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***Favourite Chapters - The Choices Of Master Samwise (LOTR)
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noWizardme
Half-elven


Mar 30, 12:11pm

Post #1 of 33 (2054 views)
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***Favourite Chapters - The Choices Of Master Samwise (LOTR) Can't Post

As promised (threatened?) this is going to be a very bare bones starter post, because we wanted to keep going, but I lack the time to do a more thorough or thoughtful job. However, in attempting to persuade people that *they* could lead a chapter, I've gone on and on about how the important thing is to get a discussion started, rather than to worry whether the OP s an A* grade essay. So let's see if that's true Smile

It's especially likely that I've only touched on a few of the merits of the chapter, and so please feel especially welcome to raise new points!
I can see lots of reasons why this might be anyone’s favourite chapter:

Sam fights and defeats Shelob. We’ve already begun to discuss some of that in the ‘Shelob’s Lair discussion, in the context of whether Shelob's behaviour in battle is part of the impression of monstrosity that Tolkien creates. We can carry on discussing the fight here, over there, or in both places as people wish.

Looking at Frodo apparently dead, Sam realises that he’s seen this in Galadriel’s mirror. Any thoughts on why Tolkien might have done that?

Then, Sam makes two Choices. First, he reluctantly makes what I think is the logical choice - that as the last available member of the Fellowship, he has to go on with the Quest. But then he can’t bring himself to do it. He goes back to Frodo’s body where he plans to -- well, I don’t know what he plans, and maybe Sam doesn’t either.

As things work out, it seems to me that both Choices are essential - Sam saves the Ring, Sting and The Other Thing* from capture and evades capture himself, but I think Frodo and Sam weren’t going to get into Mordor without Frodo’s capture precipitating the orc garrisons to squabble over loot. If you wish, try to outline what might have happened if Sam had made different choices (or if Sam had been bitten and this was The Choices of Frodo Baggins).

I think that making difficult moral choices, and ones that turn out to have enormous consequences, is a recurring theme in Tolkien's work. If you like, suggest bits anywhere in Tolkien’s writings that might be titled ‘The Choices of [character name]’.

Sam is a most unusual Ringbearer: he is the only one who takes it despite knowing exactly what it is and what it does to a mortal keeper. And he’s the one who gives it up most easily. He also gives us a unique insight into what it is like to wear the Ring (or at least to wear it in Mordor with Sauron active). What do you think all this tells us about Sam, the Ring; or about anything else?

We get a lot of ‘orc talk’. How do you as a reader make of what you learn from this?

Calling someone ‘Master’ in English (‘The Choices of Master Samwise’) has several possible meanings - which did Tolkien mean, do you think, and which are helpful to you in understanding this chapter, whether Tolkien meant them or not?

Perhaps related to that last point (or perhaps not) Frodo's last act of being in charge of the mission is the headlong dash to escape Shelob. Once the two friends get together again, I get the impression that Sam is the leader. I wonder whether the events of this chapter contribute to that change?


The positioning of this chapter is brilliant, I think. As the chapter (and Book) ends, it all seems to have gone completely wrong. As readers pass from this cliffhanger to the heroics of Book Five, they should presumably have at the back of their minds the possibility that it will all be futile -- that Sauron has or will shortly have the Ring. Readers have to wait for Book 6, The Tower of Cirith Ungol to find out how Sam’s choices work out. And if anyone wants to lead that chapter next week, I’m sure we’d all be grateful.


--
*’Galadriel’s phial’ doesn’t rhyme. Bah.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


(This post was edited by dernwyn on Mar 31, 4:31pm)


Hasuwandil
Lorien


Mar 30, 1:37pm

Post #2 of 33 (1975 views)
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The way is shut [In reply to] Can't Post

In the previous discussion people talked about how passionate Sam is. But he can also be ruthlessly practical, as in this chapter, or in "Mount Doom" when he throws away his cooking pans.

I like that we get an Orc's-eye view of things in this chapter, as well as the following few chapters in Book VI. Both Shagrat and Gorbag dream of being their own bosses, although they don't dream of finding a different line of work. They're like pirates or bigands dreaming of having their own ship or band. What holds their allegiance to Sauron? Hope of loot? Fear of Him and His Nazgűl? Orc solidarity? Mordor nationalism? I would tend to view the latter as anachronistic, although there are some seemingly anachronistic trappings of 20th-century national (particularly totalitarian) governments in Tolkien's depiction of Mordor, particularly the idea of reporting one's name and number to the Nazgűl.

Speaking of anachronisms, the message to Shagrat strikes me as a telegram:


Quote
Nazgűl uneasy. Spies feared on Stairs. Double vigilance. Patrol to head of Stairs.


Do we know more about how it was received? (Which reminds me that Tolkien was a signals officer.)

Reading the chapter recently, I was actually a little bit surprised that it ended telling the reader that Frodo was alive. For some reason I had gotten the impression that he had left the readers thinking Frodo was dead. At any rate, I recall reading about how the first readers of Lord of the Rings had to wait a long time in suspense between the publication of The Two Towers and Return of the King.

I find it interesting that Tolkien foreshadows or even foretells events in The Lord of the Rings to a greater degree than more recent authors tend to do; however, he felt that naming the third volume The Return of the King was giving too much away.

I'd be willing to lead the discussion on "The Tower of Cirith Ungol" next week, but we're not planning to do all of Book VI consecutively, are we?

Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!


enanito
Rohan

Mar 30, 7:45pm

Post #3 of 33 (1959 views)
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"Master Samwise", taking control of his destiny? [In reply to] Can't Post

From what I can tell, the Prologue refers to him as "Master Samwise", which is unmentioned again until F&S meet Faramir's men, where it's repeated a few times. Then we get the chapter with this title, and then Gandalf and Elrond address him as such when they each first meet him after the Ring is destroyed.

When I consider the usage of "Master" when addressing Sam the hobbit, I'm not sure about how Faramir's men using that honorific comes into play (why do they consider him Master, but not Frodo?). But as for this chapter and later reference, to me this implies that Sam has become an active participant in controlling his destiny.

And I'm sure others have opinions on how Gollum constantly referring to Frodo as "Master", and how the Ring was previously and again eventually Gollum's true "Master", may contrast with "Master Samwise"?


enanito
Rohan

Mar 30, 8:03pm

Post #4 of 33 (1957 views)
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Next chapter is... about Pippen?!? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've mentioned this before, but LOTR was my first experience with a book series that extensively covered a single story line (TTT Book III), then started up a completely different story line (TTT Book IV), only again to repeat in ROTK. Of course it's not really a single story line in Book 3, but you get my point. It's not unique, but for me at the time, at least to this magnitude, it was a new experience.

And having served up that morsel of info about Frodo actually being alive, I couldn't believe I had to wait all those chapters until I found out what Sam actually did! I was bummed to get back to reading about Pippen. Of course it didn't take long for me to become completely immersed in that part of the story again :)

Side note: on my first-ever reading of TTT, when I got to Book IV and found that we left Gandalf and Pippen and returned to F&S, I (naively) thought that this was an intermediate chapter and that we'd get back to the previous events next chapter. Oops, well maybe next chapter? Or maybe the one after that? It did actually take me a few chapters as a young reader, to understand we wouldn't be getting to Minis Tirith for quite a while...


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 31, 12:35am

Post #5 of 33 (1938 views)
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Sam is master of himself [In reply to] Can't Post

It was back on the Old Boards, in one of gramma's TiME discussions, that Curious (not CuriousG) completely shocked me with something I had never noticed in all my re-readings: Sam had actually considered suicide here.

Sam is debating going after Gollum to exact his revenge, "But that was not what he had set out to do. It would not bring him back. Nothing would. They had better both be dead together. And that too would be a lonely journey.

"He looked on the bright point of the sword. He thought of the places behind where there was a black brink and an empty fall into nothingness. "

I had always wondered about these last two lines; it had never occurred to me what was going on here. It was not until Curious pointed out that Sam was considering stabbing himself or tossing himself over a cliff that the hobbit's utter desperation hit me in the gut.

And then: Sam masters himself.

"There was no escape that way. That was to do nothing, not even grieve. That was not what he had set out to do."

He has passed the test, as Galadriel might say: he will go into the East, and remain the steadfast hobbit he has always been, and was always meant to be.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"


squire
Half-elven


Mar 31, 12:46am

Post #6 of 33 (1936 views)
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Yes, me too [In reply to] Can't Post

Not because of Curious' insight, at least to my memory, but I do know that I had not understood those lines in my earlier years of reading the book. It came to me at some point in my adulthood, and I was shocked and thrilled at the realism of it.

I still don't quite get the assertion "There was no escape that way" except inasmuch as Tolkien will not abide the mortal sin of suicide for his winners. (The losers include Denethor and Turin.) Of course there is escape into nothingness, depending on how one defines escape!

But as an effective response, of course, it fails and it takes faith to believe in the moral necessity of always striving for the effective response. That faith is at the core of this scene - one of the more subtle inclusions of Christianity in the book.



squire online:
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enanito
Rohan

Mar 31, 1:45am

Post #7 of 33 (1929 views)
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Escape from... duty? [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder how many first time readers understand exactly what Sam is considering. It may be that those with a personal connection to suicide might pick up on it more readily, but I am the same as you, not having picked up on that (in hindsight obvious) aspect until pointed out to me.

My impression has always been that in the end the Escape wasn't necessarily from life, but from duty. Obviously Sam could choose to escape into nothingness, but it seems he felt that his duty would still somehow remain with him even if he took his life.

But it seems you [squire] do not consider this an effective response. I'm not disagreeing, just continuing the discussion...


noWizardme
Half-elven


Mar 31, 10:31am

Post #8 of 33 (1893 views)
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Many thanks for leading next week! [In reply to] Can't Post

Many thanks for leading next week!

In didn't have any plan in mind for tackling all of Book VI, or indeed any other consistent scheme. It just seemed to me that Tower of Cirith Ungol might be a good next stop, if someone was willing. One of the interesting things about discussing chapters out of linear order does seem to be the opportunity to pick up themes or plots or other things that two chapters have in common.

After next week, anyone can choose one of their favourite chapters, and that might or might not be prompted by what we've discussed recently.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Mar 31, 10:35am

Post #9 of 33 (1892 views)
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Sheob evil and Sauron evil [In reply to] Can't Post

 

In Reply To
I like that we get an Orc's-eye view of things in this chapter, as well as the following few chapters in Book VI. Both Shagrat and Gorbag dream of being their own bosses, although they don't dream of finding a different line of work.They're like pirates or bigands dreaming of having their own ship or band. What holds their allegiance to Sauron? Hope of loot? Fear of Him and His Nazgűl? Orc solidarity? Mordor nationalism? I would tend to view the latter as anachronistic, although there are some seemingly anachronistic trappings of 20th-century national (particularly totalitarian) governments in Tolkien's depiction of Mordor, particularly the idea of reporting one's name and number to the Nazgűl.

Speaking of anachronisms, the message to Shagrat strikes me as a telegram:


Quote
Nazgűl uneasy. Spies feared on Stairs. Double vigilance. Patrol to head of Stairs.

Do we know more about how it was received? (Which reminds me that Tolkien was a signals officer.)


I'd supposed that Sauron offers great opportunities for brigandage, but who would have thought that being evil involved so much admin? That police-state side of Mordor seems to me to be a total contrast with Shelob's version of evil.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Mar 31, 10:46am

Post #10 of 33 (1892 views)
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Faramir's men [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
When I consider the usage of "Master" when addressing Sam the hobbit, I'm not sure about how Faramir's men using that honorific comes into play (why do they consider him Master, but not Frodo?). But as for this chapter and later reference, to me this implies that Sam has become an active participant in controlling his destiny.

And I'm sure others have opinions on how Gollum constantly referring to Frodo as "Master", and how the Ring was previously and again eventually Gollum's true "Master", may contrast with "Master Samwise"?

That contrast had slipped by me - thank you for raising it.

I think Faramir's men are addressing Sam with Master as in Sense 17: "a boy or young man (used chiefly as a term of address)." I don't think this is because they think Sam is literally younger than Frodo, but that they are observing a difference in social status ('master' being lesser than 'mister', and possibly also a bit patronizing). I started by thinking Tolkien was using this sense here, but I don't think it's just that.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Mar 31, 2:13pm

Post #11 of 33 (1879 views)
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"The losers include Denethor and Turin" [In reply to] Can't Post

In at least some of the tradition, Turin is risen above all other mortals and becomes one with the gods. So is he really one of the losers?

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


noWizardme
Half-elven


Mar 31, 3:38pm

Post #12 of 33 (1869 views)
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Bringing you to your senses [In reply to] Can't Post

I realise that the Dictionary site I cited links to a few of the most common noun senses of 'master'. You have to click 'show more' to see the sense I just referred to. There doesn't seem to be a way to link straight to the expanded page, where you can see all these senses:

Quote
nouna person with the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something: a master of six languages; to be master of one's fate.
an owner of a slave, animal, etc.
an employer of workers or servants.
the male head of a household.
a person eminently skilled in something, as an occupation, art, or science: the great masters of the Impressionist period.
a person whose teachings others accept or follow: a Zen master.
Chiefly British. a male teacher or schoolmaster.
a worker qualified to teach apprentices and to carry on a trade independently.
a title given to a bridge or chess player who has won or placed in a certain number of officially recognized tournaments.a person holding this title.
Also called master mariner. a person who commands a merchant ship; captain.
a victor or conqueror.
a presiding officer.

an officer of the court to whom some or all of the issues in a case may be referred for the purpose of taking testimony and making a report to the court.
the Master, Jesus Christ.
a person who has been awarded a master's degree.
a boy or young man (used chiefly as a term of address).
Also called matrix. an original document, drawing, manuscript, etc., from which copies are made.a device for controlling another device operating in a similar way.Compare slave(def 5).
Recording.
  1. matrix(def 14).
  2. a tape or disk from which duplicates may be made.
Also called copy negative. Photography. a film, usually a negative, used primarily for making large quantities of prints.
master of foxhounds.
Archaic. a work of art produced by a master.
https://www.dictionary.com/browse/master


~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


Roverandom
Bree


Mar 31, 4:32pm

Post #13 of 33 (1860 views)
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Mastering the Possibilities [In reply to] Can't Post

I think this is a continuation of what has been going on throughout the book, namely a "master" linguist showing his quality. So much of Tolkien's work is a showcase for how an author can play with the subtleties of language. Much like the back-and-forth of chapter titles (An Unexpected/Long-Expected Party, Many Meetings/Partings, The Black Gate is Closed/Opens, and there are probably others I can't name off the top of my head.), there are many recurring words and phrases in the narrative with double-, triple-, or quadruple-meanings. "Master" seems to me like a classic example of the Professor of Linguistics 101 teaching us a bit of a lesson.

I think you are right in saying that Faramir's men are using the word to attempt (unsuccessfully, as always) to get Sam to mind his own business. Gimli did something simliar when he tried to get back at Boromir for what he likely perceived as racism during the portage of Sarn Gebir: "The legs of Men will lag on a rough road, while a Dwarf goes on, be the burden twice his own weight, Master Boromir!" I love to find sarcasm where it's least expected. That might be a fun project: finding other examples of snarky comments in Tolkien!

Saruman takes things to the next level (as is his wont) and uses the term as an out-right insult. Instead of addressing the King of Rohan, he calls him "Theoden Horsemaster" and questions the bravery of his troops.

On the other end of the spectrum, "Master" Elrond, as he is universally known, is clearly meant as an honorific. Except perhaps when Bilbo plays the cranky old guy card at the council and calls Elrond out for the Elven habit of stating the obvious. We also have the Master of Buckland, where the word is used as a title of nobility (as in Lady of the Golden Wood or King under the Mountain).

The honorific is also given to both Merry and Pippin by Shire hobbits of lower social status, but I think this might be a bit of a twist, one of those dreaded double-meanings where the author is also using it as one addresses a young man. Butterbur refers to his hobbit guests as "Little Master", and that could also be a little of both meanings mixed together. Sam is one of those who show their deference to M&P, but when he calls Frodo "Master" it clearly means something more, a that a devoted servant would use.

There are many examples of great individuals showning mastery, in a context that implies nobility. Aragorn is "the lawful master of the stone". Tom Bombadil, according to his pretty lady, "is Master", Period. Although he freely admits that he is no "weather-master, nor is aught that goes on two legs".

Then there is mastery of another kind, one which implies dominance in a less noble light. The Ruling Ring and the Master Ring describe something that exerts it's will, as we get right from the first poem at the start of the book. We later hear that the Ring may be attempting to "return to its Master", and to me that smacks of slavery.

Maybe "Master" in Middle-Earth is like "Aloha" in Hawaii?

Or I may just be a Jack-of-All-Trades, and...you know the rest.Wink

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the threshold of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


squire
Half-elven


Mar 31, 5:30pm

Post #14 of 33 (1857 views)
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Turin's suicide - his own despair or the triumph of Morgoth? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, Turin's promotion into a kind of apocalyptic saint argues against the idea that his suicide was a moral failing in the eyes of the Valar.

I can't speak as an expert but I thought in one of our discussions, someone here told us that the sin of suicide, which in the Catholic Church has always condemned one to hell, was being reconsidered in the 1950s and 60s. The Church, if I remember, began to allow that suicide, like despair, might be the work of Satan, meaning the lost one was a victim, not a sinner, and might be forgiven by God for being overborne.

I think we speculated at the time that that might explain Turin's "rehabilitation" in Tolkien's end-times scenario, which was written in the 1950s, many decades after he initially wrote Turin's self-inflicted end by swordpoint, in line with Kullervo's, the Finnish folk hero that inspired Turin.

Not that this debate really drives Sam's choice in the chapter under discussion - Sam simply has to live for the story to continue, and the suicidal impulses seem more like picturesque details defining the depths of his distress than real possibilities. The comment "that was to do nothing, not even to grieve", explaining his choice not to end his life, seems to be Sam's own quite rational internal thinking, not the comment of a judgmental narrator.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Mar 31, 5:47pm

Post #15 of 33 (1849 views)
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I've been thinking... does Sam 'master' the Ring? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I think it's entirely possible that we're being invited to explore how Sam is a master in several senses.

I see the 'master' as in the slightly condescending honorific -- highlighting that it has all come down to the decisions of the most subordinate member of the Fellowship (and, you might think, the one least qualified for the role)

And yes, Sam is proved to be the master of himself (as per dernwyn elsewhere in this thread). That's just as well as like it or not he's the master ("person with the ability or power to use, control, or dispose of something" ). The 'something is the fate of Middle-earth, because any further attempt to destroy the Ring must depend on Sam, and a wrong choice gives the Ring to Sauron.

To introduce the other possible senses, let me say that maybe it is significant that the Ring gets Sam entirely wrong (or at least that's how I see it). I think the Ring works on people by tempting the with an evil shortcut to something they want (e.g. that Saruman might have the power and status he believes he deserves), or with the power to avoid something they're afraid of (e.g. that Boromir will save failing Gondor) But the Ring stupidly offers Sam wordly power; Mordor as a garden state. It's a serious mental assault, but too obvious and ridiculous to Sam for him to find it tempting. And yet, Sam does want something - he does want the completion one way or another of his duty to attempt the destruction of the Ring. In that way he's unlike Shelob ("Little she knew of or cared for towers, or rings, or anything devised by mind or hand...") and also unlike Bombadil (about whom you might say that phrase too). So perhaps Sam is in the 'sweet spot' for Ring resistance - seeing himself as being of such lowly 'stature' that the Ring fails to make him 'a good offer', but not being so indifferent to anything that he'd just drop the Ring and wander off (like Bombadil).

From this I wonder whether we might say that Sam proves himself the Master of the Ring? Not in the sense of "an owner of a slave, animal, etc." - to try and own the Ring, unless you're Sauron, means to end up being owned by it. But maybe he 'masters' it by getting the better of it - and paradoxically he does so by not wanting to be its master or to use it for mastery? I can imagine Tolkien suggesting that only someone who does not want mastery (in several senses) is Master here, and that happens to be our honest peasant 'Master' (the condescending sense) Sam Gamgee.
The Ring could, presumably offer Sam something very tempting if it understood Sam better, since there are things Sam does want desperately, or fears he wants to avoid. I don't think it's clear that Sam is too good or too powerful to resist the right kind of attack. But the Ring doesn't seem to have been able to 'read' him --at least, not yet. (Sam does say something in Tower of Cirith Ungol that might suggest the Ring is finding a way to get at him. I remember someone pointing that out in 2016, to my great interest. But we have Tower of Cirith Ungol coming up next week, so I don't want to pre-empt anything....)

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


enanito
Rohan

Mar 31, 6:16pm

Post #16 of 33 (1845 views)
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Or a sustained attack by the Ring [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
I don't think it's clear that Sam is too good or too powerful to resist the right kind of attack.

I've felt the same way, as well as that if Sam were exposed to the Ring's influence over time, he would inevitably give way. Sam's "mastery" of the Ring is a bright example of something I see often in this tale, of somebody who decides they won't give in to Evil, even if Evil eventually overpowers (or would overpower) them.

Even someone proud like Galadriel might be considered a Master of the Ring, when it was offered to her by Frodo and completely within her power to take: "'I pass the test,' she said. 'I will diminish, and go into the West and remain Galadriel".


Roverandom
Bree


Mar 31, 9:01pm

Post #17 of 33 (1828 views)
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Foreshadowing and Flashbacks [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with your point regarding Tolkien's penchant for giving us just enough/too much advance information. There are numerous examples of what a 21st century reader would call "spoilers" sprinkled liberally throughout his works. Some may have to do with editing, I suppose, in the breaking of one story of six books into three new titles. Others seem embedded firmly and deliberately in the narrative. In the children's bed-time fairy tale, these don't bother me at all. The tone of The Hobbit makes breaking the fourth wall part of the charm. Maybe, like the Dreaded Fox in Three is Company, these moments are leftovers from the Hobbit sequel that we've mentioned in recent discussion. (Full disclosure: I like the fox.)

I never had a problem with the one you mention concerning Frodo, since I believe the conversation between Shagrat and Gorbag plays it fair with us, but there are quite a few other instances where we are pretty much told outright that a character will survive. Merry's discussion of herb-lore in the Prologue, Pippin's never being able to prevent himself tearing up at the sound of a horn blowing, etc. Neither of these, and any other that you all may like to list here, leave doubts in our minds, despite encounters with trolls, wights, Witch-Kings, and other terrible things.

I don't know if the scene noWiz describes, an obvious "reflection" of the vision in The Mirror of Galadriel, amounts to another side of this coin, since it could be construed as an author telling us how to view something that we should have gotten on our own. I usually prefer to be allowed to "get" things on my own.

So are these examples of Foreshadowing or Spoilers, clever Flashbacks or bludgeoning explanations of what would best be left to be discovered by the reader?

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the threshold of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Apr 1, 2:50am

Post #18 of 33 (1803 views)
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I should probably avoid opening a hornet's nest [In reply to] Can't Post

As you say, the question doesn't really relate to the chapter at hand, and it is such a large and complicated issue -- and my thoughts about it are so jumbled and all over the place -- that I don't think it would be productive for me to try to respond further.

But I might revisit the question at some future date.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Dunadan of North Arnor
Rivendell

Apr 1, 2:32pm

Post #19 of 33 (1735 views)
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Um, no it wasn’t [In reply to] Can't Post


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I think we speculated at the time that that might explain Turin's "rehabilitation" in Tolkien's end-times scenario, which was written in the 1950s, many decades after he initially wrote Turin's self-inflicted end by swordpoint...


Tolkien’s “rehabilitation” as you quaintly put it was part of the Story (an essential part imo) straight from the initial Lost Tale through to the 1937 QS. I don’t believe it was re-touched at all during the 1950’s. CT purposely left it out of his ‘77 Sil, the only reason people tend to ignore it or, even worse, not even know about it.
(RIP Christopher Tolkien)

(PS - And was that the hornet’s nest you avoided opening Faithful One?)


(This post was edited by Dunadan of North Arnor on Apr 1, 2:36pm)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Apr 1, 2:39pm

Post #20 of 33 (1725 views)
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That's a better way to put it, I think [In reply to] Can't Post

 I think you've put it better than I did [enanito] - we see the Ring's sustained attack on Sam in a very vivid way. We don't get a comparable account of what it is like for Frodo or anyone else. But Frodo too started out by intending to keep the Ring and guard it (probably not an exact quote from Book I Ch 2). He only tries to master/own it on Mount Doom, after it has had a long time to wear him down. So Sam isn't the only one trying to 'master' the Ring (to get the better of it, in the sense I was trying) by not attempting to own or dominate it. And I did like that idea about Galadriel 'mastering' the Ring in the same way, by refusing it.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Apr 1, 2:53pm

Post #21 of 33 (1726 views)
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But isn't it more suspense to say reveal that 'Frodo lives'? [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo being alive but captured puts the whole Ring quest in huge jeopardy.
Frodo will presumably be tortured until Sauron learns enough to work out that the Ring is being taken to Mount Doom. Possibly it wouldn't take all that many clues before Sauron decides to seal off Mount Doom, and make a serious effort to find any companions Frodo might have had. So, short of the apparently suicidal and foolhardy rescue bid that Sam does actually choose, Sam would have to knowingly abandon Frodo to torture in the hope that he (Sam) could destroy the Ring before Frodo gives the game away. A dead Frodo is probably less of a risk to the quest, because the corpse can't yield so much information.
So I think that being told Frodo is still alive adds to the cliffhanger!

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


enanito
Rohan

Apr 1, 3:59pm

Post #22 of 33 (1712 views)
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Book breakpoints: Tolkien, or editors? [In reply to] Can't Post

This has likely already been discussed in many past posts, by those who know. For example, in 2016's LOTR read-thru, I know we discussed how the movies showed Boromir fighting the orcs at the end of FOTR, whereas Tolkien put that at the beginning of TTT -- and why Tolkien may have chosen it that way. But it seems appropriate to ask again. Do we know if Tolkien explicitly determined each-and-every detail about how each Book would actually end? Or were editors involved that "helped" decide the exact nature?

Specific to our current discussion, my default assumption is that what I read in this chapter is exclusively by Tolkien's design. Including the "Frodo spoiler" Wink But it would be interesting if anyone knows info about how our current end-chapters of each Book were created.


Roverandom
Bree


Apr 1, 4:12pm

Post #23 of 33 (1713 views)
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"Please don't expl'ine, show me!" [In reply to] Can't Post

I once had a creative writing professor who agreed with Eliza Doolittle.

I probably muddied my thoughts a bit in my previous post, but I agree that telling us Frodo is alive at the end of Book IV is an appropriate cliffhanger and not an example of a spoiler. In this chapter, I was more concerned with the events harkening back to Sam's vision in the Mirror, something that was IMHO a nice flashback on its own and did not need the author telling us outright in Gandalfian fashion that he has been very clever to use the device here.

For just as there has always been a Richard Webster, so too has there been a Black Scout of the North to greet him at the door on the threshold of the evening and to guard him through his darkest dreams.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Apr 1, 4:30pm

Post #24 of 33 (1708 views)
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Tolkien divided it into Books I- VI, Unwins into FOTR, TT, ROTK [In reply to] Can't Post

OOh, OOh, I know this one Smile
Tolkien divided it into Books I- VI, Unwins decided it had to be divided into FOTR, TT, ROTK. So the chapter ordering which leaves us with Frodo captured, now onto Pippin was Tolkien's design. The division of LOTR into FOTR, TT and ROTK follows the arrangement of 'Books' of course, and so doesn't disrupt that design. But Tolkien had originally intended the entire work to be published all at once (it is, after all, one continuous story not a true trilogy) . So Tolkien hadn't intended to leave the First Edition readers with a one-year wait between TT and ROTK being available, but had meant them to read through the relief of Minas Tirith etc. before returning to Frodo.

The reasons for the 3-voIue approach were economic and practical, I've read. In the 1950s the UK was still recovering economically (and otherwise) from the Second World War. There were still shortages of just about everything, including type, typesetters and paper on which to print books. And at that time the economics of publishing gave the publisher more 'paper print and bind' (and warehousing) costs than nowadays. (Nowadays smaller print runs and even print on demand are feasible.) In addition, it is hard to imagine any previous work of the modern era that was like LOTR, let alone one that would be widely expected to be a sequel to The Hobbit. So Unwins -- entirely understandably in my view -- balked at the cost of committing to the entire work all at once. Publishing in the three volumes gave them an exit point if FOTR or TT had bombed, as well as reducing the headaches around getting enough paper and lead type to do the whole thing at once. Readers also got teh Appendices - which were not intended to be included originally , if I recall, and were the response to a mailbag full of queries about the lore, languages and history of Middle-earth.

Tolkien was, frankly quite lucky to get Unwins to publish it at all, especially after he'd tried to get them to commit to including the unfinished (and perhaps unfinishable) Silmarillion, and then withdrew it from Unwins when they wouldn't, but it seemed as if Collins might. Anyway, JRR and Unwins were eventually re-united after Tolkien's flirtation with Collins, and Unwin Jr. (Tolkien's editor as well as the son of the firm's owner) was thoroughly vindicated in publishing it.

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Apr 1, 4:41pm

Post #25 of 33 (1705 views)
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But what do we see and why? [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I'm still unsure why we get this flashback to Galadriel's mirror:

Quote
“Presently he came back, and bending looked at Frodo’s face, pale beneath him in the dusk. And suddenly he saw that he was in the picture that was revealed to him in the mirror of Galadriel in Lórien: Frodo with a pale face lying fast asleep under a great dark cliff. Or fast asleep he had thought then. ‘He’s dead!’ he said. ‘Not asleep, dead!’ And as he said it, as if the words had set the venom to its work again, it seemed to him that the hue of the face grew livid green.”


Is this to do with an earlier set of choices? At Galadriel's mirror, Sam seems to have a choice - go back and save the Shire, or push on with Frodo. Sam chooses to go back the long way or not at all (or something like that). Is he now upbraiding himself for failing to see what the vision of Frodo 'asleep' meant? And if so -if Sam had understood that this was a vision of Frodo dead - how would forewarned have been fore-armed?

I'd be interested to read suggestions, because I have no idea myself!

~~~~~~
"Yes, I am half-elven. No, it does not mean that I 'have one pointy ear' "
Sven Elven, proprietor of the Rivendell convenience store.

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