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Similarities of Fruit and Accessories

Essay By: Number Six
Editorial and opinion

A comparison of John Milton's Paradise Lost to J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Not totally complete, but I had to cut it off because of lack of time. Turned in for my Milton class on 12 November 2009

Submitted:Nov 12, 2009    Reads: 143    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   

John Milton's Paradise Lost begins with Milton telling the reader his plans for the story: "Of Man's first disobedience and the fruit of that forbidden tree … brought death into the world and all our woe" (Bk. I ln 1-3). Adam and Eve's fall is told in the context of Satan's rebellion and Jesus' resurrection, all leading back toward redemption and God's forgiveness. Much like how Adam and Eve were cast outside of Paradise, the characters Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee from J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy had to leave their paradise, the Shire, in a quest to destroy the One Ring. Both pairs share the goal of salvation: Adam and Eve want to redeem mankind and Frodo and Samwise wish to save Middle Earth.
Paradise Lost's forbidden fruit and the One Ring of Lord of the Rings share a similarity. The Archangel Raphael forewarns Adam of Satan's trickery, but it wasn't enough to stop Eve from being cajoled into tasting the fruit. Eve informs Adam and the first man eats the fruit reluctantly; he would not have Eve cast out of Paradise on her own. To eat the forbidden fruit is against God's will, and upon disobeying Adam and Eve are cast out of Paradise and onto Earth. Once on earth the two humans have to deal with pain, disease, and hard labor to survive, but are aware that through the suffering one day mankind can return to Paradise.
What better can we do, than to place repairing where he judg'd us, prostrate fall before him reverent, and there confess humbly our faults, and pardon beg […]Undoubtedly he will relent and turn from his displeasure (Bk. X 1086-1094)
Adam and Eve's repentance allows them to be forgiven, and their forgiveness allows for the possible redemption of humankind. Adam and Eve repent exactly what they planned in the way they planned it, showing their dedication and determination to obey God after the fall.
The One Ring holds a great power that can destroy Middle Earth, and the journey towards the ring's destruction drags Frodo and Samwise out of their personal paradise the Shire and into reality. Gandalf the Gray, a wise wizard, informs Frodo of the dangers of the One Ring, telling Frodo to never put on the Ring. The Ring calls forth the Ring Wraiths, servants of the Dark Lord Sauron, which try to obtain the ring and take it to their master. Even though the Ring Wraiths are nine in number, they act as the Seven Sins, preventing mankind from salvation. Frodo listens to Gandalf's suggestions, but the advice does not stop Frodo from occasionally wearing the Ring and alerting the wraiths of his location. The wound Frodo obtained at Weathertop is much like a physical reminder of disobedience. Even with the wound Frodo strives toward destroying the ring and saving Middle Earth; this is just like how Adam and Eve continue to obey God's wishes even after the fall.
For the hobbits, the Shire is paradise; a place of no true worries and happiness. But separated from the Shire, cast into the cruel world of men, the hobbits have a hard time adjusting. Frodo and Samwise become separated from the fellowship, Samwise choosing to follow Frodo into the darkest parts of Middle Earth. Frodo and Samwise had been close to the gates of Mordor, of hell, when Faramir captures the two and takes them and the ring to Gondor. A weakened Frodo nearly hands the ring to a wraith and is barely stopped by Samwise. Frodo is drained of hope and Samwise tries his hardest to spur Frodo on.
It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were… Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo, I do understand… There's some good in this world Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.
The once innocent hobbits are now world weary and well aware of the dangers and the unlikeliness of returning to the Shire, but like the path toward redemption for Adam and Eve, the fight is found worthy.
In Paradise Lost, Milton argues the importance of freewill. Milton says God gave mankind freewill, so any choices man makes is of their own decision. God's reasoning for doing so is a matter of obedience. Without freewill, obedience is meaningless. It wouldn't mean as much if man had to obey God, but if man chooses to obey God and do right, than man is truly deserving of praise and love, and God is truly honored and respected, because respect only means something if it is freely given. "What pleasure I from such obedience paid when will and reason (reason also is choice) useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled, made passive both, had served necessity, not Me?" (Bk. III ln 107-111)
In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf the Grey seems to argue for the opposite, convincing Frodo that Frodo alone can destroy the One Ring. "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us" . The wizard's words are heroic, insisting that one must rise to the challenge offered by one's time. At the same time, there is also the suggestion that one is born at a particular time and place for a certain preordained purpose. The decision is not one's own to make; however Gandalf does imply that it is a decision made somewhere, that Frodo and Gandalf's 'time' has been 'given' to them.
Milton, John. Paradise Lost. Ed. Gordon Teskey. 1st Edition. New York: W W Norton & Company, 2005.
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. By J. R. R. Tolkien, et al. Dir. Peter Jackson. Perf. Ian McKellen. 2001.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. By J. R. R. Tolkien, et al. Dir. Peter Jackson. Perf. Sean Astin. 2002.


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