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Old 10-03-2005, 02:19 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril LotR -- Book 6 - Chapter 2 - The Land of Shadow

This chapter begins with the activity that results from the ending of the last chapter. The Ringwraith's appearance causes Sam and Frodo to flee and hide, while also causing the terror typical of the Nazgűl. (This is important to remember in the light of later events in the chapter.)

We see Sam overwhelmed with weariness after his adventures, and Frodo taking over the leadership for awhile. He still has some strength, though he has no hope.

Is a wish a prayer? Sam wishes that he could ask Galadriel for water and light, and both are granted to them. This raises the question of the extent of her power, and that of the reach of Osanwë - could she 'hear' them, or see them in her Mirror, or was it only a coincidence? It seems to me that the parallels between Galadriel and the Catholic ideal of Mary are very obvious here, with the lembas being an additional link.

Again, we get a brief connection with the parallel events on the Pelennor Fields - the narrator mentions the date and the fact that Théoden is dying at that time. Then, for the first time in the book, the cry of a flying Nazgűl inspires no terror, following the death of the Witch King. How much did that loss weaken the forces of Mordor, at least those of the Ringwraiths?

We see Sam gaining hope through various incidents, but the most notable one is his moment of eucatastrophe upon seeing the star high above. So great is the impact of that experience that he sleeps with no thought of watchfulness - giving himself wholly into the hand of One greater than himself, perhaps?

More and more, Frodo turns away from arms and fighting, taking off his orcish armour and giving Sting to Sam. Are his words about not striking a blow again a statement of his will, a prophetic glimpse into the future, or a manifestation of his despair?

We encounter more Orcs through the eyes of our heroes, with their comparatively crude speech and their quarrels. What does the passage about the tracker and the soldier show us about them? The suspense increases when they are caught by the orc troops, though that does give us one of the book's humorous lines: "Where there's a whip, there's a will."

The chapter ends with another 'coincidental' rescue, and the final sentence is a real page-turner. Even when rereading to prepare for this thread, I just had to look at the beginning of the next to make sure everything was alright...

Though there is dreariness in this chapter, including the descriptions of Mordor, there is much suspense and there are glimpses of hope. What do you like best about this part of the story, and what don't you like about it?
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Old 10-03-2005, 03:52 AM   #2
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This chapter, along with one to follow, is one of the most hard to read (for me). Not much 'dramatics', apart from several instances, but constant growth of pressure and creeping despair. Dark, thirst, hopelessness - the build-up is masterful. Tolkien does not have to resort to 'cheap' dramatic effects to make it obvious Mordor is dreadful place. On that background the few intrusions of hope are cut out clearer:

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‘Look at it, Mr. Frodo!’ said Sam. ‘Look at it! The wind’s changed. Something’s happening. He’s not having it all his own way. His darkness is breaking up out in the world there. I wish I could see what is going on!’
This sentence represents (along with Cormallen field and charge of the Rohirrim on the Pelennor fields and few more) an instance where I feel sheer joy of 'eucatastrophe' most intensely.

Snaga/Big Ork encounter is relief of sorts. Indeed, it adds up to the tension, showing how hot on Frodo and Sam's tracks pursuit was, but it breaks up the dreadful loneliness (for me). And even orks, based on their talk and behaviour, invoke pity and sympathy - it must be wretched life with 'numbers reported' and constant fear of treachery.

Further, ork-driven march it is even more depressing, and the tension is almost unbearable, with a risk of being discovered every minute, but again, it may make one feel symphaty for orks who are, maybe, unwilling to serve in the war, but are driven to it with whips

'Coincidental' rescue indeed, and the commas are rigthful, Esty. Tolkien never let slip the minor details - this is another instance of Evil bringing ruin upon itself, in all its actions, major or insignificant. Indeed, have the 'logistics' been more 'humane' in Mordor, or orks less 'self-oriented' (not pushing to get first, but letting each other in), Frodo would have been discovered. The theme of Sauron's 'selfish blindness' repeated on minor scale in his servants. Hobbits escape through 'lack of charity' in Mordor.
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Old 10-03-2005, 07:54 AM   #3
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The line about the star (the tail end of which is now my siggy for the chapter) is one of my favorites.
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Old 10-03-2005, 10:06 AM   #4
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'If only the Lady could see us or hear us, I'd say to her: "Your Ladyship, all we want is light and water: just clean water and plain daylight, better than any jewels, begging your pardon."
Sam here asks for light and water, he even specifies that he wants only the ordinary light and water, that he is not after Light or Miruvor or anything of that nature. And he gets both. But he also does get Light:

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There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master's, ceased to trouble him. He crawled back into the brambles and laid himself by Frodo's side, and putting away all fear he cast himself into a deep untroubled sleep.
This is an odd moment. It gives Sam peace and hope, but is his reaction quite what it ought to be, considering the high risk situation he and Frodo are in? Note that his 'fate' ceases to trouble him, which seems to be some kind of balm to soothe his troubled soul, but this also makes him lose his sense of caution, and he goes to sleep alongside Frodo rather than keeping watch. This seems to be reckless behaviour.

Or is the Light of the star also protecting him? Is it a 'sign' that for that moment, Sam does not need to keep watch. Sam does not need to be troubled with 'fate' at this point; it is as though fate or who/what ever deals out 'fate' is watching him benevolently and he knows it. This is an intensely spiritual moment, almost in an Eastern 'mystic' sense.



In this chapter we have yet more clues about what the Nazgul do.

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'They've lost their heads, that's what it is. And some of the bosses are going to lose their skins too, I guess, if what I hear is true
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Go to your filthy Shriekers, and may they freeze the flesh off you! If the enemy doesn't get them first. They've done in Number One, I've heard, and I hope it's true!
More mention of skin and flesh being removed. In fact we also have a clue as to how the skin and flesh is removed, as it may be 'frozen' off the body. And it wouldn't be much 'punishment' if the victim was not alive during and after the process, so I think this is more evidence that the Nazgul (and Sauron?) operate some kind of horrific procedure whereby the 'Fea' is left exposed. As Tolkien often does when broaching topics of horror, he skims the edges and leaves it up to the reader to decide what might or might not happen. This is something which he may have chosen to do to stop his writing being simple 'horror' fiction, but it actually has the effect of making the horror all the more vile for being 'veiled', something which we must work out for ourselves.
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Old 10-03-2005, 01:47 PM   #5
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It seems that Sam has taken over as main character in the story. From now on we will see things through his eyes - which we mostly have done for a good while. We now see Frodo from the ‘outside’, watching his inexorable destruction through the eyes of his servant. Its an interesting approach. We get Sam’s feelings & reactions, his inner dialogue, but not Frodo’s - we only see him & hear his words....except at one point:
Frodo’s dreams

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His sleep had been uneasy, full of dreams of fire, and waking brought him no comfort. Still his sleep had not been without all healing virtue: he was stronger, more able to bear his burden one stage further.
In the earlier parts of the tale we had accounts of what Frodo dreamt - the Tower, with Gandalf, the dream vision of the rain curtain. Now the accounts are vague - of fire. Well, the Ring is coming home, back to the place of its birth: the fires that well at the heart of the earth. But are these Frodo’s dreams, or the Ring’s? Is there any difference, & if so, how much. If Sauron & the Ring are ‘one’ so, very nearly, are Frodo & the Ring. Yet Frodo is without hope:

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'Still we shall have to try,' said Frodo. 'It's no worse than I expected. I never hoped to get across. I can't see any hope of it now. But I've still got to do the best I can....

'Quietly, Sam,' Frodo whispered. 'There may be others about. We have evidently had a very narrow escape, and the hunt was hotter on our tracks than we guessed. But that is the spirit of Mordor, Sam; and it has spread to every corner of it. Orcs have always behaved like that, or so all tales say, when they are on their own. But you can't get much hope out of it. They hate us far more, altogether and all the time. If 242 those two had seen us, they would have dropped all their quarrel until we were dead.'...

'All right, Sam,' said Frodo. 'Lead me! As long as you've got any hope left. Mine is gone. But I can't dash, Sam. I'll just plod along after you.'..

'Look here, Sam dear lad,' said Frodo: 'I am tired, weary, I haven't a hope left. But I have to go on trying to get to the Mountain, as long as I can move. ..

Things are looking up, Mr. Frodo. Haven't you got some hope now?'
'Well no, not much, Sam,' Frodo sighed. 'That's away beyond the mountains. We're going east not west. And I'm so tired. And the Ring is so heavy, Sam. And I begin to see it in my mind all the time, like a great wheel of fire.'
Frodo repeatedly stresses his lack of hope, but, at the same time, his determination to continue without it. Hope, it seems, is not necessary for Frodo. Something else provides the impetus. But what? What exactly is driving Frodo? The obvious answer is his determination to ‘do the right thing’ in spite of all obstacles. Yet there may be something else - the Ring. Perhaps it is the desire of the Ring that overcomes Frodo’s hopelessness, drives him on into Mordor. At this point we have to wonder whether the desire to destroy it is really uppermost in his mind - his reaction in the Tower may cause us to question that. The Ring, like a ‘wheel of fire’ fills his mind, pushing out all other things:

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But this blind dark seems to be getting into my heart. As I lay in prison, Sam, I tried to remember the Brandywine, and Woody End, and The Water running through the mill at Hobbiton. But I can't see them now.'
The last sentence of the chapter is full of symbolism. Frodo lay ‘like a dead thing’. In effect he has died - the Hobbit who set out from Bag End the previous September is dead & gone, & there is no real going back. He has gone from Hobbit to ‘Orc’ to ‘corpse’. When he says that he does not think it will be his part to strike any blow again one has to wonder whether this reflects a growing spirituality or a growing sense of uselessness & futility.

For Sam, on the other hand, there is one sign of hope after another. He gets his wish for light & water, he sees the star which inspires him, gives him perspective. Yet it is odd that it is Sam, not Frodo (who is most in need of it) who is the recipient of all these signs of hope. Frodo is now ‘plodding along’ without hope, & it is down to Sam to provide not just the practical necessities of food & water, but also the inspiration. Sam, for whatever reason, simply will not give up this ‘stupid’, ‘futile’, job. It is as though someone - Gandalf?, Galadriel?, Eru? - has realised that the burden borne by Frodo is too great, that nothing more can be added to the weight he carries - not even hope - because hope itself may be a burden. Where there is hope of success there is also fear of failure, of having that hope snatched away & trampled into the dust. Frodo plods along for the sake of plodding. Sam goes on with hope, because he can still bear the weight of it. He also goes on in faith - but whether that faith is in Eru (probably not) or simply in Galadriel, & to a lesser extent in his master, is another question, & not really relevant at this point. Frodo is fighting against ‘powers & principalities, Sam against the environment, against hunger & thirst, against Orcs & Gollum.

We have yet another ‘crossing’ of a border into another ‘realm’ - in the earlier parts of the tale these were river crossings the Brandywine, the Bruinen, the Anduin, & here too we have the crossing of a dried up stream. These are points of transition almost, from one level of ‘reality’ to another. This is the final one - all the rest will be crossings back & ‘out’. Further & further in the Hobbits move, to the very centre of earthly power - not Barad dur, but Orodruin, the Sammath Naur, where the Fire wells up from the heart of the earth, the place of creation (of the Ring) & destruction, the place where the Quest was born & where it will reach its culmination, where the ‘light shines in the darkness’, where evil waits to provide its own destruction, to consume itself, & liberate the slaves in its thrall.

The water & light that Sam ‘prays’ for, the star that shines through the cloud & smoke, all demonstrate that even in the heart of hell the Good may be found, that nowhere is completely closed off from hope (except, perhaps, the heart of Frodo the Hobbit).
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Old 10-05-2005, 10:57 AM   #6
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Something else provides the impetus. But what? What exactly is driving Frodo? The obvious answer is his determination to ‘do the right thing’ in spite of all obstacles. Yet there may be something else - the Ring. Perhaps it is the desire of the Ring that overcomes Frodo’s hopelessness, drives him on into Mordor. At this point we have to wonder whether the desire to destroy it is really uppermost in his mind - his reaction in the Tower may cause us to question that. The Ring, like a ‘wheel of fire’ fills his mind, pushing out all other things
Are you implying that the Ring is driving Frodo to Mount Doom because it knows what will happen there and thinks that will give it an insurmountable chance to get back to its master?

An interesting theory, I'd never thought of it like that before.
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Old 10-05-2005, 11:40 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
Are you implying that the Ring is driving Frodo to Mount Doom because it knows what will happen there and thinks that will give it an insurmountable chance to get back to its master?

An interesting theory, I'd never thought of it like that before.
An interesting theory, I agree, but one that would be very risky on the Ring's part. After all, it would know (in so far as the Ring is sentient) why it is being taken there- for destruction, and Orodruin is the one place in Middle-Earth where "mislaying" the Ring would be catastrophic for its continued existence. And then there was Sam... The Ring would clearly be aware of his presence- and the fact that he gave up its lure very easily. Sam would be a very dangerous wildcard where the Ring was concerned, because the Ring could not count on its temptation to prevent him from forcing its destruction.

On the other hand, the Ring was certainly without many cards to play. It had been unsuccessful in drawing the Nazgul's attention, and the Nazgul were no longer around to draw. Sam had proven incorruptable. Gollum was gone, and none of the Orks had yet caught a glimpse of it.

And too, the Ring (again, assuming it capable of complete thought), could have been "overconfident" for lack of a better word. After all, Frodo was almost totally under its domination as it was, and its powers increased the nearer they got to Mount Doom. The idea that Frodo could destroy it was laughable- as we indeed learn in another chapter. And, in fact, it took was may best be called a Divince Act of Providence (ie. Gollum's fall) to destroy it.

An interesting theory, indeed...
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Old 10-05-2005, 11:50 AM   #8
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I don't think the Ring would have worried about Sam too much. I mean we all laugh at the mental picture of Sam giving Frodo a helpful shove over the cliff, but I don't think Sam would have ever done that.
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Old 10-05-2005, 11:54 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
I don't think the Ring would have worried about Sam too much. I mean we all laugh at the mental picture of Sam giving Frodo a helpful shove over the cliff, but I don't think Sam would have ever done that.
WE know that, but did the Ring?

The Ring, after all, knew that Sam had a mind relatively unclouded by its lure. And it KNEW what the purpose was in taking it to Mt. Doom. Furthermore, Frodo wouldn't have to be pushed into the pit to destroy the Ring. Imagine if Sam had taken it by force from Frodo (okay, I really can't see it happening, but imagine it anyway). Having given it up once before, I think it likely that he could have cast it in. Voila! You have Sam and Frodo both alive, and the Ring destroyed.

T'is unlikely, I know, for us who have seen what actually happens, but remember that at this point in the story, it is still very much up in the air what is going to happen on Mt. Doom. Just because we know what will happen, and how Sam would act, does not mean that the Ring would.
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Old 10-05-2005, 12:53 PM   #10
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The intentions of the Ring are interesting. What, exactly, did the Ring 'want'? Mount Doom seems to have excercised an attraction for evil - Sauron chose Mordor as his realm because of it. It almost seems as if the Ring was being pulled back to Orodruin as much as to Sauron - or maybe more than to Sauron.

I'm not sure its a question of the Ring knowing what would happen at Mount Doom. It occurs to me that maybe, just as the Ring was 'intended' to be found by Bilbo , but not, as Gandalf says, by its Master, the Ring was not wholly in control of its own fate. Is it not possible that the Ring was drawn back to the Fire, by some other will - that of Eru?

Pure speculation, but if Eru can dictate who 'finds' the Ring is it possible that rather than the Ring deciding to leave Gollum & be found by Bilbo it was Eru who made that decision for it?
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Old 10-05-2005, 05:08 PM   #11
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Boots This could lead into some interesting territory

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The intentions of the Ring are interesting. What, exactly, did the Ring 'want'?
Well…we are repeatedly told the Ring wants to get back to Sauron. (It almost begs the question of if the Ring was happy with Sauron, but maybe we shouldn’t go there…)

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I'm not sure its a question of the Ring knowing what would happen at Mount Doom.
I think the Ring probably had some idea of what would happen. It must have known that at Mount Doom all other powers in Middle earth would be stifled and that it dominated Frodo to the point that Frodo would not be able to harm it. It is interesting that in this part of the story the Ring seems to go rather passive. By that I mean it does not attempt any funny business. It does not seem to have made any effort on fooling around with Frodo when they encountered the Nazgul at Cirith Ungol, for example. It is almost as if it is being taken where it wants to go.

Quote:
The Ring, after all, knew that Sam had a mind relatively unclouded by its lure. And it KNEW what the purpose was in taking it to Mt. Doom. Furthermore, Frodo wouldn't have to be pushed into the pit to destroy the Ring. Imagine if Sam had taken it by force from Frodo (okay, I really can't see it happening, but imagine it anyway). Having given it up once before, I think it likely that he could have cast it in. Voila! You have Sam and Frodo both alive, and the Ring destroyed.
The interesting thing to ponder here is how much of an insight into the thinking of an incarnate being the Ring could gain. Obviously, the Ring was able to work on the thoughts of people. However, this may have only been attempts at outside communication and the Ring did not really know what was going on inside its target’s head. I’d never given this much thought before, but I think the Ring probably could not see inside the head of people. It’s actions tend to be more on the order of commands toward a particular action. It also created repeated delusions of grandeur. The fact that it misfired so badly with Sam makes me think that the Ring perhaps could not see inside.

Yes, I know the first part of my post regarding the Ring’s insight abilities contradicts the last…but it is more fun this way.
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Old 10-06-2005, 06:30 AM   #12
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The intentions of the Ring are interesting. What, exactly, did the Ring 'want'?
I'm going to be a little obtuse and suggest that, since the Ring was in some sense a part of Sauron, what it "wanted" was simply what Sauron wanted - which in large part was simply, as Kuruharan says, to get back to Sauron.

Quote:
It occurs to me that maybe, just as the Ring was 'intended' to be found by Bilbo , but not, as Gandalf says, by its Master, the Ring was not wholly in control of its own fate. Is it not possible that the Ring was drawn back to the Fire, by some other will - that of Eru?
Just how much, one wonders, does Eru tinker with events as they unfold in Arda?

Some interesting points have been raised regarding the possibility of the Ring "knowing" what would happen at Mt. Doom. But it seems to me that knowing is not something the Ring can do. The Ring has will (part of Sauron's will) but I don't think it has a mind. I don't think it has knowledge or intelligence. It seems to me that it does not think about what actions to take; it does not, strictly speaking, decide. Rather, it operates on an intuitive level. It seems to me, then, that the Ring is indeed drawn to Mt. Doom; but I don't see this in terms of a decision to return to Mt. Doom - I don't think it makes sense to ask what the Ring thinks about Mt. Doom. Rather, it seems to me that it is drawn to Orodruin because of the power of that place and because of its inherent affinity with the mountain. It was, after all, the place where the Ring was made.
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Old 10-06-2005, 07:53 AM   #13
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I think this still leave open the question of whether it is Frodo's will or the Ring's which motivates him to carry on without hope. If he has no hope what is he going on for? Shippey claims that it is Frodo's will to 'do the right thing' even without hope, but the more I think about it the more I wonder. At the very least we seem to have Frodo & the Ring willing the same thing - to get the Ring to the Fire. But is that what Sauron is willing? Where does Frodo's will end & the Ring's begin?

Sam's will is also to get the Ring to the Fire, but is that for the same reason as Frodo? By this time does Frodo actually want to destroy it? Has Frodo's will already been subsumed by the Ring?
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Old 10-06-2005, 08:22 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Aiwendil
I'm going to be a little obtuse and suggest that, since the Ring was in some sense a part of Sauron, what it "wanted" was simply what Sauron wanted - which in large part was simply, as Kuruharan says, to get back to Sauron.



Just how much, one wonders, does Eru tinker with events as they unfold in Arda?

Some interesting points have been raised regarding the possibility of the Ring "knowing" what would happen at Mt. Doom. But it seems to me that knowing is not something the Ring can do. The Ring has will (part of Sauron's will) but I don't think it has a mind. I don't think it has knowledge or intelligence. It seems to me that it does not think about what actions to take; it does not, strictly speaking, decide. Rather, it operates on an intuitive level. It seems to me, then, that the Ring is indeed drawn to Mt. Doom; but I don't see this in terms of a decision to return to Mt. Doom - I don't think it makes sense to ask what the Ring thinks about Mt. Doom. Rather, it seems to me that it is drawn to Orodruin because of the power of that place and because of its inherent affinity with the mountain. It was, after all, the place where the Ring was made.
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At the very least we seem to have Frodo & the Ring willing the same thing - to get the Ring to the Fire. But is that what Sauron is willing? Where does Frodo's will end & the Ring's begin?


Perhaps it behooves us to recall that the Ring is the servant not so much of Sauron but of the story, and that it will "know," "inspire", "intuit" what is needed for the story to reach its eucatastrophic climax and denouement rather than 'obey' any internal consistency of characterisation.
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Old 10-06-2005, 09:39 AM   #15
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hey everyone (Esty, it has been too long)

After reading this thread I think that it was the Ring that drove Frodo at last. For all the reasons said above:
- Frodo constantly saw a Wheel of Fire in his head. He could not picture anything else anymore.
- We know Frodo claimed the Ring at the abyss of Mount Doom. I think that Frodo would already have claimed it before, had the occassion occured before. Because Frodo could and had to keep the Ring he had no need to claim it. Also, perhaps, Frodo knew that claiming the Ring would bring danger.

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And far away, as Frodo put on the Ring and claimed it for his own, even in Sammath Naur in the very heart of his realm, the power of Barad-dűr was shaken, and the Tower trembled from its foundations to its proud and bitter crown. The Dark Lord was suddenly aware of him, and his Eye piercing all shadows looked across the plain to the door that he had made;
Furhtermore I don't believe that the Ring knew what would happen at Mt. Doom, not that they were going to Mt. Doom. The Ring was gaining on Frodo's will, and it was steering into the heart of it's masters realm, where it would certainly be found and returned to Him. When the Ring detects that they do go to the Mountain, the last of Frodo's strength is gone. He wants to stand up, staggers and falls on his knees again. That Sam takes him and carries him. It seems to me that, if it was the Ring that was driving Frodo, it would not know before this moment that they were going to the Mountain. Otherwise it would have left Frodo without hope and it's will much earlier. Frodo was walking the Road to Barad-dűr and that was the way the Ring desired to go. The Ring neither expected, nor wanted to turn away from that road and go south to Mt. Doom. Maybe the Ring even believed to dominate Frodo so that he would not turn away from that road. When Frodo did, the Ring's will left him, and he could go no further.

It is interesting to ponder why Sam gets all the hope and not Frodo. It is, I believe, because Frodo already has something that will direct him further, however horrific, the Ring wants him to keep going. Sam needs all the sings he can get to keep up his hope. Sam is the main character in 'the Land of Shadow', because it is not Frodo, but he who decides the Ring's faith. If he lost hope, what hope would there have been that the Ring was destroyed.

There is one quote that contradicts all things said above:

Quote:
Worst of all, the air was full of fumes; breathing was painful and difficult, and a dizzness came on them, so that they staggered and often fell. And yet their wills did not yield, and they struggled on.
This is just before Frodo falls on his knees, his last journey on his own legs (except the run to the cracks of doom when Gollum has shown himself). However, the sentence clearly suggests that Frodo still had his own will there. Was it his 'own' will, or was it 'the will that was driving him'?

What do you make of this?

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Old 10-06-2005, 09:45 AM   #16
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Like HerenIstarion, this chapter isnt the easiest for me to get through. Its a transition chapter in between two action chapters for me. It does have some of my favorite lines of the work:

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.....Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
Says it all really, doesnt it? Nice correlation between light and thought. Good work.

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It seems that Sam has taken over as main character in the story.
For me, another main character is geography. In all of the previous story, Mordor is referenced many times as: a military base, stronghold, Empire, evil doings in general, evil extension or physical representation of Sauron. In this chapter, we get to walk through Mordor. Feel it. Taste it. Swat the flies coming from it.

Orc culture insight:

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'Come on, you slugs!' he cried. 'This is no time for slouching.' He took a step towards them, and even in the gloom he recognized the devices on their shields. 'Deserting, eh?' he snarled. 'Or thinking of it? All your folk should have been inside Udun before yesterday evening. You know that. Up you get and fall in, or I'll have your numbers and report you.'
So they are assigned numbers. And at least the supervisors have some kind of education, and there is an accounting of that somewheres... hmm

Quote:
'There now!' he laughed, flicking at their legs. 'Where there's a whip there's a will, my slugs. Hold up! I'd give you a nice freshener now, only you'll get as much lash as your skins will carry when you come in late to your camp. Do you good. Don't you know we're at war?'
When were they not at war?? Seriously, does this mean there was some kind of General Order, or a formal Declaration of War? When would this have happened? It does hint at the possiblity that there were times between war for them. What was that like? There is not much to go on, but it does nuance at the very least a line of communication from Barad Dur to the lives of the regular orc peoples. Couriers? Village elders? Town criers?

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I'm not sure its a question of the Ring knowing what would happen at Mount Doom. It occurs to me that maybe, just as the Ring was 'intended' to be found by Bilbo , but not, as Gandalf says, by its Master, the Ring was not wholly in control of its own fate. Is it not possible that the Ring was drawn back to the Fire, by some other will - that of Eru?
Aye

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But it seems to me that knowing is not something the Ring can do
Quote:
Perhaps it behooves us to recall that the Ring is the servant not so much of Sauron but of the story, and that it will "know," "inspire", "intuit" what is needed for the story to reach its eucatastrophic climax and denouement rather than 'obey' any internal consistency of characterisation.
Yes and yes. If anything is implied, its that the ring (not by its own will) is growing in power as it comes closer to both it's makers: Sauron and Mt Doom, in a literal, physical sense. Of course, we cant separate power from evil when it comes to the ring. So by conjecture, the evil is growing as well. If that makes any sense at all....
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Old 10-06-2005, 10:14 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by drigel
So they are assigned numbers. And at least the supervisors have some kind of education, and there is an accounting of that somewheres... hmm
This question of the level of 'education' of the Orcs is an interesting one. It has been addressed by Brian Rosebury in his book 'Tolkien: A Cultural Phenomenon'

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With the Orcs, whose speech is intended to suggest a closed militaristic culture of hatred & cruelty, Tolkien draws on a number of models. Indeed, there are at least three different dialogue-types for Orcs, corresponding to differences of rank and of tribe.. (None of them, incidentally, is ‘working-class’, except in the minds of critics who - themselves, it seems, unconsciously equating ‘degraded language’ with ‘working-class’ language - have convinced themselves that the Orcs’ malign utterances betray Tolkien’s disdain for ‘mere working people’.) The comparatively cerebral Grishnakh, for example, talks like a melodrama villain, or a public school bully.

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'My dear tender little fools," hissed Grishnakh, 'everything you have, and everything you know, will be got out of you in due time: everything! You'll wish there was more that you could tell to satisfy the Questioner, indeed you will: quite soon. We shan't hurry the enquiry. Oh dear no! What do you think you've been kept alive for? My dear little fellows, please believe me when I say that it was not out of kindness: that's not even one of Ugluk's faults."


The Uruk-hai, Grishnakh’s rivals, are an arrogant warrior horde, not without a certain esprit de corps, and are given to yelling war cries. (‘Bring out your King! We are the fighting Uruk-hai! We will fetch him from his hole, if he does not come. Bring out your skulking king!’) Lastly, the dialogue between individual Orcs at moments of animosity (which is most of the time) is brutal & squalid in a rather underpowered way.

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’The Black Pits take that filthy rebel Gorbag!' Shagrat's voice trailed off into a string of foul names and curses. 'I gave him better than I got, but he knifed me, the dung, before I throttled him...’

‘'I'm not going down those stairs again,' growled Snaga, 'be you captain or no. Nar! Keep your hands off your knife, or I'll put an arrow in your guts.


If Tolkien is reduced here to stylised snarls, & bowdlerised suggestions of excremental vituperation, one recognises his difficulty: more overt obscenity & violence would not so much have offended twentieth-century sensibilities as have evoked, incongruously, the world of the twentieth-century crime novel. Most readers, engrossed in the narrative, will absorb this functional, & sufficiently expressive, dialogue without being unduly detained by its artificiality or derivativeness.
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Old 10-07-2005, 11:06 AM   #18
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The Star

"For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach."

This is the line I always bring up when someone claims that Tolkien was a complete pessimist. Maybe many of us are drawn to this work because we do see the battle always being fought, and sometimes it can get very dark and ominous, but that does not mean that we—or Tolkien—are ultimately pessimistic about the outcome.

Whenever I read this line, it jars me out of that slow-moving, dreadful heaviness of Mordor and the last leg of the quest. Just in time, too!

“Note that his 'fate' ceases to trouble him, which seems to be some kind of balm to soothe his troubled soul, but this also makes him lose his sense of caution, and he goes to sleep alongside Frodo rather than keeping watch.”

Yes, that release from vigilance that occurs sometimes in the most desperate circumstances. It is almost a separation from the personal condition, a dissociation from the peril the person finds himself in. At a certain point, the individual can do no more, and just lets go for a moment, or an hour, etc. Life carries him for that time, and then he can start to try to steer again, if that’s his personality.

The quote about the star cuts into the chapter like a star itself, doesn’t it?

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Old 10-07-2005, 11:54 AM   #19
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There's getting to be a lot of mention about the star passage, and it's effect on Sam, so I'll add my thoughts to the mix:

One thing that is noted a lot about this episode is that it is SAM who receives it, and not Frodo. Somehow, to me that has always felt fitting, since it is Sam who has been concerned about their fate, not Frodo.

I always tend to think back to this passage in "The Passage of the Dead Marshes":

Quote:
'About food,' said Sam. 'How long's it going to take us to do this job? And when it's done, what are we going to do then? This waybread keeps you on your legs in a wonderful way, though it doesn't satisfy the innards proper, as you might say: not to my feeling anyhow, meaning no disrespect to them as made it. But you have to eat some of it every day, and it doesn't grow. I reckon we've got enough to last, say, three weeks or so, and that with a tight belt and a light tooth, mind you. We've been a bit free with it so far.'

'I don't know how long we shall take to - to finish,' said Frodo. 'We were miserably delayed in the hills. But Samwise Gamgee, my dear hobbit - indeed Sam my dearest hobbit, friend of friends - I don not think we need give thought to what comes after that. To do the job as you put it - what hope is there that we ever shall? And if we do, who knows what will come of that? If the One goes into the Fire, and we are at hand? I ask you, Sam, are we ever likely to need bread again? I think not. If we can nurse our limbs to bring us to Mount Doom, that is all we can do. More than I can, I begin to feel.'
And then again, in "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit":

Quote:
Sam had been giving earnest thought to food as they marched. Now that the despair of the impassable Gate was behind him, he did not feel so inclined as his master to take no thought for their livelihood beyond the end of their errand; and anyway it seemed wiser to him to save the waybread of the Elves for worse times ahead. Six days or more had passed since he reckoned that they had only a meagre supply for three weeks.

'If we reach the Fire in that time, we'll be lucky at this rate!" he thought. 'And we might be wanting to get back. We might!'
At this point in the story, Sam is now able to release his worries about returning home, about resuming his life. It is as if, to me, he has realized fully that the destruction of the Ring is the most important thing that matters, and that if he can see that happen, nothing else matters. But it's a more hopeful feeling that when Frodo expresses a similar belief, way back in the Emyn Muil. For Frodo, it was a tired feeling, a feeling that if he could see that happen, he would have done more than he believed possible, that he would then be DONE. For Sam, it feels more like he is being lifted of the burden of trying to get home, that he has been given a much simpler task, and that anything that might come after that would be a gift, and would not be his concern anyway.
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Old 10-07-2005, 12:13 PM   #20
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That Sam takes him and carries him. It seems to me that, if it was the Ring that was driving Frodo, it would not know before this moment that they were going to the Mountain.
I'm afraid that it is inaccurate to think that the Ring did not know where they were going. It had been stated in the Ring's presence countless times. However, it is interesting to ponder if the Ring was trying to steer Frodo away toward Barad-dur and it wasn't quite able to. However, as I stated earlier, I don't think it mattered to the Ring because I think the Ring knew that Frodo would not be able to harm it.
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Old 10-07-2005, 12:24 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
It had been stated in the Ring's presence countless times.
That brings up the question: Could the Ring hear?
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Old 10-07-2005, 12:45 PM   #22
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Could the Ring hear?
Uhhh...obviously not like we do. However, I don't think it would be pushing too far to say that it could pick up a "vibe" from things said around it.
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Old 10-07-2005, 12:49 PM   #23
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Picking up a "vibe" is definitely not the same thing as hearing - and understanding - the contents of words that are spoken in one's presence! Methinks the Ring is being given more credit than behoves its actual abilities. Intuitive, yes; influential, yes; but not nearly as much an active participant in events as some have assumed.
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Old 10-07-2005, 12:58 PM   #24
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I'm not sure you understood what I meant. And your second sentence is interesting because...

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Intuitive, yes; influential, yes; but not nearly as much an active participant in events as some have assumed.
...if the Ring is to be intuitive and influential then it has to have some understanding of what is going on around it. You will have to explain how it could possibly be otherwise.
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Old 10-07-2005, 01:03 PM   #25
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Picking up a "vibe" is definitely not the same thing as hearing - and understanding - the contents of words that are spoken in one's presence! Methinks the Ring is being given more credit than behoves its actual abilities. Intuitive, yes; influential, yes; but not nearly as much an active participant in events as some have assumed.
I tend to agree, although we may be in the minority here. I think more towards the use of personification as a literary device, rather than taken literally, although the writing style leaves a lot to the imagination (Balrogs "flying", "wings" of shadow etc).
I may be alone here, but I am thinking the ring picked a vibe on a bearer as much as my power saw picked up a vibe from the electrical current as I plugged it in.

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Old 10-07-2005, 01:36 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
...if the Ring is to be intuitive and influential then it has to have some understanding of what is going on around it. You will have to explain how it could possibly be otherwise.
I'm not sure I can explain, but I'm thinking of intuition such as is found in animals. For example, my dog can understand what's going on, but not my exact words. She knows we're going to drive in the car, but though she hears when I mention the goal, she does not know what the words mean. This is not precisely the same thing, but I hope it illustrates the general idea.
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Old 10-07-2005, 01:56 PM   #27
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Estelyn wrote:
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I'm not sure I can explain, but I'm thinking of intuition such as is found in animals. For example, my dog can understand what's going on, but not my exact words. She knows we're going to drive in the car, but though she hears when I mention the goal, she does not know what the words mean. This is not precisely the same thing, but I hope it illustrates the general idea.
Yes, I think this is what I was trying to get at earlier. I don't believe that the Ring can think or know or decide. It does not take in information and analyze it as we do. It has only a will and no mind; it can feel but it can't observe.
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Old 10-07-2005, 02:20 PM   #28
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It has only a will and no mind
Now you're going to have to explain how that is possible. Having a will implies direction and a certain level of independence. Having direction implies having some ability to make choices.

Now, obviously, the Ring does not have a literal mind, but I believe Tolkien described the Ring as existing on the spiritual plane at least as much as it existed on the physical. All this "thinking" comes from the part of Sauron that was placed in the Ring at its beginning.
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Last edited by Kuruharan; 10-07-2005 at 02:24 PM. Reason: Changed a word to make the point clearer.
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Old 10-07-2005, 02:51 PM   #29
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T'would seem to me that Esty is arguing that while the Ring could sense roughly where it was going (closer to Mordor, closer to Sauron), and could sense and manipulate the feelings of its wearers and those around them, it could not necessarily understand speech.

To elaborate, the Ring clearly knew it was going to Mordor. It could sense (magnetically, in a way) the tug of Sauron getting stronger as they got closer. It would also sense the greater sense of dread and fear, on its bearer at least, if not those around, as they drew nearer to the Dark Land. Chances are, the Ring could also sense that Frodo was steeling himself to do something. The question is WHAT?

I doubt, myself, if the Ring knew they were going to Orodruin, at least not before they were practically on the mountain's foot. Before that, they were going steadily in the direction of Barad-dur, which suited the Ring fine. As for how it would have interpretted Frodo's "determination to go on", who knows what the Ring made of his plans? Certainly, just going to Mordor, regardless of destroying the Ring, would take a pretty big act of willpower. And once in Mordor, Frodo's main feeling is To Keep Going On, which seems like a fitting feeling for travelling in Mordor.

Perhaps the Ring didn't know where they were going, until they reached Mt. Doom.
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Old 10-07-2005, 03:08 PM   #30
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This has me wondering about the Ring-inspired fantasies of Gandalf, Galadriel, Boromir & Sam, et al. Where do those fantasies arise? Is the Ring putting those specific fantasies into their heads, or are they creating the whole thing themselves - what I mean is, is it a case of 'If I claim the Ring I can do X', so that the power trips are invented by the individual? Which would mean that Gandalf & the rest on some level had thought about doing some such thing anyway. Sam actually had those power fantasies already on some subconscious level, rather than the Ring constructing that fantasy & putting it into his head.

Is this another example of Sam being 'torn in two'? Part of him wants to be a simple gardener while another part of him wants to be 'Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age', so that rather than his refusal being a rejection of the Ring, it is actually a refusal & rejection of his own desire. The conflict is an inner rather than an outer one, between aspects of oneself. Only one who is 'torn in two' in such a way, fighting an inner conflict, will be tempted by the Ring. Faramir & Aragorn, it would seem, are not tempted by the Ring because they are not so psychologically 'divided against themselves. The Ring would then only be a temptation to those with this inner 'split' (either actual or in potentio). When we look at Smeagol/Gollum we seem to see that inner split made manifest.
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Old 10-07-2005, 04:49 PM   #31
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I'm not sure I can explain, but I'm thinking of intuition such as is found in animals. For example, my dog can understand what's going on, but not my exact words. She knows we're going to drive in the car, but though she hears when I mention the goal, she does not know what the words mean. This is not precisely the same thing, but I hope it illustrates the general idea.
Yes, I think I understand what you mean and I agree. The Ring knew they were travelling, ofcourse, but it didn't know where they were going. The Ring doesn't listen, see or smell like Frodo and Sam do, but it does pick up things. I think they may be emotions, because than the Ring would feel mostly hopelessness and determination, and this may explain why the Ring was so content with Frodo. He had no hope, was walking in Mordor, and was only a small hobbit. I think the Ring knew Sam was with him, for Sam had worn it, but it didn't know his emotions.

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All this "thinking" comes from the part of Sauron that was placed in the Ring at its beginning.
Yes, indeed, and this also explains why the Ring didn't even think about Frodo and Sam trying to destroy it. Gandalf says in LotR that (I don't have the exact quote) 'Sauron doesn't know, nor guess that they wish to destroy the Ring, because he wouldn't do it himself. He would claim the Ring and be Lord. And therein lies their only hope.'
Because the Ring is 'a part of Sauron' it wouldn't think about being destroyed, if we take Gandalf's words as true. Than, if it isn't going to be destroyed, why does it travel in Mordor? Because it is being returned to it's master, by the little Hobbit without hope, but with this one determination.
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Old 10-07-2005, 06:33 PM   #32
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Yes, indeed, and this also explains why the Ring didn't even think about Frodo and Sam trying to destroy it. Gandalf says in LotR that (I don't have the exact quote) 'Sauron doesn't know, nor guess that they wish to destroy the Ring, because he wouldn't do it himself. He would claim the Ring and be Lord. And therein lies their only hope.'
Because the Ring is 'a part of Sauron' it wouldn't think about being destroyed, if we take Gandalf's words as true. Than, if it isn't going to be destroyed, why does it travel in Mordor? Because it is being returned to it's master, by the little Hobbit without hope, but with this one determination.
But why in Arda would it think that the original intention was to take it back to Sauron? At a bare minimum the Ring knew that it had been around Sauron’s primary enemies. They had persistently refused to claim it and refused to allow Sauron's servants (the Ring must have known they were there too) to take it. It would be an act of monumental stupidity on the part of the Ring to think they refused to claim it because they were willingly sending it back to Sauron. If that had been the case, the simplest solution would have been to give it to the nearest Nazgul. If the Ring had any capacity for (what we might term) “thought” it had to know that something fishy was going on.

On another slightly related point, Sauron instantly realized what Gandalf was about the minute he knew the Ring was in Mount Doom. How much more so the Ring who knew (at a bare minimum) where it had been and who it had been around. If you concede any ability of thought to the Ring, you have to concede the possibility that it knew an attempt was being made on its life.
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Old 10-07-2005, 07:19 PM   #33
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It has only a will and no mind

Now you're going to have to explain how that is possible. Having a will implies direction and a certain level of independence. Having direction implies having some ability to make choices.
I don't know whether it's possible. But this is a fictional world.

But surely we can speak at times of "mindless desires". As I see it, the Ring certainly did have desires - chief of which was probably to return to Sauron. It willed that it return to Sauron. But I don't think this implies a decision to return to Sauron. Rather the Ring willed it, and sought it, simply because that's what the Ring does; that's what's in its nature.

Of course, all this is really tangential to Davem's initial question, which I think is very interesting in its own right: is the determination to reach Mt. Doom Frodo's or the Ring's? I had always thought it Frodo's, but now I'm not sure.

Davem wrote:
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This has me wondering about the Ring-inspired fantasies of Gandalf, Galadriel, Boromir & Sam, et al. Where do those fantasies arise? Is the Ring putting those specific fantasies into their heads, or are they creating the whole thing themselves - what I mean is, is it a case of 'If I claim the Ring I can do X', so that the power trips are invented by the individual? Which would mean that Gandalf & the rest on some level had thought about doing some such thing anyway. Sam actually had those power fantasies already on some subconscious level, rather than the Ring constructing that fantasy & putting it into his head.
Another interesting question, and one that again bears upon the nature of the Ring. It's related to the whole internal vs. external issue that Shippey discusses in Author of the Century. And what I'm tempted to say in answer to this is what I'm tempted to say about that issue: that, in a strange way, it's both. The Ring is, in my view, both a source of evil, with a will and power of its own, and a "psychic amplifier", a mirror that reflects one's darker self. So I see both an active temptation on the part of the Ring and a passive amplification of Gandalf's/Galadriel's/Boromir's/Sam's own weaknesses. Now, I don't know whether Sam had literally fantasized about power before the Ring incident; I doubt it. But I do think that the capacity for such fantasy was inherent in Sam, and this is what the Ring drew out.

A stray thought that occurs to me as I'm writing this: of all the characters who hold or use or are offered the Ring, Frodo seems to be the only one who doesn't have some power fantasy about using it. Now, obviously, Frodo is not immune to the effects of the Ring. But all we see in terms of its effect on him is his unwillingness to give it up and the weight and strain that it eventually begins to put on him. Not until Mt. Doom is there any suggestion that Frodo has even considered the possibility of really claiming and using the Ring - which (and sorry I'm jumping ahead here) makes the eventual climactic scene all the more shocking and powerful.
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Old 10-08-2005, 02:08 AM   #34
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of all the characters who hold or use or are offered the Ring, Frodo seems to be the only one who doesn't have some power fantasy about using it.
Agreed - generally, though there are odd moments:

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You swore a promise by what you call the Precious. Remember that! It will hold you to it; but it will seek a way to twist it to your own undoing. Already you are being twisted. You revealed yourself to me just now, foolishly. Give it back to Smeagol you said. Do not say that again! Do not let that thought grow in you! You will never get it back. But the desire of it may betray you to a bitter end. You will never get it back. In the last need, Smeagol, I should put on the Precious; and the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to command you, you would obey, even if it were to leap from a precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my command. So have a care, Smeagol!"
But hardly a full blown fantasy like Sam's, Galadriel's or Boromir's
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Old 10-08-2005, 03:59 AM   #35
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At a bare minimum the Ring knew that it had been around Sauron’s primary enemies. They had persistently refused to claim it and refused to allow Sauron's servants (the Ring must have known they were there too) to take it.
Why would the Ring know this? I don't think so at all. The Ring knew that he was born by Frodo, and that there were Nazgűl at hand. I don't believe that the Ring knew more than this, until Sam took it from Frodo at Cirith Ungol. At that point it knew Sam was there as well.

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Frodo seems to be the only one who doesn't have some power fantasy about using it.
Don't forget Bilbo, he didn't envisage himself as a great lord. He just thought the Ring was a beautiful and very useful thing. I think that only the ones who are in the presence of the Ring, able to get it, see themselves great and terrible. Once you have obtained the Ring, it is clear that it doesn't make you Samwise the Strong or Lord Smeagol. Although I think that Gandalf and Galadriel and such poweful people would know what the Ring would do to them.
Once you've got the Ring, you'll feel it only as a burden, though you would not get rid of it. And if you didn't know what the Ring was exactly, like Bilbo, you wouldn't even blame the Ring.
Now, the only who doesn't seem to have visions of power when in presence of the Ring is Tom Bombadil. But he is such a mysterious man, and there are already too many discussions about him, that I'm not going to start one about him here.

Quote:
This has me wondering about the Ring-inspired fantasies of Gandalf, Galadriel, Boromir & Sam, et al. Where do those fantasies arise? Is the Ring putting those specific fantasies into their heads, or are they creating the whole thing themselves - what I mean is, is it a case of 'If I claim the Ring I can do X', so that the power trips are invented by the individual? Which would mean that Gandalf & the rest on some level had thought about doing some such thing anyway. Sam actually had those power fantasies already on some subconscious level, rather than the Ring constructing that fantasy & putting it into his head.
The Ring doesn't plant the fantasies in your head. It seems that, once you know what the Ring is and how powerful and object, you are always tempted by it. If you don't know what it is, you're not tempted. Frodo knew Bilbo had the Ring, but he didn't know what the Ring was, therefore he'd never seen himself as 'Fantastic Frodo'. Once he was told the power of the Ring, he owned it already, and knew that it didn't make him 'Fantastic Frodo'.
You don't ever have to have visions of yourself being lord and master. If the Ring crosses your path and you know what it is, than you'll start wondering: what couldn't I do with this thing? I think that is the power of the Ring, to make you start wondering and in this way creating envy and longing. What you think, whether you're thinking you'll be Samwise the Strong or Gollum the Great, it doesn't know and it doesn't care. You will be tempted!
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Old 10-08-2005, 08:06 AM   #36
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Why would the Ring know this? I don't think so at all. The Ring knew that he was born by Frodo, and that there were Nazgűl at hand.
If the Ring could sense the Nazgul, what possible reason could you propose that it could not sense Gandalf? Gandalf actually touched the Ring you must recall, when he threw it into the fire at Bag End. The Ring had to have known that a being of great power set against its master was there (and doing strange things to it to boot).

And before everyone gets all carried away, I think another little bit of wisdom from that incident might help here.

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And even so he would never have just forsaken it, or cast it aside. It was not Gollum, Frodo, but the Ring itself that decided things. The Ring left him.
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Old 10-08-2005, 08:37 AM   #37
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If the Ring could sense the Nazgul, what possible reason could you propose that it could not sense Gandalf? Gandalf actually touched the Ring you must recall, when he threw it into the fire at Bag End. The Ring had to have known that a being of great power set against its master was there (and doing strange things to it to boot).
I agree that the Ring knew about Gandalf, being there when they set out. And maybe the Ring felt the presence of the Balrog when they were in moria. But the presence of Gandalf fell away long before Frodo and Sam reached Mordor, and if the Ring felt his presence, it must have known this as well. I don't believe any of the others were revealed to the Ring after Gandalf fell, except Sam.
However, this brings another question to my mind. If the Ring felt the presence of Gandalf, than he might have felt te presence of Galadriel. The next question is: what about the phial of Galadriel? Does the Ring sence that her power is still with them? If so, what would that do to the Ring's will?
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Old 10-08-2005, 10:37 AM   #38
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Just thinking about Sam's Ring fantasy - if it was his own rather than an idea created by the Ring to tempt him, does this shed a new light on this 'humble servant', the simple gardener? Has Sam this whole other aspect to his character? What does this tell us not only about him, but about Hobbit society generally. Sam, it seems, is not someone who simply accepts his place in society unthinkingly. He has concieved of himself, on some level (whether or not he was fully conscious of it) as a leader, a commander.

In the end he does become a 'leader' - he becomes Mayor of the Shire. But he is elected, given that position by others, rather than taking it for himself. This reminds me of what happens to Gandalf. He rejects the power to be gained by claiming the Ring & as a result he is sent back by Eru after his death in Moria with enhanced power, but this is also power conferred on him, rather than power taken by him. It seems that those who claim power they do not deserve (Saruman, Sauron &, let's face it, Frodo) fall & are broken, left powerless, while those who refuse the temptation to claim power & dominion end up in possession of it.
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Old 10-08-2005, 10:45 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by davem
It seems that those who claim power they do not deserve (Saruman, Sauron &, let's face it, Frodo) fall & are broken, left powerless, while those who refuse the temptation to claim power & dominion end up in possession of it.
Yes. This is fantasy, after all.
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Old 10-08-2005, 11:56 AM   #40
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I'm reluctant to think that the Ring has any 'draw' towards Mordor, or even any 'urge' to leave one person and find another Bearer. Why? Because I think that the losing and finding of the Ring is more to do with Fate, and less to do with the Ring itself choosing somebody; surely if the Ring can 'choose' then it might have chosen more suitable bearers for its own purposes? And in addition to this, I think that to give the Ring more sentience might risk demeaning the efforts of those who do bear or reject it.

I think it is simply an incredibly powerful object but without sentience. What I think it does work upon is the boundary between the Fea and the Hroa, as seen in the visions that Frodo has of the Nazgul, Sam's heightened senses on the Pass of Cirith Ungol, Gollum and Bilbo's unnaturally long lives. And it does possess an incredible innate power which Sauron has built in to it during its forging.

One of the ways it works davem has already touched upon, and it is something I have noticed too; there is a possibility that the Ring's 'forces' exert a pull on the person's desires. Galadriel is possibly the best example of this, as she expresses her lust for power and control when offered the Ring. But it is interesting that the Ringbearers do not necessarily express such power hungry desires. Gollum seems to want to use it to sneak around and survive as an outsider, Bilbo uses to avoid neighbours he does not wish to talk to, and Sam uses it to hide from enemies. That Sam's idea of having power is only fleeting is quite telling. It seems that those who do not bear the Ring have more desire for power and control than those who do.

I think that one of the ways the Ring works is nothing to do with the Ring at all, it is simply the reputation of the object. This is shown in the reactions of Boromir and Faramir; the former is absolutely fascinated by it, like someone who stands by a big red button marked 'do not touch', he cannot resist. His brother takes an opposite reaction in that he vehemently states that he'd have nothing to do with it.

To Bilbo, the Ring was almost just a handy gadget, and as far as we can see, he did not become power crazed by possessing it; he did not want to give it up, but he did do so. It clearly had a physiological effect on him by giving him unnatural life, and that I think is where the first real danger of the Ring lies, in that it physically harms people due to the way it works on the body (I wonder how this would work on a non-mortal?). The second danger is that it clearly does possess powers which would be harmful in the hands of anyone who did not truly understand it (and that would include Gandalf and Galadriel who though powerful still would not know everything about how it worked). The third danger is simply that Sauron wants it back and will do anything to get it. Who would want to be in possession of that if the Nazgul were out on the hunt for it?

And going back again for a moment to how the Ring works on desires, it may well have this power, though it is something that those on the side of 'Light' may never fully understand. It has been forged by Sauron who is a rebel and rejects Eru's 'plan'; presumably the 'forces' which he has put into the Ring during its forging are the forces which Sauron alone would understand and appreciate. It is likely that 'desire' would be one of those forces or urges.

I think that the 'draw' of the Nazgul to the Ring is more to do with the Nazgul themselves rather than the Ring; they exist in a shadowy dimension of some description, being bodiless and owners of Rings themselves. Being in that shadowy existence, they may be able to sense something which is akin to those powers.

Frodo's sense of having a burden may be linked to the sheer psychological weight of carrying this object which has such a dark meaning and significance to Middle-earth and its fate. He senses this weight outside Mordor too. Once within the borders of Mordor, and closer to both Sauron and to the place where it was forged, the powers innate in the Ring may very well have become stronger, but I don't think it was sentiently urging the Bearer towards Mount Doom.

It's another way of looking at it, and I admit I'm as in the dark as anyone and these are just ideas, but all the same, this 'urge' we have as readers to explain the Ring seems just as powerful as the forces of the Ring itself.
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