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Encounter with barrow-wight

just_a_guy
The Shire

Dec 14 2017, 7:56pm

Post #1 of 10 (1756 views)
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Encounter with barrow-wight Can't Post

Why was Frodo not clothed in ritualistic white garbs? Why was wight trying to kill only the other three? (By the fact that Frodo did not need to change his clothes when Tom found their ponies along with their things. Also naked sword was only lying across necks of other three)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 15 2017, 3:34am

Post #2 of 10 (1723 views)
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He was the last to be captured? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've never quite understood Frodo's special status in the Barrow. He wakes up first, or maybe I should say he was the only one who was ever going to wake up, the way things were going for the others. He wasn't in white or adorned with trinkets. He's much more of an observer to the scene than a participant (or victim). My only rationale was that he was captured last, so whatever ritual the wight had gone through with the others had already happened. Maybe there was a Round 2 in store for Frodo? Hard to say.


just_a_guy
The Shire

Dec 15 2017, 4:35am

Post #3 of 10 (1716 views)
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Well what do you know...!!! [In reply to] Can't Post

It is mentioned that other three had rings on their fingers (maybe ritual before putting white garbs on the victims). Wight found the one ring from Frodo (maybe slipped from his pocket). He put the one ring on Frodo's finger. And he vanished !!! Tom could still see Frodo...


just_a_guy
The Shire

Dec 15 2017, 7:11am

Post #4 of 10 (1703 views)
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Just a thought [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
It is mentioned that other three had rings on their fingers (maybe ritual before putting white garbs on the victims). Wight found the one ring from Frodo (maybe slipped from his pocket). He put the one ring on Frodo's finger. And he vanished !!! Tom could still see Frodo...

Above might have happened, because Frodo only thought of putting on the ring without actually knowing whether the ring was with him or not.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 15 2017, 2:10pm

Post #5 of 10 (1685 views)
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Maybe, but [In reply to] Can't Post

for some reason I equate the wight with the foes in the book who have no interest in the Ring: Shelob, the wargs in Hollin, Old Man Willow, and Caradhras. They were just evil beings out to do harm to the innocent, and the One Ring didn't appear in their play books. The wight seems primarily interested in capturing the living and killing them so that they become wights too, if I interpret the song it sang correctly.

But I also think it wouldn't have been interested in putting Frodo's ring on him since it seemed there was some hex on all the treasures in the barrow (which Bombadil commented on), so it would prefer to use rings from its hoard over something a victim already had.

I'll probably fall back on the explanation I use when the story logic doesn't hold up for me: the events in the Barrow were driven by the needs of the story. 1) One of the hobbits had to wake up and call for Bombadil's help, and 2) Frodo needed to grow in courage in little steps along the way to Mt Doom. So, that's why Frodo woke up, because the story needed him to.

There's still the possible explanation that, for reasons of its own, the wight had other plans in store for Frodo, so he received separate treatment from the others. Also, let's assume that hobbits had been snared in the Barrow-downs before, and that wights talk to each other, and they knew hobbits were easy prey, so maybe they toyed with them like cats play with their prey before devouring them.

Re-reading that passage, it's not clear to me why: 1) Frodo and the others so easily succumbed to the wight initially when they were above ground, and 2) Frodo was able to hack at the groping arm without instant retaliation by the wight. Shouldn't the wight have been more powerful in its lair? It somehow seems less so. But again, I think Tolkien needed to move the story along and not have it end here.

Anyway, I enjoy your questions that make me think about things afresh, Guy, so keep 'em coming!


noWizardme
Valinor


Dec 15 2017, 2:18pm

Post #6 of 10 (1685 views)
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Frodo as an observer [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's an important point that Frodo feels like an observer. As I read the story, I see the barrow episode as a temptation story for Frodo: he thinks (or the Ring makes him think) that he could get away if he put it on: he'd have to sacrifice his friends, but...
Gandalf later picks this out as a key moment in Frodo's Book I adventure - my guess is that the results of Frodo saving just himself would be hard to undo in some way - start him on the path to evil perhaps. Or that if he can't resist the Ring then he isn't the right person for the quest to Mount Doom. (Or another explanation: it's all reader interpretation at this point).

If that's a key purpose of this scene, then it makes sense that Frodo is not yet under the power of the wight, and isn't (a point I've always missed in my readings) the only one still in standard hobbit clothes instead of a negligee. It underlines (I think) the idea that he could try to escape, but shouldn't.

~~~~~~
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


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 15 2017, 2:34pm

Post #7 of 10 (1681 views)
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Hmmmm [In reply to] Can't Post

OK, thanks for pointing that out, Wiz, because now we're back to the story logic holding up on its own.


In Reply To
If that's a key purpose of this scene, then it makes sense that Frodo is not yet under the power of the wight, and isn't (a point I've always missed in my readings) the only one still in standard hobbit clothes instead of a negligee. It underlines (I think) the idea that he could try to escape, but shouldn't.


Even as a kid, I felt like this was a Before/After moment for Frodo, one of those pivotal moments in his life, or anyone's life, where a decision you make shapes who you will be in the future. And your explanation that Frodo keeps his original clothes as part of the temptation scenario makes a lot of sense, more sense than a hobbit dressed in a white sheet and no food or pony somehow trotting all the way to Bree, or maybe hiking back to Bombadil's house--I think those are his only two options if he did escape and was going to survive.

One of the appealing themes that stands out in LOTR is the devotion to friendship and how that makes you a better person, and that's developed here by Frodo's temptation. And I must say, I really like the voice/tone that Tolkien used here, because that's the same way things sound in my inner debates between choosing the low road versus the high road. Even the part about an Authority figure sanctioning the low road you ponder taking: "Gandalf would admit there had been nothing else he could do." Well, if Gandalf agrees with your actions, you know you're right.

But like Galadriel at the mirror, Frodo passes his temptation test, and it never comes up again: he doesn't think in Moria, for example, that he should put on the Ring to disappear and leave the others behind, or during the Warg attack, etc.


noWizardme
Valinor


Dec 15 2017, 3:00pm

Post #8 of 10 (1678 views)
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Meanwhile, internally to the story [In reply to] Can't Post

Of course 'the plot requires that Frodo be dressed and unbound' doesn't work in internal world of LOTR (what the characters experience). So I'll go with your 'Frodo was the last captured' theory, or posit an utterly unprovable theory of my own that the Ring is up to something - it wants Frodo to use it (did you just read that in a Gandalf voice? me too.)

The Barrow Wight declares itself to be, in the song it sings, a servant of the Dark Lord, so it might be susceptible to Ring influence. But of course, I just made that up, and others might prefer other theories.

~~~~~~
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


CuriousG
Half-elven


Dec 15 2017, 3:23pm

Post #9 of 10 (1672 views)
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A higher power at work [In reply to] Can't Post

I realized that, as is my wont, I was working up to a final conclusion that I never bothered writing down. The problem of being hasty. I need an Ent peering over my shoulder when I write, apparently.

Anyway, it is a stretch. But my thinking was connected to Gandalf telling Frodo that he was meant to find the Ring, and not by Sauron, meaning an unnamed, unspecified higher power was at work, somehow manipulating events and timelines in Middle-earth with an inscrutable hand for the Ring to wind up with Frodo, the best hobbit for the job of taking it toward its destruction. This higher power only gets involved when the stakes are high, just as the Valar and Eagles do, and somehow that higher power had no problem trumping the power of Sauron or the guile and determination of Gollum.

Similarly, that higher power manipulated the Barrow episode so that Frodo was the only one to wake up, wearing his own clothes, and faced with the temptation to save himself by using the Ring and abandoning his friends, because the stakes were high that Frodo face temptation by the Ring in a situation where he felt hopeless, terrified, and helpless, provoking his animal survival instincts to wrestle with his higher principles. So in that sense, Tolkien was remaining true to the story's structure and not just manipulating events and details to make the plot work out.


just_a_guy
The Shire

Dec 15 2017, 5:39pm

Post #10 of 10 (1659 views)
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This makes sense to me [In reply to] Can't Post

So the higher power led the events so that Frodo has to choose his destiny(in a manner of speaking), either to flee or be brave and face the foe.
Tolkien is building up the character of Frodo in this way, I guess.

 
 

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