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Old 01-16-2005, 04:59 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Shield LotR -- Book 3 - Chapter 06 - The King of the Golden Hall

Having met the Riders of Rohan several chapters back, we are now introduced to their king in this chapter. We learn about various aspects of the Rohirric culture – poetry, language, and love of horses. The remaining four members of the Fellowship who ride to Edoras find little welcome there; the Rohirrim are suspicious of strangers. Is Gríma’s influence solely responsible for that attitude, or do we find evidence that it was previously typical for them?

There are so many details that we can discuss in this chapter; I’ll only drop a few stones into the water to see if they start some ripples.

Éorl the Young is mentioned twice directly, first in the poem Aragorn recites, then his image on the tapestry in the Golden Hall. The ‘House of Éorl’ is mentioned, which I assume is the basis for the word ‘Eorlingas’.

Háma is introduced and shown to be an upright man who is able to use his own judgement even against orders, both in letting Gandalf keep his staff and in giving Éomer’s sword back to him.

‘Dwimordene’ is what the Rohirrim call Lothlórien; it means “haunted valley”, which describes how they think of it.

Green gems are mentioned in connection with the guards, most likely on the hilts of their swords. We’ve seen Tolkien use green gems previously, for Aragorn and as a sign by Glorfindel. What would they signify in this context?

How does Gandalf use his staff in the Golden Hall? Does it remind you of his display of power to Bilbo in Bag End in the first book?

There are a number of wonderful quotes with proverbial quality. Here are some of my favorites:
Quote:
Seldom does thief ride home to the stable.
The wise speak only of what they know.
Ill news is an ill guest.
By his choice you shall judge him.
Faithful heart may have forward tongue.
To crooked eyes truth may wear a wry face.
If this is bewitchment, it seems to me more wholesome than your whisperings.
Sooner would I bear a horse than be borne by one. (by Gimli )
What parts of this chapter do you find interesting, informative, or moving? What is important to the development of the story?
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Old 01-16-2005, 06:02 PM   #2
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Shield

Hama is actually a key figure in this chapter, as mentioned. He has several
notable quotes, and his speech and actions show Rohan to be a "free" land,
with the people there using autonomous judgment, even in interpreting
orders:
Quote:
'The staff in the hand of a wizard may be more than a prop for age', said Hama. He looked hard at the ash-staff on which Gandalf leaned. 'Yet in doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom. I believe you are friends and folk worthy of honour, who have no evil purpose. You may go in.'
(It was disappointing that PJ and friends didn't use this quote in TTT).
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Old 01-17-2005, 12:35 AM   #3
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Silmaril *inhales*

First and foremost, from the previous CbC thread:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Esty
...do you think what she says about laying his axe to the right tree has a meaning that is important to the plot, as the other two messages do?
Here's what I found in this chapter, as Gandalf and the rest were about to enter Meduseld and were hindered by Hama...
Quote:
"Not alone," said Gimli, fingering the blade of his axe, and looking darkly up at the guard, as if he were a young tree that Gimli had a mind to fell. (emphasis mine)
Galadriel might have been telling Gimli to know who his real enemies are.

Now, into the chapter. The concept of hope in the form of light in this chapter is so overwhelming. At first, Rohan can be seen as a dark place, having no hope because of Theodred's death and Isengard's treachery. This darkness began to weigh on Theoden, as we find out later on...
Quote:
"Dark have been my dreams of late..." (Theoden)
Quote:
"Not all is dark...Too long have you sat in the shadows..." (Gandalf)
When Gandalf was uncloaked, all else became dark around him, with himself being the only source of light. This goes to show that Rohan has him as their only hope...which will be proven in the battle of Helm's Deep (but that's another story).

After this, Theoden has been released from the spell; the house of Eorl was renewed. And a new hope awakened in Meduseld because of this...a hope that has its source in Gandalf.
Quote:
Slowly Theoden left his chair. A faint light grew in the hall again.
Then Theoden walked to the door with Gandalf...and as the door was opened, hope spread throughout Rohan!
Quote:
The sky above and to the west was still dark with thunder...suddenly through a rent in the clouds behind them a shaft of Sun stabbed down. (emphasis mine)
Finally, Theoden developed a personal hope in the "ultimate hope" as Gandalf told him of the Ringbearer's quest.
Quote:
But ever as he spoke the light shone brighter in Theoden's eye... (emphasis mine)
EDIT: In this chapter is a prophecy of the fall of Isengard:
Quote:
From the king's hand the black staff fell clattering on the floor.
This staff may be seen as a symbol of Théoden's dotage under Saruman's spell (not the movie kind ~Nilp) through Gríma. Théoden was released through the power of the white staff . . . the staff of Gandalf.

(Now I know a little how CRT feels doing UT and HoME. ~Nilp)

Last edited by Lhunardawen; 01-17-2005 at 01:16 AM. Reason: This is Nilpaurion. She forgot some stuff. Of course, she is always forgetful . . .
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Old 01-17-2005, 05:16 PM   #4
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Eye Streams and Honesty

Just a couple of quick points after re-reading the chapter yesterday,

One thing that I didn't remember was that Edoras had little channels through which streams of clear running water flowed. I don't precisely know why, but I find the idea really attractive. The only places I've been that are similar are Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds and Freiburg in Southern Germany. More little streams please all you town planners out there!

The second one was about the honesty and 'simplicity' (by which I mean straightforwardness and honour rather than stupidity) shown by both the Gate-guard at Edoras and Hama, in contrast to Wormtongue. In the land of the honest is the crooked man always going to become Prime-Minister?

One slight possible inconsistency - did Gandalf tell Theoden about Frodo and the ring? At one stage they speak privately and look out to the east, whereupon Theoden regains some hope, but later, Gandalf says that he can't reveal any of this to Theoden. Have I got the wrong end of the stick here?
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Old 01-18-2005, 07:21 PM   #5
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1420!

I love this one part in the story, the exchange between Hama and Aragorn. Only, because we can see that Aragorn isn't a perfect character. In the previous chapter, he steps down and declares Gandalf as the "guide." In this chapter he tries to assert himself over Theoden (with power that Aragorn doesn't even have yet). Luckily, Gandalf is there to give Aragorn a slap on the wrist. I also love this part due to Hama. Here Hama follows orders, later we see that Hama can think on his own, disobeying orders. As I'll later point out, it's interesting who Hama takes orders from, and who he doesn't.

Hama tells Aragorn to hand over precious Anduril...
Quote:
"It is the will of Theoden," said Hama.
"It is not clear to me that the will of Theoden son of Thengel, even though he be lord of the Mark, should prevail over the will of Aragorn son of Arathorn, Elendil's heir of Gondor."
"This is the house of Theoden, not of Aragorn, even were he King of Gondor in the seat of Denethor," said Hama, stepping swiftly before the doors and barring the way. His sword was now in his hand and the point towards the strangers.
"This is idle talk," said Gandalf. "Needless is Theoden's demand, but it is useless to refuse. A king will have his way in his own hall, be it folly or wisdom."
Aragorn eventually steps down, after Gandalf advises him, but we see a faint glimmer of Aragorn maybe becoming a Sauron. Taking power, and power that he doesn't even have. Hama listens, and follows the "will of Theoden," however, if what's interesting is, he doesn't follow Grima's orders, for it was Grima who ordered that Gandalf should hand over his staff.

I wonder what Gandalf told Theoden. Since, Tolkien doesn't say (atleast to what I'm aware of), but we can guess what he said...
Quote:
"There is no time to tell all that you should hear," said Gandalf. "Yet if my hope is not cheated, a time will come ere long when I can speak more fully. Behold! you are come into a peril greater even than the wit of Wormtongue could weave into your dreams. But see! you dream no longer. You live. Gondor and Rohan do not stand alone. The enemy is strong beyond our reckoning, yet we have a hope at which he has not guessed."
Quickly now Gandalf spoke. His voice was low and secret, and none save the king heard what he said. But ever as he spoke the light shown brighter in Theoden's eye, and at the last he rose from his seat to his full height, and Gandalf beside him, and together they looked out from the high place towards the east.
I wonder if Gandalf informed Theoden a bit about the ring, and the "plan" they were trying? Whatever Gandalf told him, we can tell that Theoden bought into it, as "the light shown brighter in Theoden's eye."
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Old 01-18-2005, 08:26 PM   #6
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Question

While it's quite possible Gandalf was telling Theoden about the Ringbearer's quest, it's also possible he was filling him in about Aragorn and Aragorn's return with Anduril. I don't think Hama had told Theoden of Aragorn's comment (cited above) and Aragorn hadn't yet revealed himself as Isildir's Heir to Sauron so it's at least possible that that was the surprise Gandalf was alluding to.
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Old 01-19-2005, 05:18 PM   #7
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Ok, wow, a lot to say about this chapter. Strap in, grab a snack…or just skip it entirely and go do something more productive with your time!

Boromir88 raises the interesting scene in which Aragorn not only refuses to remove Anduril but even puts himself forward over Theoden. B88 read this in a relatively negative light, but I see it as altogether justified. Yes, in his own hall Theoden gets his way, but Aragorn is the heir of Elendil. It’s a remarkable demonstration of his acceptance of his role and identity that he is willing to accept and even promote that claim so forcefully, but I do not think that we need see this as arrogance. B88 goes so far as to compare Aragorn with Sauron but in a bad way: I would maintain this comparison but in a different manner. Just as Gandalf has returned as the “new” Saruman, or Saruman as he was supposed to be, so too is Aragorn, in a loose sense, Sauron as he was supposed to be. What I mean by this is: Sauron wants to rule the West of Middle-earth and Aragorn is the true ruler of the West. Sauron wants Theoden and everyone else to acknowledge his rule when there is no justification for this claim for Aragorn is the rightful ruler. Just as Gandalf has taken on the new identity of ‘the White’ so too is Aragorn claiming as his own the identity as King of the West.

But on to that other far more interesting topic: Éowyn. I am sure that I am not alone in having been waiting for this!! What other character generates more interest and opinion than the Lady of Rohan, except perhaps Gollum…or Boromir…?

From the outset Meduseld is presented as a place in which women are not only important, but almost the primary referent. More specifically, the action of the chapter is grouped and organised around Éowyn. When Aragorn et al enter the Hall one of the first things they notice are the tapestries that depict the history and ‘lore’ of Rohan. Well, who wove these tapestries? It had to have been the women of the Hall, which places them in the interesting position as lore masters, and as the repositories of memory and history. The centrality of women in Meduseld is then made even more concretely visible in our first glimpse of Theoden. Standing behind the throne is Éowyn while Gríma is crouched before it. The situation of the King is manifestly one in which he is ‘trapped’ between these two people: Gríma the lying man and tool of Saruman, and Éowyn the faithful Lady of Rohan. It’s almost a mythic moment in which we see the King as poised between femininity (tradition? Memory? Duty?) and masculinity.

Gríma immediately establishes himself as a man who is against feminine power. One of the first things he ‘accuses’ Gandalf of is of being:

Quote:
‘in league with the Sorceress of the Golden Wood… It is not to be wondered at: webs of deceit were ever woven in Dwimordene.’
It’s interesting that Gríma is not just against the Lady/femininity but that he expresses this dislike but associating Galadriel with weaving. So we have this scene in which he is surrounded by tapestries woven by women, telling of the past and the tradition that Theoden is in danger of forgetting utterly, and he is accusing women of being creatures who deceive through their weaving (he, in effect, claims that Galadriel is like Shelob: an evil weaver). Ironically, he does this in order to displace onto women and their creative art (which is properly used as preserving and transmitting the past) his own deceptive nature. He’s the one who is lying, but he wants to make it look like it’s Galadriel who is deceptive. Even as he sets himself up as the opponent of women/femininity, he desires to possess the feminine in the same way that Saruman and Sauron want to possess the world: just like his master wants to rule Rohan, so too does Gríma want to ‘take’ Éoywn as his prize. He regards women as objects/treasures.

But what I find most striking in this chapter is that the return of Theoden to power and kingship is marked by the ‘revelation’ of Éowyn:

Quote:
The woman turned and went slowly into the house. As she passed the doors she turned and looked back. Grave and thoughtful was her glance, as she looked on the king with cool pity in her eyes. Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver; but strong she seemed and stern as steel, a daughter of kings. Thus Aragorn for the first time in the full light of day beheld Éowyn, Lady of Rohan, and thought her fair, fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood. And she now was suddenly aware of him: tall heir of kings, wise with many winters, greycloaked, hiding a power that yet she felt. For a moment still as stone she stood, then turning swiftly she was gone.
This is an extremely interesting passage in terms of how it presents Éowyn: or, rather, how it presents her relationships with these powerful men and how they respond/react to her. At the beginning of the passage, Éowyn is presented more as a knight in relation to Theoden than as a lady: she is “strong…and stern as steel, a daughter of kings.” Intriguingly, she is also wearing a silver belt – back in the discussion of the chapter “Farewell to Lorien” davem provided the fascinating nugget of information that silver belts are signs of knighthood. Éowyn doesn’t really ‘become’ a ‘lady’ until Aragorn notices her: “[he] thought her fair, fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood”. The even more interesting thing about this is that Aragorn notices Éowyn before she sees him. And when Éowyn does see Aragorn she responds to him in very much the same was as she did to Theoden: as a warrior or knight responding to the King.

So there’s a particular pattern here: Éowyn is presented as a knight to her king Theoden, Aragorn sees her not as a knight but as a lady, and then she looks at Aragorn as a knight looking at a King. Seems to me that the only people responding to Éowyn as a lady – that is, as a feminine, pretty thing that is “fair and cold” – are the men! And despite this (mis)perception she is still very much a knight in her own right. This is recognised at the end of the chapter when she receives a sword and corslet from Theoden who leaves her to rule in his stead, and the last view we have of her is standing guard over Meduseld as the men depart for war.
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Old 01-19-2005, 05:57 PM   #8
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1420!

Wonderful post Fordhim, and I only got a tid-bit to add...

The only reason, I think, that portrays the quote I provided as a negative side to Aragorn, is he doesn't even have that power yet. He's not king yet, and he's still trying to override Theoden's orders. It shows his willingness to become King, but he doesn't have that power, yet he tries to cast away Theoden's orders.

Theoden's orders are foolish, but Aragorn atleast here, is trying to use power that he doesn't have. (Eventually he does get this power, and is entitled to that power, but right now he doesn't have it). Hama even points out, it doesn't matter even if you were in Denethor's place, this is Theoden's hall, and his orders will be obeyed. Which brings up two interesting questions. Gandalf says "A king will have his own way, in his own hall?" I wonder if this has any connections with the Gandalf and Denethor encounters in the chapters to come? Also, if Aragorn was King at this time, I wonder what would have happened? If he was King and his will would be able to cancel Theoden's, what would have Hama done? What would have happened?

The nobility of Aragorn is shown, in which he differs from Sauron, is when he doesn't take power that he's entitled to. He lets Faramir remain as Steward, and he lets Eomer remain King of Rohan.

Then lastly to Eowyn. I find it slightly funny, or maybe it's just that Theoden still hasn't totally recovered, but he doesn't even think of Eowyn...
Quote:
"In the House of Eorl." answered Hama.
"But Eomer I can not spare, nor would he stay," said the king; "and he is the last of that House."
"I said not Eomer," answered Hama. "And he is not the last. There is Eowyn, daughter of Eomund, his sister. She is fearless and high-hearted. All love her. Let her be as lord to the Eorlingas, while we are gone."
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Old 01-20-2005, 08:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88
The only reason, I think, that portrays the quote I provided as a negative side to Aragorn, is he doesn't even have that power yet. He's not king yet, and he's still trying to override Theoden's orders. It shows his willingness to become King, but he doesn't have that power, yet he tries to cast away Theoden's orders.
Well, I suppose that this is where we disagree, as I believe that Aragorn already is the King, he is just not acknowleged yet. It goes to the basis of Kingship in Middle-earth, I suppose. This is not a democratic system in which there's a person (Aragorn) who can be or should be King but who is waiting to be 'made' King through and by the acceptance or nomination of his people. Aragorn has always been the King of Gondor, by right of birth, he has just never chosen to exercise that right -- or, perhaps, he has been afraid that his claim would not be acknowleged. . .?

What this scene with Hama dramatises is that what's changed for Aragorn is his attitude to his kingship: he is finally willing to assert his right, and to demand that people recognise him as king. He has the full power and authority that he is claiming here -- he is Elendil's heir, the rightful and returned King, and of that there can be no question. In his confrontation with Eomer, remember, he commanded that Eomer choose between right and wrong by choosing whether to "help [Aragorn] or hinder" him.

Again, this point is made clear by Eowyn who, apparently alone among the Rohirrim, is able instantly to recognise Aragorn for the King that he is. Eomer and Theoden both require a certain amount of convincing, but Eowyn is able to see the real and rightful power and authority that Aragorn bears. Good on her!
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Old 01-20-2005, 09:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim
Well, I suppose that this is where we disagree, as I believe that Aragorn already is the King, he is just not acknowleged yet. It goes to the basis of Kingship in Middle-earth, I suppose. This is not a democratic system in which there's a person (Aragorn) who can be or should be King but who is waiting to be 'made' King through and by the acceptance or nomination of his people. Aragorn has always been the King of Gondor, by right of birth, he has just never chosen to exercise that right -- or, perhaps, he has been afraid that his claim would not be acknowleged. . .?
The way I see this scene is that Aragorn is not the King of Rohan, nor will he be the King of Rohan. He will be King of a neighbouring and more powerful state, and one with which Rohan is allied, indeed, one which Rohan was once a territory of. But Aragorn has no right to retain his weapons within Meduseld if Theoden wishes him to give them up. I'm thinking of the saying "An Englishman's home is his castle" - this can be applied when we think of Aragorn literally trying to enter Theoden's House, but it can also be applied symbolically, as Meduseld is an 'emblem' of Theoden's own Kingship and authority.

As Gandalf says, it is "idle talk", but he can see that it will be better to acquiesce with grace and dignity than to challenge those who were and will be allies of Gondor. Gandalf is the diplomat ever at the side of Aragorn, his personal adviser (a Sir Humphrey to Aragorn's Jim Hacker?); he dissuades Aragorn from taking the firm hand where it is not needed. I say it takes a better King to acknowledge his less powerful neighbours' right to independence; this is not only more dignified but in the long term, more strategic view (I really do sound like the bureaucrat I am now...) it makes sound political sense, as alliances are stronger where there is a real consensus between parties.

I don't think that these words of Aragorn indicate anything sinister about him or his intentions, in fact, I also think they show his strength, but they also demonstrate some vestige of his inexperience, and possibly, his sense of frustration at the lack of real progress.
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Old 01-20-2005, 10:52 AM   #11
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I tend to agree with Boromir88 regarding Aragorn. To me, he has always come across as just slightly arrogant here. He is, after all, in Theoden's land and indeed about to enter Theoden's hall; whether or not he is the king of another land, he ought to do as he is bidden. Though it's a bit beside the point, I must quibble slightly with Fordim's:

Quote:
Well, I suppose that this is where we disagree, as I believe that Aragorn already is the King, he is just not acknowleged yet. It goes to the basis of Kingship in Middle-earth, I suppose. This is not a democratic system in which there's a person (Aragorn) who can be or should be King but who is waiting to be 'made' King through and by the acceptance or nomination of his people. Aragorn has always been the King of Gondor, by right of birth, he has just never chosen to exercise that right
This is true, of course. But it is significant that Aragorn has not yet been crowned. His eventual coronation, with the crown brought by Frodo (who fulfilled the unfinished work of Aragorn's ancestor Isildur) and set on his head by Gandalf (a Maia and representative of the Valar) does legitimize his kingship in a way that the mere fact of his ancestry does not. But I don't think that that is of much importance in relation to this episode in particular.

It bears noting, of course, that this scene in LotR mirrors quite closely a scene in "Beowulf" - Beowulf and his companions are confronted by a door-warden upon reaching Heorot, the hall of king Hrothgar, and are told to leave their weapons behind. The two obvious things to say about this are, first, that it may have no special significance but merely reflect Tolkien's liking of "Beowulf" and, second, that since the Rohirrim have so many obviously Anglo-saxon traits, Meduseld may have been associated in Tolkien's mind with Heorot (although Heorot is in Denmark, the poem is Anglo-saxon). An interesting point to me, however, is the parallel here between Aragorn and Beowulf. Like Aragorn, Beowulf makes a point of declaring his lineage to the door-warden. Is there some connection between Aragorn and Beowulf or is it a mere accident? We would perhaps expect Beowulf, the archetypal Anglo-saxon hero, to be associated with one of the Rohirrim. But perhaps this suggests that the northern heroic ideal should be seen as playing as large or almost as large a role in Tolkien's portrayal of the Numenoreans as in that of the Rohirrim, if a less overt one.
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Old 01-20-2005, 11:10 AM   #12
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I think Lalwendë has hit it on the spot - yes, Aragorn is king, but not of this country! The Rohirrim are not his subjects, and Théoden is his ally, not his vassal. Even having a larger and more important kingdom does not give Aragorn the right to go over the king's head in that king's own country. I don't see Aragorn as arrogant here, but it is certainly good that he has a wise counselor and accepts what he says. Diplomacy is an important part of political wisdom.
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Old 01-20-2005, 04:17 PM   #13
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A few thoughts...

Its interesting that Gandalf is so easily recognised by the folk of Edoras, who know him less well than his three companions. How come Theoden & Grima know him on sight when Aragorn, Legolas & Gimli didn't? Are we seeing Gandalf becoming more 'earthed', more his old self, as time passes? Certainly when Pippin sees him for the first time after his reappearance he recognises him straight away.

Wormtongue's role is also interesting. We seem to have strayed into the world of Beowulf as Aiwendil has pointed out. Wormtongue seems to echo Unferth, in his role of challenger of strangers, mocker, Judge, jury & executioner. I'm also reminded of the role Sir Kay plays in the later Arthurian stories.

But obciously there's a darker aspect to Grima's character. I think his 'nickname' tells us what that is. Wormtongue. He is a liar, a twister of the truth. His language is the language of 'Wyrms', of Smaug to some extent, but perhaps closest to Glaurung. He speaks poison.

But he has an even darker aspect:

Quote:
Nay, Eomer, you do not fully understand the mind of Master Wormtongue," said Gandalf, turning his piercing glance upon him. "He is bold and cunning. Even now he plays a game with peril and wins a throw. Hours of my precious time he has wasted already. Down, snake!" he said suddenly in a terrible voice. 'Down on your belly!
I don't think the similarity between this incident & the one in Genesis is entirely coincidental:

Quote:
'The Lord God said to the serpent,
'Because you have done this,
cursed are you among all animals
and among all wild creatures;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life..'
Gandalf will later reinforce this identification of Grima with a serpent:

''See, Theoden, here is a snake!"

Grima has become like Satan in the 'garden' of Rohan, & Gandalf appears in the role of Eru to cast him onto his belly & drive him forth. I don't know how far this analogy can be taken - if Grima is 'Satan' then is Theoden 'Adam'? Is Eowyn 'Eve'? Best not push it too far, but I think its clear that Tolkien sees Grima as a corrupter of humanity, who must be driven out before the people of Rohan have a chance.

Grima seems to be the focus of Gandalf's attention. Its as if he realises that this is no mere 'serving man'. Grima is a figure of great power in the court, & Gandalf must show him for what he is before Theoden can be freed of his hold on him.

Of course, Grima is an odd cove. We know little about him. We're told he was once a man of Rohan, but he doesn't seem like that at all. He seems like some kind of 'monster' in human form. He is like Theoden's 'depression' & hopelessness given physical form. Its as if he is the King's dark cloud, his 'Black Dog' come to life. He is a shadow made flesh. Anyone who has ever suffered from depression will know exactly what this Theoden/Wormtongue relationship is like.

But another thing occurs to me. Grima is like Smeagol in that both are mostly known & referred to by their nicknames. Is there an 'echo' of the Theoden-Grima relationship in Frodo-Smeagol? Grima is an man in his own right, of course, but he is also Theoden's 'shadow' made flesh. In the same way Smeagol is at once an autonomous being & at the same time he is Frodo's 'shadow'.

From this perspective Gandalf can only liberate Theoden by casting out his 'demon', Wormtongue, & Frodo can only be liberated when 'demon', Gollum, has been cast into the fire.
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Old 01-21-2005, 06:04 AM   #14
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Aragorn's behavior towards Hama and the will of Theoden is surely unlikeable. But we fail to notice the thing involved - rather, the thing that started the whole argument in the first place. It was no mere sword; it was Anduril. And a sword is always a symbol of power and authority. Did Aragorn think that surrendering Anduril meant giving up on his claim as the King and making himself subordinate to Theoden? That could have been his primary thought and the reason for his disobedience.


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Originally Posted by davem
Grima has become like Satan in the 'garden' of Rohan, & Gandalf appears in the role of Eru to cast him onto his belly & drive him forth.
But where does Saruman come in? I think Grima here is only a "lesser demon" whereas Saruman is Satan. As demons can be cast out, so was Grima. But they return to their master, ready to do another thing at his bidding. The real battle is between Gandalf and Saruman, and eventually the former brings the latter down and strips him of all power and authority which comes from the side of good. Oops.

Finally, you're becoming more and more respectable in my sight, Fordim. First we agree on swooning over Aragorn, and now this!
Quote:
But on to that other far more interesting topic: Éowyn. I am sure that I am not alone in having been waiting for this!! What other character generates more interest and opinion than the Lady of Rohan, except perhaps Gollum…or Boromir…?
You gave very interesting observations on Eowyn. This particularly caught me:
Quote:
The centrality of women in Meduseld is then made even more concretely visible in our first glimpse of Theoden. Standing behind the throne is Éowyn while Gríma is crouched before it. The situation of the King is manifestly one in which he is ‘trapped’ between these two people: Gríma the lying man and tool of Saruman, and Éowyn the faithful Lady of Rohan. It’s almost a mythic moment in which we see the King as poised between femininity (tradition? Memory? Duty?) and masculinity.
Grima is crouched before Theoden. He seems to be just a servant of Theoden, yet we see that this is merely an illusion. Eowyn, on the other hand, stood behind the king. This says two things: one, that Eowyn will stand behind the king and support him despite the circumstances and his faulty decisions; and two, she has a greater authority in Rohan than Grima thinks he does. She might not be on the throne herself, but she is seen higher (literally and figuratively) than the counselor. But Fordim's right, Theoden is a little trapped. At this point I don't think he is certain who weighs more in his heart.

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Old 01-21-2005, 06:28 PM   #15
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Originally posted by Lhunardawen

"Grima is crouched before Theoden. He seems to be just a servant of Theoden, yet we see that this is merely an illusion. Eowyn, on the other hand, stood behind the king. This says two things: one, that Eowyn will stand behind the king and support him despite the circumstances and his faulty decisions; and two, she has a greater authority in Rohan than Grima thinks he does. "
==========================

Which reinforces a point cited above, which many readers may gloss over, that
when the people of Rohan see that both Theoden and Eomer are leaving for Gondor they want Eowyn, not some elderly male aristo, to lead the people.
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Old 01-22-2005, 06:45 AM   #16
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I too agree with Lalwendë and Boromir88 about Aragorn. And also - especially when I first read LOTR - this was one of the parts that made Aragorn unlikeable to me, as I do perceive his attitude as arrogant (though thankfully not accompanied by stubborness, as he ultimately accepts Gandalf's diplomatic advice). And all the more since his arrogance is needless. What did he hope to gain in his keeping Anduril? Did he have so little faith in the doorwardens who were to guard the weapons? If I were Hama, I would have felt insulted. Since Aragorn is coming to Rohan not to demand, but to serve (he will aid the Rohirrim in battle) he must show acceptance of the customs and obedience. It is not he who rides side by side with the King of the Mark when they set off to Helm's Deep, it is Gandalf that rides at the head of the company with Theoden - while Aragorn, Eomer, Legolas and Gimli follow suit. His position at the moment is indeed very similar to that of Eomer, especially since Theoden had named the latter as his heir. They are both future kings but none of them holds that position yet and there's a difference. If Aragorn were already king, his attitude would feel more justified, but Theoden would still have the right to decide matters in his own 'house'.

Also there's this line that puzzled me:
Quote:
"Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil's sword save Elendil's heir."
More scare tactics? Or is it really something behind this line that's more than a metaphor meaning: "I'll kill you on the spot if you touch my sword." But if the sword was indeed cursed (or blessed, depends on how you see it) with such a power, I think we would have had more mentions of it.
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Old 01-22-2005, 03:50 PM   #17
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Very good points Evisse, and I got a bit more to add.

Aragorn in this chapter seems to try to assert himself. Gandalf stops him, and if Aragorn didn't learn a lesson from this, then wouldn't he have tried to assert himself as king when he first comes to Minas Tirith?

Aragorn could have learned something from this situation. He doesn't come to Minas Tirith to take Denethor's place (despite Imrahil's encouragement). He waits for the proper time to claim the throne, which is after Minas Tirith is saved, as well as Middle-earth. He seems it unwise to just have a leadership change when battle is going on.

Rohan is in the same situation. They are fighting Saruman as we speak. Now the situation is a bit different, Aragorn doesn't go there to take the throne from Theoden, but he tries to disregard his orders. If he would have there could be some troubling moments ahead as Hama says something like "Do you intend to go against everyone in Rohan?" That's when Gimli says "Not everyone," and strokes his axe...the scene continues.

Anyway point is you have to recognize a change in Aragorn between this scene in Rohan, and the later in Gondor. In Rohan he tries to assert himself, and Gandalf tells him to "back off," and he does. In Gondor he is actually being encouraged to take the throne, but he doesn't. So, you have to think that Aragorn learned something from Gandalf's line "A king will have his own way in his own hall."
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Old 01-23-2005, 01:06 PM   #18
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Fascinating thoughts, all, on the actions of Aragorn and of Eowyn also. If I may, I would like to forgo talking about them and return to Estelyn's initial question.

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What parts of this chapter do you find interesting, informative, or moving? What is important to the development of the story?
Perhaps I am not as 'into' the characters as many of you are, but one of main things I find stirring and intriguing about this chapter is how Tolkien portrays the Rohirrim culture. In fantasy, where the creation of an alternate world or universe depends crucially upon the consistency of that world, I find I am often drawn to Tolkien's methods of presentation and descriptions.

This chapter takes us from the dark concerns of the forest, one of the primeval places of faerie, and leads us out onto the wide, broad plains of Rohan and up to a geography I know as foothills. For me, Tolkien has presented a geography very close to my own experience: from the pre-Cambrian forests of north-central Canada, across the grasslands of the prairies, right up to the foothills. I even know of towns built on the edge of the mountains as Edoras is, courageous outposts of culture and civilization skirting the edge of near-empty or unmapped terrain. Now, I'm not saying Tolkien deliberately itended to describe Canada here, but that his depiction of the geography is important to our understanding of the Rohirrim people, perched precariously against the elements of land, weather, and beset on both sides by dark forces, of Saruman on the west and Mordor on the east.

Quote:
"I see a white stream that comes down from the snows," he [Legolas] said. "Where it issues from the shadow of the vale a green hill rises upon the east. A dike and mighty wall and thorny fence encircle it. Within there rise the roofs of houses; and in the midst, set upon a green terrace, there stands aloft a great hall of Men. And it seems to my eyes that it is thatched with gold. The light of it shines far over the land. Golden, too, are the posts of its doors. There men in bright mail stand; but all else within the courts are yet asleep."

"Edoras those courts are called," said Gandalf, "and Meduseld is that golden hall. There dwells Théoden son of Thengel, King of the Mark of Rohan. We are come with the rising of the day. Now the road lies plain to see before us. But we must ride more warily; for war is abroad, and the Rohirrim, the horse-lords, do not sleep, even if it seem so from afar. Draw no weapon, speak no haughty word, I counsel you, until we ae ocme before Thédden's seat."
We are here far beyond the gentle land of The Shire, the mystical marvels of Imladris and Lothlorien, the dark mysteries of Fangorn. What I see Tolkien creating for my imagination is the style of the Old English epics, married with the cossacks of the eastern European steppes.

It is the style, though, that I find particularly interesting, for here begins I think some of the strongest evidences of Tolkien's efforts to reimagine some of the features of archaic English in modern English form. The two paragraphs I have quoted have many sentences which begin not with their sugjects, but with subordinate clauses or prepositional phrases, or inversions. Tolkien uses style to begin to characterise this ancient culture. It is a stirring style, replete with an almost ritualistic formality which seems very suitable. Perhaps the most prominent of the specifically Old English style is the poem "Where now the horse and the rider?", with its high rate of alliteration and prominent, staccado-like rhythm. The short, pithy lines of this chapter, so many of which Estelyn has quoted in the first post here, also harken back to the kennings of Old English literature.

The other characteristic I find intriguing also has to do with the description of entry to Edoras. In the simbelmynë which flowers over the barrows of the kings we learn something of the theme of Lord of the Rings, the doom of man, and of what time's passing and the importance of song means to a people. "a memory of song" says Aragorn. .
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Old 01-23-2005, 03:23 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Bethberry
Now, I'm not saying Tolkien deliberately itended to describe Canada here, but that his depiction of the geography is important to our understanding of the Rohirrim people, perched precariously against the elements of land, weather, and beset on both sides by dark forces, of Saruman on the west and Mordor on the east.
For many years Rohan was conjoured up for me entirely from my imagination, and then I went to the Lambourn Downs and was struck by how much the place resembled Rohan (and also the Barrow-Downs). Strangely, it is known as a place where race horses are trained, and it is home to the Vale of White Horse, numerous barrows and Wayland's Smithy. Edoras also reminds me of a hill fort with its 'green terrace', and these can also be found in the area.

I've found a link to an English heritage site here (with pic of Uffington Hill Fort) and another link to a site selling paintings of race horses, one of which is very reminiscent of Rohan, here.

The whole area is just south west of Oxford, and I don't doubt Tolkien would have been there, and if he did base places in his work upon 'real' places then this is one of the most striking comparisons. Interestingly, in the films, while Rohan was nothing like the Rohan of my imagination or the Rohan that can be found in the Lambourn area, the flags of the Rohirrim bore a striking resemblance to White Horses carved onto English hillsides.
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Old 01-24-2005, 05:07 AM   #20
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posted by Lalwendë

For many years Rohan was conjoured up for me entirely from my imagination, and then I went to the Lambourn Downs and was struck by how much the place resembled Rohan (and also the Barrow-Downs). Strangely, it is known as a place where race horses are trained, and it is home to the Vale of White Horse, numerous barrows and Wayland's Smithy. Edoras also reminds me of a hill fort with its 'green terrace', and these can also be found in the area.

I've found a link to an English heritage site here and another link to a site selling paintings of race horses, one of which is very reminiscent of Rohan, here.

The whole area is just south west of Oxford, and I don't doubt Tolkien would have been there, and if he did base places in his work upon 'real' places then this is one of the most striking comparisons. Interestingly, in the films, while Rohan was nothing like the Rohan of my imagination or the Rohan that can be found in the Lambourn area, the flags of the Rohirrim bore a striking resemblance to White Horses carved onto English hillsides.

Sounds very cool, Lalwendë, but neither of your links work for me.

This sounds like a topic for the Canonicity thread! I had never associated Rohan with England's actual horsey set for two reasons. First, what I know (and that's precious little) of horse racing culture in England suggests to me that it is almost as much a form of drama or spectacle as a sport. I guess I related this to how Peter Ackroyd describes an English love of performance and drama, in all aspects of life. (At least for London). I'm thinking of the fancy dress for Ascot, and the ties with the aristocracy. When I was in York last summer, we left on the start of their annual horse race week, which was a "practice run" for Ascot next year. I tell you, the hats I saw! And guys in full formal wear who the day before had been wearing tees and jeans. Sort of like fox hunting too, which to me has nothing to do with sport and much to do with very fancy forms of play, at least for the human participants. And none of these associations have ever fit my sense of Rohan, where the horses are bred for cavalry fighting rather than racing.

The other point which shapes my sense of English horse play is the historical development of racing, as opposed to breeding horses for cavalry, farming, medieval jousts, etc. According to a colleague of mine, horse racing as we know it today didn't develope until the nineteenth century, when trains made it possible to transport horses much farther afield. Before the advent of the steel stallions, horses were ridden to the races, and then raced. A bit of a limitation on results and also on distance! Why horse-drawn horse wagons weren't around she couldn't say!

There's a letter by Tolkien (the number of which escapes me now in the bleary hours of early morn) which states that Minas Tirith is set at the latitude of Venice. this has given me the impression that "Rohan" would be "over" towards the steepes of south eastern Europe. Barrows and tombs of wealthy leaders abound in slavic culture.

Still, I'd love to see those downs of yours. Makes all our 'racing downs' here make much more sense! If I had a shilling for every pub sign souvenir I saw with a white horse on it, I would have been able to buy my pints for free, I think!
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Old 01-24-2005, 06:43 AM   #21
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I've tried to get the links to work, though the English Heritage one might remain slightly iffy - still, search for Lambourn Downs and something should come up on there (and there are many more interesting pages to look at anyway!).

Tolkien was accustomed to horse-riding himself, and I don't doubt he would have been struck by the spectacle of watching horses being trained, especially in a place like Lambourn with its rolling downs, springs and mists. Strangely enough, horse-racing is an interest which does cut across the classes in both Britain and Ireland (especially so in Ireland), with most race meetings attended by all kinds of people. One of my favourite novels is Esther Waters by George Moore, which features a fair amount about horse racing, breeding and the associated gambling in the 19th century; the novel isn't all about this however, and I have to recommend it as a wonderful naturalistic portrait of poverty in Victorian England.

An interesting aspect of Rohan is that their horses are all bred for speed and strength and are described in the terms usually reserved for thoroughbreds. Yet it is based on an Anglo-Saxon culture, and such horses would have been unthinkable, as thoroughbreds are said to be descended from creatures raised in the Middle East. The type of horse that would have been common in England in the Anglo-Saxon period would have had more in common with the modern 'shire horse'. Perhaps this explains something about the Mearas, in that they are uncommon and originate from 'elsewhere' much as an exotic creature such as a thoroughbred might.

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Of course, Grima is an odd cove. We know little about him. We're told he was once a man of Rohan, but he doesn't seem like that at all.
Now I want to speculate a little. It isn't said where Grima comes from or how he got to be Theoden's 'special adviser', but how might such a man have got into such a position? I suspect that he could already have been a person of some influence or status within Rohan's upper echelons, but not of immense status. This might explain how Saruman has 'won' him to his side, by offering greater power and reward in the form of Eowyn. It would not make sense for Saruman to 'corrupt' a man who did not already have some influence or at least the potential for it, so Grima's origins must have been interesting to begin with. I do wonder if he has been so corrupted for a long time or not, as if he desired Eowyn and this desire was used as his 'lure', then his evil influence over Theoden may not have been going on for a long period of time.

The person I am often reminded of when reading about Grima is Rapsutin who held a similar level of influence. He operated by exploiting the fear of illness, much as Grima operates by exploiting fear in Theoden and 'grinding him down'. With Grima we see not the skill of osanwe or magic or anything else which Saruman might have used, but simply human cunning in exploiting the king's fears and doubts.
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Old 02-02-2005, 06:34 PM   #22
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Catching up ...

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Draw no weapon, speak no haughty words, I counsel you all, until we are come before Theoden's seat.
Gandalf speaks these words as the companions approach Edoras. And it is this advice that Aragorn, initially at least, ignores before the door of the Golden Hall. He refuses to hand in his weapon in defiance of the King's law and he speaks haughtily to Hama. All before they are "come before Theoden's seat".

I am with those who believe that Aragorn behaves wrongly here. It is arrogant of him to deem himself above the law of the King in whose land he finds himself - to believe that his will should prevail over that of Theoden in Theoden’s own court. He may be the heir to the throne of Gondor but, as has been pointed out, he has not yet been crowned and Rohan is in any event an ally of, and not subservient to, Gondor. He has no right to refuse to obey the King's law.

But this, surely, marks another stage in Aragorn's development as a man worthy to be King of Gondor. We saw in the Chapters marking the end of Book I and the beginning of this Book a man who had very little confidence in himself. He remarked on two occasions upon how all of his choices during the day in which the Fellowship split seemed to have gone ill and he was in a state of deep despair following Boromir's death:


Quote:
This is a bitter end. Now the Company is all in ruin. It is I that have failed. Vain was Gandalf's trust in me. What shall I do now?
But he is able to find hope and renewed confidence in himself. We see this in the confident manner in which he employs his formidable tracking skills during the hunt for Merry and Pippin and in his refusal to give up hope in their search. Now, however, he seems to have gone too far the other way. He has become over-confident and arrogant, regarding himself as above the laws of Rohan. It seems to me that we are seeing here adjustments in his approach as he works towards finding the balance necessary for him truly to be regarded as a worthy King. If Aragorn emerges from the Breaking of the Fellowship with low self-confidence, he emerges from this experience having found the appropriate balance of confidence and humility. This (as has been noted by Boromir88) pays dividends when Aragorn first arrives at Minas Tirith and displays the humility that he has learned by declining at first to enter the White City.

And it is, of course, Gandalf who guides him in this journey with his calming words at the door (even though he is steeling himself at that moment for a confrontation which he knows will come when they enter the Golden Hall).

But going back to Gandalf’s words as they approach Edoras, these raise some interesting points. Why did Gandalf feel the need to speak them? OK, he knows that Gimli is a bit headstrong, so perhaps that is a sufficient explanation. But is he also using a measure of foresight here? Does he foresee how Aragorn will react to turning Anduril in at the door? Or has he picked up that Aragorn still has a little way to go before he is truly worthy to take the throne of Gondor and therefore needs a little bit of guidance. It is difficult to see how, given the humility that Aragorn showed him in the previous Chapter. But Gandalf is a wily old soul. Which is also apparent in the “let out” he gives himself in his words. His advice is to draw no weapon and speak no haughty words until they are “come before Theoden’s seat”. But once they are before Theoden’s seat, it is Gandalf who draws his staff and speaks boldly (to say the least).

Another, more “technical” function of the exchange before the door of Edoras is to highlight the importance and lineage of Anduril. It is important, I think, that we are reminded of this before it is drawn in anger in the next Chapter (it having received little mention since Bree and Rivendell). Indeed, the importance of weapons and their lineage is one of the themes that stands out in this Chapter. They have names and are portrayed almost as characters. We have Anduril of course, but even Gimli’s axe is given a measure of character in his reference to it not being ashamed to stay at the door if it is in Anduril’s company. Later in the Chapter, we see Eomer’s sword have a revitalising effect on Theoden when he grasps it. And Theoden’s sword too has a name, Herugrim, and is described as an “ancient blade“. The fact that Wormtongue had hidden it is in a way symbolic of his prior influence over the King. So these are not just weapons, they are almost characters in themselves, with their own histories and their own significance.

Which brings me to Gandalf’s staff. The fact that he (far more subtly than Aragorn) insists on retaining it lends some credence to the theory that the Staves of the Istari were more than symbolic. I wonder whether he would have been able to achieve what he does once within the Hall without it? The suggestion is that it at least enhances his power to dispel Wormtongue’s webs of deceit.

A final thought. Does Gandalf use a smidgeon of mind-control at the Gates of Edoras?


Quote:
“… Will you not go or send to say that we are come?” His eyes glinted under his deep brows as he bent his gaze upon the man.

“Yes, I will go,” he answered slowly.
What reason does the Guard have to comply with Gandalf’s request? Perhaps it is just his mistrust of Wormtongue. But it seems to me that the glint in Gandalf’s eyes as he “bends his gaze” on the Guard and the Guard’s slow response suggest that there is something more at work here - that Gandalf is using an element of coercion. Or am I just reading too much into it?
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Old 02-02-2005, 07:47 PM   #23
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But it seems to me that the glint in Gandalf’s eyes as he “bends his gaze” on the Guard and the Guard’s slow response suggest that there is something more at work here - that Gandalf is using an element of coercion. Or am I just reading too much into it?
Not at all! But. . .

"These are not the 'droids you are looking for."

"Booo-aagh; jonky jedi mind tricks."
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Old 02-25-2005, 07:22 PM   #24
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ketchup, ketchup

Notes taken while reading the chapter (pre-thread-reading) :

Always wondered why Aragorn was so fussy about leaving Anduril at Theoden's door; thought it was a kind of snooty paranoia. However I think now that he was worried somebody would un-intentionally be caught by the weapon's protective whatever-it-was (curse? spell? blessing? scabbard?)

Quote:
‘And I would do as the master of the house bade me, were this only a woodman’s cot, if I bore now any sword but Andúril.’
...why? because it's deadly to all but Elendil's heir:
Quote:
‘Here I set it,’ he said; ‘but I command you not to touch it, nor to permit any other to lay hand on it. In this elvish sheath dwells the Blade that was Broken and has been made again. Telchar first wrought it in the deeps of time. Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil’s sword save Elendil’s heir.’
So it was a sense of responsibility, and not wanting someone else harmed. He's a nice guy after all....

Edoras has a cool floor:
Quote:
As their eyes changed, the travellers perceived that the floor was paved with stones of many hues; branching runes and strange devices intertwined beneath their feet.
Love the tapestry of Eorl:
Quote:
But upon one form the sunlight fell: a young man upon a white horse. He was blowing a great horn, and his yellow hair was flying in the wind. The horse’s head was lifted, and its nostrils were wide and red as it neighed, smelling battle afar. Foaming water, green and white, rushed and curled about its knees.
The movie folk got the central fireplace right (that Eowyn slept beside):
Quote:
past the clear wood-fire burning upon the long hearth in the midst of the hall.
Neat, and very biblical, proverb/observation from Gandalf:
Quote:
The wise speak only of what they know...
Love the bits about Eowyn, such as
Quote:
Grave and thoughtful was her glance, as she looked on the king with cool pity in her eyes. Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver; but strong she seemed and stern as steel, a daughter of kings.
And this, and many other, quotes from and about Eomer:
Quote:
‘Take this, dear lord!’ said a clear voice. ‘It was ever at your service.’
I am steadily remembering why I became so very fond of Eomer, thirty years ago...

Child first brought to my attention a theme that runs throughout the entire trilogy. Gandalf with elegance and simplicity states it here:
Quote:
To cast aside regret and fear. To do the deed at hand.
Gandalf immediately follows this abstract with the concrete application:
Quote:
we must first destroy the threat of Saruman, while we have time. If we fail, we fall. If we succeed – then we will face the next task.
Each subplot, each story chapter in the book can be told this way. And throughout the books, Gandalf the counsellor presents one step at a time, and does not look too far ahead.

Once again we see Aragorn's basic and simple virtues at work:
Quote:
And I promised Éomer that my sword and his should be drawn together.
Theoden openly states his hope for a glorious death:
Quote:
I myself will go to war, to fall in the front of the battle, if it must be. Thus shall I sleep better.
Gandalf continues in the role of counsellor:
Quote:
Give him a horse and let him go at once, wherever he chooses. By his choice you shall judge him.
This immediately removes all doubt regarding Grima's true alliance...
Quote:
Theoden: Give him a horse, if he wishes it.’ ‘And if any will bear him,’ said Éomer.


I remember Gimli's cap and shield, but I don't remember the beginning of that paragraph; always missed it before, or skimmed it.
Quote:
Now men came bearing raiment of war from the king’s hoard and they arrayed Aragorn and Legolas in shining mail. Helms too they chose, and round shields: their bosses were overlaid with gold and set with gems, green and red and white.
It's interesting enough that Aragorn was dressed by Theoden (a king dressing a king), but the idea of Legolas wearing (colorful!) Rohirric armor is particularly appealing. (Charming?) Also 'charming' is the point that Gimli's shield was Theoden's as a boy. Perhaps that's where the inspiration for the movie Faramir/ Pippin connection came from.

Quote:
Alone Éowyn stood before the doors of the house at the stair’s head; the sword was set upright before her, and her hands were laid upon the hilt. She was clad now in mail and shone like silver in the sun.
Eowyn the sentinel, the statue, the image of Something Other.... Someone set apart. Dedicated, consecrated?

The men gallop off, and our last sight is this:
Quote:
Far over the plain Éowyn saw the glitter of their spears, as she stood still, alone before the doors of the silent house.
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Old 02-25-2005, 08:36 PM   #25
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uh, I made it 3/4 thru the thread...

Lhunardawen -- wonderful points about the light-and-hope mystical unity!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumil
... little channels through which streams of clear running water flowed. I don't precisely know why, but I find the idea really attractive.
Agreed!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rumil
The second one was about the honesty and 'simplicity' (by which I mean straightforwardness and honour rather than stupidity) shown by both the Gate-guard at Edoras and Hama, in contrast to Wormtongue. In the land of the honest is the crooked man always going to become Prime-Minister?
The Shire seems to have evaded this at least in the long run. But I think the pattern occurs all too often in real life...

It's interesting to read in the thread how many folk were disapppointed in Aragorn's behavior at Theoden's doorway. How dangerous was Anduril? Was Aragorn's statement 'death hshall come to any man' for real, or was Anduril just a normal sword?
What about in the sword? Aragorn says by way of warning that
Quote:
Telchar first wrought it in the deeps of time. Death shall come to any man that draws Elendil’s sword save Elendil’s heir.
Telchar was a first-age dwarven smith from Nogrod, in the Blue Mountains, and he made several cool things including the helmet that eventually Turin wore, and the knife that Beren used to cut the Silmaril from Morgoth's crown. (Too bad it snapped on the second try... hmmm, Narsil broke too...) Isildur cursed the faithless dead; maybe he cursed the shards after his father's death. Maybe Isildur cursed the shards as a form of protecting them after his father's death.
At Rivendell, Narsil was re-forged by elven-smiths, who added symbols & runes of power:
Quote:
The Sword of Elendil was forged anew by Elvish smiths, and on its blade was traced a device of seven stars set between the crescent Moon and the rayed Sun, and about them was written many runes; for Aragorn son of Arathorn was going to war upon the marches of Mordor. Very bright was that sword when it was made whole again; the light of the sun shone redly in it, and the light of the moon shone cold, and its edge was hard and keen. And Aragorn gave it a new name and called it Andúril, Flame of the West.
Now, elves can do some nifty work. The Gondolin elves made blades that glowed when Orcs came around (Glamdring, Sting.) They might have put a protective spell on it.
Quote:
and she gave him a sheath that had been made to fit his sword. It was overlaid with a tracery of flowers and leaves wrought of silver and gold, and on it were set in elven runes formed of many gems the name Andúril and the lineage of the sword.
‘The blade that is drawn from this sheath shall not be stained or broken even in defeat,’ she said.
So even in the scabbard, there was elvish power; there's runes of power on the blade; amazing heritage. Why would we doubt that the curse/ protective spell was real?
Aragorn isn't the type to lightly curse someone, especially a stranger, so I doubt he was making the curse up himself on the spot. Nor would Aragorn lie. As I've said before, he doesn't know how to lie; he'd choke if he tried.
So there's a spell of some sort on the sword; and he's really worried about some clueless, curious rider handling his sword and dropping dead. He mutters the sword's lineage and power to Hama, gets Hama's wide-eyed promise that nobody will touch it, and he's satisfied.
I stand by my notes. I think he was acting in an attempt to protect the unknowing, hesitant to declare himself quite yet, worried that someone might pick up and inspect an interesting and ancient sword, maybe even draw it out of curiousity, and invoke some curse on their own heads without intending it.

Other comments...

Fordie: Dude!! Nice connection between tapestries and webs!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
The way I see this scene is that Aragorn is not the King of Rohan, nor will he be the King of Rohan.
Very valid point, and so is this:
Quote:
I say it takes a better King to acknowledge his less powerful neighbours' right to independence...
Aiwendil, fascinating and excellent points connecting Aragorn with Beowulf and Heorot with Meduseld. Sounds perfectly plausible to me!

davem, biblically the snake is matched to Satan in the garden of eden; but in the new testament, the terms "snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy" are a broad, generalized reference to the demonic. I think Gandalf is simply pointing out that Grima's alliance is to the darkness, not to the light; Grima isn't Melkor, nor is he Sauron. But through Saruman, Grima is a servant of Melkor and Sauron, whether he realises it or not.

Interesting point about shadows & deliverance...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lhunardawen
Eowyn will stand behind the king and support him despite the circumstances and his faulty decisions; and two, she has a greater authority in Rohan than Grima thinks he does
Nice point!

Lalwende-- interesting picture of foggy rolling fields... nice. To me that says "Barrow-Downs" or "North Downs." I picture Rohan as (cough) the great plains of America... don't shoot me.
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Old 03-03-2005, 02:08 AM   #26
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Pipe Re: Grima the serpent

There was one who took the alternate role for the serpent, aside from the famous Lucifer. His name was Samael.

It is said that on the sixth day, God was so pleased with Adam he wanted the angels to bow down to him. Samael refused, and Michael warned him of the consequence of his disobedience. But Samael gathered many angels of like mind to him and said something to the effect of “Let God try!” and Michael promptly tossed him out of heaven.

Now, at the risk of being accused of crossing the allegory line, I’d say we see hints of Saruman here. He didn't think Men were good enough to rule Middle-earth—which was Ilúvatar's plan. In this case, however, his downfall was brought about by the very beings he thought weren’t good enough.
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Old 03-09-2005, 02:37 AM   #27
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Pipe More ramblings.

When we first came across Théoden he looked a man so old and feeble you’d wonder if he could even leave Meduseld. After a little chat with Gandalf we see him riding off to battle. What happened? And how came he to be dotard in the first place?

Gríma Wormtongue. This cunning servant of Saruman must have had a part of his master’s power. “You are old,” he must have said to Théoden once, “and you’re not getting any stronger.” It may have been true, perhaps, but this is all the more a testament to the subtlety with which Gríma presented the thought. OK, so maybe Théoden may have been drugged, but I think the greater evil was done when Théoden accepted these words with its deeply-hidden lie.

But Gandalf comes. He breaks the spell decisively (but probably not completely, alas!) with a combination of hope:
[Gandalf: ]Not all is dark.
LR III 6
. . . and the truth:
[Gandalf: ]Nor does your age lie so heavily on your shoulders as some would have you think.
ibid
However, Gríma will not give up without a fight. He tries to replant the lie:
[Gríma: ]I care for you and yours as best I may. But do not weary yourself, or tax too heavily your strength.
ibid
Then he tries to denounce the bringer of truth:
[Gríma: ]Dear lord! It is as I feared. This wizard has bewitched you.
ibid
But all his attempts failed:
[Théoden: ]If this is bewitchment, it seems to me more wholesome than your whisperings. Your leechcraft ere long would have had me walking on all fours like a beast.
ibid
And then the serpent is revealed for what it really is, and all its plots laid bare:
[Gandalf: ]Down, snake! Down on your belly! How long is it since Saruman bought you? What was the promised price? When all the men were dead, you were to pick your share of the treasure, and take the woman you desire?
ibid
Ah, Mighty Whitey. What an entrance you make. As my sister had said waaay above, light has indeed come into Meduseld, and all deeds of darkness are exposed in it.
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Old 05-18-2005, 03:45 PM   #28
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Like Bethberry I find Tolkien's portreyal of the Rohirrim culture one of the most striking and intriguing things in this chapter.
Quote:
It is the style, though, that I find particularly interesting, for here begins I think some of the strongest evidences of Tolkien's efforts to reimagine some of the features of archaic English in modern English form. The two paragraphs I have quoted have many sentences which begin not with their sugjects, but with subordinate clauses or prepositional phrases, or inversions. Tolkien uses style to begin to characterise this ancient culture. It is a stirring style, replete with an almost ritualistic formality which seems very suitable. Perhaps the most prominent of the specifically Old English style is the poem "Where now the horse and the rider?", with its high rate of alliteration and prominent, staccado-like rhythm. The short, pithy lines of this chapter, so many of which Estelyn has quoted in the first post here, also harken back to the kennings of Old English literature.
Already at my first reading Tolkien's beautiful language and different styles were one of the things that I especially loved , and after having gained more insight by reading Tom Shippey's book "Tolkien, Author of the Century" I appreciate it even more. It makes this ancient world all the more real , I feel I am in another time than my own. (Those who read the book translated to their mothertongue will unfortunately miss most of that effect, alas!)
Quote:
"But to the Riders of the Mark it seems so long ago", said Aragorn, "that the raising of this house is but a memory of song, and the years before are lost in the mist of time. Now they call this land their home, their own, and their speech is sundered from their northern kin." Then he began to chant softly in a slow tongue unknown to the Elf and Dwarf; yet they listened, for there was a strong music in it.
"That, I guess, is the language of the Rohirrim," said Legolas; "for it is like to this land itself; rich and rolling in part, and else hard and stern as the mountains. But I cannot guess what it means, save that it is laden with the sadness of Mortal Men."
What Aragorn tells about the Rohirrim, might as well apply to the Anglo-Saxons, and what Legolas says about the language of Rohan is probably what Tolkien himself felt about the AngloSaxon language!

The "proverbs" that Estelyn mentioned are something I became aware of some time ago. I found them so intriguing I started looking for them in all Tolkien's works and collecting them. English not being my mothertongue, I am often not sure which ones are traditional proverbs and which ones Tolkien made up - they all sound so genuine! Like many things Tolkien wrote they are about something in the story, but at the same time they express a general, timeless truth.

I love the scene where Gandalf raises Theoden's spirit and kindles hope and courage in him. It's so much subtler and better than the horrible exorcism scene in the movie (sorry about the "movie-bashing", but somehow just those scenes that I didn't like make me appreciate the book scenes all the more!)
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Old 06-15-2005, 01:10 AM   #29
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Pipe I'm using the Kuchiyose: Edo Tensei no Jutsu on this thread . . .

This chapter—indeed, this Book III—reeks of distrust. For instance, Gandalf gets mistaken for Saruman (or his phantom) far too often—it had got me thinking that had Gandalf not announced himself in anyway before he entered Meduseld, Gríma’s reaction might have been, “What are you doing here, master?”

Then there’s this whole Lothlórien issue, which is part of the Rohirric culture, it seems. After all, Éorl was the first to show distrust:
[Éorl: ][N]one can pass, few or many, through the Dwimordene where dwells the White Lady and weaves nets that no mortal can pass.
UT III 2
Many others show it: Éomer, Háma, and of course, Gríma.

In midst of all this mistrust, Gandalf comes with these words:
[Gandalf: ][N]ow all friends should gather together, lest each singly be destroyed.
LR III 6
This, I think, is the lesson that every good citizen of Middle-earth needed to learn.

So sure, the Rohirrim may have initially distrusted the Huorns and the Ents, but by the time they rode to save Gondor (again), these Druedain-trusting chaps have gone a long way from the Dwimordene-fearing riders of Éorl.
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Old 08-30-2006, 09:31 AM   #30
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Pipe Various musings

Late have I come. May that not prove ill.

I'm currently re-reading LotR, and I reached this chapter last night. A few thoughts occurred at the time, and hopefully I can address a couple of the issues that have been raised in this conclave. Please forgive the lack of quotes: I'm stealing time from work and my books are elsewhere.

Quote:
The ‘House of Éorl’ is mentioned, which I assume is the basis for the word ‘Eorlingas’.
In Old English, the suffix ...ingas means 'people or descendents of' (the singular form is ...ing). Therefore 'Sons of Éorl' or 'People of Éorl' are both possible interpretations. 'Éorl' is a word derived from Old Norse Jarl, 'Lord, nobleman', from which derives the modern English title 'Earl'. Tolkien amused himself with his names for the Lords of the Mark, calling most of them by titles applied to kings or simply words for 'King' in Old English. Goldwine, for example, literally means 'gold-friend': it is often applied to kings in verse, and implies wealth and generosity. Thengel and Théoden just mean 'king'. 'prince', 'ruler'. Éorl was not a king when first he rode out of the North, so his name is the lesser title. Théoden's hall is also named for its purpose: Meduseld means 'mead-hall', a common poetic term for such a structure. Where mead is drunk, rather than ale or wine, it seems to carry especially heroic overtones.

I enjoyed Bêthberry's analysis of the language in this chapter. I remember that we've discussed in the past Tolkien's opinion that archaic English is able to convey certain archaic attitudes and thoughts better than its modern equivalent; in fact, he uses Theoden's speech in this chapter as an example in one of his letters, translating it into a modern idiom as well as one so archaic as to be almost late Middle English. More than anything, the language in this chapter evokes for me Victorian and Edwardian translations of Old English poetry and prose, which were usually as close to transliteration as scholars could manage. Nowadays this approach is frowned upon, and the translator is expected to render the original into an entirely modern idiom (reflecting that to Anglo-Saxons the diction was not dusty and old-fashioned), but I prefer the old method's closeness in literal meaning, rhythm and word order. Here, for example, are some lines of Old English rendered in both styles; the quotation is long because it's relevant to this chapter:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Wanderer, ll. 88-96
Se þonne þisne wealsteal wise geþohte
ond þis deorce lif deope geondþenceð,

frod in ferðe, feor oft gemon
wælsleahta worn, ond þas word acwið:
"Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago? Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?
Hwær cwom symbla gesetu? Hwær sindon seledreamas?
Eala beorht bune! Eala byrnwiga!

Eala þeodnes þrym! Hu seo þrag gewat,
genap under nihthelm, swa heo no wære.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Translations
He who then this wall-place [place where buildings stand (Bosworth-Toller)] wisely has considered
and this gloomy life thoughtfully contemplates,

wise in heart, far back often recalls
a multitude of battle-slaughters, and these words utters:
"Where went the horse? Where went the kinsman? Where went the treasure-giver?
Where went the places of banquets? Where are the hall-pleasures?
Alas the bright cup! Alas the mail-clad warrior!
Alas the prince's majesty! How the time departed,
Darkened under night's helm, as though it never was.

***

Then he who has considered wisely this place of buildings
and thoughfully contemplates this gloomy life,
wise at heart, often recalls far back
a multitude of battle-slaughters, and speaks these words...
The unusual word order serves two purposes, both concerned with emphasis: firstly it allows certain syllables to fall in the correct places for proper alliteration, but secondly it allows those words to be placed first which are most important, and associates particular alliterating words and phrases, often across lines. This technique, only fully viable in an inflected language, is one that Tolkien attempts to apply to modern English, and for similar reasons. The phrase 'helms too they chose', for example, has been reversed to remove the emphasis from the personal pronoun and place it instead on the nature of the objects being chosen. It also refers back to the previous sentence, in which Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli are being armed by Théoden. It is a brave effort to revive an ancient metrical device in prose, and it lends to this chapter an epic quality, in keeping with the stature of its protagonists.

Returning briefly to The Wanderer, do those lines look familiar to anyone? Old English elegiac poetry often dwells on the fading and departure of old joys and glories, and this poem is about exile, separation from a lord, companions and the joys of the feasting hall. It also concerns itself with the consolation to be found in Christ, but the main body of the work describes the old warrior, doomed to wander the world friendless, bereft of comradeship and leadership. The poem lament for the Rohirrim picks up the emphasis on a fallen people, the lost joys of the past, and recounts it with much the same rhetorical device. One might even say that the whole theme of loss and fading that runs through LotR, not to mention the traditional English love of nostalgia, are the direct descendents of the Old English elegies.

On a completely different note, the revival of Théoden, although he seems rather too quick to abandon his former mistrust of Gandalf, is beautifully structured. If this chapter is about anyone, it is about the Lord of the Mark, about whom all of its events revolve; and his recovery is central to the narrative. The old, bent king is first shorn of his poor counsellor; then he is asked to trust Gandalf and to turn his mind away from despair. As he begins to come to himself, he moves physically from the dim hall to the fresh air, where Gandalf takes charge of him and relieves Éowyn of her spiritual burden. Already he begins to notice that the world is brighter outside Meduseld, both literally (a hall has no windows) and figuratively: now that he sees the world for himself it is no longer so dark as he had been led to believe. Gandalf's next prompting is that he should abandon his stick and stand unaided, at which he does so and stands upright, revealing the strength and stature of his youth. Finally he is told to take his sword, but before he can hold one he performs the kingly act of judging an errant subject, in this case Éomer. Having judged both wisely and fairly, he accepts Éomer's renewed service by taking his sword, and at this moment, as his authority as king is restored, so his hands regain the strength to wield a king's weapon. Finally he calls his people to arms like the hero of some verse epic. Théoden grows physically, mentally and spiritually, and his authority recovers, all in this one sequence. More importantly, while we may suspect that Gandalf is helping him with more than an arm to lean on and some good advice, the wizard does nothing obvious. To Théoden's men it seems that their king has recovered without assistance.

Perhaps Tolkien was trying to demonstrate how powerful confidence and positive thinking can be. Gríma has exercised no obvious magical powers, but he has repeatedly worked on Theoden's mood, prompting him to sit brooding in his hall rather than walking among his people, quietly and determinedly fostering a spirit of defeatism and misery, and eroding the king's self-confidence just as he gradually undermines his authority. Gandalf acts here as the kindler of spirits that Círdan predicts that he will be in the Silmarillion. Observe how he withdraws, from supporting Théoden physically to sitting on a step beneath him. Gandalf is demonstrating how a good advisor should behave, but also showing that ability to persuade and guide others in sensible directions. Théoden's confidence and stature grow in each scene from this point until his final, triumphant exit on the Pelennor Fields, and it is easy to believe that he will 'sleep better' for it. At the beginning of the chapter, its title seems to contrast the glorious hall with its decrepit occupant; by the end, Théoden more than lives up to his grand and heroic residence.

That's about all I have time for on this subject. May I be forgiven my laggardly entrance.
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Last edited by The Squatter of Amon Rûdh; 09-12-2006 at 07:06 AM. Reason: My translation was awful. It's now been improved for your edification and mine,
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Old 04-14-2007, 10:22 PM   #31
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When Aragorn meets Eowyn in this chapter some say that he is giving up that chance to be happy. I totally disagree he is happy and will gladly accept the consequences he gets from loving Arwen.
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Old 09-15-2018, 05:52 PM   #32
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Two things stood out for me on this reread:

First, does Gandalf have control of the weather or just really good timing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by The King of the Golden Hall
"...I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a serving-man till the lightning falls!"

He raised his staff. There was a roll of thunder. The sunlight was blotted from the eastern windows; the whole hall became suddenly as dark as night.
And also:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The King of the Golden Hall
"...that fool, Háma, has betrayed us!" There was a flash as if lightning had cloven the roof.
At first blush, this seems like nothing more than Gandalf exhibiting power as a wizard--not entirely unlike his actions at Bag End when Bilbo needing some convincing to pass along the Ring. But this is an actual storm. Witness what happens when Théoden is convinced, just a bit later, to step outside:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The King of the Golden Hall
From the porch upon the top of the high terrace they could see beyond the stream the green fields of Rohan fading into distant grey. Curtains of wind-blown rain were slanting down. The sky above and to the west was still dark with thunder, and lightning far away flickered among the tops of hidden hills. But the wind had shifted to the north, and already the storm that had come out of the East was receding, rolling away to the sea.
Quite apart from the interesting point that could be made about the fact that--in the same sentence--Tolkien leaves "north" not-capitalised and capitalises "East"--I have no memory of ever noticing that the thunder and lightning when Gandalf dominates the hall is tied to an actual storm outside. And, (admittedly, I only thumbed through quickly), I couldn't find anything in the narration prior to entering the hall that indicated it was going to storm.

Given its dramatic position in the chapter, the question for me arises: is this just a case of literary timeliness or did Gandalf somehow influence the weather to line up with the drama of the moment? As an emissary of the Valar, operating now post-Moria in a heightened state of openness, it doesn't seem *entirely* implausible that Manwë has a hand here--but, should we then make something of the fact that this storm rose in the capital-E East?


Setting aside meteorlogical concerns, I noticed Aragorn a lot this chapter (and I appear not to have been the only one: he's all over this thread). I don't have a new opinion to offer about his stubborn pride outside the doors regarding Andúril, but after the last few chapters and what I was noticing there, his prominence in a chapter where he doesn't really have anything to DO stuck out to me. In terms of action, this chapter is chiefly about Gandalf, Théoden, and Gríma--with Háma playing an interesting minor key note. Aragorn, by contrast, hasn't got much more to do than stand around and look tall.

Nonetheless, he is quite prominent here. It's partly that he's our point-of-view character, though he shares that role with Gimli, who functions as the next-best thing to a hobbit when it comes to being down-to-earth. I think this is simply me realising what has probably been obvious to many: Aragorn is our hero in this part of the tale. Younger me was so used to the idea of Frodo as the main character and distracted by the chapters focussing on Merry and Pippin that I'd missed that point, but in the non-Frodo split of the story, the "conventional epic," Aragorn is the not-quite-conventional hero.
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Old 09-15-2018, 06:56 PM   #33
Galadriel55
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Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
Given its dramatic position in the chapter, the question for me arises: is this just a case of literary timeliness or did Gandalf somehow influence the weather to line up with the drama of the moment? As an emissary of the Valar, operating now post-Moria in a heightened state of openness, it doesn't seem *entirely* implausible that Manwë has a hand here--but, should we then make something of the fact that this storm rose in the capital-E East?
I recall some other mentions of controlling weather. Boromir mentions on Caradhras the belief that Sauron controls the weather on the borders of Mordor - something which may well be true to an extent considering his stunt during the Battle for Gondor (the extent marked by the early southern wind which was obviously against his plans). In the same part of the story, the Fellowship debates whether their weather-related misfortunes are due to natural or unnatural causes. Boromir seems to lean towards intentional malingering; Aragorn and Gimli imply that the causes are likely natural but may be influenced by forces other than Sauron; Gandalf's sage advice is that the cause doesn't make a difference in their immediate decision. The movie, if I recall correctly, takes this up a notch and has Saruman chanting incantations that seem to make the rocks fall and the wind blow, but there doesn't seem anything in the books to positively prove Saruman's involvement.

Gandalf's "wizard display", paticularly as a bearer of Narya and the one with power over fire, could reasonably include some form of play with light and shadow, even some lightning. These elements are seen in association with his "magic" quite frequently. But the real storm you mention does make me wonder - after all just a short time before Legolas sees the sunshine reflect off the roofs in Edoras. Was it a really fast-moving storm, hitting Edoras quite suddenly and passing by within half an hour?

As for the significance of the East... In what way would the East be interested in Edoras to send a storm there? Or what could have occurred eastwards to make the storm originate from an "unnatural" cause at that time? Frodo and Sam are still wandering around, mostly unnoticed, not attracting any attention. Faramir's warriors could be up to something that would invite Sauron's anger, but aren't they always. And if Edoras was really the prime target of the storm - why? To keep Rohan subdued and mislead for longer? Definitely not out of consideration for Saruman's fate. Is it a manifestation of a flare of anger against Gandalf, Aragorn, or the proclaimed members of the Fellowship in general? Then why now, if orcs and a Nazgul have already spotted them over the Anduin and their presence and activities are fairly visible throughout TTT and ROTK? And I would describe Sauron's attitude towards these people more as scorn than anger. If we take the approach of a directed storm, then we have to explain who directed it and at whom (or what).
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Old 09-15-2018, 10:36 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Galadriel55 View Post
I recall some other mentions of controlling weather. Boromir mentions on Caradhras the belief that Sauron controls the weather on the borders of Mordor - something which may well be true to an extent considering his stunt during the Battle for Gondor (the extent marked by the early southern wind which was obviously against his plans). In the same part of the story, the Fellowship debates whether their weather-related misfortunes are due to natural or unnatural causes. Boromir seems to lean towards intentional malingering; Aragorn and Gimli imply that the causes are likely natural but may be influenced by forces other than Sauron; Gandalf's sage advice is that the cause doesn't make a difference in their immediate decision. The movie, if I recall correctly, takes this up a notch and has Saruman chanting incantations that seem to make the rocks fall and the wind blow, but there doesn't seem anything in the books to positively prove Saruman's involvement.

Gandalf's "wizard display", paticularly as a bearer of Narya and the one with power over fire, could reasonably include some form of play with light and shadow, even some lightning. These elements are seen in association with his "magic" quite frequently. But the real storm you mention does make me wonder - after all just a short time before Legolas sees the sunshine reflect off the roofs in Edoras. Was it a really fast-moving storm, hitting Edoras quite suddenly and passing by within half an hour?
You bring up a good point about being a ringbearer and weather. Has anyone considered that Galadriel, too, controls the weather? Compare Lothlórien to the sere land around it. It would seem Galadriel has created an enclosed biosphere.
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:48 AM   #35
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You bring up a good point about being a ringbearer and weather. Has anyone considered that Galadriel, too, controls the weather? Compare Lothlórien to the sere land around it. It would seem Galadriel has created an enclosed biosphere.
I suppose Elrond too has some control, given his stunt with the river - which I always found odd and out of character since Galadriel had the ring of water. She has a connection with water as well, through her mirror, but I always found the ring arrangement a little disorienting.

We don't see Elrond controlling the weather in the air, which would match Vilya's character better. But maybe Rivendell is just happily placed far away from the serious not-quite-natural or at least pathetic fallacy weather that we see further East and South.
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