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I have a question. Maybe you all can help me with it.
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kdrevette
Registered User


Jul 29 2017, 5:40am

Post #1 of 40 (2989 views)
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I have a question. Maybe you all can help me with it. Can't Post

I and most of my friends read The Trilogy long before it was made into movies. We've had some rousing discussions about it, and arguments as well, but it seems I have a different interpretation of what caused The Rings' destruction. I maintain The Ring itself caused Gollum to "stumble" into the Cracks of Doom, and therefore, caused it's own end. My friends, however, say I'm "reaching" and reading something into it that isn't there.

My understanding is that The Ring laid a curse on Gollum when it spoke to him from the Wheel of Fire;


Quote
"...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."


Now I understood that passage as The Ring speaking directly to Gollum. It laid a curse on him. To be cast into the Fire of Doom if he touched it again. When he took The Ring from Frodo, the curse was unleashed and the power of The Ring nudged him off the precipice. The way I read it, Gollum's final cry of "Precious!" was accusatory. Not a wail of despair.

So, am I "reaching"? Am I reading more into it than there is? It seemed to me to be a better explanation than Gollum simply losing his footing. Oh, and what started the discussion was my comment that Peter Jackson never even mentioned the Wheel of Fire or The Ring speaking directly to Gollum... They all looked at me like I was nuts!

(This post was edited by kdrevette on Jul 29 2017, 5:41am)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 29 2017, 10:46am

Post #2 of 40 (2822 views)
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I think there are several possible answers, all of them fun to discuss! [In reply to] Can't Post

Welcome to the Reading Room, kdrevette!


Quote
“If someone tells you what a story is about, they are probably right.
If they tell you that that is all a story is about, they are very definitely wrong.”

Neil Gaiman - introduction to Farenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury


So I think the first thing to say is that I don't believe there's a unique, provable answer, to which everyone who has seen the evidence would naturally agree. We sometimes talk here about 'readings' - for example, my reading of the situation is this , with such-and-such back up from the text or from Tolkien studies material. Maybe someone else can see where I'm coming from, and doesn't see that my evidence is misquoted or non-authoritative, or that my argument is logically flawed. But nonetheless, they prefer a different explanation (also with its citations and logic). (I'm guessing that such non-evidence-based or logically faulty argument would be 'reaching' - I'd not come across the term before?).
It's part of the fun here and trouble only starts if someone insists upon One Reading (Mine!) To Rule Them All.

Recently the Room discussed this chapter in detail, and you can read all about it here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=913387#913387

We seemed to feel that arguments could be made for several possibilities (all the following quotes come from the discussion I've just linked to):

1) Gollum 'just' slips -

Quote
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

Bracegirdle


2) Gollum is cursed by Frodo and the Ring (you could also argue that he has also been cursed by Faramir, but it's not clear whether Faramir:would have been expecting any supernatural retribution for Gollum's betrayal of Frodo):


Quote
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


3) Fate, Doom, or the machinations of Higher Powers (potentially working through the other methods ("All of them at once!" to quote Bilbo out of context):


Quote
And we can debate forever WHY he [i.e. Gollum] 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!

Curious G


Indeed it is fun to think about these things - anyone up for explanations 4,5,6,...

PS - by quoting a recent discussion, I don't mean to suggest that it was definitive and that we don't want to talk about it all over again!

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Jul 29 2017, 10:47am)


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 29 2017, 11:01am

Post #3 of 40 (2819 views)
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I thought your question was ALSO interesting because... [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought your question was ALSO interesting because it raises questions about the nature of the Ring. I'm not sure whether you have read Tolkien scholar Prof Shippey's thoughts on this?:


Quote
The Ring's ambiguity is present almost the first time we see it, in 'The Shadow of the Past', when Gandalf tells Frodo, 'Give me the ring for a moment'. Frodo unfastened it from its chain and, 'handed it slowly to the wizard. It felt suddenly very heavy, as if either it or Frodo himself was in some way reluctant for Gandalf to touch it.
Either it or Frodo.... The difference is the difference between the world views I have labelled above as 'Boethian' and 'Manichaean'. If Bothius is right, then evil is internal, caused by human sin and weakness and alienation from God; in this case the Ring feels heavy because Frodo (already in the very first stages of addiction, we may say) is unconsciously reluctant to part with it. If there is some truth in the Manichaean view, though, then evil is a force from outside which has in some way been able to make the non-sentient Ring itself evil; so it is indeed the Ring, obeying the will of its master, which does not want to be identified.Both views are furthermore perfectly convincing. ...The idea that on the one hand the Ring is a sort of psychic amplifier , magnifying the unconscious fears or selfishnesses of its owners, and on the other that it is a sentient creature with urges and powers of its own, are both present from the beginning..."

Prof. Tom Shippey's Book "JRR Tolkien, author of the century." (my bolds)


Sentient creature of psychic amplifier? I don't think it's necessary to see those as rival and incompatible explanations. But one possible and reasonable objection to your idea that the Ring destroys itself would be "why would the Ring do that - it's trying to get back to Sauron?" And that objection relies upon seeing the Ring as (mostly) a sentient creature. The objection falls if one argues that it is (at least in part) a Psychic Amplifier - Frodo does both want Gollum to go away, and he does (at least in part) still want to destroy the Ring.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


kdrevette
Registered User


Jul 31 2017, 3:46am

Post #4 of 40 (2725 views)
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Thank You so much :) [In reply to] Can't Post

That was so helpful noWizardme. I'm not nuts! Other people believe a curse may have been involved as well. My friends had me doubting my ability to read. Thanks !


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 31 2017, 4:02am

Post #5 of 40 (2720 views)
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In the end, the lure/addiction of the Ring won both Frodo and Gollum. [In reply to] Can't Post

It appears it was "luck" again or should we say rather than providence (a good occurrence), how about "karma" that Gollum would fall with it?

Part of Sauron was in the Ring....(basically, a horcrux in Potterverse)...so it would not want to be destroyed.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 31 2017, 4:09am)


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 31 2017, 4:16am

Post #6 of 40 (2721 views)
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The Ring - being imbued with Sauron's power and will - affects the mind of bearer. [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf
"On that last evening I plainly saw that the ring was trying to keep hold of him and prevent his parting with it. But he was not yet conscious of it himself. And certainly he had no idea that it would make him permanently invisible."

Bilbo
""And yet it would be a relief in a way not to be bothered with it any more. It has been so growing on my mind lately. Sometimes I have felt it was like an eye looking at me. And I am always wanting to put it on and disappear, don't you know; or wondering if it is safe, and pulling it out to make sure. I tired locking it up, but I found I couldn't rest without it in my pocket. I don't know why. And I don't seem to be able to make up my mind." [143]"

Sam
"As it drew near the great furnaces where, in the deeps of time, it had been shaped and forged, the Ring's power grew, and it became more fell, untameable except by some mighty will."

I don't see it as "the ring" have consciousness but rather that part of Sauron contained and constrained within it.

Nice article on this - http://www.tolkienonline.de/etep/1ring4_4a.html


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 31 2017, 4:17am)


squire
Half-elven


Jul 31 2017, 11:58am

Post #7 of 40 (2694 views)
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Interesting article indeed [In reply to] Can't Post

What is the source of the quote you attribute to Gandalf ("On that last evening...certainly he had no idea that it would make him permanently invisible.")? I don't think it's from The Lord of the Rings book, and I suspect it's not from the New Line film either.

And of course Sam does not say the text given to him in quotes in your third citation. It is the prose of the third person narrator.

Could you be more explicit about how the article, and the citations/quotations you give, support your point?



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!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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


noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 31 2017, 12:26pm

Post #8 of 40 (2686 views)
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Horcrux - compare and contrast [In reply to] Can't Post

I think I see the point of comparison between LOTR's Ring and the Harry Potter Horcruxes:


Quote
You cannot press the One Ring too hard, for it is of course a mythical feature, even though the world of the tales is conceived in more or less historical terms. The Ring of Sauron is only one of the various mythical treatments of the placing of one's life, or power, in some external object, which is thus exposed to capture or destruction with disastrous results to oneself.

Tolkien Letters 211 (my bolds, emphasising what I see as the point of comparison)


The 'contrast' is interesting too - if I recall, Voldemort's horcruxes are an evil immortality project (another frequent and very significant motive in myth and fairy-story). At great moral and metaphysical cost, Voldemort divides his soul and stores parts of it in the horcrux objects. Now all the horcruxes must be destroyed to kill him. Sauron is, of course, effectively immortal already - his purpose is domination, not preservation. Further contrasts are, I think, come from this Tolkien letter:


Quote
"But to achieve this he had been obliged to let a great part of his own inherent power (a frequent and very significant motive in myth and fairy-story) pass into the One Ring. While he wore it, his power on earth was actually enhanced. But even if he did not wear it, that power existed and was in ‘rapport’ with himself: he was not ‘diminished’. Unless some other seized it and became possessed of it. If that happened, the new possessor could (if sufficiently strong and heroic by nature) challenge Sauron, become master of all that he had learned or done since the making of the One Ring, and so overthrow him and usurp his place. This was the essential weakness he had introduced into his situation in his effort (largely unsuccessful) to enslave the Elves, and in his desire to establish a control over the minds and wills of his servants. There was another weakness: if the One Ring was actually unmade, annihilated, then its power would be dissolved, Sauron’s own being would be diminished to vanishing point, and he would be reduced to a shadow, a mere memory of malicious will. But that he never contemplated nor feared. The Ring was unbreakable by any smithcraft less than his own. It was indissoluble in any fire, save the undying subterranean fire where it was made –and that was unapproachable, in Mordor. Also so great was the Ring’s power of lust, that anyone who used it became mastered by it; it was beyond the strength of any will (even his own) to injure it, cast it away, or neglect it. So he thought. It was in any case on his finger."

Tolkien Letters 131

The points of contrast I'm thinking of are:
1) Risk of usurption (" the new possessor could (if sufficiently strong and heroic by nature) challenge Sauron, become master of all that he had learned or done since the making of the One Ring, and so overthrow him and usurp his place.")

2) New owner cannot harm the Ring ("Also so great was the Ring’s power of lust, that anyone who used it became mastered by it; it was beyond the strength of any will (even his own) to injure it, cast it away, or neglect it. ")

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 31 2017, 1:51pm

Post #9 of 40 (2683 views)
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See references [In reply to] Can't Post

http://www.tolkienonline.de/etep/1ringnotes.html


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Jul 31 2017, 1:51pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Jul 31 2017, 2:06pm

Post #10 of 40 (2675 views)
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I imagine only those who had comparable power or at least greater than what he has left [In reply to] Can't Post

without the ring could think of mastering it....Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel are possible candidates but nothing is certain. Gandalf and Galadriel wisely feared it. Saruman would have tried to use it.


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 31 2017, 2:19pm

Post #11 of 40 (2690 views)
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And I have a question for you. [In reply to] Can't Post

If the Ring itself is speaking directly to Gollum, why does it say what it does? How would this curse help the Ring to survive and get back to its master? If the Ring is 'me' in the curse: "If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom", then isn't the Ring putting its own fate into Gollum's hands? And in fact wouldn't it be better for the Ring to tempt Gollum to take the Ring, right here, right now, on the slopes of Mount Doom, before getting too close to the Fire, while there's still time for Sauron to sense what's happened and send the Nazgul to put an end to it?

I guess I just don't see why the Ring itself, if it has the kind of sentience and agency to be speaking with its own voice, would issue that curse. It's certainly a possible reading, and I've read various arguments for it in our discussions here over the years. But, as I say, I can't make it work for me.

I prefer to read this scene as Frodo speaking the words of the 'curse' - still holding onto a thread of his own will even as he channels the power of the Ring to subdue Gollum. It's only Frodo, it seems to me, who would want to prevent Gollum from interfering with the quest at this point. And it seems very much like Frodo to still give Gollum one last chance - even now, he doesn't prejudge Gollum and curse him outright. He only says that if Gollum touches him he will be doomed. I recall that earlier at the Black Gate, when Frodo first subdued Gollum with the Ring, he warned him of something similar:
“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.”
But now it comes to it, he doesn't command him to cast himself into the fire. He gives him one last chance to repent. But Gollum's tragedy is that he can't help himself. He wants the Ring so much that he takes it even though he knows it will kill him to do it.

As for Peter Jackson's version, he doesn't need to mention the curse for the simple reason that he decided that in his version, Gollum wouldn't trip and fall into the Fire! The film changes Frodo's action from a curse on Mount Doom to a physical struggle at the edge of the Fire. Same result though - Gollum dies because he wants the Ring more than he wants to live. In the film you see him focused so intently on the Ring, even clutching it with both hands as he goes down, that he has no chance to save himself as Frodo does.

The film makes changes like this quite a bit, when you come to look, moving actions closer together than they are in the book. It's much more satisfying in the book when you remember what you read earlier and put two and two together in whatever way works for you. In the film, two and two tend to be put together for you, with a single answer rather than the complex options that the book offers.


They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 31 2017, 3:27pm

Post #12 of 40 (2677 views)
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Dunno [In reply to] Can't Post

If it is Frodo cursing Gollum, then he is walking a very thin line morally. I'd have difficulty arguing it wasn't theologically illicit.

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


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 31 2017, 6:26pm

Post #13 of 40 (2643 views)
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Aren't you the guy... [In reply to] Can't Post

... who thinks Gollum should have been killed long ago, by Bilbo, Gandalf or Aragorn, to stop him from potentially killing and eating babies? If that's not theologically illicit, how come Frodo can't threaten him with death now when the survival of the whole world is in play? Frodo's so-called curse only comes into effect if Gollum commits the offence, after all, so it seems to me more just than killing Gollum on no concrete evidence to prevent him possibly eating babies in the future.

I put the word 'curse' in scare quotes in my previous post because I'm not even sure that word would stand up in a court of law. Frodo threatens Gollum, he warns Gollum. But he doesn't command him to jump to his death, as he had told him he would. That would be a much more direct curse, and harder to justify. But instead he chooses to warn him once more that his actions will have consequences. If Frodo was as weaselly as Saruman, he could even resort to his line: “that is not my doing. I merely foretell.” And maybe that's true too - it isn't Frodo's doing. Maybe it's the Ring, maybe it's even the Higher Powers. Frodo merely foretells what the punishment will be if Gollum chooses to commit another sin. And this time it's mortal!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Darkstone
Immortal


Jul 31 2017, 7:06pm

Post #14 of 40 (2633 views)
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Moi? [In reply to] Can't Post

Aren't you the guy who thinks Gollum should have been killed long ago, by Bilbo, Gandalf or Aragorn, to stop him from potentially killing and eating babies?

Yup. I also acknowledge that it doesn’t seem to be a problem in Tolkien’s scheme of schooling.


If that's not theologically illicit, how come Frodo can't threaten him with death now when the survival of the whole world is in play?

The question becomes *why* does Frodo curse him. To prevent Gollum from thwarting the Ringquest? Or simply to keep Gollum from getting the ring for himself? Is the curse delivered with a noble sense of determination or the base motive of possessiveness?


Frodo's so-called curse only comes into effect if Gollum commits the offence, after all, so it seems to me more just than killing Gollum on no concrete evidence to prevent him possibly eating babies in the future.

Again, there’s motive. Is it morally justifiable to kill Gollum for eating babies simply because one wants the babies for one’s own consumption?


I put the word 'curse' in scare quotes in my previous post because I'm not even sure that word would stand up in a court of law.

We *are* talking about a Ring of Command.


Frodo threatens Gollum, he warns Gollum. But he doesn't command him to jump to his death, as he had told him he would. That would be a much more direct curse, and harder to justify. But instead he chooses to warn him once more that his actions will have consequences. If Frodo was as weaselly as Saruman, he could even resort to his line: “that is not my doing. I merely foretell.” And maybe that's true too - it isn't Frodo's doing. Maybe it's the Ring, maybe it's even the Higher Powers. Frodo merely foretells what the punishment will be if Gollum chooses to commit another sin. And this time it's mortal!

Yes, the situation ... curse ... thing ... is very ambiguous. If it is indeed a “curse” it would seem to take away Gollum’s free will, which I don’t see Tolkien doing, and why I disagree with the Original Poster’s premise.

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


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 31 2017, 8:27pm

Post #15 of 40 (2621 views)
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Different sub-forum, different reply, huh? [In reply to] Can't Post

I saw your question earlier on the LOTR movie forum, Kdrevette, but was personally of the opinion that it wouldn't quite work in the movie.

But as for the book itself--yes, I like the idea that the Ring itself cursed Gollum to his doom. At this point in Frodo's degeneration, I'm not sure there's any longer a clear dividing line between where Frodo ends and the Ring begins, and that scene between him and Gollum, where the Ring of Fire seems to speak on its own, is so mystically rife with possibilities that it's hard to be sure exactly what's happening. But I'm reasonably sure the Ring 1) has agency and 2) it's asserting control over Frodo, which is why he failed, and 3) it didn't want to mess around with Gollum anymore, having decades ago decided to leave him behind for good and knowing he was no use to it.

The Ring is treacherous by nature (just ask Isildur), and it felt no loyalty toward Gollum, seeing no use for him. I like the poetic justice that the Ring's malice doomed Gollum to die but backfired and dragged it to its own destruction too.

PS. Welcome to the Reading Room!


(This post was edited by CuriousG on Jul 31 2017, 8:28pm)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Jul 31 2017, 8:47pm

Post #16 of 40 (2615 views)
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Ah, I get it now [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
The question becomes *why* does Frodo curse him. To prevent Gollum from thwarting the Ringquest? Or simply to keep Gollum from getting the ring for himself? Is the curse delivered with a noble sense of determination or the base motive of possessiveness?

The fundamental problem with the Ring. Since everyone believes they want it for good reasons, how can anyone ever be sure their motives are really pure? Catch-22!


Quote
If it is indeed a “curse” it would seem to take away Gollum’s free will, which I don’t see Tolkien doing

Hmm, not sure about this, precisely because the 'curse', or whatever it is, will only come true if Gollum takes a particular course of action. I don't think Tolkien's theology takes free will further than that - you have the freedom to choose to do the right thing, but if you choose not to, you have only yourself to blame for the consequences. And actually, I think Gollum might even have chosen to take the Ring anyway, knowing full well that it would be the death of him. After all, what a way to go!



They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 1 2017, 2:04pm

Post #17 of 40 (2582 views)
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"And it is also said, 'Go not to the Reading Room for counsel, for they will say both no and yes, and also 'but what about ...?' . [In reply to] Can't Post

This is definitely the sub-forum on which to get your question answered...
Several times...
....With several different answers
.....And a bunch of follow-up questions.

love the place.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 1 2017, 2:44pm

Post #18 of 40 (2578 views)
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And Tolkien's great plot twist is a double-bluff [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm pretty sure I remember, about 40 years later, reading Mount Doom for the first time and being amazed by the two successive twists of Frodo claiming the Ring, and then it not mattering because Gollum takes the final step anyway.*

But looking back, Tolkien has set all this up very clearly and never wavered:

=> Frodo is meant to have the Ring and to attempt to destroy it.

=>But it is impossible to destroy the Ring - even if Frodo could simply walk into Mordor, he can't put the Ring in the Fire (he can't even put it in his own Bag End Fire: Gandalf actually gets him to try though whether Frodo understands the significance is unclear)

=> The Wise do not know in detail how Frodo's mission is to be accomplished

=>Gollum will have some part to play in the quest, 'for good or for ill'

=> Gollum will go into the Fire if he betrays Frodo (set up with ambiguities and possible loopholes from Smeagol's oath in the Taming of Smeagol, Frodo's prediction, Faramir's 'curse' and then lastly Frodo's 'curse' when he's speaking as the Holy Wagon Wheel).

=> As Eomer observes, 'often evil will shall evil mar' - the capacity of evil to thwart itself is a recurring theme.

And so ti all works out exactly as hinted, but not at all as I expected...

**
* So this first reading of mine was some point about maybe 1976. I can neither confirm nor deny that I might have been wearing a tank top made of acrylic yarn at the time. Don't know what happened to that - or perhaps I should say 'don't know what happened to that for the present' because acrylic yarn is pretty well-nigh indestructible, so it's doubtless around somewhere, even in only in land-fill. That's what it will be like after a cosmic cataclysm you see - tardigrades slowly rebuilding a civilization based on exploitation of acrylic knitting materials. Some Oxford Professor (no, not *our* one) has just worked all this out https://www.theguardian.com/...e-a-cosmic-catacylsm

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 1 2017, 4:36pm

Post #19 of 40 (2575 views)
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Maybe the exact wording is important? [In reply to] Can't Post

I hesitate to suggest this, fresh as we are from a marathon discussion of the difference between 'there' and 'here' wrt. Aragorn's dwelling.
..oh, OK then, it'll be fun.

The exact wording is


Quote
"Begone and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom."


Personally I suppose the speaker is Frodo (though I accept that it could also be the Ring, or the part of Frodo that is enslaved by the Ring: which ever entity called out 'verily....' on Amon Hen).

What do I think Frodo wants? He wants Gollum to leave him alone, so that he can finish his mission (and/or leave him alone because he has other desires, such as claiming the Ring).

I think that Frodo means to threaten Gollum - or to to remind him of Frodo's earlier threat. What he actually says, though is ambiguous. It's fun to wonder whether the Ring (or part of Frodo using the Ring, if you prefer) hasn't twisted Frodo's intention, so that it becomes an invoking of a supernatural power, such that the IF will now inevitably be followed by the THEN.

What I like about this idea is that you can imagine that Frodo has doomed himself - semi-accidentally taken the step of using the Ring. But because this step works, it dooms Gollum. Dooming Gollum then unexpectedly does for the Ring, because he's got it when his doom falls. And then Gollum's doom saves Frodo....

It's not a conclusive theory, but it's a reading I quite like playing with right now.


~~~~~

Some notes on the language and the ambiguity I see in it:

The wording "you shall be cast yourself " gives no clue as to who or what will do the casting. It's not 'I shall cast you..." or "I shall get the Precious to cast you', or even 'you shall cast yourself...'

The verb 'shall' also introduces a complication. Often (especially nowadays, and especially in the English-speaking world outside England) it is interchangeable with 'will', and indicates a simple future. 'You will yourself be cast into ...' would sound like a prediction. But, traditionally:


Quote
'You, he, she, it' or 'they shall' expresses intention or determination on the part of the speaker or someone other than the actual subject of the verb, especially a promise made by the speaker to or about the subject

Fowler's Modern English Usage 3e, Oxford 1996


Read that way, 'shall' gives it significant connotations of a threat. But it's unclear whether the speaker intends to personally carry out the threat as best as they can, or whether they are invoking a supernatural power that will definitely cause 'if you touch me...' to have the consequence of Gollum being cast into the Fire of Doom. It's the latter that would be a proper supernatural curse, as I understand it.


So - it's ambiguous! And I bet Tolkien realised that.

As a final point "Who curses Gollum" (in this scenario) is like
'The dagger stabbed Ceasar versus
'Brutus stabbed Ceasar'.
Both are right (different senses of the verb) Frodo says the words of the curse; but the Ring is the weapon or instrument that effects the curse.

For me, that gets round the problem of 'why would the Ring destroy itself?'

PS _ I wonder how various translations render this line of Frodo The Ring's, & whether in some target languages one is pushed out of ambiguity?

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Aug 1 2017, 4:39pm)


FarFromHome
Valinor


Aug 1 2017, 7:15pm

Post #20 of 40 (2559 views)
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Shall vs. will - very interesting point! [In reply to] Can't Post

You're right, 'shall' used like this isn't a future tense - it means that the speaker wants and intends it to happen. As you say, it's not much used nowadays, but the correct use of tenses is exactly the kind of thing Tolkien knew well. I didn't notice this when I was speculating about possible meanings of Frodo's words. It's more than an ordinary foretelling, that's clear. And I was going to say that it must be a command, until I decided to search my LotR ebook and found an interesting quibble: 'shall' is used in formal foretellings and prophecies! For example:

Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.
And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed,
and he shall plant it in the high places,
and the City shall be blessed.


or:

Whose shall the horn be? Who shall call them
from the grey twilight, the forgotten people?
The heir of him to whom the oath they swore.
From the North shall he come, need shall drive him:
he shall pass the Door to the Paths of the Dead.


So could Frodo's words to Gollum fit into this category? Is Frodo predicting the fate of Gollum, or sealing it? And in a world where the words of prophecies are binding, is there any difference?

I think indeed, as you suggest, that after these words, spoken through the power of the Ring, THEN most definitely will follow IF. This is Gollum's final warning. Leave Frodo and the Ring alone. Or else. It is odd, now that you mention it, that Frodo says "you shall be cast" rather than "you shall cast yourself" (which is what he threatened to say when he warned Gollum earlier). Is he deliberately invoking a supernatural power? And if so, what power? The Ring's own evil power? Or does he sense the presence of some other, Higher Power?

I don't quite buy your theory that "Frodo has doomed himself", although I think I'd go part of the way with you. At least, I don't think using the Ring against Gollum here has left Frodo with no will at all of his own (his last words to Sam and his final walk to the Sammath Naur remind me of "It is a far, far better thing" from A Tale of Two Cities, and I just don't want to believe that Frodo is taking that last walk as a mere slave to the Ring). But it's weakened him terribly, that's for sure. Still, I think Tolkien says in his Letters (and Gandalf shows in The Shadow of the Past) that Frodo could never have had the strength to destroy the Ring himself anyway. It was always beyond him, and not what he had undertaken to do. He just had to get it there. Frodo's unfailing mercy and kindness to Gollum are what got them all to the Cracks of Doom. Maybe at that last moment on the slopes of Mount Doom Frodo finally cracked and could find no further pity in his heart for Gollum. There's a line here that I know we've discussed before:
“A crouching shape, scarcely more than the shadow of a living thing...; and before it stood stern, untouchable now by pity, a figure robed in white, but at its breast it held a wheel of fire.”
Is this Frodo as Judge, stern and just but no longer merciful? Is he entitled to make such a judgement? Gandalf told him not to be "too eager to deal out death in judgement", but he didn't say he couldn't do so as a last resort. Is that what is finally happening? Even the very Wise cannot see all ends, says Gandalf. But you sometimes think he has a shrewd idea...

I don't know, but the more you look at it, the more options there seem to be! I remember once reading a not-very-flattering summary of LotR in the Oxford History of English Literature, where the reviewer particularly picks on Gollum's fall as being a weak scene. I thought at the time that the reviewer had missed the point. I'm beginning to think he missed a whole lot of points!

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Darkstone
Immortal


Aug 1 2017, 7:25pm

Post #21 of 40 (2564 views)
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Well [In reply to] Can't Post

I understood that "shall" implies a duty, while "will" implies a promise.

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


CuriousG
Half-elven


Aug 1 2017, 9:35pm

Post #22 of 40 (2541 views)
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Your reasoning (which I agree with) sounds like Moria's drums: doom, doom, doom, doom. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


noWizardme
Valinor


Aug 2 2017, 10:52am

Post #23 of 40 (2523 views)
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Yes - that too! [In reply to] Can't Post

Good catch -
I'm reading a respected English usage guide from Tolkien's time (Usage and Abusage, Eric Partridge - originally published 1942- 1947). Partridge tackles the use of 'shall' and 'will' by referring to the earlier authority Dr CT Onions ('An advanced English syntax based on the principles and requirements of the Grammatical society', 1924):


Quote
The chief modification of that general rule is the survival of the original (the Old English) senses of shall and will. Dr Onions summmarizes thus: 'Shall denoting obligation, necessity or permission; will denoting resolve or willingness'

Usage and Abusage, Eric Partridge - originally published 1942- 1947 : I have the new edition 1994, but there's no reason to suppose that this passage - about a distinction that has become pretty historical even in english-English usage - has been changed since the 1940s



I suppose that's why I'm used to seeing 'shall' in legal contracts: 'the Author shall complete... according to the Schedule', because it denotes obligation, not just willingness.

In what White Wagon Wheel Frodo says to Gollum, I suppose the Old English usage is already what we inferred - if Gollum touches him again Gollum will be obliged or find it necessary to go into the Fire. The possible meaning of 'permission' is a nice further ambiguity to play with, however (e.g. just possibly the words grant permission, but do not rely upon Gollum's willingness?)


~~~~~~

Notes on 'Shall' and 'will' as style authorities of Tolkien's time would have it.

I've begun to find this interesting (oddly enough).

I've been looking at some respected style and usage guides that were current during Tolkien's time. They absolutely definitely reflect not only British English, but English English (i.e. not Welsh, Scottish, Irish, American etc.) Moreover, that would be English English as taught by the Public School system of the time. Just to note - This comes with a couple of views that I don't share. These are that there is an absolute correct answer; that the correct answer is unarguably the usage that is traditional in formally educated England; and that one had better get these things right, as a social signifier of being an educated person. These views seem both very old-fashioned and lamentable to me. But they may shed light on the usage Tolkien would have been taught, and what would have been current among his Oxford peers:


Quote
Fowler's view in short amounts to this: that if anyone has been brought up among those who use the right idiom, he has no need of instruction; if he has not, he is incapable of being instructed, because any guidance that is short and clear will mislead him and any that is full and accurate will be incomprehensible to him

Every English text-book will be found to begin by stating the rule that to express the 'plain' futureshall is used in the first person and will in the second and third
I shall go
You will go
He will go

and that if it is a matter not of plain future but of volition, permission or obligation it is the other way round:
I will go (I am determined to go, or I intend to go)
You shall go (You must go, or you are permitted to go)
He shall go (He must go, or he is permitted to go)

But the idiom of the Celts is different. They have never recognised 'I shall go'. For them 'I will go' is the plain future. The story is a very old one of the drowning Scot who was misunderstood by English onlookers and left to his fate because he cried, 'I will drown and nobody shall save me'.
American practice follows the Celtic, and in this matter, as in so many others, the English have taken to imitating the American

The Complete Plain Words by Sir Ernest Gowers, Revised by Sir Bruce Fraser, HMSO 1973
(This quoted text is, however, Gowers' unrevised wording from the earlier 1952 edition (initially circulated as a Government style manual from 1948. Fraser has recused himself from this passage with a footnote that perhaps shows the regional snobbery of all this: 'I have assumed that since I am a Scot nothing I may say about [this] is likely to command any respect south of the Cheviots'.


Just to add that I don't know many English (i.e. as a subset of British) natives who use this distinction in the way that Gowers or Onions would expect. I probably don't. I had to think awhile about the (weak) joke about the drowning Scot, before realising that he's taken to have meant 'I want to drown, and nobody is permitted to (or obliged to) save me'.

~~~~~~
Where's that old read-through discussion?
A wonderful list of links to previous chapters in the 2014-2016 LOTR read-through (and to previous read-throughs) is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Aug 2 2017, 12:00pm

Post #24 of 40 (2513 views)
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Words have power [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm wondering if Gollum's fate was sealed before they all reached Sammath Naur? When Smeagol (yeah, both involved ;) brought Frodo and Sam to the Black Gate, he was trying to cajole Frodo into giving the Ring back to him.


Quote

...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..!



The command was spoken and empowered. If the Promise was broken and Gollum took the Ring, the Command was fulfilled.

The Ring was influencing both Frodo and Smeagol... as witnessed by Sam


Quote

For a moment it appeared to Sam that his master had grown and Gollum had shrunk: a tall stern shadow, a mighty lord who hid his brightness in grey cloud, and at his feet a little whining dog. Yet the two were in some way akin and not alien: they could reach one another's minds.



The connection was made and Smeagol had his destiny set. His choice... though was it really once the Ring decimated him for so many years? P'raps this was the only way the Ring could be destroyed. Frodo knew Gollum made the difference.


Quote

...do you remember Gandalf's words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved and now all is over.



sample

We have been there and back again.


TIME Google Calendar


6th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observations List - November 28, 2013
4th draft of TH:DOS Geeky Observations List - May 15, 2014

5th draft of TH:BotFA Geeky Observations List - January 30, 2015


TORn's Geeky Observations Lists for LotR and The Hobbit


squire
Half-elven


Aug 2 2017, 12:04pm

Post #25 of 40 (2520 views)
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What a hoot! [In reply to] Can't Post

"...if anyone has been brought up among those who use the right idiom, he has no need of instruction; if he has not, he is incapable of being instructed, because any guidance that is short and clear will mislead him and any that is full and accurate will be incomprehensible to him."

That kind of thinking shall certainly lead to a shorter school year, if you will.

(I understand your hesitation about proscribing rules of grammar and usage; on the other hand I have noticed that very few "anti Grammar Nazis" actually advocate the logical alternative, which is that absolutely anything goes in the realm of writing because of freedom etc. The line seems to be fuzzy, and different for each of us, but there always is a line somewhere after which a given usage is said to be flat out 'wrong'.)



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!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary


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