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Old 04-10-2005, 12:17 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril LotR -- Book 4 - Chapter 06 - The Forbidden Pool

This relatively short chapter deals primarily with the issue of Gollum and his continuing role in Frodo and Sam's journey. A good deal of it is dialogue between Frodo and Faramir, discussing whether and why he should be spared. Gandalf's lines about pity come to mind; though they are not quoted, Frodo's thoughts about the wizard and what he would have decided suggest to me that they were present in his consideration.

The time is late night, or rather early morning - does that suggest a symbolic dawn to you? There are wonderful descriptions of the location.

At this rereading, I noticed that Faramir speaks of Gollum as if he were an animal, using "it" as a pronoun for him. When does this change? Later, he is treated as a servant.

Though Frodo is doing something good in saving Gollum's life, it looks to him like he has been betrayed, and Frodo feels miserable about his seeming treachery. What alternatives did he have, besides letting Gollum get killed, of course? Frodo's reasons are not clear to him, though he knows he is doing the right thing. Why do you think he does it anyway?

Frodo and the readers get another brief history lesson from Faramir, this time concerning Minas Morgul and the Ringwraiths.

Do you think that Faramir's warning changes anything for Frodo and Sam? Do they see him differently, or is the warning just a confirmation of what they already know and feel?

There are many questions that are raised by this chapter, and I look forward to a lively discussion!
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Old 04-10-2005, 01:10 PM   #2
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What alternatives did he have, besides letting Gollum get killed, of course?
Though Frodo did not technically lie, he could have been more, shall we say, truthful? There is no trickery in truth, and maybe, just maybe, Gollum would not have taken it so hard.
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Old 04-12-2005, 07:46 PM   #3
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Frodo's "Betrayal" of Gollum really turns the relationship between Gollum and Frodo for the worse. I think that Gollum had slowly begun to trust Frodo. Of his scyzophrenic personality his "good" side was beginning to surface.Of course it was coming along slowly. However, after the incident at the pool that little trust has vanished completely.
I think this incident is what makes Gollum take the hobbits to Shelob. The idea might have been in his mind already, but now he is determined to bring them to her.

I love the description of Ithilien at the beginning of the chapter.It has a mysterious but also peaceful feel to it and there is no hint of danger. That is untill we find out that Gollum could be killed.

Frodo should have been more honest with Gollum. However, Frodo is so frantic to get Gollum away from the pool that he probably didn't think of a more diplomatic way of getting Smeagol to come away with him. His focus was on Gollum's safety which made him blind to other things. He knew that if he lost Gollum the quest would also be lost as well.
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Old 04-13-2005, 03:09 PM   #4
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The incident that stood out most strongly for me in this chapter was when Frodo went down to help capture Gollum. So much turns on this single event. The relationship between Frodo & Gollum changes here. Gollum feels Frodo has betrayed him. He feels he is once again alone in the world. He ‘realises’ (wrongly) that his only true companion in life is his ‘Precious’. We read the incident as a tragic misunderstanding on his part - if only he could see that Frodo is trying to save him...

But is it so simple? What does this chapter tell us about what is happening to Frodo? His thoughts at this moment betray something ‘dark’ in his psyche:

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"Fissh, nice fissh. White Face has vanished, my precious, at last, yes. Now we can eat fish in peace. No, not in peace, precious. For Precious is lost; yes, lost. Dirty hobbits, nasty hobbits. Gone and left us, gollum; and Precious is gone. Only poor Smeagol all alone. No Precious. Nasty Men, they'll take it, steal my Precious. Thieves. We hates them. Fissh, nice fissh. Makes us strong. Makes eyes bright, fingers tight, yes. Throttle them, precious. Throttle them all, yes, if we gets chances. Nice fissh. Nice fissh!"
So it went on, almost as unceasing as the waterfall, only interrupted by a faint noise of slavering and gurgling. Frodo shivered, listening with pity and disgust. He wished it would stop, and that he never need hear that voice again. Anborn was not far behind. He could creep back and ask him to get the huntsmen to shoot. They would probably get close enough, while Gollum was gorging and off his guard. Only one true shot, and Frodo would be rid of the miserable voice for ever. But no, Gollum had a claim on him now. The servant has a claim on the master for service, even service in fear. They would have foundered in the Dead Marshes but for Gollum. Frodo knew, too, somehow, quite clearly that Gandalf would not have wished it.
He could creep back and ask him to get the huntsmen to shoot. They would probably get close enough, while Gollum was gorging and off his guard. Only one true shot, and Frodo would be rid of the miserable voice for ever.

Frodo is disgusted by Gollum - understandably we might think - but this is deeper & darker than mere ‘disgust’. He wants Gollum dead. More than that, he wants to have him executed. Frodo, while appalled by Gollum, this disgusting, creeping thing, knows that Gollum trusts him. He knows that Gollum is a lost, lonely soul, broken by a power that Frodo himself is beginning to know & understand only too well. What’s going on here?

It would be easy to put this down to the stress & fear of the moment, except that Frodo has betrayed this kind of selfish cruelty before. When Gandalf first told him of the true nature of the Ring (The Shadow of the Past) he responded with a pretty cruel desire:

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'I should like to save the Shire, if I could--though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them
I pointed this out in the relevant chapter discussion, & the general response was that it was a ‘stress reaction’.

Later, in the Barrow, we see something similar:

Quote:
At first Frodo felt as if he had indeed been turned into stone by the incantation. Then a wild thought of escape came to him. He wondered if he put on the Ring, whether the Barrow-wight would miss him, and he might find some way out.He thought of himself running free over the grass, grieving for Merry, and Sam, and Pippin, but free and alive himself. Gandalf would admit that there had been nothing else he could do.
Not quite as bad, but it does seem that Frodo has a tendency to respond to stressful, personally threatening situations by wishing to be free of those he feels are endangering him.

It comes out again in Rivendell:

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When he had dressed, Frodo found that while he slept the Ring had been hung about his neck on a new chain, light but strong. Slowly he drew it out. Bilbo put out his hand. But Frodo quickly drew back the Ring. To his distress and amazement he found that he was no longer looking at Bilbo; a shadow seemed to have fallen between them, and through it he found himself eyeing a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands. He felt a desire to strike him.
The music and singing round them seemed to falter, and a silence fell.

I don’t know whether this is all down to the Ring working on his mind. We did see, as I pointed out in the last chapter disussion, Frodo speaking haughtily to Faramir. But this brings us back to the central question about the way the Ring works - is it an exceptionally powerful source of external evil, which overwhelms the individual’s will & forces them to act out of character, or does it merely bring out the ‘evil’ desires in the individual? Has this ‘malicious’ streak always been part of Frodo’s make-up, & merely been exacerbated by the Ring, or are we seeing someone who is essentially good being corrupted?

Whatever, what we see in these examples are situations where the people Frodo wishes to leave to be killed (his companions in the Barrow, wishes to attack himself (Bilbo), or have executed, are all in extremely vulnerable positions, & effectively helpless. What we see in each case is, as I said, Frodo wishing to be rid of those who threaten, endanger or anger him.

So, how much of what we see in these examples is the ‘real’ Frodo, & how much is the Ring working through him? If its the Ring, then Frodo cannot be held accountable. Nor can he be held accountable for his final act at the Sammath Naur - which would not be a surrender to his own desires, but ‘merely’ a breaking of his spirit - as if he himself was not really ‘there’ & it was the Ring finally taking control of his mmind & will as well as his body.

When Tolkien says that at the end Frodo felt like a ‘broken failure’ one could ask whether these feelings centred solely on those final moments at the fire, or whether they grew out of a deeper realisation of his ‘true’ self, & the darkness he found within, a ‘darkness’ which he came to realise had always been there......

To be treated like a ‘saint’, the saviour of the world, while knowing the darker truth, must have been difficult to say the least.
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Old 04-15-2005, 07:18 AM   #5
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So, how much of what we see in these examples is the ‘real’ Frodo, & how much is the Ring working through him? If its the Ring, then Frodo cannot be held accountable. Nor can he be held accountable for his final act at the Sammath Naur - which would not be a surrender to his own desires, but ‘merely’ a breaking of his spirit - as if he himself was not really ‘there’ & it was the Ring finally taking control of his mmind & will as well as his body.
I think I may have mentioned somewhere else that the effects of the Ring upon Gollum seem to have eroded his 'ego' and exposed his 'id'. And before I say any more, I am no expert in this Freudian terminology.

Gollum's 'ego' seems to have been eroded to the point where we do not see any more what he might wish the outside world to see of him; any urge to create an impression barely exists any longer. Gollum has become pure impulse, all his inner urges and thoughts exposed for the world to see. We know exactly what he is afraid of and all his desires and baser instincts are 'out there'. Has Frodo become a little like that through carrying the Ring?

He seems to have been made more keenly aware of his darker side, and at times he almost gives in to his impulses. Perhaps when Frodo is repelled by Bilbo's hunger for the Ring he is seeing a reflection of himself? And of course when he sees Gollum he must be even more deeply repelled.

Whether that darkness was already within Frodo I could not say for sure. I would say that of course it was there, but then perhaps I would be putting the values from this world onto the values of Middle Earth, and I may be wrong. But maybe the voice of Gandalf reminding Frodo of the need for pity hints that even in Middle Earth people are like us and have a hidden darkness. I've said before that Gandalf's morals seem to be more relative than absolute, and maybe if they are, then it is also possible that Frodo already had the potential for darkness within himself.

Frodo's eventual feelings of failure were probably down to the huge weight of things he had to bear. He had mental and physical injuries, the Shire had suffered, he had failed to cast the Ring into the fire, and he had seen deeply into his own soul and perhaps found it to be less than perfect. I think feelings of desperation and failure would only be expected after such trauma.
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Old 04-18-2005, 08:42 AM   #6
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Just before we leave this chapter I wanted to make a few comments on the llast conversation between Frodo & Faramir. We see Gollum desperately trying to convince both Faramir (& Frodo) that the pass of Cirith Ungol is the only way into Mordor:

Quote:
"It is called Cirith Ungol." Gollum hissed sharply and began muttering to himself. "Is not that its name?" said Faramir turning to him.
'No!" said Gollum, and then he squealed, as if something had stabbed him. 'Yes, yes, we heard the name once. But what does the name matter to us? Master says he must get in. So we must try some way. There is no other way to try, no."
And Faramir challenging his assertion:

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'No other way?" said Faramir. "How do you know that? And who has explored all the confines of that dark realm?"
A little later Faramir will attempt to persuade Frodo to break troth with Gollum & Frodo will refuse. As he points out to Faramir it is wrong to ask this & Faramir will agree. Faramir seems torn between his desire to help Frodo & his own sense of right & wrong. In the little time he has known Frodo he seems to have developed a deep love & concern for him. What I find interesting here though is that Frodo seems wiser than Faramir - or at least more practical. Every argument the Faramir puts forward to persuade Frodo against the course of action he is set upon, Frodo counters:

Quote:
"Frodo, I think you do very unwisely in this," said Faramir. "I do not think you should go with this creature. It is wicked."
'No, not altogether wicked," said Frodo.
'Not wholly, perhaps," said Faramir; 'but malice eats it like a canker, and the evil is growing. He will lead you to no good. If you will part with him, I will give him safe-conduct and guidance to any point on the borders of Gondor that he may name."
"He would not take it," said Frodo. "He would follow after me as he long has done. And I have promised many times to take him under my protection and to go where he led. You would not ask me to break faith with him?"
Quote:
But I do not think you are holden to go to Cirith Ungol, of which he has told you less than he knows. That much I perceived clearly in his mind. Do not go to Cirith Ungol!"
"Where then shall I go?" said Frodo. "Back to the Black Gate and deliver myself up to the guard?
Quote:
Then the Nine Riders issued forth from the gates of horror, and we could not withstand them. Do not approach their citadel. You will be espied. It is a place of sleepless malice, full of lidless eyes. Do not go that way!"
"But where else will you direct me?" said Frodo. 'You cannot yourself, you say, guide me to the mountains, nor over them. But over the mountains I am bound, by solemn undertaking to the Council, to find a way or perish in the seeking.
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Would you have me come to Gondor with this Thing, the Thing that drove your brother mad with desire? What spell would it work in Minas Tirith? Shall there be two cities of Minas Morgul, grinning at each other across a dead land filled with rottenness?"
"I would not have it so," said Faramir.
"Then what would you have me do?"
"I know not. Only I would not have you go to death or to torment. And I do not think that Mithrandir would have chosen this way."
'Yet since he is gone, I must take such paths as I can find. And there is no time for long searching," said Frodo.
Its almost as if Faramir is the voice of Frodo’s own inner doubt made flesh before him. Frodo is in a way being tempted to give it all up, walk away & forget the Quest. We’ve seen something similar before, in Lothlorien, where he offered the Ring to Galadriel - another test in another (apparently) safe haven. One wonders if Galadriel’s testing of Frodo’s heart wasn’t quite similar to Faramir’s.

One final point on this ‘testing’ (I accept that this wasn’t Faramir’s intent, but I think that’s its effect on Frodo). There’s an old ballad, The False Knight on the Road, which seems to ‘echo’ this conversation between Frodo & Faramir:

http://sniff.numachi.com/~rickheit/d...tFALSKNGT.html

The False Knight issues a series of challenges to the ‘Wee Boy’, which the child counters, each time turning the False Knight’s curse aside. Perhaps another example of Tolkien taking an aspect of ancient tradition & using it in his stories.

Whether or not this ‘Magical Ballad’ played any part in this scene, we certainly see Frodo’s growth in both wisdom & in hopelessness - whether the two are natural bedfellows is another question. Frodo has come to the last point at which he can turn aside from his Quest, & he is confronted by a wise friend who seeks to convince him that that would be the best thing for him, even the only logical course of action. Frodo makes his decision, restates his vow to the Council, & commits himself to go on, without hope of success. Long ago, at that same council Gimli had said to Elrond that ‘sworn word may strengthen quaking heart’ & Elrond had responded ‘or break it.’ It seems that at this moment Frodo’s ‘sworn word’ is what gives him strength to overcome Faramir’s pleas, but it is also, in the end, what will break his heart....
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Old 04-18-2005, 08:56 AM   #7
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Its almost as if Faramir is the voice of Frodo’s own inner doubt made flesh before him.
What is also happening here is something involving the mechanics of the story. We are about to see Frodo embark on something which seems to us to be very foolish. We are going to ask questions about why he decides to enter Mordor via Cirith Ungol, and we have to be provided with some answers. Through the medium of this conversation we get to read Tolkien's explanation of why he chooses this path.
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Old 04-19-2005, 11:03 AM   #8
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Just a few very quick thoughts.

I really would be hesitant to base any notion of Frodo’s inner character on his impulses in tight spots. Even a saintly person can experience similar thoughts, but it is what is ultimately done that is the true proof of mental or moral strength.

It has been mentioned that Faramir might represent Frodo’s our inner voice, his misgivings. perhaps there is a bit of a parallel between Faramir and Frodo, both are in seemingly helpless situations and led by individuals who have become corrupted by Sauron’s power indirectly. Yet both Frodo and Faramir are committed to their duty and go forward despite the odds. It seems that Faramir’s dialog hints at his own decisions as well.

Finally, the mention of the palantir at the end is interesting to me. Through these last few chapters I have been debating whether Faramir knew about the seeing stone in Minas Tirith. For if he did it might have some bearing on why he would pass up the Ring, having seen what the palantir did to his father. (Plus the Ring was called Isildir's Bane for heavens sake, not Isildir’s pride and joy!)
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Old 05-23-2005, 03:02 PM   #9
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brief in, soon out

Since childhood I felt it was probably better to tell Gollum the truth by the pool. 'They are going to shoot you, but for me' may have had a tint of threat to it, but would save the misery of Gollum feeling betrayed (this is the chapter where I really start to feel pity towards poor chap too).

With recent 'enchantement' debates in mind, I would state that I do find Frodo's behavior plausible, and it does not ruin the flow of the narrative. Frightened Gollum would have [probably] bolted and got shot.

But, leaving aside 'what's and 'if's, I still feel (co-feel with Gollum?) it was unfair of Frodo (a bit) to 'misuse' Gollum's trust.
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Old 10-19-2018, 06:14 PM   #10
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A quick chapter--but not quick enough to warrant this being only the tenth post on this thread! This chapter pivots the whole relationship between Frodo and Gollum, thereby shifting the whole plot to come. After this, Sam is almost of a mediary between Frodo and Gollum where before it was Frodo between Sam and Gollum.

Something good is genuinely wounded in Gollum when Frodo betrays him, yet it is impossible to say how Frodo could have done much differently. And they say Tolkien writes only in black and white! Here we have Frodo and Faramir--two of Tolkien's most unequivocally "good" characters--acting within laws and from honest motives, and yet the result is to break Gollum's faith.

In some respects, Smeagol dies here, never again to have a hope of being ascendant. The thought occurred to me this reread that although it would have been a wicked deed to slay Gollum here with an unexpected arrow, *for Gollum* it might have been a better ending--or, to put it another way, he would have died a better person.
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Old 10-19-2018, 07:36 PM   #11
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That's a really interesting point, and something I never thoughr about. Gollum would have died at his highest point since finding the Ring. But there is a certain theme among LOTR's wrongdoers. Gollum should be slain by law and common sense; he is spared with Frodo's vouching for the hint of goodness in him, only to die later in an unrelated turn of events attributable to all sorts of reasons and quite possibly decreed by fate. Grima could have been executed for high treason; he was given mercy on account of his past honest service, but is killed far away by unrelated people for unrelated reasons. Saruman also falls in this category, but he is the one exception where the death closely follows the condemnation and is arguably linked; Frodo convinces the mob of angry hobbits that he should be pitied as a great one fallen low, and it is not the mob angry at his destruction of their world but an individual who has had enough personal contempt and mistreatment that does him in. In all cases the executions would not only have been lawful but also sensible and supported by the populance and not unjust. And in all cases the subject is given a pass because of faith in some past or hidden goodness - a sort of hope of it reawakening. But none of them rise to a nobler position than they were in - they only fall lower. It would probably have been a nobler death for Grima to be executed by Theoden in Edoras as the infamous spy than to be an emaciated miserable man shot down by people he feared and did not know. Perhaps nobler is not the right word, but he was certainly still higher in position, fame, respect and self-respect in Rohan than in Hobbitton.

I can think of one other person who was spared from lawful death: Beregond. Having spilled blood in the Silent Street he merited death by the law, but he was forgiven because his intentions were good. And he makes good of his chance: we do not see much of him, but presumably he just continues to be the Beregond we knew before in all that matters. If anything, he gained from the encounter - lost his job but got a better one, and the love and gratitude of his lord (and hero!) to go with it. There certainly are Numenorian patterns at play here: Denethor in his ruin turns to the tombs; Beregond, Faramir, and Aragorn all represent honouring death and history without being mentally enslaved by it. But what about this other pattern - what makes Beregond's second chance so different from the others? Is it that his intentions were good in the first place and they were taken into account? The comparison with Gollum seems to outline the relativity and context-dependance of the morality in LOTR. Gollum is oblivious to breaking law and doesn't actually do anyone any harm, while Beregond knows he is breaking old laws and he actually kills people, but it seems like in the end he gets much better treatment that Gollum does. Though maybe that's more because Beregond can see and appreciate the kindness he is given. Gollum can't understand Faramir's point of view at all so the exception making is wasted on him; Gollum only saw the bad treatment and not the worse treatment he was spared, so of course he thinks it was not fair.

I am starting to ramble so I will stop here, but I wonder what others think of the spared evildoer theme.
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:02 AM   #12
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I am starting to ramble so I will stop here, but I wonder what others think of the spared evildoer theme.
There's actually one other "spared wrongdoer" example right here in this chapter: Frodo and Sam! Technically speaking, as we learned in the previous chapter, they are trespassers in Gondor and ought under the law to be brought to Denethor. Faramir passes judgement on them also, and by putting him under his protection "and under the shield of Gondor" (a fantastic line), he is creating another example of at least bending the law from a rigid application--imagine what Boromir would have done as Captain in Ithilien if he found Frodo, Sam, and Gollum wandering alone there!

(Mind you, if their places were reversed, it seems likely enough that Faramir would have explicitly been their guide post-Parth Galen, and had they come to Ithilien and met Boromir, it would have been quite a different encounter... but maybe not for the best in the end. Who would have guided Frodo over the Ephel Duáth? Would Boromir, either getting the truth from Faramir OR meeting secrecy from his brother, have let them continue on?)
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Old 10-20-2018, 08:59 AM   #13
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(Mind you, if their places were reversed, it seems likely enough that Faramir would have explicitly been their guide post-Parth Galen, and had they come to Ithilien and met Boromir, it would have been quite a different encounter... but maybe not for the best in the end. Who would have guided Frodo over the Ephel Duáth? Would Boromir, either getting the truth from Faramir OR meeting secrecy from his brother, have let them continue on?)
Especially since Faramir is the younger brother and considered a tad too soft hearted, nose-in-books and not meeting reality with due firmness type of guy, by the rest of the family. Would Boromir even have understood the reason for going onwards, or just discounted it right away as the silly baby brother not knowing what's best for him?
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