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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Tolkien at UVM - 2012 summer - week 3 - Sauron's attentions

bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 18 2012, 9:09pm

Post #1 of 18 (500 views)
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Tolkien at UVM - 2012 summer - week 3 - Sauron's attentions Can't Post

Not sure if I should be posting a question this week, but I'd like to know what other readers think about the following:

COMMENT: When Frodo puts on the Ring, Sauron seems to be alerted to this triggering of the Ring's power. This happens most dramatically (and for obvious reasons) when Frodo enters Sammath Naur and puts on the Ring at the edge of the precipice overlooking the fires of Mt. Doom. Sauron seems to know exactly where Frodo is and exactly what sort of danger he, the Dark Lord, is in. Let's rewind the story to the end of the Two Towers and take a look at that strange moment after Shelob's poisoning of Frodo, Sam's wounding of the Spider, and Sam's taking his master's sword and the Ring (he's already carrying the "star-glass" Frodo received from Galadriel). An orc patrol approaches, fails to see Sam (who has put on the Ring), and fetches Frodo's limp body for questioning once their prisoner wakes up.

QUESTION: When Sam puts on the Ring to escape the notice of the arriving orcs, why don't Sauron and his Nazgul seem to notice? Given Tolkien's use of interlacement, something else of enormous importance may be distracting the Eye and his servants at that moment Aragorn's looking into the palantir? or it may be that Cirith Ungol isn't nearly as close to Barad-dr as Mt. Doom is. (Nor, however, is Amon Hen, and Sauron seems to have found, or nearly found, Frodo there.) Any ideas?


Radagast-Aiwendil
Gondor


Jul 18 2012, 9:30pm

Post #2 of 18 (203 views)
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You have a good point [In reply to] Can't Post

My guess is because Sauron's attention was fixed upon Gondor at that time and the Nazgul were also distracted (i.e. they were at the Pelennor Fields).

"A Wizard is never late, Frodo Baggins. Nor is he early: he arrives precisely when he means to!"-Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring.


Mim
The Shire

Jul 18 2012, 11:46pm

Post #3 of 18 (241 views)
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Power proportionate to the bearer [In reply to] Can't Post

I think we might be able to explain the anomaly in terms of the rings habit of granting power in proportion to the power of the bearer. Sam's ambition when he puts the ring on is so small that it might not even be enough to trigger Sauron's alarms.


bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 19 2012, 3:02am

Post #4 of 18 (208 views)
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distracted by the battle on the Pelennor Fields [In reply to] Can't Post

I wasn't sure about the overlapping chronologies, if the war with Minas Tirith had progressed to that point. It makes sense, but I still struggle with it a bit. Aragorn and Gandalf and the armies of Gondor and Rohan are at the Dark Lord's very gates when Sauron senses that the Ring is inside Mt. Doom, and Tolkien spends a long paragraph on the sudden withdrawal of his will from orc legions. Thanks for your response. I need to give it further thought.


bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 19 2012, 3:04am

Post #5 of 18 (338 views)
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proportionate power [In reply to] Can't Post

Makes good sense to me. Sam's merely trying to avoid being sighted by this orc patrol. Frodo's claiming the Ring for himself, in a sense signaling to the Dark Tower that Sauron is no longer the Lord of the Rings. The two hobbits themselves are different, but you're very right that in these two scenes they're using the Ring very differently. Thanks.


(This post was edited by bglenney_uvm on Jul 19 2012, 3:05am)


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 19 2012, 5:07am

Post #6 of 18 (220 views)
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Also, Frodo is essentially using the power of the Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

to contact Sauron, much as he was tempted to do on the Hill of Seeing, before Gandalf told him to take it off. It seems likely that if Gandalf had not interfered, Frodo would have been discovered at that moment, even though he was far from Mordor. How much more easily, then, was he discovered on Mount Doom, announcing to the world that he was claiming the Ring -- or that the Ring had claimed him?

And the power of the Ring grows as it gets nearer to Mount Doom, so that is also a factor.


(This post was edited by Curious on Jul 19 2012, 5:08am)


titanium_hobbit
Rohan


Jul 19 2012, 7:08am

Post #7 of 18 (210 views)
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will of the one who wears it [In reply to] Can't Post

Innocence seems to play a part in what the ring does.

There seems to be two kinds of people in terms of their reaction to the ring: those immediately corrupted, and those who are innocent.

Boromir's motivation for using the ring is POWER. Gollum's motivation for the ring was GREED. These are not pure motivations.

Frodo and Bilbo don't wield the ring for it's power (except Frodo at the end, and it can be argued that it has worn him down) Bilbo wears it for the invisibility (immediate danger escape) and to help his friends.

Sam doesn't steal the ring- he takes it as duty and gives it back when asked. He wears it for the invisibility he needs to save Frodo. He is innocent in his approach- he doesn't want it for power. This and his limited contact with it (and his Hobbity nature, it could be argued)

Interestingly, Bilbo adopts a gollumish trait that needs to be overcome (I want the ring!) and Frodo takes the power desire instead.

Hobbits were chosen to bear the ring because they are resistant to it's siren call, though even they are worn down by it and are not perfect creatures.


Hobbit firster, Book firster.


Have you explored all of TORN's forums?


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 19 2012, 12:43pm

Post #8 of 18 (214 views)
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A couple of small points [In reply to] Can't Post

to add to what others have said. I agree in particular with the idea that the way the Ring is used makes a big difference to how quickly and accurately it's perceived by the Eye. But that doesn't mean that when Sam wears the Ring he's not perceived by the Eye at all.

Here's the moment when he first puts on the Ring:
"He did not feel invisible at all, but horribly and uniquely visible; and he knew that somewhere an Eye was searching for him." (The Choices of Master Samwise)
Here it is again later, when Sam puts the Ring back on after he wakes up from his faint:
"Without any clear purpose he drew out the Ring and put it on again. Immediately he felt the great burden of its weight, and felt afresh, but now more strong and urgent than ever, the malice of the Eye of Mordor, searching, trying to pierce the shadows that it had made for its own defence, but which now hindered it in its unquiet and doubt." (The Tower of Cirith Ungol)
So it's not that the Eye isn't aware of Sam wearing the Ring, just that a) he's only trying to hide, not to use the Ring as Frodo does, and b) he's hidden by the shadows of the mountains that protect Mordor. So the Eye seems to find it much more difficult to get a "lock" on him. There's one other detail in this chapter, a suggestion that once Sam gets over the crest of the mountains, the Eye would see much more clearly:
"He ran forward to the climbing path, and over it. At once the road turned left and plunged steeply down. Sam had crossed into Mordor. He took off the Ring, moved it may be by some deep premonition of danger..." (The Tower of Cirith Ungol)
That makes it sound as if the Eye might well have pinned him down if he'd worn the Ring out in the open, on the Mordor side of the mountains, where the shadows were no longer hiding him from view. So I don't think Sauron was distracted so much as hindered by his own defensive darkness (in the good old "oft evil will shall evil mar" tradition Tongue).

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



(This post was edited by FarFromHome on Jul 19 2012, 12:44pm)


bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 19 2012, 12:48pm

Post #9 of 18 (184 views)
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will of the user [In reply to] Can't Post

I appreciate your response (and agree). We're told a few times that the Ring seems to "collaborate" (definitely not the right word) with the wearer, tapping into his own power. It's not a stretch at all to think the Ring also responds to the wearer's intentions (which, arguably, are an extension of his will and nature). Thanks.

As for the other forums, I've done a little exploring. Not enough.


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 19 2012, 1:19pm

Post #10 of 18 (164 views)
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Nice points.// [In reply to] Can't Post

 


bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 19 2012, 1:25pm

Post #11 of 18 (204 views)
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sam and the ring - crossing into mordor [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your reply. The Ring certainly does seem to exhibit greater power (even when it's not being worn), the closer it comes to Mt. Doom.

I'm still struggling with this topic a bit, though. If Sauron senses that the Ring is up in the mountains near Cirith Ungol, why doesn't he dispatch a Nazgul to investigate?

Perhaps he expects that the wearer will be caught by his orcs, or Shelob, and he doesn't need to panic (which he clearly does at the end, when Frodo claims the Ring and the Nazgul are sent to Mt. Doom, faster than the wind). At that point the Ring is close to those fires and its destruction, and the Dark Lord sees clearly for the first time what his enemies' plans have been.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 19 2012, 2:34pm

Post #12 of 18 (195 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
If Sauron senses that the Ring is up in the mountains near Cirith Ungol, why doesn't he dispatch a Nazgul to investigate?

Sauron does eventually send a Nazgul, which arrives just as Frodo and Sam are escaping from the Tower. The Nazgul take time to get anywhere - even when finally summoned to Mount Doom, despite their "last desperate race ... faster than the winds", they don't actually get there before it's too late.

I think you may be right that Sauron expected the orcs and/or Shelob to take care of things in Cirith Ungol, at least at first, which may be why the Nazgul gets there (just) too late.


They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 19 2012, 2:59pm

Post #13 of 18 (187 views)
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Sauron does not know the Ring is in Mordor until Frodo claims it on Mount Doom. [In reply to] Can't Post

If he had any inkling it was there, he would pull back entirely from his war with Gondor and begin a "hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in the area". Sauron thinks Aragorn (or someone else in the forces of the West) has the Ring. That's the whole point of Gandalf's strategy.

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bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 19 2012, 3:08pm

Post #14 of 18 (177 views)
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the dispatched Nazgul [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for that correction. A moment of stupidity on my part.


bglenney_uvm
The Shire

Jul 19 2012, 3:18pm

Post #15 of 18 (188 views)
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a hard-target search [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for your reply. What you're describing is what prompted my question in the first place. If he knew the Ring were that close, I imagine all his plans would stop while key servants raced to this position and recovered his Ring. If he thinks the Ring is off with Aragorn somewhere in the west (and I agree with you about that), what does Sauron "feel" when Sam puts on the Ring this close to the heart of his realm? What sort of power does he think this "spy" is wielding as it tries to sneak into his land? When (many days earlier) he aims his gaze at Frodo on Amon Hen, is he alerted to the Ring's power, or merely to the power of the Chair of Seeing? Or both? When Sam puts on the Ring (and takes it off, and puts it back on again) in those moments before he enters Cirith Ungol, is Sauron sensing some sort of vague "power surge" in the area, or the "signature" of his own power, albeit lightly used?


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 19 2012, 3:24pm

Post #16 of 18 (207 views)
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It's always tricky [In reply to] Can't Post

to know what Sauron or the Nazgul can sense - it seems that they must get a lot of "false alarms", and that once they decide they must have been mistaken they discount their near-misses completely. This must be what happens when the Witch-King almost senses the Ring as Frodo struggles with it at Minas Morgul. And presumably it must be what Sauron finally decides when he fails to make a positive identification of the Ring in Cirith Ungol. (It's pretty much the same pattern as the very first time it happens, in the Shire, when the Black Rider moves off after coming so close, apparently assuming that it wasn't the Ring he was sensing after all.)

I'd guess that, if not for that "deep premonition of danger" that makes Sam take off the Ring as he enters Mordor, Sauron might indeed have known that the Ring had entered his realm. Gandalf's strategy hangs by a thread more than once, and yet again luck holds!

Cool

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 19 2012, 8:59pm

Post #17 of 18 (200 views)
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It's been 3,000 years since any of them were close to the Ring. [In reply to] Can't Post

And Sauron had all but died in the interim. I figure their detection skills have atrophied.

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<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.


Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Jul 21 2012, 8:46am

Post #18 of 18 (337 views)
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I'm not sure [In reply to] Can't Post

That Sauron would have seen the Ring instantly the moment Sam crossed into Morder. After all, Sauron had been in control of Morgul Vale for millennia. But had Sam spend too long wearing the Ring on either side of the border, eventually Sauron would be aware of it. So it was wise of Sam to take it of when he did.

 
 

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