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Whe I saw the weekly poll today, I thought it was the best one I've ever seen. But I was surprised with the results. The poll read:

Which is the most important/significant theme/element in TLOTR?

Hope and Endurance - 17%
Loyalty and Devotion - 5%
Mercy and Pity - 5%
Fate and the significance of choice - 17%
Friendship, compassion and love - 30%
Hospitality and Kindness - 0%
REsisting temptation - 2%
Redemption and Sacrifice - 17%
Bravery and heroic deeds - 2%

The results are probably different now, but I think they will be stay relatively the same, as the last poll did.

So I was wondering if any of you people who voted (There were 40 of you, I expect 40 posts) would like to share their views on WHY they actually voted the way they did. I'll start.

I voted 'Mercy and Pity.' I voted this because I thought that all these elements/themes were important in TLOTR, but unlike the others Mercy and Pity were actually talked about briefly and were shown to be important by Gandalf. (And Tolkien, for that matter, though I can't prove it)

Frodo and Gandalf had a conversation which to me indicated that Pity and Mercy were the most important theme/element in TLOTR.

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What a pity Bilbo did not stab the vile creature, when he had a chance!
Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and MErcy: not to strike without need.
I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death.
Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many tha tlive deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give that to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.


i also remember reading somewhere that Tolkien said that Frodo failed in destroying the Ring, but succeeded because he showed Pity to Gollum, and without Gollum, the Ring would never have been destroyed. i don't know where I read it, but I am absolutely certain and positive that he said something like that, and I have read it somewhere.

Alright, now it's your turn!
Although i think everything in that list is partly a LOTR theme, i chose 'fate and the significance of choice'.

Frodo chose to bring the Ring to Mordor (although he didn't know the way), chose not to kill Gollum and use him as a guide (which lead to the destruction of the Ring), Aragorn chose to go after Merry and Pippin which lead him to Gandalf etc.

Well, actually everything in the list is as good as a theme. Pity and mercy too. Indeed, Frodo showed pity for Gollum. But hadn't it been for Sam's loyalty and love for Frodo then the quest wouldn't have succeeded either ! Sam wouldn't have saved Frodo out of the Tower of Cirith Ungol for instance. And Sam wouldn't have fought Shelob. So friendship and love are as important as pity and mercy.

Actually i think the main theme is 'good vs evil' , entwined with everything in that poll-list. There are no wrong anwers at all.
Thanks to Grondy and Tarrant for putting the poll up!

Anyway, I (as the 48th vote) picked Friendship, compassion and love. While I felt that all of the themes were significant and played their own role, I felt that this theme was the one that kept things together, and helped to move the journey along. (Though the same could be said for others, say, hope and endurance, or fate and the significance of choice.) That said, I picked it because of the way the theme 'rubbed off' on me; in my reading and interpretation, it was probably one of the most important ones that had an impact on my understanding of the piece, though others did as well.
Well, I'm beginning to ramble, so I'll just look forward to seeing other opinions in this thread. Good idea for a topic, Loni! Smile Smilie
Great poll suggestion Arco, glad it got used! Orc With Thumbs Up Smilie

Personally, I wish I could’ve voted for them all because I feel like they’re all very important and vital to the overall message of LotR, but I voted for friendship, compassion, and love for pretty much the same reason Arco mentioned, it just seems to me that these were the most crucial elements in keeping everything together, and to insure the ultimate success of the destruction of the One-Ring.
Elf Smilie
This is a really great poll suggestion, Arco. I had a very tough time deciding as all these themes play a significant role in The Lord of the Rings and each theme tends to fit different characters. I ended up going with Redemption and Sacrifice because at the time I was thinking about Boromir and Theoden.
Boromir wanted the Ring because he believed they could defeat Sauron and return Gondor to its former glory. He was so determined that he tried to take the Ring from Frodo by force. Too late, he saw the error in his judgement. But Boromir was redeemed because he sacrificed his life in an effort to save the Hobbits from the Enemy.
Theoden let the people of Rohan down when he came under the spell of Wormtongue. He was redeemed when he came to the aid of Gondor and valiantly led his men into battle, also paying the utlimate sacrifice.
Bilbo had stolen the Ring and used it knowing that it had magic powers, albeit, he did not realize the true nature of the Ring. His redemption came through his nephew, Frodo who destroyed the Ring. Both Bilbo and Frodo were able to go to the Grey Havens for healing, however, they had to leave the Shire and sacrifice the normal peaceful life of a Hobbit.
There are times that I think even Smeagol was redeemed when he led Frodo and Sam to Mordor. Would the Ring have been destroyed were Gollum/Smeagol not sacrificed with it? Perhaps not the same heroic end of Boromir or Theoden, but leading Frodo and Sam to Mordor did cost him the ultimate price.
A really great poll, but a very very hard question to answer. In the end I chose Hope and endurance, but to explain why is really hard.

Frodo and Sam really needed all hope and endurance they could get to free the world of the danger of Sauron, and themselves of the burden of the Ring. Without Sam giving his master hope, I don't think Frodo could have made it to Mt Doom. Same goes for Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas: if they hadn't hoped for Pippin and Merry to be still alive, they would not have followed the band of Uruk-Hai that had captured them. When Frodo was captured by the Barrow-Wight, he wouldn't have started singing Tom's song, unless he hoped Tom would come to save him. Hope keeps coming back, when you start to think of it. If Gollum hadn't hoped to get his preciouss back, he would never have helped Frodo and Sam find the way into Mordor. It's true that his character changed later, but at the point where he met the two Hobbits, the only thing he thought of was getting his precious back. This shows endurance as well from Gollum's side. And when the Hobbits struggle their way up to Mt Doom, endurance is a pretty heavy factor as well. But so is friendship, and bravery, and so many other things. I found it really really really hard to choose.
I kept reading on Loni´s post that she had voted for "Merry and Pippin". I hadn´t read the poll until I saw the thread. Are we allowed to suggest another interesting poll? Like, what traits are not mentioned in the book. Hunger and Thirst. Sex and Desire. Political strugles. Family gatherings. Night life! I voted Kindness and compassion because I thought that needed support, but I really think the topic (of the ones listed) which I relate the most is Fate and the importance of choice. The importance of consecuences. To give you hope and remind you that, as long as you are devoted in loving, your brave sacrifice will be redempted. Every thing that you decide, will affect the rest of your life. Everything. Great Topic Loni. You see, Loni gets a Pseudo-Silmaril!
Hope and endurance, though the choice is rather hard... Still, I think that hope kept them all going through those dark times, even in the moments when it seemed pointless to resist Evil. Or, as Gandalf would put it: "A fool's hope"
I couldnt pick,i thought the main theme of the books was overall goodness and fighting futiley even though ur all but sure ull fail,LOTR maid me depressed fer a week especially after the Return of the King came to theatres and that signified nothing to look forwrd 2 in the future and i was also upset because EVERYTHING changed the Elves had to leave and............then i found this site and every bit of my depression was gone,this site is like a Tolkien book that doesnt end in some ways.sry,if im off topic
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Are we allowed to suggest another interesting poll?


Yes you are Az! Just look under the forum title Website Talk, then click on Website Suggestions, from there you will see the thread entitled Poll Suggestions where you can feel free to volunteer any ideas you might have for a Poll.
Elf Smilie
Azadhel,
As Elfstone has mentioned we welcome poll suggestions, however, some of the choices that you have suggested in your post (Like, what traits are not mentioned in the book. Sex and Desire and possibly political struggles, depending on where they lead) as these topics violate the terms and conditions of our "Family Friendly" designation.
Rednell Moderator Smilie
Cool!
Elf Smilie
I notice no one is writing back bout Bravery and Heroic Deeds, Loyalty and devotion, or Other.

Tell your friends on PT all about this thread! (I am especially curious about 'Other.' I want to know what 'OTher' the people who voted for it have in mind.
Once again, a wonderfu post! I haven't seen something this deep and meaningful in a while. Of course, many of the themes listed are intertwined in multiple facets of one another so there is no doubt in my mind that any of these could be considered the one and only but...

I would have to agree with Virumor on this one: it is seen again and again, not only in LOTR but from the beginning of Arda that Fate has its role in the events of the world. The Music has a set pattern and so Fate has decided things in terms of the big picture. Choice, however, is given to the mortals of Middle-Earth and THEIR choice is what determines what is beautiful and good or evil and tragic in the world.

Something that hasn't been mentioned is how, for instance, Gandalf had to make the choice of whether to ride out on the Pelennor Field or save Faramir from Denethor's madness. Other choices such as Frodo's "choice" to take the Ring in the Council of Elrond, Aragorn's choice of action after the Breaking of the Fellowship, Treebeard's choice to rouse the Ents, or Bilbo's many choices regarding Gollum and the Ring.

Elements of Fate would be how Gandalf and Thorin met in Bree, Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, Bilbo's many instances of luck and fortune, Aragorn was meant to take the throne, etc. Like I said, many of the others are definitely good choices but this is my favorite.
I only just got back online last night after suffering PC problems, but it was refreshing to see such an interesting poll. To be honest, I haven't actually cast a vote yet, because I was keen to get straight into the forums.

Like several of you have said, all of the choices are interlinked, and I have difficulty imagining LotR without any one of them. Going with a gut feeling, however, I would choose Hope and Endurance. With hope anything can be achieved provided you have the endurance to see it through. I think at times these two virtues were all that Sam and Frodo had to cling to.
First of all, I will clarify to Lony that no one is writing back bout Bravery and Heroic Deeds, Loyalty and devotion, or "Other", because there is none in the book. Unless you are talking about some other book... Is this the site of Jeremiah Rouchel Tolkien, the farmer who made horse rings and wrote a book about how to do them?
Anywho... As I see that destiny and fate is what most of us relates to, you can now believe me when I say IT is the force moving our worlds arround. Having fun with us, if you will. The trick is to have fun with it too. There is a thin line, my friend, between coinsidence and fate.
Here´s a Poll idea: Which posts have been (or are) the most interesting?
I voted for Hope and Endurance. But i think thats more visible in the later films. I mean the point of Gandalfs,Aragorns and the rests strugle is to give Frodo and Sam time to get to Mount Doom. That shows endurance to fight Sauron and hope that Frodo will do his job.Becase they cant fight Sauron and win . Frodo is their last hope really.
Help us Frodo, you´re our only hope.
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Like several of you have said, all of the choices are interlinked, and I have difficulty imagining LotR without any one of them. Going with a gut feeling, however, I would choose Hope and Endurance. With hope anything can be achieved provided you have the endurance to see it through. I think at times these two virtues were all that Sam and Frodo had to cling to.


Welcome back Val, we've missed you! I like what you said about Hope and Endurance! Very well put, and I definitely agree with you!
Elf Smilie
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Once again, a wonderfu post! I haven't seen something this deep and meaningful in a while.


I agree.

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First of all, I will clarify to Lony that no one is writing back bout Bravery and Heroic Deeds, Loyalty and devotion, or "Other", because there is none in the book.




Azadhel, I said you were a wise old sage, but I completely disagree, with some heat! The reason there weren't loads more people dead on the battle of the pelennor fields, and that Gandalf choosing to go to Denethor instead of challenging the Witch-king, was because Merry sliced him! THere were many Heroic Deeds! How about Sam challenging SHelob and killing her? He could've just ran. And that's Loyalty too. Sam was loyal, the entire way through. And there would certainly be Other. There's always Other. There always exceptions. And even to the statement "there's always exceptions," there's exceptions.

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Gandalf and Thorin met in Bree,


That's in The Hobbit and Unfinished Tales, that's not in TLOTR.

Although there is much to be said about Bravery and Heroic Deeds, I don't there is enough to call it a literary theme. I do like the shining moments of bravery like Boromir's glorious last stand defending Merry and Pippin, Faramir's devotion to duty (in the movie, his charge on Osgiliath), Theoden's charge on the Pelennor Fields, and Eowyn's stand against the Witch-king.

Loyalty and Devotion is definitely prevalent in Frodo and Sam's relationship (especially in the movie), and so is the unwavering devotion of Aragorn to his quest. You could also argue for the converse of this and discuss the Disloyalty and Betrayal aspect, that happens quite a bit...
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That's in The Hobbit and Unfinished Tales, that's not in TLOTR.

True Loni, however, without them there would not have been a book called The Lord of the Rings. One thing I have come to realize about LOTR is that to truely understand it you need to immerse yourself into Middle Earth by reading the prequels.
That said, as I have been reading the responses to this thread, it does seem to make a difference in the reader's perspective as to the theme of LOTR. All the themes are there and I suppose generically "good vs evil" would cover all but would not generate nearly as interesting a discussion as this has.
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Faramir's devotion to duty (in the movie, his charge on Osgiliath),


Forgot to specify. This thread is on the books, not movies.
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Forgot to specify. This thread is on the books, not movies.

Why limit this discussion (or the poll for that matter) to the books? These same themes are captured in the film even though there have been many controversial changes to Tolkien's book. Faramir's sense of duty was most certainly well represented in both the book and the movie as he obeyed the commands of his bitter father.
As long as one makes note as to whether their opinion is based on the movie or the book. There are many people who have not had the opportunity to read or finish reading LOTR and I see no reason why they should be excluded from this thread as the poll itself does not limit itself to the books. The book of course reflects the theme as Tolkien intended.
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Why limit this discussion (or the poll for that matter) to the books? These same themes are captured in the film even though there have been many controversial changes to Tolkien's book.


They aren't captured in the same way.
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They aren't captured in the same way.

No, they are not. That would not be possible with any movie adaptation of a book. However, as I mentioned, the person posting only need specify whether they are referring to the movie or the book.


In case you haven't noticed, I have very strong feelings concerning exclusion where it is possible to have the best of both worlds.
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I have very strong feelings concerning exclusion where it is possible to have the best of both worlds.


I agree entirely, Nell.

Glory be to God for dappled things - Pied Beauty

The best of both worlds is always better than just the one. Excluding choice limits possibilities, making it a very monochrome world. Without choice there is no discussion or freedom and you become slaves to the teachings of your elders. Maybe a bit over the top for this thread, but why exclude the films from the topic. The qualites may be featured differently, but they are still there. It is far better to discuss those differences rather than just banning them.

Interesting that you would quote Hopkins on this one Val (my students didn't like Pied Beauty all too much).

Just so you know, Loni, I'm an avid fan of the books whereas the movies are merely visual representations to me. (anytime I play LOTR trivia with my friends, answers from the book are final and discrepencies are not tolerated, such as the number of orcs Gimli killed at Helm's Deep: in the movie it's 42 but in the book, it's 41).

I was just trying to come up with reasonable support for the other themes in this poll that weren't discussed. I am always deeply touched, for instance, when Eomer sees Eowyn on the Pellenor Fields and is grief stricken: he leads his men into battle choked with bitterness and despair. This is a great contrast to Theoden's blasting of the horn and the charge on the field. That was totally awe inspiring IMHO. But you are right Nell, Faramir also does Denethors bidding in the book despite his misgivings. What do you think Loni?
I don't think Denethor was portrayed well in the movie, so that changes everything.

In the book, denethor actually cared a little about what would happen to Minas Tirith, but in the movie he was just eating and eating and now caring a bit. All he wanted was to stay ruler, no matter what.

And the bell rang for end of lunch, so I have to go!
Hi, coming into this rather late (I can't see any poll anywhere!) but I would disagree with Azadhel, and vote for "Bravery and Heroic deeds" for a couple of reasons.

Most, if not all of the characters are called upon at some point in the story to display bravery, in some cases far beyond what they believe themselves capable of. Bilbo gives up the ring, Frodo does an incredible amount, Merry fights the witchking, Sam fights Shelob.... the list goes on and on.... Much of the storyline is based around Frodos' struggle, and through this is a sense of awe that a once simple hobbit who dreamed of adventure could achieve this much, against such overwhelming odds. Alongside him is Sam, who simply wishes things back the way they were, but when needed, displays amazing bravery.

Heroic deeds are also very important. If Gandalf had simply been able to wave his hand and send the Ring into the fires, then the story wouldn't have been worth telling. The struggle of the characters and their achievements is an outstanding theme in the story, showing that even when they seemed to be almost about to fail, they could still pull through, and even the smallest in the group could do amazing deeds. Overall the story is about the struggle between our side and theirs, and the achievements and spirit displayed in the fight.
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Hi, coming into this rather late (I can't see any poll anywhere!)
Welcome to Planet-Tolkien Night. The poll has temporarily disapeared while Taz is working on the website.