwen Half-Elven. Arwen even declines immortality by marrying Aragorn, giving us hope that the future perspective of Minas Tirith will be directed back toward the present and living. Aragorn even looks beyond the destruction of the moment, and claims that through the experiences of death and war the “heart will not be darkened,” but will be taught wisdom (177). Before moving forward with fresh stimulation in life, we are often brought “to the very brink, where hope and despair are akin” as in the City of Minas Tirith (192).
Jolly Well Done, guv'nor.
Oh man, Vir, I have been avoiding Faramir even though I love him dearly. I was going to jump in on the Faramir thread, but just haven't had the chance. His men love him and the quote is something like "both man and beast follow him." I don't have the books in front of me. To me that is one of the most telling lines. He is loved by both the civilized and those in nature, and he loves them both in return, not wanting to kill any beast needlessly. He is a representation of thought with action and not just action (like science with thought).
Now, if I were to stick strictly to Freud, then yes, Faramir has a major Oedipus Complex. But, I often like to ponder new interpretations of psychoanalysis, since I believe Freud made two major mistakes -- 1) was assuming that everyone suffers the same neurotic symptoms and 2) was his severely misconstrued perceptions of female sexuality. Coming up, I will speak to Frodo's Oedipus Complex though, which causes him to be so attached to the Ring as a substitute gratification. ;-) Stay tuned...
2) was his severely misconstrued perceptions of female sexuality.
How did you come up with that? Wouldn't that be more JRRT instead of Faramir or any other male character from LOTR?
As the reality-principle begins to assert itself, we in turn must assert a great amount of effort to repress our self-indulgent desires, we must grow up and never experience the same satisfaction that we experience in our youth. As we mature we begin to externalize the narcissism of childhood, and "the fundamental quest of man” becomes finding “a satisfactory object for his love," also known as a substitute-gratification (Brown 7). We find that we experience more guilt with each new desire that surfaces which must be laid to rest, for the super-ego does not seem to differentiate between the guilt of simply thinking about the satisfaction of a particular desire and the guilt of actually taking part in the satisfaction of that desire. This sometimes leads us to believe that if we are going to feel the guilt, then we might as well feel the actual satisfaction of that desire if even for a moment, which is what happens to Frodo when he assumes the Ring rather than casting it into the fires of Mount Doom. As reality begins to take hold in Middle-earth, guilt begins to weigh down heavily on Frodo, and assuming the Ring gives him a moment of relief from that guilt.
As Aragorn has his own struggles with the guilt created by the death instinct and the pleasure-principle, Frodo struggles with these same drives and instincts along his own path to Mount Doom in his quest to fully establish the reality-principle in Middle-earth. When Frodo finally reaches Mount Doom, he repeats the actions of Isildur, and cannot cast off the Ring, at least not without the help of his double. It could be concluded that he is not able to work through the past actions of Isildur, and cannot repress his own desires; however, if Gollum is Frodo’s double, then he is that portion of Frodo’s self that actually helps him master the actions of the past. Keenan mentions that Frodo claims the Ring for himself simply because of the power that it promises him, but does not expand on any possibilities of what that power might be (68). Of course, the reader is never told exactly what power the Ring offers Frodo, but whatever that power is, we can assume that it would make Frodo feel like he had the strength to overcome any trauma in his past, for a hobbit desires a peaceful life without external or internal disruptions, and Frodo had experienced many of both. He would want the power and the strength to establish new boundaries in his self, and the Ring would promise Frodo that power (even though this would only truly come with its destruction rather than through its assumption).
But Frodo’s dilemma is even greater than this, for to lose his love object would cause even more disruptions to his self. The love object is a substitute for a gratification we lost in our youth, and for some it is a way to indulge their Oedipus complex as a substitute for the love of a parent. According to Freud, we are "obliged to repeat the repressed material as a contemporary experience instead of […] remembering it as something belonging to the past. These reproductions […] always have as their subject some portion of infantile sexual life -- of the Oedipus complex, that is, and its derivatives" (Beyond 18). Many people will cringe at the mention of the Oedipus complex and Frodo in the same sentence, but as a psychoanalytic reading of LOTR, we cannot disregard the fact that Frodo is an orphan and lost his parents at a young age. This means that he probably never had the chance to fully emerge from the Oedipus complex, and a certain pleasure is to be gained by repeating the experience of the loss of his parents, playing an active role in the situation rather than a passive role. Therefore, Frodo, through both the assumption and the destruction of the Ring, masters the actions of history long past, Isildur’s actions, as well as his own history – the loss of his parents. Frodo chooses not to cast off the Ring because he does not want to lose his love-object, the representation of his absent parental figures. Yet, once the object is forcibly taken from him, he is able to move forward in peace without the object, and he loses his passionate attachment to both the object and the past that it signified. He gains psychological satisfaction from working through his past traumas, which will enable Man to rule Middle-earth with a “healthy” psyche – or at least a psyche with boundaries which seem healthy to a neurotic society.
The object must be forcibly taken from Frodo, but it is taken by his double, that part of himself that was created through desire and guilt. In the heart of the mountain, in the unconscious, Frodo’s true desire is revealed, “I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!” (274). Frodo is admitting that for which he truly longs, and with the guilt of that admittance, his double appears, a vision of “lust and rage,” “a crouching shape...[of] insatiable desire,” who attacks him. Frodo’s desire attacks him both internally and externally, and his moment of satisfaction turns into a moment of aggression and destruction. The object to which he is so attached is taken from him; the vision of perfect androgynous sexuality is destroyed as it is in every boy-child suffering from the castration complex, for civilization “obtains a great part of the mental energy it needs by subtracting it from sexuality” (Freud, Civilization 74). Gollum (guilt) bites Frodo’s finger off, and then, “dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle” (275). Frodo, the child, is destroyed, and his lust and desires also are destroyed due to the aggression turned back onto his own ego by the castration complex, making it easier for Man to move forward unrestrained by the oppressive weight of guilt. Keenan believes that Frodo’s assumption of the Ring is an acceptance of sexuality and death, Eros and Thanatos (69); however, it is not the actual assumption of the Ring that brings Frodo’s acceptance of sexuality and death, but his loss of the Ring, his symbolic castration, that ushers in these realities along with the adult libido, Aragorn (Brown 132). If a child is considered bisexual and “sexual differentiation,” which comes with the adult libido is seen as “a loss of sexual completeness,” then Frodo, the child ushering in adulthood, is accepting adult sexuality. At the same time he would be accepting death, the reality that he is mortal and will die. Frodo desires in the deepest part of his unconscious, Mount Doom, to reunify Eros and the death instinct, “to overcome the dualisms which are [mankind’s] neurosis,” but his quest throughout the text has been to establish the reality-principle, which therefore continues the neurosis of Man. The reality-principle is established along with the realization that the perfect sexual union does not exist in one’s own self.
There are several reasons that aggression surfaces in the struggle for the Ring. For one, Frodo has made a portion of his self like the object. The Ring, being an object that represents destruction, would naturally bring about aggression in its wearer. Also, Frodo loves this object with a passion that makes it almost unbearable for him to part with it, especially since it represents his parental figures; this passionate love for the object in turn surfaces in hostility when there is a threat that the Ring will be taken from him, for he is reminded of the loss of his parents. He does not want to part with the Ring and deal with such a loss again. When Gollum attempts to take the Ring from Frodo just before he enters the heart of Mount Doom, Frodo is stimulated to enter his unconscious and confront both this love and hostility, which “was probably the only thing that could have roused the dying embers of Frodo’s heart and will: an attack, an attempt to wrest his treasure from him by force” (271). This final encounter with Gollum before the assumption of the Ring, along with the assumption of the Ring itself, are both very sexual in nature, leading to a re-joining of the masculine and the feminine, a union of pleasure and destruction. Freud notes that the life of a cell is prolonged by its temporary union with another cell. He believes that this rejuvenation is reflected in sexual union as well, for there are “fresh amounts of stimulus” to “be lived off.” As we move toward death, there is an “abolition of internal chemical tensions;” our bodies seem to be aiding in the process of regaining unity before death, but sexual union re-stimulates these tensions and thereby prolongs our lives (Freud, Beyond 49). Frodo was ready to succumb to death just before he was motivated into action by Gollum’s attack.
Through Gollum’s destructive desire, Frodo is brought peace. His double, which had surfaced out of Mordor, out of the greed and lust of his desire, was incorporated back into his unconscious, for Gollum falls into the fires of Mordor along with the precious Ring. Constancy is brought back to Frodo and back to the men of Middle-earth. According to Freud, pleasure is obtained through constancy and unpleasure through too much internal excitation (Beyond 8-9). This constancy, which is to be reached through a binding of instincts and emotions, may be unpleasurable at first, but it will eventually lead to a constancy that attempts to mimic our original inorganic state. Once both Gollum and the Ring are destroyed, Frodo surfaces, “pale and worn, and yet himself again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any fear. His burden was taken away…he was free” (277). Frodo acknowledges that without Gollum, he could not have destroyed the Ring, without lust and desire, destruction would not have come. If guilt had not surfaced during the assumption of the Ring, then he would not have parted with it, for satisfaction without guilt is that for which we all long. And since Frodo was ready to return to his inorganic self due to his monumental struggles on the way to Mount Doom, he longs to unite with his other half, Gollum, to become whole again before facing death.
Through his actions in helping to fuse the ego, “Frodo is the Child who fathers the Age of Men” (Keenan 68). He has the task “to ‘synthesize,’ ‘harmonize,’ ‘reconcile,’ ‘organize,’ the conflicts and divisions in mental life” before Man takes his place at the head of the realm (Brown 85). Frodo represses desire and establishes the reality-principle in Middle-earth so that Man can move forward without being a slave to desire – a slave to Mordor. However, as seen in Frodo, “this compromise between the two conflicting systems, the pleasure desired is reduced or distorted or even transformed to pain” (Brown 9). Frodo is in physical and mental anguish as he struggles to bear his desire and then to discard it. “As a result of instinctual ambivalence, the history of childhood is the history of an organism caught in an ever widening sequence of dualisms which it vainly seeks to overcome, till in the end, after a final climactic struggle [such as over the One Ring], it acknowledges defeat and acquiesces in its own permanent impairment,” allowing adulthood and the reality-principle to establish itself (Brown 116). In the end, Frodo with the help of his double is able to throw destructive desire and the longing of immortality into the fires of Mount Doom. In a sense, he is defeated for he never completely reconciles Eros and Thanatos, and only assists in further establishing neurosis in mankind; however, he does cast off the two things – desire and obsession with death – that are bringing degeneracy and infertility to the men of Middle-earth; for if he did not help to set the boundaries of the psyche in this way, then through cyclical tyranny, desire would take its hold over Man as it was attempting to do in Gondor.
As the rest of LOTR, the end mimics our own lives by returning to the beginning. Eros or the Life Instinct has a temporary victory over the Death Instinct, but we will find our ultimate peace in death. Keenan mentions that the Sea represents fertility; he does not expand on this, but it can be assumed that he is comparing the Sea to the womb (74). This may be one representation of the Sea, but the Sea as a representation of death and the inorganic self is not mentioned. Since we started in a state of union, the ego is simply searching for a state of “re-fusion” – just as it searches for an object in life as a refinding of this union:
The [oceanic] ego-feeling we are aware of now is thus only a shrunken vestige of a far more extensive feeling – a feeling which embraced the universe and expressed an inseparable connection of the ego with the external world. If we may suppose that this primary ego-feeling has been preserved in the minds of many people – to a greater or lesser extent – it would co-exist like a sort of counterpart with the narrower and more sharply outlined ego-feeling of maturity, and the ideational content belonging to it would be precisely the notion of limitless extension and oneness with the universe. (Freud, Civilization 13-14)
Throughout LOTR, the characters are confronted with this “oceanic” feeling. As they set out on the quest to establish the ego in Middle-earth, they constantly see and feel the echo of the universal self.
Middle-earth itself is a representation of the ego and the way in which it outlines itself against the external world. It is located between the boundless self, the ocean, which is where permanent union and pleasure are to be found, and Mordor, the representation of temporary unions and limited satisfaction. (See Appendix B – Map of Middle-earth). It contains the Shire, the ego of childhood; Rohan, the ego of adolescence; Rivendell and Lothlórien, the ego of fantasy, the ego as Tolkien believes it should be; and Gondor, the mature adult ego. The characters journey through each of these representations of the psyche, beginning in childhood and progressing through adolescence and fantasy until the complete adult ego is successfully established in Middle-earth, a journey with which we all can relate. The characters discover and acknowledge every aspect of the self, sorting through their desires and instincts to outline the shape of the ego against both the external world and the internal world.
Frodo especially in the midst of his search for identity and attempt to sort out the external world feels a closer alignment to the primary all-inclusive ego than most of us, even though these feelings frighten him, for he has yet to emerge completely from the “tumult” of his new beginnings. The Shire like Gondor is located fairly close to the Sea; however, amongst the hobbits, “the Sea became a word of fear among them, and a token of death, and they turned their faces away from the hills in the west” (FOTR 27). As a representation of childhood, the hobbits are fully focused on life, turning away from death in an attempt to establish the ego against this universal self that echoes in their hearts and minds; however, Frodo still has visions of this all-inclusive self, for on several occasions he either dreams of the Sea or has visions of it. Just before he leaves the Shire, he dreams he is in a tower, looking out:
over a dark sea of tangled trees. […] Then he heard a noise in the distance. At first he thought it was a great wind coming over the leaves of the forest. Then he knew it was not leaves, but the sound of the Sea far-off; a sound he had never heard in waking life, though it had often troubled his dreams. Suddenly he found he was out in the open. There were no trees after all. He was on a dark heath, and there was a strange salt smell in the air. Looking up he saw before him a tall white tower, standing alone on a high ridge. A great desire came over him to climb the tower and see the Sea. (FOTR 154)
He is tempted to return to the beginning, the peace of the inorganic self, or the peace in the womb prior to the disruptive division of the self that takes place in birth, rather than facing the unpleasantness of the tangle of trees through which he must pass in order to establish the mature ego.
In both Rivendell and Lothlórien, where the boundaries of the self are fading, Frodo like the Elves can feel the Sea. The Elves, like childhood and the fantasies of childhood, represent that part of our self which disappears with the establishment of the reality-principle. As Frodo listens to the music of the Elves in Rivendell, he falls into a dreamlike state; in this dreamlike state there is often a blurring of the self so that we catch glimpses of the other parts of our being, for the edges of the psyche bleed into one another. “Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never yet imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world” (FOTR 307). He can see what he is to become as he journeys forward in life; he has a vision of the self outlined against the oceanic self.
When Frodo first enters Lothlórien, he “stood still, hearing far off great seas upon beaches that had long ago been washed away, and sea-birds crying whose race had perished from the earth” (FOTR 455). Even though his quest leads him farther away from the Sea, farther away from his beginning, he still feels the presence of the boundless self in the land of the Elves, for they are close to the end of life and he to the beginning. One of the first things Frodo sees in the Mirror of Galadriel besides “parts of a great history in which he had become involved” is the Sea (FOTR 471). Both the visions of history and the Sea bind Frodo to an ego that is greater than just his own self, which is why he holds on so tightly to the Ring throughout LOTR. As his ego, the ego of Man becomes more defined, the Ring becomes more and more of a representation of the boundless self to Frodo. It is the object representing the mother and the world, the pure pleasure ego of the child looking for union. But also, the Ring being the destructive desire that it is, brings Frodo closer to death and the peace of the inorganic self as well.
Emphasizing Frodo’s movement forward through Middle-earth to establish the reality-principle in the world is the fading of the Elves and their longing for the Sea, which is represented in the Fellowship by the presence of Legolas Greenleaf. Through Gandalf, the super-ego, Galadriel tells Legolas:
Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou has lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more. (TTT 136)
Since the super-ego, which wants to establish the reality-principle in Middle-earth, brings this message, Elves such as Legolas will fade into being mere legend and myth, longing to sail into the West, into that portion of the self which is only hinted at when Man feels the universal being either in a dreamlike state or when he is close to the beginning or end of life. When Legolas does see the gulls in Middle-earth, he forgets about wars and battles, and simply longs for the happiness he will find in the Sea, for it is the only place his heart will find peace (ROTK 183). The Elves take their place in Middle-earth as a part of memory and fantasy, and “If any wanderer had chanced to pass” a gathering of Elves “little would he have seen or heard, and it would have seemed to him only that he saw grey figures, carved in stone, memorials of forgotten things now lost in unpeopled lands” (325).
When Aragorn becomes King and takes the crown in Gondor, he repeats the words of his forefather, Elendil, saying, “Out of the Great Sea to Middle-earth I am come. In this place will I abide, and my heirs, unto the ending of the world” (303). Aragorn after many trials, transforms his self and emerges from the Sea, sailing up the Anduin to Minas Tirith, as a fully-formed ego. Gandalf, the super-ego, and Frodo, the child and animistic self, crown Aragorn, establishing him as the leader of Middle-earth. Only by the help of each has he conquered Man’s fixation on death, accepted it, and will move forward in life. “The days that followed were golden, and Spring and Summer joined and made revel together in the fields of Gondor” (298). Life and fertility return to Gondor. And rather than having a symbol of death surrounded by images of life as a representation of Gondor, Aragorn replaces the White Tree in the fountain with a new sapling of the Eldest of Trees, making the core and focus of Gondor life once again. (See endnote “v”.) Aragorn finds this sapling on a barren mountain top where all seemed “bitter and cold,” he finds life surrounded by death; he plucks life out of death, saving it from being swallowed up by darkness, just as he saved Minas Tirith from the shadow of Mordor (308). The King takes back “all of his ancient realm,” bringing the Men of Middle-earth together, building community, repressing tyrannical isolation and desire (284). Through unpleasure, he established his ego and a healthy psyche, and at the crowning of the King the minstrel sang to the Men of Middle-earth, “until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness” (286).
Just as Frodo and the hobbits set out from the Shire, they return to the Shire; however, to Frodo, going home seems like “falling asleep again” (341). He completed his quest, he finished what he set out to do, and he was awakened to the unity of the self. He returns to the Shire, but longs to go a step further and return to his inorganic self. He becomes passive, no longer wanting to carry weapons or fight. He loses his aggression, his denial of death and his pleasure in temporary satisfactions. While in Minas Tirith, Arwen gives Frodo a replacement object, “a white jewel on a chain,” which he “wore always” and “often would finger” (377). By losing the Ring, his love-object, he loses a part of himself; he is no longer whole. The replacement object only serves to remind him that he is incomplete, that he is divided. For years, Frodo attempts to find superficial happiness and fulfillment in the Shire, but, like Legolas, he cannot quench the longing for the Sea. He feels lonely in the Shire, and when we begin to feel lonely, begin to feel the individual separateness of our selves, we begin to long for the final comforts of death. Frodo tells Sam that the Shire has a bit of everything “except the Sea” (327), and he wonders where he will find rest, for “the memory of darkness” was heavy on him (332). After so many external and internal stimulations, so many disruptions to the self causing uncomfort and no constancy of being, Frodo is tired.
The novel ends with the final parting of the Fellowship: “On the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-earth” (384). Frodo, childhood, along with the Elves, becomes a part of faded memory, a place that we only visit when we come into contact with our boundless self. Frodo sails away from the bound self, the ego that outlines itself against the external world, on a ship, just as Boromir floated down the Anduin to the Sea on a boat, and Aragorn sailed out of the Sea on another. “As place of birth, as way of salvation, and as ship of the dead, the ship is the wood of the beginning, the middle, and the end. It is the threefold goddess as mistress of fate and tree mother, who shelters the life of man and leads him from earth to earth, from wood to wood, but always back to herself” (Neumann 258). As Frodo sails away from Middle-earth on the ship, it seems “to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise” (384). He is returned to the comfort of the beginning, and he awakes from the sleep of the Shire just as he awakened when he first left the comfort of its boundaries. His life led him exactly where it was supposed to -- back to the beginning. Death is what will finally greet us at the “end of all things” (277).
But, again, I'm somewhat out of my depth with the whole psychology stuff; I can read for insight, but have few of my own to return. All I can say is God bless.
The formation of our egos is a traumatic event, for the ego is brought into a life where it is “battered by the external world, scourged by the cruel upbraidings of the super-ego,” and “plagued by the greedy, insatiable demands of the id” (Eagleton 140). Each one of the books that makes up The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King – reflects the trauma associated with the formation and continued existence of the ego, fluctuating throughout life between pleasure and destruction. As we are bombarded with stimulation during our lives that breaks down our barriers, we sometimes find it difficult to differentiate between the external and internal worlds. Dreams and myth surface on the borders of these barriers tapping into our universal self; they are an intersection of our identities with the uncontrolled forces with which we are battling, which is why we feel such a close connection with LOTR and its characters.
Tolkien believes fairy-stories have such a profound effect on us, for what he terms the "'eucatastrophe': the sudden happy turn in a story which pierces you with a joy that brings tears.” He believes that this moment in a story “produces its peculiar effect because it is a sudden glimpse of Truth, your whole nature chained in material cause and effect, the chain of death, feels a sudden relief as if a major limb out of joint had suddenly snapped back. It perceives…that this is indeed how things really do work in the Great World for which our nature is made" (Tolkien, Letter 100). Many of us come to think of Middle-earth almost as a parallel universe, for just like us, the characters struggle along this chain of cause and effect, Eros and Thanatos, to establish their own identities in the tumult of Middle-earth.
Keenan rightly asserts that the appeal of The Lord of the Rings lies in its psychological, emotional appeal, especially since the characters are tied up in the same struggle that we are between life and death. “We recognize that the hobbits are emblematic of naturalness, of childhood, and of a life which will yield to the Age of Men with its technology, its rational adulthood, and death. This recognition strikes a sympathetic chord in the human heart” (Keenan 80). The end is bitter-sweet, for life triumphs as the reality-principle takes over, but this is only a temporary triumph, for all things will pass from the earth. We know that the establishment of the reality-principle brings only temporary happiness, and that Man will not endure at the level of joy we see when Aragorn returns to the throne. We are not convinced that Sauron or some form of insatiable lust will never appear in Middle-earth again, for this is the same struggle that Man has had throughout the ages, it has repeated itself, and will continue to repeat itself, surfacing again and again for separate generations to work through. “The repressed instinct [of Mordor] never ceases to strive for complete satisfaction, which would consist in the repetition of a primary experience of satisfaction. No substitutive or reactive formulations and no sublimations will suffice to remove the repressed instinct’s persisting tension” (Freud, Beyond 56). These same drives for pleasure and destruction lead not only the characters but also the readers through the novel to the very end, pushing forward to the establishment of Man, or the ego, as the rightful ruler of Middle-earth. The cyclical nature of Eros and Thanatos in The Lord of the Rings mimics the cycle of life, making the beginning indeterminable from the end. We spend our lives building boundaries for our self, only to seek satisfaction in their final destruction.
However, Brown, just as Tolkien, takes a more positive view than Freud of the journey through life and the possibilities of man to come back together as a community and live more as a whole. Even though, as a society, we may be separating from each other more and more, and may doubt the completeness of the triumphs over our own Saurons, there is still hope that we can lessen the divisions around us. For on a more personal level, the move forward in life is a slow journey back to our inorganic self and wholeness. As we move forward, shedding the cells of the self, we are incorporating more of the world and society into our own egos; we are actually lessening the divisions that were started with the ultimate separation and trauma of division that takes place at birth, and there is the prospect that this may one day come to be reflected in society. Divisions are born with the establishment of identity, and we struggle all of our lives to attain the wholeness in which we existed prior to birth.
Many people read The Lord of the Rings once a year as they make their way from childhood through to adulthood, and during each stage, they find a different message in the text that pertains to them at that particular point in their lives. They are able to find characters and situations that mirror their own struggles with the pleasure-principle, the reality-principle, and the death instinct. They are able to reflect on the happy indulgence of their childhoods, but also see through The Lord of the Rings, that they need to journey on to maturity, that they cannot just focus on a small part of their lives, but need to move forward to gain perspective. Frodo cannot stay in Middle-earth and is granted passage to Arda with the Elves at the end of the text, for there is no room for the naive pleasures of childhood without the wisdom of adulthood. He cannot stay in Middle-earth for Man, Aragorn, the representation of the adult ego, has fully established himself. The poignant ending of the books, just as with life, leaves us feeling hope for the future of Middle-earth, and yet a certain sadness for everything that has come before and has been lost. We mourn for the razing of The Shire, and the life that the hobbits lived prior to their journey, yet this sadness is tempered with the joy of a more complete wisdom. The Elves, the representation of Man as he should be, leave Middle-earth, for we have yet to reach this level of wisdom; and Frodo leaves, for we have left this level of innocence behind. The Lord of the Rings is a work that may not be respected by critics, but it is a work that will endure, for it is important to us as a society and individuals; it is a reflection of our own minds and our own journeys through life to find our self.