Apr 6, 3:27pm
For some reason this chapter didn't raise as many questions for me as previous chapters have. Much of it is fairly straightforward narrative rather than exposition. This is a pivotal chapter for Sam. He had the good sense to take the Ring and Sting in "The Choices of Master Samwise", but in this chapter he really comes into his own. Previously his role had been mostly to support Frodo. Now he's the one who needs to take charge.
*** Favorite Chapters – The Tower of Cirith Ungol (LOTR)
Given that Frodo is responsible for bearing the Ring, was it necessary for Sam to become the one in charge of the quest once they arrive in Mordor? How would the quest have gone differently if Frodo hadn't been poisoned by Shelob, captured by orcs, and taken to Cirith Ungol?
They were not forgotten. But they were far beyond aid, and no thought could yet bring any help to Samwise Hamfast’s son; he was utterly alone.
Is there any significance in Tolkien's referring to Sam here as "Samwise Hamfast's son"?
There he halted and sat down. For the moment he could drive himself no further. He felt that if once he went beyond the crown of the pass and took one step veritably down into the land of Mordor, that step would be irrevocable.
I'm not sure I have a question for this quote, but it reminds me of Sam mentioning that a certain place in the Shire is the farthest he'd ever been from home, especially as that scene is depicted in the New Line Cinema film. In the film Frodo encourages him to take the step. In this chapter the thought of Frodo being tormented by orcs causes him to cross over into Mordor without thinking of the danger he's in.
As it drew near the great furnaces where, in the deeps of time, it had been shaped and forged, the Ring’s power grew, and it became more fell, untameable save by some mighty will. As Sam stood there, even though the Ring was not on him but hanging by its chain about his neck, he felt himself enlarged, as if he were robed in a huge distorted shadow of himself, a vast and ominous threat halted upon the walls of Mordor. He felt that he had from now on only two choices: to forbear the Ring, though it would torment him; or to claim it, and challenge the Power that sat in its dark hold beyond the valley of shadows. Already the Ring tempted him, gnawing at his will and reason. Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dûr. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be.
In that hour of trial it was the love of his master that helped most to hold him firm; but also deep down in him lived still unconquered his plain hobbit-sense: he knew in the core of his heart that he was not large enough to bear such a burden, even if such visions were not a mere cheat to betray him. The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.
A chance for Sam, gardener of the Shire, to prove his quality. Few people escape so easily from the Ring's temptation, especially those who have worn it. Why is Sam one of them?
I will note here that this scene was depicted in the Rankin/Bass adaptation of The Return of the King, but not in the New Line Cinema adaptation.
I was always intrigued by the Watchers. They remind me also of a scene from The Neverending Story. Who built them? Snaga seems to indicate that they were created by the Gondorians, but if so, why do they perceive Sam as an enemy and not the orcs?
`Yes! The Elf-warrior is loose!’ he cried. ‘I’m coming. Just you show me the way up, or I’ll skin you!’
Sam has apparently changed since the beginning of the story. One of the orcs speculated that Frodo's companion was an Elf-warrior. What is the significance to Sam of this idea?
In this chapter Sam cut's off Snaga's whip hand with Sting. Snaga rushes him, but falls to his death after tripping over the ladder-head. If I recall correctly, in the Rankin/Bass film, an orc also falls to his death trying to escape Sam. However, in the New Line Cinema film, Sam stabs an orc in the back, albeit to rescue Frodo. Does the latter action seem true to Sam's character, or not? He did threaten Gollum a bit, but he never carried through.
‘Gilthoniel, A Elbereth!’ Sam cried. For, why he did not know, his thought sprang back suddenly to the Elves in the Shire, and the song that drove away the Black Rider in the trees.
‘Aiya elenion ancalima!’ cried Frodo once again behind him.
I like that Sam uses Sindarin and Frodo uses Quenya. Is there any significance to that? And how does Sam always know what to say or sing? Does anyone find it contrived that Sam suddenly recalls words spoken in Sindarin in the Shire half a year ago? Or can suddenly put words to one of Bilbo's songs?
Hêlâ Auriwandil, angilô berhtost,
oƀar Middangard mannum gisandid!