CotW: LotR, Bk. 4, Ch. 3, 'The Black Gate Is Closed'

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Shanahan

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Oct 3, 2004, 11:38:51 PM10/3/04
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This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
'Chapter of the Week' (CotW) project. For more information visit
the
CotW homepage at <http://parasha.maoltuile.org/>.

Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 3:
'The Black Gate Is Closed'
_________________________________________
Note:
I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where:
Short questions will be noted in [ ], will follow paragraph
summary;
Short comments follow paragraph summary, are italicized;
Long questions will be noted in { }, at the end of summary;
Comments on narrative structure, voice, and characterization will
be italicized, at end of summary;
Long comments will be at the end, indented, and italicized;
Comments and theories based on non-canon sources will be at the
end, indented twice, italicized, and in tengwar font.

<ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!
_________________________________________

CHAPTER SUMMARY (w/Qs):

This is a chapter where not much really happens, but there's a lot
going on under the surface. Immediately following the dread of the
Dead Marshes, the horror of the Desolation before Mordor, and Sam's
nassty glimpse into Gollum's nearly destroyed mind, our three
heroes reach their goal -- only to discover that there's no way in
to Mordor. In a rather strange plot development, they suddenly
decide to turn and go another way completely. It's always struck me
as a bit odd, this stop-and-restart, in an heroic quest story.

Q: Does anyone know of other legends where there's a dead-end path
like this? /Pilgrim's Progress/, perhaps?

The chapter opens as Frodo, Sam and Gollum get within a furlong of
the Black Gate. The geography is like jaws waiting to swallow them:
the gaping maw of the Haunted Pass, guarded by the Towers of the
Teeth. The geography has eyes as well: the watches change on the
immense rampart between the Carach Angren, "the day-guards,
evil-eyed and fell" take over. The Towers are "stony-faced....with
dark window-holes staring....and each window was full of sleepless
eyes." It is impossible, and the hobbits realize this as soon as
they see what the Black Gate is truly like. They cannot enter.

At this moment of despair, Sam pulls out one of his Gaffer-isms, a
gloomy one for certain, but it does lighten the mood a bit. Sam
does something similar again at the end of this chapter, where it's
much more important. "My word, but the Gaffer would have a thing
or two to say, if he saw me now! Often said I'd come to a bad end,
if I didn't watch my step, he did. But now....He'll miss his chance
of /I told 'ee so, Sam/: more's the pity."

Frodo is resolute: he knows no other way to enter Mordor, he must
do so, and therefore he will do his duty: "he cowered no longer,
and his eyes were clear". Sam is resigned; his duty is to follow
Frodo, and follow him he will. "And after all he never had any real
hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit
he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed."

Q: This last quote about Sam strikes me as very interesting. What
does Tolkien mean by 'real hope'? Is being cheerful a substitute
for hope? How does this relate to the concept of /estel/?

Q: Is this new behavior for Sam, or is it typical? Frodo seems to
be growing under his burden, acquiring the strength to walk
open-eyed to the Black Gate. Is Sam growing too?

Sméagol is terrified when Frodo reveals his purpose to enter
Mordor. He proposes an alternate route, one more secret. Sam is
wisely skeptical; he thinks this is a strategic compromise between
'Slinker' and 'Stinker', to keep the Ring free until he/they can
grab it. He doubts that there really is another way into Mordor.
Sam is also skeptical of Frodo's ability to see through the Sméagol
act to Gollum's true purpose. He thinks Frodo is too soft-hearted,
too kind, to see this hard truth.

But Frodo then shocks both Sméagol and Sam by his stern insight
into Sméagol's heart. Frodo warns Sméagol of how the Ring is
manipulating him: "You are in danger. [...] You swore a promise by
what you call the Precious. Remember that! It will hold you to it;
but it will seek a way to twist it to your own undoing. Already you
are being twisted. You revealed yourself to me just now, foolishly.
/Give it back to Sméagol/ you said. Do not say that again! Do not
let that thought grow in you! You will never get it back. But the
desire of it may betray you to a bitter end. You will never get it
back. In the last need, Sméagol, I should put on the Precious; and
the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to
command you, you would obey, even it it were to leap from a
precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my
command. So have a care, Sméagol!"

Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
the Fire?

Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power
of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt that
Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of command
over others. These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or as a
necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo into
good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")

Gollum is quite unnerved by Frodo's insight and his threat, and it
takes a while for him to calm down enough to describe this other
route he knows into Mordor. He tells of Ithilien, the Crossroads,
and old tales he used to hear about Minas Ithil, now Minas Morgul.
These old tales described Minas Ithil before it was taken over by
evil: "They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon..."

Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
palantíri? What do you think?

Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with its
Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed vulture
figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone creatures with a
similar spell placed on them? Or just the Nazgûl themselves?

Gollum tells the hobbits of the Secret Stair, tunnel, and the high
pass (while conveniently leaving out any mention of any
inhabitants). They have to pry it out of him that this smaller pass
is guarded, too. Frodo is cast back into indecision, a marked
contrast to his resolution earlier. He has recovered some hope, and
as renewed hope often does, it brought with it renewed pain.

As Frodo struggles with this new choice, we get one of those
marvellous 'synchronizing' passages: "Yet even as [Gandalf] spoke
his last words to Saruman, and the Palantír crashed in fire upon
the steps of Orthanc, his thought was ever upon Frodo and Samwise,
over the long leagues his mind sought for them in hope and pity.
Maybe Frodo felt it, not knowing it, as he had upon Amon Hen...."
But even if he does feel Gandalf's mind over the miles, it does not
help Frodo's decision. It takes Sam to do that.

A dreamlike mood follows, in which the three sit in silence in
their hiding place. The mood is broken when Sam sees the Nazgûl
flying far above, on watch. Frodo stirs and seems about to make his
decision: but then they hear the sound of troops marching nearby.
Gollum peers over the lip of their stony dell, and returns to
report that they are Southrons, marching into Mordor. Sam asks if
there are any oliphaunts, and then and there, in the midst of
despair and indecision and betrayal, he stands up and declaims an
old nursery rhyme.

It is a wonderful moment. The growing tension, the mistrust, the
danger, the Black Land so near -- and Sam recites a wonderful,
silly, hobbity, nursery rhyme. "Frodo stood up. He had laughed in
the midst of all his cares when Sam had trotted out the old
fireside rhyme of /Oliphaunt/, and the laugh had released him from
hesitation." He will follow Gollum to the secret entrance to
Mordor.

Gollum is very pleased at this decision...

Q: Has Gollum yet made up his mind to betray Frodo? It seems so.
Or does that happen at Henneth Annûn? Or in the pass of Cirith
Ungol? Sam and Frodo's moments of despair and decision are fairly
clearly set out for us, but Gollum's are more of a mystery.


COMMENTS:

This chapter is where we first see Mordor. And it is a very sharp
demarcation: impassable mountain walls, impassable ramparts and
towers. *Here* be dragons! We are here, now, at the very border of
Evil. It stands in sharp contrast to Lothlorien, whose border
protections are rather more subtle. These are the two opposing
forces of Faerie in this story (LotR), the Light and the Dark which
must both be there for the sub-creation to be plausible. I'm always
impressed by the fear Tolkien's description of the Black Gate
inspires; but this time, I was also struck by how defensive a
structure Mordor is. Sauron, like Morgoth before him, is a coward.

Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3. My
experience is rather the opposite. I sometimes find Book 3 a bit of
a bore. It's all that riding around: they ride here, they ride
there, then they ride back, then they ride to gather together so
that they can go ride some more...<snore>. I will confess that I
have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
get some unscientific statistics going here?

Troels commented in his CotW last week about the relationship
between these three hobbit characters: bound together by fate,
love, hate, and pity; alike in many ways, yet unable to be anything
but enemies. Is it possible that these three figures together make
up a 3-part protagonist? If they do, what parts of the hero does
each make up? (No height jokes!! <g>)

I like the narrative structure of this book, and this chapter, very
much. The story arc of Book 4 is very symmetrical and satisfying.
In contrast, Book 3 has two story lines to cover so it feels a bit
more scattered, and there are so many moments of high tension in it
that it has no single climactic chapter. Book 4 has only one story
line. It starts with three chapters of rising tension, then the
marvellous intervention of Faramir in the Tolkienesque 'rest phase'
chapters in Ithilien, then again the final three chapters with
steeply rising dramatic tension: the heartbreak of Gollum's
near-repentance, the classic hero's journey through the tunnel,
Samwise's shining courage with Shelob, and then finally the
greatest cliffhanger ending *ever*, when Sam discovers Frodo is
alive but taken by the Enemy. Whew!! Great stuff.

For those interested in such things, Tolkien didn't revise this
chapter much. He wrote it all at one go, then rewrote it the same
way. A few names and distances were changed. He had some trouble
working out the synchronization moment mentioned above, when
Gandalf is thinking about Frodo: Tolkien wasn't too sure where
Gandalf was, exactly, when that moment happens. He puts him in
Rohan, Gondor, on the road between the two, and then finally at
Orthanc. FWIW.

Ciaran S.
--
"And I name before you all Frodo of the Shire
and Samwise his servant.
/Bronwe athan Harthad/ and /Harthad Uluithiad/,
Endurance beyond Hope and Hope Unquenchable."
- gandalf, in draft 'A' of "Many Partings"


Rusty Wallace

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Oct 3, 2004, 9:47:20 PM10/3/04
to
"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

>I will confess that I
>have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
>'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
>back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
>is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
>Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
>get some unscientific statistics going here?

I don't know about gender difference, but when I was a teenage to
early 20's boy I was a lot more interested in book 3 than book 4 -
with reading 4 being something of a chore I had to get through before
getting on with ROTK. More recently, after not reading LotR for 12-15
years, I find that the Sam/Frodo/Gollum story is considerably more
compelling to me. I still enjoy book 3, but my personal emotional
weighting of the story has shifted strongly to book 4.

Rusty

Raven

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Oct 4, 2004, 2:38:48 PM10/4/04
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"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:cjq5u...@enews3.newsguy.com...

> "They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
> silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon..."

> Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
> So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
> palantíri? What do you think?

I don't think it was the Palantír. A stone like the Moon would be white
or light grey, and very probably radiant. Possibly something at least
vaguely like the Arkenstone. The Palantíri were black, until you looked in
them. Possibly it was a stone that was set to adorn the city that Isildur
commanded to be built, to look like or symbolize the Moon. Remember that
"Minas Ithil" means "Moontower" or "Tower of the Moon".

> Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with its
> Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed vulture
> figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone creatures with a
> similar spell placed on them? Or just the Nazgûl themselves?

I would guess the second proposition, or else some sleepless malice
watching from the windows. Even when the city appears to have been emptied
as the Fell Captain leads his host to war there is a sleepless malice
watching from it, and it seems to be something more than Gorbag and his
garrison.

Gavran.


AC

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Oct 6, 2004, 11:05:49 AM10/6/04
to
On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

<snip>

> Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
> that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
> that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
> Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
> relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
> believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
> the Fire?

I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he stood in
Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.

> Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power
> of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt that
> Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of command
> over others. These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or as a
> necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo into
> good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")

I think the two trends are simultaneously growing and bound to each other.
We start to see his spiritual strength at the attack at the Fords, and now,
as Mordor approaches we see him becoming a far greater person. At the same
time, I don't think there's any doubt that the Ring is growing on him,
increasing its hold on his mind and soul.

> Gollum is quite unnerved by Frodo's insight and his threat, and it
> takes a while for him to calm down enough to describe this other
> route he knows into Mordor. He tells of Ithilien, the Crossroads,
> and old tales he used to hear about Minas Ithil, now Minas Morgul.
> These old tales described Minas Ithil before it was taken over by
> evil: "They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
> silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon..."
>

> Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantķr?


> So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the

> palantķri? What do you think?

It's quite possible that some memory of the Palantiri of the Dunedain
survived among the more rustic folk of the Northwest of Middle Earth, though
I doubt they knew what it meant, save perhaps some sort of sorcery or
divination. I think we get an idea of how your average Hobbit might view
such matters from Sam's "elf magic" notions.

> Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with its
> Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed vulture
> figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone creatures with a

> similar spell placed on them? Or just the Nazgūl themselves?

I think this is alluding to creatures/objects similar to those seen later in
Cirith Ungol.

> It is a wonderful moment. The growing tension, the mistrust, the
> danger, the Black Land so near -- and Sam recites a wonderful,
> silly, hobbity, nursery rhyme. "Frodo stood up. He had laughed in
> the midst of all his cares when Sam had trotted out the old
> fireside rhyme of /Oliphaunt/, and the laugh had released him from
> hesitation." He will follow Gollum to the secret entrance to
> Mordor.
>
> Gollum is very pleased at this decision...
>
> Q: Has Gollum yet made up his mind to betray Frodo? It seems so.

> Or does that happen at Henneth Annūn? Or in the pass of Cirith


> Ungol? Sam and Frodo's moments of despair and decision are fairly
> clearly set out for us, but Gollum's are more of a mystery.

Smeagol was a pretty clever creature. My hunch is that this bit of
treachery had been planned from the very moment that Frodo decided to take
him along. He knew Frodo wanted to get into Mordor and he knew the Black
Gate was impossible.

> COMMENTS:
>
> This chapter is where we first see Mordor. And it is a very sharp
> demarcation: impassable mountain walls, impassable ramparts and
> towers. *Here* be dragons! We are here, now, at the very border of
> Evil. It stands in sharp contrast to Lothlorien, whose border
> protections are rather more subtle. These are the two opposing
> forces of Faerie in this story (LotR), the Light and the Dark which
> must both be there for the sub-creation to be plausible. I'm always
> impressed by the fear Tolkien's description of the Black Gate
> inspires; but this time, I was also struck by how defensive a
> structure Mordor is. Sauron, like Morgoth before him, is a coward.

I dunno about that. Were the Numenoreans cowards because they built
fortifications like Minas Anor and Orthanc? As to the Morannon, that was
built by the Numenoreans. Let's face it, Sauron had the courage to make a
mock debasement before Ar-Pharazon, even with his army high-tailing it. I
think Sauron was evil, a fallen giant, one of the great among the Maiar, but
I never get the sense that he is a coward, just supremely overconfident.
I'll send you forward to Denethor's comments on the matter of Sauron
remaining in Barad-dur.

>
> Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
> slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3. My
> experience is rather the opposite. I sometimes find Book 3 a bit of
> a bore. It's all that riding around: they ride here, they ride
> there, then they ride back, then they ride to gather together so
> that they can go ride some more...<snore>. I will confess that I
> have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
> 'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
> back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
> is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
> Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
> get some unscientific statistics going here?

I find the first few chapters returning to Sam and Frodo a bit slow, myself,
after all the overt action of the previous chapters.

<snip>

--
Aaron Clausen
mightym...@hotmail.com

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a
whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields

Chelsea Christenson

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Oct 6, 2004, 1:01:00 PM10/6/04
to
AC wrote:
> On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>
> <snip>
>
>>Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
>>that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
>>that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
>>Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
>>relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
>>believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
>>the Fire?
>
> I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he stood in
> Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.


I'm pretty sure Frodo was keeping those thoughts out of his mind. If he
had been constantly thinking about destroying the Ring, he would have
panicked and balked. Frodo kept his mind on getting there, not on what
he would do when he got there.

It's like that scene in "Finding Nemo" when Marlin and Dory are
descending into the black depths of the ocean. The only way to do it is
not to think about it, and "just keep swimming."

AC

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Oct 6, 2004, 1:10:09 PM10/6/04
to
On Wed, 06 Oct 2004 13:01:00 -0400,
Chelsea Christenson <Chelsea.C...@nospam.com> wrote:
> AC wrote:
>> On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
>> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>>
>> <snip>
>>
>>>Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
>>>that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
>>>that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
>>>Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
>>>relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
>>>believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
>>>the Fire?
>>
>> I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he stood in
>> Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.
>
>
> I'm pretty sure Frodo was keeping those thoughts out of his mind. If he
> had been constantly thinking about destroying the Ring, he would have
> panicked and balked. Frodo kept his mind on getting there, not on what
> he would do when he got there.

I dunno. I think there was that resolve, as we can see by when he actually
gets where he's going and rejects what he had come to do.

>
> It's like that scene in "Finding Nemo" when Marlin and Dory are
> descending into the black depths of the ocean. The only way to do it is
> not to think about it, and "just keep swimming."

Dory had the benefit of no short-term memory (no laughs, I have kids, so I
see these movies).

Christopher Kreuzer

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Oct 6, 2004, 4:31:58 PM10/6/04
to
Chelsea Christenson <Chelsea.C...@nospam.com> wrote:

[about whether Frodo thought about destroying the Ring while he was
travelling to Mordor and Mount Doom]

> I'm pretty sure Frodo was keeping those thoughts out of his mind. If
> he had been constantly thinking about destroying the Ring, he would
> have panicked and balked. Frodo kept his mind on getting there, not
> on what he would do when he got there.

I agree. He was aware of his ultimate task, but most likely avoided
thinking about it directly. I was struck by the bit from this chapter
where Frodo, despite seeing the Black Gate and the fortifications and
the hopelessness of getting into Mordor that way, reacts as follows:

"His face was grim and set, but resolute. He was filthy, haggard, and
pinched with weariness, but he cowered no longer, and his eyes were
clear. 'I said so, because I purpose to enter Mordor, and I know no
other way. Therefore I shall go this way. I do not ask anyone to go with
me.'" (The Black Gate is Closed)

Despite Gollum's pleas to change his mind, Frodo insists:

"'I am commanded to go to the land of Mordor, and therefore I shall go,'
said Frodo. 'If there is only one way, then I must take it. What comes
after must come.' Sam said nothing. The look on Frodo's face was enough
for him he knew that words of his were useless." (The Black Gate is
Closed)

Am I the only one that finds this a bit silly of Frodo. He had only one
charge laid upon him by Elrond:

"The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone
is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to
any servant of the Enemy..." (The Ring Goes South)

Isn't Frodo is being foolhardy here? Attempting an entry through the
Black Gate will surely deliver the Ring into the hands of servants of
the Enemy!

Christopher

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

Christopher Kreuzer

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Oct 6, 2004, 4:35:11 PM10/6/04
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

>> This chapter is where we first see Mordor. And it is a very sharp
>> demarcation: impassable mountain walls, impassable ramparts and
>> towers. *Here* be dragons! We are here, now, at the very border of
>> Evil. It stands in sharp contrast to Lothlorien, whose border
>> protections are rather more subtle. These are the two opposing
>> forces of Faerie in this story (LotR), the Light and the Dark which
>> must both be there for the sub-creation to be plausible. I'm always
>> impressed by the fear Tolkien's description of the Black Gate
>> inspires; but this time, I was also struck by how defensive a
>> structure Mordor is. Sauron, like Morgoth before him, is a coward.
>
> I dunno about that. Were the Numenoreans cowards because they built
> fortifications like Minas Anor and Orthanc? As to the Morannon, that
> was built by the Numenoreans.

Not quite! :-)

You are right that the Towers of the Teeth (Carchost and Narchost) were
built by the Men of Gondor, along with many of the other watchtowers
(including Cirith Ungol).

But Sauron extended these fortifications at Cirith Gorgor by building a
rampart of stone across the pass, in which was a single gate of iron:
the Morranon, the Black Gate of Mordor. That is indeed extremely
defensive.

> Let's face it, Sauron had the courage
> to make a mock debasement before Ar-Pharazon, even with his army
> high-tailing it.

Good point. But in general, I think Sauron avoided such things. He
endured a seven-year siege of Barad-dur before coming forth to single
combat with Elendil and Gil-galad (on Mount Doom for some unknown
reason). This is similar to Morgoth only coming forth as a last resort.

> I think Sauron was evil, a fallen giant, one of the
> great among the Maiar, but I never get the sense that he is a coward,
> just supremely overconfident.

Overconfident and a master planner.
Well, maybe not *master* planner.
But he probably co-ordinated things.
Rather than being an active leader.

> I'll send you forward to Denethor's
> comments on the matter of Sauron remaining in Barad-dur.

Can't find these. What are you talking about?

<snip>

Chelsea Christenson

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Oct 6, 2004, 6:10:51 PM10/6/04
to
AC wrote:
> On Wed, 06 Oct 2004 13:01:00 -0400,
> Chelsea Christenson <Chelsea.C...@nospam.com> wrote:
>
>>AC wrote:
>>
>>>On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
>>>Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>>>
>>><snip>
>>>
>>>>Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
>>>>that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
>>>>that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
>>>>Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
>>>>relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
>>>>believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
>>>>the Fire?
>>>
>>>I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he stood in
>>>Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.
>>
>>
>>I'm pretty sure Frodo was keeping those thoughts out of his mind. If he
>>had been constantly thinking about destroying the Ring, he would have
>>panicked and balked. Frodo kept his mind on getting there, not on what
>>he would do when he got there.
>
> I dunno. I think there was that resolve, as we can see by when he actually
> gets where he's going and rejects what he had come to do.

Sure, he resolved to do it -- but then he stopped thinking about it. He
wasn't marching through the mountainss thinking, "Gotta destroy this
ring. Gotta destroy this ring." He was thinking, "Gotta get to Mount
Doom. Gotta get to Mount Doom."

>>It's like that scene in "Finding Nemo" when Marlin and Dory are
>>descending into the black depths of the ocean. The only way to do it is
>>not to think about it, and "just keep swimming."
>
> Dory had the benefit of no short-term memory (no laughs, I have kids, so I
> see these movies).

But Marlin didn't.

Nathan Keedy

unread,
Oct 6, 2004, 11:09:22 PM10/6/04
to
> > I'll send you forward to Denethor's
> > comments on the matter of Sauron remaining in Barad-dur.
>
> Can't find these. What are you talking about?

> Christopher

Try RotK p. 92, the conversation between Gandalf, Pippin, and
Denethor: Gandalf - "He is pitted against a foe too great. For one has
come that I feared."
"Not - not the Dark Lord?" cried Pippin, forgetting his place in his
terror.
Denethor laughed bitterly. "Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! He will
not come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others
as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master
Halfling."

Also, on the subject of Gollum being aware of the Minas Ithil
Palantir: it seems unlikely that he would know anything about the
stone (or even about Minas Ithil itself) when he was a "normal" hobbit
in the vale of Anduin. It seems most likely (but still a little
surprising) that Gollum would have learned of these things when
imprisoned in the Barad-dur. If he was actually brought into Sauron's
presence, he may even have seen the Ithil stone that Sauron had
brought to Mordor.

Nathan

Kristian Damm Jensen

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 2:48:27 AM10/7/04
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote in message news:<slrncm82f6.1ud....@aaronclausen.alberni.net>...

> On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

<snip>

> > Q: Has Gollum yet made up his mind to betray Frodo? It seems so.


> > Or does that happen at Henneth Annūn? Or in the pass of Cirith
> > Ungol? Sam and Frodo's moments of despair and decision are fairly
> > clearly set out for us, but Gollum's are more of a mystery.
>
> Smeagol was a pretty clever creature. My hunch is that this bit of
> treachery had been planned from the very moment that Frodo decided to take
> him along. He knew Frodo wanted to get into Mordor and he knew the Black
> Gate was impossible.

I think you are partly correct.

Gollum is literally in two minds at this point.

*Stinker* knew all along, that this treachery would be. *Slinker* on
the other hand saw the detour as a reprieve, either denying the
obvious fact ("We are going to see Shelob, and once there I will turn
Master over to her.") or trying for some other resolution.

Regards,
Kristian

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 5:02:30 AM10/7/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where: [...]

> <ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!

:-)

> Q: [...] It seems Frodo sees himself and his relationship with the


> Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still believes, here at this
> moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into the Fire?

He probably doesn't think about it. He just wants to get to Mount
Doom. Tolkien says in letter #246:

Frodo undertook his quest out of love -- to save the world he knew
from disaster at his own expense, if he could; and also in complete
humility, acknowledging that he was wholly inadequate to the
task. His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a
way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body
allowed. He did that.

> Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the palantír?
> So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew something of the
> palantíri? What do you think?

I don't think so. Minas Anor also had a palantir, and was named after
the sun, not the moon. So the white stone is probably not the palantir,
but a different stone.

> Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with its
> Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed vulture
> figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone creatures with a
> similar spell placed on them? Or just the Nazgûl themselves?

I don't know, but one principle that I find helpful with Tolkien
is "Don't assume everything is similar" (There are more things
under the sun, etc.). So I would take them to be different.

There is some letter where Tolkien makes a similar remark, but I
cannot find it now.

> Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
> slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3. My
> experience is rather the opposite. I sometimes find Book 3 a bit of
> a bore. It's all that riding around: they ride here, they ride
> there, then they ride back, then they ride to gather together so
> that they can go ride some more...<snore>. I will confess that I
> have sometimes skipped straight from the end of 'Treebeard' to
> 'Flotsam and Jetsam'. I breathe a little sigh of relief when we get
> back to Frodo and Sam and the quest. Being female, I wonder if this
> is a gender difference. Do the guys out there dig battle-filled
> Book 3, and the ladies the more character-driven Book 4? Shall we
> get some unscientific statistics going here?

When I was a teen, I always found the Frodo-and-Sam part quite
boring compared to the adventures of the rest of the Fellowship.

That might have changed now, but since I know the story-line too
well, it is really hard to test :-)

> Troels commented in his CotW last week about the relationship
> between these three hobbit characters: bound together by fate,
> love, hate, and pity; alike in many ways, yet unable to be anything
> but enemies. Is it possible that these three figures together make
> up a 3-part protagonist?

It's an interesting idea, but I don't think so. The "master and his
faithful servant" construction is quite frequent, and I cannot
think of any case where that would make a good 2-part protagonist.
And Gollum isn't so similar to Frodo and Sam (besides having some
general hobbit-nature left).

The "split personality" of Gollum (which has been acted out so well
by Andy Serkins) rather would make me think that *he* is two 1/2-parts
protagonist :-) (Or how should one count wrt. this system?)

- Dirk

Richard Williams

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 9:11:35 AM10/7/04
to
In article <2DY8d.3954$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

>"The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone
>is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to
>any servant of the Enemy..." (The Ring Goes South)
>
>Isn't Frodo is being foolhardy here? Attempting an entry through the
>Black Gate will surely deliver the Ring into the hands of servants of
>the Enemy!

It's hard to argue with Denethor at this point:

"At this hour, to send it in the hands of a witless halfling into the land
of the Enemy himself...that is madness...[putting the Ring] at a hazard
beyond all but a fool's hope"

(not to mention Gandalf et al.'s minor omission of apparently failing to
discuss possible routes of entry into Mordor with the Ringbearer in any
detail!)

But perhaps we're seeing the Ring at work here, playing on Frodo's sense
of duty to make him behave foolishly?

Richard.

AC

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 11:26:41 AM10/7/04
to
On Wed, 06 Oct 2004 20:35:11 GMT,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

> AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>> I'll send you forward to Denethor's
>> comments on the matter of Sauron remaining in Barad-dur.
>
> Can't find these. What are you talking about?

"'...For one has come that I feared.'

'Not - not the Dark Lord?' cried Pippin, forgetting his place in his terror.

Denethor laughed bitterly. 'Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! He will not
come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his

weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why
should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending my
sons?...'"
RotK - The Siege of Gondor

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 4:43:58 PM10/7/04
to
>>> I'll send you forward to Denethor's
>>> comments on the matter of Sauron remaining in Barad-dur.
>>
>> Can't find these. What are you talking about?

Nathan Keedy <nke...@msn.com> wrote:
> Try RotK p. 92, the conversation between Gandalf, Pippin, and
> Denethor:

<snip> Thanks!

> Also, on the subject of Gollum being aware of the Minas Ithil
> Palantir: it seems unlikely that he would know anything about the
> stone (or even about Minas Ithil itself) when he was a "normal" hobbit
> in the vale of Anduin.

Well, how about this quote from Gollum *when* *he* *was* *young*:

"The old fortress, very old, very horrible now. We used to hear tales
from the South, when Smeagol was young, long ago. [...] Tales out of the
South, about the tall Men with the shining eyes, and their houses like
hills of stone, and the silver crown of their King and his White Tree:
wonderful tales. They built very tall towers, and one they raised was
silver-white, and in it there was a stone like the Moon, and round it
were great white walls. O yes, there were many tales about the Tower of
the Moon." (The Black Gate is Closed)

I think that qualifies as knowing about Minas Ithil. Gollum even seems
to have been aware of the name of Isildur:

"He has only four on the Black Hand, but they are enough. And He hated
Isildur's city." (The Black Gate is Closed)

> It seems most likely (but still a little
> surprising) that Gollum would have learned of these things when
> imprisoned in the Barad-dur. If he was actually brought into Sauron's
> presence, he may even have seen the Ithil stone that Sauron had
> brought to Mordor.

He definitely knows that Sauron has only four fingers on a black hand,
so it is not impossible that Gollum also saw the Ithil palantir.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 4:59:57 PM10/7/04
to
Richard Williams <rdwi...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
> In article <2DY8d.3954$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>
>> "The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him
>> alone is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to
>> deliver it to any servant of the Enemy..." (The Ring Goes South)
>>
>> Isn't Frodo is being foolhardy here? Attempting an entry through the
>> Black Gate will surely deliver the Ring into the hands of servants of
>> the Enemy!
>
> It's hard to argue with Denethor at this point:
>
> "At this hour, to send it in the hands of a witless halfling into the
> land of the Enemy himself...that is madness...[putting the Ring] at a
> hazard beyond all but a fool's hope"

Well, it is unfair of Denethor to call Frodo witless. Faramir, for one,
recognised and acknowledged Frodo's intelligence and sense when they met
in Ithilien.

But Frodo's attitude at the Black Gate does seem a bit silly.

> (not to mention Gandalf et al.'s minor omission of apparently failing
> to discuss possible routes of entry into Mordor with the Ringbearer
> in any detail!)

Possibly Gandalf was still unsure himself. One plan would have been to
capture Gollum and make him the guide. The other would be for Gandalf to
recall ancient lore and find a secret pass. Maybe even one that has long
been associated with evil: Cirith Ungol!

I still think Gandalf was speaking to Frodo when he (Gandalf) said (as
he was being dragged into the abyss): Fly you fools! :-)

> But perhaps we're seeing the Ring at work here, playing on Frodo's
> sense of duty to make him behave foolishly?

Hmm. Or maybe the effects of walking through the Dead Marshes and into
that barren wasteland before the Black Gate, under the terrible gaze of
Sauron and bearing the burden of the Ring, means that Frodo is not
thinking straight. Maybe this fatalistic attitude here foreshadows what
is to come in Mordor and on Orodruin?

TeaLady (Mari C.)

unread,
Oct 7, 2004, 10:20:05 PM10/7/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote in
news:2004100709023...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de:

> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
snipt


>
>> Gollum goes on to describe Minas Morgul as it is now, with
>> its Silent Watchers. Are these the same as the three-headed
>> vulture figures at the gate of Cirith Ungol? Other stone
>> creatures with a similar spell placed on them? Or just the

>> Nazgūl themselves?

>
> I don't know, but one principle that I find helpful with
> Tolkien is "Don't assume everything is similar" (There are
> more things under the sun, etc.). So I would take them to be
> different.
>
> There is some letter where Tolkien makes a similar remark,
> but I cannot find it now.
>

snipt some more

I first thought of the Watchers as gargoyles gone bad - spirits
in or even of stone, literal watchers and warders, corrupted by
Sauron to his will as he regained power and infused the very
earth around him with his evil.

I still am inclined to think of them that way. I can't explain
how they came to be, however - if they always were part of the
rock of which they were carved and "simply" called to
consciousness, or wandering spirits called into the carvings by
the Numenoreans after they were set in place.

I always wanted them to rise up and flap their arms/wings and
scream as the 3 hobbits went by, but I guess that was too
ignoble for the exact air of horror Tolkien meant them to have.

--
TeaLady (mari)

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

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 8, 2004, 4:08:44 AM10/8/04
to
"TeaLady (Mari C.)" <spres...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> I first thought of the Watchers as gargoyles gone bad - spirits
> in or even of stone, literal watchers and warders, corrupted by
> Sauron to his will as he regained power and infused the very
> earth around him with his evil.

For some reason, the Watchers remind me always of Sphinxes. Michael
Ende has a similar image somewhere in the "Neverending Story",
but I cannot remember the details.

> I always wanted them to rise up and flap their arms/wings and
> scream as the 3 hobbits went by, but I guess that was too
> ignoble for the exact air of horror Tolkien meant them to have.

:-)

I could never imagine them as actually moving in any way. They
are stone: cold, menacing, with some sort of intelligence, but
completely motionless.

- Dirk

Shanahan

unread,
Oct 8, 2004, 11:03:30 PM10/8/04
to
Nathan Keedy <nke...@msn.com> creatively typed:

<snip>


> Also, on the subject of Gollum being aware of the Minas Ithil
> Palantir: it seems unlikely that he would know anything about the
> stone (or even about Minas Ithil itself) when he was a "normal"

> hobbit in the vale of Anduin. <snip>

The existence of the Rymes of Lore (chapter 'The Palantíri')
indicates that folk knowledge of the palantíri once existed. As
Christopher notes elsewhere in this thread, so does Gollum's memory
of long-ago tales from his childhood:

"The old fortress, very old, very horrible now. We used to hear
tales
from the South, when Smeagol was young, long ago. [...] Tales out
of the South, about the tall Men with the shining eyes, and their
houses like hills of stone, and the silver crown of their King and

his White Tree: wonderful tales. They built very tall towers, and


one they raised was silver-white, and in it there was a stone like

the Moon, and round it were great white walls. O yes, there were

many tales about the Tower of the Moon. [...] And He hated
Isildur's city."

Gandalf's conversation with Pippin on the ride to Minas Tirith
implies that Rymes of Lore are a common, widespread way of keeping
necessary knowledge alive; see below. (A side note: Gandalf's
remark to Théoden that children's tales still carry truth, and
Celeborn's remark to Boromir that old wives' tales still carry
truth, also indicate that truth is often carried in the oral,
rural, traditions.)

/What brought they from the foundered land/
/Over the flowing sea?/
/Seven stars and seven stones/
/And one white tree./

Gandalf: "I was just running over some of the Rhymes of Lore in my
mind. Hobbits, I suppose, have forgotten them, even those that they
ever knew."
Pippin: "No, not all. And we have many of our own, which wouldn't
interest you, perhaps."

All of this indicates to me that rumour of the palantíri could once
have been widespread enough to make it into these memory devices
called Rhymes of Lore. And, as we know from Beregond, the
palantíri gave off light (a stone like the Moon) when they were in
use, when he speaks about the flickering white light coming from
Lord Denethor's chambers.

I don't think it at all unlikely that Gollum's old tale refers to
folk memory of the Minas Ithil palantír.

Ciaran S.
--
Positivists read myths literally and find them false and
foolish; interpretivists read them metaphorically or
allegorically, and find them true and profound.


Shanahan

unread,
Oct 8, 2004, 11:17:45 PM10/8/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> creatively typed:

> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> > I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where: [...]
> > <ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!
>
> :-)

Glad someone thought that was funny! ;)

<snip good point about Frodo>

> > Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the
> > palantír? So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew
> > something of the palantíri? What do you think?
>
> I don't think so. Minas Anor also had a palantir, and was named
> after the sun, not the moon. So the white stone is probably not
> the palantir, but a different stone.

Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones; they were
named after their builders/owners: Isildur and Anarion. I believe
their names mean, respectively, 'lover of moon/sun'. So, their
strongholds were named the 'towers of moon/sun'.

> The "split personality" of Gollum (which has been acted out so
> well
> by Andy Serkins) rather would make me think that *he* is two
> 1/2-parts protagonist :-) (Or how should one count wrt. this
> system?)

(Serkis is the one actor nobody on the ng had much of a problem
with, isn't he?) Let's see, so Gollum/Sméagol is two halves, Sam
is one half, Frodo is 7/8ths...no, no...they're each
1/3...no...Frodo's the head, Sam's the torso, Gollum is the
feet...oh, heck. <g>

But seriously, I was thinking about maybe Frodo representing
nobility and endurance, Sam the hope and sense of the common man,
and Gollum the part of Man that fell to temptation.

Ciaran S.
--
All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.
- g.k. chesterton


Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 8, 2004, 9:31:18 PM10/8/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

<snip>

> Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones; they were
> named after their builders/owners: Isildur and Anarion. I believe
> their names mean, respectively, 'lover of moon/sun'. So, their
> strongholds were named the 'towers of moon/sun'.

At this point I must confess that I've been reading ahead again! I was
so impressed by 'The Passage of the Marshes' when I re-read it, that I
just carried on reading!!

Anyway, I've got to the point where we hear a little bit more from the
narrator about the past history of Minas Morgul. It is in the
description of Minas Morgul at the start of Chapter 8 of book 4:

"All was dark about it, earth and sky, but it was lit with light. Not
the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble walls of Minas Ithil
long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and radiant in the hollow of the
hills. Paler indeed than the moon ailing in some slow eclipse was the
light of it now, wavering and blowing like a noisome exhalation of
decay, a corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing." (The Stairs of
Cirith Ungol)

So not only do we have a direct reference to the Minas Ithil name
meaning more than just being named after Isildur ("imprisoned
moonlight"), we also have a reference to corpse-lights like those in the
Dead Marshes in the bit describing what Minas Ithil became. And also a
bit about "like a noisome exhalation of decay", which reminds me of the
noisome smells produced in the Dead Marshes. Interesting.

Raven

unread,
Oct 9, 2004, 1:32:16 PM10/9/04
to
"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:ck7b2...@enews2.newsguy.com...

> But seriously, I was thinking about maybe Frodo representing
> nobility and endurance, Sam the hope and sense of the common man,
> and Gollum the part of Man that fell to temptation.

And I'm thinking that perhaps Tolkien would have accepted such an
interpretation, but did not somehow require that his readers make it.

Kruk.


Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 9, 2004, 8:17:01 PM10/9/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

> Chapter of the Week
> Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 3:
> 'The Black Gate Is Closed'

> CHAPTER SUMMARY (w/Qs):

<snip>

> In a rather strange plot development, they suddenly
> decide to turn and go another way completely. It's always struck me
> as a bit odd, this stop-and-restart, in an heroic quest story.
>
> Q: Does anyone know of other legends where there's a dead-end path
> like this? /Pilgrim's Progress/, perhaps?

Can't think of any other tales. But it is not the first time it has
happened in *this* story! There was the retreat from Caradhras and the
rerouting through Moria. There is also the Breaking of the Fellowship
when the expected route is torn up and dumped in the bin, with a
three-stranded storyline developing instead. There is also the journey
of Aragorn and Legolas and Gimli to Fangorn, only to be told (by
Gandalf) that they should now go to Edoras instead. If anything, I find
Sam and Frodo's rerouting makes the story more realistic.

What other heroic quest stories were you thinking of? I don't really
know much at all about Pilgrim's Progress, for example, and can't think
of any others.

> The chapter opens as Frodo, Sam and Gollum get within a furlong of
> the Black Gate. The geography is like jaws waiting to swallow them:
> the gaping maw of the Haunted Pass, guarded by the Towers of the
> Teeth.

The description of the hills on which these towers were built is
interesting: "two sheer hills, black-boned and bare". Does this sound
volcanic?

> The geography has eyes as well: the watches change on the
> immense rampart between the Carach Angren

And in this rampart is a single gate of iron. Is this the Morannon? Or
does the term Morannon refer to the entire rampart and fortification? I
used to think it meant the pass through the mountains, but I now see
that the pass is called Cirith Gorgor. Morannon (like Sirannon - the
gate-stream of Moria) translates directly as "Black Gate".

I also liked the description of "the fallow sun" that "blinked over the
lifeless ridges of Ered Lithui". And the descriptions of the "brazen"
trumpets of the watch-towers being answered by the "deep and ominous"
sound of the "mighty horns and drums of Barad-dur".

<snip>

> Frodo is resolute: he knows no other way to enter Mordor, he must
> do so, and therefore he will do his duty: "he cowered no longer,
> and his eyes were clear".

This sounds like the peace of a condemned man.

> Sam is resigned; his duty is to follow
> Frodo, and follow him he will. "And after all he never had any real
> hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit
> he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed."
>
> Q: This last quote about Sam strikes me as very interesting. What
> does Tolkien mean by 'real hope'? Is being cheerful a substitute
> for hope? How does this relate to the concept of /estel/?

I think the comment about postponing despair is relevant. That seems to
be another way of having estel. True earthly hope is not needed, but
trusting that doing the best you can (when all else has failed) will be
enough, *is* enough. And to do this you need to avoid despair. I don't
fully understand this, but it does seem to be pretty fundamental to
Tolkien's viewpoint.

> Q: Is this new behavior for Sam, or is it typical? Frodo seems to
> be growing under his burden, acquiring the strength to walk
> open-eyed to the Black Gate. Is Sam growing too?

I must confess I don't always understand what people mean when they talk
about a character growing. Is this like a story arc or something?
Growing through experience and gaining understanding?

<snip>

> But Frodo then shocks both Sméagol and Sam by his stern insight
> into Sméagol's heart. Frodo warns Sméagol of how the Ring is

> manipulating him: <snip>

I wonder how Frodo knows so much about how the Ring works?

> Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice.

This is, of course, rather ironic.

> He realizes
> that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
> that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
> Gollum to kill himself.)

Again, this seems ironic. I don't want to discuss the scene at the
Cracks of Doom, but only parts of this foresighted prounouncement
actually take place. If anything, it foreshadows the confrontation on
the slopes of Mount Doom (the "wheel of fire" scene), which is *before*
the later scene inside Mount Doom.

> It seems Frodo sees himself and his
> relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
> believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
> the Fire?

I think that at moments where Frodo is not overwhelmed by the Ring or
the surrounding evil, then Frodo does believe he can achieve this Quest.
So at this moment (and later in Ithilien), yes.

However, at other moments, like near Minas Morgul, or in the previous
chapter under the gaze of Sauron, and on the plain of Gorgoroth and the
slopes of Mount Doom, it must have felt a *lot* harder to carry on. The
amazing thing is that he and Sam did carry on, even at the darkest
moments.

So I think the answer to that question varies depending on when and
where in the story you ask it. Here, yes; elsewhere, maybe not.

> Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power
> of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt that
> Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of command
> over others.

The Ring imparts power according to the stature of its bearer. It may
well be amplifying these innate parts of Frodo's 'power'. Ironically,
this may be helping Frodo to resist the Ring.

> These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or as a
> necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo into
> good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")

What? Like Stinker and Slinker? :-)

Seriously, I don't think Frodo is 'splitting' (at least not yet). I
would see Frodo's attitude as his own, just amplified and strengthened
by the Ring.

<snip>

> A dreamlike mood follows, in which the three sit in silence in
> their hiding place.

This is quite striking, isn't it? I think it is similar to the silence
before the storm breaks, which we see in the next few chapters. In
particular, the air is described as "heavy with brooding thought", which
is most probably meant to be Sauron's thoughts.

Just before this, we were told Frodo's thoughts as he strove to recall
all that Gandalf had said. I like this bit about his thoughts on his
fate to be here, before the Black Gate, bearing this Ring of Power:

"It was an evil fate. But he had taken it on himself in his own
sitting-room in the far-off spring of another year, so remote now that
it was like a chapter in a story of the world's youth, when the Trees of
Silver and Gold were still in bloom." (The Black Gate is Closed)

Nice. And obviously hobbits have tales about the Two Trees.

<snip>

> It is a wonderful moment. The growing tension, the mistrust, the
> danger, the Black Land so near -- and Sam recites a wonderful,
> silly, hobbity, nursery rhyme. "Frodo stood up. He had laughed in
> the midst of all his cares when Sam had trotted out the old
> fireside rhyme of /Oliphaunt/, and the laugh had released him from
> hesitation." He will follow Gollum to the secret entrance to
> Mordor.

There is a slightly strange bit where Frodo says:

"I wish we had a thousand oliphaunts with Gandalf on a white one at
their head." (The Black Gate is Closed)

We (the reader) clearly understand the symbolism of the white oliphaunt
here, but why should Frodo. He and Sam think that Gandalf is dead, and
they do not realise that he has returned as Gandalf the White, indeed,
as Gandalf the White Rider.

Does anyone think that Tolkien missed this? Or did he realise it but
think that the symbolism was so nice that the inconsistency would not
matter?

<snip>

> COMMENTS:
>
> This chapter is where we first see Mordor. And it is a very sharp
> demarcation: impassable mountain walls, impassable ramparts and
> towers. *Here* be dragons! We are here, now, at the very border of
> Evil.

I find the description of Minas Morgul to be more terrifying than that
of the Black Gate. This appears to be the physical side of the power of
Sauron, while the supernatural side is seen at Minas Morgul.

<snip>

> Some people have mentioned that they find these three chapters very
> slow and hard to read, after all the excitement of Book 3.

I don't think I've read Book IV properly for years. I am really
appreciating these chapters a lot more this time around. Most of the
great quotes that I remember liking in my youth were from other places,
but there are some hidden gems here as well. Adding to the other
comments, I think it is both an age and sensitivity issue over the
different atmospheres in Books III and IV (especially if you never
connected with Frodo and Sam earlier in the book).

Having said that, the bits of Tolkien that are really 'slow' are the
descriptions of scenery and landscape. If you are in the mood for those,
then they are great. Personally, I think these bits are present in equal
amounts throughout the story. You never know when Tolkien won't suddenly
start describing the vegetation or landscape in great detail! Probably
an acquired taste.

<snip>

> I like the narrative structure of this book, and this chapter, very
> much. The story arc of Book 4 is very symmetrical and satisfying.

<snip Book IV summary!>

> Whew!! Great stuff.

Erm. Having just read the whole of Book IV, having been ensnared when
rereading 'The Passage of the Marshes', I can attest that Book IV does
indeed read as one complete tale. And it is great stuff!

<snip>

Thanks for a nice chapter discussion.

Shanahan

unread,
Oct 10, 2004, 3:28:02 AM10/10/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:

> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>
> <snip>
>
> > Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones; they were
> > named after their builders/owners: Isildur and Anarion. I
> > believe their names mean, respectively, 'lover of moon/sun'.
> > So, their strongholds were named the 'towers of moon/sun'.
>
> At this point I must confess that I've been reading ahead again!
> I was so impressed by 'The Passage of the Marshes' when I
> re-read it, that I just carried on reading!!

That keeps happening to me, too. This start-and-stop reading is
really hard on me.

> Anyway, I've got to the point where we hear a little bit more
> from the narrator about the past history of Minas Morgul. It is
> in the description of Minas Morgul at the start of Chapter 8 of
> book 4:
> "All was dark about it, earth and sky, but it was lit with
> light. Not the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble
> walls of Minas Ithil long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and
> radiant in the hollow of the hills. Paler indeed than the moon
> ailing in some slow eclipse was the light of it now, wavering
> and blowing like a noisome exhalation of decay, a corpse-light,
> a light that illuminated nothing." (The Stairs of Cirith Ungol)

Dang, I *love* that passage! "A corpse-light, a light that
illuminated nothing" ... what great stuff.

> So not only do we have a direct reference to the Minas Ithil name
> meaning more than just being named after Isildur ("imprisoned

We have from The Silm.: "In Minas Ithil was the house of Isildur,
and in Minas Anor the house of Anárion": I guess that's where I
formed the idea of their towers being named after themselves, not
after some property of the towers. Still seems reasonable to me,
though: you build a city, you name it after yourself (since Dad has
Osgiliath, and your names are linked to the Sun and Moon); you
build it in such a way that it somehow reflects and exemplifies
your self or your name. So Isildur's building a tower, he makes it
of white marble and places his palantír in it, he makes some cool
sorcery that makes the moonlight reflect or glow in the living rock
of the tower. Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first
rays of the rising Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.

> moonlight"), we also have a reference to corpse-lights like
> those in the Dead Marshes in the bit describing what Minas Ithil
> became. And also a bit about "like a noisome exhalation of
> decay", which reminds me of the noisome smells produced in the
> Dead Marshes. Interesting.

Very interesting. Decay; the corruption of natural light:
properties of evil?

Ciaran S.
--
"There is nothing under heaven better than a broodmare,
a Mháire Dubh. She is the protector of infants, the
teacher and molder of young hearts, and the
mother of the race."
- r.a. macavoy


Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 10, 2004, 7:36:30 AM10/10/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:

<snip>

>> So not only do we have a direct reference to the Minas Ithil name
>> meaning more than just being named after Isildur ("imprisoned

>> moonlight")


>
> We have from The Silm.: "In Minas Ithil was the house of Isildur,
> and in Minas Anor the house of Anárion": I guess that's where I
> formed the idea of their towers being named after themselves, not
> after some property of the towers. Still seems reasonable to me,
> though: you build a city, you name it after yourself (since Dad has
> Osgiliath, and your names are linked to the Sun and Moon);

Elendil had Osgiliath? That doesn't sound right. :-)

I'm sure Isildur and Anarion were co-regents of Gondor for the High King
Elendil, and they ruled in Osgiliath where the thrones of Isildur and
Anarion were set side-by-side. <checks> It's in the next sentence after
the one you quoted!

"In Minas Ithil was the house of Isildur, and in Minas Anor the house of

Anarion, but they shared the realm between them and their thrones were
set side by side in the Great Hall of Osgiliath." (RoP and the Third
Age)

Elendil had Annuminas in the North, in Arnor.

> you build it in such a way that it somehow reflects and exemplifies
> your self or your name. So Isildur's building a tower, he makes it
> of white marble and places his palantír in it, he makes some cool
> sorcery that makes the moonlight reflect or glow in the living rock
> of the tower.

This is what I had never realised before this more attentive rereading
of Book IV. The fact that Minas Ithil, like Minas Anor and Orthanc and
the Argonath, is an example of the wondrous building skills of the
ancient Numenoreans.

This imprisoned moonlight does seem like sorcery, and I was going to try
and link it with Isildur's declaration to 'those who became the Dead
Men' at the Stone of Erech, and the hallowing of the tomb of Elendil,
which I think was also raised at Isildur's order. But I think it is
rather an example of advanced technology appearing like magic.

> Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first
> rays of the rising Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.

Anarion's tower? I've always wondered about this...

There is a bit in 'The Silmarillion' about when the tall white tower of
Minas Anor was built, and it is at the same time that Minas Anor was
renamed Minas Tirith:

"But Minas Anor endured, and it was named anew Minas Tirith, the Tower
of Guard; for there the kings caused to be built in the citadel a white
tower, very tall and fair, and its eye was upon many lands." (RoP and
the Third Age)

I think this is Ecthelion's tower that Pippin and Gandalf see when they
ride into Minas Tirith, which should be confirmed by quotes from LotR
and the Appendices. But first...

Going back a bit, just before your quote above about the houses of
Isildur and Anarion, we hear about the initial building of the two
cities:

"Minas Ithil, the Tower of the Rising Moon, eastward upon a shoulder of
the Mountains of Shadow as a threat to Mordor; and to the westward Minas
Anor, the Tower of the Setting Sun, at the feet of Mount Mindolluin, as
a shield against the wild men of the dales." (RoP and the Third Age)

So even from the beginning, there was probably a tall tower that caught
the light of the Setting Sun, though given the geographical position,
I'd have thought that the Rising Sun would make more sense... (see later
quote)

Anyway, trying to find out when the Tower of Ecthelion was built (and
which Ecthelion it refers to), and what happened to the earlier tower
that Anarion built, I came across these snippets in Appendix B (Tale of
Years):

420 T.A. King Ostoher rebuilds Minas Anor
1900 T.A. Calimehtar builds the White Tower in Minas Anor.
2698 T.A. Ecthelion I rebuilds the White Tower in Minas Tirith

There is no indication as to why King Ostoher (the seventh King of
Gondor) rebuilt Minas Anor. In the absence of anything saying that the
city or tower was ruined or thrown down, I would say that maybe he just
extended and improved the city?

Calimehtar (about the 30th King) was King in the period after both the
Kin-Strife and the Plague, but it was in his reign that the Wainriders
became a greater threat. Presumably the White Tower was built in
response to this. Calimehtar's son (Ondoher) and grandsons were slain by
the Wainriders, ending that line of the Kings of Gondor.

Ecthelion I is one of the Ruling Stewards, but is not Ecthelion II (the
father of Denethor II, the Denethor in LotR). Again, I couldn't find any
indication as to why the White Tower was rebuilt. Presumably (after
nearly 800 years) it needed rebuilding!

And it seems that some 320 years later, this is the tower that Pippin
and Gandalf see when they arrive at Minas Tirith:

"Even as Pippin gazed in wonder the walls passed from looming grey to
white, blushing faintly in the dawn; and suddenly the sun climbed over
the eastern shadow and sent forth a shaft that smote the face of the
City. Then Pippin cried aloud, for the Tower of Ecthelion, standing high
within the topmost walls shone out against the sky..." (Minas Tirith)

There are many other references to this tower in LotR (most often it is
called simply 'The White Tower').

Getting back to your comment, I'll recap this history of the towers of
Minas Anor/Tirith, which I certainly wasn't aware of before your comment
made me think about it! :-)

> Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first rays of the rising
> Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.

There was a tower (or towers) built in the first building of Minas Anor
(and I suppose this could be called Anarion's tower), but for some
reason it (or the city) was called the Tower of the Setting Sun. Minas
Anor and its towers were rebuilt several times. The first reference to a
White Tower (in Gondor) is in 1900 T.A. during Calimehtar's reign, and
this is rebuilt as well, and is the tower that Pippin sees catching the
light of the rising sun.

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 10, 2004, 10:13:10 AM10/10/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> creatively typed:
>> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

>> > I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where: [...]
>> > <ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!

>> :-)

> Glad someone thought that was funny! ;)

I have a tendency to make up complicated schemes myself, so I know
exactly what Troels was thinking :-) But then, I can also understand
how other people react to that ...

>> > Q: "A stone like the Moon." What could this be but the
>> > palantír? So even pastoral hobbit-like creatures knew
>> > something of the palantíri? What do you think?

>> I don't think so. Minas Anor also had a palantir, and was named
>> after the sun, not the moon. So the white stone is probably not
>> the palantir, but a different stone.

> Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones;

The cities do not have "their stones". IIRC this is the only place
where a "Stone like the Moon" in a silver-white tower is mentioned.
But there is another description of in "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol":

Not the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble walls of
Minas Ithil long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and radiant in the
hollow of the hills.

So I think the architects of Minas Ithil "caught" the moonlight in
some way, possibly in the stone mentioned above, or at least made
something that shows such an effect. And they might have very well
inspired by the name, which could have come first.

And the palantiri looked quite different, anyway:

They were perfect spheres, appearing when at rest to be made of
solid glass or crystal deep black in hue.

So not "a stone like the moon" at all.

> they were named after their builders/owners: Isildur and Anarion. I
> believe their names mean, respectively, 'lover of moon/sun'.

Isildur = Moon-servant, Anárion = Sun-son

> (Serkis is the one actor nobody on the ng had much of a problem
> with, isn't he?)

I think he did a pretty good job. But then, characters like
Caliban, Mephisto, or Gollum do offer a lot for an actor who knows
how to play.

> But seriously, I was thinking about maybe Frodo representing
> nobility and endurance, Sam the hope and sense of the common man,
> and Gollum the part of Man that fell to temptation.

I'd agree that they "represent" these things (as far as it describes
the situation they are in), but that doesn't make them a "split
protagonist" IMO.

- Dirk

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 10, 2004, 5:14:52 PM10/10/04
to
In message <slrncm82f6.1ud....@aaronclausen.alberni.net>,
"AC" <mightym...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:

>
> On Sun, 3 Oct 2004 20:38:51 -0700,
> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>>
>> Q: Frodo states "you will never get it back" twice. He realizes
>> that he *would* put on 'the Precious' in his last need. He realizes
>> that he would then be evil (or at least capable of commanding
>> Gollum to kill himself.) It seems Frodo sees himself and his
>> relationship with the Ring pretty clearly. Do you think he still
>> believes, here at this moment, that he truly can cast the Ring into
>> the Fire?
>
> I do think Frodo had that in mind right up until the point that he
> stood in Sammath Naur and claimed the Ring for himself.

That is, I believe, what is the intention of Tolkien's words in letter
#191; that Frodo, even when he entered the Sammath Naur, fully
intended to destroy the Ring:

"But we can at least judge them by the will and intentions with
which they entered the Sammath Naur; and not demand impossible
feats of will, which could only happen in stories unconcerned
with real moral and mental probability."

I don't think he dwelled long on the question of whether this would be
possible for him; to have the will to continue he couldn't allow
himself to doubt this, and dwelling on it might easily have introduced
that doubt. What I mean is that I think that Frodo fully intended to
destroy the Ring right until he actually stood in the Sammath Naur;
his will was always set on that task, but I don't think he spent much,
if any, time speculating whether he would actually be able to fulfill
his intention if he ever came that far (he often seems to hold little
or no hope of even reaching Mount Doom: quite possibly that was his
concern, to get there rather than what he had to do when he got
there).

>> Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and power of
>> will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems no doubt that
>> Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and power of command
>> over others. These things can be seen as the seeds of evil, or as a
>> necessary part of strength. (Part of me is splitting Frodo into
>> good-Frodo and evil-Frodo -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
>
> I think the two trends are simultaneously growing and bound to each
> other.

Agreed.

> We start to see his spiritual strength at the attack at the Fords,
> and now, as Mordor approaches we see him becoming a far greater
> person. At the same time, I don't think there's any doubt that the
> Ring is growing on him, increasing its hold on his mind and soul.

The first hint of his spiritual strength is, I think, in the Barrow.
In the letters Tolkien speaks of the ennoblement of Frodo -- he went
from being a first class Hobbit to becoming 'somebody' in the larger
world: a person even the high king (though at that point still 'in
spe') bowed to.

This was foreseen rather early:
" The book will prob. end up with Sam. Frodo will naturally
become too ennobled and rarefied by the achievement of the
great Quest, and will pass West with all the great figures;
but S. will settle down to the Shire and gardens and inns."
(Letter #93, 1944)
And of course he also noted in letter #180 (1956)

"The hobbits had been welcomed. I loved them myself, since I
love the vulgar and simple as dearly as the noble, and
nothing moves my heart (beyond all the passions and
heartbreaks of the world) so much as 'ennoblement' (from the
Ugly Duckling to Frodo)."

<snip>

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great
men are almost always bad men.
- Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887.

Shanahan

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Oct 10, 2004, 11:20:52 PM10/10/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> creatively typed:

> "AC" <mightym...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:
> > Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

<snip>


> I don't think he dwelled long on the question of whether this
> would be possible for him; to have the will to continue he
> couldn't allow himself to doubt this, and dwelling on it might
> easily have introduced that doubt. What I mean is that I think
> that Frodo fully intended to destroy the Ring right until he
> actually stood in the Sammath Naur; his will was always set on
> that task, but I don't think he spent much, if any, time
> speculating whether he would actually be able to fulfill his
> intention if he ever came that far (he often seems to hold
> little or no hope of even reaching Mount Doom: quite possibly
> that was his concern, to get there rather than what he had to do
> when he got there).

I think this is the case, too.

> > > Q: Is this speech evidence of Frodo's growing strength and
> > > power of will, or of the Ring taking him over? There seems
> > > no doubt that Frodo's will is growing, as is his insight and
> > > power of command over others. These things can be seen as
> > > the seeds of evil, or as a necessary part of strength. (Part
> > > of me is splitting Frodo into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo --
> > > "Kill us both, Spock!")

(Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)

> > I think the two trends are simultaneously growing and bound to
> > each other.
>
> Agreed.

Yes, I agree as well. Funny, Gene Roddenberry/Richard Matheson
agreed as well...strength and evil are entwined at the root.

<snip>


> And of course he also noted in letter #180 (1956)
> "The hobbits had been welcomed. I loved them myself, since I
> love the vulgar and simple as dearly as the noble, and
> nothing moves my heart (beyond all the passions and
> heartbreaks of the world) so much as 'ennoblement' (from the
> Ugly Duckling to Frodo)."

One of my favorite Letters quotes, and a sentiment my heart
follows.

Ciaran S.
--
Hobbits! No report that I have heard does justice to the truth.


Shanahan

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 12:46:58 AM10/11/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> creatively typed:
> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> > Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> creatively typed:
> > > Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>
> > > > I'll be using a new six-part system of notes, where: [...]
> > > > <ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!
>
> > > :-)
>
> > Glad someone thought that was funny! ;)
>
> I have a tendency to make up complicated schemes myself, so I
> know exactly what Troels was thinking :-) But then, I can also
> understand how other people react to that ...

I wasn't objecting to Troels' scheme. Just teasing!

<snip>


> > Ah, but the towers weren't named after their stones;
>
> The cities do not have "their stones". IIRC this is the only

Strictly speaking, no. The owners of the stones have the stones,
and the owners of the stones have their cities. But there's still a
one-to-one correspondence: Isildur/Minas Ithil/Ithilstone;
Anarion/Minas Anor/the Anor-stone; Elendil/Annuminas/the chief
stone of the North; Orthanc/the Orthanc-stone; Osgiliath/the
Master-stone. etc.

> place where a "Stone like the Moon" in a silver-white tower is
> mentioned. But there is another description of in "The Stairs of
> Cirith Ungol":
> Not the imprisoned moonlight welling through the marble walls
> of Minas Ithil long ago, Tower of the Moon, fair and radiant
> in the hollow of the hills.
> So I think the architects of Minas Ithil "caught" the moonlight
> in some way, possibly in the stone mentioned above, or at least
> made something that shows such an effect. And they might have
> very well inspired by the name, which could have come first.

I agree that the architects of Minas Ithil caught the moonlight.
Cool. And we really can't know which came first, tower, name, or
stone.

> And the palantiri looked quite different, anyway:
> They were perfect spheres, appearing when at rest to be made of
> solid glass or crystal deep black in hue.
> So not "a stone like the moon" at all.

But they showed a white light when in use (cf. Beregond's
description of Denethor using his stone in his tower).

> > they were named after their builders/owners: Isildur and
> > Anarion. I believe their names mean, respectively, 'lover of
> > moon/sun'.
>
> Isildur = Moon-servant, Anárion = Sun-son

Ah, thanks.

<snip>


> I'd agree that they "represent" these things (as far as it
> describes the situation they are in), but that doesn't make them
> a "split protagonist" IMO.

I agree. But it started a good conversation, didn't it? <g>

Ciaran S.
--
...their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed,
and their joy was like swords, and they passed
in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together
and tears are the very wine of blessedness.


Shanahan

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 12:53:40 AM10/11/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> > Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively
> > typed:
>
> <snip>
>
> > > So not only do we have a direct reference to the Minas Ithil
> > > name meaning more than just being named after Isildur
> > > ("imprisoned moonlight")
> >
> > We have from The Silm.: "In Minas Ithil was the house of
> > Isildur,
> > and in Minas Anor the house of Anárion": I guess that's where I
> > formed the idea of their towers being named after themselves,
> > not after some property of the towers. Still seems reasonable
> > to me, though: you build a city, you name it after yourself
> > (since Dad has Osgiliath, and your names are linked to the Sun
> > and Moon);
>
> Elendil had Osgiliath? That doesn't sound right. :-)
<snip>

> Elendil had Annuminas in the North, in Arnor.

Quite right, my bad.

> > you build it in such a way that it somehow reflects and
> > exemplifies your self or your name. So Isildur's building a
> > tower, he makes it
> > of white marble and places his palantír in it, he makes some
> > cool sorcery that makes the moonlight reflect or glow in the
> > living rock of the tower.
>
> This is what I had never realised before this more attentive
> rereading of Book IV. The fact that Minas Ithil, like Minas Anor
> and Orthanc and the Argonath, is an example of the wondrous
> building skills of the ancient Numenoreans.
>
> This imprisoned moonlight does seem like sorcery, and I was
> going to try and link it with Isildur's declaration to 'those
> who became the Dead Men' at the Stone of Erech, and the
> hallowing of the tomb of Elendil, which I think was also raised
> at Isildur's order. But I think it is rather an example of
> advanced technology appearing like magic.

What's the difference? And more importantly, to my mind, why do we
keep trying to explain ME's magical aspects in a mundane manner? It
is obvious that Tolkien wrote a book where magic existed and
worked; he spoke of it himself often, in Letters and elsewhere. So
why do we want to bring it down to a mundane / non-magical /
advanced technological level?

<snip lots of good research>


> Getting back to your comment, I'll recap this history of the
> towers of Minas Anor/Tirith, which I certainly wasn't aware of
> before your comment made me think about it! :-)
>
> > Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first rays of
> > the rising Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.
>
> There was a tower (or towers) built in the first building of
> Minas Anor (and I suppose this could be called Anarion's tower),
> but for some reason it (or the city) was called the Tower of the
> Setting Sun.

Yes, this is what I was referring to. I was wrong about Minas Anor
catching the first rays of the rising sun, when it was first built.
It would probably only have done that after the Tower of Ecthelion
was built on the pinnacle of the Citadel.

Isildur's Tower of the Rising Moon, and Anarion's Tower of the
Setting Sun, were these two cities. In referring to them, Tolkien
uses 'tower' and 'city' interchangeably. I believe they were named
for their builders, and specifically for the Rising Moon and the
Setting Sun because they were, respective to Osgiliath (the ruling
city of the southern kingdom), set East and West.

But I was speaking of the light that each tower would catch. Minas
Ithil would catch the light of the moon ("imprisoned moonlight
welling through the halls"), and Minas Anor would catch the light
of the sun ("O white walls and proud towers!"). Many references to
Minas Anor are to its whiteness, so I believe the entire city was
white, not just Ecthelion's pinnacle tower. So it would reflect the
sun whenever it was in the sky, just as Minas Ithil would imprison
the moonlight and send it flowing throughout its halls.

Maybe.

Ciaran S.
--
"And I name before you all Frodo of the Shire
and Samwise his servant.
/Bronwe athan Harthad/ and /Harthad Uluithiad/,
Endurance beyond Hope and Hope Unquenchable."
-gandalf, in draft 'A' of "Many Partings"

Nathan Keedy

unread,
Oct 10, 2004, 10:24:11 PM10/10/04
to
"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

> The existence of the Rymes of Lore (chapter 'The Palantíri')
> indicates that folk knowledge of the palantíri once existed. As
> Christopher notes elsewhere in this thread, so does Gollum's memory
> of long-ago tales from his childhood:
>
> "The old fortress, very old, very horrible now. We used to hear
> tales
> from the South, when Smeagol was young, long ago. [...] Tales out
> of the South, about the tall Men with the shining eyes, and their
> houses like hills of stone, and the silver crown of their King and
> his White Tree: wonderful tales. They built very tall towers, and
> one they raised was silver-white, and in it there was a stone like
> the Moon, and round it were great white walls. O yes, there were
> many tales about the Tower of the Moon. [...] And He hated
> Isildur's city."

<snip thorough analysis>

You're right, and it seems I wasn't giving the Stoors of the Gladden
Fields enough credit when it comes to folklore. I'd never really
thought much about it before, but it's interesting how Tolkien uses
Smeagol as a kind of "secondary narrator" at times like this. It
makes him more sympathetic, is one of the ways that Tolkien shows that
his hobbit personality wasn't completely destroyed by his long
possession of the Ring.

Nathan Keedy

unread,
Oct 10, 2004, 10:25:16 PM10/10/04
to
"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

> The existence of the Rymes of Lore (chapter 'The Palantíri')
> indicates that folk knowledge of the palantíri once existed. As
> Christopher notes elsewhere in this thread, so does Gollum's memory
> of long-ago tales from his childhood:
>
> "The old fortress, very old, very horrible now. We used to hear
> tales
> from the South, when Smeagol was young, long ago. [...] Tales out
> of the South, about the tall Men with the shining eyes, and their
> houses like hills of stone, and the silver crown of their King and
> his White Tree: wonderful tales. They built very tall towers, and
> one they raised was silver-white, and in it there was a stone like
> the Moon, and round it were great white walls. O yes, there were
> many tales about the Tower of the Moon. [...] And He hated
> Isildur's city."

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 3:44:27 AM10/11/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> I must confess I don't always understand what people mean when they talk
> about a character growing. Is this like a story arc or something?
> Growing through experience and gaining understanding?

Yes. Frodo, as he was at the beginning of the book, wouldn't have
commanded the other hobbits in this particular way to spare Saruman
after he was attacked by him.

And no, it's not like a story arc IMHO.

> I wonder how Frodo knows so much about how the Ring works?

He probably listend to Gandalf and Elrond in Rivedell, and he has
carried the "awoken" Ring for a long time, so he can feel the effects
himself.

> Having said that, the bits of Tolkien that are really 'slow' are the
> descriptions of scenery and landscape. If you are in the mood for those,
> then they are great.

Yes. If you're not in the mood, it helps if you read them out loud.

- Dirk

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 8:33:42 AM10/11/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

>> > > "Kill us both, Spock!")
> (Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)

Of course :-)

- Dirk

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 8:44:07 AM10/11/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> I wasn't objecting to Troels' scheme. Just teasing!

Sure. I didn't object, either. (Sigh. Sometimes communicating
on the Usenet is so difficult...)

>> The cities do not have "their stones". IIRC this is the only

> Strictly speaking, no. The owners of the stones have the stones,
> and the owners of the stones have their cities.

I meant "some stone" (not a palantir) as a thing associated with
the city.

> But there's still a one-to-one correspondence: Isildur/Minas
> Ithil/Ithilstone; Anarion/Minas Anor/the Anor-stone;
> Elendil/Annuminas/the chief stone of the North; Orthanc/the
> Orthanc-stone; Osgiliath/the Master-stone. etc.

But that's just naming the stones after the place where they are
kept. Like "Pippin's barrow blade" and "Merry's barrow blade", etc.
That doesn't mean that the Hobbits are in any way "defined" by
their barrow blade, or there is some strong connection.

> But they showed a white light when in use (cf. Beregond's
> description of Denethor using his stone in his tower).

Beregond describes it as a "strange light", not as a "light like the
moon" (and I even cannot find the place where he says that it is
"white", if he does so at all). I always thought that was just a
reflection of the light of the scene the stones show at the
moment. Like you see windows illuminated by reflections of the TV set
when you take a walk in the city at night.

> I agree. But it started a good conversation, didn't it? <g>

:-)

- Dirk

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 2:25:48 PM10/11/04
to
In message <news:ckcou...@enews2.newsguy.com> "Shanahan"
<pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> (Part of me is splitting Frodo into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo
>>>> -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
>
> (Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)

Apart from identifying it as 'probably something from Star Trek' I'm
afraid I didn't get it at all, sorry. Is it a specific reference or a
more general one?

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 3:03:01 PM10/11/04
to
In message <news:cjq5u...@enews3.newsguy.com> "Shanahan"
<pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>

<snip>

> Chapter of the Week
> Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 3:
> 'The Black Gate Is Closed'

> _________________________________________
> Note:


> I'll be using a new six-part system of notes,

[...]
> <ducks and runs> Just teasing, Troels!

Awww! It sounded very clever ;-)

<snip>

> "And after all he never had any real hope in the affair from the
> beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as
> long as despair could be postponed."
>
> Q: This last quote about Sam strikes me as very interesting. What
> does Tolkien mean by 'real hope'? Is being cheerful a substitute
> for hope? How does this relate to the concept of /estel/?

I think the difference between /estel/ and /amdir/ is at the core of
this. Sam never had any /amdir/ 'in the affair from the beginning; but
being a cheerful hobbit' who trusted providence without even knowing
it, trusted that good would in the end persevere, 'he had not needed'
/amdir/, 'as long as despair could be postponed' he could retain his
/estel/.

And, since it may not be all who have read the Athrabeth in MR:

" 'What is hope?' she said. 'An expectation of good, which
though uncertain has some foundation in what is known? Then
we have none.'
'That is one thing that Men call "hope",' said Finrod.
'/Amdir/ we call it, "looking up". But there is another
which is founded deeper. /Estel/ we call it, that is
"trust". It is not defeated by the ways of the world, for
it does not come from experience, but from our nature and
first being. If we are indeed the /Eruhin/, the Children
of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived
of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves. This
is the last foundation of /Estel/, which we keep even when
we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must
be for His Children's joy. /Amdir/ you have not, you say.
Does no /Estel/ at all abide?'"
(Morgoth's Ring, 'Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth')

Being a cheeful Hobbit, Sam /trusts/ that the world is good, and that
it will, in the end, prove itself thus.

> Q: Is this new behavior for Sam, or is it typical? Frodo seems
> to be growing under his burden, acquiring the strength to walk
> open-eyed to the Black Gate. Is Sam growing too?

Sam is definitely growing as well, though I think that his growth is
slightly different from Frodo's.

Sam also grows in wisdom and compassion, as does the other Hobbits
(Merry expresses it excellently in 'The Houses of Healing', "But at
least, Pippin, we can now see them, and honour them. It is best to love
first what you are fitted to love, I suppose: you must start somewhere
and have some roots, and the soil of the Shire is deep. Still there are
things deeper and higher [...]") Sam is, I believe, that Hobbit who is
most deeply rooted in the Shire, and he remains that way, but with the
added insight of having seen the heights. But he also grows in other
ways -- I'm not sure how to put, though perhaps Faramir says it best:
"Your heart is shrewd as well as faithful, and saw clearer than your
eyes." That is, I think, one of the lessons Sam learns; to listen to
his heart.

<snip>

Jette Goldie

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 4:30:40 PM10/11/04
to

"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote in message
news:Xns957FD002...@212.242.40.196...

> In message <news:ckcou...@enews2.newsguy.com> "Shanahan"
> <pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
> >
> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>> (Part of me is splitting Frodo into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo
> >>>> -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
> >
> > (Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)
>
> Apart from identifying it as 'probably something from Star Trek' I'm
> afraid I didn't get it at all, sorry. Is it a specific reference or a
> more general one?
>


Kirk gets split into two by a transporter malfunction. A
"good" Kirk and an "evil" Kirk. There's no way to tell
them apart, except by their actions. Spock has to
somehow tell them apart while they fight.


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


Shanahan

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 3:34:35 PM10/11/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> creatively typed:

Oh, I'm so relieved! I thought I was showing my age here...

Ciaran S.
--
"Technically, a cat locked in a box may be alive or it may be
dead.
You never know until you look. In fact, the mere
act of opening the box will determine the state
of the cat, although in this case there were three
determinate states the cat could be in:
these being Alive, Dead, and Bloody Furious."
- t. pratchett, _Lords and Ladies_


Shanahan

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 3:43:16 PM10/11/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> creatively typed:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

<snip>


> > Having said that, the bits of Tolkien that are really 'slow'
> > are the descriptions of scenery and landscape. If you are in
> > the mood for those, then they are great.
>
> Yes. If you're not in the mood, it helps if you read them out
> loud.
> - Dirk

Watch out, guys...we're on the way to Ithilien, which reads like a
rather detailed botanical guidebook! <g>

Ciaran S.
--
If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.
- e.goldman


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 11, 2004, 4:41:19 PM10/11/04
to
In message <news:ckcou...@enews2.newsguy.com>
"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
>>

<snip>

>> This is what I had never realised before this more attentive


>> rereading of Book IV. The fact that Minas Ithil, like Minas Anor
>> and Orthanc and the Argonath, is an example of the wondrous
>> building skills of the ancient Numenoreans.

They are, if you ask me, examples where the line dividing the common
skills at craft and art that we see even in this age and the realm of
magic become blurred. Even Fëanor's making of the Silmarils is often
referred to in words remniscent of craft and art (if not directly as
those -- I do not recall exactly), and I think that to the Elves this
division was essentially non-existing.

There is, I think, an approach to craftmanship in Tolkien's works,
where the combination of sublime craftmanship with artistic talent, the
work of the finest artisan, becomes more than just the combination of
these talents; by his love for his work the artisan puts some of his
soul into it, and the result approaches magic, and sometimes it takes
on magical, or supernatural, qualities. To the Elves, and in
particular the Eldar, this seems to me to be entirely natural, possibly
because their /fëar/ burn that much stronger (and Fëanor's the
strongest of all: he is the spirit of fire, /Fëanáro/), and in most of
their works they transcend this border and create items that, while the
result of their exceptional skills and love of beauty, also possess
qualities that can be best described as 'magical'.

I'm not sure what to call this -- I hesitate to call it 'magical' as
such, but I also think that it goes beyond the mundane skills of the
stonewright, ropemakers, weavers or whatever. Possibly it is best to
call it, as Tolkien did, "Art", capitalized:

" I have not used 'magic' consistently, and indeed the
Elven-queen Galadriel is obliged to remonstrate with the
Hobbits on their confused use of the word both for the
devices and operations of the Enemy, and for those of the
Elves. I have not, because there is not a word for the
latter (since all human stories have suffered the same
confusion). But the Elves are there (in my tales) to
demonstrate the difference. Their 'magic' is Art, delivered
from many of its human limitations: more effortless, more
quick, more complete (product, and vision in unflawed
correspondence). And its object is Art not Power,
sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of
Creation."
(Letter #131)

The examples of Númenórean skill that you list are, IMO, examples of
Númenórean craftsmanship approaching this Elven Art.

>> This imprisoned moonlight does seem like sorcery, and I was
>> going to try and link it with Isildur's declaration to 'those
>> who became the Dead Men' at the Stone of Erech, and the
>> hallowing of the tomb of Elendil, which I think was also raised
>> at Isildur's order. But I think it is rather an example of
>> advanced technology appearing like magic.
>
> What's the difference?

As noted above, I'm not sure that there really is a significant
difference.

> And more importantly, to my mind, why do we keep trying to explain
> ME's magical aspects in a mundane manner? It is obvious that
> Tolkien wrote a book where magic existed and worked; he spoke of
> it himself often, in Letters and elsewhere. So why do we want to
> bring it down to a mundane / non-magical / advanced technological
> level?

There are, I think, several reasons for this.

One is the conception of magic as having to do with arcane spells,
necromancy and the bestowing of real 'Power' to magical objects. This
aspect is clearly also present in Middle-earth, but it is usually
associated with the Enemy, and the basis for Galadriel's complaint.
Later in letter #131 Tolkien wrote about the creation of the Rings of
Power:

"But at Eregion great work began - and the Elves came their
nearest to falling to 'magic' and machinery. With the aid
of Sauron's lore they made Rings of Power ('power' is an
ominous and sinister word in all these tales, except as
applied to the gods)."

The Rings of Power, whether the One, the Nine, the Seven or even the
Three, are 'magical' in this sense -- they are intended to provide the
bearer with a measure of control and power, domination one might say,
over the material world; preventing, or slowing, the decay of things
they love.

Another reason that applies in particular to the other races (from the
Elves) is Tolkien's obvious unwillingness to attribute to these the
magical powers (except where they do not derive from themselves, such
as e.g. the magical powers of the Nazgûl who became great sorcerers
thanks to their Rings). This picture is, however, not entirely
consistent, Tolkien himself notes that the Dúnedain used spells in the
making of swords, and the Mouth of Sauron was a living Man who had
learned 'great sorcery' (though in his case it might be seen as being
derived from Sauron). But these seem more to be exceptions from a
general rule.

Thirdly it is clear that while /The Lord of the Rings/ includes a lot
of 'magic' (in all the senses of the word), the normal life of ordinary
men, from the Lord Steward of Gondor to Widow Rumble, was far less
magical (indeed it was mostly completely non-magical) than what has
become the norm in fantastic literature: there is no Hogwarts in
Middle-earth.

Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it is a
limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited before putting
everything down to magical abilities. I have less reservation when it
comes to examples of Elven Art; the unknown Elf in Lóthlorien does say
that "we put the thought of all that we love into all that we make",
and I would venture that this is a large part of the source of the
Elven Art. I also think that Men of the highest kinds (that would be
the Númenóreans, and to a lesser and lesser degree their Dúnedain
descendants) it was possible to approach this Elven Art -- not as
strong or as obvious as what the Elves themselves could achieve, but
nonetheless their works could occasionally transcend the mundane.

<snip>

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it
would be a merrier world.
- Thorin Oakenshield, 'The Hobbit' (J.R.R. Tolkien)

AC

unread,
Oct 12, 2004, 1:26:30 AM10/12/04
to
On Mon, 11 Oct 2004 20:30:40 GMT,
Jette Goldie <j...@blueyonder.com.uk> wrote:
>
> "Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote in message
> news:Xns957FD002...@212.242.40.196...
>> In message <news:ckcou...@enews2.newsguy.com> "Shanahan"
>> <pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>> >
>> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
>> >>>>
>> >>>> (Part of me is splitting Frodo into good-Frodo and evil-Frodo
>> >>>> -- "Kill us both, Spock!")
>> >
>> > (Jeez, didn't *anybody* get my Star Trek joke?)
>>
>> Apart from identifying it as 'probably something from Star Trek' I'm
>> afraid I didn't get it at all, sorry. Is it a specific reference or a
>> more general one?
>>
>
>
> Kirk gets split into two by a transporter malfunction. A
> "good" Kirk and an "evil" Kirk. There's no way to tell
> them apart, except by their actions. Spock has to
> somehow tell them apart while they fight.

One of the best ST episodes, in my opinion. Far superior to the different
take in another episode where it's just a guy who shape change. This one
dealt in a neaty sci-fi way with the duality that is so often in seen in
people's conduct.

--
Aaron Clausen
mightym...@hotmail.com

"My illness is due to my doctor's insistence that I drink milk, a
whitish fluid they force down helpless babies." - WC Fields

Shanahan

unread,
Oct 12, 2004, 1:59:52 AM10/12/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> typed:

> "Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
> > Christopher Kreuzer spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> typed:

> <snip>
> > > This is what I had never realised before this more attentive
> > > rereading of Book IV. The fact that Minas Ithil, like Minas
> > > Anor and Orthanc and the Argonath, is an example of the
> > > wondrous building skills of the ancient Numenoreans.
>
> They are, if you ask me, examples where the line dividing the
> common skills at craft and art that we see even in this age and
> the realm of magic become blurred. Even Fëanor's making of the
> Silmarils is often referred to in words remniscent of craft and
> art (if not directly as those -- I do not recall exactly), and I
> think that to the Elves this division was essentially
> non-existing.

<snip>


> I'm not sure what to call this -- I hesitate to call it
> 'magical' as such, but I also think that it goes beyond the
> mundane skills of the stonewright, ropemakers, weavers or
> whatever. Possibly it is best to call it, as Tolkien did, "Art",
> capitalized:

<snip>


> And its object is Art not Power,
> sub-creation not domination and tyrannous re-forming of
> Creation."
> (Letter #131)

Thanks, Troels. You always help me clarify my thoughts. This
'magic' issue is an ambiguous one, hard to get a grip on.

<snip>


> Thirdly it is clear that while /The Lord of the Rings/ includes
> a lot of 'magic' (in all the senses of the word), the normal
> life of ordinary men, from the Lord Steward of Gondor to Widow
> Rumble, was far less magical (indeed it was mostly completely
> non-magical) than what has become the norm in fantastic
> literature: there is no Hogwarts in Middle-earth.

<snip>


> Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it
> is a limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited
> before putting everything down to magical abilities.

Funny, how differently two people can read the same text. I find
every thing in ME magical. Everything is more alive than it is in
this world. Everything *talks*. There is nothing in ME that isn't
magical.

That ordinary lives in ME were "far less magical ... than what has
become the norm in fantastic literature", I would agree. But that
may have more to do with changes in fantasy, than with what T.
wrote. Even the hobbits inhabited a world where wargs and orcs had
invaded within living memory, and a wizard with dwarves could
visit.

Ciaran S.
--
"...and just when you'd think they were more malignant
than ever Hell could be, they could occasionally show
more grace than Heaven ever dreamed of.
Often the same individual was involved.
It was this free-will thing, of course.
It was a bugger."
- gaiman and pratchett


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Oct 12, 2004, 9:57:08 AM10/12/04
to
In message <news:ckfgt...@enews4.newsguy.com> "Shanahan"
<pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> typed:
>>

<snip>

> Thanks, Troels. You always help me clarify my thoughts. This
> 'magic' issue is an ambiguous one, hard to get a grip on.

You're very welcome, and yes -- it is a difficult issue; largely, I
think, because of the extremely broad applicability of the term.

<snip>

>> Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it
>> is a limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited before
>> putting everything down to magical abilities.
>
> Funny, how differently two people can read the same text. I find
> every thing in ME magical. Everything is more alive than it is in
> this world. Everything *talks*. There is nothing in ME that isn't
> magical.

I think that brings us back to the question of what is magic?

I don't see the Ents, the Eagles etc. as magical as such -- they're
different races with different abilities, but not magical as such, IMO.

The Elves have their Art, which is another ability that approaches
magic without truly becoming it, and in the same sense other things
about Middle-earth approach magic without becoming it (in this way of
understanding 'magic').



> That ordinary lives in ME were "far less magical ... than what has
> become the norm in fantastic literature", I would agree. But that
> may have more to do with changes in fantasy, than with what T.
> wrote.

I think, however, that it has changed the way we normally think of
magic.

> even the hobbits inhabited a world where wargs and orcs had


> invaded within living memory, and a wizard with dwarves could
> visit.

I don't think that wargs, orcs or dwarves were magical as such -- they
are other creatures, but they're a part of the creation; or sub-
creation, rather. For me the exercise of divine power isn't magical in
Middle-earth: no more than it would have been for Tolkien in the real
world. Wargs, orcs or dwarves in Middle-earth are no more magical than
humans, dolphins and porcupines in our world; they are simply a part of
that world.

Gandalf, rather than Olórin, was of course a magical person, as were
the other Istari, but to the Hobbits and most other people of Middle-
earth? Gandalf was a 'wizard', but recall that it is meant to recall
the word 'wise': he was a wise man who could do the most incredible
things with fireworks, but no Hobbit (other than Bilbo) had, at that
time, seen him do anything that was truly magical.

What role then did magic play for the Hobbits? Some of the answer is, I
think answered in LotR I,1 'A Long Expected Party':

" On this occasion the presents were unusually good. The
hobbit-children were so excited that for a while they
almost forgot about eating. There were toys the like of
which they had never seen before, all beautiful and some
obviously magical. Many of them had indeed been ordered a
year before, and had come all the way from the Mountain
and from Dale, and were of real dwarf-make."

Were these toys magical in the other sense, or were they examples of
the Art of the Dwarves? I think that they were rather the latter, and
when the Hobbits call them "obviously magical" (or Tolkien does, in
their voice) it is an example of the inconsistent use of the word
'magic' which Galadriel remonstrated them for, and which Tolkien
commented in the letter I quoted. I don't think that magic, in the
other sense (for the domination of creation), which is how it is
usually used (I believe), played a role in the daily life of neither
the Hobbits, or Men or Dwarves, for that matter.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)email.dk>

For animals, the entire universe has been neatly divided into things to
(a) mate with, (b) eat, (c) run away from, and (d) rocks.
- (Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites)

Christopher Kreuzer

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Oct 12, 2004, 4:15:17 PM10/12/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:

<snip>

>> Getting back to your comment, I'll recap this history of the


>> towers of Minas Anor/Tirith, which I certainly wasn't aware of
>> before your comment made me think about it! :-)
>>
>>> Just as Anárion's tower is built to catch the first rays of
>>> the rising Sun, and to reflect and glorify them.
>>
>> There was a tower (or towers) built in the first building of
>> Minas Anor (and I suppose this could be called Anarion's tower),
>> but for some reason it (or the city) was called the Tower of the
>> Setting Sun.

I forgot to mention that the impression I got from the quotes that I
provided was that Minas Anor grew greatly in size over the years. Is it
not possible that when first built, Minas Anor and Minas Ithil were
quite small cities?

Nathan Keedy

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Oct 12, 2004, 9:50:37 PM10/12/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote in message news:<2004101107442...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de>...

> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> > I must confess I don't always understand what people mean when they talk
> > about a character growing. Is this like a story arc or something?
> > Growing through experience and gaining understanding?
>
> Yes. Frodo, as he was at the beginning of the book, wouldn't have
> commanded the other hobbits in this particular way to spare Saruman
> after he was attacked by him.
<snip>

I always thought character growth was caused by drinking Ent draughts...

Dirk Thierbach

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Oct 13, 2004, 4:35:28 AM10/13/04
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Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> typed:

>> Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it
>> is a limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited
>> before putting everything down to magical abilities.

> Funny, how differently two people can read the same text. I find
> every thing in ME magical. Everything is more alive than it is in
> this world. Everything *talks*. There is nothing in ME that isn't
> magical.

You're both right :-), because, I think, you are talking about
different senses of the word "magic". Ciaran means the magic of
Fairie, as Frodo describes it when he enters Lorien:

All that he saw was shapely, but the shapes seemed at once clear
cut, as if they had been first conceived and drawn at the uncovering
of his eyes, and ancient as if they had endured for ever. He saw no
colour but those he knew, gold and white and blue and green, but
they were fresh and poignant, as if he had at that moment first
perceived them and made for them names new and wonderful.

Troels means magic as Art, contrasted to magic as "Science" (i.e.,
recipes like handwaving and spells to invoke effects), which
is what many people think when they hear the word "magic". It's these
differences that addresses Tolkien in the letters, too.

But of course the borders between these aspects are not clean cut.
That's what makes it interesting :-)

> That ordinary lives in ME were "far less magical ... than what has
> become the norm in fantastic literature", I would agree. But that
> may have more to do with changes in fantasy, than with what T.
> wrote.

I'd agree with that.

- Dirk

Shanahan

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Oct 14, 2004, 1:50:25 AM10/14/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> creatively typed:
> <pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
> > Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> typed:

<snip>


> I think that brings us back to the question of what is magic?
> I don't see the Ents, the Eagles etc. as magical as such --
> they're different races with different abilities, but not
> magical as such, IMO.

Ah, I see. Yes, we are speaking in different terms. Or rather, in
different frameworks. I guess I'm speaking from a story-external
standpoint, when I think about it; 'magic' is that which cannot
happen in the 'real' world. You are defining the term from within
the story. Speaking in that framework, I agree with what you say.
It's just that that's not how I *experience* the story. When I read
it, all things are magic, because few of them are possible in
'reality'.

<snip>


> What role then did magic play for the Hobbits? Some of the
> answer is, I think answered in LotR I,1 'A Long Expected Party':

<snip>


> Were these toys magical in the other sense, or were they
> examples of the Art of the Dwarves? I think that they were
> rather the latter, and when the Hobbits call them "obviously
> magical" (or Tolkien does, in their voice) it is an example of
> the inconsistent use of the word 'magic' which Galadriel

> remonstrated them for, <snip>

Yes, definitely. But for me, reading LotR as an experience, these
aren't the magical things in the story. Galadriel's Mirror, which I
believe qualifies as Tolkien's 'magia'? Yes, that's magic. But the
really magical things to me are the Ents, Mirkwood, Smaug, Sauron,
the Eagles, the Nazgūl beasts, Caradhras, etc.

Re magic in the story-internal sense, I agree with you completely.

Ciaran S.
--
Beware all enterprises which require new clothes.

Larry Swain

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Oct 14, 2004, 12:51:35 AM10/14/04
to

Dirk Thierbach wrote:
>
> Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> > Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> typed:
>
> >> Magic clearly has a place in Middle-earth; but I agree that it
> >> is a limited place, and that some caution should be exhibited
> >> before putting everything down to magical abilities.
>
> > Funny, how differently two people can read the same text. I find
> > every thing in ME magical. Everything is more alive than it is in
> > this world. Everything *talks*. There is nothing in ME that isn't
> > magical.
>
> You're both right :-), because, I think, you are talking about
> different senses of the word "magic". Ciaran means the magic of
> Fairie, as Frodo describes it when he enters Lorien:

I can't find our earlier discussion, so I'll post it here. But
I think I have to retract my views on magic. AC's post about
the staves got me thinking, and then I remembered Amon Hen, the
Argonath, the Paths of the Dead, and so on. I didn' treally
think about the swords though, I figured that Tolkien had
borrowed that from Germanic literature (Beowulf for example and
the swords bound with runes, runes can sometimes mean spells-)
and then later as he was outlining his view of magic and all,
they became problematic but were so much a part of the story
that he couldn't really correct it. But anyway...you've
convinced me on that one.

Related to that we were talking about Sam's rope and I suggested
mundane knots for the rope coming when Sam tugged. I still
think that one was mundane. DIrk as I recall pressed me on the
kinds of knots that I was talking about. The first one is a
basic slip knot...the idea of course is that the knot "slips" up
and down your rope as needed but maintains your loop in the end
of the rope. When helping out with calving and branding and
such, the old hands were so good with their ropes that they
could use their slip knots all day, when work was done, coil
their ropes, grab it just about a foot or so above the knot,
give it a good thwack, the knot comes undone, they finish
coiling and walk away.

Another knot I was taught when I worked on fishing boats. My
skipper called it a double english, but I've since learned that
is not what it is. But it was this amazingly simple thing with
two rope ends, three loops, and one knot. The more tension on
the thing, the stronger the knot, but when tension was released,
you could untie it with the toe of your boot.

Christopher Kreuzer

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Oct 14, 2004, 6:23:15 PM10/14/04
to
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote:

<snip>

> In the meantime, we can agree to disagree; I don't find "magic"
> necessary to explain the return of Sam's rope. Sam did. Frodo
> didn't.

I still think Frodo just lost interest:

"[The rope] certainly came,' said Frodo, 'and that's the chief thing.
But now we've got to think of our next move.'" (The Taming of Smeagol)

> The narrator is silent. Tolkien is silent. We each
> have our positions we're comfortable with, and I can live
> with that.

I'd like to see these rope tricks demonstrated sometime... Should I keep
an eye out for you on a "Wild West Cowboy Tricks" show? :-)

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 14, 2004, 4:33:00 AM10/14/04
to
in <ckkps...@enews3.newsguy.com>,
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> creatively typed:

>>
>> I think that brings us back to the question of what is magic?
>> I don't see the Ents, the Eagles etc. as magical as such --
>> they're different races with different abilities, but not
>> magical as such, IMO.
>
> Ah, I see. Yes, we are speaking in different terms. Or rather, in
> different frameworks. I guess I'm speaking from a story-external
> standpoint, when I think about it; 'magic' is that which cannot
> happen in the 'real' world.

Ah!

> You are defining the term from within the story.

Yes, I'm trying to classify what you called magic into several
categories, only a part of which I do call magic.

> Speaking in that framework, I agree with what you say.

That's nice ;-)

> It's just that that's not how I *experience* the story. When I read
> it, all things are magic, because few of them are possible in
> 'reality'.

And in that sense I also agree with you. In that story-external sense all
of this combines to make up the 'magic' feeling of the story: they are
part of the
enchantment of the story -- I can't help quoting OFS here:

" To the elvish craft, Enchantment, Fantasy aspires, and when
it is successful of all forms of human art most nearly
approaches. At the heart of many man-made stories of the elves
lies, open or concealed, pure or alloyed, the desire for a
living, realized sub-creative art, which (however much it may
outwardly resemble it) is inwardly wholly different from the
greed for self-centred power which is the mark of the mere
Magician."
(OFS, 'Fantasy')

--
Troels Forchhammer

Taking fun
as simply fun
and earnestness
in earnest
shows how thouroughly
thou none
of the two
discernest.
- Piet Hein, /The Eternal Twins/

the softrat

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Oct 14, 2004, 2:16:04 PM10/14/04
to
On 12 Oct 2004 18:50:37 -0700, nke...@msn.com (Nathan Keedy) wrote:
>
>I always thought character growth was caused by drinking Ent draughts...

This is why you will always remain the insignificant worm you are
today.

the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--
Barium: What you do with dead chemists.

robert j. kolker

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Oct 14, 2004, 7:58:39 AM10/14/04