Discussion:
CotW: LotR, Bk. 4, Ch. 3, 'The Black Gate Is Closed'
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Shanahan
2004-10-04 03:38:51 UTC
Permalink
This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
'Chapter of the Week' (CotW) project. For more information visit
the
CotW homepage at <http://parasha.maoltuile.org/>.

Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 3:
'The Black Gate Is Closed'
_________________________________________
Note:
I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where:
Short questions will be noted in [ ], will follow paragraph
summary;
Short comments follow paragraph summary, are italicized;
Long questions will be noted in { }, at the end of summary;
Comments on narrative structure, voice, and characterization will
be italicized, at end of summary;
Long comments will be at the end, indented, and italicized;
Comments and theories based on non-canon sources will be at the
end, indented twice, italicized, and in tengwar font.

<ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!
_________________________________________

CHAPTER SUMMARY (w/Qs):

This is a chapter where not much really happens, but there's a lot
going on under the surface. Immediately following the dread of the
Dead Marshes, the horror of the Desolation before Mordor, and Sam's
nassty glimpse into Gollum's nearly destroyed mind, our three
heroes reach their goal -- only to discover that there's no way in
to Mordor. In a rather strange plot development, they suddenly
decide to turn and go another way completely. It's always struck me
as a bit odd, this stop-and-restart, in an heroic quest story.

Q: Does anyone know of other legends where there's a dead-end path
like this? /Pilgrim's Progress/, perhaps?

The chapter opens as Frodo, Sam and Gollum get within a furlong of
the Black Gate. The geography is like jaws waiting to swallow them:
the gaping maw of the Haunted Pass, guarded by the Towers of the
Teeth. The geography has eyes as well: the watches change on the
immense rampart between the Carach Angren, "the day-guards,
evil-eyed and fell" take over. The Towers are "stony-faced....with
dark window-holes staring....and each window was full of sleepless
eyes." It is impossible, and the hobbits realize this as soon as
they see what the Black Gate is truly like. They cannot enter.

At this moment of despair, Sam pulls out one of his Gaffer-isms, a
gloomy one for certain, but it does lighten the mood a bit. Sam
does something similar again at the end of this chapter, where it's
much more important. "My word, but the Gaffer would have a thing
or two to say, if he saw me now! Often said I'd come to a bad end,
if I didn't watch my step, he did. But now....He'll miss his chance
of /I told 'ee so, Sam/: more's the pity."

Frodo is resolute: he knows no other way to enter Mordor, he must
do so, and therefore he will do his duty: "he cowered no longer,
and his eyes were clear". Sam is resigned; his duty is to follow
Frodo, and follow him he will. "And after all he never had any real
hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit
he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed."

Q: This last quote about Sam strikes me as very interesting. What
does Tolkien mean by 'real hope'? Is being cheerful a substitute
for hope? How does this relate to the concept of /estel/?

Q: Is this new behavior for Sam, or is it typical? Frodo seems to
be growing under his burden, acquiring the strength to walk
open-eyed to the Black Gate. Is Sam growing too?

Sméagol is terrified when Frodo reveals his purpose to enter
Mordor. He proposes an alternate route, one more secret. Sam is
wisely skeptical; he thinks this is a strategic compromise between
'Slinker' and 'Stinker', to keep the Ring free until he/they can
grab it. He doubts that there really is another way into Mordor.
Sam is also skeptical of Frodo's ability to see through the Sméagol
act to Gollum's true purpose. He thinks Frodo is too soft-hearted,
too kind, to see this hard truth.

But Frodo then shocks both Sméagol and Sam by his stern insight
into Sméagol's heart. Frodo warns Sméagol of how the Ring is
manipulating him: "You are in danger. [...] You swore a promise by
what you call the Precious. Remember that! It will hold you to it;
but it will seek a way to twist it to your own undoing. Already you
are being twisted. You revealed yourself to me just now, foolishly.
/Give it back to Sméagol/ you said. Do not say that again! Do not
let that thought grow in you! You will never get it back. But the
desire of it may betray you to a bitter end. You will never get it
back. In the last need, Sméagol, I should put on the Precious; and
the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to
command you, you would obey, even it it were to leap from a
precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my
command. So have a care, Sméagol!"

Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?

Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power
of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt that
Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of command
over others. These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or as a
necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo into
good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")

Gollum is quite unnerved by Frodo's insight and his threat, and it
takes a while for him to calm down enough to describe this other
route he knows into Mordor. He tells of Ithilien, the Crossroads,
and old tales he used to hear about Minas Ithil, now Minas Morgul.
These old tales described Minas Ithil before it was taken over by
evil: "They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon..."

Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
palantíri? What do you think?

Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with its
Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed vulture
figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone creatures with a
similar spell placed on them? Or just the Nazgûl themselves?

Gollum tells the hobbits of the Secret Stair, tunnel, and the high
pass (while conveniently leaving out any mention of any
inhabitants). They have to pry it out of him that this smaller pass
is guarded, too. Frodo is cast back into indecision, a marked
contrast to his resolution earlier. He has recovered some hope, and
as renewed hope often does, it brought with it renewed pain.

As Frodo struggles with this new choice, we get one of those
marvellous 'synchronizing' passages: "Yet even as [Gandalf] spoke
his last words to Saruman, and the Palantír crashed in fire upon
the steps of Orthanc, his thought was ever upon Frodo and Samwise,
over the long leagues his mind sought for them in hope and pity.
Maybe Frodo felt it, not knowing it, as he had upon Amon Hen...."
But even if he does feel Gandalf's mind over the miles, it does not
help Frodo's decision. It takes Sam to do that.

A dreamlike mood follows, in which the three sit in silence in
their hiding place. The mood is broken when Sam sees the Nazgûl
flying far above, on watch. Frodo stirs and seems about to make his
decision: but then they hear the sound of troops marching nearby.
Gollum peers over the lip of their stony dell, and returns to
report that they are Southrons, marching into Mordor. Sam asks if
there are any oliphaunts, and then and there, in the midst of
despair and indecision and betrayal, he stands up and declaims an
old nursery rhyme.

It is a wonderful moment. The growing tension, the mistrust, the
danger, the Black Land so near -- and Sam recites a wonderful,
silly, hobbity, nursery rhyme. "Frodo stood up. He had laughed in
the midst of all his cares when Sam had trotted out the old
fireside rhyme of /Oliphaunt/, and the laugh had released him from
hesitation." He will follow Gollum to the secret entrance to
Mordor.

Gollum is very pleased at this decision...

Q: Has Gollum yet made up his mind to betray Frodo? It seems so.
Or does that happen at Henneth Annûn? Or in the pass of Cirith
Ungol? Sam and Frodo's moments of despair and decision are fairly
clearly set out for us, but Gollum's are more of a mystery.


COMMENTS:

This chapter is where we first see Mordor. And it is a very sharp
demarcation: impassable mountain walls, impassable ramparts and
towers. *Here* be dragons! We are here, now, at the very border of
Evil. It stands in sharp contrast to Lothlorien, whose border
protections are rather more subtle. These are the two opposing
forces of Faerie in this story (LotR), the Light and the Dark which
must both be there for the sub-creation to be plausible. I'm always
impressed by the fear Tolkien's description of the Black Gate
inspires; but this time, I was also struck by how defensive a
structure Mordor is. Sauron, like Morgoth before him, is a coward.

Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3. My
experience is rather the opposite. I sometimes find Book 3 a bit of
a bore. It's all that riding around: they ride here, they ride
there, then they ride back, then they ride to gather together so
that they can go ride some more...<snore>. I will confess that I
have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
get some unscientific statistics going here?

Troels commented in his CotW last week about the relationship
between these three hobbit characters: bound together by fate,
love, hate, and pity; alike in many ways, yet unable to be anything
but enemies. Is it possible that these three figures together make
up a 3-part protagonist? If they do, what parts of the hero does
each make up? (No height jokes!! <g>)

I like the narrative structure of this book, and this chapter, very
much. The story arc of Book 4 is very symmetrical and satisfying.
In contrast, Book 3 has two story lines to cover so it feels a bit
more scattered, and there are so many moments of high tension in it
that it has no single climactic chapter. Book 4 has only one story
line. It starts with three chapters of rising tension, then the
marvellous intervention of Faramir in the Tolkienesque 'rest phase'
chapters in Ithilien, then again the final three chapters with
steeply rising dramatic tension: the heartbreak of Gollum's
near-repentance, the classic hero's journey through the tunnel,
Samwise's shining courage with Shelob, and then finally the
greatest cliffhanger ending *ever*, when Sam discovers Frodo is
alive but taken by the Enemy. Whew!! Great stuff.

For those interested in such things, Tolkien didn't revise this
chapter much. He wrote it all at one go, then rewrote it the same
way. A few names and distances were changed. He had some trouble
working out the synchronization moment mentioned above, when
Gandalf is thinking about Frodo: Tolkien wasn't too sure where
Gandalf was, exactly, when that moment happens. He puts him in
Rohan, Gondor, on the road between the two, and then finally at
Orthanc. FWIW.

Ciaran S.
--
"And I name before you all Frodo of the Shire
and Samwise his servant.
/Bronwe athan Harthad/ and /Harthad Uluithiad/,
Endurance beyond Hope and Hope Unquenchable."
- gandalf, in draft 'A' of "Many Partings"
Rusty Wallace
2004-10-04 01:47:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
I will confess that I
have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
get some unscientific statistics going here?
I don't know about gender difference, but when I was a teenage to
early 20's boy I was a lot more interested in book 3 than book 4 -
with reading 4 being something of a chore I had to get through before
getting on with ROTK. More recently, after not reading LotR for 12-15
years, I find that the Sam/Frodo/Gollum story is considerably more
compelling to me. I still enjoy book 3, but my personal emotional
weighting of the story has shifted strongly to book 4.

Rusty
Raven
2004-10-04 18:38:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
"They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon..."
Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
palantíri? What do you think?
I don't think it was the Palantír. A stone like the Moon would be white
or light grey, and very probably radiant. Possibly something at least
vaguely like the Arkenstone. The Palantíri were black, until you looked in
them. Possibly it was a stone that was set to adorn the city that Isildur
commanded to be built, to look like or symbolize the Moon. Remember that
"Minas Ithil" means "Moontower" or "Tower of the Moon".
Post by Shanahan
Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with its
Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed vulture
figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone creatures with a
similar spell placed on them? Or just the Nazgûl themselves?
I would guess the second proposition, or else some sleepless malice
watching from the windows. Even when the city appears to have been emptied
as the Fell Captain leads his host to war there is a sleepless malice
watching from it, and it seems to be something more than Gorbag and his
garrison.

Gavran.
AC
2004-10-06 15:05:49 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
Shanahan <***@bluefrog.com> wrote:

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?
I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he stood in
Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.
Post by Shanahan
Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power
of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt that
Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of command
over others. These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or as a
necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo into
good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
I think the two trends are simultaneously growing and bound to each other.
We start to see his spiritual strength at the attack at the Fords, and now,
as Mordor approaches we see him becoming a far greater person. At the same
time, I don't think there's any doubt that the Ring is growing on him,
increasing its hold on his mind and soul.
Post by Shanahan
Gollum is quite unnerved by Frodo's insight and his threat, and it
takes a while for him to calm down enough to describe this other
route he knows into Mordor. He tells of Ithilien, the Crossroads,
and old tales he used to hear about Minas Ithil, now Minas Morgul.
These old tales described Minas Ithil before it was taken over by
evil: "They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon..."
Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
palantíri? What do you think?
It's quite possible that some memory of the Palantiri of the Dunedain
survived among the more rustic folk of the Northwest of Middle Earth, though
I doubt they knew what it meant, save perhaps some sort of sorcery or
divination. I think we get an idea of how your average Hobbit might view
such matters from Sam's "elf magic" notions.
Post by Shanahan
Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with its
Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed vulture
figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone creatures with a
similar spell placed on them? Or just the Nazgûl themselves?
I think this is alluding to creatures/objects similar to those seen later in
Cirith Ungol.
Post by Shanahan
It is a wonderful moment. The growing tension, the mistrust, the
danger, the Black Land so near -- and Sam recites a wonderful,
silly, hobbity, nursery rhyme. "Frodo stood up. He had laughed in
the midst of all his cares when Sam had trotted out the old
fireside rhyme of /Oliphaunt/, and the laugh had released him from
hesitation." He will follow Gollum to the secret entrance to
Mordor.
Gollum is very pleased at this decision...
Q: Has Gollum yet made up his mind to betray Frodo? It seems so.
Or does that happen at Henneth Annûn? Or in the pass of Cirith
Ungol? Sam and Frodo's moments of despair and decision are fairly
clearly set out for us, but Gollum's are more of a mystery.
Smeagol was a pretty clever creature. My hunch is that this bit of
treachery had been planned from the very moment that Frodo decided to take
him along. He knew Frodo wanted to get into Mordor and he knew the Black
Gate was impossible.
Post by Shanahan
This chapter is where we first see Mordor. And it is a very sharp
demarcation: impassable mountain walls, impassable ramparts and
towers. *Here* be dragons! We are here, now, at the very border of
Evil. It stands in sharp contrast to Lothlorien, whose border
protections are rather more subtle. These are the two opposing
forces of Faerie in this story (LotR), the Light and the Dark which
must both be there for the sub-creation to be plausible. I'm always
impressed by the fear Tolkien's description of the Black Gate
inspires; but this time, I was also struck by how defensive a
structure Mordor is. Sauron, like Morgoth before him, is a coward.
I dunno about that. Were the Numenoreans cowards because they built
fortifications like Minas Anor and Orthanc? As to the Morannon, that was
built by the Numenoreans. Let's face it, Sauron had the courage to make a
mock debasement before Ar-Pharazon, even with his army high-tailing it. I
think Sauron was evil, a fallen giant, one of the great among the Maiar, but
I never get the sense that he is a coward, just supremely overconfident.
I'll send you forward to Denethor's comments on the matter of Sauron
remaining in Barad-dur.
Post by Shanahan
Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3. My
experience is rather the opposite. I sometimes find Book 3 a bit of
a bore. It's all that riding around: they ride here, they ride
there, then they ride back, then they ride to gather together so
that they can go ride some more...<snore>. I will confess that I
have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
get some unscientific statistics going here?
I find the first few chapters returning to Sam and Frodo a bit slow, myself,
after all the overt action of the previous chapters.

<snip>
--
Aaron Clausen
***@hotmail.com

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a
whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields
Chelsea Christenson
2004-10-06 17:01:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?
I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he stood in
Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.
I'm pretty sure Frodo was keeping those thoughts out of his mind. If he
had been constantly thinking about destroying the Ring, he would have
panicked and balked. Frodo kept his mind on getting there, not on what
he would do when he got there.

It's like that scene in "Finding Nemo" when Marlin and Dory are
descending into the black depths of the ocean. The only way to do it is
not to think about it, and "just keep swimming."
AC
2004-10-06 17:10:09 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 06 Oct 2004 13:01:00 -0400,
Post by Chelsea Christenson
Post by AC
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?
I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he stood in
Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.
I'm pretty sure Frodo was keeping those thoughts out of his mind. If he
had been constantly thinking about destroying the Ring, he would have
panicked and balked. Frodo kept his mind on getting there, not on what
he would do when he got there.
I dunno. I think there was that resolve, as we can see by when he actually
gets where he's going and rejects what he had come to do.
Post by Chelsea Christenson
It's like that scene in "Finding Nemo" when Marlin and Dory are
descending into the black depths of the ocean. The only way to do it is
not to think about it, and "just keep swimming."
Dory had the benefit of no short-term memory (no laughs, I have kids, so I
see these movies).
--
Aaron Clausen
***@hotmail.com

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a
whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields
Chelsea Christenson
2004-10-06 22:10:51 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
On Wed, 06 Oct 2004 13:01:00 -0400,
Post by Chelsea Christenson
Post by AC
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?
I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he stood in
Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.
I'm pretty sure Frodo was keeping those thoughts out of his mind. If he
had been constantly thinking about destroying the Ring, he would have
panicked and balked. Frodo kept his mind on getting there, not on what
he would do when he got there.
I dunno. I think there was that resolve, as we can see by when he actually
gets where he's going and rejects what he had come to do.
Sure, he resolved to do it -- but then he stopped thinking about it. He
wasn't marching through the mountainss thinking, "Gotta destroy this
ring. Gotta destroy this ring." He was thinking, "Gotta get to Mount
Doom. Gotta get to Mount Doom."
Post by AC
Post by Chelsea Christenson
It's like that scene in "Finding Nemo" when Marlin and Dory are
descending into the black depths of the ocean. The only way to do it is
not to think about it, and "just keep swimming."
Dory had the benefit of no short-term memory (no laughs, I have kids, so I
see these movies).
But Marlin didn't.
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-06 20:31:58 UTC
Permalink
Chelsea Christenson <***@nospam.com> wrote:

[about whether Frodo thought about destroying the Ring while he was
travelling to Mordor and Mount Doom]
Post by Chelsea Christenson
I'm pretty sure Frodo was keeping those thoughts out of his mind. If
he had been constantly thinking about destroying the Ring, he would
have panicked and balked. Frodo kept his mind on getting there, not
on what he would do when he got there.
I agree. He was aware of his ultimate task, but most likely avoided
thinking about it directly. I was struck by the bit from this chapter
where Frodo, despite seeing the Black Gate and the fortifications and
the hopelessness of getting into Mordor that way, reacts as follows:

"His face was grim and set, but resolute. He was filthy, haggard, and
pinched with weariness, but he cowered no longer, and his eyes were
clear. 'I said so, because I purpose to enter Mordor, and I know no
other way. Therefore I shall go this way. I do not ask anyone to go with
me.'" (The Black Gate is Closed)

Despite Gollum's pleas to change his mind, Frodo insists:

"'I am commanded to go to the land of Mordor, and therefore I shall go,'
said Frodo. 'If there is only one way, then I must take it. What comes
after must come.' Sam said nothing. The look on Frodo's face was enough
for him he knew that words of his were useless." (The Black Gate is
Closed)

Am I the only one that finds this a bit silly of Frodo. He had only one
charge laid upon him by Elrond:

"The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone
is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to
any servant of the Enemy..." (The Ring Goes South)

Isn't Frodo is being foolhardy here? Attempting an entry through the
Black Gate will surely deliver the Ring into the hands of servants of
the Enemy!

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Richard Williams
2004-10-07 13:11:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
"The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone
is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to
any servant of the Enemy..." (The Ring Goes South)
Isn't Frodo is being foolhardy here? Attempting an entry through the
Black Gate will surely deliver the Ring into the hands of servants of
the Enemy!
It's hard to argue with Denethor at this point:

"At this hour, to send it in the hands of a witless halfling into the land
of the Enemy himself...that is madness...[putting the Ring] at a hazard
beyond all but a fool's hope"

(not to mention Gandalf et al.'s minor omission of apparently failing to
discuss possible routes of entry into Mordor with the Ringbearer in any
detail!)

But perhaps we're seeing the Ring at work here, playing on Frodo's sense
of duty to make him behave foolishly?

Richard.
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-07 20:59:57 UTC
Permalink
Post by Richard Williams
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
"The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him
alone is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to
deliver it to any servant of the Enemy..." (The Ring Goes South)
Isn't Frodo is being foolhardy here? Attempting an entry through the
Black Gate will surely deliver the Ring into the hands of servants of
the Enemy!
"At this hour, to send it in the hands of a witless halfling into the
land of the Enemy himself...that is madness...[putting the Ring] at a
hazard beyond all but a fool's hope"
Well, it is unfair of Denethor to call Frodo witless. Faramir, for one,
recognised and acknowledged Frodo's intelligence and sense when they met
in Ithilien.

But Frodo's attitude at the Black Gate does seem a bit silly.
Post by Richard Williams
(not to mention Gandalf et al.'s minor omission of apparently failing
to discuss possible routes of entry into Mordor with the Ringbearer
in any detail!)
Possibly Gandalf was still unsure himself. One plan would have been to
capture Gollum and make him the guide. The other would be for Gandalf to
recall ancient lore and find a secret pass. Maybe even one that has long
been associated with evil: Cirith Ungol!

I still think Gandalf was speaking to Frodo when he (Gandalf) said (as
he was being dragged into the abyss): Fly you fools! :-)
Post by Richard Williams
But perhaps we're seeing the Ring at work here, playing on Frodo's
sense of duty to make him behave foolishly?
Hmm. Or maybe the effects of walking through the Dead Marshes and into
that barren wasteland before the Black Gate, under the terrible gaze of
Sauron and bearing the burden of the Ring, means that Frodo is not
thinking straight. Maybe this fatalistic attitude here foreshadows what
is to come in Mordor and on Orodruin?

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-06 20:35:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
Post by Shanahan
This chapter is where we first see Mordor. And it is a very sharp
demarcation: impassable mountain walls, impassable ramparts and
towers. *Here* be dragons! We are here, now, at the very border of
Evil. It stands in sharp contrast to Lothlorien, whose border
protections are rather more subtle. These are the two opposing
forces of Faerie in this story (LotR), the Light and the Dark which
must both be there for the sub-creation to be plausible. I'm always
impressed by the fear Tolkien's description of the Black Gate
inspires; but this time, I was also struck by how defensive a
structure Mordor is. Sauron, like Morgoth before him, is a coward.
I dunno about that. Were the Numenoreans cowards because they built
fortifications like Minas Anor and Orthanc? As to the Morannon, that
was built by the Numenoreans.
Not quite! :-)

You are right that the Towers of the Teeth (Carchost and Narchost) were
built by the Men of Gondor, along with many of the other watchtowers
(including Cirith Ungol).

But Sauron extended these fortifications at Cirith Gorgor by building a
rampart of stone across the pass, in which was a single gate of iron:
the Morranon, the Black Gate of Mordor. That is indeed extremely
defensive.
Post by AC
Let's face it, Sauron had the courage
to make a mock debasement before Ar-Pharazon, even with his army
high-tailing it.
Good point. But in general, I think Sauron avoided such things. He
endured a seven-year siege of Barad-dur before coming forth to single
combat with Elendil and Gil-galad (on Mount Doom for some unknown
reason). This is similar to Morgoth only coming forth as a last resort.
Post by AC
I think Sauron was evil, a fallen giant, one of the
great among the Maiar, but I never get the sense that he is a coward,
just supremely overconfident.
Overconfident and a master planner.
Well, maybe not *master* planner.
But he probably co-ordinated things.
Rather than being an active leader.
Post by AC
I'll send you forward to Denethor's
comments on the matter of Sauron remaining in Barad-dur.
Can't find these. What are you talking about?

<snip>

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Nathan Keedy
2004-10-07 03:09:22 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by AC
I'll send you forward to Denethor's
comments on the matter of Sauron remaining in Barad-dur.
Can't find these. What are you talking about?
Christopher
Try RotK p. 92, the conversation between Gandalf, Pippin, and
Denethor: Gandalf - "He is pitted against a foe too great. For one has
come that I feared."
"Not - not the Dark Lord?" cried Pippin, forgetting his place in his
terror.
Denethor laughed bitterly. "Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! He will
not come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others
as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master
Halfling."

Also, on the subject of Gollum being aware of the Minas Ithil
Palantir: it seems unlikely that he would know anything about the
stone (or even about Minas Ithil itself) when he was a "normal" hobbit
in the vale of Anduin. It seems most likely (but still a little
surprising) that Gollum would have learned of these things when
imprisoned in the Barad-dur. If he was actually brought into Sauron's
presence, he may even have seen the Ithil stone that Sauron had
brought to Mordor.

Nathan
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-07 20:43:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Nathan Keedy
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by AC
I'll send you forward to Denethor's
comments on the matter of Sauron remaining in Barad-dur.
Can't find these. What are you talking about?
Try RotK p. 92, the conversation between Gandalf, Pippin, and
<snip> Thanks!
Post by Nathan Keedy
Also, on the subject of Gollum being aware of the Minas Ithil
Palantir: it seems unlikely that he would know anything about the
stone (or even about Minas Ithil itself) when he was a "normal" hobbit
in the vale of Anduin.
Well, how about this quote from Gollum *when* *he* *was* *young*:

"The old fortress, very old, very horrible now. We used to hear tales
from the South, when Smeagol was young, long ago. [...] Tales out of the
South, about the tall Men with the shining eyes, and their houses like
hills of stone, and the silver crown of their King and his White Tree:
wonderful tales. They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon, and round it
were great white walls. O yes, there were many tales about the Tower of
the Moon." (The Black Gate is Closed)

I think that qualifies as knowing about Minas Ithil. Gollum even seems
to have been aware of the name of Isildur:

"He has only four on the Black Hand, but they are enough. And He hated
Isildur's city." (The Black Gate is Closed)
Post by Nathan Keedy
It seems most likely (but still a little
surprising) that Gollum would have learned of these things when
imprisoned in the Barad-dur. If he was actually brought into Sauron's
presence, he may even have seen the Ithil stone that Sauron had
brought to Mordor.
He definitely knows that Sauron has only four fingers on a black hand,
so it is not impossible that Gollum also saw the Ithil palantir.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Shanahan
2004-10-09 03:03:30 UTC
Permalink
Nathan Keedy <***@msn.com> creatively typed:

<snip>
Post by Nathan Keedy
Also, on the subject of Gollum being aware of the Minas Ithil
Palantir: it seems unlikely that he would know anything about the
stone (or even about Minas Ithil itself) when he was a "normal"
hobbit in the vale of Anduin. <snip>
The existence of the Rymes of Lore (chapter 'The Palantíri')
indicates that folk knowledge of the palantíri once existed. As
Christopher notes elsewhere in this thread, so does Gollum's memory
of long-ago tales from his childhood:

"The old fortress, very old, very horrible now. We used to hear
tales
from the South, when Smeagol was young, long ago. [...] Tales out
of the South, about the tall Men with the shining eyes, and their
houses like hills of stone, and the silver crown of their King and
his White Tree: wonderful tales. They built very tall towers, and
one they raised was silver-white, and in it there was a stone like
the Moon, and round it were great white walls. O yes, there were
many tales about the Tower of the Moon. [...] And He hated
Isildur's city."

Gandalf's conversation with Pippin on the ride to Minas Tirith
implies that Rymes of Lore are a common, widespread way of keeping
necessary knowledge alive; see below. (A side note: Gandalf's
remark to Théoden that children's tales still carry truth, and
Celeborn's remark to Boromir that old wives' tales still carry
truth, also indicate that truth is often carried in the oral,
rural, traditions.)

/What brought they from the foundered land/
/Over the flowing sea?/
/Seven stars and seven stones/
/And one white tree./

Gandalf: "I was just running over some of the Rhymes of Lore in my
mind. Hobbits, I suppose, have forgotten them, even those that they
ever knew."
Pippin: "No, not all. And we have many of our own, which wouldn't
interest you, perhaps."

All of this indicates to me that rumour of the palantíri could once
have been widespread enough to make it into these memory devices
called Rhymes of Lore. And, as we know from Beregond, the
palantíri gave off light (a stone like the Moon) when they were in
use, when he speaks about the flickering white light coming from
Lord Denethor's chambers.

I don't think it at all unlikely that Gollum's old tale refers to
folk memory of the Minas Ithil palantír.

Ciaran S.
--
Positivists read myths literally and find them false and
foolish; interpretivists read them metaphorically or
allegorically, and find them true and profound.
Nathan Keedy
2004-10-11 02:24:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
The existence of the Rymes of Lore (chapter 'The Palantíri')
indicates that folk knowledge of the palantíri once existed. As
Christopher notes elsewhere in this thread, so does Gollum's memory
"The old fortress, very old, very horrible now. We used to hear
tales
from the South, when Smeagol was young, long ago. [...] Tales out
of the South, about the tall Men with the shining eyes, and their
houses like hills of stone, and the silver crown of their King and
his White Tree: wonderful tales. They built very tall towers, and
one they raised was silver-white, and in it there was a stone like
the Moon, and round it were great white walls. O yes, there were
many tales about the Tower of the Moon. [...] And He hated
Isildur's city."
<snip thorough analysis>

You're right, and it seems I wasn't giving the Stoors of the Gladden
Fields enough credit when it comes to folklore. I'd never really
thought much about it before, but it's interesting how Tolkien uses
Smeagol as a kind of "secondary narrator" at times like this. It
makes him more sympathetic, is one of the ways that Tolkien shows that
his hobbit personality wasn't completely destroyed by his long
possession of the Ring.
Nathan Keedy
2004-10-11 02:25:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
The existence of the Rymes of Lore (chapter 'The Palantíri')
indicates that folk knowledge of the palantíri once existed. As
Christopher notes elsewhere in this thread, so does Gollum's memory
"The old fortress, very old, very horrible now. We used to hear
tales
from the South, when Smeagol was young, long ago. [...] Tales out
of the South, about the tall Men with the shining eyes, and their
houses like hills of stone, and the silver crown of their King and
his White Tree: wonderful tales. They built very tall towers, and
one they raised was silver-white, and in it there was a stone like
the Moon, and round it were great white walls. O yes, there were
many tales about the Tower of the Moon. [...] And He hated
Isildur's city."
<snip thorough analysis>

You're right, and it seems I wasn't giving the Stoors of the Gladden
Fields enough credit when it comes to folklore. I'd never really
thought much about it before, but it's interesting how Tolkien uses
Smeagol as a kind of "secondary narrator" at times like this. It
makes him more sympathetic, is one of the ways that Tolkien shows that
his hobbit personality wasn't completely destroyed by his long
possession of the Ring.
AC
2004-10-07 15:26:41 UTC
Permalink
On Wed, 06 Oct 2004 20:35:11 GMT,
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by AC
I'll send you forward to Denethor's
comments on the matter of Sauron remaining in Barad-dur.
Can't find these. What are you talking about?
"'...For one has come that I feared.'

'Not - not the Dark Lord?' cried Pippin, forgetting his place in his terror.

Denethor laughed bitterly. 'Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! He will not
come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his
weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why
should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending my
sons?...'"
RotK - The Siege of Gondor
--
Aaron Clausen
***@hotmail.com

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a
whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields
Kristian Damm Jensen
2004-10-07 06:48:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
<snip>
Post by AC
Post by Shanahan
Q: Has Gollum yet made up his mind to betray Frodo? It seems so.
Or does that happen at Henneth Annûn? Or in the pass of Cirith
Ungol? Sam and Frodo's moments of despair and decision are fairly
clearly set out for us, but Gollum's are more of a mystery.
Smeagol was a pretty clever creature. My hunch is that this bit of
treachery had been planned from the very moment that Frodo decided to take
him along. He knew Frodo wanted to get into Mordor and he knew the Black
Gate was impossible.
I think you are partly correct.

Gollum is literally in two minds at this point.

*Stinker* knew all along, that this treachery would be. *Slinker* on
the other hand saw the detour as a reprieve, either denying the
obvious fact ("We are going to see Shelob, and once there I will turn
Master over to her.") or trying for some other resolution.

Regards,
Kristian
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-10 21:14:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?
I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he
stood in Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.
That is, I believe, what is the intention of Tolkien's words in letter
#191; that Frodo, even when he entered the Sammath Naur, fully
intended to destroy the Ring:

"But we can at least judge them by the will and intentions with
which they entered the Sammath Naur; and not demand impossible
feats of will, which could only happen in stories unconcerned
with real moral and mental probability."

I don't think he dwelled long on the question of whether this would be
possible for him; to have the will to continue he couldn't allow
himself to doubt this, and dwelling on it might easily have introduced
that doubt. What I mean is that I think that Frodo fully intended to
destroy the Ring right until he actually stood in the Sammath Naur;
his will was always set on that task, but I don't think he spent much,
if any, time speculating whether he would actually be able to fulfill
his intention if he ever came that far (he often seems to hold little
or no hope of even reaching Mount Doom: quite possibly that was his
concern, to get there rather than what he had to do when he got
there).
Post by AC
Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power of
will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt that
Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of command
over others. These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or as a
necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo into
good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
I think the two trends are simultaneously growing and bound to each other.
Agreed.
Post by AC
We start to see his spiritual strength at the attack at the Fords,
and now, as Mordor approaches we see him becoming a far greater
person. At the same time, I don't think there's any doubt that the
Ring is growing on him, increasing its hold on his mind and soul.
The first hint of his spiritual strength is, I think, in the Barrow.
In the letters Tolkien speaks of the ennoblement of Frodo -- he went
from being a first class Hobbit to becoming 'somebody' in the larger
world: a person even the high king (though at that point still 'in
spe') bowed to.

This was foreseen rather early:
" The book will prob. end up with Sam. Frodo will naturally
become too ennobled and rarefied by the achievement of the
great Quest, and will pass West with all the great figures;
but S. will settle down to the Shire and gardens and inns."
(Letter #93, 1944)
And of course he also noted in letter #180 (1956)

"The hobbits had been welcomed. I loved them myself, since I
love the vulgar and simple as dearly as the noble, and
nothing moves my heart (beyond all the passions and
heartbreaks of the world) so much as 'ennoblement' (from the
Ugly Duckling to Frodo)."

<snip>
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great
men are almost always bad men.
- Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887.
Shanahan
2004-10-11 03:20:52 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I don't think he dwelled long on the question of whether this
would be possible for him; to have the will to continue he
couldn't allow himself to doubt this, and dwelling on it might
easily have introduced that doubt. What I mean is that I think
that Frodo fully intended to destroy the Ring right until he
actually stood in the Sammath Naur; his will was always set on
that task, but I don't think he spent much, if any, time
speculating whether he would actually be able to fulfill his
intention if he ever came that far (he often seems to hold
little or no hope of even reaching Mount Doom: quite possibly
that was his concern, to get there rather than what he had to do
when he got there).
I think this is the case, too.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by AC
Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and
power of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems
no doubt that Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and
power of command over others. These things can be seen as
the seeds of evil, or as a necessary part of strength. (Part
of me is splitting Frodo into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo --
"Kill us both, Spock!")
(Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by AC
I think the two trends are simultaneously growing and bound to each other.
Agreed.
Yes, I agree as well. Funny, Gene Roddenberry/Richard Matheson
agreed as well...strength and evil are entwined at the root.

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
And of course he also noted in letter #180 (1956)
"The hobbits had been welcomed. I loved them myself, since I
love the vulgar and simple as dearly as the noble, and
nothing moves my heart (beyond all the passions and
heartbreaks of the world) so much as 'ennoblement' (from the
Ugly Duckling to Frodo)."
One of my favorite Letters quotes, and a sentiment my heart
follows.

Ciaran S.
--
Hobbits! No report that I have heard does justice to the truth.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-11 12:33:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Post by Shanahan
"Kill us both, Spock!")
(Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)
Of course :-)

- Dirk
Shanahan
2004-10-11 19:34:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Shanahan
Post by Shanahan
"Kill us both, Spock!")
(Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)
Of course :-)
- Dirk
Oh, I'm so relieved! I thought I was showing my age here...

Ciaran S.
--
"Technically, a cat locked in a box may be alive or it may be
dead.
You never know until you look. In fact, the mere
act of opening the box will determine the state
of the cat, although in this case there were three
determinate states the cat could be in:
these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious."
- t. pratchett, _Lords and Ladies_
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-11 18:25:48 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
(Part of me is splitting Frodo into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo
-- "Kill us both, Spock!")
(Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)
Apart from identifying it as 'probably something from Star Trek' I'm
afraid I didn't get it at all, sorry. Is it a specific reference or a
more general one?
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great
men are almost always bad men.
- Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887.
Jette Goldie
2004-10-11 20:30:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Shanahan
(Part of me is splitting Frodo into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo
-- "Kill us both, Spock!")
(Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)
Apart from identifying it as 'probably something from Star Trek' I'm
afraid I didn't get it at all, sorry. Is it a specific reference or a
more general one?
Kirk gets split into two by a transporter malfunction. A
"good" Kirk and an "evil" Kirk. There's no way to tell
them apart, except by their actions. Spock has to
somehow tell them apart while they fight.
--
Jette
Never bet on Star Trek trivia if your opponent speaks Klingon.
- Ancient Kung Foole Proverb
***@blueyonder.co.uk
AC
2004-10-12 05:26:30 UTC
Permalink
On Mon, 11 Oct 2004 20:30:40 GMT,
Post by Jette Goldie
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Post by Shanahan
(Part of me is splitting Frodo into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo
-- "Kill us both, Spock!")
(Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)
Apart from identifying it as 'probably something from Star Trek' I'm
afraid I didn't get it at all, sorry. Is it a specific reference or a
more general one?
Kirk gets split into two by a transporter malfunction. A
"good" Kirk and an "evil" Kirk. There's no way to tell
them apart, except by their actions. Spock has to
somehow tell them apart while they fight.
One of the best ST episodes, in my opinion. Far superior to the different
take in another episode where it's just a guy who shape change. This one
dealt in a neaty sci-fi way with the duality that is so often in seen in
people's conduct.
--
Aaron Clausen
***@hotmail.com

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a
whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-07 09:02:30 UTC
Permalink
I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where: [...]
<ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!
:-)
Q: [...] It seems Frodo sees himself and his relationship with the
Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still believes, here at this
moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into the Fire?
He probably doesn't think about it. He just wants to get to Mount
Doom. Tolkien says in letter #246:

Frodo undertook his quest out of love -- to save the world he knew
from disaster at his own expense, if he could; and also in complete
humility, acknowledging that he was wholly inadequate to the
task. His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a
way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body
allowed. He did that.
Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
palantíri? What do you think?
I don't think so. Minas Anor also had a palantir, and was named after
the sun, not the moon. So the white stone is probably not the palantir,
but a different stone.
Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with its
Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed vulture
figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone creatures with a
similar spell placed on them? Or just the Nazgûl themselves?
I don't know, but one principle that I find helpful with Tolkien
is "Don't assume everything is similar" (There are more things
under the sun, etc.). So I would take them to be different.

There is some letter where Tolkien makes a similar remark, but I
cannot find it now.
Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3. My
experience is rather the opposite. I sometimes find Book 3 a bit of
a bore. It's all that riding around: they ride here, they ride
there, then they ride back, then they ride to gather together so
that they can go ride some more...<snore>. I will confess that I
have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
get some unscientific statistics going here?
When I was a teen, I always found the Frodo-and-Sam part quite
boring compared to the adventures of the rest of the Fellowship.

That might have changed now, but since I know the story-line too
well, it is really hard to test :-)
Troels commented in his CotW last week about the relationship
between these three hobbit characters: bound together by fate,
love, hate, and pity; alike in many ways, yet unable to be anything
but enemies. Is it possible that these three figures together make
up a 3-part protagonist?
It's an interesting idea, but I don't think so. The "master and his
faithful servant" construction is quite frequent, and I cannot
think of any case where that would make a good 2-part protagonist.
And Gollum isn't so similar to Frodo and Sam (besides having some
general hobbit-nature left).

The "split personality" of Gollum (which has been acted out so well
by Andy Serkins) rather would make me think that *he* is two 1/2-parts
protagonist :-) (Or how should one count wrt. this system?)

- Dirk
TeaLady (Mari C.)
2004-10-08 02:20:05 UTC
Permalink
snipt
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Shanahan
Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with
its Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed
vulture figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone
creatures with a similar spell placed on them? Or just the
Nazgûl themselves?
I don't know, but one principle that I find helpful with
Tolkien is "Don't assume everything is similar" (There are
more things under the sun, etc.). So I would take them to be
different.
There is some letter where Tolkien makes a similar remark,
but I cannot find it now.
snipt some more

I first thought of the Watchers as gargoyles gone bad - spirits
in or even of stone, literal watchers and warders, corrupted by
Sauron to his will as he regained power and infused the very
earth around him with his evil.

I still am inclined to think of them that way. I can't explain
how they came to be, however - if they always were part of the
rock of which they were carved and "simply" called to
consciousness, or wandering spirits called into the carvings by
the Numenoreans after they were set in place.

I always wanted them to rise up and flap their arms/wings and
scream as the 3 hobbits went by, but I guess that was too
ignoble for the exact air of horror Tolkien meant them to have.
--
TeaLady (mari)

"I keep telling you, chew with your mouth closed!" Kell the
coach offers advice on keeping that elusive prey caught.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-08 08:08:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by TeaLady (Mari C.)
I first thought of the Watchers as gargoyles gone bad - spirits
in or even of stone, literal watchers and warders, corrupted by
Sauron to his will as he regained power and infused the very
earth around him with his evil.
For some reason, the Watchers remind me always of Sphinxes. Michael
Ende has a similar image somewhere in the "Neverending Story",
but I cannot remember the details.
Post by TeaLady (Mari C.)
I always wanted them to rise up and flap their arms/wings and
scream as the 3 hobbits went by, but I guess that was too
ignoble for the exact air of horror Tolkien meant them to have.
:-)

I could never imagine them as actually moving in any way. They
are stone: cold, menacing, with some sort of intelligence, but
completely motionless.

- Dirk
Shanahan
2004-10-09 03:17:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where: [...]
<ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!
:-)
Glad someone thought that was funny! ;)

<snip good point about Frodo>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the
palantír? So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew
something of the palantíri? What do you think?
I don't think so. Minas Anor also had a palantir, and was named
after the sun, not the moon. So the white stone is probably not
the palantir, but a different stone.
Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones; they were
named after their builders/owners: Isildur and Anarion. I believe
their names mean, respectively, 'lover of moon/sun'. So, their
strongholds were named the 'towers of moon/sun'.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
The "split personality" of Gollum (which has been acted out so
well
by Andy Serkins) rather would make me think that *he* is two
1/2-parts protagonist :-) (Or how should one count wrt. this
system?)
(Serkis is the one actor nobody on the ng had much of a problem
with, isn't he?) Let's see, so Gollum/Sméagol is two halves, Sam
is one half, Frodo is 7/8ths...no, no...they're each
1/3...no...Frodo's the head, Sam's the torso, Gollum is the
feet...oh, heck. <g>

But seriously, I was thinking about maybe Frodo representing
nobility and endurance, Sam the hope and sense of the common man,
and Gollum the part of Man that fell to temptation.

Ciaran S.
--
All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.
- g.k. chesterton
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-09 01:31:18 UTC
Permalink
Shanahan <***@bluefrog.com> wrote:

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones; they were
named after their builders/owners: Isildur and Anarion. I believe
their names mean, respectively, 'lover of moon/sun'. So, their
strongholds were named the 'towers of moon/sun'.
At this point I must confess that I've been reading ahead again! I was
so impressed by 'The Passage of the Marshes' when I re-read it, that I
just carried on reading!!

Anyway, I've got to the point where we hear a little bit more from the
narrator about the past history of Minas Morgul. It is in the
description of Minas Morgul at the start of Chapter 8 of book 4:

"All was dark about it, earth and sky, but it was lit with light. Not
the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble walls of Minas Ithil
long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and radiant in the hollow of the
hills. Paler indeed than the moon ailing in some slow eclipse was the
light of it now, wavering and blowing like a noisome exhalation of
decay, a corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing." (The Stairs of
Cirith Ungol)

So not only do we have a direct reference to the Minas Ithil name
meaning more than just being named after Isildur ("imprisoned
moonlight"), we also have a reference to corpse-lights like those in the
Dead Marshes in the bit describing what Minas Ithil became. And also a
bit about "like a noisome exhalation of decay", which reminds me of the
noisome smells produced in the Dead Marshes. Interesting.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Shanahan
2004-10-10 07:28:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones; they were
named after their builders/owners: Isildur and Anarion. I
believe their names mean, respectively, 'lover of moon/sun'.
So, their strongholds were named the 'towers of moon/sun'.
At this point I must confess that I've been reading ahead again!
I was so impressed by 'The Passage of the Marshes' when I
re-read it, that I just carried on reading!!
That keeps happening to me, too. This start-and-stop reading is
really hard on me.
Post by AC
Anyway, I've got to the point where we hear a little bit more
from the narrator about the past history of Minas Morgul. It is
in the description of Minas Morgul at the start of Chapter 8 of
"All was dark about it, earth and sky, but it was lit with
light. Not the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble
walls of Minas Ithil long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and
radiant in the hollow of the hills. Paler indeed than the moon
ailing in some slow eclipse was the light of it now, wavering
and blowing like a noisome exhalation of decay, a corpse-light,
a light that illuminated nothing." (The Stairs of Cirith Ungol)
Dang, I *love* that passage! "A corpse-light, a light that
illuminated nothing" ... what great stuff.
Post by AC
So not only do we have a direct reference to the Minas Ithil name
meaning more than just being named after Isildur ("imprisoned
We have from The Silm.: "In Minas Ithil was the house of Isildur,
and in Minas Anor the house of Anárion": I guess that's where I
formed the idea of their towers being named after themselves, not
after some property of the towers. Still seems reasonable to me,
though: you build a city, you name it after yourself (since Dad has
Osgiliath, and your names are linked to the Sun and Moon); you
build it in such a way that it somehow reflects and exemplifies
your self or your name. So Isildur's building a tower, he makes it
of white marble and places his palantír in it, he makes some cool
sorcery that makes the moonlight reflect or glow in the living rock
of the tower. Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first
rays of the rising Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.
Post by AC
moonlight"), we also have a reference to corpse-lights like
those in the Dead Marshes in the bit describing what Minas Ithil
became. And also a bit about "like a noisome exhalation of
decay", which reminds me of the noisome smells produced in the
Dead Marshes. Interesting.
Very interesting. Decay; the corruption of natural light:
properties of evil?

Ciaran S.
--
"There is nothing under heaven better than a broodmare,
a Mháire Dubh. She is the protector of infants, the
teacher and molder of young hearts, and the
mother of the race."
- r.a. macavoy
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-10 11:36:30 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
So not only do we have a direct reference to the Minas Ithil name
meaning more than just being named after Isildur ("imprisoned
moonlight")
We have from The Silm.: "In Minas Ithil was the house of Isildur,
and in Minas Anor the house of Anárion": I guess that's where I
formed the idea of their towers being named after themselves, not
after some property of the towers. Still seems reasonable to me,
though: you build a city, you name it after yourself (since Dad has
Osgiliath, and your names are linked to the Sun and Moon);
Elendil had Osgiliath? That doesn't sound right. :-)

I'm sure Isildur and Anarion were co-regents of Gondor for the High King
Elendil, and they ruled in Osgiliath where the thrones of Isildur and
Anarion were set side-by-side. <checks> It's in the next sentence after
the one you quoted!

"In Minas Ithil was the house of Isildur, and in Minas Anor the house of
Anarion, but they shared the realm between them and their thrones were
set side by side in the Great Hall of Osgiliath." (RoP and the Third
Age)

Elendil had Annuminas in the North, in Arnor.
Post by Shanahan
you build it in such a way that it somehow reflects and exemplifies
your self or your name. So Isildur's building a tower, he makes it
of white marble and places his palantír in it, he makes some cool
sorcery that makes the moonlight reflect or glow in the living rock
of the tower.
This is what I had never realised before this more attentive rereading
of Book IV. The fact that Minas Ithil, like Minas Anor and Orthanc and
the Argonath, is an example of the wondrous building skills of the
ancient Numenoreans.

This imprisoned moonlight does seem like sorcery, and I was going to try
and link it with Isildur's declaration to 'those who became the Dead
Men' at the Stone of Erech, and the hallowing of the tomb of Elendil,
which I think was also raised at Isildur's order. But I think it is
rather an example of advanced technology appearing like magic.
Post by Shanahan
Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first
rays of the rising Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.
Anarion's tower? I've always wondered about this...

There is a bit in 'The Silmarillion' about when the tall white tower of
Minas Anor was built, and it is at the same time that Minas Anor was
renamed Minas Tirith:

"But Minas Anor endured, and it was named anew Minas Tirith, the Tower
of Guard; for there the kings caused to be built in the citadel a white
tower, very tall and fair, and its eye was upon many lands." (RoP and
the Third Age)

I think this is Ecthelion's tower that Pippin and Gandalf see when they
ride into Minas Tirith, which should be confirmed by quotes from LotR
and the Appendices. But first...

Going back a bit, just before your quote above about the houses of
Isildur and Anarion, we hear about the initial building of the two
cities:

"Minas Ithil, the Tower of the Rising Moon, eastward upon a shoulder of
the Mountains of Shadow as a threat to Mordor; and to the westward Minas
Anor, the Tower of the Setting Sun, at the feet of Mount Mindolluin, as
a shield against the wild men of the dales." (RoP and the Third Age)

So even from the beginning, there was probably a tall tower that caught
the light of the Setting Sun, though given the geographical position,
I'd have thought that the Rising Sun would make more sense... (see later
quote)

Anyway, trying to find out when the Tower of Ecthelion was built (and
which Ecthelion it refers to), and what happened to the earlier tower
that Anarion built, I came across these snippets in Appendix B (Tale of
Years):

420 T.A. King Ostoher rebuilds Minas Anor
1900 T.A. Calimehtar builds the White Tower in Minas Anor.
2698 T.A. Ecthelion I rebuilds the White Tower in Minas Tirith

There is no indication as to why King Ostoher (the seventh King of
Gondor) rebuilt Minas Anor. In the absence of anything saying that the
city or tower was ruined or thrown down, I would say that maybe he just
extended and improved the city?

Calimehtar (about the 30th King) was King in the period after both the
Kin-Strife and the Plague, but it was in his reign that the Wainriders
became a greater threat. Presumably the White Tower was built in
response to this. Calimehtar's son (Ondoher) and grandsons were slain by
the Wainriders, ending that line of the Kings of Gondor.

Ecthelion I is one of the Ruling Stewards, but is not Ecthelion II (the
father of Denethor II, the Denethor in LotR). Again, I couldn't find any
indication as to why the White Tower was rebuilt. Presumably (after
nearly 800 years) it needed rebuilding!

And it seems that some 320 years later, this is the tower that Pippin
and Gandalf see when they arrive at Minas Tirith:

"Even as Pippin gazed in wonder the walls passed from looming grey to
white, blushing faintly in the dawn; and suddenly the sun climbed over
the eastern shadow and sent forth a shaft that smote the face of the
City. Then Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high
within the topmost walls shone out against the sky..." (Minas Tirith)

There are many other references to this tower in LotR (most often it is
called simply 'The White Tower').

Getting back to your comment, I'll recap this history of the towers of
Minas Anor/Tirith, which I certainly wasn't aware of before your comment
made me think about it! :-)
Post by Shanahan
Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first rays of the rising
Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.
There was a tower (or towers) built in the first building of Minas Anor
(and I suppose this could be called Anarion's tower), but for some
reason it (or the city) was called the Tower of the Setting Sun. Minas
Anor and its towers were rebuilt several times. The first reference to a
White Tower (in Gondor) is in 1900 T.A. during Calimehtar's reign, and
this is rebuilt as well, and is the tower that Pippin sees catching the
light of the rising sun.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Shanahan
2004-10-11 04:53:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
So not only do we have a direct reference to the Minas Ithil
name meaning more than just being named after Isildur
("imprisoned moonlight")
We have from The Silm.: "In Minas Ithil was the house of
Isildur,
and in Minas Anor the house of Anárion": I guess that's where I
formed the idea of their towers being named after themselves,
not after some property of the towers. Still seems reasonable
to me, though: you build a city, you name it after yourself
(since Dad has Osgiliath, and your names are linked to the Sun
and Moon);
Elendil had Osgiliath? That doesn't sound right. :-)
<snip>
Post by AC
Elendil had Annuminas in the North, in Arnor.
Quite right, my bad.
Post by AC
Post by Shanahan
you build it in such a way that it somehow reflects and
exemplifies your self or your name. So Isildur's building a
tower, he makes it
of white marble and places his palantír in it, he makes some
cool sorcery that makes the moonlight reflect or glow in the
living rock of the tower.
This is what I had never realised before this more attentive
rereading of Book IV. The fact that Minas Ithil, like Minas Anor
and Orthanc and the Argonath, is an example of the wondrous
building skills of the ancient Numenoreans.
This imprisoned moonlight does seem like sorcery, and I was
going to try and link it with Isildur's declaration to 'those
who became the Dead Men' at the Stone of Erech, and the
hallowing of the tomb of Elendil, which I think was also raised
at Isildur's order. But I think it is rather an example of
advanced technology appearing like magic.
What's the difference? And more importantly, to my mind, why do we
keep trying to explain ME's magical aspects in a mundane manner? It
is obvious that Tolkien wrote a book where magic existed and
worked; he spoke of it himself often, in Letters and elsewhere. So
why do we want to bring it down to a mundane / non-magical /
advanced technological level?

<snip lots of good research>
Post by AC
Getting back to your comment, I'll recap this history of the
towers of Minas Anor/Tirith, which I certainly wasn't aware of
before your comment made me think about it! :-)
Post by Shanahan
Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first rays of
the rising Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.
There was a tower (or towers) built in the first building of
Minas Anor (and I suppose this could be called Anarion's tower),
but for some reason it (or the city) was called the Tower of the
Setting Sun.
Yes, this is what I was referring to. I was wrong about Minas Anor
catching the first rays of the rising sun, when it was first built.
It would probably only have done that after the Tower of Ecthelion
was built on the pinnacle of the Citadel.

Isildur's Tower of the Rising Moon, and Anarion's Tower of the
Setting Sun, were these two cities. In referring to them, Tolkien
uses 'tower' and 'city' interchangeably. I believe they were named
for their builders, and specifically for the Rising Moon and the
Setting Sun because they were, respective to Osgiliath (the ruling
city of the southern kingdom), set East and West.

But I was speaking of the light that each tower would catch. Minas
Ithil would catch the light of the moon ("imprisoned moonlight
welling through the halls"), and Minas Anor would catch the light
of the sun ("O white walls and proud towers!"). Many references to
Minas Anor are to its whiteness, so I believe the entire city was
white, not just Ecthelion's pinnacle tower. So it would reflect the
sun whenever it was in the sky, just as Minas Ithil would imprison
the moonlight and send it flowing throughout its halls.

Maybe.

Ciaran S.
--
"And I name before you all Frodo of the Shire
and Samwise his servant.
/Bronwe athan Harthad/ and /Harthad Uluithiad/,
Endurance beyond Hope and Hope Unquenchable."
-gandalf, in draft 'A' of "Many Partings"
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-11 20:41:19 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
This is what I had never realised before this more attentive
rereading of Book IV. The fact that Minas Ithil, like Minas Anor
and Orthanc and the Argonath, is an example of the wondrous
building skills of the ancient Numenoreans.
They are, if you ask me, examples where the line dividing the common
skills at craft and art that we see even in this age and the realm of
magic become blurred. Even Fëanor's making of the Silmarils is often
referred to in words remniscent of craft and art (if not directly as
those -- I do not recall exactly), and I think that to the Elves this
division was essentially non-existing.

There is, I think, an approach to craftmanship in Tolkien's works,
where the combination of sublime craftmanship with artistic talent, the
work of the finest artisan, becomes more than just the combination of
these talents; by his love for his work the artisan puts some of his
soul into it, and the result approaches magic, and sometimes it takes
on magical, or supernatural, qualities. To the Elves, and in
particular the Eldar, this seems to me to be entirely natural, possibly
because their /fëar/ burn that much stronger (and Fëanor's the
strongest of all: he is the spirit of fire, /Fëanáro/), and in most of
their works they transcend this border and create items that, while the
result of their exceptional skills and love of beauty, also possess
qualities that can be best described as 'magical'.

I'm not sure what to call this -- I hesitate to call it 'magical' as
such, but I also think that it goes beyond the mundane skills of the
stonewright, ropemakers, weavers or whatever. Possibly it is best to
call it, as Tolkien did, "Art", capitalized:

" I have not used 'magic' consistently, and indeed the
Elven-queen Galadriel is obliged to remonstrate with the
Hobbits on their confused use of the word both for the
devices and operations of the Enemy, and for those of the
Elves. I have not, because there is not a word for the
latter (since all human stories have suffered the same
confusion). But the Elves are there (in my tales) to
demonstrate the difference. Their 'magic' is Art, delivered
from many of its human limitations: more effortless, more
quick, more complete (product, and vision in unflawed
correspondence). And its object is Art not Power,
sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of
Creation."
(Letter #131)

The examples of Númenórean skill that you list are, IMO, examples of
Númenórean craftsmanship approaching this Elven Art.
Post by Shanahan
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
This imprisoned moonlight does seem like sorcery, and I was
going to try and link it with Isildur's declaration to 'those
who became the Dead Men' at the Stone of Erech, and the
hallowing of the tomb of Elendil, which I think was also raised
at Isildur's order. But I think it is rather an example of
advanced technology appearing like magic.
What's the difference?
As noted above, I'm not sure that there really is a significant
difference.
Post by Shanahan
And more importantly, to my mind, why do we keep trying to explain
ME's magical aspects in a mundane manner? It is obvious that
Tolkien wrote a book where magic existed and worked; he spoke of
it himself often, in Letters and elsewhere. So why do we want to
bring it down to a mundane / non-magical / advanced technological
level?
There are, I think, several reasons for this.

One is the conception of magic as having to do with arcane spells,
necromancy and the bestowing of real 'Power' to magical objects. This
aspect is clearly also present in Middle-earth, but it is usually
associated with the Enemy, and the basis for Galadriel's complaint.
Later in letter #131 Tolkien wrote about the creation of the Rings of
Power:

"But at Eregion great work began - and the Elves came their
nearest to falling to 'magic' and machinery. With the aid
of Sauron's lore they made Rings of Power ('power' is an
ominous and sinister word in all these tales, except as
applied to the gods)."

The Rings of Power, whether the One, the Nine, the Seven or even the
Three, are 'magical' in this sense -- they are intended to provide the
bearer with a measure of control and power, domination one might say,
over the material world; preventing, or slowing, the decay of things
they love.

Another reason that applies in particular to the other races (from the
Elves) is Tolkien's obvious unwillingness to attribute to these the
magical powers (except where they do not derive from themselves, such
as e.g. the magical powers of the Nazgûl who became great sorcerers
thanks to their Rings). This picture is, however, not entirely
consistent, Tolkien himself notes that the Dúnedain used spells in the
making of swords, and the Mouth of Sauron was a living Man who had
learned 'great sorcery' (though in his case it might be seen as being
derived from Sauron). But these seem more to be exceptions from a
general rule.

Thirdly it is clear that while /The Lord of the Rings/ includes a lot
of 'magic' (in all the senses of the word), the normal life of ordinary
men, from the Lord Steward of Gondor to Widow Rumble, was far less
magical (indeed it was mostly completely non-magical) than what has
become the norm in fantastic literature: there is no Hogwarts in
Middle-earth.

Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it is a
limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited before putting
everything down to magical abilities. I have less reservation when it
comes to examples of Elven Art; the unknown Elf in Lóthlorien does say
that "we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make",
and I would venture that this is a large part of the source of the
Elven Art. I also think that Men of the highest kinds (that would be
the Númenóreans, and to a lesser and lesser degree their Dúnedain
descendants) it was possible to approach this Elven Art -- not as
strong or as obvious as what the Elves themselves could achieve, but
nonetheless their works could occasionally transcend the mundane.

<snip>
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it
would be a merrier world.
- Thorin Oakenshield, 'The Hobbit' (J.R.R. Tolkien)
Shanahan
2004-10-12 05:59:52 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
<snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
This is what I had never realised before this more attentive
rereading of Book IV. The fact that Minas Ithil, like Minas
Anor and Orthanc and the Argonath, is an example of the
wondrous building skills of the ancient Numenoreans.
They are, if you ask me, examples where the line dividing the
common skills at craft and art that we see even in this age and
the realm of magic become blurred. Even Fëanor's making of the
Silmarils is often referred to in words remniscent of craft and
art (if not directly as those -- I do not recall exactly), and I
think that to the Elves this division was essentially
non-existing.
<snip>
Post by AC
I'm not sure what to call this -- I hesitate to call it
'magical' as such, but I also think that it goes beyond the
mundane skills of the stonewright, ropemakers, weavers or
whatever. Possibly it is best to call it, as Tolkien did, "Art",
<snip>
Post by AC
And its object is Art not Power,
sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of
Creation."
(Letter #131)
Thanks, Troels. You always help me clarify my thoughts. This
'magic' issue is an ambiguous one, hard to get a grip on.

<snip>
Post by AC
Thirdly it is clear that while /The Lord of the Rings/ includes
a lot of 'magic' (in all the senses of the word), the normal
life of ordinary men, from the Lord Steward of Gondor to Widow
Rumble, was far less magical (indeed it was mostly completely
non-magical) than what has become the norm in fantastic
literature: there is no Hogwarts in Middle-earth.
<snip>
Post by AC
Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it
is a limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited
before putting everything down to magical abilities.
Funny, how differently two people can read the same text. I find
every thing in ME magical. Everything is more alive than it is in
this world. Everything *talks*. There is nothing in ME that isn't
magical.

That ordinary lives in ME were "far less magical ... than what has
become the norm in fantastic literature", I would agree. But that
may have more to do with changes in fantasy, than with what T.
wrote. Even the hobbits inhabited a world where wargs and orcs had
invaded within living memory, and a wizard with dwarves could
visit.

Ciaran S.
--
"...and just when you'd think they were more malignant
than ever Hell could be, they could occasionally show
more grace than Heaven ever dreamed of.
Often the same individual was involved.
It was this free-will thing, of course.
It was a bugger."
- gaiman and pratchett
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-12 13:57:08 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Thanks, Troels. You always help me clarify my thoughts. This
'magic' issue is an ambiguous one, hard to get a grip on.
You're very welcome, and yes -- it is a difficult issue; largely, I
think, because of the extremely broad applicability of the term.

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it
is a limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited before
putting everything down to magical abilities.
Funny, how differently two people can read the same text. I find
every thing in ME magical. Everything is more alive than it is in
this world. Everything *talks*. There is nothing in ME that isn't
magical.
I think that brings us back to the question of what is magic?

I don't see the Ents, the Eagles etc. as magical as such -- they're
different races with different abilities, but not magical as such, IMO.

The Elves have their Art, which is another ability that approaches
magic without truly becoming it, and in the same sense other things
about Middle-earth approach magic without becoming it (in this way of
understanding 'magic').
Post by Shanahan
That ordinary lives in ME were "far less magical ... than what has
become the norm in fantastic literature", I would agree. But that
may have more to do with changes in fantasy, than with what T.
wrote.
I think, however, that it has changed the way we normally think of
magic.
Post by Shanahan
even the hobbits inhabited a world where wargs and orcs had
invaded within living memory, and a wizard with dwarves could
visit.
I don't think that wargs, orcs or dwarves were magical as such -- they
are other creatures, but they're a part of the creation; or sub-
creation, rather. For me the exercise of divine power isn't magical in
Middle-earth: no more than it would have been for Tolkien in the real
world. Wargs, orcs or dwarves in Middle-earth are no more magical than
humans, dolphins and porcupines in our world; they are simply a part of
that world.

Gandalf, rather than Olórin, was of course a magical person, as were
the other Istari, but to the Hobbits and most other people of Middle-
earth? Gandalf was a 'wizard', but recall that it is meant to recall
the word 'wise': he was a wise man who could do the most incredible
things with fireworks, but no Hobbit (other than Bilbo) had, at that
time, seen him do anything that was truly magical.

What role then did magic play for the Hobbits? Some of the answer is, I
think answered in LotR I,1 'A Long Expected Party':

" On this occasion the presents were unusually good. The
hobbit-children were so excited that for a while they
almost forgot about eating. There were toys the like of
which they had never seen before, all beautiful and some
obviously magical. Many of them had indeed been ordered a
year before, and had come all the way from the Mountain
and from Dale, and were of real dwarf-make."

Were these toys magical in the other sense, or were they examples of
the Art of the Dwarves? I think that they were rather the latter, and
when the Hobbits call them "obviously magical" (or Tolkien does, in
their voice) it is an example of the inconsistent use of the word
'magic' which Galadriel remonstrated them for, and which Tolkien
commented in the letter I quoted. I don't think that magic, in the
other sense (for the domination of creation), which is how it is
usually used (I believe), played a role in the daily life of neither
the Hobbits, or Men or Dwarves, for that matter.
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

For animals, the entire universe has been neatly divided into things to
(a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.
- (Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites)
Shanahan
2004-10-14 05:50:25 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I think that brings us back to the question of what is magic?
I don't see the Ents, the Eagles etc. as magical as such --
they're different races with different abilities, but not
magical as such, IMO.
Ah, I see. Yes, we are speaking in different terms. Or rather, in
different frameworks. I guess I'm speaking from a story-external
standpoint, when I think about it; 'magic' is that which cannot
happen in the 'real' world. You are defining the term from within
the story. Speaking in that framework, I agree with what you say.
It's just that that's not how I *experience* the story. When I read
it, all things are magic, because few of them are possible in
'reality'.

<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
What role then did magic play for the Hobbits? Some of the
<snip>
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Were these toys magical in the other sense, or were they
examples of the Art of the Dwarves? I think that they were
rather the latter, and when the Hobbits call them "obviously
magical" (or Tolkien does, in their voice) it is an example of
the inconsistent use of the word 'magic' which Galadriel
remonstrated them for, <snip>
Yes, definitely. But for me, reading LotR as an experience, these
aren't the magical things in the story. Galadriel's Mirror, which I
believe qualifies as Tolkien's 'magia'? Yes, that's magic. But the
really magical things to me are the Ents, Mirkwood, Smaug, Sauron,
the Eagles, the Nazgûl beasts, Caradhras, etc.

Re magic in the story-internal sense, I agree with you completely.

Ciaran S.
--
Beware all enterprises which require new clothes.
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-14 08:33:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I think that brings us back to the question of what is magic?
I don't see the Ents, the Eagles etc. as magical as such --
they're different races with different abilities, but not
magical as such, IMO.
Ah, I see. Yes, we are speaking in different terms. Or rather, in
different frameworks. I guess I'm speaking from a story-external
standpoint, when I think about it; 'magic' is that which cannot
happen in the 'real' world.
Ah!
Post by Shanahan
You are defining the term from within the story.
Yes, I'm trying to classify what you called magic into several
categories, only a part of which I do call magic.
Post by Shanahan
Speaking in that framework, I agree with what you say.
That's nice ;-)
Post by Shanahan
It's just that that's not how I *experience* the story. When I read
it, all things are magic, because few of them are possible in
'reality'.
And in that sense I also agree with you. In that story-external sense all
of this combines to make up the 'magic' feeling of the story: they are
part of the
enchantment of the story -- I can't help quoting OFS here:

" To the elvish craft, Enchantment, Fantasy aspires, and when
it is successful of all forms of human art most nearly
approaches. At the heart of many man-made stories of the elves
lies, open or concealed, pure or alloyed, the desire for a
living, realized sub-creative art, which (however much it may
outwardly resemble it) is inwardly wholly different from the
greed for self-centred power which is the mark of the mere
Magician."
(OFS, 'Fantasy')
--
Troels Forchhammer

Taking fun
as simply fun
and earnestness
in earnest
shows how thouroughly
thou none
of the two
discernest.
- Piet Hein, /The Eternal Twins/
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-13 08:35:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it
is a limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited
before putting everything down to magical abilities.
Funny, how differently two people can read the same text. I find
every thing in ME magical. Everything is more alive than it is in
this world. Everything *talks*. There is nothing in ME that isn't
magical.
You're both right :-), because, I think, you are talking about
different senses of the word "magic". Ciaran means the magic of
Fairie, as Frodo describes it when he enters Lorien:

All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear
cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering
of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever. He saw no
colour but those he knew, gold and white and blue and green, but
they were fresh and poignant, as if he had at that moment first
perceived them and made for them names new and wonderful.

Troels means magic as Art, contrasted to magic as "Science" (i.e.,
recipes like handwaving and spells to invoke effects), which
is what many people think when they hear the word "magic". It's these
differences that addresses Tolkien in the letters, too.

But of course the borders between these aspects are not clean cut.
That's what makes it interesting :-)
Post by Shanahan
That ordinary lives in ME were "far less magical ... than what has
become the norm in fantastic literature", I would agree. But that
may have more to do with changes in fantasy, than with what T.
wrote.
I'd agree with that.

- Dirk
Larry Swain
2004-10-14 04:51:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Shanahan
Post by Troels Forchhammer
Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it
is a limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited
before putting everything down to magical abilities.
Funny, how differently two people can read the same text. I find
every thing in ME magical. Everything is more alive than it is in
this world. Everything *talks*. There is nothing in ME that isn't
magical.
You're both right :-), because, I think, you are talking about
different senses of the word "magic". Ciaran means the magic of
I can't find our earlier discussion, so I'll post it here. But
I think I have to retract my views on magic. AC's post about
the staves got me thinking, and then I remembered Amon Hen, the
Argonath, the Paths of the Dead, and so on. I didn' treally
think about the swords though, I figured that Tolkien had
borrowed that from Germanic literature (Beowulf for example and
the swords bound with runes, runes can sometimes mean spells-)
and then later as he was outlining his view of magic and all,
they became problematic but were so much a part of the story
that he couldn't really correct it. But anyway...you've
convinced me on that one.

Related to that we were talking about Sam's rope and I suggested
mundane knots for the rope coming when Sam tugged. I still
think that one was mundane. DIrk as I recall pressed me on the
kinds of knots that I was talking about. The first one is a
basic slip knot...the idea of course is that the knot "slips" up
and down your rope as needed but maintains your loop in the end
of the rope. When helping out with calving and branding and
such, the old hands were so good with their ropes that they
could use their slip knots all day, when work was done, coil
their ropes, grab it just about a foot or so above the knot,
give it a good thwack, the knot comes undone, they finish
coiling and walk away.

Another knot I was taught when I worked on fishing boats. My
skipper called it a double english, but I've since learned that
is not what it is. But it was this amazingly simple thing with
two rope ends, three loops, and one knot. The more tension on
the thing, the stronger the knot, but when tension was released,
you could untie it with the toe of your boot.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-14 07:05:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larry Swain
I can't find our earlier discussion, so I'll post it here.
I changed the subject, just in case.
Post by Larry Swain
Related to that we were talking about Sam's rope and I suggested
mundane knots for the rope coming when Sam tugged. I still
think that one was mundane. DIrk as I recall pressed me on the
kinds of knots that I was talking about. The first one is a
basic slip knot...the idea of course is that the knot "slips" up
and down your rope as needed but maintains your loop in the end
of the rope.
I am not sure if I understand this correctly, but if I do, this type
of knot doesn't help you: To be able to use it in climbing, you'd have
to put the tree stump inside the loop. This means the "slipping" knot
would be pressed up against the stump, and you have no way to move it
down by using just the long "open" end of the line.
Post by Larry Swain
When helping out with calving and branding and such, the old hands
were so good with their ropes that they could use their slip knots
all day, when work was done, coil their ropes, grab it just about a
foot or so above the knot, give it a good thwack, the knot comes
undone, they finish coiling and walk away.
I don't doubt that, and I have done that with some knots, too. But to
be able to do that, you either have to remove anything that's inside
the loop (the tree stump), or you have to grab the knot on the other
(the "short") end of the line. In both cases, you cannot do that
in Sam's situation.
Post by Larry Swain
Another knot I was taught when I worked on fishing boats. My
skipper called it a double english, but I've since learned that
is not what it is. But it was this amazingly simple thing with
two rope ends, three loops, and one knot. The more tension on
the thing, the stronger the knot, but when tension was released,
you could untie it with the toe of your boot.
Which again isn't the point. Nearly all good knots used on boats are
made in such a way that you can untie them easily as soon as the
tension is gone. But you cannot untie them by "shaking" one end
as long as the knot is still tied to something else -- that would be
much too dangerous.

From your description, it looks like the knot is used to tie two lines
together. I know several knots for this (sorry, I only know the german
names: Kreuzknoten, Schotstek, doppelter Schotstek, Zeppelinstek,
Trossenstek), all of which are easy to open once the tension is gone.
None can be opened by "shaking" one end. You can have a look at the
knots for example on

http://www.mytilus.de/Knoten-Index.htm

It's german, but you can just look at the pictures. The "double english"
may be the "doppelter Schotstek", but that's just a guess.

If you can get your hand on the "Ashley Book of Knots", for example
(which is very probably available in University Libraries), it's
likely you can identify the knot.

I still don't believe that it is possible to make a secure knot on a
tree stump, climb down, and then open the knot by "shaking the line".
And I think I will only believe it if it is either demonstrated to me,
or I find a description that is good enough so that I can test it
myself.

- Dirk
robert j. kolker
2004-10-14 11:58:39 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I still don't believe that it is possible to make a secure knot on a
tree stump, climb down, and then open the knot by "shaking the line".
And I think I will only believe it if it is either demonstrated to me,
or I find a description that is good enough so that I can test it
myself.
All belaying knots rely on tension and friction. The only way I can see
for a belying knot to be untied remotely is to untension the knot and
put some kind of a surface charge on the rope to cause repulsion. And
even this may not be sufficient. In general one must apply a torque
contrary to the way the knot lies when it is tensioned.

Only slip knots and pseudo knots can be undone remotely and they are not
secure to bear weight.

Bob Kolker
Larry Swain
2004-10-14 22:05:28 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Larry Swain
I can't find our earlier discussion, so I'll post it here.
I changed the subject, just in case.
Post by Larry Swain
Related to that we were talking about Sam's rope and I suggested
mundane knots for the rope coming when Sam tugged. I still
think that one was mundane. DIrk as I recall pressed me on the
kinds of knots that I was talking about. The first one is a
basic slip knot...the idea of course is that the knot "slips" up
and down your rope as needed but maintains your loop in the end
of the rope.
I am not sure if I understand this correctly, but if I do, this type
of knot doesn't help you: To be able to use it in climbing, you'd have
to put the tree stump inside the loop. This means the "slipping" knot
would be pressed up against the stump, and you have no way to move it
down by using just the long "open" end of the line.
Sure you do, since once you're done climbing there is no
tension--all it takes is a good shake/tug and the loop enlarges,
coming off the stump. Besides, I'm not saying this is what Sam
used, I'm just illustrating that there are all sorts of mundane
possibilities to explain the rope without resorting to magic.
Even the characters in the novel can't agree on that question,
how do you expect us too!
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Larry Swain
When helping out with calving and branding and such, the old hands
were so good with their ropes that they could use their slip knots
all day, when work was done, coil their ropes, grab it just about a
foot or so above the knot, give it a good thwack, the knot comes
undone, they finish coiling and walk away.
I don't doubt that, and I have done that with some knots, too. But to
be able to do that, you either have to remove anything that's inside
the loop (the tree stump), or you have to grab the knot on the other
(the "short") end of the line. In both cases, you cannot do that
in Sam's situation.
Yes you can. Its harder with a length of rope than grabbing on
the "short" end, but it is doable. And if it is a stump, not a
tree, then the stump has a top over which to flip the loop.
Either way, since Sam can't see what's happening up top, the
rope comes down.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Larry Swain
Another knot I was taught when I worked on fishing boats. My
skipper called it a double english, but I've since learned that
is not what it is. But it was this amazingly simple thing with
two rope ends, three loops, and one knot. The more tension on
the thing, the stronger the knot, but when tension was released,
you could untie it with the toe of your boot.
Which again isn't the point. Nearly all good knots used on boats are
made in such a way that you can untie them easily as soon as the
tension is gone. But you cannot untie them by "shaking" one end
as long as the knot is still tied to something else -- that would be
much too dangerous.
I think you're missing the point. A) there was no "untieing"
involved, slack lines with a couple of shoves of the toe and the
thing was undone, no untieing. B) were you there? You can call
me a liar if you like, then its my word against yours. BUt I
know that I used that knot and undid in this manner without
danger for the better part of 3 years. Believe it or not as you
choose.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I still don't believe that it is possible to make a secure knot on a
tree stump, climb down, and then open the knot by "shaking the line".
And I think I will only believe it if it is either demonstrated to me,
or I find a description that is good enough so that I can test it
myself.
Well, if I ever get to Germany I'll be sure to do just that. In
the meantime, we can agree to disagree; I don't find "magic"
necessary to explain the return of Sam's rope. Sam did. Frodo
didn't. The narrator is silent. Tolkien is silent. We each
have our positions we're comfortable with, and I can live with
that.

All the best,

Larry
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-14 22:23:15 UTC
Permalink
Larry Swain <***@operamail.com> wrote:

<snip>
In the meantime, we can agree to disagree; I don't find "magic"
necessary to explain the return of Sam's rope. Sam did. Frodo
didn't.
I still think Frodo just lost interest:

"[The rope] certainly came,' said Frodo, 'and that's the chief thing.
But now we've got to think of our next move.'" (The Taming of Smeagol)
The narrator is silent. Tolkien is silent. We each
have our positions we're comfortable with, and I can live
with that.
I'd like to see these rope tricks demonstrated sometime... Should I keep
an eye out for you on a "Wild West Cowboy Tricks" show? :-)

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Larry Swain
2004-10-15 04:11:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
<snip>
In the meantime, we can agree to disagree; I don't find "magic"
necessary to explain the return of Sam's rope. Sam did. Frodo
didn't.
"[The rope] certainly came,' said Frodo, 'and that's the chief thing.
But now we've got to think of our next move.'" (The Taming of Smeagol)
The narrator is silent. Tolkien is silent. We each
have our positions we're comfortable with, and I can live
with that.
I'd like to see these rope tricks demonstrated sometime... Should I keep
an eye out for you on a "Wild West Cowboy Tricks" show? :-)
Not me. As a cowboy I failed miserably....I was the one of the
ones because of my size and I was horridly clumsy with the rope
to hold the beast down while they branded. I'm a smidge on the
large side myself.

On board though I did pretty well, but then I didn't need to do
a lot of careful aiming with the rope, just make sure the
connection of the primary net lead was secure with the hydraulic
drum, and to tie us to the dock, and a few other simple rope
maneuvers. Things that anyone who's been on a boat for while
can do much better than I. I moved from the stink of cow poop
to the smell of fish....how's that for a misspent youth?
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-15 07:56:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I am not sure if I understand this correctly, but if I do, this type
of knot doesn't help you: To be able to use it in climbing, you'd have
to put the tree stump inside the loop. This means the "slipping" knot
would be pressed up against the stump, and you have no way to move it
down by using just the long "open" end of the line.
Sure you do, since once you're done climbing there is no
tension--all it takes is a good shake/tug and the loop enlarges,
coming off the stump.
Have you ever tried this? I have, when I was a kid, climbing tress, etc.
It's really difficult to get a loop off a stump, even if the loop is
not tight. The friction between the bark and the rope is very strong, and
remains of branches get in the way, etc.

Standing at the bottom of a cliff, with the stump high up above, it's
*very* difficult.

And it's a very different thing than "undoing" the knot with a shake.
Post by Larry Swain
Besides, I'm not saying this is what Sam used,
It's definitely not what Sam used. First, he would need a lot of
shaking to get the loop over the stump, not a bit of stroking and one
final pull, and if he did it, he would know why the rope came loose.
Second, of the loop just came off the stump, the knot would still
be in, which it isn't, as you observed yourself. Third, Sam knows
better than to use a knot which opens when the tension is gone.
Post by Larry Swain
I'm just illustrating that there are all sorts of mundane
possibilities to explain the rope without resorting to magic.
That's fine with me, but so far I don't see even a single mundane
possibility to explain what is described in the book, not speaking of
several sorts.
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I don't doubt that, and I have done that with some knots, too. But to
be able to do that, you either have to remove anything that's inside
the loop (the tree stump), or you have to grab the knot on the other
(the "short") end of the line. In both cases, you cannot do that
in Sam's situation.
Yes you can. Its harder with a length of rope than grabbing on
the "short" end, but it is doable.
Without removing the thing inside the loop? I still won't believe
that until you show me.
Post by Larry Swain
And if it is a stump, not a tree, then the stump has a top over
which to flip the loop.
Which is a different thing.
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Larry Swain
Another knot I was taught when I worked on fishing boats. My
skipper called it a double english, but I've since learned that
is not what it is. But it was this amazingly simple thing with
two rope ends, three loops, and one knot. The more tension on
the thing, the stronger the knot, but when tension was released,
you could untie it with the toe of your boot.
Which again isn't the point. Nearly all good knots used on boats are
made in such a way that you can untie them easily as soon as the
tension is gone. But you cannot untie them by "shaking" one end
as long as the knot is still tied to something else -- that would be
much too dangerous.
I think you're missing the point. A) there was no "untieing"
involved, slack lines with a couple of shoves of the toe and the
thing was undone, no untieing.
And you're sure there wasn't something inside the loop before?
Or you had to do something with the loose ends before, maybe adding
an extra twist (which would cancel some twist "in" the knot), or just
laying them out in a particular way (which would add the extra twist
maybe without you noticing it)?
Post by Larry Swain
B) were you there? You can call me a liar if you like, then its my
word against yours. BUt I know that I used that knot and undid in
this manner without danger for the better part of 3 years. Believe
it or not as you choose.
Sorry, I don't believe it. I rather believe you are forgetting some
important detail, like removing something inside one loop before it
"vanishes" by shaking. In that form, it's no problem; I can do that,
too. (You can just try a Webeleinenstek and remove the thing it's
made fast too from the loop, then the knot just collapses. You don't
even have to use yout toe :-)

If you have done this for 3 years, you surely remember the knot.
There's an easy experiment you can do to find if it would work for
Sam: Find some rope and a pole, tie the knot, and then shake it and
see if you can get it loose just by shaking (without pulling the loop
over the pole). If you can do that, right now, I would be more
inclined to believe you that you don't just misremember something.
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Dirk Thierbach
or I find a description that is good enough so that I can test it
myself.
Well, if I ever get to Germany I'll be sure to do just that.
No need to do that. After the experiment above, it shouldn't be
so difficult to describe the knot to me.
Post by Larry Swain
In the meantime, we can agree to disagree;
No, we can't :-) I am sorry, but I had some education in natural
science, and this has become part of my character. This is not a
matter of opinion. You can do an experiment to find out if it works,
or if it doesn't. You can describe the experiment so others can do it
as well and verify it for themselves. And if it works, I would really
really like to learn this "magic" knot, because it goes against all my
experience I have with knots.

If someone claimed "I can walk on water", I would ask him the same:
Please demonstrate it, or describe how you do it, so I can test myself.
Otherwise I won't believe it, and probably no one else will.

- Dirk
robert j. kolker
2004-10-15 18:45:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Have you ever tried this? I have, when I was a kid, climbing tress, etc.
It's really difficult to get a loop off a stump, even if the loop is
not tight. The friction between the bark and the rope is very strong, and
remains of branches get in the way, etc.
That is why torque and pull must be applied. The friction. Maybe elven
rope had low friction except when tension was applied. Is there anything
in the real world with this property?

Bob Kolker
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Standing at the bottom of a cliff, with the stump high up above, it's
*very* difficult.
And it's a very different thing than "undoing" the knot with a shake.
Post by Larry Swain
Besides, I'm not saying this is what Sam used,
It's definitely not what Sam used. First, he would need a lot of
shaking to get the loop over the stump, not a bit of stroking and one
final pull, and if he did it, he would know why the rope came loose.
Second, of the loop just came off the stump, the knot would still
be in, which it isn't, as you observed yourself. Third, Sam knows
better than to use a knot which opens when the tension is gone.
Post by Larry Swain
I'm just illustrating that there are all sorts of mundane
possibilities to explain the rope without resorting to magic.
That's fine with me, but so far I don't see even a single mundane
possibility to explain what is described in the book, not speaking of
several sorts.
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I don't doubt that, and I have done that with some knots, too. But to
be able to do that, you either have to remove anything that's inside
the loop (the tree stump), or you have to grab the knot on the other
(the "short") end of the line. In both cases, you cannot do that
in Sam's situation.
Yes you can. Its harder with a length of rope than grabbing on
the "short" end, but it is doable.
Without removing the thing inside the loop? I still won't believe
that until you show me.
Post by Larry Swain
And if it is a stump, not a tree, then the stump has a top over
which to flip the loop.
Which is a different thing.
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Larry Swain
Another knot I was taught when I worked on fishing boats. My
skipper called it a double english, but I've since learned that
is not what it is. But it was this amazingly simple thing with
two rope ends, three loops, and one knot. The more tension on
the thing, the stronger the knot, but when tension was released,
you could untie it with the toe of your boot.
Which again isn't the point. Nearly all good knots used on boats are
made in such a way that you can untie them easily as soon as the
tension is gone. But you cannot untie them by "shaking" one end
as long as the knot is still tied to something else -- that would be
much too dangerous.
I think you're missing the point. A) there was no "untieing"
involved, slack lines with a couple of shoves of the toe and the
thing was undone, no untieing.
And you're sure there wasn't something inside the loop before?
Or you had to do something with the loose ends before, maybe adding
an extra twist (which would cancel some twist "in" the knot), or just
laying them out in a particular way (which would add the extra twist
maybe without you noticing it)?
Post by Larry Swain
B) were you there? You can call me a liar if you like, then its my
word against yours. BUt I know that I used that knot and undid in
this manner without danger for the better part of 3 years. Believe
it or not as you choose.
Sorry, I don't believe it. I rather believe you are forgetting some
important detail, like removing something inside one loop before it
"vanishes" by shaking. In that form, it's no problem; I can do that,
too. (You can just try a Webeleinenstek and remove the thing it's
made fast too from the loop, then the knot just collapses. You don't
even have to use yout toe :-)
If you have done this for 3 years, you surely remember the knot.
There's an easy experiment you can do to find if it would work for
Sam: Find some rope and a pole, tie the knot, and then shake it and
see if you can get it loose just by shaking (without pulling the loop
over the pole). If you can do that, right now, I would be more
inclined to believe you that you don't just misremember something.
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Dirk Thierbach
or I find a description that is good enough so that I can test it
myself.
Well, if I ever get to Germany I'll be sure to do just that.
No need to do that. After the experiment above, it shouldn't be
so difficult to describe the knot to me.
Post by Larry Swain
In the meantime, we can agree to disagree;
No, we can't :-) I am sorry, but I had some education in natural
science, and this has become part of my character. This is not a
matter of opinion. You can do an experiment to find out if it works,
or if it doesn't. You can describe the experiment so others can do it
as well and verify it for themselves. And if it works, I would really
really like to learn this "magic" knot, because it goes against all my
experience I have with knots.
Please demonstrate it, or describe how you do it, so I can test myself.
Otherwise I won't believe it, and probably no one else will.
- Dirk
Jim Deutch
2004-10-20 15:57:32 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 15 Oct 2004 18:45:54 GMT, "robert j. kolker"
Post by robert j. kolker
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Have you ever tried this? I have, when I was a kid, climbing tress, etc.
It's really difficult to get a loop off a stump, even if the loop is
not tight. The friction between the bark and the rope is very strong, and
remains of branches get in the way, etc.
That is why torque and pull must be applied. The friction. Maybe elven
rope had low friction except when tension was applied. Is there anything
in the real world with this property?
I'm pretty sure there is, but can't dredge up the word for it. What's
the opposite of thixotropic?

Knots in nylon can be very tricky. A knot that works fine with
stiffer, higher-friction rope can come undone unexpectedly when using
smooth, supple nylon: it just pulls the end through and falls apart.
Could be that Sam's knot _was_ dangerous -- without him knowing -- and
held just long enough and not a second longer.

But I agree with Sam: I think it was Galadriel's magic.

Jim Deutch (Jimbo the Cat)
--
Q: Should 'anal retentive' be hyphenated?
A: Only if it's used as an adjective.
Jens Kilian
2004-10-20 18:05:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Deutch
I'm pretty sure there is, but can't dredge up the word for it. What's
the opposite of thixotropic?
Wikipedia says "dilatant" and mentions Silly Putty, starch/water, custard
and ketchup as examples. From personal experience, I can say that quicksand
behaves that way, too ;-)
--
mailto:***@acm.org As the air to a bird, or the sea to a fish,
http://www.bawue.de/~jjk/ so is contempt to the contemptible. [Blake]
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-20 17:31:18 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Deutch
On Fri, 15 Oct 2004 18:45:54 GMT, "robert j. kolker"
Post by robert j. kolker
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Have you ever tried this? I have, when I was a kid, climbing tress, etc.
It's really difficult to get a loop off a stump, even if the loop is
not tight. The friction between the bark and the rope is very strong, and
remains of branches get in the way, etc.
That is why torque and pull must be applied. The friction. Maybe elven
rope had low friction except when tension was applied.
Then the knot would slip when climbing down as soon as you rest on a
ledge (say). *Very* dangerous. Also instantly noticeable as you tie
the knot.

(BTW, Mr Kolker, you're in my killfile for the obvious reasons, and I
won't see your replies unless someone else quotes it, even if they
are actually sensible and not racist or fascist.)
Post by Jim Deutch
I'm pretty sure there is, but can't dredge up the word for it. What's
the opposite of thixotropic?
Knots in nylon can be very tricky. A knot that works fine with
stiffer, higher-friction rope can come undone unexpectedly when using
smooth, supple nylon: it just pulls the end through and falls apart.
Yep. That's why you use different knots (like the "fisherman's knot")
with thin nylon lines. And you notice their different behaviour
instantly as soon as you try to make the knot.
Post by Jim Deutch
Could be that Sam's knot _was_ dangerous -- without him knowing
For the above reason, I don't think so.
Post by Jim Deutch
But I agree with Sam: I think it was Galadriel's magic.
Still seems the best explanation to me so far.

- Dirk
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-20 19:39:51 UTC
Permalink
In message <news:***@operamail.com> Larry Swain
<***@operamail.com> enriched us with:
<snip>
Post by Larry Swain
I can't find our earlier discussion, so I'll post it here.
I think it has spread out over several threads lately ;-)
Post by Larry Swain
But I think I have to retract my views on magic.
[...]
Post by Larry Swain
But anyway...you've convinced me on that one.
Since reading this first nearly a week ago I have wondered if there is
any way for me to comment on that without seeming to be gloating?

Still, I am happy that we can find some more common ground ;-)
Post by Larry Swain
Related to that we were talking about Sam's rope and I suggested
mundane knots for the rope coming when Sam tugged. I still
think that one was mundane.
Well, as somebody else has noted, Sam certainly did not intend to tie a
knot that would untie.

That said, however, he can't have had much experience with such a
smooth rope as the Elven rope, and his experience with knots may, to
some extent, have deceived him with this particular rope.

I am still not convinced that the effect was completely mundane in the
sense where the exact same would have happened had the rope been a
modern rope (some synthetic fibre material) with the same material
properties, but neither do I think that the rope reacted to Sam's words
or intention. I simply think that the Elves built a little extra
usability into the rope: that it came loose easier than a completely
mundane rope would have done so that it would, when the strain was
removed and the rope shaken, come loose of practically any knot (if
you've tried to tie knots on very smooth and slippery ropes, you'll
know that it occasionally requires special knots to make it fast -- I
imagine that this rope would, when treated as described above, react as
an /extremely/ smooth and slippery rope -- more, even, than e.g. a
mundane nylon rope with grease and slime from fish ;-)
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.
- (Terry Pratchett, Hogfather)
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-21 10:22:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I am still not convinced that the effect was completely mundane in the
sense where the exact same would have happened had the rope been a
modern rope (some synthetic fibre material) with the same material
properties, but neither do I think that the rope reacted to Sam's words
or intention.
But the text seems to suggest this, at least as a possibility.
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I simply think that the Elves built a little extra usability into
the rope: that it came loose easier than a completely mundane rope
would have done so that it would, when the strain was removed and
the rope shaken, come loose of practically any knot (if you've tried
to tie knots on very smooth and slippery ropes, you'll know that it
occasionally requires special knots to make it fast -- I imagine
that this rope would, when treated as described above, react as an
/extremely/ smooth and slippery rope -- more, even, than e.g. a
mundane nylon rope with grease and slime from fish ;-)
As I said, this makes the rope very dangerous for climbing. The rope
does not take any strain when you have a strong hold somewhere.
So if you stop on a ledge, say, loosen the rope to make it easier
to move on the ledge, and then slip and fall, the knot will have come
loose, and the rope cannot secure you any longer.

That's a bug, and not a feature :-) It's not a good idea to make ropes
like this (and I don't know any "mundane" material that becomes very
slippery when tensionless, though it seems at least possible to some
degree).

- Dirk
Larry Swain
2004-10-21 21:36:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I am still not convinced that the effect was completely mundane in the
sense where the exact same would have happened had the rope been a
modern rope (some synthetic fibre material) with the same material
properties, but neither do I think that the rope reacted to Sam's words
or intention.
But the text seems to suggest this, at least as a possibility.
Sure, and it also suggests that the knot came undone as a
possibility, in fact the character who doubts the action of
magic in this instance is the character with a magic ring around
his neck!!!!!!!
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I simply think that the Elves built a little extra usability into
the rope: that it came loose easier than a completely mundane rope
would have done so that it would, when the strain was removed and
the rope shaken, come loose of practically any knot (if you've tried
to tie knots on very smooth and slippery ropes, you'll know that it
occasionally requires special knots to make it fast -- I imagine
that this rope would, when treated as described above, react as an
/extremely/ smooth and slippery rope -- more, even, than e.g. a
mundane nylon rope with grease and slime from fish ;-)
As I said, this makes the rope very dangerous for climbing.
This rope was meant for climbing? Sam and Frodo were
experienced rock climbers? They worked with what they had in a
tight spot. There's nothing in the text that suggests that they
planned it out and made certain that the rope was "safe" before
climbing down.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-22 09:08:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Dirk Thierbach
but neither do I think that the rope reacted to Sam's words or
intention.
But the text seems to suggest this, at least as a possibility.
Sure, and it also suggests that the knot came undone as a
possibility,
And argues immediately against it by having Sam say that he made
a proper knot, and he knows how do to that. That's called "dialog".
Post by Larry Swain
Post by Dirk Thierbach
As I said, this makes the rope very dangerous for climbing.
This rope was meant for climbing?
It makes it dangerours for any situation where you have to rely
on a knot. You cannot use it for sailing, because both the mooring
lines and the line holding the lower part of the sail (sheet ?)
are not always under tension. You cannot use them for a rope bridge
or something, for the same reason. If it was not meant for any
of these situations, what was it meant for? I mean, these are the
situations where you need a rope, normally.
Post by Larry Swain
There's nothing in the text that suggests that they planned it out
and made certain that the rope was "safe" before climbing down.
But why give them a rope that is useless and dangerous in most
situations in the first place?

If you say now "there is no evidence in the text that the Elves wanted
to give them a useful rope, so prove it", I am going to scream :-)

- Dirk
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-22 14:49:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I am still not convinced that the effect was completely mundane in
the sense where the exact same would have happened had the rope been
a modern rope (some synthetic fibre material) with the same material
properties, but neither do I think that the rope reacted to Sam's
words or intention.
But the text seems to suggest this, at least as a possibility.
It does indeed.
One could even argue that it would reflect some of what Tolkien said in
/On Fairy-stories/:

[OFS, 'Origins']
" An essential power of Faërie is thus the power of making
immediately effective by the will the visions of 'fantasy.'
Not all are beautiful or even wholesome, not at any rate
the fantasies of fallen Man. And he has stained the elves
who have this power (in verity or fable) with his own
stain."

In this case the 'fantasy' (whether Sam's or Tolkien's) would be the
self-untying rope.

I must admit, however, that I find it problematic to allow the rope to
actually sense the owner's intention (reading his mind).
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Troels Forchhammer
I simply think that the Elves built a little extra usability into
the rope: that it came loose easier than a completely mundane rope
would have done so that it would, when the strain was removed and
the rope shaken, come loose of practically any knot
[...]
Post by Dirk Thierbach
As I said, this makes the rope very dangerous for climbing.
It might. On the other hand Sam might also accidentally have stroken,
shaken and pulled the rope in the right way to make it come loose (just
as Pippin, according to UT, accidentally positioned the Palantír
correctly to make it work[1] -- something that would seem equally
'impossible').

[1] UT 4,III 'The Palantíri'
"But when removed and cast down, as was the Orthanc-stone, it
was not so easy to set right. So it was "by chance" as Men
call it (as Gandalf would have said) that Peregrin, fumbling
with the Stone, must have set it on the ground more or less
'upright,' and sitting westward of it have had the fixed
east-looking face in the proper position."

<snip>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
(and I don't know any "mundane" material that becomes very slippery
when tensionless, though it seems at least possible to some degree).
I didn't really try to suggest that this feature was mundane in the sense
of being achievable by Men either in Middle-earth or today. It was, to
me, rather a question of trying to limit the extent of 'non-mundanity'
built into the rope to a level that would, for me, be more reasonable.
--
Troels Forchhammer

Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true.
- Niels Bohr, to a young physicist
Larry Swain
2004-10-21 20:22:31 UTC
Permalink
Post by AC
<snip>
Post by Larry Swain
I can't find our earlier discussion, so I'll post it here.
I think it has spread out over several threads lately ;-)
Post by Larry Swain
But I think I have to retract my views on magic.
[...]
Post by Larry Swain
But anyway...you've convinced me on that one.
Since reading this first nearly a week ago I have wondered if there is
any way for me to comment on that without seeming to be gloating?
Still, I am happy that we can find some more common ground ;-)
Thanks for not gloating.........makes the admission go down
easier.
Post by AC
Post by Larry Swain
Related to that we were talking about Sam's rope and I suggested
mundane knots for the rope coming when Sam tugged. I still
think that one was mundane.
Well, as somebody else has noted, Sam certainly did not intend to tie a
knot that would untie.
That said, however, he can't have had much experience with such a
smooth rope as the Elven rope, and his experience with knots may, to
some extent, have deceived him with this particular rope.
Exactly, he isn't exactly learned in rock climbing and the like.
Post by AC
I am still not convinced that the effect was completely mundane in the
sense where the exact same would have happened had the rope been a
modern rope (some synthetic fibre material) with the same material
properties, but neither do I think that the rope reacted to Sam's words
or intention. I simply think that the Elves built a little extra
usability into the rope: that it came loose easier than a completely
mundane rope would have done so that it would, when the strain was
removed and the rope shaken, come loose of practically any knot (if
you've tried to tie knots on very smooth and slippery ropes, you'll
know that it occasionally requires special knots to make it fast -- I
imagine that this rope would, when treated as described above, react as
an /extremely/ smooth and slippery rope -- more, even, than e.g. a
mundane nylon rope with grease and slime from fish ;-)
I can accept this. Dash it all, more agreement!
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-24 21:34:32 UTC
Permalink
In message <news:***@operamail.com> Larry Swain
<***@operamail.com> enriched us with:
<snip>
Post by Larry Swain
I can accept this. Dash it all, more agreement!
Should I assert, forcefully, that the One Ring possessed an independent
will and intelligence; that it was conscious, sentient, sapient and
whatever else ;-)
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

If no thought
your mind does visit,
make your speech
not too explicit.
- Piet Hein, /The Case for Obscurity/
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-12 20:15:17 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Getting back to your comment, I'll recap this history of the
towers of Minas Anor/Tirith, which I certainly wasn't aware of
before your comment made me think about it! :-)
Post by Shanahan
Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first rays of
the rising Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.
There was a tower (or towers) built in the first building of
Minas Anor (and I suppose this could be called Anarion's tower),
but for some reason it (or the city) was called the Tower of the
Setting Sun.
I forgot to mention that the impression I got from the quotes that I
provided was that Minas Anor grew greatly in size over the years. Is it
not possible that when first built, Minas Anor and Minas Ithil were
quite small cities?

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Raven
2004-10-12 21:54:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I forgot to mention that the impression I got from the quotes that I
provided was that Minas Anor grew greatly in size over the years. Is it
not possible that when first built, Minas Anor and Minas Ithil were
quite small cities?
Then the outer wall of Minas Anor must have been built some time after
its foundation, after it grew. But the impression I get is that the wall
and the gate were built at the height of the skill of the Númenoreans in
exile, and that the height of this skill was at the beginning of the Realms
in Exile. So if Minas Anor began as a small city it must have grown to its
final size rather quickly, while the Gondorians still knew how to build that
well. I find it unlikely that Minas Anor was built as a small city within a
wall suitable for a much larger one, only to grow to fit within the wall
later, like a child into clothes that at purchase were chosen too big for
it.
It may of course have been that Anárion's city was originally small, with
only the citadel, and then during the war against Sauron or a short time
after (as the Dúnedain reckoned it) was expanded and walled. According to
the Tale of the Years king Ostoher rebuilt Minas Anor in TA 420. Perhaps
this was when Minas Anor attained the size that we see in the late Third
Age, and "expanded" would have been a better word than "rebuilt".
I do *not* think that Minas Anor grew at the time that it was renamed
Minas Tirith, because this happened long after the skill of the Gondorians
may be expected to have waned, namely two-thirds into the Third Age, and at
any rate Osgiliath had waned for many years before that. Much of the
population of Osgiliath may be expected to have removed to Minas Anor, I
suppose.

Rabe.
McREsq
2004-10-13 20:49:30 UTC
Permalink
Rabe.
Broccoli
Raven
2004-10-09 17:32:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
But seriously, I was thinking about maybe Frodo representing
nobility and endurance, Sam the hope and sense of the common man,
and Gollum the part of Man that fell to temptation.
And I'm thinking that perhaps Tolkien would have accepted such an
interpretation, but did not somehow require that his readers make it.

Kruk.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-10 14:13:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where: [...]
<ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!
:-)
Glad someone thought that was funny! ;)
I have a tendency to make up complicated schemes myself, so I know
exactly what Troels was thinking :-) But then, I can also understand
how other people react to that ...
Post by Shanahan
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the
palantír? So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew
something of the palantíri? What do you think?
I don't think so. Minas Anor also had a palantir, and was named
after the sun, not the moon. So the white stone is probably not
the palantir, but a different stone.
Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones;
The cities do not have "their stones". IIRC this is the only place
where a "Stone like the Moon" in a silver-white tower is mentioned.
But there is another description of in "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol":

Not the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble walls of
Minas Ithil long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and radiant in the
hollow of the hills.

So I think the architects of Minas Ithil "caught" the moonlight in
some way, possibly in the stone mentioned above, or at least made
something that shows such an effect. And they might have very well
inspired by the name, which could have come first.

And the palantiri looked quite different, anyway:

They were perfect spheres, appearing when at rest to be made of
solid glass or crystal deep black in hue.

So not "a stone like the moon" at all.
Post by Shanahan
they were named after their builders/owners: Isildur and Anarion. I
believe their names mean, respectively, 'lover of moon/sun'.
Isildur = Moon-servant, Anárion = Sun-son
Post by Shanahan
(Serkis is the one actor nobody on the ng had much of a problem
with, isn't he?)
I think he did a pretty good job. But then, characters like
Caliban, Mephisto, or Gollum do offer a lot for an actor who knows
how to play.
Post by Shanahan
But seriously, I was thinking about maybe Frodo representing
nobility and endurance, Sam the hope and sense of the common man,
and Gollum the part of Man that fell to temptation.
I'd agree that they "represent" these things (as far as it describes
the situation they are in), but that doesn't make them a "split
protagonist" IMO.

- Dirk
Shanahan
2004-10-11 04:46:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Shanahan
I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where: [...]
<ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!
:-)
Glad someone thought that was funny! ;)
I have a tendency to make up complicated schemes myself, so I
know exactly what Troels was thinking :-) But then, I can also
understand how other people react to that ...
I wasn't objecting to Troels' scheme. Just teasing!

<snip>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Shanahan
Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones;
The cities do not have "their stones". IIRC this is the only
Strictly speaking, no. The owners of the stones have the stones,
and the owners of the stones have their cities. But there's still a
one-to-one correspondence: Isildur/Minas Ithil/Ithilstone;
Anarion/Minas Anor/the Anor-stone; Elendil/Annuminas/the chief
stone of the North; Orthanc/the Orthanc-stone; Osgiliath/the
Master-stone. etc.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
place where a "Stone like the Moon" in a silver-white tower is
mentioned. But there is another description of in "The Stairs of
Not the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble walls
of Minas Ithil long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and radiant
in the hollow of the hills.
So I think the architects of Minas Ithil "caught" the moonlight
in some way, possibly in the stone mentioned above, or at least
made something that shows such an effect. And they might have
very well inspired by the name, which could have come first.
I agree that the architects of Minas Ithil caught the moonlight.
Cool. And we really can't know which came first, tower, name, or
stone.
Post by Dirk Thierbach
They were perfect spheres, appearing when at rest to be made of
solid glass or crystal deep black in hue.
So not "a stone like the moon" at all.
But they showed a white light when in use (cf. Beregond's
description of Denethor using his stone in his tower).
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Shanahan
they were named after their builders/owners: Isildur and
Anarion. I believe their names mean, respectively, 'lover of
moon/sun'.
Isildur = Moon-servant, Anárion = Sun-son
Ah, thanks.

<snip>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
I'd agree that they "represent" these things (as far as it
describes the situation they are in), but that doesn't make them
a "split protagonist" IMO.
I agree. But it started a good conversation, didn't it? <g>

Ciaran S.
--
...their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed,
and their joy was like swords, and they passed
in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together
and tears are the very wine of blessedness.
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-11 12:44:07 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
I wasn't objecting to Troels' scheme. Just teasing!
Sure. I didn't object, either. (Sigh. Sometimes communicating
on the Usenet is so difficult...)
Post by Shanahan
Post by Dirk Thierbach
The cities do not have "their stones". IIRC this is the only
Strictly speaking, no. The owners of the stones have the stones,
and the owners of the stones have their cities.
I meant "some stone" (not a palantir) as a thing associated with
the city.
Post by Shanahan
But there's still a one-to-one correspondence: Isildur/Minas
Ithil/Ithilstone; Anarion/Minas Anor/the Anor-stone;
Elendil/Annuminas/the chief stone of the North; Orthanc/the
Orthanc-stone; Osgiliath/the Master-stone. etc.
But that's just naming the stones after the place where they are
kept. Like "Pippin's barrow blade" and "Merry's barrow blade", etc.
That doesn't mean that the Hobbits are in any way "defined" by
their barrow blade, or there is some strong connection.
Post by Shanahan
But they showed a white light when in use (cf. Beregond's
description of Denethor using his stone in his tower).
Beregond describes it as a "strange light", not as a "light like the
moon" (and I even cannot find the place where he says that it is
"white", if he does so at all). I always thought that was just a
reflection of the light of the scene the stones show at the
moment. Like you see windows illuminated by reflections of the TV set
when you take a walk in the city at night.
Post by Shanahan
I agree. But it started a good conversation, didn't it? <g>
:-)

- Dirk
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-10-10 00:17:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Chapter of the Week
'The Black Gate Is Closed'
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
In a rather strange plot development, they suddenly
decide to turn and go another way completely. It's always struck me
as a bit odd, this stop-and-restart, in an heroic quest story.
Q: Does anyone know of other legends where there's a dead-end path
like this? /Pilgrim's Progress/, perhaps?
Can't think of any other tales. But it is not the first time it has
happened in *this* story! There was the retreat from Caradhras and the
rerouting through Moria. There is also the Breaking of the Fellowship
when the expected route is torn up and dumped in the bin, with a
three-stranded storyline developing instead. There is also the journey
of Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli to Fangorn, only to be told (by
Gandalf) that they should now go to Edoras instead. If anything, I find
Sam and Frodo's rerouting makes the story more realistic.

What other heroic quest stories were you thinking of? I don't really
know much at all about Pilgrim's Progress, for example, and can't think
of any others.
Post by Shanahan
The chapter opens as Frodo, Sam and Gollum get within a furlong of
the gaping maw of the Haunted Pass, guarded by the Towers of the
Teeth.
The description of the hills on which these towers were built is
interesting: "two sheer hills, black-boned and bare". Does this sound
volcanic?
Post by Shanahan
The geography has eyes as well: the watches change on the
immense rampart between the Carach Angren
And in this rampart is a single gate of iron. Is this the Morannon? Or
does the term Morannon refer to the entire rampart and fortification? I
used to think it meant the pass through the mountains, but I now see
that the pass is called Cirith Gorgor. Morannon (like Sirannon - the
gate-stream of Moria) translates directly as "Black Gate".

I also liked the description of "the fallow sun" that "blinked over the
lifeless ridges of Ered Lithui". And the descriptions of the "brazen"
trumpets of the watch-towers being answered by the "deep and ominous"
sound of the "mighty horns and drums of Barad-dur".

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Frodo is resolute: he knows no other way to enter Mordor, he must
do so, and therefore he will do his duty: "he cowered no longer,
and his eyes were clear".
This sounds like the peace of a condemned man.
Post by Shanahan
Sam is resigned; his duty is to follow
Frodo, and follow him he will. "And after all he never had any real
hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit
he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed."
Q: This last quote about Sam strikes me as very interesting. What
does Tolkien mean by 'real hope'? Is being cheerful a substitute
for hope? How does this relate to the concept of /estel/?
I think the comment about postponing despair is relevant. That seems to
be another way of having estel. True earthly hope is not needed, but
trusting that doing the best you can (when all else has failed) will be
enough, *is* enough. And to do this you need to avoid despair. I don't
fully understand this, but it does seem to be pretty fundamental to
Tolkien's viewpoint.
Post by Shanahan
Q: Is this new behavior for Sam, or is it typical? Frodo seems to
be growing under his burden, acquiring the strength to walk
open-eyed to the Black Gate. Is Sam growing too?
I must confess I don't always understand what people mean when they talk
about a character growing. Is this like a story arc or something?
Growing through experience and gaining understanding?

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
But Frodo then shocks both Sméagol and Sam by his stern insight
into Sméagol's heart. Frodo warns Sméagol of how the Ring is
manipulating him: <snip>
I wonder how Frodo knows so much about how the Ring works?
Post by Shanahan
Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice.
This is, of course, rather ironic.
Post by Shanahan
He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.)
Again, this seems ironic. I don't want to discuss the scene at the
Cracks of Doom, but only parts of this foresighted prounouncement
actually take place. If anything, it foreshadows the confrontation on
the slopes of Mount Doom (the "wheel of fire" scene), which is *before*
the later scene inside Mount Doom.
Post by Shanahan
It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?
I think that at moments where Frodo is not overwhelmed by the Ring or
the surrounding evil, then Frodo does believe he can achieve this Quest.
So at this moment (and later in Ithilien), yes.

However, at other moments, like near Minas Morgul, or in the previous
chapter under the gaze of Sauron, and on the plain of Gorgoroth and the
slopes of Mount Doom, it must have felt a *lot* harder to carry on. The
amazing thing is that he and Sam did carry on, even at the darkest
moments.

So I think the answer to that question varies depending on when and
where in the story you ask it. Here, yes; elsewhere, maybe not.
Post by Shanahan
Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power
of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt that
Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of command
over others.
The Ring imparts power according to the stature of its bearer. It may
well be amplifying these innate parts of Frodo's 'power'. Ironically,
this may be helping Frodo to resist the Ring.
Post by Shanahan
These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or as a
necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo into
good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
What? Like Stinker and Slinker? :-)

Seriously, I don't think Frodo is 'splitting' (at least not yet). I
would see Frodo's attitude as his own, just amplified and strengthened
by the Ring.

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
A dreamlike mood follows, in which the three sit in silence in
their hiding place.
This is quite striking, isn't it? I think it is similar to the silence
before the storm breaks, which we see in the next few chapters. In
particular, the air is described as "heavy with brooding thought", which
is most probably meant to be Sauron's thoughts.

Just before this, we were told Frodo's thoughts as he strove to recall
all that Gandalf had said. I like this bit about his thoughts on his
fate to be here, before the Black Gate, bearing this Ring of Power:

"It was an evil fate. But he had taken it on himself in his own
sitting-room in the far-off spring of another year, so remote now that
it was like a chapter in a story of the world's youth, when the Trees of
Silver and Gold were still in bloom." (The Black Gate is Closed)

Nice. And obviously hobbits have tales about the Two Trees.

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
It is a wonderful moment. The growing tension, the mistrust, the
danger, the Black Land so near -- and Sam recites a wonderful,
silly, hobbity, nursery rhyme. "Frodo stood up. He had laughed in
the midst of all his cares when Sam had trotted out the old
fireside rhyme of /Oliphaunt/, and the laugh had released him from
hesitation." He will follow Gollum to the secret entrance to
Mordor.
There is a slightly strange bit where Frodo says:

"I wish we had a thousand oliphaunts with Gandalf on a white one at
their head." (The Black Gate is Closed)

We (the reader) clearly understand the symbolism of the white oliphaunt
here, but why should Frodo. He and Sam think that Gandalf is dead, and
they do not realise that he has returned as Gandalf the White, indeed,
as Gandalf the White Rider.

Does anyone think that Tolkien missed this? Or did he realise it but
think that the symbolism was so nice that the inconsistency would not
matter?

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
This chapter is where we first see Mordor. And it is a very sharp
demarcation: impassable mountain walls, impassable ramparts and
towers. *Here* be dragons! We are here, now, at the very border of
Evil.
I find the description of Minas Morgul to be more terrifying than that
of the Black Gate. This appears to be the physical side of the power of
Sauron, while the supernatural side is seen at Minas Morgul.

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3.
I don't think I've read Book IV properly for years. I am really
appreciating these chapters a lot more this time around. Most of the
great quotes that I remember liking in my youth were from other places,
but there are some hidden gems here as well. Adding to the other
comments, I think it is both an age and sensitivity issue over the
different atmospheres in Books III and IV (especially if you never
connected with Frodo and Sam earlier in the book).

Having said that, the bits of Tolkien that are really 'slow' are the
descriptions of scenery and landscape. If you are in the mood for those,
then they are great. Personally, I think these bits are present in equal
amounts throughout the story. You never know when Tolkien won't suddenly
start describing the vegetation or landscape in great detail! Probably
an acquired taste.

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
I like the narrative structure of this book, and this chapter, very
much. The story arc of Book 4 is very symmetrical and satisfying.
<snip Book IV summary!>
Post by Shanahan
Whew!! Great stuff.
Erm. Having just read the whole of Book IV, having been ensnared when
rereading 'The Passage of the Marshes', I can attest that Book IV does
indeed read as one complete tale. And it is great stuff!

<snip>

Thanks for a nice chapter discussion.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Dirk Thierbach
2004-10-11 07:44:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I must confess I don't always understand what people mean when they talk
about a character growing. Is this like a story arc or something?
Growing through experience and gaining understanding?
Yes. Frodo, as he was at the beginning of the book, wouldn't have
commanded the other hobbits in this particular way to spare Saruman
after he was attacked by him.

And no, it's not like a story arc IMHO.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I wonder how Frodo knows so much about how the Ring works?
He probably listend to Gandalf and Elrond in Rivedell, and he has
carried the "awoken" Ring for a long time, so he can feel the effects
himself.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Having said that, the bits of Tolkien that are really 'slow' are the
descriptions of scenery and landscape. If you are in the mood for those,
then they are great.
Yes. If you're not in the mood, it helps if you read them out loud.

- Dirk
Shanahan
2004-10-11 19:43:16 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Having said that, the bits of Tolkien that are really 'slow'
are the descriptions of scenery and landscape. If you are in
the mood for those, then they are great.
Yes. If you're not in the mood, it helps if you read them out
loud.
- Dirk
Watch out, guys...we're on the way to Ithilien, which reads like a
rather detailed botanical guidebook! <g>

Ciaran S.
--
If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.
- e.goldman
Nathan Keedy
2004-10-13 01:50:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by Dirk Thierbach
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
I must confess I don't always understand what people mean when they talk
about a character growing. Is this like a story arc or something?
Growing through experience and gaining understanding?
Yes. Frodo, as he was at the beginning of the book, wouldn't have
commanded the other hobbits in this particular way to spare Saruman
after he was attacked by him.
<snip>

I always thought character growth was caused by drinking Ent draughts...
the softrat
2004-10-14 18:16:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by Nathan Keedy
I always thought character growth was caused by drinking Ent draughts...
This is why you will always remain the insignificant worm you are
today.

the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:***@pobox.com
--
Barium: What you do with dead chemists.
Igenlode Wordsmith
2004-11-18 02:10:57 UTC
Permalink
[snip]
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Shanahan
In a rather strange plot development, they suddenly
decide to turn and go another way completely. It's always struck me
as a bit odd, this stop-and-restart, in an heroic quest story.
Q: Does anyone know of other legends where there's a dead-end path
like this? /Pilgrim's Progress/, perhaps?
[snip]
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
What other heroic quest stories were you thinking of? I don't really
know much at all about Pilgrim's Progress, for example, and can't think
of any others.
I've been actively irritated by a related structure in some fantasy
novels I've read, where the heroes (and hence the reader) invest
immense effort and emotional commitment in achieving a goal -
retrieving a talisman, reaching a distant land - only for the author to
turn round and reveal that this is actually just what the villain
wants, forcing the characters to work just as hard to undo all that
they have achieved. (The only title that comes immediately to mind is
Tad Williams' "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn".)

It may be 'realistic' that the characters are led to play into their
enemy's hands; it certainly provides a twist at the climax; but it
makes me feel that all the sacrifice involved in reaching that goal has
been dishonoured and wasted. It also makes me feel that the readers
have been manipulated by the author :-)

Tolkien doesn't do that. Frodo reaches the Black Gate and is frustrated
- but then he goes on somewhere else with fresh hope, where the journey
he has made so far serves as a necessary beginning step along the way,
rather than being actively counter-productive. And he doesn't reach
Mount Doom only to discover that he has delivered the Ring right into
Sauron's hands, and then has to work to stop him using Frodo's mistake
to destroy the world :-)

[snip]
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
"I wish we had a thousand oliphaunts with Gandalf on a white one at
their head." (The Black Gate is Closed)
We (the reader) clearly understand the symbolism of the white oliphaunt
here, but why should Frodo. He and Sam think that Gandalf is dead, and
they do not realise that he has returned as Gandalf the White, indeed,
as Gandalf the White Rider.
Yes! I noticed this specifically when reading through this time -
Gandalf has been 'the Grey' for millennia, so there's no precedent at
all for the white steed for anyone who hasn't seen him in his role as
the White Rider.

Maybe white oliphaunts are as proverbially reserved for leaders as
white stallions - or white elephants? :-)
--
Igenlode Visit the Ivory Tower http://curry.250x.com/Tower/

New pirate adventure story: http://curry.250x.com/Tower/Fiction/Pirates/
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-11-18 20:05:40 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
"I wish we had a thousand oliphaunts with Gandalf on a white one at
their head." (The Black Gate is Closed)
We (the reader) clearly understand the symbolism of the white
oliphaunt here, but why should Frodo. He and Sam think that Gandalf
is dead, and they do not realise that he has returned as Gandalf the
White, indeed, as Gandalf the White Rider.
Yes! I noticed this specifically when reading through this time -
Gandalf has been 'the Grey' for millennia, so there's no precedent at
all for the white steed for anyone who hasn't seen him in his role as
the White Rider.
Maybe white oliphaunts are as proverbially reserved for leaders as
white stallions - or white elephants? :-)
That's an idea. Glad I wasn't the only one to notice this!
Troels Forchhammer
2004-10-11 19:03:01 UTC
Permalink
In message <news:***@enews3.newsguy.com> "Shanahan"
<***@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
<snip>
Post by Shanahan
Chapter of the Week
'The Black Gate Is Closed'
_________________________________________
I'll be using a new six-part system of notes,
[...]
Post by Shanahan
<ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!
Awww! It sounded very clever ;-)

<snip>
Post by Shanahan
"And after all he never had any real hope in the affair from the
beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as
long as despair could be postponed."
Q: This last quote about Sam strikes me as very interesting. What
does Tolkien mean by 'real hope'? Is being cheerful a substitute
for hope? How does this relate to the concept of /estel/?
I think the difference between /estel/ and /amdir/ is at the core of
this. Sam never had any /amdir/ 'in the affair from the beginning; but
being a cheerful hobbit' who trusted providence without even knowing
it, trusted that good would in the end persevere, 'he had not needed'
/amdir/, 'as long as despair could be postponed' he could retain his
/estel/.

And, since it may not be all who have read the Athrabeth in MR:

" 'What is hope?' she said. 'An expectation of good, which
though uncertain has some foundation in what is known? Then
we have none.'
'That is one thing that Men call "hope",' said Finrod.
'/Amdir/ we call it, "looking up". But there is another
which is founded deeper. /Estel/ we call it, that is
"trust". It is not defeated by the ways of the world, for
it does not come from experience, but from our nature and
first being. If we are indeed the /Eruhin/, the Children
of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived
of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves. This
is the last foundation of /Estel/, which we keep even when
we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must
be for His Children's joy. /Amdir/ you have not, you say.
Does no /Estel/ at all abide?'"
(Morgoth's Ring, 'Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth')

Being a cheeful Hobbit, Sam /trusts/ that the world is good, and that
it will, in the end, prove itself thus.
Post by Shanahan
Q: Is this new behavior for Sam, or is it typical? Frodo seems
to be growing under his burden, acquiring the strength to walk
open-eyed to the Black Gate. Is Sam growing too?
Sam is definitely growing as well, though I think that his growth is
slightly different from Frodo's.

Sam also grows in wisdom and compassion, as does the other Hobbits
(Merry expresses it excellently in 'The Houses of Healing', "But at
least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them. It is best to love
first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere
and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are
things deeper and higher [...]") Sam is, I believe, that Hobbit who is
most deeply rooted in the Shire, and he remains that way, but with the
added insight of having seen the heights. But he also grows in other
ways -- I'm not sure how to put, though perhaps Faramir says it best:
"Your heart is shrewd as well as faithful, and saw clearer than your
eyes." That is, I think, one of the lessons Sam learns; to listen to
his heart.

<snip>
--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great
men are almost always bad men.
- Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887.
Igenlode Wordsmith
2004-11-16 23:40:00 UTC
Permalink
On 4 Oct 2004 Shanahan wrote:

[still trying desperately to catch up...]
Post by Shanahan
'The Black Gate Is Closed'
[snip]
Post by Shanahan
A dreamlike mood follows, in which the three sit in silence in
their hiding place. The mood is broken when Sam sees the Nazgûl
flying far above, on watch.
"They are looking for something: the Enemy is on the watch, I fear."

Gollum claimed this at the end of the previous chapter; now Frodo has
clearly come to agree :-)

But *have* the hobbits been spotted in those overflights of the Dead
Marshes? Or is it Aragorn's use of the palantir that has alerted and
alarmed Sauron? How does the time-scheme work?

(And if it is Aragorn already, has he, in his desire to distract the
Enemy from paying attention within Mordor, unwittingly made it all but
impossible for the Ring-bearer to carry out his quest? ;-)
Post by Shanahan
Gollum tells the hobbits of the Secret Stair, tunnel, and the high
pass (while conveniently leaving out any mention of any
inhabitants). They have to pry it out of him that this smaller pass
is guarded, too.
But *was* it such a bad decision, guarded or not?

They could (and nearly did) slip past Shelob, who was a merely
'natural' danger, driven by her own appetites rather than by any desire
to guard the way. Might not Gandalf or Aragorn, having "warned them",
still not have judged this the better route than inevitable capture at
the Black Gate?

"No safe places in this country... try it or go home. No other way."


[snip]
Post by Shanahan
He will follow Gollum to the secret entrance to Mordor.
"The third turn may turn the best."

This sounds like a proverb, but I don't recognise it - is it of
Tolkien's own coinage?
Post by Shanahan
Gollum is very pleased at this decision...
Q: Has Gollum yet made up his mind to betray Frodo? It seems so.
Or does that happen at Henneth Annûn? Or in the pass of Cirith
Ungol? Sam and Frodo's moments of despair and decision are fairly
clearly set out for us, but Gollum's are more of a mystery.
I think Gollum is putting off the evil moment - in much the same way
that Sam does, when considering the ultimate end of their quest.

Smeagol's final attempt to fend off his 'evil half', in the previous
chapter, is to temporise "in a last effort": "Not now. Not yet." He
probably hopes that *something* will happen to render the decision
unnecessary, or that the influence of 'Stinker' will wane, or doesn't
hope at all but just doesn't want to be party to betrayal here and
now... the longer it can be delayed the better.

I think he's happy because Ithilien is a better place to travel through
(more to eat...), because Frodo has trusted him again (or appeared to),
and because they're getting away from the Morannon and the relentless
'gaze' of Sauron, from which Gollum too suffers: "Don't look at us! Go
away! Go to sleep!" I don't think it's glee at a successful betrayal.
Not yet, anyway.
--
Igenlode <***@nym.alias.net> Bookwraith unabashed

* The Truth Shall Make Ye Fret *
the softrat
2004-11-17 04:38:59 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 16 Nov 2004 23:40:00 GMT, Igenlode Wordsmith
Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
"The third turn may turn the best."
This sounds like a proverb, but I don't recognise it - is it of
Tolkien's own coinage?
Nope. The proverb is "The third time pays for all."

Hey, look! I don't make these proverbs up. I just reports 'em as I
hears 'em. Sometimes I don't agree with them or understand them, but
what the hey!

Enjoy!
the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:***@pobox.com
--
'Sarcasm: the last resort of modest and chaste-souled people
when the privacy of their soul is coarsely and intrusively
invaded' - Dostoevsky (after Paddy)
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-11-17 20:28:46 UTC
Permalink
Post by the softrat
On Tue, 16 Nov 2004 23:40:00 GMT, Igenlode Wordsmith
Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
"The third turn may turn the best."
This sounds like a proverb, but I don't recognise it - is it of
Tolkien's own coinage?
Nope. The proverb is "The third time pays for all."
There are at least four instances of Tolkien using similar proverbs:

"...twice now we have been in your power, and you have done no harm to
us. Nor have you tried to take from me what you once sought. May the
third time prove the best!" (Frodo speaking to Gollum, The Black Gate is
Closed, LotR)

"...the third turn may turn the best. I will come with you." (Frodo
agreeing to follow Gollum from the Black Gate, The Black Gate is Closed,
LotR)

"Gollum!' he called softly. 'Third time pays for all. I want some
herbs.'" (Sam speaking to Gollum, Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbits, LotR)

"But 'third time pays for all' as my father used to say..." (Bilbo
speaking to Thorin, near the beginning of 'Inside Information', chapter
12 of 'The Hobbit')

"While there's life there's hope!" as my father used to say, and 'Third
time pays for all.'" (Bilbo to the dwarves after they are trapped in the
tunnel in the Lonely Mountain, Not At Home, chapter 13 of 'The Hobbit')

The 'third turn' proverb does seem to stand out as variation on the more
normal 'pays for all' proverb.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Kristian Damm Jensen
2004-11-17 09:26:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
"The third turn may turn the best."
This sounds like a proverb, but I don't recognise it - is it of
Tolkien's own coinage?
"Tredje gang er lykkens gang" we say in Danish. I don't know exactly
how to translate it, but the point very much like Tolkiens.

Kristian
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-11-17 22:12:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
Post by Shanahan
'The Black Gate Is Closed'
[snip]
Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
Post by Shanahan
A dreamlike mood follows, in which the three sit in silence in
their hiding place. The mood is broken when Sam sees the Nazgûl
flying far above, on watch.
"They are looking for something: the Enemy is on the watch, I fear."
Gollum claimed this at the end of the previous chapter; now Frodo has
clearly come to agree :-)
But *have* the hobbits been spotted in those overflights of the Dead
Marshes? Or is it Aragorn's use of the palantir that has alerted and
alarmed Sauron? How does the time-scheme work?
From the Tale of Years (Appendix B):

March 5 - Frodo hides in sight of the Morannon, and leaves at dusk.

[earlier that day we read that Frodo's sight of the Black Gate takes
place at the same time that Gandalf confronts Saruman at Isengard]

March 6 - Aragorn overtaken by the Dunedain in the early hours [this
means during the night, but after midnight]

Turning to the chapter 'The Passing of the Grey Company', we hear that
they reach the Hornburg at dawn that day (March 6, I think). This is the
same dawn that Frodo sees as they reach the border land between the
Morannon and North Ithilien. During the day, they sleep in heather (at
the start of 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbits'. During that day, Aragorn
uses the palantir while at the Hornburg.

The Darkness begins flowing out of Mordor three days later (March 9).
The next day (March 10) an army from the Morannon takes Cair Andros, and
the Morgul host rides forth. More attacks take place over the following
days.

So the Nazgul flights are _before_ Aragorn uses the palantir, but
Aragorn's use of the palantir does seem to provoke the great silence
before the storm (for about three days) before it is unleashed (too
early as we later learn). I guess this might have helped the hobbits
remain undetected in Ithilien, though that is also due to Faramir's
help. The journey from Henneth Annun to Minas Morgul probably _is_ safer
because all the efforts are being directed to getting the Morgul host
ready to march. That almost certainly _did_ help.
Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
Post by Shanahan
Gollum tells the hobbits of the Secret Stair, tunnel, and the high
pass (while conveniently leaving out any mention of any
inhabitants). They have to pry it out of him that this smaller pass
is guarded, too.
But *was* it such a bad decision, guarded or not?
They could (and nearly did) slip past Shelob, who was a merely
'natural' danger, driven by her own appetites rather than by any
desire to guard the way. Might not Gandalf or Aragorn, having "warned
them", still not have judged this the better route than inevitable
capture at the Black Gate?
I'm trying to imagine a Gandalf-Shelob confrontation... :-)

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Emma Pease
2004-11-18 02:11:13 UTC
Permalink
Post by Igenlode Wordsmith
[still trying desperately to catch up...]
Post by Shanahan
'The Black Gate Is Closed'
[snip]
Post by Shanahan
A dreamlike mood follows, in which the three sit in silence in
their hiding place. The mood is broken when Sam sees the Nazgûl
flying far above, on watch.
"They are looking for something: the Enemy is on the watch, I fear."
Gollum claimed this at the end of the previous chapter; now Frodo has
clearly come to agree :-)
But *have* the hobbits been spotted in those overflights of the Dead
Marshes? Or is it Aragorn's use of the palantir that has alerted and
alarmed Sauron? How does the time-scheme work?
(And if it is Aragorn already, has he, in his desire to distract the
Enemy from paying attention within Mordor, unwittingly made it all but
impossible for the Ring-bearer to carry out his quest? ;-)
My timeline as far as I can figure

Mar 6
- Aragorn uses the Palantir
- Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, and the Dunedain head over the plains to
Harrowdale

- night 6/7, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum travel south, reach Ithilien proper

Mar 7
- morning, Sam cooks rabbit caught by Gollum
- morning, Frodo taken by Faramir
- noon, Battle between Faramir's men and the Haradrim
- late afternoon, Faramir takes Frodo and Sam to Henneth Annun
- night 7/8, Henneth Annun

Mar 8
- Full moon

- morning, Faramir sends Frodo, Sam, and Gollum south
- they travel south during the day
- night 8/9, Frodo and Sam sleep

Mar 9
- Frodo and Sam walk south, stifling, heavy air
- Afternoon, they reach the road from Imlad Morgul
- midnight 9/10, they head east

Mar 10
- Dawnless day
- Frodo and Sam rest during part of the day
- sunset, Frodo and Sam reach the crossroads

Mar 11
- Frodo and Sam climb Cirith Ungol

Mar 12
- Frodo and Sam led into Shelob's lair
- late that day exit lair, Frodo stung

Mar 13
- Frodo captured by orcs

Mar 14
- Sam finds Frodo

Note that it takes Frodo and Sam from sunset on the 10th till
apparently late on the 12th (since Frodo is captured by orcs on the
13th) to go from the crossroads to to the top of Cirith Ungol.

Someone else may be able to figure out the various steps along the way
and when they took place

Emma
--
\----
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht
Öjevind Lång
2004-11-18 17:34:21 UTC
Permalink
"Emma Pease" <***@kanpai.stanford.edu> hath written:

[snip]
Post by Emma Pease
My timeline as far as I can figure
[snip]

Your timeline agrees rather well with Tolkien's own chronology in Appendix B
to LotR. Here it is for comparison:

Mar 5
Théoden reaches Isengard at noon. Parley with Saruman in orthanc. Winged
Nazgûl passes over the camp at Dol Baran. Gandalf sets out with Peregrin for
Minas Tirith. Frodo hides in sight of the Morannon, and leaves at dusk.

Mar 6
Aragorn overtaken by the Dúnedain in the early hours. Théoden sets out from
the Hornburg for Harrowdale. Aragorn sets out later.

Mar 7
Frodo taken by Faramir to Henneth Annûn. Aragorn comes to Dunharrow at
nightfall.

Mar 8
Aragorn takes the "Paths of the Dead" at daybreak; he reaches Erech at
midnight. Frodo leaves Henneth Annûn.

Mar 9
Gandalf reaches Minas Tirith. Faramir leaves Henneth Annûn. Aragorn sets out
from Erech and comes to Celembel. Att dusk Frodo reaches the Morgul-road.
Théoden comes to Dúnharrow. Darkness begins to flow out of Mordor.

Mar 10
The Dawnless Day. The Muster of Rohan: the Rohirrim ride from Harrowdale.
Faramir rescued by Gandalf outside the gates of the City. Aragorn crosses
Ringló. An army from the Morannon takes Cair Andros and passes into Anórien.
Frodo passes the Cross Roads, and sees the Morgul-host set forth.

Mar 11
Gollum visits Shelob, but seeing Frodo asleep nearly repents. Denethors ends
Faramir to Osgiliath. Aragorn reaches Linhir and crosses into Lebennin.
Eastern Rohan is invaded from the north. First assault on Lórien.

Mar 12
Gollum leads Frodo into Shelob's lair. Faramir retreats to the Causeway
Forts. Théoden camps under Minrimmon. Aragorn drives the enemy towards
Pelargir. The Ents defeat the invaders of Rohan.

Mar 13
Frodo captured by the Orcs of Cirith Ungol. The Pelennor is overrun. Faramir
is wounded. Aragorn reaches Pelargir and captures the fleet. Théoden in
Drúadan Foirest.

Mar 14
Samwise finds Frodo in the Tower. Minas Tirith is besieged. The Rohirrim led
by the Wild Men come to the Grey Wood.

Öjevind
Belba Grubb From Stock
2004-11-29 02:54:39 UTC
Permalink
A voice is heard from long ago and VERY far behind....
An excellent summary!!!
Post by Shanahan
This is a chapter where not much really happens, but there's a lot
going on under the surface. Immediately following the dread of the
Dead Marshes, the horror of the Desolation before Mordor, and Sam's
nassty glimpse into Gollum's nearly destroyed mind, our three
heroes reach their goal -- only to discover that there's no way in
to Mordor. In a rather strange plot development, they suddenly
decide to turn and go another way completely. It's always struck me
as a bit odd, this stop-and-restart, in an heroic quest story.
Q: Does anyone know of other legends where there's a dead-end path
like this? /Pilgrim's Progress/, perhaps?
Well, the "how to pass the unpassable door/gate/wall" situation
appears in a lot of different stories, not to mention several games.

JRRT does draw it out -- he's very good at inserting these pauses into
the story; perhaps he does it to give the reader a rest as well as to
maintain the hobbit viewpoint:

Dear me! We Tooks and Brandybucks, we can't live long on the
heights.

But in this chapter he says:

A deep silence fell upon the little grey hollow where they
lay, so near to the borders of the land of fear: a silence
that could be felt, as if it were a thick veil that cut them
off from all the world about them. Above them was a dome of
pale sky barred with fleeting smoke, but it seemed high and
far away, as if seen through great deeps of air heavy with
brooding thought.

Not only do we have the difficult problem, and the rest phase for the
reader, we also find ourselves and our heroes enclosed in what might
be called the first veil woven around himself by Sauron; he begins to
become a palpable presence here, and there is no relief from it. The
passage of the Nazgul high above breaks the silence and peril returns
and the heroes must act.
Post by Shanahan
The chapter opens as Frodo, Sam and Gollum get within a furlong of
the gaping maw of the Haunted Pass, guarded by the Towers of the
Teeth. The geography has eyes as well: the watches change on the
immense rampart between the Carach Angren, "the day-guards,
evil-eyed and fell" take over. The Towers are "stony-faced....with
dark window-holes staring....and each window was full of sleepless
eyes." It is impossible, and the hobbits realize this as soon as
they see what the Black Gate is truly like. They cannot enter.
And yet they must enter. What a conundrum!
Post by Shanahan
Frodo is resolute: he knows no other way to enter Mordor, he must
do so, and therefore he will do his duty: "he cowered no longer,
and his eyes were clear". Sam is resigned; his duty is to follow
Frodo, and follow him he will. "And after all he never had any real
hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit
he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed."
Q: This last quote about Sam strikes me as very interesting. What
does Tolkien mean by 'real hope'? Is being cheerful a substitute
for hope? How does this relate to the concept of /estel/?
It kind of sounds like Sam is starting to come to grips with the
enormous challenges of the quest for the first time; contrast this
with his first view of Caradhras, which he thought was Mount Doom.
Now he's finally face to face with the Land of Fear. He's still
thrashing about, using terms and the mindset that he's accustomed to,
yet these are also rather inaccurate and inadequate for the situation
at hand.
Post by Shanahan
Q: Is this new behavior for Sam, or is it typical? Frodo seems to
be growing under his burden, acquiring the strength to walk
open-eyed to the Black Gate. Is Sam growing too?
It may sound unfair but I think both of them are being unrealistic.
Frodo's just going to march up to the Black Gate and give himself up?
And Sam's going to go with him? They're both running on mental images
of what they should be and should do, still rooted in the past while
internally trying to deal, rather unsuccessfully, with being
face-to-face for the first time with a very real, palpable and
powerful Evil in the present.

In that sense, it's typical behavior for both. They're each reacting
as anyone would. They're very, very frightened:

The two hobbits gazed at the towers and the wall
in despair.

They're overwhelmed. Sam at least has his tradition of service to
fall back on as evidenced by the above paragraph, but Frodo's
situation is more complicated:

...here he was a little halfling from the Shire, a simple
hobbit of the quiet countryside, expected to find a way
where the great ones could not go, or dared not go. It
was an evil fate. But he had taken it on himself in his own
sitting-room in the far-off spring of another year, so remote
now that it was like a chapter in a story of the world's
youth, when the Trees of Silver and gold were still in bloom.

Is it their proximity to Mordor as well as the influence of the Ring
that makes the events of less than a year ago seem so distant to Frodo
now?

Anyway, right after this is the 'zone of silence' section where they
sit for a while "under the weight of doom" and when it is broken they
begin to be confronted by 'manageable' problems - an awareness of the
insecurity and "peril" of their position and the "new fear" the
passage of the Southrons brings to them. These are things they can
respond to, Sam with a nursery rhyme and Frodo with a laugh (a little
more practical perhaps than Bradbury's fantastic solution for evil - a
wax bullet with a smile carved in it -- in 'Something Wicked This Way
Comes,' but nonetheless the two are responses to utter Evil are not
dissimilar and appeal to something deep in all of us). Frodo and Sam
start becoming active again. Only Gollum remains unchanged, which
makes one pity him even more, as well as mistrust him this close to
the Black Land
Post by Shanahan
Sméagol is terrified when Frodo reveals his purpose to enter
Mordor. He proposes an alternate route, one more secret. Sam is
wisely skeptical; he thinks this is a strategic compromise between
'Slinker' and 'Stinker', to keep the Ring free until he/they can
grab it. He doubts that there really is another way into Mordor.
Sam is also skeptical of Frodo's ability to see through the Sméagol
act to Gollum's true purpose. He thinks Frodo is too soft-hearted,
too kind, to see this hard truth.
But Frodo then shocks both Sméagol and Sam by his stern insight
into Sméagol's heart. Frodo warns Sméagol of how the Ring is
manipulating him: "You are in danger. [...] You swore a promise by
what you call the Precious. Remember that! It will hold you to it;
but it will seek a way to twist it to your own undoing. Already you
are being twisted. You revealed yourself to me just now, foolishly.
/Give it back to Sméagol/ you said. Do not say that again! Do not
let that thought grow in you! You will never get it back. But the
desire of it may betray you to a bitter end. You will never get it
back. In the last need, Sméagol, I should put on the Precious; and
the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to
command you, you would obey, even it it were to leap from a
precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my
command. So have a care, Sméagol!"
Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?
No. I don't think he ever did. Here is a foreshadowing of what will
actually happen at the Sammath Naur, though there I think Gollum
probably seizes the Ring before Frodo can use it to make him jump in,
and his fall is indeed accidental. In the last need, he *does* put on
the Ring.

It's interesting that in such a dire situation and while still overall
acting like a normal hobbit, the newere "bad" Frodo is capable of
using the Ring to threaten Gollum, even though some part of him must
know that any use of the Ring would immediately expose him to Sauron.
He just doesn't care about Sauron any more -- he's become blindered.
Post by Shanahan
Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power
of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt that
Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of command
over others. These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or as a
necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo into
good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
Taking him over, definitely. Is it really his will growing? He seems
to be on the path toward the point where we will eventually hear of
the "dying embers" of his will, and so would seem to be degenerating
rather than growing in strength. I don't know. It's a very complex
situation with Frodo. His strength, his innate strength, has always
been with him, as evidenced by how quickly he comes back once the Ring
is removed and the Quest ended. But we must look elsewhere than his
attempts to control Gollum or his occasional appearances to Sam's
altered vision as a "lord" in order to find it.
Post by Shanahan
Gollum is quite unnerved by Frodo's insight and his threat, and it
takes a while for him to calm down enough to describe this other
route he knows into Mordor. He tells of Ithilien, the Crossroads,
and old tales he used to hear about Minas Ithil, now Minas Morgul.
These old tales described Minas Ithil before it was taken over by
evil: "They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon..."
Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
palantíri? What do you think?
I don't think it was the palantir. That of Orthanc was made of a dark
black substance, and probably all the palantiri looked the same. It
might have been a palantir that transmitted the light of the moon, or
of one of the Two Trees, perhaps; but that would have made it useless
as a communication device, no? I think it was something else, some
wonderful relic of Numenor or perhaps a gift from the Elves during the
good old days, that the remnant of the Faithful brought with them to
Middle-earth. More than that, I cannot say. A wonder....
Post by Shanahan
Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with its
Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed vulture
figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone creatures with a
similar spell placed on them? Or just the Nazgûl themselves?
Good questions. And it's never really spelled out. I've always
thought it was something like the Watchers at the gate in Cirith
Ungol. Sam's reaction here is interesting: he jokes about their being
"too silent to answer." Contrast that with his confrontation with the
Watchers at Cirith Ungol.
Post by Shanahan
Gollum tells the hobbits of the Secret Stair, tunnel, and the high
pass (while conveniently leaving out any mention of any
inhabitants). They have to pry it out of him that this smaller pass
is guarded, too. Frodo is cast back into indecision, a marked
contrast to his resolution earlier. He has recovered some hope, and
as renewed hope often does, it brought with it renewed pain.
Well said!
Post by Shanahan
As Frodo struggles with this new choice, we get one of those
marvellous 'synchronizing' passages: "Yet even as [Gandalf] spoke
his last words to Saruman, and the Palantír crashed in fire upon
the steps of Orthanc, his thought was ever upon Frodo and Samwise,
over the long leagues his mind sought for them in hope and pity.
Maybe Frodo felt it, not knowing it, as he had upon Amon Hen...."
But even if he does feel Gandalf's mind over the miles, it does not
help Frodo's decision. It takes Sam to do that.
A dreamlike mood follows, in which the three sit in silence in
their hiding place. The mood is broken when Sam sees the Nazgûl
flying far above, on watch. Frodo stirs and seems about to make his
decision: but then they hear the sound of troops marching nearby.
Gollum peers over the lip of their stony dell, and returns to
report that they are Southrons, marching into Mordor. Sam asks if
there are any oliphaunts, and then and there, in the midst of
despair and indecision and betrayal, he stands up and declaims an
old nursery rhyme.
It is a wonderful moment. The growing tension, the mistrust, the
danger, the Black Land so near -- and Sam recites a wonderful,
silly, hobbity, nursery rhyme. "Frodo stood up. He had laughed in
the midst of all his cares when Sam had trotted out the old
fireside rhyme of /Oliphaunt/, and the laugh had released him from
hesitation." He will follow Gollum to the secret entrance to
Mordor.
Gollum is very pleased at this decision...
Q: Has Gollum yet made up his mind to betray Frodo?
In retrospect, I don't think he really makes up his mind until the
"sneak" episode.
Post by Shanahan
It seems so.
Or does that happen at Henneth Annûn?
That's one blow to fragile Smeagol's self-esteem. If only Frodo had
simply apologized then....
Post by Shanahan
Or in the pass of Cirith
Ungol?
That's the knock-out punch, I suspect.

(snip)
Post by Shanahan
This chapter is where we first see Mordor. And it is a very sharp
demarcation: impassable mountain walls, impassable ramparts and
towers. *Here* be dragons! We are here, now, at the very border of
Evil. It stands in sharp contrast to Lothlorien, whose border
protections are rather more subtle. These are the two opposing
forces of Faerie in this story (LotR), the Light and the Dark which
must both be there for the sub-creation to be plausible. I'm always
impressed by the fear Tolkien's description of the Black Gate
inspires; but this time, I was also struck by how defensive a
structure Mordor is. Sauron, like Morgoth before him, is a coward.
Again, well said! But a very dangerous coward....
Post by Shanahan
Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3. My
experience is rather the opposite. I sometimes find Book 3 a bit of
a bore. It's all that riding around: they ride here, they ride
there, then they ride back, then they ride to gather together so
that they can go ride some more...<snore>. I will confess that I
have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
get some unscientific statistics going here?
ROTFL!!

FWIW, this Eowyn-type lady loves the action of Books 3&5, and it took
several readings to really appreciate the more subtle and deep parts
of Books 4&6 (Chapters I through III).
Post by Shanahan
Troels commented in his CotW last week about the relationship
between these three hobbit characters: bound together by fate,
love, hate, and pity; alike in many ways, yet unable to be anything
but enemies. Is it possible that these three figures together make
up a 3-part protagonist?
Interesting! Yes.
Post by Shanahan
If they do, what parts of the hero does
each make up? (No height jokes!! <g>)
I hesitate to use psychological terms, but no other convenient, widely
accepted labels come to mind just now, and they are especially useful
in the context of Frodo's eventual "posttraumatic stress disorder" and
possibly also of JRRT's own wartime experiences and knowledge of
others' experiences:

Gollum: the unconscious, the dark stream of consciousness (as opposed
to Bombadil's bright stream)

Sam: the conscious, always nattering about trying to make sense on
things and drawing on a wide range of knowledge and wise sayings,
keeping tabs on everything and being very practical and helpful.

Frodo: the subconscious, somewhere in the gray zone between Gollum's
darkness and Sam's brightness.
Post by Shanahan
I like the narrative structure of this book, and this chapter, very
much. The story arc of Book 4 is very symmetrical and satisfying.
In contrast, Book 3 has two story lines to cover so it feels a bit
more scattered, and there are so many moments of high tension in it
that it has no single climactic chapter. Book 4 has only one story
line. It starts with three chapters of rising tension, then the
marvellous intervention of Faramir in the Tolkienesque 'rest phase'
chapters in Ithilien, then again the final three chapters with
steeply rising dramatic tension: the heartbreak of Gollum's
near-repentance, the classic hero's journey through the tunnel,
Samwise's shining courage with Shelob, and then finally the
greatest cliffhanger ending *ever*, when Sam discovers Frodo is
alive but taken by the Enemy. Whew!! Great stuff.
For those interested in such things, Tolkien didn't revise this
chapter much. He wrote it all at one go, then rewrote it the same
way. A few names and distances were changed. He had some trouble
working out the synchronization moment mentioned above, when
Gandalf is thinking about Frodo: Tolkien wasn't too sure where
Gandalf was, exactly, when that moment happens. He puts him in
Rohan, Gondor, on the road between the two, and then finally at
Orthanc. FWIW.
Thanks for the background on that -- fascinating.

Barb


"The important thing is to be in love with something."
Ray Bradbury, 2/5/2004
Michele Fry
2004-11-29 06:22:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Is it their proximity to Mordor as well as the influence of the Ring
that makes the events of less than a year ago seem so distant to Frodo
now?
Actually I think that's just a normal reaction of the mind. Those
suffering from depression often feel that something that happened just
before their depression began was a long time ago, even if it was only a
matter of weeks. The human mind plays funny tricks when mind and/or body
are under great stress, as Frodo's is here.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
FWIW, this Eowyn-type lady loves the action of Books 3&5, and it took
several readings to really appreciate the more subtle and deep parts
of Books 4&6 (Chapters I through III).
I incline to Eowyn although I'm not really much of an Eowyn or an Arwen,
and I personally find all of it enjoyable. I love the way Tolkien
switches between the chase of Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas after Pippin
and Merry, the battle at Helm's Deep, the ride of the Paths of the Dead
(A/G/L) and the ride of the Rohirrim (Merry), plus Gandalf and Pippin's
race to Minas Tirith, to the slow, crawling time frame of Frodo and Sam
endlessly going in circles then meeting Gollum and moving more
purposefully, then that lovely restful interlude in Ithilien, where they
have a chance to rest and recover, and Faramir - I love Tolkien's
comment to Christopher in that wartime letter, about Faramir walking
into Ithilien: "I am sure I did not invent him, I did not even want him,
though I like him..." (Letters, #66) and then "if he goes on much more a
lot of him will have to be removed to the appendices" ! I like Faramir
too - he's both soldier and scholar, and in that respect represents
something of Tolkien himself...
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Shanahan
For those interested in such things, Tolkien didn't revise this
chapter much. He wrote it all at one go, then rewrote it the same
way. A few names and distances were changed. He had some trouble
working out the synchronization moment mentioned above, when
Gandalf is thinking about Frodo: Tolkien wasn't too sure where
Gandalf was, exactly, when that moment happens. He puts him in
Rohan, Gondor, on the road between the two, and then finally at
Orthanc. FWIW.
Yes - this is mentioned in Letters, # 85: "I have been struggling with
the dislocated chronology of the Ring, which has proved most vexatious
[...] I think I have solved it all at last by small map alterations, and
by inserting an extra day's Entmoot, and extra days into Trotter's [sic]
chase and Frodo's journey [...]"

Michele
==
"When ideas fail, words come in very handy." - Goethe
==
Now reading: Letters of J R R Tolkien - H Carpenter & C Tolkien
==
Counter-Attack web site: http://www.sassoonery.demon.co.uk
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-11-30 22:53:35 UTC
Permalink
Michele Fry <***@sassoonery.demon.co.uk> wrote:

<snip>
Post by Michele Fry
I love the way
Tolkien switches between the chase of Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas
after Pippin and Merry, the battle at Helm's Deep, the ride of the
Paths of the Dead (A/G/L) and the ride of the Rohirrim (Merry), plus
Gandalf and Pippin's race to Minas Tirith, to the slow, crawling time
frame of Frodo and Sam
<obTolk>

You seem to have slipped in a mental typo here. The Paths of the Dead,
the ride of the Rohirrim, and the ride to Minas Tirith are all _after_
the events recounted in Book 4.

Forgive my pedantic observation! :-)
Post by Michele Fry
endlessly going in circles then meeting Gollum
and moving more purposefully, then that lovely restful interlude in
Ithilien, where they have a chance to rest and recover, and Faramir -
I love Tolkien's comment to Christopher in that wartime letter, about
Faramir walking into Ithilien: "I am sure I did not invent him, I did
not even want him, though I like him..." (Letters, #66) and then "if
he goes on much more a lot of him will have to be removed to the
appendices" ! I like Faramir too - he's both soldier and scholar, and
in that respect represents something of Tolkien himself...
Great stuff. The bit I like is just after what you quoted from Letter
#66: "but there he came walking into the woods of Ithilien." I also like
the comment in Letter #180: "I knew for years that Frodo would run into
a tree-adventure somewhere far down the Great River, I have no
recollection of inventing Ents. [I wrote the Treebeard chapter] And then
I saw that, of course, it had not happened to Frodo at all."

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Michele Fry
2004-12-01 06:51:56 UTC
Permalink
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
You seem to have slipped in a mental typo here. The Paths of the Dead,
the ride of the Rohirrim, and the ride to Minas Tirith are all _after_
the events recounted in Book 4.
Forgive my pedantic observation! :-)
I'll forgive you - since it's you ! :-) But I didn't mean literally
switching between these things... I just meant that you get the rush and
hurry and storms of the non-Frodo & Sam storyline and then the slow
crawling of time of the Frodo & Sam storyline - the whole thing is full
of these contrasts, some of which are juxtaposed very closely and some
of which are not, but if one is familiar with the story, or merely just
paying close attention, even the less-closely juxtaposed contrasts are
observable. (I think juxtapose may be my word of the day !) The contrast
between the race of A/L/G after Pippin and Merry is contrasted with
Pippin and Merry's own wander through Fangorn Forest and the meeting
with Treebeard and then the Entmoot - all of which are achieved at a
stately Ent-like pace, whilst A/L/G are wearing themselves out with
rushing after P&M. And whilst A/L/G and Theoden are all involved in the
storm of fighting at Helm's Deep, F&S are wandering about the Emyn Muil
and meeting Gollum... Those are the switches I was talking about...

Michele
==
"The purpose of art is to make the unconscious conscious." Wagner
==
Now reading: Letters of J R R Tolkien - H Carpenter & C Tolkien
==
Counter-Attack web site: http://www.sassoonery.demon.co.uk
Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message
2004-11-29 22:54:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Gollum: the unconscious, the dark stream of consciousness (as opposed
to Bombadil's bright stream)
Sam: the conscious, always nattering about trying to make sense on
things and drawing on a wide range of knowledge and wise sayings,
keeping tabs on everything and being very practical and helpful.
Frodo: the subconscious, somewhere in the gray zone between Gollum's
darkness and Sam's brightness.
Yes... but Jung would probably also say that Gollum is a
shadow archetype, as Gandalf is a "wise old man" archetype.
Shadow archetypes pop up quite a bit in fantasy literature, like
in George MacDonald's _Phantastes_ (well before Jung) and Ursula
LeGuin's _A Wizard of Earthsea_ (after Jung -- and I wouldn't be
surprised to find that it was consciously or subconsciously
influenced by Jung).

Frodo and Sam seem to me to embody the reader's conflicting
natural reactions to Smeagol/Gollum's conflicting halves: pity
for Smeagol's wretchedness, and suspicion of Gollum's continuing
lust for the Ring. But what you say above captures other
aspects of them too.

--Jamie. (a Dover edition designed for years of use!)
andrews .uwo } Merge these two lines to obtain my e-mail address.
@csd .ca } (Unsolicited "bulk" e-mail costs everyone.)
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-11-30 22:42:18 UTC
Permalink
Belba Grubb From Stock <***@dbtech.net> wrote:

<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
...here he was a little halfling from the Shire, a simple
hobbit of the quiet countryside, expected to find a way
where the great ones could not go, or dared not go. It
was an evil fate. But he had taken it on himself in his own
sitting-room in the far-off spring of another year, so remote
now that it was like a chapter in a story of the world's
youth, when the Trees of Silver and gold were still in bloom.
That was a quote from this chapter.

<Barb - you don't always put quote marks in - this can be confusing>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Is it their proximity to Mordor as well as the influence of the Ring
that makes the events of less than a year ago seem so distant to Frodo
now?
I think it is just that such a _lot_ has happened. I get this feeling
when I do more travelling and stuff in a day or two than I would
normally do in a week. It seems like more time has gone by than really
has done. I suppose the proximity of the Black Land and the peril they
find themselves in may also contribute to a sense of unreality: "We're
not really here are we? We can't have been _that_ stupid to agree to
this?"

[about Frodo's will]
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
He seems
to be on the path toward the point where we will eventually hear of
the "dying embers" of his will, and so would seem to be degenerating
rather than growing in strength. I don't know. It's a very complex
situation with Frodo.
Yes. It is probably not as simple as a straightforward increase or
decrease. All the various aspects probably swing between extremes
depending on the circumstances, though there might be an overall trend.

[about the Ithil stone]
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
More than that, I cannot say. A wonder....
This reminds me of the ending to Appendix A: "More cannot be said of
this matter." :-)

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Belba Grubb From Stock
2004-12-02 19:54:43 UTC
Permalink
On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 22:42:18 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
Post by AC
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
...here he was a little halfling from the Shire, a simple
hobbit of the quiet countryside, expected to find a way
where the great ones could not go, or dared not go. It
was an evil fate. But he had taken it on himself in his own
sitting-room in the far-off spring of another year, so remote
now that it was like a chapter in a story of the world's
youth, when the Trees of Silver and gold were still in bloom.
That was a quote from this chapter.
<Barb - you don't always put quote marks in - this can be confusing>
It was indented. I read somewhere that was a good way to set off a
quote, and this way one saves the "" for other things, such as some
titles. But I'm not consistent about it, and that is probably where
the confusion springs from. Sorry! Will try to consistently indent

quotes from JRR Tolkien and others

no matter how short they are and use "" for things like "The Lord of
the Rings," quotes within indented material and so forth. If I
absolutely 'have' to emphasize something I'll use the ' character.
Post by AC
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Is it their proximity to Mordor as well as the influence of the Ring
that makes the events of less than a year ago seem so distant to Frodo
now?
I think it is just that such a _lot_ has happened. I get this feeling
when I do more travelling and stuff in a day or two than I would
normally do in a week. It seems like more time has gone by than really
has done. I suppose the proximity of the Black Land and the peril they
find themselves in may also contribute to a sense of unreality: "We're
not really here are we? We can't have been _that_ stupid to agree to
this?"
Yes, that's a good way to describe it, and JRRT heightens that sense
of unreality in the little dreamy, set apart from the world scene the
three share.
Post by AC
[about Frodo's will]
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
He seems
to be on the path toward the point where we will eventually hear of
the "dying embers" of his will, and so would seem to be degenerating
rather than growing in strength. I don't know. It's a very complex
situation with Frodo.
Yes. It is probably not as simple as a straightforward increase or
decrease. All the various aspects probably swing between extremes
depending on the circumstances, though there might be an overall trend.
Downward, I think, though it's not easy to spot in Frodo.
Post by AC
[about the Ithil stone]
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
More than that, I cannot say. A wonder....
This reminds me of the ending to Appendix A: "More cannot be said of
this matter." :-)
It's almost as convenient a formula as "once upon a time." :-)

Barb
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-12-02 21:13:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 22:42:18 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
That was a quote from this chapter.
<Barb - you don't always put quote marks in - this can be confusing>
It was indented. I read somewhere that was a good way to set off a
quote, and this way one saves the "" for other things, such as some
titles. But I'm not consistent about it, and that is probably where
the confusion springs from. Sorry! Will try to consistently indent
quotes from JRR Tolkien and others
I presume this was meant to be indented. It looked normal to me, no
indenting to be seen. I _have_ seen others use indenting, so I'm not
sure what is going wrong here...
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
no matter how short they are and use "" for things like "The Lord of
the Rings," quotes within indented material and so forth. If I
absolutely 'have' to emphasize something I'll use the ' character.
Or _underlining_ or *bold* or /italics/ maybe?

The single quote marks can be easily misunderstood.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Belba Grubb From Stock
2004-12-05 01:19:41 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 02 Dec 2004 21:13:43 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
Post by AC
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 22:42:18 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
That was a quote from this chapter.
<Barb - you don't always put quote marks in - this can be confusing>
It was indented. I read somewhere that was a good way to set off a
quote, and this way one saves the "" for other things, such as some
titles. But I'm not consistent about it, and that is probably where
the confusion springs from. Sorry! Will try to consistently indent
quotes from JRR Tolkien and others
I presume this was meant to be indented. It looked normal to me, no
indenting to be seen. I _have_ seen others use indenting, so I'm not
sure what is going wrong here...
Me neither. Let's try this:

This is supposed to be indented.

Does it appear indented?
Post by AC
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
no matter how short they are and use "" for things like "The Lord of
the Rings," quotes within indented material and so forth. If I
absolutely 'have' to emphasize something I'll use the ' character.
Or _underlining_ or *bold* or /italics/ maybe?
The single quote marks can be easily misunderstood.
They're used quite frequently in my copy of "The Lord of the Rings,"
so I tend to try to include them, but it's not an absolute
requirement. I'm way too old-fashioned and print-oriented to use
these newfangled _underlining_ or *bold* or /italics/ thingums. ;^)

Barb
Where will wants not, a way opens.
-- J.R.R. Tolkien
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-12-05 01:35:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
This is supposed to be indented.
Does it appear indented?
Yup.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
no matter how short they are and use "" for things like "The Lord of
the Rings," quotes within indented material and so forth. If I
absolutely 'have' to emphasize something I'll use the ' character.
Or _underlining_ or *bold* or /italics/ maybe?
The single quote marks can be easily misunderstood.
They're used quite frequently in my copy of "The Lord of the Rings,"
so I tend to try to include them, but it's not an absolute
requirement.
I meant using them in other contexts. (Using them in quoted text is
never a problem, though I tend to switch between double and single
depending on which one was used last.) I thought you meant using
single-quote marks instead of bold, italics, underline.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
I'm way too old-fashioned and print-oriented to use
these newfangled _underlining_ or *bold* or /italics/ thingums. ;^)
Well, that worked. Not sure what ;^) means though... :-)
Belba Grubb From Stock
2004-12-05 22:57:11 UTC
Permalink
On Sun, 05 Dec 2004 01:35:16 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
This is supposed to be indented.
Does it appear indented?
Yup.
Ah, good! In case anyone else runs into the problem, I had originally
indented by using the tab key. That didn't work. This indentation is
done with spaces; that works.
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
no matter how short they are and use "" for things like "The Lord of
the Rings," quotes within indented material and so forth. If I
absolutely 'have' to emphasize something I'll use the ' character.
Or _underlining_ or *bold* or /italics/ maybe?
The single quote marks can be easily misunderstood.
They're used quite frequently in my copy of "The Lord of the Rings,"
so I tend to try to include them, but it's not an absolute
requirement.
I meant using them in other contexts. (Using them in quoted text is
never a problem, though I tend to switch between double and single
depending on which one was used last.) I thought you meant using
single-quote marks instead of bold, italics, underline.
Well, italics are really all I have in mind. In my old-fashioned way
of thinking, underlining is just a way to indicate something is to be
in italics, but one can't do that here so one falls back on the double
quotes.

Sigh. I have acquired such a mish-mosh of style guides over the years.
Maybe it's time to 'upgrade' (note use of single quotes) to the
convention you describe, as some readers actually convert it into the
appropriate style (underline, bold or italics).
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
I'm way too old-fashioned and print-oriented to use
these newfangled _underlining_ or *bold* or /italics/ thingums. ;^)
Well, that worked. Not sure what ;^) means though... :-)
Wink.

Barb


Everything in life is unusual until you get accustomed to it.
-- The Scarecrow, "The Wonderful World of Oz"
Jim Deutch
2004-12-06 17:34:14 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 02 Dec 2004 21:13:43 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
Post by AC
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 22:42:18 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Christopher Kreuzer
That was a quote from this chapter.
<Barb - you don't always put quote marks in - this can be confusing>
It was indented. I read somewhere that was a good way to set off a
quote, and this way one saves the "" for other things, such as some
titles. But I'm not consistent about it, and that is probably where
the confusion springs from. Sorry! Will try to consistently indent
quotes from JRR Tolkien and others
I presume this was meant to be indented. It looked normal to me, no
indenting to be seen. I _have_ seen others use indenting, so I'm not
sure what is going wrong here...
'Twas indented using a TAB character at the beginning of the line. I
guess Outlook Distress doesn't play well with TABs. If Belba would
type a few spaces instead it would work for you, I'm sure, but would
be more work for her...

This line starts with a TAB.
This line starts with eight spaces.

Jim Deutch (Jimbo the Cat)
--
"Homosexuals are *not* denied the right to marry. All they need to do
is find some person of the opposite sex willing to marry them."
- Orson Scott Card
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-12-06 17:55:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Deutch
'Twas indented using a TAB character at the beginning of the line. I
guess Outlook Distress doesn't play well with TABs. If Belba would
type a few spaces instead it would work for you, I'm sure, but would
be more work for her...
Which is strange, as I think Troels uses OE with Quotefix and I've seen
him use indentation, and it displays fine on my newsreader (also OE with
Quotefix). Maybe it is just a cross-platform bug, or Troels does his
indentation a different way (I've never bothered with indentation).

But yeah, if it is just an OE vs other newsreaders bug, then Belba
should just keep quoting the way that is least effort for her. Though
surely a TAB at the beginning of each line is a pain as well?

While on the subject, I would have thought that using double quote marks
for a quote would be standard, even with indentation. And even if quote
marks or indentation are used, the source should always be quoted. That
is something I sometimes notice missing from some quotes.
Post by Jim Deutch
This line starts with a TAB.
Not showing up here.
Post by Jim Deutch
This line starts with eight spaces.
The eight spaces appear OK for me.
Post by Jim Deutch
Jim Deutch (Jimbo the Cat)
Thanks.

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Michele Fry
2004-12-06 19:49:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Jim Deutch
'Twas indented using a TAB character at the beginning of the line. I
guess Outlook Distress doesn't play well with TABs. If Belba would
type a few spaces instead it would work for you, I'm sure, but would
be more work for her...
This line starts with a TAB.
This line starts with eight spaces.
Whereas, Christopher, in my newsreader (built in to Turnpike the
email/news reader program that came free with my sub. to Demon, my ISP),
both come out exactly the same as above, with an indent... But I have
issues with indicating _underlines_ (I can't except as I have here) or
*italics* - since my newsreader immediately italicises *everything* not
just the highlighted word ! *sigh*

Michele
==
"The purpose of art is to make the unconscious conscious." Wagner
==
Now reading: Letters of J R R Tolkien - H Carpenter & C Tolkien
==
Counter-Attack web site: http://www.sassoonery.demon.co.uk

Geirroeth
2004-12-01 04:24:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Shanahan
Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3. My
experience is rather the opposite. I sometimes find Book 3 a bit of
a bore. It's all that riding around: they ride here, they ride
there, then they ride back, then they ride to gather together so
that they can go ride some more...<snore>. I will confess that I
have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
get some unscientific statistics going here?
ROTFL!!
FWIW, this Eowyn-type lady loves the action of Books 3&5, and it took
several readings to really appreciate the more subtle and deep parts
of Books 4&6 (Chapters I through III).
For myself, I've always been bored to tears by battle scenes. I don't
know why this is, but it represents another breakdown of the "gender
difference" pattern - I always preferred books IV and VI over III and
V, even when I first read Tolkien in my early teens.

Steve Morrison
Shanahan
2004-12-02 06:38:29 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
A voice is heard from long ago and VERY far behind....
Well, I think Igenlode is a couple months behind too, so don't feel
too bad!
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700, "Shanahan"
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He
realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
It's interesting that in such a dire situation and while still
overall acting like a normal hobbit, the newer "bad" Frodo is
capable of using the Ring to threaten Gollum, even though some
part of him must know that any use of the Ring would immediately
expose him to Sauron. He just doesn't care about Sauron any more
-- he's become blindered.
I have to disagree here. I don't think he is blind to his situation
at all. On the contrary, I think he is very shrewdly manipulating
Gollum's weaknesses. He's not using the Ring to threaten Gollum;
he's using Gollum's fear of him, Frodo, as the Ringbearer, to
control Gollum's potential treachery, of which Frodo is quite well
aware. Frodo has no intention of really using the Ring; as you say,
he knows what the consequences would be.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power
of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt
that Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of
command
over others. These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or
as a necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo
into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
Taking him over, definitely. Is it really his will growing? He
seems to be on the path toward the point where we will eventually
hear of the "dying embers" of his will, and so would seem to be
degenerating rather than growing in strength. I don't know.
It's a very complex situation with Frodo. His strength, his
innate strength, has always been with him, as evidenced by how
quickly he comes back once the Ring is removed and the Quest
ended. But we must look elsewhere than his attempts to control
Gollum or his occasional appearances to Sam's altered vision as a
"lord" in order to find it.
But where are Sam's visions coming from? These visions are presented
to us as a kind of true vision, not an evil manipulation by the
Ring. I think they are very accurate visions of Frodo's true
strength. Recall Galadriel's words to the effect that Frodo would
have to train his will to the domination of others in order to ever
use the Ring. The problem comes in that this training or growth of
the will can be used for good or for evil. I think at this point
that Frodo's will is still his own; his innate strength, or more
accurately, his innate lack of desire for power, is relatively
intact at this point in the story.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Gollum is quite unnerved by Frodo's insight and his threat, and it
takes a while for him to calm down enough to describe this other
route he knows into Mordor. He tells of Ithilien, the Crossroads,
and old tales he used to hear about Minas Ithil, now Minas
Morgul.
These old tales described Minas Ithil before it was taken over by
evil: "They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon..."
Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
palantíri? What do you think?
I don't think it was the palantir. That of Orthanc was made of a
dark black substance, and probably all the palantiri looked the
Yes, they were black while not in use. In use, they gave off a pale
flickering light.
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Gollum tells the hobbits of the Secret Stair, tunnel, and the
high
pass (while conveniently leaving out any mention of any
inhabitants). They have to pry it out of him that this smaller pass
is guarded, too. Frodo is cast back into indecision, a marked
contrast to his resolution earlier. He has recovered some hope, and
as renewed hope often does, it brought with it renewed pain.
Well said!
Well, I stole it from the scene where Eomer realizes that Eowyn
isn't dead after all: "renewed hope, and with it the bite of fear
and care renewed".
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Q: Has Gollum yet made up his mind to betray Frodo?
In retrospect, I don't think he really makes up his mind until the
"sneak" episode.
Yes, I agree completely.

Ciaran S.
--
On the punk generation:
"It should be remembered that we had all grown up
with Civil Defense drills and dreams of the Bomb
at night: we had been promised the end of the world
as children, and we weren't getting it."
- /England's Dreaming/
Belba Grubb From Stock
2004-12-02 20:34:27 UTC
Permalink
Post by Shanahan
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
A voice is heard from long ago and VERY far behind....
Well, I think Igenlode is a couple months behind too, so don't feel
too bad!
That makes me feel much better - thanks!
Post by Shanahan
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700, "Shanahan"
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He
realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
It's interesting that in such a dire situation and while still
overall acting like a normal hobbit, the newer "bad" Frodo is
capable of using the Ring to threaten Gollum, even though some
part of him must know that any use of the Ring would immediately
expose him to Sauron. He just doesn't care about Sauron any more
-- he's become blindered.
I have to disagree here. I don't think he is blind to his situation
at all. On the contrary, I think he is very shrewdly manipulating
Gollum's weaknesses. He's not using the Ring to threaten Gollum;
he's using Gollum's fear of him, Frodo, as the Ringbearer, to
control Gollum's potential treachery, of which Frodo is quite well
aware. Frodo has no intention of really using the Ring; as you say,
he knows what the consequences would be.
I agree up to a point. Frodo is still rational enough here to have
thought things out pretty much exactly as you describe here. On the
surface and in this particular situation where time is limited and
danger is all around, there doesn't seem to be any other way to
control Gollum, and Gollum must be controlled.

Yet seeming is not always reality in JRRT's writing. Perhaps I'm just
misled by having concentrated on the "Forbidden Pool" chapter first
and then returned to this earlier chapter in depth, but having seen
Smeagol actually assert himself there by the pool of Henneth Annun,
clearly 'fishing' for an apology from Frodo (whom he really looks up
to) and then instead getting clobbered by a threat to use the Ring, I
wonder if these threats Frodo uses are not so much field expedients as
early signs that he is starting to lose control of himself and his
ability to deal with things without the Ring.

But again, perhaps I'm reading too much into it; wonder if JRRT ever
was asked about it or mentioned it in his letters or to CJRT.
Post by Shanahan
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power
of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt
that Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of
command
over others. These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or
as a necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo
into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
Taking him over, definitely. Is it really his will growing? He
seems to be on the path toward the point where we will eventually
hear of the "dying embers" of his will, and so would seem to be
degenerating rather than growing in strength. I don't know.
It's a very complex situation with Frodo. His strength, his
innate strength, has always been with him, as evidenced by how
quickly he comes back once the Ring is removed and the Quest
ended. But we must look elsewhere than his attempts to control
Gollum or his occasional appearances to Sam's altered vision as a
"lord" in order to find it.
But where are Sam's visions coming from? These visions are presented
to us as a kind of true vision, not an evil manipulation by the
Ring. I think they are very accurate visions of Frodo's true
strength. Recall Galadriel's words to the effect that Frodo would
have to train his will to the domination of others in order to ever
use the Ring. The problem comes in that this training or growth of
the will can be used for good or for evil. I think at this point
that Frodo's will is still his own; his innate strength, or more
accurately, his innate lack of desire for power, is relatively
intact at this point in the story.
Well, one has to recall that in "On Fairy-stories" JRRT notes that
evil has lost its beauty.

It is part of the essential malady of such days- producing the
desire to escape, not indeed from life, but from our present
time and self-made misery- that we are acutely conscious both
of the ugliness of our works, and of their evil. So that to us
evil and ugliness seem indissolubly allied. We find it
difficult to conceive of evil and beauty together. The fear of
the beautiful fay that ran through the elder ages almost
eludes our grasp. Even more alarming: goodness is itself
bereft of its proper beauty.

We won't see Frodo's true beauty again until after the Ring has gone
in and Sam discovers his master again there by his side at the end of
all things. The beauty is that deep down inside, he never lost
himself.

Certainly how Sam sees Frodo in these visions is attractive and not
seeming ugly or evil at all. Frodo is attempting a very difficult
task and has received all sorts of help and encouragement from very
noble and powerful beings along the way, and Gandalf thinks him the
best hobbit in the Shire. We want to see Frodo like this, growing as
an individual even as his burden grows heavier and the task more
difficult, turning into a noble, a lord. But with this writer it's
not impossible that this noble vision still could be a manipulation of
the Ring, even though it doesn't 'feel foul.' It's all out of kilter
with everything we know about hobbits, for one thing (contrast with
Pippin and Merry's conversation about 'the heights' in the House of
Healing). For another, it doesn't accurately foreshadow how Frodo is
going to turn out at the end of the quest and further on at the end of
the book.

I can't back this up at all but my general impression is that these
visions Sam sees come from Frodo himself, who under the Ring's
influence is weaving a persona for himself of what he'd like to be.
They show, perhaps, how he sees himself in relationship to his fellow
hobbit, Gollum; it's not at all how the situation actually is, of
course. Very sad, when you think about it.
Post by Shanahan
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Gollum is quite unnerved by Frodo's insight and his threat, and it
takes a while for him to calm down enough to describe this other
route he knows into Mordor. He tells of Ithilien, the Crossroads,
and old tales he used to hear about Minas Ithil, now Minas
Morgul.
These old tales described Minas Ithil before it was taken over by
evil: "They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon..."
Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
palantíri? What do you think?
I don't think it was the palantir. That of Orthanc was made of a
dark black substance, and probably all the palantiri looked the
Yes, they were black while not in use. In use, they gave off a pale
flickering light.
They did?
Post by Shanahan
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Gollum tells the hobbits of the Secret Stair, tunnel, and the high
pass (while conveniently leaving out any mention of any
inhabitants). They have to pry it out of him that this smaller pass
is guarded, too. Frodo is cast back into indecision, a marked
contrast to his resolution earlier. He has recovered some hope, and
as renewed hope often does, it brought with it renewed pain.
Well said!
Well, I stole it from the scene where Eomer realizes that Eowyn
isn't dead after all: "renewed hope, and with it the bite of fear
and care renewed".
It works perfectly. :-)

Barb
Michele Fry
2004-12-02 21:09:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Yet seeming is not always reality in JRRT's writing. Perhaps I'm just
misled by having concentrated on the "Forbidden Pool" chapter first
and then returned to this earlier chapter in depth, but having seen
Smeagol actually assert himself there by the pool of Henneth Annun,
clearly 'fishing' for an apology from Frodo (whom he really looks up
to) and then instead getting clobbered by a threat to use the Ring, I
wonder if these threats Frodo uses are not so much field expedients as
early signs that he is starting to lose control of himself and his
ability to deal with things without the Ring.
But again, perhaps I'm reading too much into it; wonder if JRRT ever
was asked about it or mentioned it in his letters or to CJRT.
*takes a quick look at the index to the Letters* - there's a lengthy
draft of a letter to Mrs Eileen Elgar - #246 which discusses Frodo, Sam,
Gollum and the Forbidden Pool, and Frodo's eventual failure at the Crack
of Doom. I've not read it, just skimmed to see what's in it. That might
be relevant. Letters on Gollum include: 'courage and endurance' #181 (to
Michael Straight); 'failure to repent' #96 (to CJRT), #165 (to the
Houghton Mifflin Co.), #191 (to Miss J Burn), #194 (to Terence Tiller);
and 'treatment by Sam' #64 (to CJRT). Many of these letters cover more
than one of the topics listed above - these, looking at the index and
quickly flicking through the letters, seem to be the most relevant.

Michele
==
"The purpose of art is to make the unconscious conscious." Wagner
==
Now reading: Letters of J R R Tolkien - H Carpenter & C Tolkien
==
Counter-Attack web site: http://www.sassoonery.demon.co.uk
Christopher Kreuzer
2004-12-02 21:28:37 UTC
Permalink
<snip>
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Post by Shanahan
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
I don't think it was the palantir. That of Orthanc was made of a
dark black substance, and probably all the palantiri looked the
Yes, they were black while not in use. In use, they gave off a pale
flickering light.
They did?
Yes.

"...many who looked up thither at that time saw a pale light that
gleamed and flickered from the narrow windows for a while, and then
flashed and went out." (Denethor presumably using the palantir after
Faramir is brought back wounded, 'The Siege of Gondor')

And looking at Pippin's use of the Orthanc palantir:

"At first the globe was dark, black as jet, with the moonlight gleaming
on its surface. Then there came a faint glow and stir in the heart of
it, and it held his eyes, so that now he could not look away. Soon all
the inside seemed on fire; the ball was spinning, or the lights within
were revolving. Suddenly the lights went out." ('The Palantir')

So, as Shanahan said, dark when not in use, but lit when being used.
Though the colour might not be consistently white. The light does seem
to consistently flicker though. Looking at the quote from _this_
chapter, we see that it is very short:

"in it there was a stone like the Moon" (Gollum's tales about Minas
Ithil, 'The Black Gate is Closed')

My opinion is that we can't really say for sure if this is the Ithil
palantir. It is a nice idea though, and maybe one that we are meant to
consider. Is there anything in the drafts that throws light on this?

Christopher
--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard
Raven
2004-12-02 23:39:03 UTC
Permalink
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Well, one has to recall that in "On Fairy-stories" JRRT notes that
evil has lost its beauty.
It is part of the essential malady of such days- producing the
desire to escape, not indeed from life, but from our present
time and self-made misery- that we are acutely conscious both
of the ugliness of our works, and of their evil. So that to us
evil and ugliness seem indissolubly allied. We find it
difficult to conceive of evil and beauty together. The fear of
the beautiful fay that ran through the elder ages almost
eludes our grasp. Even more alarming: goodness is itself
bereft of its proper beauty.
Tolkien describes one item which is at once very beautiful and utterly
evil.
That said, beauty is to a great degree in the eyes of the beholder. And
it is influenced by how well the beholder likes the item or person whose
beauty is being judged. I can give two examples. One is that if I meet a
woman and upon getting to know her learn that she is a good and smart and
likeable lady, then my judgement of her looks also goes up.
The other is a man I read about who lived in Austria and had to flee to
the USA from the Nazis. He was apprehended by a policeman who had been
appointed the task of bringing the young man in. But the policeman couldn't
do it. He sat down and wept, and declared that he was an old social
democrat, and he couldn't bring himself to taking the young man into the
power of such thugs. And it suddenly struck the young man that that
policeman was handsome.

Rabe.
Belba Grubb From Stock
2004-12-05 17:23:50 UTC
Permalink
On Fri, 3 Dec 2004 00:39:03 +0100, "Raven"
Post by Raven
Post by Belba Grubb From Stock
Well, one has to recall that in "On Fairy-stories" JRRT notes that
evil has lost its beauty.
It is part of the essential malady of such days- producing the
desire to escape, not indeed from life, but from our present
time and self-made misery- that we are acutely conscious both
of the ugliness of our works, and of their evil. So that to us
evil and ugliness seem indissolubly allied. We find it
difficult to conceive of evil and beauty together. The fear of
the beautiful fay that ran through the elder ages almost
eludes our grasp. Even more alarming: goodness is itself
bereft of its proper beauty.
Tolkien describes one item which is at once very beautiful and utterly
evil.
Indeed!
Post by Raven
That said, beauty is to a great degree in the eyes of the beholder. And
it is influenced by how well the beholder likes the item or person whose
beauty is being judged. I can give two examples. One is that if I meet a
woman and upon getting to know her learn that she is a good and smart and
likeable lady, then my judgement of her looks also goes up.
The other is a man I read about who lived in Austria and had to flee to
the USA from the Nazis. He was apprehended by a policeman who had been
appointed the task of bringing the young man in. But the policeman couldn't
do it. He sat down and wept, and declared that he was an old social
democrat, and he couldn't bring himself to taking the young man into the
power of such thugs. And it suddenly struck the young man that that
policeman was handsome.
What a wonderful story - am glad he wasn't returned to the thugs.

JRRT also describes how evil can use its appeal to make good seem
unappealing.

"...But I fear your voice has lost its charm."

The Riders gazed up at Theoden like men startled out of a
dream. Harsh as an old raven's [no pun intended...BB]
their master's voice sounded in their ears after the music
of Saruman.

Perhaps one of the signs of the presence of evil, in Middle-earth
anyway, is a newfound awareness of the untrustworthiness of one's own
perceptions. And so in the presence of this evil artifact, we can't
wholly rely on the perceptions of Sam, Gollum and one hapless Orc in
the Tower of Cirith Ungol toward the hobbits who are carrying it at
one point or another in the story.

Barb

Where will wants not, a way opens.
-- J.R.R. Tolkien
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