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Old 09-19-2004, 03:36 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril LotR -- Book 2 - Chapter 02 - The Council of Elrond

There is a wealth of information in this chapter, and it is absolutely pivotal to the further development of the story. It prepares the way for the forming of the Fellowship, though that does not take place within this chapter. It is also by far the longest chapter in the book, at least in FotR. I found it fascinating to read, but have heard from other (perhaps younger?) readers that they didn’t enjoy it. Since there’s too much in it to even start summarizing the contents, let’s just jump right into the discussion this time.

Which parts do you like most? Which do you think are most interesting and/or important? Do you remember your experience when reading it for the first time?
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Old 09-19-2004, 04:14 PM   #2
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Strangely enough, this is one of my favourite chapters. I say 'strangely enough', for, all in all, being a child of my own age (), I like to have some action in the books I read and movies I watch. This chapter would be boring, for indeed, nothing, actually happens - just a lot of folks talk their way through, and doing that in circles. They are not good at it as well - it is obvious from the beginning of the Council that the main reason of the gathering is to decide what is to be done about the ring. Instead of making that decision, awfull lot of unknown characters with new names, appearing for the first time, make a fuss about the matters not directly related. (like Flounders of Little Mermaid: and than seagull came, and said this is this, and that is that...)

Instead of getting the reader sleepy, though, the chapter keeps one very alert. For one, the information provided is of vital interest. For two - the skill of the storyteller Tolkien possesed, and change of style and language with every new speaker makes the chapter not only bearable, but one of the most interesting in the book, as mentioned.

cheers
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Old 09-19-2004, 07:15 PM   #3
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1420! Council

Heren:
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Strangely enough, this is one of my favourite chapters. I say 'strangely enough', for, all in all, being a child of my own age (), I like to have some action in the books I read and movies I watch. This chapter would be boring, for indeed, nothing, actually happens
I wouldn't call this my favorite chapter, but I do think it's not a "boring" chapter. This is a test for first time readers, this chapter, because as you say no "action" happens, either they want to read about All great Legolas, or some sort of sword action/fighting. So this chapter can be difficult to get through.

Estelyn I agree that this is a very important, pivotal chapter, where a lot of info comes out and a fellowship is formed.

I wanted to talk about the Fellowship members itself, and why Elrond chose these certain people (yes, some volunteered, but Elrond had the lets say the right to "veto.") Ok we'll start with Gandalf, chosen to be the guide of Frodo, and he was a wise choice, and wouldn't be too powerful, since Istari's powers were limitted on Middle-Earth. Then Aragorn, soon to be King of Gondor, arguably the best sword fighter of this time. Boromir, best captain Gondor has at this time, and again arguably best fighter Gondor has. Gimli, good representative for the dwarves, even Aragorn is impressed with his axe skill. Of course the Hobbits, all keeping their oaths and travelling wherever Frodo goes. Then you have Legolas, maybe one of the better Mirkwood elves, but still he isnt one of the better representatives of this race. I mean you still have Glorfindel, Elrond's sons, Erestor, who all could have went in Legolas' place. So why Legolas? I think it is because sending someone like a powerful Glorfindel would be spotted easier then a comprable elf bowman.
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Old 09-19-2004, 08:12 PM   #4
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Ah, the Council of Elrond. An intriguing chapter.

In answer to one of the questions Esty posed, my first time reading this one was a tad difficult. It is now one of the chapters I enjoy the most, but the first time around was a challenge. There's not much action, nor is there very much plot development. It's really just to fill in any would-be storyholes (such as "What the heck happened to Gandalf, anyway?") and, oh yes, the creation of the Fellowship.

Quote:
So why Legolas? I think it is because sending someone like a powerful Glorfindel would be spotted easier then a comprable elf bowman. -- Boromir88
You're probably right. As formidable as Glorfindel is (as we saw in "Flight to the Ford"), everyone knew that the quest did not have the best odds of succeeding. It sounds terrible, but maybe Elrond thought that it would be better to send along someone more "expendable." It seems logical that he would want to keep Glorfindel in Rivendell if possible, to help fortify and strengthen it in case the worst should happen.

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(like Flounders of Little Mermaid: and than seagull came, and said this is this, and that is that...) -- HI
Indeed.
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Old 09-19-2004, 09:38 PM   #5
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Ring

I've always thought (taking into consideration that I was a history major in college) that two chapters were especially fascinating, crucial, and "grabbers"
(that is, getting one drawn into the long tale)
1) The Shadow of the Past and
2) The Council of Elrond. (Plus also the concept of elves. Upon first reading LOTR
it wasn't until a future chapter and an incident involving Glorfindel and Frodo that
I realized that Tolkien's elves weren't those irritating little leprechaun-like beings. (And I'm part Irish).

Certainly there is more then one "eye-opener" in the chapter.
To cite one bit of allusions to Middle-earth not being abandoned to evil
forces, but done in Tolkien's way of alluding tantalizingly of a universe
not manichaean but with forces aiming to help, while not dominating,
free wills:
Quote:
What shall we do with the Ring, the least of rings, the trifle that Sauron fancies? That is the doom that we must deem. That is the purpose for which you are called hither. Called, I say, though I have not called you to me, strangers from distant lands. You have come and are here met, in this very nick of time, by chance as it may seem. Yet it is not so. Believe rather that it is so ordered that we, who sit here, and none others, must now find counsel for the peril of the world.
This is, of course, an echo of the observation (by Gandalf?)
about Bilbo being meant to find the Ring, and not by intent of the Ring.

And recall that initial readers of LOTR did so without the Silmarillion, UT, or
HoME. The literary effect is of a world into which one is barely glimpsing, at a
moment of crucial importance. You're almost like the proverbial fly on the wall.
(Perhaps like a certain hobbit sitting in on a secret council to which he was not
invited).
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Old 09-20-2004, 01:14 AM   #6
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Careful, Boromir - you're jumping ahead a bit! Let's save the discussion of the forming of the Fellowship for the next chapter. There are plenty of other matters to talk about first.
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Old 09-20-2004, 08:51 AM   #7
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Boots

Aside from the importance the chapter plays in the advancement of the plot, The Council of Elrond is one of the more important chapters for setting the tone of Middle-earth. There are so many other issues touched upon that it lends a great deal of depth to the world.

We also have our first “visit” from Saruman in this chapter. In it Tolkien makes what I think is a rather important philosophical statement that lends a great deal of insight to his way of thinking. I’m thinking, of course, of the, “And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom” line. I believe this may be one of his more important slaps against modern society and “the machine.”
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Old 09-20-2004, 12:33 PM   #8
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This is the second history chapter in LotR, parallel to chapter 2 of Book I. There we learned enough about the Ring to motivate the story of Book I; the function of this chapter, in terms of plot, is to motivate the rest of the story.

Taking the Ring to Mount Doom is obviously an incredibly dangerous course of action, and if not set up correctly, it would be all too easy for the reader to doubt that such a course is really wise. The risk is that Gandalf, Elrond, and the rest will look like fools - or worse, their actions will not be believable, but will look like manipulation on the part of the author in order to bring about the plot he wants. It is critical, therefore, that the reader understand the necessity of taking the Ring to Mordor. This is part of the reason that we need a whole chapter devoted to the Council.

It's really a testament to his story-telling prowess that Tolkien is able to pull this chapter off. It could very easily have become extremely tedious. But for Tolkien its not just a chapter of exposition to be tolerated; it's powerful and enjoyable in its own right. I think it's interesting to consider just how Tolkien manages this. I don't pretend to have the whole answer but a few ideas are:

1. The exposition is strongly motivated by the need to decide what to do with the Ring.

2. The exposition only partially takes the form of history - there is also much that concerns recent events (Gloin's story, Gandalf's story, Legolas's news about Gollum, etc.).

3. The characters are more than just repositories of necessary information - they each have a distinct personality, which comes through in both the content and the style of their speech. Shippey notes the way that, for example, Dwarves tend to use short sentences and the way Elrond typically inverts his word order to emphasize certain words, or to put the verb second.

4. The backstory is interesting. For Tolkien, the story of the Last Alliance is not merely valuable as a prerequisite for the story at hand; it's valuable in itself, as a story in its own right. It has plot, characters, and suspense of its own.
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Old 09-20-2004, 12:37 PM   #9
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Tuor touches on one of the things that I find most interesting in this chapter from a plot (it has always been a favourite becasue of the high elf involvement) is the idea of the "Calling" but not by Elrond. I have just rambled on about this in teh role of fate thread and I am loath to repeat myself beyond saying that I think it is interesting that it was Boromir who was most directly "called" by a force beyond the unfolding of events. However the fact that Faramir was "called" first and most frequently suggests that fate wanted him to go - which I feel would have been catastrophic for the quest. Also did fate cause Boromir to lose his horse and so arrive after Frodo rather than long before? I have to check when Boromir set out but clearly it was long before the Hobbits left the Shire.

I will hang fire with my "Why Legolas?" theories, but on a lighter note, I would say that Erestor always struck me as a scholar rather than a warrior (but I rpg-ed him for a while which may have coloured my view).
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Old 09-20-2004, 01:47 PM   #10
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Had Elrond already decided what to do with the Ring? Had Gandalf? Or were they really examining every option here before deciding? They certainly did explore every possibility, from the brave to the reckless via the absolutely inane - 'Lets through it in the Sea! That'll solve our problem!'. Its pretty obvious that some of them are either not the sharpest knives in the drawer, or they are petrified out of their wits.

We learn quite a lot about a number of characters - Aragorn has a nasty side - he was 'not gentle' with Gollum, & in fact virtually admits to 'taming Smeagol' by beating him & depriving him of food & water. Gandalf shows for the first time his mastery in a battle of wits, twisting Saruman's arguments, tearing them apart. In a sense he actually does break them to find what they are made of, & shows Saruman up for what he truly is. Bilbo's offer to take back the Ring shows both his courage & that the desire for it has not left him. Frodo, while wanting desperately to remain in rivendell with Bilbo suddenly finds himself speaking words which seem to come from someone else - the 'other half' of him, which Gildor spoke to him of in the earlier draft.

And Boromir - certainly not the Boromir of the movie! This Boromir is so full of himself, so certain of his superior wisdom - as far as he's concerned he's the warrior - he's been on the front lines & knows what these 'armchair generals' don't - that there's something very powerful & very nasty heading right for their comfortable little world that's going to pounce & gobble them all up. And what do they do in the face of that? Why, start heating up the forge to turn their most devastating 'sword' into a ploughshare!

The Dwarves are confused - Gloin virtually admits that Dain hasn't decided what to do about the Messenger's offer - well, if all the dwarvish hoards of wealth had at root a Ring, how tempting would the offer of one of them be? Yet, the Dwarves themselves claim to be 'concerned' only about what the men of Dale might do. The Elves of Mirkwood seem pretty careless in their custodianship of Gollum - they effectively fall asleep on watch, allow him to escape, & then end their pursuit of him because they get a bit too close to Dol Guldur, &, well, they don't go that way, so they just had to forget the whole thing.

What we have is everyone caught up in their own concerns, & looking to pass the buck. They gather in Rivendell to ask for counsel, & it basically takes Elrond & Gandalf, with a little help from Aragorn, 30 odd pages to snap them out of their self obsession, & get them to wake up, stop being stupid ('No, really, we could throw it in the Sea, walk away & pretend it never happened!' - 'Why, I'm sorry, but that's not a very intelligent suggestion! What we should do is hand it over to that looney prancing about in the Old Forest, walk away & pretend it never happened!' 'No, This is foolishness! The intelligent thing to do is give it to me, let me total Sauron, & then, er, well, we can cross that bridge when we come to it' etc, etc, etc).

What we're seeing is a bunch of people who really haven't got a clue, being guided to agree on the only possible sensible option - take it to the Fire & destroy it. I think Elrond knew what the descision would have to be all along, & was almost sitting back & letting everyone get their stupid ideas out of the way, so that they could be shown to be silly, & in the end, hopefully, they would all come to see what he knew was the inevitable course. Perhaps we have a play on words in the title of this chapter - not simply the Council of Elrond, but the counsel of Elrond, because in the end, its his show, he steers it where he knows it must go.
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Old 09-20-2004, 02:15 PM   #11
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1420!

Davem:
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What we're seeing is a bunch of people who really haven't got a clue, being guided to agree on the only possible sensible option - take it to the Fire & destroy it.
First off I want to say what a well thought out, well put post, I think you nailed it on the head with the dwarves, elves, Boromir etc. And the whole "throw it in the sea" LOL!

Anyway with the quote of yours that I have posted, I think we see a lot of that throughout this book. We see of a lot of people who desire the same goal, but want to deal with it in their own way, or in a totally different way to reach that goal. As a quick example, Frodo and Gollum both want to keep the ring away from Sauron, but Frodo wants to throw it in the fire, destroy it. Gollum wishes to take it for himself. I think you see that a lot here in LOTR, but I don't want to get ahead of myself just yet. And because they desire the same goal, they are able to help eachother out eventhough they might not intend of helping out the other person.
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Old 09-20-2004, 04:27 PM   #12
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Do you remember your experience when reading it for the first time?
This chapter is one of the ones I remember most vividly reading for the first time. Like Frodo, I was amazed when Elrond does his "Well I remember the glory of the Elder days..." speech. I must have picked up 3018, 3rd Age somewhere because I was thinking along the lines of "Wait a minute! Just how old is he, anyway?" Another thing that originally confused me was sending it over the Sea. Send it to where? Then something was said about sending it back. Who would send it back? There are several of these hints in the chapter, though most of the history portions are more explained. As a person who had prior to this only read the Hobbit, it was these little things that added to the allusion of depth to the book, one of the many things that made feel it was "fantastic" at the end, rather than just a good book that goes back on the shelf and is never read again. What made me smile, though, was Glóin's line "You were less tender to me!" when Legolas was explaining Gollum's care. It is a sense of connection that only readers of the Hobbit can really feel. Perhaps it was satisfaction at really understanding something that was going on that wasn't flat-out explained in the text.

It confuses me a little how people can skip this chapter. Several people I have talked to skimmed through it or just completely skipped it, calling it boring. Granted, it is not very action packed, but very interesting nonetheless. There is a great deal of the subtle humor that Tolkien excells at, and the introductions and insights to characters such as Boromir are crucial. I do not understand how anyone can skip this chapter and understand what is happening later on.
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Old 09-20-2004, 05:02 PM   #13
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1420! Agrees whole-heartedly.

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There is a great deal of the subtle humor that Tolkien excells at, and the introductions and insights to characters such as Boromir are crucial. I do not understand how anyone can skip this chapter and understand what is happening later on.
I think you can skip the chapter and still catch on and understand what is going on later, but I agree with your point about Boromir, or really anybody. As we know, sometimes to figure out someone, could be within a few paragraphs, to figure out their thoughts, their personality, characteristics, and skipping a whole chapter, you will miss a lot of info about some ME characters, like Boromir. I think we figure out the real Boromir very well here, he wishes to take the ring and give it to the free lords, or use it for himself to supplant Sauron. And I think with that, It's arguable Boromir believed the ring could not corrupt a "righteous" person, like himself, or another lord. Skipping any part of the book, could make your opinion or view on certain matters/people be totally wrong. We get from this chapter right off the bat, Boromir is going to speak his mind, and maybe that's why I admire him the way I do, he speaks his mind. Another example would be him strongly not wanting to go to Moria, or him opposing entering Lorien, and then his little tustle with Aragorn, so we can always expect from Boromir his input on the matter, no matter how arrogant he seems, he speaks his mind.
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Old 09-21-2004, 01:30 PM   #14
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For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colours!’
‘I looked then & saw that his robes, which had seemed white, were not so, but were woven of all colours, & if he moved they shimmered & changed hue so that the eye was bewildered.
‘ ‘I liked white better,’ I said.
‘White!’ he sneered. ‘It serves as a beginning. White cloth may be dyed. the white page can be overwritten, & the white light can be broken.’
‘In which case it is no longer white.’ said I. ‘And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is made of has left the path of wisdom.’
Morgoth was the first to ‘break the White Light, when he destroyed the Lamps, & the single, unbroken, light was lost to Middle earth. Then the Light was split into Gold & Silver, in the Two Trees, Telperion & Laurelin& was no longer constant, but fluctuated. When Morgoth killed the Trees, the Light was further broken, into the Silmarilli & the Sun & Moon. From then on, images of Light recur, but always in lesser forms - Glorfindel manifests the Light when he appears to Frodo as a being of Shining Light, driving back the darkness of the Ringwraiths, fragments of ‘unlight’, & also in the Phial of Galadriel, which drives back another manifestation of Darkness, Shelob.

But where does this desire to break the Light come from? What is the purpose of breaking it? Well, the more it is broken down, the weaker it gets, because the Light originally was One, single, whole. the movement is from holism to fragmentation. Also in language: the language of the Elves at Cuivienen was once the only tongue, but it too was broken & fragmented, & moved towards ‘darkness’. Quenya was the language of the Calaquendi, speakers of Light - their language was a language which was light made audible. But it was ‘superceeded’, by Sindarin, the Grey Elven tongue, which was replaced by Adunaic in Numenor, which became superceeded again by Westron, & at the extreme was Sauron’s Black Speech.

But why do it? In Saruman’s case why choose to break the Light? What’s in it for him? And why is gandalf’s suspicion aroused when Saruman calls himself Saruman of Many Colours, Saruman Ring-Maker?

The Rings were designed to control - but how? to break up the world into the ‘ten thousand things’, to divide & conquer.

Quote:
’Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him’ (Haldir)
It is this power of division, of estrangement that gives Sauron his real chance of winning victory. And its no coincidence that in the great single combats against the Darkness so many of those on the side of Light are golden haired - Fingolfin, Glorfindel, Galadriel (generally against Sauron & when she single handedly throws down Dol Guldur) & Eowyn. Its also no coincidence that women achieve some of the greatest victories - it is Luthien who defeats Sauron in single combat - the only being ever to do so alone, & who also overpowers Morgoth, sending him to sleep (probably the only moment of rest he ever knew - thanks to Jean Chasse at this year’s Oxonmoot for that insight), & we know that at one point Tolkien considered giving Luthien golden hair. So, it is women who have a power against the Darkness, & the most obvious example is Luthien herself. But why & how? Certainly women have a power against this tendency towards ‘fragmentation’. The absence of women seems to leave the men open to the Darkness, to division & breaking. Women are the Light bearers, & where the Light shines the Darkness loses its strength. Look at the family of the Stewards of Gondor in LotR - it starts to fall apart when Finduilas dies. And the women seem to need this role - it seems to be the role Eowyn has taken on herself in Rohan, & once Theoden is healed by Gandalf, freed from the influence of Saruman & Wormtongue, she seems to feel she has no role, is not needed to hold things together. So, women seem to be the power against fragmentation, against breaking down, against the darkness itself. Certainly it seems that (as other’s have pointed out, that perhaps the single most powerful thing in Aragorn’s life, the thing that enables him to resist the lure of the Ring, is Arwen’s love for him -if he takes the Ring he will lose Arwen, & we could suppose the same is the case with Sam & Rosie.

Both Sauron in Barad Dur & Saruman in Isengard (& even Bilbo & Frodo in Bag End) live intensely ‘male’ lifestyles, & so are tempted more by the power of breaking & fragmentation. It seems the more focussed men are on the masculine things, the more susceptibel men are to the power of darkness - perhaps the reason LotR focusses on male characters - because men are the ones at risk of breaking the Light in search of power. Women in the Legendarium seem to be the source of healing, of eros, & so are not so easily seduced by what the Ring offers. Of course, Galadriel seems to be the exception to this - yet her mother name was Nerwen (manmaiden).

(All that mostly inspired by Flieger’s ‘Splintered Light’ & Chausse’s talk ‘The Power of Females in Arda’ at Oxonmoot 2004).
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Old 09-22-2004, 04:08 PM   #15
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Davem wrote:
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Morgoth was the first to ‘break the White Light, when he destroyed the Lamps, & the single, unbroken, light was lost to Middle earth. Then the Light was split into Gold & Silver, in the Two Trees, Telperion & Laurelin& was no longer constant, but fluctuated.
This is an interesting observation, and it brings up another point. In the ages of the Sun, the ages of the Trees take on a kind of "lost utopia" connotation. We hear a lot about how the light of the Sun and the Moon is tainted while the untainted light of the Trees is preserved only in the Silmarils; the Second Prophecy of Mandos tells that at the end of the world the Trees will be rekindled. But we hear almost nothing of the Lamps. Neither is there much of a sense, during the time of the Trees, of a lost utopia, nor is there any suggestion that, even in Messianic days, the Lamps will be remade. The light of the Trees is never unfavorably compared to the light of the Lamps. I wonder why. One possible explanation is simply that since these are Elvish myths (or Elvish-based Numenorean myths) they recall the golden age of the Elves rather than the earlier, Elf-less age. But I wonder if that is the whole story.

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But where does this desire to break the Light come from? What is the purpose of breaking it? Well, the more it is broken down, the weaker it gets, because the Light originally was One, single, whole. the movement is from holism to fragmentation.
I'm not sure that the original or fundamental motivation is to make the light weaker. Rather, I think we must take Gandalf's quote quite literally:

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And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is made of has left the path of wisdom.
Why break the light? To find out what it is. Saruman originally desired knowledge (and skill). Like all things in Middle-earth, he began with intentions that were not evil.

Now Melkor certainly was acting out of malice when he destroyed the Lamps, as when he destroyed the Trees. But when he first broke something - the song of the Ainur - it was out of a desire to create for himself.

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It is this power of division, of estrangement that gives Sauron his real chance of winning victory.
This brings up another interesting point I've been thinking about. Haldir comments on the power of the Dark Lord to cause estrangement among his enemies. But when one thinks about LotR as a whole, one is struck by the degree to which the opponents of Sauron work together - in fact, it is often dissension among Sauron's forces that allows victory. So on the one hand we have Elves, Dwarves, Men, and Hobbits all taking counsel together, the Rohirrim fulfilling their oath to Gondor, the Dead Men of Dunharrow fulfilling their oath to Isildur, the Ents coming forth to war, the Woses assisting the Rohirrim, etc. And on the other the fight between Grishnakh and Ugluk, the fight between Gorbag and Shagrat, the Snaga's reluctance to search for Sam and Frodo, Saruman's betrayal of Sauron.

It is, rather, in the Silmarillion that we see the power of evil to divide good - there we have Noldor slaughtering Teleri, Dwarves sacking Menegroth, Thingol refusing to send forces to the Nirnaeth, Maeglin betraying Gondolin, etc., while Morgoth's forces seem extraordinarily well-organized and disciplined.

What's the significance of this? I'm not entirely sure. But it does underline a difference in tone between the two - the Silmarillion is far more tragic (though I wouldn't quite call it a tragedy). LotR, while not lacking in tragedy of its own, is on the whole more clearly a happy story, a "comedy" in the old sense.

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Old 09-23-2004, 02:55 AM   #16
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I suppose its a question of intent - why does Saruman want to know what the light is made of, & what makes him think that once he's broken it he can do anything with it?

Is he, & Morgoth really driven by a desire to create or simply a desire to manipulate, to 're-make the world in his own image'? Whatever, what all three of them do, Saruman, Morgoth & Sauron, is to break, divide, drive apart, & I do think its significant that its the females in the story who symbolise healing, unification, eros values generally. Its quite interesting that the Lamps were made by Aule, & are constructions, in a sense, machines, that the Trees are brought to life by Yavanna, & are living , growing things, & the Silmarils, & the Rings, are 'machines', as are the Palantiri, so we have a 'male' approach, manufacture of 'things', & a 'female' approach' of bringing into being living things. (Yes, I know we have Galadriel's phial & Aule's creation of the Dwarves, but we'll leave them on one side for the moment!).

The male approach seems to be to to break things into their component parts, from which new things can be made, according to the desire of the maker, & the female approach of 'giving birth', literally or symbolically, to living things.

(Too short, but I'm sneaking this on at work!)
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Old 09-23-2004, 09:19 AM   #17
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Very interesting thoughts on the nature of fragmentation and unity at the council – but an interesting point in response is that there are no women at the council, and yet by the end of it, the talk comes round to unanimity amongst the men: some may not be very happy with the decision to throw the Ring into the fire (Boromir), but all agree that this is the course of action to undertake.

I read this chapter as an exercise in comparison between Frodo and Boromir. Both of them have had long journeys to Rivendell, and both have been “called” by the same event – Isildur’s Bane has been discovered. No other person is there for this precise reason (the hobbits have come for love of Frodo, Aragorn to protect Frodo and achieve his own success thereby): only Frodo and Boromir have come in direct response to the Ring’s re-emergence in history (even Gandalf is there to explain Saruman and the threat that he poses). This is only apt insofar as the Fellowship will be broken when Boromir tries to take the Ring from Frodo, of course.

Boromir’s and Frodo’s manner and tone at the council could not be more different. Boromir boasts about the greatness of his land, and of his own prowess as a warrior and leader. Frodo feels how small his land is – if still precious to him – and how weak he is. Boromir brags about the difficulties he came through (a lost horse and getting wet…poor dear). Frodo lets others praise him for his heroic effort in surviving the Black Riders, and is even a little embarrassed by their praise. Boromir wants to keep the Ring, Frodo wants to give it up. Most importantly, however, Boromir is sure of what should be done, Frodo is not. It’s with this relationship that the role and nature of “counsel” is really brought out in this chapter. As has already been noted, this whole chapter is one long discussion about what to do, but this is far from the only example of such events in Middle-Earth. The heroes all “take counsel” before any important decision – it’s the evil characters who do not “take counsel” and decide for themselves (and others) what will be done. In this, Boromir’s reluctant acceptance of the council’s decision is telling: he has within him the same high-regard for his own opinion as does Sauron and Saruman, but he is sufficiently aware of his duty to accept the decision of the council.

Frodo is an interesting mirror of this. He accepts the decision of the counsel, but he is – like Boromir – unsure of that decision. Not that it isn’t the right one, but he has (understandably) great reservations about the decision with regards to himself. Like Boromir, he is forced into a position in which he undertakes a journey that is not the one he wants to undertake. Of course, the crucial distinction between these two is in their sense of which way to go: Boromir is certain of the path they should take – to Minas Tirith. Frodo, famously, “does not know the way.”

It’s in this “taking counsel” that I think Tolkien demonstrates a mode of heroic action and even of wisdom that is rare, even in his imitators. The decision to undertake the quest to Mount Doom is not one that a single person comes up with and then convinces the others is best. It is a decision jointly achieved by the group. This is far more than a ‘consensus building exercise’ by a committee, though. Instead, it is a group of divided peoples who through discussion, dialogue and disagreement manage to find their way to wisdom – this is the precise opposite of Sauron who decides for himself (and others) what wisdom will be. Saruman too.
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Old 09-23-2004, 09:20 AM   #18
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Davem wrote:
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I suppose its a question of intent - why does Saruman want to know what the light is made of, & what makes him think that once he's broken it he can do anything with it?

Is he, & Morgoth really driven by a desire to create or simply a desire to manipulate, to 're-make the world in his own image'?
Surely Saruman did not begin with the intent to dominate. We are told that he was once great and noble. His original purpose in studying Ring-lore was surely that he and the others would know to deal with their enemy's weapons. By the time he broke the white light and became Saruman of Many Colours he had changed, and I'm sure that by that point his desire to know had been transmuted into a desire to control. Those desires are really quite connected. I'm not sure that I can draw a distinction, for example, between my desire to understand how computers work and my desire to better control my own computer. And conversely, the best way to learn about computers is sometimes to sit down and spend some time trying to control one. I also think it's natural to think that breaking something will help one to learn about it. If I wanted to learn how a clock works, one thing I could do is to take apart a clock - and I can be reasonably sure that after doing that I will know a lot more about clocks than I do now. The trouble is, I won't know what time it is.

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Its quite interesting that the Lamps were made by Aule, & are constructions, in a sense, machines, that the Trees are brought to life by Yavanna, & are living , growing things, & the Silmarils, & the Rings, are 'machines', as are the Palantiri, so we have a 'male' approach, manufacture of 'things', & a 'female' approach' of bringing into being living things.
I don't think I would call this distinction male vs. female, at least not fundamentally. Certainly your examples have force. But I think they are reflective of a deeper distinction, that between artifice and nature. I think I pontificated about this a bit in one of the earlier chapter discussions (maybe in relation to Tom Bombadil). On the "artifice" side we have Aule, Saruman, Sauron, Feanor, the Noldor. On the "nature" side we have Ulmo, Radagast, Finarfin, the Sindar. The nature side is more traditionally feminine, and indeed we see a lot of women in that category and a lot of men in the other. But there are some males, Ulmo for example, that do not at all have the same artificial associations as Aule and the rest - in fact, the personalities of Aule and Ulmo are consistently contrasted. It's harder to think of women on the artifice side; Galadriel tends toward it a bit (and her mother name is Nerwen, "man maiden"). Also, I don't see Yavanna's creation of the Trees as entirely natural. She sings them into being, and song is the original artifice - but it may also be the least artificial artifice, as it is most closely in accord with Iluvatar (and indeed Ulmo is associated with music). Nevertheless, Yavanna's creation of the trees is in one place compared with Feanor's creation of the Silmarils:

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Even for those who are mightiest under Iluvatar there is some work that they may accomplish once, and once only. The light of the Trees I brought into being, and within Ea I can do so never again (Yavanna).
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For the less even as for the greater there is some deed that he may accomplish but once only; and in that deed his heart shall rest (Feanor).
Edit: Cross-posting with Fordim, who makes some excellent observations. I wonder though how to reconcile Tolkien's presentation of debate and concensus as critical virtues with his apparent preference for monarchy.

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Old 09-23-2004, 11:01 AM   #19
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Edit: Cross-posting with Fordim, who makes some excellent observations. I wonder though how to reconcile Tolkien's presentation of debate and concensus as critical virtues with his apparent preference for monarchy.
I don't think that it is at all hard to reconcile these positions. In fact, one of the things to emerge quite clearly during the Council is how good a ruler Aragorn will be. He makes his opinions clear, listens to other people, doesn't just boss people around, and helps the group arrive at a good decision. This will later (sorry to get ahead a bit Esty) be seen again at the council that Aragorn calls to decide what the lords of the West should do after their success at the Pelennor Fields. He could have just ordered people, but he doesn't do this.

Shakespeare's model of good kingship is, I think, appropriate here. In all of his plays, the 'good' king is the one who listens to the people, allows debate, encourages opinions and then makes a decision that takes all of these into account. His decision is final, but it is not one that he arrives at all on his own. It's Shakespeare's tyrants who simply decide what's best based on their own desires and impose that decision on others.

I think that Aragorn proves himself to be a great king at the Council. The odds are pretty good that he knows before they start talking what needs to be done with the Ring -- what his ancestor failed to do. At the same time, his decision to do this ("I will go with you") is NOT what he would personally want for himself (to head to Minas Tirith with Boromir to defend his kingdom and perhaps win Arwen).
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Old 09-23-2004, 12:41 PM   #20
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Perhaps its not so much 'male' vs 'female', as it is 'eros' vs 'logos'. Its interesting that Saruman at first attempts to use logic to win over Gandalf - the end justifies the means, 'we may regret what we have to do to win victory, but when we win we can rule the world properly', etc, & only when that fails do his emotions take over in a massive outburst of affect, he loses control & threatens & imprisons him. We see the same thing with all the enemies: they use cold hard logic to win over their foes, & when that doesn't work they lash out, as if they are not in control of their repressed emotions.

Just occurs, maybe Shelob could be seen as Sauron's repressed anima, his eros side, eating, consuming, drawing all things into itself.

Again, at the end we see what happens when Saruman has lost all chance of using logic (his 'voice') to win over his opponents - he simply lashes out with a knife to stab Frodo, which is a pathetic, sickening sight when we consider what he had been, a Maiar who sang in the Ainulindale as part of the choir of Ainur.

Ulmo is interesting, as he is always alone, which implies his logs & eros 'sides' were perfectly balanced.

All the heroes seem to be in touch with their 'feminine' sides, & its the ones who fail who choose logos over eros. Does this explain Frodo's failure? The heroes are in touch with their emotions, whether its Aragorn, Sam, Faramir, Galadriel, Eowyn (eventually), & the 'villains' are not - Boromir, Frodo, Sauron, Saruman, Grima.

I think what Gandalf is trying to warn Saruman against is this very repression of his feminine side, this approach of breaking rather than uniting, of manufacturing rather than creating. The opposition seems to be between building up & breaking down, creating & destroying, anabolism & catabolism. And it begins with Light & Language.

Every 'fall' is initiated in the choice of & manifests in the action of destruction, of breaking a thing - whatever the ('logical) reason & motivation (the desire) behind it.

Generally speaking logos dominates over eros in males & eros over logos in females, but that is certainly to over generalise. Perhaps its more correct to stress that males are more susceptible to uncontrolled logos values, & females perhaps to uncontrolled eros values, because we see the extreme of eros in Shelob & in what galadriel could become if she took the Ring - 'all shall love me & despair' - so she would be more powerful & more dangerous than Sauron, because Sauron's servants serve him out of fear only, while Galadriel's servants would serve her to the same extent or greater, but out of love (thanks again to Chausse).
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Old 09-23-2004, 02:47 PM   #21
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Davem wrote:
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Perhaps its not so much 'male' vs 'female', as it is 'eros' vs 'logos'.
This is a good way of putting it. I think that perhaps this distinction is a little like that between yin and yang - it is a profound distinction, but a vague one. Logos, artifice, male vs. eros, nature, female.

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Just occurs, maybe Shelob could be seen as Sauron's repressed anima, his eros side, eating, consuming, drawing all things into itself.
An excellent point. I suppose Ungoliant and Melkor can be contrasted in the same way. And again the feminine/eros side is the natural (in this case bestial) one; the masculine/logos side is the one interested in artifice. There seem to be countless such pairs when one starts thinking about it. It occurs to me that we may even see something of the distinction in Bilbo vs. Frodo. Bilbo goes looking for adventure (something typically considered masculine) and demonstrates artifice in creating his own poetry; Frodo much more passively accepts the role that is assigned to him and rarely writes his own stuff.

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Ulmo is interesting, as he is always alone, which implies his logs & eros 'sides' were perfectly balanced.
I see the appeal of looking at it that way. But I'm much more inclined to view Ulmo as being on the eros/nature side. He is frequently contrasted with Aule, for one thing. Also his water-affinity associates him with the Teleri as opposed to the Noldor, and it is his counsel that the Quendi be left in Middle-earth rather than summoned to Valinor - i.e. left to their nature rather than civilized.

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Generally speaking logos dominates over eros in males & eros over logos in females, but that is certainly to over generalise.
I think that's an unfair over-generalization in the real world, but in Middle-earth it certainly has some truth.

A thought that I forgot to come to in my previous post: it seems that often when we are presented with a natural extreme and an artificial extreme we are also given a sort of happy medium. For example, Saruman is artificial, Radagast is natural, and Gandalf is the ideal balance. Others that occur to me:

Aule (artifice), Ulmo (nature), Manwe (balance)

Feanor (artifice), Finarfin (nature), Fingolfin (balance) (in this case we also have Fingon and Finrod, just a shade to the artificial and natural sides, respectively)

Noldor (artifice), Teleri (nature), Vanyar (balance)

This leads to the question of whether one can be too natural, too far to the eros side. Certainly it intuitively seems that such must be possible, but it is always the artificers that go bad. To put in another way: the danger of logos is that the desire for knowledge becomes the desire for control; what is the danger of eros?
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Old 09-24-2004, 01:07 AM   #22
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The danger of eros is that its inherent passivity can allow evil to dominate. Éowyn says it well ("The Steward and the King", RotK):
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It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two, Master Warden. And those who have not swords can still die upon them. Would you have the folk of Gondor gather you herbs only, when the Dark Lord gathers armies?
The ultimate goal of personal development is not delegating one or the other element to a partner, but learning to integrate both within one's self to achieve balance. The same chapter quoted above shows how Aragorn has accomplished that; the Warden says:
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A great lord is that, and a healer; and it is a thing passing strange to me that the healing hand should also wield the sword.
An example of the danger of eros is Radagast; had he alone of the wizards been influential in the War of the Ring, it would have been lost.
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Old 09-24-2004, 02:49 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Esty
The ultimate goal of personal development is not delegating one or the other element to a partner, but learning to integrate both within one's self to achieve balance.
Yet its interesting to see how various characters abilities & personalities are enhanced by their partners, & how the opposite can also be the case - Manwe is able to see farther from his seat on Taniquetil when Varda is beside him, Beren could not have achieved his Quest without Luthien, Aragorn won through in the end not just because of his own courage, but because Arwen aided & watched over him.

On the other hand, after Galadriel passed into the West Celeborn seemed to fade & lose purpose, the loss of Celebrian seems to have devastated Elrond, & perhaps played some part in his view that life is simply a series of 'defeats & fruitless victories'.

One other thing - Elrond's statement that its often the case that small hands do the great deeds because they must while the great are concerned elsewhere - is this actually the case? It seems from a reading of the Legendarium that its the opposite - its the great who do the great deeds, not the small. So why would Elrond claim otherwise - to encourage Frodo? In fact it seems that the only examples we have of 'small hands doing great deeds' is in the Hobbit & LotR. Is this a case of Tolkien changing his philosophy between the early tales & LotR?
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Old 09-24-2004, 04:56 AM   #24
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This discussion of eros and logos, and the need to find balance (either between two or within one) is casting my whole Boromir/Frodo pairing into a new light. They are both of them 'loners' in the sense that at the breaking of the Fellowship they will each decide to go their own way -- in a sense, the breaking is a joint-venture by both of them (Frodo knows that he must go to Mordor alone if he is to save his friends, Boromir knows that he must finally seize the Ring if he is to save his city). Both of their decisions are wildly unbalanced ones, but both are corrected (Frodo's by Sam, and Boromir's by Aragorn).

But this is getting ahead of ourselves again -- to return to the Council. . .

It strikes me that we can see the entire debate as a search for a balance, or integration, of logos and eros. One the one hand is the logical recognition that the Ring has got to go in the fire, and on the other are the fears and passions of the people who are forced to realise this. I find it interesting that in the end, Frodo's 'decision' to take the burden is not a reasoned one at all -- in fact, he is hard pressed to know the reasons for taking the Ring. He is motivated only by a "feeling". Sam, Pippin and Merry also go with him for the sake of their love and for no other reason.

So in the Council we see a kind of integration in which eros (love, in the sense of love for others at the expense of self, which is more properly claritas) is swayed by the recognition of logos, but in the end, eros/claritas is more necessary or dependable. As Gandalf says, Pippin and Merry are better companions for Frodo than someone like Glorfindel -- that makes no sense, but it feels right.

And once again, I will point out that this balance is achieved by a group of men, without any women, so this is why I resist the notion of locating the logos-eros relation on a gender pairing. In fact, I resist locating them in a pairing of any kind insofar as there are many people at the Council not just two (or even two groups or kinds of people). I think that the relation between logos/reason and eros/emotion is more properly located in the relation between the group and the individual; the many and the one. It's as a group that they decide what must be done, but in the end it is for the love of his homeland and friends that a single hobbit accepts the burden of that decision.
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Old 09-24-2004, 05:41 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Fordim
In fact, I resist locating them in a pairing of any kind insofar as there are many people at the Council not just two (or even two groups or kinds of people).
The terminology we use can be misleading, certainly. We could use mind/heart instead of logos/eros or logic/compassion, etc, because all are equally useful & equally misleading. We could even talk about Apollonian/Dionysian or Yin-Yang as Aiwendil suggested. In fact, I wonder whether it might be interesting to classify all the characters in that way? We might actually find out that the heroes have both sides in balance if we compare their acts & the decisions they make, the 'villains' all lean towards one extreme or the other.
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Old 09-26-2004, 01:56 AM   #26
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Silmaril

*pants*
Here I am, late as usual.

Now that I have read at least the Silmarillion and the Unfinished Tales (as I have not when I first read this chapter), I am more amazed of Tolkien's genius. I saw that he did not intend LotR to be a book by itself, but as a continuation of what happened in the previous ages. This chapter presents a seemingly long-expected re-meeting of the Wise, this time including representatives from each race who are in some way connected to the task at hand.

Admittedly, I skipped the part of Gloin's narrative when I first read this chapter. I could not relate to what he was saying, as I haven't read The Hobbit then. But I have now, anyway. *blushes*

I would like start with, in my opinion, the most attention-grabbing character in this chapter: Boromir. He was an important man, and he wanted everyone to know that. But up until this moment, I am wondering why the dream came first, and more times, to his brother Faramir. Was the summons not really meant for him to answer? Should he have stayed in Minas Tirith instead, sending his brother in his place?

Unexpectedly, I felt a surge of annoyance toward him when he was trying to make everyone in the council feel guilty, it seems, of their apathy and lack of gratitude for the deeds his people are doing to stop the advances of the Enemy. Has he even thought of the events in the North? The Dunedain get less gratitude and more scorn and disrespect from the people whom they are trying to protect. I found it so ironic that Aragorn, a man of purer Numenorean blood, would be treated this contemptuously as opposed to Boromir. That is why I wanted to cheer out loud when Bilbo stood up and recited the famous poem he made for the Ranger.

I was touched by Aragorn and Gandalf's dedication in the fight against the Enemy.
Quote:
'There I was at fault,' he said. 'I was lulled by the words of Saruman the Wise; but I should have sought for the truth sooner, and our peril would now be less.'
Gandalf took the blame upon himself, as if the responsibility for the whole of Middle Earth was his! He did not use his involvement in the task to lord it over everyone; instead, he accepted it with humility, contrary to what Saruman did.

As for Aragorn:
Quote:
'Isildur's heir should labor to repair Isildur's fault.'
What modesty! This sentence alone adds to his swoon-worthiness. (I seem to have been counting the points. )

Later into the discussion, we have found that the sole sensible solution to the problem of the Ring was to send it to Mount Doom, in Sauron's realm. I found the irony of this very depressing: this deed would lead to their victory over Sauron, but as the Three are connected to the One, it would also cause the eventual waning of the Elves and their works. Seems to me it's a no-win situation.

In the end, Frodo accepted the dreadful task. I could imagine his fear and nervousness at that time, but being equaled to Hador, Hurin, Turin, and Beren might have given him a boost of confidence. And I do believe he deserves to be seated among them.

Even the most subtle spiders may leave a weak thread, as Gandalf said, and he has told us how deceiving the honest Radagast was the undoing of Saruman's plot. And I believe that in the case of Sauron, the weakness is quite similar. They both failed to win people over into darkness. Sauron has not put in mind the possibility that the Ring would be refused by anyone who finds it. He thought that the Ring-finder would only desire power and dominion, and use the Ring to attain it. Funny this misconception would lead to his downfall...
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Old 09-26-2004, 05:43 AM   #27
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In defense of Boromir

Perhaps not the most popular stance... But here we go!

Granted, though we are often reminded of Boromir’s proud ways in this chapter, I do not feel that he was arrogant, but spoke out of the great isolation of Gondor and pride fostered by and exemplified by Denethor. Boromir’s bleak take on the situation, and it’s possible solution, also sounded quite a bit like his father speaking. And his 'I'm not begging a boon...' declarations sound to me as if he has been told not to ask help, but is trying to get around it some how. But I do wonder what turn the story might have taken if Faramir had gone to Rivendell, as he seemed, truly, to be the one called there.

Yes, reading the Silmarillion and UT increase the 'goosebump' factor of this chapter, but even without the full back history, you get the sense, that every corner of western ME is experiencing turmoil for the very same reason, desire of the ring. Though they do not realize the extent of that turmoil until now.
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Old 09-27-2004, 04:48 PM   #28
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This chapter is so full of details that I'm still mulling over some of them. One question that came to me while rereading it is, whence came the Dwarven restlessness that prompted them to attempt retaking Moria? Glóin says:
Quote:
...a shadow of disquiet fell upon our people. Whence it came we did not at first perceive.
He does not tell us if they found the source of this discontent - was it planted? If so, by whom? Sauron's agents? Why? Later in the chapter, Glóin says,
Quote:
...it was partly in hope to find that ring that Balin went away.
Though the Dwarves didn't know it, Sauron already had the last Dwarven ring, so that wouldn't have been his reason for sparking that foolhardy adventure.


I also noticed one other person who was corrupted by the Ring, though he never saw it or came in its proximity - Saruman!
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It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy, for good or for ill.
He shows some of the results that Gandalf feared for himself, had he taken the Ring - Saruman seeks to rule, for the best, as he thinks.
Quote:
...our time is at hand: the world of Men, which we must rule. But we must have power, power to order all things as we will, for that good which only the Wise can see.
With those words, he shows that he has forsaken the task that was given him, to aid subtly, not to rule.


One detail about Boromir struck me positively this time - he speaks in defense of Rohan as Gondor's ally. He protests against the notion that they pay a tribute of horses to Mordor. That shows loyalty.


Another little thing that I noticed - Galdor speaks of the danger that Sauron could defeat Gondor and go on to assail the White Towers and the Havens. I always had the impression that the Towers were relics of long-gone times and no longer inhabited. Were they manned (or "Elved" ) after all?
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Old 10-19-2004, 10:14 AM   #29
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Warning - Moving slightly off-topic

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Originally Posted by Aiwendil
Now Melkor certainly was acting out of malice when he destroyed the Lamps, as when he destroyed the Trees. But when he first broke something - the song of the Ainur - it was out of a desire to create for himself.
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Originally Posted by Davem
I suppose its a question of intent - why does Saruman want to know what the light is made of, & what makes him think that once he's broken it he can do anything with it?
Let's not forget that the origin of Melkor's problems is in his leaving the light of Eru Illuvitar to seek out the Secret Fire in the outer darkness (I hope I'm remembering my Ainilundale correctly...)

It seems to me that Melkor has been not seeking the source or makeup of the light so much as he is simply jealous of it. When he cannot find the source of the Secret Fire he attempts to destroy creation - a fit or temper tantrum, if you will.

This is followed by his continual attempts, not to fragment, but to destroy the light if he cannot possess it - breaking of the lights, poisoning of the trees, finally stealing the Silmarils and placing them in his crown.

Sorry that this is moving off-topic, but I'm getting caught up in the discussions.

Last edited by Aldarion Elf-Friend; 10-19-2004 at 10:17 AM. Reason: Added Davem's quote...
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Old 04-15-2008, 06:14 AM   #30
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Let's move on...

Here we are back at our reading and the Council of Elrond starts. This chapter is literally stuffed with tales of the past and the last questions are answered, so at last, we are at present with no questions about what happened and the only thing we can look forward to is the (grim) future...

This chapter could also be named "Shadows of the Past II", because there's lot of similarities. What is quite nice here is that the new characters are introduced (Gimli just by name, but Legolas and especially Boromir well enough) in a very good manner - in the middle of a dialogue. Boromir is already shown with quite unsettling view on the world and the Ring, speaking for myself (really just for myself, apologies to all hardcore Boromir fans), I don't like him at all: I would say that he behaves like a stubborn prideful fool. However, it can't be denied that he is a very strong character and strangely enough, I am really glad he is there.

The chapter itself presents so much information, even about the past or a very distant past, that sometimes, it will be good not just for chapter-by-chapter, but rather line-by-line discussion. Anyway, we don't have that much time. I am going to point out some things which really caught my eye; and I am not going to elaborate much on them, just make it so that it rings the bell and you may think about it yourselves. I am interested then in reading what you others found interesting, what stands out on you.

So:

It is interesting that we have emissaries from the Elven settlements - Grey Havens, Thranduil's realm, and of course, the home Rivendell. But nobody from Lórien. Why? Lórien seems "outsiderish" or "playing on its own playground" even in the following chapter when sons of Elrond go there and it's all quite mysterious. Are all the "common" elves from Lórien too "barbaric" to be sent here, while the Lord and Lady on the contrary are too much to go to Rivendell? (And risk the Ring's presence at all?)

The tale of the Dwarves, Dáin and the messenger from Mordor (a Ringwraith? Mouth of Sauron? Or simply some "messenger"?) is quite scary, and now we learn more about Balin's sinister fate - what happened to him and his companions? This part of the tale is definitely quite "dark".

Aragorn at least openly says who he is and shows the Narsil. It's one of these last pieces which, as I said, fall into place in this chapter.

Galdor is a very interesting character and I like him; he seems to show remarkable respect for Saruman. I am amusing myself by the idea that he, if he had attended some of the White Council's meetings, may have been one of the strongest "political supporters" of Saruman. However, as we hear later from Saruman himself, he is not giving much value to the Elves anymore.

We learn quite up to detail how Gil-Galad died. Not precisely, but according to Isildur's scroll, his death had something to do with the heat of Sauron's hand. Did he burn the good Elf-lord or something? (That would answer the recently debated question what happened to Aeglos and/or Gil-Galad's body.)

Gollum escaped - what a threat. This brings however the chance and expectation for us who have read Hobbit before, that we may see the creature again. And he turned towards Dol Guldur - well that was not clever. Why, I am sure the servants of Sauron pursued him from the moment he escaped; so why was he even getting closer to the fortress of Sauron? Yes, he was no doubt running away from the Elves, good choice then - but still, he was attempting to run away from both of them (the Appendices are quite silent on this and we know he hides in Moria later, but why, or maybe rather HOW, he got through Southern Mirkwood, remains a question.)

Another thing which brings hope of seeing a real "The Hobbit sequel" here is when Bilbo almost takes the Ring to Mordor himself. That would be surely nice, wouldn't it? However, it's the young ones' turn now.

I really cried aloud "Hooray!" this time when I read that Frodo takes the Ring. What does this say about the nature of the story, having this effect on me even when I read it countless times before?

And last of all, I have to mention my beloved character, Saruman. Gandalf's tale is so interesting, and there are other things - a funny episode with Radagast (or so I take it, although the matter is serious, but Radagast is such a silly tramp ), the remarks about Rohan etc. Saruman has, of course, just fantastic quotes here and for me, he is the coolest character in this chapter!

Well, so that's it, as brief as I could make it, probably. What about you folks? Don't be shy and tell us what you like, dislike, or anything else you find worth mentioning about this chapter.
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Old 08-12-2018, 04:27 PM   #31
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Tolkien

I love world-building, and watching Tolkien's world-building in particular, so "The Council of Elrond," like "The Shadow of the Past" before it, isn't something I've ever minded reading, but I'll admit that for its sheer length, it does still feel like a bit of a marathon. For all the faults of Peter Jackson's movies, I'll give it credit for managing to do an on-screen Council of Elrond that didn't feel too short (relative to what the books needed to convey) or too long (as a moviegoer).

It isn't a pure info-dump, though. Even though info is dumped--and by the truckload--there is actual *drama* right in front of the reader, taking place in this chapter. And I'm not even counting Gandalf's recitation of his adventures since leaving Frodo in June, which although it's a retelling, is the retelling of action.

In this chapter we get:

-Some muted Dwarf/Elf resentment, usually stemming from Glóin, which sets up the early stages of Legolas and Gimli's relationship.

-A much stronger dramatic encounter between Aragorn and Boromir. It actually always stops short of being the confrontation I expect--Boromir is far more deferential to the absurd possibility (as he probably sees it) that a King could return to Gondor than I expect, but this is still a forceful encounter of strong wills. And, I always forget, it's actually the moment where we, the readers, are directly told that Aragorn is Elendil's heir *and* get a sense of what inheritance means.

-Actually, this realisation on Frodo's part is dramatic: he immediately offers Aragorn the Ring, but Aragorn defuses the offer, which aligns him with Elrond and Gandalf as one of the Wise: their actions (abetted in the discussion by Glorfindel, which I find telling) are constantly to defer from a direct handling of the Ring: "I can't take it," "I won't take it," "we can't send it there", etc. The question is raised in the thread earlier about whether or not they knew what decision the council was going to make, and I think the answer is that they knew the decision it SHOULD make--the difference between them and, for example, Saruman, is that Gandalf and Elrond see their role as the Wise as being to guide others to that same decision. And, arguably, they guide the council in its constant denial of all other possibilities so that only one possibility remains: the Ring must go to Mordor--and Frodo must take it there.

-But, since they don't TELL Frodo he must do, there is drama in Frodo deciding to do it himself. They eliminate all the other options: it can't go to Valinor, it can't go to Bombadil, it can't go to the sea, it can't be used, it can't be handled by the powerful, the small must take it--no, not you, Bilbo. But Frodo has to volunteer. And while Gandalf may have known that he would, you do have to wonder what their backup plan was. Merry? Pippin? Sam? The least-Ranger-like Dúnadan they can find?
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Old 08-21-2018, 08:20 PM   #32
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Quote:
I love world-building, and watching Tolkien's world-building in particular, so "The Council of Elrond," like "The Shadow of the Past" before it, isn't something I've ever minded reading, but I'll admit that for its sheer length, it does still feel like a bit of a marathon. For all the faults of Peter Jackson's movies, I'll give it credit for managing to do an on-screen Council of Elrond that didn't feel too short (relative to what the books needed to convey) or too long (as a moviegoer).~Formendacil
Slowly but surely I'm catching up! While this is a lengthy chapter, it reads fairly quickly, as we hear the stories of what brings everyone to this council.

I didn't think much about it before but there are more similarities between this chapter and "The Shadow of the Past". Both chapters end with an eavesdropping Sam Gamgee becoming Frodo's first companion. It's a clear statement that these two hobbits are meant to see this journey, together, until the very end. Sam is caught in Shadow of the Past by Gandalf, and he is embarrassed at being called an eavesdropper (afraid of Gandalf possibly turning him into something unnatural). In this Chapter, he's called out by Elrond, but isn't embarrassed to be around all these elf-lords, wizards, and great men anymore. Sam's not the same hobbit that was compared to a "dog being taken for a walk" at the idea of getting to see Elves.

Quote:
"No indeed!" said Elrond, turning towards him with a smile. "You at least shall go with him. It is hardly possible to separate you from him, even when he is summoned to a secret council and you are not."
There was a lot of previous discussion over whether Gandalf and Elrond guided this council to the right decision. Gandalf knows Sam's an eavesdropper and it just made me think, Sam may have specifically not been invited, because they knew he would be secretly listening in anyway! I'm thinking this more likely too considering he was invited to the dinner the previous night.

Quote:
...the difference between them and, for example, Saruman, is that Gandalf and Elrond see their role as the Wise as being to guide others to that same decision. And, arguably, they guide the council in its constant denial of all other possibilities so that only one possibility remains: the Ring must go to Mordor--and Frodo must take it there.~Form
What stuck out to me reading the chapter this time, is how relatively little Elrond and Gandalf discuss the big elephant in the room. Most of Gandalf's dialogue is the telling of his story and imprisonment. Elrond fills in some back story and history, fills in some missing details about Bombadil and his many names. But both characters really do leave the actual decision to destroy the ring up to the others. Erestor, Glorfindel, and Galdor do most of the talking about giving it to Tom, hiding it, sending it to the sea..etc, Boromir adds his Gondor-centric spiel to use it as a weapon, but Gandalf and Elrond stay relatively silent during the "decision making." It's only after Frodo volunteers that Elrond sneakily chimes in "yep, if all these stories tell me one thing Frodo, this is a moment where small hands do them, because they must." And Elrond all but admits, Frodo taking the Ring was all part of the plan:

Quote:
"But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that non could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right..."
"Since you volunteered, I will say you made the right choice."

The crux of the story, isn't this is a battle of all these good people vs. all these evil people. It's a story about hope vs. despair:

Quote:
"Thus we return once more to the destroying of the Ring," said Erestor, "and yet we come no nearer. What strength have we for the finding of the Fire in which it was made? That is the path of despair. Of folly, I would say, if the long wisdom of Elrond did not forbid me."

"Despair, or folly?" said Gandalf. "It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope..."
But even "good people" will fall to despair.

It's interesting the chief counselor of Elrond's house who says to destroy it looks like the path of despair, and he would say it's folly if Elrond didn't forbit it! Gandalf again, the constant reminder of the "Fool's Hope" and to seek to destroy the ring isn't despair, because no one can claim to know the end (I mean wasn't Erestor listening to Gandalf's story about Saruman? ). It might be folly, but only to those who cling to "false hope" (which is different from the "fool's hope"). "False hope" is Boromir's hope that to use the ring as a weapon would save Gondor.
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