The Lord of the Rings: A Story of Sacrifice & Bravery

Posted July 9, 2016 by Stephanie in Tolkien / 8 Comments

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.

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8 responses to “The Lord of the Rings: A Story of Sacrifice & Bravery

  1. Hey there! I realize this is sor of off-topic however I haad too
    ask. Does running a well-established blog like yours take a large amount of work?
    I am completely neww to running a blog but I do write in my journal everyday.
    I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share myy experience and thoughts online.

    Please let me know if you have any suggestions or tips for
    new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!

    • Hey, Georgetta, it takes up quite a bit of time to regularly post on it. It kind of depends on the tone you’re going for too. I try for a bit more formal tone that’s still friendly, but it’d probably wouldn’t take up so much of my time if I went for a completely informal tone like when I’m journaling. I would suggest that you figure out kind of what you want your blog to be about and look like before you start, but give yourself the flexibility for it to evolve over time. Most of all though, have fun! There’s not point in doing it if you don’t have fun with it.

  2. Love this post! And what Briana said about the mistaken idea that good characters will inevitably be flat is so true. This is one of the reasons why I’m so disenfranchised with so much of what is on TV these days. It’s like people think there’s no drama without betrayal, lying, etc. Honor and bravery are definitely not popular right now. That’s why LOTR will always be the best!

  3. Beautiful post!

    I think there’s a mistaken idea that “good” means “flat” and there’s no way a good character could be interestingly complex. But that’s not true at all. No one’s advocating for writing Mary Sue characters who just prance about doing the right thing without any difficulty. But I think it’s also possible to write a about someone who really actually is good. Not everyone needs to have a book-long struggle over whether they’re going to do the right thing or be selfish. People just do the right thing all the time. Like firefighters. They don’t have to stand outside a burning house for 10 min. deciding whether they really want to help the people inside or should just safe their own lives and go home. Book characters can do the same.

    I think Aragorn is a great example. He, along with Sam, just seems so unmistakably good. But he’s not boring or flat. He has struggles. He knows what he’s giving up by doing the right thing. Sometimes he has to think about it a little–like how claiming the throne of Gondor will change his life. He doesn’t make decisions LIGHTLY, but that doesn’t mean he has to have inner battles over the difference between good and evil either. He knows what the right thing to do is, and you can count on him to do it.

    • Thank you! I totally agree with you about Aragorn. I would love to see more books featuring characters that do the right thing but who show the difficulty behind those decisions, because that is real. That’s real life for a lot of people. Aragorn & co. are all good characters but they still made mistakes along the way. I agree; people often associate “good” characters with a Mary Sue idea instead of really thinking about the entire side of conflict they could have.

      • Yes! I think there are different kinds of struggling with doing what’s good. But so many writers seem to think there’s only one possible struggle: helping people or only looking out for yourself. But there’s the struggle of wanting to the do the right thing and not knowing what it is, or doing the right thing and struggling with how much it’s going to cost you, or doing the right thing even though it’s not even going to be enough, etc.

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