The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien not only left us great stories to read, but also inspirational words of wisdom to apply to our own lives.
The lord and master of literature, J.R.R. Tolkien, may have died many decades ago, but his wisdom is still kept alive through his books and the movie adaptations.
And new generations continue to take important lessons away from Tolkien’s masterpieces, which will hopefully stay with humanity for centuries to come.
Here are 10 J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings quotes taken from LOTR and The Hobbit, as well as interviews with the beloved author.
Use these Lord of the Rings quotes and Hobbit quotes to inspire you in your everyday life, and keep a little bit of Tolkien’s spirit with you.
Lord of the Rings quotes
‘All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.’ – Gandalf the Grey
One of the most oft-cited pearls of wisdom from J.R.R. Tolkien, this quote tells us everything we need to know about life. Everything, from when and where we are born to when and how we eventually die, is out of our hands. What we can decide is what we dedicate our lives to.
When we are old and grey, what will we look back on and wish we did differently? What memories will we cherish, what choices (or lack thereof) will we regret?
These are the questions Tolkien reminded us to ask ourselves every day, to make sure we make the most of the time we have.
‘If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.’ – Thorin Oakenshield
Thorin Oakenshield is of course one of the most en vogue personalities from Tolkien mythology right now, as he is one of the lead figures in The Hobbit.
In the novel, Thorin is a wise and respected leader, and some of his quotes almost rival Gandalf’s on the wisdom-scale.
This particular one, delivered at a key moment towards the end of the story, speaks not only about Thorin and the dwarves’ own supposed greed, but also about the general state of the world – even more today than in Tolkien’s time.
So let us remember Thorin’s words, and learn to live a little bit more like hobbits: enjoying each other’s company rather than focusing on materialistic pleasures. The perfect quote to bring us back to reality after a stressful holiday season.
‘But in the end it’s only a passing thing, this shadow; even darkness must pass.’ – Samwise Gamgee
Samwise Gamgee is the solid rock to Frodo Baggins’ airy courage, and Gandalf knew exactly what he was doing when he made Frodo bring his gardener along.
Sam is able to bring hope not only to Frodo during his impossible quest to save the world and destroy the One Ring of evil, but also to the reader – whatever their age and whatever bad they have experienced.
As a hobbit, Sam has a simple mind and an easy worldview: good must triumph over evil. It must. When the world is at its darkest, dawn will come. And it is this stubborn belief in goodness that ultimately reminds Frodo of his courage, and brings light back to the world.
‘Not all those who wander are lost.’ – J.R.R. Tolkien
This beautiful quote is part of the poem “All That is Gold Does Not Glitter,” allegedly written by Bilbo Baggins in reference to Aragorn.
But on its own, the quote takes on a new meaning – which is one of the reasons it is so often cited. Because sometimes, in life, a person might find themselves adrift without needing rescue. Sometimes, there doesn’t need to be rhyme or reason to your actions; sometimes you just need to be.
With this quote, Tolkien manages to quell the fears of anyone who reads it, who might be worrying that they are adrift in one way or another. So every time you worry that each little part of your life isn’t exactly planned out, think of this quote and take a deep breath. You’re doing fine.
‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’ – Bilbo Baggins
This quote arguably defines not only The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but all of Tolkien’s works. Because, ultimately, life in Middle Earth is about one thing: adventure.
The main characters (hobbits, mostly) all start their adventures by abandoning the comfort of their own homes in exchange for a winding road of danger, fear and fearsome creatures. And yet, these are the stories we all long to be a part of, because there is no greatness and glory without the uncertainty of these winding roads.
Of course, any of these characters could have just stayed home, or turned back when the going got tough. But even if the fate of the world didn’t rest on their shoulders, we bet they’d regret it the minute they crossed the threshold and found themselves back to their boring old lives.
Because if you don’t leave home and embark on your adventure, you will never really live at all.
‘But no living man am I! You look upon a woman.’ – Éowyn
The Lord of the Rings is one of the greatest works of literature, and yet we are very short on powerful female role models. Luckily, Tolkien invented the wonderfully strong and complex Éowyn, who follows her uncle Theoden to war to help protect their kingdom, and ends up playing a pivotal role in the great battle for mankind.
Because while Tolkien did not leave many of his great deeds for women, he did give this one huge task to the only female warrior in the saga: because it was said that the Witch-King could fall by the hand of no man – and Éowyn was no man.
This remains one of the most empowering quotes for women (and a fist-pump moment in Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation), who might be deluded into thinking that the fact that they are not men is a setback; being a woman is in itself a strength, as Tolkien so beautifully demonstrated through this one heroic act.
‘It is not the strength of the body, but the strength of the spirit.’ – J.R.R. Tolkien
Listen to Tolkien, he knew what he was talking about. Some of his heroes might have great strength, but what sets them apart and what has inspired countless other authors is their courage.
When all hope seems lost, Frodo and Sam do not give up. Éowyn fights her way through the world of men; Arwen doesn’t abandon a world that seems lost; Faramir stands up to his rotten parent; and all through Middle-Earth, the good guys never give up what seems like a fight they cannot win.
At different points in our lives we might find ourselves held back by a physical injury or condition. We might feel the burden of ageing, or feel like our outward appearances hold us back.
But as long as we have our minds, we cannot be broken. As long as we don’t let the world break our spirits, we can always work to improve ourselves, and make our lives the best they can be.
‘It is useless to meet revenge with revenge: it will heal nothing.’ – Frodo Baggins
This one is pretty self-explanatory, and you will find it used but worded differently in many other contexts. Don’t fight fire with fire; an eye for an eye; be the bigger person.
But that is easier said than done. If someone has wronged you, it is human instinct to want to retaliate; indeed, the world has been shaped by such (re-)actions.
So if you ever need help remembering that revenge is not the answer, look to Frodo Baggins, who even after all the horrible things that had happened to him did not seek to harm those who had harmed him.
Just like with Bilbo, pity was what stayed Frodo’s hand, and Gollum ended up inadvertently saving both Frodo and the world.
‘Deeds will not be less valiant because they are unpraised.’ – Aragorn
One of the biggest worries of young people in today’s society is that their lives might go by unnoticed. In a world over-saturated with child stars and reality TV celebrities, it’s tempting to think that success is measured by fame or popularity, but of course this is far from the truth.
Does someone need recognition for a good deed in order to be a good person? Of course not. If our lives are measured by how much good we bring to the world, surely it is irrelevant whether or not we ever make it to the front page of Hypable.com (or, er, insert your own favourite news source here).
Unsung heroes are still just that: heroes. Ultimately, what matters most is that you yourself can take pride in the fact that you are doing the best you can with what you have.
‘Even the smallest person can change the course of history.’ – Lady Galadriel
While spoken specifically about hobbits, this is one of the most important quotes in the entire The Lord of the Rings saga. Because we are all hobbits; all average, normal, comfy people who prefer the safety of our own homes but are secretly itching for some kind of adventure (okay, maybe not all hobbits are like this).
But we might be afraid that we are not good enough, or smart enough, or beautiful or strong or funny enough to make our dreams come true. Better leave the success to the successful; it seems unreachable from here.
But what Galadriel says – what Tolkien’s entire trilogy proves – is that anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it. If their courage holds and their spirit does not fail, then they are strong, and they can succeed. And so can you. Good luck.
These are the 10 J.R.R. Tolkien Lord of the Rings quotes we have chosen to celebrate his life and his legacy. We hope you can take some of their wisdom and use it in your own life.