The Enlightened Enigma

The hobbits encountered Tom Bombadil when they were strayed in the Old Forest, who provided meals and refuge. Their savior, though, was unknown to them, until Tom revealed himself as the eldest—the first to stand in Middle-Earth. He belongs to no civilization, but to Mother Nature.

There is one attribute of Tom that is distinctive from all the other characters in the series: he has no interest in power, demonstrated through his interaction with the Ring. It did not cause him to become invisible, but it was the other way around.

Tom did the ‘impossible’.

This demonstrated that Tom was unusually indistinguishable to the Buddha (although I am aware that Tolkien neglected allegories to his mythology). Buddhists, nonetheless, would recognize Tom as an ‘Enlightened One’—one that has eliminated his earthly desires. But the Ring functions to produce desires for power. However, Tom desired nothing from it, nor was he concerned about its destructive potentials. He is neither in the good or evil ‘side’, as both sides desire power; he is the neutral force.

Tom, figuratively saying, and relating to pantheism, is ‘one’ with nature; his heart resembles more of a ‘thing’ than a ‘being’, parallel to mindless matter, which plainly lack desires.

Ultimately, one may never fathom this enigmatic invention. There exist things beyond what the mind can unravel, just as Tolkien’s God is enigmatic. How can an immortal God incarnated as a mortal man, yet be both God and man concurrently? Surely this violated the Law of Contradiction, but it was revealed to be true.

God did the ‘impossible’.

The involvement of the ‘impossible’ in Tolkien’s world may indicate that the ‘impossible’ occurred in the real world. There will be inestimable argumentations on whether Tom Bombadil is Eru Iluvatar, and whether Jesus Christ is God.


The Inescapable Reality

“[Bilbo] used to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: its springs were at every doorstep, and every path was its tributary.” – Frodo (Book 1, Chapter 3).

The great river represents the flux of time.

It may encounter chaotic times, experiencing twists and turns; but sometimes it flows in peacefulness and tranquility. I am cognizant of this pattern of progression throughout The Fellowship’s odyssey, continually stumbling upon both serenity and mayhem. They have encountered vicissitudes, usually unforeseen.

They have been haunted by their fears, the selfsame fear that sprang hope.

The river has a destination, predestined by fate, but it definitely does not have an assurance for safety, for it will never hold back. Frodo had an inclination to return home, realizing that he might perish, but it is impossible to battle the forceful tides and reverse the clock. The stream will not allow the past to be altered, as it is beyond the bounds of possibility.

Tolkien communicates that mortals will never escape time, despite having unlimited desires in a limited time. Hence, their choices are urged by time, which may be either a gift or havoc, depending on how one utilizes it.

This certainly reflects the horrors of war. Soldiers did not appoint themselves to be in their state of affairs. The majority feasibly desired an ordinary life without burden, and so did Frodo (the Ring-Bearer that must confront a dilemma). But time has imprisoned them in an unending sequence of cause-and-effects, in which they have no alternative choice but to live within it and endure.

This is the inescapable reality of life.

“For such is the way of it: to find and lose, as it seems to those whose boat is on the running stream.” – Legolas (Book 2, Chapter 8).

The Mechanical Dominance

The Fellowship traversed the Mines of Moria, once excavated by dwarves to obtain Mithril. Aragorn admitted that the place has an evil reputation. And evil did startle them: orcs and Balrog ambushed overnight.

Their following destination was Lothlórien, a magnificent forest that is inhabited by elves. There, they were invulnerable.

Hitherto, I have noticed intelligible foils between the nature-loving and the nature-deceiving. Tom Bombadil, the hobbits and the elves treasure and preserve nature; Sauron, the orcs and the dwarves utilize nature through dreadful ravages. Here, there is an explicit distinction between harmony and supremacy within the connections between mortals and nature, which is evident in the dawn of the 20th century.

Tolkien himself felt hostile towards industrialization.

He set out to convey that the rise of the machines was based on greed. Natural resources were being demolished, and earth would be contaminated. As a Catholic, Tolkien would acknowledge that God’s artistic masterpiece began with a garden, and should not be repainted into a wasteland (perhaps this is the reason why Galadriel distinguished her gift to Sam not as a shield—nor a weapon—but as a ‘blessing’). This is the core of Tolkien’s view. Hence, industrialization is dishonorable to God, and subjectively speaking, evil.

The dwarves did not quarry for the sake of evil, but greed. However, it nevertheless generates evil. Tolkien would consider the greed to steal natural resources, as personal fortunes, evil. Industrialization is exclusive and rewarding. But, it is suicidal. As a child, Tolkien had never seen airborne transportations; as an adult, he saw thousands of pilots bombarding the masses and habitats of their own race and home planet.

Therefore, contrasting distinctions within the races in Middle-Earth were made to emphasize the utopian qualities of the nature-loving hobbits and elves to appoint them as ideal human beings.

The Genesis of Lifeblood

Book II marks the beginning of the Fellowship’s adventure. They are to proceed southeast to annihilate the Ring.

Their success relies on their hearts.

What is its function? The heart is the key to relationship building; the Ring is the key to relationship destroying. The heart is the source for blood, and the blood circulates the flesh. Therefore, it ordains every movement of every body part. Every movement shapes one’s identity: either as a warm-hearted or a cold-blooded being.

Such peregrination relies on the warm-hearted. It demands battling selfishness with selflessness—as the menacing road calls for great sacrifice—not by outer strength, but inner strength. The external factors are corporeal. But the internal factors lies in the heart, which steers the external.

Sauron recognized this: the supreme tack to demolish the forces of good is to strike the heart, which is the authentic part of sentient beings, the dominator of emotions, and the monarch of deeds. In the absence of a heart, there will be no authenticity and emotions, but a mere automaton. With an altered ticker, akin to the Ringwraiths, comes jeopardy.

Elrond healed Frodo from a calamitous venom that targeted his heart, which could prospectively renew him into a Ringwraith. If Frodo’s heart were metamorphosed, the entire stratagem for the Ring would collapse.

The core of the followers of Jesus, too, is in the heart. Tolkien understood that the dividing line between his theology and distinct creeds is the emphasis between the heart and the deeds. He believed that a heartless person with perfect acts will not be saved, but the one with a faithful heart with imperfect acts will be saved.

Character is a product of what one believes with all their heart, as revealed by the hearts of the dramatis personae of Middle-Earth.

The Opposite Extremes

The hobbits traveled eastward, coming across new companions, including Tom Bombadil, Aragorn and Glorfindel. Simultaneously, Black Riders repeatedly attempted to capture Frodo. Therefore, throughout their journey, there was a leitmotif of opposite extremes: light and dark, and black and white.

According to Strider, the Nazgûl is dependent to nighttime. These antagonists hunt by perceiving shadows and lifeblood. Hence, the night is of danger, and the day is of safety, to the protagonists. Demonstrated at Weathertop, fire was ignited for protection. They were desperate for light; but the Ring itself leads to the dark.

The Ring alludes the power of Satan, since it grants mortal desires for perfection, tempts seekers to undertake deadly sins and become a god—a megalomaniac like Lucifer that thirsts supremacy. It has the capability to turn the wise into a fool (even Gandalf refused to touch the Ring).

Frodo, then, is being pulled into the darkness—both to his fate/destination, and repeatedly in his expedition. Blackness enabled the Nazgûl to terrorize the Inn in the Bree, the camp in Weathertop, and the Ford of Bruinen in Rivendell. The absence of light still awaits him.

Black symbolizes wickedness and sinfulness; white symbolizes virtuousness and righteousness. Even if the characters could not comprehend the Black Riders, they still bring fear, through its uncomforting and demonic colors. In the other hand, Asfaloth, Glorfindel’s white horse, saved Frodo’s life.

Overall, Tolkien conveys that the light’s role is to show the way to triumph, not to further gloom. The dark continually assaults the good forces, but the light would always intercept to give hope. As a devout Catholic, the literary work might suggest that God is the light that is to be trusted in a life that is vulnerable to immorality—the light that reveals the path to refuge and righteousness.

The Architects of Warfare

The hobbits: they are ordinary creatures that desire happiness and ordinary life. Bilbo Baggins is one of the oldest among the hobbits of Hobbiton. At 111 years old, Bilbo is wealthy and non-aging. He celebrated his birthday, at which he did an odd speech and a magic trick: he supernaturally vanished.

It was the ring that made it possible. He planned to leave for tranquility, and determined Frodo Baggins to be his inheritance. He promised to leave the ring for Frodo to acquire it, and for Gandalf to examine it; while he yearned for a life without disruption and without the ring he hid. He had a difficulty abandoning it, yet his character seemed to be more sensitive.

Bilbo is a symbol of humanity at war. Arguably, humanity is best when the whole desires peace and when is close to the earth, for the sake of the betterment of the society and the environment. Various philosophers brought up the thought because humans naturally crave selfish interests, like the current Bilbo. Hobbits are tiny and insignificant, yet those who are small aspires significance—potentiality, dominion, and impregnability.

Unfortunately, war is a compelling approach.

At war, individuals hunt destructive weaponries for their egoistic desires. Once they possess it, like the ring, it alters their selfhood. The peaceful may become bloodthirsty. The ring itself spawns temptation and responsibility, which calls great risks—yet, is hard to let go. Only the wise Gandalf prevented Bilbo from this; Gandalf needed to manipulate Bilbo’s emotions and remind him of the potential dangers of his ‘ultimate instrument’.

This may imply that both significant and insignificant creatures are lead by emotions, and not by rationality. This is the nature of mortals, the architects of warfare, who seeks infinite desires within their finite lives.