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View Poll Results: Do balrogs have wings?
Yes 114 58.16%
No 82 41.84%
Voters: 196. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-30-2005, 07:52 AM   #241
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Quote:
Originally posted by the guy who be short:
If the Balrog had wings, why that terminology? Why liken shadow to wings if the Balrog already had wings? Surely Tolkien could just say "The shadowy wings reached out" or something like that? Bottom line, why use a simile for something that exists already.
Exactly my reasoning. Any writer, any English major, or any English Professor, will know the difference between a subject and an adjective. He mentioned the wings to explain the shadow, whereas had he wanted the Balrog to have real wings, he would have mentioned the shadow to explain the wings.

I like your points, TGWBS.

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Old 08-30-2005, 08:15 AM   #242
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I repeat my earlier question.

The text notwithstanding, how come so may people (including those who have since become non-wingers) imagine the Balrog to have wings when they first read this passage?

Personally, where there is any ambiguity, I tend to place the greater value on instinctive reader reaction (my own in particular) than I do on cold logical analysis after the event.
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Old 08-30-2005, 08:40 AM   #243
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Quote:
The text notwithstanding, how come so may people (including those who have since become non-wingers) imagine the Balrog to have wings when they first read this passage?
Where are the statistics to prove this? I imagined a wingless, very dark and almost manlike being nothing like the odd demon-beast creature of the films. Looks like we need yet another poll to determine this mystery.
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Old 08-30-2005, 09:00 AM   #244
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TGWBS
Where are the statistics to prove this?
Anecdotal evidence from a perusal of the various Balrog-wing debates, my dear fellow.

Although I defer to no one's imagination but my own on the issue.
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Old 08-30-2005, 10:54 AM   #245
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Quote:
Asked by The Saucepan Man:
The text notwithstanding, how come so may people (including those who have since become non-wingers) imagine the Balrog to have wings when they first read this passage?
The only reason I did (yeees, I did picture him first with wings) was because a year or two before I'd read the book, I saw an awesomely painted picture by John Howe of the Balrog and Gandalf on the Bridge. His Balrog had wings. The image stuck in my head, though I only saw it once, I think, and when I read it, that's what I pictured.

Even if I am one of those who pictured him first with wings, I still think that Balrogs don't have them.

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Old 08-31-2005, 10:43 AM   #246
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Quote:
The shadow about it reached out like two vast wings.
like two vast wings
you use like to support your argument why would tolkien say like

but heres the other half of the sentence:

like two vast wings

why use the word two...this implies that the shadow spread out from him in two directions. not in all directions why would they only go in two directions unless they were wings?
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Old 08-31-2005, 10:54 AM   #247
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Boots And now for something completely different...

…a Balrog with three bottoms.

Quote:
More speculation. You can't say with certainty based on the text how the wings "must" function.
We can speculate on where the wings would need to be in comparison to the weapons that the Balrog used, specifically the whip. Using a whip well is not as easy as it looks and if the Balrog was lashing back over its shoulder it would necessarily be beating its own wings to shreds (please argue with me on this point). To avoid this it would need to be lashing to the side and down. I don’t have a problem with this. I think this would be the most effective way for the Balrog to use its whip because it was taller than its enemies. Slashing around in large circular motions would whack the largest area and the most enemies as possible. However, this means that the wings would need to be up and out of the way of these motions (unless, of course, the new argument is that the Balrog could not hurt itself with its own weapons). We are back to how this 80-100 foot wingspan could be folded and pass through doors that can be described as “the narrow opening of the door,” can be wedged by broken swords and splinters of wood, and only allows one orc through at a time.

Quote:
The bottom line is that we can't draw any definitive conclusions about the sizes of various rooms, doorways, chambers, or wingspans, so arguments which claim that "the Balrog couldn't fit in there if it had wings" just don't hold water.
But we can (and have) made reasonable assumptions that tend to weigh heavily against massive wings.

Quote:
I tend to place the greater value on instinctive reader reaction (my own in particular) than I do on cold logical analysis after the event.
Killjoy.

Quote:
why use the word two...this implies that the shadow spread out from him in two directions. not in all directions why would they only go in two directions unless they were wings?
Because the expression “like one vast wing” would be exceedingly odd.
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:01 AM   #248
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morsul
but heres the other half of the sentence:

like two vast wings

why use the word two...this implies that the shadow spread out from him in two directions. not in all directions why would they only go in two directions unless they were wings?
Quote:
What has it got in its pocketses? he cried. The light in his eyes was like a green flame as he sped back to murder the hobbit and recover his 'precious'.
Why would Tolkien say the light in Gollum's eyes was like 'green flame' unless Gollum's eyes really were on fire?

Quote:
Frodo sat silent and motionless. Fear seemed to stretch out a vast hand, like a dark cloud rising in the East and looming up to engulf him. 'This ring!' he stammered. 'How, how on earth did it come to me?'
Why would Tolkien say that 'Fear' was 'like a dark cloud rising in the east' unless Frodo's fear actually caused a dark cloud to form?

Quote:
'So he journeyed by night up into the highlands, and he found a little cave out of which the dark stream ran; and he wormed his way like a maggot into the heart of the hills, and vanished out of all knowledge.
Why would Tolkien say Gollum was 'like a maggot' at that point unless he really had turned into a maggot?

Quote:
'Me, sir!' cried Sam, springing up like a dog invited for a walk. 'Me go and see Elves and all! Hooray!' he shouted, and then burst into tears.
Why would Tolkien say Sam sprang up 'like a dog' unless Sam actually became a canine at that point & started barking & wagging his tail?

Quote:
Presently Sam appeared, trotting quickly and breathing hard; his heavy pack was hoisted high on his shoulders, and he had put on his head a tall shapeless felt bag, which he called a hat. In the gloom he looked very much like a dwarf.
Why would Tolkien say Sam looked like a dwarf if...

Can you see where I'm going with this, 'cos I could go on all night?

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The road wound away before them like a piece of string.
Which may answer the old question - How long is a piece of string? It goes ever on....
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:09 AM   #249
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yes well like i estimated withn the help of Keeper ofDolGuldur's statement we can assume a balrog at 15 feet tall so the balrogs wingspan is about half of your 80-100ft span.

yes but couldn't tolkien have easily said "like wings" which would allow more argument that the smoke loomed about him...in fact why use the wing analogy at all why not say "The smoke loomed about the greats beast"

and as we see the bal rog even with wings could use a whip in FOTR....in not saying the movie should be a basis of argument but it is kind of like a demonstration to show it is possible.

Quote:
through doors that can be described as “the narrow opening of the door,” can be wedged by broken swords and splinters of wood, and only allows one orc through at a time.
but then we are saying a balrog is not nearly as big as we originally thought even without wings balrog isnt the smallest guy around remember he basicly tore the door to bits with a counterspell.(I believe gandalf calls it that) so who's to say he didn't blow a huge hole in the wall he could fit through

Edit:Touche davem however I was more drawing from the point that "two" wings implies the smoke went only in two directions have you ever seen smoke go only in two direction no it swirls around everywhere
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:16 AM   #250
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To further capitalise on the use of the word "like" for the Anti-Wing camp...

The sentence includes a simile. A simile compares one thing to a different thing.

For example, one can say "Tom leapt like a fox." That is okay. Tom's leap is compared to that of a fox.

One cannot say "Tom leapt like a Tom." It doesn't make sense. You can't compare something to itself, or it's just a description and the word "like" becomes redundant.
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:16 AM   #251
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Boots And now for something completely the same...

...a Balrog with three bottoms.

Quote:
and as we see the bal rog even with wings could use a whip in FOTR....in not saying the movie should be a basis of argument but it is kind of like a demonstration to show it is possible.
I am going to attempt to put this as mildly as I can. Reality goes out the window when you move into the realm of digital graphics. (On the other hand, what are we talking about here...)

That was not a demonstration of anything except the skill of the digital artists.
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:19 AM   #252
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Saucepan Man
I tend to place the greater value on instinctive reader reaction (my own in particular) than I do on cold logical analysis after the event.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kuruharan
Killjoy.
Au contraire. It is the application of cold logic which risks killing the joy of enchantment.
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:23 AM   #253
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It is the application of cold logic which risks killing the joy of enchantment.
Isn't this whole thread a testament to the contrary?
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:27 AM   #254
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Boots I know I shouldn't but ...

Quote:
The shadow about it reached out like two vast wings.
The wing-like shadow is obscuring the Balrog and preventing us from seeing its true shape.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JRR Tolkien
... and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall ...
Ah, there we are! As it draws itself up to a great height (hmm, how high is great?), it flexes its actual wings and they are no longer obscured by the wing-like shadow.

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Old 08-31-2005, 11:31 AM   #255
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Ok leaving the like two vast wings line behind

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keeper of Dol Guldur
I have here, absolute proof that balrogs had wings. In the chapter The Great River, when the wraith on wings arrived over the east bank, Gimli specifically stated, "...too much it reminded me of the Shadow of Moria, the shadow of the Balrog." These were of course described as having bat-like wings. Bat-like wings? What? Are you hearing this? Then of course Frodo went on about it being cold and deathlike instead of fiery and demonic. But as long as Gimli can see a gigantic fiery creature, with a dark cave as a background, I'm going to trust his vision and not how all you "Anti-wingists" interpret the story. Why oh why would a winged creature remind him of a Balrog? Because the balrog had wings of course. And don't try to deny it by saying that the balrog was like shadow and the creature was shadow against the sky. He didn't mean that. Definitely not. After all, the Balrog of Khazad Dum lit up with fire and wasn't dark for as long, and if it were the case that he meant that, he would have said, "that reminded me a little of the shadow of Moria," not too much. Boom, think about that. And if you'd like to argue it, go ahead. I think a few of us "Pro-wingers" are up to the challenge.
I think this although not (as it says) absolute proof is definately a strike in the right direction why would it remind gimli of a balrog?
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:35 AM   #256
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re: The use of "like" -- if you do your homework on this topic, you'll find that Tolkien frequently uses "like" in ways that don't support the "like only means a simile" argument -- especially when he's introducing villains. I've linked to old threads and posts often enough in the past if you're really interested.

Kuru, I love you man, but you're all wet on this wing speculation business. That "narrow opening of the door" bit is one example of the selective reading of that article oblo posted. If you look back, you'll see that the door is only partly open when Frodo & Co. enter the Chamber of Mazarbul, which after all isn't the Broom Closet of Mazarbul. The "narrow opening" means the narrow opening of the nearly closed door.

As to the "realistic" (hahaha) analysis of Balrog anatomy, where its wings "must" go, how it would "need" to wield the whip, etc., I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree, since we'd both have to completely make up our arguments to have an argument, and if I want to have a made up argument I can think of other topics I'd like to make up my arguments about.

What do no wingers suppose this "shadow" is that the Balrog exudes out into wing-like shapes anyway? I've always thought the filmmakers got the concept right, at the very least, in their portrayal of the flame and shadow part of the Balrog. What do no-wingers say is forming wing-like shadows if it's not wings? Is the Balrog exuding something? What? What anatomical device do we suppose can form whatever is exuded into wing-like shapes?
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:37 AM   #257
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Haha! This argument is awesome.

davem did a good job pointing out all the 'likes' in the books and proving that points, but Morsul wasn't hoping to disprove the like in that sentence, rather the two.

Quote:
Originally posted by Morsul the Dark:
like two vast wings

you use like to support your argument why would tolkien say like

but heres the other half of the sentence:

like two vast wings

why use the word two...this implies that the shadow spread out from him in two directions. not in all directions why would they only go in two directions unless they were wings?
Quite frankly, in my opinion, I think he said 'like two vast wings' simply because it sounds better than 'like wings'. Part of what makes a writer good is being able to add description that will raise emotion from the reader in the parts that need it. Tolkien's trying to show this thing that's over here absolutely terrifying Gimli and Legolas and he's a chance to explain it's shadow in comparing it to wings. What's more, he can make it even more impressive by adding the word 'vast'. But wings come in pairs, and 'vast' needs to have something to hang onto, so he adds the 'two'.

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

Chances are. all these thoughts about doors being able to be wedged closed with broken bits of weaponry, small openings, and a huge Balrog being able or not able to fit through it, probably didn't even occur to Tolkien. Why should they? Who do you know (personally or otherwise) that ever wrote stuff that was able to be torn apart, word by word, and proved one way or another? I think Tolkien wanted a big Balrog, but he didn't think as far as, 'is it going to be able to go through that door in the that chamber?'

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

Quote:
Originally posted by The Saucepan Man:
Ah, there we are! As it draws itself up to a great height (hmm, how high is great?), it flexes its actual wings and they are no longer obscured by the wing-like shadow.
I knew it'd be only a matter of time until someone found that quote and started using it. But it still doesn't make sense to me.
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:40 AM   #258
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Answered in post 38, post 39.

Two shadowy beings. Compredrez?
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:52 AM   #259
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRR Tolkien
... and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall ...
My question is then this why is it that text-wise non-wingers depend on this one word "Like"

for the record...you see someone far off let's say..Frank

You can use the similie to describe something unclear and once it is clear the simlie is now real instead of speculation

"That looks like Frank"
"Like two vast wings" speculation they look like wings but one can not be sure

then they come into view

"It is Frank"
"and its wings were spread from wall to wall" they are wings our speculation was right
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Old 08-31-2005, 11:53 AM   #260
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Quote:
That "narrow opening of the door" bit is one example of the selective reading of that article oblo posted. If you look back, you'll see that the door is only partly open when Frodo & Co. enter the Chamber of Mazarbul, which after all isn't the Broom Closet of Mazarbul. The "narrow opening" means the narrow opening of the nearly closed door.
Hmm...I may be willing to partially concede a small point. For some reason I'd simply assumed that the Fellowship had opened the door to look about before they stepped in (this seeming to be the natural thing to do). However, I suddenly realize that it does not actually say that. I still think it is a reasonable assumption, but...

I don't think it really impacts the argument that much because when the door was shattered the orcs were still only able to leap in one at a time.

Quote:
As to the "realistic" (hahaha) analysis of Balrog anatomy, where its wings "must" go, how it would "need" to wield the whip, etc., I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree, since we'd both have to completely make up our arguments to have an argument, and if I want to have a made up argument I can think of other topics I'd like to make up my arguments about.
You mean more so than what we've already been discussing about imaginary creatures?
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Old 08-31-2005, 12:21 PM   #261
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Alright, alright, so it appears as though our argument for the 'like' may be falling through (though I don't believe it). Here yet is another stumper that won't allow me to believe that they do have wings.

Why didn't the Balrogs fly? I mean, seriously. Flap their wings, get above Gandalf and his blasted bridge, skip the evil wizard who's trying to kill us, and eat the elf and dwarf who are too scared to use their weapons.

A fantasy writer won't create a creature with wings and make it some Nature mistake and not be able to fly with 'em. In a made up world with made up creatures, when a creature has wings, he uses them.
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Old 08-31-2005, 12:26 PM   #262
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There's an article on flightless balrogs here. It's generally assumed that the wings were made of shadow, making flight impossible. Decoration.
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Old 08-31-2005, 01:04 PM   #263
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What does that mean, "made of shadow"? They can't be made of shadow -- shadow isn't a literal substance. Websters: "shadow: 1 : partial darkness or obscurity within a part of space from which rays from a source of light are cut off by an interposed opaque body".

It seems more likely to me that all this "shadow" business isn't some mystery substance, but is instead typical of how Tolkien uses it elsewhere. For instance, the first real encounter with the Black Rider:
Quote:
The sound of hoofs stopped. As Frodo watched he saw something dark pass across the lighter space between two trees, and then halt. It looked like the black shade of a horse led by a smaller black shadow. The black shadow stood close to the point where they had left the path, and it swayed from side to side. Frodo thought he heard the sound of snuffling. The shadow bent to the ground, and then began to crawl towards him.

Once more the desire to slip on the Ring came over Frodo; but this time it was stronger than before. So strong that, almost before he realized what he was doing, his hand was groping in his pocket. But at that moment there came a sound like mingled song and laughter. Clear voices rose and fell in the starlit air. The black shadow straightened up and retreated. It climbed on to the shadowy horse and seemed to vanish across the lane into the darkness on the other side. Frodo breathed again.
No one ever argues that the Nazgûl emit some mystery shadow substance. Tolkien uses this kind of construction repeatedly. It's the same usage at the Bridge.
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Old 08-31-2005, 01:50 PM   #264
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But it must have been made of 'shade' 'cos Tolkien says it was like shade

Quote:
It looked like the black shade of a horse led by a smaller black shadow
The 'shadow' in the case of the Balrog is an unnatural 'substance' - it is 'cast' by the 'Dark Fire' of the Balrog - which isn't ordinary fire.

Its appearance may be manipulable to some extent by the Balrog, but it is 'Shadow'.
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Old 08-31-2005, 02:09 PM   #265
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Quote:
The sound of hoofs stopped. As Frodo watched he saw something dark pass across the lighter space between two trees, and then halt. It looked like the black shade of a horse led by a smaller black shadow. The black shadow stood close to the point where they had left the path, and it swayed from side to side. Frodo thought he heard the sound of snuffling. The shadow bent to the ground, and then began to crawl towards him.
Oh, well, if Tolkien did it here, then he may well have done it at the Bridge -

Everyone knows that the Nazgul wasn't a black shadow. But he calls it so several times in this passage (which Mister Underhill so kindly dug up for our use) - after saying it 'looked like' shadow. Couldn't it therefore be the same with the Balrog? The shadow looked like wings...so instead of saying shadow again, he used wings in the quote:

Quote:
... and suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall ...
Stab in the dark there...tear it apart if you like. It's only half baked.
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Old 08-31-2005, 02:34 PM   #266
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Here is why I believe Balrog's have wings.

When Tolkien said this:

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...and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings.
It is abviously a simile. It also said the shadow was "about" it, not a part of it. That sentence would make any one say that Balrogs don't have wings. But then he says this:

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...and its wings were spread from wall to wall. (emphasis mine)
Tolkien says "its" wings, so the wings belonged to the Balrog, when the shadow 'wings' were just a simile. If Tolkien was continuing with the metaphorical wings why did he say 'its'? He could have just said 'the' which would have told us he was continuing the simile.
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Old 08-31-2005, 02:49 PM   #267
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The Balrog is a creature whose 'nature' is an amalgam of shadow & flame. Shadow & flame (ie in Balrog terms its fea & hroa) are what it is. The shadow is its physical counterpart. As 'shadow' it can take any shape the Balrog wishes it to have. It is repeatedly referred to as 'a shadow & a flame'.
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Old 08-31-2005, 03:02 PM   #268
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My point was about Tolkien using "shadow" as a technique rather than as literal shadow stuff, but there's a usage contradicting the no-wingers in the same passage: "But at that moment there came a sound like mingled song and laughter." The sound is mingled song and laughter.

But I'm gonna have to take a break from the Balrog wars -- I've been over all this more times than I care to think about.
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Old 08-31-2005, 03:20 PM   #269
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Originally posted by Mister Underhill:
My point was about Tolkien using "shadow" as a technique rather than as literal shadow stuff, but there's a usage contradicting the no-wingers in the same passage: "But at that moment there came a sound like mingled song and laughter." The sound is mingled song and laughter.
Totally different context there, ol' chap. Try again.
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Old 09-01-2005, 08:27 AM   #270
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Well firstly Mr.Balrog in khazadum flying over gandalf would be bad because gandalf is very mighty the balrog isn't stupid he knew he would have to go through him not over him...and once they were falling a balrog can't just flip over and flap its wings.it was falling with gandalf on its stomach meaning his wings were down....maybe you've seen a bird fly upside down but I haven't. Not to mention it's been in moria for who knows how long not much flying to be done in a mine. the wings would have lost the muscle to fly and as I said in a earlier post the wings were more likely meant for gliding not flapping if you get my meaning
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Old 09-01-2005, 10:06 AM   #271
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Well firstly Mr.Balrog in khazadum flying over gandalf would be bad because gandalf is very mighty the balrog isn't stupid he knew he would have to go through him not over him
This is hardly self-evident. A lot of times the advantage in a fight goes to those who are fighting from above.
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Old 09-01-2005, 10:09 AM   #272
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True but the rest of the argument seems to have you(as you would put it) humming and hawing
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Old 09-01-2005, 10:29 AM   #273
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The rest of your argument has already been so badly beaten to death in so many places so many times that I did not think I had to bother with it.

However, if you insist...

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and once they were falling a balrog can't just flip over and flap its wings.
It's been my observation that falling things can often spin around in their descent.

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it was falling with gandalf on its stomach meaning his wings were down
I seriously doubt that Gandalf was sticking to one spot on the Balrog if he could possibly help it. If there is one thing that is obvious it is that they were fighting as they were going down. Movement is a critical factor in fighting. Gandalf staying in one spot makes it much easier for the Balrog to whack away at him. Gandalf moving about would have made it much more likely that the pair of them would have been spinning about like crazy, giving the Balrog plenty of opportunity to get upright and use its wings (which it does not have).

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Not to mention it's been in moria for who knows how long not much flying to be done in a mine. the wings would have lost the muscle to fly and as I said in a earlier post the wings were more likely meant for gliding not flapping if you get my meaning
The rest of this gliding business and muscle atrophy are not even approaching convincing (or even relevant) arguments for those of us who think it solves all the problems in the text to believe that Balrogs don't have wings. They just sound like more non-textual rationalizations and assumptions that pro-wingers have to build around their arguments to sustain their deeply cherished belief.
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Old 09-15-2005, 09:21 AM   #274
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Originally Posted by Kuruharan
. They just sound like more non-textual rationalizations and assumptions that pro-wingers have to build around their arguments to sustain their deeply cherished belief.
and talking about how big they would be folding isn't aa rationalization a bit hypacritical that...but i don't respond to fight you but rather to aid you

it say Like wings...so later when it says the wings it most likely(when I thought about it) was just referring to the smoke

I mean this...We have already discussed the fact that the smoke is like wing later on it would be too difficult (well more annoying) to say the wing like smoke reached to each side of the chamber its easier to refer to the smoke as wings since that is what it was described as before

I will still picture balrogs with wings because it's more romnatic but textually it seems they don't
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Old 09-17-2005, 08:04 AM   #275
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and talking about how big they would be folding isn't aa rationalization a bit hypacritical that
No. It's to point out the problems with the idea in the interest of having a discussion.
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Old 09-17-2005, 08:27 AM   #276
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I'm so torn - by wings do we mean physical or does it also connote a kind of presence and "aura", if you will, around the Balrog that's wing-like?
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Old 09-19-2005, 02:41 AM   #277
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I voted for no, because I haven't read anything that says that they have wings.
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Old 09-20-2005, 12:40 PM   #278
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on a lighter note I asked my manager(a so-called lotr fan) whether she thought balrogs have wings or not and this so-called fan said something that would offend any self-respecting fan....

she said that the balrog had wings...(but the reasoning is the bad part)...they havew wings because balrogs are actually dragons!

I was appauled

as i said no matter where you stand on this issue we at least know dragons and balrogs are not the same
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Old 09-20-2005, 12:49 PM   #279
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Although, Morsul, one has to ask (perhaps for another topic) were Dragons captains over Balrogs or vice versa?

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they have wings because Balrogs are actually dragons!
But even then, not all dragons have wings.

The whole Balrogian Wings debate is hard to resolve. In reading this topic, I personally have changed my opinion thrice, from no wings, to wings, and back to no wings again. It would be interesting if someone found a letter by the professor telling us a) how may wings Balrogs have and B) who Bombadill is, thus stopping all this silliness.
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Old 09-20-2005, 12:52 PM   #280
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maybe bombadil is a balrog? think about it he turns off the fireworks and boom hes a hobbitish woodsman hes kind of like the human torch ...sorry off topic
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