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Breaking of the Fellowship part 2
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Milady
Rivendell


Apr 1 2008, 1:55am

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Boromir asserts that the strength and truth of Men has been protecting Frodo for longer than he knows, a fact which Frodo does not dispute. Then Frodo asks Boromir what would happen if, theoretically, Gondor should fail:

“The walls of Minas Tirith may be strong, but they are not strong enough. If they fail, what then?”
“We shall fail in battle valiantly. Yet there is still hope that they will not fail.”

A. Here Boromir dodges the question. He’s thinking about it in a warrior’s terms—of course it is any soldier’s dream to fall valiantly—but in the grand scheme of things, he gives no real answer. Why?

Boromir now goes so far as to ask to see the Ring, and Frodo catches a ‘strange gleam’ in his eyes. When refused, Boromir acts as if he doesn’t care, and asks why everyone had only ever considered the Ring’s evil uses. “…you seem ever to think only of its power in the hands of the Enemy: of its evil uses not of its good.”

B. Does the Ring even have good uses? What are they? Is the only reason everyone assumes it’s bad because it corrupts the user, or could it be used for good if the bearer was not corrupted?

When Frodo asks Boromir if he’d been listening to anything at the Council, Boromir gets up and starts telling Frodo how much he doubts the overall wisdom of Gandalf, Elrond and all the other elves. Perhaps they are frightened. At this point Boromir says something I found very interesting: “True-hearted Men, they will not be corrupted.”

C. Why doesn’t Boromir realize that he himself is being corrupted at this very moment? Do people under the power of the Ring know that it is the Ring’s influence?

Boromir keeps ranting at Frodo, saying how in this time of trouble they should be using the Enemy’s power against him. It is madness not to, he says. Now he says something else interesting: “What could not Aragorn do? Or if he refuses, why not Boromir?”

D. Is Boromir trying to get on Frodo’s good side by mentioning Aragorn because he knows Frodo trusts Aragorn? Or is Boromir at this stage in the Quest genuinely accepting Aragorn as a leader?

Now the text says he starts to ignore Frodo, and speaks of plans for “…walls and weapons, and of the mustering of men; and he drew plans for great alliances and glorious victories to be; and he cast down Mordor, and became himself a mighty king, benevolent and wise.” He says that he doesn’t want to destroy it, but he would agree that they should—if there was any chance of it.

Boromir here calls Frodo a Halfling walking blindly into Mordor, and then turns to talk to Frodo once more with a friendly face. When Frodo announces that he has made a decision, Boromir acts as if he has convinced Frodo to come to Gondor with him.

E. He has just about insulted most of the people Frodo looks up to, and Frodo himself. Why does he think he just encouraged Frodo to trust him?

Has anyone ever wondered what would have happened if Smaug had ate Bilbo, and therefore the ring? It would be interesting to see Sauron send orcs to go diving for the Ring.


Darkstone
Immortal


Apr 1 2008, 1:49pm

Post #2 of 73 (460 views)
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This is your brain on ringlust. [In reply to] Can't Post

A. Here Boromir dodges the question. He’s thinking about it in a warrior’s terms—of course it is any soldier’s dream to fall valiantly—but in the grand scheme of things, he gives no real answer. Why?

Like you said, book Boromir is a warrior. A warrior fights until he dies. That’s in his values. Like in Beowulf. In Germanic culture you embrace your Wyrd. If you’re intended to die, you die. But you’re expected to fight up to the last. That’s being true to Fate. But Boromir is also saying that they might not die. Fate may indeed have another plan for Gondor. One just has to keep on fighting as best one can, using all the skill and weapons at one’s disposal. Like the ring. Fate has brought the ring almost to Gondor, therefore it must be fate that it be used to protect Gondor. The ring has been brought to within Boromir's grasp, therefore it must be his Wyrd to seize it. It's all part of the self-justification.


B. Does the Ring even have good uses?

Sure.


What are they?

Escaping goblin caves, fighting giant spiders, rescuing Dwarves from Elven dungeons, and sneaking in and out of dragon's lairs.


Is the only reason everyone assumes it’s bad because it corrupts the user, or could it be used for good if the bearer was not corrupted?

It’s like opium or heroin or cocaine or marijuana. There are indeed quite beneficial uses for all of these drugs. However, they are controlled because many believe that they just can’t be used without inevitably corrupting the user.


C. Why doesn’t Boromir realize that he himself is being corrupted at this very moment?

That’s the nature of the corruption. It’s like drugs. He thinks he can handle it.


Do people under the power of the Ring know that it is the Ring’s influence?

Ever talk to a drug user? They’re all convinced that they’re the ones in control. They have to hit bottom to realize the true situation, that they’re slaves to the drugs.


D. Is Boromir trying to get on Frodo’s good side by mentioning Aragorn because he knows Frodo trusts Aragorn?

He’s subtly trying to undermine Aragorn (Nnt only with Frodo, but to justify to himself) by implying that Aragorn doesn’t have the will or strength to do what must be done.


Or is Boromir at this stage in the Quest genuinely accepting Aragorn as a leader?

Quite the contrary. He’s opining that Aragorn is refusing to use the ring, refusing to aid Gondor, refusing out of weakness. Therefore the stronger Boromir will step in and do what must be done. Since Aragorn will not, Boromir will use the ring, save Gondor, and, reluctantly, modestly, submit to the will of the people and become the strong king that Aragorn cannot.


E. He has just about insulted most of the people Frodo looks up to, and Frodo himself. Why does he think he just encouraged Frodo to trust him?

That’s the nature of drugs. You only hear what you want to hear. You can tell a druggie “no” a million times and they’ll always hear “yes”. Then when you act on that “no” they’ll act like you lied to them and betrayed them. So they feel justified in whatever reaction they have, like, say attacking you or stealing from you. Like Boromir is about to do.

Tolkien really has an impressive grasp of the psychology of addiction.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.”



(This post was edited by Darkstone on Apr 1 2008, 1:50pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 1 2008, 4:12pm

Post #3 of 73 (433 views)
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A. Here Boromir dodges the question. He’s thinking about it in a warrior’s terms—of course it is any soldier’s dream to fall valiantly—but in the grand scheme of things, he gives no real answer. Why?

Frodo assumes that the walls of Minas Tirith are not strong enough to protect the Ring, which they aren't, if no one uses the Ring itself to change the odds. Boromir doesn't want to protect the Ring, he wants to use the Ring.

B. Does the Ring even have good uses? What are they? Is the only reason everyone assumes it’s bad because it corrupts the user, or could it be used for good if the bearer was not corrupted?

Sure the Ring has good uses. Frodo uses it to escape from Boromir -- that's good. Bilbo has used it in a similar manner. Frodo may use it to control Gollum, which could be considered a good use. And if Gandalf the White used it, he could defeat Sauron -- that's good, right? Not everyone assumes it is bad. Boromir and Denethor and Saruman do not. And even Gandalf is willing to concede that he is tempted to use the Ring precisely because it would enable him to do much good -- at the beginning. In the end there are two equally evil dangers; that the promise of defeating Sauron with the Ring is an illusion (as it surely is for Boromir or Gollum or Sam or Frodo when they are tempted, and probably is for everyone other than Gandalf the White), or that by using the Ring to defeat Sauron, a powerful ringbearer like Gandalf the White will simply take Sauron's place in the world, ruling by domination and enslaving all free peoples. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

C. Why doesn’t Boromir realize that he himself is being corrupted at this very moment? Do people under the power of the Ring know that it is the Ring’s influence?

Absent the Higher Powers or Providence, Boromir's arguments make perfect sense. Indeed, we hear his arguments all the time in the Primary World. It's realpolitik 101. Be practical, Frodo. War is Hell, and all is fair when waging war. Don't be naive. You want the truth? You can't handle the truth.

And by the way, I don't mean to disparage the value of pragmatism in the Primary World. Idealism can be deadly. Pragmatism and compromise can lead to peace. But that's not Middle-earth. There is no compromise with Sauron, nor will any good come from fighting Sauron with his own weapons.

D. Is Boromir trying to get on Frodo’s good side by mentioning Aragorn because he knows Frodo trusts Aragorn? Or is Boromir at this stage in the Quest genuinely accepting Aragorn as a leader?

There is nothing genuine about Boromir's speech.

E. He has just about insulted most of the people Frodo looks up to, and Frodo himself. Why does he think he just encouraged Frodo to trust him?

This is a weakness of Tolkien's fantasy. Tolkien cannot truly play devil's advocate without endangering the moral certainty of his fantasy. So Boromir remains unpersuasive, as do all the villains in the tale. We must assume that those who do evil or are tempted to do evil see the world very differently from how it is portrayed by the narrator or through the eyes of the hobbits. For Boromir right now, black is white and white is black, beautiful is ugly and ugly is beautiful, truths are lies and lies are truths. Thus he is amazed that Frodo is not persuaded by his words, while we the readers are amazed that Boromir would think he had persuaded Frodo.




Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 1 2008, 4:58pm

Post #4 of 73 (443 views)
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Tolkien really has an impressive grasp of the psychology of addiction.



I remember my utter shock when I first read Tolkien's bizarre praise of the poppy, left out of the Silmarillion. But that got me to thinking.

First, some background. I will acknowledge right off that I have heard so many contradictory accounts of Tolkien's medical discharge (including in different published biographies) that I might have reconstructed it erroneously. But as near as I can figure out, he sustained a wound that should not have been serious, which became complicated by a mysterious high fever with a psychosomatic element (shades of Faramir!) The fever would spike whenever the hospital prepared to send him back to the front, till they finally gave up and discharged him. Keep in mind that he had absolutely no conscious control of this, and it darn near killed him, so it had nothing to do with cowardice or anything like that. Yet it also saved him from a battle that killed most of his regiment, and it gave him the fever dreams that led to his realization that his invented languages would best suit warrior fairies/elves.

Now, consider that in WWI people were a lot more naive about morphine, and routinely administered it in excess to wounded soldiers. Many became addicted as a result, and nobody knew of any cure. Tolkien obviously did not become addicted--but he would have experienced the risk. He knew what junkies feel.

By all accounts Sam was based on the valiant bat-boy who got Tolkien out alive after his wounding. Those tender moments in the story where Sam takes Frodo's hand and prevents him from putting on the ring might well parallel the bat-boy preventing Tolkien from resorting to more morphine, thereby saving him from addiction (perhaps motivated by a fear of what the drug might do to make his fever worse.) Later, seeing other soldiers who'd had no such aid to resist addiction, Tolkien would have felt shocked at the fate that he'd escaped--but he would also understand Boromir, and later Smeagol.

My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.

(This post was edited by Dreamdeer on Apr 1 2008, 4:59pm)


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 1 2008, 5:36pm

Post #5 of 73 (409 views)
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Quote
Boromir asserts that the strength and truth of Men has been protecting Frodo for longer than he knows, a fact which Frodo does not dispute. Then Frodo asks Boromir what would happen if, theoretically, Gondor should fail:

“The walls of Minas Tirith may be strong, but they are not strong enough. If they fail, what then?”
“We shall fail in battle valiantly. Yet there is still hope that they will not fail.”

A. Here Boromir dodges the question. He’s thinking about it in a warrior’s terms—of course it is any soldier’s dream to fall valiantly—but in the grand scheme of things, he gives no real answer. Why?



A lack of imagination so profound that it doesn't even recognize itself. Reminds me of so many people in power today--the generals think in terms of military action, economists think in terms of monetary action, ideologues think in terms of philosphical action, and nobody puts together a comprehensive solution that actually works--or seems to realize that they are not actually providing any reliable long-term answers!


Quote
Boromir now goes so far as to ask to see the Ring, and Frodo catches a ‘strange gleam’ in his eyes. When refused, Boromir acts as if he doesn’t care, and asks why everyone had only ever considered the Ring’s evil uses. “…you seem ever to think only of its power in the hands of the Enemy: of its evil uses not of its good.”

B. Does the Ring even have good uses? What are they? Is the only reason everyone assumes it’s bad because it corrupts the user, or could it be used for good if the bearer was not corrupted?



As mentioned by others, the ring has many handy short-term uses, even as narcotics can serve a short-term use to help a patient survive surgery. But Boromir is not talking about the short term--he is talking about a comprehensive long-term use of the ring in its most dangerous capacity--suborning the will of others! He makes the leap that many rationalizers do, in assuming that a small and constrained application of something dangerous, which turns out to bring no harm, means that it must not be dangerous at all.


Quote
When Frodo asks Boromir if he’d been listening to anything at the Council, Boromir gets up and starts telling Frodo how much he doubts the overall wisdom of Gandalf, Elrond and all the other elves. Perhaps they are frightened. At this point Boromir says something I found very interesting: “True-hearted Men, they will not be corrupted.”

C. Why doesn’t Boromir realize that he himself is being corrupted at this very moment? Do people under the power of the Ring know that it is the Ring’s influence?



Boromir is hiding behind projection, a psychological phenomenon of major significance. In projection, a person who does not want to admit to having any Shadow-side sees what they deny in themselves as an exaggeration of the flaws in others. The lusty preacher who sees everyone around him as depraved and slutty, the politician who becomes so obsessed with the corruption of other politicians that he can do nothing that seems anywhere near as bad in comparison (in his own mind) or the police officer who beats up a prisoner that he calls a violent animal, all succumb to the temptations of projection.

And Boromir falls into the classical pattern of projection degeneration. 1) He exaggerates his own virtue as a Man of the West, refusing to examine his own weaknesses too closely--in effect refusing the opportunity Galadriel offered to come to terms with his temptations. 2) He starts to see weaknesses all around him, in wizards, elves, and half-elves, and eventually in hobbits--anyone who is not like him. 3) He sees anything that he might do as forgiveable in comparison to the (perceived greater) corruption of others. 4) Having become blind to his Shadow-side, it now has the freedom to sneak up on him and whack him from behind, when he's not looking--and in the blink of an eye he suddenly becomes the very thing he most passionately hates in others! Boromir becomes brother to the preacher caught in bed with a prostitute, the politician found with his hand in the till, the policeman up on charges for abusing his badge.


Quote
Boromir keeps ranting at Frodo, saying how in this time of trouble they should be using the Enemy’s power against him. It is madness not to, he says. Now he says something else interesting: “What could not Aragorn do? Or if he refuses, why not Boromir?”

D. Is Boromir trying to get on Frodo’s good side by mentioning Aragorn because he knows Frodo trusts Aragorn? Or is Boromir at this stage in the Quest genuinely accepting Aragorn as a leader?



I actually think he does accept Aragorn as a leader. Frodo later refers to Boromir as accepting Aragorn's claim, even though Frodo has absolutely no reason at that point to give Boromir the benefit of the doubt. But he also has grave doubts about Aragorn's willingness to lead--something that Aragorn at this time has brought on himself. Boromir is, in effect saying, "He has the right, but I have the will--if he doesn't want it, then I do!"


In Reply To

Now the text says he starts to ignore Frodo, and speaks of plans for “…walls and weapons, and of the mustering of men; and he drew plans for great alliances and glorious victories to be; and he cast down Mordor, and became himself a mighty king, benevolent and wise.” He says that he doesn’t want to destroy it, but he would agree that they should—if there was any chance of it.

Boromir here calls Frodo a Halfling walking blindly into Mordor, and then turns to talk to Frodo once more with a friendly face. When Frodo announces that he has made a decision, Boromir acts as if he has convinced Frodo to come to Gondor with him.

E. He has just about insulted most of the people Frodo looks up to, and Frodo himself. Why does he think he just encouraged Frodo to trust him?



Because by now he has gone utterly mad. And it is not an uncommon madness among those who fancy themselves benevolent dictators. They call you utterly worthless when it comes to managing your own affairs, and expect gratitude when they offer (forcefully) to take the burden of freedom off of you. One hears this &%$#! from the BIA all the time.

My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.


Menelwyn
Rohan


Apr 1 2008, 11:38pm

Post #6 of 73 (424 views)
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realizing the corruption [In reply to] Can't Post

C. Why doesn’t Boromir realize that he himself is being corrupted at this very moment? Do people under the power of the Ring know that it is the Ring’s influence?
Well, it's instructive to consider our other cases here. Gandalf and Galadriel both recognize the power of the Ring's influence while they do not actually have it in their possession. They can resist it precisely because they are not utterly under its influence when they make their choices, and they know that they would be corrupted uncontrollably if they did have the Ring. Gollum of course had the Ring and was corrupted by it. I suspect that he did realize he had been corrupted (at least by the time he had lost the Ring), thus the "Smeagol" personality, but was helpless to resist it. Bilbo knew that he was being corrupted, and although he had a moment where he nearly gave into it, he stopped. Frodo recognizes the Ring's effects on himself time and again, and resists for as long as possible, though he fails in the end.

But Sam's case is particularly interesting, because with him we see inside his thoughts at the moment he is tempted and when he actually possesses the Ring. He sees himself as Samwise the Strong, the great hero, and he sees himself making the whole world, even Mordor, a garden. But Sam also realizes that this is all the Ring's influence. He knows that what the Ring offers is not really him, not really what he desires, not really what is appropriate for him or what he loves. Sam's humility is what enables him to realize this. Boromir, by contrast, lacks that humility, and thus does not see the Ring's influence for what it is. He knows he is a great warrior; he sees himself as an even greater warrior, and does not see any inconsistency. He will be a great leader of men, but he sees himself as king, and his pride does not let him see that he is not supposed to be king.

This contrast is illustrative. The Ring makes promises, but the promises are false: they might come true, but their fulfillment will make the user of the Ring into something other than what he/she truly is. Only someone who is humble enough and who understands himself well enough to realize that will have any chance of fighting the Ring's corruption. That's why it is the hobbits who must undertake the Quest. And sadly for Frodo, even that is not enough in the end.


Tolkien Forever
Gondor

Apr 2 2008, 3:12pm

Post #7 of 73 (402 views)
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Boromir Does Have The Answer [In reply to] Can't Post

A. Here Boromir dodges the question. He’s thinking about it in a warrior’s terms—of course it is any soldier’s dream to fall valiantly—but in the grand scheme of things, he gives no real answer. Why?

Yes he does. Boromir says plainly: "Yet there is still hope they (the walls of Minas Tirith) will not fall". This shows he still has hope in military victory, or at least in staving off defeat.


Boromir now goes so far as to ask to see the Ring, and Frodo catches a ‘strange gleam’ in his eyes. When refused, Boromir acts as if he doesn’t care, and asks why everyone had only ever considered the Ring’s evil uses. “…you seem ever to think only of its power in the hands of the Enemy: of its evil uses not of its good.”

B. Does the Ring even have good uses? What are they? Is the only reason everyone assumes it’s bad because it corrupts the user, or could it be used for good if the bearer was not corrupted?

Of course, the Wise have long studdied the matter, but only have small evidence to go on: The revelation of the 3 (2?) Elven-Ringbears at the time Sauron put on the One Ring & the treason of Saruman, plus Isildur's refusal to destroy the Ring & Smeagol/Gollum to some degree.

Yet, even the question itself, in the light of Tolkien's plain commentary on the Ring, shows the corruption of fallen man's hearts. Unsure


When Frodo asks Boromir if he’d been listening to anything at the Council, Boromir gets up and starts telling Frodo how much he doubts the overall wisdom of Gandalf, Elrond and all the other elves. Perhaps they are frightened. At this point Boromir says something I found very interesting: “True-hearted Men, they will not be corrupted.”

C. Why doesn’t Boromir realize that he himself is being corrupted at this very moment? Do people under the power of the Ring know that it is the Ring’s influence?

Just as in this world, deception from evil is, uh, a decption.


Boromir keeps ranting at Frodo, saying how in this time of trouble they should be using the Enemy’s power against him. It is madness not to, he says. Now he says something else interesting: “What could not Aragorn do? Or if he refuses, why not Boromir?”

D. Is Boromir trying to get on Frodo’s good side by mentioning Aragorn because he knows Frodo trusts Aragorn? Or is Boromir at this stage in the Quest genuinely accepting Aragorn as a leader?

I must conclude that from past history that lust for the Ring has driven Boromir to the point that Boromir & only Boromir will get the Ring.
He may half believe Aragorn could be offered the Ring first, knowing he will refuse, but it's probably a 'soft-sell' to Frodo.

This statement reminds me of Saruman to Gandalf: "As the power grows, it's proved friends will also grow, & the Wise, such as YOU & I, may with patience come at last to direct it's courses to control it."

Gandalf; "Saruman, only one hand at a time can weild the one...so do not bother to say we"


E. He has just about insulted most of the people Frodo looks up to, and Frodo himself. Why does he think he just encouraged Frodo to trust him?

If you've ever seen somebody under the influence of drugs or alchol (or their own ego), you'd understand.


sador
Half-elven

Apr 2 2008, 9:21pm

Post #8 of 73 (361 views)
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Going over the top [In reply to] Can't Post

A. Here Boromir dodges the question. He’s thinking about it in a warrior’s terms—of course it is any soldier’s dream to fall valiantly—but in the grand scheme of things, he gives no real answer. Why?
Frodo doesn't give an answer to why they should send the Ring blindly to Mordor, and give the Enemy every chance to recover it. He quotes Gandalf, and Elrond - who never gave a good reason to that (except for the Enemy not expecting it).
So it's quite unfair to accuse Boromir of dodging the question, isn't it?
B. Does the Ring even have good uses? What are they? Is the only reason everyone assumes it’s bad because it corrupts the user, or could it be used for good if the bearer was not corrupted?
Anything can have good uses, even nuclear weapons (assuming military victory is a good thing). And I don't think peple believe Truman became corrupted; they just recoiled in horror from the terror that Man has unleashed.
C. Why doesn’t Boromir realize that he himself is being corrupted at this very moment? Do people under the power of the Ring know that it is the Ring’s influence?
When discussing 'The Mirror of Galadriel', Dreamdeer claimed Boromir's fall began with his arrogance in saying "It need not be said that I refused to listen. The Men of Minas Tirith are true to their word".
Ever since, I follow carefully Dreamdeer's posts, hoping to find similar insights. But to answer your question, he started refusing to look in the Mirror back then.
D. Is Boromir trying to get on Frodo’s good side by mentioning Aragorn because he knows Frodo trusts Aragorn? Or is Boromir at this stage in the Quest genuinely accepting Aragorn as a leader?
I agree with Dreamdeer again; Boromir did accept Aragorn as a leader. But he seems to be disappointed with him.
E. He has just about insulted most of the people Frodo looks up to, and Frodo himself. Why does he think he just encouraged Frodo to trust him?
Great point! And I can think of no better answer than those others gave here already.



"For many long years I have pondered" - Galadriel


ArathornJax
Lorien


Apr 3 2008, 5:49am

Post #9 of 73 (385 views)
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A. Here Boromir dodges the question. He’s thinking about it in a warrior’s terms—of course it is any soldier’s dream to fall valiantly—but in the grand scheme of things, he gives no real answer. Why?
Usually when people are vague in answering a question it is because they are dodging it. So why is Boromir dodging it? I think there are several reasons. First, Boromir is having a UIOR (under the influence of the ring) moment. Next, it is Boromir's hope that the ring will go to Minas Tirith and there defeat Sauron and his armies. Finally, examining the structure of the sentence confirms this. "Yet there is still hope that they will not fail." What is that hope? It has to be something powerfully enough to stop the enemy and the only thing that could is the ring.



B. Does the Ring even have good uses? What are they? Is the only reason everyone assumes it’s bad because it corrupts the user, or could it be used for good if the bearer was not corrupted?
The ring is entirely evil and uses its owner for its own purposes so that it can achieve its goal of reuniting with its master, Sauron. The corruption of the bearer by the ring happens so that the owner will eventualy take the ring back to Sauron (or be taken by his forces). I think one of the messages about the ring is that if someone takes it to do "good" they ring will find what it is that will allow the ring to control them. For Gandalf I believe it was pity back at Bag End when he was talking with Frodo. For Boromir it is a combination of his ego "all men will flock to me" and his desire to protect his people. The ring uses both to appeal to him and thus Boromir justifies his thought process and his own personal desires by placing it in the name of helping his people. Boromir commits a folly and in the end pays for his folly. IF he had seized the ring, in the end, he would have been overcome and fallen. The same would have happen to Bilbo but Bilbo did something that no one else does in the history of the ring, he gives it up willingly, and that saved him. The ring may make you invisible but in LOTR, that is perilous. Frodo puts the ring at Bree (accidentally?) and it allows the Black Riders to confirm where he is at. At Weathertop he wears it again that that allows the Witch King to inflict his wound. At Amon Hem Frodo uses it again and is almost revealed to what his mission is to Sauron. Sam uses it and it prevents his capture, but he is tempted to seize the ring with his visions of the good he can do and restore to the green earth. Finally, Frodo at Mt. Doom claims the ring allowing Sauron to see the plan of the West and without Gollum, the quest would have failed. So in the end, no, the ring has no real good uses, especially if you examine the after affects and the cost to the individual.

C. Why doesn’t Boromir realize that he himself is being corrupted at this very moment? Do people under the power of the Ring know that it is the Ring’s influence?
Boromir here has what my son calls the I or me syndrome. At this point it is all about him and achieving what he wants. In his mind it makes perfect sense what he is desiring and wanting the ring for. The Council and Frodo don't know what they are talking about. Perhaps another way to look at it is when you are in the middle of a situation and your entire focus is on that situation, everything else becomes a blur or is ignored. The result is you don't realize the influences working on you at that time and Boromir is the same I believe. The influence of the Ring probably enhances this as well.


D. Is Boromir trying to get on Frodo’s good side by mentioning Aragorn because he knows Frodo trusts Aragorn? Or is Boromir at this stage in the Quest genuinely accepting Aragorn as a leader?
I agree that Boromir has accepted Aragorn's leadership here but he is saying that if the natural, the real, the true born leader refuses, then why shouldn't the next in line being Boromir be allowed to use the ring. A side note from Hammond and Scull in the Reader's Companion is the notion that the ring is appealing to Boromir's ego (his desire to be a great leader of men "all men will flock to me") and a sincere desire to protect his city, country, people and his way of life. That is how the ring gets to him. I know this is speculative but I think Boromir could serve as a model for how Sauron in the second age used similar desires for power and domination over men to grant the nine their rings to their masters. Then when they did not realize it, they were caught (too late to turn back) and that is how some at least became the Nazgul. Would Boromir had falled? I have my opinion but this thread is not the place for that discussion I don't think.

E. He has just about insulted most of the people Frodo looks up to, and Frodo himself. Why does he think he just encouraged Frodo to trust him?
Per disillusionment. Boromir could though be acting upon the last appeal method. He may think Frodo has chosen against him but is using a reverse close on him acting like Frodo is coming with him to make Frodo think that he will, the reverse of what Frodo really has decided.




" . . . (we are ) too engrossed in thinking of everything as a preparation or training or making one fit -- for what? At any minute it is what we are and are doing, not what we plan to be and do that counts."

J.R.R. Tolkien in his 6 October 1940 letter to his son Michael Tolkien.




Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 3 2008, 4:55pm

Post #10 of 73 (396 views)
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Bilbo and the Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

Oh, how the Ring tried to corrupt Bilbo! And she succeeded a little, but never enough for her purposes. And yet, as Gandalf is fond of saying, "Oft evil will shall evil mar."

First, there she is, lying in the dirt, having ditched her latest, disappointing lover, looking for somebody, anybody to get her out of that pit. So along comes a hobbit--well, a sort of hobbit picked her up before, she could work with that. She thinks. Immediately she connives him to cheat at riddles, sort of, borderline, to get her away from her ex, and she gets him past the goblin-guards alive, because that's on both of their agendas. Okay, so she'll do a good deed now and then if it's in her best interest. To make up for it, she entices him to humiliate the dwarvish guard by sneaking past Balin instead of a more sensible, up-front approach--but Bilbo eventually confesses his advantage, drat him!

He doesn't do much of anything with her until the encounter with giant spiders. Here he uses her for the good purpose of rescuing his friends. Well, she can work with that, twist it into a power thing. And so, from that point on the dwarves become weirdly obsequious to Bilbo, turning to him for solutions to everything despite their own greater experience. But instead of being pleased with his advance in power, Bilbo becomes annoyed! Okay, scratch that plan. Maybe all hobbits are antisocial curmudgeons--she will take that tack with him. Later, when it suits her.

She does find in him a temptation to actually become the burglar that he has been misnamed; perhaps she stumbles across the memory of his disastrous attempt to rob a troll. Okay, if that's the kind of power he wants, she can give it to him. He embarks on a life of nonstop invisibility, robbing the elves blind of food and drink, becoming more miserably Gollum-like, day by day. This will do until she can find the right point to abandon him so that some ambitious elvish princeling can pick her up, foolishly challenge the "Necromancer" and inadvertently deliver her right back to her one true love. Except that instead of being completely Gollumized and learning to care for nobody but himself, Bilbo has to go and use his invisibility to rescue his friends and get out of there!

Oh well, she is stuck with him for awhile, until she can get him to lose her someplace more strategic. And joy of joy, he heads straight for the stronghold of a dragon! Excellent development. The dragon will eventually win, crisping him and all of his friends (if she can just lure Bilbo into a situation where all depends on his invisibility, and drop off of him suddenly just like Isildur) then she will lie in a dragon's hoard until Sauron sends for it, dragons being allies of his, and reveal herself to her true love on the spot!

But the dratted creature keeps escaping back to his friends! Maybe she can cause a rift between him and his friends. She tempts the burglar in him to steal the Arkenstone. The fool turns right around and gives it to the Elven King for bargaining leverage, to try and stop a war! Events move fast after this, and she quickly loses all chance of a strategic shift of power. Bilbo, in fact, becomes so open about the Ring that Thranduil actually teases him about her, never even suspecting that she could make Thranduil powerful beyond his wildest dreams--and so Thranduil escapes temptation, dismissing the One Ring as a clever trinket. The nerve! Not only that, Bilbo pays back the price of all he stole from the elves, making her grip on him still more slippery.

So, she bides her time, as she has done for centuries. She starts to look at a long-term solution. Since his adventure has robbed Bilbo of his reputation and branded him as the Eccentric of Hobbiton, she will see what she can do with that. Isolate him more and more, teach him to despise his fellow citizens, eventually make him restless enough and contemptuous enough that he will shun everybody and wander off alone into the wilderness. If she can time it just right, he will do so right when her Beloved regains enough power to come looking for her--and then there will Bilbo be, alone and friendless in the wild!

Marriage? Absolutely out of the question. She successfully hardens his heart to the sort of relationship that might crack open the selfishness and contempt that she encourages in him. It helps that he mainly uses her to avoid annoying relatives; she can exacerbate his annoyance until he places everybody in that category.

But what's this? In suppressing matrimonial love, she forgot all about paternal love--it didn't seem an issue, if he never got close enough to a female to sire offspring. How was she to know that he would take pity on an orphan? And what a mess that creates! Once he starts to love again, the floodgates open. He starts to befriend younger cousins that the new kid invites into Bag End. Oh good grief, he's got relationships again, anchoring him more tightly than ever to the Shire, that dull backwater where nobody of interest to her ever goes. This is even worse than Gollum's puddle, because nobody's greed seems to reach far past their dinner plate, everybody seems perversely enamored of the simple life, and ambition seems to escape everybody's notice, except for one pimply kid among Bilbo's relations that she already conditioned him to list as an annoyance. She has got to get him out of here!

So she keeps wearing at him and wearing at him until he's nearly as sick of the Shire as she is. And what does he do? Gives her away, before he goes, to another bumpkin disinclined to leave his comfy hole, so she has to start all over again from scratch, working on Frodo! What's a poor ring to do?

My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.


Beren IV
Gondor


Apr 3 2008, 11:21pm

Post #11 of 73 (337 views)
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The Ring has one good use, [In reply to] Can't Post

and only one good use: because Sauron's power is bound up in it, by destroying it the Fellowship hopes to destroy Sauron. But only by its destruction does it have any power for good!

That said, Frodo does use it later to tame and cow Gollum...

Once a paleontologist, now a botanist, will be a paleobotanist


sador
Half-elven

Apr 4 2008, 7:40am

Post #12 of 73 (337 views)
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Good one! [In reply to] Can't Post

I joined after the mod system was abolished, but if I could I would give you the mods up.
Just loved this post, and I tend to agree as well.

"For many long years I have pondered" - Galadriel


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Apr 4 2008, 5:38pm

Post #13 of 73 (336 views)
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You made my day! [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you so much, Sador! I was worried that the post might have been out of place.

My website http://www.dreamdeer.grailmedia.com offers fanfic, and message-boards regarding intentional community or faerie exploration.


Milady
Rivendell


Apr 5 2008, 12:44am

Post #14 of 73 (319 views)
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Hilarious! [In reply to] Can't Post

Mods up if I could, but since I can't I'll just have to go with telling you that I think that was really, really, entertaining!Smile

Has anyone ever wondered what would have happened if Smaug had ate Bilbo, and therefore the ring? It would be interesting to see Sauron send orcs to go diving for the Ring.


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 5 2008, 3:33pm

Post #15 of 73 (343 views)
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Tolkien loved reworking his stories [In reply to] Can't Post

in this manner, making old facts fit with new facts. But when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, the Ring was still just a ring, offering Bilbo invisibility but not tempting him with visions, and indeed Gollum originally did not discovery the Ring in the Anduin, but instead got cut off from his friends -- like Bilbo -- and discovered a ring in the tunnels -- like Bilbo.

Tolkien only rewrote a bit of The Hobbit after LotR, so I don't think the Ring, for example, tempted Bilbo to steal the Arkenstone. Nor do I think the Ring was responsible for Bilbo's failure to marry like other hobbits -- that, I believe, was more do to his adventures and friendship with dwarves and elves, which made him almost as much of a stranger in his own land as Frodo at the end of LotR.

The Ring did have an effect on Bilbo, though. He developed an unhealthy attachment to the Ring, as we see in the beginning of LotR and again in Rivendell. The Ring also kept Bilbo unnaturally young, something that I believe changes only after the Ring is unmade (and not when he gives up the Ring, as it is portrayed in the movies). I think that when Bilbo sinks into dementia at the end of LotR, that is a sign that he is healing, not hurting. His body and mind age rapidly as he heals.

Why then does Bilbo go west? As a reward to Bilbo, yes, but not to be healed. Bilbo will, I'm sure, not live long in the Undying Lands. No, I believe the primary reason Bilbo goes with Frodo is as a companion to Frodo, as well as a reward to Bilbo. Think how much sadder it would have been for Frodo if he had sailed without even Bilbo accompanying him!

Similarly, I think Sam is given the opportunity to sail at the end of his life not just as a reward to Sam, but also as something for Frodo to look forward to as he lives out his life in Elvenhome. I'm not saying Frodo won't be happy among the elves, as Bilbo was happy in Rivendell. But I think looking forward to seeing Sam again at the end of a long life increased Frodo's happiness, as well as Sam's.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 5 2008, 4:42pm

Post #16 of 73 (324 views)
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A couple of thoughts [In reply to] Can't Post

dawned on me when I read your very interesting post.


In Reply To
Nor do I think the Ring was responsible for Bilbo's failure to marry like other hobbits -- that, I believe, was more do to his adventures and friendship with dwarves and elves, which made him almost as much of a stranger in his own land as Frodo at the end of LotR.



I'm not sure whether this helps us to figure out Bilbo's motives for not marrying, but perhaps it is interesting to remember that in early drafts of LotR, Bilbo did marry and "Frodo" was his son (Frodo had a diffferent name at the time, of course). So the Bilbo of The Hobbit, the friend of dwarves and elves, was quite capable of marriage, it seems. But as Tolkien's ideas for the story got darker, Bilbo changed from a happily married father to a slightly odd loner. In other words, perhaps is was the evolution of the ring into the Ring in Tolkien's mind that changed Bilbo. In which case, perhaps the Ring was responsible for Bilbo's failure to marry, in a manner of speaking...


In Reply To
I'm not saying Frodo won't be happy among the elves, as Bilbo was happy in Rivendell. But I think looking forward to seeing Sam again at the end of a long life increased Frodo's happiness, as well as Sam's.



This has always seemed like a bittersweet and uncertain reward for the two of them. Either of them could have made decisions that would have left the other disappointed. Frodo could have followed Bilbo in choosing to depart his mortal life before Sam arrived. Sam could have chosen to stay in the bosom of his family, live out his natural life cared for perhaps by his beloved Elanor, and eventually be buried beside his wife in his own land.

That Sam chose to leave Middle-earth at the end of his life, and set off alone (except for his Elven shipmates, of course) across the Sundering Seas, in the hope and expectation that Frodo would still be there, says a lot about the faith required to make that final reward come true.



...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 5 2008, 6:28pm

Post #17 of 73 (329 views)
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Thoughts about your thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
But as Tolkien's ideas for the story got darker, Bilbo changed from a happily married father to a slightly odd loner. In other words, perhaps is was the evolution of the ring into the Ring in Tolkien's mind that changed Bilbo. In which case, perhaps the Ring was responsible for Bilbo's failure to marry, in a manner of speaking...


First of all, I'm at a disadvantage, since I have not read Tolkien's drafts or CT's commentary on them. I've never been enthused about doing so since I have rarely found cites to those drafts very helpful in interpreting the final version. It always seems to me hard to tell whether something in the draft was at all relevant to the final version. Or perhaps I'm just too attached to the final text and afraid to look behind the curtain.

Nevertheless, even accepting the evolution as you describe it, I would say that you are right when you say that the story got darker, but wrong to attribute that all to the Ring. In other words, as the story got darker, many aspects of the story got darker. One of those aspects was the evolution of the ring into the Ring. Another was the evolution of Bilbo into a bachelor with few friends among the hobbits, and yet another was the evolution of the hobbits into the sort of folk who would tolerate Bilbo's eccentricities only because he was also rich and generous.

There's a tension present in the Shire during the opening chapters that has little to do with the Ring, and everything to do with the pettiness of the hobbits, a pettiness that leaves them vulnerable to Saruman and his thugs. The story of the takeover of the Shire from within that necessitates the Scouring, and is foreshadowed in the opening chapters, is a dark story, very dark, but again, it has little to do with the Ring. It happens while the Ring is away and continues after the Ring is unmade. Unmaking the Ring sets many things right, but not the Shire.

Only the return of the hobbits and their call to arms and Galadriel's gift to Sam cures what has happened to the Shire, and even then it does not turn the ordinary hobbits into great and wise people. The ordinary hobbits remain petty and silly and self-absorbed, mostly unable or unwilling to truly embrace Frodo and appreciate what he has done, and mostly honoring Merry and Pippin and Sam for their roles in the Scouring, which was a minor achievement compared to what they had done on the Quest.


Quote

Either of them could have made decisions that would have left the other disappointed. Frodo could have followed Bilbo in choosing to depart his mortal life before Sam arrived. Sam could have chosen to stay in the bosom of his family, live out his natural life cared for perhaps by his beloved Elanor, and eventually be buried beside his wife in his own land.

That Sam chose to leave Middle-earth at the end of his life, and set off alone (except for his Elven shipmates, of course) across the Sundering Seas, in the hope and expectation that Frodo would still be there, says a lot about the faith required to make that final reward come true.


I've always liked the fact that we don't know what happened to Frodo or Sam after they sailed. That image of sailing into the unknown West, never to return, with no messages to those who remain, and with only faith as a comfort, seems to me Tolkien's way of introducing the Christian view of death without introducing Christianity into the story. It reminds me of stained-glass windows like this one by Tiffany:



I'm not saying that Frodo died when he sailed, but perhaps he might has well have died. After all, we do know that when Beren died Luthien found him in the Halls of Mandos, which are in the Undying Lands. One could argue that all mortal men, then, find their way to the Undying Lands after death, unless they refuse the call like the Nazgul, or are, for a while, prevented from heeding the call like the ghosts in the Paths of the Dead. But, unlike Frodo in Elvenhome, the spirits of mortal men who find their way to the Halls of Mandos after death do not abide with the Elves, and eventually (perhaps only after the coming of Christ?) they will move on to a place the Elves will not reach.



(This post was edited by Curious on Apr 5 2008, 6:30pm)


Laerasëa
Tol Eressea


Apr 5 2008, 6:36pm

Post #18 of 73 (296 views)
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wow- [In reply to] Can't Post

this is a bit random, but I LOVE that picture (stained-glass window, whatever)- I've never seen it before!!! I really like it!!


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 5 2008, 7:01pm

Post #19 of 73 (304 views)
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I've seen many similar Tiffany windows. [In reply to] Can't Post

I found this particular version by Googling "tiffany window" on the image search, and it was on the third page of results:

http://images.google.com/...mp;start=40&sa=N

If you like this, I recommend visiting any church or mausoleum with Tiffany windows in it on a sunny day. There's nothing like seeing it live. Many such windows can be found in museums as well, but sometimes they use artificial light to display the windows, which isn't quite as good as bright sunlight. Tiffany also did windows for private homes, but they are less likely to have spiritual themes. For anyone in Chicago, I highly recommend a visit to the Rosehill Mausoleum, which has many Tiffany windows, and particularly the John G. Shedd Memorial Chapel, which has one of my favorite sets of Tiffany Windows.


(This post was edited by Curious on Apr 5 2008, 7:02pm)


Laerasëa
Tol Eressea


Apr 5 2008, 7:06pm

Post #20 of 73 (285 views)
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thank you thank you!! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 5 2008, 8:38pm

Post #21 of 73 (277 views)
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I feel the same [In reply to] Can't Post

about reading the drafts. I haven't read them - only read about them, here. You are right that the story darkens in many ways, and that the Ring is not the only thing that had to change before the story could take its final form. I'm not sure I agree with you though that the hobbits changed - the few we meet in The Hobbit, including Bilbo himself at the start of the story, are as petty and self-absorbed as any we meet in LotR.


In Reply To

There's a tension present in the Shire during the opening chapters that has little to do with the Ring, and everything to do with the pettiness of the hobbits, a pettiness that leaves them vulnerable to Saruman and his thugs.



For me, the tension at the start seems to be all about the Ring - although we don't know it at first, all Bilbo's careful preparations for his Party are about the Ring, and it's only later that the real sadness under Bilbo's bravado and humour becomes clear. Bilbo is tired of the pettiness of his fellow-hobbits, it's true, but perhaps that's a weakness in him rather than in them.

The pettiness of the hobbits seems to me to be one of their strengths in a way - their deeds may be small but so are their sins. If evil comes to the Shire, it is a much smaller evil than comes to the rest of Middle-earth, and the hobbits themselves are able to deal with it, once they have some leadership. That's more than can be said of the Elves, in the end.


In Reply To

I've always liked the fact that we don't know what happened to Frodo or Sam after they sailed. That image of sailing into the unknown West, never to return, with no messages to those who remain, and with only faith as a comfort, seems to me Tolkien's way of introducing the Christian view of death without introducing Christianity into the story.



Yes, I like the idea that this is a concrete representation of death as it appears to those with faith. In a way I wish that we weren't told of Frodo's first sight of what's behind that grey rain-curtain. But perhaps that's only Sam's representation of what he believes lies over the Sea...


...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


sador
Half-elven

Apr 5 2008, 9:08pm

Post #22 of 73 (342 views)
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I am astonished! [In reply to] Can't Post

Quite a long time ago (I think while discussing 'A Knife in the Dark', arguing about who raided the inn), I've written to you, defering to your superior knowledge, as having read HoME (anyway, wasn't it you who wrote to the Encyclopedia of Arda about Bob being a Man in the drafts? IIRC, somebody mentioned that somewhere around those discussions) - and now I read this:

Quote

First of all, I'm at a disadvantage, since I have not read Tolkien's drafts or CT's commentary on them. I've never been enthused about doing so since I have rarely found cites to those drafts very helpful in interpreting the final version. It always seems to me hard to tell whether something in the draft was at all relevant to the final version. Or perhaps I'm just too attached to the final text and afraid to look behind the curtain.

My reasons for not having read the drafts are more mundane: I haven't got an international credit card, nor room for twelve new volumes. Admittedly, both lame excuses for a would-be scholar; but I am no such thing, only a very interested amateur.
But I would like very much to read these drafts, because I would see them as rejected versions, rather than positive proofs. In the abovementioned case of Bob, I would ask myself: Why did Tolkien omit this detail? Did he think it would give us a wrong idea about Bob, Bree, the Hobbits? Was the whole scene something specific with Trotter, which had no place with Aragorn - and Bob was just 'sacrificed' along with it? Only in the last case, I would take this as evidence Bob was not a hobbit (in the first case, quite the reverse); but not having read the drafts, all I can do is speculate.
The point FarFromHome makes about the evolution of Frodo from Bilbo's son to his nephew, is another such case. Agreeing only the published version is cannon - without knowledge of that point, I used to consider Bilbo's not marrying just another of his eccentrics, or perhaps just something which happens to occasional hobbits (like dwarves, for instance); but if the story as it was written neccessiated rejecting a family he was conceived to have, then the story (and the Ring's influence) become far more sinister.
One might see another side to this: if Frodo is (in the published version) an orphan, which Bilbo adopted out of kindness - then it is not just his Pity who has saved the world; it was his Charity as well.


Quote
There's a tension present in the Shire during the opening chapters that has little to do with the Ring, and everything to do with the pettiness of the hobbits, a pettiness that leaves them vulnerable to Saruman and his thugs. The story of the takeover of the Shire from within that necessitates the Scouring, and is foreshadowed in the opening chapters, is a dark story, very dark, but again, it has little to do with the Ring. It happens while the Ring is away and continues after the Ring is unmade. Unmaking the Ring sets many things right, but not the Shire.

I like that very much, but I think this is foreshadowed in the last pages of 'The Hobbit', in the description of Bilbo's neighbours' reaction to his return.

"For many long years I have pondered" - Galadriel

(This post was edited by sador on Apr 5 2008, 9:10pm)


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 5 2008, 9:44pm

Post #23 of 73 (306 views)
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I did write the E of A about Bob [In reply to] Can't Post

because we don't know if he is a man or a hobbit, and at the time the E of A said he was a hobbit. I also pointed that out in this forum, and someone cited the drafts as further evidence that he might not be a hobbit. But we also don't know for sure if he is a man, because that evidence from the draft did not make the final cut. Thus the drafts do not settle the point, and they never do seem to settle any point, because no one knows why the drafts were altered.

But not all twelve volumes of HoME are drafts of LotR. And I have read Morgoth's Ring, Volume X of HoME, most of which I recommend to those who enjoy the discussions in the Reading Room (it starts out slow, but gets rolling about a quarter of the way through the book).

You and FarFromHome both note that the hobbits were already comically petty in The Hobbit, but in LotR that comedy turns into near tragedy. The fact that the hobbits were already comically petty in The Hobbit doesn't lead inevitably to the dark tone of the Scouring or the rest of LotR. The hobbits could have remained comic, as in the movie version of LotR. But instead Tolkien used that pettiness to set up something much worse, something almost on the scale of Orwell's Animal Farm, really, minus the allegory. And the darkening of that part of the story has little to do with the effects of the Ring.

At any rate, it turns out that none of us has read the drafts of LotR, so perhaps we should refrain from speculating about the importance of those drafts until at least one of us reads them, or someone who has read them joins the discussion! Smile


FarFromHome
Valinor


Apr 5 2008, 10:00pm

Post #24 of 73 (288 views)
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Lovely window, by the way [In reply to] Can't Post

I do think that this kind of art nouveau / art deco illustration works well to illustrate Tolkien, and I think his own art echoes this style sometimes. The movies chose similar imagery to illustrate Frodo's last journey:



It's not the way I imagine the book scene, though, where the Sea is grey, the wind blows, and the ship has to go out onto the High Sea - the journey to the other side is more difficult and less comforting, in my impression, than sailing into a golden sunset.

...and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew,
and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth;
and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore
glimmered and was lost.


Curious
Half-elven


Apr 5 2008, 10:14pm

Post #25 of 73 (295 views)
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The hobbits change from [In reply to] Can't Post

petty and comic in The Hobbit to petty and near-tragic by the end of LotR. That's the evolution I meant. And that has little to do with the ring becoming the Ring. Instead, it goes hand in hand with the darkening of the Quest, which ends long before the hobbits return to the Shire.

There certainly is lots of tension about the Ring at the beginning of LotR. Indeed the pettiness of the hobbits seems like an extension of The Hobbit, and not part of the dark tale of the Ring at all. And their pettiness really isn't part of the tale of the Ring. Instead it sets up a different tale, which is interrupted for most of the epic, and then concludes at the end of Book VI, long after the Ring is unmade.

But when I re-read "A Long-Expected Party," I find that the hobbits come across as more than just comically petty. I think there is a dark tone lurking under the surface of that chapter that far exceeds anything we find in Bilbo or his neighbors during The Hobbit, and which foreshadows the Scouring. If nothing else, the scale of the pettiness is immense. In The Hobbit we had Bilbo and a few neighbors we barely met. In LotR we have hundreds of hobbits, many with speaking roles. So their pettiness becomes much more pronounced. And Bilbo's bachelorhood is a part of that. In sixty years Bilbo cannot find any hobbits worth befriending, let alone marrying, until Frodo comes along. If that's comedy, it's dark comedy, which becomes much darker when Frodo has a similar problem at the end of the tale.


Quote

If evil comes to the Shire, it is a much smaller evil than comes to the rest of Middle-earth ...

Smaller evil? Sam and Frodo consider what happens in the Shire worse than anything they have seen, worse even than Mordor itself! Frodo says it is Mordor, but worse, because it has come to his doorstep! Fortunately, a worse tragedy is averted, and Galadriel's dirt heals many wounds, but no, I consider what almost happened to the Shire to be as great as any evil in the book, and the greatest possible evil as far as the hobbits are concerned. Frodo did not set out to save the world, remember, but to save the Shire.

Quote
In a way I wish that we weren't told of Frodo's first sight of what's behind that grey rain-curtain. But perhaps that's only Sam's representation of what he believes lies over the Sea...


Well of course if we are to maintain the conceit that LotR is written by Frodo and Sam before they sailed, then what Frodo saw must be as Sam imagined it. I would argue for disposing of the conceit, but I will admit that Tolkien glosses over the issue by ending with Sam coming home, even though Sam comes home the evening before Frodo sees those distant shores.

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