|First appearance||The Two Towers (1954)|
|J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium location|
|Type||Thick, dense forest|
Home of the Ents and Huorns
Remote from the world outside
The remnant of a larger more ancient forest
|Locations||Wellinghall, Derndingle, Treebeard's hill, the Entwash|
Treebeard, or Fangorn in Sindarin, is a tree-giant character in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. He is an Ent and is said by Gandalf to be "the oldest living thing that still walks beneath the Sun upon this Middle-earth."[T 1] He lives in the ancient Forest of Fangorn, to which he has given his name. It lies at the southern end of the Misty Mountains. He is described as being about 14 feet (4.5 m) in height, and in appearance similar to a beech or an oak.[T 1]
In The Two Towers, Treebeard meets with Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took, two Hobbits of the Shire. This meeting proves to have consequences that contribute significantly to the story and enables the events that occur in The Return of the King.
In Sindarin, one of Tolkien's Elvish languages, "Fangorn" is a compound of fanga, "beard", and orne, "tree", so it is the equivalent of the English "Treebeard". The Rohirrim (Riders of Rohan) called Fangorn Forest the "Entwood", the wood of the Ents. Treebeard gave it various names in Quenya, another Elvish language: "Ambaróna" means "uprising, sunrise, orient" from amba, "upwards" and róna, "east". "Aldalómë" means "tree twilight" from alda, "tree" and lómë, "dusk, twilight".[T 2] "Tauremorna" means "gloomy forest" from taur, "forest", and morna, "gloomy".[T 2] "Tauremornalómë" means "gloomy twilight forest".[T 3]
The word "Ent" was taken from the Old English ent or eoten, meaning "giant". Tolkien borrowed the word from a phrase in the Anglo-Saxon poems The Ruin and Maxims II, orþanc enta geweorc ("cunning work of giants"), which describe Roman ruins in Britain.[T 4]
Treebeard's deep booming voice with his "hrum, hroom" mannerism is said by Tolkien's biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, to be based on that of Tolkien's friend and fellow-Inkling at Oxford, C. S. Lewis.
The Forest of Fangorn was at the south-eastern end of the Misty Mountains near the Gap of Rohan. The mountains formed the western border of Fangorn. At the end of the mountain range stood Saruman's stronghold of Isengard near the southwestern corner of the forest. To the east and south of Fangorn was the land of Rohan, and Lothlórien lay to the north and slightly east. Fangorn Forest stretched for many miles and held many paths.[T 5][T 1]
Two significant rivers ran through the forest. To the north the Limlight flowed from the woods and then formed the northern border of Rohan. The river then merged into the larger Anduin. In the south, the Entwash spread deep into the forest arriving from Methedras, a mountainous region located near the Misty Mountains. The river then flowed through Rohan to the great river, the Anduin. The valley of Derndingle was to the south-west. There was a path where the Entwash passed into a region called Wellinghall with one of Treebeard's homes.[T 5][T 1]
Fangorn Forest was said to be humid, and trunks and branches of many kinds of tree grew thick, allowing little light to penetrate. Huorns also lived deep within in the forest, like Ents but more discreet. The Ents and Huorns drank from the river Entwash, and from it the Ents brewed their legendary drink, the Ent-draughts.[T 1]
As told in The Silmarillion, Ents were created in the Elder Days. They were created to be the "Shepherds of the Trees" and protect trees from the anticipated destruction that Dwarves would cause. Further details are provided in The Lord of the Rings, where Treebeard recounts to Merry and Pippin how the Ents were "awakened" and taught to speak by the Elves of that time. Treebeard also says that only three Ents remain from the Elder Days: himself, Finglas (Leaflock) and Fladrif (Skinbark). He tells the hobbits of the time when he could walk through the woods of Middle-earth for days. He sings a song about roaming the woods of Middle-earth, naming regions of Beleriand which were destroyed in the war with Morgoth and now lie "beneath the waves." He says there are valleys in Fangorn forest where the Great Darkness, the period of Morgoth's rule before the arising of the Moon and Sun, never lifted and the trees are older than he.[T 1]
Treebeard is described in some detail:
"They found they were looking at a most extraordinary face. It belonged to a large man-like, almost Troll-like, figure, at least fourteen foot high, very sturdy, with a tall head, and hardly any neck. Whether it was clad in stuff like green and grey bark, or whether that was its hide, was difficult to say. At any rate the arms, at a short distance from the trunk, were not wrinkled, but covered with a brown smooth skin. The large feet had seven toes each. The lower part of the long face was covered with a sweeping grey beard, bushy, almost twiggy at the roots, thin and mossy at the ends. But at the moment the hobbits noted little but the eyes. These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating. They were brown, shot with a green light."[T 1]
After meeting Merry and Pippin, Treebeard learns that they think that Gandalf is dead, though apparently he knows otherwise. He then takes them to a place that he says might be called "Wellinghall" in the Common Speech. There the hobbits tell him their adventures and Treebeard learns of Saruman's treachery. When they are finished, Treebeard says,
"Well, well. That is a bundle of news and no mistake. You have not told me all, no indeed, not by a long way. But I do not doubt that you are doing as Gandalf would wish. There's something very big going on, that I can see, and what it is maybe I shall learn in good time or bad time. By root and twig, but it is a strange business: up sprout a little folk that are not in the old lists and behold! the Nine forgotten Riders reappear to hunt for them, and Gandalf takes them on a great journey, and Galadriel harbours them in Caras Galadhon, and Orcs pursue them all down the leagues of Wilderland: indeed they seem to be caught up in a great storm."[T 1]
Treebeard muses, "I must do something, I suppose." Saruman used to walk in Fangorn forest and talk to him, but on reflection he says that although he told Saruman many things, Saruman never told him anything. He realizes now that Saruman is plotting to be "a Power" and wonders what evil he is really doing: why has Saruman taken up with Orcs, why there are so many Orcs in his woods, and why these Orcs are able to bear sunlight. He is angered by trees being felled "to feed the fires of Orthanc."[T 1] He overcomes his anger and then, thinking aloud, begins to make plans for the next day. He also tells Merry and Pippin about the Entwives. The critic Tom Shippey writes that Fangorn's explanations are "authoritative and indeed .. 'professorial'. They admit no denial."
When the hobbits awake in the morning, Treebeard is not there, but he soon arrives and announces that he has been busy, and they will drink and then go to Entmoot. Entmoot, he explains to Pippin, is not a place but a gathering of Ents. Treebeard carries them to the place where the Ents meet. This gathering lasts three days. The Entmoot ends with all the Ents shouting, and then singing a marching song and striding to Isengard with Treebeard in the lead: 'the last march of the Ents', as Treebeard refers to it. During the march, Pippin notices the Huorns following.[T 1]
The Ents arrive at Isengard as Saruman's army is leaving, and they wait. After the army leaves, Treebeard bangs on the gates and shouts for Saruman to come forth. Saruman refuses, and the Ents attack. They reduce the outer walls to rubble and destroy much of what is inside the walls. Treebeard then calls for an end to the attack and the Ents divert the river Isen, drowning the entire ruined fortress and all its underground furnaces and workshops. Saruman is left in the impregnable tower, surrounded by water and watchful Ents. After imprisoning Saruman, some of the Ents (including Treebeard) and Huorns keep watch.[T 6]
A delegation led by Gandalf arrives at Isengard and, except Gandalf, are amazed that it has been destroyed. Treebeard promises Gandalf that Saruman will remain in the tower.[T 7]
In The Return of the King, Treebeard is still at Isengard, now renamed to the Treegarth of Orthanc, when a group led by Aragorn, now King of Gondor, comes there after the victory over Sauron, made possible partly because the Ents had helped to destroy Saruman's forces. Treebeard admits that he let Saruman go a few days before. Gandalf gently chastises him saying that Saruman might have persuaded Treebeard to let him go by "the poison of his voice." Treebeard delivers the keys of Orthanc to the King, who gives the valley of Orthanc to Treebeard and his ents. Finally, Treebeard says farewell to the elf-rulers Celeborn and Galadriel "with great reverence" and the words "It is long, long since we met by stock or by stone".[T 8] Shippey notes that these words echo a line in the Middle English poem Pearl, "We meten so selden by stok other stone". Where in Pearl the mention of stock and stone means in earthy reality, Shippey writes, the phrase fits the Fangorn context well, since Treebeard's "sense of ultimate loss naturally centres on felled trees and barren ground."
Portrayal in adaptations
Treebeard has inspired artists and illustrators such as Inger Edelfeldt, John Howe, Ted Nasmith, Anke Eißmann, and Alan Lee. In Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, John Westbrook provided the voice of Treebeard. Stephen Thorne voiced the character in BBC Radio's 1981 serialization.
In Peter Jackson's films The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Treebeard is a combination of a large animatronic model and a CGI construct; his voice is performed by John Rhys-Davies, who also portrays Gimli.
There are some differences between Jackson's and Tolkien's portrayals of Treebeard. The Tolkien scholar David Bratman writes that Jackson's Treebeard spends far more time than Tolkien's character suspecting the Hobbits of being Orcs. The scholar Judith Kollmann states that in Jackson's film, Treebeard resists going to war with Saruman until he sees how much damage Saruman has done to the south of Fangorn forest.
A 6-metre-high sculpture of Treebeard by Tolkien's great-nephew Tim Tolkien received planning permission in Birmingham, where Tolkien grew up. On The Tolkien Ensemble's album At Dawn in Rivendell, Treebeard is voiced by Christopher Lee.
- This list identifies each item's location in Tolkien's writings.
- Tolkien 1954, book 3, ch. 4 "Treebeard"
- Tolkien 1977, Appendix: "Elements in Quenya and Sindarin Names"
- Tolkien 1987
- Carpenter 1981, #163 to W. H. Auden, 7 June 1955
- The Lord of the Rings Map: "The West of Middle-earth at the End of the Third Age"
- Tolkien 1954, book 3, ch. 9 "Flotsam and Jetsam"
- Tolkien 1954, book 3, ch. 8 "The Road to Isengard"
- Tolkien 1955book 6, ch. 6 "Many Partings"
- Shippey, Tom (2001). J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century. Houghton Mifflin. p. 88. ISBN 978-0-618-12764-1.
- Shippey 2005, p. 149 "To the North are the Ents, another Old English word which had interested Tolkien ... [he] identified them with the orþanc enta geweorc, the 'skilful work of ents' of the poem Maxims II."
- Carpenter 1977, p. 198
- Lobdell, Jared (1975). A Tolkien Compass. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court. p. 84. ISBN 0-87548-316-X.
- Dickerson, Matthew T.; Evans, Jonathan (2004). Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J. R. R. Tolkien. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-7159-8.
- Shippey, Tom (1982). The Road to Middle-Earth. Grafton (HarperCollins). p. 120. ISBN 0261102753.
- Shippey 2005, p. 205
- Howe, John (2002). "Treebeard". Illustrator John Howe. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
- Nasmith, Ted. "Treebeard and the Entmoot". Ted Nasmith official website. Archived from the original on 24 May 2012. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
- Eißmann, Anke (2000). "Treebeard". Anke Eißmann official website. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
- Joint, Laura (5 October 2007). "Trees as art". BBC. Retrieved 16 September 2012.
- Beck, Jerry (28 October 2005). The Animated Movie Guide. Chicago Review Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-1569762226.
- Simpson, Paul (2013). A Brief Guide to C. S. Lewis: From Mere Christianity to Narnia. Little, Brown Book Group. p. part 123. ISBN 978-1472100672.
- Nathan, Ian (23 October 2012) . "The Making Of The Two Towers". Empire. Retrieved 28 March 2020.
Treebeard will mainly be a CGI creation; this animatronic version is used for the close-ups with Hobbit actors Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan.
- Bratman, David (2005). Croft, Janet Brennan (ed.). Summa Jacksonica: A Reply to Defenses of Peter Jackson's 'The Lord of the Rings' films, after St. Thomas Aquinas. Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's 'The Lord of the Rings'. Mythopoeic Press. pp. 27–62. ISBN 978-1887726092.
- Kollmann, Judith (2005). "Elisions and Ellipses: Counsel and Council in Tolkien's and Jackson's The Lord of the Rings". In Croft, Janet Brennan (ed.). Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings. Mythopoeic Press. p. 159. ISBN 1-887726-09-8.
- "LOTR statue in safety debate". CBBC Newsround. 9 April 2006. Retrieved 6 November 2010.
- Review of At Dawn In Rivendell from Scifi Dimensions
- Review of At Dawn In Rivendell from TheOneRing.net
- Carpenter, Humphrey (1977), J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography, New York: Ballantine Books, ISBN 978-0-04-928037-3
- Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. (1981), The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 978-0-395-31555-2
- Shippey, Tom (2005) . The Road to Middle-Earth (Third ed.). HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0261102750.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Two Towers, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, OCLC 1042159111
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, OCLC 519647821
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 978-0-395-25730-2
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1987), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Lost Road and Other Writings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-45519-7