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*** LOTR Read Through *** Chapter IV.2 of The Two Towers “The Passage of The Marshes”: Conversation 1 of 3
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oliphaunt
Rivendell


Jan 10 2016, 1:38pm

Post #1 of 33 (1687 views)
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*** LOTR Read Through *** Chapter IV.2 of The Two Towers “The Passage of The Marshes”: Conversation 1 of 3 Can't Post

Chapter IV.2 of The Two Towers “The Passage of The Marshes”: Conversation 1 of 3


Oliphaunt is trying very, very hard to tiptoe quietly through the swamps behind the nice hobbitses. Not leading, oh no, following, following!

/**A very brief plot summary**/


Frodo, Sam and Smeagol travel through the night, stopping at dawn. Frodo tries to feed Smeagol lembas, but this attempt fails. Even though Sam wants to keep an eye on the hungry Smeagol, he falls asleep, and doesn't wake up eaten.


Crossing the Dead Marshes, they see dead faces in the water. To make matters even worse, a Nazgul flies over them. Frodo grows weaker from the weight of the Ring and fear of Sauron’s Eye.


Sam overhears a conversation between Smeagol/Gollum and finally understands that Gollum is driven by desire for the Ring. Sam pretends to have just woken up, in order to forestall an attack on Frodo. Gollum behaves in submissive Smeagol-mode for a while. That night, Nazgul fly over two more times, and Smeagol refuses to obey Frodo without the threat of harm.


/*** which is over already ***/


Here are the first few things that Oliphaunt is wondering about along the way:

Smeagol the Riddler


Smeagol entertains himself by singing as he splashes through a stream approaching the Marshes. He also thoroughly entertains me, how about you? I suppose reading about Gollum is different than enduring the company of Gollum. Are we meant to have ambivalent feelings about him?

After singing about fish, he launches into the fish riddle from his meeting with Bilbo. With this memory of 'Baggins', Gollum peeks through Smeagol. Has the taming already begun to fail? There will be more breakthroughs soon. What are they and why do they occur?



Frodo the Healer


Let's think about Frodo's motivation for sharing the Lembas. Did he think it might help 'heal' Smeagol/Gollum? Would that be a physical, mental, or moral healing?


The Elves did not forbid the Company from sharing the Lembas with others. However, they did indicate that Lembas is very special and that giving it to the non-Elven Company was exceptional. Do you think this crossed Frodo's mind?


Smeagol's reaction to the Lembas was dramatic and negative. He finds Lembas distasteful, more so than slimy creatures dug from muddy holes! Is this a hint that Smeagol is not going to be cured, despite Frodo's (and Gandalf's) hope?

Sam's reaction to Smeagol's reaction the to the Lembas was to appreciate the taste of the Lembas even more. What does this reveal about Sam? Is that a 'nice' way to react? Sam clearly dislikes and fears Gollum, yet is not without pity. He says: “The nasty creature; the poor wretch!”


Looking ahead, the Orcs at Cirith Ungol also disdain the Lembas they discover in Frodo's pack. Was Lembas only nourishing to the Good? Was it dangerous for the Evil, or just bad tasting? Could it, as Frodo thought, helped 'heal'? Would the Elves have been aware of this power?



Smeagol the Survivalist


Even discounting centuries bearing the Ring, Gollum has no-longer-invisibly fended for himself in the wilderness for 60 years or so since leaving the mountains in search of 'Baggins'. There was some cradle-snatching and nest-robbing, but for sure he has learned to make do with less tasty fare.

Smeagol is also a superb tracker, and serves as guide through a very dangerous marsh. Sam finds his eating disgusting, but is willing to rely on his guidance in the marsh.

What was he eating on the edge of the marshes? Was it anything that a tough-as-nails survivalist would disdain? Was Smeagol an advanced survivalist? Did he overcome the cultural disgust of eating insects and raw fish as a survival skill? Are his dietary preferences an external manifestation of his moral depravity?



Smeagol the Teacher and Guide


When Sam sees the Dead in the marsh pools, Smeagol offers up a history lesson. He claims to have learned the story as a child, in his pre-Ring days. We've been told that Smeagol was interested in 'roots and beginnings', does this make him a bit of an historian? Did Smeagol's people recall and transmit oral history over the ages better than the Shire hobbits?


Smeagol also offers wise safety advice as he's guiding Frodo and Sam through the treacherous marsh: Don't follow the lights.


While Sam is simply afraid of and horrified by of the Dead, Frodo seems entranced and fascinated by them. His description alliterates and rhymes, poetical and beautiful in a creepy way:

"They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water. I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad. Many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead. "



Frodo's hands were dripping water. Is that from accidentally falling or from deliberately reaching into the water? Is Frodo experiencing a temptation?


When Smeagol mentions that he previously tried to reach the Dead, Sam immediately assumes it's because he was hungry. Was he looking for a meal, or could his experience have been more akin to Frodo's? If so, how did he escape going down to light his own little Gollum candle? He had no one to warn or rescue him.


Did anyone else find the "little candles" line funny as I did? Smeagol is still entertaining me. What is funny about the adjective "little" used here?


When a Nazgul flies over the marsh lights go out. What's this all about? Are they just blown out by the cold wind?


-------------------


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 10 2016, 5:22pm

Post #2 of 33 (1606 views)
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"In the book lembas has two functions." [In reply to] Can't Post

Well done Oliphaunt - off to a good start!

When thinking about Gollum's reactions to lembas, we can look to some of Tolkien's comments in his Letters (as edited by Humphrey Carpenter):



Quote
[Commenting on a proposed film script]
Lembas, 'waybread', is called a 'food concentrate'. As I have shown I dislike strongly any pulling of my tale towards the style and feature of 'contes des fees', or French fairy-stories. I dislike equally any pull towards 'scientification', of which this expression is an example. Both modes are alien to my story.

We are not exploring the Moon or any other more improbable region. No analysis in any laboratory would discover chemical properties of lembas that made it superior to other cakes of wheat-meal.

I only comment on the expression here as an indication of attitude. It is no doubt casual; and nothing of this kind or style will (I hope) escape into the actual dialogue.

In the book lembas has two functions. It is a 'machine' or device for making credible the long marches with little provision, in a world in which as I have said 'miles are miles'. But that is relatively unimportant. It also has a much larger significance, of what one might hesitatingly call a 'religious' kind. This becomes later apparent, especially in the chapter 'Mount Doom' (III 213† and subsequently).

Letter210

This suggests that the Roman Catholic Tolkien had at the back of his mind some similarities with the mystical properties of communion wafer. However, and I think characteristically, he disliked the analysis that "lembas = communion wafer" or "lembas are supposed to be communion wafers":



Quote
I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories), and in fact a Roman Catholic. The latter 'fact' perhaps cannot be deduced; though one critic (by letter) asserted that the invocations of Elbereth, and the character of Galadriel as directly described (or through the words of Gimli and Sam) were clearly related to Catholic devotion to Mary. Another saw in waybread (lembas)= viaticum and the reference to its feeding the will (vol. III, p. 213) and being more potent when fasting, a derivation from the Eucharist. (That is: far greater things may colour the mind in dealing with the lesser things of a fairy-story.)

Letter 213 (to Deborah Webster, 1958).


My bolds in both quotations.

So we are duly warned not to jump to simplistic x = y correspondences. But when you ask:



In Reply To
Smeagol's reaction to the Lembas was dramatic and negative. He finds Lembas distasteful, more so than slimy creatures dug from muddy holes! Is this a hint that Smeagol is not going to be cured, despite Frodo's (and Gandalf's) hope?


I think it is more an indication of Gollum's current moral standing, something he could potentially change. He might manage a corner if in Very Smeagol mode.

By co-incidence I was recently reading Dracula , which has an episode that reminded me of Gollum and the lembas. Bram Stoker, unlike Tolkien, had his novel explicitly include Christianity. The background to the following quotation is that Dracula has attacked Mrs Mina Harker, one of the party of people hunting him. The leader of the party, Dr Van Helsing, proposes to protect Mina against further attack while the rest of them go after teh vampite. The narrator at this point in the book is Mr Harker, Mina's husband, and the text tries to capture Dr Van Helsing speaking English as a second language (he's Dutch):


Quote
Van Helsing stood up and said:—
“Now, my dear friends, we go forth to our terrible enterprise. Are we all armed, as we were on that night when first we visited our enemy’s lair; armed against ghostly as well as carnal attack?” We all assured him. “Then it is well. Now, Madam Mina, you are in any case quite safe here until the sunset; and before then we shall return—if—— We shall return! But before we go let me see you armed against personal attack. I have myself, since you came down, prepared your chamber by the placing of things of which we know, so that He may not enter. Now let me guard yourself. On your forehead I touch this piece of Sacred Wafer in the name of the Father, the Son, and——”
There was a fearful scream which almost froze our hearts to hear. As he had placed the Wafer on Mina’s forehead, it had seared it—had burned into the flesh as though it had been a piece of white-hot metal. My poor darling’s brain had told her the significance of the fact as quickly as her nerves received the pain of it; and the two so overwhelmed her that her overwrought nature had its voice in that dreadful scream. But the words to her thought came quickly; the echo of the scream had not ceased to ring on the air when there came the reaction, and she sank on her knees on the floor in an agony of abasement. Pulling her beautiful hair over her face, as the leper of old his mantle, she wailed out:—
“Unclean! Unclean! Even the Almighty shuns my polluted flesh! I must bear this mark of shame upon my forehead until the Judgment Day.” They all paused. I had thrown myself beside her in an agony of helpless grief, and putting my arms around held her tight. For a few minutes our sorrowful hearts beat together, whilst the friends around us turned away their eyes that ran tears silently. Then Van Helsing turned and said gravely; so gravely that I could not help feeling that he was in some way inspired, and was stating things outside himself:—
“It may be that you may have to bear that mark till God himself see fit, as He most surely shall, on the Judgment Day, to redress all wrongs of the earth and of His children that He has placed thereon. And oh, Madam Mina, my dear, my dear, may we who love you be there to see, when that red scar, the sign of God’s knowledge of what has been, shall pass away, and leave your forehead as pure as the heart we know.”

Dracula, by Bram Stoker Ch 22 https://www.gutenberg.org/.../345/345-h/345-h.htm


Whilst melodramatic, Dracula turn out to be rather better written that I expected (the villain sucks, though Wink )

~~~~~~
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


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 10 2016, 5:30pm

Post #3 of 33 (1603 views)
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Frodo, tempted... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
While Sam is simply afraid of and horrified by of the Dead, Frodo seems entranced and fascinated by them. His description alliterates and rhymes, poetical and beautiful in a creepy way:

"They lie in all the pools, pale faces, deep deep under the dark water. I saw them: grim faces and evil, and noble faces and sad. Many faces proud and fair, and weeds in their silver hair. But all foul, all rotting, all dead. "


Frodo's hands were dripping water. Is that from accidentally falling or from deliberately reaching into the water? Is Frodo experiencing a temptation?


When Smeagol mentions that he previously tried to reach the Dead, Sam immediately assumes it's because he was hungry. Was he looking for a meal, or could his experience have been more akin to Frodo's? If so, how did he escape going down to light his own little Gollum candle? He had no one to warn or rescue him.


That's a really interesting point (and one I'd never thought of).

Do we think the temptation might be something to do with being a Ringbearer? And if so what might it be - to lie down with the corpses and be at peace?
Or are the corpses and their lights magical creepy things like the barrow wights or Old Man Willow, using what might be spells to trap any passers by? I note that Sam was the least affected by OMW - maybe he once again shows his resistance to such things?

I had also always assumed that Sam was right (Gollum reached for the corpses hoping for food). So nice to have an alternative possible reading!

~~~~~~
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


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Jan 11 2016, 1:08am

Post #4 of 33 (1583 views)
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Frodo, tempted [In reply to] Can't Post

Do we think the temptation might be something to do with being a Ringbearer? And if so what it be - to lie down with the corpses and be at peace?
That is about what I had in mind. The Dead were also in a "great tale" with fear and pain. Why not just cut the suffering short and lie down with them now? Gollum has been tormented by the Ring for centuries, maybe he's even considered a way out.

Or are the corpses and their lights magical creepy things like the barrow wights or Old Man Willow, using what might be spells to trap any passers by? I note that Sam was the least affected by OMW - maybe he once again shows his resistance to such things?
I agree Sam has a curious toughness. He and Bilbo are the only two who gave up the Ring. Oh, and Tom Bombadil. Sam never gets depressed, either, even on a quest that's likely to be fatal...


enanito
Lorien

Jan 11 2016, 5:03am

Post #5 of 33 (1571 views)
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Does Tolkien write about Ent Draughts as well? [In reply to] Can't Post

This reminds me of my questions during our time in Fangorn Forest, comparing the Ent draughts with the Elven lembas.

Are they both 2 faces of the same coin? I don't know that the Ent draughts performed the first aspect of Lembas, to sustain a traveler during long journeys. But the second aspect, that of the 'religious kind', might be similar for both.


enanito
Lorien

Jan 11 2016, 5:28am

Post #6 of 33 (1576 views)
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Downside of "Guarding of the Shire"? [In reply to] Can't Post

Did Smeagol's people recall and transmit oral history over the ages better than the Shire hobbits?

That question prompted a thought about whether the Watchful Peace, as it were, of the Ranger's protection of the Shire, had the indirect effect of causing the Hobbits to turn their histories inward? That is, by being shielded from the world around them, they then lost the interest in 'roots and beginnings' that their forefathers may have maintained before crossing over the Misty Mountains?

So I'd venture that while knowledge of Hobbit History was something every hobbit was proud of, the Shire hobbits had lost touch with the history that connected them to the Outside World.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 11 2016, 10:23am

Post #7 of 33 (1554 views)
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Quick eBook searches suggest 'no' [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Does Tolkien write about Ent Draughts as well?


My eBook of Letters doesn't think it contains the word 'draught(s)', and a search for ent turns up only other aspects of ents. Of course this isn't definitive - there might be some very relevant text that doesn't happen to use my search terms, or something useful somewhere else. Maybe someone with more Tolkien Studies knowledge that I have can help.

For what it is worth, my own reading is that the treatment of 'ent draughts' is much less serious. It's a nicely imagined solution to what concious tree-like creatures might 'eat', and provides a bit of humour.

~~~~~~
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


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 11 2016, 1:48pm

Post #8 of 33 (1551 views)
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Well, not entirely the fault of the Guardians [In reply to] Can't Post

In the Prologue (Concerning hobbits) Tolkien writes:


Quote
... in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth and the right of all sensible folk. They forgot or ignored what little they had ever known of the Guardians, and of the labours of those that made possible the long peace of the Shire. They were, in fact, sheltered, but they had ceased to remember it.


This isolationist posture is of course only possible because of being guarded, but I can see how the philosophy that "peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth and the right of all sensible folk." would be so comforting that enquires into possible exceptions might not be welcomed. I think that might be why tales of the old wild days or the world outside are not so popular in the Shire; why Sam and the Bagginses are thought to be 'cracked' for liking 'elves and dragons'; and why few these days trouble to travel even as far as to Bree.

There are many times and places in real-life history where this attitude has risen. Before 9/11, wasn't it "The End of History" in a rather similar way? At various times, haven't the stock markets been going to rise forever? Or perhaps one might think this all applicable to the pre-war outlook of Tolkien's generation who filled the ranks of active servicemen in World War I.

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

Just one chapter left needing a leader: 07-Feb-16 # VI # The Forbidden Pool # Could you do it?

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 4: http://goo.gl/7ket5o
10-Jan-16 # II # The Passage of the Marshes # Oliphaunt Part 1: http://goo.gl/eUEV4u


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


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Jan 11 2016, 2:29pm

Post #9 of 33 (1547 views)
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The End of History [In reply to] Can't Post

There are many times and places in real-life history where this attitude has risen. Before 9/11, wasn't it "The End of History" in a rather similar way? At various times, haven't the stock markets been going to rise forever? Or perhaps one might think this all applicable to the pre-war outlook of Tolkien's generation who filled the ranks of active servicemen in World War I.


How might this tie in to the drafted opening chapters of the "New Shadow" (if that's the right name) - the never finished story about Gondor long after the passing of Aragorn. There had been a period of "peace and plenty" and some people grew attracted to the darkness. Do Men forget history that soon?



Darkstone
Immortal


Jan 11 2016, 2:51pm

Post #10 of 33 (1547 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

What's puzzling to me is how quickly nations forget the horrors of war and become all too willing to jump into another. One would think the ability of mass media, especially the internet, to make such horrors immediate would decrease the likelihood of war. Instead it seems to have done the opposite.

As you suggest, darkness does seem to have an attraction for many.

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

Fimbrethil, Warrior Entwife



Bracegirdle
Valinor


Jan 12 2016, 12:50am

Post #11 of 33 (1518 views)
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War and the ‘Dark Side’ have always been with us, and it seems always will be . . . [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
As you suggest, darkness does seem to have an attraction for many.


For those interested in such horrendousness here’s a list of some ‘modern day’ casualties (killed). The figures are all quite approximate and include military and civilians. The figures don’t include the wounded whose lives have been or were forever changed.

WWI ~17 million
Stalin (pre-WWII) ~30 million ++
WWII ~50 million ++
Korea ~60,000
Vietnam ~600,000 1946-1954
Vietnam ~1 million 1955-1975
Iraq ~1 million 2003-today

I’m always reminded of the song (I call it a “circular song”) “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” by Peter, Paul, and Mary. Here are the lyrics or a link below. (Listen and weep.)


Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Gone to young men everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Gone to flowers, everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgXNVA9ngx8

'When I was young I found out that the big toe always ends up making a hole in a sock.
So I stopped wearing socks.'

- Albert Einstein


Al Carondas
Lorien

Jan 12 2016, 1:32am

Post #12 of 33 (1516 views)
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Perhaps we are seeing Smeagol peeking through Gollum peeking through Smeagol? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've always been struck by this particular snapshot of Gollum - splashing in the river and remembering his game of riddles with Bilbo. It brings me a smile. Personally, I get nostalgic reading this passage, because The Hobbit is so dear to me, and "Riddles in the Dark" is my favorite part. I always wonder (and perhaps I'm projecting) if we are seeing here a little of Tolkien's own nostalgia for his earlier story. Does anyone else think so?

But trying to see it through Gollum's eyes in the present, I suspect he is beginning to feel a little bit of genuine joy at having friendly company again. I am reminded of Gandalf's words to Frodo in "The Shadow of the Past":

"Even Gollum was not wholly ruined. He had proved tougher than even one of the Wise would have guessed - as a hobbit might. There was a little corner of his mind that was still his own, and light came through it, as through a chink in the dark: light out of the past. It was actually pleasant, I think, to hear a kindly voice again, bringing up memories of wind and trees, and sun on the grass, and such forgotten things."

It is interesting that Gollum now thinks back to Bilbo, and does so with a bit of song and laughter. I do believe that Gollum, despite himself, is beginning to take a few tiny steps back towards the light, thanks to finding himself in the company of hobbits once again.

"Good Morning!"


Al Carondas
Lorien

Jan 12 2016, 2:16am

Post #13 of 33 (1512 views)
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Wise Smeagol [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, I agree. I also think that we are being shown here the insular nature of the Shire, contrasted with Smeagol's Wilderland society, where people were more concerned with news of the world at large. But, I do think we are being shown something peculiar to Smeagol as well. I think he was an especially curious hobbit with a particularly voracious appetite for stories. I think that Tolkien is letting us see the kind of hobbit he once was. He is letting us see the innocent side of Smeagol's curious nature - his pure wonder. It's interesting to me to note that Sam himself is first presented to us as having a similar (un-Shirelike) fascination with tales of Elves and Dragons.

More and more of the old Smeagol seems to surface the longer that Gollum journeys with his hobbit companions.

"Good Morning!"


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Jan 12 2016, 11:13am

Post #14 of 33 (1493 views)
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un-Shirelike Sam [In reply to] Can't Post

It's interesting to me to note that Sam himself is first presented to us as having a similar (un-Shirelike) fascination with tales of Elves and Dragons.
Especially in the context of his relationship with Sméagol. His strong feelings have something to do with finding a kinship with Sméagol, p'raps?


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jan 12 2016, 3:46pm

Post #15 of 33 (1483 views)
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Samwise [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It's interesting to me to note that Sam himself is first presented to us as having a similar (un-Shirelike) fascination with tales of Elves and Dragons.
Especially in the context of his relationship with Sméagol. His strong feelings have something to do with finding a kinship with Sméagol, p'raps?


That's not too surprising since Sam, like Frodo and his younger cousins, grew up listening to Bilbo's stories and seeing the old Hobbit entertain strange visitors.

"Things need not to have happened to be true.
Tales and dreams are the shadow-truths that will endure
when mere facts are dust and ashes, and forgot."


- Dream of the Endless


Darkstone
Immortal


Jan 12 2016, 5:50pm

Post #16 of 33 (1482 views)
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"Here they come pouring out of the blue/ Little candles for me and for you." [In reply to] Can't Post

Robert Kirk believed the fairies to be the doubles or, as he called them, the 'co-walkers' of men, which accompanied them through life, and thought that this co-walker returned to Faerie when the person died.
-Lewis Spence, The Fairy Tradition in Britain


Smeagol entertains himself by singing as he splashes through a stream approaching the Marshes. He also thoroughly entertains me, how about you? I suppose reading about Gollum is different than enduring the company of Gollum. Are we meant to have ambivalent feelings about him?

Kinda like reading about a happy child singing a happy song. It’s a pleasant thought in theory, but in the reality one wants to scream after the umpteenth-dozenth verse.


After singing about fish, he launches into the fish riddle from his meeting with Bilbo. With this memory of 'Baggins', Gollum peeks through Smeagol. Has the taming already begun to fail?

Had it ever succeeded?


There will be more breakthroughs soon. What are they and why do they occur?

Uh....


Let's think about Frodo's motivation for sharing the Lembas. Did he think it might help 'heal' Smeagol/Gollum?

Most medical breakthroughs come about from a researcher saying “Try this” to some poor unsuspecting sap. Of course nowadays they usually try it out on white rats, guinea pigs, and male college students before trying it out on human beings. Wonder wher Gollkum would fit in that continuum?


Would that be a physical, mental, or moral healing?

Yes.


The Elves did not forbid the Company from sharing the Lembas with others. However, they did indicate that Lembas is very special and that giving it to the non-Elven Company was exceptional. Do you think this crossed Frodo's mind?

He was probably still too freaked out from the Mirror of Nuclear Galadriel to absorb that. I don’t blame him.


Smeagol's reaction to the Lembas was dramatic and negative. He finds Lembas distasteful, more so than slimy creatures dug from muddy holes!

In his book The Secret Commonwealth or an Essay on the Nature and Actions of the Subterranean (and for the most part) Invisible People heretofore going under the names of Fauns and Fairies, or the like, among the Low Country Scots as described by those who have second sight, 1691, Gaelic scholar and folklorist Richard Kirk says only people of good heart can taste fairy food. All others taste only ashes and dust. Andrew Lang, whose twelve volume series ”Fairy Books” Tolkien seems to have been acquainted with, published a second edition in 1893. Kirk’s The Secret Commonwealth etc. is considered by most folklore scholars to be one of the most important and authoritative works on fairy folk beliefs so he should know.


Is this a hint that Smeagol is not going to be cured, despite Frodo's (and Gandalf's) hope?

If Reverend Kirk is to be believed then Gollum is not of good heart, so yeah.


Sam's reaction to Smeagol's reaction to the Lembas was to appreciate the taste of the Lembas even more. What does this reveal about Sam?

Sam’s not only beyond Cabbages and Potatoes, but also past Elves and Dragons, all the way to Hithlain and Lembas.

Gollum isn’t even up to Cabbages and Potatoes.


Is that a 'nice' way to react?

Depends whether you view epicaricacy (schadenfreude) as passive-aggressive vengeance or contrapasso satisfaction.


Sam clearly dislikes and fears Gollum, yet is not without pity. He says: “The nasty creature; the poor wretch!”

Aristotle notes that there are three emotions obstructive to pity: phthonos (envy), nemesis (indignation), and epikhairekakia (schadenfreude).

I wouldn’t count too much on Sam’s pity at the moment.


Looking ahead, the Orcs at Cirith Ungol also disdain the Lembas they discover in Frodo's pack. Was Lembas only nourishing to the Good?

That’s what Reverend Kirk would say. According to legend he discovered too many fairy secrets so the fairy folk faked his death and whisked him away to Fairyland so let that be a warning.


Was it dangerous for the Evil, or just bad tasting?

The good Reverend said fairy food tasted like ashes and dust to those not of good heart. BTW, it is said that after his "death" he became Chaplain to the Fairy Queen.


Could it, as Frodo thought, helped 'heal'?

According to Reverend Kirk the danger of fairy food was that it was so delicious mortals would want to stay in Faerie forever rather than give it up.


Would the Elves have been aware of this power?

“Go not to the Elves for medical treatment, for they will both heal and harm.”


Smeagol the Survivalist

Even discounting centuries bearing the Ring, Gollum has no-longer-invisibly fended for himself in the wilderness for 60 years or so since leaving the mountains in search of 'Baggins'. There was some cradle-snatching and nest-robbing, but for sure he has learned to make do with less tasty fare.


As the Roman poet Horace said, “The chief pleasure in eating does not consist in costly seasoning or exquisite flavor but in yourself."


Smeagol is also a superb tracker, and serves as guide through a very dangerous marsh. Sam finds his eating disgusting, but is willing to rely on his guidance in the marsh.

What was he eating on the edge of the marshes?


Water chestnuts, bulrushes, swamp cabbage, taro root, wild rice, lotus blossoms (and seeds, leaves, and roots), cattails, watercress, worms, spiders, snakes, snails, fish, ducks, gulls, lizards, frogs, turtles, muskrats, swamp rats (nutria), beavers, raccoons, and especially rabbits.

I won’t mention the predators like crocs and gators.


Was it anything that a tough-as-nails survivalist would disdain?

They might find the wasabi and swamp peppers a bit too pungent, the sissies.


Was Smeagol an advanced survivalist?

He’s not a dead one, so yeah.


Did he overcome the cultural disgust of eating insects and raw fish as a survival skill?

If you’re hungry enough you’ll eat anything. And anybody.


Are his dietary preferences an external manifestation of his moral depravity?

According to Leviticus 11, and Moses got it straight from the Good Lord's backside.


Smeagol the Teacher and Guide

When Sam sees the Dead in the marsh pools, Smeagol offers up a history lesson. He claims to have learned the story as a child, in his pre-Ring days. We've been told that Smeagol was interested in 'roots and beginnings', does this make him a bit of an historian?


I’d say “occultist” since the hidden knowledge was meant only for him.


Did Smeagol's people recall and transmit oral history over the ages better than the Shire hobbits?

Sure, if, like Smeagol, they lived to be over half a millennium. Otherwise, no. The secure permanency of the Shire settlement as opposed to the inevitably transient nature of Stoor riverbank communities would dictate otherwise.


Frodo's hands were dripping water. Is that from accidentally falling or from deliberately reaching into the water? Is Frodo experiencing a temptation?

Actually I’m wondering if that’s a nod to Lady Macbeth.


When Smeagol mentions that he previously tried to reach the Dead, Sam immediately assumes it's because he was hungry. Was he looking for a meal, or could his experience have been more akin to Frodo's?

Gators and crocs prefer bodies that have been tenderizing in swamp water for a while. Gollum could have learned though observation.


If so, how did he escape going down to light his own little Gollum candle?

Who says he did escape?


He had no one to warn or rescue him.

We might assume that he had no companion. At least once he got hungry enough.


Did anyone else find the "little candles" line funny as I did?

I was immediately reminded of Leapy Lee:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvXDxobNteA

Still am.


Smeagol is still entertaining me. What is funny about the adjective "little" used here?

One is immediately reminded of little birthday cake candles, thus Smeagol’s birthday present from Deagol, and then to Deagol’s body rotting somewhere in the Anduin who just might be lighting a little candle of his own for Smeagol.


When a Nazgul flies over the marsh lights go out. What's this all about? Are they just blown out by the cold wind?

Probably. Arsenical glow is very dependent upon temperature.

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

Fimbrethil, Warrior Entwife



Riven Delve
Tol Eressea


Jan 12 2016, 6:29pm

Post #17 of 33 (1474 views)
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On lembas and little lights [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Let's think about Frodo's motivation for sharing the Lembas. Did he think it might help 'heal' Smeagol/Gollum? Would that be a physical, mental, or moral healing?



Put me down for being firmly in the Frodo-wants-Gollum-to-be-healed camp. (Come on over, no midges here! Wink) I think this means spiritual/moral and therefore mental healing from his personality disorder. And dear Frodo still keeps on believing it too: "I think this food would do you good, if you would try. But perhaps you can't even try, not yet anyway."


It's interesting to me that it doesn't seem to be the food itself that makes Gollum choke but rather his association of it with Elves, or at least Elf-country. Of course anything Elvish is Good... Is it his imprisonment in the Greenwood that makes him hate lembas, or its Goodness? If the latter, it makes me pity Gollum too. But only a little bit. Evil






In Reply To



When Smeagol mentions that he previously tried to reach the Dead, Sam immediately assumes it's because he was hungry. Was he looking for a meal, or could his experience have been more akin to Frodo's? If so, how did he escape going down to light his own little Gollum candle? He had no one to warn or rescue him.




As noWizardme said, that is a good point, and one I had never thought of because I too took Sam's point of view. Maybe because I knew about the baby-eating...?






Quote

Frodo's hands were dripping water. Is that from accidentally falling or from deliberately reaching into the water? Is Frodo experiencing a temptation?




Another excellent point. I never thought too hard about that, assuming he had just fallen or something. I am leaning toward the idea you all posited about the temptation to lay it all down right here. Sort of like a nap, but with candle accessories. Tongue


“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.”



oliphaunt
Rivendell


Jan 12 2016, 7:32pm

Post #18 of 33 (1465 views)
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happy happy [In reply to] Can't Post

Kinda like reading about a happy child singing a happy song. It’s a pleasant thought in theory, but in the reality one wants to scream after the umpteenth-dozenth verse.

Or like how I find telling the same joke over and over gets funnier and funnier the more it irritates my poor husband.


Aristotle notes that there are three emotions obstructive to pity: phthonos (envy), nemesis (indignation), and epikhairekakia (schadenfreude).

I wouldn’t count too much on Sam’s pity at the moment.


Hmmm, could Sam be jealous of the attention Frodo is paying Sméagol?


That’s what Reverend Kirk would say. According to legend he discovered too many fairy secrets so the fairy folk faked his death and whisked him away to Fairyland so let that be a warning.

Was that reward or punishment? Are we in danger here at TORN, or too slow-witted to discover much?

I’d say “occultist” since the hidden knowledge was meant only for him.

Baggins won the Riddle game though


One is immediately reminded of little birthday cake candles, thus Smeagol’s birthday present from Deagol, and then to Deagol’s body rotting somewhere in the Anduin who just might be lighting a little candle of his own for Smeagol.

Do you mean the little ones that re-light themselves after you blow them out?



oliphaunt
Rivendell


Jan 12 2016, 7:39pm

Post #19 of 33 (1461 views)
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Poor sick Smeagol [In reply to] Can't Post

I think this means spiritual/moral and therefore mental healing from his personality disorder.

Was poor Sméagol sick before he saw the Ring?


enanito
Lorien

Jan 12 2016, 8:11pm

Post #20 of 33 (1459 views)
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Storytelling on the stairway to Cirith Ungol [In reply to] Can't Post

This reminded me of the discussion F&S have while pausing on the way up to Cirith Ungol (from which PJ decided to have a portion be the final dialogue of TFOT movie). After the part about Frodo being the famousest of hobbits and Frodo then responding about Samwise the stouthearted, Sam continues waxing eloquent about being put into songs and tales, and gives a nice nod to Gollum:

Quote
Why, even Gollum might be good in a tale, better than he is to have by you, anyway. And he used to like tales himself once, by his own account. I wonder if he thinks he's the hero or the villain?

I hadn't really previously considered how Sam and Gollum (more actually Smeagol, to be fair) share this trait, that's a cool observation.


Riven Delve
Tol Eressea


Jan 12 2016, 8:56pm

Post #21 of 33 (1454 views)
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Hmm, good question! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think he was very susceptible to the Ring's influence, because he very quickly murdered in order to possess it. Does that make him sick? Hmm. It doesn't make him "healthy," I guess.


In Reply To

Was poor Sméagol sick before he saw the Ring?




But I do think the Sméagol-Gollum dichotomy (I like Sam's "Stinker" and "Slinker") is a result of the influence of the Ring. I doubt Sméagol was like that before the discovery of the Ring. I'm sure we could go symbolic and metaphysical here if we want to. Angelic


“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.”



noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 12 2016, 9:22pm

Post #22 of 33 (1453 views)
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Wow that's quite a snappy book title (and a nice find!) [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
In his book "The Secret Commonwealth or an Essay on the Nature and Actions of the Subterranean (and for the most part) Invisible People heretofore going under the names of Fauns and Fairies, or the like, among the Low Country Scots as described by those who have second sight," 1691, Gaelic scholar and folklorist Richard Kirk says....


How interesting to find a possible source of the "dust and ashes" idea, an an alternative to looking for Christian influences everywhere. (Not that I think it's wrong to do that, just that its nice to think about several possible influences).

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

Just one chapter left needing a leader: 07-Feb-16 # VI # The Forbidden Pool # Could you do it?

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 4: http://goo.gl/7ket5o
10-Jan-16 # II # The Passage of the Marshes # Oliphaunt Part 1: http://goo.gl/eUEV4u


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


Darkstone
Immortal


Jan 12 2016, 9:41pm

Post #23 of 33 (1448 views)
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There's also... [In reply to] Can't Post

...HG Well's "Mr. Skelmersdale in Fairyland" where the title character returns with "his pockets full of dust and ashes". Only it is fairy gold rather than food: "He could have believed the whole thing a strangely vivid dream until he thrust his hand into his side pocket and found it stuffed with ashes. Then he knew for certain it was fairy gold they had given him."

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

Fimbrethil, Warrior Entwife



noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 12 2016, 10:10pm

Post #24 of 33 (1446 views)
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and out go all the lights [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
When a Nazgul flies over the marsh lights go out. What's this all about? Are they just blown out by the cold wind?


I don't have an explanation. But it's an effective moment - it makes me think of smaller predators scattering when the apex predator shows up.

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

Just one chapter left needing a leader: 07-Feb-16 # VI # The Forbidden Pool # Could you do it?

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 4: http://goo.gl/7ket5o
10-Jan-16 # II # The Passage of the Marshes # Oliphaunt Part 1: http://goo.gl/eUEV4u


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 12 2016, 10:23pm

Post #25 of 33 (1443 views)
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BTW I really like the idea of calling these threads "Conversations" (e.g. "BTW I really like the idea of calling these threads "Conversations" 1 of 3") // [In reply to] Can't Post

It seems to me that "Conversation" exactly captures what a chapter leader is trying to start...

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

Just one chapter left needing a leader: 07-Feb-16 # VI # The Forbidden Pool # Could you do it?

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 4: http://goo.gl/7ket5o
10-Jan-16 # II # The Passage of the Marshes # Oliphaunt Part 1: http://goo.gl/eUEV4u


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

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