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Estelyn Telcontar 10-17-2004 02:43 PM

LotR -- Book 2 - Chapter 06 - Lothlórien
 
At the beginning of this chapter, we still follow the Fellowship within the realm of the Dwarves, seeing Durin’s Stone and Mirrormere. Danger is not yet over, so they must hasten their steps. Frodo’s mithril shirt is revealed, and he hears (and later sees) traces of Gollum throughout the journey. Boromir again shows his stubbornness in protesting against their entering Lothlórien, and it is certainly no chance (as far as the storytelling goes) that Aragorn’s comment on the peril that one brings with one’s self into that land is spoken to Boromir – a premonition?

With the crossing of the Nimrodel, the Fellowship enters Lothlórien. Here the story takes a turn; though there is still action, the language becomes more poetic. Legolas has his opportunity to shine here, being the one who is connected with the Elves, has some knowledge of Lothlórien, recites the poem of Nimrodel – and touches upon the old enmity between Dwarves and Elves, which flares up later with the blindfolding issue. He is responsible for the successful “first contact” with the Lothlórien Elves, since they heard him speaking and recognized him as one of their kin.

There are some “magical” things mentioned in this chapter – Nimrodel is said to have healing powers, and the Elven rope glimmers in the dark.

Haldir is introduced, and he has much to say in these passages, many very poetic utterances. Frodo is shown to be especially affected by the atmosphere in the woods of Lothlórien. As the chapter ends at Cerin Amroth, he (and through his eyes, we) gets a glimpse of the inside and outside world in contrast. And we get another very brief look into Aragorn’s heart, as he remembers Arwen here.

There are so many quotable sentences in this chapter – what are your favorite parts, and what is important in the development of the story?

I find Aragorn’s words at the beginning of the chapter very significant, foreshadowing Sam’s later experience:
Quote:

What hope have we without you? [i.e. Gandalf] We must do without hope.
And one sentence that cracks me up every time I read it is Sam’s reaction after Legolas has told them that they “breathe so loud that they could shoot you in the dark”:
Quote:

…behind [climbing the tree] came Sam trying not to breathe loudly.
I find that hilarious!

Boromir88 10-17-2004 07:17 PM

There is a boatload of information, and thoughts, that I wish to bring up, tis a good chapter this one is.

First off Boromir.
Quote:

"A plain road, though it led through a hedge of swords," said Boromir. "By strange paths has this Company been led, and so far to evil fortune. Against my will we passed under the shades of Moria, to our loss. And now we must enter the Golden Wood, you say. But of that perilous land we have heard in Gondor, and it is said that few come out who once go in; and of that few none have escaped unscathed."
In Boromir's words hold truth, actually, he is slightly hinting he wishes to lead the company, that we can tell. But, also in his words about Lorien. Interesting how later on in the Chapter we have...
Quote:

"Orophin has now gone in haste back to our dwellings to warn our people. None of the Orcs will ever return out of Lorien."
The Gondorian loremen have obviously misunderstood the tales of Lorien, but they are true, here we get to hear from Haldir saying no orcs will ever leave. And later, we see the Company is very reluctant to leave Lorien, especially Gimli. Boromir just misinterprets it as a place of evil, and a place they shouldn't go in.

On to my next point.
Quote:

"Come with me Frodo!" cried the dwarf, springing from the road. "I would not have you go without seeing Kheled-Zaram."
Quote:

"A Dwarf!" cried Haldir. "That is not well. We have not had dealings with the Dwarves since the Dark Days. They are not permitted in our land. I cannot allow him to pass."
"But he is from the lonely Mountain, one of Dain's trusty people, and friendly to Elrond," said Frodo. "Elrond himself chose him to be one of our companions, and he has been brave and faithful."
My point is, it's interesting how Frodo is the first to jump to Gimli's defense. Reminds me of the strong friendship between Gloin and Bilbo. Now we see a growing friendship between their heirs.

Quote:

"I did not shoot, for I dared not arouse any cries: we cannot risk battle. A strong company of Orcs has passed. They crossed the Nimrodel - curse their foul feet in its clean water! - and went on down the old road besied the river.
Definately some sense of troubling days ahead if companies of Orcs are crossing into Lorien.

This takes me to my final point.
Quote:

"You had no need of your burdens" said Haldir. "It is cold in the tree-tops in winter."
We have some Seasonal Symbolism here in the closing chapters of The Fellowship of The ring. It's winter, and symbolic wise Spring=birth (or you might want to say a "new beginning") Summer=youth-early adulthood, Autumn=adulthood, and Winter=death. I'll make it short, sweet, and good to the point, Gandalf dies in January fighting the Balrog, Boromir dies in February defending the Hobbits. And theoretically that becomes the "death" or "breaking" of the Fellowship.

P.S. I find this rather ironic...
Quote:

"Then dig a hole in the ground," said Legolas, "if that is more after the fashion of your kind"
Just ironic how Legolas is correct, and plus hmmm, sounds like what the Mirkwood Elves do to stay away from them dreaded spiders.

Lhunardawen 10-18-2004 01:05 AM

With peril pressing around the Fellowship in the previous chapter, they have not the time to ponder on the effects Gandalf's death would have, nor what they felt concerning the tragedy. But as they escaped immediate danger and found their way towards the land of Lothlorien, it was inevitable for them to finally let their emotions out. The first thing they obviously felt was sadness and a deep sense of loss, but to it was eventually added hopelessness. As far as this chapter is concerned, I was quite aware that Gandalf alone knew the way they have to take, or at the least had any idea which roads they should use. But without him, where would they go? Does the Fellowship rely solely on him that in his passing, they would have to admit defeat and return to Rivendell? So far, they have not, and they continued to plod on.

To be consistent in counting the Aragorn swoon-worthiness points, I would like to point out his just decision about the blindfolding issue. Sure, it may be difficult to accept that a kin of the dwellers of the land would have to endure such inconvenience, but I believe that Aragorn was merely trying to keep the Fellowship together. They have already lost one member, and there is no need for further harm to be done by such a petty issue. I think this would have been Gandalf's decision as well. Their acceptance of Aragorn's suggestion (albeit hesitantly at first) shows that they have chosen him to replace Gandalf as leader.

Sigh...so many interesting points...so little time. More later (I hope).

Boromir88 10-18-2004 04:31 AM

Words of Wisdom from HALDIR!
 
As I finished reading this chapter last night, I have some "final" final remarks. The fact that we get some words of wisdom from Haldir, and maybe a hint into the future.

Quote:

"Folly it may seem," said Haldir. "Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who oppose him. Yet so little faith and trust do we find now in the world beyond Lothlorien, unless maybe in Rivendell, that we dare not by our own trust endanger our land. We live upon an island amid many perils, and our hands are more often upon the bowstring than upon the harp."
Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who oppose him.
Can't begin to say how "wise" this is, The Fellowship is about to break apart, Rohan is falling into decline and the effect of that they began slipping away from their allies Gondor. Haldir just said Lothlorien doesn't trust anyone, perhaps Rivendell. So, the elves are apart in their own seperate world. The Dwarves of Erebor are up defending their lands alone (excluding the men of Dale). Instead of coming together, like in the Last Alliance, they are all seperated from eachother fighting their own war against Sauron. They oppose Sauron but they don't fight together, it isn't until Aragorn and Gandalf stir up Rohan where we see a sense of Unity. And the great symbolism in the bond between the future king of Gondor and the future King of Rohan (anyway that is off topic). I just went on rambling there for a while.

It's funny how it isn't until they reach Cerin Amroth when we see "ease" drop upon the fellowship. They have reached the safe haven of Lorien, but there's still an ill sense about as orcs are entering into the lands and Haldir has hinted of having to fight them off.

Quote:

"You ought at least to guess, since you have seen us," said Merry. "There are elf-havens west of my land, the Shire, where Hobbits live."
"Happy folk are Hobbits to dwell near the shores of the sea!" said Haldir. "It is long indeed since any of my folk have looked on it, yet still we remember it in song. Tell me of these havens as we walk."
I think we see here more of the arrogance of elves, Haldir isn't concerned about the Shire, it's how's their own elf-haven in the Grey Havens. "oh yay, hobbits happy people, they live by elves, tell me of the elves there?" He isn't like Theoden who is interested in learning about Hobbits, only interested in hearing about his own kind. (I still like you Haldir).

davem 10-18-2004 05:58 AM

Quote:

’Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth’
Actually, Lorien is also pretty much in the geographical centre of Middle earth - or at least of the map of Middle earth. I think this is significant. We have reached a ‘centre’, the ‘heart’ of Middle earth, the heart from which everything radiates out, the source of the Otherworld in Lord of the Rings.

The Fellowship cross two rivers - Nimrodel & Celebrant - & enter a world outside Time. A death has preceded this entry, another death will follow, but within this ‘world’ time, & death, the inevitable consequence of our existence in the world of time does not exist:

Quote:

As soon as he set foot upon the far bank of Silverlode a strange feeling had come upon him, & it deepened as he walked on into the Naith: it seemed to him that he had stepped over a bridge of time into a corner of the Elder Days, & was now walking in a world that was no more. In rivendell there was memory of ancient things; in Lorien the ancient things still lived on in the waking world. Evil had been seen & heard there, sorrow had been known: the Elves feared & distrusted the world outside: wolves were howling on the wood’s borders: but on the land of Lorien no shadow lay...

It seemed to him that he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world. A light was upon it for which his language had no name. ...No blemish or sickness or deformity could be seen in anything that grew upon the earth. On the land of Lorien there was no stain.
On the land of Lorien there is no shadow, no stain, no ‘blemish’ or ‘sickness’ or ‘deformity’:

Quote:

Frodo felt that he was in a timeless land that did not fade or change or fall into forgetfulness. When he had gone & passed again into the outer world, still Frodo the wanderer from the Shire would walk there, upon the grass among elanor & niphredil in fair Lothlorien.
Lothlorien is the ‘dreamflower’. It is a land that exists primarily in a waking dream, outside time. Yet its as true to say that the outer world is a dream (Frodo does say as much to Merry at the end:

Quote:

Well here we are, just the four of us that started out together.’ said Merry. ‘We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has faded.’
‘Not to me,’ said Frodo. ‘To me it feels more like falling asleep again.’
We are in a different time - elvish time, which is not time as we know it, not serial time. Aragorn stands on Cerin Amroth, in two different ‘times’ - he is both in the ‘now’ time he shares with Frodo, & in the ‘past’ time he shared with Arwen. He is perceived by Frodo as he ‘is’: ‘At the hill’s foot Frodo found Aragorn, standing still & silent as a tree’, & also as ‘a young lord tall & fair; & he spoke words in the Elvish tongue to one whom Frodo could not see.’ (yet who can doubt that Arwen is just as present to Aragorn in that ‘moment’ as Frodo is?)

All these Lorien chapters explore the nature of time & our experience of it. Both Frodo & Aragorn will leave Lorien & ‘come there never again as living man (or hobbit), yet they will both remain there forever. Lorien itself will fade from the world & the tides of time will sweep it away, yet it too will remain ‘forever’ (else how could Frodo still walk there, & Aragorn come back - though not as ‘living man’?

From Lorien the outer world can be seen, the outer world may impinge on it, its inhabitants may pass beyond its borders. Yet it is eternally untouched on some deep level. At its ‘centre’, as we will see in the next chapter, is the Mirror of Galadriel, the place where space-time, past-present-future is accessible - almost, we could believe, where space & time (or at least time) originates, comes into being, & where dream & reality, where all potential possible futures have their origin. It is the womb of space, time, being, possibility, of dream & reality, fact & fiction.

It is the ‘heart of Elvendom on earth’.

One other observation for the moment: did anyone else notice the biblical ‘echo’ in Haldir’s statement regarding Southern Mirkwood?:

Quote:

In the midst upon a stony height stands Dol Guldur, where long the enemy had his dwelling. We fear that now it is inhabited again, & with power [b]sevenfold]/b].
It reminded me of Jesus parable about a demon being cast out of a person:

Quote:

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, & findeth none.
Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; & when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept & garnished.

Then goeth he, & taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, & they enter in & dwell there: & the last state of that man is worse than the first.

Mithalwen 10-18-2004 11:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Boromir88
In Boromir's words hold truth, actually, he is slightly hinting he wishes to lead the company, that we can tell. But, also in his words about Lorien. Interesting how later on in the Chapter we have...

The Gondorian loremen have obviously misunderstood the tales of Lorien, but they are true, here we get to hear from Haldir saying no orcs will ever leave. And later, we see the Company is very reluctant to leave Lorien, especially Gimli. Boromir just misinterprets it as a place of evil, and a place they shouldn't go in.




.

While I think you were a bit mean to Haldir - it was the sea he was keen to know about... although he admittedly is less interested in the Hobbits than Theoden, it is an interesting point about Boromir and provides an interesting comparison with Faramir's conversation with Frodo regarding Lorien and Galadriel. Faramir would have known the same legends as Boromir and probably many more since he was more interested in Lore and sought to learn as much as possible from Gandalf, and he has a rather more positive view. Of course the tale of Mithrellas may have been too much of an after thought to be fully integrated into the story, but I wonder if Faramir had been there in his brother's stead, if he would have been as uncomfortable. Boromir has no sense that Lothlorien has a place, no matter how distant in his heritage ( through his mother Finduilas of Dol Amroth). The first time we meet Faramir he is talking Sindaarin as a language of choice. Presumably, Boromir spoke Elvish but it is no sign that it makes him more at ease at Rivendell and Lorien. I imagiene this is allied to his being more akin in spirit to the men of Rohan, a people who "won" their land and kingship in deeds of battle. I wonder if there is also an implicit desire to break with the past and the Numenorean heritage. I suspect that if Boromir had acceded to the stewardship and Aragorn had not been around, he might have tried to become a king.

Firefoot 10-18-2004 02:04 PM

I think one of the more humorous aspects of this chapter is the Elves' reception of the hobbits:
Quote:

"We had not heard of - hobbits, of halfilings, for many a long year, and did not know that any yet dwelt in Middle-earth."
This coming from Elves is very interesting, being that the Elves are the ones that are passing over the sea. It is followed by:
Quote:

"You do not look evil!"
and later:
Quote:

"The four hobbits shall climb up here and stay with us - we do not fear them!"
It would seem that something that the Elves had heard before would lead them to believe that hobbits are an "evil" race - how ironic that hobbits are quite the opposite: so peace-loving and absorbed in themselves that they don't really need rules except because they have always been there! They say that they had once heard of hobbits; perhaps these might be those of Gollum's kind? Geographically, they were very close. This would not account for the evil connotations of hobbits however; I find it very unlikely that they may have heard of Gollum (certainly would have been enough to set their minds against hobbits) because they did not recognize him when he entered Lothlorien. The only other thing I can think of is that maybe old tales about hobbits (like those in Rohan) were somehow contorted so that the true facts were long forgotten.

Aldarion Elf-Friend 10-19-2004 09:14 AM

The first thing that I noted when starting this chapter was that it is the last of the three multi-chapter "havens" in the first two books. We have three-chapter House of Bombadill, the two-chapter House of Elrond, and now the three-chapter Lothlorian. I don't recall there being much in the way of havens from here on out - maybe with Treebeard in Fangorn - certainly not for Frodo and Master Samwise.

Another thing that really stuck out to me in this chapter is the continuation of the "humanizing" of Legolas. Under Moria he displayed true fear for the first time, and here in Lorian, when confronted with the prospect of being blindfolded, he protests indignantly. I almost laughed out loud when I read that last night.

Finally, this chapter marks the final example of the contrast in Gimli's and Legolas' relationship. In this chapter they are still somewhat acrimonious ("But I will be content, if only Legolas here share my blindness") but in the next, Tolkein makes a point of mentioning the change after Celeborn and Galadrial show Gimli the same honor as the rest of the company.

I am glad to have finally caught up to everyone else. It looks like a wild ride with the good Professor.

Lalwendë 10-19-2004 09:34 AM

Re-reading this chapter again it became clear that throughout chapters 4 to 8, we see some interesting contrasts made between Elves and Dwarves. We see differences in the construction of their realms, of the cultures, and also in symbolism. This is cleverly done, as on the surface we read several chapters filled with exciting action, but also we read essential background information and gain food for thought about both races. I’ve described a few of the differences I picked up on below:

The realm of Lothlorien is constructed upwards, out of the ground by making use of the trees and building within them; the elves use flets and live up high in the treetops as the ground is not a safe place to be. In Moria, the realm is built downwards, into the very roots of the earth. While the Elves are made safer by going upwards, towards the heavens as it were, the Dwarves are endangered by delving too deeply.

At the centre of Lothlorien is the Mirror of Galadriel which is a magical scrying or visualisation tool, to which water must be added in order for it to be used. It appears to reflect time in several dimensions. Outside Moria there is the Mirrormere, Kheled-Zaram – we do not know if this possesses any powers like those of Galadriel’s mirror, but it is interesting that it too reflects something – not time, but the heavens. This is saying something to me about the importance of the concept of time to an immortal, but at this stage of the afternoon I am unable to fully get my head around that sudden thought – might come back to it later. ;)

The waning of the power of Moria is symbolised by the tomb of Balin, while the eventual waning of Lothlorien will be marked by the final resting place of Arwen on Cerin Amroth; one tomb is of stone, the other of earth.

In both Moria and Lothlorien, perilous crossings must be made. In Moria, the crossing is over a seemingly bottomless chasm, on a narrow bridge of stone; in Lothlorien the crossing is over water, on a rope bridge. Interestingly, it is the second crossing which is presented as giving the Hobbits more fear.

Another contrast is that the Fellowship do not willingly enter Moria and are forced to make their journey through the darkness which effectively blinds them. The trip into Lothlorien is on the whole willingly taken, and when Gimli is threatened with being blindfolded, Aragorn elects for the whole company to be blinded for a time.

The Lord of Moria is now the Balrog; contrast this with Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlorien. His (is it a he?) power comes from a dark flame and shadow, whereas the power of Galadriel comes from both Nenya, and from the fact that she has been blessed with living beneath the light of the trees in Valinor.

We can also see the relationship between Elves and Dwarves reflected here. The gates of Moria have been constructed with the use of Elvish art and part of the Book of Mazarbul is written in Elvish, demonstrating that at least one of the Dwarves had taken time to learn the language, but actually seemed to prefer using it to his own - or did he intend that Elves may later find this book? In Lothlorien, Gimli is by law blindfolded, and there are clear tensions between the two races, but then we see Galadriel's acceptance of Gimli, and his admiration for her possibly prompting his friendship with Legolas. It appears that there are but remnants of any close relationship between the two races, and that it takes one as long-lived and wise as Galadriel to bridge the gap between the races.

One final thought - just like Jerry Springer ;) - it also becomes clear how insular both Dwarves and Elves can be. Neither races like to enter the realms of each other, expressing deep distrust. And this display of insularity is further compounded with the obvious lack of both trust and knowledge of other races which Boromir displays. What Haldir says about Sauron's 'divide and rule' policy is made quite clear!

mark12_30 10-19-2004 01:35 PM

Durin, water, and Cerin Amroth
 
During the last Chapter, Gimli sang about Durin rising and walking alone, naming nameless hills and dells, and sang that the stars wait in Mirrormere til he wakes again from sleep.The story of a resurrection & return is told from the dwarvish perspective in the halls of Khazad-dum, not long before Gandalf's fall, battle with Durin's Bane, and death.

Durin's Bane killed Durin and Gandalf, and Gimil grieves for Gandalf as he looks on Mirrormere: ‘There lies the Mirrormere, deep Kheled-zâram!’ said Gimli sadly. ‘I remember that he said: “May you have joy of the sight! But we cannot linger there.” Now long shall I journey ere I have joy again. It is I that must hasten away, and he that must remain.’ Gandalf stays near Durin? Killed, as they suppose (and indeed, he eventually is killed) by the same Bane? Quite a link between the two. So in Gimli's tale of Durin's early history and the promise of his resurrection, in the last chapter and in this, we have a foreshadowing of Gandalf's resurrection.


One theme in the Lothlorien chapter is water, which they encounter all along their way to Lothlorien. The descriptions are gorgeous, evocative, haunting. I wanted to quote the descriptions here but it makes the post far too large... I'll leave in a few snippets.

Dimrill Stair and the torrent beside it "like a white lace over an endless ladder of short falls". Mirrormere, Khelen Zaram: "Yet its waters were dark: a deep blue like clear evening sky seen from a lamp-lit room." The well "clear as crystal"and the first Stream, "glistening and gurgling", and the second: "...plunged over a fall of green-hued stone, and foamed down into a dell. " In this dell, Aragorn tends to Frodo and Sam (interesting that they carry the only wounds from Moria.)

The third stream is Nimrodel, soothing, cold, healing, musical. Legolas sings to them "in the Westron speech, as some in Rivendell now sing it." Legolas paid attention in Rivendell!

The legend continues: "But in the spring when the wind is in the new leaves the echo of her voice may still be heard by the falls that bear her name. And when the wind is in the South the voice of Amroth comes up from the sea; for Nimrodel flows into Silverlode, that Elves call Celebrant, and Celebrant into Anduin the Great, and Anduin flows into the Bay of Belfalas whence the Elves of Lórien set sail."

That the history/legend/ myth of Amroth and Nimrodel is well-known to the Mirkwood elves is significant. This also is significant:

Quote:

"‘Behold! You are come to Cerin Amroth,’ said Haldir. ‘For this is the heart of the ancient realm as it was long ago, and here is the mound of Amroth, where in happier days his high house was built."
Note that *Cerin Amroth* was the heart of the ancient realm.

Aragorn backs this:
Quote:

"‘Here is the heart of Elvendom on earth,’ he said, ‘and here my heart dwells ever, unless there be a light beyond the dark roads that we still must tread, you and I. Come with me!’ And taking Frodo’s hand in his, he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man."
That Cerin Amroth is the heart of elvendom, and not Caras Galadhon, is further emphasized in that Arwen did not return to Caras Galadhon to die; she returned to Cerin Amroth.

It is at Cerin Amroth that Frodo touches the mallorn-bark, and has his mystical encounters with time and timelessnes, and with the elvish past; and even with the Sea:
Quote:

"They entered the circle of white trees. As they did so the South Wind blew upon Cerin Amroth and sighed among the branches. Frodo stood still, hearing far off, great seas upon beaches that had long ago been washed away, and sea-birds crying whose race had perished from the earth."
Does he, as Legolas implied above, hear the voice of Amroth in the wind from the south?

EDIT: More ragged thoughts regarding Cerin Amroth:

Nimrodel had her house in the trees as did Amroth. In HoME, the debate continues as to which of them chose this mode of living first, Nimrodel or Amroth, but the talan is credited to one or the other (hence both). For the past thousand years, the lifestyle of the Lorien elves has had its roots (and branches) in that tradition and even Celeborn and Galadriel follow it.

Nimrodel represents the little stream and the silver waterfall. (I am rather tempted to include with that all the minor waters that the fellowship encountered on their way down from the mountains: the cascading waterfall of lace, the well with thestone lip over which a waterfall bubbled.) Amroth represents the Sea; yet though they plighted their troth, they never reached the Undying lands where they were to be wed. So Cerin Amroth (the heart of Elvendom on earth) represents trees and what they are, time and timelessness, memory, long-lost shores. But it also represents the longing of the Stream for the Sea, and the call of the Sea to the Stream.

Even the elves of Rivendell and Mirkwood sing about the sundered lovers-- and about Nimrodel's stream and waterfall. The tale of Nimrodel and Amroth (as Legolas knows it) ends in sadness and separation and unfulfilled longing. Yet more; if one reads further in HoME, Amroth waited at the havens til a storm took the ship. Nimrodel, lost in the White Mountains, slept by a stream in the white mountains that reminded her of her own. In this tale of two lovers (known and retold in three major elf-settlements) that sets the flet-lifestyle for all the elves of Lorien, and represents 'the heart of elvendom on earth'-- the stream never met the sea; that desire is unfulfilled in Middle-Earth.

The Saucepan Man 10-19-2004 06:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lalwendë
We can also see the relationship between Elves and Dwarves reflected here.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aldarion Elf-Friend
Finally, this chapter marks the final example of the contrast in Gimli's and Legolas' relationship.

Similar thoughts occurred to me while reading this Chapter.

While, as others have noted, there are a number of themes here, it seems to me that, to a large extent, this Chapter concerns Dwarves and Elves: their cultural identities and the relationship between them. We start the Chapter at the Eastern Gate of the ancient and culturally significant Dwarven realm of Moria and we end it at the heart of Elvendom on earth.

And more specifically, the Chapter largely concerns Gimli and Legolas. I have on other threads observed that these two are the least developed, in terms of the complexity of their characters, out of the Fellowship. I stand by that view. But this Chapter helps to build their cultural identity and give them a history.

In the previous Chapter, we were given an insight into Dwarven culture with the descriptions of Moria and Gimli's reaction to it. In this regard, this Chapter picks up where the previous one left off. We see that the former Dwarven realm extended beyond the caverns of Moria into the Dimrill Dale:


Quote:

But still it could be seen that once long ago a great paved way had wound upwards from the lowlands of the Dwarf-kingdom. In places there were ruined works of stone beside the path, and mounds of green topped with slender birches, or fir-trees sighing in the wind.
The importance of this place within Dwarven culture is clear from Gimli's reaction to the Mirrormere. At first he resists the urge to tarry there, remembering Gandalf's words to him. But, on seeing Durin's Stone, he gives in to his need to take in the place properly:


Quote:

"That is Durin's Stone!" cried Gimli. "I cannot pass without turning aside for a moment to look at the wonder of the dale!"
We learn of the significance of the Stone and the Mirrormere in Gimli's words to Frodo, and particularly when we see Gimli bowing to the Crown of Durin before turning and walking away.

Similarly, with Legolas we gain an insight into the importance of Lothlorien within Elven culture. Just as Gimli marvelled at the workings of Moria, Legolas marvels at the wonder and beauty of Lothlorien:


Quote:

There lie the woods of Lothlorien" said Legolas. "That is the fairest of all the dwellings of my people. There are no trees like the trees of that land. For in the autumn their leaves fall not, but turn to gold. Not till the spring comes and the new green opens do they fall, and then the boughs are laden with yellow flowers; and the floor of the wood is golden, and golden is the roof, and its pillars are of silver, for the bark of the trees is smooth and grey. So still our songs in Mirkwood say.
And, of course, Legolas is inspired by the sound of Nimrodel to sing of the Elven maiden who gave her name to it and to relate to the Fellowship the tale of Amroth and Nimrodel. Although his home is far from this place, the song and the tale, and indeed Lothlorien itself, remain an integral part of his cultural heritage.

And, in addition to gaining an insight into their history, we learn more of Gimli and Legolas as characters. Both feature far more prominently in the dialogue than they have in previous Chapters. Gimli shares a moment with the Frodo as they stand at the Mirrormere together (and also later as they walk together). And it is Frodo who Legolas first introduces to Haldir and his companions. So both characters are closely linked with the Ringbearer, the central figure in the Quest, in this Chapter. (Notably, on both occasions Sam follows Frodo unbidden, almost automatically. Clearly, Sam is going to honour his commitment to stick with Frodo through thick and thin.)

But this Chapter does not simply concern Gimli and Legolas as individuals. It also concerns the nature of their relationship and (as Lalwendë has noted) the nature of the relationship between Dwarves and Elves generally. The tension between the races is reflected in Haldir's reaction to the presence of a Dwarf in the party and in the heated discussions which lead to the entire party being blindfolded. The stark difference between the modes of living favoured by the two races, which reflects their differing natures, has been commented on by Lalwendë, and this can also be seen in two comments made by their representatives within the Fellowship. In response to Frodo's indication that he has heard footfalls following the party, Gimili stoops low to the ground and comments that he can hear "nothing but the night-speech of plant and stone". In contrast to these earthy images, Legolas observes later in the Chapter that he is "at home among the trees".

It is the uneasy relationship between Dwarves and Elves and the differences between them that form the backdrop to the firm bond which subsequently develops between Gimli and Legolas. And there are hints here that foreshadow that friendship. The road that the Fellowship has followed leads from a (former) Elven realm (Eregion) through a (former) Dwarven realm (Moria) to another Elven realm (Lothlorien), providing a direct link between these three lands. Historically, there was friendship and co-operation between Dwarves and the Elves, and we are reminded of that here when Aragorn tends to Frodo's wounds and discovers the Mithril shirt: a mail corselet made by Dwarves for an Elven princeling.

It is also interesting that Haldir makes Legolas directly responsible for Gimli during their passage through Lothlorien. Indeed, he makes Legolas responsible for the entire Fellowship, but he specifically refers to the Elf's responsibility for the Dwarf. However grudging it may be at first, there is the beginning of a bond between the two of them here.

Some further observations:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Aldarion Elf-Friend
Another thing that really stuck out to me in this chapter is the continuation of the "humanizing" of Legolas. Under Moria he displayed true fear for the first time, and here in Lorian, when confronted with the prospect of being blindfolded, he protests indignantly.

Another similar incident occurs when Legolas attempts to climb the Mallorn tree and is challenged by Haldir:


Quote:

"Daro!" it said in commanding tone, and Legolas dropped back to the earth in surprise and fear. He shrank against the bole of the tree.

"Stand still!" he whispered to the others. "Do not move or speak!"
It's notable that Legolas is not only startled, but also frightened, by the challenge, notwithstanding that he must surely recognise the voice as that of an Elf. But it's a nice moment of tension, albeit one which is swiftly broken by the laughter of the Lorien Elves.

Finally, when the Fellowship stand on the edge of Lothlorien, Boromir comments that it is perilous (the perilous realm). In response, Aragorn says:


Quote:

"Perilous indeed ... fair and perilous; but only evil need fear it, or those who bring some evil with them."
What is interesting to me here is that is precisely what the Fellowship are doing. They are bringing an object of great evil into the perilous realm. Shouldn't they therefore fear the place?

Bęthberry 10-19-2004 09:20 PM

A subtle distinction
 
I fear to make a rather short and unsubstantial post after so many thoughtful and perceptive posts. I particularly like Mark12_30's point about the importance of water and the observation that only Frodo and Sam are injured in Moria (aside from Gandalf, of course).

Esty, Sam is also able to make jokes at his own expense:

Quote:

"Once I do get to sleep," said Sam, "I shall go on sleeping, whether I roll off or not. And the less said, the sooner I'll drop off, if you take my meaning."

Quote:

Saucepan Man wrote:
What is interesting to me here is that is precisely what the Fellowship are doing. They are bringing an object of great evil into the perilous realm. Shouldn't they therefore fear the place?
An interesting question, but one I think that can be answered by considering the nature of bringing evil. For now at least, the Fellowship is in control over that evil rather than being controlled by it. They themselves are not tarnished by the object. Thus, they themselves would have nothing to fear from the realm which opposes the Enemy who is the source of that evil. That is, the Fellowship and the Perilous Realm are in league together against that evil.

The point which struck me forcibly on rereading this chapter is the relative absence of Boromir. I think it is quite right to say the chapter focusses upon Gimli and Legolas as part of the developing them of rapproachment between their races. However, I am getting very much the sense that Tolkien has marked Boromir from the start, so to speak, for failure; he is in fact a foil who helps us see better Aragorn's honour. Boromir is rather a vain , perhaps even petulant and limited man.

As others of you have discussed very ably previously, in the Council of Elrond, Boromir appears proud, even conceited. I have the sense that, even though he is noble and bold, his attitude is presumptuous and hollow even. He lacks self-knowledge. He has had his role as heir to the Stewardship of Gondor given to him; he has not had to struggle to learn about that role, as Aragorn has had to struggle to learn how to perfect himself for Kingship.

In Moria, while Boromir fights valiantly, none of his actions provide substantial defense. He jimmies shut doors which ultimately are forced open. He is thrust down by an orc. It is Aragorn, with Andúril, who splits an orc's head, not Boromir. His horn only temporarily puts fear into the hearts of the orcs. Now, in Lothlorien, Boromir's only role is to be, well, perhaps querulous is unfair. Maybe call it obstreperous. He seems to be placed in the position of always arguing the limited point of view where Aragorn is given the broader perspective. His knowledge is shown to be limited.

It is possible I am reading too much into the contrast between Aragorn and Boromir, but I cannot help but think that Tolkien cleverly has each man act out very different qualities in the heroic ideal, even from the beginning. One is the hollow pretender who lacks substance while the other is tested and being found true. It is a very subtle depiction which contrasts the male boaster with the man of true worth. Vainglory versus true glory.

mark12_30 10-20-2004 04:58 AM

I'm behind in posting my notes and in reading the threads...but--

Saucie wrote:
Quote:

However grudging it may be at first, there is the beginning of a bond between the two of them here.
In the previous chapter, when Gimli still lingered by Balin's tomb, it was Legolas who dragged him away.

(This for the esteemed H-I--
Just gave my water-post a major edit. See last three paragraphs.
Yours,
--"There's a Good Lassie")

Lord Melkor 10-20-2004 05:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bęthberry
It is possible I am reading too much into the contrast between Aragorn and Boromir, but I cannot help but think that Tolkien cleverly has each man act out very different qualities in the heroic ideal, even from the beginning. One is the hollow pretender who lacks substance while the other is tested and being found true. It is a very subtle depiction which contrasts the male boaster with the man of true worth. Vainglory versus true glory.

Although I'm loath to disagree with a respected poster such as Bethberry, I'm afraid you're being too harsh on poor Boromir. After all, we later find out that Boromir is highly respected by many outstanding people, including Faramir, Imrahil, Eomer and basically every Gondorian. Aragorn and Legolas too consider him to be a noble man (as evidenced by their eulogy in the Two Towers). In fact, Boromir is universally admired and respected by all who know him. I find it hard to believe that all those outstanding people would admire a man you classify as a 'hollow pretender who lacks substance' and a 'male boaster'. Of course Boromir will look weak compared to Aragorn, but Aragorn is a pretty high standard to hold a man to. And Aragorn comes off as pretty arrogant at times too and makes a couple of dodgy judgement calls at times, like charging the Balrog. It's good thing Gandalf ended it right then and there or both Boromir and Aragorn would've been toast. (pun intended, thank-you-very-much) ;) .At least Boromir could defend himself by claiming to be ignorant of a Balrog's power. I'm afraid that Aragorn, having spend most of his life around Elves and well-known in Elven lore (as evidenced by his knowledge of the Lay of Leithian), didn't have that luxury and must therefore have made the conscious decision to suicide-charge a Balrog. Pretty dodgy judgement if you ask me, unless he felt he could take on a Balrog, in which case he would be the one with the dangerously inflated ego, not Boromir. :p

I also agree that Boromir doesn't possess the knowledge Aragorn does, and that his assessment of Lothlorien was at least incomplete. But Boromir was simply telling what he had been taught by the Gondorian loremasters, while Aragorn was tutored by the Elves of Rivendel. Boromir never had access to Elven knowledge and therefore had to rely on the faulty knowledge he had been supplied with. Therefore, while your assessment that Boromir's knowledge was limited is true, I disagree with the implied statement that this was somehow Boromir's fault. Indeed, Faramir also considers Lothlorien to be perilous as does Aragorn, though Aragorn refines Boromir's statement. Therefore Boromir's remark wasn't completely without merit, but simply needed refinement which Aragorn courteously provided. :D

mark12_30 10-20-2004 06:21 AM

Yet another connection:

"Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree
By caves where never sun has shone
by streams that never find the sea."

By the time Bilbo sang this, he had been through Rivendell twice. Going East, he spent "fourteen days at least" in Rivendell, and "I wish I had time to tell you even a few of the tales or one or two of the songs that they heard in that house". During his westward return trip he spent a week there, "and he had many a merry jest and dance, early and late, with the elves of the valley."


I wonder how much that influenced his song. Gollum's cave certainly fits the description "Caves where never sun has shone" (and I suppose one could also argue that in Gollum's cave are also found "streams that never find the sea." Nevertheles, to me, the third line says "Moria" and the fourth, "Nimrodel." The two are bound, because it was from the chaos caused by the awakening of Durin's Bane that Nimrodel fled, til Amroth proposed to her on the borders of Fangorn. I wonder; did he end up connecting his own story to the Greater Story, to the lasting themes beloved of the elves that he heard during his times in Rivendell?

Fordim Hedgethistle 10-20-2004 08:59 AM

So much to say, so much to read, so much to address in this wonderful chapter: *pant* *pant*.

Quote:

'Perilous indeed,' said Aragorn, 'fair and perilous; but only evil need fear it, or those who bring some evil with them. Follow me!'
I think that this comment is directed by Aragorn straight at Boromir, for he knows that Boromir, for all of his warrior’s abilities and nobility of heart, suffers from one of the greatest weaknesses in Men of this age: ignorance. Boromir doesn’t know about the Golden Wood, just as he didn’t know about the Balrog; Boromir is utterly ignorant of the conflict between light and dark that this chapter is so much about. Lord Melkor makes the interesting point that Boromir’s ignorance of the Balrog makes his charge more heroic than Aragorn’s which becomes by comparison foolhardy – to that, I would argue the contrary: it takes a brave man to charge a Balrog! (And you know what, given who Aragorn is, I think he might have stood a chance!) I’m afraid on this one I must agree with my esteemed colleague Bęthberry: Boromir is an admirable Man, but one who is interested primarily, if not wholly, in himself and his own land: his vision is narrow, and as a consequence he sees himself as a big fish in what turns out to be a pond smaller than he had supposed.

The word “perilous” is, of course, wonderful, for it sets up Lorien not as a dangerous place, but as one that is full of risks; it’s risky entering the Golden Woods, unlike going into Moria which is just downright dangerous. Like all risks, the dangers are offset by possible rewards. Nothing is given in Lorien without a commensurate price being paid (the Fellowship is admitted, but they must go blindfolded; they gain shelter for a time, but Gollum is now following them).

This leads me into another important comparison that I think is taking place in the chapter. The comments so far on the relationship between Dwarves and Elves have been wonderful, but what about the connection being stated between Lorien and the Shire?

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'Welcome!' the Elf then said again in the Common Language, speaking slowly. 'We seldom use any tongue but our own; for we dwell now in the heart of the forest, and do not willingly have dealings with any other folk.'
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'We had not heard of -- hobbits, or halflings, for many a long year, and did not know that any yet dwelt in Middle-earth. You do not look evil!'
Switch the words “Elf” and “Hobbit” in the above two quotes, and the speaker could easily be Ted Sandyman rather than Haldir! The Elves of Lorien seemingly have the same kind or parochial attitude as to the Hobbits: they are inward looking and concerned primarily with the preservation of their own world. In this way, they are a lot like Boromir as well, who knows little of the lands beyond Gondor and cares to know even less. In fact, of all the members of the Fellowship, it is only Aragorn (now that Gandalf is gone) who not only has knowledge of all these various realms, but who is welcome in each and is able to traverse them.

Frodo makes the distinction between Rivendell as a land of “memory” and Lorien as a place where “the Elder Days” still exist. This is the continuation and perhaps the fulfilment of his move from the Shire, where he got his first real ‘history lesson’ – he’s moving from history (the distanced and objectified relation of the past) through memory (personal/individual apprehension of the past) to actually being in the past. davem has already magnificently addressed the nature of Lorien as a timeless realm so I shall not duplicate his points here. I will merely add to this point the observation that from this point of the narrative and following, the company will move away from this timeless ‘heart’ and into the realm of history once more. It’s almost as though, having moved from history to the personal experience of the past, the company is now fully prepared to participate in that continuing history.

This chapter ends with one of the most affecting moments in the book; it gets me every time:

Quote:

And taking Frodo's hand in his, he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man.
This moment always reminds me of the affinity between Frodo and Aragorn; they are two very different kinds of heroes, but there are some important commonalities. For Aragorn, Lothlorien is his Shire: it is where he is content, and where he would like to remain at his ease forever, but it is his doom to leave this place forever in order to save it. Both Aragorn and Frodo gain through the course of their trials a wider vision of the world – Aragorn has already achieved this, while Frodo is on his way toward this wider view. The consequence of this larger apprehension, however, is the loss of the easy innocence which allows others to remain within the closed borders of their world. It’s telling that it is Frodo and Aragorn who stand atop Cerin Amroth and see ‘the lay of the land’ for they are the two heroes who are on journeys that will end with a full view of the world. The rest will be able to retain some of their innocence, some of their limited view, and retreat within the comfortable confines of their homes at the conclusion. At the same time, I think that Boromir is there as a warning against adopting too closed a view: by refusing to see wider or beyond, he falls to the peril of the Ring.

mark12_30 10-20-2004 12:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fordie
The consequence of this larger apprehension, however, is the loss of the easy innocence which allows others to remain within the closed borders of their world. .... It’s telling that it is Frodo and Aragorn who stand atop Cerin Amroth and see ‘the lay of the land’ for they are the two heroes who are on journeys that will end with a full view of the world.

Also interesting that both Aragorn and Frodo, with their full view of the world, *choose* to depart it. Aragorn chooses to depart from a grey-stone bier in Rath Dinen, 'The Silent Street', leaving Gondor and Arnor to his son despite Arwen's tears (Arwen will depart from Cerin Amroth, oft mentioned above).

Frodo chooses to depart from the Mithlond pier and 'The Straight Road', leaving The Shire to Sam, despite Sam's tears.

Fascinating connection indeed, Fordie.

davem 10-20-2004 01:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Lalwende
The realm of Lothlorien is constructed upwards, out of the ground by making use of the trees and building within them; the elves use flets and live up high in the treetops as the ground is not a safe place to be. In Moria, the realm is built downwards, into the very roots of the earth. While the Elves are made safer by going upwards, towards the heavens as it were, the Dwarves are endangered by delving too deeply.

This is interesting - especially in that traditionally Elves do not live up trees, they also live under the earth, in the Hollow Hills. The traditional Elven dwelling is of the kind we find in Doriath, Nargothrond, & Mirkwood. But often entering the earth through a tunnel or passageway leads the traveller into another world, with stars, moon & sun shining within the earth. What we have in Moria is almost a descent into hell, ending with a confrontation with a demon. Adtually, living in trees seems quite an odd lifestyle - very 'Boy's Own', in fact - which of us didn't enjoy climbing trees, & who (if they didn't have one) wouldn't have loved a treehouse?

Symbolically, though, it does seem significant that danger is within the earth, & that 'salvation' is to be found in being as far away from the earth as possible.

Mirrormere is, as you say, different from Galadriel's Mirror, in its function & in what it symbolises. Mirrormere is 'passive' - it doesn't so much 'reveal' as merely reflect, & it reflects 'eternity' - days may pass, sun & moon may cross the sky, people may pass by & look into its depths, but it doesn't reflect any of that, it reflects only the depths of space, the mountains & the stars of Durin's crown. What that says about the psyche of the Dwarves, I'm not sure. Perhaps their choice of working in stone & metal is part of it, the desire to create 'permanence' (who knows, maybe in their secret hearts they desire to become things of stone, permanent, unchanging - physically 'eternal'. Elves focus on temporary things - trees, cloth, books, language. The mortal race seeks permanence, while the immortal race are drawn to the transitory. As Blake said 'Eternity is in love with the productions of Time' which would seem to sum up the Elves, & the corollary, that the 'productions of Time are in love with Eternity' perhaps sums up the attitude of mortals.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Helen
. In this tale of two lovers (known and retold in three major elf-settlements) that sets the flet-lifestyle for all the elves of Lorien, and represents 'the heart of elvendom on earth'-- the stream never met the sea; that desire is unfulfilled in Middle-Earth.

Water is the significant element - it divides, & unites (there are watercourses to cross - many of them dangerous, but the two sides are linked by the water), it reveals (Galadriel's Mirror)& conceals (Mirrormere), it bars & allows access (ultimately the Sundering Sea itself).

As to Bethberry's & Fordim's points regarding the difference between Aragorn & Boromir, I must agree, up to a point. Yet, Aragorn, knowing his destiny, & his obligations, both to the Company & to his people, is undeniably reckless, & even if Boromir does not know the nature of the Balrog, he does display a selfless courage in the act of running to Gandalf's aid - no less than Eowyn displays in her defence of Theoden - & she has no more knowledge of what the Witch King is than Boromir does of the Balrog.

I was reading an extract today from anew book about the end of WW2, specifically describing the last defence put up by the Hitler Youth. Its reckoned that they were far more dangerous than the adult soldiers, & would often surrender & then throw concealed grenades at their 'captors', & they would fight on longer than the adult soldiers, & have far less sense of personal safety. Basically, they, at 12, 13, 14 years old had not developed adult sensitivities, like compassion, respect for life, retaining still that 'childlike' visciousness which can be seen in schoolyards across the world.

Now, I don't want to compare Boromir to a Hitler Youth, but I always feel there is that kind of childlike 'certainty' of being absolutely right, of being willing to fight to the end, & use any means to hand to win, no matter who suffers. Boromir to me is a man who has never really grown up. He sulks, expects to be the centre of attention, knows he's RIGHT, & can't believe everyone else is so stupid that they can't see it. He looks for glory in battle & probably never quite believs he could die, or that anything really bad could ever happen to him. It makes him a great warrior, but not the kind of person you really want around when things are peaceful - because if he is around things won't stay peaceful for very long. He certainly is admired for his prowess, loved by his kin & respected by his men, but he's simply not 'loveable' in himself. Lord Melkor is right up to a point:

Quote:

Aragorn and Legolas too consider him to be a noble man (as evidenced by their eulogy in the Two Towers). In fact, Boromir is universally admired and respected by all who know him.
But, as Shippey (I think) has pointed out, the 'eulogy' of Aragorn & Legolas, doesn't ever say Boromir was a nice guy - He is 'fair', 'tall', 'bold', he 'fought many foes'. He will be missed by the people of his city - obviously - he is a great Captain, & they are fighting a desperate war. But can we imagine him in a settled, loving relationship, with children, ruling as Steward in a time of peace? No - well, I can't. Of the two, Faramir is the grown up. Boromir is a man who in a sense has been 'lucky' to have been born in wartime. His greatness comes only from the opportunities offered by war.

As to Bethberry's other point:

Quote:

An interesting question, but one I think that can be answered by considering the nature of bringing evil. For now at least, the Fellowship is in control over that evil rather than being controlled by it. They themselves are not tarnished by the object. Thus, they themselves would have nothing to fear from the realm which opposes the Enemy who is the source of that evil. That is, the Fellowship and the Perilous Realm are in league together against that evil.
I'm not sure, & probably lean toward's SpM's position. The Fellowship do bring 'evil' into Lorien - the most evil (& dangerous) thing in existence (not that you'd know it by the way the rest of the Company act - forgetting Frodo & Sam & wandering off & leaving them on their own - imagine if some orc or warg had ambushed them & taken the Ring! Aragorn: 'OOPS! I knew there was something I was supposed to be doing back there!)

The Ring is taken into the 'heart of Elvendom on earth', & I suppose we can ask what the significance & symbolism of that is - the 'serpent' has entered 'Paradise' & temptation must inevitably follow. 'Middle earth's 'Eve' will be tempted by the power to become as God, but she is also Middle earth's 'Mary' & she will reject what is offered, choose the role of humble 'handmaid', pass into the West, & remain Galadriel.

Guinevere 10-20-2004 01:55 PM

More timeless wisdom from Haldir
 
One of my very favourite quotes is what Haldir tells the fellowhip:
Quote:

The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.
In the movie, they have Galadriel say "In all lands love is now mingled with grief." but characteristically left out the end of the sentence. "...it grows perhaps the greater"
Somehow this reminds me of the Silmarillion:
"Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Ea, and evil yet good to have been.

Bęthberry 10-21-2004 07:59 AM

The Northern Heroic Ideal
 
How pleasant it is to find one's arguements developed and thoughtfully considered even when one was called away sadly without time for the Downs yesterday. I can now be the lazier for the work of my admirable, enthusiastic colleague, Fordim and davem's perceptive thoughts on the nature of who we call to be soldiers . (There's a pint for you at the Faculty Club after work on Friday ;) One for Lord Melkor, too ).

Quote:

Lord Melkor posted:
I'm afraid you're being too harsh on poor Boromir.
I suppose it is possible to see the word I used, 'hollow,' as too harsh, particularly if one has mainly in mind T.S. Eliot's use of the word, "We are the hollow men." Yet I did give Boromir his due, I think, and recognised his nobility. The distinction between Boromir and Aragorn is one that is subtle, I said, and so I don't think the point is simply that I did not recognise Boromir's strengths. What I was interested in was how he differs from Aragorn.

What I am getting at--and I am helped immensely not only by Fordim's reply about Boromir's lack of knowledge but by davem's point that Boromir is limited--is two things. First of all, we have a writer of the calibre Tolkien was using the son of Gondor as a foil to the returning king. This is to be expected almost. The Stewardship will be shown to be a heroic and noble effort but one that, in this long defeat, will succumb, as all in this world does, to its own downfall. It is the King who has his eye on the greater vision.

The second point which influenced my thoughts on Boromir was Tolkien's own essay on the Old English poem The Battle of Maldon--there's that wonderful post, an essay really, by the now absent Squatter of Amon Rűdh about Tolkien's concept of the heroic Northern ideal, the warrior-leader who abandons his rightful role as protector of his realm to engage in a chivalrous battle which turns the fate of nations and peoples into a personal competition. I am not sure how much we can specifically 'import' here to Boromir. Yet I think that it is helpful to consider the point that Tolkien had well developed thoughts on the nature of the heroic Northern Ideal. This does not mean that automatically we must dredge for them in LotR and risk raising our own form of balrog, but I think it is valuable to consider the depiction of Boromir within this light.

So, my point was not to deny Boromir's strengths and nobility but to suggest that Tolkien as a writer is engaging in some rather serious thoughts about the nature of the masculine ideal. In a book which holds up Frodo and Sam as the unexpected heroes--and which sees Eowyn and Merry defeat the Witch-King--I would think it would be quite plausible to consider whether Tolkien was rewrting the entire book on heroic ideal--something which would necessarily entail both a character who appears to be the most like the traditional ideal and who also carries in him the potential flaw of that ideal, the flaw of hubris. Boromir's conceit is never to question himself. (This is my way of saying Fordim's point that Boromir always thinks he is right.) Aragorn does this constantly, as does Frodo, and Sam, too, comes to consider the merits of choice offered to him. Boromir lacks this self-reflexivity. This does not negate his other admirable qualities, but it does limit them.

There are so many other very interesting points to consider here but yesterday's rude interruption on my Down's time ;) has meant I am still catching up. I would ask one thing, though, which arises from davem's thoughts about Sauce's comment on the Fellowship bringing evil into the Perilous Realm. Why has this question become important for Lothlorien? Why did we not consider any symbolic meaning when the Ring was brought to Rivendell? (at least, I cannot now recall that we did.)

I shall return with a link to Squatter's essay: Squatter on Tolkien's "The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth"

The Saucepan Man 10-21-2004 09:33 AM

Some thoughts on the Boromir v Aragorn debate. I tend to agree with Lord Melkor that you were rather harsh on Boromir, Bęthberry, in your original post. Boromir is a man who undoubtedly possesses a great many admirable qualities. There has recently been a good discussion of these (as well as his less admirable qualities) in this thread: The 7 deadly sins vs. The 7 heavenly virtues. It did seem to me that you had rather skirted over these qualities, but I understand the point that you are making in your latest post. Undoubtedly, Boromir is flawed (and particularly in relation to his inability to question himself). But is that not the very nature of all in Middle-earth, indeed of Middle-earth itself, being as the whole of Arda has been tainted with Morgoth's evil? To my mind, this makes Boromir a far more credible character than Aragorn both within the context of the Legendarium and (as you will recall from the position that I took in the Psychological Depth in Tolkien's characters thread) as a character with which the reader can identify. It is also why I think it is important to note the moments where Aragorn is himself shown to have flaws (however minor). Given the extent of his knowledge concerning the nature of the Balrog, I would consider his foolhardy charge on the Bridge of Khazad-Dum as one of these.

I also take your point concerning Tolkien's approach to the heroic ideal. But there are also many other themes touched upon by Boromir's character which I think will merit consideration. These are perhaps best left until we reach the breaking of the Fellowship, Frodo's encounter with Faramir and the passages concerning Denethor and Faramir in Minas Tirith. But I did think it worth noting that, while we have seen aspects of his nobility, courage and fortitude in the preceding Chapters, we do not really get to appreciate the extent of his positive qualities until during and after his death. The first few times that I read LotR, I came away with the impression that Boromir was rather a villain. It was not until I had read it a few more times that I came to appreciate him as a far more complex and sympathetic character. And, to buck against the trend of pointing out the perceived shortcomings of the films in these discussions ( :p ), I would make the point that engendering reader/audience sympathy for Boromir is something that the films perhaps handled better than Tolkien himself.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Bęthberry
I would ask one thing, though, which arises from davem's thoughts about Sauce's comment on the Fellowship bringing evil into the Perilous Realm. Why has this question become important for Lothlorien? Why did we not consider any symbolic meaning when the Ring was brought to Rivendell? (at least, I cannot now recall that we did.)

Well, I suppose that the point arises here because Aragorn specifically makes the point that those who bring evil with them into Lothlorien have something to fear. The Ring was expected in Rivendell since the decision as to what to do with it was to be taken there. And perhaps that, at least partly, provides the answer here. Galadriel is aware of the nature of the Quest and willing to offer refuge and comfort to the Fellowship. So, although they are bringing evil with them in the shape of the Ring, they are doing so with the permission of the Lady of the Wood.

I do also take Bęthberry's point that Aragorn's comment could be interpreted as referring only to those who bring evil with them within their heart. There is support for this in that (as Esty pointed out at the outset of this thread), the comment is directed to Boromir, whose heart has already begun to be corrupted by the Ring. But would not this apply to Frodo also, since we have seen that he is already powerless on occasion to resist the temptation to wear the Ring? He too is (quite understandably, given that he is the Ringbearer) succumbing to it.

Fordim Hedgethistle 10-21-2004 10:00 AM

Saucy, you neglect the other huge difference between Rivendell and Lothlorien -- the latter has Galadriel!

The peril and the beauty of the Golden Woods is much more completely tied to the nature of Galadriel than is Rivendell to Elrond, I think; and thus, it is indeed a perilous realm for those who enter, particularly for anyone foolish enough to bring with them the One Ring, insofar as Galadriel is a far more problematic (and interesting) figure than is 'Rondy. She has not yet been 'tested' by the Ring -- there is the peril that she will take it for herself (*Fordim rubs hands gleefully in anticipation of the next chapter*).

I made the point above the "peril" pertains to risk more than to danger, but I did not really approach the question of what this risk might be. I think that it's got to do with the risk of bringing the One into contact with the Lady -- you might just get the help you are going to require for the success of your quest (counsel, the Phial, the Cloaks, lembas, etc), but at the risk of the quest's eternal failure.

I think the difference between these two realms centres upon the fact that Rivendell is a place of lore: the past is in the past, it's over and Elrond has accepted that, however ruefully. As a result, Rivendell is wonderful but not nearly so miraculous (or even magical) as Lorien: nor as dangerous. In Lorien, as davem reminds us, the time/land of faerie is still the lived reality of the realm; the past is not past, but is now. In effect, Rivendell/Elrond have made the decision to forsake Middle-earth: they've accepted the fact of their long defeat. Galadriel/Lorien have not yet made that decision -- this land knows that an end is coming, but seems not quite ready to accept that yet.

Boromir88 10-21-2004 01:14 PM

Davem wrote:
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But can we imagine him in a settled, loving relationship, with children, ruling as Steward in a time of peace? No - well, I can't.
I'm going to have to admit, neither could I. In one of Tolkien's earlier drafts, Boromir lives, and heads to Minas Tirith, with Aragorn. Aragorn takes claim to the throne, Boromir wants to reject this claim and starts stirring up trouble, a possible civil war. Then Aragorn quickly kills Boromir, before he can rally enough support. I can get more in depth and make a connection between Aragorn's claim and Arvedui's claim, but I will do that when the time is right, for I fear this will take us too off track. Anyway, now Tolkien threw out that idea, I just wanted to mention it, since it could display something about Boromir.

Bethberry I definately agree that Tolkien did make Boromir as a FOIL to Aragorn.

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(*Fordim rubs hands gleefully in anticipation of the next chapter*).
Aren't we all doing that Fordhim? Lol. I'm dying to talk about Nenya and the Mirror of Galadriel, plus a little more on Boromir.

Encaitare 10-21-2004 02:45 PM

Concerning Elf-Realms, Marchwardens, and Mellyrn
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle

I think the difference between these two realms centres upon the fact that Rivendell is a place of lore: the past is in the past, it's over and Elrond has accepted that, however ruefully. As a result, Rivendell is wonderful but not nearly so miraculous (or even magical) as Lorien: nor as dangerous. In Lorien, as davem reminds us, the time/land of faerie is still the lived reality of the realm; the past is not past, but is now. In effect, Rivendell/Elrond have made the decision to forsake Middle-earth: they've accepted the fact of their long defeat. Galadriel/Lorien have not yet made that decision -- this land knows that an end is coming, but seems not quite ready to accept that yet.
Interesting comparison of Rivendell and Lorien, Fordim. Both are elf-realms and safehavens in a time of war, maintained by the quiet power of the Elven-rings. Yet, Rivendell is the kind of place which the average person would feel safe (although possibly a bit intimidated by the wisdom of its inhabitants -- unless, of course, that person was Boromir ;) ); it is a place which people would seek for safety and knowledge. Rivendell, despite all it has to offer, is more mundane than Lorien, more connected to the "here and now." Elrond's strength is said to be not in weapons but in lore. He recognizes the past as just that, and considers it something to be learned from and not lived in.

Lorien, on the other hand, does not seem to have changed much from at least Nimrodel's time. Unlike Rivendell, it is a place that few, save Elves and those with prior knowledge of it, such as Aragorn, would choose to go. The House of Elrond is held in esteem among different peoples, but Lorien seems to have a bad rap because of its mysterious qualities. Legolas' words after singing a portion of the Lay of Nimrodel shows that the Elves have begun to fade already:

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"I cannot sing any more," he said. "That is but a part, for I have forgotten much."
The Elves are beginning to, in a sense, lose themselves to the unavoidable (however hard they try to evade it) passing of time. Fordim notes that it is understood the end of Lorien is approaching, but the Elves there, and especially Galadriel, do not seem to have accepted it. Haldir, however, speaks of a foreboding he has:

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"Some there are among us who sing that the Shadow will draw back, and peace shall come again. Yet I do not believe that the world around us will ever again be as it was of old, or the light of the Sun as it was aforetime. For the Elves, I fear, it will prove at best a truce, in which they may pass to the Sea unhindered and leave the Middle-earth forever."
One could call him pessimistic, but the fact that some of his kind are displaying what seems to be a naive sort of hope, brought on by their prolonged detachment from the rest of the world, makes him seem quite the realist. He also seems to understand the necessity of standing together against the threat of Mordor. Since the beginning of the chapter, he has gotten over his initial prejudice against Gimli, and removes his blindfold first of anyone's.

I especially like this:

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Never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree's skin and of the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.
A huzzah for the tree-hugging Professor! :)

Bęthberry 10-21-2004 04:52 PM

Oh, indeed Encaitare! Isn't that part wonderful, particularly the part about "he felt a delight in the wood, and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself." There's something of Bombadil there, isn't there?

At risk of belabouring a point, I would like to address some points of Sauce's.

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And, to buck against the trend of pointing out the perceived shortcomings of the films in these discussions ( ), I would make the point that engendering reader/audience sympathy for Boromir is something that the films perhaps handled better than Tolkien himself.
Two things about this come to mind. First, I agree that the movie made Boromir's death more poignant than the book, particularly in the way it was used to conclude the first movie, rather than, as in the novel, open the second book. Yet I am not so sure we need to make an evaluative or comparative judgement here, at least not quickly. Given Jackson's adherance to action movie techniques, the Star Wars allusion, the entire forefronting of battles with spectacular effects, it does not surprise me that Jackson would give a higher priority to Boromir than Tolkien does. It is consistent within the context of Jackon's entire interpretation of Tolkien for a movie-going public. We see, for example, how Jackson has Aragorn say, "Let's go hunt some orcs"--now there is a statement rather out of sympathy with several aspects of Book-Aragorn. In short, I don't think Jackson's movie shows great familiarity with Tolkien's concept of Heroic Northern Ideal.

Second, is it safe to assume that Tolkein wanted, at this point in the book, to engender sympathy for Boromir in the reader? This strikes me as being one of your prime criteria Sauce--and a thoroughly respectable criteron it is--for determining quality in writing (sympathy for or with a character), but I am not sure it is a criterion which is justified in the book at this point. Of course as you say, later we may understand Boromir much better after 'meeting' Denethor and Faramir, but for this discussion I thought we were limiting ourselves to 'the plot so far'.

It was this 'plot so far' which led me to wonder what Tolkien was doing with the Boromir character in this section. I noted first the relative absence of much reference to Boromir in this chapter. The main mention of him concerns his deep mistrust of Lothlorien and we are thus able to see, with Aragorn's (aka Tolkien the writer's ) prompting how this suggests Boromir and Gondor have not kept faith with the ancient lore--something the elves have done. Then I went back and looked at the previous chapter, to see how successful Boromir's actions as a warrior were. Sam kills his first orc and Aragorn kills an orc, but Boromir is thrown down and back despite his courage. I then went back to our first meeting with Boromir at the Council with Elrond. (Yes, I am skipping, I realise.) I won't repeat here our discussions of that chapter save to say that, for me, I saw and still see a very arrogant, self-centered diplomat. He even at one point almost suggests that he would like to have Anduril back for Gondor's sake.

Then I began to wonder why Tolkien was presenting Boromir like this to us at this point. My post read:

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The point which struck me forcibly on rereading this chapter is the relative absence of Boromir. ... However, I am getting very much the sense that Tolkien has marked Boromir from the start, so to speak, for failure; he is in fact a foil who helps us see better Aragorn's honour.
I realise that I might be treading on well-loved favourite characters here, but what I have been trying to suggest is a way of reading the book which is a little bit different from finding one's sympathy for a particular character. This is of course the starting point for all good writing: it must catch us somehow and most often that will be through our sympathy for or identification with or admiration of certain characters. Yet, yet, sometimes writers chose a different tactic. Sometimes they might want to 'hook the reader' by a reverse tactic. Or sometimes they might want to make a character initially appear questionable. Or sometimes they might want to use the character, as I suggest here, as a foil for another character.

What our different perspectives on Boromir boil down to, I think Sauce, is something that has *cough* *ahem* came out in our discussions on other threads, which shall here be nameless. Your admiration rests on your desire to read for the point of 'click' between you as a reader and a character. And this admiration has developed over extended readings and great familiarity with latter parts of the novel. Please note I am not saying this is wrong. Our own enjoyment is a prime motivator in any reading, and particularly here on the Downs we love to share those parts which click for us (as I have done at the start of my post here).

My less-than-stellar-admiration derives in part from my (female) lack of sympathy for a male whose first appearance shows him to be not a concensus-maker. His argument is based on the needs of Gondor and he is not diplomatically able to make his pitch, so to speak, to the interests of other members. Here is my "empathy issue". Even though Boromir is noble, courageous, valiant, this egotism stands in my way of finding him appealing. Then, on top of this, I ask not how I feel about the character, but what are the ways that Tolkien uses to depict the character.

To my mind, it is a greater test of mercy to keen for Boromir's loss if we first had little sympathy for him than if we really admired him. It is--at least to my mind and of course others will have very different responses--a more poignant experience of the Ring's power.

Well now, I return you all to the more fascinating discussion of the nature of Lothlorien and Rivendell. Lothlorien is under seige and here the last vestiges of elvendom are held together by the power of one woman. What is Boromir to learn from Galadriel's test? Oh,sorry, jumping ahead. *slaps hand*

mark12_30 10-21-2004 05:44 PM

bark! bark!
 
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Never before had he been so suddenly and so keenly aware of the feel and texture of a tree's skin and of the life within it. He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.
And Encaitare adds : "A huzzah for the tree-hugging Professor! "

OK. Now be honest: how many of you have started touching tree-bark?

*raises hand*

If you have too, go post in the Middle Earth Essence thread.

Boromir88 10-21-2004 07:23 PM

Mark, I can't remember the name of the tree, but while I was in Nevada the tree-bark smelled like Vanilla. It was a refreshing smell, I actually broke off some tree bark and have it in my car for an air freshener, ack, I wish I could remember the name of the tree.

Boromir88 10-22-2004 06:33 AM

Bethberry, Boromir is my favorite character, in all of Tolkien. Some reasons for that would be because he doesn't hide things, he speaks his mind, he in general is good of heart and only wants Gondor to prevail. I love hearing other Barrowdowner's opinions, it get's me into insights that I've never seen before, and I will have to agree with you. Up to this point, Boromir has been one against the decisions of Aragorn, against the decisions of Gandalf. And seems to be in the Fellowship for all the wrong reasons (I will point out a few quotes in the next chapter discussion from "Mirror of Galadriel" to show this). The quality I like about Boromir is, as I said speaking his mind, to others it may seem arrogant and maybe is arrogant, but that's a quality I've always adored, people who are able to not be swayed by other's opinions. I'm also going to have to agree with Fordhim, if it wasn't for the battling times of Gondor, and his fighting at Amon Hen, Boromir would be out of place, and indeed look like a villain. He doesn't fit in Lorien, Lorien is a magical place, a peaceful place (atleast at this time), something that doesn't fit well for Boromir. Boromir cares little for magic, or lore, unlike his brother, which is why he doesn't fit well in Lorien, and is why he suits good for Gondor, who right now is facing war, Boromir's strength.

Fordim Hedgethistle 10-22-2004 06:52 AM

Boromir88 -- I think Betberry and I are not so much 'against' Boromir, or even down on him, as responding to the ambivalence that surrounds him in the book. I have been taken by Bb's view of Boromir as the most 'stereotypical' representation of the traditional Northern Ideal of Masculine Heroism. I don't think that he is being presented, then, as an opposite to Aragorn, or even as 'wrong' but as, like you say, out of place.

In the quest to destroy the Ring, there is no place for a hero (and he is a hero) like Boromir. He is all about defeating the enemy through strength of arms and ability; he is an individualist who epitomizes the heroic ideal (still the predominant heroic ideal in our society) that the individual who has capability and will is equal to the task and can win. For Boromir, dangers (like the Ring) are to be confronted and defeated, enemies are to be overthrown -- but in the Quest the Ring must be thrown away, with the result that Good (Lothlorien) will not 'win' over Evil (Mordor), but both will be diminished and fade from the world making it safe for good people (the fading Gondor; the mortal Arwen; the Rohirrim; the Hobbits).

I think that this sense of Boromir's being "out of place" in Lorien is the clearest representation that Boromir is simply not equipped for the task ahead. He still thinks that this is a War in which his side can have absolute victory over the enemy; those in the know -- like Aragorn and Frodo and, by the next chapter at least, Galadriel -- realise that there can be no absolute victory, only a mutual defeat: Sauron will be dismissed, yes, but the Golden Woods will fade and Galadriel will "pass into the West".

Lalwendë 10-22-2004 06:58 AM

I've just been browsing back through the posts and this comment from Saucepan Man made me think:

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"Daro!" it said in commanding tone, and Legolas dropped back to the earth in surprise and fear. He shrank against the bole of the tree.

"Stand still!" he whispered to the others. "Do not move or speak!"
It's notable that Legolas is not only startled, but also frightened, by the challenge, notwithstanding that he must surely recognise the voice as that of an Elf. But it's a nice moment of tension, albeit one which is swiftly broken by the laughter of the Lorien Elves.
I often get the impression that amongst us as readers, the most common opinion of elves is that they are a benevolent people, gentle, beautiful and artistic. They are indeed all of these things, but Elves are also quite frightening, intimidating people. Consider that they have had many lifetimes of men to hone their fighting skills, and have untold and possibly 'magical' powers. The Elves in Mirkwood in The Hobbit are incredibly frightening and come across at first as quite unpleasant. Elrond and Galadriel are intimidatingly powerful, and Legolas rarely misses his mark as a hunter. Sometimes I find myself wondering if they are too perfect! It doesn't surprise me that Elves even intimidate each other, given their skills and powers.

mark12_30 10-22-2004 09:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Boromir88
The quality I like about Boromir is, as I said speaking his mind.

And when he does, it always has a zip to it. Pompous? I think he's rather witty. "What will you do then, leap over the falls?" "Where heads are at a loss, bodies must serve." "Lesser men with spades might have served you better."

Boromir88 10-22-2004 09:59 AM

Mark, good quotes, and I know what you mean, I've seen more examples of Boromir's "whittiness" but can't find them right now.

Lalwende, interesting, I think maybe what makes the elves not "perfect" would be their cockiness. I don't see them as "extremely pompous," but they got this certain swagger about them, to say as if they are better then everyone else. We see that with Gildor and Haldir.

Here's another quote of Haldir's.
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"Some there are among us who sing that the Shadow will draw back, and peace shall come again. Yet I do not believe that the world about us will ever again be as it was of old, or the light of the Sun as it was aforetime. For the Elves, I fear, it will prove at best a truce, in which they may pass to the Sea unhindered and leave the Middle-earth forever. Alas for Lothlorien that I love! It would be a poor life in a land where no mallorn grew. But if there are mallorn-trees beyond the Great Sea, none have reported it."
This sort of sums up Fordhim's point about the Elves wish to "throw" away the ring, and not "use" it, and it will cost their lovely haven of Lorien. But, I find this rather funny on Haldir's part, Lorien is a beautiful place, but I would imagine Valinor as even more beautiful. Lorien is probably the most beautiful place to view on Middle-earth, in it's own way it is a "Valinor" of Middle-earth. But, I've always pictured Valinor as even more beautiful.

Mithalwen 10-22-2004 12:42 PM

I have wondered about those words of Haldir's and more frequently about Legolas' reaction to his message from Galadriel about the sea "Would you have her speak openly of your death?" - my conclusion was that for the silvan, and even Sindarin elves, Valinor has not the same significance as for the Exiles for whom the journey oversea is "going home". For Haldir going to Valinor because he had been driven out of Lorien by evil would be an exile. Lorien is home and however beautiful a place maybe... if it is not home it is not heaven. I mean as the relentless damp of an english November creeps into my bones, a carribean beach seems a great idea, but I would not want to be there forever, I think I would miss evern the murky days in time. There is something about Valinor that seems a little creepy to me... maybe I have a melancholy spirit but all that endless light and bliss..... it makes me think "Disney-land"/ cult and panic - i just know all those constantly happy, shiny people would get on my nerves very quickly ( I am currently working at a centre for adults with learning difficulties and I can tell you that the frequent practices of "Love will build a bridge" for the Christmas Concert has completely evaporated the milk of human kindness among the Office Staff). Maybe the idea of all that harmony implies the loss of "self", which perhaps is the true death.

davem 10-22-2004 12:53 PM

(Ideas sparked by some pm's to Fordim)

Its interesting to speculate on the 'peril' involved in entering Lorien - Why is it perilous to enter?

Perhaps because entering the otherworld forces a choice on the traveller - a choice between worlds, between perceptions, different existences. Frodo does make a choice, in the end - he chooses to 'trade' his 'reality' for that of the Elves - so in that sense we can see the 'peril' played out in his own life - he makes a choice from which 'there is no real going back - this is not simply a case of loss of innocence - its not simply the horrors he has seen or the suffering he has been through which prevents him going back, its his choice of the Elven world over the mundane. Whether he realised it or not, he cut himself off from returning to the Shire, his old life, by the choice he made.

He will forever walk on Cerin Amroth - but the deeper question is, did he always walk there - even before he left the Shire? Elven 'reality', elven 'time', is Dreamtime. After the destruction of the One it will fade from the world we know, & Frodo, by his choice will fade with it. The rest of the world will pass into history, into our reality, but Frodo won't - he will forever wander in 'Lorien' - & 'Lorien' in this sense is as much 'Valinor' as a place in Middle earth. He will wander there 'forever' psychologically, spiritually, wherever he may be physically, in 'our' world. He will never leave that other reality.

Of course, at the end, the Elven world will fade, its links with this reality of ours finally severed forever - so he is increasingly 'torn in two', but unlike Sam, who has chosen our reality, & whose choice will require him to let the elven world pass away, Frodo must go whither the Elves go. One can almost imagine Frodo & Sam standing on ships, anchored side by side, holding hands, but their ships are facing in different directions, & when the anchors are raised, they will slowly lose their grip & pass away in different directions.

We see in them different choices, freely made. Their love holding them together, but their choices pulling them apart.

There is 'peril' in Lorien, & the traveller brings it with him, because he brings himself. He is who he is, & his choice is a spiritual one, reflecting, ultimately, his essential nature. Frodo must leave the world - its as inevitable a fate as that of the Elves themselves. Frodo is as 'half-Elven' as a mortal can be, & his choice is the choice faced by all the half-Elven - to remain mortal, within the world, or to choose the West.

In this sense, it doesn't matter that Frodo remains mortal, & will eventually die & pass beyond the circles of the world - because in the context of LotR alone, we don't know that Frodo will die - it isn't stated - & all the hippy buttons proclaiming 'Frodo Lives' shows that readers who only had LotR believed that Frodo's passing into the West meant he would not die.

In Frodo & Sam we can see an echo of Elrond & Elros, & specifically, of Arwen - In Frodo & Sam we can see the consequences of the choice, the alternatives facing all the pereldar. Arwen's choice is Sam's choice - both choose the sweet & the bitter - mortality. Frodo, the dreamer, chooses rather the dreamworld - & those dreams are both real & unreal, eternal & transitory, here forever & always having just slipped from our grasp. Sam's sorrow is based in the realisation that Frodo's choice could never be his, & Frodo's that his choice could never have been Sam's.

Eternity is in love with the productions of time - it is, & vice versa. Sam & Frodo - the great tragic love story - tragic in the greatest sense, because the tragedy has been chosen by both parties - yet, being who they are, they could 'choose' nothing else.

'Choice'? Is it really? Perilous, certainly to enter the Golden Wood, Heart of Elvendom on Earth, not simply because the traveller brings evil with him, but because he brings who he is, his essential nature, & that will force him to make a 'choice' which ultimately is no-choice.

Aiwendil 10-22-2004 02:37 PM

Interesting thoughts, Davem.

At the risk of sounding boorish and mundane, though, I must say that I think "perilous" can be understood in a more obvious way as well - that is, there is the simple danger of becoming too enamored of Lorien, as of most good and pleasing things. Time passes in Lorien much as it does "when you're having fun". The realization by Sam of the time discrepancy on leaving Lorien reminds me of the feeling I get when I half-wake, still overcome with sleep, thinking that it's the middle of the night, only to discover that my alarm didn't go off and I'm late for class.

This is perhaps simply a more mundane expression of what you said. Coming into contact with the Elves (here as elsewhere in the Legendarium) results in enchantment and then longing - longing which cannot be fulfilled.

One minor quibble, though:
Quote:

Of course, at the end, the Elven world will fade, its links with this reality of ours finally severed forever - so he is increasingly 'torn in two', but unlike Sam, who has chosen our reality, & whose choice will require him to let the elven world pass away, Frodo must go whither the Elves go.
I'm not so sure about Sam having "chosen our reality" or letting "the elven world pass away". The suggestion is certainly there that one day he will follow Frodo. Before the epilogue was discarded, the novel ended with:

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They went in, and Sam shut the door. But even as he did so, he heard suddenly, deep and unstilled, the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
Now, I know that the epilogue was discarded - but as far as I can tell the motivation for getting rid of it had nothing to do with Sam's spiritual character.

mark12_30 10-22-2004 02:52 PM

The tale of years makes it clear that Samwise passes over the sea-- *after* Rosie is dead.

But I do not think that negates davem's contrast between Sam's practicality and Frodo's dream-nature.

The Saucepan Man 10-22-2004 07:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
I made the point above the "peril" pertains to risk more than to danger, but I did not really approach the question of what this risk might be. I think that it's got to do with the risk of bringing the One into contact with the Lady -- you might just get the help you are going to require for the success of your quest (counsel, the Phial, the Cloaks, lembas, etc), but at the risk of the quest's eternal failure.

I take your point, but is there really any less danger in bringing the Ring into contact with Elrond? If the possibility exists that Galadriel might fail the test and succumb to the Ring (the peril to the Quest that you refer to), wasn’t there an equal, or even greater possibility, that Elrond would have succumbed to it – that, had it been offered to him freely at the Council, he would have taken it? Or are you assuming that Elrond passed his “test” when he counselled Isildur to cast it into Orodruin?

Another question comes to mind in this regard. Are you supposing that Aragorn had this peril in mind when he responded to Boromir’s concerns over entering Lothlorien? Was he aware that Galadriel might be tempted by the Ring? If he did, then this would call into question whether he should have been leading the Fellowship into Lothlorien, since it would surely be folly to risk the Ring falling into the hands of one as powerful of Galadriel. Or did he have faith that Galadriel would pass the test, should the Ring be offered to her?

Indeed, is there any direct applicability to the Fellowship in this comment, as far as Aragorn is concerned, or is he simply making a general statement concerning the nature of Lothlorien? If the former, was he aware that Boromir was vulnerable to the wiles of the Ring and that he might attempt to seize it at some point? There is little evidence to this effect as far as I am aware, but Boromir's comments at the Council of Elrond might well have alerted him. If so, and his comment was pointedly directed at Boromir, then could he, or should he, have done more to protect Frodo from this eventuality?

Which brings me back to Boromir. Funny how he has become one of the major topics of discussion on this thread when, as Bęthberry points out, he hardly features in it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bęthberry
This strikes me as being one of your prime criteria Sauce--and a thoroughly respectable criteron it is--for determining quality in writing (sympathy for or with a character), but I am not sure it is a criterion which is justified in the book at this point.

Well, first off I wouldn't say that I necessarily judge the quality of the presentation of a character on a page by the extent to which that character engenders sympathy in the reader. I have read and enjoyed many books where the central characters are not a wholly sympathetic. I do, however, respond more positively to a character the more credibly that they are presented. The point that I was trying to make is that, to my mind, Boromir's flaws make him a more credible character than Aragorn.

Having said that, however, and given that there is much to sympathise with within Boromir's character, I would question whether Tolkien lets us see enough of Boromir's positive qualities, whether he engenders sufficient sympathy for him as a character, before killing him off. Certainly, the film does engender more audience sympathy for Boromir. His concern for the Hobbits on Caradhras is emphasised, and a specific connection with Merry and Pippin (the characters who he lays his life down for) is established in the mock swordplay scene.

I do agree that comparative judgements between the book and the films are not always helpful in discussions such as this. One of the shortcomings in comparing how Tolkien wrote the story with how Jackson presented it on film is that they had some very different purposes in mind and were working with entirely different media (Jackson, for example, was most certainly not experimenting with the Heroic Northern ideal :rolleyes: :p ). It made sense for Jackson to portray Boromir in a more sympathetic light earlier on (ie in the first film), since otherwise we would not learn of his more positive qualities until the later films. Also, the immediacy of film means that an audience will perhaps form a quicker impression of a character on the screen than they will of a character in a book.

However, I do wonder whether the fact that Boromir's sympathetic qualities are not brought out earlier in the book (as they are in the first film) risks having readers miss these aspects of his character. As I said, I was initially left with the feeling that Boromir was a negative character and it took a few readings before his positive qualities came through to me. And my impression from past threads concerning him on this forum is that I am not alone in this.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Of course as you say, later we may understand Boromir much better after 'meeting' Denethor and Faramir, but for this discussion I thought we were limiting ourselves to 'the plot so far'.

That is my very point. Limiting ourselves to the plot thus far means that we miss many of Boromir's positive qualities. My concern is that, since we do not learn of these qualities until after his death, Tolkien risks leaving the reader with a negative impression of Boromir overall, as it did with me at first.

Boromir88 10-22-2004 08:34 PM

SpM, I do feel Mr. Jackson sympathized Boromir more in the first book, then Tolkien did. And as you say, dealing with the audience PJ had, it was probably the better way. We do get to see a little bigger connection with Boromir and the hobbits in the movie, but we Tolkien still adds hints to seem as if the Hobbits are rubbing of on Boromir. For it is Boromir who first thinks of the hobbits.

The Ring goes South
Quote:

"This will be the death of the halflings, Gandalf," said Boromir. "It is useless to sit here until the snow goes over our heads. We must do something to save ourselves."
and then later...

Quote:

"Have hope!" said Boromir. "I am weary, but I still have some strength left, and Aragorn too. We will bear the little folk. The others no doubt will make shift to tread the path behind us. Come Master Peregrin! I will begin with you."
Here is where Boromir's strength first appears, and it's even the first time (maybe the only time) when we see Boromir huh, wiser then Aragorn perhaps? Aragorn wishes to fight the mountain, which would most likely end in death, well that is because he feels it is a better choice then going through the Gap of Rohan, or through Moria. However, I will have to say Aragorn (and Boromir) Gandalf's idea is probably the best, Caradhras would have been fatal to the whole company, The Gap of Rohan is not safe anymore, Moria ended in despair, but probably was the best choice.

Bęthberry 10-22-2004 11:01 PM

I think I must be a reader like Aiwendil and Lalwendë, for I too am circumspect about the elves and Lorien. I think it is because of the elves' lack of interest in other races and their nostagia for their own past; these features tinge them with a wistful blemish on the face of their beauty, despite, I hate to say it, Tolkien's words that Lorien was without blemish. Something in me makes me cautious about a people who seem to want to preserve things unchanged. That inability--if this is not too strong a word--spells a veritable doom in itself I think. In this aspect, I guess I am unable to see Lorien as representative of a dreamlike state outside time. I see it more as a lost world, one which has great value and worth, but one which nonetheless must be let go as it has been unable to meld itself with mundanity. This could be an ideological perspective where Tolkien and I differ, however much I enjoy his work.

Boromir once again Fordim has spoken words similar to my feelings about Boromir. I am not "so much against him or down on him" but that I think his character is shaped to fulfil a narrative purpose. You said it best, I think, when you reminded us of Tolkien's first plans for Boromir:

Quote:

In one of Tolkien's earlier drafts, Boromir lives, and heads to Minas Tirith, with Aragorn. Aragorn takes claim to the throne, Boromir wants to reject this claim and starts stirring up trouble, a possible civil war. Then Aragorn quickly kills Boromir, before he can rally enough support. I can get more in depth and make a connection between Aragorn's claim and Arvedui's claim, but I will do that when the time is right, for I fear this will take us too off track. Anyway, now Tolkien threw out that idea, I just wanted to mention it, since it could display something about Boromir.
Civil war engendered by the return of the King is not something that would seem meritorious, particularly in light of the defeat of Sauron and destruction of the Ring. The heir of Gondor's Steward has to be, in terms of pragmatic narrative, done away with in a manner which serves the story best. I think Boromir is infinitely more important to the story as the flawed hero who demonstrates the power of the Ring than as an heir who will not give way to the King.

Sauce, I absolutely take your point that Boromir's character is not readily apparent.

Quote:

However, I do wonder whether the fact that Boromir's sympathetic qualities are not brought out earlier in the book (as they are in the first film) risks having readers miss these aspects of his character. As I said, I was initially left with the feeling that Boromir was a negative character and it took a few readings before his positive qualities came through to me. And my impression from past threads concerning him on this forum is that I am not alone in this.
I suggest, however, the possibility that it is valuable for the reader to have this experience of 'missing aspects' about the character at first. It could be that Tolkien expects his readers to learn actively his 'theme' of mercy and pity. We learn as readers that first impressions are not the best and that time can change point of view. Boromir is the first lesson which will then be more fully explored in the figure of Gollem. I will readily admit, however, that this idea grants to Tolkien a great deal of forthought and planning whereas he was in many aspects a spontaneous writer who strove to incorporate 'backwards' (if I may use that in a positive sense) his many ideas.

And I see I have done it again. After paring Boromir with Aragorn I have paired him with Gollem. I seem to have by some kind of osmosis incorporated Fordim's habit of looking for pairs. But within my interest in looking at absences!

Edit: A quick note that I have PMed Boromir88 about his very good point that Boromir the character nevers peaks cant but always his honest mind.

The Saucepan Man 10-23-2004 10:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bęthberry
I suggest, however, the possibility that it is valuable for the reader to have this experience of 'missing aspects' about the character at first. It could be that Tolkien expects his readers to learn actively his 'theme' of mercy and pity.

Good point, although it is expecting much of the reader, particularly the young reader (as I was when I first read the book). Then again, it did not impair my enjoyment. Indeed, the book struck a chord with me such that I read the book again, not just once but (unusually for me) many times, allowing me in time to come to appreciate the fullness and complexity of Boromir as a character (not to mention his father).


Quote:

Originally Posted by Bęthberry
I think it is because of the elves' lack of interest in other races and their nostagia for their own past; these features tinge them with a wistful blemish on the face of their beauty, despite, I hate to say it, Tolkien's words that Lorien was without blemish. Something in me makes me cautious about a people who seem to want to preserve things unchanged.

To a degree, this is a trait of Elves generally. The comments of both Gildor and Lindir convey this impression, although I agree that is particularly prevalent in Lorien. Again, it is something that it is easy to miss on first reading the book, when Lothlorien might simply provide a beautiful setting for the Fellowship's respite and the characters' interaction with Galadriel. Tolkien's writing most certainly rewards the reader who is disposed to approach it in a more thoughtful manner.


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