Thread: The Palantiri
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Old 06-16-2002, 08:26 PM   #8
Candle of the Marshes
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Flyover Country
Posts: 780
Kalimac has just left Hobbiton.

Thingol, for the first question I'd always gotten the impression (not exactly sure from where, but still, there it is) that the palantiri were naturally rather "magnetic" objects and that the weaker one's mind, the harder it would be to resist taking a peek. I'm not sure what it's possible to compare them with in the real world, but think of those fairy tales where the hero goes into the magic room and can touch ANYTHING except the dazzling magical golden firebird in its cage in the corner. Of course, after that it takes a huge and constant effort on his part *not* to touch the thing. (And of course, he fails, touches the object and falls into its power, since if he didn't everything would go smoothly and the story would end before it really began). The palantir is a bit similar in the sense that there's a very strong pull from the object itself, so that touching it will affect one's mind greatly, and the fact that it's expressly forbidden is the final straw that makes the hero/Pippin desperate to have it. And of course Pippin gives in to the pull that seizes on him after he touches the palantir the first time, and merry hell ensues.

And really there's nothing to imply that the pull of the palantiri wasn't always there, it's just that the strength of mind of the people around them was at a different level. Denethor is a very powerful man with enough mental strength to read minds; ultimately he can't control the palantir but he can do a good job holding its power at bay for a while. The guards appointed for the palantiri surely were picked from men who were noble and strong-minded enough to resist the pull for a good while - also there's no reason to suppose they would ever have touched one, and thus been so strongly tempted; it's not the kind of job you can see being handed to just anyone who walked in off the street. Pippin, though, was a hobbit, and while hobbits are stronger than they look (He and Frodo both survive ordeals that might have destroyed an ordinary man) he might as well have come from another planet in this case; there was nothing in Pippin's background that even remotely resembled the palantir or required using mental resistance that way. It's not hard to see why Pippin went off the deep end when even Gandalf and Denethor had to struggle.
Father, dear Father, if you see fit, We'll send my love to college for one year yet
Tie blue ribbons all about his head, To let the ladies know that he's married.
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