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-   -   Who on middle-earth is Lotho? (http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?t=19073)

Rune Son of Bjarne 03-20-2017 04:53 PM

Who on middle-earth is Lotho?
 
Whenever I would read "The scouring of the Shire" It would leave me frustrated thee way the characters talk about Lotho, as if he was some sort of well established antagonist.

I would always be left thinking, "I must have missed or forgotten the introductory passages", but for some reason I would never rifle back through the book to find these (imaginary) passages.

The following is the introduction we get in Book 1:
Quote:

After lunch, the Sackville-Bagginses, Lobelia and her sandy-haired son, Lotho, turned up, much to Frodo's annoyance. 'Ours at last!' said Lobelia, as she stepped inside. It was not polite; nor strictly true, for the sale of Bag End did not take effect until midnight. But Lobelia can perhaps be forgiven: she had been obliged to wait about seventy-seven years longer for Bag End than she once hoped, and she was now a hundred years old. Anyway, she had come to see that nothing she had paid for had been carried off; and she wanted the keys. It took a long while to satisfy her, as she had brought a complete inventory with her and went right through it. In the end she departed with Lotho and the spare key and the promise that the other key would be left at the Gamgees' in Bagshot Row. She snorted, and showed plainly that she thought the Gamgees capable of plundering the hole during the night.
This is all we hear of Lotho until Book 6:

Quote:

'I wonder what old Barliman was hinting at,' said Frodo....

'... [Something's] wrong with the Southfarthing evidently,' said Merry. 'There's a general shortage of pipe-weed.'

'Whatever it is,' said Pippin, 'Lotho will be at the bottom of it: you can be sure of that.'

'Deep in, but not at the bottom,' said Gandalf. 'You have forgotten Saruman. He began to take an interest in the Shire before Mordor did
.'
How are we supposed to remember who Lotho are over the distance of 6 books? Since we have been told nothing about him, except his family relations and the colour of his hair, I would think this a bit of a tall order.

I guess we are supposed to remember that he is evil by association..?

Do you remember what your initial reaction was?
"Lotho who?" or "Of course Lotho Sackville-Baggins you scoundrel, I wonder what a sandy-haired villain like you is up to!"

Considering how important Lotho is for the faith of the Shire, it kind of annoys me that we hear nothing about him until the very end.

Inziladun 03-20-2017 05:57 PM

Yes, the general unpleasantness of the Sackville-Bagginses and specific misdeeds of Lotho seem to have been treated as known by the hobbits. Maybe it's just a matter of Tolkien thinking he didn't want to be too detailed about the Shire goings-on during the great events of the War.

After all, he was concerned during initial drafts of the first chapters of what would become LOTR that the tale had "too many hobbits". It seems the reader is told just enough to know Lotho was a bad apple as far as hobbits went.

Rune Son of Bjarne 03-21-2017 03:12 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Inziladun (Post 706377)
Yes, the general unpleasantness of the Sackville-Bagginses and specific misdeeds of Lotho seem to have been treated as known by the hobbits. Maybe it's just a matter of Tolkien thinking he didn't want to be too detailed about the Shire goings-on during the great events of the War.

After all, he was concerned during initial drafts of the first chapters of what would become LOTR that the tale had "too many hobbits". It seems the reader is told just enough to know Lotho was a bad apple as far as hobbits went.

In some ways I like it...

Ted Sandyman is clearly an unpleasant person, and we see enough of him in the initial chapters in order to remember him when we return to the Shire. It would probably have been too obvious if Lotho had suffered a similar fate. Another Hobbit clearly targeted as a bad person in the initial chapters, and then, lo and behold, also turns out a villain in the end.

One of the elements in Tolkien's writing that I really like, is the references to a broader world, references without proper explanation (after all that is what we have the appendix and a ton of subsequent publications for).

However here it seems like he is asking a lot of the reader.

I mean, why not give Lotho a bit of back story, like Lobelia and Otho? Even just one story about an alteration between him and Frodo/Merry/Pippin, would have relieved my of my confusion in the scouring of the shire.

Inziladun 03-21-2017 06:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne (Post 706380)
I mean, why not give Lotho a bit of back story, like Lobelia and Otho? Even just one story about an alteration between him and Frodo/Merry/Pippin, would have relieved my of my confusion in the scouring of the shire.

Well, Pippin refers to him as "Lotho Pimple", and Sam expresses a desire to "punch his pimply face". Perhaps Lotho was initially ostracized for his un-hobbitlike acne and disliked parents, and that led to his ready acceptance of Saruman's influence. A tragic case of rebellion against society's unfairness! :mad:

Pitchwife 03-21-2017 06:40 AM

I dunno, I think I did remember Lotho way back when, but then I have an uncanny memory for names (as long as they're real, proper characters in a book, preferably Elvish, and not something absurd like remote in-laws, neighbours down the street or colleagues from another department). I suppose it helps that his name is just his parents' names squeezed together, and since Lobelia left a pretty memorable impression I just filed him as "Sackville-Baggins, The Next Generation". That's pretty much all he is, more an extension of his parents' combined unagreeability (is that a word?) than a character in his own right.

I had a vague hope that Lotho might have been mentioned in Flotsam and Jetsam when the hobbits discuss their find of Shire tobacco in Isengard, but no such luck. Would have been a nice opportunity to foreshadow Lotho's part. Could there have been something in the drafts which got revised out in the final version? Oh for a copy of HoME VIII...

Galadriel55 03-21-2017 08:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne (Post 706380)
Another Hobbit clearly targeted as a bad person in the initial chapters, and then, lo and behold, also turns out a villain in the end.

That's the thing, though - he isn't really a villain. He's a disliked person, and a Sackville-Baggins to boot, but he doesn't seem to be particularly villainous. He was more of a pawn in Saruman's plan. He himself is not important, he's used purely as a figurehead. If it wasn't him, it would have been someone else. It's not like he was the only hobbit in the Shire with bad inclinations, he jut got "lucky".

I have no issue with Lotho being a very background character - and he is so throughout, cause we never actually see him in the end either, and really he's just Saruman's puppet, so we don't know how much of what we hear about him is actually him. What does bother me, though, is how quickly the hobbits jump to the conclusion that Lotho is at the bottom of the problems even before they reach the Shire. Is he that unpopular that he outdoes every other unpopular hobbit? He can't be the only bad apple in the bunch (and we know he isn't - look at Ted Sandyman!). Why do they decide it's Lotho's fault before they even know what exactly is happening?

William Cloud Hicklin 03-21-2017 09:28 AM

Let's not forget that Tolkien was entirely capable of winging it, without much regard for what he might or might not have written before. Most of the "lore" of Middle-earth was ret-conned afterwards, after all. And sometimes he didn't bother; Lotho suddenly became an intermediate villain at the end of the book because the biook demanded an intermediate villain (entirely offstage- Lotho of course is never met, being dead and all). At least Lotho made an appearance in the opening chapters, whereas Rose Cotton is never mentioned at all until the Scouring (I will very grudgingly give Jackson a brownie point for working Rosie into the beginning of FR, which T should have but didn't).

Rune Son of Bjarne 03-21-2017 10:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin (Post 706392)
Let's not forget that Tolkien was entirely capable of winging it, without much regard for what he might or might not have written before. Most of the "lore" of Middle-earth was ret-conned afterwards, after all. And sometimes he didn't bother; Lotho suddenly became an intermediate villain at the end of the book because the biook demanded an intermediate villain (entirely offstage- Lotho of course is never met, being dead and all). At least Lotho made an appearance in the opening chapters, whereas Rose Cotton is never mentioned at all until the Scouring (I will very grudgingly give Jackson a brownie point for working Rosie into the beginning of FR, which T should have but didn't).

Actually I forgot to include Rose Cotton (and her family), she confuses the heck out of me as well, and for the exact same reasons as Lotho.

On a different note, it also wondered why the returning Hobbits did not go and consult Farmer Maggot when they discovered that mischief was afoot... How lucky they found a somewhat similar character in Farmer Cotton.

Kuruharan 03-22-2017 02:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Inziladun (Post 706377)
Maybe it's just a matter of Tolkien thinking he didn't want to be too detailed about the Shire goings-on during the great events of the War.

After all, he was concerned during initial drafts of the first chapters of what would become LOTR that the tale had "too many hobbits". It seems the reader is told just enough to know Lotho was a bad apple as far as hobbits went.

I always thought it was a literary device used by Tolkien to remind us the reader just how parochial the hobbits were. Having moved into and out of a lot of smallish towns in my life, it is a common practice for people in such environs to start referencing people and events with no explanation because "everybody around here knows about them and here is all there is."

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne (Post 706396)
On a different note, it also wondered why the returning Hobbits did not go and consult Farmer Maggot when they discovered that mischief was afoot... How lucky they found a somewhat similar character in Farmer Cotton.

Similar right down to having the same number of letters in the name and a double letter in the middle...

Inziladun 03-22-2017 03:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuruharan (Post 706410)
I always thought it was a literary device used by Tolkien to remind us the reader just how parochial the hobbits were. Having moved into and out of a lot of smallish towns in my life, it is a common practice for people in such environs to start referencing people and events with no explanation because "everybody around here knows about them and here is all there is."

Could be. In Lotho's case though, his villainy did have a great effect on all the Shire, so the references to him obviously are more notable.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kuruharan (Post 706410)
Similar right down to having the same number of letters in the name and a double letter in the middle...

Well, Maggot (as far as we know) didn't have a daughter whom Sam happened to be sweet on, so...

William Cloud Hicklin 03-22-2017 05:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rune Son of Bjarne (Post 706396)

On a different note, it also wondered why the returning Hobbits did not go and consult Farmer Maggot when they discovered that mischief was afoot... How lucky they found a somewhat similar character in Farmer Cotton.

Would have been quite a detour, and they were trying to reach Hobbiton as soon as possible.


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