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**LOTR Read-through Book IV, Chapter 1: The Taming of Smeagol Part 2: of nazgul and magic ropes
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noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 4 2016, 10:48am

Post #1 of 27 (1554 views)
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**LOTR Read-through Book IV, Chapter 1: The Taming of Smeagol Part 2: of nazgul and magic ropes Can't Post

All day, Frodo and Sam might have been finding their way to the edge of Emyn Muil without realising it. But some scrambling down is needed. Frodo feels a ‘sudden strange vehemence’ to carry on climbing despite the fading light and oncoming storm.
What do you make of this ‘sudden strange vehemence’ : do you read this as the understandable ‘sudden strange vehemence’ of someone fed up and thwarted by bare terrain - or is someone/something supernatural telling Frodo to hurry up? Remember that, as so often, there isn’t a conclusive answer (I think) - so opine away!

Do we have any mountaineers to critique Sam and Frodo’s climbing methods?

I find it slightly difficult to visualize what the Muil would look like - a mess of ravines and so on, I suppose. Anyone want to post some pictures (e.g. real-life terrain) that seem feasible?

Nazgul!

Frodo falls (giving as he does so his own ‘wailing cry’ as an echo of the one from the nazgul?). He’s temporarily blinded. Sam shouts ‘Come back! Come back!’ but as far as literally returning goes, Frodo can’t until Sam remembers he has a coil of rope.
Nazgul questions (again I don’t have any set answers)! Is it the nazgul that blinds Frodo? Do you read Sam’s ‘Come back! Come back!’ as just a mountaineering instruction, or do you think of ‘come back from the wraith world’?

Back in the discussion of The Palantir (see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886210#886210 ) we looked at whether this nazgul can be linked to the one that will scatter the Fellowship(rems of.) outside Orthanc. Might the thunderstorm be the one heading off towards Helm’s Deep? And, whether it is or isn’t a subtle link to the events of Book III, how did the storm contribute to your reading of this chapter? Does it add drama? Does it confuse the issue as to whether magic of meteorology is going on here? Why, when Frodo senses the Nazgul so clearly, does it not seem to have any sense of him?
Is your reading that it is the arrival of the end of the elven rope that restores Frodo’s sight - or are there mundane explanations to do with recovering from shock, and changing light levels?

After a short torrential rainstorm, they try the gully again, this time getting down with the aid of the marvellous elven rope. The rope comes untied when Sam pulls on it and calls, leading to a debate about whether Sam ties incompetent knots, or whether the rope came magically
Rope questions (go on, give yourself enough rope...)
Do you have an opinion in the bad knots/magic debate?
Sam’s worry about leaving the rope was mostly that it would be a clear ‘signpost’ to anyone tracking them. Give that Gollum manages perfectly well without it, would it have mattered if they’d had to abandon the rope?

At the bottom of the cliff Frodo is weary yet says:

Quote
‘I wish there was a clear path in front of us: then I’d go on until my legs gave way.’

...a wish that is granted in full later on, in fact. Does Frodo’s mood now seem different to his metaphysical doubts before the climb down? If so, has something shown him the way (in a metaphorical sense) already before ....

...Frodo and Smeagol reach an understanding is what we will discuss in the next post (going up Wednesday-ish)!

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


squire
Half-elven


Jan 4 2016, 1:10pm

Post #2 of 27 (1484 views)
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The hills are alive [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't have time for details right now, but I'd like to point out that the way Tolkien describes the geometry of the cliffscape that Frodo and Sam are negotiating is very specific, and to my mind easy to visualize. The ravine in front of them drops into an abyss, but on the other side is a sheer cliff going straight up. They cannot advance and must turn left (west, back into the hills) or right (east, towards Mordor). But going right takes them to the edge of the continuing cliff overlooking the marshes that they've been hugging for the past day or two. The decision to use rope to descend into the ravine is thus 'forced' by the landscape. Frodo is not making a choice; the hills have made the choice for him.

We saw this earlier in the book, in the Old Forest, where the rills (like giant wagon wheel tracks, it was said) prevent the hobbits from going north and the vegetation forces them to go east towards Withywindle, not west back towards Buckland.

Tolkien uses landscape very skillfully in situations like this!



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


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


enanito
Lorien

Jan 4 2016, 3:07pm

Post #3 of 27 (1470 views)
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What simple folk would call magic [In reply to] Can't Post

One (among innumerable) thing I've begun noticing in my LOTR readings, after having lurked around the Reading Room for a number of years, is how Tolkien implies magic without removing the ambiguity.

So the darkness seems to lift from Frodo's eyes, the grey line seems to have a faint silver sheen, and the grey rope seems to shimmer in a previously-unnoticed way. So it appears to not be a glow-in-the-dark rope, but rather something imbued with elvish power that responds to needs. But then again, maybe not.

Since Sam doesn't originally notice the shimmer when looking into the bottom of his bag, I'd say the rope "senses" Frodo's need and lights up, and what Sam notices is the aftereffect that is lingering.


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Jan 4 2016, 3:41pm

Post #4 of 27 (1469 views)
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magical meteorology [In reply to] Can't Post



is someone/something supernatural telling Frodo to hurry up? I never thought of that, but it sure sounds reasonable. Galadriel? Did the terrain force them down, or were they directed to find the one place where they had the tools to climb down?


Do we have any mountaineers to critique Sam and Frodo’s climbing methods? Although I like reading about mountaineers, I've never gone beyond scrambling. But if I had an elven rope, things might have gone differently.

Anyone want to post some pictures (e.g. real-life terrain) that seem feasible? Google Cappodocia

Is it the nazgul that blinds Frodo? Yes, I think the 'blindness' is the same fear that occurs when the Nazgul are about.

Do you read Sam’s ‘Come back! Come back!’ as just a mountaineering instruction, or do you think of ‘come back from the wraith world’? I think Sam is just practically afraid for Master Frodo.

how did the storm contribute to your reading of this chapter? It makes me anxious, which is the point.

Does it confuse the issue as to whether magic of meteorology is going on here? Magical meteorology.

Why, when Frodo senses the Nazgul so clearly, does it not seem to have any sense of him? He's got a 'cloaking' device.

Is your reading that it is the arrival of the end of the elven rope that restores Frodo’s sight - or are there mundane explanations to do with recovering from shock, and changing light levels? I think the rope does give off a bit of light, an echo of the light that the High Elves themselves show at night.

Do you have an opinion in the bad knots/magic debate? I agree entirely with Sam. Although he is a ninnyhammer for forgetting he has a rope, he's not likely to tie a poor knot.

would it have mattered if they’d had to abandon the rope? Gollum would not have been able to use the nasty elven rope that burns.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 4 2016, 4:41pm

Post #5 of 27 (1458 views)
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Cappodocia and ropes [In reply to] Can't Post

Cappodocia looks a likely candidate - I notice that Cappodocia is a landscape of eroded "tuff" (compacted volcanic ash and mud). That's quite similar (pehaps) to Karen Wynn Fonstad's assumptions in her Atlas of Middle Earth. From studying the text & Tolkien's maps and applying her knowledge of real-life geology, Ms Fonstad infers that the Muil would be an eroded mass of sedimentary rock. It had tipped up, she thinks, with its eastern edge sinking and faulting. This explains why t those heading west have a reasonably ordered descent down to the east wall of Rohan, whereas Frodo and Sam have a scramble over faulted and eroded strata. But I believe Peter Jackson's location scouts found a volcanic landscape as a location for the Muil, and that looked good too.

Your point about the rope is one I'd never thought of - if they don't get it down from the cliff, they can't try to tie Gollum up with it!

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 4 2016, 5:04pm

Post #6 of 27 (1457 views)
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Areas of the Tyrol & the Dolomites might be good Muil candidates too... [In reply to] Can't Post

e.g. these photos by Gürel Sahin:
https://500px.com/...rdor-by-guerel-sahin

and

https://500px.com/...fire-by-guerel-sahin

Oh, and though it's a volcanic landscape rather than eroded sedimentary rock, how about these from Rebecca L Bennett, in Big Bend national park Texas, US:

https://500px.com/...by-rebecca-l-bennett

https://500px.com/...by-rebecca-l-bennett

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jan 4 2016, 5:08pm)


Darkstone
Immortal


Jan 4 2016, 6:03pm

Post #7 of 27 (1464 views)
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"In a crevice in the ground there fell a hobbit" [In reply to] Can't Post

Shane. Shane! Come back! Bye, Shane.
-Last lines from Shane (1953)


All day, Frodo and Sam might have been finding their way to the edge of Emyn Muil without realising it. But some scrambling down is needed. Frodo feels a ‘sudden strange vehemence’ to carry on climbing despite the fading light and oncoming storm.

I’d say it’s precisely because of the fading light and oncoming storm. In normal times and normal places any normal hobbit would already be snug inside their hobbit hole. There’s no hobbit holes here, but being at the bottom of a chasm is better than being in the open atop of a cliff.


What do you make of this ‘sudden strange vehemence’: do you read this as the understandable ‘sudden strange vehemence’ of someone fed up and thwarted by bare terrain - or is someone/something supernatural telling Frodo to hurry up?

Well, there is a Nazgul a’comin’.


Remember that, as so often, there isn’t a conclusive answer (I think) - so opine away!

But my opinion would probably lead to us being lost on the road to Larissa.


Do we have any mountaineers to critique Sam and Frodo’s climbing methods?

Not me, but I understand during a free climbing descent it’s best to have the stronger, heavier guy on top to pull up the climber in case they can’t find any purchase and get too tired to climb back up on their own, so they seem to be doing it right that far.


I find it slightly difficult to visualize what the Muil would look like - a mess of ravines and so on, I suppose. Anyone want to post some pictures (e.g. real-life terrain) that seem feasible?

squire seems to have it covered.


Nazgul!

Frodo falls


And people complain about the movies!


(giving as he does so his own ‘wailing cry’ as an echo of the one from the nazgul?)

I like the echo idea. Thanks for that!


He’s temporarily blinded. Sam shouts ‘Come back! Come back!’ but as far as literally returning goes, Frodo can’t until Sam remembers he has a coil of rope.
Nazgul questions (again I don’t have any set answers)! Is it the nazgul that blinds Frodo?


I’d say stress. Hysterical blindness and muteness, as well as stuff like paralysis, nightmares, tummy-aches, and uncontrollable shaking were symptoms quite often seen in the trenches of World War I, not to mention moments of “strange vehemence” where one did “unwise” acts of bravery in “cold blood”.


Do you read Sam’s ‘Come back! Come back!’ as just a mountaineering instruction, or do you think of ‘come back from the wraith world’?

It seemed an echo of the Nazgul at the Loudwater:

The Riders halted, but Frodo had not the power of Bombadil. His enemies laughed at him with a harsh and chilling laughter. 'Come back! Come back!' they called. 'To Mordor we will take you!'

Not to mention that of Boromir at Amon Hen:

He rose and passed his hand over his eyes, dashing away the tears. 'What have I said? ' he cried. `What have I done? Frodo, Frodo! ' he called. 'Come back! A madness took me, but it has passed. Come back! '

Or Gandalf saving Pippin:

"It is not for you, Saruman!" he cried in a shrill and toneless voice shrinking away from Gandalf. "I will send for it at once. Do you understand? Say just that!" Then he struggled to get up and escape but Gandalf held him gently and firmly.
"Peregrin Took!" he said. "Come back!"
The hobbit relaxed and fell back, clinging to the wizard's hand. "Gandalf!" he cried. "Gandalf! Forgive me!"


Or Gandalf commanding Saruman:

“I have other things to do. Do not be a fool. If you wish to treat with me, while you have a chance, go away, and come back when you are sober! And leave behind these cut-throats and small rag-tag that dangle at your tail! Good day!" He turned and left the balcony.
"Come back, Saruman!" said Gandalf in a commanding voice. To the amazement of the others, Saruman turned again. and as if dragged against his will, he came slowly back to the iron rail, leaning on it, breathing hard.


Or Sam saving Frodo at Minas Morgul where again Frodo is struck blind, and with another Nazgul involved:

Both Sam and Gollum ran after him. Sam caught his master in his arms, as he stumbled and almost fell, right on the threshold of the bridge.
"Not that way! No, not that way! ' whispered Gollum, but the breath between his teeth seemed to tear the heavy stillness like a whistle, and he cowered to the ground in terror.
"Hold up, Mr. Frodo! ' muttered Sam in Frodo's ear. "Come back! Not that way. Gollum says not, and for once I agree with him."
Frodo passed his hand over his brow and wrenched his eyes away from the city on the hill. The luminous tower fascinated him, and he fought the desire that was on him to run up the gleaming road towards its gate. At last with an effort he turned back, and as he did so, he felt the Ring resisting him, dragging at the chain about his neck; and his eyes too, as he looked away, seemed for the moment to have been blinded. The darkness before him was impenetrable.



LOTR is all about coming back:

He drew a deep breath. 'Well, I'm back,' he said.


Except it isn’t as far as Frodo is concerned.

That makes all the pleas of “Come back, Frodo” very sad in retrospect..


Back in the discussion of The Palantir (see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886210#886210 ) we looked at whether this nazgul can be linked to the one that will scatter the Fellowship(rems of.) outside Orthanc. Might the thunderstorm be the one heading off towards Helm’s Deep?

The storm seems to come and go with the Nazgul.


And, whether it is or isn’t a subtle link to the events of Book III, how did the storm contribute to your reading of this chapter?

As oliphaunt says, it heightens tension.


Does it add drama?

Edward Bulwer-Lytton thought so. So did Snoopy.


Does it confuse the issue as to whether magic or meteorology is going on here?

Tolkien just loves to do that, the old rascal.


Why, when Frodo senses the Nazgul so clearly, does it not seem to have any sense of him?

The ring is Sauron’s. Naturally he’d want to be able to spy on his servants without them being able to sense him. "Oft evil will shall evil mar" and all that.


Is your reading that it is the arrival of the end of the elven rope that restores Frodo’s sight - or are there mundane explanations to do with recovering from shock, and changing light levels?

Yes.



After a short torrential rainstorm, they try the gully again, this time getting down with the aid of the marvellous elven rope. The rope comes untied when Sam pulls on it and calls, leading to a debate about whether Sam ties incompetent knots, or whether the rope came magically
Rope questions (go on, give yourself enough rope...)
Do you have an opinion in the bad knots/magic debate?


Consider the words “gnarled”, “birch”, and “fir” in the following passages describing the Ents:

Nothing grew there but a few grasses and weeds at its edge, and one old stump of a tree with only two bent branches left: it looked almost like the figure of some gnarled old man, standing there, blinking in the morning-light.
-Treebeard


There were a few older Ents, bearded and gnarled like hale but ancient trees (though none looked as ancient as Treebeard); and there were tall strong Ents, clean-limbed and smooth-skinned like forest-trees in their prime; but there were no young Ents, no saplings.
-ibid


Some recalled the ash: tall straight grey Ents with many-fingered hands and long legs; some the fir (the tallest Ents), and others the birch, the rowan, and the linden.
-ibid


Now consider the same words (“gnarled”, “birch”, and “fir”) in the following passage:

The cleft was longer and deeper than it seemed. Some way down they found a few gnarled and stunted trees, the first they had seen for days: twisted birch for the most part, with here and there a fir-tree. Many were dead and gaunt, bitten to the core by the eastern winds. Once in milder days there must have been a fair thicket in the ravine, but now, after some fifty yards, the trees came to an end, though old broken stumps straggled on almost to the cliff's brink.



Obviously the Entwife that Sam tied the rope to released it.


Sam’s worry about leaving the rope was mostly that it would be a clear ‘signpost’ to anyone tracking them. Give that Gollum manages perfectly well without it, would it have mattered if they’d had to abandon the rope?

oliphaunt hit the nail on the head. If they didn’t have the rope they couldn’t have tied up Gollum. Then they’d have had to kill him, which would be very bad karma, and Frodo already has enough of that weighing him down.


At the bottom of the cliff Frodo is weary yet says:

________________________________________ Quote ________________________________________
‘I wish there was a clear path in front of us: then I’d go on until my legs gave way.’
________________________________________
...a wish that is granted in full later on, in fact. Does Frodo’s mood now seem different to his metaphysical doubts before the climb down?


Yes.


If so, has something shown him the way (in a metaphorical sense) already before ....

In a big honking hole in the ground (actually more a crevice) there fell a hobbit. Sure, it was a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat, but it was a hole, and to a hobbit that at least means *some* comfort!
-Barely Started Tales

******************************************

Fimbrethil, Warrior Entwife



CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 5 2016, 1:33am

Post #8 of 27 (1434 views)
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How Nazgul screams can ruin a good climbing party [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the Nazgul scream somehow blinds Frodo, but those wails didn't do so before, nor later when they're in the Dead Marshes, nor is anyone blinded in Minas Tirith when they fly overhead and wail, just demoralized. Sam doesn't go blind:

Quote
Why could not his master see? It was dim, certainly, but not as dark as all that. He could see Frodo below him, a grey forlorn figure splayed against the cliff.

Similar to Enanito's observation, there's enough ambiguity present that, though I think it was caused by the Nazgul, it could also be a sudden momentary shock from his unexpected slide down the cliff, the way your vision is impaired briefly when you've had a fall or are mildly injured but not knocked out.

I wonder why the Nazgul don't sense the Ring here and in the Dead Marshes, but I think the reason they sensed it in Eriador was because they expected to find it there. They don't expect spies to smuggle it into Mordor, and being mean and nasty but not all that smart, if they don't expect to find it, they don't sense it as they properly should. More likely, they just sense something amiss without knowing what it is.

Rope: the rope debate is a fun one to let your mind play with as the rational side of you agrees with Frodo while the playful side agrees with Sam. Ultimately I agree with Sam, and I'm not sure why Frodo, who knows more about Elves, is so skeptical that the rope has any special, beneficial property to it. This is the same Frodo who has a piece of glass that glows with its own light, and they're both wearing self-camouflaging Elven cloaks, so really, why the skepticism?


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 5 2016, 10:27am

Post #9 of 27 (1407 views)
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Agent Bristlecone's secret is out at last! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Obviously the Entwife that Sam tied the rope to released it.


Signals transcript:
From ; Agent Bristlecone
TO: Regimental HQ, 1st Battalion Special Arboreal Service (Yavanna's Own)

...

Agent B: Can confirm The Squireling and The Gardener have descended the cliff. I held then released their rope. They didn't suspect a thing.

Signals Officer: Nice work, Agent Bristlecone!

Agent B: Squireling and Gardener are now being pursued down the cliff! By.. by...Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan*. Wearing a loincloth!

Signals Officer; say again Agent Bristlecone. Identify pursuer. We must have misheard!

Agent B: Correction. Pursuing party is The Fishliker. Sorry - light is bad. Do you want me to drop a branch on him?

Signals Officer: Negative Agent Bristlecone. Observe do not engage - especially The Fishliker.

Agent B: Understood. Nazgul just overflew. No sign of our own air cover. Now The Fishliker has reached the bottom of the cliff. There's a scuffle. The Squireling and The Gardener have captured The Fishliker! Will sign off now to overhear their conversation. Agent Bristlecone out.

ENDS

I took the leaf bearing this transcript straight to General Fimbrethil. I confess my limb shook as I held the dispatch out to the old legend, meeting her on my very first shift of duty at headquarters! She read it, nodded, showed it to Brigadier Wandlimb, and was about to reply when another officer came up with a further dispatch.

"Agent Birch reports that The Thaneling and The Masterling have reached Fangorn, ma'am".
"Your old man still hasn't worked out that Birch is a double agent?" Brigadier Wandlimb said, amused. General Fimbrethil shrugged. "The modern term, Brigadier is 'Monoecious Hermaphrodite'. Birch fits in anywhere."
The General saw me still loitering there and caught my eye. "You wanted something, Second Lieutenant?"
"Well," I stammered, "I was wandering about what Agent Bristlecone said: about 'where's our air-cover?' "
"Manwe's bird boys? They're still complaining that they're not going to be allowed to fly The Object to The Destination. Some idiot leaked that onto social media and M is furious - cancelled everything except essential hunting flights. Still, I expect they'll turn up at the last minute and get the glory as usual! "

The General looked at me again, as if suddenly seeing me as an individual "You're new here at Headquarters, aren't you Second Lieutenant?"
"Yes Ma'am."
"What's your name, sapling?" The General asked in a kindly way.
"Tollbeam, JRR, Ma'am"
"Very good Second Lieutenant JRR Tollbeam. Carry on. But mind you never breathe a word of any of this to anybody."


*A case of mistaken identity http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/...rings_n_8717346.html

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 5 2016, 10:29am

Post #10 of 27 (1402 views)
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Rope explanations: I'm beginning to wonder whether Frodo knows quite well that Sam is right, but can't resist teasing him [In reply to] Can't Post

...it's been a tough day, and maybe a bit of light relief is irresistible.

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 5 2016, 12:02pm

Post #11 of 27 (1399 views)
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How credible is it, do you think, that Sam forgot he had rope? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've only been on walking holidays of two weeks or so, but tended to find myself repacking my gear a fair amount. I doubt I'd completely forget about any substantial item, let alone a possibly magical item made by a people for which I have a lot of fanboyish enthusiasm, and which is a masterpiece of a craft in which I'd expressed a particular interest.

So I'm not sure it's really believable that Sam forgets he has rope. But maybe that kind of thing can happen on longer or more stressful expeditions?
Why does Tolkien need us to believe it? Just to get Frodo to try & free climb down a dangerous drop to hitch up the tension? Or for other reasons?

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Riven Delve
Tol Eressea


Jan 5 2016, 2:22pm

Post #12 of 27 (1374 views)
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Ha! [In reply to] Can't Post

Now we know the true reason 2nd Lt. Tollbeam Tolkien was transferred and got buried in that mundane communications job... Wink


“Tollers,” Lewis said to Tolkien, “there is too little of what we really like in stories. I am afraid we shall have to try and write some ourselves.”



enanito
Lorien

Jan 5 2016, 7:16pm

Post #13 of 27 (1341 views)
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What if Sam had wanted to use the rope before, but this was a last resort? [In reply to] Can't Post

At first blush, it seems like Tolkien could have decided to have Sam repeatedly mention that he could use the rope in certain moments after leaving Lothlorien, but be hesitant to "unnecessarily lose it". Finally at the end of the Emyn Muil, he realizes he must use the rope although it means leaving it behind. Then he could call himself a Ninnyhammer or whatever he likes once he realizes it's an Elvish rope and thus binds itself to the owner in an unexpected fashion...

Of course that's typical elves, giving gifts but not revealing all the good stuff. Wonder what else this magic (or what simple people would call magic) rope can do that those secretive elves aren't divulging?

It does indeed seem like Tolkien would be aware of the fact that it seems a bit incongruous to think Sam would forget about the Elvish rope, and it seems he could have created an alternative way for it to be reluctantly used at this point.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 6 2016, 2:32am

Post #14 of 27 (1300 views)
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I personally would not forget a magic Elvish starglass given to me either. [In reply to] Can't Post

Neither act of amnesia is credible to me, but I let that slide, I guess.


Lond-Daer
Registered User


Jan 6 2016, 1:41pm

Post #15 of 27 (1250 views)
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Forgetful arent they [In reply to] Can't Post

I actually like the theory that the tree stump was some sort of Ent/Huorn that released the rope rather than Elvish magic could create a rope that could untie itself!
As for the Nazgul, they do seem to have certain powers of creating fear and panic in all save Gandalf. Its possible that the sheer fear created could have caused a temporary blindness and also don't forget the weather conditions around at the time. They descended the cliff in falling darkness during a very heavy rain storm. Vision would be impaired by those conditions at the best of times and would be also affected by the flashes of lightning.
It seems a general theme in the fantasy genre that the main characters forget they have certain items to hand until there is real need for them, for those desperate moments. Frodo was told by Galadriel that his starglass would be useful "when all other lights go out"


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 6 2016, 2:46pm

Post #16 of 27 (1248 views)
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I can understand forgetting the star-glass more than the rope [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo's not well, and bearing the Ring might make it especially difficult to think of pleasant things. If I recall, it is Sam who remembers they have the glass.

I'd have thought that rope would be bulkier, and harder to miss in your pack. Especially if you are a fan of rope-making. And also, it's obvious what it is used for, and so when you might need it (c.f. the glass where they have, as you say, just a cryptic hint).

Of course, if the rope is magical, you could imagine that it is hard to remember you have it until it ...
...*wants to be found* (best read in a Gandalf voice)

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 8 2016, 12:03pm

Post #17 of 27 (1176 views)
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It may be no co-incidence that I got attacked by a tree today... [In reply to] Can't Post

Cowardly thing snuck up on me while I was running along a woodland path and I didn't see the 'overhanging branch' in the low winter sun. I'm sure it wasn't there last time we did the route...
I just got a surprise and a scratched cheek, so not to worry. Obviously this time was just a warning....

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

Links to earlier posts in this read-through:
week starts # Chapter # Chapter name # leader # URL of thread
03-Jan-16 # I # The Taming of Smeagol # noWizardme Part 1: http://goo.gl/wvyAOx 2: http://goo.gl/6ks0JV 3: http://goo.gl/l0iuEz


A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 8 2016, 9:09pm

Post #18 of 27 (1166 views)
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It's all that forest clear-cutting, you do, Wiz [In reply to] Can't Post

All those square kilometres of trees you cut down just for the heck of it, half of Scotland and most of Wales, all because of you, if the rumors are true. Karma has a way of getting back at you.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 8 2016, 9:11pm

Post #19 of 27 (1163 views)
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Then there's Sam's Miracle-Gro Box that he forgets until he needs it. [In reply to] Can't Post

So, when he was throwing out his beloved cookware in Mordor, why didn't he think about that box, either saying it was marvelously lightweight and he'd keep it, or he couldn't bear to throw away a gift from The Lady?

I'm just nitpicking. I don't think we need to be reminded all the time about the goodies they get, it's just that when they are ONLY remembered in the nick of time that the timing seems a little forced by the author.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 8 2016, 9:32pm

Post #20 of 27 (1161 views)
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I agree that Tolkien keeps some things out of sight [In reply to] Can't Post

but I'm not sure the Lady's box of soil is one of them in the scene in the "Mount Doom" chapter.
Beside that he kept only the remnants of their waybread and the water-bottle, and Sting still hanging by his belt; and hidden away in a pocket of his tunic next his breast the phial of Galadriel and the little box that she gave him for his own. - LotR VI.3




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


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Darkstone
Immortal


Jan 8 2016, 9:59pm

Post #21 of 27 (1162 views)
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"I think that I shall never see...." [In reply to] Can't Post

"A thing vicious as a tree."

******************************************

Fimbrethil, Warrior Entwife



enanito
Lorien

Jan 9 2016, 5:28pm

Post #22 of 27 (1145 views)
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Why are Galadriel's gifts not an ongoing reference? [In reply to] Can't Post

I suppose maybe the reappearance of Galadriel's gifts is greater because the characters (mostly Sam & Frodo) don't depend on them for strength during their journey, it's only at the time of need that they are "remembered" and then used. Thus they only depend on themselves for strength instead of expecting a miraculous intervention.

I mentioned this specifically regarding the rope, but are there other reasons Tolkien could not have had these Elven gifts be a recurring point during their journey? Having Sam & Frodo refer to them as items that either give them hope for the future, or later on maybe as having lost hope that Galadriel's gifts would ever serve a purpose given the "lost" state of their Quest?

I agree that my initial impulse would be to think that if I was carrying a really neat-o gift from the most powerful Elf this side of the Misty Mountains, my mind would constantly return to how I might be able to use it (is it time yet? how about now? maybe today?). Or I would be often despairing at the prospect of never being able to use them (but Galadriel said this would be useful...).

Just because it's not in the text doesn't mean it couldn't have been thought by them, just wondering for other reasons why Tolkien didn't keep them more at the forefront.


squire
Half-elven


Jan 9 2016, 7:16pm

Post #23 of 27 (1144 views)
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That sounds a little more like a gaming mentality, and less like Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Tolkien was conscious of his taste for 'devices' and 'magics' and in his letters stated that he tried to control his authorial use of such things. The instinct is reflected in Elrond's remark that he wouldn't send an Elf-lord like Glorfindel on the quest, because the quest would not succeed by such means.

Then also as a writer Tolkien liked the idea of surprise twists that were properly laid into the story but that were underplayed so that the surprises had a joyous effect on the reader when revealed. He criticized the overuse of magic or unlikely victories as having a 'flattening' effect on a story.

I like your idea that the gifts, being constantly mentioned, would weigh down the story and deprive the characters of the need to find their inner strength.



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


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


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 11 2016, 3:52am

Post #24 of 27 (1114 views)
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That was pretty much my thinking [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I agree that my initial impulse would be to think that if I was carrying a really neat-o gift from the most powerful Elf this side of the Misty Mountains, my mind would constantly return to how I might be able to use it (is it time yet? how about now? maybe today?). Or I would be often despairing at the prospect of never being able to use them (but Galadriel said this would be useful...).

Less neat-o stuff like lembas and their elven cloaks are mentioned repeatedly. Sting comes up rather often, though the mithril-coat only seems mentioned when needed. (When you tally all the gifts up, Frodo really seems pimped out.)


sador
Half-elven


Jan 12 2016, 11:42am

Post #25 of 27 (1092 views)
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Answering in a sudden strange rush [In reply to] Can't Post

What do you make of this ‘sudden strange vehemence’: do you read this as the understandable ‘sudden strange vehemence’ of someone fed up and thwarted by bare terrain - or is someone/something supernatural telling Frodo to hurry up?
I expect the frustration, and the chance of finally escaping from the hills quite suffice for the vehemence; but somebody (Frodo? Sam? the author? we do not know) considers it to be strange.
This suggests something supernatural, whether good or evil; another case of Todorov's (in TORn-context, Blackfox's) "fantastic hesitation".

Do we have any mountaineers to critique Sam and Frodo’s climbing methods?

I'm not one.
And I join your next question.

Is it the Nazgul that blinds Frodo?

Hardly so. If anything, it would be the Ring.
But fear, shock and exhaustion seem to be enough.

Do you read Sam’s ‘Come back! Come back!’ as just a mountaineering instruction, or do you think of ‘come back from the wraith world’?
He's just calling him.
But Frodo might be recalling the Black Riders calling him from the Ford of Bruinen, as I think someone (Darkstone? Seems likely) had mentioned already.

And asking back at you: How could Sam see Frodo so easily? What of the Elven-cloak? Shouldn't it have concealed him?

Might the thunderstorm be the one heading off towards Helm’s Deep?
We are supposed to think so. "A very storm of Mordor" it is called. See here.

And, whether it is or isn’t a subtle link to the events of Book III, how did the storm contribute to your reading of this chapter? Does it add drama?
Yes, although this dramatic appearance reminds me of the witches first appearance in Macbeth.

Does it confuse the issue as to whether magic of meteorology is going on here?
As usual.

Why, when Frodo senses the Nazgul so clearly, does it not seem to have any sense of him?
That's easy - he is the Ring-bearer. But why does Sam?

Is your reading that it is the arrival of the end of the elven rope that restores Frodo’s sight - or are there mundane explanations to do with recovering from shock, and changing light levels?

Well, it is an expected movement in the still, oppressive, scene.

Do you have an opinion in the bad knots/magic debate?
We are expected to think it was magic. Although whether it was Sam's wish or his invoking Galadriel which did the trick, is a matter for speculation.


Give that Gollum manages perfectly well without it, would it have mattered if they’d had to abandon the rope?
Answered by oliphaunt.

Does Frodo’s mood now seem different to his metaphysical doubts before the climb down?
Perhaps, but it continues the "sudden strange vehemence" you've commented on above.

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