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I first noticed this phrasing in Sam's famous speech in the The Two Towers movie.

And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

The highlighted part seems to originate in the second book of The Return of the King, when Sam and Frodo wake up in Ithilien

‘A great Shadow has departed,’ said Gandalf, and then he laughed, and the sound was like music, or like water in a parched land; and as he listened the thought came to Sam that he had not heard laughter, the pure sound of merriment, for days upon days without count. It fell upon his ears like the echo of all the joys he had ever known. But he himself burst into tears. Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer, his tears ceased, and his laughter welled up, and laughing he sprang from his bed.

The Field of Cormallen, ROTK, J.R.R Tolkien

But here are some other examples:

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.

Lothlórien, FOTR, J.R.R Tolkien

I beg you to remain and ride with my brother; for then all our hearts will be gladdened, and our hope be the brighter.

The Passing of the Grey Company, ROTK, J.R.R Tolkien

Aragorn stood beneath his banner, silent and stern, as one lost in thought of things long past or far away; but his eyes gleamed like stars that shine the brighter as the night deepens.

The Field of Cormallen, ROTK, J.R.R Tolkien

To me, it seems like an odd turn of phrase, but I'm thinking it must be correct since Tolkien was a scholar of languages. I'm curious, does anyone know examples of this kind of phrasing outside the Lord of the Rings? Is there a name for it?

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    some of them are forms of more + ly: The sun will shine out more clearly. The stars that shine more brightly.
    – Lambie
    Oct 10, 2022 at 17:29
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    This construction is perhaps uncommon, but still often heard. Perhaps usually with "all". Run all the faster. Study all the harder. Sing all the louder. But if you google "shine out the brighter" you can find examples even of that.
    – GEdgar
    Oct 10, 2022 at 17:56
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    This is found much more commonly with two comparatives, in the idiom “the X, the Y”. The more, the merrier; the bigger, the better; the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Oct 11, 2022 at 10:28

2 Answers 2

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The, in the uses listed above, is used adverbially. Here is the definition of the (adverb) from the OED 1: Used with a following comparative adjective or adverb to emphasize the effect of circumstances indicated by the context.

Comparative adjective = stronger, harder.

Comparative adverb = more happily, more easily.

An example sentence using the as an adverb that may be more familiar than the sentences listed above:

After that foray, The British were disheartened, but the wiser for it.

This usage may not be so common in North America (if their media be anything to go off), but in England and Ireland I have heard it relatively often. I hope this helps.

To put the OED’s definition into plainer terms; the (adverb) is used to emphasise that the event, the thing which the comparative (greater) (brighter) (stronger etc.) is describing, is greater, brighter, stronger because of a certain circumstance.

Aragorn stood beneath his banner, silent and stern, as one lost in thought of things long past or far away; but his eyes gleamed like stars that shine the brighter as the night deepens.

In the above passage the (adverb) tells us that his eyes shine more brightly because of a circumstance; namely that the night deepens about him.

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    It is common with "wiser" - "none the wiser" is another standard expression. But it can be used with other words, e.g. "the better for it", and many expressions with "the worse".
    – Stuart F
    Oct 10, 2022 at 20:07
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    Merriam-Webster (entry 2 of 4) says essentially the same as the OED. But instead of providing an abstract definition they provide a stand-in expression: than before : than otherwise. For example, the sentence "And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer" would become "And when the sun shines it will shine out clearer than otherwise [e.g., without the rain or whatever]. Oct 11, 2022 at 9:46
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I think that this is the instrumental-case sense of the word "the" (as stated in Jack's answer).

This sense is defined by Wiktionary as

With a comparative, and often with for it, indicates a result more like said comparative.

and by Dictionary.com as

(used to modify an adjective or adverb in the comparative degree and to signify “in or by that,” “on that account,” “in or by so much,” or “in some or any degree”).

In short, the word "the" in this construction essentially means "because of that."

This seems to explain all of the usages you've quoted. Let's analyze all four of them:

Then, as a sweet rain will pass down a wind of spring and the sun will shine out the clearer …

The sun will shine out the clearer = The sun will shine out clearer because of that (specifically, because of the rain).

… and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.

Love grows the greater = Love grows greater because of that (specifically, because of the fact that it's mingled with grief).

I beg you to remain and ride with my brother; for then all our hearts will be gladdened, and our hope be the brighter.

Our hope will be the brighter = Our hope will be brighter because of that (specifically, because of your choice to remain and ride with my brother).

… but his eyes gleamed like stars that shine the brighter as the night deepens.

Stars that shine the brighter = Stars that shine brighter because of that (specifically, because of the deepening of the night).

Tolkien certainly would have been familiar with the etymology of this sense of the word "the" (essentially, it was the instrumental case of the word "that"), and he probably used it deliberately in order to contribute to the old-fashioned and poetic feeling of the books.

(Note that the definite article sense of the word "the," which is overwhelmingly more common, has a different (but related) etymology.)

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