The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

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


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 07-03-2005, 04:40 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
Princess of Skwerlz
 
Estelyn Telcontar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the Sea is eastwards (WtR: 6060 miles)
Posts: 7,534
Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Estelyn Telcontar is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Eye LotR -- Book 5 - Chapter 03 - The Muster of Rohan

The events of this chapter take place in Dunharrow. The Riders’ journey there is briefly told at the beginning, and its topography and appearance are described vividly. As usual, we experience things through the eyes of a Hobbit, in this case Merry.

His thoughts bring the readers in touch with the other members of the Fellowship near the beginning, and even remind us of Boromir later on when he sees Hirgon. He is the one who asks the readers’ questions about the Paths of the Dead. We feel his sense of being lost in events that are larger than life to him, though he is eager to take his place and be active. We can sympathize with his loneliness as a unique character in a strange land, attempting to understand a strange language.

What do you feel when you read of Théoden’s courageous set of mind? How do Éomer and the other Riders of Rohan impress you? What do you think of Éowyn’s emotional state of mind? Remember, we don’t yet ‘really’ know who Dernhelm is – did you recognize 'his' identity right away when you first read the book?

Brego shows up in this chapter, at least indirectly, and no – he’s not a horse! Is there any further information anywhere else on the old man who guarded the Door ?

What do you think of the significance of the Red Arrow?

We see how Gandalf has become more commanding in the preparations for war – “Gandalf spoke with great authority.”

There is another instance of Aragorn’s foresight in his request to Éowyn (told only indirectly in her conversation with Merry) to arm the Hobbit for battle. This is the beginning of their “partnership” – official at first, clandestine later on, and decisive in the end.

We haven’t had a poem in awhile! There’s one in alliterative verse here, actually recorded in advance, as it was made later. There are also several proverbs and sayings – just enough different from our own to make them sound strange though familiar.

The chapter closes very much like it began – with a brief description of the valley and mountains, but this time the Riders (and Merry) are leaving. It also closes in darkness, though it is day, and speaks of the loss of hope, not for the first or only time in the chapter.
__________________
'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
Estelyn Telcontar is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-04-2005, 12:41 PM   #2
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Now all roads were running together to the East to meet the coming of war and the onset of the Shadow.
I remember my first reading & I think the opening sentence of this chapter struck me most strongly. Its so ‘dynamic’ - for want of a better word. Suddenly things are moving. The ‘roads’ mentioned are obviously not actual roads so much as the ‘roads’ or paths that the people involved are on - these ‘roads’ are not so much being ‘followed’ as made. In a sense we are dealing with the Road -

Quote:
‘Pursuing it with eager/weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths & errands meet,
And whither then, I cannot say.’
Many paths, many errands, many roads, because many individuals, all drawn together to meeet the coming of war & the onset of the Shadow.

Merry’s thoughts on this journey come across powerfully:

Quote:
Merry looked out in wonder upon this strange country, of which he had heard many tales upon their long road. It was a skyless world, in which his eye, through dim gulfs of shadowy air, saw only ever-mounting slopes, great walls of stone behind great walls, and frowning precipices wreathed with mist. He sat for a moment half dreaming, listening to the noise of water, the whisper of dark trees, the crack of stone, and the vast waiting silence that brooded behind all sound. He loved mountains, or he had loved the thought of them marching on the edge of stories brought from far away; but now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth. He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.
Why did he feel this way suddenly - this wasn’t the first time he had seen mountains? But its as though he has seen them for the first time, as though he has suddenly awakened to his own littleness in a very big world. Now, he is ‘borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth.’ & he wants to shut it out. This is a kind of ‘mystical’ experience - seeing through the surface & experiencing the world as it is. These are not ‘storybook’ mountains made up of words, they are hard, solid rock, & they are threatening to crush him.

Of course, Merry is prone to these kind of ‘mystical’ experiences - we recall his ‘dream’ in the Barrow:

Quote:
'What in the name of wonder?' began Merry, feeling the golden circlet that had slipped over one eye. Then he stopped, and a shadow came over his face, and he closed his eyes. 'Of course, I remember!' he said. 'The men of Carn Dum came on us at night, and we were worsted. Ah! the spear in my heart!' He clutched at his breast. 'No! No!' he said, opening his eyes. 'What am I saying? I have been dreaming. Where did you get to, Frodo?'
& his encounter with the Black Riders at Bree, where he ‘thought he had fallen into deep water’. He has come on this journey for a reason - one maybe which he himself did not fullly understand at the start. He was (he probably believed this himself) the ‘practical’ one, the one who would organise things & make sure it all went well. But there was another Merry buried down deep inside him, & it is this other Merry who has suddenly awakened, just for a moment, & seen the world for what it is. Then, the ‘old’ Merry reasserts itself, & he wants to run away to somewhere safe. There seems to be this ‘conflict’ going on in Merry all through the story so far, the ‘rational’ in conflict with the ‘non-rational’. It will take a traumatic experience on the fields of the Pelennor to produce ‘synthesis’ from this ‘thesis vs antithesis’, & he will tell Pippin that he has realised that he can honour the ‘great’ (the ‘weight of Middle-earth’ no longer ‘insupportable’) but that it is best to love first what one is fitted to love.

Turning to Theoden, We see that he has seen & accepted his destiny:

Quote:
'This journey is over, maybe,' said Theoden, 'but I have far yet to go. Last night the moon was full, and in the morning I shall ride to Edoras to the gathering of the Mark.'
'But if you would take my counsel,' said Eomer in a low voice, 'you would then return hither, until the war is over, lost or won.'
Theoden smiled. 'Nay, my son, for so I will call you, speak not the soft words of Wormtongue in my old ears!' He drew himself up and looked back at the long line of his men fading into the dusk behind. 'Long years in the space of days it seems since I rode west; but never will I lean on a staff again. If the war is lost, what good will be my hiding in the hills? And if it is won, what grief will it be, even if I fall, spending my last strength? But we will leave this now. Tonight I will lie in the Hold of Dunharrow. One evening of peace at least is left us. Let us ride on!'
He has also accepted the loss of his son. Now Eomer is to be his ‘son’ & heir. Even as he acknowledges that he will not come through the forthcoming battle, he is looking to the future of his people. There are echoes of the ending of Beowulf - for those who wish to see them - in Theoden’s acceptance of his doom (& in the manner of his death), but I don’t think it is necessary to have read Beowulf to understand Theoden’s state of mind. His companions love him & wish to protect him, but like many old people what he wants most is to be useful, to serve his people. He has accepted his coming death, & only wishes it to be a ‘good’ death. He can even talk easily about it, his thoughts only for others, not for himself:

Quote:
]'Greatly changed he seemed to me since I saw him first in the king's house,' said Eowyn: 'grimmer, older. Fey I thought him, and like one whom the Dead call.'
'Maybe he was called,' said Theoden; 'and my heart tells me that I shall not see him again.

Moving on. We are told, almost in passing, about the people who had lived in this land before the Rohirrim came there. Little is known of them. Why, because their tales have been lost. Like that of Rohan, there’s was an oral culture. When their stories were forgotten, so were they. Only the stones mark their passing, show that once they existed:

Quote:
At each turn of the road there were great standing stones that had been carved in the likeness of men, huge and clumsy-limbed, squatting cross-legged with their stumpy arms folded on fat bellies. Some in the wearing of the years had lost all features save the dark holes of their eyes that still stared sadly at the passers-by. The Riders hardly glanced at them. The Pukel-men they called them, and heeded them little: no power or terror was left in them; but Merry gazed at them with wonder and a feeling almost of pity, as they loomed up mournfully in the dusk.
How long before these carvings are worn away to lumps of stone, & then those lumps of stone to nothing? Even now, while they are still recognisable, the Riders pay no attention to them;

Quote:
Such was the dark Dunharrow, the work of long-forgotten men. Their name was lost and no song or legend remembered it. For what purpose they had made this place, as a town or secret temple or a tomb of kings, none in Rohan could say. Here they laboured in the Dark Years, before ever a ship came to the western shores, or Gondor of the Dunedain was built; and now they had vanished, and only the old Pukel-men were left, still sitting at the turnings of the road.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-04-2005, 12:50 PM   #3
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
This chapter begins with a wonderful description of Harrowdale, and yet we have already been here with Aragorn and the Grey Company. It wasn't described to us that time. It is left to the character of Merry to see it for us. Tolkien often describes a new place to us through the eyes of a character, so did he 'save' this one for the more wondering eyes of Merry. Or does it fit more with his character to have him describe it? Maybe Aragorn has seen the place before, or maybe it is that Tolkien wished to impress upon us the haste of the Grey Company's passing and in so doing not linger on description.

This chapter is filled with references to the Rohirrim's love of tale and song. Merry has been in appropriate company on his journey to Harrowdale:

Quote:
Then he had talked to Theoden, telling him about his home and the doings of the Shire-folk, or listening in turn to tales of the Mark and its mighty men of old.
He has had a good audience and his efforts in telling tales have been repaid by hearing some others in return. Only Pippin and Bilbo might have appreciated this chance to chatter more!

Quote:
You shall sit beside me, as long as I remain in my own lands, and lighten my heart with tales.'
Room was made for the hobbit at the king's left hand, but no one called for any tale.
It also seems that meals are accompanied with tales and that they form a great part of entertainment in this culture. That nobody at first called for any tales at this point shows that they were subdued and did not wish for entertainment. But these tales also serve a more serious purpose as it seems that they are used to record history. When Merry asks about The Paths of the Dead, he is told about them by way of a tale, a spine chilling story. I wonder how many small children in Rohan had been told that tale before? It is no surprise that the people of Harrowdale have superstitions about the Dead riding out and put their lights out when they fear them.

Quote:
He was on a road the like of which he had never seen before, a great work of men's hands in years beyond the reach of song.
Quote:
At times some Rider would lift up his clear voice in stirring song, and Merry felt his heart leap, though he did not know what it was about.
Quote:
and so without horn or harp or music of mens' voices the great ride into the East began with which the songs of Rohan were busy for many long lives of men thereafter.
When the Rohirrim are in a more pleasant or optimistic mood they sing, and it seems that when they ride off to fulfill their duties they also sing. This must serve not only as an entertainment and a way of recording history, but it must also raise the spirits, as Merry himself feels it even though he does not fully understand the words. That they do not sing as they ride off to Gondor speaks volumes about how they felt about the fate they were riding to meet. As though he does not want us as readers to also feel too disheartened, Tolkien here gives the game away a little by telling us that there would be people in Rohan to sing about this event afterwards, that they would not all be killed. Strangely enough, I don't recall noticing any of these little plot spoilers the first time I read LotR, it is only now, when I'm not carried away with the excitement of the plot that I notice them!

Quote:
The Firienfeld men called it, a green mountain-field of grass and heath, high above the deep-delved courses of the Snowbourn, laid upon the lap of the great mountains behind
I like the name Firienfeld. The place is like an alpine meadow high up on the mountainside and the name of it is evocative of Switzerland - it even makes me think a little of the Heidi books! But the Firienfeld isn't entirely like one of those beautiful alpine meadows because it is the location of ancient and mysterious remains.

Quote:
Dividing the upland into two there marched a double line of unshaped standing stones that dwindled into the dusk and vanished in the trees. Those who dared to follow that road came soon to the black Dimholt under Dwimorberg, and the menace of the pillar of stone, and the yawning shadow of the forbidden door.
Quote:
Such was the dark Dunharrow, the work of long-forgotten men. Their name was lost and no song or legend remembered it. For what purpose they had made this place, as a town or secret temple or a tomb of kings, none in Rohan could say. Here they laboured in the Dark Years, before ever a ship came to the western shores, or Gondor of the Dunedain was built; and now they had vanished, and only the old Pukel-men were left, still sitting at the turnings of the road. Merry stared at the lines of marching stones: they were worn and black; some were leaning, some were fallen, some cracked or broken; they looked like rows of old and hungry teeth. He wondered what they could be, and he hoped that the king was not going to follow them into the darkness beyond.
This description often reminds me of Avebury somehow moved wholescale from its English Downs landscape to an alpine meadow. Avebury is a neolithic complex which includes not only a stone circle, but the West Kennet Avenue, which is around two miles long, a double line of stones marking a path from the Avebury stone circle to the Sanctuary, which according to archaeologist Aubrey Burl may once have been a charnel house or mortuary for the bones of the dead - was this the original purpose of the Paths of the Dead? In the same 'complex' is West Kennet Longbarrow which looks very much like the descriptions of the Dimholt Door.

This reminded me so much of the Avebury area that I decided to find out more, and it seems that Tolkien did indeed visit Avebury and gained some inspiration from it. This page I found has some photos of the Longbarrow and avenue, and it also has a picture of a tree which Tolkien is said to have admired and sat beneath. Some links I've found on t'internet also suggest that he may have sat there and written parts of LotR. He's a legend himself...

These remains must have been in use long before the Numenoreans came to the shores of Middle Earth, so the Oathbreakers must have taken possession of an existing place. I wonder were the original inhabitants still dwelling there or was it long abandoned? They may have been attracted to it as a dwelling place if it already had a reputation of being abandoned due to Men's fear of it. The Barrow Downs always intrigue me as a place as they are an echo of an ancient past of Men in Middle Earth, but we are given a 'back story' for them which ties in with what we know of Men. However, we are given no such back story for the remains at Dunharrow which makes them all the more enigmatic.

Quote:
At each turn of the road there were great standing stones that had been carved in the likeness of men, huge and clumsy-limbed, squatting cross-legged with their stumpy arms folded on fat bellies. Some in the wearing of the years had lost all features save the dark holes of their eyes that still stared sadly at the passers-by. The Riders hardly glanced at them. The Pukel-men they called them, and heeded them little: no power or terror was left in them; but Merry gazed at them with wonder and a feeling almost of pity, as they loomed up mournfully in the dusk.
The Pukel-men always fascinate me too. I cannot place them within the idea of Avebury moved to an alpine meadow, but they are reminiscent of the Woses who we will meet later on. I'm sure I'm not the first to wonder if the Woses aren't the remnants of the culture which built the stone avenue, the Paths of the Dead and the Pukel Men.

I like how they are decribed as now not instilling fear in Men, as they do not sound intimidating to me either; they are quite Buddha-like. But Merry also feels pity when he sees them which is strange. perhaps that is like our own sad feelings when we see ancient ruins and wonder what they might have been like in their splendour. Maybe he is also a little sad for the loss of the culture which built them, an echo from the past?

Quote:
On the threshold sat an old man, aged beyond guess of years; tall and kingly he had been, but now he was withered as an old stone. Indeed for stone they took him, for he moved not, and he said no word, until they sought to pass him by and enter. And then a voice came out of him, as it were out of the ground, and to their amaze it spoke in the western tongue: The way is shut.

'Then they halted and looked at him and saw that he lived still; but he did not look at them. The way is shut, his voice said again. It was made by those who are Dead, and the Dead keep it, until the time comes. The way is shut.
'And when will that time be?' said Baldor. But no answer did he ever get. For the old man died in that hour and fell upon his face; and no other tidings of the ancient dwellers in the mountains have our folk ever learned.
Here is another mystery. Could this old man have been kin to the Oathbreakers? He is not one of the Woses' kin as he is clearly described as once having been noble, which must still be apparent in his appearance. He also uses the common speech. Maybe he was a Numenorean who used his long life to wait by the door until such time as someone who could take his story away would appear (which by this time is only a warning as he is obviously a dying man). He has an important function as he is the gatekeeper to an underworld place, and eerily his voice seems to have issued from the ground itself. It is interesting how the Rohirrim, who so obviously love tales and legends, have made him more mysterious by presenting him as a gatekeeper; the story is so good in the telling that the truth may have been very different.

Quote:
He loved mountains, or he had loved the thought of them marching on the edge of stories brought from far away; but now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth. He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.
This is how Merry feels at the beginning of the chapter, his fear and his pressure presented in a remarkable image. But this is also about us as readers. We loved the thought of mountains marching on the edge of stories, maybe even got excited about them like Bilbo, but now we have seen innumerable mountains and a great deal of Middle earth too. It has been a lot to take in by this point in the story, and there is yet more to come.
__________________
Gordon's alive!

Last edited by Lalwendë; 07-04-2005 at 12:55 PM.
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-06-2005, 06:15 AM   #4
Lhunardawen
Hauntress of the Havens
 
Lhunardawen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: IN it, but not OF it
Posts: 2,618
Lhunardawen has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via MSN to Lhunardawen
Silmaril Just dropping by for now...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Esty
What do you think of Éowyn’s emotional state of mind? Remember, we don’t yet ‘really’ know who Dernhelm is – did you recognize 'his' identity right away when you first read the book?
She is obviously very upset to the point of being potentially suicidal. As I have said in the previous thread, she has taken Aragorn's leaving and the thought of him dying too hard, and I would hazard that right at that moment she was thinking of following him - not to the Paths of the Dead but to the death that seems to be about to welcome him.

Quote:
'All is well,' she answered; yet it seemed to Merry that her voice belied her, and he would have thought that she had been weeping, if that could be believed of one so stern of face.
Merry has no idea what had just happened to her, so I understand his doubts. But the mere fact that he suspected this - when he didn't know her very well - makes us think that maybe she has indeed been weeping.

Notice that she mentions the words "he is gone" three times. Repeating something implies emphasis and importance, and apparently Eowyn considers Aragorn's loss a big deal, not just in relation to the impending war but also to herself, personally. To me it seemed that she is saying, "He is gone, and soon I will be as well."

I particularly find this interestingly ironic:
Quote:
'Greatly changed he seemed to me since I saw him first in the king's house,' said Eowyn: 'grimmer, older. Fey I thought him, and like one whom the Dead call.'
and later
Quote:
He [Merry] caught the glint of clear grey eyes; and then he shivered, for it suddenly came to him that it was the face of one without hope who goes in search of death.
For some reason, I knew right away that this man is actually Eowyn. She sees that the one she loves is about to die, loses hope because of it and so goes searching for the same end. That cannot be emphasized enough.

Although if it is any consolation, it means to say that Aragorn really is an effective leader, for a big part of leadership is influence. That, or Eowyn is really just crazily in love with him.

More later.
Lhunardawen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-06-2005, 02:11 PM   #5
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Then Eowyn rose up. 'Come now, Meriadoc!' she said. 'I will show you the gear that I have prepared for you.' They went out together. 'This request only did Aragorn make to me,' said Eowyn, as they passed among the tents, 'that you should be armed for battle. I have granted it, as I could. For my heart tells me that you will need such gear ere the end.'
I don’t know whether this is true ‘foresight’ on Eowyn’s part, yet it seems to be. If we take Merry’s later perception of her as ‘one who goes in search of death’ then maybe this is similar to Halbarad’s foresght that his death lay beyond the Paths of the Dead. Of course, it could simply be that she is reaching out, in her despair & loneliness, to one she considers to be a kindred spirit.

What she eventually achieves could not have been achieved without Merry’s aid. In fact, it could be said that (as Tolkien originally intended her fate to be) that if she hadn’t taken him along, she would have died on the Pelennor Fields. It is only this reaching out, this compassion for a fellow sufferer, that ensured her survival - another example of the way a selfless act can bring benefit.

The difference between them is that while Merry also wants to go to the battle, he is not looking to perish there - though it seems he expects to. When he looks into ‘Dernhelm’s’ face & sees there the desire for death he ‘shivers’. This desire for death terrifies him. It also seems to inspire in him pity & horror, rather than a feeling of ‘kinship’. Does Eowyn understand Merry’s desire to fight, hoping against hope that he will come through, or does she think he too desires death? Their relationship is a ‘strange’ one, to say the least. Merry seems to have an insight into her state which she does not have into his, yet only together can the two of them defeat the Witch King.

I don’t want to go too deeply into later events here, but I wonder exactly how deep Eowyn’s desire for death actually goes. Certainly, she doesn’t simply want to die - she could just slash her wrists or hang herself if that was all she desired. Oddly, it is her desire to ‘die’ that inspires her to act, to move, & not simply curl up into a ball & waste away in despair. It seems, almost, that her desire for ‘death’ is what finally makes her do something, makes her take control of her life & act. Its almost as if before she wanted to die she was unable to truly live. Its as if she didn’t truly seek her own death - much as she may have thought she did: what she truly sought was the ‘death’ of her old self. Deep down, all unawares, it seems what she wanted was to live, to be fullly & completely alive. Maybe this is what she saw & responded to in Merry. At the very least, I think it accounts for her ‘change of heart’ when she met Faramir. He was what she had wanted all along, but, not believing he (& what he ‘symbolised’) could exist, she latched onto the only alternative she could concieve. When it comes to the test, standing over Theoden & facing the Witch King, she makes an instinctive choice to live - ie, when she is faced with ‘Death’ (‘Do you not know Death when you see it’ he asks Gandalf) she defies it & ultimately ‘kills’ it. Yes, it is only with Merry’s aid that she dispatches the Witch King, but it is she herself who ‘kills’ what he symbolises for her - the false Death, despair & meaninglessness that has obsessed her for so long.

It is in the encounter with Aragorn that she is forced to confront this growing obsession/possession of her true self, but only by, in a sense, surrendering to it, that she can pass through it & come to the ‘Light’ beyond.

Back to Merry. His perception of Eowyn’s state shows yet again that he is no ‘ordinary’ Hobbit - he can look into a person’s eyes & see their ‘soul’. The more we see of Merry (if we pay attention) the more complex a character he becomes.

Aside: the ‘song of Rohan’ is a later interpolation. This raises all kinds of questions about what was contemporary to the story & what was added later - & who by. Who put the song into the Red Book, when, & what for? We come back to the ‘Translator conceit’ again. Is this the only example of such a later ‘addition’ ? What about the ‘spontaneous’ song of Aragorn & Legolas at Boromir’s funeral? Were other verses ‘tided up’, so that what we have were the final ‘approved’ versions of the songs. It may seem a petty point, but no-one in the story ‘umms & ahhs’, stumbles over their words, etc. In fact, whenever anyone is expected to say something meaningful &/or profound they do so. This verse & the account of its presence at that point in the story, rather than in an appendix, is in many ways another reference to the way life can be seen as a ‘story’, & I can’t help but recall the final line from the movie ‘The Man who shot Liberty Valance’: ‘When the legend becomes fact, print the legend!’ The interpolation of this verse at once heightens the emotional impact of the episode, & at the same time confirms that we are not reading ‘reportage’. What we actually have is the legend of the War of the Ring set down for us, in a translation of a translation (to what degree?) of a lost original. This, I think, was Tolkien’s intention, & a ‘conceit’ he did not want us to forget.

Oh, & finally, I just have to say that this verse contains one of the lines in the whoole of LotR that always reduces me to tears:

Quote:
Six thousand spears to Sunlending.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-06-2005, 02:40 PM   #6
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Since readin Lhunardawen's post, I've been thinking about this line:

Quote:
'Greatly changed he seemed to me since I saw him first in the king's house,' said Eowyn: 'grimmer, older. Fey I thought him, and like one whom the Dead call.'
Fey struck me as an odd word, and it always has, as it is very similar to Fae, from Faerie. It also always brings to mind Morgan Le Fay, conjouring up a beautiful yet terrifying image. But looking up the etymology of Fey I found this:

Quote:
"of excitement that presages death," from O.E. fćge "doomed to die," also "timid;" and/or from O.N. feigr, both from P.Gmc. *faigjo- (cf. M.Du. vege, M.H.G. veige "doomed," also "timid," Ger. feige "cowardly"). Preserved in Scottish. Sense of "displaying unearthly qualities" and "disordered in the mind (like one about to die)" led to modern ironic sense of "affected."
What is interesting in how Tolkien has Eowyn deliver this description is that he has her define the meaning of the word. That's not something a skilled writer would normally do, so perhaps here his scholarly interest was making an interjection, underlining the definition he wanted us to use. Fey can also mean 'affected' as it says above, which has different connotations. I wonder was he making a distinction allowing for the changing use of language?
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2005, 01:45 AM   #7
Lhunardawen
Hauntress of the Havens
 
Lhunardawen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: IN it, but not OF it
Posts: 2,618
Lhunardawen has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via MSN to Lhunardawen
Silmaril

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Certainly, she doesn't simply want to die - she could just slash her wrists or hang herself if that was all she desired.
That would be too uncharacteristic of her to do. After everything she had declared to Aragorn about her being a shieldwoman, choosing that manner of death would be like an insult to herself. If she were to die, she wanted to die the way Aragorn will. Maybe at least in that way she thought they could be together. Which brings me to wonder...did she expect to see Aragorn again in the battlefield at all, a potential driving force behind her action?

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Oddly, it is her desire to 'die' that inspires her to act, to move, & not simply curl up into a ball & waste away in despair. It seems, almost, that her desire for 'death' is what finally makes her do something, makes her take control of her life & act. Its almost as if before she wanted to die she was unable to truly live. Its as if she didn't truly seek her own death - much as she may have thought she did: what she truly sought was the 'death' of her old self. Deep down, all unawares, it seems what she wanted was to live, to be fullly & completely alive. Maybe this is what she saw & responded to in Merry.
Ironically, as she goes 'searching for death,' she gives life to another. Merry, when discharged from Theoden's service and told to stay behind, had died - he had nothing left to live for. All his original companions are gone. There was nothing he could do for his part in the War, when all his friends are involved in some way. He was 'dead,' not living but merely existing. And then this person who goes in search of death gives him life by taking him on 'his' horse. Dernhelm thought he was helping a fellow 'death-searcher' but in actuality they are both on the road to a life that is really lived.

Confound this rep rule, but I just want to say that those thoughts are really good.
Lhunardawen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-07-2005, 03:03 PM   #8
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
The Red Arrow

All I can find is this - (which is what I'd already come up with myself on searching through UT - there's no mention in HoMe)

I think, though, that the account in Cirion & Eorl was written after LotR, so the question that springs to mind is, was this story already in Tolkien's mind when he wrote of the Red Arrow in LotR, or was it based on something else, & the later account 'invented' as an explanation within the secondary world?

It is certainly an 'odd' symbol to use - how old was the Red Arrow? There seems to be a history behind it which Theoden was aware of. He only had to see it in Hirgon's hand to understand exactly what it meant. It seems from Theoden's words that it is a sign of absolute desperation on Gondor's part - 'Has it indeed come to that?' It seems that it declares Gondor to be in extremis, at the absolute point of complete destruction. Certainly, Hirgon could have told Theoden that Gondor was in deep trouble, but it seems that Denethor felt that would not be enough & he had to send the Red Arrow as well. It does seem that it had a very powerful symbolic value, & to be calling on the Rohirrim to fullfil an oath.

This is interesting in the light of the events of this & the previous chapter - oaths run through both, ones held & ones forsworn.

In passing, I also wonder what the 'mark' painted on the arrow was.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-2005, 01:06 PM   #9
Fordim Hedgethistle
Gibbering Gibbet
 
Fordim Hedgethistle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Beyond cloud nine
Posts: 1,842
Fordim Hedgethistle is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
Who is that cloaked and masked stranger, returning to the CbC...??

The one point I must make about this chapter is how it demonstrates more than any other the 'place' of Merry in the overall structure. Frodo and Sam are off on their moral/emotional/psychic/psychological journey while Pippin is 'bearing witness' to the passing of the old world in the form of Denethor. They are the more passive members of the hobbits, insofar as they are 'along for the ride' as it were, with Frodo and Sam placing their hope and faith in providence (although still struggling mightily on their own) and following the guidance of Gollum. Pippin, on the other hand, while at the centre of things, is the companion of Gandalf and acting as a pair of hobbitish eyes onto the great events.

But here, Merry comes into his own. We talked about him and his remarkable character a lot in the early chapters, but it's not until now, I think, that he steps forward as the most truly representative hobbit of them all. Two lines stand out for me:

Quote:
He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.
On the one hand, the sheer weight of the history and landscape that's about him is too much, and he desires a very hobbitish thing: to retreat from it into comfort. But of course he doesn't do that, instead he says:

Quote:
"I would not have it said of me in song only that I was always left behind!"
Still very hobbitish in its way, insofar as he is thinking of the songs that will be sung in that snug little room where he wishes he could be. Also very hobbitish insofar as he does not want songs telling how grand and heroic he is, but just that he went to the war and did his bit.

But the key point to make about Merry here is that it is Aragorn who has left orders that he be armed for battle -- hugely important. Frodo and Sam were 'outfitted' for their trek into Mordor by Faramir: a good guy to have as your armourer, but he's no Aragorn! Pippin has been put into arms by Denethor -- poor, pure, foolish, great-hearted Pippin, caught up as usual in circumstances far beyond his control and understanding, but doing his level best in them. Of all the hobbits, it's only Merry who recieves his arms from Aragorn -- it's ironic that he is clad in armour and arms of Rohan, of course, but it was Aragorn who told Eowyn to make some arrangement for him. I find this so hugely important insfoar as Aragorn has clearly had an almost Gandalf-moment of prescience or awareness as he has 'seen' in some way that Merry will both need and earn his arms. Aragorn is 'aware' on some level of the Providential Plan that will have Eowyn and Merry together at the Pelennor to destroy the witch king.

I don't think it's a mistake that there is also talk in this chapter about the shadowy host that passed through dunharrow to meet with Aragorn. These two acts of meeting the ghost army and arming Merry are Aragorns' first tangible acts of Kingship over Gondor: he has certainly been acting like a King before, but these are the first acts OF the King as he commands the fealty of those who swore their oath to Isildur, and sets in motion the events that will lead to Merry's heroics in defense of Minas Tirith.

And all Faramir does for Frodo and Sam is give them some nuts, some walking sticks and some really obvious advice...Aragorn is way cooler than that!
__________________
Scribbling scrabbling.
Fordim Hedgethistle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-08-2005, 03:08 PM   #10
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,012
Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordhim
But here, Merry comes into his own. We talked about him and his remarkable character a lot in the early chapters, but it's not until now, I think, that he steps forward as the most truly representative hobbit of them all. Two lines stand out for me:

Quote:
He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by a fire.
Master Fordhim is very correct, it seems to me, about the Hobbitness of this statement. Indeed, I should that there is a lot The Hobbit to this statement. It strikes me as highly reminiscent of all those lines in The Hobbit when Bilbo thinks back to Bag-End and its larder as his refuge.

There's also, to my mind, a similar theme between this chapter and the part of The Hobbit immediately before the Battle of the Five Armies. In both cases we have hobbits (as noted, of a very similar nature) all alone and caught up in a large buildup towards war, over which they have little or no control. Both want to do something, but are concerned that they are too small or unimportant.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-10-2005, 03:21 PM   #11
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
'This journey is over, maybe,' said Theoden, 'but I have far yet to go. Last night the moon was full, and in the morning I shall ride to Edoras to the gathering of the Mark.'
'But if you would take my counsel,' said Eomer in a low voice, 'you would then return hither, until the war is over, lost or won.'
Theoden smiled. 'Nay, my son, for so I will call you, speak not the soft words of Wormtongue in my old ears!'
This is one of those moments, the full significance of which may be lost on a reader not paying attention. On the surface its a touching comment by an old man to his nephew, & I wonder how many readers take it as just that? Obviously, its far more than that. Theoden is King of Rohan & his 'son' is his heir apparent. Here he is effectively telling Eomer that he is to be the next king - & he is clearly thinking that this event will take place soon. He does not say it in so many words, but he strongly implies that his life will soon be over. His next words are:

Quote:
He drew himself up and looked back at the long line of his men fading into the dusk behind. 'Long years in the space of days it seems since I rode west; but never will I lean on a staff again. If the war is lost, what good will be my hiding in the hills? And if it is won, what grief will it be, even if I fall, spending my last strength? But we will leave this now. Tonight I will lie in the Hold of Dunharrow. One evening of peace at least is left us. Let us ride on!'
These words are spoken to Eomer alone - though probably Merry & a few others hear them - & they are meant, I think, to prepare him for what is soon to happen.

Theoden will lead his warriors into battle, but he does not expect to lead them from battle. That is to be Eomer's task. Of course, the 'formal' declaration will take place on the fields of the Pelennor, when Theoden orders that Eomer be given his banner:

Quote:
Then one of the knights took the king's banner from the hand of Guthlaf the banner-bearer who lay dead, and he lifted it up. Slowly Theoden opened his eyes. Seeing the banner he made a sign that it should be given to Eomer.
'Hail, King of the Mark!' he said. 'Ride now to victory! Bid Eowyn farewell!' And so he died, and knew not that Eowyn lay near him. And those who stood by wept, crying: 'Theoden King! Theoden King!'
Eomer accepts the banner & the responsibility that goes with it, in part because he has been made aware at this earlier point that he is to be king after Theoden's fall. In this chapter we see Theoden's concern for his people & what will become of them after his fall. So many of his words to Eomer, Eowyn & others are intended to prepare them for his death, in the hope that it will not come as too much of a shock when it happens.

Of course, what his words here also show is that he has come to terms with the loss of Theodred. His son & heir is dead, but his people cannot be left bereft of a leader. I can't help but recall that not so long since he had had Eomer 'confined to quarters' & wonder whether that wasn't an act of 'denial' as regards the death of his son. Now, in these few words, we see that a major change has taken place in Theoden's attitude to his nephew. He has been released from Grima's 'spell' & can live (& die) a free man, knowing his people will be in good hands.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-10-2005, 04:07 PM   #12
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
On the surface its a touching comment by an old man to his nephew, & I wonder how many readers take it as just that? Obviously, its far more than that. Theoden is King of Rohan & his 'son' is his heir apparent. Here he is effectively telling Eomer that he is to be the next king - & he is clearly thinking that this event will take place soon.
Did Eomer expect to be heir or not? As far as I can tell he was the closest relative to Theoden and so we might assume he would be the heir, but as there has been a 'history' between them during the time Theoden was under the influence of Grima, here he obviously needs to clarify that Eomer is still heir to Rohan.

That makes me wonder who he might have had in mind when he was under Grima's influence? Surely not Grima? This could have been behind Saruman's strategies - a man under his own influence in power, or civil war. Even so, I think that maybe the Kingship would have been beyond Grima's hopes, but he may have been pursuing Eowyn in the hope that she would be named heir. After marriage and her taking the throne, he would then have sought to influence her and effectively be ruler himself. That would have led to an interesting tale, given the hidden strengths and depth of determination that she possessed.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2005, 01:11 AM   #13
Lhunardawen
Hauntress of the Havens
 
Lhunardawen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: IN it, but not OF it
Posts: 2,618
Lhunardawen has been trapped in the Barrow!
Send a message via MSN to Lhunardawen
Silmaril

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwende
That makes me wonder who he might have had in mind when he was under Grima's influence? Surely not Grima?
No one is another likely answer. Rohan bereft of a ruler is very likely to fall into the hands of Saruman. That could have been his plan - using Grima to turn the king into someone very incompetent and incapable of leadership, not even able to name someone who would take his place. This will in turn cause chaos in Rohan, during which Saruman will step in and do his thing. Of course there would be people like Eomer and Theodred who would dare stand up against him and will struggle to edify the kingdom, but with Theoden's condition on their minds they would be much too distracted to reach their full potential.

I read the chapter again, and what kept on reverberating in my mind is Merry and the Paths of the Dead.
Quote:
'But as for the Paths of the Dead, you have yourself walked on their first steps. Nay, I speak no words of ill omen! The road that we have climbed is the approach to the Door, yonder in the Dimholt. But what lies beyond no man knows.' (Eomer)
And later
Quote:
'I will be ready,' said Merry, 'even if you bid me ride with you on the Paths of the Dead.'
'Speak not words of omen!' said the king. For there may be more roads than one that could bear that name. But I did not say that I would bid you ride with me on any road.'

'I won't be left behind, to be called for on return!' said Merry. 'I won't be left, I won't.'
I was touched by Merry's seeming 'welcome' to the Paths of the Dead. If we recall, Legolas came with Aragorn for he did not fear the Dead, and Gimli only decided to willingly step out when he found 'An Elf going underground where a Dwarf will not' (or something like that). In any case, they showed other motives or reasons else for going into the Paths, other encouragements apart from the fact that they are going with a friend, and going with a purpose. Merry, on the other hand, was only driven by his love for Theoden, his desire to be of service to him and in some way, to fulfill his sworn oath. He did not have any solid knowledge of the Paths of the Dead nor of anything else concerning their road or destination, but he swears to be with him whatever road he takes, nevertheless.

But then again, was he really driven by Theoden, or by the fear that he would be left behind alone? Was he really as selfless as I think he was, or was he just in pursuit of his own glory?

In any case, he did go on his own Paths of the Dead, as we'll see later on in the story.
Lhunardawen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2005, 07:15 AM   #14
Fordim Hedgethistle
Gibbering Gibbet
 
Fordim Hedgethistle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Beyond cloud nine
Posts: 1,842
Fordim Hedgethistle is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
herm...it's interesting that in this chapter we see Theoden contemplating his own death and turning to his now presumptive heir while simultaneously we know that Aragorn is off becoming king of his realm. I wonder if there isn't some kind of metaphorical doubling going on here (as is so common with Tolkien). Theoden, the old king, long in the shadows and not 'doing his job' is going to pass into death so that the new king, who has struggled against the darkness for love his master, can assume his place on the throne.

It seems to parallel Aragorn's journey nicely: for too long has he been in the shadows, not showing the world his power, but that person (Strider/Aragorn) is going to pass through death (metaphorically die, even, on the paths of the Dead) and emerge from the womb/tomb as Elessar.

The one most interesting parallel would be between the wizards who have a claim on these two kings: both Theoden and Aragorn come out from under the 'tutelage' of a wizard, 'die', and are then replaced by the 'heir' (Eomer or Elessar) who represents their own unfulfilled potential. What's neat about this is that the process is the same, while the difference is in the nature of the players at the wizard end of the scale: bad wizard leads to the actual death of Theoden, good wizard leads to the metaphorical death of the old self and the birth of a new. Or is this a distinction between material and spiritual, with Saruman as the materialist/technologist extraordinaire leading the the physical/historical transfer of power between old and new king, and Gandalf as the spiritual/divine guide leading to the spiritual transformation of the old self into the new self?

And if this is the case (really extending it now) can we see Aragorn's passage through the Paths of the Dead, as the precursor for Frodo's own tranformation into spiritual state at the end of the story?

Perhaps this is all part of a much larger pattern with different kinds of death/transformation being put alongside: Theoden into Eomer (historical, physical death, affecting society); Aragorn into Elessar (heroic, mythic death of the hero to save society); Frodo into the West (metaphysical, spiritual death of the self to redeem society)?

More coffee needed...
__________________
Scribbling scrabbling.
Fordim Hedgethistle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2005, 11:46 AM   #15
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,012
Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
Did Eomer expect to be heir or not? As far as I can tell he was the closest relative to Theoden and so we might assume he would be the heir, but as there has been a 'history' between them during the time Theoden was under the influence of Grima, here he obviously needs to clarify that Eomer is still heir to Rohan.
I wonder about this...

Certainly, after Theodred's death, Eomer was the logical heir, as both Theoden's nephew and an experienced Marshal of the Mark.

But was he Theoden's only nephew... I wonder....

Remember, Theoden had FOUR sisters. I think it very unlikely that only Theodwyn married. Statistically, I would guess that three of them married. In all likelihood, Rohirrim probably having the large families typical of a pre-modern society, Theoden had a couple more nephews, who were probably a fair bit older than Eomer (the son of the youngest sister), and who may have had grown sons themselves.

Of course, Eomer and Eowyn have a special status in that they were raised by Theoden and were essentially Theodred's adopted siblings.

Still, perhaps there WERE other nephews out there. I think it likely. Certainly, it would explain why Theoden would feel the need to declare Eomer his heir. If Eomer were the only nephew, he would naturally fall in place after Theodred's death, nephew or no.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2005, 01:49 PM   #16
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
AAARRGH!!!!

The whole argument of my last post falls apart!! I just found this, from The King of the Golden Hall:

Quote:
"Behold! I go forth, and it seems like to be my last riding," said Theoden. "I have no child. Theodred my son is slain. I name Eomer my sister-son to be my heir. If neither of us return, then choose a new lord as you will.
Public declaration, days since! Another embarrassing fox paw

I hereby promise to actually read LotR one of these days.

Anyway, hiding embarrassment & pretending none of that happened, let's move on...

Civil War

Of course, we don't know what position Grima actually held in the court. Certainly, Eomer was imprisoned for threatening death to him, so we may assume that, in his 'broken' state Theoden had held Grima in higher regard than Eomer. I say 'may' because its quite likely that, given the laws of the Hall, anyone threatening another with death there would have been locked up to 'cool his heels'.

What it does show, though, is that Eomer was not, at that point, held to be the automatic heir of Theoden, assuming the place of Theodred on his death - if he had been in that position his authority would have been too high for him to be treated in such a humiliating fashion.

Could Grima have been declared 'Heir Apparent' by Theoden in his broken state? The Civil war scenario Lalwende mentioned could have been Saruman's intention - a 'second best' after Grima forcing Eowyn into marriage after Theoden's death. Break Theoden, kill Theodred, & the whole realm is likely to implode. We can assume that part of Saruman's intent was also to break Eowyn's will - he probably thought that as a woman she was easily breakable in that way!

Whatever, it seems that Saruman saw Eomer as his major problem once Theodred was out of the way, & probably his next move would have been to get him out of the way permanently. And if Eowyn wasn't 'compliant' she could go the same way. Grima would be left, as the ruler, Erkenbrand then opposes him - civil war again.

Whether this was Saruman's plan alone, or whether Sauron was behind it, we'll never know, but what we can say is that if Gandalf hadn't intervened when he did there would have been no Ride of the Rohirrim, Gondor would have fallen & Sauron would have gone through the west like a dose of salts!
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-11-2005, 02:29 PM   #17
Lalwendë
A Mere Boggart
 
Lalwendë's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: under the bed
Posts: 4,804
Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Lalwendë is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Reading what formendacil and davem have just posted raises some interesting questions. Firstly, it is likely that Eomer was not the natural next in line to the throne; most of us would view a line of succession to naturally follow the 'first born' logic. If Theodwyn had older sisters then Eomer would have been likely to have cousins and even if Rohan used primogeniture to determine the succession then it's likely he would not have been first in line.

It is possible that Eomer was the first male in line to the throne - he was the Third Marshall of the Riddermark, wouldn't Theoden and Theodred have been first and second?

Theoden also has to name Eomer as his heir, which is odd. Surely the line of succession would be well known? Comparing Rohan with the real world, there is a long and bloody history about lines of succession to the British throne. And the same happened in Numenor.

However, the culture could have been different in Rohan. If this is the case, that the king had to formally name his heir, then Saruman would have been all too well aware of this and would have sought to exploit it - by killing Theodred, discrediting Eomer and having his quisling Grima try to wheedle his way in.

Grima was clearly someone of high status already in Rohan, who has chosen a non-military path to success, and he must have already been in a position to get close to Theoden in order to deceive and manipulate him so thoroughly. We do not know exactly how close he could have been to the 'royal family' or line himself, but he must have had some supporters within Rohan, even if they may have been only willing to go along with him due to his position of influence on the King. If he had gained the throne somehow, there would certainly have been civil war.

This makes me think about Eowyn's sense of desperation again. Her 'cage' could have been the bars which she saw closing around her as Grima's influence grew stronger. Meeting Aragorn who was inspirational, and who had the right qualities of nobility she could have seen in him what had been suppressed in her own country where the men no doubt were in fear of Grima. This could have even prompted her to think about how at the last she might have to fight against the doom which was heading for her. When she was told to stay behind again after Aragorn left, and then yet again when the Rohirrim made for war, her fear of ending up a chattel may have risen a little more each time until she thought she may as well fight alongside the men as much as risk dying at the hands of the orcs. Aragorn seems to have woken her from her fears and made her realise what was making her so afraid.
__________________
Gordon's alive!
Lalwendë is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-17-2005, 04:57 PM   #18
Guinevere
Banshee of Camelot
 
Guinevere's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Switzerland
Posts: 5,707
Guinevere is a guest of Tom Bombadil.
the two weeks have passed and again I haven't managed to post anything...
I did read the chapter though, and followed the interesting discussion, I just didn't have any original thoughts of my own.
As always, I enjoyed Esty's excellent summary, and I loved Davem's posts about Merry and the roads running together, and about Eowyn. There's not really much to discuss if I agree with everything, is there!
Lalwende's link to the prehistorical stones was very interesting too, and her mentioning that the description of the mountainous area sounded rather like Switzerland. Tolkien must have been a very good observer with an almost photografical memory to keep all these evoking details in mind. The description of the mountains must have derived from his only trip to the Swiss alps , which he made as a lad. It must really have made a lasting impression on him! I wonder, if he himself felt rather a bit like Merry, that mountains are grand to look at from afar, but if you are surrounded by them you feel rather oppressed.
Quote:
He loved mountains, or he had loved the thought of them marching on the edge of stories brought from far away; but now he was borne down by the insupportable weight of Middle-earth. He longed to shut out the immensity in a quiet room by the fire.
I agree very much with Fordim and Formendacil that the last sentence is very "hobbittish"!

Quote:
...trying to understand the slow sonourous speech of Rohan that he heard the men behind him using. It was a language in which there seemed to be many words that he knew, though spoken more richly and strongly than in the Shire, yet he could not piece the words together.
Is that the reaction of a person of English mothertongue when hearing Anglo-Saxon ? I wish I could hear how it sounds... Well, at least I can listen to Tolkien himself reading the poem of the great ride towards the end of the chapter, because I have the CD with those precious recordings!

Something which made me wonder, are Eowyn's words about the Ghosts, in answer to Théoden's tale:
Quote:
"But the Dead come seldom forth and only at times of great unquiet and coming death."
"Yet it is said in Harrowdale," said Eowyn in a low voice, "that in the moonless nights but little while ago a great host in strange array passed by. Whence they came, none knew, but they went up the stony road and vanished into the hill, as if they went to keep a tryst"
This must have been before Aragorn entered the Paths (8th March). Theoden & co came to Dunharrow on the 9th March in the evening , and that's when Eowyn made that remark.
So the Dead must have had a foreboding that the time had finally come when they would be summoned?? Aragorn made up his mind to take this path after he had looked into the Palantír on the 6th March in Helm' Deep, but how could the Ghosts have known this?
Anyhow, I find the chronology in the Appendix very useful to keep track of which events took place in which order, and especially what happened simultaneously to the other members of the fellowship. It must have been an enormous piece of work to synchronize all these facts! And it adds greatly to the feeling of "reality".

The discussion about Théoden calling Eomer "son" was also interesting. I couldn't find any other cousins mentioned, and remember that Eomer and Eowyn were brought up in the king's house since their parents had died when Eomer was about 11,
"Her children he took into his house, calling them son and daughter." it says in Appendix B II.

That Théoden rides himself to war with his people instead of staying at home, is a contrast to Denethor (and Sauron himself) who make the plans, but order others to the front. Those were heroic days, when a king in reality was the leader of his people!
__________________
Yes! "wish-fulfilment dreams" we spin to cheat
our timid hearts, and ugly Fact defeat!
Guinevere is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-09-2008, 12:40 PM   #19
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Quick one on the significance of the Red Arrow.

In Egil's Saga we find:

Quote:
King Audbjorn sent around an arrow of war as a signal to call men to arms throughout his kingdom & dispatched messengers to powerful men asking them to meet him.
Or in another translation it reads:

Quote:
By such persuasion king Arnvid was determined to gather his forces and defend his land. He and Solvi made a league, and sent messengers to Audbjorn, king of the Firthfolk, that he should come and help them. Audbjorn, after counsel taken with friends, consented, and bade cut the war-arrow and send the war-summons throughout his realm, with word to his nobles that they should join him.
'Cutting the war arrow' seems quite similar to the painted mark on the Red Arrow....

Last edited by davem; 01-09-2008 at 12:45 PM.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-10-2008, 12:59 AM   #20
davem
Illustrious Ulair
 
davem's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: In the home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names,and impossible loyalties
Posts: 4,256
davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.davem is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
More on the War-arrow:

Quote:
The king split up a war-arrow, which he sent off in all directions, and by that token a number of men was collected in all haste. (Hakon the Good's Saga)
"-ör, f. 'war-arrow' (sent round as a to of war); skera upp -ör, to summon a district to arms." http://www.northvegr.org/zoega/h197.php

Hammond & Scull refer the Red Arrow back to Morris's 'House of the Wolfings', which Tolkien had read in 1914 - "the Wolfings are summoned to war against the Romans in part by a messenger who carries 'the token of the war-arrow ragged and burnt and bloody' "(Chapter 2).

Don't know if Tolkien was drawing directly on Morris work - or if he was, whether he was drawing on it consciously.

So, the War-arrow was a common 'signal'/summons in the Norse world, & it seems (in some cases at least) that it would be 'split up' & sent out to different places as a summons. Tolkien's example is painted red but Morris's has it covered in blood.
davem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2019, 04:20 PM   #21
Formendacil
Dead Serious
 
Formendacil's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Perched on Thangorodrim's towers.
Posts: 3,012
Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.Formendacil is wading through snowdrifts on Redhorn.
Send a message via AIM to Formendacil Send a message via MSN to Formendacil
Shield

I have it in my memory that Tolkien wrote Merry and the journey to the muster BEFORE he wrote Aragorn and the journey through the Paths of the Dead. Even if I misremember now that I hit my senile, elder years, it is still the case that we have, yet again, a split plot and time being covered from a new perspectove that has already been seen. Wherever that's the case, the question can be asked, "why follow that story first?" and this general consideration of how Tolkien structures this part of the RotK has been on my mind.

Following Aragorn first does a couple of things. One: it means that we follow the fastest storylines first: Shadowfax on the wind to Minas Tirith, then the Grey Company racing over the plains to Edoras before a mad march through the Paths of the Dead, them finally the Rohirrim marching by mountain paths to Dunharrow. There's a logic tonit, and it means that when we go backwards AGAIN to Theoden and Merry, we have an increased sense that they are behind, a sense brutally exploited when Hirgon arrives with the Red Arrow: Minas Tirith needed help yesterday, is his basic attitude. And the next two chapters will take this sense of a race against time and build on it: "The Siege of Gondor" will show Minas Tirith trying desperately to hold out until help can come while "The Ride of the Rohirrim" shows the help in its mad dash to not arrive too late.

It also lets us see, as the reader who knows more, Eowyn's story in sequence. Since she's not a member of the Fellowship (i.e. not a point of view character), her story is told far more coyly than others, but it is one of the most important threads in Book V, tied right into one of its biggest moments, the death of the Witch-king. Her story is easier to follow, going from Aragorn leaving her behind in the previous chapter to its fallout here, since her decision to turn Dernhelm (and take Merry with her) stems directly from her being left behind by Aragorn--she won't be left behind again. Even if Merry doesn't know who she is, we might--Tolkien doesn't tell us Dernhelm is Eowyn, but he really doesn't hide it, either.
Formendacil is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

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

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

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 07:45 AM.



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