The Mines of Moria in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings are immensely important to the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring. They provide the first true danger to the Fellowship, and take the first life of a member. The Mines also follow certain conventions of Gothic fiction. For example, the Balrog Durin’s Bane represents an “inescapable persecutor,” as mentioned in Ann Blaisdell Tracy’s Patterns of Fear in the Gothic Novel, and a small movement made by Pippin seems to wake up all of the mines, bringing to mind Tracy’s idea of “disproportion of affect to cause.” (4, 10). Besides these specific Gothic tropes, the Mines themselves create a sense of horror and impending doom – “‘The name of Moria is black’… ‘if you pass the doors of Moria, beware!” (Fellowship 309-310). Once the Fellowship passes through those doors, they shut behind them, “and all light [is] lost.” This complete darkness is the first terrifying aspect of Moria, and it follows the Fellowship through all their time there. The horror of darkness is accompanied by the massive labyrinth of bridges and tunnels within, “bewildering beyond hope of remembering” (Fellowship 322, 324). Both labyrinths and darkness are quintessentially Gothic. Continuing in Gothic tradition, the mines provide horror as the ruins of a once great city, “full of light and splendour… [and] many-pillared halls of stone” (Fellowship 329-330). Upon hearing this, Samwise Gamgee explains best the effect that Moria has. As Sam says, “it makes the darkness seem heavier, thinking of all those lamps” (330). The contrast of what once was with what is makes thedarkness heavier, and makes the horror that much worse.
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