Vol. III - THE RETURN OF THE KINGS:
Everyone except Frodo and Sam arrives at the kingdom of Gondor, and though the people of Gondor are amazed and frightened at first by the huge army of walking trees that accompany them, everyone smiles and accepts them when Gandalf and Aragorn reveal themselves. The brothers Denethor and Boromir, however, see that Aragorn brings knowledge from the North which will give their kingship over to Faramir, the true King, and so they secretly conspire against him. And so later on, when the forces of Mordor arrive to attack Gondor, they successfully plot to have Aragorn positioned so he must face the Witch-King in single combat. The battle is too much for Aragorn, and just as he is about to die he is saved by Eowyn, a woman of Rohan who loves him, and Merry, who slays the Witch-king in single combat by using ancient hobbit-magic and so reveals himself to be the lost Thain of the Shire. Even as the forces of Mordor retreat, they are swept into the Sea by great ships brought by Faramir, the true Prince of Dol Amroth, from the hidden city of Osgiliath further up the Great River.
Meanwhile Sam chases the tarantula back to the lair of Ungoliant, the Queen of Spiders
, and after a tense argument about the nature of good and evil she finally reveals to Sam the cure for the spider's-venom which holds Frodo in thrall. Sam thanks Ungoliant for her mercy and wisdom and revives Frodo, and they set off into Mordor to find Gollum. "Oft help will come from the weak when the Wise are foolish," Gandalf once said, and sure enough all the spiders of Mordor are willing to help Frodo and Sam in their quest. Their course leads them to Mount Doom, where just as they arrive they find Gollum claiming the Ring for himself. The Dark Lord Sauron then becomes aware of them, and leaves the Dark Tower
to come forth and destroy them; but just them Frodo and Sam rush Gollum and force him backwards into the Cracks of Doom. The Ring is destroyed, and without it Sauron is destroyed by the sunlight. Frodo and Sam leave the Mountain just in time to see the great armies of Aragorn and Faramir coming across the plains of Mordor to greet them.
Boromir and Denethor are driven away from Gondor forever, but mercifully spared by King Faramir, and Aragorn is revealed to be the long-lost King of Arnor, the North-Kingdom of old. "Yet you may still rule the Shire," he says to Merry the Thain, "for with Mordor fallen, there may be kingships enough for all." The heroism of Frodo and Sam is sung in Gondor and Arnor for long ages, and even Pipsqueak finds honor in his new role as Faramir's bootblack. "There's room for advancement in this job," he tells the other hobbits knowingly, his eyes on Faramir's crown. Faramir smiles at Pipsqueak's jest and tells him he will always be welcome wherever he goes. (Indeed, the Appendices note that Pipsqueak's journeys take him far and wide in later years, and he becomes the best-known hobbit of them all.)
The other hobbits eventually return to the Shire, only to find it corrupted and in chaos because of an onslaught of evil Men; they eventually find the evil brothers, Denethor and Boromir, trying to set themselves up as dictators of the Shire. Frodo and Merry fight the evil brothers hand-to-hand and slay them at the very door of Bag-end. Merry takes up the Thainship, and at the end they all go West to the shores of the Sea, there to bid Gandalf farewell as he sails back across the Sea and into Heaven, for he was an Elven-king all along who was trying to improve the relations between Elves and Men long-sundered, and now he had found his reward.
Well, this book is really complicated, but I'll try to hit the high points real quickly. Maybe someday, when I have more time, I can improve on this.
God created the angels, and the angels created the world. But the Elves created the Silmarils, the Great Jewels, and fought over them for generations until Melkor, one of the greatest angels, took them away for safekeeping. But Melkor's brother Morgoth stole the Silmarils, and the Elves swore they would fight the angels forever until they got the Silmarils back. The story is an allegory for greed, and also a tale JRRT told to demonstrate that you can never hope to fight God. In the end a brave Man named Beren steals the Silmarils from Morgoth, and when the Elves try to kill him to get them back (this is where the estrangement of Elves and Men occurs, which is to haunt JRRT's other works), he gives them to his son Earendil to take across the Sea and back to Heaven. And that's how peace is restored to Middle-earth.
Possible Subjects for Lord of the Rings
1. Brothers in the Lord of the Rings. Many of the characters in Tolkien's work have brothers, or sometimes sisters, who demonstrate different aspects of their families' beliefs. You could write a paper contrasting the many family relationships, such as the way Frodo is helped by his brother Sam, the way Denethor and his brother Boromir conspire, and the way Feanor is assisted by his brother Feenamint. Contrast this to the sharp differences seen in other Tolkien families, such as Beruthiel and her sister Galadriel, Melkor and his brother Morgoth, and Gandalf and his half-brother Saruman.
2. True Royalty. One recurring theme of Lord of the Rings is the theme of good royalty defeating tainted royalty. Just as Faramir defeats his evil cousins to reclaim the Throne of Gondor, Aragorn restores the Kingdom of Arnor with his marriage to Eowyn. Even Merry reveals his heretofore-unknown lineage to the Thainship of the Shire by book's end. Remembering that Tolkien wrote this book even as Queen Elizabeth was taking the throne of England when King Edward VIII abdicated and married a commoner, write a paper showing the influence of Tolkien's aristocracy beliefs on his work.
3. Use of Fire in Lord of the Rings. Whenever the forces of evil try to strike a blow in Tolkien's work, they almost always use fire. Denethor tries to set fire to Faramir; Glorfindel sets fire to the grasslands; Radagast tries to set fire to Gandalf. Even the dragon in The Hobbit tries to set fire to LakeTown; and Queen Beruthiel, while she never actually sets fire to anybody, is portrayed as an incessant chain-smoker, "waving the fire about in her hand like a hot poker" (Fellowship of the Ring, towards chapter seven). You could write a pretty fair paper on the use of fire in Tolkien's works. Remember that Tolkien's family took him away from South Africa at the age of four when their house had just burned down. Maybe it left a lasting impression.