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Old 05-13-2010, 01:05 PM   #1
Blind Guardian
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Do the Ringwraiths feel pain?

They fall off the fellbeast in the movies and Eowyn stabs the Witch-King and he doesn't seem to move. So do they feel pain? Or is it just another-annoying-thing-flying-at-me?
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Old 05-13-2010, 01:17 PM   #2
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It seems that they do. At least the Witch-king, the most powerful of them does.

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[The Witch-king] bent over [Éowyn] like a cloud, and his eyes glittered; he raised his mace to kill.
But suddenly he too stumbled forward with a cry of bitter pain, and his stroke went wide, driving into the ground. Merry's sword had stabbed him from behind....
The Battle of the Pelannor Fields (emphasis added)

Presumably that idea was carried over to the movies. At least I don't recall anything which would conflict with it.
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Old 05-13-2010, 01:32 PM   #3
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Yeah, and when Frodo stabbed him he cried to, but I don't think that was of pain, more of surprise and Elbereth name. I haven't got to that part of LotR yet!
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Old 05-13-2010, 01:51 PM   #4
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Interesting. The Ringwraiths would have to be able to feel 'something,' as if they couldn't, they would not be able to sit on/control their horses/fell beasts, use their real world (ME) swords, or accurate swing a mace at a maiden's head.

That said, the one Aragorn sets ablaze at Weathertop seems more annoyed that he will have to sit in wardrobe for a few hours than if he really felt the fire.
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:02 PM   #5
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I always figured it was more of a mental pain than an actual physical pain but I haven't contemplated it much either. As Alatar points out if they have not sensory ability how could they wield weapons, ride a horse, etc...

I would think that their pain would be different from that of normal man. How though I'm not exactly sure, like I said I think it would be more of mental anguish than an actual physical pain.
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:05 PM   #6
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I would think that their pain would be different from that of normal man. How though I'm not exactly sure, like I said I think it would be more of mental anguish than an actual physical pain.
Why not physical? Their bodies were invisible, but they still existed. If fire did not physically affect them, why would they fear it?
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:08 PM   #7
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"Ow! That hurts my eyes!" They don't have to fear it, it might just look weird or annoying.
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:10 PM   #8
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"Ow! That hurts my eyes!" They don't have to fear it, it might just look weird or annoying.
Aragorn made the comment in the FOTR book (which I don't have handy) that the Black Riders 'did not love fire', and 'fear those who wield it'.
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:26 PM   #9
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Why not physical? Their bodies were invisible, but they still existed. If fire did not physically affect them, why would they fear it?
Because it could harm them, and as such they would fear it. If your hand feels no pain you would do well to fear cutting it off though you didn't feel the pain of it, correct.
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Old 05-13-2010, 02:59 PM   #10
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But them that wouldn't answer them on the battlefield. Everyone would be trying to hit them, right? (I would! Even though I cheer them on till the end) Why was it that Eowyn was able to kill the Witch-King?
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Old 05-13-2010, 03:05 PM   #11
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But them that wouldn't answer them on the battlefield. Everyone would be trying to hit them, right? (I would! Even though I cheer them on till the end) Why was it that Eowyn was able to kill the Witch-King?
Merry's sword helped quite a bit if I recall.

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So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of the Westernesse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dúnedain were young, and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his undead sinews to his will.
I don't think normal weapons were as effective so to speak and that is why fire is made mention in particular and the blade of Westernesse as well. There are particular weapons that are more effective than others. Plus how would one get close to the W-k is probably the better question. Most were terrified of them and ran from them; one of their chief weapons was fear.
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Old 05-13-2010, 06:14 PM   #12
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Because it could harm them, and as such they would fear it. If your hand feels no pain you would do well to fear cutting it off though you didn't feel the pain of it, correct.
But the WK's cry when struck by Merry indicates he felt something, be it physical or spiritual pain.
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Old 05-13-2010, 07:35 PM   #13
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It does rather come down to a "define pain" issue, doesn't it? For myself, I would say that they do. If they felt no pain, I would also think they would feel no fear, and we do have some evidence that Sauron used the fear of pain to get what he wanted (the torture of Gollum, if nothing else). The Nazgûl might have built up a tolerance to it, whether it's physical or psychological, but I suspect Sauron wouldn't want them to get so used to it that he can no longer use it against them. And they do fear him.

One could also ask if they feel pleasure,but that's another kettle of fish.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:06 PM   #14
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I don't think normal weapons were as effective so to speak and that is why fire is made mention in particular and the blade of Westernesse as well. There are particular weapons that are more effective than others. Plus how would one get close to the W-k is probably the better question. Most were terrified of them and ran from them; one of their chief weapons was fear.
As this is in the Movies part of the forum, I'm restricting myself to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. We see the one Ringwraith get burned by Aragorn, and all Nine drowned by Arwen. They next appear in TTT by doing a Fell Beast flyover of the Dead Marshes.

This seems to indicate that while the Nine may or may not have felt any physical pain, they may be sensitive to being uncloaked. Fire does this, and water and boulders might do just as well. The uncloaking may be an inconvenience, or somewhat painful, so they avoid things that could remove their wrappings.

I never did figure out where the torched Nazgul got his new cloak between Weathertop and the Ford...
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:07 PM   #15
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But the WK's cry when struck by Merry indicates he felt something, be it physical or spiritual pain.
I never said they didn't feel mental or spiritual pain. I think the anguish of his demise was terrible and would cause a cry. I just can't see a stubbed toe causing the W-K to jump up and down cursing at his misfortune.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:40 PM   #16
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It does rather come down to a "define pain" issue, doesn't it? For myself, I would say that they do. If they felt no pain, I would also think they would feel no fear, and we do have some evidence that Sauron used the fear of pain to get what he wanted (the torture of Gollum, if nothing else). The Nazgûl might have built up a tolerance to it, whether it's physical or psychological, but I suspect Sauron wouldn't want them to get so used to it that he can no longer use it against them. And they do fear him.

One could also ask if they feel pleasure,but that's another kettle of fish.

They feel pleasure when they kill someone!


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As this is in the Movies part of the forum, I'm restricting myself to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings. We see the one Ringwraith get burned by Aragorn, and all Nine drowned by Arwen. They next appear in TTT by doing a Fell Beast flyover of the Dead Marshes.
This doesn't have to be just movies, I guess.
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Old 05-14-2010, 05:09 AM   #17
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This doesn't have to be just movies, I guess.
It doesn't, but I am just defining what I am discussing. Jackson's "Terminator-like" Nine aren't exactly Tolkien's.
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Old 05-16-2010, 04:19 PM   #18
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Do the Ringwraiths feel pain?

Only if you talk really mean to them.
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Old 05-16-2010, 05:10 PM   #19
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I can see them getting heavily into the "I feel your pain" mode.
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Old 05-16-2010, 10:58 PM   #20
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What?
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Old 05-18-2010, 09:30 AM   #21
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Only if you talk really mean to them.
"Elbereth Gilthoniel," in other words.

But didn't the torched Nazgul, after getting a torch in the head from Aragorn, scream?
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Old 05-18-2010, 02:38 PM   #22
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But didn't the torched Nazgul, after getting a torch in the head from Aragorn, scream?
They were never good at rejection. Folks with obsessive/compulsive disorders rarely are.
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Old 05-18-2010, 02:58 PM   #23
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What's amazing is that the Nazgul are driven off Weathertop (or, with their mission accomplished, did they just cede the ground?) by fire. Gandalf is known for pyrotechnics. You'd think that this would give the Grey/White Wizard an edge when facing one or more of the Nine.
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:09 PM   #24
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What's amazing is that the Nazgul are driven off Weathertop (or, with their mission accomplished, did they just cede the ground?) by fire.
No, I don't believe they merely receded into the shadows. Frodo's blade of Westernesse came dangerously close to extinguishing the WiKi. Or at least that is what is implied.

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Gandalf is known for pyrotechnics. You'd think that this would give the Grey/White Wizard an edge when facing one or more of the Nine.
Gandalf did have an edge. He drove several wraiths off Weathertop with pyrotechn...

Oh. Wait. You're being facetious. Never mind.
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Old 05-19-2010, 11:52 AM   #25
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No, I don't believe they merely receded into the shadows. Frodo's blade of Westernesse came dangerously close to extinguishing the WiKi. Or at least that is what is implied.
Sorry, I was speaking of the Peter Jackson movies. Aragorn does not fight the Nazgul at Weathertop in the books (unless that part was written between the lines). In the movie, Frodo just gets off a whimper and not a stab.

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Gandalf did have an edge. He drove several wraiths off Weathertop with pyrotechn...

Oh. Wait. You're being facetious. Never mind.
Nope. Not in the movies. Gandalf did use his holy flashlight to drive away the Winged Nazgul on the Pelennor Fields, but his batteries ran out when the Witch King later came a knocking.

If only he could learn that nifty fireball spell of Saruman's...
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Old 06-27-2010, 02:14 AM   #26
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At the time of death, I doubt they did generally. They were halfway between life and death, and basically ghosts in corporeal form.
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Old 06-27-2010, 04:38 AM   #27
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At the time of death, I doubt they did generally. They were halfway between life and death, and basically ghosts in corporeal form.
Except... see the quote given by Inziladun at #2.
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Old 06-27-2010, 04:44 AM   #28
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Except... see the quote given by Inziladun at #2.
Easy to explain; it was a killing blow
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Old 06-27-2010, 07:11 AM   #29
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Easy to explain; it was a killing blow
Oh, I see: you mean they didn't feel pain otherwise.
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Old 06-29-2010, 06:11 PM   #30
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Step aside from the argument: What is physical and what is mental? How often is "Stress" accepted as medical cause to illness?

The Nazghul are supposed to be bodiless and thus only scattered by the water, while the real things (horses) carrying them died. Also the shape is the cloak. Frodo sees their spirit form while having the One on, but that's a metaphorical form of physical being, if that makes any sense. So physical is imho not a proper way to address anything that has to do with them.

Physical means relating to something exsistent in form of matter. In that definition no wraith could feel physical pain. As people we also feel pain from emotion, which is but also a chemical reaction. As the wraiths don't have glands either, they don't feel that either (and my excurse at the beginning was pointless. Stress is also physical, in terms of chemical reactions in the body.)

But they were able to EXIST. Not by the rules of flesh, but yet. Ánything that exists, and is aware of it, fears the possibility of not existing. And anything that is accepted as a danger to this existence is reported as danger - in terms of an unpleasant feeling, a "pain" of sorts.
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Old 06-30-2010, 12:31 AM   #31
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Physical means relating to something exsistent in form of matter. In that definition no wraith could feel physical pain. As people we also feel pain from emotion, which is but also a chemical reaction. As the wraiths don't have glands either, they don't feel that either (and my excurse at the beginning was pointless.
Yes, but Mirkgirl, this is a setting where spirits in general definitely seem to feel emotion, so that hardly applies. Besides, you might as well ask, "how could they think, without brains?"

Look, in principle I deplore the all-purpose "it's magic" excuse some fans use– but in practice I think there is a limit to how much you can cast a supernatural story in terms of our real-world knowledge of science. You certainly can't use a totally materialist world-view, at any rate, since that won't allow for the existence of spirits at all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirkgirl View Post
But they were able to EXIST. Not by the rules of flesh, but yet. Ánything that exists, and is aware of it, fears the possibility of not existing.
See? Fear is an emotion. And how do you know what the rules of, er, "not-flesh" are?

–Anyway there's another aspect to all this, too:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mirkgirl View Post
The Nazghul are supposed to be bodiless and thus only scattered by the water, while the real things (horses) carrying them died. Also the shape is the cloak. Frodo sees their spirit form while having the One on, but that's a metaphorical form of physical being, if that makes any sense. So physical is imho not a proper way to address anything that has to do with them.
Here's a continuation of the quote given by Zil:

Quote:
Merry's sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle, and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee
.
The Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Which doesn't really sound "metaphorical" to me at all. I'm not sure what a knee could be a metaphor of, are you?

This has all been discussed here before, of course... but I think the idea is that they're not fully immaterial spirits, but rather have a sort of half-life in the "wraith-world". The question of how "real" their bodies are is left ambiguous, though.
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Old 08-30-2010, 12:19 PM   #32
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I do not know that the Nazgul were afraid of water. Do the books say?
There is a discussion of this in "Unfinished Tales", spec in JRRT's essay "The Hunt for the Ring". Tolkien did explicitly state that ringwraiths were afraid of water and would not willingly enter it.

However, CT, in his notes on the essay observed that this left unexplained how the ringwraiths had crossed Greyflood on their journey north (where the only crossing was a dangerous ford - same place where Boromir lost his horse). CT commented that his "father did note that the idea (fear of water) was indeed difficult to sustain."

So, while Tolkien did present the idea in some of his writings, he also was uncertain whether the idea fit within the story.
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Old 09-02-2010, 06:33 AM   #33
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Welcome to the Downs, Puddleglum!

I'm afraid you've just been talking to a spambot.
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Old 09-02-2010, 03:36 PM   #34
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I'm afraid you've just been talking to a spambot.
I agree with you.

Lately, they've been getting better at looking legitimate at first glance.
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