Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Queer Lodgings - Part Four

Elven
Valinor


May 7 2009, 8:03pm

Post #1 of 14 (418 views)
Shortcut
Queer Lodgings - Part Four Can't Post

Hi tornsibs Smile ...
the next installment -

It’s time to eat – Beorn asks the company to join him for supper after Gandalf’s storytelling.

Inside the hall it was now quite dark - because there are no windows in the hall – just the venting window in the ceiling for the smoke from the fire to escape from, and the doors either end of the hall.

Lets talk about the wait staff.
Beorn can speak to his animals, and he instructs them (in queer language like animal noises) to prepare the dining places for Beorn and his guests to sup.

Here is a list of the mentioned animals ..
4 beautiful white ponies
Several large long bodied dogs (how many is several?)
Some snow white sheep
A large coal black ram

Their skills:
They can carry things in their mouths – such as unlit torches, they can light them and place them into the brackets on the pillars.
The dogs could carry things with their forepaws.
They could get, carry and place furniture – such as trestle tables and chairs and logs.
They could carry trays on their backs.
They could set a table complete with table cloth.

It’s interesting to note that the animals don’t ‘talk’ (as in ‘English’) – Beorn talks to them and they understand him.

Do you think this is fantastical, or do you think it out of place?
Is it easier to believe in talking spiders, trolls and dragons, obits dwarves and wizards - than animals that set tables and wait on guest?

Note: Annotated Hobbit p.176 – the picture by Klaus Ensikat has a goat in it (there’s no goat mentioned in the books though – yet this was printed in the 1971 German edition)

Seated at tables around the hearth, Beorn at the head of the table told stories of his surrounding lands North and South and of the terrible forest of Mirkwood.
Here the dwarves listened and shook their beards (though as we find out they didn’t head his warnings).
They sat long into the night, even after Beorn tired of the dwarves ‘jool talk’.
Bilbo heard the sound of wind and branches in the rafters – and the hoot of owls – (Im sure he would have recognized if they were barn or screech owls – though it doesn’t say) but Tolkien mentioned that these sounds might have been magic or not .. “Whether it be magic or not” ...

Why would these sounds be ‘magic’? Was Tolkien suggesting that Bilbo was in a magical place, or that he was hearing things because he was scared? Or something else?


Time for sleep and Gandalf recounted what Beorn had said before he left the hall “you must not stray outside before the sun is up, on your peril”.
Bilbo wakes in the night to hear a growling sound outside and ‘the noise of some great animal scuffling outside’ – Bilbo thought it might be Beorn in his bear identity, but Bilbo is afraid that Beorn would come and ‘kill’ them. I get the impression Bilbo does not trust this place or Beorn.
We later found out that there was a bear gathering outside that night. But why would Beorns guests be in peril?
Do you think if any of the company had strayed outside, Beorn would have not told them to go back inside – or is it that he in his skin changing form is dangerous to friend as well as foe?
My impression from the book was that he was dangerous in a changed state (although it does not directly say that) – what’s your take and where does you impression come from?

In the morning Bilbo misses breakfast. – is this the most unbelievable part of this chapter? Wink

Gandalf has gone somewhere for the day, as has Beorn. Gandalf returns in the afternoon to the company’s questioning of where he has been, and where is Beorn. After more food, and some colourful smoke ring blowing, the company find out from Gandalf that he has followed a set of bear tracks over the river and into the Misty Mountains. Beorns tracks.
Why would Gandalf follow these tracks? What purpose is there in doing this? Is it just to justify Beorns checking out their tale?

Though Gandalf mentions the many bear prints outside the hall from what he thinks was a gathering the night before – little bears – large bears – ordinary bears – gigantic big bears - and the prints came from every direction except from west over the river and the Misty Mountains.

So where do the other bears come from – do bears live in Mirkwood forest?

Bilbo thinks Beorn has gone to fetch Wargs and Orcs and bring them back to get them all – why would Bilbo think this after Beorn has told them these creatures are his enemy? Is this a Tolkien ploy to make Bilbo look foolish, which in turn makes him look a wiser warrior hero afterwards?

Bilbo, After being told he is silly by Gandalf, goes to bed and dreams of hundreds of Bears dancing in the moonlight – and he wakes in the middle of the night to hear scuffling, growling and scraping sounds – he goes back to sleep.
Anyone want to do some dream Analysis – what does the dream mean and why include it?

Beorn wakes them in the morning and over breakfast tells the company where he has been, verifying Gandalf’s story. And I have the impression that Beorn also knows the mistrust Bilbo has in him ... “Not eaten up by wargs or goblins or wicked bears yet I see” said Beorn to Bilbo (disrespectfully, but humerously).

Are bears wicked or dangerous? Or both?
How do you think Beorn knew Bilbos fears?

Beorn tells the company he has found out from an Orc and a Warg that the company’s tale is true, and also learns that the company is now being hunted by the Orc’s and Wargs, and anyone harbouring them in safety is in danger of attack. Beorn offers the company his help now to enable them to travel through Mirkwood.

Beorn promises them a pony each and a horse for Gandalf, food that would last for weeks, bows and arrows and water. He also warns them once more that the road ahead through Mirkwood is Dark, Dangerous and Difficult. (we are certainly being setup many times to get a real feel of fear for this forest). Beorn tells them of the perils they might face and gives many warnings – theres nothing to find in there to eat – there aew wild ‘things’, dark, queer and savage – nothing is wholesome - he also mentions the enchanted stream – black and strong - which if drunk from causes great drowsiness and forgetfulness – and that they must not leave the path.

They thanked Beorn for his generosity and became glum with the thoughts of the danger ahead.
“They all thought that the adventure was far more dangerous than they had thought” ...
Why with all the warnings did they not heed one piece of advice?

Tolkien basically outlines (through Beorns warnings) each encounter that the dwarves will face when they enter Mirkwood, yet they take no heed of these warnings regardless of their thoughts that this adventure was more dangerous ...
Any thoughts on this?

After some preparations – they leave Beorn, and head off towards Mirkwood Forest ... tomorrows chapter.

Thanks everyone
Cheers


Swishtail.

Tolkien was a Capricorn!!
Russell Crowe for Beorn!!

Avatar: Liberace - The other Lord of the Rings.

Quote of The Week: The thing is I always write in the morning, and I know that if I go to the Net I won’t write ... you can start in the most scholarly website and end up at Paris Hilton dot com .. GdT


Darkstone
Immortal


May 7 2009, 9:56pm

Post #2 of 14 (243 views)
Shortcut
Bilbo Baggins and the Amazing Dancing Bears! [In reply to] Can't Post

Ma chere Mademoiselle, it is with deepest pride and greatest pleasure that we welcome you tonight. And now we invite you to relax, let us pull up a chair as the dining room proudly presents – your dinner!

-Beauty and the Beast (1991)


Do you think this is fantastical, or do you think it out of place?

It’s definitely as fey as a cat in boots or dancing candlesticks.


Is it easier to believe in talking spiders, trolls and dragons, obits dwarves and wizards - than animals that set tables and wait on guest?

I believe in fairys. And I do believe in spooks.


They sat long into the night, even after Beorn tired of the dwarves ‘jool talk’.
Bilbo heard the sound of wind and branches in the rafters – and the hoot of owls – (Im sure he would have recognized if they were barn or screech owls – though it doesn’t say) but Tolkien mentioned that these sounds might have been magic or not .. “Whether it be magic or not” ...

Why would these sounds be ‘magic’?


It would be like the sound of the wind in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2005), which was actually the trees sending a message from Lucy and Elizabeth to Peter and Edmund via the dryads. I thought it was extremely well done there.


Was Tolkien suggesting that Bilbo was in a magical place, or that he was hearing things because he was scared? Or something else?

I always thought Beorn received a magical message from someone, or some - thing.


Time for sleep and Gandalf recounted what Beorn had said before he left the hall “you must not stray outside before the sun is up, on your peril”.

“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night,
May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright!”
-The Wolf Man (1941)


Bilbo wakes in the night to hear a growling sound outside and ‘the noise of some great animal scuffling outside’ – Bilbo thought it might be Beorn in his bear identity, but Bilbo is afraid that Beorn would come and ‘kill’ them. I get the impression Bilbo does not trust this place or Beorn.

Or it could be Grendel. Or Grendel’s mother.


We later found out that there was a bear gathering outside that night. But why would Beorns guests be in peril?

Well, dwarves and hobbits are just like Lay’s potato chips to bears. “You can’t eat just one.”


Do you think if any of the company had strayed outside, Beorn would have not told them to go back inside – or is it that he in his skin changing form is dangerous to friend as well as foe?

Only Gandalf can understand bear. And the bear might not have been Beorn.


My impression from the book was that he was dangerous in a changed state (although it does not directly say that) – what’s your take and where does you impression come from?

I’ve seen enough werewolf movies to know they’re quite “fickle”.


In the morning Bilbo misses breakfast. – is this the most unbelievable part of this chapter?

Yep.


Gandalf has gone somewhere for the day, as has Beorn. Gandalf returns in the afternoon to the company’s questioning of where he has been, and where is Beorn. After more food, and some colourful smoke ring blowing, the company find out from Gandalf that he has followed a set of bear tracks over the river and into the Misty Mountains. Beorns tracks.
Why would Gandalf follow these tracks?


To talk to Beorn.


What purpose is there in doing this?

To talk to Beorn. Alone.


Is it just to justify Beorns checking out their tale?

To see if Beorn was going to sell them out to the goblins.


Though Gandalf mentions the many bear prints outside the hall from what he thinks was a gathering the night before – little bears – large bears – ordinary bears – gigantic big bears - and the prints came from every direction except from west over the river and the Misty Mountains.

So where do the other bears come from – …


Well, a mister bear and a lady bear meet somewhere like at a moonlight dance party.......


…do bears live in Mirkwood forest?

Only if there’s woods there.


Bilbo thinks Beorn has gone to fetch Wargs and Orcs and bring them back to get them all – why would Bilbo think this after Beorn has told them these creatures are his enemy?

He also knows Beorn isn’t too fond of dwarves.


He Is this a Tolkien ploy to make Bilbo look foolish, which in turn makes him look a wiser warrior hero afterwards?

To play up the uncertainty.


Bilbo, After being told he is silly by Gandalf, goes to bed and dreams of hundreds of Bears dancing in the moonlight – and he wakes in the middle of the night to hear scuffling, growling and scraping sounds – he goes back to sleep.
Anyone want to do some dream Analysis – what does the dream mean and why include it?


I may go out tomorrow if I can borrow a coat to wear.
Oh, I’d step out in style with my sincere smile and my dancing bear.
Outrageous, alarming, courageous, charming.
Oh, who would think a boy and bear,
Could be well accepted everywhere?
It’s just amazing how fair people can be.
-Randy Newman


Beorn wakes them in the morning and over breakfast tells the company where he has been, verifying Gandalf’s story. And I have the impression that Beorn also knows the mistrust Bilbo has in him ... “Not eaten up by wargs or goblins or wicked bears yet I see” said Beorn to Bilbo (disrespectfully, but humerously).

Are bears wicked or dangerous? Or both?


Bear are dangerous. And corrupted bears are wicked.


How do you think Beorn knew Bilbos fears?

All the animal servants standing around. Good servants always seem to blend in with the furniture and thus overhear all sorts of things.


Beorn promises them a pony each and a horse for Gandalf, food that would last for weeks, bows and arrows and water. He also warns them once more that the road ahead through Mirkwood is Dark, Dangerous and Difficult. (we are certainly being setup many times to get a real feel of fear for this forest). Beorn tells them of the perils they might face and gives many warnings – theres nothing to find in there to eat – there aew wild ‘things’, dark, queer and savage – nothing is wholesome - he also mentions the enchanted stream – black and strong - which if drunk from causes great drowsiness and forgetfulness – and that they must not leave the path.

“Don’t get off the boat! Never get off the boat!”
-Apocalypse Now (1979)


They thanked Beorn for his generosity and became glum with the thoughts of the danger ahead.
“They all thought that the adventure was far more dangerous than they had thought” ...
Why with all the warnings did they not heed one piece of advice?


Why do teenagers in slasher movies wander off alone, and then investigate odd sounds in the dark by saying “Who’s there?” and walking towards the killer even though as teenagers they’ve probably seen every single slasher movie in recent release and even joined in with the rest of the audience in yelling "Don't go there!!!"?


Tolkien basically outlines (through Beorns warnings) each encounter that the dwarves will face when they enter Mirkwood, yet they take no heed of these warnings regardless of their thoughts that this adventure was more dangerous ...
Any thoughts on this?


It makes for a rather short story.

For example:

Well, I'll sing you a song 'bout the old Forty Nine,
The fastest engine on the Santa Fe line.
On the fourteenth of April, she made a desp'rate dash,
And she got there on time and she did not crash!
-Shel Silverstein

(That’s the entire song.)

******************************************
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.”



Curious
Half-elven


May 7 2009, 10:46pm

Post #3 of 14 (206 views)
Shortcut
Thoughts, part 1. [In reply to] Can't Post

Several large long bodied dogs (how many is several?)
More than three and less than many -- I think of it as 6-9.

Do you think this is fantastical,
Yes, although there is no indication that it is magical, like Bilbo's invisibility.
or do you think it out of place?

It's not clear to me whether the dogs actually lay the cloth and set the places. If they just transfer the cloth and trays to the table for the guests to use, it almost becomes plausible, and filmable. But because Tolkien tells it ambiguously many readers think it is implausible, and don't want to see it in the film -- I had to read it closely to come up with a plausible reading.
Is it easier to believe in talking spiders, trolls and dragons, obits dwarves and wizards - than animals that set tables and wait on guest?

It's easier to believe in magic than in animals who set the table without magic and without the benefit of opposable thumbs.

Bilbo heard the sound of wind and branches in the rafters – and the hoot of owls – (Im sure he would have recognized if they were barn or screech owls – though it doesn’t say) but Tolkien mentioned that these sounds might have been magic or not .. "Whether it be magic or not" ...
Why would these sounds be ‘magic’?

It may be an enchantment. Tolkien raised the same issue when the dwarves were singing in Bag End, and does it again in Bombadil's house and Rivendell in LotR.
Was Tolkien suggesting that Bilbo was in a magical place, or that he was hearing things because he was scared? Or something else?


Tolkien leaves it ambiguous, but raises the question of whether magic was involved.

But why would Beorns guests be in peril?

We learn later (including in the Battle of Five Armies) that Beorn is trustworthy and his guests would only have been in peril from other bears. But we don't know that now, and Tolkien keeps that information from us to build the tension.

Do you think if any of the company had strayed outside, Beorn would have not told them to go back inside – or is it that he in his skin changing form is dangerous to friend as well as foe?

Again, I think Tolkien leaves it unclear at this point, but if it isn't clear by the end of this chapter it should be after the Battle of Five Armies: Beorn is only dangerous to foes.

My impression from the book was that he was dangerous in a changed state (although it does not directly say that) – what’s your take and where does you impression come from?

I think you are right to wonder about it based on the information given us so far, because I think Tolkien is deliberately withholding assurances of Beorn's trustworthiness, and raising Bilbo's fears, and therefore the readers', that Beorn is not trustworthy at all.

In the morning Bilbo misses breakfast. – is this the most unbelievable part of this chapter?

He doesn't actually miss breakfast, fortunately, he just sleeps in, which I find believable.

Why would Gandalf follow these tracks? What purpose is there in doing this? Is it just to justify Beorns checking out their tale?
Despite ridiculing Bilbo for his silly fears, Gandalf seems to want his own assurances regarding Beorn and what he is up to.

So where do the other bears come from – do bears live in Mirkwood forest?
Doubtful, since Beorn says there is nothing safe to eat in the forest. But there is much land between the mountains and the forest. And maybe there are bears who know what is safe to eat in the forest. After all, Beorn had to learn about the enchanted stream from someone.

Bilbo thinks Beorn has gone to fetch Wargs and Orcs and bring them back to get them all – why would Bilbo think this after Beorn has told them these creatures are his enemy? Is this a Tolkien ploy to make Bilbo look foolish, which in turn makes him look a wiser warrior hero afterwards?

Bilbo isn't sure of Beorn, and Beorn validates Bilbo's distrust by noting that he wasn't sure of Bilbo and company. Despite Gandalf's reaction, Gandalf may not be entirely sure of Beorn either -- otherwise why would he spend the day tracking him? For that matter, can we be sure of Gandalf at this point? He still has a habit of disappearing without notice. So no, I don't think Bilbo is that foolish.
Anyone want to do some dream Analysis – what does the dream mean and why include it?

It might be a true dream like Bilbo's dream of the goblins. After all, the bears were dancing at some point. I think it is included to suggest what might be happening without actually lifting the curtain on the mystery.


Curious
Half-elven


May 8 2009, 1:03am

Post #4 of 14 (189 views)
Shortcut
Thoughts, part 2. [In reply to] Can't Post

Are bears wicked

Apparently not.

or dangerous?

Yes, of course.

Or both?

No, just dangerous.

How do you think Beorn knew Bilbos fears?

Remember the wait staff?

Why with all the warnings did they not heed one piece of advice?

Tolkien basically outlines (through Beorns warnings) each encounter that the dwarves will face when they enter Mirkwood, yet they take no heed of these warnings regardless of their thoughts that this adventure was more dangerous ...
Any thoughts on this?

Good advice is often hard to follow. Otherwise none of us would be overweight and out of shape. Furthermore, in this case Beorn and Gandalf's warning not to leave the path turns out to be bad advice, although we don't learn that until much later, when it is revealed that the east end of the road disappears into swamps. As in the mountains, luck is needed to make it all the way through. The advice is given primarily to increase the suspense when the party fails to follow it.

Finally, note the moral ambiguity regarding Beorn's interrogation of the goblin and wolf. He apparently used harsh interrogation techniques.


(This post was edited by Curious on May 8 2009, 1:05am)


batik
Tol Eressea


May 8 2009, 3:20am

Post #5 of 14 (237 views)
Shortcut
when in doubt. look it up... [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you think this is fantastical, or do you think it out of place?
Meaning #1: existing in fancy only
Meaning #2: ludicrously odd
So I'm going with this being fantastical--
I could buy into all but the dogs carrying things with their fore-feet.

Is it easier to believe in talking spiders, trolls and dragons, obits dwarves and wizards - than animals that set tables and wait on guest?

Yup. I don't have any expectations/rules about what spiders, troll, 'obbits, dwarves, or wizards can/will do. Domesticated animals--too familiar to truly suspend disbelief. But I will to a point--after all these are M-E animals.

Why would these sounds be ‘magic’? Was Tolkien suggesting that Bilbo was in a magical place, or that he was hearing things because he was scared? Or something else?
Atmosphere--setting the mood for Bilbo drifting off...we don't read that someone is still speaking but this makes me think that Bilbo has kind of zoned out here.


Twit
Lorien

May 8 2009, 9:51am

Post #6 of 14 (164 views)
Shortcut
Good morning! [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you think this is fantastical, or do you think it out of place?

In the context of the story, no, although I don't particularly like the dogs holding stuff with their paws. My children would though, which is the point I suppose. I always think of several being 5 or more up to 12, which then becomes a dozen.

Is it easier to believe in talking spiders, trolls and dragons, obits dwarves and wizards - than animals that set tables and wait on guest?

actually I do, but as has been said that might well be because we know the talking spiders etc are pure fantasy where-as the animal servants are based on what we know.

Why would these sounds be ‘magic’? Was Tolkien suggesting that Bilbo was in a magical place, or that he was hearing things because he was scared? Or something else?

I wonder what was burning on that fire, besides wood? Bilbo is extremely tired and has been through alot, as well as feeling unsure of Beorn, so is probably quite susceptible to all sorts of things.

But maybe, there were owls up there, getting ready to leave to go hunting. And yes, I think it is a magical place, of sorts.

Do you think if any of the company had strayed outside, Beorn would have not told them to go back inside – or is it that he in his skin changing form is dangerous to friend as well as foe?
My impression from the book was that he was dangerous in a changed state (although it does not directly say that) – what’s your take and where does you impression come from?

I don't think he is dangerous to his guests inside, but the other animals in his neck of the woods might enjoy Hobbit or Dwarf.
I found it seemd less dangerous because we don't hear this directly from Beorn, but from Gandalf.

In the morning Bilbo misses breakfast. – is this the most unbelievable part of this chapter?

I thought he was just late.

Why would Gandalf follow these tracks? What purpose is there in doing this? Is it just to justify Beorns checking out their tale?

To see what Beorn is up to, whether he might be willing to help them some more. it also shows why they shouldn't leave the hall at night.


So where do the other bears come from – do bears live in Mirkwood forest?

From every where but the misty mountains and west over the river...

Bilbo thinks Beorn has gone to fetch Wargs and Orcs and bring them back to get them all – why would Bilbo think this after Beorn has told them these creatures are his enemy? Is this a Tolkien ploy to make Bilbo look foolish, which in turn makes him look a wiser warrior hero afterwards?

It's in his nature to fear the worst, after all he is a long way from home, physically and emotionally. I think Gandalf shows himself to be rather sharp in his reply to Bilbo. Maybe he is trying to distance himself from Bilbo ready for when the part.


Anyone want to do some dream Analysis – what does the dream mean and why include it?

I think he may be dreaming about what happened last night, explaining the sounds he heard to himself in a non- threatening way. Perhaps he hears the sounds again in his sleep before waking again.


Are bears wicked or dangerous? Or both?
How do you think Beorn knew Bilbos fears?


Bears are dangerous but not wicked.
It wouldn't be hard to realise Bilbo might be scared of wargs and orcs, but his animals or even Gandalf might have told him what had been said. The fact that it is said in a good-humoured way suggests he doesn't mind Bilbo's doubts but enjoys teasing him as much as the next person.

Tolkien basically outlines (through Beorns warnings) each encounter that the dwarves will face when they enter Mirkwood, yet they take no heed of these warnings regardless of their thoughts that this adventure was more dangerous ...
Any thoughts on this?


It's like a parent warning a child, you can only do so much and they will chose to either take note or not. But we need to hear how dangerous the road ahead is, in order that their rest at Beorn's house is appreciated, and to set up the next part of the journey.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


May 8 2009, 4:19pm

Post #7 of 14 (178 views)
Shortcut
A few thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think that Beorn would hurt them, even in bear form--but he might not be answerable for his friends! Wild bears are, after all, wild.

For American Indians, dreams of Bear can be very powerful dreams indeed! Bear is the greatest of all healers. But he's a rough one--he often hurts to heal, subjects you to one @#$%&!! learning experience after another. He is the patron of Tough Love, of the surgical cure, of learning whatever you most need and least want to know. In this context at least (I cannot answer for others) a dream of dancing bears would be a great power-dream indeed! It puts the bears in a benign, creative context, yet also warns (if it were my dream) that I might soon be invited to dance with Bear as part of my evolution. Life is about to get really, really rough, but I will come out the better for it.

As for heeding the warnings, the dwarves did heed the warnings. It wasn't their fault that a deer knocked Bombur into the enchanted creek (not directly, anyway, but I get ahead of myself.) They tried as hard as possible not to touch that water, despite desperate thirst. And they resisted going off the path as long as starvation would allow.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

(This post was edited by Dreamdeer on May 8 2009, 4:25pm)


Curious
Half-elven


May 8 2009, 5:35pm

Post #8 of 14 (156 views)
Shortcut
I'm not sure it's quite that clear cut [In reply to] Can't Post

whether the dwarves were or were not at fault for what happened, but perhaps we should save that discussion for the chapters at issue.


Aunt Dora Baggins
Half-elven


May 8 2009, 5:49pm

Post #9 of 14 (211 views)
Shortcut
I don't have much to say, except [In reply to] Can't Post

I laughed out loud at this:

"In the morning Bilbo misses breakfast. – is this the most unbelievable part of this chapter?"

And that I've never thought much about the animal servants before, just thought of them as part of a fairy tale, but now I wonder whether they might be shape-changers too.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



sador
Half-elven

May 10 2009, 1:35pm

Post #10 of 14 (126 views)
Shortcut
A few answers [In reply to] Can't Post

It’s interesting to note that the animals don’t ‘talk’ (as in ‘English’) – Beorn talks to them and they understand him.

Do you think this is fantastical, or do you think it out of place?
You mean their not talking? Wink
It is fantastical, but no more than any other such thing in the story.

Is it easier to believe in talking spiders, trolls and dragons, obits dwarves and wizards - than animals that set tables and wait on guest?
Trolls and dragons are supposed to talk - by which I mean there is no image of dumb trolls and dragons imprinted on our minds. So these are less surprising; as are the wolves and their own tongues.

The part which nearly defies belief is the talking spiders, which go against accepted horror images.
The animals waiting on the guests are no more fantastic (in the Primary world) than the trolls, or even the elves; but they are more alien to the reader's mindscape.
Which is why I agree they should not be shown in the movies; and unlike the spiders, they have no real function in the story - they do characterise Beorn, but is that important enough to give this a 'Mary Poppins' feel?

Why would these sounds be ‘magic’?
Sometimes an owl is just an owl. But sometimes not.

Was Tolkien suggesting that Bilbo was in a magical place, or that he was hearing things because he was scared? Or something else?
That he wandered into the wrong story, and found himself in Narnia.

Do you think if any of the company had strayed outside, Beorn would have not told them to go back inside – or is it that he in his skin changing form is dangerous to friend as well as foe?
Beorn has walked far to the mountains and back. A stray bear might have happened upon them while he wasn't there, or wasn't looking.


My impression from the book was that he was dangerous in a changed state (although it does not directly say that) – what’s your take and where does you impression come from?
In the Battle of the Five Armies he was in a bear's form, and still saved the day and nearly Thorin.


Is this the most unbelievable part of this chapter?
In 'An Unexpected Party', Bilbo is said to have felt he would go many days without breakfast, in order to be considered fierce. So he does miss breakfast, only to be called 'lazybones' (and 'little bunny' the day after)!
All considered, one out of two is not such a bad deal...

Why would Gandalf follow these tracks? What purpose is there in doing this? Is it just to justify Beorns checking out their tale?
That's his trade - finding things out!

So where do the other bears come from – do bears live in Mirkwood forest?
Good question!

They do not fit anywhere in the landscape we know from other places - fancy Eorl riding to the Battle of Celebrant followed by this lot!

Why would Bilbo think this after Beorn has told them these creatures are his enemy? Is this a Tolkien ploy to make Bilbo look foolish, which in turn makes him look a wiser warrior hero afterwards?
Possibly; but Bilbo has just tricked both Gollum and the dwarves (not telling them of the Ring).
It might be likely he is really afraid of betrayal.

Anyone want to do some dream Analysis – what does the dream mean and why include it?
Not me; but there are others on these boards who could.

Are bears wicked or dangerous? Or both?
Very dangerous, but not wicked.


How do you think Beorn knew Bilbos fears?
Magic? Or did he smell his sweat?

I think magic is good enough, and there is no need to over-rationalise.

Why with all the warnings did they not heed one piece of advice?
We'll see next week.

Also, we'll see (in 'A Warm Welcome') that actually they went on the only real good path.

Any thoughts on this?
Interesting! I must re-read this section, and think again.





"It was a good story, that of yours, but I like it still better now I am sure it is true." - Beorn


squire
Valinor


May 10 2009, 2:40pm

Post #11 of 14 (202 views)
Shortcut
Bearly human [In reply to] Can't Post

Is it easier to believe in talking spiders, trolls and dragons, hobbits dwarves and wizards - than animals that set tables and wait on guest? Do you think this is fantastical, or do you think it out of place?
I don’t have any problem with it at all. I eagerly await the filmmakers’ version of this scene, which is integral to Beorn’s character. Beorn lives alone, without family or any other human (or semi-human) retainers. Who other than friendly and talented animals could do all the chores around the place?


To return to the question of servants (!), here they are, by gum. And let’s see: the goblins have slaves, the Elf-king has butlers and workers, the Master of Laketown has retainers and servers. Why shouldn’t Beorn have servants?


(In fact, the only two lords of their solitary castles without servants are Bilbo and Smaug. Another strong connection between those two, who are twinned innumerable times throughout the story).


There is another aspect to this question that I think is interesting. Many people here seem to believe that talking spiders, trolls and dragons, hobbits dwarves and wizards are “approved” elements of a fantasy tale, but that animal servants are not. I agree that in the more boringly normalized world of The Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion (outside of the land of the Valar), such talented animals are out of place (pace the fox). But dammit, this is The Hobbit, and in The Hobbit they belong – it’s still a children’s book, and children adore animals and love the idea that animals can be part-human. Why must we impose another book’s standards on this one? Let The Hobbit be The Hobbit! Let Beorn be Beorn! And let that dog come in on his hind legs, bearing a tray, put it down on the table, and then drop to all fours, wag his tail, and grin gormlessly when Bilbo, unsure what to do, thanks him politely! Dogs love to do tricks!


I really do not care if this is thought to be inconsistent with the Jackson trilogy of LotR. The books are inconsistent, and I think audiences should be asked to wake up and deal with it - and enjoy it! - rather than be lulled by some Hollywood precept of how people only want more of the same D&D solemnity no matter what the original author wrote.



And which is genuinely funnier, stupid dog tricks or dwarf-tossing?


We later found out that there was a bear gathering outside that night. But why would Beorn’s guests be in peril?
This reminds me of Merry’s comments about the Huorns:

“You stand still looking at the weather, maybe, or listening to the rustling of the wind, and then suddenly you find that you are in the middle of a wood with great groping trees all around you. They still have voices, and can speak with the Ents - that is why they are called Huorns, Treebeard says - but they have become queer and wild. Dangerous. I should be terrified of meeting them, if there were no true Ents about to look after them.” (The Two Towers, III, 10).

The book implies that the bears are Beorn’s “people” (in contradistinction to the impenetrable creation of the “Beornings” for The Lord of the Rings – Soviet rewriting of history had nothing on Tolkien). I wonder if they are also considered skin-changers who have lost the ability to resume human form, or if only the great bear Beorn has achieved the ability to skin-change, or if Beorn is an otherworldly creature who has adopted the bears as their king, because of his ability to take both forms. Certainly there is a thematic continuity between Beorn and the bears that is repeated with Treebeard and the trees. Tolkien is fascinated by the relationship between people and the creatures of the wild, and plays endlessly with ways to mediate the great divide between the two worlds.

Since we know that the four hobbits at Bombadil’s are also visited by dreams and disturbed by the “nightly noises” while resting in a “safe house”, I think we should consider the various hobbits’ stays with Bombadil, Treebeard, and Beorn all as variations on the same theme.

Why would Gandalf follow these tracks? What purpose is there in doing this? Is it just to justify Beorns checking out their tale?
I don’t buy this. I think Beorn would have figured out Gandalf was following him, and mauled the nosy wizard. I think this entire section is highly contrived, to “justify Beorn’s checking out their tale” as you say, but I wish Tolkien had done it more sensibly.



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'.
Footeramas: The 3rd TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


FarFromHome
Valinor


May 10 2009, 5:15pm

Post #12 of 14 (237 views)
Shortcut
Type mismatch [In reply to] Can't Post

Do you think this is fantastical, or do you think it out of place?
Is it easier to believe in talking spiders, trolls and dragons, obits dwarves and wizards - than animals that set tables and wait on guest?


It's not so much about animals setting tables as about which animals are setting the tables, I find. Why does the ambiguously wild and dangerous Beorn have such tame, domesticated species waiting on him? White ponies, smooth grey hounds, white sheep and a black ram - they sound more like something out of toddlers' nursery rhymes than animals who would be associated with a dangerous bear-man. They seem to come from a different story-register entirely. There's something so familiar and so, well, twee, about dogs on their hind legs that I find it hard to believe in this episode at all.

Even if we set aside the disconcerting mismatch between the wild bear-man and his tame menagerie, it's still easier to believe in talking spiders, trolls, dragons - or even foxes, bears and wolves - because as wild (or imaginary) creatures they are not too familiar to us. They lead secret lives away from humans, so it's easier to imagine that they may have hidden sides to their natures. But dogs on their hind legs, or trotting white ponies, are totally familiar and any magic they provide is of a very tame sort indeed, I find! As for the sheep and the ram, I can't get images of Gary Larson's cartoons out of my head...

...what does the dream mean and why include it?

I don't know what it means, other than to imply that there really is another, animal side to Beorn (or at least, that Bilbo seriously suspects there is, which comes to pretty much the same thing since this is his story).

But it also reminds me that something similar happens in Tom Bombadil's house. Tom tells the hobbits not to "heed" any "nightly noises", but they awaken and hear various worrying and mysterious sounds.

The description of the simple but wonderful meals, accompanied by stories, is also reminiscent of what happens at Tom's house (so is the breakfast laid out and waiting, if I remember correctly). In fact, if Tom had had ponies or sheep in his household I would have found it less jarring than finding them here in Beorn's.

Are bears wicked or dangerous? Or both?

Well, I think Beorn is teasing Bilbo when he talks about "wicked bears" - but bears are dangerous of course. Much as Gandalf explains to Gimli in Fangorn, many creatures are dangerous - but only to those who don't respect them as they should. Luckily, with Gandalf's help, Bilbo and the Dwarves are treating Beorn with the respect he deserves as a dangerous but essentially "non-aligned" creature.

How do you think Beorn knew Bilbos fears?

I imagine Bilbo is pretty easy to read, somehow! And I wouldn't be at all surprised if he has the hearing of a wild bear and heard Bilbo's words the night before.

Tolkien basically outlines (through Beorns warnings) each encounter that the dwarves will face when they enter Mirkwood, yet they take no heed of these warnings regardless of their thoughts that this adventure was more dangerous ...
Any thoughts on this?


This is a standard fairy-tale element - "Don't go into Mr. MacGregor's garden!". Somehow whatever the hero has been especially warned against doing, is what he ends up doing. This whole section with Beorn seems quite "classic fairy-tale" to me - you almost expect Goldilocks to turn up....

Farewell, friends! I hear the call.
The ship’s beside the stony wall.
Foam is white and waves are grey;
beyond the sunset leads my way.
Bilbo's Last Song



(This post was edited by FarFromHome on May 10 2009, 5:17pm)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


May 10 2009, 11:50pm

Post #13 of 14 (122 views)
Shortcut
Of all your posts... [In reply to] Can't Post

...I think that I have enjoyed this one the most, Squire!

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


May 10 2009, 11:53pm

Post #14 of 14 (188 views)
Shortcut
Wild vs. Tame [In reply to] Can't Post

Perhaps the animals are servants precisely because they are domesticated--they're domestics. The wild animal rules over the tame animals. At least that's how I rationalize it.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.