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Concerning Trees

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

Trees, seemingly simple plants seen in everyday life that grow as tall as buildings, play an intricate role in the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. Trees often play some role in pieces of literature, be it minute or important. These superior giants of vegetation show significant importance by functioning as guardian beings and emotional things that feel and are loved by many, while possessing the burden of being used.

The commencing of these deep-rooted structures takes place in The Silmarillion: Yavanna creates all things that grow and bloom. After the creation of trees Yavanna discovers that they will be subject to the dominion of all things that walk the Earth; Elves will use them to build homes in the trees, Hobbits shall cut them to cast frames for their burrowed hillside dwellings, and Men and Dwarves will need them for tool making and house building. The enemy’s minions will need the trees for weapon craft, and will burn them for space to live. Even the creatures of the Earth will need to use the trees as homes for themselves; be the homes the vast forests or a single tree. The point being, that no matter what, wood will be needed in Arda, and the trees must be hewn. Therefore, Yavanna is granted Shepherds of the trees, or Ents, to guard against usurpers of trees. What is more, trees are given the gift of life.

Life, present in any “living” being, is seen further anthropomorphized in trees than in any other natural thing or olvar, such as grass, shrubs, reeds, etc. They have the ability to move and talk. The Shepherds of trees can even consult on another and agree or disagree among themselves. Aside from the Ents, other trees are seen as being emotional or having feelings. Old Man Willow, in The Lord of the Rings despises fire and even threatens to crush Merry when Sam and Frodo try to burn the willow. In this moment one also sees that the trees can talk to non-tree beings: Merry exclaims that Old Man Willow told him he would be squeezed if the fire were not stifled.

Trees seem to play an important role with Hobbits also. Hobbits love trees and woodlands, as told to us in the Prologue. They have a great tree in the middle of Hobbiton and use the trees as protection; the house Frodo moves to is bordered with trees. Trees serve to protect the Hobbits from the Black Riders in Three is Company; Frodo jumps behind a tree just as the rider approaches and is not spotted. However, it seems weird in the case of the Old Forest, that the Hobbits would be afraid of it, or that the Bucklanders would have cut and burned it. At least we receive an answer to why the trees hate the Hobbits; because they can move around freely and destroy trees.

If envy or hatred towards land walkers reside in trees, why do many of the Children of Iluvatar feel comfortable to sleep under them? Or find respite in relaxing under their branches? It appears odd that one would feel okay to rest under a resentful giant. A strange relationship between the Children of Eru and the creations of Yavanna exists. Could it be that they can co-exist, somewhat peacefully, because all things that have been created have its uttermost source in Iluvatar?



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