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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Journey to the Crossroads: The King has a Crown Again

a.s.
Valinor


Aug 10 2008, 1:20am

Post #1 of 18 (818 views)
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Journey to the Crossroads: The King has a Crown Again Can't Post


Quote
Suddenly Sam heard a hiss behind him, and there was Gollum on all fours, peering at them with gleaming eyes.

`Wake up, wake up! Wake up, sleepies!' he whispered. `Wake up! No time to lose. We must go, yes, we must go at once. No time to lose!'




1. Again, a choice of words that rather surprises me from Gollum: where did Gollum learn to use little endearments like "sleepies"? When you read this kind of phrase from Gollum, does it change your perspective on the old evil thing at all?




Quote

Sam stared at him suspiciously: he seemed frightened or excited. `Go now? What's your little game? It isn't time yet. It can't be tea-time even, leastways not in decent places where there is tea-time.'

`Silly! ' hissed Gollum. `We're not in decent places. Time's running short, yes, running fast. No time to lose. We must go. Wake up. Master, wake u He clawed at Frodo; and Frodo, startled out of sleep, sat up suddenly and seized him by the arm. Gollum tore himself loose and backed away.

'They mustn't be silly,' he hissed. `We must go. No time to lose!'





2. What's the big hurry? What's Gollum hurrying them for?



The hobbits follow Gollum eastward, out of the trees and across relatively open (but hilly) land until they are within site of the North-South road, then they turn south:




Quote


For about an hour they went on, silently, in single file, oppressed by the gloom and by the absolute stillness of the land, broken only now and again by the faint rumbling as of thunder far away or drum-beats in some hollow of the hills. Down from their hiding-place they went, and then turning south they steered as straight a course as Gollum could find across a long broken slope that leaned up towards the mountains. Presently, not far ahead, looming up like a black wall, they saw a belt of trees. As they drew nearer they became aware that these were of vast size, very ancient it seemed, and still towering high, though their tops were gaunt and broken, as if tempest and lightning-blast had swept across them, but had failed to kill them or to shake their fathomless roots.
'The Cross-roads, yes,' whispered Gollum, the first words that had been spoken since they left their hiding-place. 'We must go that way....

'This is the only way,' whispered Gollum. 'No paths beyond the road. No paths. We must go to the Cross-roads.




Here is squire's schematic again:











Quote

At length they reached the trees, and found that they stood in a great roofless ring, open in the middle to the sombre sky; and the spaces between their immense boles were like the great dark arches of some ruined hall. In the very centre four ways met. Behind them lay the road to the Morannon; before them it ran out again upon its long journey south; to their right the road from old Osgiliath came climbing up, and crossing, passed out eastward into darkness: the fourth way, the road they were to take.

Standing there for a moment filled with dread Frodo became aware that a light was shining; he saw it glowing on Sam's face beside him. Turning towards it, he saw, beyond an arch of boughs, the road to Osgiliath running almost as straight as a stretched ribbon down, down, into the West. There, far away, beyond sad Gondor now overwhelmed in shade, the Sun was sinking, finding at last the hem of the great slow-rolling pall of cloud, and falling in an ominous fire towards the yet unsullied Sea. The brief glow fell upon a huge sitting figure, still and solemn as the great stone kings of Argonath. The years had gnawed it, and violent hands had maimed it. Its head was gone, and in its place was set in mockery a round rough-hewn stone, rudely painted by savage hands in the likeness of a grinning face with one large red eye in the midst of its forehead. Upon its knees and mighty chair, and all about the pedestal, were idle scrawls mixed with the foul symbols that the maggot-folk of Mordor used.




3. One of the most memorable of many memorable descriptions of ancient artifacts in LOTR. Comments on this place? Why the encircling trees, for instance? What purpose do they serve, or does the shape of a circle serve? Is there importance to it's placement around the cross-roads itself?

4. Do you agree with squire's placement of the statue? Why or why not?


I always think of the following poem when I come to the Cross-Roads:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


Ozymandias, Percy Blythe Shelley


5. Comments of the similarity between the Shelley poem and the chapter description of the statue and the Cross-Roads? Is there anything beyond a surface similarity here?

6. Any other images come to mind when reading the description of the Cross-Roads?







Quote

Suddenly, caught by the level beams, Frodo saw the old king's head: it was lying rolled away by the roadside. `Look, Sam!' he cried, startled into speech. `Look! The king has got a crown again!'

The eyes were hollow and the carven beard was broken, but about the high stern forehead there was a coronal of silver and gold. A trailing plant with flowers like small white stars had bound itself across the brows as if in reverence for the fallen king, and in the crevices of his stony hair yellow stonecrop gleamed.

'They cannot conquer for ever!' said Frodo. And then suddenly the brief glimpse was gone. The Sun dipped and vanished, and as if at the shuttering of a lamp, black night fell.





There are parts of text in LOTR that a repeat reader "marks place" by (at least, this reader does). I know those specific places are coming and I wait for them and they become touchstones for me of the unfolding story. I wait to get the Frodo's "I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way", for instance. Gandalf's "Fly, you fools!". The narrator's "Frodo was alive but taken by the enemy". Or Sam's melencholy "Well, I'm back". This is also one of the iconic moments for me. We cross something here, in the journey.


7. Thoughts on what Tolkien is trying to convey in this little moment here? The importance in the story?


Tomorrow: Wrap up, final thoughts, and general ruminations.

a.s.





"an seileachan"

Pooh began to feel a little more comfortable, because when you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Aug 10 2008, 6:10am

Post #2 of 18 (291 views)
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King Lear? [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's something more from the Tolkien and Shakespeare collection. In "'The Rack of This Tough World': The Influence of King Lear on Lord of the Rings", Leigh Smith writes:


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For both Shakespeare and Tolkien, a tyrant is never a legitimate ruler. True kings are identified by the justness of their rule and their willingness to put aside personal differences, as well as personal safety, and rule in the interest of the governed. In the initial "love test", Lear behaves like an arbitrary dictator, disowning his daughter for a word, banishing a loyal retainer for disagreeing with him, and otherwise making decisions that affect the entire realm according to his personal whims. He becomes "every inch a king" (4.6.107) only after being stripped of his power and forced to "feel what wretches feel" (3.4.34). Ironically, at the time he declares himself "every inch a king", he has exchanged his golden crown for one of leaves and flowers. Yet, his right to call himself king seems clearer than every before. He has developed empathy with his subjects, urging his Fool to enter the shelter before him and realizing that Gloucester can "see how this world goes with no eyes" (4.6.149-50). In a moment of startling clarity, he condemns the hypocrisy of those in power (presumably including himself) and laments that "a dog's obyed in office" (4.6.158-59). With such humility and insight, he would surely make a much better king now than he ever was in the days of his power. But of course, it is now too late. Nor do we need to wonder what kind of government has established itself in Lear's absence. Not only do we see the extrajudicial torture of Gloucester, but Albany recognizes that the French invasion has found friends in England "whom the rigor of our state / Forced to cry out" (5.1.23-24). Clearly, tyranny invites rebellion and thus does not even offer the stability it often claims as its chief advantage. [143]



A few paragraphs later, she adds:


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As this example [of Denethor not inspiring love in his subjects] shows, Shakespeare and Tolkien take care to present the identity of the king as obvious even without his official signifiers. The blinded Gloucester, who fails to recognize his son Edgar's voice, does recognize his king and tries to kiss his hand. At this point, Lear is crowned again, albeit with leaves and flowers: a sad parody of crowned kingship, but a natural crown. Lear declares himself "every inch a king," and Tolkien offers a parallel image that seems to argue for the truth of Lear's claim. By the road to Osgiliath, Frodo sees a beheaded, abused statue of a king. As with Lear, the "years had gnawed it and violent hands had maimed it" (4.7.687). But Frodo finds the statue's head lying near the road, crowned by nature with a white-flowered vine and golden moss, and this fleeting glimpse of unconquered majesty gives him new strength and much-needed hope. For Tolkien, as for Shakespeare, this natural crown appears to tell a more basic truth than the golden one. Restoring this truth to the political realm will not be easy in either text, and this moment of illumination dissolves into darkness. Yet it offers a hope for the future whose realization will require not only war and strife, but also a king's search for identity. [145]



This is the passge from Lear to which Smith refers; Edgar and blind Gloucester climbed a hill:


Quote
Edg. Bear free and patient thoughts.--But who comes here?

Enter LEAR fantastically dressed up with flowers.

The safer sense will ne'er accommodate
His master thus.

Lear. No, they cannot touch me for coining; I am the king himself.

Edg. O thou side-piercing sight!

Lear. Nature's above art in that respect.--There's your press-money. That fellow handles his bow like a crow-keeper: draw me a clothier's yard.--Look, look, a mouse! Peace, peace;--this piece of toasted cheese will do't.--There's my gauntlet; I'll prove it on a giant.--Bring up the brown bills.--O, well flown, bird!--i' the clout, i' the clout: hewgh!--Give the word.

Edg. Sweet marjoram.

Lear. Pass.

Glo. I know that voice.

Lear Ha! Goneril, with a white beard!--They flattered me like a dog; and told me I had white hairs in my beard ere the black ones were there. To say ay and no to everything I said! Ay and no, too, was no good divinity. When the rain came to wet me once, and the wind to make me chatter; when the thunder would not peace at my bidding; there I found 'em, there I smelt 'em out. Go to, they are not men o' their words: they told me I was everything; 'tis a lie,--I am not ague-proof.

Glo. The trick of that voice I do well remember:
Is't not the king?

Lear. Ay, every inch a king:
When I do stare, see how the subject quakes.
I pardon that man's life.--What was they cause?--
Adultery?--
Thou shalt not die: die for adultery! No:
The wren goes to't, and the small gilded fly
Does lecher in my sight.
Let copulation thrive; for Gloster's bastard son
Was kinder to his father than my daughters
Got 'tween the lawful sheets.
To't, luxury, pell-mell, for I lack soldiers.--
Behold yond simpering dame,
Whose face between her forks presages snow;
That minces virtue, and does shake the head
To hear of pleasure's name;--
The fitchew nor the soiled horse goes to't
With a more riotous appetite.
Down from the waist they are centaurs,
Through women all above:
But to the girdle do the gods inherit,
Beneath is all the fiends'; there's hell, there's darkness,
There is the sulphurous pit, burning, scalding, stench, consumption;--fie, fie, fie! pah, pah! Give me an ounce of civit, good apothecary, to sweeten my imagination: there's money for thee.

Glo. O, let me kiss that hand!

Lear. Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality.

Glo.O ruin'd piece of nature! This great world
Shall so wear out to naught.--Dost thou know me?



So, has Smith found a source for the Cross-roads king?

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We're discussing The Lord of the Rings in the Reading Room, Oct. 15, 2007 - Mar. 22, 2009!

Join us Jul. 28-Aug. 3 for "Journey to the Cross-roads".

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How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Modtheow
Lorien


Aug 10 2008, 3:56pm

Post #3 of 18 (241 views)
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maybe [In reply to] Can't Post

It would be unfair to make any final judgements on this article without having read the whole thing, but you've given us some good chunks to think about. My initial response is to say that the flower-crowned king in LotR works as a parallel image in some ways to Lear, but I wonder whether we can call it a source. Did the Lear image influence Tolkien directly to create his own natural crown, or was it an image that was part of his literary consciousness and that corroborated what he was already imagining, or was it a coincidence that he describes the same thing as Shakespeare?

I do agree with Smith in reading the natural crown as a signifier of true kingship in both texts. And of course Tolkien knew King Lear, so the image of the flower-crowned king had to be part of his literary knowledge. And I think that interesting parallels could be made with Lear and Denethor, which it sounds like Smith might be making as well. But where I balk is at saying that the Lear crown is a direct source for the LotR crown (I'm not sure that Smith is actually saying this, though). Everything about the Tolkien scene -- the trees, the flowers, the light, the idea that Mordor-creations are only a mockery of true things -- are elements that are consistently worked out in LotR and other stories by Tolkien. The trees and flowers remind me of the ancient history of Middle-earth and the creations of Arda; the light from the West is all Tolkien in symbolically suggesting to me the Valar, the Light, sources of truth and goodness, etc. Shakespeare's flowers do not have these specific meanings, although their general meaning is the same: to indicate the true and natural king.

These are my first impressions on the excerpts, so I reserve the right to change my mind! And of course, now I'll have to read the entire article (and the rest of the book as well).


batik
Tol Eressea


Aug 10 2008, 4:47pm

Post #4 of 18 (255 views)
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Oh, Gollum... [In reply to] Can't Post

    

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1. Again, a choice of words that rather surprises me from Gollum: where did Gollum learn to use little endearments like "sleepies"? When you read this kind of phrase from Gollum, does it change your perspective on the old evil thing at all?

His use of nice words/phrases implies that he does have some memory of long ago experiences with nice folk. I do remain undecided about why he acts this way at times along the way and especially here. Is he just in his "manic" cycle, chattering away? Does he truly feel nice towards the Hobbits? Is this simply the "addict" on a sort of "high" now that he senses he is about to get his "fix"? So in answer to this question I suppose I should say--no it doesn't change my view of him (which is not as an evil old thing)--just results in more questions.




orcbane
Gondor


Aug 10 2008, 8:29pm

Post #5 of 18 (455 views)
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Rings of trees [In reply to] Can't Post

have been seen as special places as far back as recorded history at least. When they are planted, I wonder about the planters who will not live to see the results. No instant gratification. That might not go for this particular grove, if they lived longer. I forget the Numenorian lifespans at the time of the planting. I do not remember who the king is either.

Even now, like the blindfolded hobbits, I get hopelessly turned around every time I make it to Ithilian. But at the crossroads I get my bearings again.



An Ent juggling spikey things ?


Beren IV
Gondor


Aug 11 2008, 4:33am

Post #6 of 18 (293 views)
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Could there be a more appropriate crown for Aragorn? [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Again, a choice of words that rather surprises me from Gollum: where did Gollum learn to use little endearments like "sleepies"? When you read this kind of phrase from Gollum, does it change your perspective on the old evil thing at all?

Gollum was a Hobbit once...


2. What's the big hurry? What's Gollum hurrying them for?

Two reasons. First, Gollum wants the Ring back, and is close to getting it, or so he thinks. Second, and more importantly, Gollum knows that the Enemy is moving, and soon it will be too late to avoid capture.


3. One of the most memorable of many memorable descriptions of ancient artifacts in LOTR. Comments on this place? Why the encircling trees, for instance? What purpose do they serve, or does the shape of a circle serve? Is there importance to it's placement around the cross-roads itself?

A little too heavy, I think - the image of the Sea as holy and yet untainted by the evil in Middle Earth and all that. And the trees, with their fathomless roots.


4. Do you agree with squire's placement of the statue? Why or why not?

Although I cannot argue with his placement, I cannot find any text that requires that it be there. Maybe I'm just too busy and distracted.


7. Thoughts on what Tolkien is trying to convey in this little moment here? The importance in the story?

The foreshadowing is obvious: the King has indeed returned, and nature is acknowledging him and his rightful rule. And what crown would be more appropriate than a crown of flowers for the King whose blood and heritage brings Elven grace to the races of Men?

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


sador
Half-elven

Aug 11 2008, 11:37am

Post #7 of 18 (270 views)
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More than that [In reply to] Can't Post


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the image of the Sea as holy and yet untainted by the evil in Middle Earth and all that.

In 'The Crossing of the Marshes' the Sea is mentioned as the only purifier who might wash the defiled Dagorlad into obilivion.

"A job of work for me, I can see; but I'm so tired" - Sam


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Aug 12 2008, 4:22pm

Post #8 of 18 (191 views)
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Smeagol's Word-Choices [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
Suddenly Sam heard a hiss behind him, and there was Gollum on all fours, peering at them with gleaming eyes.

`Wake up, wake up! Wake up, sleepies!' he whispered. `Wake up! No time to lose. We must go, yes, we must go at once. No time to lose!'




1. Again, a choice of words that rather surprises me from Gollum: where did Gollum learn to use little endearments like "sleepies"? When you read this kind of phrase from Gollum, does it change your perspective on the old evil thing at all?

It confirms my hunch that Smeagol might have been a child when the Ring came to him. His speech often has this disconcerting bent towards baby-talk that does not normally go with monsters. Therefore I do not judge him too deeply for the greed and selfishness which the Ring exploited from the beginning--children often are greedy and selfish before they learn better. What might have happened to Frodo if he had come across the Ring in his mushroom-stealing days?




My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.


Darkstone
Immortal


Aug 12 2008, 4:39pm

Post #9 of 18 (215 views)
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"Garlands to the god" [In reply to] Can't Post

1. Again, a choice of words that rather surprises me from Gollum: where did Gollum learn to use little endearments like "sleepies"?

It sounds like a phrase a hobbit grandmother would use to rouse her grandchildren. Of course Smeagol's own grandmother eventually kicked him out, so maybe this means something.


When you read this kind of phrase from Gollum, does it change your perspective on the old evil thing at all?

Yep.


2. What's the big hurry? What's Gollum hurrying them for?

The Storm that’s coming.


3. One of the most memorable of many memorable descriptions of ancient artifacts in LOTR. Comments on this place? Why the encircling trees, for instance?

Pagan temples or other sacred places are usually within a circle of trees.


What purpose do they serve, or does the shape of a circle serve?

A circle is a boundary, so it’s often used to define the boundary between the spiritual and material world.


Is there importance to it's placement around the cross-roads itself?

Like the statue itself, they are a symbol of the triumph of life over death. Specifically, when a tree is cut down or burned, a circle of young trees usually grow up around it. (The organic material of the remnants of the old tree furnishes fertilizer for the seeds that it dropped over the years.)


4. Do you agree with squire's placement of the statue?

Probably.


Why or why not?

The statue is a “herme” (Greek for “pile of stones”) or boundary marker. I’d say it marks the boundary between South and North Ithilien, and between the lowlands and the mountains.


5. Comments of the similarity between the Shelley poem and the chapter description of the statue and the Cross-Roads?

It symbolizes the arrogance of the Numenoreans in thinking they could conquer mortality. And for that matter the arrogance of the Elves, especially Galadriel, for thinking that they could do the same.


Is there anything beyond a surface similarity here?

"But if the Movement should ever fall silent, even after thousands of years this witness here will speak. In the midst of a sacred grove of age-old oaks the people of that time will admire in reverent astonishment this first giant among the buildings of the Third Reich."
-Adolf Hitler during the cornerstone laying of the Nazi convention hall at Nurnberg, quoted by Joachim Fest in “Hitler”.

This became part of Ruinenwerttheorie (Theory of Ruins). From “Inside the Third Reich” by Hitler’s architect Albert Speer:

"Hitler liked to say that the purpose of his building was to transmit his time and its spirit to posterity. Ultimately, all that remained to remind men of the great epochs of history was their monumental architecture, he would philosophize ... Today, for example, Mussolini could point to the building of the Roman Empire as symbolizing the heroic spirit of Rome. Thus he could fire his nation with the idea of a modern empire. Our architectural works should also speak to the conscience of a future Germany centuries from now."

Hitler also referred to impressive ruins as “the word in stone” and “the bridge of tradition”.


6. Any other images come to mind when reading the description of the Cross-Roads?

From Andrea Alciato’s Emblematum liber (1531):

“Emblem 8

“Where the gods call, there one must go.



“Where three ways meet there is a pile of stones; above it rises a truncated statue of a god, from the chest up. It must be the tomb of Mercury; oh traveler, hang up garlands to the god so that he may show you the right way. We are all at the crossroads, and in this path of life we err, unless the god himself shows us the way.”


7. Thoughts on what Tolkien is trying to convey in this little moment here?

Like Alcatio says, at the crossroads we err unless the god, or in this case our hearts, show us the way.


The importance in the story?

That’s one of Tolkien’s major themes, isn’t it? Instead of trusting to reason, to keep from error one should listen to one’s heart, intuition, faith.

Providence is looking out for the two little hobbits.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



Elros
Rivendell


Aug 12 2008, 5:17pm

Post #10 of 18 (189 views)
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Interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

I had never considered that Deagol and Smeagol might have been children when they came upon the Ring. Gollum does talk like a child in many ways, such as the sleepies mentioned here. It would help explain why Smeagol immediately murdered Deagol even though the ring would be more "asleep" compared to when Bilbo and Frodo possessed it. Certainly something to think about.


sador
Half-elven

Aug 12 2008, 9:30pm

Post #11 of 18 (189 views)
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This is the fitting place to welcome you back [In reply to] Can't Post

In your old place, instead of that thread in off-topic.
It's great that your grandmother is recovering! And now that you're back, the Reading Room can look confidentally towards the coming Autumn.

But as for your idea - I don't think much of it. In The Hobbit, Gollum remembers teaching his grandmother to suck eggs, which seems way too advanced for a child; and so does the language in this quote from 'The Shadow of the Past':

Quote
"I don't care", said Deagol. "I have given you a present already, more than I could afford".


Doesn't sound like a kid to me - no more than any ordinary hobbit would (and of course, they are all pretty childlike).

"One day I may reward you, I or those who remember me" - Frodo


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Aug 12 2008, 11:41pm

Post #12 of 18 (235 views)
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Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you so much for the welcome, Sador! I do feel glad to be back at the Reading Room.

As for the examples given, they do actually sound very childlike to me. Birthday presents mean a great deal more to children than adults. Also, "Go teach your mother to suck eggs!" is an old-time insult that children used to bandy about in Tolkiens and my grandmother's day. It would be cheeky of Smeagol to actually do it!

My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.


ElanorTX
Grey Havens


Aug 13 2008, 2:36am

Post #13 of 18 (233 views)
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You never cease to amaze and impress, Darkstone // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."


Darkstone
Immortal


Aug 13 2008, 5:34pm

Post #14 of 18 (217 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

I have no idea how to make a joke in response to that very nice compliment, so I'll just say "Thanks!"

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



sador
Half-elven

Aug 13 2008, 9:30pm

Post #15 of 18 (164 views)
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I meant the "more than I can afford" sentence [In reply to] Can't Post

That doesn't sound so childlike to me.
And the love of presents is very hobbit-like (note Bilbo's lie), although the Stoors seem far more advanced - they go by the modern system, that the birthday celebrant is entitled to receive presents! (could Bilbo simply have misunderstood "my birthday present", and assumed it was Gollum's birthday and he was to give his visitor one?) Shocked

About the egg-sucking - well, I bow before your gandmother's superior knowledge. And wish her a long, good life again.

"One day I may reward you, I or those who remember me" - Frodo


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Aug 13 2008, 10:58pm

Post #16 of 18 (173 views)
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Birthday customs [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, hobbit society has complex rules which dictate who owes the birthday celebrant a present, and who the birthday celebrant owes a present to. Kinfolk who live within twelve miles of the birthday celebrant do owe him a present, except for parents, who already gave the celebrant the gift of life, and in token of this annually the celebrant gives the parents a present, even if it is only a handful of fresh-picked flowers. Which only goes to show that Deagol was Smeagol's cousin or brother. He might have been older, of a wage-earning age.

It just seems to me that Smeagol/Gollum behaves so consistently childishly that Tolkien might have intended him to have been a child when he took the Ring. A child with 500 years of cunning, who has not acquired any maturity. (True, he did live quite some time after losing the Ring, where growth again became possible, but by then the habits of immaturity would have become hopelessly entrenched.) It might also explain his physical abnormalities, such as bulging eyes and flappy feet; if he acquired the Ring while not yet fully formed to his adult stage, he might have persisted in growing anyway, being a hobbit, but grown all wrong.

The inability to grow or obtain new life, after all, does not entirely hold true for hobbits. Bilbo froze in age, and yet he grew in wisdom through his adventure. This growth had its warped side, in that he became something of a curmudgeon who had a hard time relating to his peers, but his will to love them (as evidenced by his generosity on his eleventy-first birthday, and by his strained but well-intentioned parting speech) prevailed. Similarly, the Ring seemed to interfere with his ability to marry (both Bilbo and Frodo were highly unusual for hobbits in their perpetual batchelorhood) yet his adoption of an orphan rescued his capacity to love.

Frodo, too, did not age while he had the Ring (I don't know why people keep saying Elijah Wood was too young to play him--that's precisely the age-equivalent that book-Frodo froze into) and his persistent immaturity (or at least unsettledness) acquired much attention from the rest of the Shire, not to mention the fact that he preferred the company of friends much younger than himself. And yet on his adventure he also grew--in a perilous way that nearly destroyed him, but he did.

So I guess that the Ring acted like a rock set on top of a sprout. It might kill all growth in the weak, but a strong heart could warp around it like a pallid tendril stretching out in search of light.

My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.


sador
Half-elven

Aug 14 2008, 5:27am

Post #17 of 18 (485 views)
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Nice point about Elijah Wood! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"One day I may reward you, I or those who remember me" - Frodo


Darkstone
Immortal


Aug 14 2008, 8:31pm

Post #18 of 18 (325 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

It's interesting that in ROTK Fran Walsh instructed Andy Serkis and Thomas Robins to play the Smeagol and Deagol scene like children. Apparently she had the same hunch.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”


 
 

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