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Flies & Spiders III: Butterflies and Treetops

Dreamdeer
Valinor


May 12 2009, 3:16pm


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Flies & Spiders III: Butterflies and Treetops Can't Post

III. Butterflies and Treetops–Tuesday Morning, May 12, 2009, Morning

“About four days from the enchanted stream they came to a part where most of the trees were beeches. They were at first inclined to be cheered by the change, for here there was no undergrowth and the shadow was not so deep. There was a greenish light about them, and in places they could see some distance to either side of the path. Yet the light only showed them endless lines of straight grey trunks like the pillars of some huge twilight hall. There was a breath of wind and a noise of wind, but it had a sad sound. A few leaves came rustling down to remind them that outside autumn was coming on. Their feet ruffled among the dead leaves of countless other autumns that drifted over the banks of the path from the deep red carpets of the forest.”

(Feel free, if you wish, to ignore the following questions and instead tell us what you like, dislike, or notice about this scene with Bilbo climbing the tree to scout the land.)

1. Can you relate to similar experiences, where a welcome change of pace in turn becomes tedious? And/or, what might it signify in Bilbo’s journey towards personal growth? When light finally begins to come into our lives after a long darkness, only to reveal that one has still farther to go, what various ways might one react?

“At times they heard disquieting laughter. Sometimes there was singing in the distance, too. The laughter was the laughter of fair voices not of goblins, and the singing was beautiful, but it sounded eerie and strange, and they were not comforted, rather they hurried on from those parts with what strength the had left.”

2. We will come back to these eerie songs and laughter later. For now, how do these sounds add to the atmosphere? What aspect of the Shadow might they point towards? In the journey towards becoming a fuller person, what sort of things might simultaneously seem beautiful and frightening to us?

They’re still carrying Bombur, by the way, and getting mighty sick of it. (More on Bombur later.) Now they move on to an oak forest, after going downhill for awhile.:

The dwarves select Bilbo, as the lightest person present, to climb to the top of the trees for reconnaissance.

3. So once-fat Bilbo is now the lightest among them? Consider that fat is unrealized potential energy, now fueling action for the first time in years. Bilbo is now giving out more than he’s taking in. Once again, Bilbo has been selected as the optimum person for a task. What do you make of these changes in our hobbit?

He has a pretty miserable time getting up to the top, and then finds the light blinding...but then he finds the view well worth the climb and doesn’t want to come down!
“...he saw all around him a sea of dark green, ruffled here and there by the breeze; and there were everywhere hundreds of butterflyies. I expect that they were a kind of ‘purple emperor’, a butterfly that loves the tops of oak-woods, but these were not purple at all. They were dark dark velvety black without any markings to be seen.”

4. Consider this stage of our hero’s journey. Through difficulty, he climbs to a point where he’s blinded by the light. But once he gets there, he loves the beauty and the fresh air so much that he doesn’t want to come down again. What might this signify in terms of Bilbo’s growth as a person? Have you had any similar experience?

5. What might butterflies symbolize? You might draw from mythology, or folklore (including pop folklore) or your own personal knowledge about butterflies. And what black butterflies might flutter forth from the Shadow?

Bilbo enjoys watching the butterflies with the refreshing breeze in his face, but eventually, grudgingly, climbs down again because the dwarves keep hollering for him. Our hobbit reports back that he saw no end of the forest in sight. The narrator tells us that he failed to realize that he was, in fact, in the bottom of a valley, that created an illusion of endless forest. The dwarves teeter on the brink of despair at the news.

6. On the purely practical level, shouldn’t the dwarves and/or Bilbo have figured this out by the fact that they’ve been walking downhill? Or does that sort of thing occur to people unfamiliar with the wilderness? Would you have thought of it? Does the Narrator seem more exasperated or more sympathetic to their lack of observation?

7. How common is it to think that a situation is hopeless or endless, when in fact one is merely in a valley that one temporarily can’t see beyond? How does such an experience affect us on our journey towards personal growth? Consciously or unconsciously, what might Tolkien have thought of such a situation spiritually?

8. How might remembering such a tale, consciously or unconsciously, affect the reader in her own time of wandering in a valley?

9. The dwarves are “too heavy to climb up and feel” the breeze on their faces or to see the butterflies, and this frustrates them. On the psychological/spiritual level, what might make some people too heavy to climb up to get relief in their valley-journey, and how might this apply to the dwarves? In what sense besides the physical might Bilbo be lighter? Tolkien says that the dwarves “did not care tuppence about butterflies”–could this have something to do with their heaviness? If so, explain.

10. Why do the dwarves cry out, “What is the use of sending a hobbit!” ?

11. Any other thoughts on this passage?

(I also invite pictures of beech forests. Oak forests, forest top-views, purple emperors, black butterflies, and/or anything else that seems applicable. Within reasonable size, of course.)

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!

(This post was edited by Hengist on May 12 2009, 4:18pm)

Subject User Time
Flies & Spiders III: Butterflies and Treetops Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 12 2009, 3:16pm
    “Fly away/ High away/ Bye-bye.” GaladrielTX Send a private message to GaladrielTX May 12 2009, 5:33pm
        "Vampire bats are free to fly.” Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 12 2009, 6:07pm
    I have little experience with beeches Beren IV Send a private message to Beren IV May 12 2009, 7:33pm
        Your answer intrigues me! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 12 2009, 7:38pm
    Thoughts. Curious Send a private message to Curious May 12 2009, 8:15pm
        Thought-Provoking! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 12 2009, 9:33pm
        Nice pictures! dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn May 16 2009, 3:18am
    Just a few thougths simplyaven Send a private message to simplyaven May 13 2009, 2:59am
        That is so beautiful! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 13 2009, 3:45pm
    spooky! batik Send a private message to batik May 13 2009, 4:04am
    here goes Twit Send a private message to Twit May 13 2009, 11:10am
        More about beeches Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 13 2009, 3:51pm
        This is not exactly true simplyaven Send a private message to simplyaven May 15 2009, 3:05am
            Hmmm... Eowyn of Penns Woods Send a private message to Eowyn of Penns Woods May 15 2009, 5:02am
                F. Sylvatica is not native here simplyaven Send a private message to simplyaven May 15 2009, 2:07pm
                    Tolkien has a habit Eowyn of Penns Woods Send a private message to Eowyn of Penns Woods May 15 2009, 6:57pm
                        Absolutely right! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 15 2009, 7:22pm
                            Well, blueberries might be pushing it a bit... FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome May 15 2009, 7:55pm
                                Bilberries? Thank you! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 15 2009, 8:11pm
                                    Nothing to sneeze at... dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn May 16 2009, 2:59am
                                        Ironically... Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 16 2009, 2:10pm
            I am happy to be corrected Twit Send a private message to Twit May 15 2009, 8:25am
                I just wrote about England and F. Sylvatica in my post above. // simplyaven Send a private message to simplyaven May 15 2009, 2:09pm
                I'd have said the same as you. FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome May 15 2009, 8:29pm
                    Marvelous! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 15 2009, 10:54pm
                        I've always imagined Eowyn of Penns Woods Send a private message to Eowyn of Penns Woods May 16 2009, 3:10am
                    Thanks. GaladrielTX Send a private message to GaladrielTX May 16 2009, 12:21am
                    Yes Twit Send a private message to Twit May 16 2009, 12:45pm
    Sorry guys! TolkienJackson Send a private message to TolkienJackson May 13 2009, 2:13pm
        Perfectly all right! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 13 2009, 3:53pm
            Oh! Thanks! TolkienJackson Send a private message to TolkienJackson May 13 2009, 4:03pm
    "An adventure? Bah!" said Bilbo. "Humbug!" Darkstone Send a private message to Darkstone May 13 2009, 9:20pm
        Ho ho ho! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 13 2009, 10:14pm
    A few answers sador Send a private message to sador May 14 2009, 7:08am
        Many terrific observations! Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 14 2009, 1:24pm
    A few quick answers FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome May 14 2009, 6:30pm
        Quality surpasses quantity Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 14 2009, 7:24pm
        Wonderful! sador Send a private message to sador May 15 2009, 6:13am
            Agreed! dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn May 16 2009, 3:43am
    My own answers Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 14 2009, 11:06pm
    Sixes and Sevens SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC May 16 2009, 3:39am
    If no one else will Spellorama... Dreamdeer Send a private message to Dreamdeer May 17 2009, 1:58am

 
 
 

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