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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
* * * The Hobbit read-through: Chapter 7 - Queer Lodgings
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noWizardme
Valinor


Jul 5, 10:28am

Post #26 of 42 (1890 views)
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Dat A-S! [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, Beorn is a very Anglo-Saxon (A-S) character. Earlier I mentioned the Beowulfian-thing-that-doesn't-happen (the heroes on the mead hall don't have to fear the monster breaking in to snatch one of them, it turns out). But you're right- it goes way beyond that. I think Beorn is the most A-S thing we're going to see until we come to Rohan.

I find it interesting that Tolkien could (I suppose) have made Beorn a fairly historically-realistic A-S chieftain: the Lord of the Woodmen, say.That would have fulfilled the plot need for someone to rest and re-equip the party. Instead we get something much stranger and more imaginative.

I'm glad you did the right thing with your surprise - that is to raise the point that either nobody else had seen or that we hadn't got around to discussing yet. As I have been labouring most weeks, it's great if people raise new points, because realistically the person introducing the chapter will only be able to pick out a few conversation starters. What would be a shame would be for someone to read the conversation, be disappointed that we aren't discussing what they think is interesting, & just go away without realising that they could potentially have contributed.

~~~~~~
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


Jul 5, 10:51am

Post #27 of 42 (1891 views)
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What happens to the shape-shifter idea later? [In reply to] Can't Post

Beorn is clearly a shape-shifter. There's a throwaway comment about Radaghast which might suggest he's one too.

But I don't recall any shape-shifters in LOTR. That book seems to settle into a more constricted view of magic than what we see here, or in say Luthien and Beren.

~~~~~~
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


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 5, 12:15pm

Post #28 of 42 (1885 views)
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Grimbeorn the Old? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Beorn is clearly a shape-shifter. There's a throwaway comment about Radaghast which might suggest he's one too.

But I don't recall any shape-shifters in LOTR. That book seems to settle into a more constricted view of magic than what we see here, or in say Luthien and Beren.


Well, the Fellowship didn't use the High Pass and so didn't pass through Beorning lands. If they had, they might have received assistance from Grimbeorn the Old and we might have learned that he was a skin-changer like his father before him. And Radagast sounds in The Hobbit a bit like Merlin in The Once and Future King. Tolkien's description of him as "a master of shapes and hues" which implies that he has shape-shifting and perhaps illusion magic.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Morthoron
Gondor


Jul 7, 12:41am

Post #29 of 42 (1862 views)
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I believe this issue is... [In reply to] Can't Post

By the time of LotR, the shape-shifting we see in Beren and Luthien and the sort of being that had such an ability is a) not an aspect of the characters who make up the Fellowship, b) not an aspect of the beings they meet along their journey, and c) the beings who could achieve shape-shifting are stationary.

The greatest shape-shifter in the books, Sauron, is bound to Barad-dur, it seems, and his ability is no longer present, as after the destruction of Numenor he remains in his guise as the tall and dread Dark Lord and can no longer adopt a fair countenance at least (I think the inference Tolkien was making was that he could not manifest any bodily change at all).

We have the brief reference to Radagast, but only meet him in one short sequence where such change is unnecessary, but Gandalf in Bag-end when trying to get Bilbo to surrender the One Ring, and Galadriel when Frodo offers her the One Ring, both give evidence they can radically change their appearance to suit the situation. The folklorish motif in both incidences would possibly be called a "spell of glamour".

And then there's the warg attack on the Fellowship in Hollin. They all disappeared, including the corpses, after the battle. There was never an adequate explanation as to what they were actually, as garden variety wargs don't simply disappear. All we are left with is this vague comment: 'It is as I feared,' said Gandalf. 'These were no ordinary wolves hunting for food in the wilderness. Let us eat quickly and go!'

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



(This post was edited by Morthoron on Jul 7, 12:43am)


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 7, 12:26pm

Post #30 of 42 (1803 views)
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Excellent example about the Hollin Wargs--thanks! They're as mysterious as Bombadil. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jul 7, 12:34pm

Post #31 of 42 (1804 views)
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And Norse origins too [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, the way my cluttered mind works, your post made me mis-remember that the dwarves' names came from an Anglo-Saxon poem, but googling it set me straight--their origin is Norse, neatly contained in one poem.

Anyone who reads my posts knows I harbor the utmost reverence for Tolkien, but on this score I'm surprised that someone so endlessly original and creative was content with lifting existing names and not even niggling with them like he did most things.


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 7, 1:25pm

Post #32 of 42 (1798 views)
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Evaporating Wargs = Werewolves? [In reply to] Can't Post

I've seen it speculated that the Wargs whose corpses vanished with the sunrise were Werewolves. This could explain why the bodies of the Wargs in The Hobbit did not seem to suffer such a fate. However, Beorn might have known a magic or a technique to preserve the Warg pelt that he collected; and we don't really know what became of the dead Wargs in the clearing or those from the Battle of Five Armies. They might have vanished without Bilbo being aware of the event or at least not remembering to record it.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Morthoron
Gondor


Jul 7, 2:40pm

Post #33 of 42 (1790 views)
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Interestingly enough... [In reply to] Can't Post

The only Dwarf name from The Hobbit or LotR not appearing in the Völuspá is the female dwarf Dís, whose name appears scattered throughout other Norse poems and which means (among other things) a "goddess" (plural Dísir, "goddesses"). The Dísir seems to be a more general term that would encompass the more specific norns and valkyries.

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Morthoron
Gondor


Jul 7, 2:46pm

Post #34 of 42 (1788 views)
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I am quite sure.... [In reply to] Can't Post

that Tolkien's emphasis on the wolves sudden disappearance by morning was uncanny and not something that occurs to your run-of-the-mill warg (who Gandalf would have had first hand experience). Had that been the case, he would have just shrugged and said, "I hate when Wargs do that!"

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 7, 3:24pm

Post #35 of 42 (1782 views)
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True. [In reply to] Can't Post

At the same time, Gandalf's comment compared the beasts to natural wolves, so they still might be Wargs. Werewolves might be worse, though; once slain, the spirit of a Werewolf might have been capable of reincarnating the following night, or seeking out and possessing the body of another Warg.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


Morthoron
Gondor


Jul 7, 5:23pm

Post #36 of 42 (1771 views)
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Werewolves? There wolves! [In reply to] Can't Post

True, but that then would not make them regular wolves or wargs for that matter.

It could still be within the power of Sauron to elicit a possession of that nature. But I don't think Saruman could do so. We're never really quite clear on who staged the wolf attack. The crebain were sent by Saruman, but was Sauron following the Fellowship as well?

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 7, 7:44pm

Post #37 of 42 (1761 views)
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Are you acquainted with Abby-someone? [In reply to] Can't Post

Abby -- Normal? Although one of Sauron's titles is Lord of Werewolves, the first such beasts seem to have been made by Morgoth by infusing evil spirits or Ainur into huge Wargs. Even without knowing about the Fellowship and its mission, Sauron could have still sent packs of Wargs or Werewolves across the Anduin to harass the Free Peoples. The flock of Crebain could have been a coincidence or it could be a sign that the pack was sent by Saruman.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


sador
Half-elven


Jul 8, 3:06am

Post #38 of 42 (1732 views)
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"His fire was quenched, but now he was a thing of slime, stronger than a strangling snake" [In reply to] Can't Post

The descrption of the Balrog in The White Rider does seem like a bit of shape-shifting; however, it seems limited to just a few shapes.

Or could he change more, but not lose Gandalf's grip? see later: "In that despair my enemy was my only hope, and I pursued him, clutching at his heel". This does seem similar to the description in Of Beren and Luthien".
And if indeed he could take many shapes, does that render one of the Great Questions of the Fandom utterly pointless? Or at least most of the pro and con arguuments?
Or is any balrog just a thing of slime with some internal combustion? How different are they from Balrogs? (as I've pointed out before, in The Hobbit Gondolin was said to have been destroyed by an army of goblins and dragons).

bonus question: Why is the Balrog a "he"?


Morthoron
Gondor


Jul 8, 5:46pm

Post #39 of 42 (1673 views)
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I don't think Tolkien liked his women slimy... [In reply to] Can't Post

There's not many "evil" women characters in the Tolkien corpus, but he seems to resign these malevolent female characters to more perceived feminine attributes in the natural world: spiders (Ungoliant and Shelob), bats (Thuringwethil), and cats (Beruthiel). So skittish, secretive, fluttery, poisonous, capricious, contrary, fickle.***

Whereas all orcs mentioned are male and grotesque brutes, trolls are named William, Tom and Bert, Carcharoth is male, the dragons are all male (at least the inference is there), and so the fiery or slimy balrogs (big hulking wankers that they are) are all male too (like Gothmog, for instance). There's even a "Witch-king" with no reference to a queen.

***Not inferring that women are any of these things, just affixing old literary stereotypes (as I cautiously add this addendum while my wife looks over my shoulder)

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 8, 6:30pm

Post #40 of 42 (1669 views)
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A Witch-queen? [In reply to] Can't Post

It's at least possible that one or more of the Nazgûl were women (as proposed in Iron Crown Enterprise's old Middle-earth Role Play game), though it does seem less than likely. And if later dragons were hatched, well, something must have been laying the eggs! Trolls are a bit trickier, though Tolkien himself brought up the image of half-trolls (perhaps not intending it to be taken literally). Would a female troll be a trollop?

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison


(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jul 8, 6:30pm)


Morthoron
Gondor


Jul 8, 7:09pm

Post #41 of 42 (1661 views)
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Yes, I.C.E. "created" a female Nazgul... [In reply to] Can't Post

Adûnaphel was her name. But that wasn't based on anything from Tolkien's body of work (particularly back in 1985), and all the names of the Ringwraiths were, as you know, also created by Iron Crown, except for Khamûl the only actual named Wraith in LotR.

As far as the dragons, I don't believe Tolkien ever commented on them being "hatched", or of a brood mother for dragons, trolls or orcs. We know about half-orcs and half men, but Tolkien never really described the mating process or how they came to be. A bit too unsavory for the Professor to speculate on I guess.

And as for female trolls = trollops....*ba-dump-tisch* I'm here till Tuesday. Try the veal. Wink

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.



Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jul 8, 8:01pm

Post #42 of 42 (1652 views)
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Dragons, young and old. [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, the MERP team invented Adûnaphel's name and gender, but the character was still meant to be one of Tolkein's nine Ring-wraiths. She wasn't a complete invention of the game. Similarly, MERP brought Thranduil's queen into the game's continuity, providing her with a name (Lady Arhendhiril) and history. By contrast, The Heart of the Wild, a region guide for Cubicle 7's The One Ring Roleplaying Game, indicates that Thranduil has more than one son (though only Legolas is mentioned by name).

When Smaug invaded Erebor he considered himself a 'young' dragon, so its not like his personal history could have gone back to the First Age. We can at least speculate that dragons bred like more natural creatures, male and female, whether or not they laid eggs or gave birth live.

In other writings (such as found in Letters Tolkien confirmed that there would have been female Orcs, though he never gave much insight into Orc society, child-rearing, etc. Maybe goblin-women were collectively responsible for raising the 'imps'.

"For a brief time I was here; and for a brief time I mattered." - Harlan Ellison

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