Belba Grubb from Stock
2004-08-09 20:03:10 UTC
Chapter 6 - The King of the Golden Hall
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"Men need many words before deeds," says Gimli, but it takes more
than words to heal Theoden so he and Rohan can rise to the biggest
challenge they have faced in many years. Few words indeed pass
between Eowyn and Aragorn, yet both their hearts are troubled. And of
what use are words to the one who rides at the head of a host of
warriors to do great deeds; what comfort can any words bring to the
one left behind, standing at the doors of an empty house?
After a long ride with only a few hours' rest, Gandalf, Aragorn,
Legolas and Gimli come within sight of Edoras and Meduseld at dawn.
Gandalf counsels them all to "draw no weapon, speak no haughty word"
until they come before Theoden, for war is abroad in the land and the
Rohirrim are watchful.
The travellers ride on toward Edoras and at the foot of its walled
hill pass many grass and flower covered mounds - seven on the left and
nine on the right - where the Kings of Rohan are buried. Aragorn
chants the Hymn of Eorl as they pass by the silent mounds.
At the gates of Edoras they are challenged by many armed men and learn
that Theoden's counselor Wormtongue two nights ago ordered that no
stranger should pass the gate. Gandalf manages to get them admitted
to the city, and Hama, the Doorward of Theoden, makes a judgment call
and allows Gandalf to keep his staff as the travellers enter Meduseld
and come before King Theoden, who is seated on his throne in Meduseld
and accompanied by his counselor Grima Wormtongue and a woman clad in
white. Theoden challenges them and asks "Gandalf Stormcrow" why he
should be welcomed. Grima takes it from there and after "bandy[ing]
crooked words with a serving-man" for a while Gandalf makes the
lightning fall, knocking Wormtongue out and challenging Theoden to
listen to what he has to say. Theoden gets up, and with the help of
the woman, who is his niece Eowyn, paces through the hall and goes
outside with Gandalf, leaving his former counselor sprawled out on the
floor. Once outside Theoden sends Eowyn away, but not before she and
Aragorn have become aware of each other.
Gandalf heals Theoden and asks him to release Eomer from prison,
telling the king the news as they wait for Eomer to be brought before
Theoden. Eomer appears and offers Theoden his sword, who at Gandalf's
urging takes it and is inspired to shout a call to arms. Now healed,
Theoden asks Gandalf for advice and is told to trust Eomer and to "do
the deed at hand," which is to head west with an army and destroy the
threat of Saruman while sending the women and children of Rohan up
into the mountains for refuge while the warriors are gone. Theoden
agrees and orders an immediate muster of all the men living nearby.
Grima is brought out and revealed by Gandalf as a spy of Saruman.
Theoden offers Grima Wormtongue a horse and a choice: to ride with
them to war and prove himself in battle or to leave under penalty of
Theoden's wrath, if they ever meet again. Grima takes the horse and
leaves. While the Rohirrim who live nearby gather, Theoden feeds his
guests, arrays the Three Hunters in such gear of war as they need, and
at Hama's request puts Eowyn in charge of the Eorlingas while he and
Eomer are gone. When the muster is complete and more than a thousand
men are at the gate, armed and mounted, ready to go, Theoden proclaims
Gandalf a chieftain of the Eorlingas and officially gives him
Shadowfax. Gandalf is revealed to all as the White Reader and the
assembled warriors give a great shout:
'Our King and the White Rider!' they shouted. 'Forth
The trumpets sounded. The horses reared and neighed.
Spear clashed on shield. Then the king raised his hand,
and with a rush like the sudden onset of a great wind the
last host of Rohan rode thundering into the West
Far over the plain Eowyn saw the glitter of their spears, as
she stood still, alone before the doors of the silent house.
1. What is the significance of the seven mounds being on the left
(east) and the nine on the right (west)?
2. If this hasn't already been addressed in other threads, did Grima
order no strangers to be admitted before or after Eomer arrived at
Edoras? It seems that Eomer couldn't have gotten there by the night of
the 30th when the order was issued. If that's the case, then why did
Grima issue the order (how had he learned of the presence of these
3. Just a comment: I enjoyed Aragorn's hesitancy to leave his newly
reforged sword at the door, and only just now appreciated that he did
so only after Gandalf had set down there the sword that had once been
Turgon's. And then Aragorn assists Gandalf in getting admitted to
Meduseld with his staff in hand. Teamwork. There's a lot of
undercurrent here, as elsewhere at various points, part of what makes
this writing so enjoyable.
4. Comments on Meduseld, the great hall and its furnishings? It
reminds me a little of the hall of Beorn with the fire burning on the
long hearth in the middle of the hall, but it is so richly furnished
and ornately carved. The Rohirrim certainly are artisans and
craftsmen as well as free spirits and ready warriors.
5. Speaking of staffs, is there any "magical" significance in
Theoden's staff, other than its role as a prop to convince him he was
old and weak? It's worth noting, given the remarkable description of
the man "so bent with age he seemed almost a dwarf," that Theoden is
only 71. Aragorn, in comparison, is 88. Did JRRT make an effective
choice not to reveal Theoden's actual age within the story, saving it
for the appendices?
6. Just how, exactly, does Gandalf heal Theoden?
7. Was that the best way to handle Grima? (Of note is Gandalf's pity
or mercy, though he doesn't use the word.) I'm afraid I would have
shouted "off with his head!" and so eventually would have saved
Saruman's life (and Lotho's, too?).
8. Now, what does Gandalf tell Theoden in secret there as they look
East. I assumed it was of Frodo and the Ring, but then while they are
eating Gandalf speaks of a secret hope which he can't speak of even to
Theoden. This has always confused me.
9. Comment: I would refer anyone (nobody on this list, of course) who
use the words "Tolkien" and "sexist" in the same breath to this scene
where Theoden says Eomer is the last of the line of Eorl and is
corrected by Hama, who along with the rest of the Eorlingas loves
Eowyn and wishes her to lead them while the warriors are gone. And
Eowyn is such a strong character - in this chapter we first meet her,
and she really plays a very small role, but that last vision of her is
strong enough to last and allow the reader to accept her as a major
character when the action moves to Dunharrow and beyond. I haven't
figured out quite how JRRT does it, but it is very effective!
And your comments, thoughts and .?