The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Books > Chapter-by-Chapter
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-15-2005, 12:42 PM   #41
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethberry
It seems to me impossible to dictate a right way and a wrong way of reading, first of all. Yes, some books do have ways to be read which are more rewarding than others, and some readings do become dead ends, but all in all reading is a creative process as well as writing, and why dictate that some things must be held off?
I agree that to read is a creative process, and we do bring to the text our own experience. I've said this before, but it fits in again with what is being said here. We all interpret what we read, and certain parts of a text will resonate more than others; to some extent, the readers construct meaning to a text. But this is not to say that what we read into the text is necessarily correct.

To take the current chapter as an example, I do not read Shelob as Lilith, rather I see her as an immense creature with all the nastier traits of female spiders magnified. To me, she is the ultimate in scary spiders. Relating her to non-arachnid comparisons, my own equivalent to what we see in Shelob would be the black hole, reducing matter to nothing (as Shelob does when she eats), indiscriminate in that she swallows anything just as a black hole does. Ungoliant, her mother, even swallows Light just as a black hole does.

The other example which I read differently is the passage about Sam challenging Shelob:

Quote:
Sam did not wait to wonder what was to be done, or whether he was brave, or loyal, or filled with rage. He sprang forward with a yell, and seized his master's sword in his left hand. Then he charged. No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth, alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above its fallen mate.
Rather than suggest to me anything about Sam's feelings for Frodo, this instead seems to me to be a metaphor for Sam's courage. A small creature in comparison to Shelob, he is filled with rage as his companion lies apparently dead, and rage often does allow a small creature to launch a fierce attack on a much larger one. Here I see Tolkien bringing in a metaphor from the natural world to describe the ferocity and desperation of Sam's attack. This also serves to explain how Sam manages to pull off the deed. When I read this I often think of how a little cat when cornered by a big dog will suddenly transform from being a ball of fluff to a raging creature.

Just two examples of how the text might be seen differently. Much has also been said here of how Galadriel is equivalent to the virgin Mary, which is again something I do not pick up on. I can see why many parallels are drawn, and though I do not always agree with them, I do like to read what other people see. I suppose it would be impossible to always know exactly what Tolkien's intentions were, so we cannot expect to be reading the 'right' thing into the text all of the time.

From the other point of view, I can also see that it is not always good to delve too deeply; sometimes simple pleasure is what we ought to get from reading, to be carried along with the fantasy. I suppose that this is the danger with such in depth analysis as we have here, it is all too easy to spoil the pleasure of reading by extracting every last drop of meaning. I know for myself that to study literature brought me dangerously close to disliking reading altogether; it took me some years to shake off the theorising (funnily enough it was very much the fashion to look at texts from a Freudian perspective at the time, which is possibly why I dislike Freudian analysis of literature), and thankfully return to the simple pleasure of reading. Now I have a happy balance of being able to read for fun, and analyse when it suits me, and more importantly, find what meaning lies beneath a text for myself, and decide for myself if it is relevant. That's enjoyable, and why I like these discussions on the Downs - nobody is telling us we are wrong.




More on Shelob now... How did she come into being? That she does not have the greed for Light that her mother had, suggests that she was not as powerful as her mother, perhaps the offspring produced when Ungoliant mated with a lesser male?

Quote:
Far and wide her lesser broods, bastards of the miserable mates, her own offspring, that she slew, spread from glen to glen, from the Ephel Duath to the eastern hills, to Dol Guldur and the fastnesses of Mirkwood.
From what is said about Shelob, she also mates, and her offspring have spread through Middle Earth. Do these males come seeking her, or am I correct to read into this that she could in fact have mated with her own offspring from time to time? It does seem that she killed, maybe even ate, her mates and her offspring.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 04:24 AM   #42
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
 
Estelyn Telcontar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,534
Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Silmaril Moderator's notice

Since a slowdown of the chapter discussions has been requested, I am postponing the next one for at least a week. You are cordially invited to continue posting on this thread or to catch up on previous ones. Thanks!
__________________
'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
Estelyn Telcontar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 07:43 AM   #43
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,039
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Boots

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I suppose in a way I'm 'arguing' in order to keep the debate going - I think this chapter thread alreay has over three times the number of posts the previous one got.

I don't want to imply that your approach is 'wrong' in any objective sense. I can see 'external' references which were probably put in deliberately by Tolkien - the line 'His weariness was growing but his will hardened all the more.' does seem to echo the famous lines from the Battle of Maldon:"Heart shall be harder, strength the keener, spirit shall be the stronger, as our might lessens." I suspect Tolkien was deliberately referencing this verse, & would have expected any reader who knew the Anglo-Saxon poem to pick up on this. If he was aware of the Lilith legend maybe that was also in his mind, but I see little connection between Lilith & Shelob in their backstories, only a vague similarity in the way they are described. If you make that connection that says more about you than about anything Tolkien was doing, consciously or unconsciously. As we see with some of the 19th century mythographers, virtually any myth can be reduced to a 'solar' myth (I'm again influenced by something Flieger has referenced in her latest book!). I think we have to distingiush between what was in the author's mind (whether he or she was aware of it or not) & what is in our minds as we read. We may bring things to the our reading of the text - its probably inevitable that we do - but we have to keep those things seperate from what the author put in there. Yet

Quote:
Myth & fairy story must, as all art, reflect & contain in solution elements of moral & religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary 'real' world.


If the Lilith legend is an example of 'moral & religious truth (or error)' - ie if it has some 'archetypal' dimension or aspect then that may well have seeped in to the story Tolkien was writing without him realising it - or it may have been placed in there deliberately, as part of the 'consciously so in the revision' process. But either way it is not there 'in the known form of the primary 'real' world'. Shelob is not Lilith transported lock, stock & barrel to Middle earth, neither is Sam one of Beortnoth's retainers deliberately placed into that secondary world. What I mean is, if we take the approach Shelob=Lilith then we'll be neither in Middle earth, in the ancient Middle east, nor in our own 'primary' world, & our whole experience will crumble away before our eyes. Once we cloe the book & come back to our own world we can analyse & deconstruct to our hearts content, but while we're in Middle earth we have to let the story work on us, climb the Tower & look out on the sea. Within Middle earth at least Shelob is 'an evil thing in spider form', not a Middle eastern demon. In discussing The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe Flieger makes the point that when Aslan sacrifices himself in place of Edmund the story 'no longer has its own life but has been put in the service of another story.' I think this doesn't only happen when a writer deliberately writes allegory, but also when we bring too much of our own ideas & experiences to the stories we read - we put the story to to the service of 'another story' - our own.

Your turn....
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
But this is not to say that what we read into the text is necessarily correct.

To take the current chapter as an example, I do not read Shelob as Lilith, rather I see her as an immense creature with all the nastier traits of female spiders magnified. To me, she is the ultimate in scary spiders. Relating her to non-arachnid comparisons, my own equivalent to what we see in Shelob would be the black hole, reducing matter to nothing (as Shelob does when she eats), indiscriminate in that she swallows anything just as a black hole does. Ungoliant, her mother, even swallows Light just as a black hole does.

The other example which I read differently is the passage about Sam challenging Shelob:

Quote:
Sam did not wait to wonder what was to be done, or whether he was brave, or loyal, or filled with rage. He sprang forward with a yell, and seized his master's sword in his left hand. Then he charged. No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth, alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above its fallen mate.


Rather than suggest to me anything about Sam's feelings for Frodo, this instead seems to me to be a metaphor for Sam's courage.

. . . .
I suppose it would be impossible to always know exactly what Tolkien's intentions were, so we cannot expect to be reading the 'right' thing into the text all of the time.

From the other point of view, I can also see that it is not always good to delve too deeply; sometimes simple pleasure is what we ought to get from reading, to be carried along with the fantasy. I suppose that this is the danger with such in depth analysis as we have here, it is all too easy to spoil the pleasure of reading by extracting every last drop of meaning. I know for myself that to study literature brought me dangerously close to disliking reading altogether; it took me some years to shake off the theorising (funnily enough it was very much the fashion to look at texts from a Freudian perspective at the time, which is possibly why I dislike Freudian analysis of literature), and thankfully return to the simple pleasure of reading. Now I have a happy balance of being able to read for fun, and analyse when it suits me, and more importantly, find what meaning lies beneath a text for myself, and decide for myself if it is relevant. That's enjoyable, and why I like these discussions on the Downs - nobody is telling us we are wrong.
Hmm. Let me point out that I have not made any kind of bald "Shelob=Lilith" equation such as both davem and Lalwendë assert. I praise Tolkien for not writing the kind of allegorical equations such as Lewis did in the Narnia series. I have simply suggested a conceptual framework in which to consider the character of Shelob. Nor did I say anything about Sam's feelings for Frodo when I quoted the "fallen mate" passage. I was discussing collocation of words.

I have yet to see any argument which convinces me that we must "stay in Middle-earth" as we read or risk destroying the truth. Where does one determine when reading/interpretation takes place--in the moment of reading or when one closes the book? It is, I posit, logically impossible to postulate such a split. Interpretation of meaning is an always ongoing process, not start and stop, for we are always reading ahead, to imagine where this leads, how the characters inter-relate.

But as for what an author can 'put in' or not, let me give a long quotation, as I know davem loves long quotations. It is about Shakespeare, so I suppose I am having a little bit of fun about Tolkien's opinion of the Bard. Because the idea belongs to George Steiner, I am going to use his words. And because this isn't Freudian, perhaps Lalwendë will forgive me for delving too deeply. Like Aiwendil, I do not believe that good art can be destroyed by too much thought.

First, let me quote the passage which Steiner discusses. It is Postumous's rant about the perfidious nature of women when he thinks that Imogen has betrayed him with Iachimo. Act II of Cymbeline.

Quote:
Me of my lawful pleasure she restrain'd,
And pray'd me ofte forbearance: did it with
A pudency so rosy the sweet view on't
Might well have warm'd old Saturn; that I thought her
As chaste as unsunn'd snow. Oh, all the devils!
This yellow Iachimo, in an hour, was't not?
Or less; at first? Perchance he spoke not, but
Like a full-acorn'd boar, a German one,
Cried 'O!' and mounted; found no opposition
But what he look'd for should oppose and she
Should from encounter guard. Could I find out
That woman's part in me--for there's no motion
That tends to vice in man, but I affirm
It is the woman's part: be it lying, note it,
The woman's: flattering, hers; deceiving, hers:
Lust, and rank thoughts, hers: revenge, hers:
Ambitious, covetings, change of prides, disdain,
Nice longings, slanders, mutability;
All faults that name, nay that hell knows, why hers
In part, or all: but rather all. For even to vice
They are not constant, but are changing still;
Steiner's close reading (part of his argument that all language interpretation is essentially translation, even in the same language) begins by considering what the meanings of some of these words might have been in 1611. It the phrase 'yellow Iachimo' which is the most interesting. Here's what Steiner has to say:

Quote:
Yellow Iachimo is arresting. The aura of nastiness is distinct. But what is being inferred? Though 'green' is the more usual appurtenance of jealousy, Middleton in 1602 uses yellow to mean 'affected with jealousy.' Shakespeare does likewise in The Winter's Tale, a play contemporary with Cymbeline, and in The Merry Wifes of Windsor (I.iii) 'yellowness' stands for 'jealousy' (could there be a false etymology somewhere in the background, associating the two words?) Iachomo is jealous, of Posthumus's nobility, of Posthumus's good fortune in enjoying the love and fidelity of Imogen. But does Posthumus know this, or does the dramatic strength of the epithet lie precisely in the fact that it exceeds Posthumus's conscious insight? Much later, and with American overtones, yellow will come to express both cowardice and mendacity--the 'yellow' press. Thought these two nuances are beautifully apposite to Iachimo, neither was, so far as we can tell, available to Shakespeare. What latent undertones in the word and colour give rise to subsequent, negative usage? Shakespeare at times seems to 'hear' inside a word or phrase the history of its future echoes.
I would suggest that Tolkien, as much a genius as Shakespeare in his own way, was able to hear inside mythology its latent echoes. It is like a tree falling in the forest. Who is there to catch that echo? No, no, not a personal imposition of "our own stories."
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 09:13 AM   #44
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bb
I have yet to see any argument which convinces me that we must "stay in Middle-earth" as we read or risk destroying the truth. Where does one determine when reading/interpretation takes place--in the moment of reading or when one closes the book? It is, I posit, logically impossible to postulate such a split. Interpretation of meaning is an always ongoing process, not start and stop, for we are always reading ahead, to imagine where this leads, how the characters inter-relate.
Does this only apply to fiction, or to 'non-fiction' as well - say, for example, the posts on this particular thread? Is it not possible to read other's posts without imposing our own individual - even idiosyncratic - 'reading' on them?

I mean, should we even bother trying to understand what the poster intended or should we simply take whatever 'meaning' we as individual readers happen to find in it...

Having said that, I do begin to wonder if Tolkien was able to foresee the way certain words would develop new or even alternate meanings - he did make a lot of use of the words 'gay' & 'queer' after all.....

Last edited by davem; 05-16-2005 at 09:22 AM.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 12:39 PM   #45
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Shakespeare at times seems to 'hear' inside a word or phrase the history of its future echoes.
This is a fanciful. It does not seek to understand what the author intended, it simply notes odd word usage and makes links to today's language. It is about curiosities of linguistics, about changes in language, not about what the author intended. We can go looking through older texts for odd turns of phrase which have different meanings today and we could find them by the score, and that's interesting. But it tells us nothing about what the author meant when he or she used that word or phrase. It satisifes our own interpretations, but that's as far as it goes.

This is why I do not like much literary criticism or analysis, as it seems to me that the critic is simply pulling apart a text to find what they want to find. I want to know what the author intended, I don't want to reconstruct a text for myself, for my own meaning.

There are many echoes in Tolkien's work, but it is also important to bear in mind what Tolkien himself may have learned, experienced or thought about. If it was simply not possible that he could consider a matter then it is not possible it could pass into his writing, and when I come across an odd word or phrase which seems to have alternate meanings I stop to consider if that could be the case. It's often interesting to bring up such alternate and arresting meanings and consider them, but ultimately it is unsatisfying as to getting towards the deeper meaning. Sometimes what we find in a text says more about us than it does about the author.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 01:56 PM   #46
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,039
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Pipe Meanwhile, back behind the main event...

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Does this only apply to fiction, or to 'non-fiction' as well - say, for example, the posts on this particular thread? Is it not possible to read other's posts without imposing our own individual - even idiosyncratic - 'reading' on them?

I mean, should we even bother trying to understand what the poster intended or should we simply take whatever 'meaning' we as individual readers happen to find in it...

Having said that, I do begin to wonder if Tolkien was able to foresee the way certain words would develop new or even alternate meanings - he did make a lot of use of the words 'gay' & 'queer' after all.....
davem, you are being particularly naughty here. Steiner's observation was,

Quote:
these two nuances are beautifully apposite to Iachimo
Are you saying the same about 'gay' and 'queer'? (Rhetorical question--you needn't answer obviously. )

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë

This is a fanciful. It does not seek to understand what the author intended, it simply notes odd word usage and makes links to today's language. It is about curiosities of linguistics, about changes in language, not about what the author intended. We can go looking through older texts for odd turns of phrase which have different meanings today and we could find them by the score, and that's interesting. But it tells us nothing about what the author meant when he or she used that word or phrase. It satisifes our own interpretations, but that's as far as it goes.

This is why I do not like much literary criticism or analysis, as it seems to me that the critic is simply pulling apart a text to find what they want to find. I want to know what the author intended, I don't want to reconstruct a text for myself, for my own meaning.
This is your preference and of course you are entitled to it. It does not really well describe what Steiner is getting at here, as he is not one of these wild post modernists, but if you wish to characterise literary scholars--and remember that Tolkien was one--this way, that is your right here.

But this is bringing us back to the topic of the Canonicity thread and far away from the Chapter by Chapter reading thread, and so I would like to return to some specific comments about this chapter.

I would like to consider lmp's question about Gollem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by littlmanpoet
But where is Gollum? Hiding? Fallen? Why is he not anywhere to be found at this point, considering that he shows up again later?
It seems to me that Gollem's hand is played out in the preceeding chapter, having led Frodo to Shelob in the great betrayal and then having failed to get the best of Sam. Gollem slinks off, essentially demonstrating his coward-like characteristics.

In terms of plot, though, Gollem cannot stay around, for he could have turned matters against Sam. The battle must, in dramatic terms, be between Sam and Shelob alone. Nor would it suit Gollem's plans to call the Orcs in, for he has no say with them. He wants the Ring. I don't want to look ahead too far, but don't we need him offstage so we don't dwell on his betrayal? This makes his final appearance at Mount Doom all that much more powerful I think as unexpected drama.

Better for Gollem to withdraw and regroup methinks and better for the very dramatic eucatastrophe at the end. Any other thoughts?
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 02:57 PM   #47
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bb
davem, you are being particularly naughty here. Steiner's observation was,

Quote:

these two nuances are beautifully apposite to Iachimo
But was that what Shakespeare meant by calling Iachimo 'yellow'. Yes, the current meaning of yellow may be apposite, but it is not necessary to our understanding of Iachimo's character, which Shakespeare makes clear to us in other ways. My question would be whether Shakespeare was using the term 'yellow' to tell us something else about his character. Now, not being familiar with Elizabethan english I can't say whether 'yellow' had some other meaning in that period, but if it did then we should try & find out what that meaning was & take that on board, because it may add more depth to the character & tell us more about him. The danger is that if we get too caught up with this 'coincidence' that 'yellow' 'currently' carries implications of cowardice, then we may miss what Shakespeare is trying to tell us. Steiner's observation is (perhaps) interesting, but it could lead us to miss something more important. In fact, just doing a quick search I find that 'the color was traditionally associated rather with treachery'. So, its quite possible that Postumous was here statingnot that Iachimo was cowardly or jealous, but that he was treacherous. If this was the case we learn a little more about both Iachimo and Postumous than the mere yellow=cowardice/jealousy tells us - which is, as I said before, something we already know about Iachimo because Shakespeare has already told us it in other ways.

My point about 'gay' & 'queer' was simply that words do change meaning over the centuries, even come to mean something quite different to what they originally meant. It was in response to Steiner's

Quote:
Shakespeare at times seems to 'hear' inside a word or phrase the history of its future echoes.
& was merely intended to show that its possibly just a fluke that the current meaning of 'yellow' fits one aspect of Iachimo's character, & that if 'yellow' had developed a different meaning then Steiner's point would just collapse. In short, its hardly a case - as far as I can see - of Shakespeare being able to ''hear' inside a word or phrase the history of its future echoes' & more one of an interesting (if possibly misleading, as far as our understanding of the characters goes) co-incidence which has been made way too much of by someone who wants to impute some kind of 'psychic' power to his literary hero. What would he have made of the appellation if 'yellow' had come to refer in modern parlance to homosexuality? Would he have read some kind of gay subtext into the story, or just ignored the whole thing?

Last edited by davem; 05-16-2005 at 03:02 PM.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 03:28 PM   #48
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bethberry
This is your preference and of course you are entitled to it. It does not really well describe what Steiner is getting at here, as he is not one of these wild post modernists, but if you wish to characterise literary scholars--and remember that Tolkien was one--this way, that is your right here.
It is no personal preference that I would rather look for the author's meaning in a text, it is central to the purpose of reading that we look for this. Yes, we will add in and build meanings of our own, as I've said before a text can resonate in many different ways, but why read at all if we disregard what the author intended to say?

Tolkien was not a literary scholar, he was a scholar of language, and as such approached the meaning of texts from a linguistic background, seeking to find the original meanings of the words and forming his analysis of the meaning on this. In On Fairy Stories he states his case against those critics who seek to deconstruct in order to find evidence to suit their own theories.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 03:36 PM   #49
Kuruharan
Regal Dwarven Shade
 
Kuruharan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: A Remote Dwarven Hold
Posts: 3,590
Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

You two will have very interesting dinner table conversations I think.

Then again, on the other hand, you may use the BD to discuss brainy things and spend dinner discussing Monty Python and Blackadder.
__________________
...finding a path that cannot be found, walking a road that cannot be seen, climbing a ladder that was never placed, or reading a paragraph that has no...
Kuruharan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-16-2005, 09:28 PM   #50
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,039
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Tolkien

Well, well, throw a Downer a bone in the shape of a suggestion that not all of Tolkien's writing was consciously so and they will worry it to death!

As I said in my previous post, I think this is getting off topic. That might be for the moderator to decide, but I will briefly suggest some thoughts here and then will retire to suggest that we hash out this particular aspect in PM.

As "we" have discussed elsewhere, Tolkien actually thought different things at different times about his Legendarium. Aiwendil argued rather nicely (was it on Canonicity or here in the Chapter by Chapter discussion of the Lothlorien chapters?) that there are three different stages to the characterisation of Galadriel, developed over a substantial period of time, with each stage suggesting rather different interpretations for LotR.

Then we have littlemanpoet's The Single Greatest (Publishing) Tragedy in Tolkien's Life thread where we are considering Tolkien's habit, later in his writing life, of revising in order to create an assumed consistency among all his vast works.

This is the difficult point about Tolkien and intention: he intended different things at different times in his writing, and each shift created little ripples in the fabric, sometimes requiring greater shifts and sometimes much dike-building.

Then there is his attitude towards applicability: Tolkien rejected allegory for the specific reason that it created a purposed domination of the author; in his chosen applicability lay the freedom of the reader ("Foreward to the Second Edition", LotR). (my bolding in place of quotation marks)

What was it Tolkien wrote in Letter #213, where he mentions the reader who deduced the similarity of Sam and Gimli's words about Galadriel to Catholic devotion of Mary, or the similarity of lembas under fasting to the Eucharist?

Quote:
That is, far greater things may colour the mind in dealing with the lesser things of a fairy-story.
What would I give to be able to inquire of Tolkien his thoughts about Lilith and Shelob? About how the artistic structures of mythological narrative informed his imagination in fascinating and wonderful ways? Heck, even to be able to ask Christopher Tolkien these points. A very great deal. But alas I don't have that access.

So the issue is not that I would force my own idiosyncratic reading on a text that cannot bear it. The issue is a 'what if' and if so, how does this colour our understanding of this marvellous fantasy.

And, anyways, how sure are you, after all, that your denial of any applicability of the Lilith myth is in fact consistent with Tolkien, that he would have denied such applicability? How do we square "On Fairy Tales" with his later revisions? I don't think we can. Nor should we need to.

All I am saying is that my seeing 'applicability' of the Lilith legend to Shelob enhances my reading of Tolkien's myth-making. Just as the applicability of the hero's mystic marriage with the queen goddess brings richness to my reading of Aragorn and Arwen.

As an aside about the Steiner passage, davem, Steiner does mention Renaissance meaning in his reference to Middleton, which can be found in the OED. Your search that yellow was traditionally associated with treachery is interesting, but that is a meaning not found in the OED. (Despite Fordim's great admiration for that dictionary, and mine, I must point out that it is not infallible.) And, after all, Steiner was engaged in a large larger argument than that one passage can make clear. Perhaps your problems with the passage show something about interpretation: that context invariably impinges upon passages. This certainly is what happens when I read this chapter, I constantly cross reference it back to things I recall from previous chapters. And at this point, forward too, which takes me far out of bounds of that illusory, imaginary first reading.

But, shall we adjourn to PM so this thread can return to the chapter proper?
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.

Last edited by Bęthberry; 05-16-2005 at 10:19 PM.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2005, 04:33 AM   #51
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bb
All I am saying is that my seeing 'applicability' of the Lilith legend to Shelob enhances my reading of Tolkien's myth-making. Just as the applicability of the hero's mystic marriage with the queen goddess brings richness to my reading of Aragorn and Arwen.
I wouldn't deny your right to find any kind of applicability in the text. My point was that I can see more differences than similarities between Shelob & Lilith. They aren't at all the same kind of being, & their origins, motivations & 'fates' are different. What I'm saying is that first of all, as far as possible, we should read & experience the story as story & let it work on us. We should enter into the secondary world to teh fullest extent that we can, leaving as much baggage behind as we are able to. Second, we should attempt, just as objectively & without attempting to psychoanalyse him/her, to appreciate the story the author is telling us, what he wants us to know. Then, in the third stage, we can step back & psychoanalyse text & author (& ourselves if we wish), deconstruct, reconstruct, play around with, make guesses about it, draw on it, throw it around or set fire to it - because this is the least important, & least necessary, stage of the process. It breaks the spell, it is the 'breaking of the text to find out what it is made of.

Lilith carries too much baggage with her, & the danger of allowing that (inevitable?) mental connection to have its head is that we start seeing Shelob as 'nothing but' Lilith, or at least of having our appreciation of Shelob & what Tolkien was doing with her & saying about the nature (or one aspect of it) of evil.

Dion Fortune once said 'All the gods are one God & all the goddesses are one Goddess' which is absolutely true on one level, & completely wrong on another. The Romans had a tendency on encountering the deities of another culture, to declare them as being merely versions of their own gods. Any foreign god that might have had an association with battle was immediately declared to be a manifestation of Mars, of love a manifestation of venus, of Smithcraft, of Vulcan, etc. This lead to some complete misallocations & misunderstandings which went on to cause confusion among mythographers of later periods. What do you do with a goddess like Bridget, who is patron of poetry, healing & smithcraft, for instance?

I can't help feeling that if you could ask Tolkien about his thoughts on the Shelob/Lilith debate he would acknowledge some similarities, many differences, & then ask you how you felt reading the story he wrote - did it frighten you, inspire you, & most of all, did it 'enchant' you enough that you were 'in the moment' as you read it. If you weren't, if while reading of Shelob you were thinking of Lilith (or the shopping, or what you were going to watch on tv in half an hour) then he's probably feel he'd failed as a writer.

Quote:
This certainly is what happens when I read this chapter, I constantly cross reference it back to things I recall from previous chapters. And at this point, forward too, which takes me far out of bounds of that illusory, imaginary first reading.
I don't think Tolkien would have had a problem with that - in fact I think that's what he would have wanted you to do. But in doing that you are mentally remaining within Middle earth, not tripping off to the ancient Middle east.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2005, 10:16 AM   #52
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,012
Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
To quote from the Foreword (second Edition):

Quote:
An author cannot remain wholly unaffected by his experience, but the ways in which a story-germ uses the soil of experience are extremely complex, and attempts to define the process are at best guesses from evidence that is inadequate and ambiguous.
Emphasis mine

There you have it. Tolkien himself admits that one's one life experience and knowledge affect what one writes. But as he states, the way in which it works is very difficult to track.

And personally, I am in agreement with that. So while it may be fascinating to read things in to what he wrote, we may be barking up the wrong tree, on the right track, or just plain confused. At the same time, things that, to Tolkien, were obviously drawn from his life, might well be missed by the whole devoted lot of us.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2005, 10:32 AM   #53
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
 
Estelyn Telcontar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,534
Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
This is a good place in the discussion to point out that we should take general considerations to the Canonicity thread and try to stay with the chapter at hand as much as possible - thanks! Though the posts are enjoyable to read, they are leaving the confines of the CbC discussion...
__________________
'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
Estelyn Telcontar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2005, 10:52 AM   #54
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Point taken.

Having said that, this thread, while it may have strayed off-topic, currently has 52 replies, while the one for the last chapter, which was strictly on-topic, only got 10......
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2005, 02:17 PM   #55
Lathriel
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Lathriel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Wandering through Middle-Earth (Sadly in Alberta and not ME)
Posts: 612
Lathriel has just left Hobbiton.
I am going to sound extremely ignorant but who/what is Frued?

As for Sam's dependence on Frodo, I believe he actually becomes much more independent from Frodo as LOTR progresses.
Especially when Sam is left on his own and as Frodo is becoming increasingly influenced by the ring Sam has no choice but take up the leadership role. Certainly he seems lost, especially after he finds Frodo "dead". But no wonder, he is in a strange country and the quest is now truly in danger. In fact when I look at the whole book I believe that the quest could have the biggest chance of failing in this chapter. If Sam had decided to do something else other than what he did the quest could have failed and the ring could have landed in the enemies hands.
At this moment everything comes down to Sam and what he decides hence the chapters title.
The fact that Sam leaves Frodo to continue on to Mount Doom makes it clear that although Sam didn't know of the ring's full potential before, he does now and he understands that he has to go on. I think this is a very brave choice, to go into Mordor alone with no idea of what can happen. (That is of course untill he finds out that Frodo is alive)
In fact I think it is even braver when sam decides to rescue Frodo. However, it is also slightly foolish since he could have been caught. But that is for the next book.
__________________
Back again
Lathriel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2005, 02:36 PM   #56
littlemanpoet
Itinerant Songster
 
littlemanpoet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,049
littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
For a quick and dirty on Freud (sorry about the pun!), go here. Otherwise, do a google on "Sigmund Freud".
littlemanpoet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-20-2005, 04:03 PM   #57
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,039
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Boots

There is nothing wrong with asking questions, Lathriel!

lmp has given you some good suggestions. Here is another one: another helpful source is the Wikipedia online encyclopedia: go here for infor on Freud. The Wikipedia is useful for many other topics as well! Really worth bookmarking, I think.
__________________
I’ll sing his roots off. I’ll sing a wind up and blow leaf and branch away.
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-21-2005, 04:42 PM   #58
Guinevere
Banshee of Camelot
 
Guinevere's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 5,707
Guinevere is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
I can’t say anything to the discussion above (never having heard about Lilith) but in general I agree very much with what Lalwendë wrote:
Quote:
„This is why I do not like much literary criticism or analysis, as it seems to me that the critic is simply pulling apart a text to find what they want to find. I want to know what the author intended, I don't want to reconstruct a text for myself, for my own meaning.“
For me, this is the most dramatic, moving, heart-wrenching chapter – I remember so well how I was in tears the first time I read it. I really believed Frodo had died and I felt so much with Sam – his despair, the terrible weight of the choice he had to make, his reluctance to make up his mind resonate deeply with me. And Sam’s faithful, undemanding love for his master affects me more than any lovestory I have ever read.!
Btw Tolkien wrote in a letter to Christopher 1944 (#72):
Quote:
„ …I read the last two chapters (Shelob’s lair & the Choices of Master Samwise) to C.S.Lewis on Monday morning. He approved with unusual fervour, and was actually affected to tears by the last chapter, so it seems to be keeping up.“
Perhaps because I myself hate nothing as much as making decisions, I can relate so well to Sam in this situation.
Quote:
„what shall I do, what shall I do?“ „Why am I left all alone to make up my mind?“
What also strikes me in Sam’s inner debates is how he is so humble and not sure of himself, always doubting his own abilities.
When he takes the starglass he says „It’s too good for me „ and when he finally makes up his mind:
Quote:
„ But I’ll be sure to go wrong: that’d be Sam Gamgee all over.“
I wonder if that is because his father has called him too often a “ninnyhammer“ etc. in his childhood?
Quote:
„You fool, he isn’t dead, and your heart knew it. Don’t trust your head, Samwise, it is not the best part of you.“
he says after the shock of hearing that Frodo is still alive.and
Quote:
„I got it all wrong, I knew I would.“
But instinctively he always does the right thing!
As Faramir already told him :
Quote:
„ If you seem to have stumbled, I think it was fated to be so. Your heart is shrewd as well as faithful, and saw clearer than your eyes.“

I was also very intrigued by the (untranslated) Elvish invocation Sam uttered. In time I found out the meaning, but it still is mysterious how this came to be.

About the Orcs: I noticed that their style of speaking seems quite modern , as opposed to the noble speech of the Gondorians and Rohirrim.

About spiders:
Quote:
...Or was she (Shelob) simply a horrific childhood memory ‘mythologised’ (‘seen through enchanted eyes’ as John Garth put it)?
I don't think so, because Tolkien wrote in a letter that though he'd been bitten by a Tarantula when very small, he didn't remember it, and had only been told about it.
Quote:
I do not dislike spiders particularly , and have no urge to kill them. I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!
Isn't that nice! That’s what I do too!
__________________
Yes! "wish-fulfilment dreams" we spin to cheat
our timid hearts, and ugly Fact defeat!
Guinevere is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2005, 07:20 PM   #59
Azaelia of Willowbottom
Shade of Carn Dűm
 
Azaelia of Willowbottom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: By the Sea
Posts: 455
Azaelia of Willowbottom has just left Hobbiton.
Send a message via AIM to Azaelia of Willowbottom
Silmaril

Loved your post, Guinevere! I agree. I also found it interesting what you posted about Tolkien and spiders. I've heard over and over that it was due to his own fear of spiders that Shelob became what she was...But I think I like knowing that he didn't hate them the way I had thought!

This is one of my favorite chapters in the whole of Lord of the Rings. I still cry every time I read it. I know Frodo is not dead, but Sam's heartbroken reaction just gets me. He has to be my favorite character in all of Lord of the Rings...or if not THE favorite, very close...and this chapter is, in my opinion, his finest hour.

I love that he moved from being a character who takes a mostly-secondary role to Frodo, into a leading role here. That's certainly not to slight Frodo, or to say that I was glad that he was hurt...but it gives Sam his chance to shine. I could relate to him somewhat because I always second-guess my decisions as he does:
Quote:
"'I've made up my mind,' he kept saying to himself. But he had not...'Have I got it wrong?' he muttered. 'What ought I to have done?
It amazes me that he could manage to do something that was so against his nature and everything that he'd been at all: to leave Frodo behind and take up the quest himself. (and by "against his nature" I do not mean out of character...)The hobbit who was not meant fpr great things, as he keeps telling himself, had suddenly become a do-er of great things. That's true heroism.

...(I just realized how hard it is to post on this particular topic. There's so much I want to say, but it's difficult for me to find the words to say it, and it's very frustrating for me. I'm going to take some time to gather my thoughts and maybe continue again later...*sigh*)
__________________
"Wherever I have been, I am back."

Last edited by Azaelia of Willowbottom; 05-25-2005 at 07:23 PM.
Azaelia of Willowbottom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-31-2005, 10:02 AM   #60
Bęthberry
Cryptic Aura
 
Bęthberry's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 6,039
Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.Bęthberry is a guest of Elrond in Rivendell.
Boots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guinevere
I can’t say anything to the discussion above (never having heard about Lilith) but in general I agree very much with what Lalwendë wrote:

Guinevere, I enjoyed your thoughts about this chapter very much, particularly your thoughtful comments on Sam. It doesn't really matter that you don't know anything about Lilith. You can enjoy the chapter very much as it is without that layering of possibilities; in fact, you provide other, equally rich possibilities.

However, in case you are interested in other fantasy writers and in the legend of Lilith, you might want to take a look at George MacDonald's book, Lilith. MacDonald was a powerful influence on C.S. Lewis, less so on Tolkien himself, although Tolkien acknowledged him. MacDonald's interest in the imagination and fantasy anticipates that of Tolkien and Lewis. In many ways, he was a precursor. Readers don't have to know MacDonald's ideas to appreciate Tolkien's, but knowing MacDonald's thoughts on how our imagination creates meaning provides a wonderful context in which to consider Tolkien.

Tolkien mentions both MacDonald and Lilith in his famous essay, "On Fairy-Stories".

Quote:
Even fairy-stories as a whole have three faces: the Mystical towards the Supernatural; the Magical towards Nature; and the Mirror of scorn and pity towards Man. The essential face of Faërie is the middle one, the Magical. But the degree in which the others appear (if at all) is variable, and may be decided by the individual story-teller. The Magical, the fairy-story, may be used as a Mirour de l'Ommen; and it may (but not so easily) be made a vehicle of Mystery. This at least is what George MacDonald attempted, achieving stories of power and beauty when he succeeded; as in The Golden Kay (which he called a fairy-tale); and even when he partly failed, as in Lilith (which he called a romance).
Just for the sake of historical accuracy, Tolkien also refers to MacDonald in his Letters. The first is in Tolkien's reply to a Letter published in the Observer and signed by "Habit".

Quote:
Letter #25

As for the rest of the tale, it is, as the Habit suggests, derived from (previously digested) epic, mythology, and fairy-story -- not, however, Victorian in authorship, as a rule to which George MacDonald is the chief exception. Beowulf is among my most valued sources; though it was not consciously present to the mind in the process of writing, ....
The second is from Tolkien's long letter to Naomi Mitchison who had sent him questions as she read over page-proofs of LotR.

Quote:
Letter #144

Orcs (the word is as far as I am concerned actually derived from Old English orc 'demon', but only because of its phonetic suitability) are nowhere clearly stated to be of any particular origin. But since they are servants of the Dark Power, and later of Sauron, neither of whom could, or would, produce living things, they must be 'corruptions'. They are not based on direct experience of mine; but owe, I suppose, a good deal to the goblin tradition (goblin is used as a translation in The Hobbit, where orc only occurs once, I think), especially as it appears in George MacDonald, except for the soft feet which I never believed in.
So there is Tolkien's statement on one of the imaginative influences of MacDonald, which Tolkien was later to repeat in Letter #151 to Hugh Brogan.

Quote:
Your preference of goblins to orcs involves a large question and a matter of taste, and perhaps historical pedantry on my part. Personally I prefer Orcs (since these creatures are not 'goblins', not even the goblins of George MacDonald, which they do to some extent resemble).
Later, Tolkien was asked by Pantheon Books to write a preface to their edition of MacDonald's The Golden Key. According to Carpenter, Tolkien never did write the preface but "the result of his beginning work on the preface was the composition of Smith of Wootton Major, which began as a very short story to be contained within the preface". Now, there's a very tantalising bit of imaginative stimulation, particularly since it involves the question of why Tolkien wrote an allegory, a genre he did not like!

Quote:
Letter #262

I should like to write a short preface to a separate edition of The Golden Key. I am not as warm an admirer of George MacDonald as C.S. Lewis was; but I do think well of this story of his. I mentioned it in my essay On Fairy-Stories...

I am not at all confident that I can produce anything worthy of the honorarium that you offer. I am not naturally attracted (in fact much the reverse) by allegory, mystical or moral. But I will do my best...
This is all by way of preface to my thoughts about Shelob. I think these passages from the Letters show that MacDonald was for Tolkien some kind of imaginative spice that went into Tolkien's own cauldron of story-soup. And that Tolkien was at least familiar with the Lilith legend as MacDonald had explored it.

I will begin by pointing out that dragons are absent from LotR, but that for Tolkien, dragons were formidable creatures of great evil. In fact, Tolkien's ground-breaking essay on Beowulf owed much to his insistence upon the profound importance of dragons in our imaginative lives. Here's a passage that bears some thinking about in terms of Shelob.

Quote:
Beowulf's dragon, if one wishes really to criticize, is not to be blamed for being a dragon, but rather for not being dragon enough, plain pure fairy-story dragon. There are in the poem some vivid touches of the right kind... in which the dragon is the real worm, with a bestial life and thought of his own, but the conception, none the less, approaches draconitas rather than draco: a personification of malice, greed, destruction (the evil side of heroic life), ... Something more significant than a standard hero, a man faced with a foe more evil than any human enemy of house or realm, is before us, ...
Tolkien even reminds us of Shelob's difference from dragons and of his earlier tales of dragons, that she is even more terrible and less vulnerable than they were. Only by herself can she be beaten--as, in fact, is MacDonald's wicked Lilith overcome: she herself must open her hand to accept her death. So I think in part Shelob's attributes derive from this concept of the worm of great evil. But that concept is made much more original and unique by clothing it in traditionally conoted female attributes.

Those attributes derive from a long history of misogyny, a history which is predominate in literature of the middle ages, but not limited to that time. Most of the attributes refer to bodily functions in their most repellant aspects, such as the stench, the uncontrolled appetite, the vast breeding, the voracious feeding upon others, the despicable way they uspet man's self-control. The Lilith legend is part of this, (although, as I say, MacDonald's Lilith is not given the extensive sensory imagery which Tolkien gives Shelob, even though MacDonald's Lilith has a fearful animal form. MacDonald's Lilith is Victorian, which Tolkien's is not. The Angel in the House cast a long shadow). Tolkien I think was brilliant in clothing this legendary aspect of early literature in animal form and not in human female form, but the tradition of fear of the female body is nonetheless made available in his story.

I'm not by any means saying that Tolkien's Shelob = MacDonald's Lilith. There are great differences! Yet the concept of the loathsome, self-loving and self-serving female who describes all manner of evil self-indulgence and threat to lawful order links the two.

Why does this matter to me? What does it add to my understanding of Tolkien? It allows me to see how his ideological framework works its way out in LotR. In that ideology, the pure, beautiful, and muse-like female, worshipped on the pedastle, counterbalances the disgusting, fearful female of chaotic impulse. Does Tolkien's Shelob have to be read this way? By no means! Yet for me this supplies another layer of wonder to the richness of Tolkien's imaginative creation. This is, to me, thoroughly in keeping with Tolkien's thoughts about how the imagination gathers, chooses, combines material to bring forth new revelation.

Last edited by Bęthberry; 05-31-2005 at 10:57 AM. Reason: correcting codes and typos. added a reference
Bęthberry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-31-2005, 12:29 PM   #61
Firefoot
Illusionary Holbytla
 
Firefoot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 7,646
Firefoot has been trapped in the Barrow!
This is definitely one of my favorite chapter. I was absolutely stunned the first time I read it. After all, how could Frodo be dead? (Of course, being the fairly gullible reader I still am, I fell for it, even after Gandalf turned up alive...) Then, to my great relief, Frodo is still alive... but then what!? I was fortunate enough to have taken both TTT and RotK out from the library at the same time, but that didn't help, as the storyline switched back to the other characters to my disappointment. Anyway.

Some comments on Shagrat and Gorbag. Up until this point, there hasn't been a lot to say that Orcs are any more than basically evil beings, mostly characterized by greed, selfish ambition, cruelty, (in some cases, intelligence, though in itself this is neither good nor evil) and loyalty to his own respective (bad) side, whether Saruman, Sauron, or themselves as is the case with the Moria Orcs. Basically your ordinary, evil minions of the bad guy (very simplified, I know). In Shagrat and Gorbag, however, we see two fairly reasonable characters. Though they do exhibit a few of the aforesaid traits, all each of them is doing is looking out for his own skin. They clearly have no particular affinity for either Sauron or the Nazgűl, and even though their service is more or less willing, what they really want is to "set up somewhere on our own with a few trusty lads... and no big bosses." The only reason they would seem to want to win the war is because if Sauron is done for, so are they. Lalwendë's comparison (post #7) to middle-managers is a good one, I think - they don't really know what's going on, and can't really affect it, but they're concerned about it in how much it affects them. From what we can see of these two from this chapter, they seem to be of a fairly decent sort, even likable.

On to Sam. This really is Sam's chapter. We've had glimpses into Sam's character, and we have a pretty good idea of Sam's personality, but this is a great chapter. Frodo is a very passive character in this chapter, and this shifts all the light onto Sam, who has hitherto always been rather in the background, both in the writing of the story and in his own actions - after all, his whole purpose for even being there was because of his loyalty to Frodo. So now, Sam is in the limelight and we get to see him at his best, despite his honest mistake of believing Frodo dead. We are told once again that Sam does not have and has never had any real hope, but his will, determination, and loyalty are enough to keep him going. Let there be no doubt: Sam's subservience to Frodo is not because of weakness of character.

This just occurred to me: in many ways, Sam is very like to Faramir. Consider this quote of Faramir's: "War must be while we defend our lives against a destroyer that would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor." Now consider Sam. Sam is not one to go seek war and glory by victory, though not for lack of courage. His love and loyalty is to Frodo, and to defend what he thinks to be Frodo's dead body he is completely willing to take on some eighty Orcs - despite certain death to him and a failure of the Quest.
Firefoot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-31-2005, 03:06 PM   #62
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry
Those attributes derive from a long history of misogyny, a history which is predominate in literature of the middle ages, but not limited to that time. Most of the attributes refer to bodily functions in their most repellant aspects, such as the stench, the uncontrolled appetite, the vast breeding, the voracious feeding upon others, the despicable way they uspet man's self-control. The Lilith legend is part of this, (although, as I say, MacDonald's Lilith is not given the extensive sensory imagery which Tolkien gives Shelob, even though MacDonald's Lilith has a fearful animal form. MacDonald's Lilith is Victorian, which Tolkien's is not. The Angel in the House cast a long shadow). Tolkien I think was brilliant in clothing this legendary aspect of early literature in animal form and not in human female form, but the tradition of fear of the female body is nonetheless made available in his story.
Sort of. It has to be pointed out here that there is a strong pre-Christian tradition of the 'dark Goddess', which derives from matriarchal cultures, & has a profound mystical/psychological meaning. The Dark Goddess is a figure who presides over initiation & transformation, & her 'loathly' aspect is merely the way we encounter her in our initial confrontation. There are some very valuable insights into this tradition to be found in stories like the Hanes Taliesin in the Mabinogion, the Marriage of Sir Gawain, & the Irish tales of the Lady Sovereignty. In short, we're not dealing with simple 'mysogyny', but with an ancient tradition which has been 'spun' in large part by the political church. Its dangerous to take ancient lore & interpret it in the light of modern feminist theory. One thing that should be borne in mind is that these female archetypes, Lilith included, were either originally beautiful & became ugly, or originally ugly & became beautiful. This has nothing to do with any kind of 'punishment' or 'reward', as originally the transformations were entirely under the control of the Goddess herself. We have to keep in mind that the versions we have were originally set down in writing by the monks & scribes of the early church, who either had their own axe to grind, or simply didn't understand the meaning of the stories. There is a male equivalent in the 'wild man' figures (ie Lancelot, or Merlin in the Vita) who are originally handsome warriors, but are transformed by traumatic experiences into wild figures, running mad in the forests or wilds, unrecognisable as the persons they had been, & often 'magically' covered from head to toe in hair. Suffice to say that the principal way in which Shelob differs from Lilith, & her 'sisters' is that she has never been 'beautiful' or 'wise'. She lacks not only that aspect, but also, & most importantly, the power to change her loathly aspect. She is what she appears, & nothing more. What she lacks, principally, is 'mystery'.

Quote:
Why does this matter to me? What does it add to my understanding of Tolkien? It allows me to see how his ideological framework works its way out in LotR. In that ideology, the pure, beautiful, and muse-like female, worshipped on the pedastle, counterbalances the disgusting, fearful female of chaotic impulse. Does Tolkien's Shelob have to be read this way? By no means! Yet for me this supplies another layer of wonder to the richness of Tolkien's imaginative creation. This is, to me, thoroughly in keeping with Tolkien's thoughts about how the imagination gathers, chooses, combines material to bring forth new revelation.
Of course, Shelob could be seen as the 'Shadow' of Galadriel. As Jung pointed out, the brighter the light, the darker the shadow it casts. Shelob may be interpreted as an amalgam of all the 'female' (or perhaps better, the human)aspects of Galadriel, which have been sacrificed in her 'deification'. But, at least in her LotR manifestation, Galadriel is far from a 'goddess'. She is a fallen penitent, fighting the long defeat.

It is quite possible to view Shelob/Galadriel as the light & dark aspects of the Goddess (Lilith or one of her sisters), as it is possible to see in the Gandalf/Sauron pairing the twin aspects of Odin - wandering wizard//necromancer, but this leads to confusion, in my opinion, because just as Gandalf & Sauron are autonomous figures, with histories & motivations which do not correspond in any way to the history & motivations of Odin, so Shelob & Galadriel do not partake of the myth of Lilith in any significant way.

Shelob is, first & foremost, a big monster, & the role she plays is not that of Lilith, but of the 'killer' of Frodo & the nemesis of Sam. She is made as ugly & threatening, as monstrous in every aspect, as possible - mostly, I would say, for very simple reasons - the main one being that the confrontation with her creates a magnificent climax to the Frodo/Sam/Gollum storyline. Yes, Shelob is female, but that was dictated, I think, by Ungoliant being female. Ungoliant was the manifestation of 'unlight', of the void, that which consumes & absorbs into itself all light.

But, it could be argued, that's only pushing the Shelob/Lilith 'equality' back a stage, & that it actually strengthens the argument of equivalence by 'doubling' it. Perhaps. But there is a very ancient tradition that the deity that initiates the apocalypse is female. This can be seen in the Prophecies of Merlin in Geoffrey's History of the Kings of Britain, where the Goddess 'Ariadne' 'unweaves' the cosmos she created in the beginning & takes back everything into the void. She creates (or 'weaves) all things into being at the Beginning, & destroys ('unweaves') all things at the End. So, we have both aspects of the primal Goddess manifest, the creator & the destroyer, the one who builds up & the one who breaks down. Ultimately She manifests the forces of both anabolism & catabolism. This also accounts for 'her' association with the spider.

Now, Tolkien has presented us with multiple 'light' 'goddesses', principally Elbereth & her 'avatars' Galadriel & Melian, & also with 'dark' goddesses, again principally Shelob & Ungoliant. As with Odin, these 'Light' & 'Dark' aspects are split off, & seen from that perspective both aspects lose somthing of the depth, conflict & mystery of the original archetypes, but this is what we have from the hand of Tolkien. As I said in another thread, Shelob & Galadriel (as Gandalf & Sauron) must stand by what they are within the world they inhabit. The more external, primary world, input that is necessary to elucidate them the less effective they are as characters in their own right, & the more they become cyphers or 'allegories'.

Now, it could be argued that the root cause of this 'split' was Tolkien's own attitude to death, his desire to understand & make sense of the 'gift' of death. Death becomes a problem to be solved, or at the least an ugly thing which must be explained & shown to have purpose in a universe created & ruled over by a loving God. The original myths from which the Lilith stories derive saw life & death as aspects of each other, with the Goddess standing at each 'gate', giving life & being & taking it away. Once the division of life=good & death=evil comes into play such archetypes fragment & no longer serve a useful purpose.

So, there you have it - my interminable ramblings on why Lilith isn't Shelob - which I know isn't what you claimed at all, but I'm posting it for what its worth...
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-01-2005, 11:50 AM   #63
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,012
Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
A rather flippant, and to me amusing, thought occurred to me in reading this thread.

Perhaps the reason that Shelob is a she-lob (female spider) has to do with the simple fact that in nature, the female spiders are the larger and more dangerous ones, often eating their own mates.

Perhaps Galadriel was female for the same reasons: Celeborn could not be married to a male elf.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2006, 03:36 PM   #64
Bergil
Wight
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: the Lepetomaine Gambling Casino For The Insane
Posts: 161
Bergil has just left Hobbiton.
The cleverest post I've made yet.

In both the books and the movies, the "duel" between Sam and Shelob is my favorite part. there's also somthing very interresting in the description of the fight (not that, you freaudian dignified pervs). there's a lot of superlatives and "never before"s, not what you' expect in the Sam and Frodo story arc. Why? perhaps Tolkien realized that book four would be a long drout for the fight-thirsty, and worked to find a way to fit in a fight at the end, perhaps there's some other reason, perhaps I'm just looking deep in shallow water.
__________________
I support...something.
Bergil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-08-2006, 08:51 PM   #65
littlemanpoet
Itinerant Songster
 
littlemanpoet's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: The Edge of Faerie
Posts: 7,049
littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.littlemanpoet is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
I bet Tolkien put in a fight because it was the only way they were going to survive Shelob.
littlemanpoet is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-09-2006, 03:40 PM   #66
Bergil
Wight
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: the Lepetomaine Gambling Casino For The Insane
Posts: 161
Bergil has just left Hobbiton.
I mean Shelob herself.
__________________
I support...something.
Bergil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 12-18-2018, 10:45 AM   #67
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,012
Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
It's fascinating to me that this thread focuses mostly on Shelob when I find Shagrat and Gorbag to be at least as fascinating. When much younger, I didn't think much of them: they were just Ugluk and Grishnakh 2.0, but that doesn't really fit to me anymore: Shagrat and Gorbag have personalities as distinct from each other and from Ugluk and Grishnakh as much as Merry and Pippin do from each and from Frodo and Sam. And their relationship (though it goes elsewhere in the RotK) is far more genial, if one may usr that word of orks.

The Ring is also fascinating here. Because of its inherent dangers, we so rarely see it used, and all our other experience with it is with Frodo (Bilbo in The Hobbit really doesn't count). Seeing it here, after so long AND being used by someone else, is almost like a revelation of what a powerful magic object it is. And it's really the Ring's last hurrah as anything other than a burden and psychological pressure.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:40 AM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.