Tuesdays with Tolkien: The Professor on Courage

“Courage is found in unlikely places.”

Tolkien had a lot to say about courage. The very heroes of The Lord of the Rings, Frodo and Sam, are half the height of a man and have never left the very homey comforts of the Shire. Yet they are the ones who make their way deep into Sauron’s land to destroy the Ring of Power.

“A man that flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”

I find this quote particularly interesting in the context of the LOTR story because it’s so easy to see how true it is. Had Frodo chickened out and run back to Bag End at the first meeting with a Black Rider, or back to Rivendell when the Pass of Caradhras was inaccessible, he would indeed have simply taken a short cut to meet his fears. It wouldn’t have taken long for Sauron’s brute strength to conquer Middle-earth all the way to the Shire.

“False hopes are more dangerous than fears.”

Imagine if the Council of Elrond had concluded they should sit back and hope they could fend off Sauron in Rivendell, or that Sauron would be clement and leave them alone… instead of fearing the worst and sending the Ring off to Mordor.

I will say no more.

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