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Old 07-01-2004, 02:00 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril LotR -- Book 1 - Chapter 03 - Three Is Company

In this chapter, the journey begins – though reluctantly. There is another birthday party, quite different from the one in the first chapter. Though Frodo and his friends are still in the Shire, new foes and friends appear. There are several poems, and the passage with Gildor yields more wonderful, quotable wisdom. In short, there’s lots to discuss!
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Old 07-05-2004, 07:44 AM   #2
davem
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My overall impression of this chapter is that its a transition from one world to another. We begin in the mundane world of the Shire, with packing up for a move, meals, washing up left for the next tenant. We end up in the world of the High Elves, ‘Ancient History’ come alive. Its a transition from the mundane to the mythic. While still in the Shire Frodo learns that the world is really ;larger, more magical & more dangerous than he could have imagined, or rather that the things he had imagined, the stories he had been told, are real. Its also, in a way, a microcosm of the whole story - setting out from home, the ordinary world, then a confrontation with the forces of evil, & finally ending at peace with the Elves.

We also discover more about Frodo & his role. One thing I wanted to pick up on from the early drafts is part of the conversation with Gildor which didn’t make it into the final version:

Quote:
The beginning of Bingo’s conversation with Gildor is extant in three forms. All three begin as in FR. p92 (‘They spoke of many things, old & new’), but in the first Gildor goes on from ‘The secret will not reach the Enemy from us’ with ‘But why did you not go before?’ - the first thing that he says to Bingo in the original version. (‘Why did you choose this moment to set out?’, P62). Bingo replies with a very brief reference to his divided mind about leaving the Shire, & then Gildor explains him to himself:

‘That I can understand,’ said Gildor. ‘Half your heart wished to go, but the other half held you back; for its home was in the Shiire, & its delight in bed & board & th evoices of friends, & in the changing of the gentle seasons among the fields & trees. But since you are a hobbit that half is the stronger, as it was even in Bilbo. What has made it surrender?’

‘Yes, I am an ordinary hobbit, & so I shall always be, I imagine,’ said Bingo. ‘But a most un-hobbitlike fate has been laid upon me.’

‘Then you are not an ordinary hobbit,’ said Gildor, ‘for otherwise that could not be so. But the half that is plain hobbit will suffer much I fear from being forced to follow the other half which is worthy of the strange fate, untill it too becomes worthy (& yet remains hobbit). For that must be the purpose of your fate, or the purpose of that part of your fate which concerns you yourself. The hobbit half that loves the Shire is not to be despised but it has to be trained, & to rediscover the changing seasons & voices of friends when they have been lost.’
I find this fascinating. Bingo (=Frodo), like Sam, is ‘torn in two’. Half of him wants to remain an ordinary hobbit, the other half wishes to leave & enter a different world - yet, the half of him that wishes to leave is ‘fated’ to go. He is called, against his will (or the will of his hobbit half) to a higher destiny. The hobbit half will have to surrender to that desire. And that hobbit half will be changed so much that by the end it will have to ‘ rediscover the changing seasons & voices of friends when they have been lost.’ The hobbit half will have to be ‘submerged’, put on hold, till the destiny of his other half has been fulfilled, &yet that hobbit half will be changed by the experience - so changed that it will have to learn how to be a hobbit all over again.

The other interesting thing Gildor says is: ‘For that must be the purpose of your fate, or the purpose of that part of your fate which concerns you yourself.’ Which means? Only part of Bingo’s fate concerns himself. So he has a ‘fate’ which only partly concerns himself. Yet how can Bingo’s fate not concern himself (not concern himself at all if we take Gildor’s words literally).

Perhaps Gildor is stating that there is a kind of ‘universal fate’, which involves each of us, of which our individual fate is a small part? Or perhaps he is implying that the fate of ‘Bingo son of Drogo’ is only a small part of the fate of a ‘greater’ being, whose life in Middle Earth is not the be all & end all.

I suspect that Tolkien felt he had strayed too far into metaphysics in this conversation & decided to cut the whole thing. But its fascinating to speculate where he was going. My own feeling is that, like the religious element, this idea was taken up into the story itself. I think its present in Frodo’s story, but Tolkien has decided he doesn’t want to have any character spell it out so blatantly.

Finally, the desription of the stars & constellations of Middle Earth. I don’t know if anyone has gone deeply into the astronomy (astrology? Men apparently watched the stars from the pinacle of Orthanc) of Middle Earth. I did find this site:
.http://users.cybercity.dk/%7Ebkb1782/tolkien/

which contains a star map of Middle Earth (it also has a nice interactive map of Beleriand).
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Old 07-05-2004, 08:17 AM   #3
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Boots

This chapter contains one of my favorite scenes in the entire work.

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As they begin to climb its first slopes they looked back and saw the lamps in Hobbiton far off twinkling in the gentle valley of the Water. Soon it disappeared in the folds of the darkened land, and was followed by Bywater beside its grey pool. When the light of the last farm was far behind, peeping among the trees, Frodo turned and waved a hand in farewell.
“I wonder if I shall ever look down into that valley again,” he said quietly.
I love that section. It is very atmospheric. Ted Nasmith has a painting in his 2002 calendar called “Last Sight of the Shire” that is (uncoincidently) one of my favorites. In fact, it graced my desktop for quite a long time.

Here in this chapter we have our first encounter with those pesky Black Riders who are so formidable in reputation and terror, and yet so incapable of finishing off the job. A subject we will probably return to during the book.

First, we have the incident on the road to Woody End. This was one of the times when the hobbits were the most helpless. Nothing could have saved them at that moment. Yet, ironically enough, when Frodo touched the Ring’s chain the Rider abruptly recalled a pressing appointment down the road and sped off. Of course, the Rider could not have known that Elves would save the hobbits later, but that was the most golden of opportunities. One wonders what made the Rider pass it up. I can only think of the daylight as a possibility.

The second time, that night, the Rider showed little hesitation until the Elves (who despite their vaunted woodcraft seemed utterly oblivious to all Udûn about to be unleashed nearby) came prancing past.

Also, just to note, there is a certain similarity between the indifference of hobbits to external concerns and the indifference of the elves to the doings of other beings.
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Old 07-05-2004, 09:28 AM   #4
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Miscellaneous points that I always notice in this chapter:

Gandalf's disappearance. This is really quite disconcerting, and very nicely lends suspense to the narrative. Gandalf is the archetypal wise, dependable mentor; his presence tends to impart a sense of security - he may not be infallible, we realize, but as long as he's there, we know that our heroes will have the best chance of success. His disappearance actually does two things. First, it simply removes him from the story for the time, forcing Frodo to handle things, and make decisions, himself. This is the same thing that happens when he goes away in The Hobbit (cf. also, for example, Lucas killing off Obi-wan and later Yoda in order to leave Luke without a mentor figure). But second, the fact of his unexpected disappearance is disquieting - the reader must at this point try to imagine what sort of thing might prevent even Gandalf from showing up when he says he will.

The Black Riders. In chapters one and two we have ominous signs, foreshadowing, and references to danger. But it is not until this chapter that the hobbits are in any actual danger. Notice how careful and restrained the introduction of that danger is. First there is the Gaffer's conversation with an unseen person. Then there is the Black Rider on the road that sniffs for them while they hide. In the midst of this external danger comes Frodo's desire to put on the Ring, which we know would be a bad mistake because of Gandalf's warning at the beginning of the chapter. Then there is another appearance by a Black Rider just before Gildor meets them. These episodes are no more or less than they ought to be: they are enough to indicate to us that the Hobbits are really in great danger and to make us nervous whenever hooves or dark shapes or sniffing is mentioned, but they are not so much that we yet know what sort of creatures these riders are, or what their powers are.

One tidbit from HoMe that I can't help but to mention, as it nicely encapsulates a lot about Tolkien's writing style. As originally written, the hobbits hear hooves on the road and decide to get off it and hide. A cloaked figure rides up and sniffs, then casts back his garment to reveal that he is Gandalf. Tolkien immediately rejected this version, which left him with two questions that it took considerable time for him to answer: what in fact the rider was and what had happened to Gandalf.

The fox. This is, as far as I know, one of only two passages in the book that the ostensible authors (Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam) could not even in principle have known about. It raises the interesting but probably trivial question of whether Tolkien had at this stage thought of the hobbits as the authors, and whether he knowingly or unwittingly violated that fiction. The fox passage is also notable for its fairy-tale sort of lightness and humor and is in that regard probably unique in the book. It has been criticized by some in the way of pointing out the discrepancy in tone between the early parts of the novel and the later.

The poems. This chapter has three, which is more than usual. Previously we have had only Bilbo's Road song and the Ring verse. Now we get a bit more of Bilbo's Road-related stuff, another, independent adventure-song of Bilbo's (both of these through Frodo), and a taste of Elvish song. A subtle distinction is implied here between Bilbo's character and Frodo's: Bilbo writes songs; Frodo learns them.

Gildor. This is the first in a long series of "safe place" scenes or chapters. A few elements common to nearly all of these can be seen here: 1. the scene begins with the threat of danger (here the appearance of the Black Rider); 2. there are corteous greetings; 3. they eat food; 4. they talk about grave matters and the hobbits are given advice.

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Old 07-05-2004, 09:32 AM   #5
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That pesky Fox

The journey begins! But just what kind of a journey is this…?

Thanks to the discussions about the ‘split-Frodo’ in Chapters One and Two, I have been alerted to something here in Chapter Three that I’d never really noticed before – how Frodo’s quest is being compared to Bilbo’s throughout its opening stages. His journey is both like and unlike the earlier one.

As usual, it is a hobbit’s clear thinking that leads Frodo to figure out the important relation between his journey and his uncle’s and to explain it to Gandalf:

Quote:
’For where am I to go? And by what shall I steer? What is to be my quest? Bilbo went to find a treasure, there and back again; but I go to lose one, and not return, as far as I can see.’
So far, we’ve been concentrating on Frodo as a flawed being (which he is) and I think he’s come off a bit worse in this respect than Bilbo. But here we see how the reverse is perhaps true. Bilbo’s quest was an acquisitive one: he went out and got the Ring and brought it back and kept it. Sure, he did not know what he was doing ‘wrong’ (he only knew the Ring as a ring), but the fact remains that he undertook a fairly standard quest: follow the map to the treasure, kill the dragon, keep the treasure for yourself. A clear goal and a precious object: what one normally has on quests. But Frodo is here quite astutely realizing that his quest must be undertaken in an entirely different spirit, for he must “lose” the precious object – he must seek not to enrich himself by destroying another (even if that other is an evil dragon) but make himself the poorer and give up the “precious” thing that he has been given.

So in this respect his journey is entirely different from Bilbo’s, but then we get a couple of interesting hints of how it is the same. First, when he leaves on his journey he does so:

Quote:
(following Bilbo, if he had known it)
Tolkien is so good at inserting these laden-with-meaning parenthetical comments! Frodo’s trip begins in a kind of enigma: he is following in Bilbo’s footsteps, even though he doesn’t know it! So he’s on the same journey as his uncle, even though it’s not the same, but he’s unaware or unconscious of his journey’s nature in ways that his uncle was or is not?

And this, I think, might actually help to explain that pesky fox that has bedeviled readers of the book for so long. You all know the one I mean – it’s the one that seems to step off the pages of The Hobbit by ‘speaking’:

Quote:
’Hobbits!’ he thought. ‘Well, what next? I have heard of strange doings in this land, but I have seldom heard of a hobbit sleeping out of doors under a tree. Three of them! There’s something mighty queer behind this.’ He was quite right, but he never found out any more about it.
This moment, which seems so out of keeping with the rest of the book, is perhaps a reminder that Frodo’s journey really is the continuation of Bilbo’s; that even despite the differences, there is still very much the same between their adventures. Once more, I think that Frodo has this kind of understanding when he remembers Bilbo telling him:

Quote:
‘“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door…Do you realize that this is the very path that goes through Mirkwood, and that if you let it, it might take you to the Lonely Mountain or even further and to worse places?”’
So Frodo and Bilbo are on the same Road, bound for different destinations, with different purposes. It this way, I think this chapter concludes the opening ‘movement’ of the book in that it rounds out the comparison of Frodo and Bilbo by mirroring them. Frankly, given what we see here, I think that Frodo comes off much better than Bilbo. Frodo is on a more obscure and dangerous form of the same Road, in which he is both dedicated to giving something up (rather than claiming something) and he is also far more ‘aware’ of that which was hidden to Bilbo (he never ‘saw’ Gildor or Black Riders in the Shire!).

Kuruharan you wrote that:

Quote:
Also, just to note, there is a certain similarity between the indifference of hobbits to external concerns and the indifference of the elves to the doings of other beings.
I think that this is an excellent point, and I hope that others will address it at some length (I haven’t the time at this precise moment)

EDIT Cross posting with Aiwendil who wrote:

Quote:
The poems. This chapter has three, which is more than usual. Previously we have had only Bilbo's Road song and the Ring verse. Now we get a bit more of Bilbo's Road-related stuff, another, independent adventure-song of Bilbo's (both of these through Frodo), and a taste of Elvish song. A subtle distinction is implied here between Bilbo's character and Frodo's: Bilbo writes songs; Frodo learns them.
More Frodo-Bilbo comparisons, and a really interesting one at that!

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Old 07-05-2004, 10:42 AM   #6
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White Tree

Well, I started reading the chapter and I realized that there was yet another difference between Frodo and Bilbo (that I hope no one has pointed out and I'm very sorry if they did). Bilbo was more anxious to go on his adventure in The Hobbit than Frodo was. That would make Frodo more of a heroe then because he was an unwilling hero....just a thought that leaped out at me.

I always liked the splashes of humour in this chapter as well. It puts silver linings in the clouds of darkness and makes Frodo a much more likeable character, methinks.

Quote:
They left the washing up for Lobelia
Simply classic. I think that moments like these makes Frodo's character more hobbity, as opposed at the end of the book when he is more elvish.

Regarding the fox, I think that, technically it was a violation of fiction but maybe that's one of the reasons it's so loveable. Maybe that was a segement of the rough draft with Bingo when the novel was going to be nothing more than a sequal to a children's story.

Well, those are my thoughts on the chapter.
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Old 07-05-2004, 12:30 PM   #7
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This chapter sets off at an easy-going pace, much like the hobbits themselves, trotting through the still familiar landscape. I don't mind the attention given to (sometimes pointless) details, the rendering of meaningless small talk. The bit about the fox falls in the same category. It sets an atmosphere of cosiness and familiarity that is very hobbit-like.

Speaking of humour: there's a very well-placed irony when, after Frodo speaks against leaving very quickly, so as not to alert his townfolk, like Bilbo did, Gandalf replies in earnest:
Quote:
Of course you mustn't vanish!
That is, in more ways than one!

Bilbo leaving quickly vs Frodo delaying: Yes, but you must remember, that in both instances, it was autumn. And both Frodo and Bilbo have a thing for leaving on journeys in autumn, this is when their 'wanderthirst' awakens. I always found this very strange, and wondered why on earth they didn't think of leaving in the pleasant spring or warm summer. Don't they think of the approaching winter? This is something I really can't relate to.

I want to talk a little about the Black Riders too. The first glimpse the hobbits get of them is meant to arouse curiosity in the reader, rather than satisfy it: they are very sketchily described. Of course, that is because fearsome things must always be hinted at, kept in shadows and not analysed in the open, or else the fear dies. Kuruharan spoke about the fortunate chance of the Rider turning aside exactly when Frodo was about to give in to his desire and put on the Ring: As his hand reaches the chain,
Quote:
at that moment
the Rider departs. More is not said on the matter, so the reader assumes it was just a lucky coincidence. But when one looks at the book as a whole, one realises there are not such things as 'mere coincidences' in Tolkien's world. Every single 'chance' event is a piece of the puzzle in a masterplan.
The second meeting with the Riders verifies the reader's supposition that indeed the desire for the Ring is provoked by the presence of the Black Riders. Frodo finds himself powerless to succumb to it, but again a 'fortunate' turn of events saves him:
Quote:
But at that moment there came a sound like mingled song and laughter
Sam's whisper following the Black Rider's retreat ("Elves! Elves, sir!") somehow foreshadows on a much smaller scale Pippin's cry "The Eagles are coming!" - in that they both signify the twist in the tale when the good guys arrive unexpectedly to save the day.

The Elves' feast in the woods seems to me another nod to 'The Hobbit". Only now the Elves are friendly not elusive and feed and protect the three hobbits, though advice is being given along the lines of saying both no and yes. In the discussion with Gildor, the ambiguity of the Black Riders is cunningly mantained as, when Frodo asks details about them, voicing the curiosity of the reader - is answered gloomily:
Quote:
Is it not enough to know that they are servants of the Enemy?...They are deadly.
. But the reader is also told to expect a reward for his patience later on:
Quote:
My heart forehodes that, ere all is ended, you, Frodo, son of Drogo, will know more of these fell things as Gildor Inglorion.
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Old 07-05-2004, 12:47 PM   #8
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Silmaril One more thing, concerning Gildor

For some reason, I’m not entirely sure why, the meal with Gildor and company has more of an “elvish” feel to me than any other encounter with them in the books. Even more than when they are in Lorien, I have the feeling of the characters being caught up in a different world that they don’t understand.

It may have something to do with the state of the characters in that point in the story. They are tired, they have just been in danger, and they themselves are not accustomed to being around elves.

Perhaps the relative briefness of the section has something to do with creating that feeling as well.
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Old 07-05-2004, 01:34 PM   #9
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It's so fun to be travelling back to the beginning of the story! This response isn't very long, especially compared to other comments because a lot of what I want to say has already been said by others and I don't want to repeat too much or delve into the world of over-analysis.

This chapter, along with the one following it, is one of my favorites in the whole story. It is before things get too dark and serious (but is filled with plenty of dark hints and foreshadowing), and the whole beginning of this journey is wonderful hobbityness, not too serious, and really providing insight into what hobbits are really like. However, at the same time as the chapter opens with a pretty much carefree day in the Shire, darker hints are scattered throughout... The most worrisome being Gandalf's absence. And then, enter the Black Riders, a-so far-nameless danger that is much more immediate. Tolkien drops hints, but never tells readers what they are, only more dark mutterings. The suspence is built slowly but intensely and irresistably. There is fear, but not too much: like the readers, the hobbits don't fully comprehend the dangers they are facing.
Exposition, exposition, exposition: Tolkien discloses some things, never enough to satisfy the readers, or to fully reveal. He brilliantly builds up the suspence and foreshadowing in a way that keeps the reader-and the hobbits-wondering and curious while still frightened.
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Old 07-05-2004, 02:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evisse the Blue
Bilbo leaving quickly vs Frodo delaying: Yes, but you must remember, that in both instances, it was autumn. And both Frodo and Bilbo have a thing for leaving on journeys in autumn, .
Actually, Bilbo started in spring : " one fine morning just before May" (and he just wasn't given any time to hesitate ).

I love this chapter! Not only the developing suspense at the pursuit by the black rider, but I still remember so well the sense of wonder and mystery I had the first time I read of the arrival of the Elves and how I was intrigued by their song (who on earth was Elbereth?) and the first Elvish words: (spoken by Frodo) "Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo" . I guess I felt a bit like Sam... . This is the first of many unexplained glimpses into the past that Tolkien gives, which in the end led me to read the Silmarillion.
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Old 07-05-2004, 03:07 PM   #11
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I really enjoy reading this chapter. Not only because "finally" we see different sides of Middle- Earth (For my part though, The Shire, is quite perfect )but also because we get to meet new characters.

Gildor is such a great "introduction" to the elves, after my opinion. Well, if you have read the Silmarillion, (and the Hobbit for that matter) you kind of have some "background information", but otherwise I think the song and just the meeting itself is a wonderful read.

As for comparing Bilbo's adventure with Frodo's adventure; I don't really put that much into it. Part of it, after my opinion, because it was two completely different adventures. Bilbo didn't get a "quest" that depended on him alone. As if that wasn't enough, he got some merry dwarves to follow him. Frodo however was quite alone, until Sam joined him. Sam probably wouldn't have joined him if it wasn't for Gandalf (Who found that naughty Hobbit outside Master Frodo's window. ) (Then of course, later, the Fellowship).

I also think that Bilbo's was much more aware of the whole "adventure" in itself. He had no heavy burden such as the Ring. Not did he have any expectations to "save Middle-Earth." While thinking about that, I would say that Frodo's and Bilbos' adventures are in completely different genres. Although, some similarities can be found such as small details, but it doesn't really have much to do with the adventure itself.

Funny though, two Bagginses out to find some adventure which is extremely rare for their kind - None of them too willingly though.
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Old 07-06-2004, 06:38 AM   #12
Estelyn Telcontar
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I'm enjoying the posts on this thread - so many good and enlightening thoughts! I'd like to add just a couple of things I noticed, not important, and yet worth pondering briefly, at least.

I find Gandalf's answer to Frodo's question on which course he should take fascinating:
Quote:
Towards danger; but not too rashly, nor too straight.
Often, when facing a new challenge, we expect immediate competence from ourselves or others. Gandalf gives Frodo time to develop his muscles with a training program, so to speak, letting him grow into the task at hand. He gives him a first goal that is attainable, though not without difficulty, and that has a reward for him when he reaches it - Rivendell and the Elves. I'm reminded of the proverb that a journey, no matter which length, begins with a single step. Would Frodo, or we, for that matter, dare new tasks if we knew how difficult they will ultimately be? Most certainly not, but when we live one step at a time, we are ready for them when we get there.


One thing that intrigued me some time ago was the brief mention of a character who's one of Frodo's closest friends, but who is never again mentioned in the book. I speak, of course, of Folco Boffin. We read his name once in Chapter 2, twice in this chapter, and with his disappearance
Quote:
Folco went home after lunch
he disappears from the story. No mention of him at the end, when the Shire is scoured and we again hear of other Hobbits, including Fatty Bolger, by name. I suppose anything we can imagine has to be pure speculation - did he leave the Shire, was he one of the Hobbits who was killed in the Scouring, what on earth happened to him? Or did Tolkien perhaps forget about him by the time he reached the end of the story? Here's wonderful material for a fan fiction or RPG!


The last item is a humorous human interest reference to Sam - he disappears for awhile shortly before leaving, and when Frodo calls him, he comes:
Quote:
...wiping his mouth. He had been saying farewell to the beer-barrel in the cellar.
There's an interesting comparison to Frodo there - he and his friends finished off the Old Winyards at the birthday party. Is there a class difference between the wine and the beer drinkers in there?
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Old 07-06-2004, 09:27 AM   #13
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I am off on vacation and puttering with a computer in a small library, but I wanted to add just one thought regarding Fordim's interesting comments...

Quote:
(following Bilbo, if he had known it)
When I read those few words, the image that stuck in my mind was not just Bilbo's specific quest that was outlined in The Hobbit regarding the dragon Smaug and Dale, but the whole series of events that governed the Ring.

In the earlier chapter, we have seen Bilbo presented with his "moment of truth", the instant when he had to decide whether or not to give up possession of the Ring. He was able to do that, but only with help from Gandalf. If Gandalf had not been there, Bilbo would likely not have been successful in giving up the Ring.

Just like Bilbo, Frodo is also going forward to his defining moment, when he will be asked to give up the Ring. The results, of course, will be very different, yet in one way not so different. Frodo too will need help, but from a "higher" source. And one at least wonders how things would have ended if Gandalf had been with him.

If we interpret the word journey in the widest sense as being our life's path, each Hobbit was faced with the same question, although in a very different guise: how to give up this terrible, addictive thing that threatened to take possession of their mind and being. So Frodo was not only following Bilbo's path in a physical sense, but also in terms of his life journey.
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Old 07-06-2004, 10:39 AM   #14
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The Fox and some other random comments

I haven't got the chance to reread the chapter in peace yet, but I've got some things to say...

First, of course, the fox (:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
And this, I think, might actually help to explain that pesky fox that has bedeviled readers of the book for so long. You all know the one I mean – it’s the one that seems to step off the pages of The Hobbit by ‘speaking’:
I'm afraid I have to disagree. For one, in the Hobbit just selected animals speak and it's a rare gift. Also, the author uses the verb "thought" not spoke. As I see it, the fox's thoughts were translated into human language, into English. The same way the mention of God in the religion free Shire. It's a rather smart way to show how uncanny our hobbits and their journey really is IMO. Even the animals, the nature notice there's something queer going on. (: On top of it the animal which finds it queer is the fox, the animalistic symbol of cunning wit. Whatever is queer to a fox must be really queer.

I can't help noticing the symbolism of 3 (the number of god (son & holy spirit), also being sacred before christianity tho). It is the third chapter and it's name is Three is Company... any journey starting with such a high symbolism cannot fail, can it (:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
The last item is a humorous human interest reference to Sam - he disappears for awhile shortly before leaving, and when Frodo calls him, he comes:

Quote:
...wiping his mouth. He had been saying farewell to the beer-barrel in the cellar.

There's an interesting comparison to Frodo there - he and his friends finished off the Old Winyards at the birthday party. Is there a class difference between the wine and the beer drinkers in there?
On that topic I always shivver every time I read Pippin's words and Sam's reaction:
Quote:
'Sam! Get breakfast ready for half-past nine! Have you got the bath-water hot?'
Sam jumped up, looking rather bleary. 'No, sir, I haven't, sir!' he said.
I don't know why... but there's something ugly in all this. The whole romantic, whatsoever of the journey was killed for me at that very moment and the elves couldn't much change it either. Maybe it's just me, and maybe it was because I was just 9 when I first read and hated it and never really got over it.

The meeting with the elves has one more effect, which I believe, wasn't mentioned yet. Sam no longer needs to go to Rivendell in order to see the elves. From now on, if he decides to come with Frodo, it'll be for Frodo's sake only and not because of the elves. I believe this is rather well done of Tolkien, to clear any suspicions the readers might have about Sams motives. (:
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Old 07-06-2004, 10:45 AM   #15
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Child, posting while you're on vacation -- now that's a dedicated Downer.

But anyways. . .

Reading over the posts I've thought of something about the Black Riders that I've not before. Like Frodo and the landscape through which he moves, they start out as relatively familiar things that only become more terrible and 'exotic' as the story goes on. Well, maybe "familiar" is the wrong word, but at their introduction they are simply riders dressed in black: compare that to what they will 'become' by the end of the book! So Frodo's growth into heroism, and his journey from the familiar and everyday, is matched by a 'developing growth' of the evil forces that pursue him the most relentlessly. . .

I think what the Riders here do for me is to highlight the banality of evil. Evil, real evil, never announces itself as such with anything as showy or as obvious as a Big Red Eye scanning the landscape. Here we have the chief instruments of the Enemy roaming around the Shire, being told to move along by the Gaffer no less! How utterly normal and boring -- imagine how much more 'exciting' a band of maruauding orcs or trolls would be. Now I do realise that there are strategic reasons for using the Riders here rather than more monstrous servants, but the point is that the first bad guys we see are just a bunch of guys on horses.

The really evil things that have happened in human history were like this. Nobody has ever had their village invaded by orcs (well, in this Seventh Age of the world at least ) but, tragically, a lot of people have been roused by an ominous knocking on their door in the middle of the night, only to be swept away by the men in dark clothes who have been sent to claim them. Too many people are chased through dark alleys by shadowy figures. This chapter doesn't just begin the move from the Shire (the world of everyday good) to Elves/King Elessar (the highest and noblest Good), but from the Black Riders (the world of everyday danger and 'bad men') to Mordor/Sauron (Evil).

Put another way, it is possible, I think, to see the Black Riders as Frodo's 'companions' on this journey as well. Just as he leaves the Shire as Frodo, and comes back as Frodo the Nine-Fingered, so too do his hunters leave the Shire as Black Riders and conclude their journeys as Nazgul.

EDIT -- Cross posting with Mirkgirl. I just wanted to add:

Quote:
The meeting with the elves has one more effect, which I believe, wasn't mentioned yet. Sam no longer needs to go to Rivendell in order to see the elves. From now on, if he decides to come with Frodo, it'll be for Frodo's sake only and not because of the elves. I believe this is rather well done of Tolkien, to clear any suspicions the readers might have about Sams motives. (:
Never saw that before! Great point!

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Old 07-06-2004, 11:09 AM   #16
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Frodo following Bilbo in so many ways, large, small, emotional, physical, and destiny: thanks everyone for pointing all these out. Very thought-provoking.

A few notes:

Quote:
...he was very reluctant to start, now that it had come to the point. Bag End seemed a more desirable residence than it had for years...
Torn Frodo again, of course. How I can relate to this...

Quote:
He had indeed privately made up his mind to leave on his fiftieth birthday: Bilbo’s one hundred and twenty-eighth. ... But he did not tell all his thoughts to Gandalf. What the wizard guessed was always difficult to tell.
Private Frodo, the mystery. Why hide from Gandalf?

Quote:
He spoke lightly; but his heart was moved suddenly with a desire to see the house of Elrond Halfelven, and breathe the air of that deep valley where many of the Fair Folk still dwelt in peace.
Breathe the air -- I can relate to that!
'His heart was moved suddenly'-- part of Frodo's particular appeal. I love this about him; I love his reaction to elves, to Goldberry, to beauty of any sort. He feels deeply.

Quote:
Frodo Baggins was going back to Buckland.
An eastward step...what looks backward is really forward; what looks like regression is progress; what lookS like a return to comfortable, familiar surrounding is actually a springboard into the uncomfortable, perilous wilderness.

Frodo's party: the four young hobbits:
Quote:
....but the food was good, and there was good wine: ....
When they had sung many songs, and talked of many things they had done together, they toasted Bilbo’s birthday, and they drank his health and Frodo’s together according to Frodo’s custom. Then they went out for a sniff of air, and glimpse of the stars, and then they went to bed.
I love this party. As an introvert, this is the one (not Bilbo's 111th) that I would want to be invited to... It reminds me of one of my favorite Rivendell quotes:
Quote:
"They spoke no more of the small news of the Shire far away: nor of the dark shadows and perils that encompassed them, but of the fair things they had seen in the world together: of the elves, of the stars, of trees, and the gentle fall of the bright year inthe woods."
That sentence breaks my heart. How rarely we do that.

Quote:
For Frodo was going on foot. His plan – for pleasure and a last look at the Shire as much as any other reason – was to walk from Hobbiton to Bucklebury Ferry, taking it fairly easy.
‘I shall get myself a bit into training, too,’ he said, looking at himself in a dusty mirror in the half-empty hall. He had not done any strenuous walking for a long time, and the reflection looked rather flabby, he thought.
The next time he looks into a mirror is at Rivendell?

'A last look at the Shire'-- how would I feel taking a last look at my childhood home before leaving it (forever) for great peril?

Lobelia coming early to review her inventory-- how to ruin someone's last day in
Their home!

Quote:
'Frodo did not offer her any tea.'
chortle...

Quote:
He took his own tea with Pippin and Sam Gamgee in the kitchen. It had been officially announced that Sam was coming to Buckland ‘to do for Mr. Frodo and look after his bit of garden’...
Ah. More than a gardener! Here it's made clear. I never caught any indication (before this) that Sam would be doing more than gardening; and then in ROTK to be startled by that quote 'morning, mr frodo! Breakfast is ready!' and sam pulling the curtains back...

Quote:
They left the washing up for Lobelia.
chortle...

Th
Quote:
e sun went down. Bag End seemed sad and gloomy and dishevelled. Frodo wandered round the familiar rooms, and saw the light of the sunset fade on the walls, and shadows creep out of the corners. It grew slowly dark indoors.
Whoa! Shadows creeping out of the corners... dark indoors...

Quote:
He went out and walked down to the gate at the bottom of the path, and then on a short way down the Hill Road.... ‘It’s going to be a fine night,’ he said aloud. ... He turned to go back, and then stopped, for he heard voices, just round the corner by the end of Bagshot Row....Footsteps went away down the Hill. Frodo wondered vaguely why the fact that they did not come on up the Hill seemed a great relief.
Heretofore, I had the mental geography of this 'eavesdropping' quite wrong. Turns out it was an Incredibly close call! Frodo and the Black Rider are standing on the same road, with just a curve between them. Chilling. And a good thing that Frodo decided: 'We are not going through the village tonight. Too many ears pricking and eyes prying.’

Quote:
Since they were all hobbits, and were trying to be silent, they made no noise that even hobbits would hear. Even the wild things in the fields and woods hardly noticed their passing.
I have always wished that I could do that!
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Old 07-06-2004, 08:49 PM   #17
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Tolkien

In reference to Davem's post I am so glad that Tolkien chose the name Frodo instead of Bingo. But on to more serious matters...

I have always liked this chapter because it is the when the characters and the reader first meet the Elves. Before this point we know of them but are unsure of what they truly are all about. It really shows that elves are real secret keepers and like the Oracle (I think) in the Matrix said that she only tells people what they need to know at the time. Elves could tell you a lot for in my opinion it would be like the walls of your house talking because they have been there for so long and seen so much. Yet, Elves know better for there are somethings that others need not know or never will be ready to know. For example, I don't feel the human race will ever be ready to know the meaning of life. Gildor obiviously thought that the Hobbits did not need to know what the black riders were only that they needed to run from them.

Well thats all for me for now. I will not get into symbolism until later chapters and then you will really see me ramble.
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Old 07-07-2004, 01:55 AM   #18
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Pipe

Quote:
When the light of the last farm was far behind, peeping among the trees, Frodo turned and waved a hand in farewell.
“I wonder if I shall ever look down into that valley again,” he said quietly.
mark12_30, I agree with you that this chapter is one of the first instances of the 'torn' Frodo and is foreshadowing for the 'torn in two' Sam at the end of the story. It is also with this quote that we can see the beginning of the conspiracy that is to be unearthed next chapter, with his friends overhearing him.

Something I'd like to point out is the character development of Pippin. In this chapter, we can see that he is very close to Frodo and is a lively, merry young fellow. While he is friends with Sam, his treatment of him in this chapter is as almost as if he was only a servant of Frodo, and not a friend-

Quote:
'Sam! Get breakfast ready for half-past nine! Have you got the bath-water hot?'
Sam jumped up, looking rather bleary. 'No, sir, I haven't, sir!' he said.
This is interesting, because as we all know, Pippin comes to like and respect Sam as a friend as the book eventuates and this is an example of the emotional transition of Frodo and his company from ordinary hobbits to a tight-knit group of friends who have shared many dangerous, yet fulfilling, experiences.

Also, the meeting with Gildor Inglorion, of the House of Finrod, is very interesting too, since if he is of the House of Finrod, he is most likely very old and has lived for several hundred years. How then does he not know much about the Nazgul? My answer is that he doesn't know much about the Ring and the whole history of Sauron and the Rings of Power, so therefore he only knows what he has heard and experienced- that the Nazgul are deadly. That's just my interpretation.

Quote:
'These are High Elves! The spoke the name of Elbereth!' said Frodo in amazement. 'Few of the fairest folk are ever seen in the Shire. Not many now remain in Middle-Earth, east of the Great Sea. This is indeed a strange chance!'
Frodo's understanding of the Elves' song and his knowledge of Elven-lore (which grows as the story unfolds) is superior to his friends' and shows that he already from the outset he is not an 'ordinary' hobbit. Most hobbits prefer to keep away from other 'strange' folk, yet he knows some of their ways and language as did Bilbo. This is quite remarkable, considering the close, 'fenced-in' community the hobbits of the Shire live in. It also helps in the setting-up of the story, now that we know Frodo knows things others do not and that he has to go on in the story; but for all his knowledge, he learns much more about himself, his friends and the wider world.

Quote:
Reading over the posts I've thought of something about the Black Riders that I've not before. Like Frodo and the landscape through which he moves, they start out as relatively familiar things that only become more terrible and 'exotic' as the story goes on. Well, maybe "familiar" is the wrong word, but at their introduction they are simply riders dressed in black: compare that to what they will 'become' by the end of the book! So Frodo's growth into heroism, and his journey from the familiar and everyday, is matched by a 'developing growth' of the evil forces that pursue him the most relentlessly. . .
That's very interesting, Fordim and something I hadn't thought of before. This is foreshadowed in Gildor's speech to Frodo-

Quote:
'But my heart forebodes that, ere all is ended, you, Frodo son of Drogo, will know more of these fell things than Gildor Inglorion.'
However, I believe that you are on the right track when you say that as the burden grows, and the 'task' becomes more fully known, so do the obstacles in that aim. In this case, these 'obstacles' are the Nazgul, who grow in danger and are seemingly more frightening than what they are made out to be in this chapter, as does Frodo grow wearier, yet wiser, as the story eventuates.

Silmiel of Imladris said:

Quote:
Elves could tell you a lot for in my opinion it would be like the walls of your house talking because they have been there for so long and seen so much. Yet, Elves know better for there are somethings that others need not know or never will be ready to know.
Quite true. In your mention of Gildor not telling Frodo more about the Black Riders, I think that was so that Frodo wouldn't be too scared to continue his journey and that Gildor was wise enough to know that he had to go on with it.

One thing I'd like to mention in Gildor's talk to Frodo is how he says:

Quote:
'But it is not your own Shire,' said Gildor. 'Others dwelt here before hobbits were; and others will dwell here again when hobbits are no more. The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.'
To me, this is parallel to Gandalf's 'All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us,' dialogue, in that Frodo is gradually beginning to learn that there is more outside the familiar square of the Shire and that he- as well as other hobbits- have to learn how to deal with the outside world and leave their comfort zone. Also the bit about 'It is not your own Shire' is symbolic of the fact that nothing is permanent, and hobbits are but part of the cycle of life and nature.

This message seems to fit in with us humans as well, as we have to realise that we are only a part of nature and that there were creatures before us and there will be creatures after us- we aren't the 'ultimate' life form on Earth. I'm not sure whether Tolkien was aiming for this sort of message, but with the Professor you can leave nothing to chance!
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Old 07-07-2004, 02:22 AM   #19
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Elves and their friends...

Elf-friend issue is raised here for the first time (apart from brief mention in the end of The Hobbit)

Not to retype it all, here is the link:

Concerning Elf-Friends
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Old 07-07-2004, 04:22 AM   #20
Fordim Hedgethistle
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Fingolfin II you wrote that in his conversation with Gildor

Quote:
Frodo is gradually beginning to learn that there is more outside the familiar square of the Shire and that he- as well as other hobbits- have to learn how to deal with the outside world and leave their comfort zone.
The irony of their conversation is precisely that it is taking place inside the Shire. So there is much more inside their familiar world than they are aware of. The "comfort zone" that they live in is explicitly not a geographical one with impermeable fences and borders, but a state of mind. If you are aware of Elves (like Frodo) and/or receptive to meeting them (like Sam) you have a shot at meeting Elves in your own backyard! However, it apparently works the same way with the dark and dangerous things: Black Riders are inside the Shire as well. So while I agree that there is a definite sense of inside and outside, us and them, in the Shire, the line between these realms is clearly drawn only in the minds of the Shire's residents -- well, not Frodo's, and after this meeting not Sam's either: the first step in each of their educations. (For Sam, that there is a whole world of experience beyond his own (Elves)? For Frodo, that this world of experience contains darkness and despair (Black Riders) as well as hope?)
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Old 07-07-2004, 05:13 AM   #21
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Quote:
The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.'
I agree with Fingolfin II that this "message" fits in with us humans as well - like Estelyn wrote in the other thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn Telcontar
These wisdoms have proverbial quality and an innate worth that makes them timeless and applicable to my life. Again, the genius of Tolkien puts them not into the narration, but into Gandalf's words, showing us his deep wisdom - and Tolkien's as well.
In this chapter, it is Gildor who speaks these wisdoms.
The two well-known proverbs : "Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards...." and "Go not to the Elves for counsel..." relate perhaps only to Middle-earth, but there is more timeless, applicable wisdom spoken by Gildor:
Quote:
advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill.
also:
Quote:
Courage is found in unlikely places
btw thank you for the link to the "Elf-friend" thread, HI ! Some very enlightening insights there!
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Old 07-07-2004, 05:58 AM   #22
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For now, I have just a few quick observations, having enjoyed everyone's posts here!

I am struck by how quickly the presence of the evil is felt in this chapter, how close the Black Riders are to Frodo's trail. And the detail about the Riders sniffing around for the hobbits! It almost makes them bestial characters from perilous stories. I think the two near misses are the more ominous given that this is just the start of the journey, and the hobbits are still in The Shire, and that Gandalf is not around to counsel Frodo. And the fortuitous happenstance of the elven song driving the Rider away. Such a small touch but so significant!

To be honest, I don't like one small point in Sam's characterisation, his constantly using "sir" to speak to Frodo and Pippin. I understand of course how the story itself will wipe away that class distinction--and perhaps for that very reason Tolkien chose to have Sam use the title of respect for "higher ups"--but to me it is an uncomfortable mark of life in The Shire.

With all the hobbits' awe of the elves, it is nice to see that Tolkien added a touch of humour to the interactions here.

Quote:
But we have no need of other company, and hobbits are so dull, they laughed.
Disjointed comments, I'm afraid, and not worthy of the very solid reflections and thoughtful posts here. Oh, and one last thought: does anyone know when Tolkien chose the chapter titles?
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Old 07-07-2004, 08:00 AM   #23
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Bethberry wrote:
Quote:
To be honest, I don't like one small point in Sam's characterisation, his constantly using "sir" to speak to Frodo and Pippin. I understand of course how the story itself will wipe away that class distinction--and perhaps for that very reason Tolkien chose to have Sam use the title of respect for "higher ups"--but to me it is an uncomfortable mark of life in The Shire.
I agree and disagree.

I don't like class distinctions. I think that they're wrong. I think that the Shire is wrong to maintain them, just as so many real countries are wrong to maintain them.

But let's not confuse a moral evaluation with an evaluation of characterization. The fact is that class distinctions exist in the Shire, so Sam's use of "sir" is an accurate bit of characterization. Indeed, it would feel quite false if Sam did not show some degree of deference to Frodo and Pippin.
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Old 07-07-2004, 10:49 AM   #24
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Boots Green Hills and Black Shadows

As others have done, I will start out with a quick observation on the notorious fox. Aiwendil said:


Quote:
This is, as far as I know, one of only two passages in the book that the ostensible authors (Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam) could not even in principle have known about. It raises the interesting but probably trivial question of whether Tolkien had at this stage thought of the hobbits as the authors, and whether he knowingly or unwittingly violated that fiction.
This incident could, of course, be put down to a little poetic licence on the part of Frodo when he came to write up the Red Book of Westmarch (or even an addition by Sam). But it is nevertheless a nice touch. As others have suggested, it marks a stage in the transition of the book from the cheerful and childlike tone of The Hobbit to the often dark and epic piece of writing that it ultimately to becomes.

The Shire remains a comfortable and familiar setting in many ways in this chapter. This, to me is suggested by the terms in which it is described, as well as by Frodo’s reluctance to leave and his nostalgic “last” look back at Hobbiton and the Water valley (both of which also, as Helen has pointed out, tie in with the “torn Frodo” theme). However, it is no longer the idyllic safe haven that it has, up to now, been portrayed as. The previous chapters have given us hints of darkness and danger, but these were always (with the exception of the Ring itself) outside the Shire or on its borders. Now, with the introduction of the Black Riders, we witness evil penetrating into the very heart of the Shire. This feeling is wonderfully summed up by Gildor’s words:


Quote:
The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.
As has been suggested in the discussions of the preceding chapters, Tolkien is presenting us, in the Shire, with a place with which we can identify. It is therefore all the more shocking to us that such a cosy and familiar land can so easily be penetrated by darkness and evil. As others have said, Gildor’s words serve as a warning to us all.

Moving on to the Black Riders themselves, Aiwendil said of the encounters with them in this chapter:


Quote:
These episodes are no more or less than they ought to be: they are enough to indicate to us that the Hobbits are really in great danger and to make us nervous whenever hooves or dark shapes or sniffing is mentioned, but they are not so much that we yet know what sort of creatures these riders are, or what their powers are.)
I would agree with this, but there is much to be said for the way in which Tolkien builds up our understanding of them through these three encounters. Evisse the Blue said:


Quote:
The first glimpse the hobbits get of them is meant to arouse curiosity in the reader, rather than satisfy it
Which is true. We learn very little about them in this chapter. However, each encounter adds a little bit more to our understanding and, perhaps more importantly, our impression of them. Fordim commented how Tolkien develops them throughout the book:

Quote:
Reading over the posts I've thought of something about the Black Riders that I've not before. Like Frodo and the landscape through which he moves, they start out as relatively familiar things that only become more terrible and 'exotic' as the story goes on.
And, to my mind, this is (on a lesser scale) true of their portrayal in this chapter alone. As Azaelia of Willbottom said:


Quote:
The suspence is built slowly but intensely and irresistably. There is fear, but not too much: like the readers, the hobbits don't fully comprehend the dangers they are facing.
And I think that it is worth examining the manner in which Tolkien builds up the suspense through his portrayal of the Black Riders, since I think that he achieves this wonderfully.

As Fordim has said, our (and Frodo’s) first encounter with a Black Rider is almost banal. He simply overhears “someone” asking the Gaffer as to his whereabouts. Frodo is not unduly concerned by the incident, assuming that it is simply another inquisitive and curious Hobbit, and we have no reason to think any different. Yet, there is a sense of unease:


Quote:
Footsteps went away down the Hill. Frodo wondered vaguely why the fact that they did not come on up the Hill seemed a great relief.
And then there is the almost throw-away line “he thought better (or worse) of it …” suggesting that it might in fact have been better had Frodo questioned the Gaffer as to the identity of the inquirer. But there is nothing here to suggest his true (and terrifying) nature.

Our next encounter provides us with a description (which enables Sam to identify the Rider as the “strange customer” asking after Mr Baggins at Bagshot Row).


Quote:
Round the corner came a black horse, no hobbit-pony but a full-sized horse; and on it sat a large man, who seemed to crouch in the saddle, wrapped in a great black cloak and hood, so that only his boots in the high stirrups showed below; his face was shadowed and invisible.
The description clearly suggests that this Rider may be a threat. He is a “large man” shrouded in black. His face is obscured. And he seems to be searching for travellers on the road. All of these factors suggest danger. Yet there is still nothing to suggest that he is anything other than a man (save perhaps for the disturbing “sniffing”). Frodo’s “sudden desire” to hide from the Rider, and his temptation to put on the Ring tell us that something is wrong. Yet, while the Hobbits are unnerved, they are not terrified (Frodo describes the incident as “queer and … disturbing”).

However, in the third encounter, Tolkien starts in earnest to bring out their fearsome and inhuman nature. The Rider is no longer described in terms of a man, but as “something dark” passing across the “lighter space between two trees”. Frodo sees no more than “the black shade of a horse led by a smaller black shadow”. The suspense is heightened yet further as the shadow starts to crawl towards him. Frodo’s desire to don the Ring is stronger than before. The images take on a nightmarish quality and we are left with the (correct) impression that there is more to this creature than simply a man shrouded in a black cloak.

The final piece of jigsaw is provided by Gildor’s refusal to tell Frodo what the Black Riders are. Personally, I’m with Frodo when he says that Gildor’s “hints and warnings” are more terrifying that anything that he might imagine (again “dehumanising” them). But finally we have confirmed what we have already suspected from their increasingly fearsome portrayal:


Quote:
Is it not enough to know that they are Servants of the Enemy?
And so now we know enough about them to understand the terror that they bring when we next encounter them in the following chapter.


Quote:
There's an interesting comparison to Frodo there - he and his friends finished off the Old Winyards at the birthday party. Is there a class difference between the wine and the beer drinkers in there? (Estelyn)
Undoubtedly. The difference, in terms of social class, between Sam and the other Hobbits has been evident from the beginning. Sam and his father go to the pub and drink beer, whereas the others have house parties and drink wine. Sam is Frodo’s gardener. Notably, Sam does not join Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Fatty and Folco for the birthday dinner (although he does take tea with Frodo and Pippin before they leave). Also, as others have suggested, the fact that Pippin “orders” Sam to prepare the breakfast and get the hot water when they wake up in their impromtu campsite, albeit (in my view) said jokingly, does suggest that he considers Sam in terms of a servant.

Like it or not (and much has been said on other threads on this topic), this is the character that Tolkien has chosen for Sam, at least at the outset, and these details, together with Sam addressing Frodo as “sir” are all, as Aiwendil has pointed out, necessary for his characterisation.

As I said in the discussion of it, I am not overly taken with Sam’s portrayal at end of the previous chapter since, to my mind, he verges on the buffoon of the Bakshi cartoon. There is, however, a line in this chapter which I think sums up Sam perfectly, and sets up what become essential aspects of his character: his selflessness and devotion to Frodo. Just as they are setting out on their journey, Frodo comments on the weight of his pack:


Quote:
“I could take a lot more yet, sir. My packet is quite light,” said Sam stoutly and untruthfully.
Pippin’s response, too, helps to establish his light-hearted and cheeky nature:


Quote:
“No you don’t, Sam! said Pippin. “It is good for him. He’s got nothing except what he ordered us to pack. He’s been slack lately and he’ll feel the weight less when he’s walked off some of his own.”
Frodo, of course, recognises Sam’s selflessness in having taken more than his fair share of the burden and resolves to address matters at their next packing. In just this one short, almost insignificant, conversation, Tolkien tells us volumes about his central characters.

Incidentally, I detected what I suspect might be a gentle pun in the Hobbits’ departure from Bag End. Frodo calls “Sam! Time!” to indicate to Sam that it is time to go, prompting Sam to appear from the cellar where he had been “saying farewell to the beer-barrel”. In pubs, the landlord calls “Time!” to signal the end of the period during which the premises are licensed to serve alcoholic beverages.

Finally, a minor gripe. The road which the Hobbits take through Green Hill Country is described as one which is “not much used, being hardly fit for carts”. I find this strange since, according to the map of the Shire, it is the only road to Tuckborough, which I should imagine to be a fairly large settlement.

Far too long, as usual. And too many "As X said"s. But then, you all make such wonderful points ...
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Old 07-07-2004, 10:55 AM   #25
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Pipe Concerning Sam and the use of the word 'Sir'

In my opinion, Tolkien is using this class distinction to make the transformation of the shire at the end more, (for loos of a better word) dramatic. If you look at how Lobelia sacvill Baggins is applauded for the first time at the end, I think that in this characterisation of Sam seeing the others as higher up shows how changes are made. That is just looking on it on a wider scale, considering the entire book.

Also the fact that Sam's family have been gardening for the Baggenses (Is that the right plural?) for a long time, and they are far richer than they are. Especially after Bilbo's adventure and subsequently treasure from smoug's horde. (If I remember correctly that was only two chests, one of silver, one of Gold, correct me if I am mistaken). Perhaps it is that Sam's Gaffer brought him up to respect his employers; think of them as higher people. If you look at the way the Gaffer is quoted to speak to Sam, we get the impression that he was brought up thinking himself to be on a lower intelligence level than Bilbo and Frodo.

This is as the Gaffer seems to have many sayings like "You ninny hammer" and (My favourite) "Every time you open your mouth you stick your foot in it."
So Perhaps it is the Gaffer's portrayal of Sam being a 'stupid boy' and the Baggins family as being a rich and therefore intelligent family that leaves him feeling a sort of lower being so to speak.

This upbringing would seem to explain why he defends Frodo so fiercely through out the book, even in the green dragon inn at Bywater when Sandyman and the others badmouth him, Sam defends Frodo, and so to does the Gaffer. Perhaps it is the way of the shire to see richer people (Or hobbits) as higher authorities. So I would put Sam's use of the word 'sir' down to his upbringing and courtesy.
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Old 07-07-2004, 11:11 AM   #26
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Some very excellent points Hookbill. I also think Bilbo and Frodo are treated as such (especially Bilbo) is because not only do they have treasure but they are living legends. The tasks that Biblo did with the drawves have probably been so blow out of proportion by now that he is kind of reverd as a local (for lack of a better word) deity.

Since we are talking about hobbits in this chapter I realized that Pippin wasn't nearly as...stupid as the movie made him out to be. He actually has some intelligence in the book. I think I like the book version of him better because he has more depth. The curiousity is still there but there is also a brain.
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Old 07-07-2004, 11:11 AM   #27
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Aiwendil,

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I agree and disagree.
Oh, I do also, which is why I included the slight disclaimer in my post about understanding how it characterises Sam.

But my point is not solely about the difference between a moral distaste for class distinctions and the need for characterisation.

The tag use of 'sir' strikes me so thoroughly as representing Victorian and Edwardian social practice. Of course, as we have already discussed, much of the description of The Shire derives from the Sarehole which Tolkien knew and loved and reflects a nostalgic tone for the Edwardian times.

However--and I am sure this however is going to get me into very hot water--that particular way of having Sam show deference to Frodo and Pip grates against my thoroughly personal and idiosyncratice sense of class roles in medieval literature and in the earlier mythologies. Likely this is not fair of me, but it jars. It seems to me that Tolkin is using a "modern" form of social discrimination rather than an "archaic" form of social address. As I think Rimbaud posted once, the depiction of Sam and Frodo is only slightly above a parody of class issues. And I'm not sure why Tolkien chose to do this.

Pip's comment on being woken by Frodo is, I think, meant as a bit of light-hearted banter between the boys, almost like a boys' camp-out. I'm sure it is Pip making a joke about roughing it in the bush. And I can imagine Sam's reply is in keeping with the joke--"No, sir, I haven't, sir"-- but then the night before Sam somewhat seriously uses "sir' to speak to Frodo.

So, it's just me not being sure if there is a mug's game going on or not. It is certainly one that Frodo does not play, as he quickly puts Pip's demands for water back to Pip. It is simply a point where I feel a slight jarring between what davem has suggested is the movement from 'realism' to 'myth'. Maybe it is just that Tolkien couldn't resist the urge to add some humour and I ought simply to accept it as such. I know some other Brits who are like that. (Looks over at Squatter and the Travestometre.)

Edit: Oh dear, cross posting with everyone after Aiwendil, it seems. sorry for not addressing other points, particularly Hookbill's. Must dash now.
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Old 07-07-2004, 11:42 AM   #28
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I don't quite follow your point, Bb. Sam is cast in the role of servant, a Hobbit of lower "social standing" than Frodo and Pippin. That being the situation, does it not make perfect sense, within the context of Tolkien's portrayal of Shire society, that he should address them as "sir"?

Until relatively recent times (within my lifetime even), in England at least, it was quite common for public servants, shopkeepers and the like to address members of the public and their customers as "sir". Policeman still do (although more often than not with a hint of sarcasm ).
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Old 07-07-2004, 12:34 PM   #29
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Ring Diverging somewhat from the subject...

A quick question to any who can answer.
Whilst reading this chapter, it occurred to me that Frodo is never said to actually have a job of any sorts. Nether is Bilbo (Aside form perhaps Author), so in that way is Sam a little higher? You'll say no as Frodo is too important to work anyway. The only Job I remember Frodo ever having (Aside form Ring bearer) was deputy mayor of Hobbiton, and that was right at the end. Was Frodo just an aristocrat? This is a silly question, but one that has been growing on my mind.

Can anyone help?
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Old 07-07-2004, 12:58 PM   #30
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Hookbill, I believe the term is "landed gentry". In other words, he (and Bilbo) were independantly wealthy. Some have referred to Bilbo as an eccentric millionaire. Perhaps that's not so far off the mark. He certainly was a big spender.

In terms of Sam and Mr. Frodo Sir, below is a tidbit which clarified the relationship for me. Thanks to Squatter and Rimbaud; their use of the phrase "officer and batman" gave me something to google on. Perhaps they have more light to shed.

And here is a link to the original article at TORn:
JRR Tolkien and World War I - Nancy Marie Ott

Quote:
Sam Gamgee, British Soldier

Tolkien had a great deal of respect for the privates and NCOs (non-commissioned officers) with whom he served in France. Officers did not make friends among the enlisted men, of course; the system did not allow it and there was a wide gulf of class differences between them. Officers generally came from the upper and middle classes; enlisted men usually came from the lower classes. However, each officer was assigned a batman – a servant who looked after his belongings and took care of him.

Tolkien got to know several of his batmen very well. These men and other men in Tolkien's battalion served as inspiration for the character Sam Gamgee. As Tolkien later wrote, "My 'Sam Gamgee' is indeed a reflection of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself." Sam represents the courage, endurance and steadfastness of the British soldier, as well as his limited imagination and parochial viewpoint. Sam is stubbornly optimistic and refuses to give up, even when things seem hopeless. Indeed, the resiliency of Hobbits in general, their love of comfort, their sometimes hidden courage, and their conservative outlook owe much to Tolkien’s view of ordinary enlisted men.
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Old 07-07-2004, 01:14 PM   #31
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Until relatively recent times (within my lifetime even), in England at least, it was quite common for public servants, shopkeepers and the like to address members of the public and their customers as "sir".
I currently work in retail in the US and it is still considered a very good idea to refer to customers with the respectful terms such as “sir,” at least in my part of the country. However, we are allowed to refer to our supervisors by their first names. At this point I could launch into an exposition of why I think “superficial informalism” is a bad thing in situations that do not support informal relations very well, but this is probably not the time for it .
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:03 PM   #32
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Now, just so you guys don't paint me into a corner, I shall hold carefully the brush and pail here.

My hesitations--and they are hesitations, not major objections--has less to do with having Sam depicted as a servant than with how that role is presented to us. I'm not so much interested in the general relationship as with the specific qualities and tones of it. I think Aiwendil is correct that a form of deference is needed, given the decision to portray Sam as a servant. But what is the particular kind or style?

I am thinking particularly of [d]bdavem[/b]'s first post here, that this chapter gives us a transition "from one world to another." We move out, if I may characterise davem's post, from the 'realism' of The Shire as a place we can identify with and into the more perilous realms of myth and fantasy with the elves and the black riders.

So, how is Sam and Frodo's relationship as landed gentry and hired hand portrayed? Does it belong to the 'realism' of the Shire's depiction or does it belong to the archaic styles and references of the mythological pole of the book?

Let me say that I love Sam's faithfulness and his loyalty and his staltwart steadfastedness. I love how he becomes the Shire's Mayor umpteen times over and the respect he is given and earns. (I don't love the thirteen children, but that is for later discussion.)

I don't think the many uses of "sir" in this chapter are as harmless as those examples which many of you give here. For one reason, the word is now used in business contexts, where courtesy and politeness are used as a way of making a profit. They are not class based, but consumer-exchange based. This word 'sir' has a different meaning now. I doubt when the British policeman uses 'sir' he implies that the man he addresses is his better.

This sense of superiority--social, cultural, moral, ethical, physical,financial--is implied in the class-based context which The Shire suggests. To defer to your 'betters' is to take part in a very subtle self-characterisation which can suggest not simply humility and humbleness but also inferiority. It is this aspect I hear Sam teetering around. He overcomes it gloriously and supremely of course, but this negative aspect of the class system is a tone or perspective which I think might be absent from the relationships of retainers and lords in, say, medieval literature, where deference is not depicted by constant "Yes sir," "no,Sir' "Right, sir" The lord in medieval literature knew he was the lord. He didn't need constant reminders of his status, although he did demand fealty.

I doubt I am making much clear sense here. Perhaps I should go back to the text and explain where I am made uncomfortable--not that this is a bad thing for a reader to experience--but that I am not sure if the response is one which the text really 'wants.'

First example: Frodo and Sam are looking for a place to stop on the first night.


Quote:
'The wind's in the West,' said Sam. 'If we get to the other side of this hill, we shall find a spot that is sheltered and snug enough, sir. There is a dry fir-wood just ahead, if I remember rightly.' Sam knew the land well within twenty miles of Hobbiton, but that was the limit of his geography.
Then four paragraphs later we have the exchanges with Sam, Pip and Frodo.

Quote:
'Wake up, hobbits!' he cried. 'It's a beautiful morning.'

'What's beautiful about it?' said Pippin, peering over the edge of his blanket with one eye. 'Sam! Get breakfast ready for half-past nine! have you got the bath-water hot?'

Sam jumped up , looking rather bleary. "No, sir, I haven't sir,' he said.
I don't know here what the repetition of 'sir' means. Is it Sam gamely playing along and faintly parodying his status as servant? I can see this kind of gamesmanship in boys and young men. Or is Sam reacting here out of inferiority and submissiveness?

Aiwendil is quite right that this is all part of the characterisation. (In the passage above, Pip is ready to continue the game but Frodo turns it around and requires that Pip come and help get the water.) I guess my point is that I see very specific cultural interactions going on here, interactions which might well work towards developing character, but which might not fit well with a heroic or mythic understanding of the relationships between retainers and lords. Are we supposed to be ticked with Pippin here for playing games of class derision even while he works closely with Sam? Or are we supposed to accept this as, well, as legitimate? This is the fool of a Took after all. Is this the only way to incorporate Sam as a hero into the old mythological contexts?
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:19 PM   #33
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Sam, "Sirs" and. . .where is this going?

Perhaps, Bethberry, just as this chapter is the beginning of an evolutionary change in Frodo (and possibly in the nature of evil -- see my post above ) it is also the beginning of an evolutionary change in that class system. Here, in the narrowminded and parochial Shire, we see a 'fallen' form of master-servant relationship. One that is based primarily on financial obligation (amongst other things, remember, Sam is Frodo's tenant), and in which the 'lower' orders are taken quite for granted by their 'betters'.

As the book goes on, of course, we move into an older and more fuller and richer form of the master-servant relationship: lord and vassal; leige and thane; King and subject. Tolkien wishes in the book to recover (and I'm using this word in his sense of it) that older form of bonds between socially differentiated people. These bonds were (ideally, at least) based on love and respect, mutual regard and a two-way recognition of the duty each owed the other (the King owes the subject protection and guidance, the subject owes the King obedience). It's precisely this kind of relationship that Aragorn forges with the people who come to love him.

So perhaps we are meant to be disturbed by Sam's fawning and Pippin's callow mindedness, for these are things that are going to be transformed by a better and fuller form of relationship by the end of the book?
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Old 07-07-2004, 09:31 PM   #34
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I guess my point is that I see very specific cultural interactions going on here, interactions which might well work towards developing character, but which might not fit well with a heroic or mythic understanding of the relationships between retainers and lords.
But, as you mentioned earlier I believe, the Shire is not really very mythic. It's certainly not feudal. It's actually peculiarly modern (and indeed bourgeois) with its kettles and clocks and whatnot. Frodo is not a lord and Sam is not a vassal. I think that their class-relationship is very appropriate for the Shire. Obviously it's a completely different sort of cultural interaction than what you'd find in Rohan or Gondor; but then, why should it not be?
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Old 07-07-2004, 10:23 PM   #35
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I am a big supporter of symbolism as you will see when we get to later chapters but I think some of you are reading to deep into the "sirs". Remember this was writen in a different time when people respected eachother more I believe. You called your dad sir back then. Tolkien was just writing the 'sirs' for they were appropriate for the time. Frodo was Sam's boss and back when this was writen you didn't call your boss by there first name. That is my opinion of the subject.
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Old 07-08-2004, 12:36 AM   #36
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1420! Well I'm Back

I have recently returned from my business trip to Wisconsin for ten days, and it seems I have missed a lot. I will have to read this third chapter before I get more in depth, but here are some of my thoughts as well.

Tolkien definately makes a connection between Frodo and Bilbo, and also a difference. The connection being Frodo and Bilbo both got "adventurous" approaching their 50th birthday, and the fact that they also have the same birth date. Frodo through the beginning chapters also goes on a lot of advice from Bilbo (which I believe has been specifically pointed out). There is a quick distinction between Frodo and Bilbo I caught with a deeper reading. Bilbo is the only person to willingly give up the ring (with some help from Gandalf). Bilbo had carried this ring for what, some 60 years and he gave up the ring fairly easily. Frodo has the ring for a lesser 17 years, as far as we know barely ever uses it (if he even does) and is already reluctant on "destroying" it. Instead of throwing it into the fire like he wants to, he puts it in his pocket. I'm sure 17 years of this ring would already have a hold on people but seems like Bilbo was able to last out longer then Frodo, and resist longer then Frodo.

Aiwendil posted
Quote:
Gandalf is the archetypal wise, dependable mentor; his presence tends to impart a sense of security - he may not be infallible, we realize, but as long as he's there, we know that our heroes will have the best chance of success.

This is quite true, with an example right of the top of my head, it was stated in the Siege of Gondor, whenever Gandalf was around the hearts of men rose, but when he left they sunk again. Gandalf is definately a mentor, leader, and one of the more powerful people in Middle-Earth. Thing is if Gandalf isn't there leading the men or people they quickly sink back to their old low morale. As I read one I will probably find out examples but this is one off the top of my head.

and...
Quote:
the reader must at this point try to imagine what sort of thing might prevent even Gandalf from showing up when he says he will.
Not only that, but also what events happen when Gandalf, or atleast a mentor (for example Aragorn) aren't around. You have the troubles with old man willow, the black riders, and the barrow wright (which if it wasn't for Bombadil who knows what could have happened). This is an early stage of the hobbits where they aren't used to the world out there and they have a lot of growing up to do.

You finish the book with Gandalf not going to the shire, telling the hobbits they must do this alone, and they succeed, because through their journey they have grown, to the point where they don't need someone like a Gandalf around (although it's always good to have a Gandalf around).
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Old 07-08-2004, 08:07 AM   #37
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I'm sure 17 years of this ring would already have a hold on people but seems like Bilbo was able to last out longer then Frodo, and resist longer then Frodo.
Bilbo never tried to destroy the Ring. That would have caused Bilbo to have a different experience with it.
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Old 07-08-2004, 08:28 AM   #38
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1420! That 17

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Bilbo never tried to destroy the Ring. That would have caused Bilbo to have a different experience with it.
I ment the 17 years when Frodo possessed it before he even decided to go destroy the ring. Of course, Frodo making the complete journey is a whole different experience with the ring. I was talking about the 17 years from Frodo first possessing it after Bilbo's party to Gandalf's last arrival in the Shire.
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Old 07-08-2004, 09:10 AM   #39
Kuruharan
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Ring

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I ment the 17 years when Frodo possessed it before he even decided to go destroy the ring. Of course, Frodo making the complete journey is a whole different experience with the ring. I was talking about the 17 years from Frodo first possessing it after Bilbo's party to Gandalf's last arrival in the Shire.
Okay. But I suspect that the Ring had gained a similar hold over Bilbo in seventeen years time. Remember that the only measure we have of the hold that the Ring had over Frodo at the end of the seventeen years was that he suddenly put the Ring back in his pocket when he tried to throw it in the fire. So far as we know Bilbo never tried to do anything like that. Bilbo used the Ring when he felt like it. Frodo said that he did not, although he seems to have kept it on his person. I think that there might be a reasonable case to be made that the Ring might have had a stronger hold over Bilbo after seventeen years than it did over Frodo, although that would not be provable.
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Old 07-08-2004, 10:21 AM   #40
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To defer to your 'betters' is to take part in a very subtle self-characterisation which can suggest not simply humility and humbleness but also inferiority. It is this aspect I hear Sam teetering around. He overcomes it gloriously and supremely of course, but this negative aspect of the class system is a tone or perspective which I think might be absent from the relationships of retainers and lords in, say, medieval literature, where deference is not depicted by constant "Yes sir," "no,Sir' "Right, sir" The lord in medieval literature knew he was the lord. He didn't need constant reminders of his status, although he did demand fealty.
Ah, I see your point now Bb. Thanks for explaining. But I would maintain that, since the Shire is based very much on Edwardian England, it makes sense for Sam, as a batman/servant to address his officer/master in the terms that an Edwardian batman/servant would use. The book starts with the comfortable and familiar (the Shire) and moves into the epic (Rohan and Gondor). So doesn’t it make sense that the characterisation of the characters in these different settings should alter accordingly?

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Obviously it's a completely different sort of cultural interaction than what you'd find in Rohan or Gondor; but then, why should it not be?
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Bilbo had carried this ring for what, some 60 years and he gave up the ring fairly easily.
In fact, as was noted in the discussion of the previous chapter, Bilbo has some difficulty in giving up the Ring. But for Gandalf’s intervention, he would have taken it with him despite his intention to the contrary.
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