The Fellowship Of The Ring Essay
The aim of this paper is to discuss the significance of songs and music in the book ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ Songs and music in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ carry more symbolic weight than in other books.Music and songs are used to convey the character and nature of the Hobbits, the Ringwraiths, elves, and orcs as well as their adventures and confrontation.Songs and music are used to enhance the mood and sometimes convey the message of the author.
Furthermore, songs and music often serve the purpose of advancing of the storyline.It is also important to mention that songs and music bear abundant cultural references. For example, the songs have a distinctive Celtic touch, and the general atmosphere of the book is also closely linked to the popular perception of Celtic culture and heroic storytelling style.In the opening chapters of the book, songs set the stage and introduce the reader to the magical world of the Middle Earth. They convey the beauty and comfort of Hobbits’ land and the simple and joyful life they have. They are simultaneously a manifestation of Renaissance pastoralism and the tradition of old countryside folk tunes.
Songs are usually associated with positive characters and events. They serve a variety of diverse purposes, ranging from community building to empowerment.Songs perfectly fits the calm and relaxed atmosphere of the Hobbits’ land. Furthermore, it hints on the ways of Hobbits being seemingly quaint and their willingness to preserve traditions. Their songs remind the reader of late Middle Ages when folk songs pervaded all spheres of live and accompanied any activity. Songs were used to celebrate the joy of simple life and laborious but rewarding work; they kept lonely travelers a perfect company.
Continuity of the folk song tradition clearly shows that change comes slowly in the Shire, if it comes at all:‘For over a thousand years the hobbits have been living a peaceful existence in a fertile district called the Shire, incurious about the world outside’ (Auden, 1954, para. 4).The fact that Gandalf’s appearance is precipitated by the arrival of dwarfs who sing strange songs before he himself drives into the Shire can be also interpreted in two different ways. First of all, the fact that visitors enter the Shire with songs is a clear indication that there are no hidden dangers in or around the territory of the Hobbits’ land. It further strengthens the atmosphere of comfort and security of the Hobbit’s way of life that the film creates.
Secondly, the fact that the dwarf sing contribute to the development of uplifted mood and expectations running high about Bilbo’s birthday party. Thus, dwarfs are not a sign of danger but rather of something special Gandalf has prepared for the celebration. Their arrival fits with the description of the following scenes, where Hobbits are actively involved in the preparations. The guests that arrive with a song are, beyond any doubt, welcomed and long-awaited one.Music and singing are also central to the celebration of Bilbo’s birthday.
This is, perhaps, the most vivid example of songs and music serving the cause of community building. Playful folk tunes perfectly convey the atmosphere of friendship, confidence in the future, and festivity.Most of the important community events happen at festivals or fairs, be it a quarrel or a love affair. And such community events are always accompanied by music, singing, and dancing. Therefore, music and singing are associated with a sense of community and celebration. Singing can be best seen as glorification of the Hobbits’ way of life, full of friendship and rejoicing.
Singing goes together with excessive consumption of alcohol and dancing on the table. It is also a symbol of fraternity. Thus, when Bilbo calls everyone attention and makes a speech instead of singing or dancing, everyone can already feel that there is something unusual happening. And, indeed, Bilbo disappears in the middle of the celebration.
Bilbo, upon embarking on his long journey, also starts chanting a melody. Besides an already familiar use of songs as something that goes together with travel, Bilbo sings in order to feel more courageous and empowered. His song is a sign of him leaving all the negative thoughts (including his addiction to The Ring) behind as he goes to faraway lands to live a different life of peace, quietness, and contemplation. It can be interpreted as his liberation from the power of The Ring coupled with optimism and determination to face the unknown.
When the Hobbits embark on their long and dangerous journey, they start singing a song when the day closes in: there is an old Hobbit tradition to sing songs when they are returning home. Songs for this occasion are usually connected with the themes of abundant supper and falling asleep in one’s own bed.However, this time the Hobbits start singing a travel song that was made up by Bilbo when he and Frodo were wandering around the Shire and talking about Bilbo’s adventures. Bilbo wrote the words to this song, but put it to a tune that is as old as the hills, and taught it to Frodo.
It is hummed by the Hobbits as an alternative to a supper-song.The song helps the Hobbits to keep their spirit strong, in spite of tiredness and fear of the unknown. The song tells about distant lands and challenging adventures, yet it eventually ends with glorifying the only thing Hobbits cherish: a good dinner on the table and the warmth of one’s own dwelling. Therefore, the song has a positive ending:‘Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,Away shall fade! Away shall fade!Fire and lamp and meat and bread,And then to bed! And then to bed!’Another scene when song is used to add courage and empower the Hobbits when Pippin and Sam squat tiredly and start chanting a Hobbits’ drinking song:Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I goTo heal my heart and drown my woe.The song is suddenly interrupted by the cry of Nazguls, and the atmosphere of fraternity and relative calmness is ruined altogether.
The fact that Hobbits are a singing nation is proved by Pippin’s chanting while taking a bath in Crickhollow and by a farewell song Merry and Pippin sing when entering The Old Forest. In the woods, Frodo also sings to encourage his companions:O! Wanderers in the shadowed landdepair not! For though dark they stand,all woods there be must end at last…Frodo also sings while dancing on a table in the bar in Bree ‘At the Sign of the Prancing Pony.
’ However, sometimes songs are used to convey sorrow and yearning. In the woods, Frodo and Sam hear elves singing a sad, melancholy song as they are leaving the Middle Earth, never to return. This song is a symbol of irreversibility and finiteness; it also serves as a precursor of unsettling change that the Middle Earth is about to face as the elves head towards the sea:‘We still remember, we who dwellIn this far land beneath the trees,Thy starlight on the Western Seas.’The Hobbits are more fascinated with the elves’ singing than with anything else that is special about the beautiful race of elves. The song ‘The Fall of Gil-galad’ that Sam sings is also a sad one, and Sam decided not to learn the part about Mordor, which caused him to feel afraid and anxious. Frodo’s lament for Gandalf, when the latter perished in the flames of Moria, is also very sad and touching.
So is the lament for Boromir, which is sung jointly by Aragorn and Legolas:O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south,But you came not with the ailing gulls from the grey sea’s mouth.Negative characters in the book never sing, which proves the thesis that singing is associated with good not evil. For example, Saruman, who cynically suggests that Gandalf should join the forces of evil because no one is able to resist the power of The Ring and imprisons the good wizard, is the character that does not sing.Similarly, Boromir does not sing, and the reeader comes to reveal his corrupt nature gradually. At the council, he claims to be The Ring rightful owner as he protected other lands from Mordor’s invasion for centuries, so now he is desirous of owning The Ring and promises to use it for good causes only. However, the others firmly believe that The Ring should be destroyed:‘This can only be done by going to the evil Mount Doom, in the dark land of Mordor, to cast it into the flaming chasms’ (Bush ; Maus, 2003, para.
8).Thus Boromir reluctantly agrees to follow the Frodo and other members of the Fellowship of the Ring to Mordor. Yet he goes on voicing opinions that there is too much suffering happening because of such a small thing as The Ring. He also tries to persuade Frodo that there are other solutions to the problem than carrying The Ring to Mordor. Gradually, the reader gets the impression that there is too much weakness in Boromir’s heart, together with too much pride and obsession with power.
When he tries to take The Ring from Frodo by force, the reader comes to realize that he is the weakest link in the Fellowship of the Ring, despite the fact that he recovers his good name in the scene of his death.Tom Bombadil deserves a very careful analysis in the context of relevance of songs and music for the overall progress of the novel. When the Hobbits meet him in the Old Forest, Merry and Pippin are trapped by Old Man Willow and Frodo calls for help, Tom Bombadil is able to release Frodo’s friends by singing Old Man Willow to sleep.In fact, Tom Bombadil almost always conveys his message through singing rather than talking. This immediately positions him as a positive character that eventually renders a lot of help to the Hobbits, for example, by offering them a shelter in his house.While Tom seems to be a rather unimportant character, he has a great hidden potential, and The Ring has no power over him.
Moreover, Tom teaches the Hobbits a song that they should sing if they encounter trouble inside his borders.At night, when the Hobbits put up to sleep on the way to Rivendell, Strider sings a mournful yet touching chant about Beren and Luthien:The Sundering Seas between them lay,And yet at last they met once more,And long ago they passed awayIn the forest singing sorrowless.Thus, everything in the novel is attributed with an ability to sing, even the forest. Furthermore, this episode contributed to the plot development as it shows the reader that Strider is a positive character. Before, the Hobbits did not know whether they could trust this man, but taking into account the fact that negative characters do not sign, the reader knows that Strider is there to help the Hobbits and eventually rescue them from the deadly assault by the Black Riders.
In Moria, Gimli Gloin sings a song that tells about the rise, the glory, and the fall of the Dwarf race. However, is also offers the hope for the resurrection of the past Dwarfs’ glory:There lies his crown in water deep,Till Durin wakes again from sleep.In Lothlorien, the air is thick with melodic and ephemeral voices coming from nowhere and everywhere. It creates the atmosphere of relative peace, however, the voices are also grievous, hinting that the end of times is near, especially if Frodo and the Fellowship fail to complete their quest. Legolas sings a song recounting the sad story of Amroth and Nimrodel:No tidings Elven-folk have heardOf Amroth evermore.
As concern Frodo, the elvish music awakens him and leads to Galadriel, who shows him the past, the present, and the future in the magical mirror. Galadriel’s song fascinates Frodo; it is sung on a combination of Frodo’s language and elvish, which only strengthens the magical impression it produces on the Hobbit.Therefore, it is possible to conclude that songs and music play an important role in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ Sometimes they are used to strengthen community and fraternity ties; sometimes they are used as a shield against evil; and sometimes characters use singing as a way of expressing their grief and sorrow for the lost loved ones.Only positive characters in the novel sing; each significant positive character in the story has a chance to sing at least once, be it a Hobbit or a Dwarf. Songs render the reader confidence in a character that chants a melody and generates trust in this character.