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Frodo in Moria
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noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 10 2014, 4:06pm

Post #1 of 36 (443 views)
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Frodo in Moria Can't Post

An odd thing overcomes Frodo as the Fellowship are forced to fight at Balin 's tomb:


Quote
Heavy feet were heard in the corridor. Boromir flung himself against
the door and heaved it to; then he wedged it with broken sword-blades and splinters of wood. The Company retreated to the other side of the chamber. But they had no chance to fly yet. There was a blow on the door that made it quiver; and then it began to grind slowly open, driving back the wedges. A huge arm and shoulder, with a dark skin of greenish scales, was thrust through the widening gap. Then a great, flat, toeless foot was forced through below. There was a dead silence outside.

Boromir leaped forward and hewed at the arm with all his might; but his
sword rang, glanced aside, and fell from his shaken hand. The blade was notched.

Suddenly, and to his own surprise, Frodo felt a hot wrath blaze up in
his heart. `The Shire! ' he cried, and springing beside Boromir, he stooped, and stabbed with Sting at the hideous foot. There was a bellow, and the foot jerked back, nearly wrenching Sting from Frodo's arm. Black drops dripped from the blade and smoked on the floor. Boromir hurled himself against the door and slammed it again.


Rather out of character for Frodo, don't you think? I wonder whether it's significant?

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 10 2014, 4:09pm

Post #2 of 36 (295 views)
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One possibility… [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
…Then a great, flat, toeless foot was forced through below. …


Maybe it's the foot itself which is so enraging because…

…hobbits are very lack-toes intolerant?
Smile

But more sensible explanations welcome…

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Pryderi
Rivendell

May 10 2014, 6:26pm

Post #3 of 36 (271 views)
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Don't you think... [In reply to] Can't Post

....it might be an attempt by the author to demonstrate to the reader the power of Sting, as opposed to Boromir's everyday sword? That's my reading. Isn't Sting the main protagonist here?

Pryderi.


Meneldor
Tol Eressea


May 10 2014, 6:36pm

Post #4 of 36 (257 views)
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I wonder [In reply to] Can't Post

if JRRT experienced a moment like that in the trenches. I can picture a young soldier sensibly crouching down away from the flying bullets and shrapnel, then suddenly feeling anger at the enemies shooting at him and feeling an impulse to stand up and shoot back.
Can someone who has read his biographies say if that might have happened to him? And even if it didn't, I expect he had lots of opportunities to witness that kind of action among his soldiers.


They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep.


sador
Half-elven


May 10 2014, 7:45pm

Post #5 of 36 (272 views)
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Hullo, hullo! [In reply to] Can't Post

So you've come back? And with a neat observation. How clever of you!

Yes, in one level you are entirely correct: the purpose of this passage is to showcase Sting - like the mithril-coat will be later twice, even if mentioned only in the next chapter (do many readers think of it when an arrow hits Frodo and springs back? maybe upon re-reading, if they remember they same thing happens at Sarn Gebir).

But on the other hand, I think that in FotR, Frodo is pretty warlike (for a hobbit); consider the Barrow-downs and Weathertop. It is only in Book VI that he becomes so averse to violence.
Why? The trauma of Boromir's fall? Having Gollum in his power and refraining from striking for so long? The fight with Shelob? Being captured by Orcs? Or just the long drain of the Burden of carrying the Ring, together with the emptiness of losing it and augmented by his ultimate failure at the Sammath Naur? I guess all of these combined; but anyway seen in this context, I don't think NoWizardMe's question is very difficult.


Elizabeth
Valinor


May 10 2014, 9:01pm

Post #6 of 36 (237 views)
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How often is he directly attacked? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hobbits are not warlike, to begin with. Frodo was able to fight back at Weathertop and in Moria, because those were the instances when he was directly confronted with an attacking enemy, and that is very much to his credit. He was very proactive (with Sam) in capturing Gollum and effectively enslaving him. Thereafter, he mostly struggled against exhaustion, hunger, and thirst. Shelob caught him as he was fleeing, "unaware yet of his peril."

So, I don't know that Frodo's response to the orcs in Moria was at all out of character for Frodo before the long ordeal and the trauma of the Sammath Naur. After that, of course, he was a permanently changed hobbit.








noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 10 2014, 9:12pm

Post #7 of 36 (245 views)
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It's the wrath bit that seems out of character [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo is always willing to do what he must, no matter how onerous. No coward he ,then. But the 'wrath ' bit sounds unusual: not his feelings when merging himself to disarm (sorry) the barrow wight,

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


cats16
Valinor


May 10 2014, 11:54pm

Post #8 of 36 (258 views)
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An interesting passage... [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't remember this from my last read-through. It does, to me, seem to reflect Frodo's willingness to defend his new(ish) companions in FOTR. I'm sure that he, at this point in Moria, is still reeling a bit from the incident with the Watcher. This very well may be a bit of a reaction to that incident; he's showing both himself and everyone else that he's just as capable at fighting back as, say, Boromir.

I can't think of anything directly from the text to support this (and I don't have access to my books this very moment), but it doesn't seem contradictory to anything written, does it? Just thinking out loud here.


(This post was edited by cats16 on May 10 2014, 11:54pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


May 11 2014, 4:52am

Post #9 of 36 (212 views)
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To refer to an old friend... [In reply to] Can't Post

...by which I mean #131; I think there is a note about Hobbits and their meaning which may have some bearing on Frodo's actions that day:

"The Hobbits are, of course, really meant to be a branch of the specifically human race (not Elves or Dwarves) - hence the two kinds can dwell together (as at Bree), and are called just the Big Folk and Little Folk. They are entirely without non-human powers, but are represented as being more in touch with 'nature' (the soil and other living things, plants and animals), and abnormally, for humans, free from ambition and greed of wealth. They are made small (little more than half human stature, but dwindling as the years pass) partly to exhibit the pettiness of man, plain unimaginative parochial man - though not with either the smallness or the savageness of Swift, and mostly to show up, in creatures of very small physical power, the amazing and unexpected heroism of ordinary men 'in a pinch'."

So significance indeed - of Frodo as the symbol, I think, of the part of man set into action when beset by great need; and action which is disproportionate to their perceived strength. I think it is reasonable to assume that this may be a result of things JRRT himself has seen, in moments great and small, during and around times of wartime action, when men can be compelled to act in ways that perhaps startle those closest to them, when the need is there. I think such things left a deep impression on him; I am theorizing, but it would seem so by passages like that.

I think that JRRT does this again with Sam in TTT, in a way that has always stuck with me: "No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth, alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above its fallen mate.” (And no typos this time, not like the last time I posted this phrase!)Laugh

The next TORn Amateur Symposium is a special edition: the Jubilee TAS to celebrate 60 years of FOTR! If you have an LOTR idea you would like to write about, we'd love to see your writing featured there!








(This post was edited by Brethil on May 11 2014, 4:55am)


ElendilTheShort
Gondor


May 11 2014, 7:20am

Post #10 of 36 (188 views)
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Tolkien writes of "the slow kindled courage of his (Merry's and therefore Frodo's) race" at Pelennor [In reply to] Can't Post

In the LOTR Prologue, Concerning Hobbits he also says of them

curiously tough
difficult to daunt or to kill
doughty at bay and at need could handle arms

therefore although hobbits are generally laid back don't mess with them even if you are a large flat footed troll


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 11 2014, 9:06am

Post #11 of 36 (180 views)
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Trolls… or… [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I've certainly assumed that Frodo has incapacitated the cave-troll which Gandalf thinks he saw when he takes a quick look out shortly before. Gandalf's quick recce saw orcs but…


Quote
". . . For the moment they are hanging back, but there is something else there. A great cave-troll, I think, or more than one. There is no hope of escape that way."
Gandalf, The Bridge of Khazad-dûm


Maybe it's interesting that Tolkien keeps the troll (if that's what it is) out of the upcoming skirmish (compare the PJ movie, where the troll comes in, is the main foe, and also the creature that wounds Frodo).

As it works out in the book, the Fellowship fight the orcs (including the Orc captain who injures Frodo). Then something else has a magic tussle with Gandalf over the exit door to the Chamber. When that causes the Chamber to collapse, Gandalf speculates that that particular opponent has been buried. We never find out specifically what that opponent was. The obvious conjectures are:
It's the balrog Gandalf fights in the bridge (it gets out of the rubble somehow)

It's some other magical creature (another balrog, something else) which did get buried

So I suppose either of these could be sporting a Frodo-wounded foot at the time:

Uh oh…am I asking "do balrogs have toes?" Smile

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 11 2014, 9:15am

Post #12 of 36 (187 views)
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Sting [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
....it might be an attempt by the author to demonstrate to the reader the power of Sting, as opposed to Boromir's everyday sword? That's my reading. Isn't Sting the main protagonist here?

Pryderi.


Yes, I think you are right. The idea is that the Fellowship have to fight here to cause their pursuers pause. The others can kill orcs. The orcs are accompanied by something else. If that has to be given pause too, it might be appropriate that it needs one of the Fellowship's heroic weapons to do so.

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 11 2014, 9:24am

Post #13 of 36 (190 views)
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Battle hormones [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I wonder if JRRT experienced a moment like that in the trenches. I can picture a young soldier sensibly crouching down away from the flying bullets and shrapnel, then suddenly feeling anger at the enemies shooting at him and feeling an impulse to stand up and shoot back.
Can someone who has read his biographies say if that might have happened to him? And even if it didn't, I expect he had lots of opportunities to witness that kind of action among his soldiers.


Thanks for this! Yes I've heard that the extreme stresses of combat can cause wrath, panic, terror: a whole variety of feelings. So it's good point: that's a perfectly good reason why Frodo might behave in a way that surprises himself or others (or just me!) So it's a "realistic" event Tolkien chose to include for its own value, or also for other reasons…

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


DanielLB
Immortal


May 11 2014, 9:53am

Post #14 of 36 (183 views)
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WWBD? [In reply to] Can't Post

"What would Bilbo do?" he probably thought. Wink

Especially after finding out that Bilbo killed a warg, a spider and an innocent centipede. Wink


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 11 2014, 10:44am

Post #15 of 36 (176 views)
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Conventional heroics? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for all these answers! To bounce a thought back...

What does the conventional fantasy hero do? Attack the monster without hesitation or any reported internal turmoil, of course! Just like Boromir does. (The conventional fantasy heroine, BTW, either is all screamy or swoony in the corner; or has already been grabbed by the monster; or also attacks the monster too, if the fiction is more recent if it currently suits the writer to have her 'feisty'. rather than screamy/swoony/pouty.).

Tolkien, bless him, gave us much more interesting heroes (including female ones, if we want to reserve the term 'heroine for the screamy/swoony/pouty brigade).

Bilbo is a good one to bring up - he's obviously the 'me' character of the hobbit (i.e. the one that the child reader can relate to), but there's an element of humour as if your dad has been dragged into a fantasy adventure (and not your heroic dad; your is a bit greedy and boring and dances-embarrassingly-at-weddings dad). Sting and the Ring even things up a bit and allow Bilbo to behave slightly more like a conventional hero; though most of his achievements remain unconventional (e.g. sneaking out of Erebor to try & broker a peace deal).

Frodo I see as unconventional too. I certainly agree with Elizabeth that he is brave & can stand up for himself when attacked. Also, he is being responsible towards his burden of the Ring - it would be silly to be getting into unnecessary fights.

But it seems complicated: we are made painfully aware of how hard it is for Frodo to nerve himself to fight the barrow wight. Who knows whether anyone could have resisted the call to put on the Ring at Weathertop, but Frodo blames himself for failing, and then jepordizing his comrades further. In any case he's rendered hors de combat & it falls to Aragorn to drive the Black Riders away. Failure at Weathertop doesn't stop Frodo trying to resist the Black Riders at the Ford, but this too may be completely impossible. Certainly it seems to be failing when help comes in the form of raising the river. Continuing the theme of Frodo being willing to defend himself, but needing help, both the Watcher in the Water and then the Orc Captain attack Frodo, and he is saved by his companions. They are, of course with him partly as a bodyguard, so this is part of what they came for*. But - see the pattern?

I'm sure it's right to see this as Tolkien making his point that hobbits (& perhaps all of us) are braver than we might think, and heroism is not only for conventional fantasy heroes. Maybe this foot-stabbing incident is Frodo's most conventional moment of heroism.

*WWED - What Would Eowyn Do, were she on the Moria adventure? My guess is that she would see herself clearly as a member of the Ringbearer's guard, and as a loyal Housecarl, the enemy will only get to him through her, and her death in that eventuality would be either irrelevant or somewhat to her liking...

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


May 11 2014, 12:57pm

Post #16 of 36 (188 views)
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*groan*! [In reply to] Can't Post

Maybe Frodo demanded that others "toe the line", and realized that was clearly impossible in this case...


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I desired dragons with a profound desire"






noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 11 2014, 1:32pm

Post #17 of 36 (189 views)
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"Nailed" it! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Maybe Frodo demanded that others "toe the line", and realized that was clearly impossible in this case...


~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


squire
Valinor


May 11 2014, 2:41pm

Post #18 of 36 (221 views)
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Sentimental deceptions [In reply to] Can't Post

I have often admired how Tolkien writes for effect rather than for reason; I've referred to this sometimes as his 'stage-magic', probably due to my own experience as a scenic designer with an awareness of the emotional power of smoke and mirrors. In the case of this discussion, we've seen several quotes from Tolkien about how hobbits are fierce in a pinch, able to fight when called upon, etc. As a literary or imaginative conceit this is engaging and acceptable, but even Tolkien admitted it was nonsense in any realistic sense.
[Discussing his creation of hobbits in terms of realism]: I do not think people of that sort and stage of life and development can be both peaceable and very brave and tough 'at a pinch'. Experience in two wars has confirmed me in that view. (JRRT, Letter 154, 9/25/1954)

In other words, we may guess that Frodo's sudden transformation into a warrior in the Chamber of Mazarbul might be supported by episodes of unexpected heroism the author witnessed in the Great War. But judging from his remarks here, Tolkien is more likely to have included this scene as a comment on the common Victorian fantasy of romantic heroism hidden within domestic men, rather than as a realistic depiction of combat by amateurs, about which the World Wars taught him and others many unforgettable lessons.

I too have always been struck by the other quote you mentioned, about Sam defending Frodo's apparently-dead body; but I also remember the day (during one of the Reading Room discussions, no reference available just now) that I actually thought about the quote rather than admiring its emotional impact. As I looked into it, I discovered I could find no example in Nature of what Tolkien offhandedly projects: that one animal would defend the body of its mate. In fact, the universal model is that of a mother defending her living young from a predator. No animal, whether a "desperate small" one or of any other size and habit, cares to attack a predator that is preying on "its fallen mate". Only a human might do so, out of memory and sentiment and emotions that animals do not have. So once again, as with Frodo's unlikely stab at the troll's foot, and as in so many other places in his stories, Tolkien crafts his web of sentiment and adventure so well that we gladly walk into its net.



squire online:
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CuriousG
Valinor


May 11 2014, 8:06pm

Post #19 of 36 (149 views)
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Adrenaline [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's a bit out of character too, but I chalk this one up to adrenaline. Flight is not possible, so the fight aspect of the hormone takes over. Frodo's reaction is primal, not calculated.

When Old Man Willow was eating his friends and couldn't be persuaded not to by fire, Frodo resorted to flight, running around in the middle of nowhere calling for help. Both times he was being instinctive rather than rational.


Brethil
Half-elven


May 11 2014, 8:35pm

Post #20 of 36 (148 views)
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Interesting twist on the phrasing there Squire [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

I too have always been struck by the other quote you mentioned, about Sam defending Frodo's apparently-dead body; but I also remember the day (during one of the Reading Room discussions, no reference available just now) that I actually thought about the quote rather than admiring its emotional impact. As I looked into it, I discovered I could find no example in Nature of what Tolkien offhandedly projects: that one animal would defend the body of its mate. In fact, the universal model is that of a mother defending her living young from a predator. No animal, whether a "desperate small" one or of any other size and habit, cares to attack a predator that is preying on "its fallen mate". Only a human might do so, out of memory and sentiment and emotions that animals do not have. So once again, as with Frodo's unlikely stab at the troll's foot, and as in so many other places in his stories, Tolkien crafts his web of sentiment and adventure so well that we gladly walk into its net.


in the logical extension of the metaphor; into biological illogic, in this case. A case of an effective pictoral image - which certainly forms in the mind of the reader - and dislocation with an actual principal, or of anything we will ever actually see (ie: like a green sun?)

The next TORn Amateur Symposium is a special edition: the Jubilee TAS to celebrate 60 years of FOTR! If you have an LOTR idea you would like to write about, we'd love to see your writing featured there!








noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 11 2014, 8:37pm

Post #21 of 36 (146 views)
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"Not even my Uncle Andy managed a truck like that…" [In reply to] Can't Post

Walking like a spider on a narrow thread; writing a tale that couldn't happen in reality, but feels perfectly like it could.

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


HeWhoArisesinMight
Rivendell


May 12 2014, 12:12am

Post #22 of 36 (147 views)
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I thought it had something to do with the ring... [In reply to] Can't Post

If you notice the few times that Frodo gets really violent in LoTR, it involves the ring. I believe he felt the ring was threatened in this situation. He would have fought Sauron himself to keep the ring (and lost). Maybe he sensed the Balrog was coming.


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 12 2014, 10:56am

Post #23 of 36 (124 views)
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An effect of the Ring is certainly a possible hypothesis [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
If you notice the few times that Frodo gets really violent in LoTR, it involves the ring. I believe he felt the ring was threatened in this situation. He would have fought Sauron himself to keep the ring (and lost). Maybe he sensed the Balrog was coming.


Thanks for raising that!

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


noWizardme
Tol Eressea


May 12 2014, 11:06am

Post #24 of 36 (136 views)
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Amateur heroics [In reply to] Can't Post

I was thinking about the "amateur heroics" aspect of Squires post.

I realise that Tolkien keeps the Hobbits actual physical battle abilities down - Frodo is brave enough to attack the foot pushed under the door, but does not have a heroic battle with the ...whatever it is that owns the foot.

Similarly, Merry is brave enough to attack the Witch King from behind (a truly courageous thing to do) but he doesn't engage him frontally in one-to-one combat.

Probably just as well. I recall watching one of the Star Wars films, in which we finally get to see little, hobbling Yoda's lightsaber fighting skills. Suddenly Yoda is bouncing around like a squash ball with ears (and a lightsaber). It got a snigger from the row behind us: too much suspension of disbelief for some of that audience, at least. Hobbits who unexpectedly gained vast martial prowess with a little impromptu training would be similarly hard to swallow*.

*(unless one were a dragon, whereupon swallowing hobbits might not be too hard...)

~~~~~~

"… ever let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.”
Arthur Martine

"nowimë I am in the West, Furincurunir to the Dwarves (or at least, to their best friend) and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "
Or "Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"


Elizabeth
Valinor


May 12 2014, 5:54pm

Post #25 of 36 (112 views)
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It's easy to overestimate the Ring's effects. [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo has been carrying it for the entire trek. Everything that happens to him potentially involves the Ring, but I think the actual instances in which it influences his actions are relatively few and very clear, such as the several times when he felt a compulsion to put it on (or did so accidentally, as in Bree). Fighting to defend oneself, as in this case, is a very normal response, and doesn't need an external agency.







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