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Tolkien's Middle-earth:

Lesson Plans for Secondary School Educators

Unit Five: "The Tides of Fate Are Flowing"


The Fellowship of the Ink

In this excerpt from Letter No. 90, written to his son Christopher, Tolkien describes a gathering of the Inklings, the unofficial literary society whose members included Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Owen Barfield. A typical session included at least one Inkling reading from a manuscript, and the meeting of November 24, 1944, was no exception: Barfield, we learn, offered up a short play about Jason and Medea. Tolkien greatly valued this sort of comradeship. In Letter No. 282, written to scholar Clyde Kilby, he stated, "But for the encouragement of C.S.L. [Lewis] I do not think that I should ever have completed or offered for publication The Lord of the Rings."

The Last Alliance

This handout is an excerpt from the last chapter of The Silmarillion, "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age." It recounts the great battle on the slopes of Orodruin that climaxed when Isildur "with the hilt-shard of Narsil . . . cut the Ruling Ring from the hand of Sauron and took it for his own." The narrator observes, "Never again was such a host assembled, nor was there any such league of Elves and Men; for after Elendil's day the two kindreds had become estranged." We included this sequence for the insights it provides into the back story of The Lord of the Rings and also for its resonance with the themes of Book Two. In attempting the Quest of Mount Doom, the nine companions seek not only to destroy the One Ring but also to heal the "estrangement" that has infected the relationships among the peoples of Middle-earth. Evidently the possibility of fellowship did not die completely when the old alliance of Númenorians and Elves ended.

Unit Five Content

Comments for Teachers
Preliminary Quiz
Key Terms
Discussion Topics
Suggested Activities

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