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Thread: Poll LotR most important theme

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In the Poll: What is the most significant theme in the Lord of the Rings?
Which did you choose and why?

This poll was suggested by Tyrhael (formerly known as Arco...) with a few tweaks by your's truly to make it fit our poll engine (and still later to fit the space allowed for our thread titles).
Yay! First voter!

I chose Hope and Endurance, because the whole backbone of LOTR is time... WHEN will Sauron strike, Frodo still has TIME to destroy the ring... Plus for the fact that Gandalf (my personal favourite) spoke so wisely about waiting and endurance until death etc... He gives hope to men... Everyone in the story were affected by the evil, and had to endure and see what hope there is and what is left of it
How can I choose? After considering all of the choices -- and they are all important themes -- I chose mercy and pity. Partly because the pity of Bilbo (and Frodo, and Gandalf, and Faramir, etc) rules the fate of many as far as Gollum and the ring are concerned, but also in the little things like Aragorn's mercy to Beregond in sending him to serve Faramir; or Galadriel's/the Valar's mercy (grace?) in allowing Gimli to go with Legolas to the undying lands, etc.

I very nearly chose Bravery & Courage, for they are the culmination of so many of the other things listed: they spring out of hope, endurance, loyalty, friendship, etc. In the extreme, all the things listed require bravery or guts - even kindness and hospitality, when your guest is dangerous, or in danger, or puts you in danger. Sacrifice requires courage. Resisting temptation is a type of bravery. Loyalty (when those to whom you are loyal are under attack from an enemy you may not be able to defeat, and indeed probably won't be able to defeat) requires steadfast courage.
Gosh, you guys are making these polls harder and harder! It was such a hard decision. All those instances, and little vignettes from the LOTr started to run through my head, but of course, I couldn't decide which one was MOST important, because without any of them, the mission would not have succeeded.

but in the end, I chose temptation and resistance because the one central object in this trilogy is the Ring, and what does it do? It tempts. It tempted Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel, Boromir, Denethor, Faramir, Aragorn, Frodo, Gollum, and back in time to Isildur, to name a few. A very central theme that recurrs throughout the LOTR is the idea that power corrupts. Those that resisted the Ring's temptations were good and pure and lordly (Aragorn, Faramir, Galadriel) and those who succumbed to it were not necessarily bad, but they were not as "pure" of heart and had too much ambition (Boromir, Denethor, Saruman).

And then, you have the whole Nine Ringwraiths business. How did those hovering pieces of ugly black cloth come to be what they were? Well, surprise, surprise, they were tempted by Sauron!

Now, after typing all this, I feel as if I've made the right choice, but still, you can't really ignore some of the other options on this poll. I mean, all of them count for a great part of the book, and I guess that's the wonder of Tolkien's mythology: you can learn so many lessons from just one great story.
I believe Tolkien expressed in one of his Letters that Sacrifice & Redemption were the major themes; he referred to the Elves giving up the Power of the Three to make it possible for Sauron to be vanquished, among other things I cannot recall at the moment.

There's of course also the matter of Gollum getting to the brink of redemption, but refusing, and Frodo reaching redemption in spite of failure.

And of course there's the distressing matter of Lady ’owyn sacrificing all her desperately achieved glory & splendour to return to her life in a cage, a flower of Rohan picked by a sycophant from Gondor. Like father, like son, for did not Denethor do the same with Finduilas of Dol Amroth?
Personally, I see loyalty and devotion as a main theme even if Tolkien said otherwise. If there were no devotion to family and friends, life and land, etc, there would have been no resistance to Morgoth or Sauron.
It's true that almost all the characters in the book had to sacrifice something, but you know how stories are... and you know how life is... something's always gotta give.