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Old 12-27-2006, 11:29 AM   #41
the phantom
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I didn't have much to do during Christmas break, so I got out LOTR and started reading.

I won't claim that I found the entwives. It is completely possible that the evidence I found is coincidence, and that Tolkien never intended for anyone to find the wives. But the fact remains that I found precisely what that Teleporno character was talking about- "word cluster" and "joke" and all.

What really amuses me is that the best piece of evidence is never mentioned at all by old Teleporno. Aside from the word cluster and the joke I found a very logical and rational reason to believe that I had spotted the entwives. To help you spot the logic, I will say this- there is something that does not make sense in the second half of TTT. It is a little thing. A tiny little action that is inconsistent with something that happens in the second half of FOTR and with information we know from FOTR and TTT.

And no, this isn't April Fool's Day come early.
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Old 12-29-2006, 05:21 PM   #42
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Intriguing, the phantom... so the legend lives on. But how do we know if you are just another hoax? It seems that everyone who claims to have found this clue about the Entwives (3 people so far) is reluctant to provide much information, and nobody has fully revealed his/her discovery as of yet. But I guess that it is understandable that you do not want to reveal it all at once - it is such a neat thing to find so you want to give people a chance to do it themselves?

Are you sure that what you have found is not something that has been suggested before? Have you read this thread and the MT thread thoroughly?
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Old 12-29-2006, 05:30 PM   #43
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it is such a neat thing to find so you want to give people a chance to do it themselves?
Depends on how you see it. Personally I'd rather have these peoplele come and say directly what they found.
But considering his remarks on the Entwives in the letters I doubt that any of these trees might have been the Entwives.

And to end this, I'd like to quote Tolkien. The quote is used to explain the presence of Tom Bombadil, but I believe that it can be used in many other cases:

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And even in a mythical Age there must be some enigmas, as there always are.
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Old 12-30-2006, 08:29 PM   #44
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phantom, please, if you know something, say it, cite it, put it forward. I am relatively new to Barrow-downs, but I have seen this before in several threads. If it is there, then tell us where, and put forward all the evidence at your disposal. You have a solid reputation here: tell us what you know. Like Éowyn in her speech with Faramir, ‘I do not wish to play at riddles. Speak plainer!
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Old 12-30-2006, 08:52 PM   #45
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It wouldn't surprise me one bit if tp just said that so people would continually post begging him to reveal the info. Is that it Mr. Phantom? Am I warm?
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Old 01-02-2007, 07:52 AM   #46
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I do not suppose that this is the 'tiny little action' in the second half of TTT that is inconsistent with something that happens in the second half of FOTR and information we know from FOTR and TTT?

TTT, Book II, 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit':

Quote:
Sam, eager to see more, went now and joined the guards. He scrambled a little way up into one of the larger of the bay-trees.

FOTR, Book II, 'Lothlórien':

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Legolas at once went down the ladder to take Haldir's message; and soon afterwards Merry and Pippin clambered up on to the high flet. They were out of breath and seemed rather scared. ... Hobbits do not like heights, and do not sleep upstairs, even when they have any stairs.

FOTR, Prologue:

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The craft of building may have come from Elves or Men, but the Hobbits used it in their own fashion. They did not go in for towers. Their houses were usually long, low, and comfortable.
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Old 01-02-2007, 01:18 PM   #47
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Forgive me, but I am confused. Would you please explain to me why that event is more “inconsistent with something that happens in the second half of FOTR and information we know from FOTR and TTT” than this one from Tower Towers, “Journey to the Cross-roads”?
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Gollum ... turned back towards the trees, working eastward for a while along the straggling edges of the wood. He would not rest on the ground so near the evil road, and after some debate they all climbed up into the crotch of a large holm-oak, whose thick branches springing together from the trunk made a good hiding-place and a fairly comfortable refuge...
The bay tree, also known as the laurel and by many other names, is “an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub reaching 10–18 m tall,” although a British vendor says that “without pruning the tree will grow to 12m (40ft) high by 10m (32ft) wide.” Note that the plant – whether “tree or large shrub” – has limbs extending from the base of the tree almost as soon as it leaves the surface of the earth. For Sam to “[scramble] a little way up into one of the larger of the bay-trees” sounds to me as if he climbed no more than 3 or 4 feet at the most – about the height of his own head, in a tree (“or large shrub”) easy to climb in order to get a better view. No great courage involved in that, and Ithilien was already described this way in one of the preceding chapters, “Herbs and Stewed Rabbit”:
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Many great trees grew there, planted long ago, falling into untended age amid a riot of careless descendants; and groves and thickets there were of tamarisk and pungent terebinth, of olive and of bay; and there were junipers and myrtles; and thymes … and marjorams and … parsleys, and many herbs of forms and scents beyond the garden-lore of Sam. … As [the Hobbits] walked, brushing their way through bush and herb, sweet odors rose about them.
Ithilien in early spring was a riot of color and scent and smell – so much so that “Gollum coughed and retched.” (Perhaps he had hay-fever, or some other serious allergy, hm?) Finding a large bay-tree in Ithilien should be no more surprising that finding a paved street in Minas Tirith or an orc-hold in Morannon or a flet in Lórien or Sam Gamgee in an inn when home in Hobbiton. To “[scramble] a little way up into one of the larger of the bay-trees” is quite different from climbing to the top of a bay tree (“or large shrub”).

Feel free to accuse me of willful ignorance, but I fail to see the significance of this. I readily agree that it is a “‘tiny little action’ in the second half of TTT,” but I cannot agree that it “is inconsistent with something that happens in the second half of FOTR and information we know from FOTR and TTT,” or the rest of LotR, or The Hobbit, for that matter: even Bilbo could have “scrambled a little way up into one of the larger of the bay-trees” (“or large shrubs”), and for once without climbing onto Dori’s back or shoulders to inconvenience him or slow down the good-natured Longbeard.

If you were looking for something different in the behavior of Frodo and Sam (but not different in the behavior of Gollum, who according to Legolas at the “Council of Elrond” in FotR climbed “a high tree [in Mirkwood] standing alone far from the others … up to the highest branches, until he felt the free wind; … he had learned the trick of clinging to boughs with his feet as well as with his hands...”), you can hardly do better than agreeing to climb “up into the crotch of a large holm-oak,” which often has no limbs for several feet off the ground. But of course, sleeping in flets and shimmying down 200-foot cliff-faces and climbing into the mallorns of Caras Galadhon whose “height could not be guessed, but … stood … in the twilight like living towers” (FotR, “Mirror of Galadriel”) and even far into the upper reaches of what was described as the mightiest mallorn in Lórien (and hence in all Middle-earth), not to mention walking in the shadow of the “tall houses” of Bree, might inure even the wooziest, most vertiginous Hobbit (Sam, perhaps?) to being overcome in a moment of sheer joy, excitement, and unprecedented expectation to climb 3, 4, 6 or even (gasp!) 9 feet – to see an Oliphant. (Two Towers, “Herbs and Stewed Rabbit”)
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To his astonishment and terror, and lasting delight, Sam saw a vast shape crash out of the trees and come careering down the slope. Big as a house, much bigger than a house, it looked to him, a grey-clad moving hill. ... On he came, straight towards the watchers [including Sam], and then swerved aside in the nick of time, passing only a few yards away, rocking the ground beneath their feet...

Sam drew a deep breath. ‘An Oliphant it was!’ he said.
To be fair, Sam “scrambled a little way up into one of the larger of the bay-trees” (“or large shrubs”) in order to get a glimpse of the battle between the Rangers of Ithilien and the Southrons, but he was rewarded for his dash of derring-do with the sight of a Mûmakil of Harad.

Maybe I’m just being obstinate, but I fail to see what “[scrambling] a little way up into one of the larger of the bay-trees” (“or large shrubs”) in a land already stipulated to be full of bay trees or laurels or whatever other lovely names you care to apply to them, as well as lots of other trees, bushes and shrubs redolent with aromatic fragrance like the bay-trees (“or large shrubs”) which by inference were planted by the Númenóreans in the first days of their colonization (“Many great trees grew there, planted long ago, falling into untended age amid a riot of careless descendants,” remember?) has to do with the Entwives.

Ardamir, I have given you a very hard time in this post, but I know you from other forums and do respect you. I hope you – and others – will read it in the spirit of light-hearted mischief in which it was intended. I must salute you for having the courage to step up to the plate (an American saying – it’s a baseball reference) and offer this morsel, which you must have guessed would be torn to shreds by the first raptor that could sink its claws into it. I have read your essay “The Great Search”, and I commend you on your scholarship and efforts; but to the lasting regret and sorrow of the Ents (and many, many readers of LotR), I just don’t believe the Entwives will ever be found.

Last edited by Alcuin; 01-02-2007 at 05:39 PM. Reason: grammar & punctuation
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Old 01-02-2007, 08:26 PM   #48
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It was just a suggestion, I remembered that Sam climbs a tree in "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit" and realized that it could be inconsistent with other passages. I did not think it was very likely that the phantom was referring to this either (that was why I wrote "I do not suppose that ..."), but I thought it best to post it.

The latest version of my Entwives essay can be found at Tolkien Gateway here. I am going to move my Tolkien homepage in its entirety there as well.
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Old 01-02-2007, 10:08 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by Boro
Am I warm?
Heh heh.... a bit tepid, perhaps. Not warm.

As I said before, I do not claim to have spotted the Entwives. I only claim to have found something that meshes with what I've read from that Teleporno chap. And no, I haven't read everything he's written. I'm a busy guy.

As far as the "inconsistency" that I've found that could possibly hint that there is something more than meets the eye going on... it's something absolutely stupid that most would explain away by saying "It's magic, phantom!" or something similar.

Let's see if that helps you. Something "magical" happens in the second half of TTT- something that, if you refuse to believe in the magic of the situation, could be used as further evidence of Entwives in that location. And I say "further" because there is already some amount of evidence in Tolkien's wording. Though naturally evidence can be found where none exists if you are looking hard enough.

And the joke angle mentioned earlier- I did not confirm it without first assuming that one existed in the first place. After making that assumption I was then able to concede that it was possible that a joke was present in the passage. I did not attempt to discover what precisely the joke was, though I have some idea. I'm not really concerned with it. In my mind it is the most subjective evidence we have, and so I'm ignoring it as we can neither prove nor refute it. Twas the wording and magical event that jumped out at me when I read the passage.

(I was not looking for the Entwives when I read it.)
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:51 AM   #50
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I suppose the Phantom is referring to the place where the Elvish rope comes untied on its own once Sam and Frodo have descended the cliff. They tied the rope on to the same stump mentioned before as part of the trees found in the gully or cleft in which they were descending the eastern face of the Ewyn Muil.

I had always assumed this was "magic" associated with the rope, but the Phantom points to the fact that when the ropes are used in Lothlorien to cross the river, they had to be untied by the Elves. I suppose this is the inconsistency that Phantom is referring to.

Seems a bit of a stretch to conclude that an Entwife helped the hobbits along by untying it. In addition, from everything we know about the Entiwives, they hung out on the plains, tending gardens rather than groves of trees. I suppose this could have been a group that fled Sauron's armies, but the evidence is mightly slim here...
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Old 01-03-2007, 09:51 AM   #51
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Heh heh.... a bit tepid, perhaps. Not warm.
Hey if the phantom calls me lukewarm, I'll take that.

Though you know I don't do wild easter egg hunts, I can't commentate, and argue with you about how wrong you are until you reveal what you found.
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Old 01-03-2007, 10:25 AM   #52
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CS- Yes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boro
I can't commentate, and argue with you about how wrong you are until you reveal what you found.
Ah, but be warned, as this is a crackpot theory with no absolute proof whatsoever, I am likely to argue very passionately for it. Don't start the argument unless you are prepared to go the distance, Boro, for I intend to take this to absurd lengths.
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:10 AM   #53
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Originally Posted by the phantom
Ah, but be warned, as this is a crackpot theory with no absolute proof whatsoever, I am likely to argue very passionately for it. Don't start the argument unless you are prepared to go the distance, Boro, for I intend to take this to absurd lengths.
Well, that leaves me to ask the Irishman’s question upon entering a pub and encountering two men brawling at the bar: “Is this a private fight, or can anybody join in?
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:16 AM   #54
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I expect nothing less from you tp . I will make a prediction though of how this will go. See, you'll reveal what you've found, after there are a few rebuttals back and forth it will end with me spieling on about 'reader applicability,' and it all depends upon whether the reader sees it that way or not. Aye, that's how it will end.

Alcuin, the more the merrier...perhaps tp's just building up my anticipation to crush it in a few minutes, but I want to get this matter down and done with.
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:43 AM   #55
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Is this a private fight, or can anybody join in?
Ha ha ha! I suppose anyone is welcome to throw a punch or two, so long as the spirit of the fight is not ruined.

What is the spirit of this fight, you ask? Decidedly drunken.

Oh, and I'd warn you not to join my side yet. You might want to wait and see how I respond to a couple of arguments before aiding me, so that you can understand fully the extremity of my position.

My opponents- you are free to start any time you'd like. I've already given you a target by agreeing with CS's last post. I do indeed believe that the rope incident is concrete indisputable insurmountable undeniable proof that an Entwife was present in the gully.
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Old 01-03-2007, 11:49 AM   #56
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Maybe the tree stump was all that was left of an Entwife, with just enough consciousness to realize that these were good guys, since they had Elven rope, so the stump released the rope?


(No, this is not my serious standpoint; I'm one of those people who throw a punch to get a fight going, then step back and watch the others get hurt! )
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:29 PM   #57
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Ok, I’ll start with the tree on the cliff top in the Emyn Muil. I posted most of this before at Minas Tirith. I assume my friends there will not be offended if I modify it slightly for reposting here.


First of all, my beef on this is that I think that anyone who claims that he’s found something in the text, especially something as interesting as the fate of the Entwives, and then provides no evidence is either perpetrating a hoax or else extremely deficient in both personal maturity and net etiquette. Chanting the mantra, “I know a secret you don’t know,” is a taunt, not an invitation to discussion.

I have no idea what the guy who originally started this thought he’d found, or if the guy was simply firing up a hoax to get the rest of us spinning in a dither. Ardamir the Blessed, who posts under the moniker “Herendil” at Minas Tirith, started this thread, the one we’re in now, about the subject, and a new poster under the name “will.r.french” posted something that got me thinking: There is at least an outside chance that at least one Entwife does show up in Lord of the Rings.

The evidence is sparse and circumstantial, but at the risk of ruining my reputation, I’ll post it for discussion. I will try to quote chapter and verse to make it as clear as possible, and then I will discuss what I see as its most obvious problem. There is no “inside game” or “philological jest” in this material, nor is there anything that might reflect on Tolkien’s friends, his wife Edith, or any of the other women even remotely associated with the Inklings, as far as I can tell.

Antecedents

The Ents rather looked like the trees they tended, or so it has always seemed to me. The description of Quickbeam, for instance, recalls to mind a rowan tree, which grows quickly (Bregalad the Ent was nicknamed “Quickbeam” because he was “hasty” for an Ent), and he was himself fond of rowans. At the Entmoot, Merry and Pippin noted the various appearances of the different ents (Two Towers, “Treebeard”):
Quote:
…Merry and Pippin were struck … by the variety that they saw: the many shapes, and colors, the differences in girth; and height, and length of leg and arm; and in the number of toes and fingers (anything from three to nine). A few … reminded them of beech-trees or oaks. … Some recalled the chestnut: brown-skinned Ents with large splayfingered hands, and short thick legs. Some recalled the ash: tall straight grey Ents with many-fingered hands and long legs; some the fir (the tallest Ents), and others the birch, the rowan, and the linden.
All of these are what Treebeard called “the great trees” in his discussion of the Entwives with Merry and Pippin; but he told them that the Entwives had given their attention to other trees:
Quote:
…the Entwives gave their minds to the lesser trees… and … the sloe in the thicket, and the wild apple and the cherry blossoming in spring.... The Entwives ordered them to grow according to their wishes, and bear leaf and fruit to their liking; for the Entwives desired order, and plenty, and peace (by which they meant that things should remain where they had set them). …the Entwives were bent and browned by their labor…
If the Ents resembled “the great trees” of the forest, then perhaps the Entwives more resembled “the lesser trees,” or at least, they were smaller and of slighter build than the Ents. Consider for instance the name of Treebeard’s beloved: “ah! the loveliness of Fimbrethil, of Wandlimb the lightfooted, in the days of our youth!”

The Entwives had established their gardens in the region south of Greenwood the Great, which later became the forest of Mirkwood.
Quote:
Then when the Darkness came in the North [Morgoth: see also Hammond & Scull, Reader’s Companion, p 387], the Entwives crossed the Great River, and made new gardens, and tilled new fields, and we saw them more seldom. After the Darkness was overthrown the land of the Entwives blossomed richly, and their fields were full of corn.
Later, the Last Alliance of Men and Elves fought a battle with Sauron and his armies of Mordor in the land of the Entwives, and it was destroyed:
Quote:
...the gardens of the Entwives are wasted: Men call them the Brown Lands now. ...in the time of the war between Sauron and the Men of the Sea... We crossed over Anduin and came to their land: but we found a desert: it was all burned and uprooted, for war had passed over it. But the Entwives were not there.
And of course, the Ents began to hunt for them:
Quote:
...we asked all folk that we met which way the Entwives had gone. ...some said that they had seen them walking away west, and some said east, and others south. But nowhere that we went could we find them.
We explicitly know the position of the Brown Lands, for they are marked on Tolkien’s map between Mirkwood and the Emyn Muil east of the Anduin.

Observation

In Two Towers, “The Taming of Sméagol”, Sam and Frodo find themselves faced with what appears at first to be an insurmountable barrier: the cliffs of the eastern faces of the Emyn Muil:
Quote:
At last they were brought to a halt. The ridge took a sharper bend northward and was gashed by a deeper ravine. On the further side it reared up again, many fathoms at a single leap: a great grey cliff loomed before them… They could go no further forwards… west would lead them only into more labor and delay…; east would take them to the outer precipice.

‘There's nothing for it but to scramble down this gully, Sam,’ said Frodo.
Now, observe in particular the description of the place in which they halted:
Quote:
The cleft was longer and deeper than it seemed. Some way down they found a few gnarled and stunted trees, the first they had seen for days: twisted birch for the most part, with here and there a fir-tree. Many were dead and gaunt, bitten to the core by the eastern winds. Once in milder days there must have been a fair thicket in the ravine, but now, after some fifty yards, the trees came to an end, though old broken stumps straggled on almost to the cliff's brink.
Frodo attempts to climb the cliff face but falls. At this point, Sam remembers the Elven rope he had been given in Lórien.
Quote:
Sam unslung his pack ... at the bottom was a coil of the silken-grey rope made by the folk of Lórien. He cast an end to his master. ... Leaning his weight forward, [Frodo] made the end fast round his waist, and then he grasped the line with both hands.

Sam stepped back and braced his feet against a stump a yard or two from the edge. Half hauled, half scrambling. Frodo came up and threw himself on the ground.
The Hobbits discuss how they might use the rope to get down the cliff; Sam estimates the distance to the bottom at “thirty ells, or … about eighteen fathom”, and on this point Christopher Tolkien comments in The War of the Ring, “The Taming of Sméagol”, footnote 11, that his father spent some time working out the height in “hobbit-ells” to account for the distance in height. Christopher Tolkien estimates the height of the cliff at 187½ feet and the length of the rope somewhat longer, so that
Quote:
there would be 4½ feet of rope to spare (‘there was still a good bite in Frodo’s hands, when Same came to the bottom’, TT p. 216)
The Hobbits decide to tie off the rope at the top of the cliff in Two Towers:
Quote:
Frodo thought for a while. ‘Make it fast to that stump, Sam!’ he said.
Once on the bottom of the cliff, Sam realized his new problem:
Quote:
‘Noodles! My beautiful rope! There it is tied to a stump, and we’re at the bottom. Just as nice a little stair for that slinking Gollum as we could leave…’
But magically, as it were, the rope resolved the problem for them:
Quote:
[Sam] looked up and gave one last pull to the rope as if in farewell.

To the complete surprise of both the hobbits it came loose. Sam fell over, and the long grey coils slithered silently down on top of him. Frodo laughed. ‘…To think that I trusted all my weight to your knot!’

Sam did not laugh. ‘I may not be much good at climbing, Mr. Frodo,’ he said …, ‘but I do know something about rope and about knots. It’s in the family, as you might say. …my grand-dad, and my uncle Andy … had a rope-walk over by Tighfield many a year. And I put as fast a hitch over the stump as any one could have done, in the Shire or out of it.’
Sam and Frodo then fall to discussing how this might be:
Quote:
‘Then the rope must have broken – frayed on the rock-edge, I expect,’ said Frodo.

‘I bet it didn’t!’ said Sam in an even more injured voice. He stooped and examined the ends. ‘Nor it hasn’t neither. Not a strand!’

‘Then I’m afraid it must have been the knot,’ said Frodo.

Sam shook his head and did not answer. He was passing the rope through his fingers thoughtfully. ‘Have it your own way, Mr. Frodo,’ he said at last, ‘but I think the rope came off itself – when I called.’ He coiled it up and stowed it lovingly in his pack.
I have read Lord of the Rings fifty times or more. I never questioned that Sam was correct, and the rope came down to Sam of its own, Elvishly magical accord.

Hypothesis

There is another possibility. The rope could have been deliberately thrown down to the Hobbits below. Assuming that Gollum was not being helpful, remember that the only things at the top of the cliff were
Quote:
…a few gnarled and stunted trees, … twisted birch for the most part, with here and there a fir-tree. …old broken stumps straggled on almost to the cliff's brink.
Could one these stumps be a battered, broken Entwife?

First, compare the description just cited of the ruined grove to part of that of the Ents at the Entmoot:
Quote:
Some recalled … the fir (the tallest Ents), and others the birch…
Remember, too, Merry and Pippin’s first encounter meeting Treebeard:
Quote:
High up, … there was a shelf under a cliff. Nothing grew there but a few grasses and weeds at its edge, and one old stump of a tree with only two bent branches left: it looked almost like the figure of some gnarled old man, standing there, blinking in the morning-light.
From these passages we can draw some parallels to the descriptions of the Ents at the Entmoot and of the unsuspecting Merry and Pippin’s initial impression of Treebeard’s to what Frodo and Sam perceived in the Emyn Muil: firs and birches, and stumps. (Treebeard also resembled “the distant stump of an old tree” when Merry and Pippin left Isengard in the company of Gandalf, Aragorn, Théoden and Éomer; Two Towers, “The Palantír”.)

If one or more of the Entwives had fled south from their gardens which became the Brown Lands into the Emyn Muil, they would also have become trapped at the edge of the tall cliff, and might have had to withstand whatever happenstance then overtook them: war, fire, axes. There the survivors remained, maimed and injured, until Sam tied a stout hitch around an Entwife, and he and Frodo climbed down the cliff. The Entwife, perhaps having heard Frodo and Sam’s voices, and their discussion of Elves and of the rope given the Hobbits, then tossed the rope down after them. After all, Treebeard liked the sound of Merry and Pippin’s voices when he met them (“Treebeard”):
Quote:
‘…I heard your voices – I liked them: nice little voices; they reminded me of something I cannot remember ... Very odd you are, indeed. Root and twig, very odd!’
The Elven rope was unbroken, and it came, it seemed, Providentially at the heartfelt wish of Sam.

The Entwife and any surviving companions might have remained in that place down the centuries believing that they were the only survivors of their kind of the great war at the end of the Second Age, becoming “tree-ish” and “sleepy” with time, like Leaflock the Ent. Of Leaflock, Treebeard told Merry and Pippin,
Quote:
Leaflock has grown sleepy, almost tree-ish, you might say: he has taken to standing by himself half-asleep all through the summer with the deep grass of the meadows round his knees. Covered with leafy hair he is. He used to rouse up in winter; but of late he has been too drowsy to walk far even then.
Supposing that there was an Entwife among the stumps at the top of the cliff, she might have roused when Frodo and Sam arrived, but kept herself hidden – perhaps the only reason she had survived attacks by the forces of Mordor – moving only when the two Hobbits were already at the bottom of the cliff and no longer posed any perceived threat, but in need of assistance in retrieving the rope.

Objections

I can think of numerous objections to this hypothesis.

First and foremost, there is no mention of any of the stumps being Ents or Entwives in any of the drafts, as far as I can tell. In War of the Ring, “The Taming of Sméagol”, Christopher Tolkien makes one reference to Ents, and that only by way of discussing when Frodo and Sam were doing what, as well as Merry and Pippin and the rest of the Company of the Ring: in the timeline, Tolkien was working who was where and doing what. (See “Note on Chronology” at the end of the chapter, after the footnotes.) Moreover, the discussion of the rope in the drafts centered on the fear of Frodo and Sam that Gollum would follow them by using the rope. Christopher Tolkien says that his father
Quote:
resolved their difficulty about leaving the rope from the cliff-top for Gollum to use by simply not introducing the question into their calculations until they had both reached the bottom.
Christopher Tolkien notes that
Quote:
The fir-trees in the gully would have a narrative function in the final form of the story, … for Sam would brace his foot against one of those stumps, and tie the rope to it…
Of the rope coming undone at Sam’s desire, all he mentions is that
Quote:
Sam’s uncle, the Gaffer’s eldest brother, owner of the rope-walk ‘over by Tighfield’, now appears …, but he was at first called Obadiah Gamgee, not Andy.
Christopher Tolkien says that this material was written around 5 April 1944, when in Letter 59, his father wrote him that
Quote:
I have gone back to Sam and Frodo, and am trying to work out their adventures. A few pages for a lot of sweat: but at the moment they are just meeting Gollum on a precipice.
Tolkien may continue to discuss this in Letter 60, written 13 April 1944; on 23 April 1944, he reported to his son that he had read “Passage of the Dead Marshes” to C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams in Letter 62.

In defense of the hypothesis, it might be pointed out that in “Note on Chronology”, Christopher Tolkien remarks that details of the timeline were still being worked out in October 1944, some six months later; it is possible that Tolkien introduced the idea of an Entwife throwing down the rope anywhere in that time. (Possible, but not likely, in my opinion.)

More serious are objections based upon Tolkien’s own words regarding the Entwives in his Letters. In Letter 144 to Naomi Mitchison written 25 April 1954, some ten years later, he wrote that
Quote:
Tom Bombadil ... has no connection in my mind with the Entwives. What had happened to them is not resolved in this book. ...

I think that in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, ... destroyed with their gardens in the War of the Last Alliance ... when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their land against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin... They survived only in the ‘agriculture’ transmitted to Men (and Hobbits). Some, of course, may have fled east, or even have become enslaved: tyrants even in such tales must have an economic and agricultural background to their soldiers and metal-workers. If any survived so, they would indeed be far estranged from the Ents, and any rapprochement would be difficult – unless experience of industrialized and militarized agriculture had made them a little more anarchic. I hope so. I don't know.
That passage has led me to conclude that Sauron might have taken some of the Entwives and enslaved them around the Sea of Núrnen, where he kept slave-farms to feed his armies; however, even the Nurn was occupied, or at least explored, by the victorious Elves and Númenóreans at the end of the Second Age and the beginning of the Third Age, when many of the ancient maps of Mordor that Elrond possessed in Rivendell that Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf consulted before their departure were prepared. Any Entwives found alive by the allies would have been set free. (There is a reference to rope-making and Tighfield in relation to the name “Gamgee” in Letter 144, but it does not refer to the “magic” of the Elven rope or to any purported intervention of an Ent or Entwife at the cliff.)

In Letter 338 in June 1972, near the end of his life, Tolkien again addressed the question of the Entwives, writing that
Quote:
As for the Entwives: I do not know. …I think in [The Two Towers] it is plain that there would be for Ents no re-union in 'history' – but Ents and their wives being rational creatures would find some ‘earthly paradise’ until the end of this world: beyond which the wisdom neither of Elves nor Ents could see. Though maybe they shared the hope of Aragorn that they were ‘not bound for ever to the circles of the world and beyond them is more than memory.’
Again, there is no mention whatever of any Entwives in the eastern Emyn Muil.

Finally, we must ask ourselves, if an Entwife survived, why would she remain on the cliff in the Emyn Muil? And why did the Ents not find her? Are we to presume that she was part insensate or “shell-shocked” as a result of the trauma of the war? Or that perhaps she believed all the Ents dead but she? (That would be hopelessness, something Tolkien condemns: cf. the end of Denethor by his own hand.) Perhaps she saw herself as broken and ugly, so much so that she sought to stay away from her own kind, even if she heard them looking for her. (Again, this would be hopelessness.) None of those arguments are particularly convincing to me.

Conclusion

I put no credence whatsoever in the idea that there are “clusters” and “jokes” instilled into Lord of the Rings regarding the Entwives. That Treebeard is in some ways patterned on C.S. Lewis, particularly his “hm, hoom,” is well-known (Humphrey Carter, Tolkien: A biography, ‘The New Hobbit’, p 194); however, I see no evidence that the Entwives or their fate is based upon any similar relationship to anyone that Tolkien knew. As far as I am concerned, anyone claiming that there are such “clusters,” internal or private jokes, or referential material concerning the Entwives and people whom Tolkien knew will have to document those claims clearly and convincingly: for now, I do not believe any such “clusters” or jokes deliberately embedded by Tolkien exist.

While the notion that the stump at the top of the cliff in the Emyn Muil was an Entwife is very appealing, it is based entirely upon circumstance and speculation. There is nothing, to my knowledge, in the rest of Tolkien’s corpus that would suggest that the stump was anything other than a stump. In that case, the propitious fall of the Elven rope after its use is due either to “Elvish magic” or the kind of Providence that led Gildor and the wandering Noldor to come upon Frodo, Sam, and Pippin in the Woody End just in time to scare off the Nazgûl tracking them. Without further evidence to support it, the objections against the stump being an Entwife are more compelling to me.

But it was worth a good essay!

Last edited by Alcuin; 01-03-2007 at 12:38 PM. Reason: grammar, 2nd sentence, 1st paragraph; no further edits.
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:32 PM   #58
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You know, I think I'll go ahead and throw a big punch. Let's get this thing going.

Someone or something untied the rope in that scene. That's the only explanation.

In Lorien, Tolkien specifically mentions that the Elves had to untie the ropes from the trees and then draw them in. Tolkien also mentions more than once that Sam was very skilled with ropes and knots. And then there is the rope incident. What is the point of it?! Did Tolkien have it happen just to contradict himself? No, obviously not. I don't think Tolkien would contradict the logic that his own words created if there wasn't a point to it.

Plus, if it was indeed magic rope that could come untied via thoughts/wishes, don't you think the Elves would've warned them about it? "Oh, and be careful using this rope. A flick of your mind can cause it to come untied." I mean, isn't that a pretty important bit of info to leave out?

Plus, Haldir is a show off. We have evidence of that. Remember this, from FOTR, Lothlorien-
Quote:
"This is how we cross! Follow me!" He made his end of the rope fast about another tree, and then ran lightly along it, over the river and back again, as if he were on a road.
"I can walk this path," said Legolas; "but the others have not this skill. Must they swim?"
That part always annoyed me. Haldir knew good and well that everyone in the Fellowship couldn't walk on a rope, so what was the point of doing that little stunt? Showing off, obviously. And since we're dealing with such a show off, don't you think that if the ropes could be untied magically he would've done so?

Answer- yes.

But he didn't. Further proof that ropes, even from Lothlorien, don't just untie themselves.

Someone or something was in that gully and untied Sam's rope.

It's a fact.
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:36 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by the phantom
You know, I think I'll go ahead and throw a big punch. Let's get this thing going.
We cross-posted.

I did not consider Haldir and crossing the Silverlode, but I think I have already addressed the “magical’ rope and its coming undone.
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:45 PM   #60
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Nice piece of work, Alcuin.

For right now, I'm only going to respond to one little thing that you wrote.
Quote:
In that case, the propitious fall of the Elven rope after its use is due either to “Elvish magic” or the kind of Providence that led Gildor and the wandering Noldor to come upon Frodo, Sam, and Pippin in the Woody End just in time to scare off the Nazgûl tracking them.
If it was "Elvish magic", I think they would have been told about it (as they were told about the boats and cloaks), and I also believe that we would've seen the magic in operation in Lothlorien. Surely Haldir would've taken advantage of it.

As far as providence, which I had already considered and just not mentioned yet- why waste providence on this situation? Tolkien only uses happy chance and divine intervention when it makes sense. Why use it now? It served no purpose. It did not help them hide from Gollum in the least. He found them that very night despite the absence of the rope on the cliff. And the rope proved to be useless as a leash for Gollum, as he could not abide the touch of it. There was no need for the rope to be saved.
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:51 PM   #61
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Very succint and easy to read, Alcuin. I fear, however, that you're missing the entire direction that the Phantom is going here. He said, and I paraphrase, that he has found a crackpot theory that he thinks he can logically make a good case out of, and he intends to ride it out for all it's worth, for the pure fun of it.

See, you're arguing as if any theory about the Entwives was reasonable. I don't think anyone (other than Ardamir the Blessed and his ilk) actually thinks we can find the Entwives. We're just looking for a coherent theory that COULD logically not contradict the books.

That said, you could be on the right track with the Elven magic, though I find the Phantom's counter-argument about boastful Haldir to be more convincing. Perhaps it was a secret that Haldir wasn't allowed/didn't want to reveal? Kind of like having Dwarves walk blindfolded through the Naith.
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Old 01-03-2007, 12:56 PM   #62
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The fact that the Elves untied the ropes that were used to cross the Silverlode is an interesting, new observation (to me at least).

the phantom posted:

Quote:
And since we're dealing with such a show off, don't you think that if the ropes could be untied magically he would've done so?
I am not that sure about this. Something tells me that the Elves would not have been so willing to show their magic explicitly. The style of LOTR is that the magic of the Elves is otherworldly, mysterious and difficult to understand - in the Silmarillion the magic is more explicit. Furthermore, the Elves did not really need the ropes to untie themselves, since they could do it - Sam was in a different situation. Maybe these ropes only untie themselves if you really wish for it, as a last resort.

But did you find Teleporno's hidden 'joke' also in relation to the passages concerning Sam's rope?
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Old 01-03-2007, 01:06 PM   #63
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The argument that there was an Entwife at the top of the cliff in the Emyn Muil is, as far as I can determine, the only time an Entwife might have appeared in the text.

For reference, however, careful reading will reveal that Aragorn’s deduction about why the Ringwraiths did not again attack Frodo immediately after stabbing him on Weathertop was in error: he believed that the Nazgûl thought Frodo mortally wounded and unable to flee, when in fact Tolkien’s notes (Reader’s Companion, p. 180) show that the Witch-king
Quote:
…was actually dismayed. He had been shaken by the fire of Gandalf, and began to perceive that the mission on which Sauron had sent him was one of great peril to himself both by the way, and on his return to his Master (if unsuccessful)… [A]bove all the timid and terrified Bearer had resisted him, had dared to strike at him with an enchanted sword made by his own enemies long ago for his destruction. Narrowly it had missed him. How had he come by it – save in the Barrows of Cardolan. Then he was in some way mightier than the B[arrow]-wight; and he called on Elbereth, a name of terror to the Nazgûl…

Escaping a wound that would have been as deadly to him as the Mordor-knife to Frodo (as was proved at the end), he withdrew and his for a while, out of doubt and fear both of Aragorn and especially of Frodo.
But if you check Hammond & Scull for Tolkien’s notes on the Entwives, the operative citation (p. 387) is to quote the same two letters I have already mentioned.

So there’s nothing in the Letters, nothing in the drafts, and nothing in the notes about the stump being an Entwife; in fact, Tolkien says on at least two separate occasions that he does not believe they will ever be found. When he discusses Tom Bombadil, a similar reader’s favorite, he is deliberately coy and evasive; but in discussing the Entwives, his tone is downbeat and rather final.

Arguing for the stump as an Entwife is a mental exercise – “worth a good essay” – but I believe it has no textual basis. Now can anyone cite any text – notes, letters, Christopher Tolkien’s editorial comments are all fair game – that can give any basis to the speculation?

Or must it remain nothing but speculation and innuendo, with no real substance in the corpus to back it up?

And I still see no “hidden jokes” in any of this, except the name “Teleporno”.

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Old 01-03-2007, 01:15 PM   #64
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the phantom posted:

Quote:
There was no need for the rope to be saved.
They did have use of the rope later on, actually almost immediately afterwards - they tied Gollum with it.
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Old 01-03-2007, 01:21 PM   #65
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Quote:
the phantom posted:
Quote:
There was no need for the rope to be saved.
They did have use of the rope later on, actually almost immediately afterwards - they tied Gollum with it.
tp, you have also overlooked the obvious in Tolkien’s narrative problem documented by Christopher Tolkien in War of the Ring. The dangling rope was a means not only for Gollum to more easily follow them, but for him and any other pursuit – orcs or Nazgûl – to determine that the trail was hot.
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Old 01-03-2007, 01:45 PM   #66
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I've been following this thread with great interest, and thought I'd throw in a few thoughts for consideration...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alcuin
And I still see no “hidden jokes” in any of this, except the name “Teleporno”.
Not being nearly as versed in biographies of Tolkien as in the LotR/Sil/HoME, I would like to see if anyone more knowledgeable about the lives, histories, anecdotes, etc. of Tolkien, his wife Edith, family, friends, et al might be aware of anything that might consitute a "joke" within the text. Of course, this would most likely require some detective work, scouring of texts, and out-of-the-box thinking... But as an example, in reading the above I found myself wondering what sort've personal anecdote or experience of Tolkien might consitute a "joke" within the text regarding the Entwives. One (purely speculative) example might be if Tolkien (or a friend of Tolkien's) were ever in a stuation by which they'd imcompetently tied a knot, and when called out on it, with great bravo explained to his wife that it was not incompetence, but rather, expert skill, "magic" even that caused the unravelling... This (purely made-up) example of a real life anecdote would perfectly jive with the "inside joke" within the text. I am certainly not proposing my own fabricated example as anything other than a sample of the sorts of things that one might look for in the text of the Tolkien biographies... something that might, however loosely, be related to Tolkien's descriptions of the Ents, the Ent-Wives, or any of the seeming inconsistencies pointed out in the articles above...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alcuin
The argument that there was an Entwife at the top of the cliff in the Emyn Muil is, as far as I can determine, the only time an Entwife might have appeared in the text.And I still see no “hidden jokes” in any of this, except the name “Teleporno”.
Forgive me if this has been covered before, but what of the "walking trees" spotted in the Shire, as mentioned ealy on in Fellowship? (Not to derail this fascinating thread, if this has been covered or is innapropriate, a simple link to the topic would be fine!)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alcuin
...in fact, Tolkien says on at least two separate occasions that he does not believe they will ever be found.
At the risk of sounding overly picky, there's a semantic consideration to consider here. Tolkien's stated belief is that the Ent-wives will never be found by the Ents. This is an important consideration. His assertion that there will be no re-union between the Ents and their wives is a very different thing than saying that there are no clues or Ent-wives hidden in the text for the readers.
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Old 01-03-2007, 04:51 PM   #67
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Sardy, there are certainly instances of “inside humor” in Tolkien’s work. The character Tom Bombadil, whose creation predates Lord of the Rings by several years, having first appeared in poetry by Tolkien published in Oxford Magazine in 1934 (Tolkien recalled the year as 1933 in Letter 144, perhaps because he had submitted the poems then or they had been accepted for publication then), and his appearance “was based on a Dutch doll that belonged to [Tolkien’s son] Michael.” (Tolkien: A biography, Humphrey Carter, p 162) Tolkien said in Letter 25 that the name Smaug “is the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb Smugan, to squeeze through a hole: a low philological jest.” And Humphrey Carter says that the speaking pattern of Treebeard is based upon that of C.S. Lewis (Carter, p 194). My point is that there seem to be no such “inside jokes” or references surrounding the Entwives; and even if there were, they might not be found in Tolkien’s notes, but in those of Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis’s, or even Lewis’s brother Warnie, if Warnie left any papers and they still exist. I can’t find “clusters of words” or “inside jokes” about the Entwives, and I’ve never seen evidence for any, either: so far, just unsubstantiated and empty claims of “clusters of words” and “inside jokes.”

As far as an “incompetently tied … knot,” I am unaware of any such incident, but perhaps someone else is. Mr. Bliss, a kind of Tolkien comic-book he drew and wrote for his children published posthumously, is based upon Tolkien’s misadventures with an automobile he purchased in 1932: Mr. Bliss wrecked his car and sold it, never to purchase another, and I believe something similar happened to Tolkien, although I cannot find anything about that in Carter’s biography.

Tolkien visited Switzerland in 1911. There are parallels between some of the sights he saw and experiences he had then to later places and events in Lord of the Rings, particularly the appearance of the Mountains of Moria and the name of Celebdil, the Silvertine, with the Swiss mountain, the Silberhorn; the mountains over the Passes of the Dead; and the Valley of Rivendell and the appearance of the Last Homely House. In addition, I believe I recall that he and his party were nearly struck by a small avalanche or stone-fall.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sardy
what of the "walking trees" spotted in the Shire, as mentioned ealy on in Fellowship?
That isn’t a “derailment” but a legitimate criticism. You are correct that the “tree-man” in the Shire presages the Ents. Ardamir in his essay, “The Great Search,” argues that it is an Ent out of Lindon, and that seems to me as good an explanation as any. Christopher Tolkien in Return of the Shadow, “Ancient History”, asks if this might be “the first premonition of the Ents?” and then references his father’s referrals of “Tree-men” among the monsters and magical creatures encountered by Eärendil in early versions of The Voyage of Eärendil published in Lost Tales II. However, this discussion also concerns the “Entish lands” or “Ettenmoors” north of Rivendell, which had no direction connection to Treebeard at the time: the word ent is, I believe, an Anglo-Saxon word for our modern giant. Treebeard in his earliest drafts was a giant (Anglo-Saxon ent) that captured and detained Gandalf, a role later relegated to Saruman.

As for my overlooking the reference to Sam’s “tree-man” in his debate with Ted Sandyman, it was oversight on my part, and you caught me on it. Others must choose for themselves whether it is a “first premonition of the Ents,” an Entwife, an Ent continuing his “Great Search” far north of even the Old Forest, or as Ardamir capably suggests, an Ent who still resided in Lindon that had wandered into northern Eriador for some reason. (Ted Sandyman, you will remember, suggested that Hal had seen an elm or nothing; but Sandyman seems a scurrilous source of information, even as a character within the Tale.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sardy
At the risk of sounding overly picky, there's a semantic consideration to consider here. Tolkien's stated belief is that the Ent-wives will never be found by the Ents.
I respectfully disagree. When confronted with Naomi Mitchison’s query on the Entwives (Letter 144; see post #57 in this thread), he first says he believes that “the Entwives had disappeared for good, ... destroyed with their gardens in the War of the Last Alliance ... when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their land against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin,” but then backs away, saying that, “Some ... may have fled east, or ... become enslaved... I hope so. I don't know.” I think his instinct was that they were all killed in Sauron’s campaign, but would like to consider that some survived; then he says, “I don't know.” In the last 16 months of his life (Letter 338; again, see post #57 in this thread), he repeats that he doesn’t know what became of the Entwives, but that “being rational creatures,” the Ents and Entwives looked forward like Men (and Dwarves, of whom they were the counterpart) to an afterlife beyond the “circles of the world.” You are certainly correct, as far as Tolkien takes us, that “the Ent-wives will never be found by the Ents ,” but I think they will never be found by the Readers, either: otherwise, as he did in his Letters with Tom Bombadil and a great many questions surrounding the characters and their actions in Silmarillion, Tolkien should at least have left the matter open: he seems to have closed the door on the Entwives, however reluctantly.

Even in the case of Queen Berúthiel, Tolkien filled out the story later on in an interview with one of his former students. He seems never to have returned to the forlorn Ents and the lost Entwives, except in regret. Again, there are – as far as I am aware – no notes on an Entwife in the Emyn Muil; and in the drafts of the rope that somehow came undone (published in War of the Ring), Tolkien’s focus seems to be on the dilemma Frodo and Sam would face in having to leave the rope behind for Gollum: because of the rope, Gollum could both find them and follow them more easily, as could any other enemy hunting them to that point.

That’s not to say that there aren’t or can’t be notes and musings and further essays on the subject as yet unpublished in the archives at Marquette and Oxford; but I have read nothing of them, nor seen any hint of them in any postings on the web by any knowledgeable researcher. (For instance, David Salo reports having read a note Tolkien’s hand indicating that the remaining Northern Dúnedain in Aragorn’s time were concentrated in The Angle of old Rhudaur, near Rivendell. See this post here at Barrow-downs for one citation of Salo.)

You should also be aware that I originally embarked on the little essay now in Post #57 in hopes that I would find some reference to an Entwife at the edge of the cliff in the Emyn Muil. To my disappointment, I found nothing referenced in the notes, letters, or drafts; I assume that Christopher Tolkien, Wayne Hammond, Christina Scull, David Salo, Carl Hostetter, and any number of other scholars who have looked at the material in the archives have made at least cursory glances for such references as well, but so far, either to no avail or without publishing any positive findings.

But there’s always hope, right?
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Old 01-03-2007, 08:50 PM   #68
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Yes, I think there is. I will now present my theory regarding the Entwives' (former) location, one that I have long hoarded.

In Letter #180, Tolkien explains that he had long been planning to have Frodo 'run into a tree-adventure', but it turned out later that it did not happen to him (but instead to Merry and Pippin):
Quote:
... though I knew for years that Frodo would run into a tree-adventure somewhere far down the Great River, I have no recollection of inventing Ents. I came at last to the point, and wrote the 'Treebeard' chapter without any recollection of any previous thought: just as it now is. And then I saw that, of course, it had not happened to Frodo at all.
It is true that in the published LOTR, Frodo does not experience anything that could be called a 'tree-adventure'. But what if Tolkien still left in some remnants of his old thoughts when he worked on the Frodo-Sam narrative thread?


I will now demonstrate the analogies between aspects of Rohan and Gondor (there are most likely more, but these are hopefully enough for my purposes):

Rohan – Gondor
Théoden – Denethor
Saruman – Sauron (or the Lord of the Nazgûl)
The Hornburg – Minas Tirith
Merry and Pippin – Frodo and Sam
Treebeard – Faramir


And thus the one that will be of the highest importance in this thesis:

Fangorn Forest – Ithilien


The Entwives, unlike the Ents, liked small trees, agriculture and gardening:

LR, 'Treebeard':
Quote:
... the Entwives gave their minds to the lesser trees, and to the meads in the sunshine beyond the feet of the forests; and they saw the sloe in the thicket, and the wild apple and the cherry blossoming in spring, and the green herbs in the waterlands in summer, and the seeding grasses in the autumn fields … So the Entwives made gardens to live in.
Thus the Entwives would have liked the vegetation of Ithilien, 'the garden of Gondor':

LR, 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit':
Quote:
All about them [Frodo, Sam and Gollum] were small woods of resinous trees, fir and cedar and cypress, and other kinds unknown in the Shire, with wide glades among them; and everywhere there was a wealth of sweet-smelling herbs and shrubs. The long journey from Rivendell had brought them far south of their own land, but not until now in this more sheltered region had the hobbits felt the change of clime. Here Spring was already busy about them: fronds pierced moss and mould, larches were green-fingered, small flowers were opening in the turf, birds were singing. Ithilien, the garden of Gondor now desolate kept still a dishevelled dryad loveliness.
South and west it looked towards the warm lower vales of Anduin, shielded from the east by the Ephel Dúath and yet not under the mountain-shadow, protected from the north by the Emyn Muil, open to the southern airs and the moist winds from the Sea far away. Many great trees grew there, planted long ago, falling into untended age amid a riot of careless descendants; and groves and thickets there were of tamarisk and pungent terebinth, of olive and of bay; and there were junipers and myrtles; and thymes that grew in bushes, or with their woody creeping stems mantled in deep tapestries the hidden stones; sages of many kinds putting forth blue flowers, or red, or pale green; and marjorams and new-sprouting parsleys, and many herbs of forms and scents beyond the garden-lore of Sam. The grots and rocky walls were already starred with saxifrages and stonecrops. Primeroles and anemones were awake in the filbert-brakes; and asphodel and many lily-flowers nodded their half-opened heads in the grass: deep green grass beside the pools, where falling streams halted in cool hollows on their journey down to Anduin.
As is described in the above passage, the 'garden' was planted long ago and had been untended for a long time. But who had tended it? The Men of Gondor, of course. Or?

In Ithilien, Frodo and Sam also finds a small lake within a curious stone basin:

LR, 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit':
Quote:
They [Frodo, Sam and Gollum] followed a stream that went quickly down before them. Presently it brought them to a small clear lake in a shallow dell: it lay in the broken ruins of an ancient stone basin, the carven rim of which was almost wholly covered with mosses and rose-brambles; iris-swords stood in ranks about it. and water-lily leaves floated on its dark gently-rippling surface; but it was deep and fresh, and spilled ever softly out over a stony lip at the far end.
It seems to have been unused for a long time. What purpose did it serve?

Now, inside Wellinghall, Treebeard's home, there was also a water-filled stone basin, albeit smaller:

LR, 'Treebeard':
Quote:
A little stream escaped from the springs above, and leaving the main water, fell tinkling down the sheer face of the wall, pouring in silver drops, like a fine curtain in front of the arched bay. The water was gathered again into a stone basin in the floor between the trees, and thence it spilled and flowed away beside the open path, out to rejoin the Entwash in its journey through the forest.
It is clear that the water gathered in the basin is the special sort that Treebeard seems to like and that made Merry and Pippin to grow taller:

LR, 'Treebeard':
Quote:
For a moment Treebeard stood under the rain of the falling spring, and took a deep breath; then he laughed, and passed inside.
Quote:
'You [Merry and Pippin] are thirsty I [Treebeard] expect. Perhaps you are also tired. Drink this!' He went to the back of the bay, and then they saw that several tall stone jars stood there, with heavy lids.
Quote:
As for Treebeard, he first laved his feet in the basin beyond the arch, and then he drained his bowl at one draught, one long, slow draught.
In the drafts for the account of the Three Hunters' chase, the hunters also find a basin, which was removed from the published text:

The Treason of Isengard, 'The Riders of Rohan':
Quote:
...a rough path descended like a broad steep stair into the plain. At the top of the ravine Aragorn stopped. There was a shallow pool like a great basin, over the worn lip of which the water spilled: lying at the edge of the basin something glistening caught his eye. He lifted it out and held it up in the light. It looked like the new-opened leaf of a beech-tree, fair and untimely in the winter morning.
What purpose could this basin have served, and why did Tolkien remove it? The wording is quite similar to the one describing the basin that Frodo, Sam and Gollum found in Ithilien – I quote again from 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit':
Quote:
They [Frodo, Sam and Gollum] followed a stream that went quickly down before them. Presently it brought them to a small clear lake in a shallow dell: it lay in the broken ruins of an ancient stone basin, the carven rim of which was almost wholly covered with mosses and rose-brambles; iris-swords stood in ranks about it. and water-lily leaves floated on its dark gently-rippling surface; but it was deep and fresh, and spilled ever softly out over a stony lip at the far end.
It should perhaps also be noted (as is mentioned in the LOTR Companion, note for p. 650) that Tolkien added the account of the flora in Ithilien, probably including the passage concerning the basin, after he wrote in the following pages of Sam cooking rabbits, and (as is mentioned in The War of the Ring, 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit') that he pencilled a note
Quote:
Describe baytrees and spicy herbs as they march.'
Therefore it seems that Tolkien moved this basin to the Frodo-Sam narrative thread. What for? Was this initially to be Treebeard's basin (or a 'public' basin for all his Ents, or even the Entwives as well), and was later moved because Treebeard's basin had to appear much later, or was it to have some other purpose?


The research presented above has led me to suspect that the vegetation of Ithilien, described in 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit', was planted, or at least tended, by Entwives – some had survived the desctruction of their gardens south of Mirkwood and then come to Ithilien, a fairly obvious new home and garden - the wood corresponding to Fangorn forest, the Entwood. The basin was used by them for the same purpose that Treebeard used his basin. For some reason they later disappeared, maybe finally eradicated by Sauron, or had fled once again somewhere else.

It should also be noted though, that Frodo, Sam and Gollum both drank and bathed in the pool within the basin they found in Ithilien:

LR, 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit':
Quote:
[... it [the lake] was deep and fresh, and spilled ever softly out over a stony lip at the far end.
Here they washed themselves and drank their fill at the in-falling freshet.
A growth in stature in neither Frodo, Sam or Gollum is ever mentioned afterwards. This was apparently 'normal' water, or at least it did not affect the travellers' height – after all, it was probably only water from the Entwash that was special:

LR, 'Flotsam and Jetsam':
Quote:
Tired?" he [Treebeard] said, "tired? Well no, not tired, but stiff. I need a good draught of Entwash.

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Old 01-03-2007, 09:07 PM   #69
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the phantom
In Lorien, Tolkien specifically mentions that the Elves had to untie the ropes from the trees and then draw them in. Tolkien also mentions more than once that Sam was very skilled with ropes and knots. And then there is the rope incident. What is the point of it?! Did Tolkien have it happen just to contradict himself? No, obviously not. I don't think Tolkien would contradict the logic that his own words created if there wasn't a point to it.
But isn't that the point of magic--it isn't predictable, and it arises to some extent based on the need of the person wielding it. The elves had no need of these magic (i.e., fundamentally unpredictable) characteristics of the rope, since they had Elves on both side of the river. The hobbits, in contrast, had no way to get down and to keep their rope at the same time, so this is where the magic comes in. Magic in Tolkien is not like it is in Harry Potter, where it is taken to the point of a classroom lesson where such and such a spell will always produce a predictable result when given in the right way. I agree with those above who mentioned the idea that magic is linked in some mysterious way to divine Providence or intervention. It is fundamentally unpredictable and arises chiefly at need...

What is more, there are specific allusions to the magical qualities of the rope, including its luminescence in the low light, and its ability to dissipate the blindness of Frodo associated apparently with the appearance of the Black Riders in the sky. So there are very specific allusions here to its magical powers...
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Old 01-04-2007, 08:57 AM   #70
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I love a good mystery, me.

I am afraid, phantom, that I do not find your proposition convincing in the least. In a fantasy world like Middle-earth, I have no difficulty in believing that an Elven rope could “magically” untie itself if truly willed to do so by its bearer. Moreover, there is nothing in the passage that you reference which could specifically relate to Entwives, save for the presence of gnarled trees. And Middle-earth is hardly devoid of trees, gnarled or otherwise.

However, three things in particular struck me when I read the long passage from Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit quoted by Ardamir:

… larches were green-fingered …”: The trees were green-fingered with foliage, but the descriptive term is an anthropomorphic one – trees with fingers. Further, “green-fingered” is a term also used to denote particular flair in the field of gardening. The Entwives, of course, were gardeners.

… the garden of Gondor …”: While a descriptive term for a place of natural beauty (like Kent – the garden of England), a garden is an ordered, rather than a wild, place of nature – more suitable for an Entwife than an Ent. Again, the gardening link.

…dishevelled dryad loveliness …”: Dryads are female tree spirits in Greek mythology.

This got me to thinking whether this might indeed be the passage that Teleporno was referring to (whether or not it was in fact intended by Tolkien to allude to the Entwives). Perhaps he concluded that the green-fingered larches were the Entwives, although the fact that the trees had fallen “into untended age amid a riot of careless descendants” suggests to me that, if Entwives were here in Ithilien, they had long since left (or fallen into irreversible slumber) by the time that Frodo and Sam arrived. Teleporno, on the other hand, declared:

Quote:
The Entwives are alive and living in The Lord of the Rings but you must look closely to find and decipher the riddle.
In any event, if this is the passage that he was referring to, he must also have perceived this “in-joke” that he mentions somewhere within it. What could that be? I have never quite understood what Teleporno means when he refers to this matter. He talks of “suffragists”, but the main cause of suffragists and suffragettes (women’s right to vote) had long since been won in England by the time Tolkien wrote this passage. Does he perhaps mean feminists in the wider sense? Although that is not necessarily the same thing as denoted by his other phrase “middle-class British women who don't tolerate the foolish behavior of men”.

Anyway, my random thoughts led me along the following lines of research (which represent pure speculation and are, admittedly, highly tenuous at times, although there may be something here that someone could pick up and run with).

A group which Tolkien might have relished lampooning and which was semi-contemporaneous with the date at which he would have written this passage was the Bloomsbury Set of English "bohemian" artists and scholars. Although by no means exclusively female, it did include many with feminist sympathies, Virginia Woolf, for example. It also advocated open marriages - and marriages between the Ents and the Entwives could certainly be described as being very open (although the phrase, in its commonly-used sense, is certainly not applicable).

Virginia Woolf was a prominent advocate of female independence (from men), famously writing in A Room of One's Own that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction".

Another member of the Bloomsbury Set (albeit on the fringes), and someone closely associated with Virginia Woolf, was Vita Sackville-West. (It has been suggested, I believe, that her name may in part have been the derivation of the Hobbit surname, Sackville-Baggins). Vita Sackville-West (1892 -1962) was an English poet, novelist and gardener. She was born at Knole House in Kent and is renowned for helping to create her own gardens at Sissinghurst Castle, Kent. Again, a gardening link and, as Ithilien is the garden of Gondor, Kent is the garden of England.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden is designed as a series of "rooms", each with a different character of colour and/or theme, the walls being high clipped hedges and many pink brick walls. I’m getting highly tenuous now, but this is slightly reminiscent of the scene described in the passage quoted by Ardamir, particularly the “grots and rock walls”.

Finally, Teleporno suggested that we “keep an eye on the clustering of certain types of words”. Possibly he meant the preponderance of trees and shrubs identified in this passage: “fir and cedar and cypress”, “larches”, “tamarisk”, “terebinth”, “olive”, “bay”, “juniper”, “myrtle”, “thyme”, “sage”, “marjoram”, “parsley”, “saxifrage”, “stonecrop”, “primerole”, “anemone”, “filbert”, “asphodel” and “lily”.

I can’t think of anything that links all of these plants, although many are conifers and/or evergreens and most are native to the Mediterranean region (although that is hardly surprising in a description of a region with the climate of Ithilien). Also, most have medicinal and/or culinary uses (again, hardly surprising given the name of the chapter in which the passage features).

One thing which may be of relevance: In Greek mythology, myrtle was considered to be sacred to Aphrodite. The tradition of brides (ie those who were to become wives) wearing a crown of myrtle on their wedding day was common in ancient Greece.

As I said, all highly speculative and at times rather tenuous. However, these musings have led me to believe that this is most likely the passage that Teleporno was referring to. I do rather agree with Child that, whatever he may have thought that he was on to, he was wrong, and that Tolkien did not deliberately place a subtle reference to the Entwives here.

But you never know …
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Old 01-04-2007, 10:24 AM   #71
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All these dangling ropes and stumps are becoming entirely too Freudian for me.

They seem to speak more of the absence of the entwives, the castrated, er, frustrated, hopes of the Ents, rather than the very enjoyable presence of the entwives, who certainly, one would assume, would not inspire things to dangle.

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Old 01-04-2007, 10:42 AM   #72
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SpM, amazing stuff. The best explanation of an 'inside-joke' with the finding of the Entwives has been a connection between of course none other than C.S. Lewis. It seems to be a rather far-fetched one, but yet has been the best possible explanation I've come acrossed...

In Carpenter's biography, in Chapter 4 'Oxford' he talks about a play Tolkien wrote 'The Bloodhound, the Chef, and the Suffragette.' Which the connection is that it seems rather similar to Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (written almost 40 years later). Tolkien also played the leading role in the play...Professor Quilter (The bloodhound who's alias was Detective Sexton Q. Blake-Holmes). And he searched for the lost hieress Gwendoline Goodchild.

You, and others, have also mentioned the reference to 'dryads.' In Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, the woods are filled with dryads. Perhaps that's the connection between TTT and Lewis' book, leading back to the play Tolkien wrote...seems rather weak. That's the best explanation I've come across, and it definitely seems a little far-fetched.
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Old 01-04-2007, 11:39 AM   #73
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boro
SpM, amazing stuff.
Amazing what a trawl of wikipedia can turn up.

What? You didn't think that I knew all that stuff did you?

The dryad reference and the gardening analogies/symbolism are the most Entwifish references that I have seen in the various passages quoted so far. Lewis' use of dryads in his writings did also occur to me. In addition, there is a possible connection with Bêthberry's mum ( ), since some speculate that she was a water nymph.
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Old 01-04-2007, 01:11 PM   #74
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The Saucepan Man and Boromir88 have given more interesting things to ponder. I would like to point out that my theory is separate from Teleporno's 'joke' (the 'joke' might of course be hidden in the passages I have used), but I do not think it is less interesting.


I forgot a few important points concerning my theory.

An oft-ignored fact is that Treebeard states that at the end of the Second Age, some people said that they had seen the Entwives going west, some said east, and others south from the Brown Lands after Sauron burned their gardens:

LR, ‘Treebeard’:
Quote:
… we [Ents] asked all folk that we met which way the Entwives had gone. Some said they had never seen them; and some said that they had seen them walking away west, and some said east, and others south.
This could provide valuable clues as to where the Entwives might be post-Brown Lands. Now, where could 'south' more specifically be?


The Saucepan Man mentioned the well known 'dryad loveliness' reference, and 'larches were green-fingered' in the description of the flora of Ithilien – this may also hint at the work of Entwives. The Ents and the Entwives slowly took the likeness of the trees they tended, and vice versa:

LR, ‘Treebeard’:
Quote:
We are tree-herds, we old Ents. … Sheep get like shepherd, and shepherds like sheep, it is said; but slowly, and neither have long in the world. It is quicker and closer with trees and Ents …
We also have this passage in Letter #144:
Quote:
They [the Entwives] survived only in the 'agriculture' transmitted to Men (and Hobbits).
Most people believe that this passage means that the Entwives' art of agriculture was transmitted to Men, but the Entwives themselves did not survive. However, the passage also fits rather well if one assumes that there were surviving Entwives in Ithilien practising agriculture, since Ithilien belonged to Gondor, a realm of Men.


It should also be mentioned that Treebeard describes the Ents as drinking of mountain-streams (the source of the Entwash is in the mountains):

LR, 'Treebeard':
Quote:
...the Ents loved the great trees; and the wild woods, and the slopes of the high hills; and they drank of the mountain-streams ...
But the Entwives are not described as drinking of any streams. Perhaps it was only specific to the Ents to gather water in basins, not the Entwives? But I think it would be logical if the Entwives also had a need of great amounts of water.


Also, before Frodo, Sam and Gollum find the basin in Ithilien, they also encounter other handiworks:

LR, 'Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit':
Quote:
The road had been made in a long lost time: and for perhaps thirty miles below the Morannon it had been newly repaired, but as it went south the wild encroached upon it. The handiwork of Men of old could still be seen in its straight sure flight and level course: now and again it cut its way through hillside slopes, or leaped over a stream upon a wide shapely arch of enduring masonry; but at last all signs of stonework faded, save for a broken pillar here and there, peering out of bushes at the side, or old paving-stones still lurking amid weeds and moss. Heather and trees and bracken scrambled down and overhung the banks, or sprawled out over the surface. It dwindled at last to a country cart-road little used; but it did not wind: it held on its own sure course and guided them by the swiftest way.
The road, the bridges, the pillars and the paving-stones – all were most likely the work of the Men of Gondor. Thus the basin could be that as well, especially since it is mentioned just a few paragraphs later, and maybe the flora was also planted and tended by the Men of Gondor. One should remember though, that

Letter #247:
Quote:
The Ents thus had mastery over stone.
And there is a vague connection between the Ents and ancient, abandoned stoneworks – Tolkien got inspiration for them from giants erecting buildings in the Old English poem The Wanderer:

Letter #163:
Quote:
They [the Ents] owe their name to the eald enta geweorc of Anglo-Saxon, and their connexion with stone [from the Old English poem The Wanderer, line 87: 'eald enta geweorc idlu stodon' = 'the old creations of giants (i.e. ancient buildings erected by a former race) stood desolate'].
However, I am wondering if the Númenóreans also come in here – they could perhaps also be termed 'giants' as they were the Men of the greatest stature, and they (or at least the Men of Gondor) are associated with stonework – Gondor even has the sense 'Stone-land' sc. 'Stone (-using people's) land' [Letter #324].
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Old 01-07-2007, 10:16 PM   #75
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I have often wondered if this is what became not of the Entwives, but of some of their offspring, warped by Sauron. RotK, “Appendix F”, “Of Other Races”
Quote:
...at the end of the Third Age a troll-race not before seen appeared in southern Mirkwood and in the mountain borders of Mordor. Olog-hai they were called in the Black Speech. That Sauron bred them none doubted, though from what stock was not known. Some held that they were not Trolls but giant Orcs; but the Olog-hai were in fashion of body and mind quite unlike even the largest of Orc-kind, whom they far surpassed in size and power. Trolls they were, but filled with the evil will of their master: a fell race, strong, agile, fierce and cunning, but harder than stone. Unlike the older race of the Twilight they could endure the Sun, so long as the will of Sauron held sway over them. They spoke little, and the only tongue that they knew was the Black Speech of Barad-dûr.
In Morgoth’s Ring, “Myths Transformed”, Christopher Tolkien covers a number of his father’s writings on the origins of the Orcs which are not pertinent here, except that while Sauron might not have conceived the idea of Orcs, he was instrumental in their development, or at least in their breeding, particularly while Morgoth was imprisoned in Mandos: Sauron reconstructed Angband and saw to the proliferation of the Orcs. I am uncertain if Tolkien’s musing on trolls, “It seems clearly implied in The Lord of the Rings that trolls existed in their own right, but were ‘tinkered’ with by Melkor,” (op. cit., “VIII”) was what Tolkien thought about the matter for most of his post-LotR life, but it is likely that Sauron had a hand in whatever his master was doing in this matter as well.

The upshot: while Sauron might not be the “creator” (or more accurately, “prime corruptor”) of Orcs and Trolls, I think it was Tolkien’s consistent idea that he was involved in their primeval corruption. I don’t think it would be out of character for him to seek to corrupt the Entwives to his own nefarious purposes; however, I am far from certain that Prof. Tolkien would agree that they could be corrupted in this way. Besides, the Ents could “tear [up stone] like bread-crust” and “crumple … iron like thin tin.” (Two Towers, “Flotsam and Jetsam”) How would you keep them imprisoned, especially for the whole of the Third Age?
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Old 04-01-2007, 11:52 AM   #76
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I honestly believe that the Entwives do not exist. Nor did Tolkien desire them to exist. We always thought of Treebeard as a friendly, humourous character but such thoughts are not in line with the bittersweet ending of LOTR. In order to flesh out his creation Tolkien added a tinge of tragedy to the tale. And in doing so further made us sympathise with a character other (lesser) writers would dismiss as "childish".
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Old 04-03-2007, 03:35 AM   #77
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Why do you have to be so logical about it? Would it be so hard to grab your copy of LOTR and try to find them? They were not just a means of making the Ents look good. Tolkien was a great writer and you can be sure that if he put them in there then they clearly serve some kind of purpose.
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Old 04-03-2007, 09:02 AM   #78
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Pfft, it's better to be logical about these things rather than delude yourself. Tolkien had a great mind but he had to make "whole" characters. Without the Entwives this was not possible. Stop looking for clues like some bloody socialist. Go do something better with your time. I dunno, rescue a cat from a tree, stab a Roman dictator-for-life on March 15, write a threatening letter to a politician. The world is full of beauty! Stop wasting that beauty by searching for things that aren't real!
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Old 04-03-2007, 12:30 PM   #79
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Okay, time to respond to you silly unbelievers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by me
And since we're dealing with such a show off, don't you think that if the ropes could be untied magically he would've done so?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ardamir
I am not that sure about this. Something tells me that the Elves would not have been so willing to show their magic explicitly.
Why? Elves don't consider their "magic" to be magic, do they? The things that we would call "magical" about them are simply natural abilities, the way walking and talking are for us.

And as I've already pointed out, Haldir quite obviously had no qualms about displaying his "magic" (the stunt on the rope).

If Lorien ropes could untie themselves in response to mental commands, Haldir would've done it.

That's the way it is. End of story.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alcuin
So there’s nothing in the Letters, nothing in the drafts, and nothing in the notes about the stump being an Entwife; in fact, Tolkien says on at least two separate occasions that he does not believe they will ever be found.
By us, or the Ents? There's a significant difference.

(Ah, I see that Sardy has also raised this point.)

You can claim that Tolkien shut the door on the matter, but by no means did he slam it shut and lock it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by me
There was no need for the rope to be saved.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ardamir
They did have use of the rope later on, actually almost immediately afterwards - they tied Gollum with it.
Yeah, for what- about five seconds? Wow, that rope sure came in handy.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alcuin
The dangling rope was a means not only for Gollum to more easily follow them, but for him and any other pursuit – orcs or Nazgûl – to determine that the trail was hot.
Gollum found them anyway, without help from the rope. So don't name Gollum as a convincing reason.

As far as the off chance that an orc or Nazgul would find one single little rope in the middle of a huge wilderness, what's the big deal? What- do you think the Nazgul would think "Oh no! An elven rope! The One Ring must be close!" Obviously not. At the most, the Nazgul would think "Hmm... an elven rope. I wonder if some elf is trying to spy out our movements." Plus there would be no way to tell exactly how long the rope had been there.

Leaving the rope there on the cliff would most likely result in zero penalty for Sam and Frodo. So why not leave it?
Quote:
Originally Posted by CS
I agree with those above who mentioned the idea that magic is linked in some mysterious way to divine Providence or intervention. It is fundamentally unpredictable and arises chiefly at need...
The rope was a waste of divine intervention, if you ask me. There was no "need".
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Originally Posted by Gothbogg
I honestly believe that the Entwives do not exist.
Oh, and next you'll be telling us that you don't believe that Elves and Dwarves exist either, and that Tolkien just made all of this stuff up, and that his books should be placed in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section.
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Originally Posted by SPM
I am afraid, phantom, that I do not find your proposition convincing in the least. In a fantasy world like Middle-earth, I have no difficulty in believing that an Elven rope could “magically” untie itself if truly willed to do so by its bearer.
Yeah, and you're also the guy who believes he was just as good a reader when he was five years old as he is now.

Anyway, I'm sorry everyone, but you have not convinced me. And that, of course, makes you wrong.

Until JRRT himself posts on this thread and tells me I'm otherwise, I have found the Entwives.

Deal with it lads.
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rescue a cat from a tree
That hardly sounds like a worthy and beneficial venture.

Tossing a cat up into a tree however......
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Old 04-04-2007, 07:01 AM   #80
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Originally Posted by TP
Why? Elves don't consider their "magic" to be magic, do they? The things that we would call "magical" about them are simply natural abilities, the way walking and talking are for us.

And as I've already pointed out, Haldir quite obviously had no qualms about displaying his "magic" (the stunt on the rope).

If Lorien ropes could untie themselves in response to mental commands, Haldir would've done it.

That's the way it is. End of story.
My good phantom, I am sure that you are well read in fantasy and fairytales and surely you must have come across magical items that only show their full potential when really needed to. . .

What I am saying is that it is intirely possible that the show off elves could not just make the rope untie it self. . . it is actually often the standard that magic is not used for everyday needs.
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