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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Return of the King Part II - the unofficial read through - Book VI onward
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noWizardme
Valinor


Sep 1 2017, 10:39am

Post #126 of 174 (1697 views)
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I agree with both those points! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

~~~~~~
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


sador
Half-elven


Sep 1 2017, 10:59am

Post #127 of 174 (1703 views)
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I don't think Tolkien thought of this as an action-focused fantasy [In reply to] Can't Post

I get the impression he was really more interested in the spiritual themes of trial, temptation, and salvation.

But the story has progressed from one focused on the quest Frodo, a fantasy creature who is human but entangled with people and powers far beyond his own size and ability, to a tale of redemption from evil for the world of Men.
This is shown by the title of the third book (when reading Fellowship there is no indication that Aragorn's return would be the main theme of the third book, with the journey to Mount Doom taking a mere three chapters, of which a large part is more sketchy than vivid (there are other reasons for that, of course).

As the story humanizes, the focus is less the larger-than-life returning king, but rather the people of Gondor, the Watchers on the Walls (Tolkien's orginal name for this chapter).
So according to one way of reading, the true hero of RotK is the Common Man, whose long perseverance againt Sauron is finally rewarded. The focal point of these common Men is Faramir, and characters like Beregond and Ioreth are truly important.

But this does not negate the story of Frodo and Sam - in fact, it amplifies it, giving context to their journey beyond a personal adventure.
And so we have two eucatastrophes, in the two chapters after the climax: The Field of Cormallen rewards Frodo and Sam, and The Steward and the King the people of Gondor.
It's a pity that Jackson had to conflate the two, and honour Frodo at the coronation - the effect seems to me like a bunch of foreigners taking over Gondor. But I guess he stretched his limits as is.

And naturally, in the eucatastrophe of Men, we have more than a fight against desperate odds: the true Redemption is the reawakening of normal life - of joy, of healing, of love.


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 1 2017, 3:29pm

Post #128 of 174 (1681 views)
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Things are not well in Bree and the surrounding country. [In reply to] Can't Post

Displaced ruffians have invaded the territory coming up the Greenway....from where? Dunland?
Who are these men?
A void left in the North by the Rangers leaving to fight with Aragorn has been filled by men who have probably had dealings with various agents of Sauron be it Nazgul or other men long corrupted...or Saruman. However, Saruman appears decrepit and poverty stricken yet he is still able to organize such men with his powers of persuasion. As Gandalf states to Butterbur, the Rangers have returned and a new King is now in control. One of the tasks will be to patrol and guard the main roadways for travel and commerce. I imagine new forts will be established, some in the old locations of Arnor as Gandalf indicated.

So much of ME is depopulated. It seems like there are hardly 10-20,000 people in all of old Arnor.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Sep 1 2017, 3:32pm)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 1 2017, 6:50pm

Post #129 of 174 (1666 views)
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The obvious depopulation makes Butterbur's "crowded" concerns seem odd [In reply to] Can't Post

Arnor seems ready to absorb millions, practically, and he's worried they'll pile up at Bree and ruin it somehow. (And that more people = more customers = more business, but then, this isn't a capitalist book.) But maybe that's a reflection of his parochial outlook, that the world revolves around Bree.


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 1 2017, 7:06pm

Post #130 of 174 (1663 views)
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I think they love the commerce, they just don't want folks to stick around and settle [In reply to] Can't Post

....rather provincial but that is what they are...a lone outpost of humanity in the wild with historically dangerous elements all around (not realizing how the Rangers kept them so secure all of these years). I think Butterbur enjoys the coin as much as the next merchant but he likes safety and quiet above all else...rather Hobbit like. It will take many decades before the area can grow in population , his fears are misplaced. It is not like there are hordes of Gondorians and Rohirrim seeking new lands. Possibly more Dwarven trade will be coming through.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Sep 1 2017, 7:08pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 1 2017, 7:14pm

Post #131 of 174 (1658 views)
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When Gandalf goes off to see Tom Bombadil who wouldn't want to eavesdrop on those [In reply to] Can't Post

conversations!

Gandalf: Ho Tom!
Tom: Folly la, diddly da, tis Grey man come a walking, now white, such a fright, to all night things a stalking!
Gandalf: Old friend, the enemy has been defeated, the Ring Frodo showed you has been destroyed.
Tom: Ring, Ring a ding, Ring ding a dillow, silly Ring, such a thing, to waste a fine fellow.
Gandalf: Do you understand what I am saying? The Dark Lord is gone!
Tom: Dark Lord? Hmm, such things I don't ponder, over hill over dale on long walks I wander.
Gandalf: Where is Goldberry for Eru's sake! My pipe, my pipe! Argh.


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 1 2017, 7:46pm

Post #132 of 174 (1655 views)
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It also seems that Gandalf is aware of problems in the Shire far more than the hobbits [In reply to] Can't Post

but he sends them on their way to handle things. He says his time is over for such tasks...really? After all that you can't help finish the job! I know, I know, he considers the hobbits matured, veterans etc and it is their role to sort things out....except that Saruman is behind things. Why wouldn't Gandalf want to take care of his malign efforts as he was or "is" an Istari, though fallen. He was of Gandalf's order and is causing the mess.

Plot wise, I get it, it must be focused on the Hobbits reclaiming the Shire on their own.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Sep 1 2017, 7:48pm)


No One in Particular
Rivendell


Sep 4 2017, 1:42am

Post #133 of 174 (1592 views)
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What constitutes treasure, anyway? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
his daughter, Celebrian, and is losing his granddaughter Arwen, who is the treasure he is hoping Aragorn can keep. It's easy to forget that he, as well as Elrond and Galadriel, is saying goodbye to her forever.


This was the first thing my mind jumped to in regard to this comment. (At least, after I realized that Arwen was C&G's grand-daughter. That wasn't on my first read through, and I had no clue what he was talking about then.) Smile

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


No One in Particular
Rivendell


Sep 4 2017, 1:47am

Post #134 of 174 (1593 views)
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What to do, what to do... [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I wasn't seeing the Valar as being lazy or disengaged - just as being very cautious about intervening. Either they are cautious because they only work on a really big scale, or because they are very aware of intervening in the wrong way. As far as I remember, it's not all that clear how much they know about how Eru's plan is to be brought about. Evidently it can sometimes involve a lot of mayhem and misery, at least in the short term. Perhaps they know that Sauron is 'meant' to be defeated now, or perhaps he's meant to rule for a while and that isn't clear to them until they see how things are going?


Calling all the Elves to Valinor in the Deeps of Time was such a disaster that they are probably insanely hesitant to take any action that could possibly be seen as a direct intervention, or even a vaguely indirect intervention, now for fear of causing more harm than good.

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


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 4 2017, 3:12am

Post #135 of 174 (1585 views)
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Homeward Bound [In reply to] Can't Post

As noted above, things are not well in Bree or the Shire. But the Rangers have returned and the Ruffians will soon be dealt with.

Butterbur and the rest of Bree remain basically blissfully ignorant of the happening "away down south."

Gandalf departs for his long stay with Bombadil. Too bad we don't hear in the distance his voice singing some silly song or his presence (but it would be another side track in the story plot line and would open up too much that Tolklen wanted to remain unanswered). I do wonder if he would pack the RV with Goldberry and visit Treebeard.


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 4 2017, 3:18am

Post #136 of 174 (1588 views)
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The Scouring of the Shire [In reply to] Can't Post

Unfortunately, the War has reached The Shire. I find Tolkien getting far more anachronistic and dare I say allegorical in this chapter. The whole chapter has the feel of his childhood home being marred by coal, mills, iron works etc. Plus an Orwellian Saruman ala 1984 as "The Boss" (which I learned on television program "American Ripper" is actually an Americanism than gradually became more common in British English after 1900. One of the Jack the Ripper letter theories is that his use of "Dear Boss" raises speculation that he was American).


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Sep 4 2017, 3:18am)


squire
Half-elven


Sep 4 2017, 1:08pm

Post #137 of 174 (1556 views)
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That's just boss [In reply to] Can't Post

How interesting that Boss, in its meaning as a political, labor, or social leader, is an Americanism that the British were absorbing into their vocabulary in Tolkien's time. I checked it to see why, and found that the word probably comes from the Dutch 'baas' for Master, which probably entered American English via New Amsterdam and its connection with Caribbean slave plantations. To the British, boss had always meant an ornamental knob or central protrusion, from a French word 'boce'.

So when Lotho Sackville-Baggins (not Saruman) assumes the title of Boss of the Shire, Tolkien is evoking not so much Orwell's totalitarian 'Nineteen Eighty-four' as a set of degraded American images of the factory town, the slave plantation, or the gangsterism of Prohibition. All these are of course anathema to the idyllic rusticity of the Shire that he drew so carefully in the early chapters of the book, thousands of pages before.

There are, of course, additional associations in the Scouring chapters that do seem to refer to the postwar adoption of Labour socialism in Britain, somewhat more in line with Orwell's dystopia. Examples include as the harsh new architecture, the deliberate creation of shortages, and the ideology of 'sharing'. Most readers get that and Tolkien was somewhat defensive about its allegorical implications. His use of Boss, rather hidden to this American reader before now, shows that he really was trying to create a more general picture of the many ways that modern economic structures, as much as political, conspire to crush the spirit. Thanks for the reference!



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.


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 4 2017, 2:46pm

Post #138 of 174 (1543 views)
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Looking back I see [In reply to] Can't Post

"Chief? Chief? Do you mean Mr. Lotho?...."I suppose so....but we have to just say "the Chief" nowadays.
(Old French chief "leader, ruler, head" of something, )

Lotho is also called "Pimple"

"Worm killed your Chief, poor little fellow, your nice little Boss."

Sharkey....Saruman...."the real boss" behind the scene.

There is a certain gangsterism that seems out of place.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Sep 4 2017, 6:16pm

Post #139 of 174 (1522 views)
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I agree heartily! [In reply to] Can't Post

Very insightful!

To add a bit more:

Reading you post I got to thinking about how far each of the characters has come on their own personal journey. They are definitely not the same people as when they started. I would even dare say that without the experience they have had between their introduction and now, they would never have been able to accomplish their end goals. If Frodo were teleported to the Cracks by page 35 of the book, far from merely being anti-climactic, I say he would have been in a worse position and unable to destroy the Ring at that point.

To quote Aragon: A day draws near that I have looked for in all the years of my manhood, and when it comes I would have my friends beside me

Everything until now has prepared for this moment, and this moment is merely preparation for the next. There is no fast-forward button on Life.

Sing a song of long lament.
The days be past, the years are spent.
The flames of fire, on funeral pyre
The warrior's soul it's wing'd way hath sent.


Rembrethil
Tol Eressea


Sep 4 2017, 6:36pm

Post #140 of 174 (1520 views)
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The gods are men--well mannish. [In reply to] Can't Post

If you care to take a look, I posted my own thoughts on vindication of the Valar earlier on the thread.

Now to address your own post, I would say that, yes, there is definitely a hands-off approach being taken. I attribute this to the fate of Beleriand as a model proof that gods and men/elves/dwarves/ect.. don't play well together on the same stage. This more subtle approach might have been taken as a sort of 'nuclear armistice' to prevent another sinking. I also recall Manwe's indecisiveness concerning the Elven departure because of his respect for the overall plan of Eru. It is interesting to ponder just how bad is 'bad enough' for Valar to take action.

Part of what is interesting to me is that these 'gods' of M-E are not all-powerful, all-wise paragons of divine virtue. The Valar themselves are flawed, and so that might be reason for their reluctance to act. These are humanoid beings with even greater power and potential to do irreparable harm, and I think they are cognisant of that fact. If I were in their shoes, I might be a bit neurotic about why Eru trusted imperfect beings with massive power to deal with a world of other imperfect beings. Fox watching the hen-house type of situation that begs the question of who is watching these watchers. They very well could be having their own internal agony and crisis about what they are supposed to do, knowing that their decisions impact millions.

No pressure...

Sing a song of long lament.
The days be past, the years are spent.
The flames of fire, on funeral pyre
The warrior's soul it's wing'd way hath sent.


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 4 2017, 7:55pm

Post #141 of 174 (1522 views)
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Sharkey....seems a bit out of place [In reply to] Can't Post

"Sharkey (Irish: ” Searcaigh) is a surname of Irish origin."


squire
Half-elven


Sep 4 2017, 9:03pm

Post #142 of 174 (1522 views)
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What is this "Irish" of which you speak? [In reply to] Can't Post

It is said that the Black Speech was devised by Sauron in the Dark Years, and that he had desired to make it the language of all those that served him, but he failed in that purpose. From the Black Speech, however, were derived many of the words that were in the Third Age wide-spread among the Orcs ... the more debased form [was] used by the soldiers of the Dark Tower, of whom GrishnŠkh was the captain. Sharku in that tongue means old man. (LotR, Appendix F, Languages; bold by squire)
As usual, Tolkien gets things his own way when it comes to associations between his English 'translation' and the nominal vocabularies of the languages within his world. Long before I finally uncovered the gag at the end of Appendix F, I always associated Sharkey, not with any Irish name, but with the huge and fierce hunting fish that, when it shows up, makes short work of all the lesser fishes of the sea, whether ruffianly predators or terrified prey.



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.


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 4 2017, 10:02pm

Post #143 of 174 (1501 views)
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The Irish surname means "loving" so I think we can safely assume no connection! [In reply to] Can't Post

 


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 4 2017, 11:32pm

Post #144 of 174 (1493 views)
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The actual Battle of Bywater [In reply to] Can't Post

We are told 70 men killed and 12 taken prisoner with 19 Hobbits killed and 30 wounded. The men were trapped on the roadway by elevated banks and wagons. The Hobbits were armed with a variety practical tools such as axes as well as bows.

http://www.thewhitetree.org/...oad/file.php?id=3016

I have always liked Ted Nasmith's work:

http://tolkiengateway.net/...torming_the_Bank.jpg

Merry killing the leader
https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/...zzVYZTAZJHXsZ2i0SsvQ


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Sep 4 2017, 11:46pm)


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 5 2017, 12:10am

Post #145 of 174 (1483 views)
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I wonder who works the tobacco plantations in the Southfarthing. [In reply to] Can't Post

Do we have great landowner and tenant workers?

The same with the vinyards - very labor intensive.

Both require coopers to make barrels which require lumber and suppliers and storage houses and wagons and draft animals etc. A fairly large economy is required. We learned Lotho had invested heavily is such properties.

We learn that the Shire has a "quick post service" of messengers.

I also note that Pippin identified half-orcs among the men.

More Gangster talk...Edward G Robinson:
"Because if a Boss gives trouble, we can change him. See? And if little folks try to push in where they'er not wanted, we can put them out of mischief. See?" *The use of "see" is so gangster film.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Js6mgxdFLE4[/url

1931.....I wonder how prevalent "see" was in British English.


(This post was edited by Eruonen on Sep 5 2017, 12:14am)


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 5 2017, 12:23am

Post #146 of 174 (1479 views)
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More Shire industry [In reply to] Can't Post

"...mills and malthouses, inns, farms, leaf plantations"....plus the jobs that are required to support each. Quite a prosperous little land. Imagine an economy that focused on such Hobbit staples...good food, good drink, and smoke (I wonder if Hobbits were immune to the ill effects of alcohol and tobacco...in an ideal world they would be).
Plus, you have to have people that provided good...furniture, cookware, textiles, and many many other things.


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 5 2017, 7:27pm

Post #147 of 174 (1450 views)
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Saruman repeatedly says that Gandalf uses his tools then discards them... [In reply to] Can't Post

that they are mere players in a long fought strategic game. Yes, Gandalf seeks to support those key individuals in the war and yes he places them in harms way - be it Bilbo, or Frodo etc. but he does not force them. He just realizes that they constitutionally will accept his guidance. Does he discard them? No, but he sets them on an uncertain path.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 5 2017, 8:43pm

Post #148 of 174 (1441 views)
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Saruman's snarky remark about Gandalf [In reply to] Can't Post

I remember on first read how I was disturbed by Saruman's remark about Gandalf, because it seemed uncomfortably true, and I'd spent several hundred pages and a couple of weeks admiring this great wizard who came back from the dead to save his friends and the world. Did he really just use people and toss them aside? That would explain his abrupt departure at the very end--repeat, very end--of their journey home.

He was practically camped out across the street at Bombadil's, singing tra-la-la, go save the Shire yourselves, hobbits, because I'm done helping you and don't need you anymore since Sauron/the Ring are gone.

And yes, I do understand the explanation that the hobbits didn't need him anymore, and in an existential sense, the Shire had a responsibility to grow up and save itself, because it was perfectly capable of doing so, as events proved. Still, Saruman plants a seed of doubt with that observation that can make readers think twice about the virtue of Gandalf, even if it has no effect on the hobbits.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Sep 5 2017, 8:49pm

Post #149 of 174 (1434 views)
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It does help to see the Valar as more human than divine. [In reply to] Can't Post

Then all their dithering and hand-wringing over millenia make more sense, that it's a human emotion, some fear of failure on a world scale based on past epic failures that rivets them in place.

Further, one could speculate that they were traumatized by the destruction of Numenor, even though Tolkien never says so directly, because that gift of land to the Edain backfired worse than inviting the Elves to Aman did and resulted in Papa God wiping out the whole land and most of the Numenorean race, plus bending the world into a sphere. Again, we could expect that wise gods would figure out a way forward, but humans can react to disasters by becoming deliberately isolationist, which they did.


Eruonen
Valinor


Sep 5 2017, 8:50pm

Post #150 of 174 (1436 views)
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That demonstrates his power of persuasion even in print! [In reply to] Can't Post

"Still, Saruman plants a seed of doubt with that observation that can make readers think twice about the virtue of Gandalf..."

Because we are affected as readers we can only imagine his powers of oratory that can sway people.

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