The Return of the King

The Return of the King

by

J. R. R. Tolkien

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Themes and Colors
Hope vs. Despair Theme Icon
Expectation vs. Ability Theme Icon
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Power, Wisdom, and Mercy Theme Icon
War, Greed, and Nature Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Return of the King, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Theme Icon

The novel’s great triumphs all involve profound sacrifices in the name of love and loyalty. Frodo’s task of carrying the Ring to Mount Doom ends up leaving him permanently wounded and exhausted by the Ring’s weight, yet he proves over the journey that his strength and fortitude are unique and incredibly vital to the success of the free folk in the war. He sacrifices his own health and happiness, and possibly his life, for the love of all his friends and the world he knows. Meanwhile, those around him sacrifice themselves for him: Sam is single-mindedly focused on rescuing Frodo from the orcs and, though he, too, is exhausted at the end of the journey, he carries Frodo partway up the mountain. Aragorn’s decision with the captains to ride into a hopeless battle is, in part, a sacrifice made for Frodo’s sake, and for the chance of saving the land they love. They don’t believe they’ll survive, but their love and loyalty give them the strength to sacrifice themselves anyway. Similarly, Arwen’s marriage to Aragorn represents sacrifice for the sake of romantic love. When she becomes bound to Aragorn, who though blessed with long life is still mortal, she gives up the possibility of leaving Middle-earth to travel to the immortal lands with the rest of the Elves, and must bid farewell to her father, Elrond, without ever hoping to see him again. By valorizing such characters’ choices, Tolkien suggests that love and loyalty—especially when devoted to others’ good—are worth sacrificing one’s own safety, or even one’s life, for.

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Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice Quotes in The Return of the King

Below you will find the important quotes in The Return of the King related to the theme of Loyalty, Love, and Sacrifice.
Book 5, Chapter 4 Quotes

Already it seemed years to Pippin since he had sat there before, in some half-forgotten time when he had still been a hobbit, a half-hearted wanderer touched little by the perils he had passed through. Now he was one small soldier in a city preparing for a great assault, clad in the proud but sombre manner of the Tower of the Guard.

Related Characters: Peregrin Took (Pippin)
Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Chapter 6 Quotes

“Hinder me? Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!”

Then Merry heard of all sounds in that hour the strangest. It seemed that Dernhelm laughed, and the clear voice was like the ring of steel. “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn am I, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you, if you touch him.”

Related Characters: Lord of the Nazgûl (speaker), Éowyn/Dernhelm (speaker), Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry), Théoden
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 5, Chapter 9 Quotes

“We must walk open-eyed into that trap, with courage, but small hope for ourselves. For, my lords, it may well prove that we ourselves shall perish utterly in a black battle far from the living lands; so that even if Barad-dûr be thrown down, we shall not live to see a new age. But this, I deem, is our duty. And better so than to perish nonetheless—as we surely shall if we sit here—and know as we die that no new age shall be.”

Related Symbols: The Ring
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 6, Chapter 1 Quotes

In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need a due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.

Related Characters: Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee (Sam), Sauron
Related Symbols: The Ring
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 6, Chapter 8 Quotes

This was Frodo and Sam’s own country, and they found out now that they cared about it more than any other place in the world. Many of the houses that they had known were missing. Some seemed to have been burned down. The pleasant row of old hobbit-holes in the bank on the north side of the Pool were deserted, and their little gardens that used to run down bright to the water’s edge were rank with weeds. Worse, there was a whole line of ugly new houses all along Pool Side, where the Hobbiton Road ran close to the bank. An avenue of trees had stood there. They were all gone. And looking with dismay up the road towards Bag End they saw a tall chimney of brick in the distance. It was pouring out black smoke into the evening air.

Page Number: 307
Explanation and Analysis:

“But I’ve a bone to pick with you, in a manner o’ speaking, if I may make so bold. You didn’t never ought to have a’ sold Bag End, as I always said. That’s what started all the mischief. And while you’ve been trapessing in foreign parts, chasing Black Men up mountains from what my Sam says, though what for he don’t make clear, they’ve been and dug up Bagshot Row and ruined my taters!”

“I am very sorry, Mr. Gamgee,” said Frodo. “But now I’ve come back, I’ll do my best to make amends.”

Page Number: 319
Explanation and Analysis:
Book 6, Chapter 9 Quotes

“But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.”

Related Characters: Frodo Baggins (speaker), Samwise Gamgee (Sam)
Related Symbols: The Ring
Page Number: 338
Explanation and Analysis: