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Old 11-28-2017, 06:03 PM   #138
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vladimir has just left Hobbiton.
Teleporno's passage?

Forgive me if this has already been discussed and dealt with somewhere. Rereading the Two Towers, I noticed a brief passage that might be the one Teleporno was referring to.

In the chapter "Journey to the Crossroads", Frodo, Sam and Gollum have traveled for about 3 days since parting from Faramir, and they are nearing the crossroads. It is night, and the sinking moon is ringed with a sickly yellow glare. Gollum wants them to hurry, as where they are is too open to remain by day.

The pertaining paragraph reads as follows:

"He quickened his pace, and they followed him wearily. Soon they began to climb up onto a great hog-back of land. For the most part it was covered with a thick growth of gorse and whortleberry, and low tough thorns, though here and there clearings opened, the scars of recent fires. The gorse-bushes became more frequent as they got nearer the top; very old and tall they were, gaunt and leggy below but thick above, and already putting out yellow flowers that glimmered in the gloom and gave a faint sweet scent. So tall were the spiny thickets that the hobbits could walk upright under them, passing through long dry aisles carpeted with a deep prickly mould."

Note the description of the gorse-bushes. They are leggy below; ents have legs yet can be mistaken for trees. In addition, there is agreement with a couple details in Treebeard's description of Entwives in the chapter "Treebeard".

Like most gorse they have yellow flowers. Treebeard says the Entwives' hair was parched by the sun to the hue of ripe corn. That color matches.

Treebeard also says Entwives were bent and browned, with cheeks like red apples. Large varieties of gorse are like small trees that are often bent, and their brown bark is sometimes splotched with red.

Larger varieties of gorse grow to around 7-10 feet in height. That seems to fit.

A couple days before reaching the land described above, the area the hobbits passed through was described as partly open, with ilexes, ash, and oaks surrounded with launds of grass dappled with flowers. This agrees with part of Treebeard's description of the Entwives' preferences in environment.

Teleporno also hinted something about the Nazgul being a threat. The east road from the nearby crossroads leads directly to Minas Morgul, the stronghold of the Nine, and the passage does indicate recent fires in the area.

As posted earlier by Galin, there is another possible connection with Minas Morgul: "In The Story Forseen from Lorien there is an interesting note: "it could be Merry and Pippin that had adventure in Minas Morgul if Treebeard is cut out" [this was struck out]. " That might correspond to a later idea of Frodo and Sam having a related adventure as they neared Minas Morgul.

Where it stands, the gorse description is a little odd. Tolkien's descriptions are usually either directly bound to the story line or they frame an integrated context. Any loose ends are often explicitly proclaimed as such. However, at the described point in the hobbits' journey they are entering the fringes of Mordor, and the context being set is one of their leaving more or less normal woods and entering an area of corruption and danger and evil. Why then remark on the glimmering flowers and sweet scent of these old, tall gorse trees? One might be forgiven for taking it is a clue.

The passage above may or may not be what Teleporno was alluding to; I suspect it is. There's no indication of sentience by the trees; there's nothing about entish eyes. Whether the description was consciously meant to indicate Entwives, or it's just gorse, remains up to individual readers. For me it's pleasant to imagine that the Entwives did not entirely disappear.
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