The Most Obvious Theme in the Two Towers

by Tigerlily Goodbody
It was not until very recently that a theme in TTT was made very apparent to me. And I feel the need to explain it here - if only to work out all the details so that I understand it myself.

It seems that almost all the characters in TTT (the movie, natch) are going through a similar process. They are struggling, not to do what's right (they all, for the most part, greatly desire to do what is right) but to determine what is the right thing to do.

The Frodo/Sam/Gollum plot best exemplifies this.

Frodo and Sam split the opinions on how to treat Gollum. Sam sees keeping Gollum as dangerous to the cause - Gollum could throttle them in their sleep and take the ring. Being suspicious of Gollum is (to him) clearly the right course of action.

Frodo, instead, chooses to trust Gollum implicitly. Doing this is the only way to bring Gollum back to his humanity (or "hobbitity"). Frodo sees this unwavering trust as clearly the "right" thing to do.

Gollum has his own struggle. The "Stinker" side is purely survivalist. It believes that an emotional and moral detachment is the only correct course - to keep Gollum alive. This is the Darwinistic side. "Slinker", on the other hand, risks his own safety by choosing to put his trust in Frodo. He feels that this course is the only "right" and moral way.

Other characters also spend the whole movie in their own struggles to determine what is "right".

Arwen must decide whether it is better (not for herself, but for others) to stay in Middle-earth with Aragorn, or leave to Valinor with her father.

Similarly, Aragorn must determine if allowing Arwen to leave is the right course (and whether to accept his role as a human - including a possible romance with Eowyn) or whether it is better for Arwen that he should be true to their love.

Elrond struggles with the fact that the Elves are leaving Middle Earth. What is the best course? To leave mankind to govern their own lands, as they will have to become used to doing? Or to give aid one last time, perhaps saving them but doing them no favors when it comes to learning to govern themselves?

Theoden cannot decide what is best for his people. Should he hide them away, as has worked in the past? Or should he risk their deaths in order to fight for the fate of mankind as a whole?

Faramir thinks the Ring could be the salvation of Gondor. Or should he send this evil far away from his lands? Either way has its risks and rewards.

The Ents hold their Entmoot to decide what is the right thing for them to do. Should they weather the storm as they have always done (which is the prudent thing), or do they fight back against the destroyers and usurpers, though it is likely they march to their doom?

There are further, smaller, reflections of this theme in the movie. I hope you can see that, unlike films, which show their characters struggling against temptation, TTT deals primarily with the struggle to determine the correct path, once you have already decided to do what is right.

(This is why I most miss my favorite book TTT line: "As he ever has judged. Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among men. But it is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.")