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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Speculation time: how did Gandalf plan to enter Mordor?
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noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 1 2014, 7:02pm

Post #1 of 61 (2202 views)
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Speculation time: how did Gandalf plan to enter Mordor? Can't Post

The Black Gate?
Cirith Ungol?
Another way that he knew, but neglected to discuss with Frodo?

Or did he even have a plan? Maybe he planned to turn up, and be shown the way?

Or…?
Conspiracy theory answers also welcome.

~~~~~~

"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!"

This year LOTR turns 60. The following image is my LOTR 60th anniversary party footer! You can get yours here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=762154#762154


(This post was edited by noWizardme on Sep 1 2014, 7:02pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 1 2014, 9:01pm

Post #2 of 61 (1492 views)
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With Aragorn's help? [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf likely knew that Aragorn had reconned Mordor in his younger days. He might have been counting on the Ranger knowing a secret path into the Black Land.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Sep 1 2014, 11:02pm

Post #3 of 61 (1379 views)
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Divine guidance? [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien doesn't use that term, but he evokes it a lot. In Frodo's case, it consisted of sending Gollum to be a guide. I suspect Gandalf had no specific plan, but expected something (or someone) to "turn up" appropriately. He was, perhaps, the most closely tied in to whatever divine assistance was available (Eru and/or Valar). He certainly appeared to have a path in mind after his resurrection for the challenges that lay before him at that point.

I doubt seriously that he was depending on Aragorn. He certainly knew where Aragorn had been and what he knew as well as the Man himself, and when it actually fell to him to be leader, Aragorn had no clue.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Sep 1 2014, 11:05pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 2 2014, 12:30am

Post #4 of 61 (1339 views)
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He was counting on the Eagles for transport, silly. [In reply to] Can't Post

There's reason to doubt he had any plan at all since he seemed only certain of going to Lorien and getting more advice there. But there was that magic Mirror waiting for him there, and maybe he was going to use it to spy a way into Mordor? I would suggest that Galadriel had done that already, but if so, she should have told Frodo, so I don't think she did.

But he could have had a plan we don't know about. He knew about Cirith Ungol, at least by name. What else did he know about Mordor? Gollum insisted on taking Frodo to Cirith Ungol because he intended to betray him there to Shelob, but that doesn't mean there weren't other ways in and out of Mordor that might have been feasible and that weren't guarded by a giant spider. Gandalf might have known about them, or maybe had some confidence he'd find them.

Gandalf spent time studying old lore in Minas Tirith, and Gondor in its prime built fortresses to keep evil out of Mordor, hence I'm assuming Gondor had records of the ways in and out that Gandalf might have read about.

Another thing to throw into the mix is that Gandalf went to Dol Guldur alone and in disguise--how did he do that without a map and a plan? (Or did he have a deus ex mothina lead the way? Wink)

Anyway, you bring up a great question, because though I've tried to answer it, I'm not sure he really had a plan.


HeWhoArisesinMight
Rivendell


Sep 2 2014, 1:51am

Post #5 of 61 (1334 views)
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The most feasible path... [In reply to] Can't Post

Would have been Cirith Ungol. But I doubt Gandalf would have used this entry way -- at least at first -- because when he learned from Faramir that Frodo, Sam and Gollum had taken that path, he nearly fainted. So it seems unlikely he would go that way initially.

Frodo initially tried to enter through the Black Gate, but that would have been nearly impossible. Trying to enter Mordor through Nurn would seem foolhardy as well because of the distance it would take to get around the Mountains of Shadow then to trek back through Nurn and Gogoroth to get to Mount Doom. By the time they made such a long trip the war would have been over and destroying the ring would have been moot if they had not been caught first.

If they tried to enter through the Ered Lithui, they would have come too close to Barad-Dur and likely would have been captured.

Just based on what we know, Cirith Ungol was the best way to secretly enter Mordor as well as the shortest route from the outside to Orodruin. Unless there was some other hidden entrance into Mordor along the Ephel Duath, then Gandalf likely would have had no choice but to take the Cirith Ungol path as there is no other feasible way to get into Mordor. There wasn't much of a choice.

It is not like I'm making Cirith Ungol to be a great option, it would just be the least bad option and one that Frodo and Sam barely escaped in the first place. After all, wasn't it Gandalf who called the entire a adventure a "fool's hope" or something along those lines.

Of course, like someone else pointed out in this thread, Gandalf could have gotten to Mordor and his little friend the Moth would have been there to greet him just in time and call in the Eagles for a joy ride. That's as good a plan as any. Wink


Ithilisa
Bree

Sep 2 2014, 8:08am

Post #6 of 61 (1414 views)
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When did Aragorn go to Mordor? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
" Gandalf likely knew that Aragorn had reconned Mordor in his younger days."


Wow, that's one big fact I missed.

Otaku-sempai, is this in the LOTR appendices? Somewhere else? You have me curious as I missed this in my readings and I'd like to look it up.

"I name you Elf-friend; and may the stars shine upon the end of your road!" - Gildor


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 2 2014, 1:51pm

Post #7 of 61 (1343 views)
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"Gandalf has no plan. Gandalf needs no plan?" [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Tolkien doesn't use that term [divine guidance], but he evokes it a lot


Yes, I think so.

Come to think of it there are two parallel things here. I think we're to infer that many of the characters have a philosophy something like: " you should definitely do what you feel strongly to be right, and pay less heed to calculations about the chances of success. It may be impossible to judge those chances from one's own limited viewpoint. It's not guaranteed that things will work out (or at least, that you will survive to see them work out), but in any case you will have the satisfaction and honour of having done the right thing."

Any divine involvement (The Valar, Eru) is kept way out of the picture if one reads LOTR only - it's clearer if one has had the opportunity to read the Sil too, as early LOTR readers of course had not. But it seems perfectly consistent (to me as a reader) to imagine Gandalf (or other characters - Elrond, Galadriel...) observing "what their hearts tell them" and considering these feelings as possible divine promptings.

It's not always an easy process, it seems - Aragorn's dilemma at Parth Galen is that he always intended to go to Godor with Boromir. But now Gandalf is apparently dead, Aragorn feels the responsibility of being Gandalf's deputy. Going to Gondor now seems selfish and cowardly, and it is only when events force Aragorn's hand that he chooses pursuing and rescuing Merry and Pippin instead of pursuing Frodo and Sam.

Moving on with this chain of thought I realise that my initial question probably isn't the right one - it isn't for Gandalf to work out how to get into Mordor: that is for Frodo to do.

Throughout the books Gandalf (and other characters, e.g. Gildor) are notably reluctant to give Frodo advice, or to tell him what to do. That would make sense if they believe that Frodo, as the one "meant to have the Ring" is also the one most likely to figure out the right thing to do. There are examples throughout the books. At the start of FOTR CH 3, Gandalf is still patiently reminding Frodo that he ought to leave soon, and that he must set out, whether he sets out North, South, East or West (I've sometimes wondered what happens if he goes West? Is there a Council of Cirdan?). It's notable that Gandalf at this point is neither freaking out with the urgency of getting going (as I would be, I think, but I'm NoWizard...), and that he only tentatively suggests Rivendell as an interim destination. Tellingly, Tolkien immediately tells us of Frodo's emotional acceptance that Rivendell is an appropriate idea. Gandalf also calls upon Frodo to settle whether the Fellowship will go through Moria. So maybe, like the problem of crossing the Misty Mountains, Gandalf would have had a few ideas in mind, but would have waited to see what Frodo thought they ought to do.

Frodo's ideas of how to get into Mordor are pretty straightforward - use the front door. That's an interesting test case of the power of Divine Assistance, if you wish. Clearly all drama is lost if Frodo is such a Chosen One that he can do anything and get away with it. It's all speculation, but I like to think that his carrying through his plan to walk up to the gates would be about as successful as Fingolfin's plan to duel Morgoth. But instead, Frodo is prevented, by Smeagol, and because of motives it is entirely natural for Smeagol (or indeed both Smeagol and Gollum) to have. And so the Cirith Ungol entry is tried, to Gandalf's intense discomfort when Faramir tells him. But I note that Gandalf promptly explains to Pippin that it's Gollum's treachery he fears, rather than saying it's the hazards of that path itself. I myself enjoy the idea that, ironically, Cirith Ungol might actually be the only viable means of entry into Mordor, but is tried and achieved only after a cancelling out of evil plans.

Of course, if we accept that Gandlaf might wait on Frodo's thinking, all this merely moves the question on to "how might Gandalf have advised Frodo to get into Mordor?" But perhaps that is the wrong question too! I found a discussion of "The Breaking of the Fellowship" from 2008 (http://newboards.theonering.net/...cgi?post=84829#84829 which is quite thought provoking for this discussion. In particular, contributions from Curious have got me thinking:


Quote
I don't know if Gandalf had plans before he fell and rose again, but he has plans now, and they don't include catching up with the Fellowship, even though Gwaihir could easily give him a ride, knows the location of the company, and has communicated that information to the newly-resurrected and white-robed wizard. Aragorn has not yet learned how to send hobbits off to Mordor. Gandalf has, and does, refusing even to send word to Frodo that he still lives. Gandalf is ruthless, but Tolkien glosses over this beautifully. Only those who closely examine the timeline will realize what Gandalf has done.

Idealism does not mean being nice. Gandalf is idealistic, but often he is not at all nice. This is one of those times. Aragorn needs to learn how to be equally ruthless, and later will show that he has learned his lesson when he abandons Theoden, Merry, Eomer, and Eowyn to their respective fates. What should Aragorn have done at Amon Hen? Tell Frodo and Sam to take it from here, while the rest of the Fellowship provides a distraction, including Merry and Pippin acting as decoys. Aragorn couldn't handle that responsibility, so Fate intervened. Fortunately, as poor a showing as Aragorn made as a leader, at least he resisted his personal temptation, and turned his back not only on Frodo but also on Minas Tirith.

(Curious at http://newboards.theonering.net/...cgi?post=85141#85141 )


A couple of comments on that:
Firstly, I note that "Tell Frodo and Sam to take it from here, while the rest of the Fellowship provides a distraction, including Merry and Pippin acting as decoys." is exactly how things do work out for the rest of the story! The distraction involves rousing the Ents and Theoden to defeat Saruman, defeating the attack on Minas Tirith, and then finally launching a decoy attack on Mordor itself. Not only dies this keep Sauron busy, it ensures there's some of "the West" standing at the time the Ring is destroyed. The destruction of Saruman as a Power is key too - with Saruman around, destroying Sauron merely promotes Saruman to #1 Bad Guy, I think.

Secondly, there's an interesting difference between book and movie here: Movie-Aragorn comes at east in part to the conclusion Curious would have him reach: he's given a scene where he realises he can no longer be part of the Quest of the Ring; and willingly sends off Frodo with his blessing, then turns to fight the orcs and so cover Frodo's escape.


Thinking about Gandalf the White's actions and infering his plans some more:
I think Gandalf's last overt piece of direct assistance to Frodo is when Frodo has the Ring on at Amon Hen. Frodo experiences being caught between two wills one of them is clearly Sauron, the other (we later deduce from Gandalf's comments to Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli in Fangorn) was Gandalf. So it seems that after this point, Gandalf feels he has done enough - he does not pursue Frodo and Sam to try and join up with them physically; instead he joins the other survivors of the Fellowship in the "distraction" of the War of the Ring. I think that Amon Hen scene is crucial - earlier Bracegirdle started a thread about whether Frodo is truly a volunteer http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=752705#752705, and that made me think that you could see Amon Hen as the point where Frodo truly accepts that this quest is for him alone (OK, and Sam Smile ). So maybe Gandalf isn't physically and directly needed once Frodo reaches that point? To pile speculation upon speculation, it's also conceivable that Gandalf's been instructed (or has decided) that the new wizardly priority is to take care of Saruman.

Taking this further, I've always assumed that Gandlaf had intended to help take the Ring to Mordor, but now I'm not so sure. Perhaps Gandalf always intended, or at least hoped, that he wouldn't be needed to accompany Frodo and Sam: there would have been some down-sides (a temptation to take the Ring; we've sometimes speculated upon whether Gandalf is magically visible to other magic-sensitive characters; he's needed elsewhere etc. ).

~~~~~~

"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!"

This year LOTR turns 60. The following image is my LOTR 60th anniversary party footer! You can get yours here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=762154#762154


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 2 2014, 3:38pm

Post #8 of 61 (1412 views)
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TA 2980 [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

Quote
" Gandalf likely knew that Aragorn had reconned Mordor in his younger days."


Wow, that's one big fact I missed.

Otaku-sempai, is this in the LOTR appendices? Somewhere else? You have me curious as I missed this in my readings and I'd like to look it up.



Yes, this is in Appendix AI(v) - Here Follows a Part of the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. Aragorn "returned from perils on the dark confines of Mordor" in 2980, just before he was reunited with Arwen in Lothlorien.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 2 2014, 4:19pm

Post #9 of 61 (1384 views)
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Back when he was a hobbit. [In reply to] Can't Post

He got better, or worse, depending on your point of view.

******************************************
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Oh you Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân we love you.
And our Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân loves us too.
East, west, anywhere we go, on Buri-Ghân we depend
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!!


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Sep 2 2014, 4:20pm)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 2 2014, 4:47pm

Post #10 of 61 (1347 views)
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Trotter? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Back when he was a hobbit. He got better, or worse, depending on your point of view.



That would be quite a surprise to Arwen. Not to mention Lord Elrond, and Aragorn's parents Arathorn and Gilraen! Tolkien does seem to indicate that Aragorn's exploration of Mordor took place after he led Gondor's 2980 raid on Umbar. That was a busy year for our Ranger.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Sep 2 2014, 6:25pm

Post #11 of 61 (1301 views)
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Frodo is, of course, the least qualified for the task... [In reply to] Can't Post

...by any objective standard. He has never traveled, he knows nothing of the world of ME or its peoples, he has no particular skills. But he has been Chosen. He is possibly an example of the legendary "Holy Fool".

I like your point (quoted from Curious) regarding Gandalf's ruthlessness. It's quite correct. Many readers believe that Gandalf deliberately "let go" in Moria, deciding that it was more important at this time for him to fight the Balrog than to keep dominating the Fellowship, as he was implicitly doing.

And since you've reminded us of Curious (who was a staple in the Reading Room for about 10 years, and I miss him!), I'd like to point out that he was a firm believer in Divine intervention throughout the quest. This was manifest, according to his theory, by wind direction: North and West winds were generated by Manwë, and were favorable, while South and East winds were from the "other side". There were other indications, but winds were the most consistent. The most blatant such intervention was, of course, against the Darkness before the Battle of the Pelennor.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Sep 2 2014, 6:36pm)


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 2 2014, 6:29pm

Post #12 of 61 (1254 views)
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"Fly, you fools!" [In reply to] Can't Post

Yep, he said it clear as day. Why didn't they listen?

******************************************
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Oh you Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân we love you.
And our Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân loves us too.
East, west, anywhere we go, on Buri-Ghân we depend
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!!


(This post was edited by Darkstone on Sep 2 2014, 6:29pm)


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Sep 2 2014, 6:31pm

Post #13 of 61 (1316 views)
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Yep. [In reply to] Can't Post

In early drafts of LotR, Trotter was an eccentric Hobbit with wooden feet, as the result of a Very Bad Experience in Mordor. In later drafts, as Tolkien began connecting this tale with the Legendarium, he evolved into Strider/Aragorn as we know him.








noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 2 2014, 6:39pm

Post #14 of 61 (1270 views)
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"Moral Compass"? [In reply to] Can't Post

Curious isin good company re the idea that directions are significant. I read…somewhere… criticism by Ursula K LeGuin suggesting that mentions if East and West particularly should be not interpreted merely literally.

Curious hasn't been very active during my time in the Reading Room, but Search can find many a fine thought from earlier reading room years!

~~~~~~

"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!"

This year LOTR turns 60. The following image is my LOTR 60th anniversary party footer! You can get yours here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=762154#762154


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 2 2014, 6:44pm

Post #15 of 61 (1228 views)
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Also Curious' 43 part Beowulf discussion on Off-Topic. / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

******************************************
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Oh you Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân we love you.
And our Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân loves us too.
East, west, anywhere we go, on Buri-Ghân we depend
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!!


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Sep 2 2014, 8:46pm

Post #16 of 61 (1282 views)
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Yes, indeed. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
In early drafts of LotR, Trotter was an eccentric Hobbit with wooden feet, as the result of a Very Bad Experience in Mordor. In later drafts, as Tolkien began connecting this tale with the Legendarium, he evolved into Strider/Aragorn as we know him.



I assumed that that was what Darkstone meant; although, in LotR Appendix A, Tolkien wrote of Aragorn, himself, in Mordor.

So, apparently, we have Aragorn wandering in the North in the years immediately following his departure from Rivendell in the Autumn of his twentieth year, followed by his errantries in Rohan and Gondor and investigation into Mordor before his reunion with Arwen in Lothlorien. His explorations into the South and East seem to have been (largely?) after his time in Lorien and ending around the time of Bilbo's eleventy-first birthday.

'There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.' - Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 2 2014, 8:50pm

Post #17 of 61 (1317 views)
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The answer's in the footer! :) [In reply to] Can't Post

Another fine footer there, Darkstone!
I think it might supply a fine conspiracy theory:

In Reply To
******************************************
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Oh you Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân we love you.
And our Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân loves us too.
East, west, anywhere we go, on Buri-Ghân we depend
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!!


Maybe "fly, you fools" was not a reference to the eagles, but to the flying car that Gandalf's friends the Wild Men had trapped and tamed. I believe it was a feral Ford Anglia, which had only recently escaped from a trans-fandom vortex, after a series of adventures which it never satisfactorily explained. Aragorn, was, however dead against this plan, as the Wild Men's earlier demonstration of the car's violent aerobatics was a painful memory (and explains why they were +really+ called the "pukel men".)

So I believe the real meaning of this fine traditional song became lost, even though the song itself was revived as an advertising jingle for the 4th age Wild Man Natural Body Care cosmetic range. (If I recall, that version ended "Ghân-Ghân Cherry Berry Lip Balm, your anti-chapping friend". )

~~~~~~

"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!"

This year LOTR turns 60. The following image is my LOTR 60th anniversary party footer! You can get yours here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=762154#762154


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 2 2014, 9:38pm

Post #18 of 61 (1240 views)
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My footer makes sense? [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow. Whodathunk?

******************************************
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Oh you Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân we love you.
And our Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân loves us too.
East, west, anywhere we go, on Buri-Ghân we depend
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!!


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 2 2014, 9:40pm

Post #19 of 61 (1221 views)
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Everything's Coming Up Woses… // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~

"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!"

This year LOTR turns 60. The following image is my LOTR 60th anniversary party footer! You can get yours here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=762154#762154


Darkstone
Immortal


Sep 2 2014, 9:43pm

Post #20 of 61 (1209 views)
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Theoden’s supposin’ his foesen are Wosen, but Theoden’s supposin’ erroneously. / [In reply to] Can't Post

 

******************************************
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Ghân-Ghân Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Oh you Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân we love you.
And our Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân loves us too.
East, west, anywhere we go, on Buri-Ghân we depend
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!
Ghân-Ghân-Buri-Buri-Ghân-Ghân
Our fine Drúedainic friend!!


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 2 2014, 10:27pm

Post #21 of 61 (1233 views)
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And who are we to question Gandalf's intelligence [In reply to] Can't Post

with commentary like this? (just kidding!)


squire
Half-elven


Sep 3 2014, 1:27am

Post #22 of 61 (1267 views)
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It's not clear if Aragorn entered Mordor [In reply to] Can't Post

Both the notes in the Appendix, the one given ("perils on the dark confines") and the one about his departure from Ecthelion's service ("when he was last seen his face was towards the Mountains of Shadow"), and his own words about his hunt for Gollum, ‘If a man must needs walk in sight of the Black Gate, or tread the deadly flowers of Morgul Vale, then perils he will have', suggest that he reconnoitred the mountains and vales on the borders of Mordor. I don't remember any indications that Aragorn had ever crossed into Mordor itself.

On the other side of this debate is the fact that Elrond had an actual map of Mordor, which Frodo was shown, for little effect as it turned out ("...but I only remember it vaguely.") It seems fair to suppose, as the text suggests ("Aragorn and Gandalf walked together or sat speaking of their road and the perils they would meet; and they pondered the storied and figured maps and books of lore that were in the house of Elrond") that Gandalf, Aragorn, and (why not?) Boromir would have studied that map most intensely, in consultation with Elrond who'd fought in Mordor right up to the foot of Barad-dur, in an attempt to figure out Frodo's best approach to the mountain.

Was Gandalf the one who would pick the entrance to Mordor once they had made it that far? Certainly when Frodo leaves Rivendell, Elrond implies that Gandalf's main task will be to escort the hobbit to the very end of the journey: "With you and your faithful servant, Gandalf will go; for this shall be his great task, and maybe the end of his labours."

But in the story Gandalf talks about the road to Mordor just once, or rather refuses to talk about it, when they reach Hollin and approach the Redhorn Gate:
We must go down the Silverlode into the secret woods, and so to the Great River, and then -’
He paused.
‘Yes, and where then?’ asked Merry.
‘To the end of the journey - in the end,’ said Gandalf. ‘We cannot look too far ahead.'

Oh. Gee, it sure sounds like Gandalf had no more idea of just how to penetrate Mordor than Frodo himself, or Aragorn later on.

As for Aragorn, both he and Boromir say explicitly that their course is to Minas Tirith, not Mordor with Frodo ("your road and our road lie together for many hundreds of miles"), and only when Gandalf is lost does Aragorn gradually realize his duty to the quest is to guide Frodo to Mt. Doom (At Parth Galen he says to the others, while Frodo is away, "If you would let me choose, then I should appoint three companions: Sam, who could not bear it otherwise; and Gimli; and myself.") Aragorn comments that in any case, and with any companions or none, "That venture is desperate". His tone suggests to me that he has no real plan or strategy to get past the guarded mountains except, as has already been explored here, a kind of dogged faith in the virtue of doing the right thing no matter how hopeless the prospect.



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squire
Half-elven


Sep 3 2014, 1:45am

Post #23 of 61 (1214 views)
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Verlyn Flieger is very good on the moral geography of the East-West axis also. [In reply to] Can't Post

See her discussion of it in her Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World (Kent State U. Press, 2002), starting on p. 121 of the Revised Edition paperback.

I miss Curious very much, but in the case of his Divine Winds advocacy, he repeatedly refused to be baited into actually tracking the mentions of wind direction throughout the text to see if Tolkien was making consistent use of the device. He admitted (I think) that it would be unlike Tolkien to have done so, given his dislike of layering symbolism and religiosity onto the story.



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HeWhoArisesinMight
Rivendell


Sep 3 2014, 2:58am

Post #24 of 61 (1259 views)
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Boromir is the wildcard.... [In reply to] Can't Post

If Boromir had lived, I think Aragorn would have wisely avoided Minas Tirith. As the Fellowship got closer to Gondor, Boromir's countenance changed drastically. I do not think Aragorn would have trusted Boromir if Frodo took the ring to Gondor (and he would definitely not trust Denethor).

Of course this is speculation, but Boromir's behavior would have raised red flags. Likely, Aragorn and Boromir would have come to blows over the ring. Boromir's saving grace was that he died defending Merry and Pippin and too late realized the errors of his ways. But if somehow the Ring got to Gondor, it would have been different. Boromir and Denethor would have tried to take it. Boromir was falling into madness with lust for the ring and Denethor would have claimed the Ring if it had come to him.

I do believe this was in the calculations of Aragorn as he thought of where to go after Gandalf's fall. Frodo noticed Boromir's change after Lorien and I'm sure Aragorn (and maybe even Legolas and Sam) would have, too.

Now, as pointed out, Aragorn would have made the tactical decision that the remaining 7 of the fellowship (minus Gandalf and Boromir) would have been too many to enter Mordor secretly. At any rate, Boromir had no plans to go on to Mordor once they reached Minas Tirith and would have tried to convince Frodo to stay (which he did atop Amen Hen). Boromir is the wildcard in the Fellowship and his actions largely determine which path everyone is forced to choose. If Aragorn had any plans, Boromir threw a wrench into them. Nonetheless, Frodo would have felt very uncomfortable going to Minas Tirith and Aragorn would have likely followed Frodo to Mordor if not for the breaking of the fellowship. However, that still doesn't mean they had a plan to enter Mordor.

(Btw, I wonder how Gandalf would have dealt with Boromir and Denethor if they tried to take the ring, assuming the Fellowship went to Gondor. I have a feeling that Gandalf would have bypassed Gondor once the Fellowship reached Amon Hen for the same reasons Frodo and Aragorn would have).


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Sep 3 2014, 5:36am

Post #25 of 61 (1206 views)
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He sort-of tracked them. [In reply to] Can't Post

At least in our LotR read-throughs that Curious participated in (five? six?) he almost always seized on any mention of winds to comment on their favorability or lack thereof.








(This post was edited by Elizabeth on Sep 3 2014, 5:36am)

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