Concerning Hobbits: How the Smallfolk Saved Middle Earth

By Thomas Adams

Warning: If you have not seen the rest of the Lord of the Rings series and do not want it spoiled, do not read this post.
After watching the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, I was inspired to finish the rest of the series (again, for like the 5th time). So I went on to watch the extended edition of The Two Towers and The Return of the King. This time, instead of watching for pure entertainment, I was watching to learn – about the world, character development, the motivations of peoples, and many other things. Near the end of The Return of the King, the four hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin) start to bow to Aragorn, the new King of Gondor. However, Aragorn stops them and says, “My friends, you bow to no one” and bows before them. The rest of the people around follow suit.

I don’t think it can be understated how true Aragorn’s statement is and how important the hobbits were in saving Middle Earth. Let’s look at each one individually.

Merry

At the end of Fellowship of the Ring, Merry is capture by Uruk-hai, along with Pippin. When the Uruk-hai and Orc begin fighting with one another, the two escape into Fangorn Forest where they meet up with Treebeard, a tree-herder. Once Merry learns of this new race of trees, he tries to get Treebeard and his ent company to fight against Sauron and Saruman. Eventually, the council of trees decides that this is not their fight to fight. When he begins taking Merry and Pippin back home to the Shire, Merry convinces Treebeard to take the south route, which goes right past Isengard. Merry says this would make the most sense, since Saruman would least expect it and Treebeard obliges. As they continue on the path, Treebeard comes to an opening in the should-be forest. He realizes that his tree friends have to cut and burned down to fuel the fires of Isengard. Unsurprisingly, this angers him greatly, and Treebeard calls upon his tree friends to fight Isengard. The destroy a dam, flood Isengard, and win the battle to take control of Isengard. Merry’s part in the story here cannot be understated. He single-handedly convinced tree beard to take the route that would lead him to see the destroyed forest and make Treebeard realize that this was their fight. If Merry had not convinced Treebeard to turn around, Isengard would have been left unscathed and many of the following events would have never occurred and the rings may never had been destoryed.

Pippin

in The Return of the King, Pippin accompanies Gandalf to Minas Tirith to convince the Steward of Gondor to ready his armies for battle and call to Rohan for aid. This battle would be the last battle to determine the survival of Men in Middle Earth. After a conversation with the very stubborn steward of Gondor, Gandalf is unable to convince him to light the Beacons of Gondor, which would signal to Rohan that Gondor calls for military aid. Gandalf has another plan. Using Pippin’s size to their advantage, Gandalf instructs Pippin to climb the beacon’s spire and light the flame himself. Pippin is able to do this successfully and alert Rohan to their need for help. Eventually, the message reaches Rohan and they ride out for battle. If Pippin did not accompany Gandalf to Minas Tirith (the reason for which is another story in itself) and if Pippin was not able to successfully light the beacon unseen, Rohan would have never made it to the battle for Minas Tirith, and the Realm of Men would surely have fallen.

Sam

There’s so much that can be said about Sam that it is really difficult to focus on one particular instance that had the most influence. But after watching the Return of the King, there is definitely one that comes to mind. After Sam is banished from the quest by Frodo (for supposedly eating all the lembas bread and wanting the ring for himself), Frodo and Smeagle venture into the Spider’s tunnels. Smeagle did this so the Spider would eat Frodo, and Smeagle could then take the ring for himself. As Sam is venturing back down the Stairs, he sees the lembas bread remains that Smeagle threw over the edge. This was the turning point for Sam, as he knew Smeagle had ulterior motives and would end up killing Frodo for the ring. Sam starts back up the Stairs to save Frodo. Sam gets there just in time to stop the Spider from eating Frodo (who is paralyzed at this point). He battles with the spider and eventually wins, defending Frodo for the time being. Unfortunately, some Orc come near, Sam hides, and they take Frodo’s body to their nearby tower and Sam follows. Once again, the Uruk-hai and Orc begin fighting among each other. Sam takes this opportunity to head up the tower and defeat a few foes before getting to Frodo just in time. Had Sam not gone back to help Frodo, and successfully fought off the Spider and Orc, Frodo would have never made it out alive and the ring would have not been destroyed – and worse, would have probably fallen right into the hands of the Enemy.

Frodo

Since Frodo’s main purpose is to carry the ring and destroy it, it would make sense that this is his most important task. Frodo did not have as many “breakout” moments as the other hobbits in the movie. On the contrary, he slowly just became more and more corrupted by the ring and eventually tried to take the ring for himself while standing at the edge of the fires of Mt. Doom. However, against all odds and with the help of a few friends, Frodo was able to get the ring to Mordor and get the ring destroyed, ending the battle against Sauron and his forces – solidifying the victory for Man. Frodo was never suppose to make it to Mordor alive, much less actually destroy the ring, but he did it. And that’s the most important thing that could have been done.

When the Men of Gondor bow to the four hobbits at the end of the Return of the King, it is very much deserved. Their actions throughout the story single-handedly turned the tides of battle back into their favor and eventually ended the war. Had they not been successful with their respective tasks, Middle Earth would have surely been taken over by Sauron and his evil forces. Of course, many other characters had influence on the outcome of Middle Earth, but it is most certainly true that the smallest persons had the largest impact.

True Life: I’m a LOTRO Addict

I am very proud of myself… I’ve made excellent strides in the gaming world. For those of you that don’t remember, I am the newbiest of newbs (the writer who basically had only played iphone games), so when I downloaded LOTRO and was told that it would be a part of my grade for the course, I was wary at first. Initially, I struggled with the controls of the game, not realizing that the arrow keys could be used in place of the “a” “s” “d” and “w” keys for movement; not being able to move with ease was frustrating and really put a damper on my enjoyment of the game. Another issue I had at first was navigation through the game with the quests. I did not realize that one merely had to follow the glowing ring on the map to find the next part of the quest, and because of this, the going was excruciatingly slow. A silver lining the this issue was that I learned how to move before I learned how to navigate, and so I spent a long time fighting wolves in Thorin’s realm and reached a higher level by the end of the intro period that most. On the issue of navigation, I wish that staying on the epic quest line would be more self-explanatory because I’ve spent a lot of time doing side quests that I would in some cases prefer to avoid.

With that being said, these were just issues I had at the beginning of my journey. Since I’ve managed to get over these problems, I have become completely enamored with the game. If I’m waiting around, I play the game. If I’m bored, I’ll play the game. Not feeling like going out on the town? I’ll visit the Prancing Pony in Bree. I am seriously getting addicted to LOTRO!

One aspect I really love is the role playing. I love the fact that I can customize my character’s wardrobe and appearance, as well as the specific skills I can gain as an Elf Champion. I think one reason why this part of the game is so appealing is due to the fact that I am an English major and avid reader. When I am reading (especially in the Lord Of The Rings series) I can imagine myself in the protagonist’s position and wish I were apart of the action. By playing LOTRO, I am able to engage with the narrative in a way that has never been open to me before, and that helps to fulfill this desire.

Additionally, the quests provide just enough challenge to be fun and engaging, but are not difficult to the point that I want to abandon them as a lost cause. Even if my character dies, I feel like I can evaluate my performance and improve enough to give the challenge another go and ultimately be successful. While this game isn’t as strongly based on learning as the game Braid was, I still think it is an important factor here. In playing this game, you learn new strategies to help you play more efficiently and creatively.

One thing that I have learned since starting this game is that apparently Lore Masters get to have animal pets. Since I have been enjoying playing so much, I think it is time for me to create a new character of the Lore Master variety so I can acquire some of the cute and friendly creatures I’ve spotted along the way!

-Sparling Wilson

Video Games? I Thought This Class Was Digital Media…

Those were my exact thoughts the first time I read the syllabus. About three months later, I have never been happier to have taken this class. When my friends and family found out that I indeed was taking this class they were all perplexed. I had never been interested in video games, but I discovered this class was about way more than that. 

I have learned considerably more in this class than I could ever imagine. Because of this class I pushed the limit of what I thought constituted school work. Playing a video game for homework? Some of my friends were jealous, but for me it was just as rigorous as some of the work I am assigned in my other more traditional classes. I had to learn video game jargon, how to move my fingers swiftly, and the method of thinking that develops over time after playing video games. I love to be challenged and this class has challenged me academically.

Never before had I contemplated the stories of video games. The main theme of our class has been remediation. I realized that every mode of media was intertwined and often drew upon each other for story lines and inspiration. The majority of our class focused on The Lord of the Rings. I was exposed to a whole culture based on a work of literature that I had never experienced. From the die hard fans who have learned the elfish language to the father and son that play LOTRO on the weekends I discovered that there is more to Lord of the Rings than funny character names and weird looking creatures, but rather it has the power to bring people from all over the world together over a common ground. It only makes sense in our globalized and technological world that literature should adopt to new forms. 

So what have I learned this semester, Dad? More than you could ever imagine – watch me kill this wolf. Just wait until you see the video game I helped create.

 

Molly S.

Lord of the Rings a Community Experience

My experience watching Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring truly enhanced my experience with the novel overall. Throughout all of the remediations we have encountered throughout our lessons on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. I enjoyed the movie version the most. I enjoyed it the most because of the community atmosphere that surrounded the experience of watching the Lord of the Rings movie. I watched the Lord of the Rings movie in a common space were there was a large TV and at first it was just me and my roommate watching it however; soon just by having the movie on there were at least 10 different people in the room that I didn’t know watching with us. And since most of the people already had watched the movie we discussed the extended portions, talked about the beautiful cinematography, and commented on the plot. 

This was the first experience at least for me that I felt that Lord of the Rings created a community and common experience for me. While I was playing LOTRO I felt very isolated from people and I never truly got into the virtual community experience that was the basic point of the game. I felt that I was always running around alone in the game. I had the same experience while reading the book it was a riveting read however; I read the book in my bed at nighttime and it was very isolating. 

The first time that I felt that I had to true community around Lord of the Rings was watching the movie in the common area with all of these people who have a common experience of watching Lord of the Rings because of the fact that it was a big blockbuster movie. That is what I like the most about movies as a remediation is that it brings in so many people into a culture like Lord of the Rings that normally wouldn’t participate and creates a wider community around the story. I really loved the experience of watching the movie after reading the book and playing the game because I had different perspectives about the movie that I normally wouldn’t and it added to the experience. 

Amanda

Lord of the Rings Online- An… Experience

Playing Lord of the Rings Online has been an… interesting experience for me.  I am no stranger to video games and MMO’s, but LOTRO provided an experience that was both new and familiar at the same time.

Starting up the game, I designed a character, a DPS character like usual since that is the build I prefer.  When the game started, I was interested in the tutorial and intro quests.  I hadn’t experienced an MMO that started the player in the game in such a way.  It made the game feel very story-based, filled with narrative and character and plot; a feeling that most MMO’s fail at inspiring.

Unfortunately, once the Tutorial and Intro quests ended, it became an experience far more like those of a traditional MMO, such as WoW.  I was impressed at the recreation of Tolkien’s world.  It felt very solid and complete, like I had actually stepped into Middle Earth.  Unfortunately, the game began to suffer in other ways.  Once reaching Bree, the player is exposed to what I am calling quest-bloat- the experience wherein a large amount of quests become available all at once.  This is an issue I have with many open-world games, and especially MMO’s.  I like to complete every quest I can, or do everything else I can, before continuing the main quest-line.  In this case, this has caused the game to grind to a more-or-less complete and utter halt.

Another issue with LOTRO is the pay-to-play and pay-to-win mechanics.  You have to pay to unlock basic necessities such as extra bag space and other things.  It feels a bit unfair to those who are unable to pay real money and makes the game just a slight bit less fun.

I guess I started out really enjoying the gameplay and ideas that were put into LOTRO and became just a bit disappointed when it started to resemble traditional MMO-fare.

~Nathanial Edwards~

Losing at LOTRO

As I said previously in my first blog, I am not a gamer. I think I got a little over ambitious when I played Braid and seemed successful. However, if I thought Braid was hard how did I think I could play Lord of the Rings Online?!

After my friends and parents tried to talk me out of taking this class because they know I cannot play video games, I took their doubts and turned it into my determination. I became determined to learn how to play LOTRO and to be good at it. It turns out yes, I can play it, but no I am not very good at it. My movements around the game are awkward and dizzying. I often run around in circles looking for exits or the end of the quest when it is right in front of me. It took me quite a while, staying up late many nights, to get through the intro. When I finally made it to the Prancing Pony, well after all of my classmates, I was ecstatic! If I could get through the intro I could do anything.

After the intro though, I was on my own. I had to find my own quests and figure out how to get from place to place. There are so many rules and specific ways to do things that make the game hard to play for a casual player. Its impossible for me to remember every little detail that goes into this game, whether it be the correct way to write in the chat, or how to buy travel rations, or even how to check the map.

In playing LOTRO I have gained a lot of respect for my fellow gamers, well the ones a lot more experienced than I. They have learned and mastered how to exist in and navigate a totally new world. Video games are a lot harder than they look; it takes concentration and dedication to truly engage in the game. 

 

Molly Steckler

A N00b Experience: From a LOTRO First Timer

My first experience with LOTRO kept me in a trance for about 3 hours. I signed on to the game after class thinking that getting pass the intro was going to be quick. Click -> to look left and click <- to look right, and use the up arrow to “Jump”. I was completely wrong. The Intro immerses you into the game right off the back allowing you to learn how to do all the movements while also teaching you how to accept quests, speak to people within the game, and fight off enemies.

I have a slight obsessive personality and can be quickly sucked into anything video games, television shows,movies therefore; I try to keep away from anything that will completely take me over because I am in school and homework has to be done. But now homework requires me to become “half-real” while playing LOTRO. I have played well into the night passed the intro, leveled up to 8, and dying continuously trying to fight off mobs. Even though, I think that I am a failure at this game because I can’t seem to beat any quests I find myself getting on randomly and even bringing the game up in conversation with my roommate.

I was not completely at ease in the virtual world even though it was kind of familiar because when I played when I was younger and my brother is very much involved in virtual gaming world. I was not versed in the virtual world protocol of the emotions that one could portray, how to speak to someone through chat, or how to join the correct Kinship :). Being in the middle of this world with so many people who are probably more skilled than me and them wanting to speak with me is overwhelming sometimes especially, when I am trying to solve quests and find my way around the on the maps. I am usually good at individual games where I have to count on myself in order to level up (i.e. Candy Crush). But this community game play is a whole new territory and kind of intimidating at times. However, it is very helpful to have the class be able to tutor each other on how to get around the world because it definitely helps and in turn makes it more enjoyable.

The quests are fun to do though they were kind of tedious and fighting off mobs can be completely draining and frustrating when you keep dying. The quests after the Intro are harder for me to follow because I feel like I am taking on a lot of random quests (i.e Find So-and-So’s chickens and return them) instead of a quest that seems to have a purpose. Also it seems like I am doing a lot of walking around and not a lot of defeating enemies and beating quests. It takes forever to get anywhere because I don’t have a horse. Everyone has a horse!! I want a horse! How do I get a horse?!?!?! Sorry the walking/slow running is making me hysterical!

Overall, the game is very immersive and fun to play. I definitely don’t think that I have everything down pack but I like that we all seem to be learning together!

-Amanda