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Children of Hurin Discussion: The Death of Glaurung, Part 1
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CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 16 2014, 9:57pm

Post #1 of 37 (811 views)
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Children of Hurin Discussion: The Death of Glaurung, Part 1 Can't Post

Ding dong, the dragon's dead! Now we should live happily ever after.

But I get ahead of myself. The buildup to the dragon kill is intense and another part of the book that I find cinematic. It takes no effort to imagine you're either braving the perils of the river gorge with Turin or shuddering with the people of Brethil, eager to know the outcome and eager to be far away too.

Dorlas, brave in battle, slinks away in fear not from the dragon but from the dangerous river crossing. Or was that an excuse, and he really feared Glaurung? Did you see this fear coming? Dorlas doesn't receive a lot of character development, and his sudden cowardice surprised me. Was it needed for the later plot points, or something native to him?

Hunthor, by contrast, is brave and loyal to the end, and being with Turin, your end comes prematurely. Was it bad luck that killed Hunthor, or his proximity to Turin's miasma of misfortune?


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[Turin and Hunthor] halted therefore and waited, and out of the dark ravine they watched a white star far above creep across the faint strip of sky;

Remind anyone else of Sam and Mordor? Are stars always a sign of hope in Tolkien's world, or do the ever let anyone down?

I love this line where Turin's emotion = the sword's:

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Then Turambar drew the Black Sword of Beleg and stabbed upwards with all the might of his arm, and of his hate, and the deadly blade, long and greedy, went into the belly even to its hilts.

Yes!!!!

And I'll stop here to revisit the Curse. It was supposed to make the family of Hurin miserable, but by weaving and warping Turin's life, didn't the Curse lead to the dragon's death? Glaurung, as far as we know, is currently Morgoth's #1 dragon, and he was not just a furnace with wings but set himself up as a ruler of Orcs as Morgoth's lieutenant. Morgoth might scoff at the death of hundreds of Orcs because they're easily replaced, but didn't this part of the drama that he unleashed have to feel like a major backfire? It's just as bad as losing Sauron or a top Balrog. With Glaurung so smugly bewitching and outsmarting Turin and his family thus far, why didn't he see this coming at all?


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 16 2014, 10:11pm

Post #2 of 37 (547 views)
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Part 2: The hard part is over, right? [In reply to] Can't Post


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Then Glaurung, feeling his death-pang, gave forth a scream, whereat all the woods were shaken, and the watchers at Nen Girith were aghast. Turambar reeled as from a blow, and slipped down, and his sword was torn from his grasp, and clave to the belly of the Dragon. For Glaurung in a great spasm bent up all his shuddering bulk and hurled it over the ravine, and there upon the further shore he writhed, screaming, lashing and coiling himself in his agony, until he had broken a great space all about him, and lay there at last in a smoke and a ruin, and was still.

Turin doesn't feel pity for the dragon, and neither do I, but his death sounds excruciating. Are we meant to feel any sympathy for him?


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Then he wrenched out the sword, and even as he did so a spout of black blood followed it, and fell upon his hand, and his flesh was burned by the venom, so that he cried aloud at the pain.

Heroes losing hands! Maedhros, Frodo (a finger), Beren, and Turin, and I'm sure I'm forgetting others. They don't lose eyes or ears, but hands are quick casualties, more so than eyes, ears, legs, etc. Is it because a hand is the symbol of ability, or does it symbolize a person's soul as well? There are people, not just palm-readers, who think that a lot of a person's character resides in their hands and how they use them. Are our heroes losing a chunk of their souls in their battles with evil?

Nienor loses her mind and clothes again, near-enough, when she comes to Finduilas' mound:

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Then she turned with a cry and fled south along the river, and cast her cloak as she ran, as though casting off a darkness that clung to her; and beneath she was all clad in white, and she shone in the moon as she flitted among the trees.

When is this girl going to keep it together and not run naked through the woods?

What is Nienor's relationship with Finduilas? Does she sense anything of her in that mound? Did Turin ever speak of her? Does she know that the Elf loved her brother/husband and died because of him (sort of)? Had Finduilas survived and met Nienor, what would they think of each other? There's a repeated connection between them, and I'm not sure how much we're supposed to read into it, unless Finduilas is just a harbinger of fate, like Death dressed in black with a sickle.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 16 2014, 10:48pm

Post #3 of 37 (536 views)
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Part 3: Everyone goes crazy [In reply to] Can't Post

First Nienor loses her mind, having gained it back from the dragon. [I will idly ask why Glaurung, on the verge of death, felt no pity or remorse or even indifference: nothing else but malice--was malice his only possible trait?]


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crying: ‘Water, water! Take now Níniel Niënor daughter of Húrin; Mourning, Mourning daughter of Morwen! Take me and bear me down to the Sea!’ With that she cast herself over the brink: a flash of white swallowed in the dark chasm, a cry lost in the roaring of the river.

One of the saddest lines in this story for me is Nienor's "O happy to be dead!" Usually you don't put those words together in a simple sentence, and they sum up her anguish cogently. When she throws herself into the river, it's a command--why not ask for the river's complicity as Turin will ask from his sword? She falls as a white thing, a symbol of purity. Does that mean she wasn't stained by the perversity of incest? If she had been in a calmer state, could she have worked things out, or was this her only doom? If Turin had been awake and alert, would she have stayed alive to nurse him back to health, or run away alone into the forest to leave it all behind, or still taken that dreadful leap? If Morwen had showed up right at this point, would she have been able to sort things out? (If you know what I think of Morwen, you know that's not a serious question.)

Brandir, the wise one and the healer, suddenly becomes a killer as both he and Dorlas become unhinged. Does this seem murder credible on its own, or is Brandir affected by Glaurung's malice or the general meltdown/culmination of the Curse, or is it all because of Nienor's suicide? Do you feel sorry for Dorlas and want revenge on Brandir? (I feel oddly indifferent to both these men in this passage.) Why isn't Brandir happy that Turin and the dragon are dead and Brethil are safe?

Well, if you don't feel beat up by the end of this chapter, you've got thick armor! One more to go. I'm sure its denouement will be rosy; what else could possibly go wrong?


Mikah
Lorien

Jul 17 2014, 12:41am

Post #4 of 37 (535 views)
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Mikah pops in for a chat.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Sympathy for Glaurung? Hmmm, most interesting CG. I had never considered this question before. I guess that we could feel sympathy in a detached sort of way. In the way that we would feel sympathy for any loss of life, regardless of how cruel or profane we may have counted that life. Death brings a finality that there is now no chance of redemption, not that there really could be for a dragon. That is kind of sad. I am with you and Turin on this one though, I do not pity him either. This does not really answer your question though, does it? Are we meant to feel sympathy for him? Good question.

Now regarding the loss of hands in Middle Earth; now this is a question that has crossed my mind. I agree with you that a hand is the symbol of ability, it is also a symbol of the ability to cope. When one loses a dominant hand, say in a dream; it is also a symbol of losing something very important to you or feeling thwarted or dispossessed. I believe that fits in all of our hero's situations. Maedhros was passed over for Kingship of the Noldor (albeit on his own accord), Frodo was losing himself to the ring, Beren in losing the jewel could have possibly lost Luthien, and Turin...well, he lost everything. In all of these cases they are losing pieces of themselves, far more valuable than a hand to the evil which persists in Middle Earth. However, I am not certain this is Tolkien's meaning. Are our heroes losing a chunk of their soul as well? This is entirely possible and something I am very willing to consider. I am very interested to hear others interpretations.

There's a repeated connection between them, and I'm not sure how much we're supposed to read into it, unless Finduilas is just a harbinger of fate, like Death dressed in black with a sickle.

I love this CG. To be honest I am not certain that Finduilas would have gotten on well with Nienor at all. I believe there would have been jealousy there on the part of Finduilas. She seemed to succumb easily to her emotions as she did with her depression. I wonder if jealousy would have plagued her? I also wonder if she would have sensed a strange connection between Turin and Nienor as well? I have always wonder this.


Mikah
Lorien

Jul 17 2014, 1:17am

Post #5 of 37 (533 views)
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A kinder, gentler dragon???? [In reply to] Can't Post

Good job summing up this part of the chapter CG. I have always considered malice to be the only trait in Glaurung. That is just me though, I do not have a whole lot of sympathy for him. When one considers that he was the brain child of Morgoth, I am hard pressed to find many positive aspects of this particular dragon's personality. Certainly dragons are very intelligent, but where would he have learned compassion, regret, or even indifference? He is a true product of his environment, isn't he?. With the nature of dragons in Tolkien's world, coupled with his upbringing, poor Glaurung did not have a chance at being a kinder, gentler, tamer sort of dragon. Although I will say that he was very shrewd and cunning.

Does that mean she wasn't stained by the perversity of incest? If she had been in a calmer state, could she have worked things out, or was this her only doom? If Turin had been awake and alert, would she have stayed alive to nurse him back to health, or run away alone into the forest to leave it all behind, or still taken that dreadful leap

I am thinking that Nienor would not have been stained. Yes she was involved in a most, ummm unnatural relationship. But until then, she did not know that she was. I have always accepted this part of the story as Nienor's doom. I know that I sometimes forget that the curse was laid upon all of Hurin's family and unfortunately this would include Nienor. I like to blame stuff on Morwen, so I blame this whole mess right on her. If she had not run out of Doriath half-cocked, leaving Nienor no choice but to follow her, this would not have happened. So I blame this on the curse and Morwen. Morwen is my favorite scapegoat in this story though, so I might be a teeny-tiny bit biased.Wink


Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 18 2014, 11:58pm

Post #6 of 37 (510 views)
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On my phone but a quick first reply.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for this excellent lead CG!

Cool

I wanted to note that one line I find really intriguing about Gurthang: "true proved the words spoken at its forging that nothing, great or small, should live that once it had bitten."

We know Gurthang bit Turin; that nick on his ankle cost Beleg his life, along with the dark dreams in Turin's mind. Is there another layer of curse here, of Eol the maker, creating such an inescapable weapon? And is this why Gurthang is so willing to take Turin's life, since it fulfills its own destiny?

More later!!!

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!








Brethil
Half-elven


Jul 19 2014, 12:00am

Post #7 of 37 (507 views)
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Agreed on Dorlas and Brandir [In reply to] Can't Post

I am equally unhappy with them here. Its true, its every man for himself which JRRT has shown here for the really ugly thing that is.

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!








Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Jul 20 2014, 2:17am

Post #8 of 37 (499 views)
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Oh... [In reply to] Can't Post

I want the story of the forging of Gurthang now....Frown So much unexplained depth.... I would love to have the finished, polished version of the tale.

Call me Rem, and remember, not all who ramble are lost...Uh...where was I?


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 20 2014, 10:34am

Post #9 of 37 (497 views)
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A hands-off approach to health and safety... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Heroes losing hands! Maedhros, Frodo (a finger), Beren, and Turin, and I'm sure I'm forgetting others. They don't lose eyes or ears, but hands are quick casualties, more so than eyes, ears, legs, etc. Is it because a hand is the symbol of ability, or does it symbolize a person's soul as well? There are people, not just palm-readers, who think that a lot of a person's character resides in their hands and how they use them. Are our heroes losing a chunk of their souls in their battles with evil?


Interesting point - quite possibly there is symbolism to find here!

Also, of course, you can find purely practical reasons for these injuries: I'd have thought that hand injuries would be common in hand-to-hand fighting: the hand is often going to be something extended into the range of the opponent's sword/jaws/gushing corrosive bodily fluids Certainly I got many whacked knuckles playing swordfights as a kid.

Sauron & Frodo lose fingers for entirely practical reasons - someone is looting them of the Ring.

So I think it works either way - as often in Tolkien!

Is there also similarity between Turin & Isildur here - both get hand injuries from dead or dying foes...?

~~~~~~

"… 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
Half-elven


Jul 20 2014, 1:31pm

Post #10 of 37 (490 views)
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Give me a hand here [In reply to] Can't Post

If I remember, there's a huge amount of mythic symbolism surrounding story characters who lose a body part. When the part is a hand or finger (as opposed to eye, liver, ear, foot, etc.) the analysis centers on castration as the underlying operation, because of loss of generative or fertilizing power that entails.

I wouldn't say it's a transition from the sublime to the ridiculous, but when Luke loses his hand in 'The Empire Strikes Back' (Star Wars V), it's the filmmaker's attempt to make the space opera properly mythic in scope. Lucas is said to have worked from Joseph Campbell's The Hero WIth A Thousand Faces when he sketched out the Star Wars story. (The possibly ridiculous part is that Luke's hand is immediately restored, in the same film no less, with no further consequences in the rest of the story.)



squire online:
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Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd & 4th TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion and NOW the 1st BotR Discussion too! and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 20 2014, 1:51pm

Post #11 of 37 (488 views)
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White [In reply to] Can't Post

Re Nienor's white clothes, the symbolism a I can think of are:
White for unstained-nes (as already discussed): but, related to this, innocence. She's not deliberately done anything wrong.

Also,it gives the image of her moving around as if already a ghost. White was used for shrouds as well as wedding dresses.

~~~~~~

"… 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
Half-elven


Jul 20 2014, 4:21pm

Post #12 of 37 (485 views)
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Doom, fate, curses, Hunthor and Dorlas [In reply to] Can't Post

The moment when Hunthor gets whacked on the head by a stray stone just as Turin is praising him can come across a bit Monty Python. But, I was thinking that's probably because we are now a culture more attuned to irony than to ideas of fate and doom. (And also tropes such as killing off the "red shirts" to highlight the danger). It could be, as suggested, that Turin is dangerous to be near because of the curse, but I wonder whether we should take seriously Turin's reaction to Hunthor's death. Turin's reaction is of course that this occurrence reveals something fateful (perhaps because otherwise it just seems to unlikely?) Turin concludes that he should have chosen to go alone in the first place, and that since he didn't judge his fate (or doom or wyrd ...) correctly, his companions have suffered for it.

Is he right about that, do you think? In which case, was something going to turn Dorlas back too if it hadn't been his fear of heights. For example, maybe had he bravely carried on, he would have slipped....Or there would have been clowns, if he found clowns even more intolerable than heights...

As it is, there is irony (or doom?) in Dorlas, who mocked Brandir for not volunteering, then finding himself in a situation he couldn't handle. And, in Brandir's opinion, Dorlas has done something worse: having been unable to stay with the expedition, he should have watched and brought back news. This might (Brandir thinks) have saved Nienor from encountering the Dragon, and thus could have prevented her death.

So was Dorlas meant to redeem himself in this way & then missed his chance,? The whole thing is giving me a headache (though not a Hunthor-sized one). Voluntary actions and involuntary (fated or doomed) consequences seem inextricably entwined (as perhaps they are supposed to be).

~~~~~~

"… 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
Half-elven


Jul 20 2014, 4:31pm

Post #13 of 37 (480 views)
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On the other hand... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
when Luke loses his hand in 'The Empire Strikes Back' (Star Wars V), it's the filmmaker's attempt to make the space opera properly mythic in scope. Lucas is said to have worked from Joseph Campbell's The Hero WIth A Thousand Faces when he sketched out the Star Wars story. (The possibly ridiculous part is that Luke's hand is immediately restored, in the same film no less, with no further consequences in the rest of the story.)


If I remember, Luke's robot hand only has one further significance but quite a significant one - he cuts off Darth Vadar's hand (also a prosthetic one) in a duel in the next film, and after this believes that in reaching a score of 1:1 in terms of hands lopped off, he has done well enough to become a Jedi. And that resolves the problem Luke had (for much of the story it appears he will have to kill his father to become a Jedi). So he refuses to fight any more, and therefore sets up the situation where his father must rescue him.... and so destiny (and many cinema seats) are fulfilled.

~~~~~~

"… 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
Half-elven


Jul 20 2014, 4:40pm

Post #14 of 37 (480 views)
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I gotta hand it to you [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for pointing that out. I completely forgot that plot feature, or (more likely) missed it in the first place.



squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd & 4th TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion and NOW the 1st BotR Discussion too! and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 20 2014, 5:56pm

Post #15 of 37 (478 views)
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details aside, it's a good point that Star Wars chose to pick up on this handy mythical trope [In reply to] Can't Post

In fact, now you've spurred me to look for it, TVtopes has a catalogue of "limb loss as a dramatic device, including these mythical folks:


Quote
The MacAllister family crest includes a severed hand holding a dirk. The story behind it was that one of the MacAllisters was in a boat race out to a sand dune and back, with the first to touch shore winning. Upon realizing he was not going to beat his opponent, he cut off his hand, put his dirk with family crest in it for identity, and then threw it onto the beach for the win.

The Irish god Nuada did something similar to the MacAllister above — the first to touch Irish soil would be the one who ruled, so in order to defeat his rival he cut off his own hand and threw it onto the beach. (Problem was, a maimed man cannot rule, so he had to wait until another god built him a silver hand.)

At the bend of the river Scheldt, legend tells of a giant who demanded toll from everyone who wanted to sail past his fortress. If they couldn't or didn't want to pay the toll, the giant (Sus Antigoon) cut off their hand as punishment. Silvius Brabo, a Roman soldier, sought to bring an end to Antigoon's cruelty and defeated him. After this defeat Brabo cut off Antigoon's own hand and threw it into the Scheldt. Supposedly this is where the city of Antwerp, Belgium got its name from. "Hand" & "Werpen" (to throw).

The Norse god Tyr had his hand bitten off by Fenrir.

http://tvtropes.org/...hp/Main/AnArmAndALeg


I wonder is limb-amputation the maximum survivable injury you might hope to give your characters in an environment where medical facilities aren't so good? The storyteller might want the worst possible feasible injury for dramatic purposes- for some character-development or symbolic purpose, or to show just how bad-ass Nuada is, but that he might not be so good at thinking things all the way through...

In film and stage, I suppose, limb-loss might be a reasonably easy special effect to pull off, and something which the audience will instantly understand: so that could be a further advantage.

~~~~~~

"… 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
Half-elven


Jul 20 2014, 6:08pm

Post #16 of 37 (487 views)
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"What is Nienor's relationship with Finduilas? Does she sense anything of her in that mound?" [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, someone is seriously sensing something..,

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For she was come to the Crossings of Tieglin and Haudh-en-Elleth stood before her, pale in the moonlight, with a black shadow cast athwart it; and out of the mound came a great dread."


It's left to the reader to decide whether this is some creepy supernatural influence really emerging from the mound (the literal meaning, I think); or whether Nienor is reacting to realising she is at the place where Turin found her and "remembering and fearing" 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!"


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 21 2014, 8:39pm

Post #17 of 37 (457 views)
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And I pop back in for a reply [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, how summer keeps us outdoors and away from keyboards!

Thanks for your reply, Mikah. I'm with you on Glaurung and "sympathy"

In Reply To
I guess that we could feel sympathy in a detached sort of way.

I don't feel sorry for him as a person. More the way I feel about roadkill, I guess. I think it's a painful loss of life, but I don't feel connected to the victim per se. But Glaurung's pain is described. If I think of evil monster Gollum dying in Mt Doom, there's no description of the searing heat or agonized screams; instead, he seems perversely happy in his final moments, and so much happens all at once, I don't think much about the manner of Gollum's death, brutal as it was.


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[a hand] is also a symbol of the ability to cope.

Thanks for this observation also. While I remain fond of my hands, attached to them even, I don't see them as symbolic of anything in my life--I take the darn things for granted. I would be lost without them, but I would be just as lost without eyesight. It's interesting that Tolkien repeatedly has people lose hands and not eyes.


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To be honest I am not certain that Finduilas would have gotten on well with Nienor at all.

I don't see the two getting along either, unless it's as opposites attracting. I suppose with Nienor growing up in Menegroth, she might have understood Finduilas reasonably well, i.e., how to behave around an Elven princess. As Niniel, they would have had little to say to each other. Fate forced Niniel into the role of Finduilas, in a heavy-handed way, and I wonder if Nienor, clear-headed, would have resented that. But that's maybe not a fair question since Nienor was so overwhelmed by everything once she figured it out, that her feelings for Finduilas were the least of her concerns.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 21 2014, 8:57pm

Post #18 of 37 (450 views)
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Curses United, Inc. [In reply to] Can't Post

Good point, Breth. I think that just as Beren & Lu wrap together so much that is good in Beleriand, Turin's story wraps up all that's bad. I view Eol as a free agent, and his malice was his own making, but with Turin as a sort of magnet for malice because of the curse, he sucked in Eol's legacy too.

Can you imagine Turin and Maeglin meeting up? Maeglin would have hated Turin as just another man. Turin might have seen Maeglin as an obstacle to taking over Gondolin and hated him too, or maybe been indifferent. Both were easily angered and wounded, so I can't see that going well, and with Turin often bringing out the worst in people, I suspect he'd draw out the darkness lingering in Maeglin--that is, before he led Gondolin off to fight a hopeless war. Good thing for Gondolin that the right cousin showed up to save what he could!


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 21 2014, 9:02pm

Post #19 of 37 (449 views)
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Great imagery, Wiz! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Also,it gives the image of her moving around as if already a ghost. White was used for shrouds as well as wedding dresses.

Especially the ghost part. She's convinced herself that she's going to die/must die, so in that sense she's dead before she takes that dreadful leap.

She makes quite a contrast with the Black Sword that Turin carries. Black certainly wins over white in this tale.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 21 2014, 9:15pm

Post #20 of 37 (447 views)
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Headaches and falling rocks [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Voluntary actions and involuntary (fated or doomed) consequences seem inextricably entwined (as perhaps they are supposed to be).

It's messy to try to sort things out with 100% certainty, but I think Turin was meant to face Glaurung alone, and meant by the Author, if not by Fate, so Hunthor and Dorlas had to disappear somehow. You're right about the timing of Hunthor's death--it almost seems comical. He might as well say, "Look at me, I'm immortal!" and then a second later have a laser cut him to pieces or step on a landmine. That is the standard irony in action movies these days. But that makes me think that we're a bit saturated with stories in the modern era, especially with 100 TV channels and endless reruns of shows. True, people have always told stories, and they fall into certain grooves, yet Hunthor's death might have seemed more tragic and less contrived than it does in 2014.

Speaking of contrived, Brandir's killing of Dorlas feels like it's an author setup. Something about this part of the story doesn't quite flow for me. It's out-of-character for both of them, and yes, people can act out of character in real life, but it almost seems like Brandir needs to kill someone for the purpose of the story, to get blood on his hands, before he's killed too, and he and Dorlas are thrust into this situation like a couple of dogs lowered into a fighting pit and forced on each other. Maybe JRR was going for the sense of general societal breakdown and madness running rampant, and that's why this happened.

What's striking to me is that when it's all over, the people of Brethil survive and create a tombstone for Turin. You don't do that if you're 1) scattered and on the run, 2) homeless, 3) starving, 4) harried by endless swarms of Orcs. So for all the incest and murder and suicide and political upheavals, somehow it all returns to normal, and Beleriand is not a normal place by this time, even without a curse.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 21 2014, 9:19pm

Post #21 of 37 (461 views)
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"A great dread" [In reply to] Can't Post

What is a bit odd is that Finduilas was a good person, yet this almost feels like a Barrow-wight situation. Not that I think Finduilas' ghost has become a corrupt spirit, but it seems that in the Tolkien world, virtuous people leave behind virtuous auras if they leave anything behind. The exact opposite happens. Is Finduilas' spirit trying to warn Nienor about what's going on and what will happen? Or is this a sort of special effect, like watching a Gothic movie when the lightning crashes outside the window on a stormy night when you're trapped in a haunted castle? It might be pure atmospherics and have nothing to do with Finduilas.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 21 2014, 9:19pm

Post #22 of 37 (462 views)
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Glaurung, Both pipes smoked out.. [In reply to] Can't Post

I came to this (also graphic) death in Moby Dick just now, & thought it was somewhat similar in effect:

Quote
And now abating in his flurry, the whale once more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilating and contracting his spout-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonized respirations. At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air; and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. His heart had burst!

"He's dead, Mr. Stubb," said Daggoo.

"Yes; both pipes smoked out!" and withdrawing his own from his mouth, Stubb scattered the dead ashes over the water; and, for a moment, stood thoughtfully eyeing the vast corpse he had made.

Moby Dick, Ch 61: Stubb Kills a Whale


Like the Glaurung scene, I'm not sure the author is eliciting sympathy (though the reader, who knows what he can do?) it's more a matter of spectacle, perhaps?

~~~~~~

"… 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
Half-elven


Jul 21 2014, 9:41pm

Post #23 of 37 (457 views)
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Dread, sense 2 [In reply to] Can't Post

Just decided to look "dread" up in the dictionary & found what to me is a new possibility:

Quote
Dread:
1) extreme fear or apprehension; great awe
2) Doubt; risk of something bring otherwise
(New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary)


Both those senses are from Middle English.

So maybe there's the possibility that this is a point of doubt, at which things could go either way?

Certainly, after the "great dread" the text reads:

Quote
Then she turned with a cry and fled south along the river...

...does her attempt to get away from the frightening. Semi- remembered mound put her on the path to the fateful encounter with dragon and dragon-slayer?

~~~~~~

"… 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!"


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 21 2014, 9:44pm

Post #24 of 37 (459 views)
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A handful of amputations [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the references! Clearly this happens way too often in myths, or too often for the people losing their hands. I was thinking of a few random alternatives:

Prometheus was chained to a rock and had his liver eaten by a bird everyday. (The real world twist on this is that the liver is a highly regenerative organ, so it really can grow back if part of it remains, and one wonders how much the Greeks knew about this, or if it was just a story about a god, and it could have been his thyroid or kidney that was eaten--maybe it didn't matter to them.)

Oedipus blinded himself (after not listening to a blind prophet).

Hephaestus had his leg permanently injured during a fight between Zeus and Hera.

Osiris was cut up in little pieces and scattered everywhere, leaving Isis and her sister to search the world to put him back together, including the part of him needed to make babies.

That's just a cross-section. When you start looking at mutilation in myths, it comes up a lot. I suppose in older times, it was more common to lose body parts that could be saved in the present day or replaced by prosthetics, plus justice systems often involved mutilation as punishment. Maybe people included this stuff in myths because it was something they saw regularly? Disturbing overall. Turin got off lightly in that he got to keep his hand.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 21 2014, 9:46pm

Post #25 of 37 (456 views)
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Whales and dragons [In reply to] Can't Post

You're probably right about author intent: seeing a big animal/monster die is a big event in itself worthy of detail. Had Tolkien written, "Turin pierced Glaurung's side, and so he died," wouldn't have the same epic feel to it.

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