I am a person who acknowledges that there is great evil in this world. I am a person who realizes that terrible things happen, terrible people exist, and it’s frightening sometimes. I acknowledge that there are terrible tragedies and accidents, and that people make horrific mistakes and decisions. I understand that all.
But I am also a person who is awed by the beauty of this world. I am inspired by the beautiful talents people offer and share. There is a fantastic amount of good in this world and I know it can be easy to forget that, but in the words of Samwise the Brave, there’s some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.
The Lord of the Rings is a fantastic trilogy. Like many books before and after it, it is the tale of Good vs. Evil. Unlike many books, it did not require its characters to compromise their morals for the sake of their journey.
In the face of great evil, there are real people out there who did not/have not compromised their beliefs and who they were/are to save themselves. At the prospect of death and much worse, there are real people in this world who have sacrificed everything to do the right thing, and to show evil that it cannot truly win.
There are real people and stories that should not be forgotten but many that are. We may not know these stories like we do others but we know they exist. Their sacrifice and bravery is something likely incomprehensible to many of us.
In some ways, The Lord of the Rings is a sort of tribute to those souls. It is the reflection of the sacrifice and conflict that good people make and endure as they move forward in the face of evil.
When Legolas and Gimili could have turned back, they chose to stay. When Frodo could have turned away from his journey into Mordor, when he could have given up, when he could have hoped someone else would carry the Ring, he stepped forward. He made the sacrifice that few others would offer. Samwise the Brave was sent away during the journey, yet he chose loyalty and bravery over what would have been easier.
Some people say that “good” characters are boring, but I’ve never heard anything but love for Sam, and isn’t he a “good” character? Frodo was “good,” yet his journey is complex and, at times, heartrending. Yes, at the end, Frodo chose to put the Ring on – he made a terrible mistake, but that doesn’t disqualify him as a “good” character. If anything, it immortalizes him as the one person who fought total corruption to the bitter end, and although he faltered for a moment, he recovered and defeated that corruption.
Even when we knew giving Gollum a chance at redemption was a bad idea, Frodo afforded him that chance and chose to believe in what little good Gollum may have had left. Isn’t it more difficult to believe in someone than it is to write them off sometimes? Obviously, Gollum is an extreme example but this is fantasy here – what else can we expect?
The members of the Fellowship were all inherently good people in a world growing in darkness. I believe they have something to teach us. They believed in others and vehemently resisted Sauron. They made mistakes but they never truly betrayed themselves and always returned to the core of who they were in the end: good. They prized the lives of others above their own.
Which story is more difficult to write: the story of those who struggle and refuse to cave into moral corruption, or those who choose to make certain allowances? I’m not suggesting either is less valuable than the other or that either is necessarily easy, but I do wonder if it isn’t more difficult to write a honest story about “good” characters. If ever there was a story that did it right though, it would be The Lord of the Rings.
I have an undying love for The Lord of the Rings partially because it is the story of good people who refuse to sink to the level of their enemies at every turn. It is the story of those who struggle to make the right decisions when everything is against them, when they have every reason to give up and give in.