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Old 11-14-2005, 01:54 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
Silmaril LotR -- Book 6 - Chapter 8 - The Scouring of the Shire

Though the quest of the Ring was completed several chapters ago, this chapter is in many ways the culmination of the story! At least it is that for the four hobbits. In contrast to Bilbo’s return from the Lonely Mountain, this “back again” is not unmarred as his was (save for some silver spoons, of course).

The contrast to the home they left a year earlier is shown by many details – Tolkien does this masterfully! Two-storied houses; narrow, straight-sided windows, with little light showing; an abundance of rules in a formerly almost anarchic, benevolent society – this is not the Shire as they knew it and we remember it from the first chapter of the book. We see the side-effects of evil wherever we look – ugliness and dirt are described throughout the chapter. Let’s collect some of those mentions!

Hobbit turns against Hobbit – again, an almost unprecedented turn of events (and one which reminds me of similar spying and betrayal in the days of East Germany). Interestingly, this pattern can be broken by individualizing the persons involved, as we see Merry and Sam doing with Hob Hayward and Robin Smallburrow.

Despite the seriousness of the issues and lives involved, there are many comical moments in this chapter – we are returning to the ‘normal’ plane of the hobbits’ lives after having been in the ‘heights’ so long. Their humour shows in many delightful turns of phrases; doesn’t that give you the feeling of putting things into perspective? This is dangerous, yes, and lives are even lost, but compared to the past adventures and dangers, they can afford to make light of the threats. Which are your favourite funny quotes?

There is great emphasis on the feeling of “united we stand” – doing something by all getting angry together. The Men are shown to be cowardly when faced by weapons and determined opposition. I’m also reminded yet again of Éowyn’s words that those who do not have a sword can still die by one when Merry speaks up concerning Frodo’s reluctance to have any killing done:
Quote:
You won’t rescue… the Shire, just by being shocked and sad…
Very true, as much as I sympathize with Frodo’s concern.

Farmer Cotton turns out to be an important character in this chapter; I don’t remember if he was mentioned earlier in the FotR – did Tolkien develop him and his family more to give Rosie a bit more background? The romance between Sam and Rosie is only hinted at – did you notice that when you first read the book, or was it too subtle? We also encounter the Gaffer again. It seems that Rosie is the only one who is impressed by Sam’s adventures in far-away lands; all others are concerned almost exclusively with the things that affect them directly.

Sharkey is only mentioned until the end of the chapter, a method that makes him seem more threatening because he’s mysterious. Did you suspect his true identity when reading this the first time? Why do you think he chose to revenge himself on the Shire? Did he realize that he was no longer great enough to be a threat to other, stronger realms? Did he think to strike Gandalf through the hobbits that the latter loved? The choice of his object of revenge shows, more than anything else, how deep he has fallen by this time. Even when there is no longer gain in it for him, he continues for the sake of sheer destruction.

We discover that the Hobbits are not all good – there are few, perhaps, who choose freely to cooperate with ‘Sharkey’, but they are there. What do you think motivates Ted Sandyman, for example? What do we find out about Lotho’s reasons? Was the cooperation of a number of Hobbits the reason the others did not rebel, so as not to fight against their own kind?

Tolkien shows the illogical aspects of industrialization – having mills that could grind more grain, but not having more grain to grind! We see pollution being caused by the invasion of modern machinery and again the side effects of dirt, ugliness, and shoddy craftsmanship (bricks poorly laid, for example).

Finally, Frodo shows that he has learned mercy; he will not allow Saruman to be killed, not even after seeing all the horrors he has caused right at the heart of his home. One thing about their encounter seems inexplicable to me – why does Saruman attempt to kill Frodo? What does he think to accomplish by that act? How do you feel about Wormtongue in this passage – do you pity or loath him?

The tension has built throughout the chapter, moving from Saruman’s underlings to bigger and more important troops to the final encounter with him. The enemy is dead, but what he has done still remains. The end of the chapter is not triumphant, but grimly realistic.
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Old 11-14-2005, 03:37 PM   #2
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Oh, what sad times are these when passing ruffians can say Ni at will to old ladies. There is a pestilence upon this land, nothing is sacred. Even those who arrange and design shrubberies are under considerable economic stress in this period in history.

(Firstly, I have to point out that this was written before I read Esty’s excellent (as usual) introduction, so I’m duplicating odd points she’s made. As Sam said: ‘May I be forgiven!’ )
I think what’s interesting is that what happens to the Shire & Isengard is seen as the consequence of ‘modernisation’, of technology - this is what technology produces - thugs (‘ruffians’) ruling the roost, beautiful old things swept away & replaced by ugly, polluting, ‘machinery’. In short, technology is bad & ‘Men’ (‘Hobbits’) must be rescued from it. The problem, though, is that it seems that the alternatives are either

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rows of new mean houses along each side of the road, they saw the new mill in all its frowning and dirty ugliness: a great brick building straddling the stream, which it fouled with a steaming and stinking outflow. All along the Bywater Road every tree had been felled.
or the bucolic idyll symbolised by the healed Shire with its Mallorn centrepiece. Of course Hobbits are no more if those are the only options. Anyway, the travelllers have returned home, & as its not as it should be, they are going to put it right. There’s no sense that there may be some good things worth retaining, or salvaging, from the industrial revolution that has swept the Shire - it is all BAD & must be gotten rid of.

Of course, the question arises as to why the Hobbits of the Shire allowed it all to happen, did nothing when the Party Tree was cut down, Bagshot Row was turned into a quarry, the Old Mill was demolished & the Grange & the sycamores (to be seen in Tolkien’s painitng of Hobbiton across the Water in TH
http://galeria.tolkienianos.com/deta...660d00d1189ec6 - the Grange is the square building with the inner courtyard on the left side of the road, the sycamores the trees with the pink blossoms beside them). Maybe it happened too gradually, bit by bit. Maybe they needed to be roused by others to whom the whole thing would come as a sudden overwhelming blow. If Gandalf was right about this being ‘what they were trained for’ then it seems that their experiences in the Wide World were just as much about preparing them for what they would face at home as they were about saving the world form Sauron. Certainly, some of the Hobbits had ‘gone over’ to the other side. It seems that their fate was to be simply overruled & put back in their place, made to conform. Ironically, perhaps it would have been those very ‘traitorous’ Hobbits who would have enabled the Shire & its inhabitants to avoid their future isolation & its entry into the world. The desire of the majority of the Hobbits to have things the way the had always been (cf Denethor’s desire to have things as they had been ‘in all the days of his life, & in the days of his longfathers before him’) may have been the very thing that ensured their disappearance.

In a sense, & oddly perhaps, this is the most ‘old fashioned’ section of the book - both in style & politically - even the use of the term ‘ruffians’ smacks of upper/middle class sneering contempt for the ‘lower orders’ - which is not to say that the ‘ruffians’ aren’t deserving of such an attitude. One thing that does stand out is that none of the ‘ruffians’ have names - apart from Bill Ferny.

I think its obvious that SoS is not an allegory of the situation after WWII - the world the returning Hobbits find - with rationing, ugly cheap housing, etc - is similar (as Shippey has indicated) to post-war Britain*, but the response to it is pure wishfulfilling fantasy on Tolkien’s part. It didn’t happen - much as he may have wanted it to. For me, it is this chapter where we get our clearest glimpse of the author’s ‘biases’ & see most clearly his political philosophy/ideological stance. Perhaps in one sense we are not seeing the Merry, Pippin Sam & Frodo we’ve come to know & love in this chapter, but the TCBS bringing a winnowing sword to clear the ‘ruffians’ out of England.

I did wonder whether the events which took place in the Shire would have happened if the Hobbits had not left to undertake the Ring Quest - would the Shire have gone that way anyway? Would Frodo, Merry, Pippin & Sam have succumbed in the way all the rest did? Was it necessary that they be ‘removed’ from the Shire so that some Hobbits could be ‘tempered’ in the fire, returning stronger & beter able to return as ‘saviours’? Certainly Sam, Merry & Pippin take control of the situation, begin to organise the resistance & order the battle.

Something else we see in this chapter is the violence Hobbits are capable of - Frodo even has to struggle to prevent them killing unarmed prisoners at one point. These are not the peaceful, harmless stay at homes, the charming, absurd Boffins, Bolgers & Bracegirdles we’ve come to know & love. Put them into the right circumstances & they are as capable of cruelty & viciousness as much as any other race in Middle-earth. Some, like Ted Sandyman, even go over to the other side - betray their people & culture. The Shire is not what we thought it was. Things have come to the surface that may have been hidden, but were probably always there. In this chapter we, & the Hobbits themselves, must confront the truth about who they really are.

Of course, the destruction of the Shire, after all Frodo’s struggles, only adds to his sense of failure & hopelessness. In the end, no matter how much one gives of onself, whatever sacrifices one makes to fight it, evil continues on - life is a succession of ‘defeats & fruitless victories’ as Elrond put it.

Its interesting that, in the end, Saruman awaits them at Bag End. Saruman, with his mind of metal & wheels, stands at the heart of things, is the source of the ugliness & destruction that has spread out across the Shire. Its been said that his words are what finally put paid to Frodo’s hopes of recovery:

Quote:
Well, I go and I will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.'
I wonder. I think that by this point Frodo knows very well what his fate will be. Clearly he is tired. He offers forgiveness to Saruman & compassion to Wormtongue, but it is rejected. I can’t help feeling that the state of the Shire on his return, was the final devastating blow to Frodo - firstly, he had ‘failed’ (in his own mind at least) to destroy the Ring, secondly, he had ‘failed’ to save Gollum, finally, he had ‘failed’ to save the Shire (he says as much to Sam before his departure: ‘ I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me.’ We’ll deal with that next chapter, but it seems significant that those words express his feelings that he had taken on himself the ‘saving’ of the Shire. He says he tried to save it, & that it has been saved - the implication being that it was saved by others, almost in his despite, but certainly without his playing any part in its ‘saving’.). He took on too great responsibilities, felt he had obligations that he had to live up to, & so in his own mind he had failed in everything he set out to do. ‘Saving’ the Shire (& saving Gollum) were as much beyond his capabilities as destroying the Ring was, but he still felt, irrationally, that he had let everyone down. The almost insignificant part he plays in the final version of the story (as opposed to the earlier versions, where he is the hero) is perhaps as much down to these feelings of inadequacy & incapability of getting anything right. He perhaps feels by this point that whatever he does will go wrong.

Saruman has become a pathetic figure, fallen from the heights of the Ainulindale to a wandering beggar who will die by the hand of his equally pathetic ‘slave’. To see him behaving like a petulant brat is shocking when we remember what he had been. Galadriel, Gandalf, Elrond, all had deferred to him; he was head of the White Council. Even after his ‘fall’ into evil he had commanded armies. He had the rulership of Middle-earth within his grasp. At the end he is reduced to trying to murder a Hobbit, after trashing his home out of spite. The way he ends, throat cut, his body shrivelling to nothing, his spirit blown away by the wind, is perhaps the lowest fall, the most tragic end, of any being in Middle-earth. Yes, both Melkor & Sauron were defeated, but they ended as a result of battle or divine intervention. Saruman’s end was pathetic, sordid, ugly & disgusting. Yet he chose every step he took. His pride lead him to reject every offer of redemption, even lead him to believe he was still great, still a power, still worthy of awe & respect. His end raises interesting questions:

Quote:
To the dismay of those that stood by, about the body of Saruman a grey mist gathered, and rising slowly to a great height like smoke from a fire, as a pale shrouded figure it loomed over the Hill. For a moment it wavered, looking to the West; but out of the West came a cold wind, and it bent away, and with a sigh dissolved into nothing.
What is the ‘mist’? His Fea? Its difficult to imagine what else it could be - yet if it is that, what could it mean that it disolves into nothing? Could Saruman’s fate be worse than that of Morgoth & Sauron - could it really be that he goes neither to Mandos nor to the Void, but simply ceases, becomes nothing at all?

‘Sharkey’ as Saruman’s nickname is interesting, as originally it was to have been the name of the chief ruffian - not Saruman, but an ’half-Orc’. A ‘shark’ in common parlance means ‘A swindler; a pilferer; an extortionate dealer; landlord or the like.’ (Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable). It seems likely that the ‘derivation’ Tolkien gives (‘It was probably Orkish in origin: sharku, 'old man'’.) may have been invented to account for the chief ruffian being called Sharkey & turning out to be Saruman - once Tolkien had discovered ‘what really happened’. It would be interesting if that was the case, in showing how Tolkien developed his languages.

Reading the early drafts & comparing them with the final version almost encapsulates Frodo’s story. In an early version of the Scouring chapter Frodo is the hero, defeating the leader of the ruffians in single combat. The earlier versions are incredibly fast moving & exciting - more so in some ways than what we have. What’s missing is Frodo’s sadness, grief, confusion & desire to do the right thing - to heal, to forgive, to understand - & encourage the same desire in his fellow Hobbits. Saruman is correct when he says that Frodo has ‘grown’. He has grown to far, too high, for most of his fellow Hobbits - one reason, perhaps, that he will fade into the background so quickly & easily. Its not simply that affairs in ‘forn parts’ don’t interest them, its that he is now beyond them, morally & spiritually. He, more than anyone else in Middle-earth, has looked into the Abyss & realised that he is looking into himself. Its a realisation that cannot be communicated to others, so it isolates him. There is no going back.

*Its also been pointed out that the memorial set up to those who fell in the Battle of Bywater: ‘The fallen hobbits were laid together in a grave on the hill-side, where later a great stone was set up with a garden about it.’ is very similar to the Cenotaphs & Memorial Gardens to commemorate the Fallen of both World Wars.
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Old 11-15-2005, 09:15 AM   #3
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Well, I am going to deviate from past practice by posting here at the start of discussion rather than tacking on some heretical observation at the end. And, seeing how davem does such a stellar job of shadowing Estelyn's excellent opening remarks, I shall limit my post to a couple of observations rather than an all encompassing marathon.

First of all, this chapter is the one that I find I must constantly and willfully fight against the urge to read allegorically. The wretched conditions of the housing, the work, the soulless actions, the rule-mongering all strike me as so very similar to post war conditions in Europe that I find it hard not to see this as an allegory of the materialist and mechanical conditions of the twentieth century--allegorising historical events into the context of the story, rather than the other way round. In the destroyed social bond of the hobbits it is so easy for me to see, for example, the kinds of conditions which currently are at play in the nightly riots in France in the suburbs where immigrants live in hopeless conditions as semi-citizens--or, to bring it closer to Tolkien's home, to the conditions which fomented the recent riots in Birmingham. At the same time that I struggle to resist this allegorical reading, I also recall how Tolkien discussed allegory to his publisher:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Letter 109
Of course, Allegory and Story converge, meeting somewhere in Truth. So that the only perfectly consistent allegory is a real life; and the only full intelligible story is an allegory. And one finds, even in imperfect human 'literature', that the better and more consistent an allegory is the more easily it can be read 'just as a story'; and the better and more closely woven a story is the more easily can those so minded find allegory in it. But the two start from opposite ends.
Possibly what Tolkien dislikes in allegory is the tendency towards blanket generality and away from particularity, individuality, specific detail. At least, it seems to me in this chapter that the very specificity of the details are what lend themselves to seeing conditions in a certain light.

Secondly, this chapter provides the culmination in Frodo's ethical journey: his triumph over the vindictive meanness of Mordor and dark pursuits. It is here that Frodo eschews violence most directly in favour of mercy and forebearance and he almost wins over Grima. Of course one can say that here the 'allegory' doesn't hold true to historical conditions, but it seems to me that the very point is the failure of historical conditions to achieve Frodo's enlightenment. In fact, it seems most clear to me that Tolkien does not equate Mordor with the Axis powers, but much closer to home. Tolkien's politics might well be conservative and his philosophy downright silly in their wholesale rejection of any development in human knowledge or learning, but nevertheless, it remains obstinately heroic to criticise one's own side so soon after war has made any challenge to one's side a traitorous affair.

Well, I promised a short post. My only other observation is to remark on how similar are the terms Tolkien uses to desribe the pathetic Grima to those he used for Gollem. For both characters Tolkien favours words of depraved bestiality. "Wormtongue" has become merely "Worm" and Grima is a scuffling, crawling dog who is cuffed regularly by his master. I'm not sure what to make of this. Is Tolkien suggesting some kind of relationship between Gollem and Grima or is this merely Tolkien's preferred style for representing depravity--bestial is always and ever animical to light. Remember how Shelob was so repellantly described by her physical, animal attributes. Animals that fly can represent the light, but not animals that walk or crawl.
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Old 11-15-2005, 02:34 PM   #4
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'And be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so, with Pity.'
Gandalf said this to Frodo waaaaay back in "Shadows of the Past" in reference to Bilbo's decision not to kill Gollum, and once again we can see the tremendous art of Tolkien at work insofar as he explains the end of his story at its beginning.

The hobbits have returned to begin their "ownership" of the Shire. It has become possessed by evil, and in the end they and their people "take so little hurt...and escape" because Frodo makes sure that they begin their tenure there with Pity and not vengeance. I know that they are returning home and not claiming the Shire for the first time or for themselves, but they are retaking it to themselves, and these four are the future leaders of the Shire: Mayor, Thain and Took. Had they begun their reigns by murdering Saruman, or killing ruffians unnecessarily, or other hobbits, I doubt very much that the Shire would have prospered so.

It's too easy to see Frodo as some kind of passive guy, worrying and fretting about killing that's necessary -- but he only prevents the killing that's unnecessary, he laments that there will be death, and tries to mitigate that quite heroically. I'm always struck in this chapter by how little Merry and Pippin seem to have learned from their journeys in comparison: you'd think that they'd know how empty bravado is, and yet they undertake a battle with light hearts. You'd think that they would be more wary of those who seek to become leaders, even in the best of causes, but they set about ordering other hobbits around, organising things and generally 'taking charge' of the situation. I'm not saying that they are wrong to do what they do, but they are so unreflective about it -- so unaware of the potential implications and dangers of putting themselves forward as the Warrior Heroes come to save the Shire. They look much more like Boromir in this chapter than like Aragorn.

Frodo saves the Shire in this chapter by making sure that the ideals of pity and mercy are at the forefront of what they do. Had Merry and Pippin been alone and unchecked in this chapter, I would fear very much for the Shire.
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Old 11-15-2005, 04:34 PM   #5
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And, seeing how davem does such a stellar job of shadowing Estelyn's excellent opening remarks, I shall limit my post to a couple of observations rather than an all encompassing marathon.
As to 'shadowing' Esty, I think its simply a case of 'great minds' - my post was written last Friday . On your second point, I can only say I like to think I am writing for posterity, rather than the moment

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Animals that fly can represent the light, but not animals that walk or crawl.
Shadowfax?
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Old 11-15-2005, 08:13 PM   #6
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On your second point, I can only say I like to think I am writing for posterity, rather than the moment
Oh my dear fellow! Writing for posterity on the internet: An oxymoron!


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Originally Posted by davem
Shadowfax?
Oh now I was expecting a challenge about crows but not Shadowfax, who after all runs so swiftly he almost flies, doesn't he? Check out the description of Pippin's experience riding with Gandalf in V,i.

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. . . presently the thudding of hooves was heard, and three riders swept up and passed like flying ghosts in the moon and vanished into the West. Then Shadowfax gathered himself together and sprang away, and the night flowed over him [Pippin] like a roaring wind.
What I find intriguing are the ways various animals are used as descriptors in Tolkien's legendarium. Despite his clear respect for and love of the natural world, that love is usually given (unconditionally ?) only to flora and fauna, one could say. Tolkien seems to rely upon a traditional semiotic for creeping, crawling critters. The bestial, the earthy, the dirty are all negatively connoted, which is interesting because in medieval times, the odour of sanctity was indeed an odour. There is a hierarchy of evaluations for animals I think, a great chain of beasts one might say, although it is not absolute.
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Old 11-16-2005, 08:04 AM   #7
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How The Shire appears during and after the 'Scouring', is in effect reality. Before this, it was an idyllic place, that village which we all yearn for, which we all 'remember', and afterwards, the Hobbits try to return to that state of grace. But during the absence of the four Hobbits, the Shire is like the real world. Farm labourers toil to produce food which is shipped off somewhere else (to the towns in real life), tenants can be evicted from their homes if the landlord wants the land (as in what happened to the Gaffer), the mill fouls the local water supply. This is, and was, the reality of the countryside. Farmer Cotton takes steps to see that the Gaffer is well fed, which is forbidden, like a labourer supplementing his family's diet by poaching.

Yes, there are many parallels with oppressive regimes and how they have run their respective countries, but what happens to The Shire is in contrast not all that bad! Now I'm waiting for the rotten fruit to come flying, but compare what has happened to The Shire and to the Hobbits with what happened to the farms which had been on the Pelennor Fields, the destruction of the trees around Fangorn, the slavery Sauron subjected his people to, the violence of the Orcs. The Shire got off lightly in comparison; it was never reduced to the state of Mordor, it was only reduced to reality. The changes to the Shire only seem quite so horrific as we have been, like the four Hobbits, away from it for so long. We have been through their torments and like them cherished a dream of The Shire, a hope that we could return there. Tolkien cleverly pulls off this ending which is not happy and not what we expected; he takes us right out of our comfort zone.

This makes me wonder just how true the picture painted of the Shire in the first few chapters really is. It is from the point of view of Hobbits who have been through hell, and one of the things which kept them going through that hell was the vision of a perfect homeland to return to. Any of us who moved from home at an early age and now feel great nostalgia about our original town/village might experience the same if we too returned to our own 'Shire'.

How perfect was The Shire really? We already know that some Hobbits could not read, and Bag End was atypical of average Hobbit Holes (the Chatsworth House of the Shire while the poorer Hobbits lived in places like Park Hill). From Ted Sandyman's snide comments to Sam about him 'prattling' about his dreams for the future, we can also guess that The Shire had its fair share of reactionary Daily Mail types.

Considering the point of view of who wrote the texts, Bilbo (traditional middle England male), Frodo, Sam (working class boy made good), then it might not be that we were seeing The Shire in its true light in the first place anyway. But then we had to see it like that, or we too would not have yearned along with Frodo and Sam.
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Old 11-20-2005, 11:26 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Bęthberry
What I find intriguing are the ways various animals are used as descriptors in Tolkien's legendarium. Despite his clear respect for and love of the natural world, that love is usually given (unconditionally ?) only to flora and fauna, one could say. Tolkien seems to rely upon a traditional semiotic for creeping, crawling critters. The bestial, the earthy, the dirty are all negatively connoted, which is interesting because in medieval times, the odour of sanctity was indeed an odour. There is a hierarchy of evaluations for animals I think, a great chain of beasts one might say, although it is not absolute.
I think there is this 'hierarchy' of animals. Those creatures traditionally considered 'noble' are the same in Middle-earth as in our world - Eagles, horses, hounds, etc - & the ones labled 'vermin' in our world tend to occupy the same position in Middle-earth - rats, crows, flies, etc.

What I find interesting in this context is that the two animals most closely associated with Odin, the raven & the wolf, occupy positions in the negative hierarchy of Middle-earth. Yet Odin was clearly an influence on both Gandalf & Manwe. Why doesn't Gandalf have a wolf companion, why aren't the birds of Manwe ravens? Its been suggested that Odin's 'positive' aspects were subsumed into Gandalf & Manwe & his 'negative' ones into Saruman & Sauron.

Of course, I'm not forgetting Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged horse. I suspect he 'surfaces' in Shadowfax. My own suspicion is that wolves & ravens symbolised Odin's 'dark' side too much. Wolves become wholly evil creatures, associated with Sauron & Saruman, ravens don't appear at all in LotR - though they have a significant part to play in TH, where they have a strong association with the Dwarves. They are one of the few speaking creatures on the 'good' side.

Actually, this is odd in itself - in terms of speaking animals we have Huan, the ravens of the Lonely Mountain, the Eagles of the Misty Mountains, the spiders of Mirkwood & various dragons(if we can count them). In LotR only the Eagles talk, but other creatures clearly understand human/Elven speech. That being said, its difficult to draw conclusions about animal nature in Middle-earth from TH, as, even if one includes it in the Legendarium, the 'fairy tale' element is so strong we have to question how much of it is down to Bilbo's predeliction for hyperbole.
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Old 12-30-2005, 01:08 PM   #9
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Is this the right place for these observations?

One question hasn't been raised, why was Saruman in such a hurry to develop advanced technology? it's hardly his nature to to fund A "Royal Acadamy of Science". I see 2 possibileties. Either he, alone among "bad guys" realised that his slaves are, as slaves, disadvantaged when fighting against people with a fire of freedom in them, and is trying to compensate by breeding Uruk-hai and arming them with powder (eventually), and gaining a support advantage with a better mill etc.

The other possibility is even scarier. He could be trying to reach 1984 as soon as he can. if the hobbits had failed, what would Aragorn have found?, If Rohan had failed, and Saruman's new tactics had inspired Sauron, what would the valar have found? It's not a pleasent thought (unless you're Saruman), hobbits ending up that way.
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Old 02-17-2011, 06:25 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle View Post
I'm always struck in this chapter by how little Merry and Pippin seem to have learned from their journeys in comparison: you'd think that they'd know how empty bravado is, and yet they undertake a battle with light hearts.
I wouldn't say that they learned little - they learned a great deal! However, most of what they learned just flew out of their heads after the "world crisis" came to an end. Frodo's change was much more permanent - to such extent that he actually leaves ME.

Jack London said in one of his books that harsh or extreme conditions bring out the best in some people and the worst in others. We see hobbits on Sharkey's side, like Ted S., but we also see Lobelia act as a hero. And she "breaks" when she's rescued by Frodo, repents, and passes out of his life on very good terms. I found it a bit surprising, but, like Gandalf said, you can study hobbits for a month and know them, but after years they will surprise you immensely. You can't "know" hobbits.

We see the full extent of Frodo's wisdom when he says, "It is useless to meet revenge with revenge; it will gain nothing". This line is especially meaningful because Saruman replies "You have grown, halfling". Even though his last hope (if you can call it that) is shattered by Frodo, he admits that he admires his actions, and admits that he is shocked at what happened to the simple hobbit. Frodo also shows pity towards Saruman and Grima, and that last straw did it. Saruman makes evil so that it would cause hatred amongst the ‘good guys’, but that doesn’t work with Frodo, since he forgives Saruman. His hatred recoiled back on him. I guess that at that time Saruman has nothing to lose, so he might as well kill Frodo – the causer of his misfortunes. This makes Frodo pity him even more, because he fell even lower (as low as to unexpectedly stab a hobbit).

Frodo awoke the Smeagol in Gollum. The same way with his words he awoke the last human part of Wormtongue. Unfortunately, with the “human part” also came human hate, which caused him to run like a mad person and kill Saruman. I feel sorry for both of them in the book (but I’m not sure I would have acted the same as Frodo in RL).

Bergil: I don't think Saruman was trying to accomplish anything specific with his destruction - just the joy of destroying good and making evil. Saruman just wanted to strike all the 'good guys' in the most vulnerable spot.
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Old 10-22-2018, 10:02 PM   #11
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Meanwhile, 7 years later

Thanks to Formendacil's regular and methodical CbC impressions I started reading odd chapters again and actually posting thoughts instead of putting them away in a mental drawer. I'm jumping the gun on your read here, Form, because I know I will forget this before you get to this chapter, and I'd like to have a conversation happen once you do.

Interestingly, the stuff that pinged me from skimming the thread was the same stuff I responded to 7 years ago (makes me wonder how predictable my mind is). But I would add something to my response:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle View Post
It's too easy to see Frodo as some kind of passive guy, worrying and fretting about killing that's necessary -- but he only prevents the killing that's unnecessary, he laments that there will be death, and tries to mitigate that quite heroically. I'm always struck in this chapter by how little Merry and Pippin seem to have learned from their journeys in comparison: you'd think that they'd know how empty bravado is, and yet they undertake a battle with light hearts. You'd think that they would be more wary of those who seek to become leaders, even in the best of causes, but they set about ordering other hobbits around, organising things and generally 'taking charge' of the situation. I'm not saying that they are wrong to do what they do, but they are so unreflective about it -- so unaware of the potential implications and dangers of putting themselves forward as the Warrior Heroes come to save the Shire. They look much more like Boromir in this chapter than like Aragorn.
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I wouldn't say that they learned little - they learned a great deal! However, most of what they learned just flew out of their heads after the "world crisis" came to an end. Frodo's change was much more permanent - to such extent that he actually leaves ME.
To add to that: a leader's job is to inspire as well as to restrain, and that includes acting and preaching action. Merry/Pippin, Sam, and Frodo represent different sides of military leadership. Merry and Pippin are the flame, the inspiration, the plan. Frodo, of course, is the philosophy. Sam is the grounding force to the people - he is most closely tied with the locals and serves as a sort of bridge between the generals and members of the public like Farmer Cotton and the Gaffer. If Merry and Pippin did become like Boromir rather than Faramir or Aragorn, it is to shrug off the sadness of the past a little too much after the Shire has been relatively restored.


But the thought that really prompted me to look up this thread was triggered by this:

Quote:
‘Fight?’ said Frodo. ‘Well, I suppose it may come to that. But remember: there is to be no slaying of hobbits, not even if they have gone over to the other side. Really gone over, I mean; not just obeying ruffians’ orders because they are frightened. No hobbit has ever killed another on purpose in the Shire, and it is not to begin now. And nobody is to be killed at all, if it can be helped. Keep your tempers and hold your hands to the last possible moment!’
This is the first time there is real talk of fighting and killing, and the wording stuck in my mind. Frodo's reasons for preventing bloodshed are ample and obvious, but an additional point has occurred to me. I think at this point he is still desperately hoping that he can return back to his Shire to rest his mind and soul after his journey. Seeing his home ruined is just as painful and more disappointing to him than to his companions, simply because it is the destruction of his hope for an abode and a utopic corner, the ideal that kept him going. Of course introducing war to the Shire is terrible - and that is recognized by all - but it is also recognized as inevitable. But such a drastic change to the character of the Shire wounds Frodo as much as the physical blemishes, and he might be clinging to the idea that the people can be saved from the change. This certainly is not the main reason he preaches peace, mercy, and forgiveness, but more of a Freudian interpretation of his wording.

Thing is, the fighting and even the killing has been in hobbits all along - it was the Tooks who opened the body count, as we later learn. So the Travelers aren't introducing something new to the Shire, they are merely inspiring and catalyzing the emergence of this previously dormant trait, and use their rich battle experience to direct it into productive routes; the importance of this is that previous manifestations were not absent, just unproductive.

Aaaand it's midnight rambling again on this forum. I don't even remember where I was heading with this. Why does my inspiration for writing posts always come when my ability to formulate thoughts is out of stock for the day?
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Old 03-21-2019, 04:18 PM   #12
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I know I've made comments to this effect before in other chapters... but I really can't believe this thread received so few comments! I am completely open to arguments that say this is the single most important chapter in the book; I'm certainly willing to say that it is a climax on par with "Mount Doom" (and if all you look at are the deaths of Saruman and Sauron and the former's attempt to turn the Shire into Mordor, there are definitely parallels).

The Lord of the Rings would be a completely different book without it: far closer to pure fairytale than otherwise. It's absence from the movies is THE thematic flaw of those movies, one that you can only justify, in my mind, if you look at it as telling the story that I bracket between "Many Meetings" and "Many Partings."

The discovery by Frodo that evil (however dilute it really is compared with what he saw in Mordor or was seen in Gondor or Rohan) has invaded the Shire is a crucial discovery. This is when the realisation that he can't just go back to the way things were crystallizes. It's the moment of truth to reality (however easy it also os to read it as allegory) that makes this book NOT a pure Happy Ending fairytale.

It's also rousing and full of humour and a return to places and people long missed! It's a fantastic chapter.
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