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I have a small birthday gift for you all today (not a mathom,


Feb 23 2007, 3:55pm

Views: 477
I have a small birthday gift for you all today (not a mathom, Can't Post

by the way, because I created it for this purpose). We have scrutinized almost every word of LotR in the Reading Room, but I do not recall much discussion of the Table of Contents. So here it is, along with my comments. Feel free to add your own.

Foreword 4
Prologue 7
1. Concerning Hobbits 7
2. Concerning Pipe-weed 12
3. Of the Ordering of the Shire 12
4. Of the Finding of the Ring 14
Book I 18
Chapter 1 A Long-Expected Party 18
Chapter 2 The Shadow of the Past 32
Chapter 3 Three is Company 48
Chapter 4 A Short Cut to Mushrooms 62
Chapter 5 A Conspiracy Unmasked 70
Chapter 6 The Old Forest 78
Chapter 7 In the House of Tom Bombadil 88
Chapter 8 Fog on the Barrow-Downs 97
Chapter 9 At the Sign of the Prancing Pony 107
Chapter 10 Strider 118
Chapter 11 A Knife in the Dark 127
Chapter 12 Flight to the Ford 143
Book II 157
Chapter 1 Many Meetings 157
Chapter 2 The Council of Elrond 173
Chapter 3 The Ring Goes South 197
Chapter 4 A Journey in the Dark 214
Chapter 5 The Bridge of Khazad-dum 232
Chapter 6 Lothlorien 241
Chapter 7 The Mirror of Galadriel 256
Chapter 8 Farewell to Lorien 267
Chapter 9 The Great River 276
Chapter 10 The Breaking of the Fellowship 287
Book III 297
Chapter 1 The Departure of Boromir 297
Chapter 2 The Riders of Rohan 302
Chapter 3 The Uruk-Hai 317
Chapter 4 Treebeard 328
Chapter 5 The White Rider 345
Chapter 6 The King of the Golden Hall 357
Chapter 7 Helm's Deep 370
Chapter 8 The Road to Isengard 381
Chapter 9 Flotsam and Jetsam 391
Chapter 10 The Voice of Saruman 402
Chapter 11 The Palantir 410
Book IV 419
Chapter 1 The Taming of Smeagol 419
Chapter 2 The Passage of the Marshes 432
Chapter 3 The Black Gate is Closed 444
Chapter 4 Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit 453
Chapter 5 The Window on the West 464
Chapter 6 The Forbidden Pool 479
Chapter 7 Journey to the Cross-roads 487
Chapter 8 The Stairs of Cirith Ungol 494
Chapter 9 Shelob's Lair 504
Chapter 10 The Choices of Master Samwise 512
Book V 523
Chapter 1 Minas Tirith 523
Chapter 2 The Passing of the Grey Company 542
Chapter 3 The Muster of Rohan 555
Chapter 4 The Siege of Gondor 566
Chapter 5 The Ride of the Rohirrim 584
Chapter 6 The Battle of the Pelennor Fields 591
Chapter 7 The Pyre of Denethor 600
Chapter 8 The Houses of Healing 606
Chapter 9 The Last Debate 616
Chapter 10 The Black Gate Opens 624
Book VI 632
Chapter 1 The Tower of Cirith Ungol 632
Chapter 2 The Land of Shadow 644
Chapter 3 Mount Doom 654
Chapter 4 The Field of Cormallen 664
Chapter 5 The Steward and the King 670
Chapter 6 Many Partings 680
Chapter 7 Homeward Bound 690
Chapter 8 The Scouring of the Shire 695
Chapter 9 The Grey Havens 709
(i) NUMENOR 717
Here follows one of the last notes in the Red Book 757
Appendix B The Tale of Years (Chronology of the Westlands) 758
The Second Age 758
The Third Age 759
Appendix C Family Trees 769
Appendix D 774
Appendix F 791

This is a long table of contents, as such tables go. And much of it is taken up by the items that come before Book 1, Chapter 1, and after Book VI, Chapter 9. The whole thing looks rather serious for a work of fiction, don't you think? And even more so for a fantasy or fairy tale, a sequel to a children's book? Even the nineteen chapters of The Hobbit were rather long for a children's book, and this dwarfs that table (no pun intended).

I wonder how many readers start with Book I, Chapter 1, and how many read through everything that comes before the beginning of the story? If you read the Prologue carefully, it becomes quite obvious that at least some of the heroes, although perhaps not all, will survive the tale, and that the Shire itself will survive. After all, LotR is presented as a memoir, just as The Hobbit was. And if you read the Table of Contents for Book VI, it also reveals that someone will apparently reach "Mount Doom" and then later will be "Homeward Bound" for "The Scouring of the Shire," whatever that means. Of course some readers might not get to the table for Book VI until after reading Books I-IV, at least, but still there is the Prologue. So why does Tolkien give away so much? Why is the Prologue filled with spoilers?

I suggest that Tolkien maintains suspense in two ways. Until the unmaking of the Ring, i.e. the climax of the tale, he maintains suspense by creating what seems to be an impossible quest, then gradually revealing how the impossible becomes possible. The mystery becomes not whether Frodo and his companions will succeed, but how Tolkien can possibly make their success plausible. After the unmaking of the Ring, which happens only a short way into Book VI, Tolkien creates a long denouement (literally and unwinding or unknotting) in which Tolkien untangles and resolves all the complications he created in Books I-V, including the surprising resolution of Frodo's own plight.

Furthermore the spoilers in the Prologue, and many spoilers throughout the book, act as a bit of misdirection, strongly implying a traditional happy ending, instead of the bittersweet result. Bittersweet for everyone, I would say, since not only must Frodo and Gandalf and the Elves say good-bye to Middle-earth, but Middle-earth and Aragorn and the other hobbits must say good-bye to Frodo and Gandalf and the Elves.

Note how carefully Tolkien chooses his chapter titles to create interest without revealing too much, and even creating misdirection. "A Long-Expected Party" is an obvious reference to the opening of The Hobbit. "The Shadow of the Past" is a phrase that usually is meant metaphorically, but here the Shadow might be quite literal. "Three is Company" may be a play on the old phrase "two is company, three is a crowd." Here four is a crowd -- i.e. the three hobbits plus the mysterious Black Rider. "A Short Cut to Mushrooms" glosses over the hobbits' desparate attempt to escape the Black Rider. "A Conspiracy Unmasked" sounds much more sinister than it is.

Starting with Book I, Chapter 6, we get a series of names of places and people. "The Old Forest," "Fog on the Barrow-Downs," and "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony" do not even hint at the dangers the hobbits face in those chapters. The unfamiliar "Bombadil" and "Strider" sound more sinister, frankly, but both turn out to be friends. "A Knife In the Dark" sounds sinister and is, but still raises more questions than it answers. Whose knife? Who wields it? Whom does it hit? To what effect? Similarly, "Flight to the Ford" sounds scary, but doesn't reveal the dramatic result of the flight, or even who is pursuing whom.

"Many Meetings" has a counterpart in Book VI, "Many Partings." These two chapters could be considered the bookends of the core adventure, the one that begins and ends in Rivendell. Book I is something of a prelude to that adventure, and the last three chapters of Book VI something of a postlude set up by Book I. Again, the chapter title "Many Meetings" gives away very little, least of all the presence of Gandalf. "The Council of Elrond" and "The Ring Goes South" may be the most straightforward chapter titles, but even here Tolkien does not say that Frodo goes south with the Ring.

I could go on like this, but I have more points to make about the table. I urge you to consider, though, how much thought Tolkien put into his chapter titles, and why he chose those particular titles.

I’ll use Book II to illustrate the rhythm of LotR. “Many Meetings” – rest and recuperation. “The Council of Elrond” – discussion and exposition. “The Ring Goes South” – transition. “A Journey in the Dark” – the tension builds. “The Bridge of Khazad-dum” – climactic action. “Lothlorien” – rest and recuperation. “The Mirror of Galadriel” – discussion and exposition. “Farewell to Lorien” – transition. “The Great River” – the tension builds. “The Breaking of the Fellowship” – climactic action.

In Book I the climactic action comes in Chapters 6 and 8 (“The Old Forest” and “Fog on the Barrow-Downs”) and Chapters 11 and 12 (“A Knife in the Dark” and “Flight to the Ford”). In Book III the climactic action comes in Chapters 7 (“Helm’s Deep”) and 11 (“The Palantir”). In Book IV the suspense builds for eight chapters, and the climactic action comes in Chapters 9 and 10 (“Shelob’s Lair” and“The Choices of Master Samwise”). In Book V the climactic action comes in Chapters 6 and 10 (“The Battle of the Pelennor Fields” and “The Black Gate Opens”). In Book VI the climactic action comes in Chapters 3 and 8 (“Mount Doom” and “The Scouring of the Shire”), while the final resolution comes in Chapter 9 (“The Grey Havens”).
In between all the climactic chapters Tolkien leaves plenty of time for rest and recuperation, discussion and exposition, transition, and the building of tension. Yet each adventure builds on the past adventures, so that when we look at the hobbits in the Scouring of the Shire we are amazed at how much they have grown.

I wish I could say more, because there is plenty to say. In a sense the Table of Contents is an outline of the whole story, and shows us a great deal about the pattern of that story. And LotR does have a pattern. But I’m afraid Real Life beckons, so I hope you have enjoyed what I have already written. Happy Birthday to you all!

Subject User Time
I have a small birthday gift for you all today (not a mathom, Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 23 2007, 3:55pm
    Many Happy Returns! And - "small" is not in your vocabulary! dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Feb 23 2007, 4:55pm
    *wild, enthusiastic applause!!* Cripes! Happy Birthday!! grammaboodawg Send a private message to grammaboodawg Feb 23 2007, 5:20pm
        How's this? linkin-artelf Send a private message to linkin-artelf Feb 24 2007, 1:53am
            *starts drooling* You're Awesome!!! :D grammaboodawg Send a private message to grammaboodawg Feb 24 2007, 12:29pm
    WOW! Eventides Send a private message to Eventides Feb 23 2007, 6:15pm
    There must be something to say about Luthien Rising Send a private message to Luthien Rising Feb 23 2007, 6:18pm
    Thanks for the mathom! Wynnie Send a private message to Wynnie Feb 23 2007, 6:27pm
        I'm not speaking Old English, though. Tolkien redefined the word for Modern English. Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 23 2007, 6:50pm
            "I wish I could say more", you said...and you did! a.s. Send a private message to a.s. Feb 23 2007, 6:53pm
    Happy birthday! Stapper Send a private message to Stapper Feb 23 2007, 7:42pm
    Happy birthday, Curious! Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Feb 23 2007, 8:22pm
    Many happy returns of the day, Curious! FarFromHome Send a private message to FarFromHome Feb 23 2007, 8:59pm
    Happy Birthday, Curious! Morwen Send a private message to Morwen Feb 23 2007, 9:17pm
    Many happy returns of the day! RosieLass Send a private message to RosieLass Feb 23 2007, 9:34pm
    A huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Thanks for this brilliant (as usual) offering. Love it! Annûn n'Ithil Send a private message to Annûn n'Ithil Feb 23 2007, 9:40pm
    Gratulerer med dagen! Draupne Send a private message to Draupne Feb 23 2007, 9:40pm
    Happy Birthday, Curious entmaiden Send a private message to entmaiden Feb 23 2007, 10:09pm
    many happy returns of the day! Here's to ya! / greendragon Send a private message to greendragon Feb 24 2007, 12:37am
    Happiest of Birthdays to you! deej Send a private message to deej Feb 24 2007, 1:06am
    Happy Birthday, and thanks for the mathom Penthe Send a private message to Penthe Feb 24 2007, 1:27am
        Yes, and we haven't even *touched* on the Index! Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 24 2007, 10:14am
    Happy Birthday, Curious!! Altaira Send a private message to Altaira Feb 24 2007, 2:53am
    Happy Birthday... diedye Send a private message to diedye Feb 24 2007, 4:12am
        Did you seriously doubt the Ring would be unmade? Or Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 24 2007, 10:00am
            Cirith Ungol Penthe Send a private message to Penthe Feb 25 2007, 1:35am
            I was surprised (and a teensy-weensy disappointed)... diedye Send a private message to diedye Feb 25 2007, 3:12am
                Pippin had at least one son, Faramir Took. Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 25 2007, 4:50am
                Argh! Wrong hobbit!... diedye Send a private message to diedye Feb 25 2007, 4:59am
                    Merry also had at least one son, Curious Send a private message to Curious Feb 25 2007, 6:27am
    Happy Birthday, and Thank You! Finding Frodo Send a private message to Finding Frodo Feb 24 2007, 4:31am
    Happy Birthday and thank you for the excellent present. FantasyFan Send a private message to FantasyFan Feb 24 2007, 1:31pm
    I used not to have the patience GaladrielTX Send a private message to GaladrielTX Feb 24 2007, 7:39pm
        Oh, that's a pet peeve of mine. Silverlode Send a private message to Silverlode Feb 24 2007, 9:50pm
    A very belated Happy Birthday. Kimi Send a private message to Kimi Feb 25 2007, 9:40pm
    Happy belated birthday, Curious. N.E. Brigand Send a private message to N.E. Brigand Feb 26 2007, 12:30am
    Very belatedly...Happy Birthday :D Estelwyn Send a private message to Estelwyn Feb 27 2007, 8:57am
    Happy Birthday White Gull Send a private message to White Gull Feb 27 2007, 2:29pm


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