Chapter of the Week LOTR Bk 2, Ch 5: The White Rider

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Hashemon Urtasman

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Aug 2, 2004, 9:51:20 AM8/2/04
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Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 2 "The Two Towers"
Chapter 5 - The White Rider

To check out the other Chapters of the Week or to sign up to do a
chapter of your own, go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org.

SUMMARY


Still looking for Merry and Pippin, the 3 companions are camped out at
the edge of Fangorn forest, close to where the orc bodies were burned by
the riders of Rohan. They wait for daylight to decipher the riddles in
the ground. As a ranger, Aragorn can read even a "bent blade (of
grass)" to find signs in it. The 3 crawled and groped on the ground,
combing the battlefield for signs or tokens of the hobbits. Aragorn
finds a mallorn leaf of Lorien, with some bread crumbs beside it
(lembas) and some cut cords. There is some nice dialogue between the
three about what the signs all mean. They figure that the hobbit(s)
have escaped via Fangorn, and they decide to go after them. More signs
await them furthur on.

A word about Fangorn. Gimli the dwarf finds the forest threatening,
because they were warned about it by Celeborn. (For more on this
warning check in the discussion to the chapter "Riders of Rohan.")
Legolas feels that there is only the faintest echo of "dark places where
the hearts of the trees are black. There is no malice near us; but
there is watchfulness and anger." The trees have been harmed. [1]

They find the footprints of both hobbits near the Entwash river, from
two days before. Later near the end of Treebeard's Hill they find more
hobbit marks, and some strange tracks which Aragorn does not understand.
They look around from the ledge, and see the Great River, and an old
man dressed in rags walking in the trees. Again, they felt suspicuous,
and as in the case of Fangorn itself, something "held a hiddenpower--or
menace." [2]

They try to attack him but Aragorn restrains them, saying it is not
right to "shoot an old man so, at unawares and unchallenged, whatever
fear or doubt be upon us. Watch and wait!" The man tries to talk to
them but they continue to stand wary.

He toys with them a bit, talking to them as a friend, before the grey
cloak falls off and they see a white one beneath. They think it is
Saruman, and attack him, but they fail. They look at him closely and
find it is Gandalf. [3] Gandalf informs them that he *is* Saruman, but
Saruman as he should have been. [4] He has gained more powers of
foresight, but become less perceptive of things nearby. (Like a
mathematician in a sense, forgetful about everyday concerns.) They
exchange stories. Gandalf remarks Boromir suffered a sore trial for a
warrior/king. [5]


Gandalf then explains how he sees things at that point in time. The
Enemy knows the Ring is abroad, but he thinks that the Ring is being
taken to Minas Tirith. He thinks it would be used to attack him, as he
would do if he were in that position. That they would destroy the ring
and let no-one take his place is something he has not even considered.
So rather than defend Mordor, which would have been a devastating blow
to the ringbearer, Sauron attacked Minas Tirith instead. [6] [7]


Gandalf explains about Treebeard and why Fangorn is "dangerous". It is
dangerous in the sense that he himself is, and all people (with power)
are dangerous. It seems that in Tolkiens universe everything is
inherently dangerous to its foes, in the natural world. [8]

Once more the old, ancient aspect of Fangorn is highlighted. Fangorns
"long slow wrath is brimming over." Compare with the haste of the Dark
Lord. "The Ents are going to wake up and find that they are strong."
Compare to the fear and weakness of Sauron. [9] Aragorn is told to go
to Edoras, and reveal himself (with his sword) for the purpose for which
he has waited so long. [10]

Gandalf then lets them know how he escaped from Moria. "Long I fell,
and he fell with me. His fire was about me, and I was burned." (Note
how he uses the passive voice for the Balrog, and the active voice for
himself.) They escaped the abyss; Gandalf following the Balrog (who
knew his way around.) Then on the mountaintop Gandalf threw him over
the side. "Then darkness took me." "I was sent back--for a brief
time." [11][12] "...the slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone."
[13]


Gandalf calls Shadowfax, and he arrives with the company's horses.
Legolas understands what made the horses whinny and neigh (Chapter
2)--they had met Shadowfax, their leader. [14] They set out for Rohan,
to meet King Theoden.


QUESTIONS/POINTS

Q1. What had harmed the trees?

Q2. Why all the ancient, hidden power, menace concentrated into one
place? What a contrast to Gondor and Mordor--the former all ancient
little power, the other all power but with no ancient roots.

Q3. What veil was over Aragorns sight that prevented him from seeing
Gandalf first?

Q4. What is he talking about ("I am Saruman?")? We need more
explanation of this than that.

Q5. Is the Ring more of a trial for those in positions of power, than
for other folks? Does this explain why hobbits such as Sam are less
likely to succumb to it?

Q6. Gandalf says about Saruman that "he has no woodcraft." What does
than mean?


Q7. Gandalf says to Gimli who almost attacked him "Bless you, Gimli son
of Gloin! Maybe you will see us both together one day and judge between
us!" Why bother with this passage? It has a Biblical ring to it.

Q8. What is the significance of having Treebeard named Fangorn, the same
name as the Forest? It sounds like an ancient Greek practise of
personifying abstract concepts with individual characters e.g. Psyche,
Nemesis, etc.

Q. Why does Gandalf say "I am ... Gandalf the White, but Black is
mightier still?" What is the hierarchy of colours?

Q10. What a downer, to go and reveal yourself to rustic little Rohan. I
wonder what this little plot twist was for.


Q11. What does "then darkness took me" mean?

Q12. Who "sent" Gandalf back?

Q13. "The slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone." Would anyone
want to interpret this as an allegorical description of the proletariat?


Q14. Was there predestination or some other power at work, maybe
Gandalf, who forced the horses to flee to make the company go to
Fangorn, knowing that they would not need horses in there?


Any other comments, suggestions, banter, just go ahead.

Hasan

Raven

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Aug 2, 2004, 4:12:34 PM8/2/04
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"Hashemon Urtasman" <no...@nospam.org> skrev i en meddelelse
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> Q1. What had harmed the trees?

Orcs had done so continuously for many years. Just a day earlier the
Rohirrim also did, felling trees for the burning of their slain enemies.

> Q3. What veil was over Aragorns sight that prevented him from seeing
> Gandalf first?

Possibly no veil at all, beyond the natural inclination of people to see
what they expect. They guessed that Saruman was near and up to no good, and
believed that Gandalf was dead and gone for ever.

> Q4. What is he talking about ("I am Saruman?")? We need more
> explanation of this than that.

I think it is rather straightforward. He has the power and the mission
which Saruman should have had, would have had had he not strayed from his
purpose and fallen from virtue. Possibly he chooses this wording to console
his companions, who raised weapons against him mistaking him for Saruman.

> Q5. Is the Ring more of a trial for those in positions of power, than
> for other folks? Does this explain why hobbits such as Sam are less
> likely to succumb to it?

To me this seems a question of opinion. Mine is that this is so, if only
in the same sense that your neighbour's pretty wife is more tempting if she
is beckoning to you when her husband is away than if she shows in her entire
demeanour that she will not be unfaithful to her husband. All else alike,
temptation works stronger the more realistic and the more rewarding it seems
to the temptee.
(Before anyone asks: no, I have never tried to shag my neighbour's wife.
:-) )

> Q6. Gandalf says about Saruman that "he has no woodcraft." What does
> than mean?

He is unskilled at finding his way around in a forest, of reading signs,
of understanding it. He is not "streetwise" in a forest.

> Q7. Gandalf says to Gimli who almost attacked him "Bless you, Gimli son
> of Gloin! Maybe you will see us both together one day and judge between
> us!" Why bother with this passage? It has a Biblical ring to it.

A foreshadowing perhaps of the chapter where Gimli does indeed see them
both and judges them, in Saruman's disfavour.

> Q. Why does Gandalf say "I am ... Gandalf the White, but Black is
> mightier still?" What is the hierarchy of colours?

I don't think that there is a hierarchy of colours. Gandalf has chosen
or been given white as his colour, while Sauron is symbolized by black,
either by his own choice or because black, in northern tradition, is the
colour of night, therefore of danger, therefore of evil. Wolves prowl
unseen when the world is black, and folk lose their way if they travel and
come to grief or freeze to death. The side of Gandalf the White is less
powerful than Sauron the Black, both in terms of innate power and in terms
of the opposing armies.

> Q10. What a downer, to go and reveal yourself to rustic little Rohan. I
> wonder what this little plot twist was for.

Partly the time was come to reveal himself, and as chance would have it
he would reach Rohan first. And partly the purpose may have been to start
small. Even though Rohan has no formal say in the domestic policies of
Gondor, the love and reverence of the Rohirrim will indirectly benefit
Aragorn's claim when he makes it, and also the reaction of the Rohirrim may
serve to indicate what the far more important reaction of Gondor will be.
And of course Aragorn needs to guide the Rohirrim somewhat, and he needs
leave to walk in their land when and where he will, and both are easier if
he reveals himself as Elendil's Heir and the rightful King of Gondor.
Théoden still has the authority to command Aragorn on Rohirric land, but is
unlikely to choose to do so.

> Q11. What does "then darkness took me" mean?

He died, probably.

> Q12. Who "sent" Gandalf back?

God.

> Q13. "The slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone." Would anyone
> want to interpret this as an allegorical description of the proletariat?

I don't think it is an allegory of anything. For one thing Tolkien
didn't like allegory, and for another, in his fiction the lower classes in
the good realms were not downtrodden. If Tolkien had liked to make allegory
it *might* have been taken to mean Sauron's slaves and those of Saruman. My
take on that sentence is that it was one more thing that Gandalf noticed
about the physical world, and then put in poetic language.

> Q14. Was there predestination or some other power at work, maybe
> Gandalf, who forced the horses to flee to make the company go to
> Fangorn, knowing that they would not need horses in there?

I don't think it was Gandalf. The horses were probably scared off by
Saruman. They saw someone who was very probably either he or Gandalf, but
Gandalf stated that they certainly did not see him, and therefore guessed
that they must have seen Saruman. My guess is that Saruman discovered them
there and wanted to put a stick in their wheel. Then, in perfect accordance
with "oft evil will shall evil mar", it would have suited his purposes, or
at least Sauron's purposes, better if he had gone home for a nice cuppa
instead. Providence was perhaps at work. It is just as when Uglúk's Orcs
only succeeded at bringing Merry and Pippin to Fangorn so that the Ents were
roused in time to take a part in the war, probably saving Rohan from being
defeated by Saruman or being overrun by the Orc-army that crossed the Anduin
but were destroyed in the Wold by the Ents.

*Amer.


Öjevind Lång

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Aug 2, 2004, 6:26:28 PM8/2/04
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"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> skrev i meddelandet
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> "Hashemon Urtasman" <no...@nospam.org> skrev i en meddelelse

[snip]

> > Q13. "The slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone." Would anyone
> > want to interpret this as an allegorical description of the proletariat?
>
> I don't think it is an allegory of anything. For one thing Tolkien
> didn't like allegory, and for another, in his fiction the lower classes in
> the good realms were not downtrodden. If Tolkien had liked to make
allegory
> it *might* have been taken to mean Sauron's slaves and those of Saruman.
My
> take on that sentence is that it was one more thing that Gandalf noticed
> about the physical world, and then put in poetic language.

And it is one of those beautiful, haunting expressions in the book that I
always have been particulalry fond of.

Öjevind


Kristian Damm Jensen

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Aug 3, 2004, 2:20:04 AM8/3/04
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"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in message news:<IqxPc.178$II....@news.get2net.dk>...

> "Hashemon Urtasman" <no...@nospam.org> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:sFrPc.17$K7...@news04.bloor.is.net.cable.rogers.com...

<snip>

> > Q11. What does "then darkness took me" mean?
>
> He died, probably.

No, not "probably". Letter #156: "Gandalf really died, ... "

<snip>

Regards,
Kristian

Jonners

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Aug 3, 2004, 2:28:11 AM8/3/04
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>
>
<Snip summary>

> QUESTIONS/POINTS


>
>
> Q6. Gandalf says about Saruman that "he has no woodcraft." What does
> than mean?

Saruman's studies were link to the higher magic arts, he thought other
studies beneath him. Look at his scathing remarks about Radagast "......the
bird tamer, the fool, yet he had just the wit to play the part I set him."
An yet it was possibly Radagast who sent Thorondor to save Gandalf from
Isengard, an act which eventually led to Saruman's downfall.


>
> Q8. What is the significance of having Treebeard named Fangorn, the same
> name as the Forest? It sounds like an ancient Greek practise of
> personifying abstract concepts with individual characters e.g. Psyche,
> Nemesis, etc.

Treebeard does not call himself Fangorn, It is given to him and his forest.
His real name would fill up many books as it forms the story of his life.


> Q12. Who "sent" Gandalf back?

Manwe Sulimo or Elbereth probably (See the Silmarillion:
Valaquenta/Ainulindale)


>
> Q13. "The slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone." Would anyone
> want to interpret this as an allegorical description of the proletariat?

Tolkien intended no allegory in any part of the book, read the foreword.
>
> Hasan


Kristian Damm Jensen

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Aug 3, 2004, 7:45:00 AM8/3/04
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"Jonners" <j...@43-xarun.freeserve.co.uk> wrote in message news:<cenb9s$rvf$1...@newsg1.svr.pol.co.uk>...

<Snip>

> > Q12. Who "sent" Gandalf back?
>
> Manwe Sulimo or Elbereth probably (See the Silmarillion:
> Valaquenta/Ainulindale)

No. Eru. This is made quite clear in letter #156.

Kristian

Jim Deutch

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Aug 3, 2004, 8:26:58 AM8/3/04
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On Mon, 02 Aug 2004 13:51:20 GMT, Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org>
wrote:

>
>Q3. What veil was over Aragorns sight that prevented him from seeing
>Gandalf first?

You see what you expect to see. They all "knew" that Gandalf was dead
and that they'd never see him again: that made him difficult to
recognize. Also, he had changed a good deal.

>Q4. What is he talking about ("I am Saruman?")? We need more
>explanation of this than that.

I take this as mostly-metaphorical, not literally true. Isn't the
quote "I am Saruman, you might say: Saruman as he should have been..."
or something like that (IDHTBIFOM).

>Q6. Gandalf says about Saruman that "he has no woodcraft." What does
>than mean?

Woodcraft is what Aragorn has that lets him deduce what has happened
and to who by looking at a few bent leaves. Saruman can't even find a
mallorn leaf in the grass.

>Q11. What does "then darkness took me" mean?

Gandalf died.

>Q12. Who "sent" Gandalf back?

Eru.

>Q13. "The slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone." Would anyone
>want to interpret this as an allegorical description of the proletariat?

NOPE! No one would! Please!

Jim Deutch (Jimbo the Cat)
--
Q. How many surrealists does it take to change a light bulb?
A. To get to the other side.

aelfwina

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Aug 3, 2004, 9:30:51 AM8/3/04
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"Hashemon Urtasman" <no...@nospam.org> wrote in message
news:sFrPc.17$K7...@news04.bloor.is.net.cable.rogers.com...

> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 2 "The Two Towers"
> Chapter 5 - The White Rider
>
> To check out the other Chapters of the Week or to sign up to do a
> chapter of your own, go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org.
>
> SUMMARY
(snip of summary)

> QUESTIONS/POINTS
>
> Q1. What had harmed the trees?

Orcs


>
> Q2. Why all the ancient, hidden power, menace concentrated into one
> place? What a contrast to Gondor and Mordor--the former all ancient
> little power, the other all power but with no ancient roots.

But Fangorn is far more ancient than Gondor; and the idea of power located
in places is a common one in Tolkien. Think of Rivendell and Lothlorien and
the Old Forest.


>
> Q3. What veil was over Aragorns sight that prevented him from seeing
> Gandalf first?

Just the common one of not expecting him, since he was dead, and combined
with his weariness and exhaustion after their fruitless search.


>
> Q4. What is he talking about ("I am Saruman?")? We need more
> explanation of this than that.

I don't. I think it was just shorthand for "I have the place and function
that Saruman should have taken but failed to."

>
> Q5. Is the Ring more of a trial for those in positions of power, than
> for other folks? Does this explain why hobbits such as Sam are less
> likely to succumb to it?

Definitely. More than once we see those of great power recoiling before the
Ring's temptation.
Hobbits in general are not ambitious of power (with a few nasty exceptions
such as the S.-B's. Now there's a horrid thought--what if Lotho had gotten
his hands on the Ring? *shudder*) and so it makes the Ring's usual advances
difficult.

>
> Q6. Gandalf says about Saruman that "he has no woodcraft." What does
> than mean?

Means Saruman was never a Boy Scout.


>
>
> Q7. Gandalf says to Gimli who almost attacked him "Bless you, Gimli son
> of Gloin! Maybe you will see us both together one day and judge between
> us!" Why bother with this passage? It has a Biblical ring to it.

No, I think it means just what it says. That if Gimli should ever see the
two together he would have a basis for comparing.


>
> Q8. What is the significance of having Treebeard named Fangorn, the same
> name as the Forest? It sounds like an ancient Greek practise of
> personifying abstract concepts with individual characters e.g. Psyche,
> Nemesis, etc.

No. I think that the forest was named for Treebeard, not the other way
around.


>
> Q. Why does Gandalf say "I am ... Gandalf the White, but Black is
> mightier still?" What is the hierarchy of colours?

I don't think it is anything to do with a hierarchy. As the White, Gandalf
has more power than he did, but he is only one Maia. Sauron has had his
power far longer, and is backed up by legions of Orcs and wicked Men and the
Nazgul. So he is still more powerful.


>
> Q10. What a downer, to go and reveal yourself to rustic little Rohan. I
> wonder what this little plot twist was for.

"Rustic little Rohan?" I don't think Aragorn thought of it that way. I
know I never did. He needed allies, and the Rohirrim were there, valiant
and able to assist. And the Rohirrim needed him as well. I don't see it as
a plot twist, I see it as a natural development of the plot as it was going.


>
>
> Q11. What does "then darkness took me" mean?

He died.


>
> Q12. Who "sent" Gandalf back?

Eru.


>
> Q13. "The slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone." Would anyone
> want to interpret this as an allegorical description of the proletariat?

*Shudder* Heavens no! I interpet it as a nice little metaphor, very
descriptive, but allegorical? And even if JRRT *had* cared for allegory, it
would not have been of the political kind. He disliked politics just as
much as he disliked allegory.


>
>
> Q14. Was there predestination or some other power at work, maybe
> Gandalf, who forced the horses to flee to make the company go to
> Fangorn, knowing that they would not need horses in there?

No, I think it was Saruman outsmarting himself again. He had a tendency to
do that.

>
>
> Any other comments, suggestions, banter, just go ahead.

I have always wondered about Legolas' cry when he shot the arrow. Did he
recognize Mithrandir *before* or *after* he loosed it? Did he shoot it as a
kind of salute, deliberately missing, or had it already been shot, and it
was the flaming trick that caused him to recognize Gandalf? For years I
thought it was the first, and then I began to incline to the second. I'm
still vacillating.
Barbara

>
> Hasan


The Arcane Chas

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Aug 3, 2004, 12:49:13 PM8/3/04
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In article <10gv4sj...@corp.supernews.com>, but only after serious
contemplation, aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> put finger to keyboard
and produced the following;

>I have always wondered about Legolas' cry when he shot the arrow. Did he
>recognize Mithrandir *before* or *after* he loosed it? Did he shoot it as a
>kind of salute, deliberately missing, or had it already been shot, and it
>was the flaming trick that caused him to recognize Gandalf? For years I
>thought it was the first, and then I began to incline to the second. I'm
>still vacillating.

It's always seemed clear to me that Legolas deliberately shot the "arrow
high into the air". If he'd intended to hit Gandalf with it he would
surely have taken a more direct route. ;-}

I've also always believed that the "great shout" he gave (*before*
firing) was one of joy and that Gandalf set the arrow alight in some
form of celebration (remember his fondness for fireworks).

--
Cheers,

Chas.

"Reality leaves a lot to the imagination".

AC

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Aug 3, 2004, 12:50:49 PM8/3/04
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On Mon, 02 Aug 2004 13:51:20 GMT,
Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> wrote:
> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 2 "The Two Towers"
> Q4. What is he talking about ("I am Saruman?")? We need more
> explanation of this than that.

I think the meaning is simple, and Gandalf gives it. He has taken Saruman's
place as head of the Istari and chief enemy of Sauron. His enhancement in
stature is more than simply permission to unveil his power, but also to lead
in the final struggle with Barad-dur.

>
> Q5. Is the Ring more of a trial for those in positions of power, than
> for other folks?

That's certainly indicated at the Council of Elrond.

> Does this explain why hobbits such as Sam are less
> likely to succumb to it?

To a point, but Tolkien also makes the point that Hobbits do have a special
resistance to such things.

> Q12. Who "sent" Gandalf back?

"[Gandalf] was sent by a mere prudent plan of the angelic Valar or
govenors; but Authority had taken up this plan and enlarged it, at the
moment of its failure. 'Naked I was sent back for a brief time, until
my task is done'. Sent back by whom, and whence? Not by the Gods'
whose business is only with this embodied world and its time; for he
'passed out of thought and time'. Naked is alas! unclear. It was meant
just literally, 'Unclothed like a child' (not disincarnate), and so
ready to receive the white robes of the highest. Galadriel's power is
not divine, and his healing in Lorien is meant to be no more than
physical healing and refreshment."
Letter #156

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

Jonners

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Aug 3, 2004, 3:14:05 PM8/3/04
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"Kristian Damm Jensen" <da...@ofir.dk> wrote in message
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I defer to your deeper knowledge of the letters. This is my reasoning behind
my statement. In unfinished tales Manwe made the original selection of
Olorin. Although JRRT may have been more definative in his letters, (I will
dig them out), I find it unlikely that Eru should have performed such an
act. Eru only intervenes once after the creation, that is in the destruction
of Numenor and the removal of Valinor. This seems to me too minor an act to
involve Eru directly. I would have thought Manwe and Elbereth would have
taken councel from Eru, but Mandos would have had sufficient power to
re-inorporate Olorin (as he does with the other immortals viz elves) at
their request.


Raven

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Aug 3, 2004, 2:07:20 PM8/3/04
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"Kristian Damm Jensen" <da...@ofir.dk> skrev i en meddelelse
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> "Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in message
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> > "Hashemon Urtasman" <no...@nospam.org> skrev i en meddelelse
> > news:sFrPc.17$K7...@news04.bloor.is.net.cable.rogers.com...

> > > Q11. What does "then darkness took me" mean?

> > He died, probably.

> No, not "probably". Letter #156: "Gandalf really died, ... "

I know full well that Gandalf died, in that his body was damaged beyond
repair and ability to sustain his spirit, which therefore departed, though
it was later put into sufficient repair, as it were, and Gandalf's spirit
returned to it. I wrote "probably" in reference to that particular sentence
in Gandalf's tale.

Ravn.


Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message

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Aug 3, 2004, 4:32:55 PM8/3/04
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In rec.arts.books.tolkien Jonners <j...@43-xarun.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:
> Eru only intervenes once after the creation, that is in the destruction
> of Numenor and the removal of Valinor.

Not exactly. Eru had to intervene in order to send back
Beren and Luthien; the Valar had no power to do that. Eru was
also presumably involved in setting up the situation in which
the Half-elven were able to choose whether to become Elves or
Men. It seems that anything involving anomalies about souls
(anything other than an Elf dying, going to Mandos and then
being released back into Valinor, or a Man dying and going
wherever Men go) had to get Eru's approval.

> This [Gandalf's being sent back] seems to me too minor an act to


> involve Eru directly. I would have thought Manwe and Elbereth would have
> taken councel from Eru, but Mandos would have had sufficient power to
> re-inorporate Olorin (as he does with the other immortals viz elves) at
> their request.

Gandalf does seem to be a special case, since he is neither
an Elf nor a Man, but a Maia who has taken the shape of an old
Man but has the long life of an Elf. Still, the wizards were
Maiar that had chosen to take the shape of Men with all the
limitations that involves. So, it is consistent with the cases
of Beren and Luthien and the Half-elven that Eru should have to
be brought in in order to re-incorporate Olorin on that distant
mountaintop in Middle-earth.

--Jamie. (a Dover edition designed for years of use!)
andrews .uwo } Merge these two lines to obtain my e-mail address.
@csd .ca } (Unsolicited "bulk" e-mail costs everyone.)

Raven

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Aug 3, 2004, 5:12:46 PM8/3/04
to
"Jonners" <j...@43-xarun.freeserve.co.uk> skrev i en meddelelse
news:ceoo5u$mrr$1...@news5.svr.pol.co.uk...

> Eru only intervenes once after the creation, that is in the destruction
> of Numenor and the removal of Valinor. This seems to me too minor an act
> to involve Eru directly.

Tolkien often mentions Providence, directly or indirectly. He does not
explicitly say that eg. it was Eru (which in the fiction is just one of the
Elven names for the God that Tolkien believed in) who caused Bilbo to find
the Ring, but it is easy to get the impression that Eru micromanages many
things. It was then he who "meant" Bilbo to find the Ring and therefore
Frodo to inherit it; it was he who nudged events such that the pity that
Frodo and, in the end, Sam had for Gollum caused the quest to succeed even
though Frodo succumbed to the Ring at the last as he must. Gandalf and his
followers did their utmost to defeat Sauron against overwhelming odds; their
reward for having faith, consciously or otherwise, was that they won.
You might respond that it may have been eg. Manwë who managed it so that
Bilbo found the Ring. But I think that this would be beyond Manwë's
abilities. If he could sit in Aman and direct Bilbo, deep under a mountain
in Middle-earth, to find the Ring just after it had abandoned Gollum, then
he would probably have had much greater knowledge in earlier ages about eg.
the depredations of Melkor, or known the place where Elves and the place
where later Men would awaken. But in the fiction, Eru's position is the
same as that of God in Christian belief, namely that he knows everything and
can do anything he chooses to do.

Corbeau.


Shanahan

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Aug 3, 2004, 11:00:53 PM8/3/04
to
Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> queried us on:

> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 2 "The Two
> Towers" Chapter 5 - The White Rider

> Q5. Is the Ring more of a trial for those in positions of power,


> than for other folks? Does this explain why hobbits such as Sam
> are less likely to succumb to it?

"Plain hobbit-sense." Yes.

> Q6. Gandalf says about Saruman that "he has no woodcraft." What
> does than mean?

I'd like to take this a little less literally than others have
been. I think Gandalf meant that Saruman has no cunning. Gandalf
gives a long list of Things That Saruman Doesn't Know, in that same
paragraph, and implies that Saruman is misdirecting his military
efforts. He's going after Rohan, but Mordor is now his real enemy.
Saruman isn't as clever as he thinks he is.

> Q. Why does Gandalf say "I am ... Gandalf the White, but Black is
> mightier still?" What is the hierarchy of colours?

The colors are symbolic, I think, rather than a rank of power.
White is symbolic of Light, black of the Dark, obviously.
Radagast's brown is symbolic of his affiliation to Yavanna and the
earth; Manwë chose the two blue wizards, thus their color
symbolizes the sky/air. I've never been able to make up my mind
what Gandalf's original Grey symbolizes, perhaps the wisdom of 'old
gray heads'.

> Q10. What a downer, to go and reveal yourself to rustic little
> Rohan. I wonder what this little plot twist was for.

So Tolkien could bring in a people similar to the Anglo-Saxons who
were so dear to his heart. <g> There's a awful lot of Beowulf in
the Rohirrim, for ex. Compare the four companion's meeting with
Eomer to the following:

Then from the wall saw the ward of the Scyldings,
he who the sea-cliffs had the duty to guard,
borne over the gang-plank, bright bossed-shields,
eager war-devices; in him curiosity broke
the thoughts of his heart: what these men were;
then he went to the shore riding his horse,
the thane of Hrothgar; he forcefully shook
his mighty wooden shaft, and with formal words asked:
'What are you armour-wearers
bound in byrnies, who thus your tall keel
over the sea-street leading came,
hither over the waters?'
He was the coast-guardian, he held the sea-watch,
so that on Danish land no enemies at all
with a navy would not be able to ravage.
'Not here more openly began to come
lindenwood shield-bearers, nor you the leave-word
of our war-makers certainly don't know
our kinsmen's consent; never have I seen greater
noble on earth than the one that you are,
warrior in armour; this is no a mere retainer
made worthy by weapons; unless he is belied by his looks,
a unique appearance! Now I must your
lineage learn, ere you far hence,
deceiving spies in the land of the Danes
further fare; now you far-dwellers
you sea-sailors, hear my
one-fold thought: speed is best
for reporting, whence your comings are.'

> Q13. "The slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone." Would
> anyone want to interpret this as an allegorical description of
> the proletariat?

ROFL ... Oo, can I, pleeease? Hilarious!

Ciaran S.
--
A Unicef clearasil
Gibberish 'n' drivel
O Mennen mylar muriel
With a hey derry tum gardol
O Yuban necco glamorene?
Enden nytol, vaseline!
Sing hey nonny nembutal.
- BotR

Emma Pease

unread,
Aug 3, 2004, 8:32:50 PM8/3/04
to
In article <cep8u...@enews3.newsguy.com>, Shanahan wrote:
> Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> queried us on:
>> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 2 "The Two
>> Towers" Chapter 5 - The White Rider
>

>> Q. Why does Gandalf say "I am ... Gandalf the White, but Black is


>> mightier still?" What is the hierarchy of colours?
>
> The colors are symbolic, I think, rather than a rank of power.
> White is symbolic of Light, black of the Dark, obviously.
> Radagast's brown is symbolic of his affiliation to Yavanna and the
> earth; Manwë chose the two blue wizards, thus their color
> symbolizes the sky/air. I've never been able to make up my mind
> what Gandalf's original Grey symbolizes, perhaps the wisdom of 'old
> gray heads'.

I assume grey was for Nienna, sorrow/pity. I believe Olorin is described
as visiting her often before coming to Middle Earth.

In the chapter Gandalf is described as staring straight at the sun. I
think this in part to show his power since only someone powerful _and_
good could do so. Speculation: I do wonder whether he can get
information from the sun since Arien presumably sees much. One reason
for Sauron to cause the darkness may be to cut off one method the
Valar and Maiar have of gathering information.


--
\----
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht

Richard Williams

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Aug 4, 2004, 11:47:58 AM8/4/04
to
In article <10gv4sj...@corp.supernews.com>,
aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> wrote:

>Just the common one of not expecting him, since he was dead, and combined
>with his weariness and exhaustion after their fruitless search.

Yes, Aragorn had certainly not expected to see Gandalf again, naturally
assuming (unlike Galadriel, who must have had a clearer idea of who
Gandalf really was) that Moria was the end of him. It was probably only
after this re-appearance that Aragorn understood the true nature of
Gandalf:

'Yes, we will set out together,' said Aragorn. 'But I do not doubt that
you will come there before me, if you wish.' He rose and looked long at
Gandalf. The others gazed at them in silence as they stood there facing
one another ... Before him stooped the old figure, white; shining now as
if with some light kindled within, bent, laden with years, but holding a
power beyond the strength of kings.
'Do I not say truly, Gandalf,' said Aragorn at last, 'that you could
go whithersoever you wished quicker than I? And this I also say: you are
our captain and our banner. The Dark Lord has Nine. But we have One,
mightier than they: the White Rider. He has passed through the fire and
the abyss, and they shall fear him. We will go where he leads.'

>I don't think it is anything to do with a hierarchy. As the White, Gandalf
>has more power than he did, but he is only one Maia. Sauron has had his
>power far longer, and is backed up by legions of Orcs and wicked Men and the
>Nazgul. So he is still more powerful.

This is even made explicit elsewhere in the chapter: 'Dangerous!' cried
Gandalf. 'And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you
will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark
Lord.'

Richard.

Jim Deutch

unread,
Aug 4, 2004, 4:53:36 PM8/4/04
to

Well, said. Me too.

Legolas doesn't shoot an arrow and miss his target. He just doesn't.

Jim Deutch (Jimbo the Cat)
--

"Nothing is perfect. Nothing is precise and certain (except the mind
of a pedant). Perfection is the mere repudiation of that ineluctable
inexactitude which is the inmost quality of being."

Jonners

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Aug 5, 2004, 1:10:38 AM8/5/04
to

"Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message" <m...@privacy.net> wrote in
message news:2nab3nF...@uni-berlin.de...

> In rec.arts.books.tolkien Jonners <j...@43-xarun.freeserve.co.uk> wrote:

<Snip bits irrelevant to this part of the discussion>

> > Eru only intervenes once after the creation, that is in the destruction
> > of Numenor and the removal of Valinor.
>
> Not exactly. Eru had to intervene in order to send back
> Beren and Luthien; the Valar had no power to do that. Eru was
> also presumably involved in setting up the situation in which
> the Half-elven were able to choose whether to become Elves or
> Men. It seems that anything involving anomalies about souls
> (anything other than an Elf dying, going to Mandos and then
> being released back into Valinor, or a Man dying and going
> wherever Men go) had to get Eru's approval.
>

Beren was mortal and Luthien chose mortality because of him. The resurecting
of mortals is clearly beyond the remit of the Valar. So I would agree that
there must have been some intervention from Eru. Of the fate of men after
death Manwe does not know, and if Mandos does, he has not revealed it.

Are elves who are re-incorporated restricted to Valinor, or may they at
times return to Middle Earth as emissaries. If this is true then Glorfidel
of Gondolin could also be Glorfindel of Rivendell. There are some extant
writings that this is the case. If this is true then Mandos would have been
the Vala responsible for bringing him back. If Mandos can do this for an
elf, surely he can do it for a Maia. The laws of passage from Valinor are
governed by the Valar and not Eru.


aelfwina

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Aug 4, 2004, 10:00:31 PM8/4/04
to

"Jim Deutch" <10313...@compuserve.com> wrote in message
news:41114955...@news.compuserve.com...

> On Tue, 3 Aug 2004 17:49:13 +0100, The Arcane Chas
> <Ch...@the-arcane.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>
> >In article <10gv4sj...@corp.supernews.com>, but only after serious
> >contemplation, aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> put finger to keyboard
> >and produced the following;
> >>I have always wondered about Legolas' cry when he shot the arrow. Did
he
> >>recognize Mithrandir *before* or *after* he loosed it? Did he shoot it
as a
> >>kind of salute, deliberately missing, or had it already been shot, and
it
> >>was the flaming trick that caused him to recognize Gandalf? For years I
> >>thought it was the first, and then I began to incline to the second.
I'm
> >>still vacillating.
> >
> >It's always seemed clear to me that Legolas deliberately shot the "arrow
> >high into the air". If he'd intended to hit Gandalf with it he would
> >surely have taken a more direct route. ;-}
> >
> >I've also always believed that the "great shout" he gave (*before*
> >firing) was one of joy and that Gandalf set the arrow alight in some
> >form of celebration (remember his fondness for fireworks).
>
> Well, said. Me too.
>
> Legolas doesn't shoot an arrow and miss his target. He just doesn't.

Well, now I'm not vacillating any more. Thanks. I'm not sure what caused
me to question that conclusion in the first place.
8-)
Barbara

Sharon

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Aug 5, 2004, 1:48:14 PM8/5/04
to
da...@ofir.dk (Kristian Damm Jensen) wrote in message news:<2c9e2992.04080...@posting.google.com>...

> "Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in message news:<IqxPc.178$II....@news.get2net.dk>...
> > "Hashemon Urtasman" <no...@nospam.org> skrev i en meddelelse
> > news:sFrPc.17$K7...@news04.bloor.is.net.cable.rogers.com...
>
> > > Q11. What does "then darkness took me" mean?
> >
> > He died, probably.
>
> No, not "probably". Letter #156: "Gandalf really died, ... "

This bit of information sets up the most contradictory thoughts in me.

I had never thought Gandalf died. I had thought he had an incredibly
long fight with the Balrog, and the part about he was sent back,
referred to him being healed in some way and sent back from where he'd
ended up the fight. All magically of course, but still living all
along.

So with Tolkien's statement, I find myself thinking things like this:

First I think, "Hmmmph, Tolkien is wrong." I'm not sure what it means
to consider it possible for the author himself to be wrong about his
own work!

Then I think, "Hmmmmph, ridiculous, nobody dies and then gets
resurrected." Which, considering that I profess to be Christian, is a
truly odd thing to think, although it does reveal brutally to me the
fundamental things I struggle with in Christianity.

Then I think, "So why should I object to an 'unrealistic' resurrection
when I don't object to anything else in The Lord of the Rings as
'unrealistic'?!" It's not like I've recently met any walking trees,
flying ringwraiths, furry-footed hobbits, or rings of power turning
people invisible. And certainly never a Balrog, with or without
wings.

Then I think, "Well, haven't I seen some discussion about whether
'going into the West' means dying, or means 'going into the West'?"
But I dismiss that quickly, because I think it obviously means 'going
into the West' and has nothing to do with dying. But then I remember
the halls of waiting, which is where elves who have died go, and have
consciousness, while they wait. Or wait (no pun intended), maybe it's
not correct to say the elves in the halls of waiting "died" -- maybe
it's only Luthien and Arwen who have died among elves.

Then I think, "What is death anyway?" Maybe death doesn't mean
complete extinction and you-can't-be-in-the-story-anymore, but instead
simply means leaving middle-earth and the blessed lands too, but
having an existence still in the halls of waiting or on the high ledge
where Gandalf lay. Then I realize that I started out thinking that
previous sentence just about Tolkien's world, but maybe, just maybe,
it's trying to tell me something about how to think about death in
this world too.

Then I get so puzzled that my chain of thoughts stops.

__Sharon

Jette Goldie

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Aug 5, 2004, 3:13:31 PM8/5/04
to

"aelfwina" <aelf...@cableone.net> wrote

> Hobbits in general are not ambitious of power (with a few nasty exceptions
> such as the S.-B's. Now there's a horrid thought--what if Lotho had
gotten
> his hands on the Ring? *shudder*) and so it makes the Ring's usual
advances
> difficult.


Gollum Mark 2

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


Taemon

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Aug 5, 2004, 5:25:42 PM8/5/04
to
Raven wrote:

> But in the fiction, Eru's position is the same as that of God
in
> Christian belief, namely that he knows everything and can
> do anything he chooses to do.

Which begs the question why he didn't simply destroy the ring and
give everyone the knowledge they needed and learned from the
quest. Omnipotent beings are so... deus ex machina. Eru is an
eagle, I tell you.

T.


David Besack

unread,
Aug 5, 2004, 8:35:11 PM8/5/04
to
>>The colors are symbolic, I think, rather than a rank of power.
>>White is symbolic of Light, black of the Dark, obviously.
>>Radagast's brown is symbolic of his affiliation to Yavanna and the
>>earth; Manwë chose the two blue wizards, thus their color
>>symbolizes the sky/air. I've never been able to make up my mind
>>what Gandalf's original Grey symbolizes, perhaps the wisdom of 'old
>>gray heads'.
>
>
> I assume grey was for Nienna, sorrow/pity. I believe Olorin is described
> as visiting her often before coming to Middle Earth.

I always pictured Gandalf as gray in the off-white sense. In a sense,
"almost Saruman". He was a similar type of wizard, but maybe slightly
less powerful. When he became "the white", he had (for whatever reason,
or through whatever reward) achieved the same power as Saruman, or
perhaps greater.

The movies show a Gandalf clad in a much darker gray, but that was never
the image I had in my mind.

Hashemon Urtasman

unread,
Aug 5, 2004, 9:05:25 PM8/5/04
to
Sharon wrote:
> da...@ofir.dk (Kristian Damm Jensen) wrote in message news:<2c9e2992.04080...@posting.google.com>...
>
>>"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote in message news:<IqxPc.178$II....@news.get2net.dk>...
>>
>>>"Hashemon Urtasman" <no...@nospam.org> skrev i en meddelelse
>>>news:sFrPc.17$K7...@news04.bloor.is.net.cable.rogers.com...
>>
>>>>Q11. What does "then darkness took me" mean?
>>>
>>> He died, probably.
>>
>>No, not "probably". Letter #156: "Gandalf really died, ... "
>
>
> This bit of information sets up the most contradictory thoughts in me.
>
> I had never thought Gandalf died. I had thought he had an incredibly
> long fight with the Balrog, and the part about he was sent back,
> referred to him being healed in some way and sent back from where he'd
> ended up the fight. All magically of course, but still living all
> along.
>
> So with Tolkien's statement, I find myself thinking things like this:
>
> First I think, "Hmmmph, Tolkien is wrong." I'm not sure what it means
> to consider it possible for the author himself to be wrong about his
> own work!
>
> Then I think, "Hmmmmph, ridiculous, nobody dies and then gets
> resurrected." Which, considering that I profess to be Christian, is a
> truly odd thing to think, although it does reveal brutally to me the
> fundamental things I struggle with in Christianity.
>


This would be a good time to discuss the resurrection of Gandalf in
general. I don't know why the story Gandalf hid the fact in by
narrarating the resurrection itself in the passive voice, with only
oblique references to *who* was doing it.

I thought Gandalf was a maia (an angel like thing), so how could he be
dead or alive? Angels, like robots, do not have life or deaths or
rebirths. I don't know how that fits. Maybe this was a dead-end in the
plot.


Hasan

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Aug 6, 2004, 3:23:57 AM8/6/04
to
Sharon <pede...@bowdoin.edu> wrote:

> da...@ofir.dk (Kristian Damm Jensen) wrote:

>> No, not "probably". Letter #156: "Gandalf really died, ... "

> Then I think, "So why should I object to an 'unrealistic' resurrection


> when I don't object to anything else in The Lord of the Rings as
> 'unrealistic'?!"

A good point, that is worth remembering :-)

> Then I think, "What is death anyway?" Maybe death doesn't mean
> complete extinction and you-can't-be-in-the-story-anymore, but instead
> simply means leaving middle-earth and the blessed lands too, but
> having an existence still in the halls of waiting or on the high ledge
> where Gandalf lay.

I don't know how many other works of Tolkien you have read, but for
Tolkien, the "death" of Humans on the one hand, and elves (or maiar like
Gandalf) are quite different things, and the difference is very important.

> Then I get so puzzled that my chain of thoughts stops.

If you want to get somewhat more puzzled, think about the word "sacrifice",
and the Christian position that God does not test anyone beyond his
abilities ("lead us not into temptation"). This applies both to Gandalf
and Frodo.

- Dirk

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Aug 6, 2004, 3:30:25 AM8/6/04
to
Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> wrote:
> This would be a good time to discuss the resurrection of Gandalf in
> general. I don't know why the story Gandalf hid the fact in by
> narrarating the resurrection itself in the passive voice, with only
> oblique references to *who* was doing it.

Because he carefully avoided any direct reference to religion or God.

And, BTW, there are *lots* of oblique (often philological) references
hidden in the LotR that the reader probably "is not supposed" to catch.
At least not without help (I certainly don't, and even with help, I only
get a few). Nevertheless, the references are there, and somehow contribute
to the whole.

> I thought Gandalf was a maia (an angel like thing), so how could he be
> dead or alive?

In the same way that the elves are alive. Or animals.

> Angels, like robots, do not have life or deaths or rebirths.

I don't think that this view on Angels applies to Tolkien. The main
difference between humans, elves and maiar/valar seems to lie in the
connection of the "soul" ("fea") to the "body" ("hroa"). From the word
"Angel", Tolkien kept only the meaning "messenger", and not many of
the other ideas that are usually associated with it.

- Dirk

S.P.

unread,
Aug 6, 2004, 7:12:28 PM8/6/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote in message news:<2004080607235...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de>...

> Sharon <pede...@bowdoin.edu> wrote:
> > da...@ofir.dk (Kristian Damm Jensen) wrote:
>
> >> No, not "probably". Letter #156: "Gandalf really died, ... "
>
> > Then I think, "So why should I object to an 'unrealistic' resurrection
> > when I don't object to anything else in The Lord of the Rings as
> > 'unrealistic'?!"
>
> A good point, that is worth remembering :-)

But isn't it curious the things that stick out for someone as, "this I
*can't* believe?" vs. "sure, goes along with the rest of the magic."
Sorry, "magic" isn't the right word for all this, perhaps "constructed
world" is better. Or sub-creation, as Tolkien used.

As a contrasting example, I just went to see Brigadoon, and although
normally I DETEST stories in which people fall in love in no time with
no apparent reason why, in Brigadoon the characters acknowledge this
and just flat-out say, "it happens and you just know", and I accept it
as very right and perfect and part of what Brigadoon is all about
anyway: faith and miracles.

Oh, oops, maybe I don't detest all such stories. I mean, Eowyn goes
hook-line-and-sinker for Aragorn, doesn't she? Not that that's ever
seemed unmotivated to *me*, since I find myself head-over-heels for
Aragorn myself. I'll have to go back and re-read that part and see
what (if anything) Tolkien puts in for *why* she falls in love with
him.

Actually, I could start musing well in advance about the parts of the
Eowyn-Faramir story that I find convincing and the (tiny) parts that
seem unmotivated, but that ought to wait till that COTW comes up,
oughtn't it?

> > Then I think, "What is death anyway?" Maybe death doesn't mean
> > complete extinction and you-can't-be-in-the-story-anymore, but instead
> > simply means leaving middle-earth and the blessed lands too, but
> > having an existence still in the halls of waiting or on the high ledge
> > where Gandalf lay.
>
> I don't know how many other works of Tolkien you have read, but for
> Tolkien, the "death" of Humans on the one hand, and elves (or maiar like
> Gandalf) are quite different things, and the difference is very important.

A good point, that is worth remembering. :-).

Seriously... thanks for the pointer. I've read the Hobbit and Lord of
the Rings, a few times each; and am just recently starting to read the
rest of the corpus -- just finished the Silmarillion, and starting on
the rest of the History, Letters, etc.

I think one of the things I'm puzzling over is the relationship
between deaths of Humans vs. Elves and Maiar in Middle-Earth; vs. what
that might relate to or elucidate in terms of real-world Humans esp.
in a Catholic or Christian world-view. Although as you remind me, one
ought to distinguish between how Tolkien might have related those (if
at all), vs. how I might relate them in musings inspired by but not
restricted to M.E. or even Catholicism.

> > Then I get so puzzled that my chain of thoughts stops.
>
> If you want to get somewhat more puzzled, think about the word "sacrifice",
> and the Christian position that God does not test anyone beyond his
> abilities ("lead us not into temptation"). This applies both to Gandalf
> and Frodo.

Aaaaaahhh! (Smoke curls from her ears :-).

I would have thought that "lead us not into temptation" meant that God
might test us beyond our ability, and we're asking God not to, please.
Or maybe we're just asking not to be tested at all, even within our
abilities -- and whether God *would* lead us beyond our abilities is a
separate theological matter.

But I must be being thick here, because I don't see anything to be
puzzled about... I think often people do need to sacrifice in the
service of good (even if we might not make that sacrifice... but it
could be argued we ought to... or maybe not that we "ought" too, maybe
it's just an observation, that sometimes certain things could only
come about as the result of sacrifices, and this is one of the sad
things about the world as we find it). OK, OK, I take it back, I am
perhaps somewhat puzzled.

__Sharon

ste...@nomail.com

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Aug 6, 2004, 8:58:00 PM8/6/04
to
In rec.arts.books.tolkien Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote:
: Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> wrote:
:> Angels, like robots, do not have life or deaths or rebirths.

: I don't think that this view on Angels applies to Tolkien. The main
: difference between humans, elves and maiar/valar seems to lie in the
: connection of the "soul" ("fea") to the "body" ("hroa"). From the word
: "Angel", Tolkien kept only the meaning "messenger", and not many of
: the other ideas that are usually associated with it.

The thing that is strange about Gandalf's fate is that "death"
was as unnatural to him as it was to an Elf and Gandalf did not just
die. Gandalf did not leave the world because he died. Had Eru not
intervened, Gandalf's "death" would have been a lot like Saruman's.
Two things happened to Gandalf: his body was damaged by the Balrog,
and his spirit weakened perhaps, to such an extent that he could
no longer continue in his physical body. The second thing is that
Eru plucked him out of reality, fixed him up, and then returned him.
This second part is the strange part. This is really not part
of Gandalf dying, but something else.

Stephen

Dirk Thierbach

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Aug 7, 2004, 4:12:30 AM8/7/04
to
S.P. <peder...@hotmail.com> wrote:

> But isn't it curious the things that stick out for someone as, "this I
> *can't* believe?" vs. "sure, goes along with the rest of the magic."
> Sorry, "magic" isn't the right word for all this, perhaps "constructed
> world" is better. Or sub-creation, as Tolkien used.

Or "suspension of disbelief". And yes, it is curious. But IMHO it
often relates as much to the reader as it does to the book.

> As a contrasting example, I just went to see Brigadoon, and although
> normally I DETEST stories in which people fall in love in no time with
> no apparent reason why, in Brigadoon the characters acknowledge this
> and just flat-out say, "it happens and you just know", and I accept it
> as very right and perfect and part of what Brigadoon is all about
> anyway: faith and miracles.

Haven't heard anything about Brigadoon yet, but sometimes people *do*
fall in love in no time with no apperent reason why. Ok, it doesn't
happen so often. And as a cliche in a book or film it's not very
interesting, true.

>> I don't know how many other works of Tolkien you have read, but for
>> Tolkien, the "death" of Humans on the one hand, and elves (or maiar like
>> Gandalf) are quite different things, and the difference is very important.

> Seriously... thanks for the pointer. I've read the Hobbit and Lord of


> the Rings, a few times each; and am just recently starting to read the
> rest of the corpus -- just finished the Silmarillion, and starting on
> the rest of the History, Letters, etc.

If you read the SIL only once, maybe you should skim over the beginning
again. And you should read Letters as soon as possible :-)

> I think one of the things I'm puzzling over is the relationship
> between deaths of Humans vs. Elves and Maiar in Middle-Earth; vs. what
> that might relate to or elucidate in terms of real-world Humans esp.
> in a Catholic or Christian world-view.

Good question. Keep reading :-)

> I would have thought that "lead us not into temptation" meant that God
> might test us beyond our ability, and we're asking God not to, please.
> Or maybe we're just asking not to be tested at all, even within our
> abilities -- and whether God *would* lead us beyond our abilities is a
> separate theological matter.

> But I must be being thick here, because I don't see anything to be
> puzzled about...

Do you see how it applies to Frodo?

If you want Tolkien's opinion, read letters 156, 181, and 246.

- Dirk

Dirk Thierbach

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Aug 7, 2004, 4:14:32 AM8/7/04
to
ste...@nomail.com wrote:
> The thing that is strange about Gandalf's fate is that "death"
> was as unnatural to him as it was to an Elf and Gandalf did not just
> die. Gandalf did not leave the world because he died. Had Eru not
> intervened, Gandalf's "death" would have been a lot like Saruman's.
> Two things happened to Gandalf: his body was damaged by the Balrog,
> and his spirit weakened perhaps, to such an extent that he could
> no longer continue in his physical body. The second thing is that
> Eru plucked him out of reality, fixed him up, and then returned him.
> This second part is the strange part. This is really not part
> of Gandalf dying, but something else.

I completely agree.

- Dirk

Yuk Tang

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Aug 7, 2004, 7:01:10 PM8/7/04
to
10313...@compuserve.com (Jim Deutch) wrote in
news:410f831...@news.compuserve.com:
> On Mon, 02 Aug 2004 13:51:20 GMT, Hashemon Urtasman
> <no...@nospam.org> wrote:
>>
>>Q3. What veil was over Aragorns sight that prevented him from
>>seeing Gandalf first?
>
> You see what you expect to see. They all "knew" that Gandalf was
> dead and that they'd never see him again: that made him difficult
> to recognize. Also, he had changed a good deal.

But why did he behave so exceptionally? Not only does he not seem like
Gandalf, but he keeps some mystery about himself in his speech also.
Why would he choose to speak like that? Why would he find it
interesting that a man, a dwarf and an elf walk in these woods, and not
get straight to the point that they are his friends? There doesn't
seem to be a story internal answer at all.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Yuk Tang

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Aug 7, 2004, 7:08:37 PM8/7/04
to
Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> wrote in
news:slrnch0bk...@munin.Stanford.EDU:
> In article <cep8u...@enews3.newsguy.com>, Shanahan wrote:
>> Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> queried us on:
>>> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 2 "The Two
>>> Towers" Chapter 5 - The White Rider
>
>>> Q. Why does Gandalf say "I am ... Gandalf the White, but Black
>>> is mightier still?" What is the hierarchy of colours?
>>
>> The colors are symbolic, I think, rather than a rank of power.
>> White is symbolic of Light, black of the Dark, obviously.
>> Radagast's brown is symbolic of his affiliation to Yavanna and
>> the earth; Manwë chose the two blue wizards, thus their color
>> symbolizes the sky/air. I've never been able to make up my mind
>> what Gandalf's original Grey symbolizes, perhaps the wisdom of
>> 'old gray heads'.
>
> I assume grey was for Nienna, sorrow/pity. I believe Olorin is
> described as visiting her often before coming to Middle Earth.

I thought Olorin was a Maia of Lorien?


> In the chapter Gandalf is described as staring straight at the
> sun. I think this in part to show his power since only someone
> powerful _and_ good could do so. Speculation: I do wonder whether
> he can get information from the sun since Arien presumably sees
> much. One reason for Sauron to cause the darkness may be to cut
> off one method the Valar and Maiar have of gathering information.

But there is also water, which is the realm of Ulmo, the most Noldor-
friendly of the Valar. Which raises the question: does the power of
Ulmo run in water which has been 'tamed' by being placed in
containers? Does it only exist in running water? Does it need to be
connected to the Great Sea, or the water cycle in general (in cases
where rivers/streams run into inland lakes)?


--
Cheers, ymt.

Emma Pease

unread,
Aug 7, 2004, 7:46:43 PM8/7/04
to
In article <Xns953F174E65Cj...@130.133.1.4>, Yuk Tang wrote:
> Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> wrote in

>> I assume grey was for Nienna, sorrow/pity. I believe Olorin is


>> described as visiting her often before coming to Middle Earth.
>
> I thought Olorin was a Maia of Lorien?

He is, but one who often visited Nienna.

>> In the chapter Gandalf is described as staring straight at the
>> sun. I think this in part to show his power since only someone
>> powerful _and_ good could do so. Speculation: I do wonder whether
>> he can get information from the sun since Arien presumably sees
>> much. One reason for Sauron to cause the darkness may be to cut
>> off one method the Valar and Maiar have of gathering information.
>
> But there is also water, which is the realm of Ulmo, the most Noldor-
> friendly of the Valar. Which raises the question: does the power of
> Ulmo run in water which has been 'tamed' by being placed in
> containers? Does it only exist in running water? Does it need to be
> connected to the Great Sea, or the water cycle in general (in cases
> where rivers/streams run into inland lakes)?

But water is not everywhere. Also from the Sil. Ulmo states that his
influence is withdrawing from the waters in areas dominated by
Morgoth. My guess his influence over what limited water there was in
Mordor was very small.

My own feeling is that in the LoTR Ulmo is responsible for

1. The dreams Faramir and Boromir have
2. Boromir's boat surviving Rauros and being seen by Faramir

Emma

Shanahan

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Aug 8, 2004, 2:19:48 AM8/8/04
to
Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> declared:

> 10313...@compuserve.com (Jim Deutch) wrote in
>> Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> wrote:
>>>
>>> Q3. What veil was over Aragorns sight that prevented him from
>>> seeing Gandalf first?
>>
>> You see what you expect to see. They all "knew" that Gandalf
>> was dead and that they'd never see him again: that made him
>> difficult to recognize. Also, he had changed a good deal.
>
> But why did he behave so exceptionally? Not only does he not
> seem like Gandalf, but he keeps some mystery about himself in
> his speech also. Why would he choose to speak like that? Why
> would he find it interesting that a man, a dwarf and an elf walk
> in these woods, and not get straight to the point that they are
> his friends? There doesn't seem to be a story internal answer
> at all.

I believe that Gandalf was not sure at this point exactly who he
was, in terms of Middle Earth identity. He had been sent back,
greatly empowered, refreshed in his memory of Valinor and his
mission in ME; this part, he was clear on. But who he was supposed
to be in ME? This he was not sure of: "Gandalf. Yes, that was the
name. I was Gandalf." (note the 'was') He himself is not sure if
he is Gandalf or Saruman. He knows he is Olorin; he's just not
sure if, in his newly-embodied form in ME, he's still Gandalf, or
not.

Also, he was not sure how much of his new identity he should reveal
to his former companions. Letter #156: "Hence their [the Istari's]
constant temptation to do, or try to do, what is for them _wrong_
(and disastrous): to force lesser wills by power: by awe if not by
actual fear..." He must not make them in awe of him; he must not
alter their behavior by fear of his newfound power; he must, in
essence, hide much of his being as a Maia. This is the great
restriction placed on his mission. So he is a bit reluctant to
reveal that he has indeed returned from death. He resolves this
dilemma fairly quickly, and does reveal to them that he is Gandalf,
but the dilemma is very real in the beginning of their encounter.

Ciaran S.
--
Rise now in your force
With warlike, cruel wounding shield
And strong-shafted, curved spear
And straight sword dyed red
In dark gatherings of blood.
- táin bò cúalnge

Shanahan

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Aug 8, 2004, 2:24:57 AM8/8/04
to
Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> declared:

> Shanahan wrote:
>> Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> queried us on:
>>> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 2 "The Two
>>> Towers" Chapter 5 - The White Rider
>
>>> Q. Why does Gandalf say "I am ... Gandalf the White, but Black
>>> is mightier still?" What is the hierarchy of colours?
>>
>> The colors are symbolic, I think, rather than a rank of power.
>> White is symbolic of Light, black of the Dark, obviously.
>> Radagast's brown is symbolic of his affiliation to Yavanna and
>> the earth; Manwë chose the two blue wizards, thus their color
>> symbolizes the sky/air. I've never been able to make up my mind
>> what Gandalf's original Grey symbolizes, perhaps the wisdom of
>> 'old gray heads'.
>
> I assume grey was for Nienna, sorrow/pity. I believe Olorin is
> described as visiting her often before coming to Middle Earth.

OK, that works for me. Grey for tears, perhaps? He did hang out
with her a lot, and learned the pity that in the end saved Middle
Earth.

> In the chapter Gandalf is described as staring straight at the
> sun. I think this in part to show his power since only someone
> powerful _and_ good could do so. Speculation: I do wonder
> whether he can get information from the sun since Arien
> presumably sees much. One reason for Sauron to cause the
> darkness may be to cut off one method the
> Valar and Maiar have of gathering information.

This is a *very* interesting idea!

Ciaran S.
--
Love, in a world where carpenters get resurrected,
everything is possible.

Yuk Tang

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Aug 8, 2004, 3:28:56 AM8/8/04
to
" Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote in
news:cf45u...@enews2.newsguy.com:

> Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> declared:
>> 10313...@compuserve.com (Jim Deutch) wrote in
>>> Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> wrote:
>>>>
>>>> Q3. What veil was over Aragorns sight that prevented him from
>>>> seeing Gandalf first?
>>>
>>> You see what you expect to see. They all "knew" that Gandalf
>>> was dead and that they'd never see him again: that made him
>>> difficult to recognize. Also, he had changed a good deal.
>>
>> But why did he behave so exceptionally? Not only does he not
>> seem like Gandalf, but he keeps some mystery about himself in
>> his speech also. Why would he choose to speak like that? Why
>> would he find it interesting that a man, a dwarf and an elf walk
>> in these woods, and not get straight to the point that they are
>> his friends? There doesn't seem to be a story internal answer
>> at all.
>
> I believe that Gandalf was not sure at this point exactly who he
> was, in terms of Middle Earth identity. He had been sent back,
> greatly empowered, refreshed in his memory of Valinor and his
> mission in ME; this part, he was clear on. But who he was supposed
> to be in ME? This he was not sure of: "Gandalf. Yes, that was the
> name. I was Gandalf." (note the 'was') He himself is not sure if
> he is Gandalf or Saruman. He knows he is Olorin; he's just not
> sure if, in his newly-embodied form in ME, he's still Gandalf, or
> not.

He's been to Lothlorien since his return. Was he not rebriefed? I
find it hard to imagine Galadriel releasing a still-befuddled Gandalf
into the wild.


> Also, he was not sure how much of his new identity he should reveal
> to his former companions. Letter #156: "Hence their [the Istari's]
> constant temptation to do, or try to do, what is for them _wrong_
> (and disastrous): to force lesser wills by power: by awe if not by
> actual fear..." He must not make them in awe of him; he must not
> alter their behavior by fear of his newfound power; he must, in
> essence, hide much of his being as a Maia. This is the great
> restriction placed on his mission. So he is a bit reluctant to
> reveal that he has indeed returned from death. He resolves this
> dilemma fairly quickly, and does reveal to them that he is Gandalf,
> but the dilemma is very real in the beginning of their encounter.

Why does he need to reveal that he's a Maia? And as for his former
identity; among Middle Earthers, Faramir at least knows his
Valinorean name, so he's not been watertight wrt his ID. Even
Aragorn, the most learned of the three, would not have been taught
the exploits of Olorin the Lorien-Maia, who until the Third Age had
been fairly inconspicuous.

The best explanation I can think of, as yet, is that this is JRRT's
attempt to retain some suspense. If so, I have to say that it's
rather clumsy, and implausible bearing in mind the logic of his
world, for the reasons above.


--
Cheers, ymt.

S.P.

unread,
Aug 8, 2004, 10:32:13 AM8/8/04
to
ste...@nomail.com wrote in message news:<cf19eo$2t7m$1...@msunews.cl.msu.edu>...

> In rec.arts.books.tolkien Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote:
> : Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> wrote:
> :> Angels, like robots, do not have life or deaths or rebirths.
>
> : I don't think that this view on Angels applies to Tolkien. The main
> : difference between humans, elves and maiar/valar seems to lie in the
> : connection of the "soul" ("fea") to the "body" ("hroa"). From the word
> : "Angel", Tolkien kept only the meaning "messenger", and not many of
> : the other ideas that are usually associated with it.
>
> The thing that is strange about Gandalf's fate is that "death"
> was as unnatural to him as it was to an Elf and Gandalf did not just
> die. Gandalf did not leave the world because he died. Had Eru not
> intervened, Gandalf's "death" would have been a lot like Saruman's.

I always thought it was Saruman's evil that caused him to suffer
complete death - dissipation of his spirit - when he died and be blown
away by the wind from the West. That is, it's Saruman's death (or
what happens after Womrtongue stabs him) which seems to me unnatural.
If Gandalf had died (or had his spirit separated from his body, is
perhaps more like what happens to elves and maiar) and the other
interventions below had not occurred, I would think that he would have
gone West in one way or another -- Halls of Waiting or back to
wherever it is the Maiar and Valar are when they're not being embodied
in Middle-Earth.

> Two things happened to Gandalf: his body was damaged by the Balrog,
> and his spirit weakened perhaps, to such an extent that he could
> no longer continue in his physical body. The second thing is that
> Eru plucked him out of reality, fixed him up, and then returned him.
> This second part is the strange part. This is really not part
> of Gandalf dying, but something else.

Yes, I agree -- now that you've put it into words, this expresses well
why saying "Gandalf died" seemed odd to me.

I've got to go off and read the letters as Dirk recommended. That is,
read the above as "this is how it has seemed to me, based on LOTR and
bit-of-Sil".

__Sharon

S.P.

unread,
Aug 8, 2004, 10:43:13 AM8/8/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote in message news:<2004080708123...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de>...

> S.P. <peder...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> > But isn't it curious the things that stick out for someone as, "this I
> > *can't* believe?" vs. "sure, goes along with the rest of the magic."
> > Sorry, "magic" isn't the right word for all this, perhaps "constructed
> > world" is better. Or sub-creation, as Tolkien used.
>
> Or "suspension of disbelief". And yes, it is curious. But IMHO it
> often relates as much to the reader as it does to the book.

I totally agree.

> > As a contrasting example, I just went to see Brigadoon, and although
> > normally I DETEST stories in which people fall in love in no time with
> > no apparent reason why, in Brigadoon the characters acknowledge this
> > and just flat-out say, "it happens and you just know", and I accept it
> > as very right and perfect and part of what Brigadoon is all about
> > anyway: faith and miracles.
>
> Haven't heard anything about Brigadoon yet, but sometimes people *do*
> fall in love in no time with no apperent reason why. Ok, it doesn't
> happen so often. And as a cliche in a book or film it's not very
> interesting, true.

Classic musical theater, not movie (just in case you're thinking it's
a recent movie and wondering why it still hasn't come to a screen near
you :-). Though it has also been made into a movie (Gene Kelly and
Cyd Charisse).

I have to partly retract what I said above -- maybe I don't normally
detest such stories after all. I went to see As You Like It last
night, which has not 1, not 2, not 3, but FOUR couples all falling
madly in love at first sight, and I accepted them all as completely
right and part of the story and supporting Shakespeare's themes. So
maybe it's just when it's used as a cliche that I hate it. Or maybe
when the movie is showing something that's supposed to pass as "why",
and I think, "oh that is so lame and moving way too fast for reality."
Not that this has anything particular to do with Tolkien at this
point, except perhaps as another illustration of idisosyncratic
responses that may have more to do with the reader than with the
author.

<snip>


> If you read the SIL only once, maybe you should skim over the beginning
> again. And you should read Letters as soon as possible :-)
>

<snip>


> Good question. Keep reading :-)
>
> > I would have thought that "lead us not into temptation" meant that God
> > might test us beyond our ability, and we're asking God not to, please.
> > Or maybe we're just asking not to be tested at all, even within our
> > abilities -- and whether God *would* lead us beyond our abilities is a
> > separate theological matter.
>
> > But I must be being thick here, because I don't see anything to be
> > puzzled about...
>
> Do you see how it applies to Frodo?
>
> If you want Tolkien's opinion, read letters 156, 181, and 246.

Will do! Especially because I still don't grasp the application to
Frodo even. Well, well, I shall happily read the letters etc.
Reading, reading, and more reading, what a dreadul fate (NOT!) :-) :-)
:-).

__Sharon (bookworm)

AC

unread,
Aug 8, 2004, 12:32:00 PM8/8/04
to
On 8 Aug 2004 07:32:13 -0700,
S.P. <peder...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> ste...@nomail.com wrote in message news:<cf19eo$2t7m$1...@msunews.cl.msu.edu>...
>> In rec.arts.books.tolkien Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote:
>> : Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> wrote:
>> :> Angels, like robots, do not have life or deaths or rebirths.
>>
>> : I don't think that this view on Angels applies to Tolkien. The main
>> : difference between humans, elves and maiar/valar seems to lie in the
>> : connection of the "soul" ("fea") to the "body" ("hroa"). From the word
>> : "Angel", Tolkien kept only the meaning "messenger", and not many of
>> : the other ideas that are usually associated with it.
>>
>> The thing that is strange about Gandalf's fate is that "death"
>> was as unnatural to him as it was to an Elf and Gandalf did not just
>> die. Gandalf did not leave the world because he died. Had Eru not
>> intervened, Gandalf's "death" would have been a lot like Saruman's.
>
> I always thought it was Saruman's evil that caused him to suffer
> complete death - dissipation of his spirit - when he died and be blown
> away by the wind from the West.

I'm not sure what you mean by "dissipation". In Tolkien's mythos, spirits
are effectively indestructible. They may be rendered impotent (ie. Sauron)
but they endure. Particularly with the Ainur that entered Arda, they are
bound to it and endure while it does.

> That is, it's Saruman's death (or
> what happens after Womrtongue stabs him) which seems to me unnatural.

Actually, it resembles quite a bit Sauron's end. The difference seems to be
one of scale. In both cases we have this cloud or smoke or whatever you
call it, which is clearly the spirit. We don't see a lot of Ainur die, of
course, but in the course of a few chapters we see two of them die in
remarkably similar ways.

> If Gandalf had died (or had his spirit separated from his body, is
> perhaps more like what happens to elves and maiar) and the other
> interventions below had not occurred, I would think that he would have
> gone West in one way or another -- Halls of Waiting or back to
> wherever it is the Maiar and Valar are when they're not being embodied
> in Middle-Earth.

I'm sure you're right that he would seek the West, if for no other reason
than he could no longer fulfill his task.

<snip>

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

AC

unread,
Aug 8, 2004, 12:34:05 PM8/8/04
to
On 7 Aug 2004 23:01:10 GMT,

It's pretty clear to me, at least, that Gandalf was not quite himself. He
seemed to be, I don't know if the word is confused, but at least a little
out of it at that first meeting with Aragorn and Co. Maybe he was still
getting his sea legs after such an experience.

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

AC

unread,
Aug 8, 2004, 12:38:49 PM8/8/04
to
On 8 Aug 2004 07:28:56 GMT,
Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> " Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote in
> news:cf45u...@enews2.newsguy.com:

<snip>

>
> He's been to Lothlorien since his return. Was he not rebriefed? I
> find it hard to imagine Galadriel releasing a still-befuddled Gandalf
> into the wild.

I don't think he was befuddled, just not himself. He was altered, and
though by the time we reach Edoras, he seems quite himself. However, who is
to say that Galadriel had any power or right to prevent Gandalf the White,
now apparently raised in rank to chief enemy of Sauron, from going about his
business. It's not like they had a lot of time for Gandalf to convalesce.
The whole point of everything that goes on west of the Anduin (whether many
of the players knew it or not) after Frodo and Sam depart is to keep
Sauron's gaze away from Mordor. Maybe Gandalf, in better circumstances,
should have stuck close to Lothlorien, but time marched on, and clearly he
had a purpose, one now divinely given, and he seemed to do alright when the
time came.

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

Jette Goldie

unread,
Aug 8, 2004, 4:24:15 PM8/8/04
to

"Yuk Tang" <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:Xns953F334368ji...@130.133.1.4...


Brain damage - he's got a temporary form of amnesia that
clears up when he gets the "trigger" a few moments later.

Shanahan

unread,
Aug 9, 2004, 1:36:56 AM8/9/04
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> declared:

> Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>> " Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote in
>
> <snip>
>>
>> He's been to Lothlorien since his return. Was he not
>> rebriefed? I find it hard to imagine Galadriel releasing a
<snip>

That wasn't my comment. It was Yuk Tang's.

Ciaran S.
--
"...the desperate assumption that somebody--
or at least some _force_ --is tending
that Light at the end of the tunnel."
- h.s. thompson

AC

unread,
Aug 9, 2004, 11:49:44 AM8/9/04
to
On Sun, 8 Aug 2004 22:36:56 -0700,
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> declared:
>> Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>> " Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote in
>>
>> <snip>
>>>
>>> He's been to Lothlorien since his return. Was he not
>>> rebriefed? I find it hard to imagine Galadriel releasing a
><snip>
>
> That wasn't my comment. It was Yuk Tang's.

Sorry. Didn't snip enough.

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

Jim Deutch

unread,
Aug 9, 2004, 4:37:36 PM8/9/04
to
On 6 Aug 2004 16:12:28 -0700, peder...@hotmail.com (S.P.) wrote:
>As a contrasting example, I just went to see Brigadoon, and although
>normally I DETEST stories in which people fall in love in no time with
>no apparent reason why, in Brigadoon the characters acknowledge this
>and just flat-out say, "it happens and you just know", and I accept it
>as very right and perfect and part of what Brigadoon is all about
>anyway: faith and miracles.

I don't mind it in stories at all, but I don't believe in love at
first sight in the real world. It's a ridiculous notion. Piffle.

Of course, I must admit that I proposed only two weeks after meeting
my wife, and only waited that long to be certain that she'd say "yes".
The fact that I have *experienced* love at first sight personally has,
however, no bearing on my disbelief: anecdotal evidence (even
first-person anecdotal evidence) is, scientifically, no evidence at
all.

Perhaps you find this contradictory? So I hold paradoxical views.
Sue me.

Jim Deutch (Jimbo the Cat)
--
I used to be an agnostic, but now I'm not so sure.

John Jones

unread,
Aug 9, 2004, 1:41:48 PM8/9/04
to
"Jette Goldie" <j...@blueyonder.com.uk> wrote in message
news:PZvRc.1641$%f5.16...@news-text.cableinet.net...

>
> "Yuk Tang" <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
> news:Xns953F334368ji...@130.133.1.4...
> >
> > But why did he behave so exceptionally? Not only does he not seem like
> > Gandalf, but he keeps some mystery about himself in his speech also.
> > Why would he choose to speak like that? Why would he find it
> > interesting that a man, a dwarf and an elf walk in these woods, and not
> > get straight to the point that they are his friends? There doesn't
> > seem to be a story internal answer at all.
>
>
> Brain damage - he's got a temporary form of amnesia that
> clears up when he gets the "trigger" a few moments later.
>

I always thought that he was being ironical - teasing them for not
recognising him.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Aug 11, 2004, 4:44:21 AM8/11/04
to
in <2004080708123...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de>,
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> enriched us with:

>
> S.P. <peder...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>> But isn't it curious the things that stick out for someone as, "this
>> I *can't* believe?" vs. "sure, goes along with the rest of the
>> magic." Sorry, "magic" isn't the right word for all this, perhaps
>> "constructed world" is better. Or sub-creation, as Tolkien used.
>
> Or "suspension of disbelief". And yes, it is curious. But IMHO it
> often relates as much to the reader as it does to the book.

With respect to the book, I prefer Tolkien's notion of "inducing literary
belief" rather than suspension of disbelief.

The point where it becomes impossible to 'believe' (in the literary
sense) in the sub-created world is individual, but I think it is the
responsibility of the author to do his best to avoid it (for as many
readers as possible). Internal consistency is one way to work with it.

Tolkien has some good passages on this in /On Fairy Stories/:

" That state of mind has been called 'willing suspension of
disbelief.' But this does not seem to me a good description
of what happens. What really happens is that the
story-maker proves a successful 'sub-creator.' He makes a
Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what
he relates is 'true': it accords with the laws of that
world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were,
inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken;
the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in
the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive
Secondary World from outside. If you are obliged, by
kindliness or circumstance, to stay, then disbelief must be
suspended (or stifled), otherwise listening and looking
would become intolerable. But this suspension of disbelief
is a substitute for the genuine thing, a subterfuge we use
when condescending to games or make-believe, or when trying
(more or less willingly) to find what virtue we can in the
work of an art that has for us failed."
(from 'Children')

And

"The achievement of the expression, which gives (or seems
to give) 'the inner consistency of reality,'[28] is indeed
another thing, or aspect, needing another name: Art, the
operative link between Imagination and the final result,
Sub-creation."
[...]
" To make a Secondary World inside which the green sun will
be credible, commanding Secondary Belief, will probably
require labour and thought, and will certainly demand a
special skill, a kind of elvish craft. Few attempt such
difficult tasks. But when they are attempted and in any
degree accomplished then we have a rare achievement of Art:
indeed narrative art, story-making in its primary and most
potent mode."
[28] "That is: which commands or induces Secondary Belief."
(from 'Fantasy')

I wonder if this isn't subject to change? I'd imagine that things that
people of Tolkien's own age would take in stride would, today, be seen as
too unrealistic, as elements that break down the literary belief -- the
resurrection might be an example (though I have never had any problems
with that myself) -- and the reverse would probably also be true:
elements that Tolkien felt he had to justify might, today (or in another
fifty years) be taken in stride.

<snip>

>> just recently starting to read the rest of the corpus -- just finished
>> the Silmarillion, and starting on the rest of the History, Letters,
>> etc.
>
> If you read the SIL only once, maybe you should skim over the
> beginning again. And you should read Letters as soon as possible :-)

Not to mention UT!

But don't just take our private preferences -- use Steuard's excellent
Custom Tolkien Book List:
http://tolkien.slimy.com/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/~steuard/booklist.pl

A guide to the sequence of reading Tolkien, customised to your own
preferences.

<snip>

--
Troels Forchhammer

And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of
wisdom.
- Gandalf, 'LotR' (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Aug 11, 2004, 7:35:35 PM8/11/04
to
Richard Williams <rdwi...@hgmp.mrc.ac.uk> wrote:
> In article <10gv4sj...@corp.supernews.com>,
> aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> wrote:
>
>> Just the common one of not expecting him, since he was dead, and
>> combined with his weariness and exhaustion after their fruitless
>> search.
>
> Yes, Aragorn had certainly not expected to see Gandalf again,
> naturally assuming (unlike Galadriel, who must have had a clearer
> idea of who Gandalf really was) that Moria was the end of him. It was
> probably only after this re-appearance that Aragorn understood the
> true nature of Gandalf:

Good point. Great quotes as well!

> 'Yes, we will set out together,' said Aragorn. 'But I do not doubt
> that you will come there before me, if you wish.' He rose and looked
> long at Gandalf. The others gazed at them in silence as they stood
> there facing one another ... Before him stooped the old figure,
> white; shining now as if with some light kindled within, bent, laden
> with years, but holding a power beyond the strength of kings.

This reminds me of the descriptions of the great lords in Rivendell and
Lothlorien, and the descriptions of Denethor and Gandalf in Minas
Tirith, and the various descriptions of Aragorn (Cerin Amroth, Argonath,
at the meeting with Eomer, and at his crowning). Tolkien is very good at
these purple passages of descriptive prose.

> 'Do I not say truly, Gandalf,' said Aragorn at last, 'that you
> could go whithersoever you wished quicker than I? And this I also
> say: you are our captain and our banner. The Dark Lord has Nine. But
> we have One, mightier than they: the White Rider. He has passed
> through the fire and the abyss, and they shall fear him. We will go
> where he leads.'

Forth the White Rider!

Christopher

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

Shanahan

unread,
Aug 11, 2004, 11:07:58 PM8/11/04
to
Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> declared:

> In article <cep8u...@enews3.newsguy.com>, Shanahan wrote:
>> Hashemon Urtasman <no...@nospam.org> queried us on:
>>> Chapter of the Week: The Lord of the Rings, Book 2 "The Two
>>> Towers" Chapter 5 - The White Rider

>>> Q. Why does Gandalf say "I am ... Gandalf the White, but Black
>>> is mightier still?" What is the hierarchy of colours?
>>
>> The colors are symbolic, I think, rather than a rank of power.
>> White is symbolic of Light, black of the Dark, obviously.
>> Radagast's brown is symbolic of his affiliation to Yavanna and
>> the earth; Manwë chose the two blue wizards, thus their color
>> symbolizes the sky/air. I've never been able to make up my mind
>> what Gandalf's original Grey symbolizes, perhaps the wisdom of
>> 'old gray heads'.
>
> I assume grey was for Nienna, sorrow/pity. I believe Olorin is
> described as visiting her often before coming to Middle Earth.

Found a good quote in UT that gives yet another reason for
Olorin/Gandalf's choice of grey raiment. Note that he was dressed
in grey in Valinor, too, before he was even chosen as one of the
Messengers.
I really dig this quote:
"Warm and eager was his spirit [...] opposing the fire that devours
and wastes with the fire that kindles, and succours in wanhope and
distress; but his joy, and his swift wrath, were veiled in garments
as grey as ash, so that only those who knew him well glimpsed the
flame that was within." [Essay on 'The Istari']

Ciaran S.
--
"...and each time that he slew Húrin cried:
Aurë entuluva! Day shall come again!"

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Aug 12, 2004, 2:50:18 PM8/12/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

> Found a good quote in UT that gives yet another reason for
> Olorin/Gandalf's choice of grey raiment. Note that he was dressed
> in grey in Valinor, too, before he was even chosen as one of the
> Messengers.
>
> I really dig this quote:
>
> "Warm and eager was his spirit [...] opposing the fire that devours
> and wastes with the fire that kindles, and succours in wanhope and

Look. Tolkien's using the word 'wanhope'.
Isn't that another of his archaic words?
Anyone remember what it means?

> distress; but his joy, and his swift wrath, were veiled in garments
> as grey as ash, so that only those who knew him well glimpsed the
> flame that was within." [Essay on 'The Istari']

As grey as ash. Is that light or dark grey?

Yuk Tang

unread,
Aug 12, 2004, 5:27:53 PM8/12/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
news:KZOSc.4131$on1.45...@news-text.cableinet.net:

>
> Look. Tolkien's using the word 'wanhope'.
> Isn't that another of his archaic words?
> Anyone remember what it means?

A clumsy but brilliant Costa Rican centre forward?


--
Cheers, ymt.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Aug 12, 2004, 6:21:01 PM8/12/04
to
Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
> news:KZOSc.4131$on1.45...@news-text.cableinet.net:
>>
>> Look. Tolkien's using the word 'wanhope'.
>> Isn't that another of his archaic words?
>> Anyone remember what it means?

<snip pathetic joke>

I tried looking it up on Google Groups, but all the references to
Tolkien and wanhope just repeated the quote from UT.

Then I widened the search by excludung Tolkien. Interestingly the word
'wanhope' is used in Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce:

"was just thinkling upon that, swees Mooksey, but, for all the rime on
my raisins, if I connow make my submission, I cannos give you up, the
Gripes whimpered from nethermost of his wanhope... My tumble, loudy
bullocker, is my own... But I will never be abler to tell Your
Honoriousness... though my corked father was bott a pseudowaiter, whose
o'cloak you ware."

I also found a random poem:

"This is when she started breathing into them. She told of her wanhope
for her mother, the cruelty of her father, the wish to marry Christian
and bear his children in a city, far from farms, cattle and drudge."

This was a bizarre use of the word:

"Certain types of madmen answer the statements on the MMPI in certain
ways. The Illinois Normalized Wanhope Assessment (no, there's no clever
acronym there) is designed to measure a particular sort of despair,
which permits a simpler method of scoring."

To find the originals, search for the above quote of Google Groups.

Finally I found something relevant:

J? Fairbairn" <jon.fa...@cl.cam.ac.uk> wrote in message
news:<wfk7ndj...@calligramme.cl.cam.ac.uk>...
> Dan Sheppard <da...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> writes:
> > Hocus Pocus <ho...@pocus.com> wrote:
> > >What is 'wan'?
> > Sort of thin, ill, consumptive, that kind of thing. Also means dark
in
> > some bits of the country, but I don't think that's proper English.
>
> Well, it was for whoever wrote Beowulf;-) it's the first meaning given
> in the OED:
>
> 1. a. Lacking light, or lustre; dark-hued, dusky,
> gloomy, dark. Obs. Chiefly poet.

Is it the past participle of "wane"? There is a prefix "wan-"
meaning "lacking", as in the word "wanhope". That might account
for "wan" meaning "dark" (in general) and "pale" (for people) at
the same time.

[END QUOTE]

Wanhope is given a whole paragraph in Chaucer's 'The Parson's Tale':

http://www.wonderland.com/chaucer/parson_tale3.html

"Wanhope is in two maneres; the firste wanhope is in the mercy of Crist;
that oother is that they thynken that they ne myghte that longe
persevere in goodnesse. The firste wanhope comth of that he demeth that
he hath synned so greetly and so ofte, and so longe leyn in synne, that
he shal nat be saved. Certes, agayns that cursed wanhope sholde he
thynke that the passion of Jhesu Crist is moore strong for to bynde than
synne is strong for to bynde. Agayns the seconde wanhope he shal thynke
that as ofte as he falleth he may arise agayn by penitence. And though
he never so longe have leyn in synne, the mercy of Crist is alwey redy
to receiven hym to mercy. Agayns the wanhope that he demeth that he
sholde nat longe persevere in goodnesse, he shal thynke that the
feblesse of the devel may nothyng doon, but if men wol suffren hym; and
eek he shal han strengthe of the help of God, and of al hooly chirche,
and of the proteccioun of aungels, if hym list."

Umm. I need to brush up on my Middle English...

So 'wanhope' means 'without hope' - a type of despair. Sort of.
Apparantly there is a Dutch word 'wanhoop' that means the same thing.
Any other languages have words like wanhope?

And anyone have OED etymology or other Tolkien uses?

Getting back to the UT use of wanhope

"Warm and eager was his spirit [...] opposing the fire that devours and

wastes with the fire that kindles, and succours in wanhope and distress;


but his joy, and his swift wrath, were veiled in garments as grey as
ash, so that only those who knew him well glimpsed the flame that was
within." [Essay on 'The Istari']

So Gandalf's fire rescues people from wanhope. Good for him. But how is
wanhope different from despair, if indeed it is?

Jamie Andrews; real address @ bottom of message

unread,
Aug 13, 2004, 12:56:29 PM8/13/04
to
>> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
>> news:KZOSc.4131$on1.45...@news-text.cableinet.net:
>>>
>>> Look. Tolkien's using the word 'wanhope'.
>>> Isn't that another of his archaic words?
>>> Anyone remember what it means?
> And anyone have OED etymology or other Tolkien uses?

Reference tool #1 on the Web is www.google.com, hands down.
Reference tool #2 on the Web is dictionary.reference.com. (IMHO)

From dictionary.reference.com:

1 entry found for wanhope.

wanhope

\Wan"hope`\, n. [AS. wan, won, deficient, wanting + hopa hope: cf. D.
wanhoop. ????. See Wane, and Hope.] Want of hope; despair; also, faint
or delusive hope; delusion. [Obs.] Piers Plowman. ``Wanhope and
distress.'' --Chaucer.

Crikey, they even have "wariangle", a word JRRT worked on for
the OED -- on the back of material for which, part of BoLT II
was written. (Apparently it's related to "warg"!)

--Jamie. (a Dover edition designed for years of use!)
andrews .uwo } Merge these two lines to obtain my e-mail address.
@csd .ca } (Unsolicited "bulk" e-mail costs everyone.)

Shanahan

unread,
Aug 13, 2004, 10:11:18 PM8/13/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> declared:

>> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
>>>
>>> Look. Tolkien's using the word 'wanhope'.
>>> Isn't that another of his archaic words?
>>> Anyone remember what it means?
<snip>
> Wanhope is given a whole paragraph in Chaucer's 'The Parson's
> Tale':
> http://www.wonderland.com/chaucer/parson_tale3.html
> "Wanhope is in two maneres; the firste wanhope is in the mercy
> of Crist; that oother is that they thynken that they ne myghte
> that longe persevere in goodnesse. The firste wanhope comth of
> that he demeth that he hath synned so greetly and so ofte, and
> so longe leyn in synne, that he shal nat be saved. Certes,
> agayns that cursed wanhope sholde he thynke that the passion of
> Jhesu Crist is moore strong for to bynde than synne is strong
> for to bynde. Agayns the seconde wanhope he shal thynke that as
> ofte as he falleth he may arise agayn by penitence. And though
> he never so longe have leyn in synne, the mercy of Crist is
> alwey redy to receiven hym to mercy. Agayns the wanhope that he
> demeth that he sholde nat longe persevere in goodnesse, he shal
> thynke that the feblesse of the devel may nothyng doon, but if
> men wol suffren hym; and eek he shal han strengthe of the help
> of God, and of al hooly chirche, and of the proteccioun of
> aungels, if hym list."

I'd just translate 'wanhope' as 'wanthope', lack of hope. IMO.

Your quote from the Parson in CT reminds me of the distinction
between 'amdir' and 'estel' that Finrod makes in the Athrabeth.
(I'll paraphrase Chaucer)

Chaucer: "Wanhope is in two manners; the first wanhope is in the
mercy of Christ; that other is that they think that they not might
that long persevere in goodness. (There are two kinds of want-hope:
one is lack of faith in the mercy of Christ; the other is lack of
faith in one's own strength.) The first wanhope comes because he
deems that he has sinned so greatly and so often, and so long lain
in sin, that he shall not be saved. Certainly, against that cursed
wanhope should he think that the passion of Jesus Christ is more
strong for to bind than sin is strong for to bind. (To fight this
despair, a person should think that the love of Christ binds him
more strongly than his sin binds him.)

Andreth: "What is hope? An expectation of good, which though
uncertain has some foundation in what is known? Then we have none."
Finrod answers her: "That is one thing the Men call 'hope', _Amdir_
we call it, 'looking up'. But there is another which is founded
deeper. _Estel_ we call it, that is 'trust'. It is not defeated by
the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but
from our nature and first being."

Chaucer: Against the wanhope that he deems that he should not long
persevere in goodness, he shall think that the feblesse (?) of the
devil may nothing do, but if men will suffer him; and also he shall
have strength of the help of God, and of all-holy church, and of
the protection of angels, if he wishes. (The devil can do nothing
unless men suffer him, let him; and helping men against this
despair/wanhope is the strength of God, the church, and the
angels.)
Finrod: "This is the last foundation of _Estel_, which we keep even
when we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must be
for His Children's joy."

IIRC, Tolkien liked Chaucer quite a bit, although he got annoyed
when people called him 'the first English poet'. *Very* annoyed.

Ciaran S.
--
My life, when it is written, will read better than it lived.

Yuk Tang

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Aug 13, 2004, 10:09:18 PM8/13/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
news:h3SSc.4301$4b3.46...@news-text.cableinet.net: