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** Mount Doom ** Post 1 (the One Post)
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noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 18 2016, 9:19am

Post #1 of 85 (3121 views)
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** Mount Doom ** Post 1 (the One Post) Can't Post

Welcome to our Chapter of the Week, Mount Doom.

I think the chapter is probably best discussed in two parts - one to do with the final days of the journey. As these are related as experienced by Sam, that becomes a discussion of Sam - neatly segueing from InTheChair's last post from our previous week (http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=913232#913232 )

The other big issue is of course the destruction of the Ring.

I'll shortly set up two subthreads, one for each part.

You can of course reply to THIS post is to raise an aspect of the chapter that isn't part of either of those and isn't getting discussed.

Just before we start, I thought it might be useful to recommend the View Flat Mode/View Threaded control you have in the bar of buttons top right of any post. The same button is either labelled View Threaded or View Flat Mode according to how you currently have things set.

It looks like this:


Or like this:


...and it lets you choose to see everything in the order ti was posted, or to see it listed on the basis of who replied to whom. It's a useful control for following a post with subthreads - do give it a try if you haven't already.

~~~~~~

Volunteers are still needed to lead chapters for our read-thorough of Book VI ROTK (and the appendices if there are sufficient volunteers)
http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=909709#909709


A wonderful list of links to Book I - Book V chapters in this read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 18 2016, 9:33am

Post #2 of 85 (2869 views)
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Sam and the final journey [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo can barely stagger along, so Sam, has become the expedition’s de facto leader. Consequently we get some more insights into Sam to add to those from InTheChair's last post from our previous week (http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=913232#913232 )

I have in mind:
Sam assesses the expeditions chances, and estimates that they can reach the fiery mountain, but can’t possibly return. Hope finally dies in Sam, but only to be replaced by a new resolve. Later Sam has an interior dialogue - he doesn’t know how to destroy the Ring, if Frodo doesn’t (or won’t). Sam suppresses his doubts by sheer determination.They stagger to and finally up the mountain, Sam carrying Frodo and being amazed at how light Frodo has become.

2) Sam inadvisedly offers to bear the Ring -Frodo is momentarily maddened and confesses that he is almost in the Ring’s power. “I could not give it up, and if you tried to take it I would go mad”.

3) Sam sacrifices his precious cooking gear and most of their other stuff to lighten the load. But he keeps Sting and their gifts from Galadriel. Is Sam still a little hopeful, after all?

4) There is the briefest of mentions - and for the first time - of Rosie Cotton, Did you realise, on first reading this, the nature of Sam’s relationship with Rosie?. Did you wonder who 'Marigold' was (Sam's sister, in fact). What does it say abut Sam that even his private thoughts on this are so low-key?

Q - What do these reactions tell us about Sam?(Please add any more points that I missed!)

The actual journey passes in an impressionistic haze. Needing to skirt the armed camp on the plain, and then sucked into a forced march with the orcs, Sam and Frodo have worked around the inside of the mountains that form Mordor's Western border. Now they work their way back South towards Mount Doom, having to pass the tower of Barad Dur..

Where is everyone? Sam and Frodo move once again through "the sinister quiet of the front when “everything is now ready,” " as they did in Journey to the Crossroads.
( see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=895954#895954 )

Q: Does that level of quiet really make military sense? This time F&S are in the rear of Sauron's armies. No patrols looking for deserters? No support workers refilling those water cisterns? No reserves massing for a second assault on Gondor once the supposed upstart Ring Lord has been defeated in the imminent battle at the Black Gate?

Or does it make sense in different ways? Even Sam is barely functioning now - is the isolation as much mental as real? Is it only reasonable to expect the hobbits to miss a lot of detail in their anguish?

~~~~~~

Volunteers are still needed to lead chapters for our read-thorough of Book VI ROTK (and the appendices if there are sufficient volunteers)
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noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 18 2016, 9:59am

Post #3 of 85 (2880 views)
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The destruction of the Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

Suddenly on the approach to Mount Doom the hobbits are both overtaken with a mysterious sense of urgency. Then they are nearly detected by the Evil Eye
Q - is this a supernatural intervention, co-ordinating their final push with the battle outside the Black Gate? Has Sauron felt something too?

As they stagger onwards, Gollum attacks. Hand to the Ring under his leather shirt, Frodo commands Gollum ‘begone and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom!’ Sam has a strange vision of this scene, with Frodo a figure robed in white holding a wheel of fire

Q - what do you make of this? We earlier discussed the wheel of fire as an old symbol of hell. Why the white robes? Is Frodo cursing Gollum, perhaps using the Ring to do so? Or is it a lucky prediction?

Frodo goes on. Sam stays to deal with Gollum, but cannot slay him as he intends, because now he too pities Gollum.
Q; Is it important that Pity is how Gollum escapes Sam’s vengeance one last time (rather than, say Gollum just evading Sam once more)?

Getting separated from Sam never seems to work out for Frodo. By the time Sam catches up with Frodo again, Frodo is at the brink of the Cracks of Doom, claiming the Ring as his own. So Frodo abandons the quest and everything he has struggled to achieve, only to be saved, along with the whole of Middle-earth, by Gollum.
Did this surprise you on your first reading (or watching the film)?

It completely surprised me, and yet perhaps what it MOST surprising is that is exactly what Tolkien has hinted time and again will happen. There are many quotations to find that predict that:

=> Frodo won’t be able to destroy the Ring.
=> Gollum will have an important role in the mission.
=> Something very bad will happen to Gollum if he betrays Frodo.

The unusual feature here, I think is that the Quest succeeds, but it is not our hero Frodo who personally achieves the final victory. I think that's quite unusual. I think it is more usual that the hero has grown just enough to succeed - like, say, Luke Skywalker can blow up the Death Star, provided he realises he must turn off his targeting computer and have faith in The Force (which is what his adventures so far have led him to be ready to achieve).

Gollum wins the struggle to get the Ring, and then slips into the fire, seemingly by accident. Tolkien chose this end having (we know from HoME) hit upon hte idea of a Frodo/Gollum scuffle early on but having considered other options as to how the fight would go. Q -What would be different if we read that Gollum/Smeagol had deliberately jumped; or that Frodo had pushed him in, or that Gollum/Smeagol slipped in during the wrestle with Frodo, it being much less clear who or what provided the motive force?

Aside from it's effect as a plot twist, what does this particular choice of events tell us about how Middle-earth works?

And what (if anything) does this choice tell us about Tolkien?
It strikes me as deeply personal and I wonder things including:
Tolkien called his work 'fundamentally Catholic'. But I do not see him as trying to proselytise, or writing an allegory of Catholicism that readers are supposed to decode. So is it 'fundamentally Catholic' because it is built upon fundamentals of a Catholic viewpoint in some way?

Tolkien was in his fifties when he wrote LOTR. A Professor at a prestigious British University, he had every right to think of himself as a successful man. And yet, as young men, he and a group of friends seem to have sincerely believed that they were going to form a cultural and intellectual movement that would be a major influence in the Twentieth Century. It had not worked out - not only because it is much more difficult to make mark on adult society than highly successful students sometimes think, but also because of the death of Tolkien's friends in the First World War. Is there perhaps something there that echoes in Frodo's non-triumphal success? That you do your very best at great personal cost and things work out perhaps, but not as you dreamed and envisaged?

...Returning to the events of our chapter:


The Ring is destroyed. Staggering out, the hobbits have a brief vision of Barad-dur collapsing.
Frodo confesses that he could not have completed the quest, and says they should forgive Gollum. He is glad of Sam’s company, here at the end of all things.

Q: Frodo forgives, but does not ask to be forgiven: for failing the quest in the last moments, or for involving Sam in a suicidal quest. Is that odd?

The PJ film treatment of this scene is interestingly different (something I thank Elizabeth for pointing out!) Film Sam has a moment to speak of his regrets that he has to die now. But the book keeps its emphasis on Frodo. Compare and contrast book and film here - do you like both, or prefer one to the other?

~~~~~~

Volunteers are still needed to lead chapters for our read-thorough of Book VI ROTK (and the appendices if there are sufficient volunteers)
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(This post was edited by noWizardme on Sep 18 2016, 10:11am)


Bracegirdle
Valinor


Sep 18 2016, 6:31pm

Post #4 of 85 (2832 views)
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The mind of Gollum [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Gollum wins the struggle to get the Ring, and then slips into the fire, seemingly by accident. Tolkien chose this end having (we know from HoME) hit upon hte idea of a Frodo/Gollum scuffle early on but having considered other options as to how the fight would go.

… it being much less clear who or what provided the motive force?

Smeagol/Gollum was never a nice guy, but after some five-hundred years he had been totally and completely (very rare exceptions) despoiled and corrupted by “his precious”. After the robbery of his treasured Ring by bad Baggins his entire existence was focused solely on regaining the only thing that he ever loved. And when he finally regains possession, after seventy-eight years, his ecstasy is boundless and he heedlessly, with no thought of personal safety, jumps for joy on the edge of the Cracks of Doom, trips or slips and falls into the fire with a last word – “precious”. We might equate his reckless joy and subsequent death to something akin to the overwhelming reappearance of a deceased mother, where the mind would understandably take a temporary holiday.
So, the “motive force” is simply the reckless heedless mind of Gollum.

‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor




a.s.
Valinor


Sep 18 2016, 7:34pm

Post #5 of 85 (2825 views)
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Who achieves the final victory, if not Frodo? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
The unusual feature here, I think is that the Quest succeeds, but it is not our hero Frodo who personally achieves the final victory.


Frodo accepted the quest in humility and trust. Frodo walked all the way to Mordor with the knowledge that he is not going to be able to give up the Ring, trusting that Gandalf's plan to rely on "other powers at work" might at the ultimate moment save the quest somehow. Frodo spares Gollum in pity and understanding, and it's FRODO who is given a final moment of grace, releasing him from the burden of the decision he cannot make (to throw the ring in the fire is beyond him). Grace that comes because Frodo walked to Mordor as a living sacrifice, and brought about because he showed pity on Gollum (so did Sam, by the way, I'm not neglecting that).

Providence, if you think this is Providence at work, doesn't move people around like chess pieces. People move themselves around the chess board, they make their own moves, for good or ill. Providence did not spare Gollum, Frodo spared Gollum.

Providence, if you think this is Providence, granted Frodo the grace of removing the evil from him, but not by throwing Gollum in the fire. However grace works, however Divine Intervention works (if it does work), it doesn't work by moving chess pieces around, it works maybe by just paying attention.

There's no need to read the situation this way. I no longer believe in Providence, if I ever really did, so I read this as simply as exactly what happens: Frodo (and Sam) display pity on Gollum, and that pity ends up saving Frodo from his inability to dispose of the Ring.



Quote
And what (if anything) does this choice tell us about Tolkien? It strikes me as deeply personal and I wonder things including:
Tolkien called his work 'fundamentally Catholic'. But I do not see him as trying to proselytise, or writing an allegory of Catholicism that readers are supposed to decode. So is it 'fundamentally Catholic' because it is built upon fundamentals of a Catholic viewpoint in some way?



So, we've argued this many times in the RR. This is no kind of allegory. This is just the way a devout and deeply thinking Roman Catholic of his generation understood the primary world: that there is One God in charge, all things work toward His plan, that we were meant to live in Earthly Paradise until we sinned from pride, etc. I don't think Tolkien wrote LOTR intentionally as a discourse on this worldview, I just think that was how he regarded his secondary world because that was how he understood the real world.

I think when he paused to reflect on what happens here in this chapter, as he says in Letters, he saw that it clearly illustrates the concepts in the Lord's Prayer (forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil).But I don't think he wrote it that way on purpose.

A final thought from me: I read LOTR to follow Frodo's journey, it's his story that is pivotal in the book for me (there are many ways to enjoy and understand this book, this is mine). When I walk with Frodo, I get to the line in this chapter that I think sums up the whole thing: "I can manage it," said Frodo. "I must."

That's the lesson I gain from LOTR. We are all faced with adversity, sometimes real trauma, things that are almost beyond our endurance but must be tried, and we manage because we must. That is courage.

a.s.

"an seileachan"


"A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds." JRR Tolkien, Letters.



noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 18 2016, 9:18pm

Post #6 of 85 (2810 views)
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Frodo or nobody. And yet... [In reply to] Can't Post

You are of course quite right: only Frodo could have taken things to the brink. I don't mean to denigrate that achievement. As we discussed last week, we have to assume that Frodo and Sams efforts are necessary if not sufficient: that it wouldn't have worked for Frodo to have stayed comfortably at home waiting for Providence (or whatever one wishes to call it) to arrange a pleasant way forward.

As a reader I'd supposed that Frodo would personally dispose of the Ring, getting it to Mount Doom and also somehow managing the chucking it in. Maybe that blinkers my thinking.

What do we think Frodo imagined? Did he always know or suspect he would need some outside help from somewhere? Or did he, like me the reader, suppose he'd somehow manage it himself?

The difference between "set up the goal" and "in the scorebook as having scored the goal" need not lessen our appreciation of Frodo: to be honest, I was thinking about this problem with Frodo's perception of himself for having managed everything except the final touchdown:


Quote

"I think it is clear on reflection to an attentive reader that when his dark times came upon him and he was conscious of being ‘wounded by knife sting and tooth and a long burden’ (III 268) it was not only nightmare memories of past horrors that afflicted him, but also unreasoning self-reproach: he saw himself and all that he done as a broken failure. ‘Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same, for I shall not be the same.’ That was actually a temptation out of the Dark, a last flicker of pride: desire to have returned as a ‘hero’, not content with being a mere instrument of good. And it was mixed with another temptation, blacker and yet (in a sense) more merited, for however that may be explained, he had not in fact cast away the Ring by a voluntary act: he was tempted to regret its destruction, and still to desire it."

Letters 246


~~~~~~

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(This post was edited by noWizardme on Sep 18 2016, 9:19pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 18 2016, 9:34pm

Post #7 of 85 (2804 views)
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That's an important point- [In reply to] Can't Post

Gollum has just achieved his wretched life's ambition, regaining the Precious. You are quite right; unbounded and careless jubilation is only to be expected. So my "by chance" was misleading or ill-considered.

The important thing, I suppose I meant, is that Gollum does not jump (Considered and then rejected in drafts discussed in HoME), and nor does Frodo push him in. Neither Frodo nor Gollum, just then, intended the Ring to end up in the fire. So another force, even if just chance, was presumably at work.

~~~~~~

Volunteers are still needed to lead chapters for our read-thorough of Book VI ROTK (and the appendices if there are sufficient volunteers)
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squire
Half-elven


Sep 18 2016, 10:58pm

Post #8 of 85 (2812 views)
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If chance you call it [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that Tolkien sets up his amazing climax so that we can realistically imagine Gollum losing his grip, his balance and then his life entirely due to his exhilaration at recovering his Precious.

But I have always read these two passages, one from two books before and one from just a page or two before, as the clues to what force was at work:
[Said Frodo,] 'You will never get it back. But the desire of it may betray you to a bitter end. You will never get it back. In the last need, Sméagol, I should put on the Precious; and the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to command you, you would obey, even if it were to leap from a precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my command. So have a care, Sméagol!’ - LotR IV.3

[Sam saw] a crouching shape, scarcely more than the shadow of a living thing, a creature now wholly ruined and defeated, yet filled with a hideous lust and rage; and before it stood stern, untouchable now by pity, a figure robed in white, but at its breast it held a wheel of fire. Out of the fire there spoke a commanding voice.
‘Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.’
- LotR VI.3

The first is foreshadowing - Frodo does not literally command Gollum to jump during the wild struggle, even though he is then wearing it. But the second is Book IV's, or Frodo's, foreshadowing come true, with the command subtly changed to the future tense.

Wildly open to interpretation is the moral status of the Ringbearer, wearing white but with a fiery ring at his heart; and even more interesting is the question of who is speaking, Frodo or the Ring itself. But I can't help but conclude that, as Frodo/Ring predicted or commanded, Gollum did "touch me" (both the Ring and Frodo) and was thus himself cast into the Fire.

This was both a curse and a prophecy, and like many in Middle-earth it came true with remarkable accuracy and yet proved a booby-trap as well. For the irony remains, as you note, that whoever was speaking certainly did not imagine the Ring would also go into the Fire should the Powers deem the curse to be in effect!



squire online:
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noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 19 2016, 6:31am

Post #9 of 85 (2778 views)
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...and Faramir has cursed Gollum too [In reply to] Can't Post

 

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"‘Then I say to you,’ said Faramir, turning to Gollum, ‘you are under doom of death; but while you walk with Frodo you are safe for our part. Yet if ever you be found by any man of Gondor astray without him, the doom shall fall. And may death find you swiftly, within Gondor or without, if you do not well serve him."


What Faramir seems to be anticipating is 'doom' in the sense of judgement. Gollum has a commuted sentence, which would be carried out by a Gondorian, if at all. Whether Faramir's words form a curse in a supernatural sense is something we could debate. Certainly Sam hoped so: when Gollum betrays them to Shelob, Sam says "May the curse of Faramir bite that Gollum, and bite him quick!"

~~~~~~

Volunteers are still needed to lead chapters for our read-thorough of Book VI ROTK (and the appendices if there are sufficient volunteers)
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A wonderful list of links to Book I - Book V chapters in this read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


squire
Half-elven


Sep 19 2016, 2:20pm

Post #10 of 85 (2769 views)
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For whatever reason, Faramir's curse doesn't seem to work [In reply to] Can't Post

Sam's remark highlights this - I doubt we readers would remember it otherwise. Gollum betrays Frodo in Shelob's lair, which should activate Faramir's words, yet he doesn't die for another week or so, and then under the circumstances of (probably) a much more strong and direct curse, that of the Ring and/or the Ringbearer.

I wish I had the curse manual for Middle-earth. I'm trying to decide if Faramir's qualification "within Gondor or without" has any validity, since he undoubtedly issued it in his capacity as a Captain of Gondor. Is the spider's pass still "within Gondor"? I would argue not, and I suspect Faramir would agree since he knows where Frodo is headed, and added the hopeful extension for that reason.

But just as Galadriel's phial is useless in the Sammath Naur, I suspect Faramir's Numenorean foresight is useless under the Shadow. The Ring, of course, has greater power as it nears Mt. Doom, and so Frodo's curse is almost unbeatable.

It occurs to me that (as Sam perceives in the vision he is given) Frodo has seemingly been spiritually purified by his ordeal, in every way save his enslavement to the Ring. If so, then his curse on the slopes was still partly in his own name as well as in the name of the Ring. That might explain how the Ring's curse led to the Ring's own destruction: it was issued through a hobbit who, with the ring of fire at his chest, was otherwise wearing a white robe. The former doomed Gollum - the latter doomed the Ring.



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'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
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No One in Particular
Rivendell


Sep 19 2016, 4:43pm

Post #11 of 85 (2756 views)
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Gollum... [In reply to] Can't Post

Gollum is under a higher Doom than anything Faramir, Captain of Gondor and descendant of Númenoran, could lay upon him. His fate was inextricably bound to the Ring.

That said, I suppose it was within his power to simply kill him outright, just as he could have done to Frodo and Sam, or have taken him back to Gondor, as in the movie. But if he had determined to do that, Tolkien would have most likely written an escape hatch into the situation to allow the journey to Mordor to continue.

While you live, shine
Have no grief at all
Life exists only for a short while
And time demands an end.
Seikilos Epitaph


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 19 2016, 4:45pm

Post #12 of 85 (2757 views)
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Well I suppose there's cursing and then there's cursing... [In reply to] Can't Post

Sam has been cursing Gollum a few times, but I assume Tolkien means that Sam has been calling Gollum names that you can't use on this board. It's impotent anger: he's not expecting anything actually to happen.

Then there's Faramir - he's firstly making a legal judgement about who has temporary leave to wander in Gondor (if he'd been played by John Wayne, that would even have rhymed). Presumably in places like Gondor and Rohan there was some mechanism to inform patrols who was a friend and what the T&Cs were. The second part "And may death find you swiftly, within Gondor or without, if you do not well serve him" could as much be an impotent wish as a proper curse. Faramir, of course, has grave doubts about allowing Gollum to accompany Frodo. Whether or not this but was a curse putting Golum at some metaphysical risk, it certainly works well as a writing device - another little hint that Gollum will betray Frodo then suffer for it.


And I like that idea of what one might call 'recursive cursing':

In Reply To
It occurs to me that (as Sam perceives in the vision he is given) Frodo has seemingly been spiritually purified by his ordeal, in every way save his enslavement to the Ring. If so, then his curse on the slopes was still partly in his own name as well as in the name of the Ring. That might explain how the Ring's curse led to the Ring's own destruction: it was issued through a hobbit who, with the ring of fire at his chest, was otherwise wearing a white robe. The former doomed Gollum - the latter doomed the Ring.


I'm now having fun imagining the Ring being like this poor calculator https://youtu.be/443B6f_4n6k which is commanded to divide by zero when its engineer hadn't made an exception for that mathematically impossible task.

~~~~~~

Volunteers are still needed to lead chapters for our read-thorough of Book VI ROTK (and the appendices if there are sufficient volunteers)
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noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 19 2016, 5:26pm

Post #13 of 85 (2751 views)
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SO...., what if Gollum had taken the Ring and jumped, or of Sam had pushed him in... [In reply to] Can't Post

In an outline that Christopher Tolkien thought dated from 1939, Tolkien had:

Quote
At that moment Gollum - who had seemed to reform and had guided them by secret ways through Mordor - comes up and treacherously tried to take Ring. They wrestle and Gollum takes Ring and falls into crack.

JRRT's drafts and outlines for this chapter as published by Christopher Tolkien in Sauron Defeated (part of History of Middle-earth). Italics are JRR Tolkien's


But two years later Tolkien revisited his planing for this chapter and was clearly considering two different possibilities:


Quote
Gollum breaks Frodo's finger and gets Ring. Frodo falls into a swoon. Sam crawls in while Gollum is dancing in glee and suddenly pushed Gollum into the crack. Fall of Mordor.

Perhaps better would be to make Gollum repent in a way. He is utterly wretched and commits suicide No. Gollum has it, he cried. No one else shall have it. I will destroy you all. He leaps into crack. Fire goes mad

(ibid. Strikethrough represents JRRT's annotation of his outline)


I think it's interesting that Tolkien considered, then rejected both options for deliberate killing - that Sam kills Gollum in order to dispose of the Ring, or that Gollum kills himself (with either selfless or selfish motives).

~~~~~~

Volunteers are still needed to lead chapters for our read-thorough of Book VI ROTK (and the appendices if there are sufficient volunteers)
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squire
Half-elven


Sep 19 2016, 6:13pm

Post #14 of 85 (2752 views)
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I have this sudden image of a text, unbidden.... [In reply to] Can't Post

"Isildur breaks Sauron's finger and gets Ring. Sauron falls into a swoon. Elrond crawls in while Isildur is dancing in glee and suddenly pushed Isildur into the crack. Fall of Mordor."

That would answer a thousand critics of the film version. Now about those Eagles ...



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a.s.
Valinor


Sep 19 2016, 6:18pm

Post #15 of 85 (2746 views)
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Beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea...Dreadful as the Storm and Lightning [In reply to] Can't Post

“And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!”



In Reply To
Frodo has seemingly been spiritually purified by his ordeal, in every way save his enslavement to the Ring. If so, then his curse on the slopes was still partly in his own name as well as in the name of the Ring. That might explain how the Ring's curse led to the Ring's own destruction: it was issued through a hobbit who, with the ring of fire at his chest, was otherwise wearing a white robe. The former doomed Gollum - the latter doomed the Ring.



I think this is truly Frodo using the Ring. He may make his firm declaration at the brink, "I do not choose to do what I came to do, the Ring is mine", but he already claimed it when he used it in power to command Gollum.

He is holy, he is beatifed at the moment he uses the Ring, just as Galadriel would have been (expanded a thousand times, since she is a High Elf) had she claimed the Ring. At the moment he uses the Ring to command Gollum, however justified the command and however holy the hobbit has become, he uses the Ring to bend another to his will.

Even his command, though, is tempered by mercy: begone and DON'T TROUBLE ME AGAIN, if you do you will cast yourself into the fire.

Not: GO CAST YOURSELF INTO THE FIRE right now

Gandalf said, way back in the most important chapter Shadow of the Past: "The way of the ring to my heart is by pity--the wish to wield it would be too great for my strength."

I think, for a re-reader, if there is still any remaining doubt that Frodo might actually let the ring go, it should be gone at this point. Frodo uses the Ring. It's too late.

a.s.

"an seileachan"


"A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds." JRR Tolkien, Letters.



Ingwion
Lorien

Sep 19 2016, 7:35pm

Post #16 of 85 (2733 views)
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Holy? [In reply to] Can't Post


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He is holy, he is beatifed at the moment he uses the Ring


Why is Frodo "holy" the moment he uses the Ring? Sauron definitely wasn't holy... Sorry if I'm misreading your post.


It was a foggy day in London, and the fog was heavy and dark. Animate London, with smarting eyes and irritated lungs, was blinking, wheezing, and choking; inanimate London was a sooty spectre, divided in purpose between being visible and invisible, and so being wholly neither. - Our Mutual Friend, Charles Dickens.

It is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet the echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance that is in this Earth; and many of the Children of Ilúvatar hearken still unsated to the voices of the Sea, and yet know not for what they listen. - The Silmarillion, J. R. R. Tolkien


InTheChair
Lorien

Sep 19 2016, 7:54pm

Post #17 of 85 (2729 views)
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Would the cloak of Lothlorien be red upon Superman? [In reply to] Can't Post

3) Sam sacrifices his precious cooking gear and most of their other stuff to lighten the load. But he keeps Sting and their gifts from Galadriel. Is Sam still a little hopeful, after all?

Asuming its not just a form of courtesy not to throw away somthing received in gift (Hobbit tradition merits giving gifts rather than receiving.) it probably comes down to practicality. Sting is still needed in case Gollum comes back, and the box of Galadriel is probably small and light, whereas Sams cooking gear would have some weight and bulk to it.


Where is everyone? Sam and Frodo move once again through "the sinister quiet of the front when “everything is now ready,” " as they did in Journey to the Crossroads.
Q: Does that level of quiet really make military sense? This time F&S are in the rear of Sauron's armies. No patrols looking for deserters? No support workers refilling those water cisterns? No reserves massing for a second assault on Gondor once the supposed upstart Ring Lord has been defeated in the imminent battle at the Black Gate?

Most movement is towards Udûn. The volcano in the middle of the barren desert is probably not a healthy place for troops or guards to camp by anyway. On the other hand given the prominent place Mount Doom has both in Saurons work and history, and as a symbol and landmark of Mordor it is perhaps surprising that there really is no kind of guard at all of the Sammath Naur.


Suddenly on the approach to Mount Doom the hobbits are both overtaken with a mysterious sense of urgency. Then they are nearly detected by the Evil Eye
Q - is this a supernatural intervention, co-ordinating their final push with the battle outside the Black Gate? Has Sauron felt something too?


Uncertain. We know that the ring may affect the senses of those in proximity, and if the ring itself senses precense of Mount Doom perhaps it feels some kind of urgency and emits that. But really I don't know what forces are at play here.



Q - what do you make of this? We earlier discussed the wheel of fire as an old symbol of hell. Why the white robes? Is Frodo cursing Gollum, perhaps using the Ring to do so? Or is it a lucky prediction?

Most likely as has been touched on Sam is seein Frodo on some kind of spiritual plane. Frodo may have fallen to the ring but that doesn't necessarily spoil his soul right off the bat. As both Gandalf and Galadriel say they would both have used the ring for what they consider benevolent aims. That too would eventually process into oppression, but there is a factor of time involved, and so it might be with Frodo. Hence what Sam percieves as white robes.

On a more earthly level, if I remember the sequence of undress-dress-undress-dress correctly Frodo was naked when found in Cirith Ungol. He then dressed only in orc-gear and the cloak of Lothlorien. At Mount Doom he will be an orc no more and discards everything except the elven cloak. So as far as I can make out Frodo is at the time naked except for the cloak of Lothlorien and a piece of string. And the ring.

There are some interesting things said about these cloaks back in Farewell to Lorien. It was hard to say of what colour they were: grey with a hue of twilight under the trees they seemed to be, and yet if they were moved, or set in another light, they were green as shadowed leaves, or brown as fallow fields by night, dusk-silver under the stars.

When Pippin asks if they are magical cloaks, Ralph Elf replies that: Leaf and branch, water and stone, they have the hue and beauty of all these things. We put the thought of all that we love, into all that we make. The Elves are also known fanciers of the spiritual, beeing indeed immortal.

So in a place of metaphorical, and possibly physical darkness, and worn by an emanciated Frodo, whose senses and thoughts are fuelled by the ring, what hue would the cloak of Lorien reflect?

Not saying that is what really happened. Just a thought experiment.



Getting separated from Sam never seems to work out for Frodo. By the time Sam catches up with Frodo again, Frodo is at the brink of the Cracks of Doom, claiming the Ring as his own. So Frodo abandons the quest and everything he has struggled to achieve, only to be saved, along with the whole of Middle-earth, by Gollum.
Did this surprise you on your first reading (or watching the film)?


Yes and no. No because I figure the book was drawing towards and end and still Gollum had not played out his role whatever that was to be. Tolkien also wisely does not bother drawing it out or trying to make faux suspension of it. The moment Frodo claims the ring Gollum springs into action, knocks Sam out and wrestle Frodo. Though I would say yes also, because though I don't rememebr the first time I read it I probably expected more something on the lines that Sam would come back and shove both Gollum and the ring into the chasm. Didn't expect divine intervention. Though perhaps I should, but I was so young back then I don't think the concept would have occurred to me.



Is there perhaps something there that echoes in Frodo's non-triumphal success? That you do your very best at great personal cost and things work out perhaps, but not as you dreamed and envisaged?

Thinking maybe of the trouble and setbacks Tolkien himself had in trying and trying to get the Silmarillion finished for publication, or even getting it accepted for publication at all. On the other hand I don't know if this more echoes Frodos failure to stand the responsibility, or Gollums inability to recover an object he desperately wanted.


(This post was edited by InTheChair on Sep 19 2016, 7:58pm)


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 19 2016, 10:00pm

Post #18 of 85 (2711 views)
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"People getting thrown into volcanoes... it ALWAYS works" (Neil Gaiman) [In reply to] Can't Post

Neil Gaiman made that observation in a talk about stories for the Long Now Foundation https://www.brainpickings.org/...an-how-stories-last/ it's a very entertaining talk.

~~~~~~

Volunteers are still needed to lead chapters for our read-thorough of Book VI ROTK (and the appendices if there are sufficient volunteers)
http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=909709#909709


A wonderful list of links to Book I - Book V chapters in this read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


a.s.
Valinor


Sep 19 2016, 10:27pm

Post #19 of 85 (2706 views)
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For the same reason Galadriel or Gandalf are holy [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo is holy at the moment he uses the ring, because unlike the exalted wizard or high elf, he has earned his holiness, it's not an intrinsic part of his nature. We see his holiness amplified by the power of the ring, as he succumbs to temptation, not yet corrupted by its use, but fallen into it, using the ring to save the quest--but using it nonetheless.

The ring isn't poison, it hasn't corrupted Frodo's soul or being, because he has resisted using it in power. He has only previously had Gollum swear "on" it. He is the most purely holy being in ME at this moment, but now he is commanding by channeling the power of the ring. Very dangerous. Very unholy.

It's a good thing Providence, or luck, or fate, spared him at last, there at the edge of the fire.

a.s.

"an seileachan"


"A safe fairyland is untrue to all worlds." JRR Tolkien, Letters.



CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 19 2016, 11:33pm

Post #20 of 85 (2702 views)
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It's the most profound version [In reply to] Can't Post

and the cleanest. Frodo may be "guilty" of succumbing to the supernatural power of the Ring, but Tolkien says in Letters that any mortal would have, so with the author pardoning him, I find him essentially innocent, even if Frodo later feels guilty himself. Sam could have killed Gollum just a little while ago on the road to Sammath Naur, but he finally feels the pity that the morally superior Gandalf and Frodo do, so he's clean too. Having Frodo or Sam push a Ring-possessing Gollum into the fire, while necessary to fulfill the quest, would have meant they were guilty of murdering another hobbit.

So they come off clean, and we're left to ponder what would have become of Gollum had he lived, and ponder just why he died. Really, what would he have done? When he long ago possessed the Ring, he never seemed to have the power to command orcs to do anything, or to command other hobbits, or to have any magic beyond invisibility. So, would he have run off down the mountain, or killed Frodo and Sam, or what? We don't know.

And we can debate forever WHY he died. It sure seems like an accident, but we have Frodo's strong curse and Faramir's feebler curse to give us pause, plus there's just plain fate involved in all of this. If Frodo was *meant* by a higher power to be the Ring-bearer, did that same higher power give Gollum a nudge? Or did irony kill Gollum, as in the old expression "be careful what you wish for"? Or maybe morality killed him, since he was too careless in his victory. Or did the Ring, ever treacherous to any owner but Sauron, make Gollum fall, and given that the Ring wasn't all that smart, it didn't realize it doomed itself? Is this another example of "oft evil will shall evil mar"? Oh, it's fun to think about these things!


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 19 2016, 11:37pm

Post #21 of 85 (2701 views)
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I really like your comparison to Galadriel here. [In reply to] Can't Post

Sure seems to fit. Sam told her if she took the Ring, she'd do good things, and she replied, "That is how it would begin. But it would not stop with that, alas!" So she would indeed start out seeming holy and beatified.

I don't think the Ring corrupts 100% instantly. So, this is the essential goodness of Frodo amplified by the Ring, not killing Gollum, just warning him away.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 19 2016, 11:43pm

Post #22 of 85 (2698 views)
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Curses, foiled again [In reply to] Can't Post

or in the case of the Ring, boiled in lava.

How do we weigh the power of Faramir's curse? Go back in time to Isildur cursing the king of the White Mountains for breaking his oath to fight with the Dunedain against Sauron. The king broke an oath, and he was cursed, and he and his entire kingdom became the Dead. That was one powerful curse/broken oath!

Gollum has broken his oath to serve Frodo, and he's been cursed by a Dunedan. Did Faramir have the same power that Isildur did? I'm not sure he did, but I thought I'd bring up the comparison, because really, Isildur appears like a classical sorcerer with that curse on the Dead which only Aragorn could relieve them of. (And as a tangent, why do you suppose the Dead didn't send regular emissaries to Isildur's heirs in Arnor asking for redemption, rather than hanging around dead for centuries?)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 19 2016, 11:51pm

Post #23 of 85 (2696 views)
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I felt positively CHEATED that Frodo didn't finish the quest himself on 1st read. [In reply to] Can't Post

As you say, the hero ALWAYS comes through at the end. Frodo is a rather unique hero in failing and and not sacrificing himself or falling into any other rut that heroes always run into. What was wrong with Tolkien--hadn't he read heroic literature!??!??!

So I really hated this part as a kid, but I can appreciate it as an adult. And I can appreciate your point about Tolkien possibly reflecting his own adult disappointments in Frodo's fate. No, he and his friends didn't change the world, and as an older adult you have to come to grips with your youthful idealism not being fulfilled. You also reject bitterness, and realize that things can still work out in life, just not the way you planned. So, the quest was still fulfilled, just not the way anyone planned (and Frodo lost a finger, too, but on the bright side, he kept the other nine--hmm, now what does Nine remind me of?).

But I can also say that upon first read, I was VERY happy that once the Ring is destroyed, the story's point of view almost immediately swings back to Frodo, and he is once again the old Frodo. After all those chapters of watching him dwindle from the outside, I was full of joy that the burden was gone and he regained his mind and soul, whatever it had cost. Somehow, it all seemed worthwhile. So that was a victory of its own, especially that the victory was snapped from the jaws of defeat (and Gollum's jaws).


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 20 2016, 12:08am

Post #24 of 85 (2696 views)
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Why is Frodo silent after he claims the Ring? [In reply to] Can't Post

When Frodo encounters Gollum right before the Sammath Naur, he's quite chatty:


Quote
As they stagger onwards, Gollum attacks. Hand to the Ring under his leather shirt, Frodo commands Gollum ‘begone and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom!’

So, isn't it reasonable to expect him to tell Gollum to cast himself into the Fire of Doom while the latter is fighting with him after he's put the Ring on and claimed its power? Or is the idea that Frodo's soul, and his ability to speak, have been overcome by the Ring once he "claims" it, which is really surrendering to it?

There is something about their fight outside the Crack of Doom that always haunts me about how beaten down Frodo was:

Quote
"This was probably the only thing that could have roused the dying embers of Frodo's heart and will."

If you've ever known someone on the brink of death from a terminal illness, or who's on the point of suicide from mental illness, you've witnessed someone whose heart and will are reduced to "dying embers." They're no longer the person you knew, and it's quite scary, because there's no way you can help them, like watching someone slide off a cliff beyond your ability to grab their hands.

Frodo is in such a debased state of existence, so similar to Gollum's own level, that the only thing that can rouse his spirit is a primitive sense of preservation not of himself, but of the only thing he can focus on, which is also the thing that's been cruelest to him. There are victims of illness who will say at the very end that they don't want to be cured, because the illness is all they have left, it's who they've become. I don't know how much Tolkien intended the Ring to parallel terminal illness, but if it was an accident, his aim was spot-on.


noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 20 2016, 8:22am

Post #25 of 85 (2666 views)
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Profoundest, 'cleanest' and also most ambiguous [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that captures something I've been trying to articulate - I think Tolkien's published version is better than his 'Gollum jumps' and Gollum was pushed' ideas for several reasons, but an important one is the ambiguity.

If Gollum jumps perhaps we assume too easily that we know what has happened. It's pathos (he's so wretched, and only accidentally saves the world). Or it's revenge (if he can't have the Ring nobody can - he'll destroy Sauron and maybe Frodo too by his death, again, the consequences for the world are secondary as a motive). Or, the's hero-Gollum who sacrifices himself as the only way now of destroying the Ring and saving the world.

If Gollum is pushed, it's killing. Murder? Perhaps not. If Frodo shoves him in during the struggle, it looks like self-defence. Sam's would be a more deliberate and pre-meditated action, But it's a situation that doesn't really have a real-life parallel. Gollum isn't a mugger who has stolen your friend's valuables and who you then deliberately push under a truck. He's holding something whose nearest real-world equivalent is a weapon of mass destruction. Is doing ANYTHING to prevent it being unleashed a permissible motive for killing? This is wartime. Is Gollum an enemy combatant? Is he even to be judged as human?

That is a thought experiment for anyone who might enjoy it - the court can be in session if folks wish. But I certainly don't intend to undermine the basic point: that Frodo or Sam would have Gollum's death on their conscience, that we readers might have to accommodate viewing them as killers, and that perhaps Tolkien preferred to avoid that complication..

~~~~~~

Volunteers are still needed to lead chapters for our read-thorough of Book VI ROTK (and the appendices if there are sufficient volunteers)
http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=909709#909709


A wonderful list of links to Book I - Book V chapters in this read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

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