Google Groups no longer supports new Usenet posts or subscriptions. Historical content remains viewable.
Dismiss

Re: LotR, Book 4 Ch. 2, The Passage of the Marshes

16 views
Skip to first unread message

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 27, 2004, 8:46:55 PM9/27/04
to
Crossposted to AFT.

Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:
> Gollum leads Frodo and Sam, as promised, quickly and almost
> enthusiastically. His sudden subservience is a bit startling, but
> Gollum seems more or less cheerful, even singing songs as he crawls
> along. His recitation of the fish riddle causes Sam to be concerned
> about what they're going to feed Gollum, and also causes him to
> notice that Gollum is near starving as it his. Sam's first concern
> is that if he gets hungry enough, he might decide to lunch on one of
> the hobbits.
>
> Morning approaches, and the hobbits learn that Gollum will not travel
> in the day time. Gollum's excuse is that Orcs and other nasty things
> will see them, but evil things being afraid of the sun is a common
> theme in literature, and gives the passage an even more uncertain
> feeling about Gollum, I think.
>
> The hobbits decide to eat, and offer some of their food to Smeagol,
> who becomes more Gollum-like as he expresses his hunger. Again, we
> have his exaggerated reaction to anything made by Elves, and he
> describes the food as dust and ashes. I know we've been discussing
> whether or not it's truly a physical thing, I've always taking it to
> be just one of the fairy-tale givens in the story -- that creatures
> as unwholesome as Gollum can't abide the natural wholesomeness of the
> Elves and their works.
>
> Sam is more appreciative of the taste of the lembas, but also fearful
> to have both him and Frodo asleep at the same time, in case Gollum
> finds them an irresistible meal. He intends to keep turns at watch
> with Frodo, but is so tired he falls asleep for nine hours, awaking
> to find himself and Frodo unharmed, and Smeagol leaving to find food.
> His hollering at Smeagol wakes Frodo, who is both calm about Gollum
> returning and sympathetic to Sam's falling asleep, telling Sam not to
> be upset with himself about it. Sam then brings up their mission and
> the provisions they might need. Frodo is pessimistic about their
> chances to need anything to eat after the mission is over. When
> Smeagol returns, they go on with their journey, into ever more
> unpleasant land and scenery.
>
> They reach the north end of the Marshes, with Frodo asking if they
> really need to cross them. Smeagol answers with a bit of biting
> sarcasm, telling him there's no need to cross the swamp at all,
> provided they don't mind being caught very quickly. During their
> walking through, Smeagol must carefully pick their way through the
> fens and pools, often testing the ground. Frodo is very tired and
> often lags. Few people besides the small hobbits would even make it
> through such a place, as heavier people would get mired in the muck.
>
> When full dark falls, the air seems hard to breathe, and Sam starts
> to see eerie lights around them. He asks Smeagol what they are, and
> is told they are the candles of corpses. Frodo is standing in a
> daze, with water and muck dripping from his hands, as if he has tried
> to reach the lights. Soon Sam trips and falls, and is horrified to
> see dead faces in the water. Frodo attempts an explanation, with a
> dreamlike voice, noting that Elves, Men and Orc are among the dead,
> but that all seem foul and evil. Gollum explains that the Marsh has
> swallowed the graves of the Last Battle, but I seem to remember a
> reference in UT or Silm about a group being lost in the Dead Marshes
> before that battle. I need to look it up.
>
> So, what are the Dead Marshes? An illusion of Sauron's? And why
> does Frodo seem so captivated and mesmerized by them, as if falling
> into some sort of trance? This is another of Tolkien's horror movie
> moments.
>
> They travel on through the night, which Smeagol becoming uneasy as he
> scents a change in the wind. The hobbits hear a high, thin cry (no
> doubt a Nazgul) and feel a cold wind. At this point, the marsh
> lights go out. Now, why would they do that? Gollum is frightened
> and refuses to move, and while the hobbits briefly enjoy the fresher
> air, they see the Nazgul fly across the moon and then over the
> marshes, terrifying them into groveling on the ground. They recover
> quickly, but Gollum is so petrified he refuses to move until the moon
> sets.
>
> As they continue to travel, Sam notes with concern changes in both
> Frodo and Gollum. Smeagol is more obsequious, but also more given
> to talking in his Gollum voice and giving Frodo strange looks when he
> thinks himself unobserved. Frodo is suffering from Killer Fatigue,
> and less and less aware of his surroundings. The Ring is becoming
> more and more a burdensome weight, but he is also growing more aware
> of the Eye searching him out, which is now an oppressive presence to
> him.
>
> When day appears, they have come to the end of the marshes, and the
> hobbits huddle under a stone to rest for the day. They travel on
> through stark, dry, reeking lands, and on the fifth morning of
> travelling with Gollum, reach the horrible pollution and desolation
> before Mordor. Tolkien's description is worth quoting:
>
> "Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on
> rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling
> muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the
> filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed
> and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-
> stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slow
> revealed in the reluctant light.
>
> They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor: the lasting
> monument to the dark labour of its slaves that should endure when all
> their purposes were made void; a land defiled, diseased beyond all
> healing -- unless the Great Sea should enter in and wash it with
> oblivion."
>
> They attempt to take shelter for the day near a mound of slag, but
> the fumes drive them away until they come to a pit with an oily ooze
> at the bottom, where they rest for the day. Sam and Frodo take turns
> at watch, although sleeping is difficult. They are thirsty, but
> don't drink much.
>
> Sam wakes suddenly, and laying quietly, is a witness to Smeagol
> debating with his Gollum nature. Smeagol seems to almost like Frodo,
> and doesn't want him hurt, while Gollum still harbors hates for all
> Baggins. Gollum is also concerned that Sauron knows he has betrayed
> Him, and that the Wraiths are searching for both the Ring and him.
> Smeagol is also constrained by his own cowardliness, concerned that
> the two hobbits would overwhelm him if he chose to attack. Gollum
> conceives of a plan to have a mysterious She help them. Smeagol is
> distressed by it, but the Gollum personality prevails.[1]
>
> Sam realizes how badly he has judged the danger of Smeagol/Gollum,
> thinking only his hunger as threatening them. He is not happy to
> find that their danger is much more severe, and caused by Gollum's
> hunger for the Ring, not for food. He's also concerned if Gollum
> wouldn't be even more dangerous if he were not with them than he is
> as their guide. Frodo wakes and praises Gollum, asking him to take
> them to the Gate, which is now relatively near.
>
> As they begin to travel, they again feel the presence of the Nazgul
> flying over them -- in fact, twice more. Gollum is completely undone
> by the third fly-over, convinced that three times means they have
> been spotted and are in danger. Nothing will convince him to move
> until the Frodo gets angry and physically threatens him with his
> sword. They stumble on for another night, hearing only the wind.
>
> [1] The argument of Smeagol with himself, while split into two and
> both earlier and later in the story than this one scene, was an
> amazingly masterful bit of movie and acting work, done in an
> amazingly compelling fashion, for a character that was largely a
> computer construction.
>
>
> Michelle
> Flutist

Michelle J. Haines

unread,
Sep 27, 2004, 9:16:13 PM9/27/04
to
In article <3w26d.325$TP4...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
spam...@blueyonder.co.uk says...
> Crossposted to AFT.

Oi, sorry. I and my entire family has been sick all week. I'm not
playing with a full deck.

Michelle
Flutist

--
Drift on a river, That flows through my arms
Drift as I'm singing to you
I see you smiling, So peaceful and calm
And holding you, I'm smiling, too
Here in my arms, Safe from all harm
Holding you, I'm smiling, too
-- For Xander [9/22/98 - 2/23/99]

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 27, 2004, 9:36:29 PM9/27/04
to
Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:
> In article <3w26d.325$TP4...@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
> spam...@blueyonder.co.uk says...
>> Crossposted to AFT.
>
> Oi, sorry. I and my entire family has been sick all week. I'm not
> playing with a full deck.

Sorry to hear that. Hope all is well now.
'Twas still a very nice summary.
I've marked it to reply to later!
At leisure... :-)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 3, 2004, 8:37:51 AM10/3/04
to
> Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:
>> Gollum leads Frodo and Sam, as promised, quickly and almost
>> enthusiastically. His sudden subservience is a bit startling, but
>> Gollum seems more or less cheerful, even singing songs as he crawls
>> along.

I was struck by the fact that he likes the water so much:

"Gollum [...] splashed along with his feet in the shallow stony stream.
He seemed greatly delighted to feel the water, and chuckled to himself,
sometimes even croaking in a sort of song."

[...]

"But stream and pool
is wet and cool:
so nice for feet!"

This seems to be the nice side of Gollum, the Smeagol side. It seems
quite extrovert, but also slightly strange. Maybe Smeagol is also
enjoying being in the company of hobbits again. He must have been
lonely.

>> His recitation of the fish riddle

This bit is a really nice link back to 'The Hobbit'. Very appropriate
for our first proper encounter with Gollum since Bilbo under the Misty
Mountains. I found this bit quite chilling though, when Gollum makes it
clear that he has not forgotten Bilbo and harbours a great feeling of
injustice:

"'He guessed it long ago, Baggins guessed it.' A glint came into
[Gollum's] eyes, and Sam catching the gleam in the darkness thought it
far from pleasant."

>> causes Sam to be concerned
>> about what they're going to feed Gollum, and also causes him to

>> notice that Gollum is near starving as it is. Sam's first concern


>> is that if he gets hungry enough, he might decide to lunch on one of
>> the hobbits.

I always thought this was a bit overdone by Sam. Maybe I just can't
believe that anyone would kill someone in cold blood and then eat them.
OTOH, we do have the case of Lotho and Wormtongue...

>> Morning approaches, and the hobbits learn that Gollum will not travel
>> in the day time. Gollum's excuse is that Orcs and other nasty things
>> will see them

I think this is a good excuse!

>> but evil things being afraid of the sun is a common
>> theme in literature, and gives the passage an even more uncertain
>> feeling about Gollum, I think.

That as well.

>> The hobbits decide to eat, and offer some of their food to Smeagol,
>> who becomes more Gollum-like as he expresses his hunger. Again, we
>> have his exaggerated reaction to anything made by Elves, and he
>> describes the food as dust and ashes. I know we've been discussing
>> whether or not it's truly a physical thing, I've always taking it to
>> be just one of the fairy-tale givens in the story -- that creatures
>> as unwholesome as Gollum can't abide the natural wholesomeness
>> of the Elves and their works.

This reminds me of a bit from one of the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. I
think it was 'The Last Battle', where the dwarves (after going through
the door) fail to believe that the lovely food and scenery around them
exists. They think it is dark and the food is rotten and so on. Apart
from the fact that this is (IMO) a rather nasty depiction of atheism, I
think that this is similar to Gollum's refusal to believe that the food
is wholesome. He rejects anything Elvish, much as some people reject
anything religious.

This is reinforced in my mind by the fact that the lembas is often said
to remind people of the Catholic Eucharist (apologies if I get
terminology wrong) and the symbolic comsumption of the body and blood of
Christ (bread and wine). And Gollum also says that the lembas is "dust
and ashes" which resonates in my mind with those funeral rites: "ashes
to ashes, dust to dust".

So, maybe, to Gollum, the lembas being dust and ashes represents the
fact that he cannot approach God, or God will not receive him. I'm
probably getting this all terribly wrong, but I would be interested to
know what Lewis wrote about this sort of thing and what Lewis wrote
about his 'dwarves' scene, and whether he and Tolkien might have
influenced one another. They were definitely both writing from a
religious perspective.

Another thing, is that in Book IV, I think we have to be much more aware
of the religious symbolism. It is much more obvious here (and in Book
VI) than anywhere else in the story.

>> Sam is more appreciative of the taste of the lembas, but also fearful
>> to have both him and Frodo asleep at the same time, in case Gollum
>> finds them an irresistible meal. He intends to keep turns at watch
>> with Frodo, but is so tired he falls asleep for nine hours, awaking
>> to find himself and Frodo unharmed, and Smeagol leaving to find food.
>> His hollering at Smeagol wakes Frodo, who is both calm about Gollum
>> returning and sympathetic to Sam's falling asleep, telling Sam not to
>> be upset with himself about it. Sam then brings up their mission and
>> the provisions they might need. Frodo is pessimistic about their
>> chances to need anything to eat after the mission is over.

"I ask you, Sam, are we ever likely to need bread again?"

Is that another religious symbolism?

This bit is very depressing. Is it the FIRST acknowledgement that they
might die trying to achieve, or even acheiving, the Quest? Sam's
reaction is also very striking:

"Sam nodded silently. He took his master's hand and bent over it. He did
not kiss it, though his tears fell on it."

>> When
>> Smeagol returns, they go on with their journey, into ever more
>> unpleasant land and scenery.
>>
>> They reach the north end of the Marshes

And the smell is often mentioned. I haven't been unlucky enough to have
to walk in a bog or swamp with rotting and decomposing plant matter. The
closest I have probably got is a garden compost heap. What is the smell
of a marsh like? Can it really be as bad as described here?

There is also a strange comment here:

"Dry reeds hissed and rattled though they could feel no wind."

What on earth is that about?

>> with Frodo asking if they
>> really need to cross them. Smeagol answers with a bit of biting
>> sarcasm, telling him there's no need to cross the swamp at all,
>> provided they don't mind being caught very quickly.

There is a nice bit of narrative here, with the reader's perspective
zooming upwards to encompass the lands all about, helping to explain
Gollum's comments in the next paragraph. Also some nice snippets of
history about the Dagorlad, the Battle Plain where many battles have
been fought.

>> During their
>> walking through, Smeagol must carefully pick their way through the
>> fens and pools, often testing the ground. Frodo is very tired and
>> often lags. Few people besides the small hobbits would even make it
>> through such a place, as heavier people would get mired in the muck.

Good point!

There is also a nice bit of humour here when Gollum responds to Sam's
comment that there are no birds here:

"'No birds here. There are snakeses, wormses, things in the pools. Lots
of things, lots of nasty things...'"

<cue change in tone of voice>

"'No birds,' he ended sadly. Sam looked at him with distaste."

LOL!

>> When full dark falls, the air seems hard to breathe, and Sam starts
>> to see eerie lights around them. He asks Smeagol what they are, and
>> is told they are the candles of corpses. Frodo is standing in a
>> daze, with water and muck dripping from his hands, as if he has tried
>> to reach the lights.

Good point. This is probably meant to be directly linked with Sam's
falling forwards and his hands plunging into the bog. When we read about
Sam falling down and seeing the dead faces, we are probably meant to
think that Frodo has done something similar. And Frodo confirms this,
saying in a *dreamlike* voice: "I have seen them too."

>> Soon Sam trips and falls, and is horrified to
>> see dead faces in the water.

This is a great passage!

"Sam tripped, catching his foot in some old root or tussock. He fell and
came heavily on his hands, which sank deep into sticky ooze, so that his
face was brought close to the surface of the dark mere. There was a
faint hiss, a noisome smell went up, the lights flickered and danced and
swirled. For a moment the water below him looked like some window,
glazed with grimy glass, through which he was peering. Wrenching his
hands out of the bog, he sprang back with a cry. 'There are dead things,
dead faces in the water,' he said with horror. 'Dead faces!"

>> Frodo attempts an explanation, with a
>> dreamlike voice, noting that Elves, Men and Orc are among the dead,
>> but that all seem foul and evil. Gollum explains that the Marsh has
>> swallowed the graves of the Last Battle, but I seem to remember a
>> reference in UT or Silm about a group being lost in the Dead Marshes
>> before that battle. I need to look it up.

I vaguely remember something like that as well, but can't find it. You
may be thinking of the later battles of Gondor in the Third Age.

Ah, here we are:

1944 Ondoher falls in battle. Earnil defeats the enemy in South
Ithilien. He then wins the Battle of the Camp, and drives Wainriders
into the Dead Marshes. (Third Age, ToY, Appendix B)

And also:

"Earnil stormed the camp and set fire to the wains, and drove the enemy
in a great rout out of Ithilien. A great part of those who fled before
him perished in the Dead Marshes." (Appendix AI(iv), Gondor and the
Heirs of Anarion)

And what is wrong with believing Gollum's explanation?

>> So, what are the Dead Marshes? An illusion of Sauron's? And why
>> does Frodo seem so captivated and mesmerized by them, as if falling
>> into some sort of trance? This is another of Tolkien's horror movie
>> moments.

Definitely. The candles remind me of the will 'o the wisps of folklore
and legend. I can't remember exactly, but were these meant to lure
unsuspecting travellers to their deaths? And, pouring the cold water of
science on the superstition, weren't they just natural pockets of
burning methane?

I also find it interesting that Sam thinks that Gollum tried to reach
the bodies to eat them. Again, I think he is being over-sensitive, but
maybe most people agree with Sam that Gollum *was* trying to eat the
bodies.

Gollum also says: "Only shapes to see perhaps, not to touch." So it
seems that they are not preserved bog bodies (which turn black anyway),
but most probably are illusions of Sauron.

There is another great line here when Gollum warns the hobbits to be
careful where they walk:

"Very carefully! Or hobbits go down to join the Dead ones and light
little candles."

LOL! <shiver>

It is genius to be able to combine humour and horror like this.

>> They travel on through the night, which Smeagol becoming uneasy as he
>> scents a change in the wind. The hobbits hear a high, thin cry (no
>> doubt a Nazgul) and feel a cold wind. At this point, the marsh
>> lights go out. Now, why would they do that?

Sauron switched off the power?

No, seriously! If you think they are devices of Sauron, then why not? It
could be linked with Smeagol sensing a change in the wind and the coming
of the Nazgul.

>> Gollum is frightened
>> and refuses to move, and while the hobbits briefly enjoy the fresher
>> air, they see the Nazgul fly across the moon and then over the
>> marshes, terrifying them into groveling on the ground. They recover
>> quickly, but Gollum is so petrified he refuses to move until the moon
>> sets.

I have a theory here, that the Nazgul overflights are to look for people
crossing the Marshes, and that the wind is sent by Sauron (somehow) to
break the cloud-cover:

"they heard a noise like a wind coming in the distance. The misty lights
wavered, dimmed, and went out [...] with a rush the wind came upon them
[...] Looking up they saw the clouds breaking and shredding; and then
high in the south the moon glimmered out, riding in the flying wrack."

Then the Nazgul makes the first flight across the area and returns to
Mordor:

"And then it was gone, flying back to Mordor with the speed of the wrath
of Sauron; and behind it the wind roared away, leaving the Dead Marshes
bare and bleak. The naked waste, as far as the eye could pierce, even to
the distant menace of the mountains, was dappled with the fitful
moonlight."

It sounds to me as if the wind cleared the fog and clouds off the
marshes, leaving it bare in the moonlight for the Nazgul and the Eye to
spy upon. Luckily Sam and Gollum and Frodo escape detection. Quite why,
I'm not sure. Just luck or something else?

This bit of the chapter also has some good descriptions of the effects
of the Nazgul on the trio. This is worth comparing to the blindness that
was discussed in the previous chapter:

First Nazgul overflight: "they heard, far away, a long wailing cry, high
and thin and cruel. They shivered [...] Gollum would not move. He stood
shaking and gibbering to himself [...] They fell forward, grovelling
heedlessly on the cold earth. [...] Frodo and Sam got up, rubbing their
eyes [...] But Gollum lay on the ground as if he had been stunned."

"rubbing their eyes"?? Hmm.

>> As they continue to travel, Sam notes with concern changes in both
>> Frodo and Gollum. Smeagol is more obsequious, but also more given
>> to talking in his Gollum voice and giving Frodo strange looks when he
>> thinks himself unobserved.

As you say, there is also a longer-term effect on Gollum. Is this the
effect of the Nazgul, dragging Golllum back to his old ways? I think it
is.

>> Frodo is suffering from Killer Fatigue,

Is this a medical term?

>> and less and less aware of his surroundings. The Ring is becoming
>> more and more a burdensome weight, but he is also growing more
>> aware of the Eye searching him out, which is now an oppressive
>> presence to him.

A great bit of description here:

"In fact with every step towards the gates of Mordor Frodo felt the Ring
on its chain about his neck grow more burdensome. He was now beginning
to feel it as an actual weight dragging him earthwards. But far more he
was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself. It was that more
than the drag of the Ring that made him cower and stoop as he walked.
The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with
great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to
see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable. So thin, so
frail and thin, the veils were become that still warded it off. Frodo
knew just where the present habitation and heart of that will now was:
as certainly as a man can tell the direction of the sun with his eyes
shut. He was facing it, and its potency beat upon his brow."

I had thought that the Ring was the great burden on Frodo, but now I see
that I was wrong and that this gaze of Sauron was even more harmful. It
seems that a direct approach through the Black Gate would have been
doomed for this reason alone. And passing through Ithilien, it seems
that Frodo was shielded from this gaze by the Mountains of Shadow. This
also makes the march of the Captains of the West to the Black Gate,
diverting the Eye of Sauron, much more important. This (almost) makes me
begin to understand the film having a lighthouse searchbeam...

It is also interesting to note that:

"Gollum felt something of the same sort" and that a "dark cloud" had
fallen on Sam's heart. Sauron is really something pretty powerful and
nasty!

>> When day appears, they have come to the end of the marshes, and the
>> hobbits huddle under a stone to rest for the day. They travel on
>> through stark, dry, reeking lands, and on the fifth morning of
>> travelling with Gollum, reach the horrible pollution and desolation
>> before Mordor. Tolkien's description is worth quoting:
>>
>> "Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed on
>> rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and crawling
>> muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains had vomited the
>> filth of their entrails upon the lands about. High mounds of crushed
>> and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-
>> stained, stood like an obscene graveyard in endless rows, slow
>> revealed in the reluctant light.
>>
>> They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor: the lasting
>> monument to the dark labour of its slaves that should endure when all
>> their purposes were made void; a land defiled, diseased beyond all
>> healing -- unless the Great Sea should enter in and wash it with
>> oblivion."

Wonderfully evocative prose!

I wonder, did this area ever recover after Sauron was defeated? The text
above seems to imply not, but that would be very sad.

>> They attempt to take shelter for the day near a mound of slag, but
>> the fumes drive them away until they come to a pit with an oily ooze
>> at the bottom, where they rest for the day.

I think someone has already mentioned that this pit might be similar in
appearance to a shell crater in no-man's land in WW1.

>> Sam and Frodo take turns
>> at watch, although sleeping is difficult. They are thirsty, but
>> don't drink much.
>>
>> Sam wakes suddenly, and laying quietly, is a witness to Smeagol
>> debating with his Gollum nature. Smeagol seems to almost like Frodo,
>> and doesn't want him hurt, while Gollum still harbors hates for all
>> Baggins. Gollum is also concerned that Sauron knows he has betrayed
>> Him, and that the Wraiths are searching for both the Ring and him.
>> Smeagol is also constrained by his own cowardliness, concerned that
>> the two hobbits would overwhelm him if he chose to attack. Gollum
>> conceives of a plan to have a mysterious She help them. Smeagol is
>> distressed by it, but the Gollum personality prevails.

I like this bit where the Gollum bit has fantasies about what he and
Smeagol can do with the Ring;

"if we has it, then we can escape, even from Him, eh? Perhaps we grows
very strong, stronger than Wraiths. Lord Smeagol? Gollum the Great? The
Gollum! Eat fish every day, three times a day; fresh from the sea. Most
Precious Gollum! Must have it. We wants it, we wants it, we wants it!"

This reminds me of the scene where we hear what the Ring offers Sam (in
the Pass of Cirith Ungol), and (I think) we also hear earlier in the
book what Boromir would do with the Ring.

Sam also shows good sense in pretending not to have heard Gollum. I
might have been more rash and immediately accused Gollum of wanting to
kill them. Now I wonder where I saw a scene like that.... :-)

>> Sam realizes how badly he has judged the danger of Smeagol/Gollum,
>> thinking only his hunger as threatening them. He is not happy to
>> find that their danger is much more severe, and caused by Gollum's
>> hunger for the Ring, not for food. He's also concerned if Gollum
>> wouldn't be even more dangerous if he were not with them than he is
>> as their guide.

"'Curse him! I wish he was choked!"

I find it interesting that Sam still wishes Gollum were dead. Surely it
is nearly as bad to wish someone dead, than to actually commit the deed?

>> Frodo wakes and praises Gollum

I wonder how Sam felt about that? Jealous? Worried?

>> asking him to take
>> them to the Gate, which is now relatively near.
>>
>> As they begin to travel, they again feel the presence of the Nazgul
>> flying over them -- in fact, twice more.

The third one is described as more remote. But still, as you say, Gollum
(maybe due to the effects of the first flyover) is affected more than
Sam or Frodo.

>> Gollum is completely undone
>> by the third fly-over, convinced that three times means they have
>> been spotted and are in danger.

It is in fact obvious that the Nazgul haven't spotted them. Why is
Gollum being so silly? Is there a reason for his wailing about "three
times"?

>> Nothing will convince him to move
>> until the Frodo gets angry and physically threatens him with his
>> sword. They stumble on for another night, hearing only the wind.

This is a great chapter! It was a pleasure to re-read it. I sometimes
skip Book IV, but have realised my mistake now!!

Christopher

--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard


Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 3, 2004, 11:22:45 AM10/3/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>> Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:

[history of the Dead Marshes]

>>> I seem to remember a
>>> reference in UT or Silm about a group being lost in the Dead Marshes
>>> before that battle. I need to look it up.

> I vaguely remember something like that as well, but can't find it. You
> may be thinking of the later battles of Gondor in the Third Age.
>
> Ah, here we are:
>
> 1944 Ondoher falls in battle. Earnil defeats the enemy in South
> Ithilien. He then wins the Battle of the Camp, and drives Wainriders
> into the Dead Marshes. (Third Age, ToY, Appendix B)
>
> And also:
>
> "Earnil stormed the camp and set fire to the wains, and drove the
> enemy in a great rout out of Ithilien. A great part of those who fled
> before him perished in the Dead Marshes." (Appendix AI(iv), Gondor
> and the Heirs of Anarion)

I found the reference in Unfinished Tales as well.

Unfinished Tales: Cirion and Eorl: The Northmen and the Wainriders

Christopher Tolkien says that the text is unfinished and the notes are
mostly illegible, but it is possible to make out a bit about the fate of
Faramir, one of the sons of the King of Gondor (the following has been
paraphrased by Christopher Tolkien):

"Faramir went to the war in disguise, and was slain [...] it seems that
Faramir joined the Eotheod [ancestors of the Rohirrim] and was caught
with a party of them as they retreated towards the Dead Marshes."

Faramir died and this precipitated the claim of Arvedui (King of Arnor)
to the throne of Gondor. But Earnil (the victorious general of
Gondor)became King of Gondor instead.

Huan the hound

unread,
Oct 3, 2004, 7:54:01 PM10/3/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer posted on 10/3/04 8:37 AM:

[snip]

> I always thought this was a bit overdone by Sam. Maybe I
> just can't believe that anyone would kill someone in cold
> blood and then eat them. OTOH, we do have the case of
> Lotho and Wormtongue...

[rearrange]

> I also find it interesting that Sam thinks that Gollum
> tried to reach the bodies to eat them. Again, I think he
> is being over-sensitive, but maybe most people agree with
> Sam that Gollum *was* trying to eat the bodies.

From book I in "The Shadow of the Past", Gandalf says

"The wood was full of the rumour of him, dreadful tales even
among beasts and birds. The Woodmen said that there was
some new terror abroad, a ghost that drank blood. It
climbed trees to find nests; it crept into holes to find the
young; it slipped though windows to find cradles."

Also from "Riddles in the Dark" from _The Hobbit_ we know
that Gollum ate orcs.

Personally, I think he ate just about anything apart from
Elvish things.

[snip]

>
> This reminds me of a bit from one of the Narnia books by
> C.S. Lewis. I think it was 'The Last Battle', where the
> dwarves (after going through the door) fail to believe
> that the lovely food and scenery around them exists. They
> think it is dark and the food is rotten and so on. Apart
> from the fact that this is (IMO) a rather nasty
> depiction of atheism, I think that this is similar to
> Gollum's refusal to believe that the food is wholesome.
> He rejects anything Elvish, much as some people reject
> anything religious.

Regarding the dwarves being a nasty depiction of atheism,
the MacPhee character in _That Hideous Strength_ is an
atheist, but Lewis portrays him in a very positive light.
On the other hand, the clergyman Straik in the same book was
a nasty depiction of a Christian!

Look at what Lewis wrote in a letter (29 December 1958):

"In reality however he [Aslan] is an invention giving an
imaginary answer to the question, “What might Christ become
like, if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose
to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He
actually has done in ours?’ This is not allegory at all.
So in Perelandra. This also works out a supposition.
(‘Suppose, even now, in some other planet there were a first
couple undergoing the same that Adam and Eve underwent here,
but successfully’)."

This quote IMO means that we should not necessarily call the
Narnia scene with the unbelieving dwarves Lewis's definitive
depiction of atheism. It better to look at it as a
supposition about what would happen in certain
circumstances. The dwarves were at first mislead, resulting
in slavery, and then they didn't want it to happen again.
Maybe a lot of peer pressure was involved too.

[snip]

> As you say, there is also a longer-term effect on Gollum.
> Is this the effect of the Nazgul, dragging Golllum back
> to his old ways? I think it is.

Just too scared to keep his promise.

This post is too long! <relurk>

Huan, the hound of Valinor
--
Yet at length Draugluin escaped, and fleeing back into the
tower he died before Sauron's feet; and as he died he told
his master: 'Huan is there!'

Öjevind Lång

unread,
Oct 4, 2004, 6:52:56 PM10/4/04
to
"Huan the hound" <huanth...@netscape.net> skrev i meddelandet
news:2sbhj4F...@uni-berlin.de...

[snip]

> Also from "Riddles in the Dark" from _The Hobbit_ we know
> that Gollum ate orcs.
>
> Personally, I think he ate just about anything apart from
> Elvish things.

Including dog biscuits? Or perhaps he preferred Whiskas?

Öjevind


Al MacLeod

unread,
Oct 5, 2004, 11:36:57 AM10/5/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message news:<zoS7d.1658$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>...

> There is also a strange comment here:
>
> "Dry reeds hissed and rattled though they could feel no wind."
>
> What on earth is that about?

I think this is just natural movement; snakes or rats, perhaps, or
even the uneven ground slowly shifting in unseen currents in the
marsh.

Have you never heard the loudness of noises on a perfectly still night
in the wilderness? :-)

> Gollum also says: "Only shapes to see perhaps, not to touch." So it
> seems that they are not preserved bog bodies (which turn black anyway),
> but most probably are illusions of Sauron.

I don't think the dead marshes were anything to do with Sauron. For a
start, they appeared sometime between the start of the third age and
III 1944 - through all of that time Sauron was conspicuously absent.

IMHO the dead marshes are just another example of "things happening
where great evil has been done". We get other examples of this - grass
not growing on the graves of evil things, the utter devastation of the
Brown Lands ...

There's just more magic at work in Middle-Earth; great deeds have
consequences.

> >> They travel on through the night, which Smeagol becoming uneasy as he
> >> scents a change in the wind. The hobbits hear a high, thin cry (no
> >> doubt a Nazgul) and feel a cold wind. At this point, the marsh
> >> lights go out. Now, why would they do that?
>
> Sauron switched off the power?

Again, I don't think Sauron has anything to do with the dead marshes.

Nazgul put out lights - or at least "deepen shadows", and the marshes
are hardly a well-lit place. Weak methane flames will easily go out,
will they not?

> As you say, there is also a longer-term effect on Gollum. Is this the
> effect of the Nazgul, dragging Golllum back to his old ways? I think it
> is.

I think it's base fear, dragging Gollum back to his old ways, rather
than anything supernatural. :-)

> I find it interesting that Sam still wishes Gollum were dead. Surely it
> is nearly as bad to wish someone dead, than to actually commit the deed?

Depends on your moral standpoint, but you have a point. Especially if
all that's holding you back is your own self-interest, and your boss'
order! ;-)

> It is in fact obvious that the Nazgul haven't spotted them. Why is
> Gollum being so silly? Is there a reason for his wailing about "three
> times"?

"Once is a happening, twice is a co-incidence - three times is enemy
action"

Al .-.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 5:29:27 PM10/7/04
to
Al MacLeod <nor...@gmail.com> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote

<snip>

>> Gollum also says: "Only shapes to see perhaps, not to touch." So it
>> seems that they are not preserved bog bodies (which turn black
>> anyway), but most probably are illusions of Sauron.
>
> I don't think the dead marshes were anything to do with Sauron. For a
> start, they appeared sometime between the start of the third age and
> III 1944 - through all of that time Sauron was conspicuously absent.

I agree, the dead marshes are a 'natural' phenomenon, or a 'natural'
part of Sauron's influence. I was referring more specifically to the
"dead faces" which it is suggested are "illusions of Sauron". Sauron may
have turned a natural place into a place of great horror, just like
Mirkwood.

> IMHO the dead marshes are just another example of "things happening
> where great evil has been done". We get other examples of this - grass
> not growing on the graves of evil things, the utter devastation of the
> Brown Lands ...
>
> There's just more magic at work in Middle-Earth; great deeds have
> consequences.
>
>>>> They travel on through the night, which Smeagol becoming uneasy as
>>>> he scents a change in the wind. The hobbits hear a high, thin cry
>>>> (no doubt a Nazgul) and feel a cold wind. At this point, the marsh
>>>> lights go out. Now, why would they do that?
>>
>> Sauron switched off the power?
>
> Again, I don't think Sauron has anything to do with the dead marshes.
>
> Nazgul put out lights - or at least "deepen shadows", and the marshes
> are hardly a well-lit place. Weak methane flames will easily go out,
> will they not?

That sounds like a good explanation. Just the wind blowing them out.

<snip>

>> It is in fact obvious that the Nazgul haven't spotted them. Why is
>> Gollum being so silly? Is there a reason for his wailing about "three
>> times"?
>
> "Once is a happening, twice is a co-incidence - three times is enemy
> action"

Is that a military proverb?

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 5:35:55 PM10/7/04
to
Huan the hound <huanth...@netscape.net> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer posted on 10/3/04 8:37 AM:

<snip>

[Me not believing that Gollum could be that bad...]

> From book I in "The Shadow of the Past", Gandalf says
>
> "The wood was full of the rumour of him, dreadful tales even
> among beasts and birds. The Woodmen said that there was
> some new terror abroad, a ghost that drank blood. It
> climbed trees to find nests; it crept into holes to find the
> young; it slipped though windows to find cradles."

[Me changes my mind. Nasty Gollum!!]

Great quote!

<snip>

Thanks for the C.S. Lewis letter. Very interesting.

> This post is too long! <relurk>

Your post or mine? You were saying some interesting stuff.

If it was mine, maybe I should repost my comments on this discussion in
bitesize comments for easier digestion? It was a 21KB post, mainly
because I didn't snip the needed context of what I was replying to! :-)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 5:50:41 PM10/7/04
to
[reposting comments in smaller bits...]

> Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:
>> Gollum leads Frodo and Sam, as promised, quickly and almost
>> enthusiastically. His sudden subservience is a bit startling, but
>> Gollum seems more or less cheerful, even singing songs as he crawls
>> along.

I was struck by the fact that he likes the water so much:

"Gollum [...] splashed along with his feet in the shallow stony stream.
He seemed greatly delighted to feel the water, and chuckled to himself,
sometimes even croaking in a sort of song."

[...]

"But stream and pool
is wet and cool:
so nice for feet!"

This seems to be the nice side of Gollum, the Smeagol side. It seems
quite extrovert, but also slightly strange. Maybe Smeagol is also
enjoying being in the company of hobbits again. He must have been
lonely.

>> His recitation of the fish riddle

This bit is a really nice link back to 'The Hobbit'. Very appropriate


for our first proper encounter with Gollum since Bilbo under the Misty
Mountains. I found this bit quite chilling though, when Gollum makes it
clear that he has not forgotten Bilbo and harbours a great feeling of
injustice:

"'He guessed it long ago, Baggins guessed it.' A glint came into
[Gollum's] eyes, and Sam catching the gleam in the darkness thought it
far from pleasant."

<snip>

>> When
>> Smeagol returns, they go on with their journey, into ever more
>> unpleasant land and scenery.
>>

>> They reach the north end of the Marshes

And the smell is often mentioned. I haven't been unlucky enough to have
to walk in a bog or swamp with rotting and decomposing plant matter. The
closest I have probably got is a garden compost heap. What is the smell
of a marsh like? Can it really be as bad as described here?

>> with Frodo asking if they


>> really need to cross them. Smeagol answers with a bit of biting
>> sarcasm, telling him there's no need to cross the swamp at all,
>> provided they don't mind being caught very quickly.

There is a nice bit of narrative here, with the reader's perspective


zooming upwards to encompass the lands all about, helping to explain
Gollum's comments in the next paragraph. Also some nice snippets of
history about the Dagorlad, the Battle Plain where many battles have
been fought.

<much snippage>

>> They had come to the desolation that lay before Mordor: the lasting
>> monument to the dark labour of its slaves that should endure when all
>> their purposes were made void; a land defiled, diseased beyond all
>> healing -- unless the Great Sea should enter in and wash it with
>> oblivion."

Wonderfully evocative prose!

I wonder, did this area ever recover after Sauron was defeated? The text
above seems to imply not, but that would be very sad.

>> They attempt to take shelter for the day near a mound of slag, but


>> the fumes drive them away until they come to a pit with an oily ooze
>> at the bottom, where they rest for the day.

I think someone has already mentioned that this pit might be similar in


appearance to a shell crater in no-man's land in WW1.

<snip - more in other posts>

This is a great chapter! It was a pleasure to re-read it. I sometimes
skip Book IV, but have realised my mistake now!!

Christopher

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 5:55:30 PM10/7/04
to
[reposting comments from large post as separate posts]

> Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:

<snip>

>> The hobbits decide to eat, and offer some of their food to Smeagol,
>> who becomes more Gollum-like as he expresses his hunger. Again, we
>> have his exaggerated reaction to anything made by Elves, and he
>> describes the food as dust and ashes. I know we've been discussing
>> whether or not it's truly a physical thing, I've always taking it to
>> be just one of the fairy-tale givens in the story -- that creatures
>> as unwholesome as Gollum can't abide the natural wholesomeness
>> of the Elves and their works.

This reminds me of a bit from one of the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. I


think it was 'The Last Battle', where the dwarves (after going through
the door) fail to believe that the lovely food and scenery around them
exists. They think it is dark and the food is rotten and so on. Apart
from the fact that this is (IMO) a rather nasty depiction of atheism, I
think that this is similar to Gollum's refusal to believe that the food
is wholesome. He rejects anything Elvish, much as some people reject
anything religious.

This is reinforced in my mind by the fact that the lembas is often said


to remind people of the Catholic Eucharist (apologies if I get
terminology wrong) and the symbolic comsumption of the body and
blood of Christ (bread and wine). And Gollum also says that the lembas
is "dust and ashes" which resonates in my mind with those funeral rites:
"ashes to ashes, dust to dust".

So, maybe, to Gollum, the lembas being dust and ashes represents the
fact that he cannot approach God, or God will not receive him. I'm
probably getting this all terribly wrong, but I would be interested to
know what Lewis wrote about this sort of thing and what Lewis wrote
about his 'dwarves' scene, and whether he and Tolkien might have
influenced one another. They were definitely both writing from a
religious perspective.

Another thing, is that in Book IV, I think we have to be much more aware
of the religious symbolism. It is much more obvious here (and in Book
VI) than anywhere else in the story.

>> Sam is more appreciative of the taste of the lembas, but also fearful


>> to have both him and Frodo asleep at the same time, in case Gollum
>> finds them an irresistible meal. He intends to keep turns at watch
>> with Frodo, but is so tired he falls asleep for nine hours, awaking
>> to find himself and Frodo unharmed, and Smeagol leaving to find food.
>> His hollering at Smeagol wakes Frodo, who is both calm about Gollum
>> returning and sympathetic to Sam's falling asleep, telling Sam not to
>> be upset with himself about it. Sam then brings up their mission and
>> the provisions they might need. Frodo is pessimistic about their
>> chances to need anything to eat after the mission is over.

"I ask you, Sam, are we ever likely to need bread again?"

Is that another religious symbolism?

This bit is very depressing. Is it the FIRST acknowledgement that they
might die trying to achieve, or even acheiving, the Quest? Sam's
reaction is also very striking:

"Sam nodded silently. He took his master's hand and bent over it. He did
not kiss it, though his tears fell on it."

Christopher

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 5:59:31 PM10/7/04
to
[separately reposting several comments from a longer post]

> Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:

<snip>

>> During their
>> walking through, Smeagol must carefully pick their way through the
>> fens and pools, often testing the ground. Frodo is very tired and
>> often lags. Few people besides the small hobbits would even make it
>> through such a place, as heavier people would get mired in the muck.

Good point!

There is also a nice bit of humour here when Gollum responds to Sam's
comment that there are no birds here:

"'No birds here. There are snakeses, wormses, things in the pools. Lots
of things, lots of nasty things...'"

<cue change in tone of voice>

"'No birds,' he ended sadly. Sam looked at him with distaste."

LOL!

>> So, what are the Dead Marshes? An illusion of Sauron's? And why


>> does Frodo seem so captivated and mesmerized by them, as if falling
>> into some sort of trance? This is another of Tolkien's horror movie
>> moments.

Definitely.

There is another great line here when Gollum warns the hobbits to be
careful where they walk:

"Very carefully! Or hobbits go down to join the Dead ones and light
little candles."

LOL! <shiver>

It is genius to be able to combine humour and horror like this.

Christopher

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 6:11:11 PM10/7/04
to
[Separate reposting of comment from a longer post]

[This one reposts the two greatest quotes from this chapter, IMO]

> Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:

<snip>

>> Soon Sam trips and falls, and is horrified to
>> see dead faces in the water.

This is a great passage!

"Sam tripped, catching his foot in some old root or tussock. He fell and
came heavily on his hands, which sank deep into sticky ooze, so that his
face was brought close to the surface of the dark mere. There was a
faint hiss, a noisome smell went up, the lights flickered and danced and
swirled. For a moment the water below him looked like some window,
glazed with grimy glass, through which he was peering. Wrenching his
hands out of the bog, he sprang back with a cry. 'There are dead things,
dead faces in the water,' he said with horror. 'Dead faces!"

>> Frodo attempts an explanation, with a


>> dreamlike voice, noting that Elves, Men and Orc are among the dead,
>> but that all seem foul and evil. Gollum explains that the Marsh has
>> swallowed the graves of the Last Battle

But are the "dead faces" illusions of Sauron?

I think they must be illusions. How does this relate to things like the
Barrow-wights and the Dead Men of Dunharrow, and the Nazgul?

>> Frodo is suffering from Killer Fatigue,

Is this a medical term?

>> and less and less aware of his surroundings. The Ring is becoming


>> more and more a burdensome weight, but he is also growing more
>> aware of the Eye searching him out, which is now an oppressive
>> presence to him.

A great bit of description here:

"In fact with every step towards the gates of Mordor Frodo felt the Ring
on its chain about his neck grow more burdensome. He was now beginning
to feel it as an actual weight dragging him earthwards. But far more he
was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself. It was that more
than the drag of the Ring that made him cower and stoop as he walked.
The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with
great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to
see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable. So thin, so
frail and thin, the veils were become that still warded it off. Frodo
knew just where the present habitation and heart of that will now was:
as certainly as a man can tell the direction of the sun with his eyes
shut. He was facing it, and its potency beat upon his brow."

"He was facing it and its potency beat upon his brow"

Like the Sun on a hot summer's day! Great writing!

I had thought that the Ring was the great burden on Frodo, but now I see
that I was wrong and that this gaze of Sauron was even more harmful. It
seems that a direct approach through the Black Gate would have been
doomed for this reason alone. And passing through Ithilien, it seems
that Frodo was shielded from this gaze by the Mountains of Shadow. This
also makes the march of the Captains of the West to the Black Gate,
diverting the Eye of Sauron, much more important. This (almost) makes me
begin to understand the film having a lighthouse searchbeam...

It is also interesting to note that:

"Gollum felt something of the same sort" and that a "dark cloud" had
fallen on Sam's heart. Sauron is really something pretty powerful and
nasty!

Christopher

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 6:17:40 PM10/7/04
to
[separate repost of comment from longer post]

> Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:

<snip>

>> Sam wakes suddenly, and laying quietly, is a witness to Smeagol
>> debating with his Gollum nature. Smeagol seems to almost like Frodo,
>> and doesn't want him hurt, while Gollum still harbors hates for all
>> Baggins. Gollum is also concerned that Sauron knows he has betrayed
>> Him, and that the Wraiths are searching for both the Ring and him.
>> Smeagol is also constrained by his own cowardliness, concerned that
>> the two hobbits would overwhelm him if he chose to attack. Gollum
>> conceives of a plan to have a mysterious She help them. Smeagol is
>> distressed by it, but the Gollum personality prevails.

I like this bit where the Gollum bit has fantasies about what he and


Smeagol can do with the Ring;

"if we has it, then we can escape, even from Him, eh? Perhaps we grows
very strong, stronger than Wraiths. Lord Smeagol? Gollum the Great? The
Gollum! Eat fish every day, three times a day; fresh from the sea. Most
Precious Gollum! Must have it. We wants it, we wants it, we wants it!"

This reminds me of the scene where we hear what the Ring offers Sam (in
the Pass of Cirith Ungol), and (I think) we also hear earlier in the
book what Boromir would do with the Ring.

Sam also shows good sense in pretending not to have heard Gollum. I
might have been more rash and immediately accused Gollum of wanting to
kill them. Now I wonder where I saw a scene like that.... :-)

[in the film of course]

>> Sam realizes how badly he has judged the danger of Smeagol/Gollum,
>> thinking only his hunger as threatening them. He is not happy to
>> find that their danger is much more severe, and caused by Gollum's
>> hunger for the Ring, not for food. He's also concerned if Gollum
>> wouldn't be even more dangerous if he were not with them than he is
>> as their guide.

"'Curse him! I wish he was choked!"

I find it interesting that Sam still wishes Gollum were dead. Surely it


is nearly as bad to wish someone dead, than to actually commit the deed?

>> Frodo wakes and praises Gollum

I wonder how Sam felt about that? Jealous? Worried?

Christopher

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 6:21:12 PM10/7/04
to
[separate repost of comments from longer post]

> Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:

<snip>

>> Gollum is frightened
>> and refuses to move, and while the hobbits briefly enjoy the fresher
>> air, they see the Nazgul fly across the moon and then over the
>> marshes, terrifying them into groveling on the ground. They recover
>> quickly, but Gollum is so petrified he refuses to move until the moon
>> sets.

I have a theory here, that the Nazgul overflights are to look for people

Christopher

Huan the hound

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 10:52:24 PM10/7/04
to

TeaLady (Mari C.)

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 11:23:46 PM10/7/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
news:RSi9d.4621$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk:

> And the smell is often mentioned. I haven't been unlucky
> enough to have to walk in a bog or swamp with rotting and
> decomposing plant matter. The closest I have probably got is
> a garden compost heap. What is the smell of a marsh like?
> Can it really be as bad as described here?
>

Yes, it can be, especially if it has gone stagnant and
anaerobic in nature and is stirred up by walking through it
(marshes usually have a slow water flow and don't smell as bad
in most spots - I think when the flow stops they are called
something else, but I could be wrong). Rotting wet leaves and
grasses, even when cold, can stink quite badly when stirred
up. No need to find a marsh, bog or swamp - just dump a bunch
of leaves and grasses in a bucket with some water and a wee
touch of dirt, leave it for a few weeks, even a month. Then
stir and breathe in.

Eww.

And that isn't including dead thing and excrement smells,
longer-term additions of new plant and animal matter and the
various gases slow decomposition brings on (mostly a sulferous
stink - rotten eggy - methane gas stinks and so does all the
various rotting bits of stuff that haven't quite decomposted
into gaseous forms).

A good clean marsh is a pleasure, but there are always spots
where stagnation has occured, and there's where the stink is.

--
TeaLady (mari)

"I keep telling you, chew with your mouth closed!" Kell the
coach offers advice on keeping that elusive prey caught.

Huan the hound

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 11:28:56 PM10/7/04
to
Huan the hound posted on 10/7/04 10:52 PM:

[nothing at all but quoted material!]

I'm sorry about my empty posts recently. For some reason
(well, I guess because I'm a nerd) I decided that I wanted
to learn to use slrn. I figured out how to use it to filter
out all the RABT crossposts to AFT, which makes my Usenet
reading much faster. But apparently I haven't figured out
how to post. I set up the editor ok in the .slrnrc, I can
followup to posts using that editor (pico in my case), I
post my followup and everything seems ok, but none of my
editing appears in the posts.

Anyone have advice?

Now to respond to Mr. Kreuzer,

> On 2004-10-07, Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in <%Ei9d.4610$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>:
>
>>Huan the hound <huanth...@netscape.net> wrote:

[snip]

>>>This post is too long! <relurk>
>>
>>Your post or mine? You were saying some interesting stuff.
>>
>>If it was mine, maybe I should repost my comments on this discussion in
>>bitesize comments for easier digestion? It was a 21KB post, mainly
>>because I didn't snip the needed context of what I was replying to! :-)

No, I don't care how long your posts are. Feel free to
write as much as you like. I just figured that a lurker
like me shouldn't be writing such long posts. I shouldn't
have written that, sorry!

[posted with Thunderbird, which doesn't let me filter out
crossposts]

TeaLady (Mari C.)

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 11:27:07 PM10/7/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
news:mXi9d.4622$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk:

> This bit is very depressing. Is it the FIRST acknowledgement
> that they might die trying to achieve, or even acheiving,
> the Quest? Sam's reaction is also very striking:
>
> "Sam nodded silently. He took his master's hand and bent
> over it. He did not kiss it, though his tears fell on it."
>

Could Sam be mourning not only the probable death they are
facing, but Frodo's apparent loss of hope ?

Apologies if someone else (or several someones) have covered
this already.

TeaLady (Mari C.)

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 11:33:19 PM10/7/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
news:3aj9d.4636$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk:

>>> Frodo attempts an explanation, with a
>>> dreamlike voice, noting that Elves, Men and Orc are among
>>> the dead, but that all seem foul and evil. Gollum
>>> explains that the Marsh has swallowed the graves of the
>>> Last Battle
>
> But are the "dead faces" illusions of Sauron?
>
> I think they must be illusions. How does this relate to
> things like the Barrow-wights and the Dead Men of Dunharrow,
> and the Nazgul?
>

It's almost, if not actually, the antithesis of the graves
from the Sil - most particularly the Hill of Slain piled up at
the end of the 5th battle, Nirnaeth Arnoediad.

Al MacLeod

unread,
Oct 8, 2004, 5:32:29 AM10/8/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message news:<Xyi9d.4601$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>...
> Al MacLeod <nor...@gmail.com> wrote:

> > I don't think the dead marshes were anything to do with Sauron. For a
> > start, they appeared sometime between the start of the third age and
> > III 1944 - through all of that time Sauron was conspicuously absent.
>
> I agree, the dead marshes are a 'natural' phenomenon, or a 'natural'
> part of Sauron's influence. I was referring more specifically to the
> "dead faces" which it is suggested are "illusions of Sauron". Sauron may
> have turned a natural place into a place of great horror, just like
> Mirkwood.

Aah, no, I still disagree - I don't believe that the "dead faces" have
anything to do with Sauron. They were called the Dead Marshes even in
the reference to 1944.

Don't pin too much on Sauron. :-) This "magic" is entirely "natural",
IMHO.

> > "Once is a happening, twice is a co-incidence - three times is enemy
> > action"
>
> Is that a military proverb?

:-D

Not as such, but I've used it often enough myself. I learnt it from a
great philosopher long ago in my youth.

http://members.lycos.co.uk/judderman1975/id88.htm
[cover of Death's Head #7 Marvel comic]

"Wraiths - wraiths on wings, yes?"

Al .-.

Michelle J. Haines

unread,
Oct 8, 2004, 10:50:21 AM10/8/04
to
In article <3aj9d.4636$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
spam...@blueyonder.co.uk says...

> [Separate reposting of comment from a longer post]
>
> [This one reposts the two greatest quotes from this chapter, IMO]
>
> > Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:
>
> >> Frodo is suffering from Killer Fatigue,
>
> Is this a medical term?

Actually a term from Television Without Pity. :)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 8, 2004, 9:10:05 PM10/8/04
to
Huan the hound <huanth...@netscape.net> wrote:
>> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote

>>> If it was mine, maybe I should repost my comments on this
>>> discussion in bitesize comments for easier digestion? It was a 21KB
>>> post, mainly because I didn't snip the needed context of what I was
>>> replying to! :-)
>
> No, I don't care how long your posts are. Feel free to
> write as much as you like. I just figured that a lurker
> like me shouldn't be writing such long posts. I shouldn't
> have written that, sorry!

No need to be sorry, though it does take a very long post for me to
think that it is too long! In some senses you might be right, in that a
post can be too long (people might fall asleep reading it), but lurking
or not lurking should definitely not be a factor.

It is always interesting to hear what other people think. Especially as
someone asked the other day why people lurk and refrain from posting. I
guess there might be any number of reasons for that.

I would distinguish between those who:

(a) read regularly and never post;
(b) read regularly and post infrequently;
(c) read and post regularly;
(d) read and post infrequently.

I wonder what percentage of readers and posters make up these categories
here and in newsgroups in general?

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 9, 2004, 5:36:43 AM10/9/04
to
TeaLady (Mari C.) <spres...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
> news:mXi9d.4622$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk:
>
>> This bit is very depressing. Is it the FIRST acknowledgement
>> that they might die trying to achieve, or even acheiving,
>> the Quest? Sam's reaction is also very striking:
>>
>> "Sam nodded silently. He took his master's hand and bent
>> over it. He did not kiss it, though his tears fell on it."
>
> Could Sam be mourning not only the probable death they are
> facing, but Frodo's apparent loss of hope ?

I wouldn't really like to say. Possibly. It is obvious that Sam is
revealing great emotions here, as is Frodo. Most of the time Sam plays a
supportive role to his master, but here he is almost overcome by
emotion. I just found that very striking.

I remember a discussion a while back about this business of the short
bits where we see what Sam and Frodo really think. Can't remember what
it started from; possibly the bit in Rivendell where Sam anxiously
examines Frodo's hand:

"At that moment there was a knock on the door, and Sam came in. He ran
to Frodo and took his left hand, awkwardly and shyly. He stroked it
gently and then he blushed and turned hastily away. [...] 'It's warm!'
said Sam. 'Meaning your hand, Mr. Frodo. It has felt so cold through the
long nights.'" (Many Meetings)

And of course there are many more such moments of strong emotion to come
in the chapters following the Passage of the Marshes.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 9, 2004, 6:00:23 AM10/9/04
to
Al MacLeod <nor...@gmail.com> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:<Xyi9d.4601$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>...
>> Al MacLeod <nor...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
>>> I don't think the dead marshes were anything to do with Sauron. For
>>> a start, they appeared sometime between the start of the third age
>>> and III 1944 - through all of that time Sauron was conspicuously
>>> absent.
>>
>> I agree, the dead marshes are a 'natural' phenomenon, or a 'natural'
>> part of Sauron's influence. I was referring more specifically to the
>> "dead faces" which it is suggested are "illusions of Sauron". Sauron
>> may have turned a natural place into a place of great horror, just
>> like Mirkwood.
>
> Aah, no, I still disagree - I don't believe that the "dead faces" have
> anything to do with Sauron. They were called the Dead Marshes even in
> the reference to 1944.

OK. they may have been normal back then (which is something I hadn't
thought of), but maybe later Sauron turned the fair visions into one
where they are "rotting" and have a "fell light".

> Don't pin too much on Sauron. :-) This "magic" is entirely "natural",
> IMHO.

Frodo's description of the faces (Men, Elves and Orcs):

"They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water.
I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad. Many faces
proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all
rotting, all dead. A fell light is in them." (The Passage of the
Marshes)

Gollum says that he thinks they are graves from the Battles of the Last
Alliance ("before the precious came"). Sam is not so sure:

"But that is an age and more ago. The Dead can't be really there! Is it
some devilry hatched in the Dark Land?"

And Gollum replies:

"Who knows? Smeagol doesn't know."

So does anyone know? In particular, why are the visions of the faces
rotting and why is there a fell light in them? Frodo has this to say in
a later chapter (when talking of Faramir seeing the dead Boromir in a
boat):

"A vision it was that you saw, I think, and no more, some shadow of evil
fortune that has been or will be. Unless indeed it is some lying trick
of the Enemy. I have seen the faces of fair warriors of old laid in
sleep beneath the pools of the Dead Marshes, or seeming so by his foul
arts." (The Window on the West)

But Faramir replies (about his reaction to the dead Boromir):

"Nay, it was not so, for his [Sauron's] works fill the heart with
loathing; but my heart was filled with grief and pity."

From this, and Sam's reaction to the Dead Faces:

"Well, I don't want to see them. Never again! Can't we get on and get
away?" (The Passage of the Marshes)

I would suggest that the horror in them is indeed the work of Sauron,
and is something that spread to the Dead Marshes as Sauron rose again.

Raven

unread,
Oct 9, 2004, 12:03:58 AM10/9/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> skrev i en meddelelse
news:NTG9d.5267$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk...

> It is always interesting to hear what other people think. Especially as
> someone asked the other day why people lurk and refrain from posting. I
> guess there might be any number of reasons for that.

> I would distinguish between those who:

> (a) read regularly and never post;
> (b) read regularly and post infrequently;
> (c) read and post regularly;
> (d) read and post infrequently.

> I wonder what percentage of readers and posters make up these categories
> here and in newsgroups in general?

I would hop between (b) and (c), I suppose. I do read regularly. Even
when I'm off away for two weeks I download all the headers and read much of
the backlog when I come home. But sometimes a few weeks may pass when I
don't post, because I have nothing worthwile to say. Like most people I
have a habit of refraining from loudly proclaiming that I have nothing
intelligent to contribute to the conversation.

Corvus.


Jette Goldie

unread,
Oct 10, 2004, 7:21:40 AM10/10/04
to

"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in message
news:WhV9d.3$DD...@news.get2net.dk...


I read regularly, post fairly frequently - though I'm not up to
debating with the experts on the On Topic threads - I just love
to read everyone elses comments on them - I just drop in the
odd comment here and there, and post a few thoughts on the
Off Topic threads.


--
Jette
Never bet on Star Trek trivia if your opponent speaks Klingon.
- Ancient Kung Foole Proverb
je...@blueyonder.co.uk


The Arcane Chas

unread,
Oct 16, 2004, 10:56:24 AM10/16/04
to
In article <sjj9d.4641$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>, but only
after serious contemplation, Christopher Kreuzer
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> put finger to keyboard and produced the
following;

<snip>

>
>First Nazgul overflight: "they heard, far away, a long wailing cry, high
>and thin and cruel. They shivered [...] Gollum would not move. He stood
>shaking and gibbering to himself [...] They fell forward, grovelling
>heedlessly on the cold earth. [...] Frodo and Sam got up, rubbing their
>eyes [...] But Gollum lay on the ground as if he had been stunned."
>
>"rubbing their eyes"?? Hmm.

As if recovering from temporary blindness, you think?

;-}

--
Cheers,

Chas.

"Reality leaves a lot to the imagination".

Igenlode Wordsmith

unread,
Nov 16, 2004, 4:41:34 PM11/16/04
to
On 28 Sep 2004 TeaLady (Mari C.) wrote:

> Michelle J. Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote in
> news:MPG.1bc23cc31...@news.Qwest.net:
>
> > "Here nothing lived, not even the leprous growths that feed
> > on rottenness. The gasping pools were choked with ash and
> > crawling muds, sickly white and grey, as if the mountains
> > had vomited the filth of their entrails upon the lands
> > about. High mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great
> > cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained, stood like an obscene
> > graveyard in endless rows, slow revealed in the reluctant light.

[snip]
> This is a striking passage, and calls to my mind not only the
> horrors of a once fertile land ravaged by war, but the ripping
> and tearing and pollution of an area by mining and refining and
> industrial waste. If in no other writings, Tolkien's views on
> war and the baser side of technology would have been made very
> clear here.
>
I remember reading once, perhaps in the author's foreword to some novel
- I think the scene was oilwells in America; Stephen King? - of an
instant when the author and his wife were driving through an industrial
wasteland, full of sickly rainbow stains in the standing water and
blackened, clagged soil, with great torn holes in the ground and
heaps of befouled waste, and rusty metal structures bestriding them.
And he looked out of the car window in a moment of epiphany and said:
"This is Mordor".

I've never been to a place like that - thank goodness. But they exist.
Man has created them.
--
Igenlode Visit the Ivory Tower http://curry.250x.com/Tower/

New pirate adventure story: http://curry.250x.com/Tower/Fiction/Pirates/

Igenlode Wordsmith

unread,
Nov 18, 2004, 9:40:49 PM11/18/04
to
[repost]
On 27 Sep 2004 Michelle J. Haines wrote:

[so I'm now *two months* behind everyone else...]

>
> Gollum leads Frodo and same, as promised, quickly and almost

> enthusiastically. His sudden subservience is a bit startling, but
> Gollum seems more or less cheerful, even singing songs as he crawls

> along. His recitation of the fish riddle

I was amused to observe that the last stanza of Bilbo's fish-riddle
actually appears to supply the missing lines of Gollum's song; both
metre and rhyme-pattern match.

"But stream and pool
is wet and cool:
so nice for feet!

And now we wish [...]
to catch a fish,
so juicy-sweet!"

I assume this is intentional? :-)

[snip]

> Morning approaches, and the hobbits learn that Gollum will not travel
> in the day time. Gollum's excuse is that Orcs and other nasty things
> will see them, but evil things being afraid of the sun is a common
> theme in literature,

My immediate reaction to that excuse was (perhaps due to the 'Hobbit'
reference immediately preceding, given the behaviour of the Orcs in
Rohan?) to question Gollum's logic or veracity on the grounds that the
'Orcs and nasty things' would also prefer to hunt after dark, and would
themselves be unlikely to be around under the Yellow Face!

I'm not sure that Gollum's nocturnal habits are in themselves a sign of
evil. I think he has just spent so long under the ground that, while he
can bear it if he has to, the bright light of the sun and even the moon
is uncomfortable to his eyes, and that he feels very exposed when
revealed by the unaccustomed illumination.

[snip]

> The hobbits decide to eat, and offer some of their food to Smeagol,
> who becomes more Gollum-like as he expresses his hunger.

"Is it crunchable? Is it tasty?"

For some reason this became a favourite catch-phrase in my family,
often used to allude to flapjacks and other crunchy biscuits!

"Fissh", on its weekly menu occurrences, also figured largely ;-)


[snip]


> Frodo, who is both calm about Gollum returning and sympathetic to Sam's
> falling asleep, telling Sam not to be upset with himself about it.

"Nice hobbits, they sleep beautifully. Trust Smeagol now?"
I wonder whether this inadvertent display of trust had the happy effect
of improving the relationship between them?

I can't help wondering just how far Sam's consistent mistrust and
suspicion of Gollum, whether he merited it or not - and by and large,
on the occasions we hear about, I seem to remember we get the
impression that he doesn't - influenced Gollum's ultimate fate. If Sam
hadn't treated him as if he *expected* to be betrayed, would he have
been more likely to be redeemed: to what extent is Sam's view of Gollum
a self-fulfilling prophecy?

It's not just the final 'sneak' episode; one could describe it as
consistent denigration and negative suggestion...

[snip]


> Frodo attempts an explanation, with a dreamlike voice, noting that Elves,
> Men and Orc are among the dead, but that all seem foul and evil.

Horrible, horrible, most horrible... ;-)

"Many faces foul and fair,
and weeds in their silver hair" - it sounds like a stanza of verse. I
assume Frodo isn't quoting from something here in his 'dreamlike' state?

<thinks> But why silver? Elves don't go grey, Men in battle are unlikely
to be of aged years, and what little description we get of Orcs suggests
that whatever bristles they may have are more likely to be dark than
silver.

Ghost-like?

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Nov 21, 2004, 4:13:12 PM11/21/04
to
Igenlode Wordsmith wrote:
> On 27 Sep 2004 Michelle J. Haines wrote:

>> Gollum leads Frodo and same, as promised, quickly and almost
>> enthusiastically. His sudden subservience is a bit startling, but
>> Gollum seems more or less cheerful, even singing songs as he crawls
>> along. His recitation of the fish riddle
>
> I was amused to observe that the last stanza of Bilbo's fish-riddle
> actually appears to supply the missing lines of Gollum's song; both
> metre and rhyme-pattern match.
>
> "But stream and pool
> is wet and cool:
> so nice for feet!
> And now we wish [...]
> to catch a fish,
> so juicy-sweet!"
>
> I assume this is intentional? :-)

I wasn't quite sure what you meant, so I looked up the relevant bits in
'The Hobbit' and in LotR.

The riddle from 'The Hobbit' is:

"Alive without breath,
As cold as death;
Never thirsty, ever drinking,
All in mail never clinking."

[Riddles in the Dark, TH]

But in LotR the rhyme is:

"Alive without breath;
as cold as death;
never thirsting, ever drinking;
clad in mail, never clinking."

[It looks like Tolkien silently 'improved' it]

So the stanza isn't missing (I get the impression that Gollum carries on
reciting the whole poem to Sam and Frodo), and the _whole_ of the fish
riddle, rather than the last stanza (it is actually only one stanza
anyway) is used in LotR.

[snip]

[Dead Marshes]

> "Many faces foul and fair,
> and weeds in their silver hair" - it sounds like a stanza of verse. I
> assume Frodo isn't quoting from something here in his 'dreamlike'
> state?
>
> <thinks> But why silver? Elves don't go grey, Men in battle are
> unlikely to be of aged years, and what little description we get of
> Orcs suggests that whatever bristles they may have are more likely to
> be dark than silver.
>
> Ghost-like?

Elves do have silver hair. Celeborn is described as having silver hair,
and that is what his name implies. Cirdan is described as "grey and
old", which could mean silver hair. These could be long-dead Elves from
Lorien or Mirkwood of Celeborn's kin?

Here is the description of Celeborn and Galadriel:

"They were clad wholly in white; and the hair of the Lady was of deep
gold, and the hair of the Lord Celeborn was of silver long and bright;
but no sign of age was upon them, unless it were in the depths of their
eyes; for these were keen as lances in the starlight, and yet profound,
the wells of deep memory." (The Mirror of Galadriel, LotR)

And Gandalf's hair is sometimes described as silver:

"Gandalf was shorter in stature than the other two; but his long white
hair, his sweeping silver beard, and his broad shoulders, made him look
like some wise king of ancient legend." (Many Meetings, LotR)

Though this is definitely more 'old man' type thing.

And then we have the description of Elu Thingol:

"...fair and noble as he had been, now he appeared as it were a lord of
the Maiar, his hair as grey silver, tallest of all the Children of
Iluvatar; and a high doom was before him." (Of Eldamar and the Princes
of the Eldalie, The Silmarillion)

No problems with Elves with silver hair.

Message has been deleted

Tar-Elenion

unread,
Nov 21, 2004, 7:28:19 PM11/21/04
to
In article <tsa2q09gihot2v48h...@4ax.com>,
news....@ntlworld.com says...
> On Sun, 21 Nov 2004 21:13:12 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
> <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>
<snip descriptions of Elves with silver hair>

> >
> >No problems with Elves with silver hair.
>
> It seems to be a Sindarin trait, which would seem to justify PJ's
> decision about Legolas's hair in the films.

It was a rare trait among the Sindar/Teleri, primarily found among the
kin of Thingol, though not exclusive to them, as Miriel, mother of
Feanor, is said to have silver-hair as well.
Justifying Legolas' (blond) hair in the films would be as simple as
pointing out that his father (Thranduil) was blond.

--
Tar-Elenion

He is a warrior, and a spirit of wrath. In every
stroke that he deals he sees the Enemy who long
ago did thee this hurt.

Belba Grubb From Stock

unread,
Nov 22, 2004, 5:23:17 PM11/22/04