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Old 10-23-2004, 01:59 PM   #41
davem
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I know I’ve been pretty critical of Elves in the past myself, but to try & put the pro case:

I understand Bethberry’s point here, yet we can’t forget that Elves are not Men. Their perceptions are diffferent, their values are not ours; psychologically they are almost a mirror image of us. If humans behaved as the Elves do it would be the result of a conscioous decision to act against our nature. We may find their behaviour to be wrong - given the circumstances of the War of the Ring, but as Tolkien explained:

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Our language is confused using after or before both (in certain circumstances) of the future. We sometimes think & speak of the future as what lies before us, we look ahead, are provident, forward-looking, yet our ancestors preceeded us & are our fore-fathers; & any event in time is before one that is later. We speak as if events & a succession of human lives were an endless column moving us forward into the unknown, & those born later are behind us, will follow us; yet also as if though facing the future we were walking backwards, & our children & heirs (posterity!) were ahead of us & will in each generation go further forwards into the future than we. (a widow is a relict, one left behind by a husband who goes on). As far as a single experiencing mind goes, it seems a most natural transference of spatial to linear language to say that the past is behind it & that it advances forwards into the future, that later events are before or in front of earlier ones. At the point where the individual ceases the survivors go on further go (sic) ahead of him. All living creatures are one mass or column marching on, & falling out individually while others go on. Those who do so are left behind. Our ancestors who fell out earlier are further behind, behind us forever....

In Elvish sentiment the future was not one of hope or desire, but a decay & retrogression from former bliss & power. Though inevitably it lay ahead, as of one on a journey, ‘looking forward’ did not imply anticipation of delight. ‘I look forward to seeing you again’ did not mean or imply ‘I wish to see you again, & since that is arranged/and or very likely, I am pleased.’ It meant simply ‘I expect to see you again with the certainty of foresight [in some circumstances] or regard that as very probable - it might be with fear or dislike, foreboding.’ Their position, as of latter day sentiment, was one of exiles driven forward (against their will) who were in mind or actual posture ever looking backward.

But in actual language time & place had distinct expressions. (Quoted in Flieger, ‘A Question of Time’)
In other words, the Elves don’t choose how they experience the world, or how they respond to it. They aren’t superbeings with absolute freedom. In actuality they are very limited in what they can do. They are natural artists, & the creation of realms like Lorien is in their nature. We may feel more comforatble with the approach adopted by Elrond in Rivendell, the active, participatory approach, but lets not forget that Elrond is only half-Elven. Galadriel is in many ways the perfect Elf, & so her ‘vices’ (seen from the human viewpoint) are also ‘perfect’ - ie they are ‘extreme’ vices. Elrond can accept the passing of the Elves, because to a signioficant degree he can step outside his Elvishness & look on it from the Human perspective. Galadriel cannot.

In a real sense Elves are more tempted by the Ring than other races, because it offers the power not simply to conquer Sauron (which both Men & Elves desire) but also the power to [i]preserve[/i all things as new], which Men, as a race do not desire as such- it is doubly tempting to them, & so corresponds to their innate nature that while they may hate its source they are drawn to its potential to give them what they most desire.

The Elves we encounter are generally sad, resigned to their fate, but in Galadriel we see something else - she is not free of her nature. Lorien is what the Elves would turn Middle earth into, not out of desire to remake the world in their own image & usurp Eru, as is the case with Sauron, but simply because that’s what they do if ‘let loose’ on the world. In effect, by refusing the One, & thereby sacrificing the Three, they are behaving unnaturally. We have to accept that what they are doing, participating in the War to even the limited extent that they do, is against their nature.

Lorien, as we encounter it, is ‘Elvendom’ - Elvish nature manifest in nature. We can’t judge them as if they were human - if we do we find a race of selfish artists dwelling in Ivory Towers, deigning to condescend & help out the Human race, when in fact they’d rather be singing songs & weaving tapestries.

The Elves tragedy is shown most clearly in the efforts they have to make to contribute anything - even thinking like Men is an effort, because they have to adopt a mindset which is not in any way natural to them. It seems for instance that Legolas is constantly having to be ‘slapped in the face’ by the others, or by external dangers, to prevent him drifting off into a reverie. But that’s only a ‘fault’ in him if we forget what he is, & expect him to be like us. He is the one character who is least ‘developed’, has the least interesting story arc, who ultimately goes nowhere as a character - but that’s because he has nowhere to go anymore (except back into the Dreaming). The Elven world is seperating itself out from the Human world, & strangely its as if Frodo is the last link between the two, pulled both ways, before he makes his (inevitable) choice. After Frodo the worlds become seperated forever (even if certain individuals - Elves & elf-Friends - can still make the choice to pass into the dreamworld).

There’s a line from a poem (St John of the Cross??), ‘So now, if from this day, I am not seen among the haunts of Men, say that I went astray, love-stricken on the way’. The Elves are passing away, ultimately nevermore to be seen among the haunts of Men. We can’t in fairness ask anymore of them than we actually get.
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Old 10-23-2004, 03:56 PM   #42
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originally posted by Bêthberry:
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.
Tolkien and you don't differ so much in your views, since he himself described this as the elves' flaw, in several of his letters explaining the nature of elves:
from letter #154
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...But the Elves are not wholly good or in the right. Not so much because they had flirted with Sauron, as because with or without his assistance they were "embalmers". They wanted to have their cake and eat it: to live in the mortal historical Middle-earth because they had become fond of it (and perhaps because they there had the advantages of a superiour caste), and so tried to stop its changes and history, stop its growth, keep it as a pleasaunce, even largely a desert, where they could be "artists" - and they were overburdened with sadness and nostalgic regret.
and from letter 131:
Quote:
They thus became obsessed with "fading", the mode in which the changes of time (the law of the world under the sun) was perceived by them. They became sad, and their art (shall we say) antiquarian, and their efforts all really a kind of embalming - even though they also retained the old motive of their kind, the adornment of earth, and the healing of its hurts.
But in this chapter I think Lothlorien is presented to the reader as it appears to the eyes of the hobbits in this moment: they would only see the wonder and the beauty.

About Boromir: I agree that many readers sympathize with him, just because he has flaws. He is more human than Aragorn. Most people in the real world would probably follow his line of thought, I guess!

At my first reading, the last sentence of the chapter gave me a fright:
"And taking Frodo’s hand in his, he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man." I thought this meant that Aragorn would not survive the quest!
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Old 10-24-2004, 07:39 PM   #43
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Bethberry wrote:
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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.
I agree, to an extent. I certainly think that nostalgia was a problem for the Elves (and for some more than others). But I don't think I blame them for this. I rather share their malady - nostalgia and the desire to preserve things unchanged are perhaps two of my chief features.

But I think the relation of mortals to Elves is a distinct (though obviously related) issue. Throughout the Legendarium, whenver mortals come into contact with Elves, it brings forth longings and desires that are, at least for mortals, insatiable. Look at Numenor.
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Old 10-24-2004, 08:21 PM   #44
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Food for thought

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The Elves tragedy is shown most clearly in the efforts they have to make to contribute anything - even thinking like Men is an effort, because they have to adopt a mindset which is not in any way natural to them.
I think davem has hit on an important point here. Elves cannot fully understand Men, just as Men cannot fully understand Elves. Arwen says it well at Aragorn's death, I think:
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"But I say to you, King of the Númenoreans [Aragorn], not til now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive."
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Old 10-25-2004, 04:02 AM   #45
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Aiwendil, not just mortals and elves, but also, mortals and dwarves.

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Appendix F
But they are not evil by nature, and few ever served the Enemy of free will, whatever the tales of Men may have alleged. For men of old lusted after their wealth and the work of their hands, and there has been enmity between the races.
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Old 10-25-2004, 06:46 AM   #46
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Eye Elves and Us

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Originally Posted by Firefoot
Elves cannot fully understand Men, just as Men cannot fully understand Elves.
And yet Tolkien is, in effect, asking his human readers to understand and, to a degree, sympathise with this entirely different race. But I think that Aiwendil makes an important point here, when he says:


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I rather share their malady - nostalgia and the desire to preserve things unchanged are perhaps two of my chief features.
I suspect that we all share this Elvish trait, to one degree or another. I certainly do. In Elves, therefore, Tolkien was portraying an aspect of our own nature, one which can have both a positive and a negative side (creation and preservation of beauty and security v inflexibility and resistance to change). I believe that Tolkien said in one of his Letters that the different races in Middle-earth were intended to reflect different aspects of human (ie our) nature, although I do not have the Letters to hand and so cannot alas provide the exact quote.

What really irks me about the Elves, however, is the attitude that some display of indifference to other races combined with an air of superiority over them. In LotR, this is most apparent in Lindir's comment about sheep all looking alike to mortals (which I regard as verging on the racist), but this attitude is also suggested by some of Haldir's comments here (his disinterest in the Shire, for example). Then again, these too are aspects of human nature (albeit, in this case I think, wholly negative ones).
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Old 10-25-2004, 08:34 AM   #47
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posted by Guinevere:
But in this chapter I think Lothlorien is presented to the reader as it appears to the eyes of the hobbits in this moment: they would only see the wonder and the beauty.
Kudos! This is a very helpful way to think of the chapter, as it removes the discussion from simple personal preference of the reader (change/process versus stability/status quo) to one which might be 'applicable' to all. This certainly suggests why we have the final scene with Aragorn and Frodo, as it represents Frodo's increasing movement towards knowledge of elven ways. It might even explain why Boromir is largely absent; his response to Lothlorien is very different from that of the hobbits and so for the time being not something they can perceive. It also explains why so much of the humour of living in the treehouses concerns the hobbits. I suppose it might lessen Aragorn's and Boromir's dignity to make jokes about being afraid of sleeping in trees.

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posted by SaucepanMan
What really irks me about the Elves, however, is the attitude that some display of indifference to other races combined with an air of superiority over them. In LotR, this is most apparent in Lindir's comment about sheep all looking alike to mortals (which I regard as verging on the racist), but this attitude is also suggested by some of Haldir's comments here (his disinterest in the Shire, for example). Then again, these too are aspects of human nature (albeit, in this case I think, wholly negative ones).
I thank Sauce for picking up on this second point I had made earlier as grounds for my discomfort with the elves. To me, the two characteristics, that of not wanting change and that of being indifferent to things outside their own sphere of being, are related, as both suggest a state of being uncomfortable with things they do not know or understand. Sometimes the Other, as well as change, can disturb our comfortable terms of reference and it becomes easier to ignore such differences. As you say, an all too human failing.
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Old 10-25-2004, 09:35 AM   #48
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Bb, you wrote:

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To me, the two characteristics, that of not wanting change and that of being indifferent to things outside their own sphere of being, are related, as both suggest a state of being uncomfortable with things they do not know or understand.
Again, I'd like to point out how hobbit-like this makes the Elves, particularly the Lorien Elves. The difference is, the hobbits are simply unaware of what's going on 'around' them -- they are in a state of ignorance. The Elves, however, are aware of what's going on around them, but they have turned away from it -- willful ignorance. That's why, on the whole, I prefer hobbits: better a people with narrow horizons than a people who choose to ignore those horizons.

And I like the point about the importance of Aragorn and Frodo completing this chapter -- these are the two people who are going to find some way 'between' the ignorance of hobbits and the wilful blindness of Elves by achieving a greater apprehension of the world and/or bringing that apprehension 'back' to their people, to some extent. They each bring a 'partial' vision to their lands -- one that is wider than what exists before, but not so wide as the view in Lorien, whic apparently leads only to despair.

I would also like to cheer Sauce for making the point about Elves as projections of our human capacity (some part thereof). Tolkien is very clear I think, in his stories and in his letters, that Elves are not truly 'Other' to humanity, but a representative part of us (but not allegorical!).
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Old 05-24-2008, 02:47 PM   #49
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I have managed to save some of my time to make a post here, and so if anyone is following the current CbC project still, here you have my post concerning the sixth chapter of Book Two.

For start, I would dare to disagree with Esty on what she said in the opening post of this thread: that the second part of the chapter, as the Company enters Lothlórien, becomes more poetic. I must strongly disagree. The whole chapter is unbelievably poetic and wonderful. All right, maybe Lothlórien seems more so because it is Lothlórien - but - maybe also after the long underground darkness - the images of lakes, mountains, rivers and trees under the sun and dark nightly skies described in this chapter are so vivid that I can almost feel being in there when reading this chapter. Is this what Sam says close to the end of this chapter - his wonder over the "reality" and the "elfiness" of the forgotten yet present land of Lothlórien? Possibly. How do you feel? Does this chapter have as strong impact on you, literally "drawing you inside the world"?

I cannot possibly stop at all things, I would have to quote the whole chapter to capture its beauty, and even that probably won't be possible. I can only suggest to everyone to try to focus on the beauty of the Mirrormere, mountains, first trees of Lothlórien, the falls of Nimrodel and the early morning on talan and the moment when the visitors' eyes can see Naith for the first time, and Cerin Amroth as described here. I would have to stop at the image of Nimrodel, as it seems to contain very strongly the trait many of Middle-Earth's rivers, or waters overall have - the ability to convey a message, and the magnetism of the water itself (Frodo does not want to leave), not to speak of its beauty. And here comes also the etiologic tale about Amroth and Nimrodel, which is a beautiful and sad tale, even though just outlined here, but by a song which is so beautiful so that it rests in my head and sometimes gets awakened when I see a larger area covered by water, and I have to start to think about it (however with melody composed by a Czech singer - Jim Čert - who is, let's face it, not making very inventive melodies; however here it does not matter to me).

I can't say many other things I would recall from this particular reading, I was so overwhelmed by the images, as I said above. I could add a personal remark, only on one of the later readings I actually discovered that close to the end of the chapter, Frodo together with Haldir look at Dol Guldur. My joy, and the feelings I got from the Elf's speech to Frodo, are understandable given that I am Legate of Amon Lanc. Theres is an interesting remark (which I think again, many people don't stop at when reading) that the Enemy had been driven away from Dol Guldur, but he reoccupied it, "now with power sevenfold". Did you ever think what this could mean? For me, it never meant simply "there used to be 100 Orcs and now there are 700". Not sure why, but the quote looks more... metaphysical to me than anything else. I am leaving this open.

And the last thing. Did you realise we probably learn about Uglúk's company already in this chapter? No, I don't mean the Orcs who pursue Fellowship into Lórien - if we are to trust Haldir's words, "neither of them will leave Lórien alive". But he mentions a squad of Orcs going to Moria several days ago. Now these clearly cannot be the Moria Orcs - they could also be the Uruks from Mordor mentioned in the previous chapter; however Uglúk's company also had some Orcs from Moria with them. The argument for these Orcs not being Mordor Orcs would be the direction from which they reputedly came - I would assume Mordor Orcs would come from the east; while these headed northwards across the rivers (?). So, who knows...
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Old 05-26-2008, 04:54 AM   #50
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And the last thing. Did you realise we probably learn about Uglúk's company already in this chapter? No, I don't mean the Orcs who pursue Fellowship into Lórien - if we are to trust Haldir's words, "neither of them will leave Lórien alive". But he mentions a squad of Orcs going to Moria several days ago. Now these clearly cannot be the Moria Orcs - they could also be the Uruks from Mordor mentioned in the previous chapter; however Uglúk's company also had some Orcs from Moria with them. The argument for these Orcs not being Mordor Orcs would be the direction from which they reputedly came - I would assume Mordor Orcs would come from the east; while these headed northwards across the rivers (?). So, who knows...
I believe you are right that the Orks going to Moria probably were Ugluk and his possé. IMO this charming bunch must also have been responsible for the fire intended to trap the fellowship, having been ordered to do so following the events taking place outside the west gate.

This raises several questions for me. Firstly, who gave them the orders? Sauruman, surely. But there were Orks of Mordor travelling with Ugluk and company too. And I've always assumed that Sauron was behind the warg-attack on the fellowship. Yet the birds who flew over their heads were identified as Saurumans spies. Perhaps the two villains were working together to some degree? Also, how could Sauruman or Sauron get the message across to the east gate so quickly? It is a long way to Moria from Isengard on either side of the mountain range, and further still from Mordor. Sure, both of them had palantirs for far-seeing, but their servants did not, and could therefore not have recieved any orders from a crystal ball. Sauruman certainly had swift birds who could have delivered him the news quickly, but surely not quick enough to send a squad of Uruks to the east gate before the fellowship could pass through Moria. The only answer I can find is that the servants of Sauruman or perhaps Sauron independently ordered the spybirds to cross the mountains and deliver the message to troops already assigned to the area.

And where does the Balrog fit into this. Did it work independently, or was it subject to Sauron's authority? As it chased the fellowship straight down perhaps the only path that could have saved them, as it led to a doorway behind the fire, I find it unlikely the Balrog had anything to do with the 'trap' at the gate. Besides, the idea of a Balrog working for Sauruman is ludicrous. But could Sauron subjugate the Balrog? I think he might be able to, but to me it is more probable that he wasn't even aware of the Balrog's existance.
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Old 05-26-2008, 10:58 AM   #51
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This raises several questions for me. Firstly, who gave them the orders? Sauruman, surely. But there were Orks of Mordor travelling with Ugluk and company too.
Careful! It was not like that. We are going a little ahead here, but just to clear this up: Grishnákh and his bunch joined Uglúk only later. There was a group of Mordor Uruks in Moria, but I think these were in Moria before, no doubt simply stationed there as part of Sauron's "block all roads through which the Ring could go" strategy. As I see it, Uglúk was sent from Isengard (probably based on the Crebain information) towards Moria, he did not succeed in catching the Fellowship there, but with his leadership taking advantage of the mess made by the Fellowship's passage and taking some of the infamous "mountain-maggots" with him. Then only later, Grishnákh crossed the river and joined him, simply because he had orders to get the halflings. First, they could work better together; second, Uglúk was in the lead and had the halflings (Grishnákh seemingly returned to the river later to ask the Nazgul for verification what he should do since the hobbits were carried towards Isengard, and he was seemingly sent back to accompany Uglúk just if there was a chance to get the hostages back).

Quote:
And where does the Balrog fit into this. Did it work independently, or was it subject to Sauron's authority? As it chased the fellowship straight down perhaps the only path that could have saved them, as it led to a doorway behind the fire, I find it unlikely the Balrog had anything to do with the 'trap' at the gate. Besides, the idea of a Balrog working for Sauruman is ludicrous. But could Sauron subjugate the Balrog? I think he might be able to, but to me it is more probable that he wasn't even aware of the Balrog's existance.
Of course independantly; and I think the last sentence you post would be close to the truth. After all, in fact seemingly no one was aware of him (the only one among the living who actually saw him before the Fellowship came was probably Dáin).
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Old 05-26-2008, 11:49 AM   #52
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Careful! It was not like that.
T'was, I swear sir!

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Then only later, Grishnákh crossed the river and joined him, simply because he had orders to get the halflings.
Well, I trust that you are correct about this

I guess my argument hinges on the fire intended to block exit out of the east gate, not entry into it I emphasive. If this fire's constantly being maintained as a precaution I've no case, but I don't think a fire of this magnitute could or would be maintained indefinitely. Besides, who'd expect anyone to try to pass through Moria? I believe the fire was lit with the explicit intent to stop the fellowship that entered Moria a few days earlier through the west gate from ever reaching the east gate and the sunlight on the other side. The problem with this interpretation is, of course, the issue of how the hunters twarted outside the west gate could alert their colleagues on the east side about the expected arrival of the fellowship, before it was too late and they'd already passed though. It also makes you wonder just how much Sauron and Sauruman respectedly knew about what was going on in Moria, and of just who it was that sounded the alarm.
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Old 05-26-2008, 12:28 PM   #53
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Well, I trust that you are correct about this
Not 100%, I must note, but I presume that from what we know.

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I guess my argument hinges on the fire intended to block exit out of the east gate, not entry into it I emphasive. If this fire's constantly being maintained as a precaution I've no case, but I don't think a fire of this magnitute could or would be maintained indefinitely. Besides, who'd expect anyone to try to pass through Moria? I believe the fire was lit with the explicit intent to stop the fellowship that entered Moria a few days earlier through the west gate from ever reaching the east gate and the sunlight on the other side. The problem with this interpretation is, of course, the issue of how the hunters twarted outside the west gate could alert their colleagues on the east side about the expected arrival of the fellowship, before it was too late and they'd already passed though. It also makes you wonder just how much Sauron and Sauruman respectedly knew about what was going on in Moria, and of just who it was that sounded the alarm.
Err... not sure if you understood me correctly: I did not say anything about the fire thing or anything that would concern it. I replied only to what I quoted and what you can read from my post. I would agree that the fire was probably lit just as you say, for a short time to cut off the Fellowship about whose presence the Orcs have learned (probably after Pippin cast his infamous stone into the hole in the floor). If you referred to my "block all roads" comment, it did not refer to the fire, but simply to the presence of the Mordor Orcs themselves, who were to wait there and do something (like get the lazy mountain goblins act) in case the Fellowship showed up.
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Old 05-26-2008, 01:42 PM   #54
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Err... not sure if you understood me correctly: I did not say anything about the fire thing or anything that would concern it.
You are of course right about that. But I don't think you really understand my main point either. If the fire was lit by the native orks of Moria or stationed Mordor sentinels alerted by Pippin's mishap, then why did they attack the fellowship in the manner they did? Why light a fire intended to cut escape off and then chase the hunted straight down perhaps the only escape route? That makes little sense. The fire, I belive, was lit by the Orks entering Moria, already alerted of what had happened at the opposite gate and aware of some of it's consequences. The Orks attacking the fellowship must IMO have been a separate group, perhaps under the command of the Balrog, but without any clear knowledge of the fire intended to trap the fellowship. Cus like I said, if the attackers were the ones who lit the fire, why then chase them down the emergency exit? Perhaps they they just didn't study the blueprints? Maybe it was all a mistake?

Orc 1:"I told you to light a fire to the right of the emergency exit, not to the left of it you, you lousy maggot!"

Orc 2: "Sorry boss, I thought you meant my right, which is your left, if you see what I mean sir...

(getting a bit off topic here, sorry)
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Old 05-26-2008, 02:27 PM   #55
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Oh, I see. But then, to settle the matter, I think the answer is in the book. Gandalf says:
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If we had come by the main road down from the upper halls, we should have been trapped here
And if you remember, the Chamber of Mazarbul was one of the side chambers of the large hall to which the Fellowship arrived, and to which they intended to return after they spent enough time at Balin's tomb. So, the Orcs' original idea was: light a fire by the main route (assuming, quite correctly, that the Fellowship would use the main route) and attack the company from behind, so that they cannot escape. By taking a turn and leaving the main route for a short while, it happened that when the Orcs arrived, the Fellowship was off-course for the planned trap. It could have still gone well for the Orcs, had they allowed the Fellowship to return to the main hall - which, actually, not to be too unjust to Orcs, they could have done; but it was the Fellowship's choice to block the door and defend themselves inside the room. This way, the Orcs had to attack them in the room, thus discarding the possibility to catch the Companions in the fire. They still had a good chance in at least pursuing the Fellowship (the Orcs still were in larger numbers), however the collapse of the chamber after Gandalf's spell duel with the Balrog forced them to use the route they themselves trapped before.

So, hope this explains it, and if so, settles the question
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Old 05-28-2008, 02:09 PM   #56
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So, hope this explains it, and if so, settles the question
I guess that does make a lot of sense. Yours is the simpler explanation and therefore most likely correct (Okham's razor and all). I should also reprimand myself for posting in the chapter-by-chapter to discuss an episope I haven't read recently.

Still, I can't shake the feeling there's something fishy about the situation (Gollum? Nah!). I mean, aren't Orcs better at ambushing in their own domain? Shouldn't they've planned the whole thing a bit better? Perhaps they did not live here and were just as afraid and lost as the fellowship? Nah! Maybe my problem is I can't clearly visualize the size, manner and more importantly, location of the Chamber relative to the Orc's attack route, the main road and to the fire.
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Old 08-25-2018, 06:45 PM   #57
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Despite an absolutely fascinating fourteen-year-old discussion about Boromir (of all characters for this chapter!), and some promising comparisons to be made between Moria and Lórien, I'm going to go far more Reader Response than analysis with this chapter than usual, because its final paragraphs were referenced back to me of late by a friend (and a non-Downer friend at that!) and have been on my mind and I realise that Cerin Amroth has had something of a strong effect on me.

Specifically, the line: "here is the heart of Elvendom on earth," and the sadness this engenders upon rereading knowing that it is about to be said of Aragorn that "he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came there never again as living man."

Although Cerin Amroth is not even in the top twenty moments or scenes I think of first when thinking of The Lord of the Rings, these two coupled lines, which bracket this moment for me, are chiselled into my understanding of this book and retain their shapes in the leafmould of my own mind.

Since 2010 I have been an immigrant--not, perhaps, from one very different culture to another, but I am 3000 miles as the wolf runs from what was once my home "and [t]here my heart dwells ever," if I may be so bold as to apply the words of Aragorn to myself.

Like Aragorn coming into this chapter, I will likely revisit "the heart of Elvendom on earth" (very much redefining "Elvendom" here to mean something more like "home"--but that is, I think, still in keeping with the mood of Aragorn's speech here), but inevitably there will be a last visit and I will come "never again as living man."

I bring all this up not to evoke some sort of pity for me, but because I think these two snippets of text, shaded in by the narrative around them, form one of the great examples of how Tolkien's writings have helped me process and understand my own life. Aragorn still has Gondor and marriage and Eldarion and plenty other great things in his future--but he will never revisit this moment. And consider what "the heart of Elvendom on earth" means as a statement coming from someone who was raised among the Eldar!

This scene, which is close to essential to understanding the character of Aragorn (and the essence of many things in the book) is almost impossible to imagine in Peter Jackson's movies. This isn't exactly a question of faithfulness, though it draws that in, as of dimension: this transcendant otherliness of things like Lórien (and, for that matter, the sinful wretchedness of somethings at the far end of the same continuum) are lacking in the movie--whether they CAN'T be portrayed in movies, like depth in a 2-D picture, is a question I leave for other minds to ponder.
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Old 09-07-2018, 03:42 PM   #58
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Despite an absolutely fascinating fourteen-year-old discussion about Boromir (of all characters for this chapter!),~Form
The 14-years ago me was more interested in the courageous warrior, Boromir, and the stoutly loyal Gimli. I thought it ridiculous Haldir would treat Gimli so poorly, when as Gimli points out Durin's line had never aided Sauron nor done harm to the Elves. Now I'm much more interested in the curious Pippin, and all the hobbits in general. When Boromir's not fighting, or not providing the muscle for the Fellowship, he really is rather dislikeable and ignorant. Every time he speaks, just proves how little he knows, unless it's about bravery in war.

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"I do not doubt you," said Haldir. "Yet this is our law. I am not the master of the law, and cannot set it aside. I have done much in letting you set foot over Celebrant."
This won't be the last time a lowly soldier breaks the law. In contrast to the "happier times" Gandalf spoke of several chapters ago, these are dark and sad times, where Sauron's greatest power is the "estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him."

This power of Sauron, that Haldir speaks of, is strengthened by these sorts of laws that only serve to divide "all who still oppose him." These laws which are meant to protect the Elves (and maybe have in some ways protected them), but there are also consequences to their laws that have isolated them from all others. And previously I did not give enough credit for Haldir setting aside their laws. I guess I expected all Elves in Tolkien to be like the "high and mighty" Galadriel and Celeborn. And I've gained an appreciation of Haldir's character, being the "commoner," closer in status to Hama another "law breaker" we meet later.
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