CotW, LotR: Bk.IV, Ch.10: "The Choices of Master Samwise"

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Shanahan

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Nov 21, 2004, 6:58:33 PM11/21/04
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This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
"Chapter of the Week" (CotW) project. For the 911, or to sign up for
a chapter yourself, visit the CotW homepage at
<http://parasha.maoltuile.org/>.

Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter 10:
'The Choices of Master Samwise'
=======================================================
Personal note: My beloved cat of 16 years is dying of cancer, and I
just lost a job, so please forgive in advance if this discussion is
a bit, er, grim. I usually get all fangirly about Sam/Frodo, but I
just ain't in the mood right now. (Probably all for the best, eh?)


SUMMARY:

Well we all know this chapter like the back of our hands, don't we?
Anyone here who has *not* gotten all teary-eyed while reading this
one? (If so, you don't belong on these newsgroups! <g>) The plot's
simple: Frodo has been stung by Shelob and lies unconscious on the
path to the pass of Cirith Ungol. Sam fights Shelob off, believes
that Frodo is dead, convinces himself that he must continue the
Quest alone, and takes the Ring, Sting, and the Phial from Frodo,
after composing his 'body'. Orcs appear from both Minas Morgul and
Cirith Ungol and take Frodo. Sam puts on the Ring to hide from the
orcs, who take Frodo's body through the tunnels. Sam follows them
far enough to hear that Frodo is alive, having been only paralyzed
by Shelob's sting. He faints. "Frodo is alive, but taken by the
Enemy." Biggest cliffhanger in literature, chapter ends, Book IV
ends.

COMMENTS/QUERIES:

This is Sam's chapter: not one of the Fellowship is left to help
him, Frodo is unconscious, and Sam must make immense decisions by
himself, decisions that affect all of Middle Earth. Something for
which he's hardly qualified (as he knows very well).

As Troels quoted a couple CotWs ago, from Letter #246:
"Sam is meant to be lovable and laughable. Some readers he irritates
and even infuriates. [...] But Sam can be very 'trying'. He is a
more representative hobbit than any others that we have to see much
of; and he has consequently a [...] mental myopia which is proud of
itself, a smugness (in varying degrees) and cocksureness, and a
readiness to measure and sum up all things from a limited
experience, largely enshrined in sententious traditional 'wisdom'.
Sam was cocksure, and deep down a little conceited; but his conceit
had been transformed by his devotion to Frodo. He did not think of
himself as heroic or even brave, or in any way admirable - except in
his service and loyalty to his master."

Q.1) Is Sam courageous / brave / heroic, or just acting on this
instinctual loyalty?

Sam fights two battles in this chapter: against Shelob; and between
his own heart and his own intellect. (emphases that follow are all
mine)

"'I wish I wasn't the last,' he groaned. 'I wish old Gandalf was
here, or somebody. Why am I left all alone to make up my /mind/? I'm
sure to go wrong....Ah well, I must make up my own /mind/. I will
make it up. But I'll be sure to go wrong: that'd be Sam Gamgee all
over.'"
"'I've made up my /mind/,' he kept saying to himself. But he had
not. Though he had done his best to think it out, what he was doing
was altogether against the grain of his /nature/."
"They had seen his master. What would they do? He had heard tales of
the Orcs to make the blood run cold. It could not be borne. He
sprang up. He flung the Quest and all his /decisions/ away, and fear
and doubt with them. He knew now /where his place was/ and had been:
at his master's side, though what he could do there was not clear."
"'/My place/ is by Mr. Frodo. They must understand that--Elrond and
the Council, and the great Lords and Ladies with all their wisdom.
/I can't be their Ringbearer. Not without Mr. Frodo/.'"
"Never leave your master, never, never: that was my right rule. And
I knew it in my /heart/."

An early draft (the 'dismembered' Bodleian pages) has this to say
about Sam being brave: "Frodo was lying on the ground and the
monster was bending over him, so intent upon her victim that she
seemed not to heed anything else until Sam was close at hand. It was
not a brave deed Sam then did, for he gave no thought to it." The
published version is similar (see quote below).

Heart versus mind. Which is right? Which is more courageous, /for
Sam/?

Was Sam right to take the Ring from Frodo and try to carry on the
Quest alone?

Q.2) Compare these two lines, in the context of Q.1:
"Sam /did not wait to wonder/ what was to be done, or whether he was
brave, or loyal, or filled with rage."
"Then Frodo's heart flamed within him, and /without thinking/ what
he did, whether it was folly or despair or courage...."

So what *does* courage consist of? Is it simply not thinking about
the consequences, and doing what must be done? Is this the same as
following the promptings of one's heart, rather than one's mind?

Q.3) How does the Phial work?
It's driven to shine the brighter "as hope waxes" in the one who
holds it; but it also seems to function as a passive shield around
the bearer's mind, even when it is not glowing brightly (Frodo in
Minas Morgul vale). The brighter it shines, the more effective the
barrier, and the more aggressive its power becomes (it actually
injures Shelob, whereas it seems to do nothing but passively shield
Frodo against the Witch King).

In an early outline, Shelob, then named Ungoliant, actually desires
the Phial, and seizes Frodo to get it. This is much more like the
Ungoliant of /The/ /Silmarillion/.

Q.4) When Sam cries out the verse in Elvish, is this a bit of divine
inspiration, or merely the effect that Elvish verse has on mortals,
so that it remains in his mind, even if he doesn't understand it?

Q.5) Why does the Ring inhibit Sam's /sight/, and sharpen his
/hearing/?
I know this has been discussed to death, so let's hear the opinions
people have formed. What is the relationship of sight and hearing
to the Ring's power?
In an earlier draft, Tolkien wrote that the Ring made Sam /see/
clearer. CJRT writes that T. immediately crossed that out, and
changed it to hearing: "No! heard clearer, crack of stone, cry of
bird, voices...." (HoME, WotR, 'Kirith Ungol') Why the change?

Q.6) Who dug the original tunnel that Shelob inhabits?
"In what far-off time the main tunnel and the great round pit had
been made, where Shelob had taken up her abode in ages past, they
[the orcs] did not know...." Shelob has been there since "before
the first stone of Barad-dur", so the tunnel pre-dates Sauron's
first rise in the Dark Years (S.A. 1000). Early orcs, independent
of Sauron or Morgoth? Doesn't seem the kind of work Men would
perform. Dwarves? Was Mordor an evil place before Sauron, or might
dwarves have been mining there? What was the round pit for --
rather creepy, a dark arena underground...

Q.7) Evidence that Sauron doesn't spend much time looking into his
palantir, at least when he's busy:
"'No, I don't know,' said Gorbag's voice. 'The messages go through
quicker than anything could fly, as a rule. [...] But my patrol
wasn't ordered out for another day, nor any message sent to Lugburz
either: owing to the Great Signal going up, and the High Nazgul
going off to the war....and then they couldn't get Lugburz to pay
attention for a good while, I'm told.'"

Q.8) Interesting tidbit: Gorbag says: "Those Nazgul give me the
creeps. And they skin the body off you as soon as look at you, and
leave you in the dark all cold on the other side." What does this
imply about the souls of orcs? What is "the other side"?
It sounds very much like the description of Morgoth (and later
Sauron and Saruman, one assumes) being cast out beyond the Walls of
Night at the very borders of Ėa: "in the dark all cold". Doesn't
sound like where either Elves' or Men's souls go, (if orcs were
created from Elves or Men, which is where Tolkien was going in his
later thoughts on the matter of fėar).

Q.9) Gorbag and Shagrat come across as almost /likeable/ in their
conversation here. What's /that/ about?

Q.10) Why do the orcs use the tunnel at all? Why not just take
Frodo over the pass to Cirith Ungol? They know that Shelob has been
wounded; why then enter the lair of an extremely dangerous wounded
monster?

Q.11) Re Shelob and her invulnerability: "....but those hideous
folds could not be pierced by any strength of men, not though Elf or
Dwarf should forge the steel or the hand of Beren or of Turin wield
it." Does this mean that an Elf could do it (but we're told that
Shelob has killed elven warriors in the past: "She had heard the
Elves cry that cry far back in the deeps of time, and she had not
heeded it")? Or does it imply that Beren and Turin were the
greatest warriors of all time? I kind of like to think it's the
latter. Take that, you princes of the Noldor!

Q.12) Someone posted a link to an article on Tolkien recently, which
in part read:
"If you still believe that the book has no more explicit depiction
of heterosexual activity than that [Eowyn/Faramir], however, I
suggest you take another look at the disturbing encounter between
Sam and Shelob, the huge and evil female spider, at the end of Book
Four. But I am mainly here to praise Tolkien, not to bury him, and
one bizarrely sexualized scene between hobbit and arachnid does not
spoil my enjoyment of "The Lord of the Rings.""

Whoa. *What*?? OK, let's look at what this guy is talking about:
"The blade scored it with a dreadful gash [...] She yielded to the
stroke, [...] and so Shelob....thrust herself upon a bitter spike.
Deep, deep it pricked, as Sam was crushed slowly to the ground."

Opinions/reactions/mockery? Can you say "reading too much into the
text"? Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female? (and
why oh why does he hate cats?)

Favorite quote:
"No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of
beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth,
alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above
its fallen mate."

-- Ciaran S.


Raven

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Nov 21, 2004, 8:31:25 PM11/21/04
to
"Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:cnqvi...@enews2.newsguy.com...

> Personal note: My beloved cat of 16 years is dying of cancer, and I
> just lost a job, so please forgive in advance if this discussion is
> a bit, er, grim. I usually get all fangirly about Sam/Frodo, but I
> just ain't in the mood right now. (Probably all for the best, eh?)

Sorry to read that.

> Anyone here who has *not* gotten all teary-eyed while reading this
> one? (If so, you don't belong on these newsgroups! <g>)

I haven't wept since I was a child, even when I have needed to. It's a
weakness of mine. Some would consider it a strength.

> Was Sam right to take the Ring from Frodo and try to carry on the
> Quest alone?

His *reasoning* was right, just as Éomer would not sit down and weep over
the dead body of one of his men, or of his king, when the battle was still
raging. As it turned out, it was also the right thing to do, for otherwise
the Orcs would have found the Ring. As it turned out it was *also* right of
him to return to save Frodo, for else he would have been taken alive to
Sauron, and even if you discount the torment given to one individual in a
great conflict involving thousands, this would have happened before Sam
could have reached the mountain. By then Sauron would have tormented the
nature of the Quest out of Frodo, and have posted a guard at the entrance to
the Sammath Naur as well as set all his forces in Mordor on the task of
finding Sam.

> So what *does* courage consist of? Is it simply not thinking about
> the consequences, and doing what must be done? Is this the same as
> following the promptings of one's heart, rather than one's mind?

Courage may be defined in two ways. One is to do something dangerous or
painful. Another involves rather your state of mind: it is to have the
strength of will to do something that frightens or pains you.
If a mother leaps onto the tracks to push her child out of the way of an
oncoming train, then she is certainly corageous by the first definition. A
lot of mothers would, if they survived such an act themselves, have felt
fear for themselves only after the deed.

> Q.9) Gorbag and Shagrat come across as almost /likeable/ in their
> conversation here. What's /that/ about?

It is human nature to like people when we get exposed to their
personalities, and see them as individuals. I don't know what Tolkien's
purpose was, apart from providing Sam with knowledge. Perhaps to make the
reader understand that even the Orcs, at least in their origin, had been
people, though ruined now by the manipulations and tortures of Morgoth and
Sauron. They still retained rudiments of good, or they would have been of
no practical use to their masters. Of course these rudiments were twisted
and perverted, and overlain with misery and a terrible capacity for hatred.
At least this is how I see Orcs. Tolkien seems to have waffled on the
subject.

> Q.10) Why do the orcs use the tunnel at all? Why not just take
> Frodo over the pass to Cirith Ungol? They know that Shelob has been
> wounded; why then enter the lair of an extremely dangerous wounded
> monster?

I suppose it was the shortest way. And I suppose they figured that
Shelob was temporarily harmless precisely because she had been wounded and
driven off by someone. Perhaps they deduced that she would have withdrawn
to her pit, and they would not be going near that.

> Q.12) Someone posted a link to an article on Tolkien recently, which
> in part read:
> "If you still believe that the book has no more explicit depiction
> of heterosexual activity than that [Eowyn/Faramir], however, I
> suggest you take another look at the disturbing encounter between
> Sam and Shelob, the huge and evil female spider, at the end of Book
> Four. But I am mainly here to praise Tolkien, not to bury him, and
> one bizarrely sexualized scene between hobbit and arachnid does not
> spoil my enjoyment of "The Lord of the Rings.""

> Whoa. *What*?? OK, let's look at what this guy is talking about:
> "The blade scored it with a dreadful gash [...] She yielded to the
> stroke, [...] and so Shelob....thrust herself upon a bitter spike.
> Deep, deep it pricked, as Sam was crushed slowly to the ground."

> Opinions/reactions/mockery? Can you say "reading too much into the
> text"? Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female? (and
> why oh why does he hate cats?)

I suppose this bloke has a sex fixation, either because he really does,
or because it is fashionable in his circles. But sometimes an object
penetrating another has nothing to do with sex. Imhoe this is certainly the
case when the penetration involves destruction.

Corvus.


Christopher Kreuzer

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Nov 21, 2004, 9:10:45 PM11/21/04
to
Raven <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:
> "Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:cnqvi...@enews2.newsguy.com...
>
>> Personal note: My beloved cat of 16 years is dying of cancer, and I
>> just lost a job, so please forgive in advance if this discussion is
>> a bit, er, grim. I usually get all fangirly about Sam/Frodo, but I
>> just ain't in the mood right now. (Probably all for the best, eh?)
>
> Sorry to read that.

Me too.

<snip>

>> Q.12) Someone posted a link to an article on Tolkien recently, which
>> in part read:
>> "If you still believe that the book has no more explicit depiction
>> of heterosexual activity than that [Eowyn/Faramir], however, I
>> suggest you take another look at the disturbing encounter between
>> Sam and Shelob, the huge and evil female spider, at the end of Book
>> Four. But I am mainly here to praise Tolkien, not to bury him, and
>> one bizarrely sexualized scene between hobbit and arachnid does not
>> spoil my enjoyment of "The Lord of the Rings.""

That is funny! :-)

Unless... Yes. He is serious.

>> Whoa. *What*?? OK, let's look at what this guy is talking about:
>> "The blade scored it with a dreadful gash [...] She yielded to the
>> stroke, [...] and so Shelob....thrust herself upon a bitter spike.
>> Deep, deep it pricked, as Sam was crushed slowly to the ground."

It is vaguely suggestive, if you can fool yourself into the wrong frame
of mind. I would favour the 'reading too much into the text' verdict.

>> Opinions/reactions/mockery? Can you say "reading too much into the
>> text"? Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female? (and
>> why oh why does he hate cats?)
>
> I suppose this bloke has a sex fixation, either because he really
> does, or because it is fashionable in his circles. But sometimes an
> object penetrating another has nothing to do with sex. Imhoe this is
> certainly the case when the penetration involves destruction.

What? Not even if you make Shelob a virgin? Or if you equate rape with
destruction? It might be a silly over-reading of the text, but I have
seen far worse than this. It is at least vaguely self-consistent for
about two sentences and then falls apart.

Christopher

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

Christopher Kreuzer

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Nov 21, 2004, 9:58:17 PM11/21/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:

> Chapter of the Week
> Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter 10:
> 'The Choices of Master Samwise'

> SUMMARY:

<snip short summary>

Wow! I've always wanted to do this! To do a short (almost non-existent)
summary and do a collection of great questions, but have never quite
felt like it would work. Well, it did work here!

> "Frodo is alive, but taken by the
> Enemy." Biggest cliffhanger in literature, chapter ends, Book IV
> ends.

And that produced a lot of grief for Tolkien apparantly...

Letter 170 to his publishers (30 September 1955):

"When is Vol. III likely now to appear? I shall be murdered if something
does not happen soon."

LOL!

> COMMENTS/QUERIES:
>
> This is Sam's chapter: not one of the Fellowship is left to help
> him, Frodo is unconscious, and Sam must make immense decisions by
> himself, decisions that affect all of Middle Earth.

That is a very important point. He could be (as far as he knows) the
only one of the Fellowship left alive. The courage he must have had to
find to carry on is just incredible.

<snip>

> Q.7) Evidence that Sauron doesn't spend much time looking into his
> palantir, at least when he's busy:
> "'No, I don't know,' said Gorbag's voice. 'The messages go through
> quicker than anything could fly, as a rule. [...] But my patrol
> wasn't ordered out for another day, nor any message sent to Lugburz
> either: owing to the Great Signal going up, and the High Nazgul
> going off to the war....and then they couldn't get Lugburz to pay
> attention for a good while, I'm told.'"

I thought this might be Aragorn's little trick with the palantir, but
that happens several days before the Great Signal went up. The period
that Gorbag seems to be referring to is from March 10 to March 13 (when
the orcs capture Frodo). If you look at the Tale of Years, we are
already several days into the battles that have engulfed the lands of
Gondor, Mirkwood, Lorien, and Rohan. It seems that Sauron's attention is
distracted by this. He may be using the palantir, but just looking in
the wrong direction and not paying any attention to the skeleton forces
manning Minas Morgul and Cirith Ungol. This sort of distraction was
probably Aragorn's intent all along.

<snip>

> Favorite quote:
> "No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of
> beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth,
> alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above
> its fallen mate."

Surely mother and children would be the correct analogy?

If you are going to do the pseudo-pop-sex psychology thing (like the
quote you provided about Shelob), then you have to interpret this as
Frodo as the 'fallen mate' of Sam. And in this sexual context, mate is
not just friend. I hasten to add that this is just those evil Freudian
psychologists trying to twist your mind. Why, a tower of horn and hide
could be a phallic symbol of Shelob as a domination-figure!

I can't just leave it there. I _have_ to think of some way to redress
the balance...

"'Frodo, Mr. Frodo!' he called. 'Don't leave me here alone! It's your
Sam calling. Don't go where I can't follow! Wake up, Mr. Frodo! O wake
up, Frodo, me dear, me dear. Wake up!'"

[is it just me, or is 'me dear, me dear' a particularly unfortunate turn
of phrase for a modern audience?]

"Now he tried to find strength to tear himself away and go on a lonely
journey - for vengeance. If once he could go, his anger would bear him
down all the roads of the world, pursuing, until he had him at last:
Gollum. Then Gollum would die in a corner."

[though it is notable that Sam doesn't kill Gollum later, though of
course by that time Sam knows that Frodo is not dead, but that does show
that this is very uncharacteristic behaviour and thoughts for Sam, which
in turn reminds us how much Frodo means to him, and of the terrible
impact that death can have]

"They [Sam and Frodo] had better both be dead together. And that too
would be a lonely journey.

He looked on the bright point of the sword. He thought of the places
behind where there was a black brink and an empty fall into nothingness.
There was no escape that way. That was to do nothing, not even to
grieve."

[well, good. Tolkien's Sam rejects suicide, like any good Catholic
author would - Túrin anyone?]

"'Good-bye, master, my dear! ' he murmured. 'Forgive your Sam. He'll
come back to this spot when the job's done - if he manages it. And then
he'll not leave you again. Rest you quiet till I come; and may no foul
creature come anigh you! And if the Lady could hear me and give me one
wish, I would wish to come back and find you again. Good-bye!'"

<tearful sniff>

These are all _searing_ insights into Sam's soul. The very essence of
his being is being bared to the reader here. I find it very moving
despite my notes having a tone of ever-so-slight cynicism. Powerful
stuff.

AC

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Nov 22, 2004, 12:58:56 AM11/22/04
to
Shanahan wrote:

<snip>

> Was Sam right to take the Ring from Frodo and try to carry on the
> Quest alone?

I believe that was implicit in the whole concept of the Fellowship. If
Frodo failed, then another member of the Fellowship must continue on.

<snip>

> Q.3) How does the Phial work?
> It's driven to shine the brighter "as hope waxes" in the one who
> holds it; but it also seems to function as a passive shield around
> the bearer's mind, even when it is not glowing brightly (Frodo in
> Minas Morgul vale). The brighter it shines, the more effective the
> barrier, and the more aggressive its power becomes (it actually
> injures Shelob, whereas it seems to do nothing but passively shield
> Frodo against the Witch King).

I suspect some of the enchantment of the Silmaril is at work here. The
Silmarils themselves had the power to harm evil (the burning of
Morgoth's hands), and perhaps this is something of that hallowing.

>
> In an early outline, Shelob, then named Ungoliant, actually desires
> the Phial, and seizes Frodo to get it. This is much more like the
> Ungoliant of /The/ /Silmarillion/.

Yes, Shelob clearly doesn't have that lust for light that her mother did.

<snip>

>
> Q.5) Why does the Ring inhibit Sam's /sight/, and sharpen his
> /hearing/?
> I know this has been discussed to death, so let's hear the opinions
> people have formed. What is the relationship of sight and hearing
> to the Ring's power?
> In an earlier draft, Tolkien wrote that the Ring made Sam /see/
> clearer. CJRT writes that T. immediately crossed that out, and
> changed it to hearing: "No! heard clearer, crack of stone, cry of
> bird, voices...." (HoME, WotR, 'Kirith Ungol') Why the change?

This is a property of the spiritual realm. Witness Frodo's fading at
the Fords.

>
> Q.6) Who dug the original tunnel that Shelob inhabits?
> "In what far-off time the main tunnel and the great round pit had
> been made, where Shelob had taken up her abode in ages past, they
> [the orcs] did not know...." Shelob has been there since "before
> the first stone of Barad-dur", so the tunnel pre-dates Sauron's
> first rise in the Dark Years (S.A. 1000). Early orcs, independent
> of Sauron or Morgoth? Doesn't seem the kind of work Men would
> perform. Dwarves? Was Mordor an evil place before Sauron, or might
> dwarves have been mining there? What was the round pit for --
> rather creepy, a dark arena underground...

It is very sad that we know nothing of the ancient history of these
region. There's plenty I'd love to know, like whether there is some
association between Orodruin and Morgoth. It would seem that Sammath
Naur had some clear power that Sauron required for his crafts, and being
both wise in the lore of the folk of Aule and being so close in the
councils of Morgoth, it suggests to me that Mordor was a place of
importance in times much more remote than the Second Age.

As to the tunnels, my hunch is probably Orcs, though it's also possible
that the Dunedain may have done some work as well, as they are the ones
that built the fortresses to keep an eye on Mordor.

>
> Q.7) Evidence that Sauron doesn't spend much time looking into his
> palantir, at least when he's busy:
> "'No, I don't know,' said Gorbag's voice. 'The messages go through
> quicker than anything could fly, as a rule. [...] But my patrol
> wasn't ordered out for another day, nor any message sent to Lugburz
> either: owing to the Great Signal going up, and the High Nazgul
> going off to the war....and then they couldn't get Lugburz to pay
> attention for a good while, I'm told.'"

I suspect it is an example of Sauron, despite all his powers, not being
able to keep his eyes on too many things at once.

>
> Q.8) Interesting tidbit: Gorbag says: "Those Nazgul give me the
> creeps. And they skin the body off you as soon as look at you, and
> leave you in the dark all cold on the other side." What does this
> imply about the souls of orcs? What is "the other side"?
> It sounds very much like the description of Morgoth (and later
> Sauron and Saruman, one assumes) being cast out beyond the Walls of
> Night at the very borders of Ėa: "in the dark all cold". Doesn't
> sound like where either Elves' or Men's souls go, (if orcs were
> created from Elves or Men, which is where Tolkien was going in his
> later thoughts on the matter of fėar).

Never noticed this before. Perhaps it is a reference to some beliefs of
the Orcs. It would be interesting to see what the Orcs thought of the
fate of souls.

>
> Q.9) Gorbag and Shagrat come across as almost /likeable/ in their
> conversation here. What's /that/ about?

They sound like a couple of guys that would sooner be working on a nice
pint than working for the Man. REally, that's the impression I get.
Sauron holds himself up as a god to his servants, and yet these guys,
Orcs whose ancestors have, pretty much by default served evil for
millennia, sound more like jaded laborers, little real respect for their
betters, but sufficiently fearful of them to tow the line.

>
> Q.10) Why do the orcs use the tunnel at all? Why not just take
> Frodo over the pass to Cirith Ungol? They know that Shelob has been
> wounded; why then enter the lair of an extremely dangerous wounded
> monster?

I get the impression there's a little sport to this. The one thing you
can say about Orcs is that they're not often a cowardly bunch.

>
> Q.11) Re Shelob and her invulnerability: "....but those hideous
> folds could not be pierced by any strength of men, not though Elf or
> Dwarf should forge the steel or the hand of Beren or of Turin wield
> it." Does this mean that an Elf could do it (but we're told that
> Shelob has killed elven warriors in the past: "She had heard the
> Elves cry that cry far back in the deeps of time, and she had not
> heeded it")? Or does it imply that Beren and Turin were the
> greatest warriors of all time? I kind of like to think it's the
> latter. Take that, you princes of the Noldor!

I dunno. It's pretty hard to argue with Fingolfin's taking on Morgoth.
I rather doubt that Beren or Turin would have done that and lasted
half as long. Still, the way even Elrond referred to Beren and Turin in
Rivendell gives the impression that the Elves did indeed hold these Men
in very high regard.

>
> Q.12) Someone posted a link to an article on Tolkien recently, which
> in part read:
> "If you still believe that the book has no more explicit depiction
> of heterosexual activity than that [Eowyn/Faramir], however, I
> suggest you take another look at the disturbing encounter between
> Sam and Shelob, the huge and evil female spider, at the end of Book
> Four. But I am mainly here to praise Tolkien, not to bury him, and
> one bizarrely sexualized scene between hobbit and arachnid does not
> spoil my enjoyment of "The Lord of the Rings.""
>
> Whoa. *What*?? OK, let's look at what this guy is talking about:
> "The blade scored it with a dreadful gash [...] She yielded to the
> stroke, [...] and so Shelob....thrust herself upon a bitter spike.
> Deep, deep it pricked, as Sam was crushed slowly to the ground."
>
> Opinions/reactions/mockery? Can you say "reading too much into the
> text"? Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female? (and
> why oh why does he hate cats?)

I have a feeling that Tolkien may have felt spiders to be a feminine
kind of animal (you know, how some people look at dogs as masculine and
cats as feminine).

<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

Jette Goldie

unread,
Nov 22, 2004, 1:13:53 PM11/22/04
to

"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in message
news:rubod.10063$Yb2....@news.get2net.dk...

> "Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:cnqvi...@enews2.newsguy.com...
>
> > Personal note: My beloved cat of 16 years is dying of cancer, and I
> > just lost a job, so please forgive in advance if this discussion is
> > a bit, er, grim. I usually get all fangirly about Sam/Frodo, but I
> > just ain't in the mood right now. (Probably all for the best, eh?)
>
> Sorry to read that.
>
> > Anyone here who has *not* gotten all teary-eyed while reading this
> > one? (If so, you don't belong on these newsgroups! <g>)
>
> I haven't wept since I was a child, even when I have needed to. It's a
> weakness of mine. Some would consider it a strength.


No, it's definately a weakness.


--
Jette
"Work for Peace and remain Fiercely Loving" - Jim Byrnes
je...@blueyonder.co.uk
http://www.jette.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/


Charles Jones

unread,
Nov 22, 2004, 3:53:23 PM11/22/04
to
In article <cnqvi...@enews2.newsguy.com>, pog...@NOTbluefrog.com
says...

> Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female?

I have always suspected that he did so in view of creatures such as the
black widow spider (latrodectus hesperus) where the male is small and
harmless whilst the female is much larger and more dangerous.

--
Charles Jones (char...@frii.com)
Loveland, Colorado
AIM: LovelandCharles
ICQ: 29610755
MSN: charl...@passport.com

Wafer

unread,
Nov 22, 2004, 4:26:39 PM11/22/04
to
In article <cnqvi...@enews2.newsguy.com>, Shanahan
<pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> writes

>This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
>"Chapter of the Week" (CotW) project.

>SUMMARY:


>
> The plot's
>simple: Frodo has been stung by Shelob and lies unconscious on the
>path to the pass of Cirith Ungol. Sam fights Shelob off, believes
>that Frodo is dead, convinces himself that he must continue the
>Quest alone, and takes the Ring, Sting, and the Phial from Frodo,
>after composing his 'body'. Orcs appear from both Minas Morgul and
>Cirith Ungol and take Frodo. Sam puts on the Ring to hide from the
>orcs, who take Frodo's body through the tunnels. Sam follows them
>far enough to hear that Frodo is alive, having been only paralyzed
>by Shelob's sting. He faints. "Frodo is alive, but taken by the
>Enemy." Biggest cliffhanger in literature, chapter ends, Book IV
>ends.
>

I like what you say at the start of this summary "The plot's simple".
LOL.
I can think of many other chapters in LOTR where the plot is much
simpler. Enjoyed your post though :-)

<snip many interesting comments>

>-- Ciaran S.
>
>

--
Wafer

AC

unread,
Nov 22, 2004, 4:29:47 PM11/22/04
to
On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 13:53:23 -0700,
Charles Jones <char...@frii.com> wrote:
> In article <cnqvi...@enews2.newsguy.com>, pog...@NOTbluefrog.com
> says...
>> Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female?
>
> I have always suspected that he did so in view of creatures such as the
> black widow spider (latrodectus hesperus) where the male is small and
> harmless whilst the female is much larger and more dangerous.

Hmmm.. That's a very good point. I think you may be close to the truth.

Kristian Damm Jensen

unread,
Nov 22, 2004, 4:35:39 PM11/22/04
to
"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in message news:<rubod.10063$Yb2....@news.get2net.dk>...
> "Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:cnqvi...@enews2.newsguy.com...

> > Opinions/reactions/mockery? Can you say "reading too much into the


> > text"? Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female? (and
> > why oh why does he hate cats?)
>
> I suppose this bloke has a sex fixation, either because he really does,
> or because it is fashionable in his circles. But sometimes an object
> penetrating another has nothing to do with sex. Imhoe this is certainly the
> case when the penetration involves destruction.

"Everything is either concave or -vex
so everything you dream, will be something with sex."
-- Piet Hein

Kristian

Stan Brown

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 12:51:03 AM11/23/04
to
"Shanahan" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:

>Personal note: My beloved cat of 16 years is dying of cancer, and I
>just lost a job,

Good heavens -- I'm sure I speak for many when I say you have our
sympathy.

I remember when Dexter the Wonder Cat's kidneys failed at the age of
13, after a couple of years of deterioration, and I had to take him
to the vet's for the final trip. It's a dreadful point to reach, and
I feel for you.

And then to lose a job while that's going on ... !

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Tompkins County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm

AC

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 1:53:14 AM11/23/04
to
On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 00:51:03 -0500,
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> "Shanahan" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>>Personal note: My beloved cat of 16 years is dying of cancer, and I
>>just lost a job,
>
> Good heavens -- I'm sure I speak for many when I say you have our
> sympathy.
>
> I remember when Dexter the Wonder Cat's kidneys failed at the age of
> 13, after a couple of years of deterioration, and I had to take him
> to the vet's for the final trip. It's a dreadful point to reach, and
> I feel for you.

Yes, I remember my old dog Abbie, who I'd got during a rather rough patch in
my childhood and who was my constant companion for years finally passing
away. Part of you says "it's just a pet, you'll get over it", but the other
part screams "My best friend died!"

>
> And then to lose a job while that's going on ... !

Indeed. I extend my sympathies as well.

Shanahan

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 4:02:19 AM11/23/04
to
Raven <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> declared:

> "Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> skrev i en meddelelse

<snip>


>> Was Sam right to take the Ring from Frodo and try to carry on the
>> Quest alone?
>
> His *reasoning* was right, just as Éomer would not sit down
> and weep over the dead body of one of his men, or of his king,
> when the battle was still raging. As it turned out, it was also
> the right thing to do, for otherwise the Orcs would have found
> the Ring. As it turned out it was *also* right of him to return
> to save Frodo, for else he would have been taken alive to Sauron,
> and even if you discount the torment given to one individual in a
> great conflict involving thousands, this would have happened
> before Sam could have reached the mountain. By then Sauron would
> have tormented the nature of the Quest out of Frodo, and have
> posted a guard at the entrance to the Sammath Naur as well as set
> all his forces in Mordor on the task of finding Sam.

Yes, I agree; and it's equally important that he abandon his
reasoning and follow his heart, and quickly too -- or he wouldn't
hear that Frodo is alive, and so wouldn't rescue Frodo.

<snip>


> I suppose this bloke has a sex fixation, either because he
> really does, or because it is fashionable in his circles. But
> sometimes an object penetrating another has nothing to do with
> sex. Imhoe this is certainly the case when the penetration
> involves destruction.

Yep, I think he's got his sexual/violence metaphor vocabulary mixed
up. He's forgotten that these words first came from violence, and
were only later applied as sexual metaphors. So they still have to
be used to describe violence (unless we want to invent a whole new
vocabulary :) ), and double meanings are not always intended. I
guess they can be read into the text, though, at least by this guy!

- Ciaran S.


Shanahan

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 4:04:00 AM11/23/04
to
Kristian Damm Jensen <da...@ofir.dk> declared:
> "Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in

>> "Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> skrev i en meddelelse
>
>>> Opinions/reactions/mockery? Can you say "reading too much into
>>> the text"? Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female?
>>> (and why oh why does he hate cats?)
>>
>> I suppose this bloke has a sex fixation, either because he
>> really does, or because it is fashionable in his circles. But
>> sometimes an object penetrating another has nothing to do with
>> sex. Imhoe this is certainly the case when the penetration
>> involves destruction.
>
> "Everything is either concave or -vex
> so everything you dream, will be something with sex."
> -- Piet Hein
> Kristian

LOL!
(what about flat surfaces?)

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


Shanahan

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 4:23:04 AM11/23/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> declared:
> Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:
>
<snip>

>> "Frodo is alive, but taken by the Enemy." Biggest cliffhanger
>> in literature, chapter ends, Book IV ends.
>
> And that produced a lot of grief for Tolkien apparently...

> Letter 170 to his publishers (30 September 1955):
> "When is Vol. III likely now to appear? I shall be murdered if
> something does not happen soon."
> LOL!

Can you imagine being one of those readers, and having to *wait* for
RotK? Eeeeek!! I think I'd simply have sedated myself to sleep
through the intervening months.

<snip>
>> Favorite quote:
>> "No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of
>> beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little
>> teeth, alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that
>> stands above its fallen mate."
>
> Surely mother and children would be the correct analogy?

You dare question The Professor? ;) Seriously, I've often thought
that when I read this passage. What kind of animals, esp. small
defenseless ones, will fight to defend a mate? I can't even think
of any. Mother and offspring, yes.

> If you are going to do the pseudo-pop-sex psychology thing (like
> the quote you provided about Shelob), then you have to interpret
> this as Frodo as the 'fallen mate' of Sam. And in this sexual
> context, mate is not just friend. I hasten to add that this is
> just those evil Freudian psychologists trying to twist your mind.
> Why, a tower of horn and hide could be a phallic symbol of Shelob
> as a domination-figure!

I guess I'll just have to take up a career of writing Frodo/Sam
slash. <eg> Or maybe Sam/Shelob slash -- no, that's going *way*
too far...

> I can't just leave it there. I _have_ to think of some way to
> redress the balance...
>
> "'Frodo, Mr. Frodo!' he called. 'Don't leave me here alone! It's
> your Sam calling. Don't go where I can't follow! Wake up, Mr.
> Frodo! O wake up, Frodo, me dear, me dear. Wake up!'"
>
> [is it just me, or is 'me dear, me dear' a particularly
> unfortunate turn of phrase for a modern audience?]

I dunno -- it certainly sounds 'rustic English' to my American ears.
(hmm, and it's pretty slash-able, too. ROFL! I *slay* me!)

<snip emotional stuff>


> <tearful sniff>
> These are all _searing_ insights into Sam's soul. The very
> essence of his being is being bared to the reader here. I find it
> very moving despite my notes having a tone of ever-so-slight
> cynicism. Powerful stuff.

Yes, all kidding aside, Sam's bravery and sorrow are heartrending in
this chapter about this "jewel among hobbits". I adore Samwise
Gamgee, Hamfast's son.

Ciaran S.
--
"There is no human situation so miserable
that it cannot be made worse by the presence of a policeman."
- brendan behan


Shanahan

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 4:40:39 AM11/23/04
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> declared:
> Shanahan wrote:
>
<snip>

>> Q.8) Interesting tidbit: Gorbag says: "Those Nazgul give me the
>> creeps. And they skin the body off you as soon as look at you,
>> and leave you in the dark all cold on the other side." What
>> does this imply about the souls of orcs? What is "the other
>> side"?
>> It sounds very much like the description of Morgoth (and later
>> Sauron and Saruman, one assumes) being cast out beyond the Walls
>> of Night at the very borders of Ėa: "in the dark all cold".
>> Doesn't sound like where either Elves' or Men's souls go, (if
>> orcs were created from Elves or Men, which is where Tolkien was
>> going in his later thoughts on the matter of fėar).
>
> Never noticed this before. Perhaps it is a reference to some
> beliefs of the Orcs. It would be interesting to see what the
> Orcs thought of the fate of souls.

/Most/ definitely! Fascinating...

>> Q.9) Gorbag and Shagrat come across as almost /likeable/ in their
>> conversation here. What's /that/ about?
>
> They sound like a couple of guys that would sooner be working on
> a nice pint than working for the Man. REally, that's the
> impression I get. Sauron holds himself up as a god to his
> servants, and yet these guys, Orcs whose ancestors have, pretty
> much by default served evil for millennia, sound more like jaded
> laborers, little real respect for their betters, but sufficiently
> fearful of them to tow the line.

Exactly the impression I get. I think part of Tolkien actually
enjoyed writing orc dialogue and character sometimes. There are
parts of TH where his descriptions are almost gleeful.

>> Q.10) Why do the orcs use the tunnel at all? Why not just take
>> Frodo over the pass to Cirith Ungol? They know that Shelob has
>> been wounded; why then enter the lair of an extremely dangerous
>> wounded monster?
>
> I get the impression there's a little sport to this. The one
> thing you can say about Orcs is that they're not often a cowardly
> bunch.

I like that idea. A little braggadocio.

>> Q.11) Re Shelob and her invulnerability: "....but those hideous
>> folds could not be pierced by any strength of men, not though
>> Elf or Dwarf should forge the steel or the hand of Beren or of
>> Turin wield it." Does this mean that an Elf could do it (but
>> we're told that Shelob has killed elven warriors in the past:
>> "She had heard the Elves cry that cry far back in the deeps of
>> time, and she had not heeded it")? Or does it imply that Beren
>> and Turin were the greatest warriors of all time? I kind of
>> like to think it's the latter. Take that, you princes of the
>> Noldor!
>
> I dunno. It's pretty hard to argue with Fingolfin's taking on
> Morgoth.

Well, okay, I guess I have to give you *that* one. <g>
It's just that I'm sort of desperate to see Turin's undeserved pain
redeemed.
I love the idea Tolkien had at one point, about Turin's spirit
slaying Morgoth in the Final Battle.

- Ciaran S.


Jim Campbell

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 5:19:27 AM11/23/04
to
in article cnum5...@enews2.newsguy.com, Shanahan at
pog...@NOTbluefrog.com wrote on 23/11/04 9:23 am:

>> [is it just me, or is 'me dear, me dear' a particularly
>> unfortunate turn of phrase for a modern audience?]
>
> I dunno -- it certainly sounds 'rustic English' to my American ears.
> (hmm, and it's pretty slash-able, too. ROFL! I *slay* me!)

It doesn't seem a particularly odd turn of phrase round these parts
(Nottinghamshire/East Midlands in general) where the term 'me duck' is
non-gender-specific means of address from casual acquaintances to family
members.

I'm sure someone from the appropriate neck of the woods can confirm or deny,
but isn't the term 'lover' used (or was used) in much the same way round the
Bristol area?

Cheers

Jim

[relurk]

Ermanna

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 9:05:42 AM11/23/04
to

Shanahan wrote:
>
> This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
> "Chapter of the Week" (CotW) project. For the 911, or to sign up for
> a chapter yourself, visit the CotW homepage at
> <http://parasha.maoltuile.org/>.
>
> Chapter of the Week
> Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter 10:
> 'The Choices of Master Samwise'
> =======================================================
> Personal note: My beloved cat of 16 years is dying of cancer, and I
> just lost a job, so please forgive in advance if this discussion is
> a bit, er, grim. I usually get all fangirly about Sam/Frodo, but I
> just ain't in the mood right now. (Probably all for the best, eh?)

Oh, I'm sorry!

<hugs Shanahan>

One or the other would be bad enough but both at once! Melyanna (my cat)
and I are sending you a basket with kitty treats.

<shnip>

Melyanna and Ermanna, the Protector of Kittens and Hamsters

Stan Brown

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 11:53:47 AM11/23/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:

>"'Frodo, Mr. Frodo!' he called. 'Don't leave me here alone! It's your
>Sam calling. Don't go where I can't follow! Wake up, Mr. Frodo! O wake
>up, Frodo, me dear, me dear. Wake up!'"
>
>[is it just me, or is 'me dear, me dear' a particularly unfortunate turn
>of phrase for a modern audience?]

Only for the sort of modern audience with its mind in the gutter.

I'm gay myself, and I never read anything but friendship and loyalty
into Frodo and Sam's relationship -- until I heard others do so.

This reminds me of the old lady who called the police to complain
that the boys going past her house were whistling dirty songs. Or it
reminds me of the bit in Book II about people taking their own peril
into Lórien.

Stan Brown

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 12:00:08 PM11/23/04
to
"AC" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:

>Shanahan wrote:
>> Opinions/reactions/mockery? Can you say "reading too much into the
>> text"? Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female? (and
>> why oh why does he hate cats?)
>
>I have a feeling that Tolkien may have felt spiders to be a feminine
>kind of animal (you know, how some people look at dogs as masculine and
>cats as feminine).

In some species of spiders, it is only the female that is dangerous.
I believe the male black widow is not venomous, for instance (though
I could be wrong). In a number of species, the female is larger than
the male and after they mate she eats him. Tolkien even alludes to
this in his capsule history of Shelob: "Far and wide her lesser
broods, bastards of the miserable mates ... that she slew, spread
from glen to glen, ... to Dol Guldur and the fastnesses of Mirkwood."
(That disposes of the idea that Shelob was a virgin, by the way.)

As for his hatred of cats, that seems very un-English, doesn't it?

Jens Kilian

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 12:59:45 PM11/23/04
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> writes:
> As for his hatred of cats, that seems very un-English, doesn't it?

Where does this hatred-of-cats thing come from? IIRC, one of the poems in
_The Advetures of Tom Bombadil_ is about a cat, and it didn't seem hateful.

(OTOH, to paraphrase Terry Pratchett: If cats weren't so cool and elegant,
we would all realize what nasty, cruel creatures they really are ;-)
--
mailto:j...@acm.org As the air to a bird, or the sea to a fish,
http://www.bawue.de/~jjk/ so is contempt to the contemptible. [Blake]

ste...@nomail.com

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 3:20:40 PM11/23/04
to
In rec.arts.books.tolkien Jens Kilian <j...@acm.org> wrote:

: Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> writes:
:> As for his hatred of cats, that seems very un-English, doesn't it?

: Where does this hatred-of-cats thing come from? IIRC, one of the poems in
: _The Advetures of Tom Bombadil_ is about a cat, and it didn't seem hateful.

Tolkien has several "anti" cat references in his works and elsewhere.
In Letter #219 he says that
"I fear that to me Siamese cats belong to the fauna of Mordor"
which is his way of saying they are the spawn of Satan. :) He
is talking specifically about Siamese cats there, but they are
cats.

In the original version of the Beren and Luthien story
there was a giant evil cat named Tevildo who basically played
the role that was to eventually be filled by Sauron. Tevildo
and his feline underlings were all evil, and their greatest
enemy was Huan the dog.

And then there was Queen Beruthiel and her cats, and none
of them turned out to be very nice either.


: (OTOH, to paraphrase Terry Pratchett: If cats weren't so cool and elegant,


: we would all realize what nasty, cruel creatures they really are ;-)

I like cats. I also like Tolkien's Cat poem.

Stephen

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 4:55:39 PM11/23/04
to
Jim Campbell <jw.ca...@ntlworld.com> wrote:
> in article cnum5...@enews2.newsguy.com, Shanahan at
> pog...@NOTbluefrog.com wrote on 23/11/04 9:23 am:
>
>>> [is it just me, or is 'me dear, me dear' a particularly
>>> unfortunate turn of phrase for a modern audience?]
>>
>> I dunno -- it certainly sounds 'rustic English' to my American ears.
>
> It doesn't seem a particularly odd turn of phrase round these parts
> (Nottinghamshire/East Midlands in general) where the term 'me duck' is
> non-gender-specific means of address from casual acquaintances to
> family members.
>
> I'm sure someone from the appropriate neck of the woods can confirm
> or deny, but isn't the term 'lover' used (or was used) in much the
> same way round the Bristol area?

I have heard the phrase "me love" used in a familiar way (similar to how
"me duck" would be used), but in general I would associate this with
older women saying it in a motherly kind of way. Ditto for "me dear". It
just sounds strange to my ear being said by a man. I find Sam's use of
"my dear master" sounds perfectly OK, but when the "master" bit get
drops it just sounds overly familiar to me. But then maybe you have to
make allowances for grief and the fact that the long journey will have
formed a closer bond between Sam and Frodo than is normal between master
and servant (a bit more like the WW1 batmen that Tolkien acknowledged as
an influence on his depiction of this relationship).

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 5:19:48 PM11/23/04
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>> "'Frodo, Mr. Frodo!' he called. 'Don't leave me here alone! It's your
>> Sam calling. Don't go where I can't follow! Wake up, Mr. Frodo! O
>> wake up, Frodo, me dear, me dear. Wake up!'"
>>
>> [is it just me, or is 'me dear, me dear' a particularly unfortunate
>> turn of phrase for a modern audience?]
>
> Only for the sort of modern audience with its mind in the gutter.

I'll take my mind out of the gutter then! :-)

Seriously, the word 'dear' is one that I tend to think of as reserved
for intimate moments, such as saying 'dearest'. I understand that it may
have more formal or platonic uses (as in starting a letter with
'Dear...') and such uses may have been better understood in Tolkien's
time, but maybe the general perception of the word has changed?

BTW, I agree that overall, the Sam-Frodo relationship is clearly one of
deep and strong friendship and loyalty, as you said. It is just the
ocassional seeming anachronist language that jumps out.

Shanahan

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 8:06:36 PM11/23/04
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> declared:

> Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>> "Shanahan" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>>> Personal note: My beloved cat of 16 years is dying of cancer,
>>> and I just lost a job,
>>
>> Good heavens -- I'm sure I speak for many when I say you have our
>> sympathy.
>>
>> I remember when Dexter the Wonder Cat's kidneys failed at the
>> age of 13, after a couple of years of deterioration, and I had
>> to take him to the vet's for the final trip. It's a dreadful
>> point to reach, and I feel for you.
>
> Yes, I remember my old dog Abbie, who I'd got during a rather
> rough patch in my childhood and who was my constant companion for
> years finally passing away. Part of you says "it's just a pet,
> you'll get over it", but the other part screams "My best friend
> died!"

Yeah, that's exactly the point I'm at right now. He has been my
best friend for so many years. Thanks so much for the sympathy,
guys, Ermanna, et al. It's very much appreciated.

-- Ciaran S.


the softrat

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 9:03:49 PM11/23/04
to
On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 12:00:08 -0500, Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>
>As for his hatred of cats, that seems very un-English, doesn't it?
>
Somewhere I read that JRRT actually *liked* cats. And there is the
poem he wrote for his granddaughter Joanne in "The Adventures of Tom
Bombadil."

Owned by Three Cats, (five in the house total)
the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--
Life would be much easier if I had the source code.

the softrat

unread,
Nov 23, 2004, 9:03:47 PM11/23/04
to
On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 11:53:47 -0500, in alt.fan.tolkien Stan Brown
<the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>
>I'm gay myself, and I never read anything but friendship and loyalty
>into Frodo and Sam's relationship -- until I heard others do so.
>
Well, congratulations! You are the first self-acknowledged gay I have
ever encountered who did not see homosexuality *everywhere*!

And I prefer the old lady who said, "Stand on the bed! Stand on the
bed!" (You make up the rest of the joke.)

Taemon

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 3:18:37 AM11/24/04
to
Jens Kilian wrote:

> (OTOH, to paraphrase Terry Pratchett: If cats weren't so
> cool and elegant, we would all realize what nasty, cruel
> creatures they really are ;-)

I think it's the fur. Cats are very soft to the touch. There are
naked cats but everyone hates them, don't they?

T.


Odysseus

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 5:13:12 AM11/24/04
to
Jens Kilian wrote:
>
> Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> writes:
> > As for his hatred of cats, that seems very un-English, doesn't it?
>
> Where does this hatred-of-cats thing come from? IIRC, one of the poems in
> _The Advetures of Tom Bombadil_ is about a cat, and it didn't seem hateful.
>
Not hateful, no, but somewhat sinister, don't you think?

--
Odysseus

Simon J. Rowe

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 6:42:07 AM11/24/04
to
Jens Kilian wrote:

> Where does this hatred-of-cats thing come from? IIRC, one of the poems in
> _The Advetures of Tom Bombadil_ is about a cat, and it didn't seem
> hateful.

There is a line in a Letter that reveals JRRT loathed Siamese cats, it's
unclear whether this feeling extended to other variants.

AC

unread,
Nov 24, 2004, 10:47:05 AM11/24/04
to
On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 11:53:47 -0500,
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>>"'Frodo, Mr. Frodo!' he called. 'Don't leave me here alone! It's your
>>Sam calling. Don't go where I can't follow! Wake up, Mr. Frodo! O wake
>>up, Frodo, me dear, me dear. Wake up!'"
>>
>>[is it just me, or is 'me dear, me dear' a particularly unfortunate turn
>>of phrase for a modern audience?]
>
> Only for the sort of modern audience with its mind in the gutter.
>
> I'm gay myself, and I never read anything but friendship and loyalty
> into Frodo and Sam's relationship -- until I heard others do so.

I don't think it's a homosexual thing, so much as a post-Freudian thing.
There are some people who see sexual references in a box of cereal. I mean,
people ran around insisting Eleanor Roosevelt was a closet lesbian because
of the letters she wrote to female friends, ignoring completely the fact
that the style was very typical of young ladies of the era. People see what
they want to see.

>
> This reminds me of the old lady who called the police to complain
> that the boys going past her house were whistling dirty songs. Or it
> reminds me of the bit in Book II about people taking their own peril
> into Lórien.

Interesting juxtaposition there, Stan! I may never see GAladriel in the
same light again. It may explain Celeborn's surliness however.

Shanahan

unread,
Nov 26, 2004, 5:44:01 PM11/26/04
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> declared:

> "Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:

>> "'Frodo, Mr. Frodo!' he called. 'Don't leave me here alone! It's
>> your Sam calling. Don't go where I can't follow! Wake up, Mr.
>> Frodo! O wake up, Frodo, me dear, me dear. Wake up!'"
>> [is it just me, or is 'me dear, me dear' a particularly
>> unfortunate turn of phrase for a modern audience?]
>
> Only for the sort of modern audience with its mind in the gutter.

And, that's wrong because.... ? <G> I rather like the gutter upon
occasion!

> I'm gay myself, and I never read anything but friendship and
> loyalty into Frodo and Sam's relationship -- until I heard others
> do so.

I'm straight myself, and despite my slash jokes in this thread,
neither did I. Never occurred to me. But it doesn't bother me --
probably because of all the feminist theory crap I've read which
discusses the repressed homoeroticism in all 'war buddy' stories.

Ciaran S.
--
He wears sorrow as others wear velvet.
Tears become him like jewels.


Shanahan

unread,
Nov 26, 2004, 5:46:16 PM11/26/04
to
the softrat <sof...@pobox.com> declared:

> <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>>
>> As for his hatred of cats, that seems very un-English, doesn't
>> it?
>>
> Somewhere I read that JRRT actually *liked* cats. And there is the
> poem he wrote for his granddaughter Joanne in "The Adventures of
> Tom Bombadil."

And he says in Letters that he rescues spiders from the bath.

Ciaran S.
--
"Quel fromage."
"You just said, 'what a cheese'."
"I let it stand."
-p. cadigan


Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Nov 28, 2004, 10:55:34 AM11/28/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@notbluefrog.com> wrote:
> AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> declared:
>> Shanahan wrote:

>> They sound like a couple of guys that would sooner be working on a
>> nice pint than working for the Man. REally, that's the impression
>> I get. Sauron holds himself up as a god to his servants, and yet
>> these guys, Orcs whose ancestors have, pretty much by default
>> served evil for millennia, sound more like jaded laborers, little
>> real respect for their betters, but sufficiently fearful of them to
>> tow the line.

> Exactly the impression I get. I think part of Tolkien actually
> enjoyed writing orc dialogue and character sometimes. There are
> parts of TH where his descriptions are almost gleeful.

I have the feeling that he might have put some "soldier talk" into
it, as he experienced it during WWI. But the comment by Frodo
in a later chapter, when the tracker orc and the big orc quarrel,
is also interesting:

Orcs have always behaved like that, or so all tales say, when they
are on their own. But you can't get much hope out of it. They hate
us far more, altogether and all the time. If those two had seen us,
they would have dropped all their quarrel until we were dead.

- Dirk

Öjevind Lång

unread,
Nov 28, 2004, 6:24:48 PM11/28/04
to
"Dirk Thierbach" <dthie...@gmx.de> skrev i meddelandet
news:2004112815553...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de...

[snip]

> I have the feeling that he might have put some "soldier talk" into
> it, as he experienced it during WWI. But the comment by Frodo
> in a later chapter, when the tracker orc and the big orc quarrel,
> is also interesting:
>
> Orcs have always behaved like that, or so all tales say, when they
> are on their own. But you can't get much hope out of it. They hate
> us far more, altogether and all the time. If those two had seen us,
> they would have dropped all their quarrel until we were dead.

In "The Silmarillion" we are told that "deep down, the Orcs loathed
Morgoth". And in the Appendices to LotR, it is stated that Orcs were "hating
even their own kind".

Öjevind


Flame of the West

unread,
Nov 30, 2004, 8:26:11 AM11/30/04
to
Stan Brown wrote:

> This reminds me of the old lady who called the police to complain
> that the boys going past her house were whistling dirty songs.

LOL - I've never heard that one.


-- FotW

"If you must read newspapers and magazines at least
give yourself a mouthwash with The Lord of the Rings."

-- C.S. Lewis

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Dec 14, 2004, 5:36:45 PM12/14/04
to
In message <news:cnqvi...@enews2.newsguy.com>
"Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>

<snip>

Finally I'm getting here :-/

> Personal note: My beloved cat of 16 years is dying of cancer, and I
> just lost a job,

I hope that it will not be presumptuous to offer my sympathy. Our cat
died some years ago as the result of a fire in the house -- indeed it
never rains but it pours, and I am certainly glad that I didn't have to
face the loss of a job at the same time.

> SUMMARY:

I think that's about the shortest summary we've had so far -- I do wish
I could learn to be this brief ;-)

> "Frodo is alive, but taken by the Enemy." Biggest cliffhanger in
> literature, chapter ends, Book IV ends.

Volume II ends. Sorry, people, there's just a bit of a wait before the
last book will be out . . .

> COMMENTS/QUERIES:

I like all the references to earlier drafts -- it helps to put the
specific passages into another kind of context, often clarifying or
emphasising the underlying ideas. Thanks for that.

> This is Sam's chapter:

More than any other, even 'The Grey Havens' is about more than Sam.
This chapter is about Sam and very little more.

> not one of the Fellowship is left to help him,

As Sam said of Frodo in II,10 'The Breaking of the Fellowship',

" Of course he's had a bit of schooling, so to speak-we all
have-since we left home, or he'd be so terrified he'd just
fling the Ring in the River and bolt. But he's still too
frightened to start."

the same could, in this situation, be said of Sam. Without the
schooling he has been through since he left Hobbiton behind he would, I
think, not have bolted, but rather sat there in indecision until the
Orcs came along and captured them both.

> Frodo is unconscious, and Sam must make immense decisions by
> himself, decisions that affect all of Middle Earth.

A pressure he feels very keenly.

> Something for which he's hardly qualified (as he knows very well).

Is he correct, though?

As far as I can see he did take the only course of action that would
have any chance of success. Granted, he didn't have any idea of that,
and only an incredible stroke of luck allowed them to succeed, but the
point is that Sam's actions were instrumental in setting up the
conditions for that stroke of luck (I am talking, naturally, of the
fight among the Orcs).

Should we take this as being merely accidental? As 'providence' (taking
up Sam's actions and ensuring the continuation of the quest) or was
Sam, unknown to himself, qualified by simply following his heart? (Or
perhaps rather the combination of his heart and wits).

> As Troels quoted a couple CotWs ago, from Letter #246:

<snip quotation>

Many of the following questions rely on your later question of what
courage really is, so I'll tackle that first.

To do the easy thing first, the Compact Oxford English Dictionary
defines courage thus:

"courage
- noun 1 the ability to do something that frightens one.
2 strength in the face of pain or grief."
<http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/courage?view=uk>

In this case I think that definition 1 is the more pertinent one, and
that agrees well with my own impression: that courage is to overcome
one's fears -- not to run heedlessly into danger, or doing something
merely because one is too unimaginative to realise that it is
dangerous.

> Q.1) Is Sam courageous / brave / heroic, or just acting on this
> instinctual loyalty?

In line with the above, I don't think that Sam is being courageous or
brave ("having or showing courage").

I'm a bit more dubious about 'heroic', though. I think that Sam's
attack can well be described as that:

"hero
- noun (pl. heroes) 1 a person, typically a man, who is
admired for their courage or outstanding achievements.
2 the chief male character in a book, play, or film.
3 (in mythology and folklore) a person of superhuman
qualities."
<http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/hero?view=uk>

Sam's actions here would, IMO, qualify for being admired as an
'outstanding achievement' (the reaction of the Orcs show that they
certianly did think that whoever did that to Shelob would have to
posses 'superhuman qualities').

> Sam fights two battles in this chapter: against Shelob; and between
> his own heart and his own intellect. (emphases that follow are all
> mine)

<snip quotations>

And while in the former I don't think he shows courage, I would
certainly think that he does in the latter -- his fear of choosing
wrong almost paralyses him, but in the end he does make a decision.

<snip quotations>

> Heart versus mind. Which is right?

Both in combination. Unfortunately for Sam, this was not possible for
him in this situation as his heart and mind didn't agree.

Oddly I think Sam actually does do the right thing by first following
his mind and then his heart.

> Which is more courageous, /for Sam/?

The mind is necessary for courage, IMO: you have to be aware of your
fear to overcome it. On the other hand it could well involve doing
what, in your heart, you know is right.

In the end I don't think the question can be answered by a simple
'heart or mind' --


> Was Sam right to take the Ring from Frodo and try to carry on the
> Quest alone?

Yes.

I can't see Sam leaving both the Ring and Frodo, and of course that
would also have been disastrous, so had Sam not taken up the Ring, he
would have stayed by Frodo until the Orcs came; they would both have
been found and the quest would have failed.

He may have tried to hide and even been successfull at first, but in
that case they would have had to get past two companies of Orcs manning
the tower and being very alert: there was a dangerous "Elf warrior"
loose and the Witch-king had been nervous in the vale. I think it's
unlikely that the two Hobbits would have been able to sneak past the
Orcs and again the end is that the Hobbits are found and the quest
fails.

In the end Sam's choice allowed himself to go undetected and by letting
(unintendedly of course) Frodo be found the situation was set up that
made the Orcs destroy themselves. Had Sam not chosen to go back and try
to rescue Frodo, Frodo would probably soon have found himself a guest
of honour in Barad-dûr where he would inevitably have revealed all he
knew . . .

> Q.2) Compare these two lines, in the context of Q.1:
> "Sam /did not wait to wonder/ what was to be done, or whether he was
> brave, or loyal, or filled with rage."
> "Then Frodo's heart flamed within him, and /without thinking/ what
> he did, whether it was folly or despair or courage...."
> So what *does* courage consist of?

As I said, I don't think that rushing unthinkingly into danger because
one is enraged or inflamed by the situation constitutes courage. That
means that I think that neither of the above is actually courageous --
both are examples of 'mere' reaction, whether instinctive or inspired.

<snip>

> Q.3) How does the Phial work?

It works ;-)

The Phial of Galadriel is a mystical object, and though we might be
able to work out some kind of logic to its mode of operation, I'm not
convinced that it would be meaningfull to do so. It works.

Sometimes I think we should leave the magic to be simply magical (and
that's coming from me?)

<snip>

> In an early outline, Shelob, then named Ungoliant, actually desires
> the Phial, and seizes Frodo to get it. This is much more like the
> Ungoliant of /The/ /Silmarillion/.

Nice.

As far as I can find Ungoliant was present already in BoLT[1], though
under a slightly different name. Did Tolkien originally intend that Sam
should actually fight Ungoliant, a primordial Evil?

[1] See e.g. Conrad's article:
<http://groups-beta.google.com/group/alt.fan.tolkien/browse_frm/thread/5f653dfde495768c/4a8732ce2c4f032c>
<http://tinyurl.com/5lo66>

> Q.4) When Sam cries out the verse in Elvish, is this a bit of divine
> inspiration, or merely the effect that Elvish verse has on mortals,
> so that it remains in his mind, even if he doesn't understand it?

There are some slight differences between Sam's cry and the usual
version of the song.
<http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/elbereth.htm>

Essentially Sam's cry does seem to be unique and composed for his
particular situation. Unless Sam has listened to some old stories of
fighting the spiders of the Ered Gorgoroth in Beleriand of old while he
stayed in Rivendell, I can't imagine how he could have picked up on
that particular version.

It's a nice idea, though, and one that might still work for some of
these 'inspired' shouts in Elvish.

> Q.5) Why does the Ring inhibit Sam's /sight/, and sharpen his
> /hearing/?

Eh . . .

For literary reasons . . .

The Ring affects the visibility of the wearer, so it makes more sense
that it should also affect his vision rather than his hearing. This
also happened to Frodo both at Weathertop and at the Ford (it doesn't
seem as if he noticed anything at the Prancing Pony). Do these details
from the earlier scenes predate, in terms of the chronology of
composition, this earlier draft of this chapter, which you mention?

At a slightly lower level the wearers of the Rings of Oower are all
capable of interacting with the matter of the physical world: it is
their interaction with the immaterial light that is changed (excepting
the Three, of course).

At a still lower level this is of course nonsense as both rely on
electromagnetic interactions, but that's probably going too far ;-)

> Q.6) Who dug the original tunnel that Shelob inhabits?
[...]
> Shelob has been there since "before the first stone of Barad-dur",
> so the tunnel pre-dates Sauron's first rise in the Dark Years
> (S.A. 1000).

Heh -- good question ;-)

> Early orcs, independent of Sauron or Morgoth?

I don't think that any Orcs existed in the First Age that were
independent of Morgoth. /If/ Orcs delved these tunnels, then it would,
IMO, have to have been between the end of the First Age and the
building of Barad-dûr (c. SA 1000).

That, however, doesn't leave much time, as I think that Shelob came
there not very long after the War of Wrath.

> Doesn't eem the kind of work Men would perform.

The Dead men?

Some of the Men of Dark, who worshipped Morgoth in the First Age, but
never came west into Beleriand, perhaps.

> Dwarves?

It's possible, I guess, though for what purpose I can't imagine. These
tunnels certainly don't seem to be anything like the underground
Dwarven mansions that we've seen elsewhere, neither in purpose nor
extent.

The tunnel

> Was Mordor an evil place before Sauron,

I can't find any reference to Mordor from before (in the internal
chronology) Sauron took it as his abode in c. SA 1000. That might be
taken both ways -- no news are good news, so Mordor was just another
place until then, or just that Sauron chose it for a reason at a time
when that part of Middle-earth was largely unknown to everybody else.

> or might dwarves have been mining there?

That would mean that there is a /lot/ more to it than merely the
passage we see. The passage to the pass would have to be just the
uppermost (or nearly so) corridor in a far larger set of passages. My
problem with that is the Orcs' need for digging side passages for use
when they had to use the pass.

> What was the round pit for -- rather creepy, a dark arena
> underground...

" The special horror of the closed door before which the
skeleton of Baldor was found was probably due to the fact
that the door was the entrance to an evil temple hall to
which Baldor had come, probably without opposition up to
that point. But the door was shut in his face, and enemies
that had followed him silently came up and broke his legs
and left him to die in the darkness, unable to find any way
out."
(VT42 'The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor')

I'm not trying to imply that this is the same case -- an evil temple
built by men who had worshipped, in this case, Morgoth, but /if/ the
tunnels were built by Men (also requiring that these Men were
sufficiently advanced to do so at this early point in their history),
then it might be a suggestion -- if only because it would be
appropriate somehow that Shelob should take up her abode in a place
where once the Morgoth had been worshipped.

> Q.7) Evidence that Sauron doesn't spend much time looking into his
> palantir, at least when he's busy:

Or that he does . . .

If his mind is bent on his palantír, watching the progress of his
armies, then he wouldn't pay attention to (or even discover) what was
going on a bit closer to home.



> Q.8) Interesting tidbit: Gorbag says: "Those Nazgul give me the
> creeps. And they skin the body off you as soon as look at you, and
> leave you in the dark all cold on the other side." What does this
> imply about the souls of orcs?

I'm not sure that it does tell us anything beyond, possibly, what the
Orcs themselves believe.

> What is "the other side"?
> It sounds very much like the description of Morgoth

<snip [*]>
> being cast out beyond the Walls of Night at the very borders of Ëa:

> "in the dark all cold".

Supposedly, as you suggest, the "Timeless Void" beyond the "Walls of
the World".

There's an interesting similarity between the Timeless Halls of Eru and
the Timeless Void -- I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to think
of them as the Heaven and Hell of Arda/Eä.

If these (very tentative) suppositions should hold, then it would mean
that the Orcs' ideas of the eventual fate of their Fëar were that they
1: would leave Arda (in contrast to the Elven Fëar, but similar to the
Fëar of men) and
2: that they would not be allowed into the Timeless Halls, but would
have to remain with their 'sculptor' (to find a more appropriate
word for Morgoth's role than 'creator').

[*]


> (and later Sauron and Saruman, one assumes)

I don't assume that. I usually assume that Gandalf was right about
Sauron "becoming a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the
shadows, but cannot again grow or take shape." I also assume that the
same applies to Saruman. There was, after all, a condition on those
Ainur who descended into Eä:

"But this condition Ilúvatar made, or it is the necessity of
their love, that their power should thenceforward be
contained and bounded in the World, to be within it for
ever, until it is complete, so that they are its life and
it is theirs."
(Silm, 'Ainulindalë')

> Doesn't sound like where either Elves' or Men's souls go, (if orcs
> were created from Elves or Men, which is where Tolkien was going in

> his later thoughts on the matter of fëar).

If we, for a moment, accept the suggestion above (tentative and
sketchy though it is), that this describes the Orcish Fëar going into
the Timeless Void to join Melkor Morgoth, it would be a bit more akin
to the Fate of Men in that they would leave the world.

Potential extensions of that could be that the Fëar of evil men will
find themselves joining the Orcs in the Void, while good men will spend
their after-life in Eru's Timeless Halls.



> Q.9) Gorbag and Shagrat come across as almost /likeable/ in their
> conversation here.

I think I'd have put the emphasis on 'almost' ;-)

> What's /that/ about?

"The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make:
not real new things of its own. I don't think it gave life
to the orcs, it only ruined them and twisted them; and if
they are to live at all, they have to live like other
living creatures."
(LotR VI,1 'The Tower of Cirith Ungol')

Frodo is perceptive, we know, and perhaps here also we see the literary
expression of what Tolkien said in a letter:

"Treebeard does not say that the Dark Lord 'created' Trolls
and Ores. He says he 'made' them in counterfeit of certain
creatures pre-existing. There is, to me, a wide gulf
between the two statements, so wide that Treebeard's
statement could (in my world) have possibly been true. It
is not true actually of the Orcs - who are fundamentally a
race of 'rational incarnate' creatures, though horribly
corrupted, [...]
Suffering and experience (and possibly the Ring itself)
gave Frodo more insight; and you will read in Ch. I of Book
VI the words to Sam." (see quotation above)

"[Creatures created by Morgoth] would be creatures begotten
of Sin, and naturally bad. (I nearly wrote 'irredeemably
bad'; but that would be going too far. Because by accepting
or tolerating their making - necessary to their actual
existence - even Orcs would become part of the World, which
is God's and ultimately good.)"
Letter #153, To Peter Hastings (draft) (September 1954)

In this we may see the confirmation of Frodo's thought -- that the Orcs
were not in origin evil, and that there might still be a hope of
redemption even for Orcs -- even if it cannot be achieved by any of the
incarnates.

<snip>

> Q.12) Someone posted a link to an article on Tolkien recently,
<snip>


> Opinions/reactions/mockery? Can you say "reading too much into the
> text"?

Some people /will/ see double entendre wherever that's possible,
whether intended or not and no matter how contrived the association.

However, I am sure that Tolkien was well aware of the trends in
Freudian analysis of folk tales, even if he doesn't comment upon it in
/On Fairy Stories/. There is, IMO, a non-empty intersection between
folk-tales and fairy-stories, and I can't imagine that Tolkien would
have been ignorant of this, though he would probably have despised the
'sexualisation' of the stories implicit in Freudian analysis.

That's not to say that he was aware of the potential for
misinterpretation in his work, but still -- can you seriously say that
you have never thought 'phallic' even once while reading about all
these bright, tall and erect towers . . . ?

I don't particularly agree with Freudian analysis, but I do think that
there are parts of traditional symbolism that do play on these
emotions, and Tolkien may have consciously used that symbolism even if
he didn't think of it in this way.

> Why *did* Tolkien make Shelob and Ungoliant female?

Because he had made them spiders. Large, dangerous spiders are
invariably female -- I suppose it's related to those species where the
female feeds on the male after the mating.

> (and why oh why does he hate cats?)

He hated Siamese cats (or at least that's the way I interpret his
comment about them belonging to the fauna of Mordor), but I'm not sure
that he hated cats in general -- I'm very fond of cats, but I can't
stand the Siamese :-/

However, he does seem to portray cats in general as less trustworthy
than e.g. dogs (e.g. Tevildo vs. Huan). For that there might be a
number of reasons -- the mood of a cat is more prone to sudden changes
than that of a dog, and though dogs can be just as vicious and cruel as
cats, this is, in normal language (in Danish at least), semi-excused as
madness, while the same excuse is not made for dogs. I suppose that
dogs have had better PR ;-)

> Favorite quote:

And mine:

"/his/ cat he calls her, but she owns him not"

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

"He deserves death."
"Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some
that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too
eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see
all ends."
- Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Dec 29, 2004, 4:35:30 AM12/29/04
to
On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 02:58:17 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

>"'Good-bye, master, my dear! ' he murmured. 'Forgive your Sam. He'll
>come back to this spot when the job's done - if he manages it. And then
>he'll not leave you again. Rest you quiet till I come; and may no foul
>creature come anigh you! And if the Lady could hear me and give me one
>wish, I would wish to come back and find you again. Good-bye!'"

Is "the Lady" here Galadriel? Or Varda?

Not Shelob, one assumes.

R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

R. Dan Henry

unread,
Dec 29, 2004, 4:35:32 AM12/29/04
to
On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 01:23:04 -0800, "Shanahan"
<pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:

>I guess I'll just have to take up a career of writing Frodo/Sam
>slash. <eg> Or maybe Sam/Shelob slash -- no, that's going *way*
>too far...

Look, Shelob just wants to tie up Sam and suck out his juices.
*Nothing* sexual.

Of course, one could always write Gorbag/Shagrat slash if one were
hoping to offend. Or delve into the origins of the name "Shag-rat".

R. Dan Henry
danh...@inreach.com

Jette Goldie

unread,
Dec 29, 2004, 1:06:57 PM12/29/04
to

"R. Dan Henry" <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in message
news:0iu4t0te0tf3juqev...@4ax.com...

> On Mon, 22 Nov 2004 02:58:17 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
> <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>
> >"'Good-bye, master, my dear! ' he murmured. 'Forgive your Sam. He'll
> >come back to this spot when the job's done - if he manages it. And then
> >he'll not leave you again. Rest you quiet till I come; and may no foul
> >creature come anigh you! And if the Lady could hear me and give me one
> >wish, I would wish to come back and find you again. Good-bye!'"
>
> Is "the Lady" here Galadriel? Or Varda?
>


Sam would think of Galadriel - Varda is a little above his
perception at this point.


--
Jette
"Work for Peace and remain Fiercely Loving" - Jim Byrnes
je...@blueyonder.co.uk
http://www.jette.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/


TeaLady (Mari C.)

unread,
Dec 30, 2004, 3:17:08 PM12/30/04
to
R. Dan Henry <danh...@inreach.com> wrote in
news:3iu4t092fc1nakc47...@4ax.com:

Gives a new meaning to the term pencil...

Never mind.

--
Tea"Not 'necked geek'"Lady (mari)

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

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Feb 5, 2005, 5:21:34 PM2/5/05
to
Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:

> Chapter of the Week
> Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter 10:
> 'The Choices of Master Samwise'

Well, it is nearly 3 months later, but I'm now trying to catch up on
some old threads. Sorry for the delayed response, and sorry if I cover
any old ground that was covered elsewhere in the thread. I'm mainly
picking up on a few questions I want to ask, mostly about the Shelob-Sam
fight. Ironically, it might be rather appropriate to resurrect some of
this thread, as it is only a week or so until the CotW project returns
to the Sam/Frodo storyline, with guess who doing the 'Tower of Cirith
Ungol' chapter! (I really didn't realise until I checked it on the
http://parasha.maoltuile.org/ page!!)

> SUMMARY:
>
> Well we all know this chapter like the back of our hands, don't we?
> Anyone here who has *not* gotten all teary-eyed while reading this
> one? (If so, you don't belong on these newsgroups! <g>) The plot's
> simple: Frodo has been stung by Shelob and lies unconscious on the
> path to the pass of Cirith Ungol. Sam fights Shelob off, believes
> that Frodo is dead, convinces himself that he must continue the
> Quest alone, and takes the Ring, Sting, and the Phial from Frodo,
> after composing his 'body'. Orcs appear from both Minas Morgul and
> Cirith Ungol and take Frodo. Sam puts on the Ring to hide from the
> orcs, who take Frodo's body through the tunnels. Sam follows them
> far enough to hear that Frodo is alive, having been only paralyzed
> by Shelob's sting. He faints. "Frodo is alive, but taken by the


> Enemy." Biggest cliffhanger in literature, chapter ends, Book IV
> ends.

I noticed this bit when Sam attacks Shelob:

"Disturbed as if out of some gloating dream by his small yell she turned
slowly the dreadful malice of her glance upon him."

The gloating dream sounds particularly nasty!

We also get some nice descriptions of Shelob:

"Her vast belly was above him with its putrid light.." which is a bit
like the description in the previous chapter: "...the belly underneath
was pale and luminous and gave forth a stench."

Are there any animals that have this kind of luminosity and/or stench,
both in Tolkien's writings and in the real world and in real world
myths?

I've also noticed how _short_ the battle is between Sam and Shelob. This
is, IMO, very realistic. Sam was greatly overmatched, and only a lucky
early blow (which is what happened) would give him any chance of
victory. In contrast, the Jackson film has an overly lengthened battle
between Sam and Shelob. It looked nice, but ultimately Sam was given too
many chances by Shelob for it to be realistic. In the book, for example,
straight after the crucial blow, Sam is close to swooning and being
overcome by the stench of Shelob:

"his senses reeling in the foul stench, his two hands still gripping the
hilt of the sword. Through the mist before his eyes he was aware dimly
of Frodo's face and stubbornly he fought to master himself and to drag
himself out of the swoon that was upon him."

Is the sight of Frodo's face inspiring him to fight on?

And another thing, that I don't think has been mentioned, is the
inspiration behind Sam's use of the phial:

"...a thought came to him, as if some remote voice had spoken..."

Are we meant to think that a remote voice really has spoken in his mind?
Much like the voice from the West with Faramir/Boromir's dream?

"in the West a pale light lingered, and out of it I heard a voice,
remote but clear, crying: Seek for the Sword that was broken..." (The
Council of Elrond)

and Galadriel in the previous chapter:

"And you, Ring-bearer, he heard her say, remote but clear, for you I
have prepared this." (Sam in Shelob's Lair, remembering Galadriel's gift
to Frodo of the star-glass)

[START BRIEF ASIDE]

Incidentially, the word remote seems to be a common motif in Tolkien,
signifying something deeper and more mysterious than the normal world:

"They shone piercingly bright, and yet remote, as if out of a great
depth." (The letters on the Ring after Frodo put it in the fire at Bag
End)

"...there were two eyes, very cold though lit with a pale light that
seemed to come from some remote distance." (The eyes of the
Barrow-wight)

Those two quotes were distant distances.

"...present and yet remote, a living vision of that which has already
been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time." (Galadriel as the
Fellowship leave Lothlorien)

"...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." (Frodo at the Black Gate, remembering the moment in Bag End)

Those two quotes were remote times.

[END BRIEF ASIDE]

> Q.3) How does the Phial work?

The mention of Galadriel's name, and the touch of the phial, seem to
prompt Sam's memory, which might be a crucial part of the process,
especially the memory of Sam's beloved Shire:

"...then he heard voices far off but clear: the crying of the Elves as
they walked under the stars in the beloved shadows of the Shire, and the
music of the Elves as it came through his sleep in the Hall of Fire in
the house of Elrond."

This is then followed by his use of the Elvish verse. It also seems that
the overall effect of this is to help Sam recover from his near-swoon:

"And with that he staggered to his feet and was Samwise the hobbit,
Hamfast's son, again."

But there does also seem to be some feedback mechanism going on, as
Tolkien puts it, rather more poetically:

"As if his indomitable spirit had set its potency in motion, the glass
blazed suddenly like a white torch in his hand. It flamed like a star
that leaping from the firmament sears the dark air with intolerable
light. No such terror out of heaven had ever burned in Shelob's face
before. The beams of it entered into her wounded head and scored it with
unbearable pain, and the dreadful infection of light spread from eye to
eye. She fell back beating the air with her forelegs, her sight blasted
by inner lightnings, her mind in agony. Then turning her maimed head
away, she rolled aside and began to crawl, claw by claw, towards the
opening in the dark cliff behind."

Phew! What writing! I particularly like the depiction of light as an
_infection_ (a bit like the previous depictions of dark as a thing with
a separate, cloying existence). It is also appropriate that the phial is
compared with a star - the light is after all from the Silmaril that is
Earendil's star).

It seems as if the first stroke that Sam made on Shelob, wounding an
eye, is particularly important, as this allows the light to enter. Back
in Shelob's Lair, the use of the phial had not had this effect; either
it was not potent enough then, or, more likely, the wounding of one of
Shelob's eyes made the difference.

> Q.1) Is Sam courageous / brave / heroic, or just acting on this
> instinctual loyalty?


One bit I noticed was the fact that Sam realises that Frodo lying there
seemingly dead is the scene that Sam saw in the Mirror of Galadriel. I
wonder if he had known back in Lorien what that scene meant, and that
Frodo was not just asleep, whether he would have had the courage to
continue from Lorien??

But getting back to this chapter, you point out that Sam fights two
battles, one against Shelob, and one in his mind, the eponymous choices
of the chapter title.

I'd say that Sam courage against Shelob was instinctive, and that it
took great courage to amke his choice to carry on alone (a strength of
will to overcome the heart) and instinctive courage (again) to return to
defend Frodo's body against the orcs. But I would say that his courage
and will to carry on failed him when the orcs spotted Frodo's body:

"With a dreadful stroke Sam was wakened from his cowering mood. They had
seen his master. What would they do? He had heard tales of the Orcs to
make the blood run cold. It could not be borne. He sprang up. He flung
the Quest and all his decisions away, and fear and doubt with them. He k
new now where his place was and had been: at his master's side..."

As it happens, things turned out better that way, which shows that
courage, loyalty, intellect and wisdom are not always the answer to a
problem. With hindsight you might say that Sam should have hidden
Frodo's body, and should not have run back to defend a seemingly dead
body, but that is about all that can be said without making it too
complicated.

One thing that really struck me was how deeply Sam is affected by the
apparent death of Frodo:

"And then black despair came down on him, and Sam bowed to the ground,
and drew his grey hood over his head, and night came into his heart, and
he knew no more."

This is noticable for being an immediate reaction. Sometimes grief like
this can be delayed as self-preservation remains to the fore, but Sam's
grief is immediate and shattering. I'm not sure if this means anything,
other than that Sam was so shaken by what had happened that, for the
moment, he didn't care about anything, still less what happened to him.

> Was Sam right to take the Ring from Frodo and try to carry on the
> Quest alone?

I would say yes, he was right to do this.

It is interesting the effect the Ring has when Sam first puts it on:

"...he bent his own neck and put the chain upon it, and at once his head
was bowed to the ground with the weight of the Ring, as if a great stone
had been strung on him. But slowly, as if the weight became less, or new
strength grew in him, he raised his head, and then with a great effort
got to his feet and found that he could walk and bear his burden."

What on ME would cause this??

> Q.8) Interesting tidbit: Gorbag says: "Those Nazgul give me the
> creeps. And they skin the body off you as soon as look at you, and
> leave you in the dark all cold on the other side." What does this

> imply about the souls of orcs? What is "the other side"?
> It sounds very much like the description of Morgoth (and later
> Sauron and Saruman, one assumes) being cast out beyond the Walls of
> Night at the very borders of Ëa: "in the dark all cold". Doesn't


> sound like where either Elves' or Men's souls go, (if orcs were
> created from Elves or Men, which is where Tolkien was going in his
> later thoughts on the matter of fëar).

This bit is very strange. I don't really have much to add to what others
have said, except that I think it reminds me more of souls in torment,
rather than orcs in an afterlife. A bit more like: "He will bear thee
away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh
shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled mind be left naked to the Lidless
Eye." (Witch-King to Eowyn), rather than any description of an orc
afterlife. Also, there aren't really _any_ descriptions of an afterlife
in LotR (as far as I know), so this would be a bit out of character for
the story. Except for the bit I found below: doh!

I was reminded of this seeming reference to an afterlife for orcs, when
I read this bit where Sam is looking at Frodo's face before he leave him
for what he thought was the last time:

"...in that light Frodo's face was fair of hue again, pale but beautiful
with an elvish beauty, as of one who has long passed the shadows."

Long passed the shadows? This seems to be another reference to death, a
bit like saying someone passes beyond the veil (between this world and
the next). But with the elvish reference it could also refer to the
shadowy seas and a voyage west. Not really sure what this 'long passed
the shadows bit means.

And the bit about Frodo's face appearing beautiful in 'death' reminded
me of the descriptions of Frodo/Aragorn in sleep/death respectively:

"Frodo's face was peaceful, the marks of fear and care had left it; but
it looked old, old and beautiful, as if the chiselling of the shaping
years was now revealed in many fine lines that had before been
hidden..." (Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbits)

"...he fell into sleep. Then a great beauty was revealed in him..."
(Aragorn's death scene, Appendix A)

> Q.6) Who dug the original tunnel that Shelob inhabits?

> "In what far-off time the main tunnel and the great round pit had
> been made, where Shelob had taken up her abode in ages past, they
> [the orcs] did not know...." <snip> What was the round pit for --


> rather creepy, a dark arena underground...

I think the round pit is just the place where Shelob lived. It seems to
be the bit described thus in the previous chapter:

"At length Frodo, groping along the left-hand wall, came suddenly to a
void. Almost he fell sideways into the emptiness. Here was some opening
in the rock far wider than any they had yet passed; and out of it came a
reek so foul, and a sense of lurking malice so intense, that Frodo
reeled. [...] It all comes from here, the stench and the peril [said
Frodo]."

And indeed, Shelob seems to have emerged from that void, which I would
guess is the round pit you asked about. The stench and malice is clearly
linked to Shelob.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Feb 6, 2005, 2:47:42 PM2/6/05
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip>

> Sam's actions here would, IMO, qualify for being admired as an
> 'outstanding achievement' (the reaction of the Orcs show that they
> certianly did think that whoever did that to Shelob would have to
> posses 'superhuman qualities').

Gorbag: "...there's someone loose hereabouts as is more dangerous than
any other damned rebel that ever walked since the bad old times, since
the Great Siege. [...] I'd say there's a large warrior loose, Elf most
likely, with an elf-sword anyway, and an axe as well maybe..."

"Sam smiled grimly at this description of himself."

This is relevant for what happens later in the Tower of Cirith Ungol,
but what struck me here was the way Gorbag seems to be talking as if he
was personally at the Great Siege (presumably of Barad-dur at the end of
the Second Age, or maybe of Angband in the First Age).

Can Gorbag and Shagrat be that old?

<snip>

[favourite quote]

> "/his/ cat he calls her, but she owns him not"

"Frodo was alive but taken by the Enemy."

Shanahan

unread,
Feb 7, 2005, 2:28:20 AM2/7/05
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> creatively typed:

> "Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> enriched us with:

> In the end I don't think the question can be answered by a simple
> 'heart or mind' --

Nor I. But with Sam, the heart has to come first.

> Sometimes I think we should leave the magic to be simply magical
> (and that's coming from me?)

;)

>> Q.6) Who dug the original tunnel that Shelob inhabits?

>> What was the round pit for -- rather creepy, a dark arena
>> underground...
>
> " The special horror of the closed door before which the
> skeleton of Baldor was found was probably due to the fact
> that the door was the entrance to an evil temple hall to
> which Baldor had come, probably without opposition up to
> that point. But the door was shut in his face, and enemies
> that had followed him silently came up and broke his legs
> and left him to die in the darkness, unable to find any way
> out."
> (VT42 'The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor')

Oh, /creepy/! What a horrid image.

> I'm not trying to imply that this is the same case -- an evil
> temple built by men who had worshipped, in this case, Morgoth, but
> /if/ the tunnels were built by Men (also requiring that these Men
> were sufficiently advanced to do so at this early point in their
> history), then it might be a suggestion -- if only because it
> would be appropriate somehow that Shelob should take up her abode
> in a place where once the Morgoth had been worshipped.

Interesting idea! I like this. Actually, they were probably a
natural set of caves enlarged by Shelob herself. The pit a handy
place to throw bones. Perhaps she slept there, or simply waited on a
heap of corpses for more prey. Explains the stench...ick.

>> What is "the other side"?
>> It sounds very much like the description of Morgoth

>> being cast out beyond the Walls of Night at the very borders of
>> Ëa: "in the dark all cold".
>
> Supposedly, as you suggest, the "Timeless Void" beyond the "Walls
> of the World".
> There's an interesting similarity between the Timeless Halls of
> Eru and the Timeless Void -- I don't think it's entirely
> unreasonable to think of them as the Heaven and Hell of Arda/Eä.

<snip>


> If these (very tentative) suppositions should hold, then it would
> mean that the Orcs' ideas of the eventual fate of their Fëar were
> that they 1: would leave Arda (in contrast to the Elven Fëar, but
> similar to the Fëar of men) and
> 2: that they would not be allowed into the Timeless Halls, but
> would have to remain with their 'sculptor' (to find a more
> appropriate word for Morgoth's role than 'creator').

Yes, the orcs seem to believe that their fate is unique. But we as
readers of The Silm. know better: that they are corrupted Elves. (At
least that's the hint we're given.) And since even Melkor could not
alter the souls of Eru's created beings, then the fate of their Fëar
must be the same as that of Elves'.
And the similarity of their fate and that of Men interests me -- it
makes me wonder if maybe this was part of Tolkien's later mythology,
where he moved away from the idea of Orcs being created from Elves,
and toward their being created from Men instead.

>> (and later Sauron and Saruman, one assumes)
>
> I don't assume that. I usually assume that Gandalf was right about
> Sauron "becoming a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the
> shadows, but cannot again grow or take shape." I also assume that
> the same applies to Saruman. There was, after all, a condition on
> those Ainur who descended into Eä:

Sorry, you're right.

<snip>


> "[Creatures created by Morgoth] would be creatures begotten
> of Sin, and naturally bad. (I nearly wrote 'irredeemably
> bad'; but that would be going too far. Because by accepting
> or tolerating their making - necessary to their actual
> existence - even Orcs would become part of the World, which
> is God's and ultimately good.)"
> Letter #153, To Peter Hastings (draft) (September 1954)

> In this we may see the confirmation of Frodo's thought -- that the
> Orcs were not in origin evil, and that there might still be a hope
> of redemption even for Orcs -- even if it cannot be achieved by
> any of the incarnates.

Yes. Letter #153 is very interesting. I wonder if Melkor would be
included in that final redemption -- do Christians and/or Catholics
believe that Satan will be redeemed at the end of time? (Bit of a
pagan myself, I don't know much about theology.)

> However, I am sure that Tolkien was well aware of the trends in
> Freudian analysis of folk tales, even if he doesn't comment upon
> it in /On Fairy Stories/.

Nope, he's rather loudly silent about it.

> There is, IMO, a non-empty intersection
> between folk-tales and fairy-stories, and I can't imagine that
> Tolkien would have been ignorant of this, though he would probably
> have despised the 'sexualisation' of the stories implicit in
> Freudian analysis.

<g> I'm sure he would! He wrote one letter where you can
practically *hear* him shudder at the crudity and lewdness of Irish
myth and folk-tale.

> That's not to say that he was aware of the potential for
> misinterpretation in his work, but still -- can you seriously say
> that you have never thought 'phallic' even once while reading
> about all these bright, tall and erect towers . . . ?

Dear heavens, I have to work remarkably hard to keep those d*mn
images out of my head! Not to mention the "his sword was long / his
lance was keen" and "long was his lance". Sometimes it's hard to keep
a straight face!

> I don't particularly agree with Freudian analysis, but I do think
> that there are parts of traditional symbolism that do play on these
> emotions, and Tolkien may have consciously used that symbolism
> even if he didn't think of it in this way.

Agreed. Freud was a bit extreme, but on the other hand, it's hard not
to make the sword-->phallus-->penetration-->power connection. It's
just, like, *there*, y'know? <g>

Ciaran S.
--
Make fine distinctions about things that don't matter


Shanahan

unread,
Feb 7, 2005, 2:31:16 AM2/7/05
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:

> Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:
>
>> Chapter of the Week
>> Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter 10:
>> 'The Choices of Master Samwise'
>
> Well, it is nearly 3 months later, but I'm now trying to catch up
> on some old threads. Sorry for the delayed response, and sorry if
> I cover any old ground that was covered elsewhere in the thread.
> I'm mainly picking up on a few questions I want to ask, mostly
> about the Shelob-Sam fight. Ironically, it might be rather
> appropriate to resurrect some of this thread, as it is only a week
> or so until the CotW project returns to the Sam/Frodo storyline,
> with guess who doing the 'Tower of Cirith Ungol' chapter! (I
> really didn't realise until I checked it on the
> http://parasha.maoltuile.org/ page!!)

What can I say? I love Sam!

Ciaran S.
--
Pursue multiple narratives that neither explain nor unify


Shanahan

unread,
Feb 7, 2005, 2:47:02 AM2/7/05
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
> Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:
>
>> Chapter of the Week
>> Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter 10:
>> 'The Choices of Master Samwise'
<snip>

> And another thing, that I don't think has been mentioned, is the
> inspiration behind Sam's use of the phial:
> "...a thought came to him, as if some remote voice had spoken..."
<snip>

> "And you, Ring-bearer, he heard her say, remote but clear, for you
> I have prepared this." (Sam in Shelob's Lair, remembering
> Galadriel's gift to Frodo of the star-glass)

Interesting that it is *Sam* who receives these communications. Or
thoughts, or whatever. Everyone always talks about Frodo's visions
and prophetic dreams and general fey-ness, but here's practical,
earthbound Sam, doing the same thing. And Sam was always like that;
since childhood, stories about the Elves have always moved him. Maybe
he's not the ordinary hobbit he seems to be...

> But there does also seem to be some feedback mechanism going on, as
> Tolkien puts it, rather more poetically:
>
> "As if his indomitable spirit had set its potency in motion, the
> glass blazed suddenly like a white torch in his hand. It flamed
> like a star that leaping from the firmament sears the dark air
> with intolerable light. No such terror out of heaven had ever
> burned in Shelob's face before. The beams of it entered into her
> wounded head and scored it with unbearable pain, and the dreadful
> infection of light spread from eye to eye. She fell back beating
> the air with her forelegs, her sight blasted by inner lightnings,
> her mind in agony. Then turning her maimed head away, she rolled
> aside and began to crawl, claw by claw, towards the opening in the
> dark cliff behind."
>
> Phew! What writing! I particularly like the depiction of light as
> an _infection_ (a bit like the previous depictions of dark as a
> thing with a separate, cloying existence). It is also appropriate
> that the phial is compared with a star - the light is after all
> from the Silmaril that is Earendil's star).
>
> It seems as if the first stroke that Sam made on Shelob, wounding
> an eye, is particularly important, as this allows the light to
> enter. Back in Shelob's Lair, the use of the phial had not had
> this effect; either it was not potent enough then, or, more
> likely, the wounding of one of Shelob's eyes made the difference.

Now that's something I hadn't thought of before. Why would her eye
wound make a difference? Because it let the light directly into her
brain?

> This bit is very strange. I don't really have much to add to what
> others have said, except that I think it reminds me more of souls
> in torment, rather than orcs in an afterlife. A bit more like: "He
> will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all
> darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shrivelled
> mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye." (Witch-King to Eowyn),

Yes, it's always reminded me of that quote, too. Great quote.

Ciaran S.
--
Reduce meaning to a hodgepodge of signifiers


james rich

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Feb 7, 2005, 11:57:54 AM2/7/05
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"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote in message
news:cu6r9...@enews4.newsguy.com...

> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> creatively typed:
> > "Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>
>
[snippage}

> > That's not to say that he was aware of the potential for
> > misinterpretation in his work, but still -- can you seriously say
> > that you have never thought 'phallic' even once while reading
> > about all these bright, tall and erect towers . . . ?
>
> Dear heavens, I have to work remarkably hard to keep those d*mn
> images out of my head! Not to mention the "his sword was long / his
> lance was keen" and "long was his lance". Sometimes it's hard to keep
> a straight face!
>
> > I don't particularly agree with Freudian analysis, but I do think
> > that there are parts of traditional symbolism that do play on these
> > emotions, and Tolkien may have consciously used that symbolism
> > even if he didn't think of it in this way.
>
> Agreed. Freud was a bit extreme, but on the other hand, it's hard not
> to make the sword-->phallus-->penetration-->power connection. It's
> just, like, *there*, y'know? <g>

LOL! I suppose I must be remarkably literal minded, but I always think a
sword is just a sword and a tower is just a tower unless someone
specifically points out to me some reason why it isn't. I've never
understood the need to have a sexual subtext to everything; Freud's always
seemed more than a little silly to me.
Barbara

Michele Fry

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Feb 7, 2005, 12:47:53 PM2/7/05
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In article <110f7gj...@corp.supernews.com>, james rich
<aelf...@cableone.net> writes

>LOL! I suppose I must be remarkably literal minded, but I always think a
>sword is just a sword and a tower is just a tower unless someone
>specifically points out to me some reason why it isn't. I've never
>understood the need to have a sexual subtext to everything; Freud's always
>seemed more than a little silly to me.

I believe even Freud once said "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" (as
opposed to being a phallic symbol)...

Michele
==
"Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is
silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation
at a standstill."
- Barbara Tuchman
==
Now reading: The Assassin's Edge - Juliet E McKenna
==
Commit random acts of literacy! Read & Release at Bookcrossing:
http://www.bookcrossing.com/friend/Sass-80

Mästerkatten

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Feb 7, 2005, 1:13:06 PM2/7/05
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>>LOL! I suppose I must be remarkably literal minded, but I always think
>>a sword is just a sword and a tower is just a tower unless someone
>>specifically points out to me some reason why it isn't. I've never
>>understood the need to have a sexual subtext to everything; Freud's
>>always seemed more than a little silly to me.
>
> I believe even Freud once said "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" (as
> opposed to being a phallic symbol)...

IIRC he did so, irritated about the question as to the "freudian"
implications of his own addiction to puffing cigars...

Mästerkatten

Christopher Kreuzer

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Feb 7, 2005, 3:19:07 PM2/7/05
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Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
>> Shanahan <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> wrote:
>>
>>> Chapter of the Week
>>> Lord of the Rings, Book IV, Chapter 10:
>>> 'The Choices of Master Samwise'
> <snip>
>> And another thing, that I don't think has been mentioned, is the
>> inspiration behind Sam's use of the phial:
>> "...a thought came to him, as if some remote voice had spoken..."
>> <snip> "And you, Ring-bearer, he heard her say, remote but clear,
>> for you I have prepared this." (Sam in Shelob's Lair, remembering
>> Galadriel's gift to Frodo of the star-glass)
>
> Interesting that it is *Sam* who receives these communications. Or
> thoughts, or whatever. Everyone always talks about Frodo's visions
> and prophetic dreams and general fey-ness, but here's practical,
> earthbound Sam, doing the same thing. And Sam was always like that;
> since childhood, stories about the Elves have always moved him. Maybe
> he's not the ordinary hobbit he seems to be...

I seem to recall that this has been a constant theme in these Chapter of
the Week discussions. Sam has been a bit of a revelation to those (like
me) who were not aware of these sides to his character. One that I
remember in particular is his silent reaction to looking in Mirrormere.
In a similar vein, I've discovered a lot more about Denethor from these
discussions.

<snip>

[Phial of Galadriel and Shelob]

>> It seems as if the first stroke that Sam made on Shelob, wounding
>> an eye, is particularly important, as this allows the light to
>> enter. Back in Shelob's Lair, the use of the phial had not had
>> this effect; either it was not potent enough then, or, more
>> likely, the wounding of one of Shelob's eyes made the difference.
>
> Now that's something I hadn't thought of before. Why would her eye
> wound make a difference? Because it let the light directly into her
> brain?

I presume that is what "her sight blasted by inner lightnings, her mind
in agony" is saying. I also mentioned that the phial did not have as
drastic an effect in Shelob's Lair, and I have thought of one other
reason why that might be: namely that underground, in the cloying
atmosphere and the tangible webs of darkness in Shelob's Lair, the power
of the phial might be subdued. That is removed now we are outside
Shelob's Lair, and Sam's indomitable spirit seems to be 'powering' the
phial.

Looking at the previous reaction of Shelob to Galadriel's phial:

"They [Shelob's multi-faceted eyes] wavered. Doubt came into them as the
light approached. One by one they dimmed, and slowly they drew back. No
brightness so deadly had ever afflicted them before. From sun and moon
and star they had been safe underground, but now a star had descended
into the very earth. Still it approached, and the eyes began to quail.
One by one they all went dark; they turned away, and a great bulk,
beyond the light's reach, heaved its huge shadow in between. They were
gone." (Shelob's Lair)

So I would say that the later, much more painful, effect on Shelob is a
combination of: being outside Shelob's Lair (removing both normal
darkness and the physical darkness in the lair); possibly Sam's
indomitable spirit being more potent than Frodo's use of the phial; and
the fact that Shelob is here wounded in one eye, allowing an entry point
for the light; and finally a psychological effect in this humiliating
defeat for Shelob.

As to which of these effects is more important, it would be difficult to
say. Frodo, in Shelob's Lair, managed to vanquish Shelob, but not to
cause her such pain. It looks like all the above are needed for Sam to
vanquish Shelob, plus him wounding her in the belly with Sting.

Dirk Thierbach

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Feb 8, 2005, 4:45:54 AM2/8/05
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> creatively typed:
>> "Shanahan" <pog...@NOTbluefrog.com> enriched us with:

>>> Q.6) Who dug the original tunnel that Shelob inhabits?


>>> What was the round pit for -- rather creepy, a dark arena
>>> underground...

>> (VT42 'The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor')

>> I'm not trying to imply that this is the same case -- an evil


>> temple built by men who had worshipped, in this case, Morgoth, but
>> /if/ the tunnels were built by Men (also requiring that these Men
>> were sufficiently advanced to do so at this early point in their
>> history), then it might be a suggestion -- if only because it
>> would be appropriate somehow that Shelob should take up her abode
>> in a place where once the Morgoth had been worshipped.

I have become *very* reluctant wrt. the approach "we know that
in ME there's an example of this explanation, so this other thing here
might have the same explanation". I think it's much better to
allow variety -- and it also increase the "sense of wonder" of the
complexities of ME. IIRC, there's some letter where Tolkien
says something similar, but I cannot find it at the moment.

> <g> I'm sure he would! He wrote one letter where you can
> practically *hear* him shudder at the crudity and lewdness of Irish
> myth and folk-tale.

Which letter is that? (I seem to really have problems remembering
Letters at the moment; maybe I should read them again :-)

> Agreed. Freud was a bit extreme, but on the other hand, it's hard not
> to make the sword-->phallus-->penetration-->power connection. It's
> just, like, *there*, y'know? <g>

Like Barbara, I think in most cases there's no such connection at all.
A sword is a sword. It might be a symbol for power, but there's no
need to reach that explanation via sexual symbolism. There may also
be dreams where objects symbolize sexual (or other) fundamental
issues, but I don't think they're that frequent.

- Dirk

Troels Forchhammer

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Feb 8, 2005, 6:56:26 PM2/8/05