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Tolkien's Middle-earth:

Lesson Plans for Secondary School Educators

Unit Five: "The Tides of Fate Are Flowing"

Suggested Activities

A Dangerous Guide to Deeds. Galadriel's Mirror has many counterparts in contemporary culture: astrology, palmistry, Tarot cards, the I-Ching, Nostradamus's verses. Divide the class into groups, each of which selects a divination technique and then informally researches its effectiveness. Did any students conclude that fortune-telling is something more than a diversion? If the future is fixed, does this mean free will is an illusion? In discussing the latter question, the class should consider Galadriel's caveat: "Remember that the Mirror shows many things . . . Some never come to be, unless those that behold the visions turn aside from their path to prevent them. The Mirror is dangerous as a guide to deeds" (page 354).

The Tenth Companion. Ask students to imagine that the Fellowship includes an emissary from yet another Middle-earth race: the scholar-apes, the cat-people, the minstrel-gnomes, the enchantresses, whatever. Each student should compose several entries from the diary this tenth companion keeps during the trek to Amon Hen, featuring his or her candid opinions of Sam, Pippin, Gimli, and the others. Because the Fellowship lacks a female member, students can take this opportunity to enhance the quest with a heroine.

The Power of Choice. Do people have more freedom of choice than they realize? Before the week is out, each student should make, and then act upon, an authentic choice as opposed to a pseudo-choice. Some possibilities include: using public transportation, favoring a local merchant over a franchise, giving up television for a week, cutting the grass with a hand mower, volunteering for community service. The student should reflect on the experience in his or her daily journal.

The Circle as Symbol. The motif of the ring recurs in Western literature, variously symbolizing infinity, eternity, harmony, perfection, and sometimes imprisonment. Assign each student to research the "circle myth" of his or her choice. The possibilities include King Arthur's Round Table, Dante's Circles of Hell, Wagner's Ring of the Nibelung, the legend of King Solomon's Ring, and the "Charmed Ring" handout from Unit One. The student might present his findings as a hypothetical movie poster, magazine ad, book jacket, or travel brochure ("Escape to the Inferno This Winter").

Unit Five Content

Comments for Teachers
Preliminary Quiz
Key Terms
Discussion Topics
Suggested Activities

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