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"Three Is Company" -- Let's go camping!
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Curious
Half-elven


Jun 7 2010, 4:10pm

Post #1 of 79 (754 views)
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"Three Is Company" -- Let's go camping! Can't Post

Last week I presented Book I, Chapter 2, "The Shadow of the Past," as a Wagnerian overture, full of heroic and ominous themes, and built around three dramatic revelations: this is the One Ring, Sauron knows you have it, and it can only be destroyed in Mordor. Looking at "Three Is Company," I am struck by the change in tone. Almost immediately Frodo bargains for delay in leaving the Shire, and Gandalf reluctantly agrees. Then Gandalf leaves with little explanation, and does not return in time for Frodo's departure.

Frodo cannot imagine that he is in danger in the Shire, and therefore takes no precautions against outsiders; he only takes precautions against the curiosity of his fellow hobbits, including close friends, by pretending to everyone that he is simply moving to Buckland. But he decides to walk to Buckland rather than ride.

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His plan - for pleasure and a last look at the Shire as much as any other reason - was to walk from Hobbiton to Bucklebury Ferry, taking it fairly easy.

I shall get myself a bit into training, too, he said, looking at himself in a dusty mirror in the half-empty hall. He had not done any strenuous walking for a long time, and the reflection looked rather flabby, he thought.



So after all the talk of a heroic quest against impossible odds in the preceding chapter, here Frodo treats his journey as nothing more than a camping trip. We get some clues that Frodo is being followed, though, and soon we get our first glimpse of the mysterious Black Rider.


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Round the corner came a black horse, no hobbit-pony but a full-sized horse; and on it sat a large man, who seemed to crouch in the saddle, wrapped in a great black cloak and hood, so that only his boots in the high stirrups showed below; his face was shadowed and invisible.

When it reached the tree and was level with Frodo the horse stopped. The riding figure sat quite still with its head bowed, as if listening. From inside the hood came a noise as of someone sniffing to catch an elusive scent; the head turned from side to side of the road.

A sudden unreasoning fear of discovery laid hold of Frodo, and he thought of his Ring. He hardly dared to breathe, and yet the desire to get it out of his pocket became so strong that he began slowly to move his hand. He felt that he had only to slip it on, and then he would be safe. The advice of Gandalf seemed absurd. Bilbo had used the Ring. "And I am still in the Shire," he thought, as his hand touched the chain on which it hung. At that moment the rider sat up, and shook the reins. The horse stepped forward, walking slowly at first, and then breaking into a quick trot.

Frodo crawled to the edge of the road and watched the rider, until he dwindled into the distance. He could not be quite sure, but it seemed to him that suddenly, before it passed out of sight, the horse turned aside and went into the trees on the right.



Why does the rider leave? I'm not sure there is a good explanation, but it is certainly fortunate for Frodo that he does. Perhaps it helps that this first meeting takes place in daylight. At any rate, for a while Frodo shows more caution, walking parallel to the road rather than on it. But by that very evening the hobbits are back in the center of the road noisily singing one of Bilbo's walking songs, oblivious to any threat.

Once again the Black Rider appears, this time in the dark, and Frodo is on the verge of slipping on the Ring when elves appear, driving the Black Rider away. The elves, too, sing a walking song. It is extremely fortunate that they appear at this moment, the more so since these are High Elves, and Frodo comments on this "strange chance."

Tolkien is calling our attention to this bit of fortune, and I suggest that this is a pattern throughout LotR. Rather than glossing over improbable escapes Tolkien calls our attention to them, and hints that the hobbits are under some form of mysterious protection. Frodo himself comes to believe that he is fated to reach Mount Doom, although he does not believe that the protection will extend beyond that moment; Sam's unreasoning belief goes further, and he refuses to give up hope of escaping Mordor once they accomplish their goal. In some ways, both prove correct; the hobbits are rescued, but Frodo does not escape without paying a dreadful price.

Because Frodo's fortunate escapes follow the rules Tolkien has imposed on himself in his Secondary World, they seem credible in context, even though we might reject them as incredible in the Primary World. Indeed, Gandalf relies heavily on Luck or Fate or Providence and teaches Frodo to do the same. It is an asset as real as Frodo's ability to hide or move quietly, although skeptics like Boromir and Denethor question staking the fate of the world on such mysterious forces, prophecies or no prophecies.

In The Hobbit Bilbo also learned to rely on his luck, although the tone of that story was much lighter. Here Frodo's luck might be compared to Turin's Doom, which protected Turin's life but not his sanity or his companions. Frodo is not, of course, as ill-fated as Turin, but neither is he as blessed as Bilbo or Sam. Frodo's success comes with a heavy price. Although Frodo is brave and spiritually strong, and even gains a kind of wisdom, his success cannot be attributed to him alone. Frodo is a willing instrument for Providence, a willing tool for Fate, and as such he achieves a kind of greatness himself -- but also sacrifices all that he once held dear.

In retrospect, this last summer in the Shire, followed by a last walk through the Shire, proves to be a lingering good-bye to all that Frodo holds dear. Although Frodo's delay causes him and his companions all kinds of trouble, it is hard to begrudge his reluctance to leave, especially if he has a premonition that even if he returns, he will never again be able to live a carefree life in the Shire.

The elves seem aware of these mysterious forces in Frodo's life, and reluctant to interfere, even when it seems that they should accompany Frodo and protect him from his enemies. That's not the way things work in Middle-earth, which is why Gandalf later argues against sending Glorfindel with the Fellowship and brings Merry and Pippin instead. The time of the elves has passed; if the mortals are to defeat Sauron they must do so essentially on their own, with the aid of Gandalf, who was sent to give that aid.

But what about Legolas? Legolas joins the Fellowship as a sort of witness, a token representative of his race. Legolas is by no means the most powerful elf in Middle-earth, and does not lead the expedition. Legolas is not a High Elf, let alone a leader among the High Elves like Glorfindel or Galadriel. Rather, Legolas is representative of the wood-elves who still live in Middle-earth and have no plans to leave, since they do not consider themselves Exiles. While it is true that Legolas eventually does leave, he didn't expect to do so, and he becomes an exception among his people.

The High Elves do give Frodo some supplies and gifts along the way. Glorfindel and Elrond and Galadriel offer aid and assistance, but only in a limited manner. Here, even though he knows nothing about the Ring, and isn't sure of the nature of the Black Riders, Gildor names Frodo elf-friend -- that is a powerful gift in Tolkien's Secondary World. And Gildor says he will send messages throughout the land. We know that those messages reach Rivendell, but might they also reach Bombadil? Might they also have something to do with the mysterious fog that comes from the Brandywine River and seems to give the hobbits some form of protection against the Black Riders? That's unclear. But what would seem like foolishness in the Primary World -- leaving Frodo to fend for himself against the Black Riders -- may prove to be wise in Tolkien's Secondary World.


NottaSackville
Tol Eressea

Jun 7 2010, 7:05pm

Post #2 of 79 (263 views)
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How often do the ringwraiths find a false trail? [In reply to] Can't Post

I can think of 3, maybe 4 times at least where a black rider/nazgul seems to catch the scent of the ring/investigate Frodo and then leave him alone:

1) The first encounter that you mention here
2) In the swamps with Gollumn, doesn't the unseen wraith flying overhead circle back around to them and then pass over?
3) Are the wraiths overhead at the Black Gate checking on Frodo & company?
4) The Witch King while leading his army out of Minas Morgul

Only in case #4 do I think there is even a remote explanation as to why a ringwraith would have something better to do than check out an impulse that the One Ring is nearby.

Sooooo....is it the case that "false positives" are so frequent that the ringwraiths eventually start ignoring them even when (like in the Shire), they are specifically hunting for the Ring? Or is it the case that even though they "are drawn to it", the drawing force is so weak that the wraiths can ride/fly right by the ring and not notice it?

And what would cause a false positive? One of these other magic rings that are not to be trifled with that Gandalf tells Bilbo about? The rods of the blue wizards? Queen Beruthial's cats?

Notta


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 7 2010, 7:44pm

Post #3 of 79 (299 views)
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In "The Hunt for the Ring" in Unfinished Tales [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien offers the explanation that, except for the Witch-king, all of the Nazgul tend to get confused in the sunlight. Of course, the idea that sunlight confuses them makes them sound much less intimidating. So does the idea that they can't cross running water and are frightened of fire. Really, if people stand up to them they tend to wither. But so few people do stand up to them.

I wonder Frodo exhibited more strength than expected by resisting the urge to put on the Ring. Perhaps the Nazgul called for the Ring, and when no one answered, he moved on, assuming that if no one answered he must be mistaken.

I also wonder if the Gaffer and Farmer Maggot exhibit more strength than expected when they talk back to the Nazgul. Judging by their later behavior, perhaps the Nazgul expect everyone to instantly obey their slightest command, and are taken aback when the hobbits fail to do so.

All that being said, the lack of a plausible explanation for the utter failure of the Black Riders to take the Ring somewhere between Bag End and Rivendell is a weakness in Tolkien's narrative, especially after we learn about their true nature. It isn't so apparent on a first reading, though, because we don't know about their true nature.

Regarding the encounter in the swamps with Gollum, here's how it reads:


Quote

For a moment the sight of it gladdened the hearts of the hobbits; but Gollum cowered down, muttering curses on the White Face. Then Frodo and Sam staring at the sky, breathing deeply of the fresher air, saw it come: a small cloud flying from the accursed hills; a black shadow loosed from Mordor; a vast shape winged and ominous. It scudded across the moon, and with a deadly cry went away westward, outrunning the wind in its fell speed.

They fell forward, grovelling heedlessly on the cold earth. But the shadow of horror wheeled and returned, passing lower now, right above them, sweeping the fen-reek with its ghastly wings. And then it was gone, flying back to Mordor with the speed of the wrath of Sauron; and behind it the wind roared away, leaving the Dead Marshes bare and bleak. The naked waste, as far as the eye could pierce, even to the distant menace of the mountains, was dappled with the fitful moonlight.

Frodo and Sam got up, rubbing their eyes, like children wakened from an evil dream to find the familiar night still over the world. But Gollum lay on the ground as if he had been stunned. They roused him with difficulty, and for some time he would not lift his face, but knelt forward on his elbows, covering the back of his head with his large flat hands.

"Wraiths!" he wailed. "Wraiths on wings! The Precious is their master. They see everything, everything. Nothing can hide from them. Curse the White Face! And they tell Him everything. He sees, He knows. Ach, gollum, gollum, gollum!" It was not until the moon had sunk, westering far beyond Tol Brandir, that he would get up or make a move.


Although Gollum seems convinced that the Nazgul spotted them, the text is not so clear. And based on subsequent events, it seems likely that Gollum is wrong, and that the Nazgul did not spot them, or at least did not spot the Ring.

Then when they reach the Black Gates, here's what they see:


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Frodo's head was bowed over his knees, but Sam leaned back, with hands behind his head, staring out of his hood at the empty sky. At least for a long while it was empty. Then presently Sam thought he saw a dark bird-like figure wheel into the circle of his sight, and hover, and then wheel away again. Two more followed, and then a fourth. They were very small to look at, yet he knew, somehow, that they were huge, with a vast stretch of pinion, flying at a great height. He covered his eyes and bent forward, cowering. The same warning fear was on him as he had felt in the presence of the Black Riders, the helpless horror that had come with the cry in the wind and the shadow on the moon, though now it was not so crushing or compelling: the menace was more remote. But menace it was. Frodo felt it too. His thought was broken. He stirred and shivered, but he did not look up. Gollum huddled himself together like a cornered spider. The winged shapes wheeled, and stooped swiftly down, speeding back to Mordor.

Sam took a deep breath. "The Riders are about again, up in the air," he said in a hoarse whisper. "I saw them. Do you think they could see us? They were very high up. And if they are Black Riders same as before, then they can't see much by daylight, can they?"

"No, perhaps not," said Frodo. "But their steeds could see. And these winged creatures that they ride on now, they can probably see more than any other creature. They are like great carrion birds. They are looking for something: the Enemy is on the watch, I fear."

The feeling of dread passed, but the enfolding silence was broken. For some time they had been cut off from the world, as if in an invisible island; now they were laid bare again, peril had returned. But still Frodo did not speak to Gollum or make his choice. His eyes were closed, as if he were dreaming, or looking inward into his heart and memory. At last he stirred and stood up, and it seemed that he was about to speak and to decide. But "hark!" he said. "What is that?"

A new fear was upon them. They heard singing and hoarse shouting. At first it seemed a long way off, but it drew nearer: it was coming towards them. It leaped into all their minds that the Black Wings had spied them and had sent armed soldiers to seize them: no speed seemed too great for these terrible servants of Sauron. They crouched, listening. The voices and the clink of weapons and harness were very close. Frodo and Sam loosened their small swords in their sheaths. Flight was impossible.

Gollum rose slowly and crawled insect-like to the lip of the hollow. Very cautiously he raised himself inch by inch, until he could peer over it between two broken points of stone. He remained there without moving for some time, making no sound. Presently the voices began to recede again, and then they slowly faded away. Far off a horn blew on the ramparts of the Morannon. Then quietly Gollum drew back and slipped down into the hollow.

"More Men going to Mordor," he said in a low voice.


Again, it seems to be a false alarm, especially since no one comes after them and Sauron seemingly does not suspect their presence or their mission until it is too late.

And as you note, the Witch-king really is too preoccupied to act upon his suspicions in Morgul Vale, although he does send a warning up to the Tower of Cirith Ungol.


Seven Fathers
Registered User

Jun 7 2010, 9:34pm

Post #4 of 79 (255 views)
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Nazgul or Aragorn [In reply to] Can't Post

I always wondered if it was Aragorn or one of the Nazgul who have that conversation with the Gaffer that you mentioned. You seem sure it was a Nazgul. Is that because you know the path that Aragorn has taken before meeting up with the hobbits?


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Jun 7 2010, 9:46pm

Post #5 of 79 (284 views)
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Aragorn did not dress in all black. Also he would not be asking for Baggins. [In reply to] Can't Post

 Also Aragorn was on foot.

Kangi Ska

At night one cannot tell if crows are black or white.

Kang Ska

(This post was edited by Kangi Ska on Jun 7 2010, 9:47pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 7 2010, 10:09pm

Post #6 of 79 (312 views)
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I've never heard that theory before. [In reply to] Can't Post

Have you read "The Hunt for the Ring" in Unfinished Tales? It clarifies the actions of the Nazgul and the Rangers during this time, and if I recall correctly it makes it pretty clear that it was a Nazgul who questioned the Gaffer. But honestly, it never occurred to me that it was Aragorn.

The Rangers seem reluctant to enter the Shire, even though they protect its borders and visit Bree. When he becomes king Aragorn prohibits men from entering the Shire. He seems to consider it important to respect the borders of the Shire, even though he could lay claim to the Shire as part of his Northern Kingdom. Even if I had no other evidence that it was the Nazgul, it just doesn't seem like Aragorn would enter the Shire and question the Gaffer.

When we do reach Bree Tolkien purposely makes Aragorn seem sinister, as if he might be a Black Rider or in league with the Black Riders. So if Aragorn were in the vicinity and on horseback I could see how someone could confuse him for a Black Rider. But I don't think he was.

Furthermore, Aragorn is the world's best tracker. If he had been in Hobbiton, why wouldn't he then track down Frodo (and protect him from the Black Riders) long before Bree?


Seven Fathers
Registered User

Jun 7 2010, 11:25pm

Post #7 of 79 (206 views)
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I thought it was a Nazgul, but never could be sure [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Have you read "The Hunt for the Ring" in Unfinished Tales? It clarifies the actions of the Nazgul and the Rangers during this time, and if I recall correctly it makes it pretty clear that it was a Nazgul who questioned the Gaffer. But honestly, it never occurred to me that it was Aragorn.


Honestly, I have only read the Unfinished Tales once and it was quite some time ago. I will go back and read at least that part of it again though. Thanks.

In Reply To
Furthermore, Aragorn is the world's best tracker. If he had been in Hobbiton, why wouldn't he then track down Frodo (and protect him from the Black Riders) long before Bree?

I think Aragorn would have had a difficult time if he believed the Gaffer, who told him that Frodo had already left, when in fact Frodo had not. I suppose the possibility occured to me because of the way the Gaffer responds to the black rider and then describes him to Sam. He doesn't sound scary enough to be a Nazgul. Plus what you mentioned about the way Aragorn is portrayed when we are introduced to him in Bree.


Seven Fathers
Registered User

Jun 7 2010, 11:36pm

Post #8 of 79 (300 views)
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true... [In reply to] Can't Post

...particularly about the horse. You are right that he might have asked for Frodo instead of Baggins and was wearing dark green instead of black. All good points.


Desicon9
Bree

Jun 8 2010, 3:55am

Post #9 of 79 (443 views)
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Another reason for assuming Nazgul, not Aragorn... [In reply to] Can't Post

A bit later in the FotR narrative, Sam Gamgee seems in no doubt that the visitor to Bagshot Row was a Black Rider (not yet identified as a Nazgul): " 'There are some Men about,' said Frodo. 'Down in the Southfarthing they have had trouble with Big People, I believe. But I have never heard of anything like this rider. I wonder where he comes from.'

'Begging your pardon,' put in Sam suddenly, 'I know where he comes from. It's from Hobbiton that this here black rider comes, unless there's more than one. And I know where he's going to.' " (FotR "Three is Company" p 112, paperback version)

Here Sam tells us that, in his last conversation with the Gaffer, the old hobbit mentioned the characteristic Nazgul "hissing," the same "hissing" that Farmer Maggot attributes to the Black Rider he met: "He gave a sort of hiss."

Aragorn, I think, never "hisses" in the LotR? So I believe JRRT has left us enough clues to be fairly sure that the Black Rider at Hobbiton, the one in Maggot's lane, and the "snuffling" form on the Bucklebury ferry-dock are the same type of creature. "Hissing," "snuffling," and frightening dogs/ geese -- doesn't sound like Aragorn, does it?


beren_boy
Registered User

Jun 8 2010, 4:58am

Post #10 of 79 (428 views)
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Black Riders and Fear [In reply to] Can't Post

Not really on any of the points that you were talking about but.....

On Black Riders: "Really, if people stand up to them they tend to wither. But so few people do stand up to them."

When I read this comment it suddenly reminded me of another quote: "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself".

The Black Riders are in many way a manifestation of the idea of utter fear, but i'd never really thought about them in terms of them representing fear as an idea before. Like most things, if you stand up to what you are afriad of it turns out that it was not as scary or undefeatable as you imagined. Are there any references of Tolkien regarding the Black Riders as metaphors of this idea? That when we stand up to our fear, instead of cowering, we are likely to defeat that fear? I can't think of anything off the top of my head but its been a while since I read any of his letters etc.
It would seem to fit into the theme of the meek confronting the mighty also...

To bring it on topic.... I wonder if the fact that the Black Riders are thrown in the Shire is not down to two things.... ignorance and being comfortable in their place. If we take it that the Riders powers over one increase in proportion to fear of them, then in the Shire, not really knowing what they are, the Hobbits could have been somehow 'cloaked' in their ignorance and unfearfulness.



sador
Half-elven


Jun 8 2010, 7:31am

Post #11 of 79 (206 views)
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Well, Aragorn first got at the Hobbits [In reply to] Can't Post

By eavesdropping by the side of the road, and then climbing over the Gate after old Harry let them in.
It is sinsiter enough without having him questioning the Gaffer.

A fair warning: I am a nitpicker by taste, talents and profession.

"When Tolkien took me off on the big adventure I was enthralled. By the time he brought me back. I had returned home from Viet Nam and things had changed... at last things looked like they were going to change for the better. But my little town was gone. It was part of the world now."
- Kangi Ska.



sador
Half-elven


Jun 8 2010, 7:33am

Post #12 of 79 (304 views)
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The nearest escape came later [In reply to] Can't Post

When Frodo and Sam escaped from Cirith Ungol, a Nazgul was perching on the top of the Tower, giving orders about the pursuit. Missing the Ring at that stage (in Mordor itself!) is a very poor achievement.

A fair warning: I am a nitpicker by taste, talents and profession.

"When Tolkien took me off on the big adventure I was enthralled. By the time he brought me back. I had returned home from Viet Nam and things had changed... at last things looked like they were going to change for the better. But my little town was gone. It was part of the world now."
- Kangi Ska.



dormouse
Half-elven

Jun 8 2010, 8:35am

Post #13 of 79 (402 views)
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I think Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

... achieved something very subtle in the way he described the Riders. They are figures out of nightmare - even on first reading, when you don't have a clue what they are, you know that they're evil and yet they don't actually do anything terrible. The Rider doesn't take the Gaffer by the throat and threaten him with a knife, he just asks him questions. Same with Farmer Maggot. They evoke fear in the smaller details - the hoods and cloaks that leave no face visible, the tendency to stoop, the hissing - above all, I'd say, the sniffing, because that makes them animal rather than human. It tells you that whatever this is, it isn't an ordinary man, and in that uncertainty lies the fear.

I've never thought of it as a weakness that the Riders fail to catch Frodo before he reaches Rivendell, simply a result of the size and complexity of the landscape and the hobbits' skill in hiding. I'm no hobbit, but if I were to walk across country from here to the nearest small town - about 8 miles - I doubt if someone on horseback could find me, particularly if he couldn't see and was relying on scent and his horse. On the Road the Riders may gain speed from their horses, but at the same time the horse does limit where they can go. They don't seem to feel the Ring unless it's very near, but as for being intimidating.... Tolkien gives us two instances where I'd say you wouldn't question how terrifying they can be. The first is when they close around the house at Crickhollow - I doubt if standing up to them would have done any good there. The second is Weathertop.


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 8 2010, 11:02am

Post #14 of 79 (231 views)
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It's not the failure to catch Frodo, [In reply to] Can't Post

it's the lack of a plausible explanation for that failure that sometimes bugs me, especially after Aragorn builds up the Nazgul as these terrible enemies who have spies throughout the land and are attracted to the Ring. But of course Aragorn's words come later, so at this point we wouldn't know that the Black Riders should be doing any better. It becomes especially obvious to me when I read "The Hunt for the Ring" in Unfinished Tales, and Tolkien himself has a hard time explaining Nazgul incompetence.

Tolkien actually does a good job of glossing over it in the text of LotR, so maybe I shouldn't be so hard on him. Plus, the luck of the hobbits between the Shire and Rivendell is consistent with their luck between Rivendell and Mount Doom. They are remarkably lucky throughout the quest, and it is remarkable that Tolkien makes their luck seem mostly plausible, in part by hinting that Someone is protecting them, and that their luck is more than just luck.


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 8 2010, 11:41am

Post #15 of 79 (222 views)
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Yes, although [In reply to] Can't Post

Mordor was the last place the Nazgul expected to find the Ring.


NottaSackville
Tol Eressea

Jun 8 2010, 12:15pm

Post #16 of 79 (224 views)
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I can actually buy Tolkien's explanation [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the additional information...

If we think of the Nazgul as basically embodiments of fear, then I completely buy the idea of sunlight and fire wreaking havoc with them. After all, the absolute terrors of the night seem silly in the daylight (or a child's nightlight), and a campfire at night often holds the fearful forest at bay.

It also helps helps explain why they seem so ineffective when the meet the slightest resistance. If you're a one trick pony (fear), and your trick didn't work, what are you going to do, yell BOO louder? That hardly ever works.

I think beren_boy's suggestion goes well with this theme. The Shire is presented to us as this idealized and happy child-like Victorian England. Perhaps they aren't so easily scared by the Black Riders simply because it doesn't occur to them that something scary should be walking about!

I also like your explanation (that they simply expect to be obeyed, and don't consider that they might now be) about why the riders might pass on when Frodo doesn't put the ring on. However, it still leaves the question about the false positives. If they think the ring might be near by, and are easily willing to believe they are incorrect about that, then we have to assume there's a plausible (to them) explanation why they were wrong. One wonders what is lying all about the countryside like One Ring Lodestones.

Notta


NottaSackville
Tol Eressea

Jun 8 2010, 12:16pm

Post #17 of 79 (194 views)
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I like that [In reply to] Can't Post

The idea that the Shire residents aren't so scared of the Nazgul simply because it doesn't occur to them (in their happy little Shire) that they should be. That's pretty good!

Notta


dormouse
Half-elven

Jun 8 2010, 1:02pm

Post #18 of 79 (205 views)
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Yes, [In reply to] Can't Post

...maybe it's just me, but I find the nature of the landscape itself, particularly on the journey as far as Bree, plausible explanation enough. The folds and rises, hedgerows, woodlands, riverbeds and so on offer so much more scope for a traveller on foot to go unseen if he knows he needs to - particularly if he's a hobbit and has a hobbit's skill in hiding. And if the pursuit is on horseback, which limits where it can go and gives a degree of advanced warning. Beyond the Breeland the hobbits had the benefit of Aragorn's skills and his knowledge of the terrain.

The Riders' ability to sense the Ring didn't seem to apply unless they were quite near - I think it would have taken a lot of luck for them to capture Frodo and, as you say, the luck was on his side.


Twit
Lorien

Jun 8 2010, 1:31pm

Post #19 of 79 (204 views)
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yes [In reply to] Can't Post

it's almost as if the land is helping the Hobbits, dulling the black riders senses a little as it is such a happy joyful innocent land so that their power is not so powerful. Perhaps the Hobbits 'innocence' shields the Ring and makes it less potent? The more they learn about and experience hardship etc the more the Ring takes hold.


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 8 2010, 4:10pm

Post #20 of 79 (259 views)
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Hobbits rush in where wizards fear to tread? [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe, although when taken out of their comfort zone the hobbits can become quite fearful and timid. But perhaps the Gaffer and Farmer Maggot were in their comfort zone, and also the Nazgul may have been under instructions to remain relatively inconspicuous, both literally and figuratively cloaked -- although they are not very well suited for an inconspicuous role. I suppose if there were any place where I would exhibit bravery, it would be on my own doorstep, protecting my home.

Your theory may also explain why Gandalf and Aragorn and the Elves don't tell the hobbits much of what they know about the forces of the Enemy. Perhaps they sense that the ignorance of the hobbits gives them courage, and that too much information might just paralyze them with fear. Of course, that same ignorance often leads the hobbits into trouble. But when it comes down to it, Gandalf trusts that Someone will protect the ignorant hobbits, and Aragorn and the Elves trust Gandalf.

Gandalf also thinks he will be accompanying Frodo, but if so he is twice disabused of that belief, once when Saruman captures him and again when he falls in Moria. After that, Gandalf seems to accept the idea that he should not try to catch up to Frodo, but instead works to distract the attention of Sauron. Similarly, Aragorn parts from Frodo and Sam to rescue Merry and Pippin, and later accepts and builds upon Gandalf's plan to distract Sauron. But neither of them try to educate Frodo about the impossible task he faces, and so he ends up muddling through on his own, with the help of the equally-ignorant Sam and the treacherous Gollum.


CuriousG
Valinor


Jun 8 2010, 5:10pm

Post #21 of 79 (224 views)
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Saruman acting a little wimpy; more on the Nazgul [In reply to] Can't Post

While we ponder why the Nazgul aren't more forceful, what about Saruman? He comes upon only 3 people on the edge of Fangorn, Aragorn, Gimli, and Legolas, because he wants a first-hand view of what's going on with the captured hobbits. Yet all Aragorn has to do to scare him away is to offer him a place at their fire. Why doesn't Saruman recognize them as his enemies and do something dastardly to them? Or use his Voice on them? Or something?

He had a palantir, so presumably he knew who they were, or at least that they'd been traveling with Frodo. Then again, he had a palantir, so why did he even need to do field scouting when he could presumably watch the Uruk-hai's kidnapping from his living room? And if he did figure that he could do something in person (such as scare off or beguile the Mordor orcs so he could get the Ring), that means he felt powerful enough to be there. So again, why get spooked by Aragorn and his 2 followers? I've never figured this one out.

Back to the Nazgul:
1. I'm not sure their horses were an impediment in tracking the hobbits after Weathertop, since the hobbits were obliged to go only where Bill the pony could go with a sick Frodo riding him. That should have equalized their ability to cross the terrain.

2. Even though they failed to capture Frodo or prevent him from reaching Rivendell, why do you suppose Sauron didn't send the Nazgul out again, once re-embodied, to pursue the Fellowship? They didn't even try, but they had traveled as far as Hobbiton before, so a new journey to eastern Eriador should have been easier since it was closer. Did Sauron think his Worgs would recover the Ring for him, or the Watcher in the water, or the Moria orcs and/or Balrog? After the Nazgul have traveled as far as Erebor and Hobbiton to get the Ring when they don't even know where it is for sure, why not pursue the Ring-Bearer when they definitely know what he looks like and where he ended up? It seems Sauron dropped the ball on this one, though as we've noted before, he wasn't super-intelligent and did make mistakes.


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Jun 8 2010, 5:42pm

Post #22 of 79 (162 views)
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Are you absolutly certain that was Saruman at Fangorn's edge?// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Kangi Ska

At night one cannot tell if crows are black or white.

Kang Ska

(This post was edited by Kangi Ska on Jun 8 2010, 5:43pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 8 2010, 5:43pm

Post #23 of 79 (209 views)
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The palantir has disadvantages. [In reply to] Can't Post

Saruman is still keeping the captured hobbits secret from Sauron, remember? He wouldn't want to use the palantir.

But what magic he did use is a mystery. He leaves no track, and disappears instantly, so it seems likely that he was not there in the flesh, and never really left Isengard. That might explain why he doesn't take further action against the man, elf, and dwarf he finds there.

Also, at this point, Saruman had a tendency to rely on his new armies, but when he arrived on this scene he found his army slaughtered. So he didn't stick around to talk.

I should note that in the drafts of LotR, I think the mysterious figure once was supposed to be Gandalf the White, and then in a later draft Gandalf denied that it was him. So to some extent the figure in the night is a vestige of an earlier draft. But still, Tolkien did leave it in, so apparently he thought it was plausible that Saruman, rather than Gandalf, appeared that night.

I think this appearance of Saruman is like the disappearing were-wargs outside of Moria -- a mystery that is never quite explained, but is still somewhat plausible in a world full of magic. And it's so ambiguous that we don't even know if magic was involved.

As for why the Nazgul did not resume the hunt, where were they to look? It took them months to return to Mordor, and by then who knew where the Ring could be found, or the hobbits? As soon as Sauron learned, or thought he learned, that Saruman had a hobbit, he sent a Nazgul to investigate. Presumably he would have done the same before or after if he knew where to send the Nazgul, but he did not know where to send them.

Later, it's odd that Sauron does not make a connection between the captured hobbit on his borders and the Ring, but the Ring was not found on Frodo, and by then Sauron was apparently convinced that Aragorn had it. And perhaps Frodo did not reveal his surname. Even so, Sauron again sends one of the Nazgul to investigate -- but by then Frodo and Sam had escaped.


Curious
Half-elven


Jun 8 2010, 6:05pm

Post #24 of 79 (197 views)
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Gandalf denies that it was him. [In reply to] Can't Post

"'Wait a minute!' cried Gimli. 'There is another thing that I should like to know first. Was it you, Gandalf, or Saruman that we saw last night?'

"'You certainly did not see me,' answered Gandalf, 'therefore I must guess that you saw Saruman. Evidently we look so much alike that your desire to make an incurable dent in my hat must be excused.'"

From "The White Rider."


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


Jun 8 2010, 8:15pm

Post #25 of 79 (152 views)
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You trust someone who could not remember his own name?// [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Kangi Ska

At night one cannot tell if crows are black or white.

Kang Ska

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