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Old 11-29-2004, 04:27 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Shield LotR -- Book 3 - Chapter 02 - The Riders of Rohan

As I see it, this chapter concentrates on two leaders and their decisions. The first of them is Aragorn, whose tracking skills figure prominently in the events. He reads the signs right and makes the right decisions, with only one moment of doubt about his ability to do so. Legolas and Gimli support, advise, and encourage him, and do not challenge his leadership.

The second is Éomer, whose leadership and decisions are accepted by his men, though they do not all agree. Though he needs some convincing and asks for information first, he makes a difficult (and right, since we can see it in hindsight) decision to let the three continue, even lending them horses of Rohan.

The most important exchange of words between the two of them is their determination of allegiance, clarifying the question, “Whom do you serve?” When both are satisfied that Sauron is their common foe, they are able to join forces, though not in immediate action.

This is a long chapter and chockfull of information, introducing us to Rohan and its inhabitants, and giving descriptions of the land. Which parts do you find most important and interesting? There are the potentially dangerous and then humorous exchanges between Gimli and Éomer, which result in one of my favorite lines:
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So many strange things have chanced that to learn the praise of a fair lady under the loving strokes of a Dwarf’s axe will seem no great wonder.
Aragorn says quite a few quotable sentences; I’d like to mention some of my favorites in hopes that we will discuss them more closely as we continue.
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…not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time.

Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.

The counsel of Gandalf was not founded on foreknowledge of safety, for himself or for others. There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.
I get the feeling that his wisdom is being revealed along with his growing leadership abilities.


What do you think of Saruman’s hostile influence on the land and the feeling that they are actively opposed by his will since entering it?

The chapter ends under the eaves of Fangorn, with an uncertainty whether it is hostile to them, with the loss of the horses, and of course with the mystery of the identity of the cloaked old man who appears to them. Tolkien very skillfully builds suspense here.

We have much food for discussion – I look forward to many good posts!
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Last edited by Estelyn Telcontar; 12-03-2004 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Rhovanion and Rohan are not the same...
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Old 11-29-2004, 04:43 AM   #2
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Another good starter post, Princess. As we've recently focussed on one of the Men of the party, let's take a peek at t'other. While reading your above opening, I couldn't help thinking that - a) you're correct, he develops more in the wise leader stakes through this chapter and - b) how everyone he meets through the course of his journey to MT has a different lesson for him. It's a very different story of growth from Frodo's; indeed, you could argue that where Frodo lost part of himself every step of the way through the books, Aragorn was constantly adding elements to himself.

This accretion and subtraction dichotomy is a nice, simple parallel for the flux of ME races, as Men multiply, and the others fade away, amongst other things.

But back to my original point, on Aragorn - and his meeting with Eomer, where, as you say, Aragorn develops further leadership skills. He has learned from Gandalf, Galadriel and Elrond, and comes the turn of a very different sort of leader to show him another form of leadership.
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Old 11-29-2004, 06:56 AM   #3
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[1]Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house
I will stress on this, firstly (more may come in later, but just this for a start). This maxim is just another of the corner-stones on which morals of LoTR (for lack of better word) are founded. Or, to say it other way round, the imperative is here expressed in such a wording, which are perfected by those two others to follow:

Háma:

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[2]Yet in doubt a man of worth will trust to his own wisdom
and Théoden:

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[3]It shall not be so. I myself will go to war, to fall in the front of the battle, if it must be. Thus shall I sleep better
I have numbered those not only because of order of appearence. In fact, I believe that order of appearence is delibarete in this case. It is a programme as well as a philosophical statement or acknowledgement. First the provision is given: Good and Evil (latter up to a point) are objectives not dependant on 'state of mind', and correct attitude to deal with those objectives is suggested: 'it is a man's part...'

The attitude and behavioral pattern when in relation with objectives is once again confirmed with Háma, plus the mode of dealing with it is suggested as well - in dealing with Good and Evil, man must rely on what is rational and, at the same time, intuitive in him - his wisdom - in this case, opposed to 'knowledge' or 'data' rather than being its synonim.

Third case is a paragon of application - what should be actually done when first two requirements are met, for it is not enough just to discern Good and Evil, one has to act, to 'go to war'.

'Thus shall I sleep better', for:

* I ackowledged objective reality of Good (1)
* Given concrete situation I discerned it from Evil (with amount of wisdom (as opposed to, but including, along with intuition, certain amount of knowledge (2),
* Now I act upon my judgement (3)

Instances are found a-plenty throughout the book, as all 'good' characters are 'agreed' that this is 'how business should be done', just here author gives it sharp and clear, by 'sleight of hand' making it as well the main hinge on which Eomér's conviction is hung - Aragorn's appeal starts here, and than is supported by his 'high lineage and credentials'.
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Last edited by HerenIstarion; 11-29-2004 at 07:07 AM. Reason: silly me - edited wrong post. nothing to edit here so far
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Old 11-29-2004, 08:39 AM   #4
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I was struck by the similarity of Eomer's words to Aragorn:

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"But now, lord, what would you have me do! I must return in haste to Theoden. I spoke warily before my men.
And Faramir's to Frodo:

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"I broke off our speech together," said Faramir, 'not only because time pressed, as Master Samwise had reminded me, but also because we were drawing near to matters that were better not debated openly before many men.
I think this brings out both the similarities between the characters & also the differences. In the first Eomer is in the 'submissive' role & Aragorn in the dominant- even though Eomer seems to have the power, whereas in the second Faramir has the dominant role & Frodo is in the position of having to submit to his will. The similarity is obvious - neither Eomer or Faramir feels comfortable discussing the situation in front of their men.

We have almost a mirror image of the Aragorn/Eomer 'confrontation' in the Frodo/Faramir, & I think the similarities & differences are deliberately pointed up by Tolkien. Aragorn clearly displays an unmistakeable authority, nobility & royalty, such that even when he appears out of nowhere to a total stranger those things are plain to see.

Frodo, on the other hand, even though his mission is the more important, has none of those things. Aragorn will not submit, & if necessary will fight an impossible battle with the Rohirrim:

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Aragorn threw back his cloak. The elven-sheath glittered as he grasped it, and the bright blade of Anduril shone like a sudden flame as he swept it out. 'Elendil!" he cried. "I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dunadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil's son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!"
Frodo does submit:

Quote:
There was nothing for Frodo to do but to fall in with this request, or order. It seemed in any case a wise course for the moment, since this foray of the men of Gondor had made a journey in Ithilien more dangerous than ever.
What's interesting is that Aragorn, with the fate of the West dependent on him refuses to back down, being willing to fight, if necessary, to the death. Frodo, in the same situation, but with the fate of the whole world on his shoulders, submits. Both face imminent death & both make opposing choices.

It seems that Aragorn still has hope (or he has at last found it again). He has accepted his destiny & will from now on do what he knows to be right, whatever risks he must take, while Frodo seems to have submitted to his fate - which is not that of Aragorn - ie to rule, but to serve, to submit to a fate he cannot control, & which has taken him over - took him over way back in Bag End. Frodo's submissiveness increases throughout the story, Aragorn's dominance increases. And in the end Aragorn will choose his own passing from the world, while Frodo will be carried away from it.

But there is a similar mood running through the two halves of TT. The first part is outgoing, 'extravert'; it is the story of men fighting to exert their will, to rule, to order things for the Right. The second half is the story of Hobbits, inward looking, 'introverted', carried along inexorably to their destiny.
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Old 11-29-2004, 01:22 PM   #5
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This chapter, at first glance, is a simple narrative of adventure and exploration, where we follow the chase and meet Eomer. Yet there is more to it than may at first meet the eye.

Here we see Aragron's superior skills as a tracker and outdoorsman. I was struck by the way he even spotted orc tracks in a waterway (waterways are well known for hiding tracks and scent), and how he put his ear to the ground to detect movement and sound:

Quote:
He stretched himself upon the ground with his ear pressed against the turf. He lay there motionless, for so long a time that Gimli wondered if he had swooned or fallen asleep again.
We see the contrast between the skills of the orcs and those of Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli. The orcs leave a trail of litter in their wake, whereas their pursuers are disguised - their Elven cloaks reminiscent of camouflage. They are even able to hide from the Rohirrim, who will be alert after their encounter with the Orc band, and who are also in their own land which they know well.

The second aspect I was struck by was the 'magic' and wonder in the chapter. When Eomer talks with the three travellers, the conversation is a long series of strange revelations for him. Firstly he is surprised by the appearance of the the three, 'sprung out of the grass'. He is then forced to think about the fact that Galadriel exists, who seems to have been a figure of legend to him:

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The Rider looked at them with renewed wonder, but his eyes hardened. "Then there is a Lady in the Golden Wood, as old tales tell!" he said. "Few escape her nets, they say. These are strange days! But if you have her favour, then you also are net-weavers and sorcerers, maybe." He turned a cold glance suddenly upon Legolas and Gimli. "Why do you not speak, silent ones?" he demanded.
I can well imagine the suspicion that someone might feel when confronted by an exiled King, an Elf and a Dwarf who claim to say that what you thought only existed in legends is in fact real. He is told of Hobbits and Elves by a King who has sprung from the grass before his eyes. To Eomer's benefit, he is prepared to accept such tales, in fact he goes on to reveal a real sense of wonder and amazement as the interchange continues - perhaps not what we might expect of a military man.

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Eomer stepped back and a look of awe was in his face. He cast down his proud eyes. "These are indeed strange days," he muttered. 'Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass.
Eomer comments on what he has learned from the travellers, and raises a rhetorical question as to how he ought to judge these tales and events.

Quote:
"It is hard to be sure of anything among so many marvels. The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?"

'As he ever has judged," said Aragorn. 'Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man's part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house."
Aragorn's wisdom fascinates me here. He acknowledges two 'spheres' to the world; there is the practical and everyday world, and also that of the Elves, which is at once very different, but very close to the everyday world. He appears to be saying that it is the duty of men to be able to work and exist within both worlds, and to be able to use his judgement in the 'other' world as much as his everyday world. He also makes a comment about the 'equality' between the different races of Middle earth, to say that all races have the same concept of good and evil.

The chapter then moves on and we see the travellers mystified in their turn, as they camp beneath the eaves of Fangorn. Here even Legolas is out of his element, and Aragorn is unable to offer any explanation for the mystery of the trees. The travellers then seemingly receive a 'visitation' - this passage is one of the most vividly magical in the whole book:

Quote:
The tree rustled. There was no other sound.

Suddenly Gimli looked up, and there just on the edge of the firelight stood an old bent man, leaning on a staff, and wrapped in a great cloak; his wide-brimmed hat was pulled down over his eyes. Gimli sprang up, too amazed for the moment to cry out, though at once the thought flashed into his mind that Saruman had caught them. Both Aragorn and Legolas, roused by his sudden movement, sat up and stared. The old man did not speak or make a sign.

"Well, father, what can we do for you?" said Aragorn, leaping to his feet. 'Come and be warm, if you are cold!" He strode forward, but the old man was gone. There was no trace of him to be found near at hand, and they did not dare to wander far. The moon had set and the night was very dark.
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Old 11-29-2004, 02:45 PM   #6
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I wanted to point out the first steps of Symbolism betweem Rohan and Gondor. Right now we have two aging kings (or stewards) of the respective kingdoms. Rohan's Theoden his mind is overthrown, Gondor's Denethor, has already, or is about to be overthrown by the palantir. You might want to say that the friendships aren't really at the bests either. Denethor hates Sauron but also hates anyone that doesn't fight under him. Theoden is an old man listening to bad councilling. Grant it, these two kingdoms don't "hate" eachtother, but they seem distant, seperated, they aren't as strong as they used to be. I actually think a big reason why Theoden decided to ride for Gondor was to keep true to the Oath of Eorl. Anyway, that's the current situation.

Now, we have Aragorn and Eomer meet. Both are future kings of their respected Kingdoms, but they aren't kings right now. It's the friendship that these two future kings create, which will symbolize the strong bonds between Gondor and Rohan that are to come in later days. For these two do create a strong friendship, and they continue that friendship after the war.

Also in connection with these two future kings are their enemies, Saruman and Sauron. Right now Rohan's enemy is Saruman, and Aragorn comes to aid to help out Eomer (and Rohan) win the battle of Helm's Deep, and defeat Rohan's enemy, Saruman. Later, Aragorn's (Or Gondor's) enemy is Sauron. Eomer (and Rohan) ride out to the aid of Gondor, and defeat their enemy (well praise Eru) Sauon. Rather interesting, and I love this symbolism between the friendships of these two influential leaders, that's all I have to add.
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Old 11-29-2004, 11:34 PM   #7
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"Gondor, Gondor!" cried Aragorn. " . . . Not yet does my road lie southward to your bright streams. . . . " . . . drawing his eyes away from the South, and looking out west and north to the way that he must tread. (LR III 2)
This confirms what I said in the previous chapter:
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. . . the other choice he was pondering while in Lothlórien--going to Minas Tirith--was made irrelevant for the moment. (Nilpaurion)
He knew going to Minas Tirith was important--Mandos, he promised it to Boromir--, but he chose to go after his friends first.



Quote:
[Éomer: ]But there is something strange about you, Strider. . . . That is no name for a Man that you give. (ibid)
It seems Éomer and Aragorn already had a bond. He can see through Aragorn's "Strider" disguise!
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Old 11-30-2004, 03:09 PM   #8
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(Well, like a fool I just posted this in the thread on the last chapter because I wasn't paying attention! It belongs here, but Encaitare placed a response there to it, so I don't want to delete it & make anyone else look silly, so I'm copying it here)

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Gimli and Legolas looked at their companion in amazement, for they had not seen him in this mood before. He seemed to have grown in stature while Eomer had shrunk; and in his living face they caught a brief vision of the power and majesty of the kings of stone. For a moment it seemed to the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown.
This is an odd thing - why would Legolas see that? Is he actually seeing something - some kind of 'spiritual' flame-like crown on Aragorn's head, or did is just seem to be there - is Legolas having a 'psychic', precognitive vision of the real crown of Gondor which Aragorn will eventually come to wear, or is he just so impressed with Aragorns newly revealed royalty that he imagines it?

Or is it something else - a kind of 'divine right of kings' thing. Has Aragorn worn this 'spiritual' crown all along, or has it just appeared in this moment? If Aragorn truly wears a 'spiritual' crown, then who placed it on his head? Surely only Illuvatar could place such a crown on Aragorn's head - has Aragorn been divinely appointed ruler of Middle earth by God?

I suppose this is a central question as far as leadership in Middle earth is concerned. Are kings simply appointed by their people, or at the least, must they rule with the consent of their people? Does this shed light on the Kinstrife which nearly brought Gondor to ruin, & on Denethor's dismissal of Aragorn as 'last of a ragged house, long bereft of Lordship & dignity'? Is there some sense in which the Stewards have a role in deciding who has been divinely appointed to rule? So that they must be satisfied not simply that the claimant is a suitable ruler, with the right inheritance, but also that he has been divinely appointed.

Certainly this would make Denethor's reluctance to accept Aragorn more significant - if he believes Aragorn's house has long since been bereft of Lordship & dignity, then he would have some case. And that leads on to a further question - he dosen't say Aragorn's house has lost its 'lordship & dignity' he says it has been bereft of those things - they have been taken away - but by whom, & for what reason? If Illuvatar is the one who bestowed Lordship & dignity (ie the divinely appointed right to rule) then wouldn't that imply that Illuvatar was the one who took it away?

In the end (at the end), we see the people of Gondor accepting Aragorn as their ruler - but is that simply because he has lead them to victory in the war against Sauron, or is there more to it - has he shown, besides that, that he is truly the divinely appointed King?
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Old 11-30-2004, 03:35 PM   #9
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The light of Aragorn is something I have noticed for a long time as a recurrent theme throughout the books. It is first revealed at the Prancing Pony, where the light is within Aragorn’s eyes:

Quote:
He stood up, and seemed suddenly to grow taller. In his eyes gleamed a light, keen and commanding. Throwing back his cloak, he laid his hand on the hilt of a sword that had hung concealed by his side.
Again, in Rivendell he is portrayed in terms of brightness and light, this time the light not coming from his eyes but his heart:

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His dark cloak was thrown back, and he seemed to be clad in elven mail, and a star shone on his breast.
On the fields of Rohan, the light is on Aragorn’s brow, and it also shines from his sword:

Quote:
Aragorn threw back his cloak. The elven-sheath glittered as he grasped it, and the bright blade of Anduril shone like a sudden flame as he swept it out. 'Elendil!" he cried. "I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dunadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil's son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!"
What does this tell us about Aragorn and the light? I think this does hint at his ‘divine right’. It could be that he has ‘the divine light of kings’ rather than the ‘divine right of kings’. He goes from having a light in the eyes as a Ranger to having a light in the heart as Arwen’s betrothed, and on to a light in his sword (hint of the origins of light-sabres here) and a light on his brow as both soldier and commander or king in waiting. Where does the light come from? I am certain that Aragorn has something of the ‘otherworld’ about him; after all, he has spent his youth in Rivendell and is one of few Men ever to be welcomed in Lorien. He has walked amongst the Elves for much of his life, and is even loved by an Elf.

But there is something else here. In each of these quotes, he is shown as throwing back his cloak. Aside from this being a grand and dramatic gesture, is his ‘light’ hidden beneath this cloak? Reading on a little, his encounter with Eowyn is slightly different:

Quote:
And she now was suddenly aware of him: tall heir of kings, wise with many winters, greycloaked, hiding a power that yet she felt.
She sees him as a king, yet he remains cloaked. Does he have no need to impress her in the same way he has had to impress others? Why does he hide his ‘light’ here? This will be discussed soon enough though, so I shall leave that particular mystery there.
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Old 11-30-2004, 03:53 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by davem
Certainly this would make Denethor's reluctance to accept Aragorn more significant - if he believes Aragorn's house has long since been bereft of Lordship & dignity, then he would have some case. And that leads on to a further question - he dosen't say Aragorn's house has lost its 'lordship & dignity' he says it has been bereft of those things - they have been taken away - but by whom, & for what reason? If Illuvatar is the one who bestowed Lordship & dignity (ie the divinely appointed right to rule) then wouldn't that imply that Illuvatar was the one who took it away?
Denethor would like to think so. But he can hardly be credited with clear vision; perhaps once he had it, but lately his favorite viewing was what Sauron allowed him to see, which thoroughly skewed his judgement. And Aragorn had looked into the palantir by then, so Sauron knew about him. Certainly Sauron didn't want Denethor welcoming Aragorn back.

This is a whole book ahead of ourselves!

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Originally Posted by davem
In the end (at the end), we see the people of Gondor accepting Aragorn as their ruler - but is that simply because he has lead them to victory in the war against Sauron, or is there more to it - has he shown, besides that, that he is truly the divinely appointed King?
That's what the houses of healing are all about: "The hands of the king are the hands of a healer, and thus shall the true king be known." With his use of Athelas near Weathertop, his kingship is foreshadowed even then.

But in Gondor, such things were dismissed as Old Ioreth Tales, and much wisdom was (almost) lost.
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Old 11-30-2004, 07:49 PM   #11
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Shield Aragorn's journey

First a quick observation:


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Before them in the West the world lay still, formless and grey; but even as they looked, the shadows of the night melted, the colours of the waking earth returned: green flowed over the wide meads of Rohan; the white mists shimmered in the watervales ...
Our first proper view of Rohan is described in terms of green and white - it's symbolic colours. And, although it becomes apparent that things are amiss in the realm, it is described throughout the Chapter in terms of its greenery and freshness. To my mind, this conveys the impression that, whatever might be wrong, it is essentially a "good" place. Consider the description of the plains, and the words of Legolas, as the Three Hunters descend from the Emyn Muil:


Quote:
They seemed to have left the winter clinging to the hills behind. Here the air was softer and warmer, and faintly scented, as if spring was already stirring and the sap was flowing again in herb and leaf. Legolas took a deep breath, like one that drinks a great draught after long thirst in barren places.

"Ah! The green smell!" he said. "It is better than much sleep. Let us run!"
And so to Aragorn, concerning whom I have a little admission to make. As I read the book this time round, I am coming to appreciate him much more as a character. By which I mean his development as a character as the story progresses.

In last week's discussion, I indicated my view that, in the previous Chapter, he reached a low point with Boromir's death, and seemed to almost lose hope. But that Chapter left him with renewed determination and decisiveness. And now we see him in his element - using his formidable tracking skills to follow the trail of the Orcs and pick up the clues that have been left in their wake. Just as the need for these skills in the previous Chapter allowed him to make the choices that were required, so his confidence builds in this Chapter as he relies on those skills which, through many years in the wild, now come almost naturally to him and in which he has complete confidence. And, in turn, he comes to have increased confidence in himself generally. No more is he grappling with hard choices. His actions throughout this Chapter are quick and decisive.

He is momentarily at a loss when the Orcs' trail is lost in the valley but he is able to find the evidence that he needs to point the way and, once found, is swift in his resolve to follow. When the time comes to make a the choice between resting and continuing, Legolas and Gimli, accepting him as their leader, look to him for a decision (having presented the opposing arguments). It is, as he says, a "hard choice" since resting will allow the Orcs to get further away while continuing risks missing clues in the darkness and wearing themselves (or Aragorn and Gimli at least) out. But Aragorn makes his decision and sticks with it. He is still not entirely sure of himself. But he is making choices - and it seems to me that he is making the right ones.

But it is in the encounter with Eomer and his Men that Aragorn really proves his mettle. Whereas Legolas and Gimli risk bringing the wrath of the Riders on them with their words, Aragorn handles the situation perfectly. Although, after stepping in to prevent things "going ill", his first words are conciliatory, he is no less confrontational than his companions in insisting that Eomer declares where his allegiance lies. But he speaks with authority and has the confidence to declare his heritage. His challenge to Eomer is, given their situation, breathtaking in its audacity:


Quote:
Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!
Indeed, it might be considered foolhardy were it not for the fact that Aragorn now has the confidence (not to mention the bearing and the pedigree) to pull it off. And so, rather than being enraged, Eomer is taken aback in awe and "cast[s] down his proud eyes". I would hazard a guess that, had this encounter occurred a few days earlier at Amon Hen, Aragorn would not have had the confidence in himself to pull it off. But, as Rimbaud said, he is developing as a leader. He is, as davem has pointed out, as much on a journey as Frodo (although a different one). Not at all the "flat" character that I had previously perceived.

As to whether he has a “divine right” to rule, I must say that the point seems rather moot to me. If he had not gained the support of the people of Gondor, then divine right would have counted for little. And it is through his words and action that he gains their trust and support, just as he does in this Chapter with Eomer (and it is also notable, in this regard, that Legolas and Gimli accept him as their leader without question or even comment).

I find the reaction of Eomer and his Men to the tales with which they are confronted very interesting indeed:


Quote:
"These are indeed strange days," [Eomer] muttered. "Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass".
Quote:
[Eomer] looked at them with renewed wonder, but his eyes hardened. "Then there is a Lady in the Golden Wood, as old tales tell!" he said. "Few escape her nets, they say. These are strange days! But if you have her favour, then you also are net-weavers and sorcerers, maybe."
Quote:
"Halflings!" laughed the Rider that stood beside Eomer. "Halflings! But they are only a little people in old songs and children's tales out of the North. Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?"
It seems to me to be a measure of Tolkien's confidence in his own skills as a story-teller that he feels able to have his "historic" (Anglo-Saxon) characters dismiss the "fantastical" elements of his story (Aragorn's heritage, the Lady of the Wood, Hobbits) as dreams and legends in the confidence that his readers will side with the fantastic. And of course we do, because these fantasy elements have become real and credible to us.

And this in itself enhances the credibility of the fantasy. It is the realisation (subconsciously perhaps) of our complete acceptance of the fantasy that affirms it as "reality" for us in the context of the story. Whether this was intentional on Tolkien's part I cannot say for sure, but the way in which he has the Rohirrim regard Hobbits as the stuff of legends persuades me that it was, since they are the characters with whom we have from the start been led to identify most closely with.
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Old 11-30-2004, 09:27 PM   #12
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Here is the response I made to davem's post, in the last CbC thread by accident, reposted here in case anyone's interested:

-----------------

Just a thought in response to davem's final question:

Quote:
In the end (at the end), we see the people of Gondor accepting Aragorn as their ruler - but is that simply because he has lead them to victory in the war against Sauron, or is there more to it - has he shown, besides that, that he is truly the divinely appointed King?
This made me think of Malbeth's prediction about Aragorn:

Quote:
The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
From the North shall he come, need shall drive him:
he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.
Now, I don't know if the average Gondorian would be familiar with these words, but some record of them must have been kept. Perhaps another reason Aragorn was so readily accepted as king, on top of the fact that he led them to victory, is that his coming and his lineage were foretold in prophecy?
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Old 12-01-2004, 03:23 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mark
Denethor would like to think so. But he can hardly be credited with clear vision; perhaps once he had it, but lately his favorite viewing was what Sauron allowed him to see, which thoroughly skewed his judgement. And Aragorn had looked into the palantir by then, so Sauron knew about him. Certainly Sauron didn't want Denethor welcoming Aragorn back.
Of course, but that doesn't invalidate his motivation or his percieved responsibility. If the role of Steward did involve the kind of responsibility I'm talking about then Denethor would have felt he had the responsibility to ensure only one with the right to rule took up the crown.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpM
As to whether he has a “divine right” to rule, I must say that the point seems rather moot to me. If he had not gained the support of the people of Gondor, then divine right would have counted for little.
I suppose the question is whether the people took his 'divine right' into account - were they simply choosing him as king because he had lead them to victory, or were they taking that victory as confirmation that he was divinely appointed?

In other words, were they awaiting the divinely appointed king & Aragorn's victory proved to them that that's who he was, or was their sole criteria for judging that he had beaten Sauron?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwende
]I am certain that Aragorn has something of the ‘otherworld’ about him; after all, he has spent his youth in Rivendell and is one of few Men ever to be welcomed in Lorien.
He's quite similar to Lancelot in that way - brought up by the Lady of the Lake (ie the OtherWorld).

Oh, & I wonder if the light which Legoals sees on Aragorn's brow is in any way meant to echo the tongues of flame which descend on the apostles at Pentecost.
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Old 12-01-2004, 07:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I suppose the question is whether the people took his 'divine right' into account - were they simply choosing him as king because he had lead them to victory, or were they taking that victory as confirmation that he was divinely appointed?
Well, as has been pointed out on Boromir88's Aragorn's political skills thread (and by Helen above), Aragorn's acceptance by the people of Gondor was not simply down to his military skills. There is also his bearing, his nobility, his heritage, his humility, his leadership, his healing skills - the list could go on. It is these qualities, taken as a whole, that influence the people of Gondor. (And it is many of these qualities that inspire trust in Eomer in this Chapter too.)

Now it may be argued that many of these qualities bear the hallmark of Eru's influence, in which case, yes, there is an element of (indirect) divine right in Aragorn's claim and acceptance. And I think that Legolas' "vision" here is good supporting evidence of this argument and Tolkien's intentions in this regard.
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Old 12-01-2004, 07:02 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by davem
Oh, & I wonder if the light which Legolas sees on Aragorn's brow is in any way meant to echo the tongues of flame which descend on the apostles at Pentecost.
A very interesting thought, davem! If so, that would be an additional sign of his divine anointment to kingship, since the Pentecost flames were a sign of the Holy Spirit's presence, anointing the persons for service to God.
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Old 12-01-2004, 07:29 AM   #16
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Well, as has been pointed out on Boromir88's Aragorn's political skills thread (and by Helen above), Aragorn's acceptance by the people of Gondor was not simply down to his military skills. There is also his bearing, his nobility, his heritage, his humility, his leadership, his healing skills - the list could go on. It is these qualities, taken as a whole, that influence the people of Gondor. (And it is many of these qualities that inspire trust in Eomer in this Chapter too.)
Aragorn must have these attributes in order to credibly take back his 'kingship', both in terms of whether the populace would accept him and in terms of retaining his good character in the eyes of the reader. This is especially true when he could potentially be set against Faramir, who himself is an incredibly admirable leader. But to have the 'divine right/light' gives Aragorn an edge over Faramir; he is visibly the genuine king.

This brings to mind another instance where a King returns to his 'divine right', that of Charles II; the circumstances of this return follow the English 'republic' (there's some question over this however...) which proved unsuccessful in the end, as has done the Stewardship with Denethor's poor judgement. Though maybe I will develop the thinking on this one for Boromir 88's politics thread as it's a tad thorny.

Quote:
He's quite similar to Lancelot in that way - brought up by the Lady of the Lake (ie the OtherWorld).
The name Lancelot has roots in Celtic words for 'white', which is reflected in Aragorn's 'light'. And, Aragorn is taken by his mother to be brought up in Rivendell - does she 'give him up' to the Elves? This reminds me of folklore of children being taken down into the underworld and being brought up by faeries. Although I have often wondered if Tolkien intended to make Aragorn some kind of Arthurian figure, coming to rescue his land and people at their greatest hour of need. Instead of being entombed in a cave with his warriors, Aragorn has been exiled with his Rangers. He also carries a legendary sword, though this one is 'birthed' in fire rather than water.
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Old 12-01-2004, 02:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwende
The name Lancelot has roots in Celtic words for 'white', which is reflected in Aragorn's 'light'.
And if Aragorn is 'Lancelot', is Frodo then Galahad, the one who achieves the Grail Quest? Of coursem the similarities an't be pushed too far, as Lancelot failed, & betrayed Arthur, while Aragorn succeeded, but in a sense Aragorn is a successful Lancelot - he didn't sucumb to his desires but accepted his true destiny.

Its this distinction between Destiny & Fate which Tolkien seems to be exploring in the tales of Aragorn & Frodo. Destiny is not fate, because it can be accepted or rejected. There is freedom of choice in Destiny, but not so with fate. Frodo's fate was sealed when he took up the Ring - effectively he became a 'servant' & had to submit - in fact, the times he comes closest to failing are those moments when he tries to take control of situations - when he casts aside that 'power of another kind' which Gandalf says is present in the Shire - humility. Frodo is humble before his fate, submitting to it & it carries him forward to his destined end. When Frodo refuses to be humble, when he treats fate as destiny, something he can accept or reject is when he comes closest to disaster.

Aragorn, on the other hand, comes closest to failing when he treats his Destiny as fate - expecting circumstances to sweep him along without effort - hence all his complaints about things not working out as he wished. These early chapters of books 3&4 show the two heroes coming to a realisation of their respective roles. Frodo realises he must become a 'servant' of fate, Aragorn a master of his destiny.

As Aragorn says of Frodo & Sam, theirs has been the hardest road, & so it was, because submission, humility, service, is harder to bear than rulership, yet it is Frodo & Sam's humble service which saves the world, not Aragorn's power & dominance in battle.

Not a very 21st century message.
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Old 12-01-2004, 02:38 PM   #18
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Not a very 21st century message.
It may not be a modern message, yet it has a lot of relevance for our world. In Aragorn coming to terms with his destiny he shows that acceptance of what must be done is the correct path to take, and that merely having the choice to accept or reject that Destiny can be a very dangerous thing. Aragorn can go one way or the other, and on his shoulders lies much responsibility. He is in the situation of the 'boss' who will take the blame if everything goes wrong.

Yet Frodo is the one under the bigger amount of pressure. In order to achieve what fate has told him he must do, he has to accept humility; then he must forego his status and allow his ego to be damaged - something that not many of us today would be prepared to accept as we all wish to attain 'status'. It is now being shown that stress is suffered more by those without choice or power in their daily lives; Frodo must undergo this lack of control, unlike Aragorn, who does have the choice, and who does have power.
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Old 12-02-2004, 08:21 AM   #19
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Some very nice points about Aragorn that I would like to pick up on, as this really is his chapter.

The issue of choice and Destiny (lovely distinction you make, davem, between Frodo-Aragorn and Fate-Destiny) undergoes a profound shift in this chapter. To this point, the story has been concerned with the choices that Aragorn must make, but with his introduction to Eomer, suddenly something new happens. Rather than Aragorn making a choice, he becomes the choice:

Quote:
Aragorn threw back his cloak. The elven-sheath glittered as he grasped it, and the bright blade of Anduril shone like a sudden flame as he swept it out. 'Elendil!" he cried. "I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and am called Elessar, the Elfstone, Dunadan, the heir of Isildur Elendil's son of Gondor. Here is the Sword that was Broken and is forged again! Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!"
This has already been quoted, but I thought it deserved to be so again (I just love it so). The choice that Aragorn is presenting to Eomer is a simple one: “aid me or thwart me” – in effect, he is demanding that Eomer make a choice between Aragorn and not-Aragorn. This is part and parcel of that other choice Eomer must make: or, rather, it is just another way of looking at or thinking about the choice that Eomer must make – that between right and wrong:

Quote:
“Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
The choice of whether to accept or reject Aragorn has become the same choice as between “good and ill.” This is not hubris on the part of Aragorn, but his acceptance of his own nature as a tool of Providence. His mission is of and for the Good, aid him and you aid the Good, hinder him and you do ill. What is breath-taking to me is that Aragorn not only knows this now but is able to bear up with the responsibility without it crushing him. He has taken upon himself the really hard part (Doing Good) leaving everyone else the (relatively, comparatively) easier choice of helping him or not. This is what a hero is supposed to be, I think (at least for Tolkien): someone who is willing and able to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and not in a militaristic/warrior mode. It’s significant that the destruction of the orcs and the rescue of the hobbits is not accomplished by Aragorn. In this chapter we learn quite explicitly that the job of killing has been left to the Rohirrim, and that Aragorn’s heroic task is quite different. It is to emerge from legend and claim his right as the leader of Men; at the same time, he presents his followers with a real challenge – it’s no easy thing choosing to aid him, as it entails real dangers.

That light which flickers around his brows is seen only by the Elf, so I have a hard time seeing it as some kind of overt sign of his right to rule Men. Instead, I think that moment speaks more about Legolas than Aragorn, for it charts the Elf’s reaction to the challenge presented by Aragorn. To Men, he appears as a great Man and King of old; one who commands their allegiance and demands that they make a hard choice about him. For the Elf, over whom he does not have sovereignty, he reveals that Numenorean aspect of his lineage that is Elvish.

It’s as though Aragorn is finally so confident and integrated in himself that he begins to present the same challenge to others that he has successfully overcome in himself. One of the nicer ways that this is demonstrated in the chapter is his use of his tracking, Ranger skills. To this point in the story, he has only really ‘been’ a Ranger from Bree to Rivendell, so it might appear ironic that in the very chapter that he emerges as the heir of Elendil that he is also acting as a Ranger once more – but I think it makes perfect sense insofar as he is no longer torn, but an integrated self. He is both Strider (Telcontar) and Aragorn (Elessar), and its this unity of self that gives him the remarkable strength and purpose with which to command (or challenge?) the loyalties of other men.
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Old 12-03-2004, 03:07 AM   #20
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Ah, now here's the chapter to go completely Aragorn swooning!

It is interesting to note that as Boromir died in the previous chapter, bereaving Gondor of his leadership, another leader is rising to take his place...something like the authority over Gondor being "reborn." Not only that, Aragorn himself was given "new life." He has lost almost all hope upon Boromir's death, but here he is in this chapter, showing us little by little how he deserves the throne of Gondor.

I find it ironic that he doesn't see himself as a leader worth following. Despite the assurance of Gimli and Legolas that they will follow his guidance, he says:
Quote:
You give the choice to an ill chooser. Since we passed through the Argonath my choices have gone amiss.
To me this statement shows him more of a leader than ever, for he has taken responsibility over his actions, and tried to look out for everyone's welfare. It would do good to him to learn that he can learn from every mistake. Maybe that's why we see a lot of wisdom emanating from him! Going back to his being an ill-chooser, maybe FotR's last chapter should have been entitled "The Choices of Master Aragorn" instead.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
To this point in the story, he has only really ‘been’ a Ranger from Bree to Rivendell, so it might appear ironic that in the very chapter that he emerges as the heir of Elendil that he is also acting as a Ranger once more – but I think it makes perfect sense insofar as he is no longer torn, but an integrated self. He is both Strider (Telcontar) and Aragorn (Elessar), and its this unity of self that gives him the remarkable strength and purpose with which to command (or challenge?) the loyalties of other men.
I don't think he has ever abandoned the Ranger side of him...after all, that's what he really is from the very beginning. But as Gandalf was gone and eventually also Boromir, it was inevitable for him to finally show his being the heir of Elendil. Someone had to lead, and he was chosen. And these two sides of him, so to speak, reinforced each other to make Aragorn an all-around leader.

End of swooning, for now.

I pity Eomer in this chapter. I cannot imagine how much amazement and shock he had to deal with as he conversed with the Man, Elf, and Dwarf. He was given proof of realities he thought were legends all along, and to make it worse, a stranger challenged him...and in his own lands, too! It must have been a very humbling action for him even just to cast down his proud eyes when Aragorn revealed his identity to him.

After all these, he had to make a decision that forces him to choose between the circumstances and the laws. Should he do what he thinks is right yet is against what he knows is right (i.e. aid Aragorn and disregard the law), or do what is right beyond the shadow of the doubt? Either way, the repercussions are still unclear to him, for he cannot see the big picture. But in the end, he takes a big risk, which we realize as he tells Aragorn what he has decided...
Quote:
In this I place myself, and maybe my very life, in the keeping of your good faith. Do not fail.
I believe this might have been one of the hardest choices in his life, more so for he was deciding in haste. Swoon! (To which everyone says, "Uh-oh...")

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Old 12-03-2004, 03:09 PM   #21
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Thanks to Bęthberry for pointing out a mistake in my introductory post - I said that Éomer lent Aragorn and Co. "Rhovanian" horses, which was incorrect - Rhovanion and Rohan are not the same. I edited the post to read "horses of Rohan" now.
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Old 12-03-2004, 11:12 PM   #22
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Pipe Aragorn's "crown"

For a moment it seemed to the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown.
LR III 2
Why, indeed, did only the Elf see this crown?

During the Third Age Men’s dominion was not yet consummate. Elves and Wizards still play a huge role in the affairs of Middle-earth. So we have these two major forces in history: The Fading Ones (The Eldar and the Istari), the once-rulers; and the Followers, the soon-to-be rulers. And Aragorn is a bridge between these two:
Quote:
I am certain that Aragorn has something of the ‘otherworld’ about him; after all, he has spent his youth in Rivendell and is one of few Men ever to be welcomed in Lorien. He has walked amongst the Elves for much of his life, and is even loved by an Elf. (Lalwendë)
That was for “otherworldly”. In the world of Men he is a Ranger, and once a knight of the two great kingdoms of Men. But thus far, his kingly side has only been revealed to the Fading Ones.

Now I believe that Aragorn had been “crowned” first in Moria, when Gandalf made him leader of the Fellowship. But hitherto he has not yet accepted this crown fully.

Hitherto, I said above. Let us look at the quote again, this time including the sentences before it:
Gimli and Legolas looked at their companion in amazement, for they had not seen him in this mood before. He seemed to have grown in stature while Eomer had shrunk; and in his living face they caught a brief vision of the power and majesty of the kings of stone. For a moment it seemed to the eyes of Legolas that a white flame flickered on the brows of Aragorn like a shining crown.
(ibid)
His companions have not seen him in this mood before—this kingly mood. It was, perhaps, in this moment that he first truly accepted this crown.
Notice that both companions have seen the vision of power and majesty in his face, while it was only the Elf who saw the crown of light. He had this power and majesty in him all along, so it could be visible for all to see, if he so wishes to reveal it. But the crown . . . he has yet to win it over Men. Only the foresighted Fading Ones could see it for now.

[NOTE: There, Fordim, I’ve transplanted that idea (of Aragorn's "crowning") to CbC. Have I ever thanked you for that encouraging rep you gave oh-so-long ago? ]
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Old 12-04-2004, 08:49 PM   #23
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Boots Book Legolas

I suppose one good thing about being too busy to write long posts these days is that short little ideas catch my eyes. There is a comment given to Legolas which reminds me of an old saying I grew up with.

Quote:
As before Legolas was first afoot, if indeed he had ever slept. "Awake! Awake!" he cried. "It is a red dawn. Strange things await us by the eaves of the forest. Good or evil, I do not know; but we are called. Awake!"
I'm not terribly sure if Legolas is using this red dawn as a portent, but I wonder if he is. It could a small way that the elf is linked, again, to the sea, for this is the old saying I grew up with:

Quote:
Red sky at night, Sailors' delight.
Red sky at morning, Sailors' warning.
Of course, I have no idea if this saying would have been known to Tolkien, but it was handed down in my family by those as old as Tolkien who hailed from his side of the pond.

One other small point: While I agree with everyone here, going back to Estelyn's good opening salvo, that this is Aragorn's chapter, I was also struck by the number of opportunities where we get to see Legolas' elven traits brought out, traits which really supply important information at times in this terrible endurence trek. And not just that eagle!
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Old 12-05-2004, 02:04 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bb
Of course, I have no idea if this saying would have been known to Tolkien, but it was handed down in my family by those as old as Tolkien who hailed from his side of the pond.
Over here its shepherds rather than sailors who are either delighted or warned, but it is (or was) a common saying.

There is an essay in the 1992 Centenary collection which I've referred to before which goes into Legolas' ability to instantly discern that there are 105 Rohirrim at such a great distance, & how this would seem to imply that Elves' brains function differently - how could his eyes pick up on such detail at that distance or his brain calculate at that speed?

Or what is the nature of Elven 'sleep' - are there different kinds of 'sleep' for Elves. Is there what we would call 'normal' sleep & a kind of half-sleep half meditation? Whether this ties in with Tolkien's ideas about the Elves existing at once in 'both' worlds is another question. Are there two (or more) kinds of 'waking' for Elves. When they 'remember' past events (which Gimli says is is more like to the waking world) are they 'awake' or 'asleep' or in some third state which is different from either full waking or true sleep?

What would it be like to exist in two worlds at once, & how different are those two worlds - do they have different physical laws? Were there always two seperate worlds, or have they become seperated - maybe at the time when the world changed at the fall of Numenor? Is the 'other' world still the original flat earth - which would perhaps explain why they can still find the Straight Road into the West? Do Elves like Legolas walk on both a straight & a 'curved' world? Maybe Legolas can see the Rohirrim at such a great distance & calculate their number instantly because the physics of the Other World are different to the physics of this world?
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Old 12-05-2004, 06:01 AM   #25
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davem, have you ever considered joining the RPG forums?
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Old 12-05-2004, 07:43 AM   #26
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davem, have you ever considered joining the RPG forums?
Don't start confusing me - it took me months to get my head round posting on ordinary threads. All that interacting with others & working out who does what & when & how would make my head spin. I am a bear of very little brain
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Old 12-05-2004, 10:27 AM   #27
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Silmaril

There is another instance of the ‘red dawn’ being a portent of doom:

Quote:
Arise, arise, Riders of Theoden!
Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter!
spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!
The red sky in the morning folklore does have some scientific basis in meteorology, I’m happy to say, though I would have to look this up to say exactly why this phenomenon happens - it's something to do with particles.

On the nature of Elven sleep, I’m sure that this is strongly linked to the nature of Elven time. If an immortal has a wholly different perception of the passing of time, surely they should have a different need for sleep? I would like to think that they need to sleep less often than mortals, yet in proportion to their infinite lives, it would be equivalent to the sleep that mortals take.

To work out why Legolas can see so far will need some very ‘out there’ physics to begin to explain, but I shall attempt it, at the risk of the men in white coats coming out again, and possibly they will be having to round up anyone who attempts to read this. This goes back to the concept of Light, though in a purely (or is it?) scientific sense.

Light travels one foot in one billionth of a second, and the Light from the Sun takes 8 minutes to reach us. If the Sun exploded (presuming its constituent parts would travel at no faster a velocity than the speed of light), then we would not know this for 8 minutes; we would experience the past in the present. So in effect, all the Light we receive is the past, it is something which has already happened; our Light (and our present) is the Sun‘s history. As for Time, it exists at several levels, including psychological time, and our psychological time by necessity moves forwards. Here is what Hawking says of this:

Quote:
Suppose, however, that God decided that the universe should finish up in a state of high order but that it didn’t matter what state it started in. At early times the universe would probably be in a disordered state. This would mean that disorder would decrease with time. You would see broken cups gathering themselves together and jumping back onto the table. However, any human beings who were observing the cups would be living in a universe in which disorder decreased with time. I shall argue that such beings would have a psychological arrow of time that was backward. That is, they would remember events in the future, and not remember events in their past. When the cup was broken, they would remember it being on the table, but when it was on the table, they would not remember it being on the floor.
If you consider an immortal, maybe their time moves forward at a different velocity, hence their light, and thus what they can see, and how far they can see, also is different.

Quote:
Is the 'other' world still the original flat earth - which would perhaps explain why they can still find the Straight Road into the West? Do Elves like Legolas walk on both a straight & a 'curved' world? Maybe Legolas can see the Rohirrim at such a great distance & calculate their number instantly because the physics of the Other World are different to the physics of this world?
Now this is important. There is a possibility that the universe is round, but there is also the possibility that it is flat, that it even has walls; it is most likely fairly flat, with a slight shape. I won’t go too far into this as I think I’ve meddled with cosmology enough for one post, but in terms of Tolkien’s universe, it could indeed be that for Elves, with their different perceptions of Time, and hence Light, exist in a perfectly flat universe. I have thought this is a possibility for a long time, and often think of the search for the straight road as akin to the search for the secret of time itself.
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Old 12-05-2004, 12:03 PM   #28
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So, Arda at the end of time, would have reached a state of 'perfection'. It would become what Eru had concieved it to be in the beginning - yet it would 'only' then match what it had 'been' in His mind. In that case could we really speak of that being the 'end', as it would actually be (physically)what it had been originally? This is like the ouroboros, the serpent with its tail in its mouth - 'In my end is my beginning'.

One of the novels that most affected Tolkien was Eddison's The Worm Ouroborus, which basically ends at its beginning, the world of the novel having been turned back on itself, so the whole story would repeat throughout eternity, with the same characters foing the same things. Or we have Nietszche's Eternal return....

The Elves seek not to go into the West, but to return into the West - they seem to think in terms not of going forward but of going back, as though their foray into the 'outer' world has been a 'circular' movement. Yet they take the 'straight' road to get back to where they started. They are constantly driven to 'return' is the West for them as much a symbol of the 'beginning' to which they are drawn as it is 'Home'?

Quote:
In Elvish sentiment the future was not one of hope or desire, but a decay & retrogression from former bliss & power. Though inevitably it lay ahead, as of one on a journey, 'looking forward' did not imply anticipation of delight. 'I look forward to seeing you again' did not mean or imply 'I wish to see you again' did not mean or imply 'I wish to see you again, & since that is arranged/and or very likely, I am pleased'. It meant simply 'I expect to see you again with the certainty of foresight (in some circumstances) or regard that as very probable - it might be with fear or dilsike, foreboding.' Their position, as of latter day sentiment, was [b] one of exiles driven foreward (against their will) who were in mind or actual posture ever looking backward (Tolkien in an unpublished note, quoted in Flieger 'a Question of Time'.
So they Elves are constantly driven not to go on into the West, but to go back to where they had been.

They are artists, seeking perfection in their creations - yet that perfection they desire had only existed at one point - in the Mind of Eru before the Music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwende
]So in effect, all the Light we receive is the past, it is something which has already happened; our Light (and our present) is the Sun‘s history. As for Time, it exists at several levels, including psychological time, and our psychological time by necessity moves forwards.
So Legolas experiences time differently, & thus inevitably percieves light differently?

But what does this make Elves - what does it say about their nature? Without rehashing the old 'Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes' arguments, does this mena that the Elves have such 'control' over their perception of time that they can choose not to count it - to actually exist psychologically outside time - so that the Rings do to the physical environment what the Elves (can) do to their mental environment & halt it, or cause it to run a different speeds - if for them memory is like to the waking world is that because they can mentally move backwards in time & be in that space-time again, reliving it? And so, their vision of a perfect 'state' would not be one of a perfect future time but a perfect past - the one that exists eternally in the Mind of Eru?

Yet, having said that, what would 'past' or 'future' mean to them, if they had that kind of power over it (or, which is the same thing, it had so little power over them.)
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Old 12-05-2004, 12:31 PM   #29
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The Elves seek not to go into the West, but to return into the West - they seem to think in terms not of going forward but of going back, as though their foray into the 'outer' world has been a 'circular' movement. Yet they take the 'straight' road to get back to where they started. They are constantly driven to 'return' is the West for them as much a symbol of the 'beginning' to which they are drawn as it is 'Home'?
If indeed time in Arda was circular in some way, then I don't see any reason why Elves, being immortal, would not experience Time in that way. Perhaps this explains the do not/need not argument? (sorry ) Using my own words:

Quote:
if the Elves do not count the running years, not for themselves, this is emphatic. They simply do not count those years in their own reckoning. But if the Elves need not count the running years, not for themselves, then it's something that by dint of being immortal, it's not necessary for them to do.
If they need not count the years, if they know to where they are going and from whence they came, what would be the purpose in counting years at all? Perhaps this difference between Men and Elves explains something of the nature of mortality - that mortals can never know this.

Still, this theory would only 'fit' for the Eldar.

I am not so sure that Elven time can be speeded up or slowed down, I think that they perceive time at an entirely different pace to mortals, one outside our easy comprehension. They see the world as Swift, because they themselves change little, and all else fleets by as mortal creatures are born, live and die in the mere blink of an eye to them; they see the world as Slow, because they do not count the running years, not for themselves as the great expanse of eternity is infinite.

Quote:
Yet beneath the Sun all things must wear to an end at last
Does this refer to the eventual contraction and inevitable expansion or rebuilding of the universe? Do the Elves experience every universe and hence know what fate will bring? Or will some other creation experience 'the next' universe?
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Old 12-05-2004, 12:47 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Lalwende
I am not so sure that Elven time can be speeded up or slowed down, I think that they perceive time at an entirely different pace to mortals, one outside our easy comprehension. They see the world as Swift, because they themselves change little, and all else fleets by as mortal creatures are born, live and die in the mere blink of an eye to them; they see the world as Slow, because they do not count the running years, not for themselves as the great expanse of eternity is infinite.
Yet the purpose of the Elven Rings was to slow the physical effects of time - obviously they couldn't completely halt it, yet they could apparently manipulate it, & wouldn't that desire have arisen because they had the concept of it, & possibly that was due to some innate ability to manipulate their experience of it. Aren't they really trying to make the external world reflect their mental world, match the 'inner' & the 'outer'?

Quote:
Does this refer to the eventual contraction and inevitable expansion or rebuilding of the universe? Do the Elves experience every universe and hence know what fate will bring? Or will some other creation experience 'the next' universe?
Only if there is a Universe subsequent to this one - why not simply an endless loop, an eternal return?
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Old 12-05-2004, 01:19 PM   #31
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Only if there is a Universe subsequent to this one - why not simply an endless loop, an eternal return?
It would happen in this way, the beginning and end of the universe; it would endlessly rebuild, but the crucial point is if it would be the same each time? Imagine an elastic band. You draw it out, flick it across the room, and it has returned to it's original, shape, but not entirely. In the very act of strecthing it, you will have altered some aspects of its fundamental structure, even if its compnenet parts are the same. And in addition, in doing this, you have released energy, which will have gone somewhere else (as energy cannot be destroyed, only changed) - so where would the energy go from the continual expansion and contraction of the universe? And the consequences which have to combine in order to produce a certain type of life, they are far too infinite to comprehend.

Back to Tolkien.

Quote:
Yet the purpose of the Elven Rings was to slow the physical effects of time - obviously they couldn't completely halt it, yet they could apparently manipulate it, & wouldn't that desire have arisen because they had the concept of it, & possibly that was due to some innate ability to manipulate their experience of it. Aren't they really trying to make the external world reflect their mental world, match the 'inner' & the 'outer'?
This is true - so perhaps the Elven rings contain some kind of secret of Time or indeed Light? If so, then what was the dark nature of the One Ring? If Sauron was one of the Maiar, he may have known some of these secrets, as may have the Istari, thus explaining why Saruman wanted the One Ring so much.

Another train of thought - perhaps the reason that the rings of power turned mortals into wraiths was that they contained some power of Time or Light which disspipated the very substance of mortals? Would they turn mortals into Dark Matter? I am speculating now, as Tolkien would surely not have known of Dark Matter?
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Old 12-05-2004, 02:52 PM   #32
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Too rushed......

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwende
it would endlessly rebuild, but the crucial point is if it would be the same each time?
If Eru willed it. Scientific 'laws' are based on a 'closed' universe.

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I am speculating now, as Tolkien would surely not have known of Dark Matter?
Many things are 'known' subconsciously before scientists stick a label on them.
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Old 12-05-2004, 11:36 PM   #33
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It's been a somewhat crazy week for me, hence the lateness of my appearance. But I cannot let this chapter go by without a comment or two.

To me, this has always been the chapter that opens the book up, as it were - widening both the perspective and the subject matter. Up until now, we have been dealing with the Ring. We have followed the Ring from Bilbo to Frodo, from Bag End to Rivendell, from Rivendell to Rauros. Even the previous chapter was still in a sense dealing with the Ring - at least, it dealt very specifically with the aftermath of the breaking of the fellowship, which had everything to do with the Ring. Not so in this chapter. Of course, the Ring continues to be of primary importance. But this chapter itself does not deal with the Ring, nor with Frodo, at all.

I cannot, for the most part, remember my reactions the first time I read LotR (or rather, the first time my mother read it to me - I was rather young). But I recently succeeded in convincing my father to read it, and his reaction to Book III struck me at first as odd - then as completely natural. His reaction was a kind of impatience with the story (though not dislike) and a desire to return to Sam and Frodo. I found it odd at first because I happen to prefer Book III to Book IV, overall. But then I realized that it is, one might expect, the natural response. Something strange is going on; after spending four hundred pages with Frodo and the Ring we are suddenly thrust aside into a story concerning Saruman and Rohan.

Why did Tolkien do this? One answer is that, of course, the Merry/Pippin/Saruman/Rohan thread connects up with the Ring thread in a critical way. But of course it's only like that because Tolkien wrote it that way. He could, if he had wanted to, have continued with the story of Frodo and brought it to a conclusion by itself. Another answer is that Tolkien didn't have the rest of the story planned out in much detail and was more or less making things up as he went along. This is true to an extent. But we might put the question better: why is it that this division of the story works?

The answer, I think, has to do with Tolkien's idea of a believable or self-consistent world. I noted in the discussion of 'The Old Forest' that the Old Forest/Bombadil/Barrow-downs trilogy has little to do, directly, with the story of the Ring. But:

Quote:
. . . it would be unrealistic for the Hobbits only to encounter upon their journey servants of Sauron, or people and things relating directly to the central plot. To give them a few unrelated adventures adds a lot to the realism of Middle-earth.
I think something similar, if much, much bigger, is going on in Book III. For the story of the Ring to be concerned exclusively with Frodo might be the more natural choice from a narrative point of view, but it would not be realistic. To put it another way: it is simply a feature of Middle-earth that Rohan is where it is and that Saruman is where he is; for real worlds do have features that do not conveniently arrange themselves for the simplicity of a narrative.

And it works! This chapter really does, I think, make Middle-earth seem real. A new vista, both of plot and of (fictional) space, has opened up. We begin now to enter a world of kingdoms, wars, and politics that was only hinted at before. We got a glimpse of it in I-2 and another in II-2. Now, at the moment when Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli confront Eomer, we actually enter it.

Edit: I wasn't going to comment, but I couldn't restrain myself. Forgive me.

Lalwende wrote:
Quote:
I am speculating now, as Tolkien would surely not have known of Dark Matter?
And Davem:
Quote:
Many things are 'known' subconsciously before scientists stick a label on them.
The existence of 'dark matter' is simply not something one can 'know' subconsciously or intuitively. It is not a matter of scientists simply 'sticking a label' on something. Nor, I'm afraid, is there much similarity between a wraith and dark matter in the real universe. 'Dark matter' is not itself a kind of matter. When astronomers look at the motion of galaxies they can see the gravitational effects of more matter than the observed stars account for. 'Dark matter' is a general term for any such matter - matter that, for whatever reason, can't be seen a long way off. We (and all the stuff we come into contact with every day) are in fact dark matter, since we emit very little radiation and could not be seen thousands of parsecs away.

Now, I don't think that invalidates any of the substance of your arguments. I just think that there's no reason to bring dark matter into them.

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Old 12-06-2004, 01:49 AM   #34
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Pipe Red dawn . . .

Quote:
Quote:
Red sky at night, Sailors' delight.
Red sky at morning, Sailors' warning. (Bb)
Over here its shepherds rather than sailors who are either delighted or warned, but it is (or was) a common saying. (davem)
I was about to post the shepherd version of the quote (really! I just forgot), and was thinking if, in fact, it had anything to do with Legolas' words.

Just one word kept coming back to me: shepherds. The Ents, the Shepherds of the Trees, may be the ones being warned (or delighted)--after all, it was the same day when Merry and Pippin blundered into Treebeard. A delight and warning to the old Ent the two have been!

Perhaps Legolas just saw it and interpreted it as if it was for their own, which it wasn't:
As before Legolas was first afoot, if indeed he had ever slept. "Awake! Awake!" he cried. "It is a red dawn. Strange things await us by the eaves of the forest. Good or evil, I do not know; but we are called. Awake!"
LR III 2 - emphasis mine
Treebeard may have read it himself, and that could explain the fact why he was there on the eaves--well, relatively near to it--of his forest.

But that's already two chapters in advance.
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Old 12-06-2004, 02:47 AM   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aiwendil
. . it would be unrealistic for the Hobbits only to encounter upon their journey servants of Sauron, or people and things relating directly to the central plot. To give them a few unrelated adventures adds a lot to the realism of Middle-earth.

Total agreement. To back you up (not that you need it much, but still), I'll wallow in self-repeating:



Quote:
Originally Posted by HerenIstarion
(from Prologue Discussion)

I can’t help remembering A.P.Chekhov, Russian playwright with his saying: “if there is a rifle on the wall in act 1, it should be firing off at least in act 3”. And all the books I’ve read usually follow this scheme up neatly. I.e., there usually are no unneeded things. Tolkien, even apart from prologue, which is the treasury of such 'things unrequired for the development of the plot', is placing them here an there (wait till we reach Bombadil, heh!). Tolkien is hinting to older history of the world he brings us into, and does that not only via ancient and neatly worked out names (which feel solid even for the unconscious), old legends and bits of untranlsated poetry, but by means of those unrequired things, those Hornblowers and Bracegirdles, which are completely unneeded, but form a background, some feeling on the border of one’s consicousness, that there is more to it than the plot we are about to read, that plot is just a tiny friction of the whole world. All of that is forming first in the prologue, where the walls are covered up in rifles and guns of all sorts, which, apart from firing, never make later appearence at all!
Good of you to put thrice as less words around it, too

edit: Dark matter will stand uncommented upon

edit2: Um, but why not. Ok - Nazgul can't be compared to Dark Matter on the basis that Dark Matter is not, as indicated, absence of matter as such (I believe the view that vacuum is 'nothingness' is out of date also), whilst their mode of existence is more or less absence of life and their longevity is due not to an abundance of life, but to lack thereof. So to say, those who can not die can not live either. Etc

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Old 12-11-2004, 02:44 PM   #36
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Dragging this back up because of something Evisse mentioned in a rep comment about extraversion & introversion.

The first 'book' of Towers is, as I said, extraverted, & the second introverted. This has got me thinking about Boromir & Faramir. Boromir is the extravert - what you see is what you get. He is focussed 'outwards' on the world around him & on his interactions with others. Faramir, on the other hand, seems to be a typical introvert, quiet, thoughtful, only acting when he has considered all possibilities.

I think this is maybe the reason why we respond more quickly to Boromir, & why some people find him a more convincing character. He is 'shallower' than Faramir, & so is easier to get a handle on. We see Boromir's struggle clearly & openly with the lure of the Ring, & so can see how it is affecting him & can sympathise with him. We can believe in his struggle.

Faramir, on the other hand, is an introvert - his 'struggle' goes on under the surface, & all we see is the result of that inner conflict - it seems to just 'appear' out of nowhere, & thus can seem less 'believable'. But the struggle is no doubt of the same intensity.

I think something else we should take into account is that by his nature Boromir would not have gone in for the kind of spiritual & philosophical struggle that Faramir would have done for most of his adult life - which is something we introverts tend to do. Boromir would have simply 'acted' in response to the 'moment'. Faramir would have spent a long time thinking about moral issues, & have found a perspective on things like power & control which Boromir simply would not have. Faramir may not have had any idea about the Ring itself, but he was familiar with what it meant & the issues around such a thing. so, it would have been easier for him to come to a realisation of the right thing to do. His struggle would not have been over [i]what[i/] was the right thing to do with the Ring (which is effectively the dilemma Boromir struggled with) but, knowing what the right thing to do was, how to find the will to do it.

I think this is what's happening in these two complementary books - the first is asking 'what is the Right thing to do?'(see Aragorn's questions to Eomer), the second (following on from what we have learned about power in the first) is asking 'Now we know the right thing to do, how do we find the strength of will to do it.

The 'spirit' of Boromir dominates book 3, that of Faramir book 4. And i think that's why tolkien began book 3 with the Departure of Boromir, rather than ending book 2 with it.
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Old 01-17-2005, 10:35 AM   #37
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The doom of choice

What I'm going to say is not exactly new - in fact is has to do with the quote that you all have more or less, touched upon and which seems to underline the main theme of the chapter:
Eomer, bewildered by what he calls strange happenings in his time, asks how shall a man judge what to do in such times. The wording of this attracts my attention, in that he does not say: "How shall I judge" but how shall a man judge -it's as if he's asking Aragorn for advice and Aragorn does give precious advice. [Insert the well known quote here.] It is my conviction that Tolkien himself uses Aragorn, a character whom most readers admire and look up to, to give the world in which he lived in, advice on the matter. Tolkien was less a preacher than Lewis was, but this very thing makes his moral statements, cloaked in narrative charm, even more effective.

Aragorn's advice, this moral statement is one of a world long gone, ruled by honesty and a clear cut, sometimes too harshly drawn (some may say) line between good and evil. In modern times, good and evil, like so many things are relative to the speaker. You have a different reality that is your own and therefore a different idea of good and evil than mine, and we try not to step on each other's toes, and tolerate each other's separate realities. Which all seems very nice and proper.

Here's another quote from a similar period in time and which is closely related to the discussion. It's from the Bible:
Quote:
"It is better to be hot or cold than lukewarm."
A 'lukewarm' Eomer tells Aragorn at the beginning of the meeting:
"We do not serve the Power of the Black Land far away but neither are we yet at open war with him."
Later Aragorn reveals himself as 'hot' (and, er, I hope I won't be quoted with this out of context ) and orders Eomer - foreshadowing indeed the great leader he is gradually becoming - to "Choose swiftly!"
Eomer chooses to aid him, persuaded by both the truth in his words and the majesty of his appearance - To note, that it is not only Aragorn's 'charisma' that persuades Eomer, it is the clarity of his reasoning and his truthfulness (*hums "Symphony of Destruction" to illustrate the effect of only Aragorn's charisma, or 'light' or any other supernatural element convincing Eomer to join him). - And in discussing the previous chapter, The Departure of Boromir, so many of you expressed the same wish, to aid Aragorn. Who wouldn't? To paraphrase Fordim, aiding Aragorn means fulfilling the very powerful wish of seeing clearly the path of good and following it with a little more than blind faith:
"This is my choice. (...) In this I place myself and maybe my very life in the keeping of your good faith. Do not fail."

Eomer's decision is of course made more difficult by the fact that the law would dictate him to thwart Aragorn. His is a difficult choice, but is not ours, and Tolkien himself saw it as he wrote these lines, an even more difficult one? Consider this quote, this time by Tolkien the author himself:
Quote:
"of course the Shadow will arise again in a sense (as is clearly foretold by Gandalf, but never again (unless it be before the great End) will an evil daemon be incarnate as a physical enemy; he will direct Men and all the complications of half-evils, and defective-goods, and the twilights of doubt as to sides, such situations as he most loves (you can see them already arising in the War of the Ring, which is by no means so clear cut an issue as some critics have averred): those will be and are our more difficult fate. But if you imagine people in such a mythical state, in which Evil is largely incarnate, and in which physical resistance to it is a major act of loyalty to God, I think you would have the ‘good people’ in just such a state: concentrated on the negative: the resistance to the false, while ‘truth’ remained more historical and philosophical than religious."
As I said.
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Old 09-06-2018, 12:35 PM   #38
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If "The Departure of Boromir" was the last gasp of Book II (and there was some considerable discussion in that thread about the placement of the chapter and the aptness of Peter Jackson's decision to make its events the conclusion of the first movie), then "The Riders of Rohan" must perforce be the real start of Book III. Looked at that way, I think it makes sense that Tolkien split the books where he did--coming after Frodo and Sam's departure, "The Departure of Boromir" would have been mere epilogue, a wrapping up of "what happened to the rest of them?" And this would have accelerated a [false] impression that The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy, by wrapping up the action a bit more neatly in the first book.

Instead, Book III opens in media res, since this is but the next block of chapters in the greater story (indeed, one could think of it as a story with but six chapters), and what was begun in "The Departure of Boromir" is continued in "The Riders of Rohan."

To turn from macro-chapters to micro-chapters, "The Riders of Rohan" really has three distinct sections: the chase of the three hunters, the actual encounter with the Riders of Rohan, and a sort of epilogue under the trees of Fangorn, where they are baffled by the Hobbits' lack of evidence, the loss of their horses, and the vision of the old man. Although many of Tolkien's chapters do have include distinct narrative chunks, this is the first time I really noticed them as such in a chapter. I think part of that must be that I don't mentally package all three of these micro-chapters together.

The chase of the Three Hunters is a bit lifeless and unrelenting--the reader sits along with Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas awaiting resolution to their quest. The encounter with the eored "is" the chapter "The Riders of Rohan" if you were to pick a titular episode, and the epilogue at the edge of Fangorn belongs almost more naturally to "The White Rider" than to the events of "The Riders of Rohan." Although this is hardly the first chapter to cover a lot of territory (more than half the chapters start at Point A and spend a great deal of time covering the journey to Point B), this journey is more relentless than most--not just because of the oppressive will of Saruman looming over the Wold, but strictly because of the pace the ground is being covered at. As Éomer tells them, it was no mean feat to cover so much ground!
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