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Old 08-15-2004, 05:13 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Pipe LotR -- Book 1 - Chapter 10 - Strider

From one of Tolkien’s letters, we know that he admitted to not knowing who Strider was when he first appeared at the ‘Prancing Pony’. From the early drafts in HoME, we know that he was originally Trotter, the Ranger hobbit. When Tolkien introduced him in the last chapter, he left his readers uncertain of his character and true nature. In this chapter, we get to know him better, both directly through the hobbits’ encounter and talk with him, and indirectly through Gandalf’s letter. The end of the chapter sees them falling asleep, protected, yet how close they are to danger is foreshadowed by Merry’s close escape.

How does this chapter affect you? How important do you think it is for the continuation of the story? Do you like the character that is developed here?
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Old 08-24-2004, 07:46 PM   #2
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1420! Favorite part in Chapter

My favorite part in this Chapter would have to be when Aragorn pulls out the shards of Narsil.

Quote:
Strider
"I did not know," he answered. "But I am Aragorn, and those verses go with that name." He drew out his sword, and they saw that the blade was indeed broken a foot below the hilt. "Not much use is it, Sam?" said Strider. "But the time is near when it shall be forged anew."
This is something I was dissapointed that the movie did not show. I think it is important to show this, for it represents that Aragorn is willing to become King, and reclaim the throne. In the movie I got the feeling anytime Boromir brought up, hey lets go to Minas Tirith, Aragorn just felt like saying "Shut up, I hate Minas Tirith."

Quote:
But it is near when it shall be forged anew
So with that quote, in the first book of the first chapter, we see Aragorn willing to want to reclaim the throne of Gondor. Aragorn will go through many tests, and many hard times, most difficult probably the breaking of the Fellowship, which I will get to when the time comes. But here he has already proven he just "can't wait to be king." Sorry, I had to add in a song, lol.
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Old 08-24-2004, 08:18 PM   #3
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Ah yes! I like this chapter particularly, as it contains Gandalf's troubling letter
Quote:
THE PRANCING PONY, BREE. Midyear's Day, Shire Year, 1418.

Dear Frodo,

*** Bad news has reached me here. I must go off at once. You had better leave Bag End soon, and get out of the Shire before the end of July at latest. I will return as soon as I can; and I will follow you, if I find that you are gone. Leave a message for me here, if you pass through Bree. You can trust the landlord (Butterbur). You may meet a friend of mine on the Road: a man, lean, dark, tall, by some called Strider. He knows our business and will help you. Make for Rivendell. There I hope we may meet again. If I do not come, Elrond will advise you.


Yours in haste
** Gandalf.

PS. Do Not use It again, not for any reason whatever! Do not travel by night!

PPS. Make sure that it is the real Strider. There are many strange men on the roads. His true name is Aragorn.

All That is gold does not glitter,

not all those who wander are lost;

the old that is strong does not wither,

deep roots are not reached by the frost.

from the ashes a fire shall be woken,

a light from the shadows shall spring;

renewed shall be blade that was broken,

the crownless again shall be king.


PPPS. I hope Butterbur sends this promptly. A worthy man, but his memory is like a lumber-room: thing wanted always buried. If he forgets, I shall roast him.


Fare Well!
Several things in the letter entrigued me. First off, how Gandalf knew Frodo used It. If it's explained in the book, I apologize for my ignorance, but does Gandalf have the ability to sense it, in one way or another? Second, the poem. One of my all time favorites! It's a reason in its own to like this chapter! And thirdly, the PPPS The simalie was particularry funny, as was the idea of Gandalf roasting Butterbur! It reminded me of what hobbits thought of Gandalf: That he could turn them into a frog!
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Old 08-25-2004, 06:31 AM   #4
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Sting

All That is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

I like this poem very much It sort of inspires me.
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Old 08-25-2004, 07:29 AM   #5
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The poem is indeed one of Tolkien's best -- second only, I think, to the Ring verse. Like the Ring verse, it gives us all kinds of interesting information about Aragorn. In particular, it gives us an interesting look at the manner in which Aragorn and Sauron are related/interconnected to one another.

"All that is gold does not glitter" This has to be a counterpart, even a counterpoint, to the Ring: also made of gold, and also something that lacks "glitter" in a couple of sensese. I never once remember the Ring as "glittering" which would seem for Tolkien to be a positive idea (the glittering caves of Aglarond). So Aragorn and Sauron are alike in some ways -- both are identified with and by gold, and neither one of them appears to be what he really is. Both are hidden in some way: of course, Sauron is deceptive while Aragorn is cloaked in the protective guise of Strider (interesting that the title of the chapter is this name), but there is this similarity. There is a dissonance between their true nature and their appearance to others.

Of course, the big difference here is that this dissonance is reversed: Sauron, as Frodo points out, seeks to look fair despite being foul (Macbeth allusion #1 in the book).

"Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost
." These lines could just as easily be applied to Sauron! After each defeat he is said to "wander" Middle Earth, but he always finds his way back to Mordor where he grows in strength once more. Like the line of the Dunedain, Sauron cannot be wholly quenched or destroyed, only reduced in power for a time.

"From the ashes a fire shall be woken" The fires of Mount Doom burning once more? The rekindling of Mount Doom in the land of ashes? I do realise that this line is not alluding to Sauron, but it makes yet another connection between Aragorn and Sauron, this time through the imagery of fire and ash. Again, there's a reversal -- in Mordor, the result of fire is dead and sterile ash; Aragorn, on the other hand, will bring a new fire that will renew the ash. So alike, even interconnected, but opposite.

"A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king
." I think this is where the conjoined/counterpart/counterpoint relationship of Aragorn and Sauron is most clearly laid out. Aragorn is the light and Sauron is the shadow: but of course, light and shadow are interdependent. In the Christian take on this imagery (and I anticipate davem here ) shadows are dependent upon light, since the former cannot exist without the latter. It's interesting though that in this verse, the light springs from within a pre-existing shadow (like the fire from the ash). It's almost as though the shadows do have some form of independent existence and that the light is going to have to combat them. . .

The verse ends with the two items that link Aragorn and Sauron together: the sword and the crown. The sword was broken in the past when Isildur destroyed Sauron and took the Ring, and the crown that is properly Aragorn’s but that Sauron is trying to take for himself.

What I find so compelling about all this is that while it shows on the one hand how Sauron is the shadow of Aragorn, it does so by consistently linking them to each other. Sauron is the ‘negative’ or evil part(ner) of the pair, but they are presented as conjoined, linked to one another by and through the crown (the future), the sword (the past), and even the Ring (the present? Insofar as their conflict is being brought to a head in the War of the Ring?).

The idea of Sauron as Aragorn’s shadow, and the closeness of the relationship as it’s developed by the verse, has a couple of important implications. First, Sauron needs Aragorn, for without the light of Numenor, there can be no shadow of Mordor. Second, though, there cannot be a light that does not cast some shadows (except, perhaps, the light of Eru?) – so even if Aragorn is able to defeat Sauron, there will always be more shadowy figures cast by his light??

One very last point on the form of this verse, as compared to the Ring Verse: the Ring verse is written in iambs (with the syllables repeating in an unstressed-stressed pattern, like in Shakespeare: “to BE or NOT to BE”; “one RING to RULE them ALL”), whereas Aragorn’s verse is written primarily in anapests (with two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable: “the CROWN-less a-GAIN shall be KING”). Why do I make this point?

*Fordim dons professorly robes and lectures the rapt audience over the rim of his glasses*

Iambic verse is the more usual in poetry as it more clearly mimics the natural cadence of spoken English; it is the least poetic sounding form of poetry. Anapestic verse is the precise opposite; it is the most poetic sounding. This is fascinating to me – Sauron’s verse is one that hides its artifice in a way; it sounds like simple prose, when really it’s poetry. Aragorn’s verse, on the other hand (written, I realise, by Bilbo) is openly artificial and poetic. This really brings the relation of these two characters into focus, I think: both are connected to the same things, and to each other through these things, but one strives to hide behind art (that is, Sauron attempts to look artless?) while Aragorn is more clear and open about his true nature (that is, he is willing to show his poetic nature?).
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Old 08-25-2004, 09:10 AM   #6
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This chapter reminds me of chapter 5 in a way - like that chapter, it consists primarily of conversation, and its function is largely to sort things out and tell us who is going to do what. The big question that the chapter deals with is, of course, "who is Strider?" But also discussed are Butterbur's character, the movements of the Black Riders, and what the Hobbits are to do next.

In a way, the chapter is a temporary decrease in tension. Despite Sam's suspicion, it is not all that hard for the reader to guess at the outset that Strider will turn out to be a friend; the suspense surrounding his character in chapter 9 dissipates fairly quickly. The chapter then is not so much about playing with the reader's opinion of Strider as it is about the logic of the Hobbits' acceptance of him. And this logic is handled rather neatly with Gandalf's letter. The suspense is then re-ignited with Merry's entrance and news of the Black Riders.

So we have a whole chapter more or less devoted to establishing Aragorn as a character. I think this is interesting, as Aragorn is, I have always felt, one of the flatter characters in the book. I don't mean that in a pejorative way. He is a flat character in the tradition of great flat characters like Aeneas and Beowulf. It's not that he is poorly characterized, just that he does not have the same sort of psychological hook as Turin or Gollum or even Frodo. So why a whole chapter devoted to characterizing him? Well, part of it is that because he is a flat character, one chapter is sufficient. Aragorn's character is almost completely laid out very quickly here (even if his real identity is not yet clear to the Hobbits), whereas, for example, Frodo's is not fully explored until the end of the book.

Strider's character is even boiled down rather nicely to a single phrase. Frodo says that a servant of the enemy would "look fair and feel foul"; Strider really does "look foul and feel fair". He looks foul in the sense that he looks the way we would expect an enemy to look - he sits mysteriously in the corner of the common room; he even scrambles over the gate as a "dark figure" and melts "into the shadows below". But as soon as he begins speaking, his true nature becomes evident. The way he speaks is simply not the way enemies speak in Tolkien's universe.
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Old 08-25-2004, 10:55 AM   #7
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Gandalf, the Ring, and Frodo

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Perky Ent
Several things in the letter entrigued me. First off, how Gandalf knew Frodo used It. If it's explained in the book, I apologize for my ignorance, but does Gandalf have the ability to sense it, in one way or another?
Honestly, Perky, I think that Tolkien's use of the word "again" is an error. (Gasp! Did I say that? Horrors!)

Look at the date of the letter-- Midyear's day, which is the summer solstice, June 18-ish (THANK YOU! that goes into Equinii and solsticsess) and compare it to Frodo's departure from Bag End in late September. Frodo had *not* used the Ring by the writing of this letter-- Frodo's first use of the Ring was in Tom Bombadil's house.

I don't know why Tolkien (via Gandalf) wrote 'again'.

I suppose one could hedge that Gandalf was warning Frodo 'again', but the sentence structure & punctuation isn't convincing, is it?
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Old 08-25-2004, 01:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark 12-30
Frodo had *not* used the Ring by the writing of this letter-- Frodo's first use of the Ring was in Tom Bombadil's house.

I don't know why Tolkien (via Gandalf) wrote 'again'.
Well, he had used it before in the early drafts - notably to play a trick on Farmer Maggot! In fact, its surprising that Tolkien didn't get more confused with the number of letters & recipients invoved in the early drafts - Trotter has a letter from Gandalf, then Butterbur, then they both have a letter from him, then neither of them does. Reading the early drafts one is truly amazed that Tolkien managed to keep the story straight & that more such slips didn't creep in.

I have to say I do like the way Strider 'plays' the hobbits - both sides are testing the other - Strider points out that he has almost been trapped by the enemy's tricks before, & we have to understand that he is also on his guard - if they are spies of the enemy then they could bring about his downfall & the end of the Northern line. We can only admire the risk he is willing to take, & the struggle he has to bring himself to trust them. There are a lot of undercurrents to this chapter, & Aragorn is taking the hobbits just as much on trust as they are taking him. When he tells them that:
Quote:
The Enemy has set traps for me before now. As soon as I had made up my mind, I was ready to tell you whatever you asked. But I must admit,' he added with a queer laugh, 'that I hoped you would take to me for my own sake. A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust & longs for friendship.
I have to admit that on all my subsequent readings I feel like hugging the poor soul! (Don't know how well that would have gone down with the Chief of the Dunedain ). Its easy to forget Aragorn's story of loss, struggle, sacifice, being constantly hunted, distrusted & despised. Even here in the parlour at Bree, when all our concerns are with Frodo & his companions, Tolkien manages to evoke sympathy for this strangers - to all those who are open to it. And then the killer:
Quote:
'I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; & if by life or death I can save you, I will.
(note, no exclamation mark at the end. This is not a heroic boast, it is a simple statement, & he means it. I remember reading a comment from a reader of The lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, who only picked up on the Christian allegory as an adult, along the lines of 'Jesus was just a man in a book to me, but I could have died for Aslan.' Well, at this point (though only on the second & subsequent readings, I admit) I could have died for Aragorn).

Aiwendil is correct:
Quote:
Strider's character is even boiled down rather nicely to a single phrase. Frodo says that a servant of the enemy would "look fair and feel foul"; Strider really does "look foul and feel fair".
And so is Aragorn's, also with a single phrase.
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Old 08-25-2004, 01:53 PM   #9
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I like Fordim's post about the "All that is gold does not glitter" verse. I do agree that the first line could equally apply to The Ring. It is in fact a line which seems to apply to many aspects of Middle Earth (and, indeed, to life itself). Sam is a hero wrapped in the guise of a humble hobbit, and Faramir is another who is good, yet at first glance seems rough. Then we have Saruman, in his lofty, noble tower, yet he is not good at all. But I have always thought that the first six lines of this verse could equally be made to apply to Gandalf.

All That is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;

Gandalf is himself a roughly dressed figure with the appearance of an old man. Yet age does not affect him, and he is stronger than anyone might expect - his 'deep roots'. The fire and the light come from the power inherent in his ring of power, and I often think these lines could also apply to his 'resurrection' after the balrog takes him into the abyss.

***

This chapter has stayed with me since my very first reading, particularly when Aragorn reveals his stature after Sam's challenge. This was a very striking and vivid image to me, he became the very picture of a commanding hero, a military leader and king. It also reminds me of portraits of historical figures like Nelson. The protagonists in the book see Aragorn every day in his guise as a ranger - and at moments such as this it is as though he has revealed his 'public' or noble persona.

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. They did not dare to move.
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Old 08-25-2004, 07:13 PM   #10
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As many people have said, Aragorn's poem is one of my favorite bits of the chapter, and of the book. (Nice post on this, Fordim!) It was in fact the first piece that I ever memorized. This chapter and the two following ones are also among my very favorite chapters, perhaps my single favorite sequence of events in the book.

Though I do enjoy Gandalf's letter, I have often wondered how it would have fallen out if there had been no letter. Based on Frodo's comments, I think they would have ended up taking Aragorn with them anyway, but it still intrigues me.

Something interesting that struck me was the line "After Weathertop our journey will become more difficult, and we will have to choose between various dangers." Ever since the discussion in the Chapter 2 thread I have been particularly sensitive to lines and phrases that might be foreshadowing, and this is one of those that stood out. If only they knew how much more difficult it would be.

Also interesting how Strider's image changes throughout the chapter. At the start, he is Strider, a rascally-looking character who at the start seems to want more than Frodo wants to give. Even the name "Strider" is rather vegabond-ish, though eventually it becomes an affectionate (maybe that isn't the right word) name among the hobbits. As the chapter goes on, we see that Strider knows more than is perhaps safe, compounded by the fact that neither Barliman nor Sam seem to trust him at all. Then there is Gandalf's letter, and like the hobbits we can be relieved that this Strider really is on their side. He has an actual name now, Aragorn, and he basically swears to help Frodo in whatever way he can, whether living or dying. (Another favorite line: "But I am the real Strider, fortunately," he said, looking down at them with his face softened by a sudden smile. "I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and if by life or death I can save you, I will.")
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:35 AM   #11
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Silmaril

At the risk of sounding clichèd, this is one of the most interesting chapters in the whole of LotR, and the poem is one of the best I have ever encountered (indeed, one of the few I have memorized).

What I most like about this chapter is how Strider's character unfolded. As Esty mentioned above, the hobbits, as well as the readers, are left uncertain of his true identity. He could easily be mistaken as someone in league with the Enemy, what with his physical appearance and the way he looked at and conversed with Frodo in the previous chapter. But as we see, Strider's looks are in direct contradiction with his character. He "looks foul and feels fair," as the book mentioned. But in the way he carried himself in the chapter, I discerned an air of nobility in him even before I realized his true status.

Quote:
I am Aragorn son of Arathorn, and if by life or death I can save you, I will.
Terribly touching. If I were Frodo, I would have cried right there and then.

Speaking of touching, we see more of the loyalty Sam has for Frodo. We see him doubting Strider's intentions. I could not blame him for that. After all, it would be really hard to trust anyone in a place you barely know. This distrust may seem something negative, but I believe that Sam's doubt is caused by his genuine concern for Frodo's welfare, not wanting him to be fooled nor betrayed by anyone.

Lastly, in the end we have seen a glimpse of Merry's "accidental bravery" as he tried to come after the Ringwraiths. What he did was a lot helpful, though he wasn't aware of it, as we will see in the (near) horror of the next chapter.

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Old 08-26-2004, 07:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
Iambic verse is the more usual in poetry as it more clearly mimics the natural cadence of spoken English; it is the least poetic sounding form of poetry. Anapestic verse is the precise opposite; it is the most poetic sounding. This is fascinating to me – Sauron’s verse is one that hides its artifice in a way; it sounds like simple prose, when really it’s poetry. Aragorn’s verse, on the other hand (written, I realise, by Bilbo) is openly artificial and poetic.
Those of us who are horse enthusiasts, Fordim, will add that Aragorn's verse canters (or gallops). It is a battle-cry gaining momentum, leading a charge, rolling like distant thunder:

"Half a league, half a league, half a league onward"
...
"Honor the charge they made, noble six hundred!"
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Old 08-26-2004, 09:52 AM   #13
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Hey everyone, this is my first time posting in this section so I'm just trying to get into the swing of things...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
Iambic verse is the more usual in poetry as it more clearly mimics the natural cadence of spoken English; it is the least poetic sounding form of poetry. Anapestic verse is the precise opposite; it is the most poetic sounding. This is fascinating to me – Sauron’s verse is one that hides its artifice in a way; it sounds like simple prose, when really it’s poetry. Aragorn’s verse, on the other hand (written, I realise, by Bilbo) is openly artificial and poetic.
Well, after looking up "anapestic" I must say I agree. And as rutslegolas said earlier, it is a very inspirational poem. "Not all those who wander are lost" is the kind of line that can definitely cheer you up.

As for Sauron's verse being the "least poetic," perhaps this ties in to the corruption of all good things in an attempt to create, as demonstrated by Sauron and Morgoth in the past? Perhaps this method of verse on the Ring was done deliberately by Tolkien to show that even Sauron's poetry, something that is generally regarded as beautiful and pleasing to hear, is rather uncouth.
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Old 08-26-2004, 11:23 AM   #14
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Swoon Alert!

davem, you quite movingly wrote:

Quote:
I could have died for Aragorn
Allow me to second this. Aragorn is, without doubt, one of my two favourite characters in all literature (the other being, naturally, Hamlet). He is, as Aiwendil points out, a remarkably simple character to understand: he is a hero.

No, that's not right, is it? He's not a hero, he's a King. It's not just that people -- including myself -- admire him: we love him. And I do love him, with a deep and abiding emotion like that I feel for only a few people. That for me has always been the great strenght of Aragorn. His greatness does not depend upon his soldiery (which is unsurpassed) or his wisdom (which is second only to Elrond's and Gandalf's) or his compassion and pity; his greatness depends instead upon the fact that he is able to inspire, even command, the most profoundly personal love of those who are ready to accept him.

The manner of his introduction in this chapter is entirely appropriate. Aragorn presents everyone he meets with a challenge: it's the challenge of his own presence -- are you worthy of him? Are you wise enough to recognise who and what he is, strong enough to pledge yourself to him, and faithful enough to follow him? The fact that he comes upon the hobbits in such a threatening manner is appropriate, for they are going to have to face up to this challenge. I really don't see it as an overstatement when I say that the whole purpose of Frodo's quest is to prove that he is worthy of Aragorn's love.

The fact that at the end of this journey (to get well ahead of myself) it is Aragorn who bows to Frodo makes me weep.

And now for something that will make Saucy go nuts when he returns to the Downs. . .

This is an aspect of the story that I think the movie might actually have been able to do more powerfully than the book. At the death of Boromir, in the film, when he pledges his love to Aragorn "my brother, my captain, my King" -- I wept like a babe quite openly for quite a long time, and not just because Boromir is dying, but because I too would gladly lay down my life for Aragorn so deeply do I love that man.

But that is enough of such silliness. End of swoon. Return to more sensible posts.
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Old 08-26-2004, 11:39 AM   #15
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Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
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Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
He's not a hero, he's a King. It's not just that people -- including myself -- admire him: we love him. And I do love him, with a deep and abiding emotion like that I feel for only a few people. That for me has always been the great strenght of Aragorn. His greatness does not depend upon his soldiery (which is unsurpassed) or his wisdom (which is second only to Elrond's and Gandalf's) or his compassion and pity; his greatness depends instead upon the fact that he is able to inspire, even command, the most profoundly personal love of those who are ready to accept him.
Hhu? I find Aragorn a pompous prig at times. Faramir is No 1 man... and he ends up with No 1 woman...lol
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Old 08-26-2004, 11:44 AM   #16
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*Fordim slaps Mithalwen across the face with his gauntlet, then tosses it at Mith's amazed feet*

Sir, I must ask you to accept this gauntlet in earnest of a more serious confrontation that I suggest we undertake early tomorrow upon the heath, where I shall answer your slanders in the most vigorous and peremptory manner.

Do you prefer pistols or swords? I shall await you in the appointed place at the appointed hour where, if you shall fail to appear so that I might pay you as you deserve for your words, I shall consider you the most arrant and cowardly knave.
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Old 08-26-2004, 11:52 AM   #17
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Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Mithalwen is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Pistols.... a bullet may go anywhere but a blade is bound to go somewhere!!!!!

And since your eyesight is so poor that you haven't observed the definitely female contours of my figure... I reckon I stand a good chance ......

And could I have teh other gauntlet? So useful for gardening...
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Old 08-26-2004, 11:55 AM   #18
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"Well, Fordim sir, it's a bit of a detour and no mistake. But I've got your sabre" (rattles scabbard reassuringly) " and your set of pistols " (gestures at Bilbo the Pony, who snorts and tosses head ) "and I wouldn't miss this bit of excitement for all the beer in the southfarthing. Well, sir, has Mithalwen answered you yet?"
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:02 PM   #19
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(Scratching head) "I don't see your opponent, Fordim sir. But your gauntlet is right over there."

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Old 08-26-2004, 12:03 PM   #20
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Well, in defense of Mithalwen, (although I don't wish to be challenged to any duels -- or slapped with a gauntlet, for that matter!), I can see where she's coming from. Aragorn can be a bit high and mighty at times, but I suppose he has the right to... he is king, after all!

In this particular chapter I can only find one example of Aragorn acting in this manner:

Quote:
"Well, you know your own business, maybe," said Mr. Butterbur, looking suspiciously at Strider. "But if I was in your plight, I wouldn't take up with a Ranger."

"Then who would you take up with?" asked Strider. "A fat inkeeper who only remembers his own name because people shout it at him all day? They cannot stay in The Pony for ever, and they cannot go home. They have a long road before them. Will you go with them and keep the black men off?"
This seems a bit extreme to say to poor Butterbur, but then again he was always rather less than friendly to Aragorn. And Fordim's comment:

Quote:
The manner of his introduction in this chapter is entirely appropriate. Aragorn presents everyone he meets with a challenge: it's the challenge of his own presence -- are you worthy of him? Are you wise enough to recognise who and what he is, strong enough to pledge yourself to him, and faithful enough to follow him?
bolsters the evidence that Aragorn is confident enough in his own strengths that he has no hesitation in doing what he must. Plus, who would be the leader if not Aragorn? It is better for a king to show the ability to lead justly and with wisdom even before ascending to the throne, and Aragorn certainly does that.
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:08 PM   #21
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Although I understand Mithalwen's preference for Faramir over Aragorn, command implies decisiveness, and both Faramir and Aragorn employ this (seemingly rude) trait at need. Aragorn goes further still-- he seems brash, nearly foolhardy. But not quite.

It is precisely this attitude of Aragorn's that enables him to win Eomer: "Will you aid me or thwart me? Choose swiftly!" An odd thing for one man to say to an entire Eored.

Aragorn can be very patient, but he knows when it is the right time to let his patience run out. He knows Frodo cannot make it to Rivendell without him. He cannot let Barliman talk Frodo out of trusting him as a guide. I do not see Aragorn's jarring response primarily as rude (although it is that); it is realistic.

Frodo's only hope is Strider, and Strider knows it. And for the sake of Middle-Earth, he decisively puts Barliman out of the argument.

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Old 08-26-2004, 12:15 PM   #22
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I never really quite "forgave" him for not preferring the brave and spirited Eowyn to the merely beautiful Arwen .... but then I realised that Faramir was just about the perfect man ......

And *jumps and waves I AM HERE...*

"Tell them I came, and no one answered, that I kept my word"
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:20 PM   #23
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Well, we're getting a bit ahead of ourselves. But he had given Arwen his *promise*; Aragorn and Arwen were engaged. (Have you read appendix A?)

Had Aragorn broken that promise, he would have been much less of a man-- and I doubt Eowyn would have wanted a promise-breaker.

I'm happier for all of them the way things turned out, aren't you?
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:26 PM   #24
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I have indeed (...in fact I own HoME) and I do appreciate that point but my resentment dates back to my first reading when I was about 12, had forgotten about Arwen's existence at that point, and an embryonic feminist identifying strongly with Eowyn.... it seemed an insult to all clever, brave women.......

Of course once I was a little older and fully appreciated Faramir, I reckoned she had a lucky escape .... and I still think that Aragorn can be pompous, " a stuffed shirt" at times .....
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:30 PM   #25
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Ah.

I do think Faramir and Aragorn are both quite admirable. I would follow either of them. It is interesting that Aragorn and Faramir become fast friends and loyal allies, and that Faramir has no trouble respecting, loving, and serving Aragorn.

I always respected Faramir for that.
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:34 PM   #26
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True, Faramir does seem like the perfect man!

But to link all this back to the chapter's subject, I wonder what exactly Aragorn sees in Arwen. We never really seem to find out; it seems that first he loved her simply for her beauty. Doubtless it became something deeper as they got to know one another better, and we know that they truly are in love. However, I just wish it was expanded a little more.

The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen in Appendix A says:

Quote:
Then Aragorn was abashed, for the saw the elven-light in her eyes and the wisdom of many days; yet from that hour he loved Arwen Undomiel daughter of Elrond.
Faramir and Eowyn's love just seems so much more tangible, if you understand what I'm saying. Love doesn't make sense, but we at least see their relationship grow into love. And although it's part of what's great about LotR is that some things are just given without explanation, I'd like to see a bit more into the relationship of Aragorn and Arwen, and take away from the flatness of Arwen's character.
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:40 PM   #27
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
Ahem!! I'd like to remind all discussers that there is no mention of Arwen, Éowyn, or Faramir in this chapter. Please try to limit the discussion of later events to thoughts that are absolutely essential to the development of Strider's character. Better yet, let's discuss the facts that are given to us in this very chapter, which bears his name! Thank you!
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:45 PM   #28
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Yes, Ma'am. Sorry, Ma'am.

*salutes & tries to look like part of scenery*
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Old 08-26-2004, 12:53 PM   #29
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::looks abashed like Aragorn did:: Will do. I tried to remain as on-topic as possible earlier but I suppose it failed...
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Old 08-26-2004, 01:48 PM   #30
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Well, these posts have certainly made me laugh! Before I go on, I have to say...I admire Faramir too. But I'm going to sit on a rickety old fence and say I like them both! Now, I'll put my Aragorn fan 'hat' (hood?) on and defend him.

First of all, I'm always struck by how close the name Aragorn is to the word arrogant. Bear with me here... I am thinking of two types of arrogance. There is the type which can also be termed 'pride', and as the cliche goes, comes before a fall. But there is also the type which can be applied to a person who is sure of themselves, which denotes a person with bearing, and immense confidence, as seen in great military commanders. They must maintain their appearance of command in order to inspire others to follow them. This would certainly apply to Aragorn in the latter stages of the War of the Ring.

And a little more linguistics. Aragorn is also a word remarkably close to Argent, which means gold, if I am not mistaken?

Now, as for Aragorn being a 'prig' (Mithalwen, I love that word!), I had to go and find an instance where he was definitely not a prig! When Boromir dies, Aragorn's emotions spill to the surface, and he is distraught. What is more, this shakes his own faith in himself.
Quote:
"Now the company is all in ruin. It is I that have failed. Vain was Gandalf's trust in me. What shall I do now?"
This scene has always deeply affected me, not only as I found Boromir fascinating, but I hated to see Aragorn so distressed and shaken.

I have been trying to think of the best word to describe the loyalty and love which Aragorn inspires in others, and I think the word is fealty. He inspires fraternal love, the urge to follow his lead, to strive to be like him. Again, this reminds me of certain military leaders who have been admired by their troops. Interestingly, it is this which attracts Eowyn to him, showing that this admiration is not just felt by the males in Middle Earth!
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Old 08-26-2004, 02:36 PM   #31
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The points that Lalwende raises about Aragorn's name reminds me of something that I posted to another thread earlier this summer. I will indulge myself and reprint a bit of that post here:

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• ‘Ar’ is Old English (the language that Professor Tolkien devoted his professional life to studying and teaching) and has several meanings. When applied to a person it denotes a messenger, in particular a servant or herald of God (angel or apostle). When presented as a quality it means glory, honour, reverence, dignity, grace, favour or pity.

• ‘agorn’ (in OE) means to have or possess, or to deliver and restore; it can also mean to come forth, grow, or approach.

Aragorn’s name therefore has been very carefully chosen by Tolkien to mean the possession, approach and restoration of all that ‘ar’ denotes.
It didn't occur to me at the time, but Strider's characterisation in this chapter brings all this out nicely: his heroic nature is not immediatly apparent but is instead allowed to "come forth, grow" throughout the chapter. He also introduces himself to the Hobbits as a friend of Gandalf (and thus as an 'angelic' herald?) and it is, pointedly, only when the hobbits meet Aragorn and begin to trust him that they do get the letter from Gandalf (and thus truly an angelic message, that is attesting to the heroism -- ar -- of Aragorn).
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Old 08-26-2004, 02:43 PM   #32
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But I must admit,' he added with a queer laugh, 'that I hoped you would take to me for my own sake. A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust & longs for friendship
Like Davem, I always find this very touching!

My impression of Aragorn is not of a "flat character"at all. (Yes, I've read the whole "psychological depth in Tolkien's characters" thread! and I don't want to start a discussion. this is just my opinion. ) There's much more to him than meets the eye, and throughout the book we get to know more about him.

When I reread the chapter now, I wonder a bit about the broken sword - was Aragorn really lugging that around everywhere? "not much use" as a weapon, indeed... But I guess it came in handy in this scene to prove he was the real Strider!

Your information about the anapests and yambic verse was interesting, Fordim. (I have nearly forgotten all that I've learnt once, it seems...)
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Old 08-27-2004, 02:20 AM   #33
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A couple of other things struck me in this chapter - one: Frodo having to accustom himself to being suspicious of others. He's left a world where most of those around him weren't any kind of threat, they were people he'd grown up around, who he knew well for the most part. The threat came from strangers, & they were few & far between. Now he's entered a world where almost everyone is a stranger, & a potential mortal enemy - even getting up in a pub & singing a song can lead to disaster. He must from now on be suspicious of everyone he meets, & that's not his nature. Its another step on the road to his corruption by the Ring. He can't retain his innocence because the Ring is too dangerous. Another example of how the Ring works subtly to corrupt anyone who possesses it.

Two: the first appearance of the 'Black Breath' (or Black Shadow). Merry here gets his first experience of it - the next will be on Pelennor Fields. The presence of evil draws him towards it, & then the Black Breath causes him to fall into an evil dream (why does he dream of falling into 'deep water', I wonder?). The dream induced by the Black Breath produces evil dreams & ultimately death, but do the Nazgul actually 'breathe' out a poison onto their victims, or is it something else, a magical aura which surrounds them? So, evil draws the individual to it, swallows them up in a nightmare & finally takes their life, but why is evil seductive in that way:what is Tolkien saying? Its also interesting that at the end of the Barrow Downs chapter its Merry who had the strange dream of having been slain by the men of Carn Dum, servants of the Witch King - he does seem destined to have run ins with him, though why Merry is so drawn to this source of evil is another question.
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Old 08-27-2004, 04:55 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
But that is enough of such silliness. End of swoon. Return to more sensible posts.
But sir, Aragorn deserves all the swooning he can get! As long as someone explains the reason for swooning...but is that even called swooning at all? Anyway...

davem, I believe the Black Breath is merely the aura of evil surrounding the Nazgul, which comes from within them (kind of like "what is in the heart spills out" or something like that). This can be proven by the infliction of so many soldiers in the Battle of the Pelennor...oops. *curtsies to Esty*

And evil indeed works similar to the way the Black Breath does. You may have no intention nor desire of being entangled with it, but as long as you are exposed to evil, you will inevitably be caught up, but not necessarily imprisoned, within it.
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Old 08-27-2004, 05:26 AM   #35
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The Black Breath is indeed an effective way for Tolkien to manifest the 'power' or effect of evil -- or, rather, his view of evil. A breath is something that has an effect, one can feel it, but it has no substance of its own. A breath is an effect (of one person blowing on another) and not a thing in and off itself. Breath is also germaine to life and living, so the Black Breath would seem to be something that is contrary to life, but not some kind of indepedent (Manichean?) opposite to life -- it's not death, but deathly. Like the Nazgul themselves who are caught in the middle realm, "neither living nor dead" (if I might be allowed to quote movie-Aragorn). This perhaps points the way toward an understanding of the dreams Merry has -- the effect of the Nazgul (and the Wights) is a death-like suspension in a dream realm. The Black Breath cannot rob one of life (the "divine spark"?) it can only overwhelm one with a sleep. This is, of course, on the 'magical' or 'spiritual' level that they seem to be operating -- the Black Riders can easily kill somone with their sword, but that's a physical death, not a death of the spirit.

One final note that's just come to me as I review the chapter. There's an interesting way in which Butterbur, of all people, is being connected to Treebeard!! Bear with me:

When Butterbur finally remembers the letter he says:

Quote:
But now I don't know what he'll have to say to me, if I see him again: turn all my ale sour or me into a block of wood, I shouldn't wonder. He's a bit hasty.
And in Gandalf's letter, as has already been alluded to in the thread, he refers to the innkeeper as

Quote:
A worthy man, but his memory is like a lumber-room.
One last connection, slender though it might be (like a willow branch) is the absence of any Mrs. Butterbur. As far as I can recall, this is the only house-with-fire-light in the book in which there is not a female presence. Like the ents without their entwives, Butterbur lacks the 'balance' of the feminine?

Oh! And one more think just popped into my head. It's here at the Pony that Aragorn is hoping to meet Gandalf but does not, and he's come here in order to try and find and protect the hobbits. It's in Fangorn that Aragorn meets Gandalf when he does not expect to, and he goes to Fangorn in the first place to find and protect the hobbits!

Butterbur as some kind of human/comic form of an Ent? He and Treebeard do seem to 'bracket' Aragorn's journey in a sense, or, at least, an important stage of his journey. Here in Butterbur's realm he takes up the task of aiding the Ring Bearer, and in Treebeard's realm he sets that task aside. It seems that in some way Aragorn is himself 'moving' (not growing, he is already perfect!) from Butterbur to Treebeard.

Oh oh oh! Butterbur has a terrible memory -- he remembers nothing, including the lore that would tell him who Strider really is. He lacks the abilty to give Aragorn the recognition that he deserves. Treebeard's memory on the other hand. . .enough said. Of course, Aragorn and Treebeard do not actually meet in Fangorn (getting ahead of myself again, sorry) perhaps implying that Aragorn is moving into a time/realm when he will be remembered, but not quite yet? Must look up the part when Treebeard finally does greet Aragorn. . .
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Old 08-27-2004, 05:36 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Fordim Hedgethistle
One last connection, slender though it might be (like a willow branch) is the absence of any Mrs. Butterbur. As far as I can recall, this is the only house-with-fire-light in the book in which there is not a female presence. Like the ents without their entwives, Butterbur lacks the 'balance' of the feminine?
Senseless as this might be, the absence of Mrs. Butterbur may be one of the reasons why I hardly found the Inn comforting. There is always a certain comfort that the presence of a female offers, as we can feel at Tom Bombadil's house, or in Rivendell, or in Lothlorien.
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Old 08-27-2004, 05:51 AM   #37
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Interesting thoughts on the Inn/Barliman/Gandalf/Aragorn, Fordim! There's a connection at the end of the story to which I'd like to point only briefly, but as it's a bookend type reference, it does deserve mentioning here. Gandalf accompanies the Hobbits to the Pony but leaves them after that. As his failure to meet them there sparks the beginning of their growth to independence, his leaving them to take care of the Scouring alone marks the reached goal of their growth!
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:24 AM   #38
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As far as I can recall, this is the only house-with-fire-light in the book in which there is not a female presence.
But what about Bag End? Bilbo and Frodo are both lifelong bachelors. The only woman associated with Bag End is Lobelia, and she doesn't exactly inspire feelings of comfort and security.
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:38 AM   #39
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Good point! But there is one other female character associated with Bag End: Rosie! The whole point and purpose of Sam's journey is to bring it about that he and Rosie literally "end up" together in Bag End ("Well. . .I'm back"). From the point of view of the hobbits and the Shire, the whole point of the War of the Ring is to 'redeem' Bag End from its bachelor existence to a properly domestic one.
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Old 08-27-2004, 09:52 AM   #40
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Oh, shame on me! I'd forgotten that Sam and Rosie do live together in Bag End. I suppose you're quite right about "the point of view of the hobbits and the Shire:" Bilbo and Frodo are extraordinary hobbits in any number of ways, but Sam and Rosie are nothing if not "properly domestic."

(Keeping this post short as I know it's off topic.)
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