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Old 10-04-2016, 04:16 PM   #41
Legate of Amon Lanc
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
With the last two lines of Tom's song, he seems to send the wight the future way of the Witch-king, Sauron, and Saruman: doomed to a lonely, impotent existence in the waste.

And finally, Tom mentions a 'mending', which appears to be a quite different version from the wight's. Tom sees the world's end as it should (shall) be, and in his overcoming the wight, seems to confirm his is the right one.
Great observation, Zil. That is indeed how I saw it at first, or basically, all the time until now when the other possibility occured to me.

However, now what you said just further strenghtens my belief that it is possible to successfully argue for the Dagor Dagorath scenario. Because Tom is actually saying the same thing, then, and in "my" version, it is not that what Tom says invalidates the Wight's wish into being a mere wish, but actually they would both be right.

Like this: if the "end of times" means that Morgoth will return and all evil will come together for the final battle, that's what the Wight is talking about. But afterwards, we know that the world will be remade, and that is what Tom is talking about. It's such an absolutely wonderful example of how losing hope works - interpreting a positive thing in a negative way by overshadowing the hope, like a tunnel vision with the Wight intentionally obscuring the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, it is also the way the word "apocalypse" has been twisted in our culture to effectively mean "destruction", even though the point of all apocalyptic literature has always been to bring hope to those who were in the middle of chaos and destruction. Imagine any story with a happy end, of course the heroes have to go through all the danger. But what the Barrow-wight does is to cut the story just at the worst moment, and tries to pretend that there is nothing afterwards. Tom actually reveals (ha! Apocalypsis - revelation - indeed!) that there is something after, the good end, when "the world is mended". Huh, some really deep eschatology in this, actually.

Incidentally, that also means that even if the Hobbits ended up "never waking 'til..." as the Wight intended, there would be awakening for them, afterwards. Because there is afterwards. (But of course, that is outside the scope of the story of the Ring. Nonetheless, I think interesting.)
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Old 08-02-2018, 06:52 AM   #42
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A question that comes up earlier in the thread is about the nature of Merry's dream or memory of the soldier of Cardolan who died speared by the men of Carn Dûm--this is something Verlyn Flieger talks about in one of her books (A Question of Time, I am 98% sure--it's been the better part of a decade). I remember none of the specifics, and do remember thinking that some of her thinking was conjecture, but where she made comparisons within Tolkien's work, it's hard to complain.

And there are definite comparisons in Tolkien's work, most notably his Lost Road and Notion Papers fragments, where the modern day protagonists having dreams of ancient happenings are a major element. Within The Lord of the Rings itself, we have Faramir's dream of the sinking of Númenor--fascinatingly, an actual autobiographical detail from Tolkien himself.

It's notable to me that Merry dreams/remembers one of the Dúnedain of Cardolan: this syncs him up with Faramir (a Dúnadan remembering a specifically Númenórean event) as well as the Lost Road--this dream memory business seems to be a specially Númenórean thing. This is especially interesting to me because this is the first place in the book where the legend of the Númenóreans gets attention and focus (it DOES get exposure, I admit, in "Shadow of the Past," but that is just one in a laundry list of historical references and not made central).

By the way, it's fascinating to me that we, as fans, generally say "Númenor," no doubt following the overall lead of the Appendices, Unfinished Tales, and the rest of the Middle-earth corpus, which makes it the overwhelming term of usage for Tolkien--but in the narrative of The Lord of the Rings itself, the term doesn't edge out Westernesse by all that much prominence, and Westernesse is definitely the word I remember learning first (I couldn't tell you which is encountered first).



On a more general note, I love "Fog on the Barrow-downs." I love most chapters and I generally give a little extra love to the chapters that the movies passed over solely because my mental images were never distorted, but "Fog on the Barrow-downs" still holds a special place to me. It's far and away the best Bombadil chapter, beautifully atmospheric, full of all the best ficto-archaeology (not just the Barrow-downs, which I always remember, but Arthedain's dike, which I never used to notice), and ends on a perfect anticipatory moment of moodiness to lead into the Bree chapters and the next stage of the story.
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Old 08-04-2018, 06:27 AM   #43
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I wonder why, before their deaths, the hobbits had to be clothed in white. And how did Frodo escape that?

For the first question, was it a deliberate mockery on the part of the Wight; a sacrifice made to the lord Sauron, whose "negative resurrection" he refers in his incantation?

For the second, I can only posit that Frodo both was not reclothed, and was not made to stay unconscious, because of the Ring.

Unfinished Tales, in The Hunt for the Ring, says that the Witch-king went to the Barrow-downs before Frodo and co. arrived. Did he tell the wights about the Ring? Was the wight simply to hold Frodo there until the WK returned?
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Old 06-27-2022, 01:05 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by davem
And the transition seems to take place within the earth itself. Frodo goes through a death & rebirth initiation within the barrow. There is evidence that barrows & tumuli were used in this way - New Grange in Ireland was used as a place of religious gathering at dawn in mid summer, when the sun would shine through the entrance & illuminate the inside of the mound.

Frodo faces the ‘Guardian’ of the mound, in the darkness, faces his own fear & desire to escape, overcomes it, & then calls on the other, higher, Guardian for aid. The Guardian comes & liberates him. He is taken from within the earth, born again into a new world. He is one of the ‘twice born’, an initiate.
Good observation. I also paid attention how Tolkien very deliberatedly constructed the scene so that Frodo gets his moment of lone heroism before Tom Bombadil intervenes (by Frodo's request). I quite like the whole thing as a demonstration of Tolkien's ideas of heroism - Frodo is no Conan the Barbarian who chops the Barrow-Wight in half, but instead, he rather sensibly calls for the more powerful Tom Bombadil to rescue him and his friends.

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Originally Posted by Inziladun
I wonder why, before their deaths, the hobbits had to be clothed in white. And how did Frodo escape that?

For the first question, was it a deliberate mockery on the part of the Wight; a sacrifice made to the lord Sauron, whose "negative resurrection" he refers in his incantation?

For the second, I can only posit that Frodo both was not reclothed, and was not made to stay unconscious, because of the Ring.
I always assumed Frodo escaped the white clothes simply because he came later. Nonetheless, the new garments are an interesting (and creepy) detail, which made me chuckle a little on this reread too - I was imagining the Barrow-Wight fussing over the unconscious hobbits undressing them and then dressing them up in fancier clothes and jewellry. Seriously though, I suppose it was an enchantment of some kind that transformed the hobbits' clothes into white robes and jewellry; after all, Tom tells them they will not find their old clothes (even though he brings a lot of other things from the barrow). I don't think the Barrow-Wight just ate the clothes or something

The image of the hobbits in the white clothes and the unnaturally long hand coming to cut their throats with the sword is very powerful and very creepy, but one that has not been included in any adaptation as far as I know, and also seldom depicted in any fan art or official art. Only this one by Ted Nasmith comes to mind, and it very well illustrates how strange the whole scene is (including the green light):

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Old 06-27-2022, 04:37 PM   #45
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I have no idea, from a Watsonian perspective, why the Wight would dress three of the Hobbits in white garments, but my mental picture from a Doyleist angle has always associated the regarbed Hobbits as Egyptian in influence: white-garbed in a tomb FEELS very Egyptian, even if it's probably not strictly accurate.

Certainly, the Númenóreans had some Egyptian influences, in their death-obsessed aspects and in their megalithic sculptures, so it's an on-key vibe for the barrow*, even if there's no specific reason for the Wight to take pointers from the Egyptians.

Although, thinking of how the Númenóreans (think of the sails in the incomplete Tal-Elmar story) make black into their most solemn colour, perhaps there is something oppositional about white around death. Now that I think about it, as an open-ended question (and I am too lazy to find a copy of the RotK...), what is Faramir garbed in for the pyre?




*I initially wrote "for the Barrow-downs" and had to correct myself!
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Old 07-02-2022, 05:01 PM   #46
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Although, thinking of how the Númenóreans (think of the sails in the incomplete Tal-Elmar story) make black into their most solemn colour, perhaps there is something oppositional about white around death. Now that I think about it, as an open-ended question (and I am too lazy to find a copy of the RotK...), what is Faramir garbed in for the pyre?
The sails of the Corsairs of Umbar were black, who did have a connection with the Black Númenóreans.

I don't think the color of Faramir (or Denethor's) clothing was recorded, just that both lay under the same covering. I took that to mean each wore what they already had on.

There is apparently some ceremonial aspect to the "sacrifice" prepared by the Barrow-wight. I still think that his incantation to Sauron is not insignificant, and that white, which, according to Aragorn, Sauron did not use, was perhaps symbolic. The hobbits were to die wearing the color of Sauron's opposite, meaning that the White itself would one day perish. That would complement the incantation, which suggests that dark day when Sauron would be master of all Middle-earth.
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