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Old 09-27-2004, 04:28 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Ring LotR -- Book 2 - Chapter 03 - The Ring goes South

This chapter is divided into two parts: the first takes place in Rivendell; the second tells of the first part of the journey of the Fellowship.

Unlike the movie, where the Fellowship members volunteer during the Council meeting, the process in the book takes time. First information must be gathered concerning the Riders, which means that all concerned must wait for almost two months. The hobbits feel the beneficial power of Rivendell:
Quote:
…all fear and anxiety was lifted from their minds. The future, good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present. Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came…
In hindsight, knowing that Elrond wielded one of the Elven rings, those words seem to tell us what it was capable of accomplishing.

Then the day of decision comes; Elrond names the Fellowship members, though it is Gandalf who speaks for the inclusion of Merry and Pippin with his words about trusting to friendship rather than wisdom. I can’t help but wonder – if Elrond had succeeded in his original purpose of sending them to the Shire to warn their fellow hobbits of danger, would that have saved the Shire from the events that led to the Scouring? I think not, as they were not yet prepared to defend themselves, their people and their land. Interestingly, at this point, Aragorn states that Minas Tirith is his goal, as he intends to accompany Boromir there.

Two weapons are mentioned that will play a major role in future events – Andúril, the reforged Narsil, and Sting, which Bilbo gives to Frodo. Additionally, the gift of the mithril mail shirt is vital to the success of Frodo’s mission, as it saves his life later on.

One poem is given, Bilbo’s song “I sit beside the fire and think”.

Then the Fellowship leaves, at Elrond’s insistence with no promises made as to staying with the Ringbearer. They journey through Hollin to Caradhras, where the weather defeats them, apparently with some evil supernatural influence. With that defeat, the chapter ends.

Do you find yourself comparing the book and the movie at this point in the story? What parts of the chapter impress you most? Let’s discuss the choice of the Fellowship, if possible without getting too far ahead in the story…
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'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
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Old 09-27-2004, 06:01 AM   #2
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Sam eased the pack on his shoulders, & went over anxiously in his mind all the things that he had stowed in it, wondering if he had forgotten anything: his chief treasure, his cooking gear; & the little box of salt that he always carried & refilled when he could; a good supply of pipe-weed (but not near enough, I’ll warrant); flint & tinder; woolen hose; linen; various small things of his master’s that Frodo had forgotten & Sam had stowed to bring them out in triumph when they were called for
In the essay ‘Frodo’s Batman’ (Tolkien Studies vol 1), Mark T Hooker quotes from Lieutenant Colonel Graham Seton Hutchinson’s biography of his batman, Perter McLintock:

Quote:
[Peter’s] friendliness took complete possession of the necessary, though often incconvenient, affairs of life. In such things Peter’s service was priceless. No matter at what hour I would return to the cubby hole for sleep, it was as dry & as warm as human ingenuity could devise. Eggs & small comforts he cojured from behind the lines without any promptings from me ... He would ... prepare a varied menu from interminable bread, plum-&-apple jam, & the sickly meat & vegetable ration. He woulld clean my limited wardrobe, wash & mend the socks & shirts, keep me supplied with tobacco, dry my boots & stockings. The batman was multum in parco to his charge, omnipresent yet ubiquitous ... And he would run when his officer went over the top, & fight by his side. When the officer dropped, the batman was beside him’.

Peter’s friendship expressed itself in ‘little acts of vigilant kindness. Opportunities for the rendering of trifling services & for the doing of kindness were ever present, every hour & every day. The batman’s attitude was one of subordination, & he tarried neither to consider the worthiness of his charge nor the nature of thee service asked. He gave freely, the man of humble origin & pursuit, to one at least temporarily exalted with authority. By his ready service, words & gestures he won affection, by his forethought & unknown sacrifices, he penetrated quietly & unobtrusively into the heart of the master of his goings & his comings.’
I think this sums up Sam to a T, & shows that Tolkien wasn’t exagerating when he claimed Sam was based on the batmen who served the officers in WW1.

Other things that stick in my mind from this chapter are the way we are again presented with the idea that Middle earth itself is somehow alive - it does not quickly forget places the Elves have dwelt, It can be malicious & cruel - so different from the movie, where the malice is Saruman’s, here we have the mountain itself venting its wrath on those who dare to trespass.

Also, the miruvor - odd that the source of sustenance that comes from Rivendell is drink that from Lorien is food,yet both seem to have the same uplifting & life sustaining power.

And why nine companions in the Fellowship - it seems that Elrond felt that the number was so significant that he decided on that first, & then struggled to find people to make it up. Why was it so important that there be nine companions?

(Another thing - for those interested - CT gives us the translation of naur an edraith ammen, Gandalf’s firekindling spell: ‘fire be for saving of us’, which, if anyone has heard the BBC Radio Hobbit, is misused there, where Gandalf uses it to start any fire at all, no matter what the circumstances.)

Finally, a couple of lines from Home, which didn’t make it into the final draft, but which I like for the way they show the development of Gandalf’s character. The first is from the first version, where the travellers are Gandalf, Boromir, Trotter & the hobbits.

Quote:
How are we to get to the turn?’ asked Trotter.
‘I don’t know!’ said Boromir. ‘It is a pity Gandalf can’t produce flame enough to melt us a pathway.’
‘I daresay it is,’ snapped Gandalf, ‘but even I need a few materials to work upon. I can kindle fire, not feed it. What you want is a dragon not a wizard.’
Indeed I think a tame dragon would actually be more useful at the moment than a wild wizard.’ said Boromir - with a laugh that did not in any way appease Gandalf.

‘At the moment, at the moment,,’ he replied. ‘Later on we may see. I am old enough to be your great-grandfather’s ancestor - but I am not doddery yet. It will serve you right if you meet a wild dragon.’
The next is a later variant, where Legolas is the target of Gandalf’s ire:

Quote:
’It is a pity,’ said Legolas, ‘that Gandalf cannot go before us with a bright flame, & melt us a path.’
‘It is a pity that Elves cannot fly over mountains, & fetch the sun to save them,’ answered Gandalf. ‘Even I need something to work on. I cannot burn snow. But I could turn Legolas into a flaming torch, if that will serve: he would burn bright while he lasted.’
‘Spare me!’ cried legolas. ‘I fear that a dragon is concealed in the shape of our wizard. Yet a tame dragon would be useful at this hour.’
‘It will be a wild dragon, if you say anymore,’ said Gandalf.
I have to say that this is my favourite put down that never made it into the final version - possibly apart from Aragorn’s reposte to Gimli after he had looked into the Palantir:

Quote:
’You looked in the stone!’ said Gimli, amazed, awestruck, & rather alarmed* . ‘What did you tell - him?’
‘What did I tell him?’ said Aragorn sternly, & his eyes glinted. ‘That I had a rascal of a rebel dwarf here that I would exchange for a couple of good orcs, thank you!’’
(*really ran the gamut of emotions there!)
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Old 09-27-2004, 02:52 PM   #3
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davem said:

Quote:
And why nine companions in the Fellowship - it seems that Elrond felt that the number was so significant that he decided on that first, & then struggled to find people to make it up. Why was it so important that there be nine companions?
Elrond said:

Quote:
"The company of the Ring shall be Nine; and the Nine Walkers shall be set against the Nine Riders that are evil."
Just before that, Gandalf said:

Quote:
"It is rash to be too sure, yet I think that we may hope now that the Ringwraiths were scattered, and have been obliged to return as best they could to their Master in Mordor, empty and shapeless. If that is so, it will be some time before they can begin the hunt again."
Elrond is setting up the Fellowship as a symbolic challenge to the Nazgul. Nine who travel with the Ring versus nine who seek it.

It works on more levels than that, too. It sets Rivendell up as the antithesis to Mordor: the Nazgul come from Minas Morgul and hunt the Ring almost to the door of Rivendell, while the Company sets out from Rivendell with the ultimate goal of destroying the Ring in Orodruin. It's true that none of the members of the Fellowship (besides Frodo) are really bound to travel the whole distance (and they're certainly not bound to each other or to Elrond with anything like the bond between Sauron and his Wraiths), and indeed Boromir and Aragorn state their destination to be Minas Tirith, but the Fellowship's existence is so heavily symbolic that it is really immaterial whether or not all of its members complete the mission.

The point is the setting out, as illustrated by Gandalf's pronouncement concerning the Nazgul. At the time the Company starts from Rivendell, the Nazgul are at least temporarily incapacitated. So in addition to becoming the symbolic foils for the Nazgul, the Nine Walkers at first even replace the Nine Riders, stepping into the world at a time when their enemies have temporarily been incapacitated.

All of which brings up another interesting conjecture--by sending out his own hand-picked Company of Nine against the other Nine, is Elrond setting himself up as the symbolic enemy of Sauron? It's not too implausible--he's one of only a few First-Agers still around at this point in the story, he's a Ring-Bearer, he's certainly the master of one of the more powerful realms remaining in the world. And at least temporarily, the Ring is in his house, not Sauron's.
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Old 09-27-2004, 03:37 PM   #4
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1420! The importance of the Fellowship.

I have heard a few people ask on threads, what's the point of the fellowship, it breaks apart in the FOTR, and the "task," which was to help Frodo destroy the ring has been torn apart. Here's the way I think of it, you have this group of nine, good friends, and establish a good friendship with eachother. But, when the fellowship does break, it breaks into even smaller fellowships, but those fellowships carry a stronger friendship. You have Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli all develop a strong friendship. Sam was just a servant to Frodo before, and ends up being Frodo's best friends/most loyal companion. Then the friendship between Merry and Pippin grows. Also, and interesting one, Gandalf and Pippin, we see Gandalf scold Pippin a few times, but so many times Gandalf acts as that father figure to Pippin (as well as the other hobbits) but Pippin is the one that caught my eye. So, back to original point, you have a group of friends, called "The Fellowship," it breaks, but then it grows into a bunch of "smaller fellowships" yet the bonds between them are stronger.

I also think each member had a purpose for being there, I haven't figured out why all were placed there yet, but here's who I think I've figured out.

Gandalf-He acts as a guide towards the whole Fellowship, I sort of see him as that little voice on your shoulder, sure he dies and departs from the Fellowship in Moria, but even in his death he helps the Fellowship, by maybe past sayings that he said earlier. Or, even helping Frodo on Amon Sul, battling with Sauron when Frodo put on the ring.

Aragorn- The King, of course he will be in the Fellowship, his main task is to go to Minas Tirith and reinstall a King in Gondor, and to help Frodo for as long as he stays in the Fellowship.

Boromir- His sole purpose I believe was to show Frodo he needed to get away from the Fellowship. By him going crazy on Frodo, that showed Frodo the ring was tearing apart the Fellowship, and he needed to get out of there, before any other member turns into a "Boromir." Also, Boromir's strength helps out the Fellowship as well, I mean Aragorn can't carry 4 hobbits through the snow by himself. Gimli is too short, and Legolas just prances on top of the snow.

Frodo- simple to destroy the ring.

Sam- simple, to be a faithful companion of Frodo, and help him destroy the ring, and also watch out for that treachorous Gollum.

Merry- Without him in the Fellowship, he wouldn't have been in Minas Tirith to help slay the Witch-King, or "stir the ents" to fight Saruman. Eowyn wouldn't have beaten the WK without Merry's help, there's no doubt about that. Also, he arroused the Ents, now it didn't happen like it did in the movie, because the Ents were already ticked at Saruman, they just didn't have any reason to go to war, until Merry and Pippin roused them up.

Pippin- Reason mentioned above, "wakening" up the ents, and of course saving Faramir's life.

Gimli and Legolas I haven't quite figured out yet. Legolas, might have been chosen because maybe someone like a Glorfindel or one of Elrond's sons would have just been too powerful and might have been noticed sooner. Gimli, provides good axe skill, and good fighter, he clearly is one of the best fighters in the fellowship, because Aragorn is even impressed by Gimli's axe work.

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Old 09-27-2004, 03:38 PM   #5
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""It is rash to be too sure, yet I think that we may hope now that the Ringwraiths were scattered, and have been obliged to return as best they could to their Master in Mordor, empty and shapeless. If that is so, it will be some time before they can begin the hunt again."
--------------------------
Despite Elrond's worry about rashness, it's always seemed to me that the more
prudent course would have been to leave within a week or two. This would have
given enough time for scouting in the immediate vicinity, and left much less time
for the nazgul to regroup, inform Sauron of events, and perhaps lay new traps for
Frodo and friends.
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Old 09-27-2004, 07:46 PM   #6
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This chapter provides us with what I think is one of the key examples of Jackson's failure to appreciate the reasons for which Tolkien was so succesful. I speak of Saruman's spell, causing the storm on Caradhras. To Jackson's way of thinking, the storm is a waste if it does not stem directly from the plot, hence he feels the need to motivate it through Saruman. But in the book the storm has the important function of providing depth, and thus believability, to Middle-earth.

As with the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs, we find that not all evil can be directly traced to Sauron. But more than that, it characterizes Middle-earth. For Tolkien, as some have observed elsewhere, the physical landscape is itself a kind of character. It has its own personality (or personalities); it can aid or obstruct our protagonists; it is a real presence that must be dealt with, the same as any character. The story of the attempted passage of Caradhras is the story of the defeat of a powerful wizard, a king, a warrior, an elf, a dwarf, and four hobbits by nature itself. It's foreshadowed earlier in the chapter:

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When winter first begins to bite
and stones crack in the frosty night
when pools are black and trees are bare
'tis evil in the Wild to fare.
Note the capitalized "Wild".
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Old 09-27-2004, 07:58 PM   #7
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1420! I had thought.

I had thought that Sauron or maybe the Witch-king stirred up the storms on Caradhras. Aiwendil, if I'm taking what you said wrong, then please correct me, but here's what I mean...

Quote:
I speak of Saruman's spell, causing the storm on Caradhras.
And here's what I think would make me realize Sauron or the WK caused the storm.

Quote:
The Ring goes South
"I wonder if this is a contrivance of the Enemy," said Boromir "They say in my land that he can govern the storms in the Mountains of Shadow that stand upon the borders of Mordor. He has strange powers and many allies."
"His arm has grown long indeed," said Gimli, "if he can draw snow down from the North to trouble us here three hundred leagues away."
"His arm has grown long," said Gandalf.
Here we have Boromir saying, Sauron stirs storms in the mountains around Mordor. Gimli says Sauron's arms grown long if he can trouble Caradhras and the mountains so far, and Gandalf says "his arm has grown long." To me that suggests, Gandalf believes Sauron is troubling the storms. Now, Gandalf isn't always right, so Aiwendil, I would love to see where you found how Saruman stirred the storms, because I could be missing something.
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Old 09-27-2004, 08:33 PM   #8
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Interesting citations by Boromir, but I've been inclined towards Aiwendil's
views of Caradhras and the autonomous Middle-earth forces (for good and ill),
and also with distaste for PJ's having Saruman "control" Caradhras, for reasons
cited by A. above.

Gandalf's reply is actually somewhat ambiguous, also, he is Gandalf the
Grey, with incomplete knowledge of facts. And remember the false rumors
of Rohan's voluntarily sending horses to Sauron.

A quote indicating Caradhras's generally autonomous nasty nature:
Quote:
'Caradhras was called the Cruel, and had an ill name,' said Gimli, 'long years ago, when rumour of Sauron had not been heard in these lands.'
And a (possible) hint that Caradhras has its own agenda for causing snow,
apart from Sauron's:
Quote:
It is the ill will of Caradhras. He does not love Elves and Dwarves, and the drift was laid to cut off our escape.
And it's interesting to see what an active (positive) role Boromir has in this
chapter, (without even scooping up the ring).
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Old 09-27-2004, 09:04 PM   #9
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Boromir, what Aiwendil meant was that in the movie FotR, it was Saruman who was causing the snow to fall on Caradhras, not in the book.
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Old 09-27-2004, 09:19 PM   #10
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Boromir88 wrote:
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Now, Gandalf isn't always right, so Aiwendil, I would love to see where you found how Saruman stirred the storms, because I could be missing something.
As Encaitare said, I was referring to the change Peter Jackson made. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

Tuor identified some reasons to think that the snow storm was not caused by Sauron; I agree with these. Of course, it's never made entirely clear. And that contributes somewhat to the realism.
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Old 09-27-2004, 09:45 PM   #11
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Pipe I forgot my books . . . *blushes*

But anywhen . . .

Notice Frodo's use of the phrase "I do" when Elrond asked him to reafirm his commitment to be Ringbearer? I might just be the better choice of words, but it eerily sounds like Frodo is binding himself to the Ring in marriage.
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Old 09-28-2004, 10:30 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tar-Ancalime
All of which brings up another interesting conjecture--by sending out his own hand-picked Company of Nine against the other Nine, is Elrond setting himself up as the symbolic enemy of Sauron? It's not too implausible--he's one of only a few First-Agers still around at this point in the story, he's a Ring-Bearer, he's certainly the master of one of the more powerful realms remaining in the world. And at least temporarily, the Ring is in his house, not Sauron's.
But why does Sauron choose Nine chief servants?

Speculation: there were originally Nine chief Valar including Melkor, before he was cast out, so maybe Sauron was setting himself up as a symbolic rival to Eru?

Of course, nine is three times three, & we all know how many times three crops up in the Legendarium - 3 silmarils, 3 elven rings, 3 branches of the High Elves, of the hobbits, of the Edain, 3 ages, 3 continents - Middle earth, Numenor & Aman, 3 kinds of men according to Faramir - high, middle & low, the three farthing stone, 3 kinds of pipe weed......etc, etc, etc. I won't go on, but its clear that 3 is the most symbolic number in Middle earth by a long way, & maybe this is significant in Eru's creation of Nine supreme powers - a 'trinity of trinities'

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Old 09-28-2004, 02:52 PM   #13
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1420!

Aiwendil and everyone, thank you, I happened to read it wrong, and through rereading I can "see clearly now." In fact, Aiwendil I like the point you made about Caradhras.


Quote:
But in the book the storm has the important function of providing depth, and thus believability, to Middle-earth.

As with the Old Forest and the Barrow-downs, we find that not all evil can be directly traced to Sauron. But more than that, it characterizes Middle-earth. For Tolkien, as some have observed elsewhere, the physical landscape is itself a kind of character. It has its own personality (or personalities); it can aid or obstruct our protagonists; it is a real presence that must be dealt with, the same as any character. The story of the attempted passage of Caradhras is the story of the defeat of a powerful wizard, a king, a warrior, an elf, a dwarf, and four hobbits by nature itself. It's foreshadowed earlier in the chapter
Good point, as been discussed before The Old Forest is sort of this magical place, seperate from the rest of Middle-Earth, it has this mystical feeling. As cited out by Tuor and Aiwendil it does seem as if Caradhras has this mind/will of its own. Very similar to that of The Ring, it offers people it's greatest desires. And once it's done with one person, it moves on to another. It also seems to have a will of it's own.
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Old 09-29-2004, 04:38 AM   #14
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Boots Whether or not to depart

There were also Nine ships which bore the Faithful towards the shores of Middle-earth: "four for Elendil, and for Isildur three, and for Anárion two." (Akallabêth )

As to the weather, a couple of points.

Also from Akallabêth, there is a passage which explains how weather had become separated from the "needs and liking of Men" as the Numenorians declined further and further into their false worship. (Hang on, I'm not saying that there is special intervention.)

Quote:
Now aforetime in the isle of Numenor the weather was ever apt to the needs and liking of Men: rain indue season and ever in measure; and snshine, now warner, now cooler, and winds from the sea. And when the wind was in the west it seemed to many that it was filled with a fragrance,f elling but sweet, heart-stirring, as of flowers that bloom for ever in undying meads and have no names on mortal shores. But all this was now chnged' for the sky itself was darkened, and there were storms of rain and hail in those days, and violent winds, and ever and anon a great ship of the Numermoreans would founder ...
Of course the storm on Caradhras is very different. As Aiwendil says, it is evidence of how the geography of Middle-earth is a separate entity and personality which the races must learn to accomodate. Yet at the same time it seems also to me evidence of the 'fallen' nature of Middle-earth. The peoples of Middle-earth are not in an earthly paradise but struggle in a land whic does not serve their bidding or their needs. They are alienated.

I cannot help but wonder why the Fellowship had to delay so long. Was it really necessary for Elrond to send out messengers to attempt to track down the Ringwraths? Was the two month delay crucially necessary? The messengers passed freely over mountains unencumbered by winter storms. How would the discovery of any Wraiths surviving in form and body have changed the plans to destroy the Ring in Mount Doom?

Bilbo blames Frodo for setting up the initial delay by not leaving the Shire until after their birthday. Yet it all serves, to me, to show that even with the best of intentions decisions in Middle-earth can err. It lends an incredible credibility to me, part of the tangible sense of reality in this fantastic world. The first challenge the Fellowship faces is not some mythical entity of terror but the looming weather, brought on my their own decision to wait to see if it is safe to go out.
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Old 09-29-2004, 04:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nilpaurion Felagund
Notice Frodo's use of the phrase "I do" when Elrond asked him to reafirm his commitment to be Ringbearer? I might just be the better choice of words, but it eerily sounds like Frodo is binding himself to the Ring in marriage.
The exact quote runs as follows:

Quote:
Elrond summoned the hobbits to him. He looked gravely at Frodo. 'The time has come,' he said. `If the Ring is to set out, it must go soon. But those who go with it must not count on their errand being aided by war or force. They must pass into the domain of the Enemy far from aid. Do you still hold to your word, Frodo, that you will be the Ring-bearer?'
'I do,' said Frodo. `I will go with Sam.'
Minor points: that adds up to the theory I held at a time - that Frodo, Sam and Gollum (as a whole) form in the end some symbol of personality of the whole Fallen Humankind. Symbol of Fallen Humankind which made marriage with symbol of Evil - that's an eye-opener, and no mistake, Nilpaurion . Good it ended up in a divorce. With strikes me - was 'Great Divorce' by C.S.Lewis already published at a time?

Not to stray off chapter itself, I suggest you can post your views on the subject in the thread Frodo or the Ring, or more recent Why Did Frodo Volunteer, otherwise set up a new thread for it.

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Old 09-29-2004, 07:57 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Bethberry
Of course the storm on Caradhras is very different. As Aiwendil says, it is evidence of how the geography of Middle-earth is a separate entity and personality which the races must learn to accomodate. Yet at the same time it seems also to me evidence of the 'fallen' nature of Middle-earth. The peoples of Middle-earth are not in an earthly paradise but struggle in a land whic does not serve their bidding or their needs. They are alienated.
Its certainly interesting to speculate on how far Tolkien had gone down the road to the idea of 'Morgoth's Ring' at this stage. Had he formulated the idea that Middle earth had been infected by an external evil in the form of Morgoth's malice yet, or was it more a case of 'the world, the flesh & the devil' - ie, the material world, matter itself, is a source of evil?

Seen in the context of the later idea, we could see Morgoth's malice deliberately targetting the Fellowship, but this isn't what comes across to me - nor does any feeling of Middle earth being 'evil' - its more that it has its own 'desires', its own emotions, almost, anger, pain, joy, etc, & it seems that it is most at peace in places where Elves dwell, or once dwelled, which simply emphasises their relationship with nature.

Quote:
I cannot help but wonder why the Fellowship had to delay so long. Was it really necessary for Elrond to send out messengers to attempt to track down the Ringwraths? Was the two month delay crucially necessary? The messengers passed freely over mountains unencumbered by winter storms. How would the discovery of any Wraiths surviving in form and body have changed the plans to destroy the Ring in Mount Doom?
My own understanding is that they had to make sure all the Nazgul had been completely 'disembodied', which would force their return to Mordor, as they could not 're-embody' themselves. It seems, though I may be wrong, that only Sauron could provide them with the means to function, to have any presence at all, in the physical realm.

So, it was necessary to ensure that they were no longer physically present in the world (outside Mordor). CT points out that the 'shadow' which passed across the stars in this chapter couldn't have been one of the Nazgul, as they had not yet crossed the River - which implies that at that point, while the Fellowship were journeying south, the Nazgul were still in Mordor or its environs.

Of course, I could be completely wrong in these speculations!
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Old 09-29-2004, 03:47 PM   #17
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I too have always very much liked the animus shown the Fellowship by the mountain. The ‘living land’ that is so much a part of LotR is shown here to be no beneficent force for good – no sheltering ‘mother nature’ but an utterly alien and unforgiving presence in the world that you take lightly only at your peril. The ambiguity of the mountain’s allegiance nicely dovetails with Treebeard’s claim not to be on “anyone’s side”. I mean, it makes sense for the mountain not to care who wins the contest between good and evil, since both sides treat the mountain the same way (as a source of mithril or something to be got over when you are heading out for your journey into history).

As to the nine: according to some Anglo-Saxon texts that deal with the symbolic function of numbers, nine is the number of incompletion and forward-looking action (it’s not 10, but it can be with just one more number added on). It’s interesting that Frodo will be left with nine fingers at the end of his journey, is it not…? Also, the number 20 is the number of fulfillment and completion; of totality and completed labour. All told there are, of course, 20 rings (9 for Men + 7 for Dwarves + 3 for Elves + the 1 = 20).

Thank you davem for the quote about batmen – it was tremendously illuminating! Although I must admit that I found that rather condescending tone of the officer toward his batman to be somewhat disturbing, particularly when put beside some of the earlier moments in LotR in which we can almost see Frodo responding to Sam in the same way. The bit about the batman following the officer out of the trench and being beside him when he falls…it just seems to have the odour of a man who is taking his ‘subordinate’ a bit for granted. I mean, can you imagine that writer cutting a batman who actually ran for cover some slack?

There’s one other aspect of this chapter that I would like to raise, and that is the question of story-telling and, more importantly, story-ending. This is one of the most wildly important ideas in the book, and it doesn’t really start until this chapter. One of my favourite all-time moments in LotR begins when Bilbo asks:

Quote:
‘What about helping me with my book, and making a start on the next? Have you thought of an ending?’

‘Yes, several, and all are dark and unpleasant,’ said Frodo.

‘Oh, that won’t do!’ said Bilbo. ‘Books ought to have good endings. How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together happily ever after?’

‘It will do well, if it ever comes to that,’ said Frodo.

‘Ah!’ said Sam. ‘And where will they live? That’s what I often wonder.’
In this one exchange we have one of the book’s clearest moments of character depiction, and it’s accomplished through the hobbits’ attitude toward stories. Bilbo believes quite naively that stories “ought to have happy endings” and actually looks ahead to a time when Frodo might be able to live “happily ever after”. Of course, Frodo has already (thanks to his experience with the Morgul Blade and at the fords) begun to realise that this is not possible. In fact, he’s begun to give into despair: “all are dark and unpleasant.”

It’s up to Sam to bring things back down to earth and point out that at the end of this story the characters will have to face what everyone faces at the supposed ‘end’ of their stories (which are really just stages in an ongoing process of living). In a sense these three hobbits in this one little exchange are enacting the entire nature and history of Middle-Earth. On the one hand is the desire for a happy ending that may once have been possible, before the music of creation was marred by evil and things began to fall apart; more significantly, before Feanor et al swore that blasted oath. On the other hand is the despair that threatens to overcome, and does overcome, too many people who begin to believe that the happy ending is impossible (as opposed to unlikely) and thus pave the way for evil. It’s up to the people like Sam to realise that the true hope lies in working toward a proper ‘home’ for oneself at the end of the journey – neither getting lost and blinded in a continual backward look to the ‘good old days’ when everything was bright and happy endings seemed the norm (like the Elves, constantly yearning for the Sunless Years and trying to preserve the past despite the fact that the world is becoming the site for new stories and new tales by new tellers), nor giving in to the despairing conviction that there is only one bad end possible (which is both Sauron’s line and being).

It’s up to Elrond to point out the one very important thing about stories – it is something that Sam will later realise on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol – that the people in the stories do not know how they will end:

Quote:
‘yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.’
This is why that motif of being in a story is so useful to understanding the book, for it turns on the whole free will/providence bugbear that will become more and more pressing as the story unfolds. Are Frodo and the Fellowship in a story that they are writing, an that is why the end is not known, or are they being written into a story by some force that is keeping the end from them? In the final analysis, I think that it might be irrelevant which it is since in either case there is always room for hope – hope that you can make a difference, or hope that something beneficent is in charge. What there is no room for are certainties: either that it will all turn out “happily ever after” or wholly “dark and unpleasant”.
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Old 09-29-2004, 07:02 PM   #18
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White Tree

For an interesting interpretation (by a Christian Periodical) on hope and faith in
Middle-earth (but which really draws on "The Stairs Of Cirith Ungol" rather then "The Ring Heads South" for a source:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...0/ai_107760354

And a quote from "The Stairs Of Cirith Ungol", but one that can be extended to this chapter, and all the way back to the Silmarillion and past Bilbo's adventure:

Quote:
'Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that Silmaril from the Iron crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that's a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it-and the Silmaril went on and came to earendil. And why sir, I never thought of that before! We've got-you've got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end?' 'No, they never end, as tales,' said Frodo. 'But the people in them come and go when their part's ended.'
Okay, the above is probably 90% off-topic to this chapter , but it may
be a bit relevant to above themes of a story going on and of hope?
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Old 09-30-2004, 01:50 AM   #19
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Interesting thoughts about story endings, Fordim! Tuor has already connected them to the end of the story, and I'd like to point out a previous quote, one that I like very much. In 'The Council of Elrond', Bilbo already mentioned the subject:
Quote:
I was very comfortable here, and getting on with my book. If you want to know, I am just writing an ending for it. I had thought of putting: and he lived happily ever afterwards to the end of his days. It is a good ending, and none the worse for having been used before. Now I shall have to alter that: it does not look like coming true; and anyway there will evidently have to be several more chapters, if I live to write them. (bolding mine)
This seems to be more about a personal happy ending than a general one - whether or not Bilbo has one depends on whether he is the one who has to take the Ring, in which case there is also the question of whether or not he will survive to tell the story's end. As I see it, Bilbo got his happy ending, but at least in Middle-earth, there was none for the Ringbearer Frodo - though he did live to write the necessary chapters about the War of the Ring!
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Old 09-30-2004, 02:13 AM   #20
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Pipe One more thing. OK, a few more.

It's funny how oaths made this chapter reveal much.

Quote:
[Elrond: ]The Ringbearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servants of the Enemy nor indeed to let any handle it, save members of the Company and the Council, and only then in gravest need. (LotR II 1)
(Oh yeah, my book's back! )

It doesn't mention anything about actually destroying the Ring, which is just as well, as he is not the one to accomplish the mission. But he did take the Ring to Mt. Doom.

But how come Elrond did not mention the destruction of the Ring as part of Frodo's charge - after all, that's what they talked about in the previous chapter, right? Was he given some super-foresight to see that the Ring will not be destroyed by this Hobbit? Or perhaps he thought the whole affair undoable from the beginning, and like Frodo, he only thinks that they could go as far as their strengths could carry them before the Enemy overwhelms them.

Hope in Middle-earth is a crazy concept. But it does make for great stories.

Nine.

Might not the number nine represents a totality of sorts? The Aratar, the nine ships of Elendil the Faithful, and the Fellowship all represent a consummation of one sort or another.

I don't know about the Nazgûl though. Can anyone help me here?
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Old 09-30-2004, 07:43 AM   #21
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Esty, you wrote:

Quote:
As I see it, Bilbo got his happy ending
Perhaps I am jaded by my own experience of life but I really don't see Middle-Earth as being a place where anyone has a "happy ending". There are joyful endings, but there is also a profound melancholy at these moments of change. Endings are time of upheaval and movement and continuing action for Tolkien -- this is one of the things that really distinguishes his art. Aragorn and Arwen are married, that is sure, but they do so under the knowledge that Aragorn will die, and now Arwen will die as well, and they will both be parted from Elrond forever. The brief moment (really looking ahead!) in which we hear of how Elrond and Arwen spend a day walking in the White Mountains before he departs is heart rending. Even Bilbo's passing into the West is not what I would call a "happy" ending -- he is still thinking about the Ring, still hoping that the story can be finished by those who come after, when we know that the story will never end.

Who among us finds the final line of the book "happy"? Joyful, yes, but there is a sense that as fulfilling as Sam's life will be now, it is somehow lesser and smaller. The whole story "winds down" rather than ends, and there are more stories to be told (the Appendices) not all of them entirely happy.

That's why I hold to my opinion that Bilbo, much as I love the old fellow, is naive -- perhaps even dangerously naive, since the only other people in the book who share his belief in endings, that it can all wrap up and 'stop' just the way one wants it -- are figures like Sauron or Saruman!
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Old 09-30-2004, 07:59 AM   #22
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Oh, but I think happy endings are possible in Middle earth, because whether the ending is 'happy' or not depends on the individual's own judgement, not on some external criteria. And it doesn't matter whether we as readers would consider the ending to be happy, either.

It seems to me that Bilbo would have said that his story had a happy ending, & so would Sam. Their parts of the story had happy endings, whether the story as a whole did or not.

In short, I don't think happiness is something objective.

Quote:
There are joyful endings, but there is also a profound melancholy at these moments of change.
But its possible to feel melancholy at the end of a happy story, because the 'happiness' has ended for us with the ending of the story. I felt melancholy at the end of my first reading of the Hobbit, even though it had a happy ending, because it was over. In other words, we have to distinguish between our feelings & the feelings of the characters.

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That's why I hold to my opinion that Bilbo, much as I love the old fellow, is naive
Maybe, but naive people can still experience happiness - in fact, I think they're more likely to.
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Old 09-30-2004, 08:00 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim
much as I love the old fellow, is naive -- perhaps even dangerously naive, since the only other people in the book who share his belief in endings, that it can all wrap up and 'stop' just the way one wants it -- are figures like Sauron or Saruman-
At a time of council I suppose he knows it as well as any. Not all poems in Red Book are happily ending. He's making a joke, he's gently mocking his own younger self out - the self of the time when his There and Back journey took place. I certainly remember the sentence of 'we hobbits can't talk seriously, we have to joke about it, but it does not mean we do not get it'. (I will try to locate quote proper for you when I have the time) It is not sarcasm, rather self-effacement, he makes - smiley, remembering recent discussion on the issue

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Old 09-30-2004, 08:35 AM   #24
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Quote:
Fordim wrote
Who among us finds the final line of the book "happy"? Joyful, yes, but there is a sense that as fulfilling as Sam's life will be now, it is somehow lesser and smaller. The whole story "winds down" rather than ends, and there are more stories to be told (the Appendices) not all of them entirely happy.
This reminds me quite forcibly of T.S.Eliot's "The Hollow Men."

Quote:
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang, but a whimper.
I think for both Tolkien and Eliot, the wrenching changes of the early twentieth century were cause for profound melancoly at the passing of a world, an ethos, an entire cultural reference. Both writers in many ways strove to gather what they could of those passing values in hopes they would not be lost entirely. So, Fordim, I would suggest that reading Bilbo might require less a recourse to "our own experience of life" and more a consideration of the tenor of the story. To me, Bilbo's comments about writing should be seen within the gentle humour the elves show him and an almost sweetly or gently patronising attitude about the writer who is always talking about writing but never getting it done. Bilbo acknowledges, "I can't count the days in Rivendell." To me, Bilbo's time there has always signified an affectionate and gentle senility lived out in an "assissted living environment" , if I can use those words without being thought too negative.

Quote:
davem posted:

Its certainly interesting to speculate on how far Tolkien had gone down the road to the idea of 'Morgoth's Ring' at this stage. Had he formulated the idea that Middle earth had been infected by an external evil in the form of Morgoth's malice yet, or was it more a case of 'the world, the flesh & the devil' - ie, the material world, matter itself, is a source of evil?

Seen in the context of the later idea, we could see Morgoth's malice deliberately targetting the Fellowship, but this isn't what comes across to me - nor does any feeling of Middle earth being 'evil' - its more that it has its own 'desires', its own emotions, almost, anger, pain, joy, etc,
I would agree that, in terms of LotR alone--which is all I think we should consider here-- there is no sense of malice. Indeed, I would even go farther to suggest that such an attitude might reflect a serious error: to see the world solely in terms of the needs of men or hobbits. This would be, for my reading of the book, the arrogance of human centrism, believing that Eru had created Arda solely for the personal use of the human races and not for, well, whatever reason motivated his creation. This is why I think it is important that the first defeat of the Fellowship comes not at the hand of an Enemy but of a world which is not designed solely for their own egotistic drives.

Quote:
My own understanding is that they had to make sure all the Nazgul had been completely 'disembodied', which would force their return to Mordor, as they could not 're-embody' themselves. It seems, though I may be wrong, that only Sauron could provide them with the means to function, to have any presence at all, in the physical realm.
I know that is the reason given in the text, but I asked why Elrond had to delay because I think it is related to my point above: it is a decision which puts the Fellowship in more harm by causing their departure under inclement conditions. The messengers had no trouble passing over the mountain. Yet the Fellowship had to have trouble. Had Nazul been discovered to be embodied, how would that have changed the plans? Indeed, I cannot see how it would. The decision reflects, to me, a good intention but a flawed one and in that flaw lies part of the inexpressible melancoly of LotR, the poignancy of the 'long defeat.'
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Old 09-30-2004, 08:44 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bêthberry
Indeed, I cannot see how it would. The decision reflects, to me, a good intention but a flawed one and in that flaw lies part of the inexpressible melancoly of LotR, the poignancy of the 'long defeat.'
I see the point. I agree with it. But it seems also that Tolkien needed the Fellowship to set out on December 25 for the whole affair to have more explicitly symbolic meaning.
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Old 09-30-2004, 09:11 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by H-I
I see the point. I agree with it. But it seems also that Tolkien needed the Fellowship to set out on December 25 for the whole affair to have more explicitly symbolic meaning.
Tolkien himself writes in Lobdell: A Tolkien Compass:

Quote:
:
'The fellowship ... left on December 25th, which then had no sgniificance, since the Yule, or its equivalent, was then the last day of the year & the first of the next year. But December 25th (setting out) & March 25th (accomplishment of the quest) were intentionally chosen by me'

'A guide to the names in LotR'
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bb
Indeed, I would even go farther to suggest that such an attitude might reflect a serious error: to see the world solely in terms of the needs of men or hobbits. This would be, for my reading of the book, the arrogance of human centrism, believing that Eru had created Arda solely for the personal use of the human races and not for, well, whatever reason motivated his creation.
I think the qustion is whether its the sentient races who have 'fallen out of harmony' with the Land or vice versa. If all things proceeded from Eru in the beginning, then they should all have been in harmony at one time. The fact that they aren't is what seems to have led Tolkien to come up with the idea of 'Morgoth's Ring'.
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Old 09-30-2004, 09:15 AM   #27
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But it seems also that Tolkien needed the Fellowship to set out on December 25 for the whole affair to have more explicitly symbolic meaning.
Okay, HI. Cheesy plot device!
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Old 09-30-2004, 09:23 AM   #28
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I don't know, it strikes me that the two month's time before the Fellowship sets out makes perfect sense given the fact that they have no idea who might be out there looking for them. I mean, they've only just found out that Saruman is not to be trusted, and the Wraiths invaded the north of Eriador without anyone having any warning -- who is to say that there isn't a host of orcs out patrolling the southlands or the passes of the Mountains?

There were indeed some "real eye-openers" at the Council even for Gandalf and Elrond. Like all good commanders they aren't about to undertake their most important mission until they've made sure they have good intelligence. As we find out from Gandalf, it's a 40 day march to the Gap of Rohan, so it would make sense that it would take at least two months for the Elves to thoroughly scour all the lands of Eriador to make sure that the Ringbearer is not going to be picked off in an instant.
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Old 09-30-2004, 09:41 AM   #29
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Right, right, Fordim. I have to remember that Napoleon's and Hitler's experience in Russia hasn't happened yet.
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Old 09-30-2004, 12:53 PM   #30
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'What do you think of your course now, Aragorn?'...

'I think no good of our course from beginning to end, as you know well,Gandalf.'
So, who's in charge? The obvious answer would be Gandalf - he is the leader of the Fellowship as they set out from Rivendell - yet it seems that they are following Aragorn's course. Gandalf has clearly submitted to Aragorn's choice of direction, yet all the time it seems he & Aragorn are arguing over which course to take. Both of them have passed through Moria before, both have evil memories of the place, but Aragorn it seems will take any route to avoid re entering the Mines, while Gandalf is constatnly seeking to disuade him. Why?

Was Aragorn aware of some specific menace, or just of a vague feeling of danger? And how much did Gandalf actually know? Why was he so insistent on passing through Moria - unless he knew of the Balrog, & the need to confront it, why would he even want to pass through? If, as Elrond had said of Gandalf:

Quote:
..this shall be his great task, & maybe the end of his labours.
what did he mean? Did Elrond know of Gandalf's desire to enter Moria & face Durin's Bane?

What we see, at the very least, is a growing argument between the two leaders of the Fellowship. How much had Gandalf told Aragorn about what he desired to do, & more importantly, why he wanted to do it? Was Gandalf really willing to lead the Ringbearer into Moria, knowing the danger? And was Aragorn trying to protect the Ringbearer, & help to ensure the survival of the Quest by demanding that every alternative route be tried first?

Why was Gandalf so willing to risk everything to enter the Mines? Did he feel that whatever the danger was, confronting it was worth risking the Quest to face & defeat it?

It seems to me, that if Gandalf felt it was so necessary to enter Moria & face whatever was there, he could have left the party & gone in alone - but he didn't seem to consider that, so its not simply the case that he felt he had to go through Moria, but that all of them, including the Ringbearer, had to go through.

Of course, it could be simply that he felt that the way through the Mines would offer the greatest chance of concealment, so maybe all this speculation is wrong, but it seems to me there is a certain desperation on Gandalf's part to actually enter the Mines, which is not accountable for merely by a desire for secrecy.

I think what we also see is a dislike on Gandalf's part over not being in charge. Perhaps a reluctance to surrender authority - as if the 'old' powers of Middle earth were reluctant to let go.
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Old 09-30-2004, 02:21 PM   #31
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Davem wrote:
Quote:
And how much did Gandalf actually know? Why was he so insistent on passing through Moria - unless he knew of the Balrog, & the need to confront it, why would he even want to pass through?
I don't think he did. From II.5:

Quote:
'A Balrog,' muttered Gandalf. 'Now I understand.' He faltered and leaned heavily on his staff. 'What an evil fortune! And I am already weary.'
Clearly he was not expecting this - in fact, the presence of the Balrog seems to resolve a mystery for him - for now he understands. Understands what? Possibly it means only that he understands what it was that used a counterspell against his earlier. But it may also have a wider sense - he understands the nature of Durin's Bane, the reason that Balin's colony did not survive, and the reason for Aragorn's premonition of danger.

But now we're getting ahead two chapters.
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Old 09-30-2004, 02:58 PM   #32
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I had no time to read this chapter before last night and I see that I have missed out on a lot of good discussion. Anyway.

Davem:
Quote:
I think what we also see is a dislike on Gandalf's part over not being in charge. Perhaps a reluctance to surrender authority - as if the 'old' powers of Middle earth were reluctant to let go.
I don't agree. I think that Gandalf makes it very clear that he respects Aragorn and his opinion, including one instance right in this chapter: "If you bring a Ranger with you, it is well to pay attention to him, especially if the Ranger is Aragorn." If Gandalf was really set on going into Moria, as the leader of the Fellowship he basically could have told Aragorn to shut up and go away (it different words, of course.) I think that Gandalf valued Aragorn's opinion and accepted him as sort of a secondary leader to the Fellowship. This, coupled by the danger that Gandalf knew was waiting in Moria (not meaning the Balrog, as I agree with Aiwendil, he could not have known about it), was why he went along with Aragorn's opinion to take the Caradhras route.

If you think about it, there really were no good options. Neither Gandalf nor Aragorn wanted to cross the Gap of Rohan, and with good reason. Taking the Ring so close to Saruman the traitor would not be a good plan of action. The Redhorn Pass in the dead of winter doesn't exactly sound like a joy trip. Even without Caradhras' special storm for them, it would have been bitter cold and snowy. And Moria, where there was obviously some kind of danger, as the Dwarves had received no news from Balin. However, I suppose Gandalf thought that Moria might have gone all right for them, if there were only Orcs and such and there were no mishaps. Besides, Gandalf had been through before, and obviously there was the element of secrecy added in. Undoubtedly, Sauron would be watching by now since the Nazgul had had two whole months to return to Mordor, as others have touched on. Gandalf's choice of Moria over Caradhras seems plausible to me.
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Old 09-30-2004, 03:18 PM   #33
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Related to earth features such as Caradhras seeming to have some kind of
consciousness, I've always found this rumination by Legolas to be curious:
Quote:
Only I hear the stones lament them (Calebrimbor's people): 'deep they delved us, high they builded us; but they are gone'.
Should he be taken literally? I tend to think so.
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Old 10-03-2004, 11:26 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Tuor of Gondolin
Related to earth features such as Caradhras seeming to have some kind of
consciousness, I've always found this rumination by Legolas to be curious:


Should he be taken literally? I tend to think so.

I tend to agree..... In some ways Legolas is an underdeveloped character, and says little especially during this phase of the journey (probably not unrelated to the fact that he hadn't quite " found his place" at this stage in the early drafts), but one of the things that gives him a depth beyond being the token keen sighted sharp-shooting elf, is his sensitivity to place. It can be seen here, will be seen a little later when he asks if they hear the voice of Nimrodel , in Fangorn and in Minas Tirith "The deeds of men wil lout last us Gimli". Maybe it is partly because he is an immortal being born into Middle Earth realtively late... the situation of the Sindar and silvan Elves at he end of the third age is rather different to that of the high. For them passing oversea is not "Going home" but something they do when desperate - like the people of Nimrodel. Yet if they remain they will diminish. Thinking about it - a lot of Legolas' speech is melancholy - if it isn't excessively light, flippant almost. At these times maybe he is overcompensating..
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Old 06-01-2006, 11:24 PM   #35
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The Hunter's Moon waxed round in the night sky, and put to flight all lesser stars. But low in the South one star shone red. Every night, as the Moon waned again, it shone brighter and brighter. Frodo could see it from his window, deep in the heavens, burning like a watchful eye taht glared above the trees on the brink of the valley.
Any clue what star this is and why it merited being singled out for such emphasis?
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Old 06-02-2006, 03:01 AM   #36
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If Frodo was star-gazing in our world, what he saw would probably be Mars.
There are other red stars low in the south in mid-winter, such as the ones in the constelations of Orion and Taurus but they are much less bright and not very obvious when close to a full moon.
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Old 06-02-2006, 03:58 AM   #37
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I agree, Selmo, and being Mars, a planet, which changes its distance in relation to the Earth, would explain why it shines brighter over the course of several days/nights. Since Tolkien was always aware of the significance of natural objects and their relationship to mythology, I would interpret his use of Mars (the god of war) increasing as a sign of impending war. I could also imagine the red light in the sky evoking the image of a red burning eye.

Thanks for picking up that interesting detail, Texadan!
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Old 06-02-2006, 04:11 AM   #38
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davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
As its a red star Borgil could be a possibility. More on M-e astronomy here
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Old 06-02-2006, 09:12 PM   #39
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I could not find how the stars were made though I'm fairly sure I've read it before. But the Sun and Moon originated from a fruit of Laurelin and a bloom of Telperion. Is there a place for planets as we know them in Tolkien's cosmology?
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Old 06-03-2006, 10:46 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by davem
As its a red star Borgil could be a possibility. More on M-e astronomy here

My apologies. I did not read far enough or closely enough in the article you linked to before my last post. The creation of the stars are given there.
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