the hobbits grow in maturity from their harrowing adventure, they maintain the
pure reactions that a child or young adolescent would have upon glimpsing an
airplane, watching fireworks or blinking Christmas lights. Even after everything
they go through, they never adopt a 'been there, done that' attitude that adults
often slip into. An Adult can be mature, but also take a moment to savor life's
In the same way Frodo's happy exclamations heighten
the experience, the frightening and evil elements of the story are more emotionally
disturbing and real to the reader because of his repulsions and revoltions.
One can argue that the sequences such as the Mines of Moria, the Palantir of
Isengard and Shelob's Lair could have been written in a less frightening manner,
but doing so would have watered down the story.
The evil forces at work in Middle Earth have to
be brought to the fore at intervals to challenge the resolve and motivations
for undertaking such a thankless adventure. Even with these elements, this story
should not give children nightmares. One is reason is that those young enough
to be traumatized by these sequences would not be reading a such a lengthy story
as The Lord of the Rings without a parent's help. That parent should
be able to judge how to best approach the more intense material.
Another reason that nightmares are unlikely is
the way that Tolkien always followed up these sequences. He countered the frightening
experiences and sequences on Frodo and the other hobbits through several positive
methods. Early on, supporting characters such as Gandalf and Aragorn who have
fatherly qualities step in with reassuring words. After the breaking of the
Fellowship, pleasant memories are brought to mind, either by following a stream
of conscienceness or by Sam. In each case, the emotions of Frodo, the other
hobbits and the reader are calmed.
Through the course of the story, Frodo gains more
and more of the confidence and courage that the taller characters demonstrate
from the start. Those characters thus become less mysterious and more like equals
to Frodo and the other hobbits. At the same time, the other characters gradually
stop treating the hobbits like children and begin to treat them more as equals.
These developments parallel the growth and maturity of children into adulthood
and the slow approval that they earn from adults.