CotW LotR Bk. 4, Ch. 1, 'The Taming of Smeagol'

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Troels Forchhammer

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Sep 20, 2004, 2:19:19 AM9/20/04
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This post is a chapter introduction in the Tolkien newsgroups'
'Chapter of the Week' (CotW) project. For more information visit the
CotW homepage at <http://parasha.maoltuile.org/>.

Chapter of the Week
Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'

I've tried to change my use of notes -- unfortunately inventing three
different kinds of notes in the process ;-) Notes with symbols are
handled immediately after the paragraph in which they occur, but
indented differently -- these are mostly comments to the summary.
Notes to my story-internal questions are represented by numbers, but
it should (hopefully) not be necessary to refer back and forth --
they're just there to keep the right sequence ;-)
Finally I have some story-external notes denoted with letters. These
notes are in general quite lengthy, I'm afraid, and I have
consequently decided to put them in a follow-up post by themselves.

Summary:

In this chapter we return to Frodo and Sam in the barren and broken
landscape of the eastern Emyn Muil on the third evening after they
fled from Path Galen. It is the 29th of February and elsewhere Gandalf
is probably still "walking long in dark thought" being weary after
stroving with the Dark Tower, Merry and Pippen are on the way to
Wellinghall in the company of Treebeard and will spend the night
there, Éomer and his éored are still labouring to burn the Orcs and
raise the mound over the fallen riders before they camp at the edge
fo Fangorn, and the Three Hunters are struggling across the Eastemnet
in pursuit of Saruman's Orcs before once more settling down for the
night, Legolas expressing hope for the coming day, "Rede oft is found
at the rising of the Sun."


Frodo and Sam have been scrambling about the southern edge of the
hills trying to find a way down;
" 'What a fix!' said Sam. 'That's the one place in all the
lands we've ever heard of that we don't want to see any
closer; and that's the one place we're trying to get to!
And that's just where we can't get, nohow. We've come the
wrong way altogether, seemingly. We can't get down;"

Frodo and Sam are obviously aware that they are being followed by
Gollum, though they haven't seen or heard a trace of him for a couple
of nights.

As we follow Frodo and Sam the third day turns lucky: they come across
a gully that leads to the edge of the hills, and at the end they find
a managable climb[+]. After some discussion Frodo attempts to clim
down, but a sudden gust of wind and the shrill shriek of a Nazgûl
interferes. Frodo slips and slids a few yards down. He is unharmed
except that he for some reason is unable to see[1].
[+] Frodo estimates it at 18 fathoms, which equals 36 yards;
108 feet or, for the imperially challenged, very nearly
33 metres ;-)

As they shout to each other up and down the cliff face, Sam is
reminded of the Elven rope he carries in his pack and we get another
sample of the Gaffer's paternal vocabulary: "You're nowt but a
ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee." Sam gets his rope out and throws it down to
Frodo, whose sight returns with the appearance of the rope[2].

Sam measures out his rope[*] and discovers to their surprise that it
is long enough to reach the bottom of the drop. As the sky has now
cleared[3] with a few stars appearing "like small white holes in the
canopy above the crescent moon" they decide to climb down using the
rope.
[*] Sam makes out the rope to 30 ells, which equals 112.5 feet or
34.29 metres

Once at the bottom Sam worries that the rope, securely tied at the
top, will help Gollum in his pursuit of them, but when he shakes the
rope it comes free[4].

Frodo and Sam moves on in an north-easterly[%] direction, but soon has
to turn back to "try a way back southwards" because a fissure blocks
their way. In the end they settle down to rest not far from the foot
of the cliff face where they came down.
[%] I think they're trying to get east/north-east around the marshes
at this point.

Just as Sam is settling down to rest and Frodo getting ready to take
the first watch, Frodo discovers Gollum crawling down the cliff. The
two Hobbits sneak up and hides behind a boulder close to the foot of
the cliff.

About a dozen feet[@] above the ground Gollum falls, curling up like a
spider. Sam rushes him, but soon finds himself in trouble from which
he is saved only by Frodo's intervention with Sting.
[@] Just for the sake of completeness, and not because I think we
need it 12' = 3.66 m

They debate what to do with Gollum, but in the end the issue is
decided by Frodo's recollection of his conversation with Gandalf back
in Bag End[a][b]. They decide to spare Gollum's life, but he has to
pay them back by leading them to Mordor, which he promises to do.

Gollum doesn't want to proceed while the moon ("the white face" he
calls it) is up, and the three of them settle down to rest for some
hours. Frodo and Sam pretend to sleep, but don't let their guard down,
so when Gollum tries to escape they catch him quickly and Sam ties his
Elven rope around on of Gollum's ankles.

At that Gollum starst to scream with pain, crying that the rope hurts
him because it is made by Elves[5]. When Frodo is finally convinced
that Gollum is truly in pain he agrees to remove the rope on the
condition that Gollum can make a promise which Frodo can trust. Gollum
then declares that he will swear on his 'precious'.

At this Frodo warns Gollum that swearing to the Ring is dangerous as
it is treacherous and "may twist [his] words," but Gollum insists.
Frodo, however, will not allow him to swear /on/ the Ring, fearing to
let Gollum touch it, and "looking down at him with stern pity" Frodo
tells him, "Swear by it, if you will. For you know where it is. Yes,
you know, Sméagol. It is before you."

At this Sam gets quite an eye-opener as to the relation between Frodo
and Gollum[c][d]:
"For a moment it appeared to Sam that his master had
grown and Gollum had shrunk: a tall stern shadow, a mighty
lord who hid his brightness in grey cloud, and at his feet
a little whining dog. Yet the two were in some way akin and
not alien: they could reach one another's minds. Gollum
raised himself and began pawing at Frodo, fawning at his
knees."

Gollum then swears to "serve the master of the Precious," which Frodo
accepts[6] and orders Sam to remove the rope.

This heralds a change in Gollum -- Sméagol the Hobbit emerge speaking
directly to Frodo and Sam and being "pitifully anxious to please."

" In the deep of night under hard clear stars they set off.
Gollum led them back northward for a while along the way
they had come; then he slanted to the right away from the
steep edge of the Emyn Muil, down the broken stony slopes
towards the vast fens below. They faded swiftly and softly
into the darkness. Over all the leagues of waste before the
gates of Mordor there was a black silence."


Story-internal Questions

[1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
face?

[2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
is it merely co-incidence?
"The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his
sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came
dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen."
He does seem to suggest that it is the rope: "I could see nothing,
nothing at all, until the grey rope came down. It seemed to shimmer
somehow." But is he right?
And if he is right, what quality of the rope made it have this
effect on Frodo? And what would have happened had Sam not had the
rope; would Frodo have stayed blind for an hour, until morning,
forever?

[3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
interesting[e]:
"The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
the sun, as they rode into the West."
This passage, in my mind, clearly suggests that the storm is the
result of "the dark thought of Sauron" brooding over the area. If
this is the case, how often do we then see this effect? Are the
storms at Edoras and later at Helm's Deep related to this effect?
And what about the description of Sauron's thought at Amon Hen as "a
black shadow" and in particular the description after it has passed:
"Then all the sky was clean and blue and birds sang in every tree."

Need we comment on the difference between these descriptions and the
search/light/ effect used in the films?

[4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it? His own
opinion is clear enough: "I think the rope came off itself -- when I
called." Sam clearly trusts the rope's Elvish makers to be able of
such a feat, but Frodo doesn't seem to agree. Did the rope untie
itself when Sam called, was it the merely the smooth surface of the
rope that defeated Sam's knot once it wasn't pulled tight, or is
Sam's trust in his own skills at knot-tying misplaced?

[5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
inability to share their Lembas.
The question is why? What is it in the Elvish artefacts that is
unbearable to Gollum?
Story-externally it is clear that the good of the Elves is
unbearable to the corrupted creature Gollum has become, but story-
internally I don't think the question is really ever answered.
I will venture a theory. In II,8 'Farewell to Lórien' we learn from
one of the Elves that, "for we put the thought of all that we love
into all that we make." Could it be this loving thought that is
unbearable to Gollum? I'm not sure if it is truly in the spirit of
Tolkien's Middle-earth world-view, but it is the best explanation
that I have been able to come up with.

[6] Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is not
Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder why
Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.


Other Questions
These questions are posted in a separate message and contains the
alphabetical notes.


General Comments

" The hurrying darkness, now gathering great speed, rushed
up from the East and swallowed the sky."
Isn't it just beautiful ;-)
And to think that this is a description of the dark, brooding thought
of the real Lord of the Rings.


This is the first of a series of chapters detailing the journey of the
trio from Emyn Muil and ultimately to Mount Doom. The first three of
these chapters, and some of the later chapters, have always seemed to
me very hard to get through: I feel that I am slowly plodding my way
through the texts with all these ponderous descriptions of the bleak
and depressing landscapes of Emyn Muil, the Dead Marshes and the waste
before Mordor. I have come to realise that this impression probably
is the literary equivalent of what the characters are going through,
and if this is deliberate by Tolkien, then it is, IMO, a work of
absolute literary genious.


In relation to the characterisation of the three (see [c]) I wonder if
there is some foreshadowing in this chapter.

Frodo here use the presence of the Ring to dominate Gollum: is this an
indication that he is himself falling under the domination of the
Ring? The understanding between Frodo and Gollum might point in the
same direction. Is there a direct line between Frodo's words in this
chapter ("[...] It is before you!") and the later situation at the
slopes of Mount Doom ("If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast
yourself into the Fire of Doom.")?

Gollum promises to help Frodo, tries to betray him and yet ends up
serving Frodo's ends. The Sméagol persona emerge for the longest
period of time, though we will see it occasionally again. I think that
Sméagol really does want healing; it is he who hungers for redemption,
and who, at the end, might have been less absorbed in the Ring,
possibly not avoiding the fall.

Sam is gentler than his words -- sparing Gollum almost in spite of
himself. When Gollum starts whimpering right after his capture, Sam
realises that "he could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay
grovelling on the stones whimpering." This is, I believe, mirrored
later on the slopes of Mount Doom where Sam found that "he could not
strike this thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly
wretched." It is one thing that the two situations are alike -- that
one mirrors the other, but does the first foreshadow the later?


There has been a good deal of talk about /On Fairy Stories/ lately,
and I have tried to come up with an ingenious way to link this chapter
to that essay, but without much luck.
One connection I do see is in the (false, as it turns out) promise of
the redemption of Sméagol as the potential eucatastrophe of the books
(the potential eucatastrphe, as I see it, lies in the, aFAIK very
Christian, promise that redemption and absolution /is/ possible --
even for Gollum).
Can others come up with other ideas to how Tolkien's vision of fairy-
stories as put down in OFS has influenced this chapter?


With respect to magic: is it only me, or is there an element of
goeteia in Frodo's domination of Gollum? In the note to letter #155 it
is defined (quoting the OED) as "witchcraft or magic performed by the
invocation and employment of evil spirits; necromancy." Does Frodo
invoke the evil spirit of the Ring (or, for those who prefer that, the
evil will of Sauron that infuses the Ring) in order to cow Gollum?


Your thoughts, ideas, comments and questions?

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

My adversary's argument
is not alone malevolent
but ignorant to boot.
He hasn't even got the sense
to state his so-called evidence
in terms I can refute.
- Piet Hein, /The Untenable Argument/

Troels Forchhammer

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Sep 20, 2004, 2:21:24 AM9/20/04
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In message <news:Xns956A5611...@212.242.40.196>
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> posted:
>
> Chapter of the Week
> Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'

Other Questions:

These questions are referred to in the main introduction post by
alphabetical notes:

[a] There has, in the past, been some discussion over the correct
version of this quotation, which has turned out to be a matter of
whether one quotes the version in I,2 'The Shadow of the Past' or
the version in this chapter. In the spirit of textual comparison I
here quote both passages in full:
LotR I,2 'The Shadow of the Past':
" 'But this is terrible!' cried Frodo. 'Far worse than the
worst that I imagined from your hints and warnings. O
Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am
really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did
not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'
'Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy:
not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded,
Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil,
and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of
the Ring so. With Pity.'
'I am sorry,' said Frodo. 'But I am frightened; and I do
not feel any pity for Gollum.'
'You have not seen him,' Gandalf broke in.
'No, and I don't want to,' said Frodo. I can't understand
you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let
him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate
he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves
death.'
'Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to
them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. I
have not much hope that Gollum can be cured before he dies,
but there is a chance of it. And he is bound up with the
fate of the Ring. My heart tells me that he has some part
to play yet, for good or ill, before the end; and when that
comes, the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many - yours
not least. In any case we did not kill him: he is very old
and very wretched. The Wood-elves have him in prison, but
they treat him with such kindness as they can find in their
wise hearts.'"
LotR IV,1 'The Taming of Sméagol':
" /What a pity Bilbo did not stab the vile creature, when he
had a chance!/
/Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy:
not to strike without need./
/I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death./
/Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to
them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name
of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise
cannot see all ends./"
Apart from the lengths the only obvious difference is in Gandalf's
comment about death. "Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends" becomes, in
Frodo's memory, "Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name
of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see
all ends." Ignoring for the moment the possibility that either is an
unchanged version that was earlier common to both passages (anyone
with the relavant HoMe volumes who'd care to comment?), does this
difference mean anything? I am thinking in particular of the
differences between "in judgement" and "in the name of justice" as
well as the addition of "fearing for your own safety." Is this
merely capturing the sense of the longer discussion in I,2 as it
applies to the situation in the current chapter?

[b] This seems like a good place to comment on the role of pity in the
books in general.
Tolkien himself commented extensively upon it in his letters, and it
has been discussed here as well:
<http://groups-
beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/browse_frm/thread/117f8ac7
c4bc08d4/61b4c74db1aa7c22>
<http://tinyurl.com/4wagm>
The key passage in the letters is probably the following from letter
#181, 1956:
" But at this point the 'salvation' of the world and
Frodo's own 'salvation' is achieved by his previous pity
and forgiveness of injury. At any point any prudent person
would have told Frodo that Gollum would certainly betray
him, and could rob him in the end. To 'pity' him, to
forbear to kill him, was a piece of folly, or a mystical
belief in the ultimate value-in-itself of pity and
generosity even if disastrous in the world of time. He did
rob him and injure him in the end - but by a 'grace', that
last betrayal was at a precise juncture when the final evil
deed was the most beneficial thing any one cd. have done
for Frodo! By a situation created by his 'forgiveness', he
was saved himself, and relieved of his burden."
Pity is, it appears, the single most important quality exhibited by
the characters in the book -- it is this that allows them to receive
the grace that saves them and Middle-earth from Sauron.

[c] This passage, and indeed this whole chapter (at least from when
Frodo and Sam finally meet Gollum) is, IMO, crucial to the
understanding of the relationships between these three Hobbits for
the remainder of the book.
Frodo: In this chapter we see the progress of the ennoblement later
commented upon by Saruman ("You have grown, Halfling") and only
glimpsed earlier in Lothlórien and at Amon Hen. Bereft of the
guidance of both Gandalf and Aragorn, Frodo starts developing more
rapidly into the formidable Hobbit we see towards the end -- one
that commands the respect of even the fallen Istar. We also see the
strange understanding between Frodo and Gollum, but with Frodo
clearly in the superior position. And finally there is Sam's vision
which is commented upon independently in [d]
Sam: The most interesting new aspect of Sam's personality in this
chapter is, IMO, his brusque compassion for Gollum. I think we're
getting his views when we learn that "His eyes, filled with anger
and disgust, were fixed on the wretched creature [...]", and "he

could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay grovelling on the

stones whimpering." Later, when Frodo examines the knot around
Gollum's ankle we learn that despite his harsh words about putting
the rope around Gollum's neck, Frodo "found that it was not too
tight, indeed hardly tight enough. Sam was gentler than his words."
Gollum: In this chapter we get the first view of the two sides:
Gollum and Sméagol. The name of the chapter even implies the
emergence of this new 'personality', though it may have been implied
already in /The Hobbit/ when it says about Gollum's suggestion of
the Riddle game that "Asking them, and sometimes guessing them, had
been the only game he had ever played with other funny creatures
sitting in their holes in the long, long ago, before he lost all his
friends and was driven away, alone, and crept down, down, into the
dark under the mountains." It is also strongly implied by Gandalf in
I,2 'The Shadow of the Past' when he told Frodo about Gollum, "Even
Gollum was not wholly ruined. He had proved tougher than even one of
the Wise would have guessed - as a hobbit might. There was a little
corner of his mind that was still his own."
These three characters will accompany each other, in one way or
another, from Emyn Muil to Mount Doom. Bound together by fate, and
incidentally all three ending up as bearers or keepers of the One
Ring. They are all alike in some ways: all Hobbits, and all of them
far more resistant to the influence of the One Ring than anyone
would have guessed. The relationship between Sam and Frodo was more
or less settled already: Frodo was the master and Sam the servant
and protector, but the addition of Gollum into the equation adds a
new dimension even to Sam and Frodo's relationship.
Frodo-Sam: The change here is subtle, but Sam gets to see Frodo in a
new light as a mighty lord, but also as more akin to Gollum than he
would have imagined. Does Sam resent this understanding between his
master and Gollum? Clearly Sam is also developing into more than a
servant with a shrewd understanding of his master: Sam is taking on
the role as Frodo's protector.
Frodo-Gollum: This relationship is, in this chapter, governed by two
things: Frodo's pity for Gollum (strengthening the Sméagol persona)
and Frodo's implicit use of the Ring to cow and dominate Gollum
("Yes, you know, Sméagol. It is before you." [...] "'Down! down!'
said Frodo. `Now speak your promise!").
Sam-Gollum: Sam and Gollum don't 'hit it off': Sam is gentler than
his words, but Gollum doesn't see that, and he resents Sam. Sam on
the other hand has appointed himself as Frodo's protector (well, I
suppose that this was also, in part, done by Gandalf) and sees
Gollum as a danger to Frodo, but is he also influenced by the
kinship he discovers between them -- does he get envious that Gollum
can understand a part of his master that is closed to himself,
and/or does he realise that Gollum is more dangerous because of this
understanding?

[d] When Frodo makes Gollum speak his promise to, but not on, the
Ring, sam has a peculiar vision (and not the last), where "it

appeared to Sam that his master had grown and Gollum had shrunk: a
tall stern shadow, a mighty lord who hid his brightness in grey

cloud [...]" This clearly echoes similar occasions with other
characters; Gandalf in I,1 where he "seemed to grow tall and
menacing; his shadow filled the little room" when he made Bilbo
leave the Ring and elsewhere as well, Aragorn in I,10 where he
"seemed suddenly to grow taller" and Galadriel when she spoke of
accepting the Ring. It seems that this signifies a greater power in
Middle-earth, and it is noteworthy that Frodo now also exhibits
this.

[e] I have discussed how the storm is used to describe Sauron's
attention on an area, but this is not the first nor the last time
Tolkien use weather phenomena as metaphors for the struggle in
Middle-earth. The most obvious is of course the artificial darkness
that will later spread from Orodruin, the examples are numerous.
I'll admit that it works for me, but how about others -- do these
descriptions of dark storms, glimpses of light (e.g the fallen
head of the king at the cross-roads, and the star Sam sees from
Mordor) and other weather effects work for you as well? Do they work
for everybody, or do they only work for a set of fairy-story-ready
readers?

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

A Thaum is the basic unit of magical strength. It has been universally
established as the amount of magic needed to create one small white
pigeon or three normal sized billiard balls.
- (Terry Pratchett, The Light Fantastic)

David Besack

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Sep 20, 2004, 11:44:33 AM9/20/04
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> [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
> cry of the Nazgūl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff

> face?
>
> [2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
> is it merely co-incidence?
> "The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his
> sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came
> dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen."

[1] It was simply very dark, and [2] the rope reflected what little light
was available, and it was the only thing he was able to see, at least at
that moment.

> [4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?

The book seems to suggest that the rope can do something most ropes can't,
i.e. shake off a knot when it is pulled loosely.

> [5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
> in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
> inability to share their Lembas.
> The question is why? What is it in the Elvish artefacts that is
> unbearable to Gollum?
> Story-externally it is clear that the good of the Elves is
> unbearable to the corrupted creature Gollum has become, but story-
> internally I don't think the question is really ever answered.

I don't think so either. It seems to be left a mystery.

> I will venture a theory. In II,8 'Farewell to Lórien' we learn from
> one of the Elves that, "for we put the thought of all that we love
> into all that we make." Could it be this loving thought that is
> unbearable to Gollum?

Could be, but to the point that the rope physically hurts him? It's very
strange.

aelfwina

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Sep 20, 2004, 11:55:37 AM9/20/04
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"David Besack" <daveREMO...@mac.com> wrote in message
news:cimtt2$1hr2$1...@netnews.upenn.edu...

> > [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
> > cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff

Perhaps it's psychosomatic? Knowing that the rope was made by Elves, he
convinces himself that it is inimical to him. It might explain his aversion
to other things Elvish, as well?
Barbara

>
>
>


Troels Forchhammer

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Sep 21, 2004, 7:37:11 AM9/21/04
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in <10ktvc6...@corp.supernews.com>,
aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> enriched us with:

>
> "David Besack" <daveREMO...@mac.com> wrote in message
> news:cimtt2$1hr2$1...@netnews.upenn.edu...
>>
Troels Forchhammer wrote

>>>
>>> [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
>>> cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
>>> face?
>>>
>>> [2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return
>>> or is it merely co-incidence?
>>
>> [1] It was simply very dark, and [2] the rope reflected what little
>> light was available, and it was the only thing he was able to see,
>> at least at that moment.

How prosaic ;-)

So you reject the explanation implied by Frodo?

>>> [4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
>>
>> The book seems to suggest that the rope can do something most ropes
>> can't, i.e. shake off a knot when it is pulled loosely.

The book, as I see it, describes that the ropes comes loose, but the only
suggestions as such to the reason why the rope behaves in this way are
Sam's confidence that this is part of some Elven magic of the rope, while
Frodo seems dubious. I'm not sure that one can actually say that the book
really suggests one in favour of the other.

Personally I tend to agree with Sam that it is an inherent quality of the
rope that it has the ability to come loose when the owner wishes it to.

<snip>

>>> [5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
>>> in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
>>> inability to share their Lembas.

<snip>

>>> I will venture a theory. In II,8 'Farewell to Lórien' we learn
>>> from one of the Elves that, "for we put the thought of all that
>>> we love into all that we make." Could it be this loving thought
>>> that is unbearable to Gollum?
>>
>> Could be, but to the point that the rope physically hurts him? It's
>> very strange.
>
> Perhaps it's psychosomatic? Knowing that the rope was made by Elves,
> he convinces himself that it is inimical to him. It might explain
> his aversion to other things Elvish, as well?
> Barbara

But how about the Lembas? He seems willing enough to taste them, even
though he already knew them to be Elven. And how would he know that the
rope came from Lothlórien?

Though it belongs in the next chapter, I think Gollum's reaction to the
lembas is of the same nature:

" Frodo broke off a portion of a wafer and handed it to him
on its leaf-wrapping. Gollum sniffed at the leaf and his
face changed: a spasm of disgust came over it, and a hint
of his old malice. 'Sméagol smells it! ' he said. 'Leaves
out of the elf-country, gah! They stinks. He climbed in
those trees, and he couldn't wash the smell off his hands,
my nice hands.' Dropping the leaf, he took a corner of the
lembas and nibbled it. He spat, and a fit of coughing shook
him.
'Ach! No! ' he spluttered. 'You try to choke poor
Sméagol. Dust and ashes, he can't eat that. He must starve.
But Sméagol doesn't mind. Nice hobbits! Sméagol has
promised. He will starve. He can't eat hobbits' food. He
will starve. Poor thin Sméagol! '
'I'm sorry,' said Frodo; 'but I can't help you, I'm
afraid. I think this food would do you good, if you would
try. But perhaps you can't even try, not yet anyway.'"

Gollum is disgusted by the smell of the mallorn leaf, but it doesn't hurt
him, and it isn't enough to prevent him from trying the cake. Only when
he tries to eat it ("nibbled it") does he react with a "fit of coughing".
Note also Frodo's assessment that eating the lembas might actually help
Gollum (of course we already know that the lembas were quite special).
The two situations with the rope and the lembas are, IMO, parallels, and
would have the same underlying cause.

--
Troels Forchhammer

Indeed, literary analysis will be a serious undertaking only when it
adopts the mindset of quantum physics and regards the observer as part of
the experiment.
- Flame of the West on AFT/RABT

Eric Schmidt

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Sep 23, 2004, 1:44:05 AM9/23/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote in message news:<Xns956A5611...@212.242.40.196>..
> [3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
> interesting[e]:
> "The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
> the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
> the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
> brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
> Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
> Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
> mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
> slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
> the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
> the sun, as they rode into the West."
> This passage, in my mind, clearly suggests that the storm is the
> result of "the dark thought of Sauron" brooding over the area. If
> this is the case, how often do we then see this effect? Are the
> storms at Edoras and later at Helm's Deep related to this effect?
> And what about the description of Sauron's thought at Amon Hen as "a
> black shadow" and in particular the description after it has passed:
> "Then all the sky was clean and blue and birds sang in every tree."
>

If I recall HoMe correctly, then this storm is supposed to be the
exact same storm that appears at Helm's Deep. Gandalf says in that
chapter, "Behind us comes a very storm of Mordor." Something to think
about.

--
Eric Schmidt

Emma Pease

unread,
Sep 23, 2004, 9:16:14 PM9/23/04
to
In article <6e5fc465.04092...@posting.google.com>, Eric

Then it is a pretty sluggish storm

From my calculations of the timeline since Frodo and Sam encounter it
on the 29th but the storm at Helm's Deep doesn't take place till March
3.

Emma

ps. People should check my dates for Frodo and Sam.

Timeline:

Feb 26
- Breaking of the Fellowship
- Frodo and Sam cross to the east bank and head off

Feb 27

Feb 28

Feb 29
- evening, Frodo and Sam reach the edge of the Emyn Muil, catch
Gollum, Thunderstorm, hear a Nazgul

Feb 30

Mar 1
- Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli go into Fangorn. Meet Gandalf

- Frodo, Sam, and Gollum begin passage of the Dead Marshes

Mar 2
- Early morning, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli reach Edoras
- mid-afternoon, Theoden heads to the fords of the Isen
- evening, Theoden's forces camp after 5 hrs ride

- Frodo, Sam, and Gollum finish the passage of the Dead Marshes

Mar 3
- Afternoon, Theoden's army meets a refugee, Ceorl. Gandalf
leaves. Theoden changes directions to Helm's Deep
- after nightfall, Theoden reaches Helm's Deep
- Night, battle of the Hornberg, thunderstorm


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

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 23, 2004, 9:49:00 PM9/23/04
to
Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> wrote:
> Eric Schmidt wrote:

[about storm encountered by Sam and Frodo in the Emyn Muil]

>> If I recall HoMe correctly

Would you (or anyone) be able to find this reference?

>> then this storm is supposed to be the
>> exact same storm that appears at Helm's Deep. Gandalf says in that
>> chapter, "Behind us comes a very storm of Mordor." Something to think
>> about.
>
> Then it is a pretty sluggish storm
>
> From my calculations of the timeline since Frodo and Sam encounter it
> on the 29th but the storm at Helm's Deep doesn't take place till March
> 3.

Agreed. There are several storms referred to in the books. There is also
one that passes over Edoras at the point where Gandalf makes a dramatic
gesture and a flash of lightning scares Wormtongue.

The impression I get is that many storms come out of Mordor, maybe even
the one that struck Caradhras earlier in the story. Then we have the
great darkness (maybe volcanic ash and fumes) that comes later.

Hmph! We need a chronology of the weather! Emma...? :-)

Christopher

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

Emma Pease

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Sep 23, 2004, 10:08:19 PM9/23/04
to

I can try but I don't have one off-hand.

Emma

Dirk Thierbach

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Sep 24, 2004, 9:05:45 AM9/24/04
to
David Besack <daveREMO...@mac.com> wrote:
>> [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
>> cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
>> face?

>> [2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
>> is it merely co-incidence?
>> "The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his
>> sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came
>> dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen."

> [1] It was simply very dark,

But for some reason Sam can see very well: "It was dim, certainly, but
not as dark as all that. He could see Frodo below him, a grey forlorn
figure splayed against the cliff."

Frodo is literally struck with blindness after he hears the Nazgul-cry.
I don't know why, and I have often wondered about [1] myself, but
I think it is unlikely that [2] is only coincidence. If his blindness
is in any way connected to the Nazgul, then it would be fitting that
something elvish can cure him.

>> [4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?

> The book seems to suggest that the rope can do something most ropes
> can't, i.e. shake off a knot when it is pulled loosely.

That's how I read it, too, but it's still strange, isn't it? And
it doesn't explain *why* the rope is able to do that.

- Dirk

AC

unread,
Sep 24, 2004, 12:37:02 PM9/24/04
to
On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC),
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip awesome synopsis>

>
> [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the

> cry of the Nazgūl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff

> face?
>
> [2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
> is it merely co-incidence?
> "The darkness seemed to lift from Frodo's eyes, or else his
> sight was returning. He could see the grey line as it came
> dangling down, and he thought it had a faint silver sheen."
> He does seem to suggest that it is the rope: "I could see nothing,
> nothing at all, until the grey rope came down. It seemed to shimmer
> somehow." But is he right?
> And if he is right, what quality of the rope made it have this
> effect on Frodo? And what would have happened had Sam not had the
> rope; would Frodo have stayed blind for an hour, until morning,
> forever?

I never actually paid that much attention to this scene until now. I think
at least a part of Frodo's blindness can be attributed to the Nazgul. We
know that when one is near, the Ring's effect on Frodo is profound, and I
think this is yet another example. As to the Elvish rope, well, we know the
Nazgul are no fans of Elves, and even the minor enchantment of this rope
might be enough to break any black power that might be overwhelming Frodo.

>
> [3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
> interesting[e]:
> "The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
> the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
> the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
> brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
> Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
> Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
> mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
> slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
> the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
> the sun, as they rode into the West."
> This passage, in my mind, clearly suggests that the storm is the
> result of "the dark thought of Sauron" brooding over the area. If
> this is the case, how often do we then see this effect? Are the
> storms at Edoras and later at Helm's Deep related to this effect?
> And what about the description of Sauron's thought at Amon Hen as "a
> black shadow" and in particular the description after it has passed:
> "Then all the sky was clean and blue and birds sang in every tree."

I'm not too sure how much the scene at Amon Hen relates to the storm sent to
trouble Rohan, other than the fact that perhaps we can see how Sauron will
works. Perhaps this is as close as we ever actually get to seeing the way
in which the Ainur could alter the physical world and bend it to their will.

>
> Need we comment on the difference between these descriptions and the
> search/light/ effect used in the films?
>
> [4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it? His own
> opinion is clear enough: "I think the rope came off itself -- when I
> called." Sam clearly trusts the rope's Elvish makers to be able of
> such a feat, but Frodo doesn't seem to agree. Did the rope untie
> itself when Sam called, was it the merely the smooth surface of the
> rope that defeated Sam's knot once it wasn't pulled tight, or is
> Sam's trust in his own skills at knot-tying misplaced?

I'm absolutely certain that Sam was right, and the rope untied itself.

>
> [5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
> in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
> inability to share their Lembas.
> The question is why? What is it in the Elvish artefacts that is
> unbearable to Gollum?
> Story-externally it is clear that the good of the Elves is
> unbearable to the corrupted creature Gollum has become, but story-
> internally I don't think the question is really ever answered.
> I will venture a theory. In II,8 'Farewell to Lórien' we learn from
> one of the Elves that, "for we put the thought of all that we love
> into all that we make." Could it be this loving thought that is
> unbearable to Gollum? I'm not sure if it is truly in the spirit of
> Tolkien's Middle-earth world-view, but it is the best explanation
> that I have been able to come up with.

I think you've probably got it pretty close. Smeagol is one very messed up
fellow, and I think we're just seeing some neurosis of his.

>
> [6] Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is not
> Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder why
> Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.

With Gollum, I think you take what you can get.

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

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

Dirk Thierbach

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Sep 25, 2004, 7:42:53 AM9/25/04
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> I never actually paid that much attention to this scene until now. I think
> at least a part of Frodo's blindness can be attributed to the Nazgul. We
> know that when one is near, the Ring's effect on Frodo is profound, and I
> think this is yet another example.

But why should it lead to that particular blindness, that lasts after
the Nazgul is gone? On the other occasions, the effect of the Ring on Frodo
were quite different.

> As to the Elvish rope, well, we know the Nazgul are no fans of
> Elves, and even the minor enchantment of this rope might be enough
> to break any black power that might be overwhelming Frodo.

Probably something like this, yes.

- Dirk

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Sep 25, 2004, 5:42:08 PM9/25/04
to
In message
<news:slrncl8ja7.2m9....@aaronclausen.alberni.net> AC
<mightym...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:
>
> On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC),
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>>
> <snip awesome synopsis>

Thanks.

>> [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and

>> the cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the


>> cliff face?
>>
>> [2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to
>> return or is it merely co-incidence?

[...]


>
> I never actually paid that much attention to this scene until now.
> I think at least a part of Frodo's blindness can be attributed to
> the Nazgul. We know that when one is near, the Ring's effect on
> Frodo is profound, and I think this is yet another example.

Possibly combined with being in the area which is being surveyed by the
Eye. I agree that it is not a natural blindness, but I still think it
is a little odd: I don't recall other instances where there's an actual
loss of sight involved -- i.e. not merely unnatural darkness.

> As to the Elvish rope, well, we know the Nazgul are no fans of
> Elves, and even the minor enchantment of this rope might be enough
> to break any black power that might be overwhelming Frodo.

I think you're right, and it is probably useless to ask if it is a
particular quality about the rope: it is Elvish and that is, I think,
enough.

>> [3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
>> interesting[e]:

<snip>

> I'm not too sure how much the scene at Amon Hen relates to the
> storm sent to trouble Rohan, other than the fact that perhaps we
> can see how Sauron will works.

I don't think it was a storm as such that passed Amon Hen, but I was
thinking of the description of Sauron's thought as causing a darkening
of the sky.

Is there any significance to the difference? Is the storm an expression
of greater wrath or something?

> Perhaps this is as close as we ever actually get to seeing the way
> in which the Ainur could alter the physical world and bend it to
> their will.

Good point.

>> [4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?

[...]

> I'm absolutely certain that Sam was right, and the rope untied
> itself.

Again we are in agreement. Compared to the effect of their Elven Cloaks
this doesn't even (IMO) seem extraordinary -- just a little piece of
extra usefulness; magic (or perhaps rather Elven Art) of a more every-
day kind.

>> [5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope

[...]


>> The question is why? What is it in the Elvish artefacts that is
>> unbearable to Gollum?

<snip>


>
> I think you've probably got it pretty close. Smeagol is one very
> messed up fellow, and I think we're just seeing some neurosis of
> his.

Do you think that he was actually physically hurt by the rope?

If it is a psycho-somatic reaction, the question, to me, becomes how he
knew that the rope was Elvish?

I am uncertain what to think of this: whether Gollum is physically hurt
by some quality of the Elven Art in the rope, or if he merely
recognises it as Elvish and reacts psychosomatically to that. While
both seems to fit the case, I also feel that both to some extend leaves
some questions to be answered.

That the words of the unknown Elf possibly (I think they do) is the
closest we come to an explanation of the more everyday kind of Elven
Art, is also, to me, interesting. His words remind me also of some of
Finrod's words regarding the difference between Men and Elves in
Athrabeth:

"Now we Eldar do not deny that ye love Arda and all that is
therein (in so far as ye are free from the Shadow) maybe
even as greatly as do we. Yet otherwise. Each of our kindreds
perceives Arda differently, and appraises its beauties in
different mode and degree. How shall I say it? To me the
difference seems like that between one who visits a strange
country, and abides there a while (but need not), and one who
has lived in that land always (and must). To the former all
things that he sees are new and strange, and in that degree
lovable. To the other all things are familiar, the only
things that are, his own, and in that degree precious."

To see in this the reason why magic, or Art, is so much more common
among Elves is probably going too far, but I can't quite shake off the
feeling that these two issues are at least connected.

>> [6] Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is
>> not Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder
>> why Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.
>
> With Gollum, I think you take what you can get.

I can accept that, though I remember thinking that the master of the
Ring wasn't Frodo (it's a loop-hole in the promise that Frodo ought to
have discovered, IMO). It is also noteworthy that though the loop-hole
was exploited, it was not in the way that I imagined first (this is one
of the few things I recall from my first reading: Gollum doesn't try to
serve Sauron, but rather attempts to make himself the master (which,
IMO, involves some quite twisted logic: betraying both the current
keeper (whom it was the spirit of the promise to obey) and the actual
master of the Ring in order to serve himself as a possible future
holder of the Ring).

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

The trouble with being a god is that you've got no one to pray to.
- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)

Eric Schmidt

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Sep 26, 2004, 1:24:32 AM9/26/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message news:<g2L4d.423$ED....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>...

> Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> wrote:
> > Eric Schmidt wrote:
>
> [about storm encountered by Sam and Frodo in the Emyn Muil]
>
> >> If I recall HoMe correctly
>
> Would you (or anyone) be able to find this reference?

Okay, the relevant text is in HoMe book 8 "The War of the Ring", in
the chapter on (unsurprisingly) "The Taming of Smeagol". (Diacritics
removed for Usenet.) On page 95 (in my copy):

"The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and the main

battle had passed -- hastening with wind and thunder over the Emyn
Muil, over Anduin, over the fields of Rohan, on to the Hornburg where
the King Theoden stood at bay that night, and the Tindtorras now stood
dark against the last lurid glow."

This corresponds to the passage cited upthread. At this stage, when
Frodo descends from the Emyn Muil, the Helm's Deep Battle happened
that night. The "Note on the Chronology" at the end of this chapter
gives more information. Tolkien revised the sequence of event so that
the battle of Helm's Deep occurred one day later. Because of this,
Tolkien changed this passage to one rather similar to the one found in
TTT. But, as had been pointed out, the Tale of Years puts the battle
four days later (Feb 29 to Mar 3). CRT writes that Tolkien noticed
this ("Chronology wrong. The storm of Frodo was 3 days before
Theoden's ride.") and modified the passage to the final version,
"giving the great storm a more widely curving path" (CRT's words).

While the reference to the Hornburg in the first version does not
appear in the later ones, that Tolkien still tried to revise the
passage to accord with the chronology shows that he had not abandoned
the idea.

So, the idea is the storm didn't travel in a straight line, and it
travelled slowly.

--
Eric Schmidt

Christopher Kreuzer

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Sep 26, 2004, 4:45:01 AM9/26/04
to
Eric Schmidt <esch...@safeaccess.com> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:<g2L4d.423$ED....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>...
>> Emma Pease <em...@kanpai.stanford.edu> wrote:
>>> Eric Schmidt wrote:
>>
>> [about storm encountered by Sam and Frodo in the Emyn Muil]
>>
>>>> If I recall HoMe correctly
>>
>> Would you (or anyone) be able to find this reference?
>
> Okay, the relevant text is in HoMe book 8 "The War of the Ring", in
> the chapter on (unsurprisingly) "The Taming of Smeagol".

<snip>

> So, the idea is the storm didn't travel in a straight line, and it
> travelled slowly.

Thanks! That clears up that little mystery. I still find it a bit
surprising. Does anyone know if storms really do behave like that
(especially over land - I know hurricanes can behave like this, but they
form and move around over the sea, weakening over land).

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Sep 26, 2004, 12:17:53 PM9/26/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> Thanks! That clears up that little mystery. I still find it a bit
> surprising. Does anyone know if storms really do behave like that
> (especially over land - I know hurricanes can behave like this, but they
> form and move around over the sea, weakening over land).

I only know the little metereology you have to learn for sailing, but
the path of a depression (is this the right word?) and hence of the
strong winds close to it often depends of the presence or absence of
other high- or low-pressure areas. For example, depressions in
Northern Europe usually travel from west to east. If such a depression
hits a stationary high-pressure area overy, say, western Russia, it
will turn north or south. In some circumstances, it may even
travel "backwards" (i.e., from east to west) for a short time. IIRC
this happend at least once at some time during the last year.

Hurricanes weaken over land because they are no more fed by the
vapour of the sea, but this doesn't apply to ordinary thunderstorms.

In any case, I don't think Tolkien thought too deeply about the
meterology of ME.

- Dirk

Christopher Kreuzer

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Sep 26, 2004, 3:15:11 PM9/26/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>> Thanks! That clears up that little mystery. I still find it a bit
>> surprising. Does anyone know if storms really do behave like that
>> (especially over land - I know hurricanes can behave like this, but
>> they form and move around over the sea, weakening over land).
>
> I only know the little metereology you have to learn for sailing, but
> the path of a depression (is this the right word?)

I believe so.

> and hence of the
> strong winds close to it often depends of the presence or absence of
> other high- or low-pressure areas.

<snipped with thanks>

> In any case, I don't think Tolkien thought too deeply about the
> meterology of ME.

Oh, it may be silly, but can you be sure of that? He did spend time
getting the chronology to be accurate, and I think the geology is
surprisingly realistic. The descriptions of the landscape and vegetation
are masterful - maybe due to personal experience.

I think that the quote from HoME shows that he did care about the
weather in ME, maybe not to the extent of having realistic weather
patterns (which is what I think you meant), but enough to have important
plot elements like the wind from the sea bringing Aragorn to Minas
Tirith, and the winds blowing away the clouds of Mordor. He also has the
characters comment on how the storm on Caradhras is unseasonal. We have
the fog on the Barrow-downs, and other stuff that I can't remember.

Troels Forchhammer

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Sep 26, 2004, 4:08:46 PM9/26/04
to
In message <news:6e5fc465.04092...@posting.google.com>
esch...@safeaccess.com (Eric Schmidt) enriched us with:
>

<snip>

[The storm in Emyn Muil]

> Okay, the relevant text is in HoMe book 8 "The War of the Ring",
> in the chapter on (unsurprisingly) "The Taming of Smeagol".

<snip>

> So, the idea is the storm didn't travel in a straight line, and it
> travelled slowly.

Thanks a lot.

Sauron really did give himself time to scrutinize whatever it was he
looked at (good thing he missed the hobbits).

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

Taking fun
as simply fun
and earnestness
in earnest
shows how thouroughly
thou none
of the two
discernest.

Troels Forchhammer

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Sep 26, 2004, 4:24:49 PM9/26/04
to
In message <news:3zE5d.1574$ED....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>

<snip>

> I think that the quote from HoME shows that he did care about the
> weather in ME, maybe not to the extent of having realistic weather
> patterns (which is what I think you meant),

Isn't the whole point about this storm, and about some of the other
weather we see, that it isn't natural? As I read the passage this storm
(and possibly other storms as well) is intended as being the result of
Saruon's mind brooding on the area -- when such things are possible,
then one cannot really expect realistic weather patterns.

The weather that appears unrealistic to me (those instances that I
recall) is always attributed to some supernatural effect, though the
source is not always unambiguously identified (e.g. the storm over
Caradhras).

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

If no thought
your mind does visit,
make your speech
not too explicit.
- Piet Hein, /The Case for Obscurity/

Odysseus

unread,
Sep 26, 2004, 6:00:21 PM9/26/04
to
Dirk Thierbach wrote:
>
> I only know the little metereology you have to learn for sailing, but
> the path of a depression (is this the right word?) and hence of the
> strong winds close to it often depends of the presence or absence of
> other high- or low-pressure areas. For example, depressions in
> Northern Europe usually travel from west to east. If such a depression
> hits a stationary high-pressure area overy, say, western Russia, it
> will turn north or south. In some circumstances, it may even
> travel "backwards" (i.e., from east to west) for a short time. IIRC
> this happend at least once at some time during the last year.
>
You also get circulation patterns around highs and lows (in the
Northern Hemisphere, clockwise and counter-clockwise repsectively)
that can carry weather systems in long arcs rather than in a direct
line from one point to another.

--
Odysseus

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Sep 26, 2004, 6:10:42 PM9/26/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

<snip>

> Chapter of the Week


> Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'

> Summary:


>
> In this chapter we return to Frodo and Sam in the barren and broken
> landscape of the eastern Emyn Muil on the third evening after they

> fled from Parth Galen. It is the 29th of February and elsewhere


Gandalf
> is probably still "walking long in dark thought" being weary after

> striving with the Dark Tower, Merry and Pippin are on the way to


> Wellinghall in the company of Treebeard and will spend the night
> there, Éomer and his éored are still labouring to burn the Orcs and
> raise the mound over the fallen riders before they camp at the edge

> of Fangorn, and the Three Hunters are struggling across the Eastemnet


> in pursuit of Saruman's Orcs before once more settling down for the
> night, Legolas expressing hope for the coming day, "Rede oft is found
> at the rising of the Sun."

Nice bit of context, especially as we haven't read about Sam or Frodo
for the last ten chapters, and must remember that we are going back to
an earlier time than the last chapter when Pippin was heading to Minas
Tirith with Gandalf and Shadowfax.

<snip>

> we get another
> sample of the Gaffer's paternal vocabulary: "You're nowt but a
> ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee."

Those Gaffer/Sam bits are great fun! I'm now dreaming of a way to
collect all the examples together... For the moment, can anyone think of
any more examples from Sam of this 'rustic' language?

<snip>

> About a dozen feet above the ground Gollum falls, curling up like a


> spider. Sam rushes him, but soon finds himself in trouble from which
> he is saved only by Frodo's intervention with Sting.

It is interesting that Gollum is able to overcome Sam. I also find the
comparison between Gollum and a spider interesting. Does this foreshadow
later events?

<snip>

> Story-internal Questions
>
> [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
> cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
> face?

Having re-read the passages in question and others ideas on this
blindness, I am not convinced that the blindess was caused by the
Nazgul. I think that the fall could have caused a temporary blindness if
Frodo knocked his head without realizing it. We are told that Frodo slid
feet-first with his hands over his ears, and lands on his feet. Either
that, or the lightning flash left him temporarily blinded (but not Sam).
Frodo does say:

"I thought for a bit that I had lost my sight? From the lightning or
something else worse."

> [2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return or
> is it merely co-incidence?

I would say co-incidence

<snip>

> [3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
> interesting[e]:
> "The skirts of the storm were lifting, ragged and wet, and
> the main battle had passed to spread its great wings over
> the Emyn Muil; upon which the dark thought of Sauron
> brooded for a while. Thence it turned, smiting the Vale of
> Anduin with hail and lightning, and casting its shadow upon
> Minas Tirith with threat of war. Then, lowering in the
> mountains, and gathering its great spires, it rolled on
> slowly over Gondor and the skirts of Rohan, until far away
> the Riders on the plain saw its black towers moving behind
> the sun, as they rode into the West."

I want to know which Riders are being referred to here. I initially
thought this was a fast-moving storm and the Riders are the ones led by
Eomer to hunt the orcs. But now, having learnt that this is meant to be
a slow-moving storm, I think that this might describe the course of the
storm over a few days, and the Riders are the army of Theoden going
westwards to the Hornburg and Helm's Deep. The trouble is that they see
the stormclouds moving behind the Sun. Obviously the clouds actually
moved in front of the Sun, and if it was the setting sun then the clouds
had moved in front of the Riders who are riding towards the storm. Does
this sound right? Or does "rode into the West" refer to the clouds and
not the Riders??

<snip>

> [4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it? His own
> opinion is clear enough: "I think the rope came off itself -- when I
> called." Sam clearly trusts the rope's Elvish makers to be able of
> such a feat, but Frodo doesn't seem to agree. Did the rope untie
> itself when Sam called, was it the merely the smooth surface of the
> rope that defeated Sam's knot once it wasn't pulled tight, or is
> Sam's trust in his own skills at knot-tying misplaced?

Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is what made
the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when pulled tight, only
when shaken and then pulled. Purest speculation really.

> [5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
> in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
> inability to share their Lembas.

This could be similar to the orcs hating sunlight, and the reaction of
orcs to Aragorn's sword Anduril. Do we get a similar reactions from orcs
to lembas or Elvish materials?

<snip>

> Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is not
> Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder why
> Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.

Hubris? Frodo is beginning to believe that he can be the Master of the
Ring, and ignoring or forgetting Gandalf's words.

> Other Questions
> These questions are posted in a separate message and contains the
> alphabetical notes.

Oh very well! Three-tiered note system indeed! Hmph! :-)

> General Comments

<snip>

> This is the first of a series of chapters detailing the journey of the
> trio from Emyn Muil and ultimately to Mount Doom. The first three of
> these chapters, and some of the later chapters, have always seemed to
> me very hard to get through: I feel that I am slowly plodding my way
> through the texts with all these ponderous descriptions of the bleak
> and depressing landscapes of Emyn Muil, the Dead Marshes and the
> waste before Mordor. I have come to realise that this impression
> probably is the literary equivalent of what the characters are going
> through, and if this is deliberate by Tolkien, then it is, IMO, a work

> of absolute literary genius.

But you must remember that Tolkien probably always intended to describe
the landscapes around Mordor as bleak and depressing. That and the
depression/burden-type of effects that the Ring has on Frodo both have
the same ultimate source: the will and power of Sauron. It is likely
that the plodding pace of the starts of Book 4 and 6 was inevitable once
these factors were decided upon. Were the bleakness of Mordor and the
surrounding areas, and the effect of the Ring on Frodo, both present
from the earliest drafts in HoME? If so, I would say that the combined
effect might not have been deliberate by Tolkien from the outset, but he
could have realised how well it was working and emphasised it.

> In relation to the characterisation of the three (see [c]) I wonder if
> there is some foreshadowing in this chapter.

Ooh. See my spider/Gollum comment above!

> Frodo here use the presence of the Ring to dominate Gollum: is this an
> indication that he is himself falling under the domination of the
> Ring?

IMO, yes. Especially where Frodo's cowing of Gollum and extraction of a
promise implies that he (Frodo) is the Master of the Ring.

> The understanding between Frodo and Gollum might point in the
> same direction. Is there a direct line between Frodo's words in this
> chapter ("[...] It is before you!") and the later situation at the
> slopes of Mount Doom ("If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast
> yourself into the Fire of Doom.")?

I don't quite get what you are saying here...

<snip>

> Sam is gentler than his words -- sparing Gollum almost in spite of
> himself. When Gollum starts whimpering right after his capture, Sam
> realises that "he could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay
> grovelling on the stones whimpering." This is, I believe, mirrored
> later on the slopes of Mount Doom where Sam found that "he could not
> strike this thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly
> wretched." It is one thing that the two situations are alike -- that
> one mirrors the other, but does the first foreshadow the later?

There is an important difference. In the first case Gollum has not
actually attacked them (only following them and defending himself
against Sam's attack), they only fear that he will betray them to orcs
or the Nazgul. In the second case, Gollum has already betrayed them to
Shelob, and has actually attacked them. Sam's pity in the latter case is
'higher' if you like, more noble and requiring more estel.

<snip>

> Your thoughts, ideas, comments and questions?

Thanks for a great summary, but even more for some interesting
questions.

Christopher Kreuzer

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Sep 26, 2004, 7:21:24 PM9/26/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

>> Chapter of the Week
>> Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
>
> Other Questions:

> [a] There has, in the past, been some discussion over the correct


> version of this quotation, which has turned out to be a matter of
> whether one quotes the version in I,2 'The Shadow of the Past' or
> the version in this chapter. In the spirit of textual comparison I
> here quote both passages in full:

<now snipped>

> LotR I,2 'The Shadow of the Past':

> 'Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
> death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to
> them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
> judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

I've called this 'a'.

> LotR IV,1 'The Taming of Sméagol':

> /Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve
> death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give that to
> them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name
> of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise
> cannot see all ends./"

And I've called this 'b'.

First, I have always assumed that Tolkien would have written the second
passage with the first one in front of him. Can we assume this, and so
discount any misquoting by Tolkien himself?

Second (as you say), do the HoME drafts shed any light on this?

> Apart from the lengths the only obvious difference is in Gandalf's
> comment about death.

There are also two minor stylistic changes, which might or might not be
significant (probably not):

1a) And some that die deserve life.
2b) And some die that deserve life.

I am sure these mean the same thing. Do they?

I think 'a' sounds better, and 'b' is less consistent with the rest of
the surrounding sentences. This might emphasize the fact that 'a' is
spoken and 'b' is a memory.

2a) Then do not be too eager
2b) Then be not too eager

This is more obviously a stylistic change, but again, 'a' (to my ear)
sounds better constructed, while 'b' sounds a bit more like a memory
than spoken words. I could easily be imagining this though!

> "Then do not be too eager to deal out death in
> judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends" becomes, in
> Frodo's memory, "Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name
> of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see
> all ends."

<snip>

> does this difference mean anything?

I am convinced it must mean something! My best guess is pretty similar
to yours, emphasizing the fact that Frodo is half-remembering something
he heard, and adding his own feelings - particularly the fear that he
and Sam feel for their safety with Gollum around.

> I am thinking in particular of the
> differences between "in judgement" and "in the name of justice" as
> well as the addition of "fearing for your own safety." Is this
> merely capturing the sense of the longer discussion in I,2 as it
> applies to the situation in the current chapter?

I think that there is a difference between the use of judgement and
justice here.

a) "Death in judgement" to me is meant to mean "Death as judgement". A
direct statement that the judgement passed is death. The statement is
neutral and does not say whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.

b) "Death in the name of justice" to me implies justice being used to
excuse a death sentence. More in the spirit of "Gollum's done really
nasty things, so we'd better kill him and see justice [=revenge] done".
Frodo's memory saying "in the name of" might be an implicit recognition
of the fact that his logic is false, that he realises (from Gandalf's
earlier version of this statement) that if he did kill Gollum that this
"justice" is only an excuse. Not only is it wrong to think that way, but
Frodo's real motivation is revealed when his memory adds the following:

"fearing for your own safety".

I also find it interesting that "very wise" becomes "wise", though maybe
this is merely to do with Gandalf (who spoke the original statement)
being one of the Wise, while Frodo is not.

I also discussed this difference in the quotes in another post in
August:

http://www.google.com/groups?&selm=UCQSc.4235%24Mo2.46214269%40news-text.cableinet.net

The main point was this:

[BEGIN QUOTE]

Surely Tolkien would have realised this. Is there some deep subtle
meaning here about why Frodo's actions are based not on "What did
Gandalf Say"? but on "What Frodo remembers Gandalf Saying"?

The main change is a bit about "fearing for your own safety". I guess
this might be Frodo subconciously adapting Gandalf's moral to suit his
own situation: him and Sam alone with Gollum in the wild, fearing for
their safety.

This would support the fact that the primary agent here is Frodo's
memory, and not some 'Gandalf virus' prompting him to act correctly.

[END QUOTE]

< snip pity stuff - maybe another time :-) >

There are *lots* of references to pity in LotR!
Could start a whole new thread on that alone.

> [c] This passage, and indeed this whole chapter (at least from when
> Frodo and Sam finally meet Gollum) is, IMO, crucial to the
> understanding of the relationships between these three Hobbits for
> the remainder of the book.
> Frodo: In this chapter we see the progress of the ennoblement later
> commented upon by Saruman ("You have grown, Halfling")

<snip>

Never thought much about it before, but can a case be made for saying
that this ennoblement happens after the Ring goes into the Fire. We see
it most clearly when the hobbits are back in the Shire.

> Sam: The most interesting new aspect of Sam's personality in this
> chapter is, IMO, his brusque compassion for Gollum

<snip>

> despite [Sam's] harsh words about putting


> the rope around Gollum's neck, Frodo "found that it was not too
> tight, indeed hardly tight enough. Sam was gentler than his words."

I seem to remember some saying that Frodo shows less pity than Sam. Frod
o is the harsher master. At what point do we, or should we, make
allowances for the fact that Frodo might be being influenced by the
Ring?

<snip>

> These three characters will accompany each other, in one way or
> another, from Emyn Muil to Mount Doom. Bound together by fate,
> and incidentally all three ending up as bearers or keepers of the
One
> Ring. They are all alike in some ways: all Hobbits, and all of them
> far more resistant to the influence of the One Ring than anyone
> would have guessed.

Good points.

<snip>

> Frodo-Sam: The change here is subtle, but Sam gets to see Frodo in a
> new light as a mighty lord, but also as more akin to Gollum than he
> would have imagined. Does Sam resent this understanding between his
> master and Gollum? Clearly Sam is also developing into more than a
> servant with a shrewd understanding of his master: Sam is taking on
> the role as Frodo's protector.

But what does Frodo think of Sam?
Same as before or different?

> Frodo-Gollum: This relationship is, in this chapter, governed by two
> things: Frodo's pity for Gollum (strengthening the Sméagol persona)
> and Frodo's implicit use of the Ring to cow and dominate Gollum
> ("Yes, you know, Sméagol. It is before you." [...] "'Down! down!'
> said Frodo. `Now speak your promise!").

But what does Gollum think of Frodo?
Do we get to see Gollum's thoughts here?

<snip>

> [d] When Frodo makes Gollum speak his promise to, but not on, the

> Ring, Sam has a peculiar vision (and not the last), where "it


> appeared to Sam that his master had grown

<snip>

> It seems that this signifies a greater power in
> Middle-earth, and it is noteworthy that Frodo now also exhibits
> this.

Indeed. Nice examples!

> [e] I have discussed how the storm is used to describe Sauron's
> attention on an area, but this is not the first nor the last time
> Tolkien use weather phenomena as metaphors for the struggle in
> Middle-earth. The most obvious is of course the artificial darkness
> that will later spread from Orodruin, the examples are numerous.
> I'll admit that it works for me, but how about others -- do these
> descriptions of dark storms, glimpses of light (e.g the fallen
> head of the king at the cross-roads, and the star Sam sees from
> Mordor) and other weather effects work for you as well? Do they work
> for everybody, or do they only work for a set of fairy-story-ready
> readers?

They work for me. Not really as fairy-story stuff, but more as nice
descriptions of natural events and objects.

John Jones

unread,
Sep 26, 2004, 8:22:11 AM9/26/04
to
"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote in message
news:Xns956FF281...@212.242.40.196...

> In message
> <news:slrncl8ja7.2m9....@aaronclausen.alberni.net> AC
> <mightym...@hotmail.com> enriched us with:
> >
> > On Mon, 20 Sep 2004 06:19:19 +0000 (UTC),
> > Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> >>
> > <snip awesome synopsis>
>
> Thanks.
>
> >> [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and
> >> the cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the
> >> cliff face?
> >>
> >> [2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to
> >> return or is it merely co-incidence?
> [...]
> >
> > I never actually paid that much attention to this scene until now.
> > I think at least a part of Frodo's blindness can be attributed to
> > the Nazgul. We know that when one is near, the Ring's effect on
> > Frodo is profound, and I think this is yet another example.
>
> Possibly combined with being in the area which is being surveyed by the
> Eye. I agree that it is not a natural blindness, but I still think it
> is a little odd: I don't recall other instances where there's an actual
> loss of sight involved -- i.e. not merely unnatural darkness.
>

I always thought that it was just shock. Admittedly Frodo didn't fall very
far, but the moment in which he slipped must have been destinctly
bowel-loosening.

> > With Gollum, I think you take what you can get.
>
> I can accept that, though I remember thinking that the master of the
> Ring wasn't Frodo (it's a loop-hole in the promise that Frodo ought to
> have discovered, IMO).

Another example of the Ring taking a grip on Frodo? He probably didn't
think this, but subconsciously he must have thought of *himself* as the
master of the Ring. So he accepted Gollum's promise without too much
reservation.

Shanahan

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Sep 27, 2004, 11:40:51 PM9/27/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:

> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>
> <snip>
>> Chapter of the Week
>> Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'

Could be that the clouds are at this time somewhat south of the
Riders (over the White Mts.), and the sun not yet that near the
horizon. From the Westemnet, you might then see the clouds first
behind the sun, then overtaking it from below and to the left
(south). Ominous. Foreshadowing, one might almost even say. ;)

> <snip>
>> [4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it? His own
>> opinion is clear enough: "I think the rope came off itself --
>> when I called." Sam clearly trusts the rope's Elvish makers
>> to be able of such a feat, but Frodo doesn't seem to agree.
>> Did the rope untie itself when Sam called, was it the merely
>> the smooth surface of the rope that defeated Sam's knot once
>> it wasn't pulled tight, or is Sam's trust in his own skills
>> at knot-tying misplaced?
>
> Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is
> what made the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when
> pulled tight, only when shaken and then pulled. Purest
> speculation really.

Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>
Why can't an Elven rope come when called in the name of its maker?

What interests me about this question is kind of asking it
backwards: why is Sam full of intuitive faith here, and Frodo the
doubting rationalist? So far in the tale, we've seen a Sam who is
rather a hard-headed practical character. And Frodo has been the
one with his head full of old tales of magic. Though, to be fair,
Sam has his head fairly well-stuffed with Elvish tales, too. But
why on ME would Frodo doubt this little bit of Elvish magic?

>> [5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see
>> repeated in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven
>> cloaks and his inability to share their Lembas.
>
> This could be similar to the orcs hating sunlight, and the
> reaction of orcs to Aragorn's sword Anduril. Do we get a similar
> reactions from orcs to lembas or Elvish materials?

The orcs in the Tower of Cirith Ungol react in the same way. "They
seemed to hate the touch or the smell of [the lembas], even worse
than Gollum." Frodo gets most of his lembas back for the rest of
the journey, since the orcs only broke and scattered it.
'Luckily.'

Ciaran S.
--
"There are many mysteries in this world, big and small.
Like, why do we love puppy dogs?
And why, oh why, do blue midgets hit me with fish?"
- The Tick


Shanahan

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Sep 27, 2004, 11:21:01 PM9/27/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> creatively typed:

> esch...@safeaccess.com (Eric Schmidt) enriched us with:

> <snip>
> [The storm in Emyn Muil]
>
>> Okay, the relevant text is in HoMe book 8 "The War of the Ring",
>> in the chapter on (unsurprisingly) "The Taming of Smeagol".
>
> <snip>
>
>> So, the idea is the storm didn't travel in a straight line, and
>> it travelled slowly.
>
> Thanks a lot.
>
> Sauron really did give himself time to scrutinize whatever it
> was he looked at (good thing he missed the hobbits).

Tolkien apparently had some trouble with the chronology in this
section. He said it was out of sync, and spent many vexatious
hours trying to balance the three story lines. In Letter #85, 14
October 1944, he says to Christopher:

"I have been struggling with the dislocated chronology of the Ring,
which has proved most vexatious, and has not only interfered with
other
more urgent and duller duties, but has stopped me getting on. I
think I
have solved it all at last by small map alterations, and by
inserting an
extra day's Entmoot, and extra days into Trotter's chase and
Frodo's
journey (a small alteration in the first chapter I have just sent:
2 days
from Morannon to Ithilien)."

Would anyone care to speculate on what the problem might have been
in the first place? Apparently 'Trotter' (Aragorn) was a bit
farther behind than he should have been. But why then add an extra
day each to the Entmoot and Frodo's journey? That would seem to be
lengthening the gap, not shortening it.

Ciaran S.
--
Gilligan himself represents the transgressive potentialities of
the decentered ego.


huanth...@netscape.net

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Sep 28, 2004, 12:24:26 PM9/28/04
to
On Sep 26, Christopher Kreuzer wrote in <C7H5d.1688$ED....@text.news.blueyo...:

[snip]


>Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is what made
>the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when pulled tight, only
>when shaken and then pulled. Purest speculation really.

He also spoke the name of Galadriel.

--
But no wizardry nor spell, neither fang nor venom, nor devil's art nor beast-strength, could overthrow Huan of Valinor; and he took his foe by the throat and pinned him down.


Troels Forchhammer

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Sep 28, 2004, 5:02:46 PM9/28/04
to
in <C7H5d.1688$ED....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,

Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>>
>> Chapter of the Week
>> Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'

<snip>

>> we get another sample of the Gaffer's paternal vocabulary: "You're
>> nowt but a ninnyhammer, Sam Gamgee."
>
> Those Gaffer/Sam bits are great fun! I'm now dreaming of a way to
> collect all the examples together... For the moment, can anyone think
> of any more examples from Sam of this 'rustic' language?
>
> <snip>
>
>> About a dozen feet above the ground Gollum falls, curling up like a
>> spider. Sam rushes him, but soon finds himself in trouble from which
>> he is saved only by Frodo's intervention with Sting.
>
> It is interesting that Gollum is able to overcome Sam.

Shouldn't we expect that?

Gollum put up a fight against Aragorn, biting him, and I don't think it's
surprising that a creature, who've lived as Gollum has, would be able to
overcome Sam at this point even if Sam has been in a hard school since
leaving the Shire.

> I also find the comparison between Gollum and a spider interesting.

It is certainly a very odd reflex he displays.

> Does this foreshadow later events?

It would be an extremely obscure piece of foreshadowing, I think, though
that obviously isn't the same as saying it isn't. It is a very unnatural
reaction for other creatures than spiders, I think, to curl up when they
fall (we would rather, like the cat, try to fall on hands and feet). Who
knows? I'm not sure either way.

>> Story-internal Questions
>>
>> [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
>> cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
>> face?
>
> Having re-read the passages in question and others ideas on this
> blindness, I am not convinced that the blindess was caused by the
> Nazgul. I think that the fall could have caused a temporary blindness
> if Frodo knocked his head without realizing it.

I don't think that any one cause is satisfying; the Nazgûl by itself
doesn't have this effect anywhere else, nor does Sauron's awareness (e.g.
on Amon Hen) . . .

> We are told that Frodo slid feet-first with his hands over his ears,
> and lands on his feet. Either that, or the lightning flash left him
> temporarily blinded (but not Sam).

And I don't think that these, by themselves, provides a satisfying
explanation either. As you say, Frodo "had slid and not fallen" a few
yards, "coming up with a jolt to his feet on a wider ledge." Being struck
temporarily blind by that (in itself) would, to me, seem incredible, and
the same goes for the lightning by itself.

> Frodo does say:
>
> "I thought for a bit that I had lost my sight? From the lightning or
> something else worse."

My guess is that this should have been an 'and' rather than an 'or'.

My impression is definitely that Frodo's temporary blindness is no mere
accident, but is the result of several factors: the lightning, the storm,
the slide and the unexpected effect of the Nazgûl's cry ("out here in the
waste its terror was far great: it pierced them with cold blades of
horror and despair, stopping heart and breath.") as well as any effect of
Sauron's attention.

One or two of these factors alone probably wouldn't have had this effect,
only in combination do they blind Frodo.

>> [2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return
>> or is it merely co-incidence?
>
> I would say co-incidence

Inasfar as I don't believe that the rope in itself healed Frodo of a
supernatural blindness, I agree. On the other hand I don't think that
Frodo would have regained his sight as quickly had Sam lowered an
ordinary rope (he would probably have had to wait for the sun to reach
the cliff face).

Once more I don't see the supernatural as the only explanation: I see it
as speeding up and increasing the effect of more natural events (the same
goes for Frodo's blindness) rather than casuing these effects by
themselves.

>> [3] The description of the way the storm moves away is, IMO, very
>> interesting[e]:

<snip quotation>

> I want to know which Riders are being referred to here. I initially
> thought this was a fast-moving storm and the Riders are the ones led
> by Eomer to hunt the orcs. But now, having learnt that this is meant
> to be a slow-moving storm, I think that this might describe the
> course of the storm over a few days, and the Riders are the army of
> Theoden going westwards to the Hornburg and Helm's Deep.

I agree.

> The trouble is that they see the stormclouds moving behind the Sun.
> Obviously the clouds actually moved in front of the Sun, and if it
> was the setting sun then the clouds had moved in front of the Riders
> who are riding towards the storm. Does this sound right? Or does
> "rode into the West" refer to the clouds and not the Riders??

This is, by Eric's account, the storm that strikes at Helm's Deep, and it
must be the one referenced in III,7 'Helm's Deep' as coming out of the
east (from behind the riders):

" There were no clouds overhead yet, but a heaviness was in
the air, it was hot for the season of the year. The rising sun
was hazy, and behind it, following it slowly up the sky, there
was a growing darkness, as of a great storm moving out of the
East."

Surely this is the selfsame storm rolling "slowly over Gondor and the
skirts of Rohan" after having cast "its shadow over Minas Tirith with
threat of war."

>> [4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
[...]


>
> Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is what made
> the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when pulled tight, only
> when shaken and then pulled. Purest speculation really.

I don't disagree.

It is often tempting to think that these effects are magical in nature:
the same goes for the camouflaging effect of the cloaks and the
strenghtening effect of the lembas, but I don't think it's quite the
right way to look at it.

It is, I believe, supernatural in the sense that it is not achievable by
Men, but we are not, IMO, speaking strange incantations or gestures (such
as e.g. Galadriel breathing on the water to create the mirror), but
rather a natural effect of the craft and art of the Elves in particular:
a bit of extra usefulness built into the things they make (to some extent
also achievable to Dwarves, as for instance in the horn Merry gets from
Éowyn and Éomer).

The infamous Barrow blades were "wound with spells" and the Mouth of
Sauron had "learned great sorcery", but to the Elves there is something
that is not magic, but rather a mix of art, craft and "the love of all
that [they] love": not magical, but still, to Men, supernatural. To Men
there is only magic, and consequently the Hobbits don't distinquish.

>> [5] Gollum is hurt by the Elven rope -- a theme that we see repeated
>> in the way he avoids touching Frodo and Sam's Elven cloaks and his
>> inability to share their Lembas.
>
> This could be similar to the orcs hating sunlight, and the reaction of
> orcs to Aragorn's sword Anduril. Do we get a similar reactions from
> orcs to lembas or Elvish materials?

The Orcs that captured Frodo didn't like the lembas: "I guess they
disliked the very look and smell of the /lembas/, worse than Gollum did,"
Frodo said to Sam in VI,1.

I don't doubt that this has the same cause for Orcs and Gollum, they are
repelled and disgusted by anything associated with goodness, whether the
sun or the Elven lembas: the question is if there is any story-internal
explanation other than that they shun goodness?

>> Recalling Gandalf's words in II,1, "The Lord of the Ring is not
>> Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor," I wonder why
>> Frodo chooses to accept Gollum's promise.
>
> Hubris? Frodo is beginning to believe that he can be the Master of the
> Ring, and ignoring or forgetting Gandalf's words.

Nice -- I like it ;-)

>> Other Questions
>> These questions are posted in a separate message and contains the
>> alphabetical notes.
>
> Oh very well! Three-tiered note system indeed! Hmph! :-)

Bah, you're just envious you didn't invent it ;-))

(Note for the unwary: the above was written entirely in jest)

>> This is the first of a series of chapters detailing the journey of
>> the trio from Emyn Muil and ultimately to Mount Doom. The first
>> three of these chapters, and some of the later chapters, have always
>> seemed to me very hard to get through: I feel that I am slowly
>> plodding my way through the texts with all these ponderous
>> descriptions of the bleak and depressing landscapes of Emyn Muil,
>> the Dead Marshes and the waste before Mordor. I have come to realise
>> that this impression probably is the literary equivalent of what the
>> characters are going through, and if this is deliberate by Tolkien,
>> then it is, IMO, a work of absolute literary genius.
>
> But you must remember that Tolkien probably always intended to
> describe the landscapes around Mordor as bleak and depressing. That
> and the depression/burden-type of effects that the Ring has on Frodo
> both have the same ultimate source: the will and power of Sauron.

Indeed. And of course reading about such a dismal place -- and slowly
having the effect of the journey on Frodo revealed -- will seem
depressing.

I don't, for myself, complain about the pace of the story in these
chapters: it is the right pace, the pace and feeling that fits the story
at this point (in a very brilliant way, I'd like to add), and emphasises
the emotional setting of these chapters.

I am deeply impressed with the writing in these chapters: not only with
the way it emphasises the mood of the chapters, but also with what
appears, at least from a modern point of view, a very daring move: to let
the pace of the story die down that much after the stirring chase and
battles of book 3. I do, however, understand if others, used to the
faster pace of more recent stories, find the pace boring and impossible
to get through (or rather; I don't understand it as such, but I realise
that there are some that do think like that and leave the book for it).

> It is likely that the plodding pace of the starts of Book 4 and 6 was
> inevitable once these factors were decided upon.

To a large extend I think they were -- unless one would be satisfied
merely with reading that it was depressing and then on to the next
stirring battle ;-)

> Were the bleakness of Mordor and the surrounding areas, and the
> effect of the Ring on Frodo, both present from the earliest drafts
> in HoME?

Without knowing, I suspect so, but it would be nice to have it confirmed
(or disconfirmed, if that is what it will be).

> If so, I would say that the combined effect might not have been
> deliberate by Tolkien from the outset, but he could have realised how
> well it was working and emphasised it.

That might be it.

<snip>

>> Frodo here use the presence of the Ring to dominate Gollum: is this
>> an indication that he is himself falling under the domination of the
>> Ring?
>
> IMO, yes. Especially where Frodo's cowing of Gollum and extraction of
> a promise implies that he (Frodo) is the Master of the Ring.

I'll leave that in; the first hint of the hubris brought about be Frodo
slowly succumbing to the effect of the Ring, and ultimately leading to
him claiming it for his own at the Cracks of Fire . . .

>> The understanding between Frodo and Gollum might point in the
>> same direction. Is there a direct line between Frodo's words in this
>> chapter ("[...] It is before you!") and the later situation at the
>> slopes of Mount Doom ("If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast
>> yourself into the Fire of Doom.")?
>
> I don't quite get what you are saying here...

I am thinking in particular of the way that the Ring in both cases is
used to cow and dominate Gollum.

In this chapter we have Frodo using the presence of the Ring to force
Gollum to make his promise, and on the slopes of Mount Doom we have a
more direct threat of Gollum, again using the Ring to break him.

There is, I think, a close similarity between the two situations,
differing mainly in severity -- the strength with which Frodo uses the
Ring, and my question is if there is also a direct link between the two:
does the second instance become unavoidable once the first has taken
place?

>> Sam is gentler than his words -- sparing Gollum almost in spite of
>> himself. When Gollum starts whimpering right after his capture, Sam
>> realises that "he could not avenge himself: his miserable enemy lay
>> grovelling on the stones whimpering." This is, I believe, mirrored
>> later on the slopes of Mount Doom where Sam found that "he could not
>> strike this thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly
>> wretched." It is one thing that the two situations are alike -- that
>> one mirrors the other, but does the first foreshadow the later?
>
> There is an important difference. In the first case Gollum has not
> actually attacked them (only following them and defending himself
> against Sam's attack), they only fear that he will betray them to orcs
> or the Nazgul. In the second case, Gollum has already betrayed them to
> Shelob, and has actually attacked them. Sam's pity in the latter case
> is 'higher' if you like, more noble and requiring more estel.

More in line with what Tolkien wrote in a footnote to letter #246:

"In the sense that 'pity' to be a true virtue must be
directed to the good of its object. It is empty if it is
exercised only to keep oneself 'clean', free from hate or the
actual doing of injustice, though this is also a good motive."

In the first case (in this chapter) Sam's pity seems more directed
towards avoiding an injustice ("But what he means to do is another
matter.") while in the second case it really is "folly" ("To 'pity' him,


to forbear to kill him, was a piece of folly, or a mystical belief in the
ultimate value-in-itself of pity and generosity even if disastrous in the

world of time." Letter #181).

>> Your thoughts, ideas, comments and questions?
>
> Thanks for a great summary, but even more for some interesting
> questions.

It was a rewarding task -- there was so much that I wanted to discuss in
relation to this chapter already before I started on the introduction,
and more appeared as I went deeper into it. And how could I justify to
myself to do less than my best with such a great chapter and for this
group of excellent people ;-)

--
Troels Forchhammer

The idea of being *paid* to govern is terribly middle-class :-)
- Igenlode on AFPH

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Sep 29, 2004, 4:24:48 PM9/29/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
> Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is what made
> the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when pulled tight, only
> when shaken and then pulled. Purest speculation really.

But that does not work with "proper" knots -- you cannot open them by
shaking the line, and then pulling. And Sam was very insistent that he
"put as fast a hitch over the stump as any one could have done, in the
Shire or out of it". And he knew how to make a "proper" knot, as it
was "in the family, as you might say".

- Dirk

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Sep 29, 2004, 4:39:30 PM9/29/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
> My impression is definitely that Frodo's temporary blindness is no mere
> accident, but is the result of several factors: the lightning, the storm,
> the slide and the unexpected effect of the Nazgûl's cry ("out here in the
> waste its terror was far great: it pierced them with cold blades of
> horror and despair, stopping heart and breath.") as well as any effect of
> Sauron's attention.

> One or two of these factors alone probably wouldn't have had this effect,
> only in combination do they blind Frodo.

How should those factors combine to cause blindness? That's not really
an explanation for the "supernatural" phenomenon that is described here.

>>> [2] Is it the Elven rope itself that causes Frodo's sight to return
>>> or is it merely co-incidence?

>> I would say co-incidence

> Inasfar as I don't believe that the rope in itself healed Frodo of a
> supernatural blindness, I agree.

Its Elvish nature had probably something to do with it. There are other
hints that the rope is more than an ordinary simple rope, e.g in "The rope
seemed to give him confidence".

> Once more I don't see the supernatural as the only explanation:

So far I certainly don't see a natural explanation.

> I see it as speeding up and increasing the effect of more natural
> events (the same goes for Frodo's blindness)

But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness? Dizzyness,
yes. But complete, utter blindness? The best natural explanation I
can think of is that it is psychosomatic in some way; that Frodo's
fear expresses itself by making him feel to be blind. Once he gets
more confident (when he sees the rope), the blindness goes away.
(So "hope" seems to be involved in some way or other). But then I
have never heard of a psychosomatic blindness -- that's a much too
strong effect for my taste.

> but to the Elves there is something that is not magic, but rather a
> mix of art, craft and "the love of all that [they] love": not
> magical, but still, to Men, supernatural.

Certainly. So would you agree that something out of the ordinary,
supernatural-to-man seems to be at work here? If yes, can anyone make
some more sense of it (i.e., make it less supernatural :-) ?

- Dirk

Jeff George

unread,
Sep 30, 2004, 10:01:16 AM9/30/04
to
On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 22:39:30 +0200 I used my godlike powers to observe
the following from Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de>:

>But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?

I once went blind at an AC/DC concert. Someone gave me something
really good to smoke but shortly after smoking it my vision started to
fade. It didn't go out all at once but dimmed as if someone was
turning down the lights, with everything at first turning purple,
until I was completely unable to see. I told my friends that I
couldn't see and I could feel them waving their hands in front of my
face but could see absolutely nothing. It probably lasted no more than
5 minutes but it felt like an eternity when I wasn't sure whether I
was going to get my sight back or not. I still remember my one friend
saying, "Shit. He's my ride home."
--
"Meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
- The Who

"Who? What? There's an old saying in Guatemala. I know
it's in Nicaragua. Meet he new boss. We don't get fooled
again in teenage wasteland."
- George W. Bush

Christopher Kreuzer

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Sep 30, 2004, 3:17:49 PM9/30/04
to
Jeff George <geor...@comcast.net.munged> wrote:
> Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de>:
>
>> But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?
>
> I once went blind at an AC/DC concert. Someone gave me something
> really good to smoke but shortly after smoking it my vision started to
> fade.

So Frodo neglected to mention that he'd been overdoing the pipeweed just
before he went temporarily blind? :-)

Shanahan

unread,
Oct 1, 2004, 1:58:37 AM10/1/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> creatively typed:
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:

> > My impression is definitely that Frodo's temporary blindness
> > is no mere accident, but is the result of several factors: the
> > lightning, the storm, the slide and the unexpected effect of
> > the Nazgûl's cry ("out here in the waste its terror was far
> > great: it pierced them with cold blades of horror and despair,
> > stopping heart and breath.") as well as any effect of Sauron's
> > attention.
> > One or two of these factors alone probably wouldn't have had
> > this effect, only in combination do they blind Frodo.
>
> How should those factors combine to cause blindness? That's not
> really an explanation for the "supernatural" phenomenon that is
> described here.

Well, let's see. One question we could ask is "What *is* the
Nazgûl's cry, anyway?" Frodo says there are words in the cry, and
other statements in the book hint at this too. So why does the
Ringwraith go flying around over the Dead Marshes and the Emyn
Muil, screaming his lungs out? He's scouting for the Ringbearer.
So maybe his cry is a spell aimed at finding, or incapacitating,
the Ringbearer. Perhaps the horror of his voice and his words
(Black Speech?) incapacitates any susceptible listener, and makes
the world literally go black under a weight of "horror and
despair".

<snip>


> > but to the Elves there is something that is not magic, but
> > rather a mix of art, craft and "the love of all that [they]
love": not
> > magical, but still, to Men, supernatural.
>
> Certainly. So would you agree that something out of the ordinary,
> supernatural-to-man seems to be at work here? If yes, can anyone
> make some more sense of it (i.e., make it less supernatural :-) ?

Maybe the Elves, as a matter of course, weave a slight lightspell
into the twisting of hithlain, so that they can see the rope in the
dark (a useful thing). Probably they'd use starlight as the source.
So Frodo's blindness, which is temporary anyway, is broken by the
lightspell on the rope's fibers once they are nearer to him.

Ciaran S.
--
Death to all fanatics!


Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Sep 30, 2004, 1:14:35 PM9/30/04
to
Jeff George <geor...@comcast.net.munged> wrote:
> On Wed, 29 Sep 2004 22:39:30 +0200 I used my godlike powers to observe
> the following from Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de>:

>>But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?

> I once went blind at an AC/DC concert. Someone gave me something
> really good to smoke but shortly after smoking it my vision started to
> fade.

Sure, intoxicants can do this. But Frodo didn't eat any mushrooms :-)
So that's out, too.

- Dirk

Yuk Tang

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Oct 1, 2004, 7:51:46 AM10/1/04
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote in
news:20040929203930...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de:
>
> But what natural events could lead to a temporary blindness?
> Dizzyness, yes. But complete, utter blindness? The best natural
> explanation I can think of is that it is psychosomatic in some
> way; that Frodo's fear expresses itself by making him feel to be
> blind. Once he gets more confident (when he sees the rope), the
> blindness goes away. (So "hope" seems to be involved in some way
> or other). But then I have never heard of a psychosomatic
> blindness -- that's a much too strong effect for my taste.

A chap called Blithe in Band of Brothers becomes blind in the middle of
a battle, and does not recover until his CO has a chat with him. Dunno
how much of that is true, since I don't have the book with me. But
then again, IIRC some of the details in the programme are contradicted
by the book.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Jeff George

unread,
Oct 1, 2004, 11:00:28 AM10/1/04
to
On Thu, 30 Sep 2004 19:17:49 GMT I used my godlike powers to observe
the following from "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk>:

Well at least Frodo's friend was more concerned about him than mine
was.
--
"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."
- The Chimp 13-Sep-01 (the same day he was flying bin Laden's relatives out of the country)

"I don't know where he is. I have no idea and I really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."
- The Chimp 13-Mar-02 (less than six months later)

Jens Kilian

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Oct 1, 2004, 1:16:38 PM10/1/04
to
"Shanahan" <pog...@bluefrog.com> writes:
> Well, let's see. One question we could ask is "What *is* the
> Nazgűl's cry, anyway?" Frodo says there are words in the cry, and

> other statements in the book hint at this too. So why does the
> Ringwraith go flying around over the Dead Marshes and the Emyn
> Muil, screaming his lungs out? He's scouting for the Ringbearer.
> So maybe his cry is a spell aimed at finding, or incapacitating,
> the Ringbearer. Perhaps the horror of his voice and his words
> (Black Speech?) incapacitates any susceptible listener, and makes
> the world literally go black under a weight of "horror and
> despair".

_The Black Gate Opens_:

"And out of the gathering mirk the Nazgűl came
with their cold voices crying words of death;
and then all hope was quenched."

--
mailto:j...@acm.org As the air to a bird, or the sea to a fish,
http://www.bawue.de/~jjk/ so is contempt to the contemptible. [Blake]

Jette Goldie

unread,
Oct 1, 2004, 2:39:11 PM10/1/04
to

"Dirk Thierbach" <dthie...@gmx.de> wrote in message
news:20040929203930...@ID-7776.user.dfncis.de...

> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
> > My impression is definitely that Frodo's temporary blindness is no mere
> > accident, but is the result of several factors: the lightning, the
storm,
> > the slide and the unexpected effect of the Nazgūl's cry ("out here in

the
> > waste its terror was far great: it pierced them with cold blades of
> > horror and despair, stopping heart and breath.") as well as any effect
of
> > Sauron's attention.
>
> > One or two of these factors alone probably wouldn't have had this
effect,
> > only in combination do they blind Frodo.
>
> How should those factors combine to cause blindness? That's not really
> an explanation for the "supernatural" phenomenon that is described here.


One could say that it was "hysterical blindness" caused by
the terror (ie, his eyes were seeing fine, his mind was *not
recognising* what his optic nerve was telling him) and the
faint shimmer of the Elven rope "cured" it.

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


Jette Goldie

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Oct 1, 2004, 2:39:11 PM10/1/04
to

"Yuk Tang" <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:Xns957582D91E4C0...@130.133.1.4...


"Hysterical blindness" is a well known phenomenom. Your mind
can play some horrible tricks on you - psychosomatic illnesses,
rashes, pain, paralysis, amnesia, blindness, deafness, loss of
voice, panic attacks that make you *feel* like you are dying -
terror, panic...... they are powerful emotions.

And then again, the mind can *conquer* pain - I've known
people who used self hypnosis to manage childbirth, the
pain of dental treatment (including extractions). Panic
can give you amazing strength - small women lifting multi
ton trucks to rescue their children for example.

Yuk Tang

unread,
Oct 1, 2004, 4:00:06 PM10/1/04
to
"Jette Goldie" <j...@blueyonder.com.uk> wrote in
news:jvh7d.174015$hZ3....@fe2.news.blueyonder.co.uk:
>
> "Hysterical blindness" is a well known phenomenom. Your mind
> can play some horrible tricks on you - psychosomatic illnesses,
> rashes, pain, paralysis, amnesia, blindness, deafness, loss of
> voice, panic attacks that make you *feel* like you are dying -
> terror, panic...... they are powerful emotions.
>
> And then again, the mind can *conquer* pain - I've known
> people who used self hypnosis to manage childbirth, the
> pain of dental treatment (including extractions). Panic
> can give you amazing strength - small women lifting multi
> ton trucks to rescue their children for example.

I wonder if 'hysterical blindness' and other such things are just an
over-reaction to a surfeit of adrenaline.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 1, 2004, 4:42:37 PM10/1/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:

[about Sam pulling the Elvish rope in the Emyn Muil, the rope that
seemingly undid itself]

> Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>
> Why can't an Elven rope come when called in the name of its maker?

I like that idea. Several people have mentioned it in this thread. I
would be happy with the calling of Galadriel's name explaining what
happened. Maybe Galadriel herself made that rope. We are told that she
and her maidens wove the cloaks that the Fellowship wear, but not
specifically who made the ropes (at least I don't think we are told).

> What interests me about this question is kind of asking it
> backwards: why is Sam full of intuitive faith here, and Frodo the
> doubting rationalist? So far in the tale, we've seen a Sam who is
> rather a hard-headed practical character. And Frodo has been the
> one with his head full of old tales of magic. Though, to be fair,
> Sam has his head fairly well-stuffed with Elvish tales, too. But
> why on ME would Frodo doubt this little bit of Elvish magic?

Maybe there is some sort of authorial intent here? Tolkien wants to make
a point about the ropes and needs a sceptical viewpoint. For whatever
reason, he chose to make Frodo the counterpoint to Sam's wondrous
acceptance that the rope came when he called it. FWIW, I don't think
Frodo really disagrees with Sam, in fact he seems to lose interest:

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

Troels Forchhammer

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Oct 1, 2004, 4:59:25 PM10/1/04
to
In message <news:cjabj...@enews4.newsguy.com> "Shanahan"
<pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:
>
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
>>
>> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>>>

<snip>

>>> [4] So, why does Sam's rope come free when he shakes it?
[...]


>>
>> Sam shook the rope gently before pulling it. I think this is
>> what made the rope untie itself. It would not come loose when
>> pulled tight, only when shaken and then pulled. Purest
>> speculation really.
>
> Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>

Well said!

Though of course shaking the slack rope might be the 'signal' for the
rope to come loose.

In way, that is ;-)

I'm a bit reluctant to actually call it 'magic' -- that particular word
conjures a specific meaning, which I don't think is entirely fitting
here. The Ring of Power were 'magical', but I don't think the rope was
magical in the same sense. This was not, IMO, the result of the
ropemakers intending the rope to have extra powers, but rather due to a
heightened Elven skill: craft and art melting together to make things
that are 'Elvish', and consequently possess qualities beyond those that
human craftsmen were able to put into their work, but not, to the
Elves, anything 'unnatural'. To the makers these would be perfectly
natural things: why would anyone want to make a rope that didn't come
lose when you wanted it to come lose, but stayed knotted as long as you
wanted that.

> Why can't an Elven rope come when called in the name of its maker?

I doubt that Galadriel actually made the rope -- it is mentioned
specifically that she and her maidens wove the fabric for their cloaks,
but there is no such suggestion made for the ropes.

> What interests me about this question is kind of asking it
> backwards: why is Sam full of intuitive faith here, and Frodo the
> doubting rationalist?

That's a good question, IMO (though I have no answer to offer).

<snip>

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

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the
opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
- Niels Bohr

Christopher Kreuzer

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Oct 1, 2004, 5:11:12 PM10/1/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:

>>> Chapter of the Week
>>> Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'

<snip>

Story-internal Questions

>>> [1] What causes Frodo's unexpected blindness when the storm and the
>>> cry of the Nazgûl makes him lose his grip and slid down the cliff
>>> face?

> I don't think that any one cause is satisfying

I like the hysteric blindness idea suggested elsewhere. Maybe Tolkien
had heard of such cases during WW1? Shell-shock or something?

<snip>

[about the storm over Emyn Muil]

> This is, by Eric's account, the storm that strikes at Helm's Deep,
> and it must be the one referenced in III,7 'Helm's Deep' as coming
> out of the east (from behind the riders):
>
> " There were no clouds overhead yet, but a heaviness was in
> the air, it was hot for the season of the year. The rising sun
> was hazy, and behind it, following it slowly up the sky, there
> was a growing darkness, as of a great storm moving out of the
> East."
>
> Surely this is the selfsame storm rolling "slowly over Gondor and the
> skirts of Rohan" after having cast "its shadow over Minas Tirith with
> threat of war."

Yes. I just find the account in 'The Taming of Smeagol' gives no
indication or clue that the description is moving so far into the
future. I am pretty sure it is, but only after reading all those other
references. A bit confusing.

<snip>

>>> Other Questions
>>> These questions are posted in a separate message and contains the
>>> alphabetical notes.
>>
>> Oh very well! Three-tiered note system indeed! Hmph! :-)
>
> Bah, you're just envious you didn't invent it ;-))
>
> (Note for the unwary: the above was written entirely in jest)

<considers devising seven different types of notes....>

[about story writing in Book 4]

> I am deeply impressed with the writing in these chapters: not only
> with the way it emphasises the mood of the chapters, but also with
> what appears, at least from a modern point of view, a very daring
> move: to let the pace of the story die down that much after the
> stirring chase and battles of book 3.

This might be a case where a modern editor would have told Tolkien that
he 'must not write the story this way'. Luckily Tolkien was enough of an
amateur (in the sense of writing in his spare time) to not know whether
he was doing some things 'wrong'. In fact, they were quite brilliantly
right!

<snip>

[about Frodo using the Ring to cow Gollum]

>>> The understanding between Frodo and Gollum might point in the
>>> same direction. Is there a direct line between Frodo's words in this
>>> chapter ("[...] It is before you!") and the later situation at the
>>> slopes of Mount Doom ("If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast
>>> yourself into the Fire of Doom.")?
>>
>> I don't quite get what you are saying here...
>
> I am thinking in particular of the way that the Ring in both cases is
> used to cow and dominate Gollum.
>
> In this chapter we have Frodo using the presence of the Ring to force
> Gollum to make his promise, and on the slopes of Mount Doom we
> have a more direct threat of Gollum, again using the Ring to break
him.
>
> There is, I think, a close similarity between the two situations,
> differing mainly in severity -- the strength with which Frodo uses the
> Ring, and my question is if there is also a direct link between the
> two: does the second instance become unavoidable once the first has
> taken place?

I see what you mean now, and I would say: yes, the second incident at
Mount Doom is not independent of the first incident. It is perhaps the
continuation of the previous confrontation.

a) "Swear by it, if you will. For you know where it is. Yes, you know,
Smeagol. It is before you. [...] Down! down! Now speak your promise!"
(Frodo speaking to Gollum in 'The Taming of Smeagol')

b) "Frodo flung him off and rose up quivering. 'Down, down!' he gasped,
clutching his hand to his breast, so that beneath the cover of his
leather shirt he clasped the Ring. 'Down you creeping thing, and out of
my path! Your time is at an end. You cannot betray me or slay me now.'
[...] 'Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you
shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.'" (Frodo speaking to
Gollum in 'Mount Doom')

In particular, the phrase 'Down, down!' is repeated. But the references
to betrayal and slaying in the second encounter are probably a reference
to what happened at Cirith Ungol and Shelob's Lair.

[about Sam's two moments of sparing Gollum: in 'The Taming of Smeagol'
and in 'Mount Doom']

>> There is an important difference. In the first case Gollum has not
>> actually attacked them (only following them and defending himself
>> against Sam's attack), they only fear that he will betray them to
>> orcs or the Nazgul. In the second case, Gollum has already betrayed
>> them to Shelob, and has actually attacked them. Sam's pity in the
>> latter case is 'higher' if you like, more noble and requiring more
>> estel.

<snip bits from Letters #246 and #181 on pity - thanks for those>

Not much more to add! :-)

Jette Goldie

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Oct 1, 2004, 7:58:48 PM10/1/04
to

"Yuk Tang" <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:Xns9575D5A41EBBA...@130.133.1.4...


I think you are more likely to be into physics and biology
than studying psychology.


--
Jette Goldie
je...@blueyonder.co.uk
Apache and Dakota
http://www.jette.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/kitties.html


Shanahan

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Oct 1, 2004, 10:24:16 PM10/1/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>
> > > Chapter of the Week
> > > Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
> > Other Questions:
> > [a] There has, in the past, been some discussion over the
> > correct version of this quotation, which has turned out to
> > be a matter of whether one quotes the version in I,2 'The
> > Shadow of the Past' or the version in this chapter. In the
> > spirit of textual comparison I here quote both passages in
> > full:
<snip>

> > LotR I,2 'The Shadow of the Past':
<versus snip>

> > LotR IV,1 'The Taming of Sméagol':

> First, I have always assumed that Tolkien would have written the


> second passage with the first one in front of him. Can we assume
> this, and so discount any misquoting by Tolkien himself?
> Second (as you say), do the HoME drafts shed any light on this?

Well, in the course of writing my CotW, I looked this up, and was
stunned to discover that HoME has some rather direct light to shed
on this subject! <g> HoME VIII, The War of the Ring, pp.96 and
on, in the HM trade paperback, 2000. Turns out Tolkien rewrote
this speech backwards, revising the earlier version when he wrote
the later one.

On the back of one of the draft pages of "The Taming of Smeagol",
is the revised version of Gandalf's speech, almost as published in
Book I, Ch.II, "The Shadow of the Past". Since he didn't write the
revision on a draft page of "The Shadow of the Past" (then called
"Ancient History"), it seems he didn't have the earlier chapter in
front of him. This revision was very soon written into the
"Ancient History" drafts. The speech as drafted for "The Taming of
Smeagol" was also slightly rewritten and then placed into the
manuscript in /that/ chapter.

Christopher says that these changes were "perhaps not intentionally
different at all points". (But it certainly seems likely.)

> Frodo's memory saying "in the name of"
> might be an implicit recognition of the fact that his logic is
> false, that he realises (from Gandalf's earlier version of this
> statement) that if he did kill Gollum that this "justice" is
> only an excuse. Not only is it wrong to think that way, but
> Frodo's real motivation is revealed when his memory adds the
> following:
> "fearing for your own safety".

Interestingly enough, the major change between the two versions is
this very phrase, which was omitted from the "Taming of Smeagol"
version when it was rewritten and placed into the "Ancient History"
version. Very possibly to create the psychological situation you
describe above, and to make Frodo's actions spring from true pity,
not just an excuse.

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


Huan the hound

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Oct 1, 2004, 8:38:13 PM10/1/04
to
On 2004-10-01, Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote in <Xns9575EB48...@212.242.40.196>:
> In message <news:cjabj...@enews4.newsguy.com> "Shanahan"
><pog...@bluefrog.com> enriched us with:

[snip]


>> Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>
>
> Well said!
>
> Though of course shaking the slack rope might be the 'signal' for the
> rope to come loose.

[snip again]


>
>> Why can't an Elven rope come when called in the name of its maker?
>
> I doubt that Galadriel actually made the rope -- it is mentioned
> specifically that she and her maidens wove the fabric for their cloaks,
> but there is no such suggestion made for the ropes.

She probably didn't make them. However, Sam says her name twice in a
row, the second time almost in the way that we've heard other characters
say "Elbereth." That's why it seems that Sam's wish for the rope to
come and his speaking of Galadriel's name might have some connection to
the knot releasing.

--
Huan, the hound of Valinor

Larry Swain

unread,
Oct 2, 2004, 1:18:17 AM10/2/04
to

Troels Forchhammer wrote:

> >
> > Oh, come on, let's let some magic into a magic world, okay? <g>
>
> Well said!
>
> Though of course shaking the slack rope might be the 'signal' for the
> rope to come loose.
>

Well, this will surely get me into trouble. But what makes
Middle Earth "magical"? The magic we see is the innate power of
divine beings--Gandalf, Sauron, Saruman, etc. Even the Rings
are forged by Sauron, save the 3, and those 3 were forged with
knowledge and know how taught by Sauron. So what else is
magical?

b) Frodo doesn't seem to want to allow some magic into a magic
world

c) a well seasoned rope and the right kind of knot will do this

Yuk Tang

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Oct 2, 2004, 3:19:39 AM10/2/04
to
"Jette Goldie" <j...@blueyonder.com.uk> wrote in news:Yam7d.135723
$U04....@fe1.news.blueyonder.co.uk:

> "Yuk Tang" <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
> news:Xns9575D5A41EBBA...@130.133.1.4...
>>
>> I wonder if 'hysterical blindness' and other such things are just an
>> over-reaction to a surfeit of adrenaline.
>
> I think you are more likely to be into physics and biology
> than studying psychology.

That's what I mean. I know that adrenaline is supposed to block pain
and heighten reactions for a short period, but I'm wondering if, in
some situations and in some individuals, the body may produce (or
consume) too much, leading to unlikely effects. Such as hysterical
blindness, superhuman feats, etc.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Yuk Tang

unread,
Oct 2, 2004, 3:21:33 AM10/2/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in
news:QJj7d.977$xb....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk:
>
> I like the hysteric blindness idea suggested elsewhere. Maybe
> Tolkien had heard of such cases during WW1? Shell-shock or
> something?

Considering he took part in the Somme campaign, he's probably seen it
in RL.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Oct 2, 2004, 8:26:03 AM10/2/04
to
Shanahan <pog...@bluefrog.com> wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> creatively typed:
>> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
>>
>>>> Chapter of the Week
>>>> Lord of the Rings, Book 4, Chapter 1; 'The Taming of Sméagol'
>>> Other Questions:

[The 'some deserve life' quotation]

>>> [a] There has, in the past, been some discussion over the
>>> correct version of this quotation

<snip>

>>> LotR I,2 'The Shadow of the Past':
> <versus snip>
>>> LotR IV,1 'The Taming of Sméagol':
>
>> First, I have always assumed that Tolkien would have written the
>> second passage with the first one in front of him. Can we assume
>> this, and so discount any misquoting by Tolkien himself?
>> Second (as you say), do the HoME drafts shed any light on this?
>
> Well, in the course of writing my CotW, I looked this up, and was
> stunned to discover that HoME has some rather direct light to shed
> on this subject! <g>

THANK-YOU!
THANK-YOU!

:-)

> HoME VIII, The War of the Ring, pp.96 and
> on, in the HM trade paperback, 2000. Turns out Tolkien rewrote
> this speech backwards, revising the earlier version when he wrote
> the later one.

<snip>

> Christopher says that these changes were "perhaps not intentionally
> different at all points". (But it certainly seems likely.)

I must point out that you mean Christopher Tolkien here... I also wonder
if you should reject his opinion. He might have had some reason for
saying so. Maybe "perhaps not" is his understated way of saying "looks
interesting, but we can't really tell". Mayeb he is emphasizing the "at
all points" bit, saying that minor changes are minor, but the one big
change might be significant.

>> Frodo's memory saying "in the name of"
>> might be an implicit recognition of the fact that his logic is
>> false, that he realises (from Gandalf's earlier version of this
>> statement) that if he did kill Gollum that this "justice" is
>> only an excuse. Not only is it wrong to think that way, but
>> Frodo's real motivation is revealed when his memory adds the
>> following:
>> "fearing for your own safety".
>
> Interestingly enough, the major change between the two versions is
> this very phrase, which was omitted from the "Taming of Smeagol"
> version when it was rewritten and placed into the "Ancient History"
> version. Very possibly to create the psychological situation you
> describe above, and to make Frodo's actions spring from true pity,
> not just an excuse.

The reason for the change is something we have to speculate about, but
at least we now know that the change was deliberately made and in what
order. I'll have to look at the details more closely in my HoME books,
but thanks again for that.

Dirk Thierbach

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Oct 2, 2004, 3:55:41 PM