Nature has its own characterization that features a unique duality: one, ideal and benign; and, aggressively cruel in the other.
The reader first learns about nature during Bilbo’s birthday celebration when village talk drifts towards the Old Forest, a “dark bad place” and unfit to be lived in. As the story unfolded later on, this side to nature would be reinforced by how Mirkwood and Fangorn were described. When Merry and Pippin, for instance, find themselves deep in the Fangorn Forest, their impression demonstrates the perceived hostility of the place. At one point, Pippin quips, “It is all very dim, and stuffy, in here” later on commenting about the “weeping, trailing, beards and whiskers of lichen,” underscoring the “frightfully tree-ish” environs wherein no animals or hobbits could endure.
In the Fellowship of the Ring, the bad nature has been sufficiently covered. Gimli, at some point in the quest remarks about the reputation of Caradhras as a cruel mountain and that, true to the stories, it has, indeed, attempted to impede their quest as well. Then there is, of course, Old Man Willow who lulls the Hobbits to sleep and traps Merry and Pippin inside. Without the intervention of Tom Bombadill, they would have been eaten and crushed. Tom admonished the miscreant tree, saying “you should not be waking. Eat earth! Dig deep! Drink water! Go to sleep!” According to Treebeard, later on in the story in his conversation with his Hobbit friends, some trees “have bad hearts” as well and so when people are not friendly towards them, they become aggressive in response.
The other character of nature is demonstrated in the way the author paints an ecological utopia such as that of the Shire. It is inhabited by peaceful creatures who loathe machines and are content with tilling the earth. This characterization is a potent demonstration of how nature at its best is supposed to be, untouched by man’s greed and abuse. Take for instance ...