March 25th marks the day in which the One Ring was finally destroyed in Return of the King, and around the world fans of Tolkien’s work celebrate Tolkien reading day with festivities and a toast to the Professor. For a world that began solely as a setting for his invented languages, the heroes and villains that inhabit Middle-Earth have left their mark with readers far and wide. Three writers look to their favourite characters and just what they mean to them.
The Lord of the Rings is something I remember being introduced to at a very young age and became one of the fictional worlds that raised me. Aragorn was a character that intrigued me and I felt an admiration for that has grown and developed as I have. When I was a kid, it was more about how cool he looked and his amazing fighting ability that of course made childhood me swoon with how good he looked, but as I’ve grown up I admire his narrative arc in a different way. It is no longer about security but uniting to face the common enemy and putting the safety of the many above your own, leaving Aragorn bloodied and bruised. What I take away from his story is selflessness, determination, and togetherness above all else and learning from history rather than letting it consume you. Although these are very heroic qualities in the narrative of Lord of the Rings, they are applicable to everyday life and something everyone can incorporate to their being.
– Zarah Akhavan-Moossavi
Perhaps the member of the Fellowship of the Ring who gets the hardest time by fans, Boromir is perhaps my favourite of the nine walkers. There is just something so human about his character; true, he falls at times and is blind-sided by the desire to keep Gondor safe, but there is an undeniable adoration for his younger brother Faramir, for his people and for Gondor. As an older sibling myself I can relate to his motives and desire to keep his brother safe. He holds insane loyalty to the Rohirrim, and after his death, the legacy of his bravery continues to bring respect from them.
He argues with the fellowship, but when he insists he saves their life, from the failed ascent of Caradhras, to his fall beside the Anduin during the breaking of the Fellowship, each action od his brings something along with it. And it could be argued, that without Boromir, the Ring may not have been destroyed. Boromir had lived nearly forty years beneath the influence of Mordor by the time of The Lord of the Rings, and yet still sees the strength of his people.
Truly, like the meaning of his name, boromir is a steadfast jewel of the Fellowship.
– Louise Chase
Peregrin “Pippin” Took:
Lord of The Rings has a wealth of complex characters, yet Peregrin Took (exceptionally hairy, even for a hobbit) a character favourite that injects youth and whimsicality into Middle-Earth. It’s impossible to not love Pippin, gaining status by joining the fellowship and remaining loyal: “We may stand, if only on one leg, or at least be left still upon our knees.” Indeed, Pippin’s kind nature is a breath of fresh air in the strained power dynamics across the Shire-reckoning.
Starting a pilgrim and buried a hero, Pippin ends up more famed than Frodo. Yet, fame is not what is admired here. It is the underdog trope which makes us strive for our less tall counterpart. Courage is the value manifest in Pippin, becoming a knight and remaining noble in spirit. A great friend and fighter, Pippin is more than “Fool of a Took!”.
– Ebony Bolter
Out of all the beloved characters in the Tolkien universe, Bilbo Baggins might come across as a slight cop-out. Smeagol is the definition of tragicomedy, Fili and Kili are the dynamic duo and Gandalf’s mysterious appearances and disappearances just make him look cool. But to me, Bilbo highlights a quality that is not emphasised too much in The Hobbit: kindness.
Nothing is too on the nose in the novel as it was clearly divided into chapters for the purpose of bedtime stories for children; each chapter is a clean-cut saga with a beginning, middle, and end in its own right. Bilbo is mostly characterised as the “burglar” who must grow into the innate craftiness and cunning that is expected of one. This is seen from the very beginning from prising the dwarves away from hungry giants, to a riddle-off with Gollum. We watch Bilbo develop into the trickster that is required for his role in the quest.
But we are surrounded by classical literature that revolves around the servitude to one’s own kind. The Odyssey is about returning to your place of origin; The Aeneid is about finding your new homeland when your original one has been destroyed; Bilbo Baggins is completely unrelated to these dwarves but helps them reclaim their rightful homeland anyway. Within the realm of elves who hate dwarves who dismiss hobbits, it’s refreshing to see a character who (despite the initial mumbles and grumbles) embarked on a treacherous journey to aid the pursuit of a reclaiming the place that is theirs.
– Elizabeth Sorrell