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What a mysterious sentence may mean

GreenHillFox
The Shire


Jun 28 2021, 8:42am

Post #1 of 12 (1422 views)
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What a mysterious sentence may mean Can't Post

‘Well,’ said Aragorn, ‘I can only say that hobbits are made of a stuff so tough that I have never met the like of it. Had I known, I would have spoken softer in the Inn at Bree! That spear-thrust would have skewered a wild boar!’
‘Well, it did not skewer me, I am glad to say,’ said Frodo; ‘though I feel as if I had been caught between a hammer and an anvil’ He said no more. He found breathing painful.
‘You take after Bilbo,’ said Gandalf. ‘There is more about you than meets the eye, as I said of him long ago.’ Frodo wondered if the remark meant more than it said.

About this last sentence, did the remark "mean more than it said"?

My personal interpretation is about a parallel between TH and LotR:

In TH, after Bilbo rejoined Thorin’s company and had explained his escape without mentioning his Ring, Gandalf’s reaction was this:

“What did I tell you?” said Gandalf laughing. “Mr. Baggins has more about him than you guess.” He gave Bilbo a queer look from under his bushy eyebrows, as he said this, and the hobbit wondered if he guessed at the part of his tale that he had left out.

In LotR, Frodo did not mention his corslet made of mithril which saved his life.

So in both cases, something was kept out of sight.

Has anyone a different interpretation about what could “mean more than it said”?


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 28 2021, 3:12pm

Post #2 of 12 (1365 views)
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Well, after all... [In reply to] Can't Post

...Gandalf was most definitely aware of Bilbo's mithril shirt, so it was easy for him to guess that Frodo had been gifted with it. For all that we know, Bilbo might have even mentioned it to his old friend (though that is merely speculation). Gandalf's guess that Bilbo had discovered a magical bauble in the tunnels beneath the Misty Mountains was based on far less evidence and foreknowledge.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations


GreenHillFox
The Shire


Jun 28 2021, 4:02pm

Post #3 of 12 (1364 views)
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Could Gandalf have known? [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
...Gandalf was most definitely aware of Bilbo's mithril shirt


My impression is not the same.

This is what Gandalf said before:

Bilbo had a corslet of mithril-rings that Thorin gave him. I wonder what has become of it? Gathering dust still in Michel Delving Mathom-house, I suppose.’


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 28 2021, 4:32pm

Post #4 of 12 (1360 views)
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You proved the first of my points. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To

In Reply To
...Gandalf was most definitely aware of Bilbo's mithril shirt


My impression is not the same.

This is what Gandalf said before:

Bilbo had a corslet of mithril-rings that Thorin gave him. I wonder what has become of it? Gathering dust still in Michel Delving Mathom-house, I suppose.’


Okay, so you absolutely confirmed the first point that I made. Gandalf very definitely knew about Bilbo's mithril shirt. You did manage to demonstrate that I was mistaken about the wizard knowing that Frodo was wearing it, though he must have guessed as much when Frodo survived the spear-thrust.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations

(This post was edited by Otaku-sempai on Jun 28 2021, 4:33pm)


squire
Half-elven


Jun 28 2021, 6:18pm

Post #5 of 12 (1362 views)
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That's always been my interpretation, too [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf knows how to keep his thoughts to himself and specializes in cryptic remarks. Here he is complimenting Frodo for following in Bilbo's footsteps by concealing the actual source of his survival. The reference to Bilbo's adventure is extra special because it was then that he acquired the dwarf-mail that he then passes on to Frodo.

As clever as the dialogue is, I've always thought Aragorn comes across as a bit dim here. "Skewered a wild boar" is not just an expression, it's an exact description of what a spear does to an animal's (or hobbit's) body. That it didn't skewer Frodo deserves more inquiry from a Ranger than a quip about "stuff so tough".

Along with giving Aragorn a chance to joke about hobbit skins later on, when he uncovers the mail coat, I guess this incuriosity reflects the strong theme in The Lord of the Rings that people are their own agents, and what they do is basically nobody else's business. Aragorn has no right to question Frodo further at this point, and so he doesn't - at the risk, as I said, of seeming rather dim to critical readers!



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GreenHillFox
The Shire


Jun 29 2021, 3:54pm

Post #6 of 12 (1292 views)
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Another related quote from TH [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for your reactions, Otaku-sempai & Squire.

Just found another possibly related quote from Gandalf in TH.

As Bilbo was returning to the Lonely Mountain and meeting Gandalf again, he was told:

“Well done! Mr. Baggins!” he said, clapping Bilbo on the back. “There is always more about you than anyone expects!” It was Gandalf.

So (just completing this) that looks related to the subject too. :)


Otaku-sempai
Immortal


Jun 29 2021, 8:35pm

Post #7 of 12 (1278 views)
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Maybe, maybe not. [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf's words this time could have a double meaning, but he could just mean exactly what he said with no sub-context.

#FidelityToTolkien
#ChallengeExpectations


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 1 2021, 4:28am

Post #8 of 12 (1228 views)
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Ephesians 6:11. [In reply to] Can't Post

NZ Strider made an intriguing suggestion about this scene in one of my all-time favorite TORN discussions. But until the old forums are resurrected, you'll have to make due with the review of Joseph Piela's "Arms and Armor" at the Encyclopedia Diary link in squire's footer.


Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


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SirDennisC
Half-elven


Jul 1 2021, 5:28am

Post #9 of 12 (1223 views)
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In both Frodo’s and Bilbo’s cases - [In reply to] Can't Post

it does seem that although Gandalf makes his remarks at opportune moments, he was sharing estimations he had made of them well beforehand. It follows then that there was more to his comments than either the Ring or the shirt of rings would account for, secret though they were: perhaps something along the lines of what you hint at.

I often wonder about the phrase, “he’s hard to kill.” Why are they hard to kill? There must be something more going on in such cases.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jul 1 2021, 5:36am)


noWizardme
Half-elven


Jul 1 2021, 8:26am

Post #10 of 12 (1204 views)
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Something else too - well, several things [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been enjoying this question and the discussion so far. I think 'incuriosity' is right, and I think Tolkien is making his characters intelligible to his first lot of readers (and maybe to himself). That is, I think Tolkien was writing at a time when his domestic readership had a sense that it was impolite to voice your curiosity too much ("mind your own business", as my Gran, pretty much Tolkien's contemporary, would have said). Maybe it's different now - would a modern Frodo pose with his mail on Instagram, and get a whole bunch of replies including various abusive ones? A fun thought.

I think there's something else. Tolkien's first audience had recently lived through World War II. Many, like Tolkien himself, would remember World War I. The Korean War was coming to a (de facto) end as FOTR was bring printed. World War III was an definite imminent possibility. Being at War was a common cultural experience - those who hadn't seen active service had often been involved in war work, or used to seeing a lot of military activity around them. In all those ways you might observe something that it was best not to wonder about or talk about. "Careless Talk Costs Lives" had been a prominent World War II campaign. Don't talk about stuff that could give away a secret. Do what you're told without having to know what it was about. People being too curious about possible secrets weren't only rude busybodies -- they potentially helping like spies or behaving suspiciously like a spy themselves. So cultural attitudes were different about what might be a military or other important secret.

Gandalf, I agree, is a bit of a show-off. He likes to remind people he's clever. If he did realize that Frodo must be wearing the mail, it would be in character for him to make a cryptic remark to show he knows it. And he's also 'professionally curious' about things. So if he didn't know Frodo is wearing the mail, I can imagine him making the sort of cryptic comment he does to see whether he learns anything from Frodo's reaction. So I can see it working either way.

If Gandalf has worked it out, I'm sure he realizes that one of the dangers Frodo faces is being attacked by a member of the Fellowship trying to seize the Ring. So that would be a good reason not to let the whole Company know about it. For example - unexpected dwarf mail might save Frodo from being stabbed to death in his sleep.
I think there might be an additional explanation, though it's an unprovable one I think (you'll just have to decide whether you like it). I think Frodo is lucky. He's not fortunate of course - who would want to be put in Frodo's position - but he is lucky in that things seem to work out so that he can continue his quest. Maybe Gandalf is commenting that he thinks there is some Power helping Frodo along a little - an encouraging thought when the trip through Moria has now started going rather wrong.

~~~~~~
"You were exceedingly clever once, but unfortunately none of your friends noticed as they were too busy being attacked by an octopus."
-from How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book, by Austin Gilkeson, in 'The Toast', 2016 https://the-toast.net/...-a-jrr-tolkien-book/


squire
Half-elven


Jul 1 2021, 1:40pm

Post #11 of 12 (1201 views)
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“Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil” [In reply to] Can't Post

That is the Ephesians verse you gave, and I guess NZ Strider used it as the hook for a discussion of the moral qualities of armor and weaponry in the context of Tolkien's universe. But although you linked to that discussion in your Encyclopedia Diary entry,

‘Those links are gone for ever,’ he said, ‘and now all is dark and empty.’



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.


N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Jul 4 2021, 7:20pm

Post #12 of 12 (1056 views)
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A sidebar to a sidebar. [In reply to] Can't Post

In October 2002, as an offshoot of this forum's second chapter discussion of The Lord of the Rings (which had just reached "A Conspiracy Unmasked"), Curious started a thread about parallels between Books I and II. In doing so, he was unknowingly advancing on the work of Randel Helms in 1974 and Tom Shippey in 2000, but as NZ Strider observed, Curious "went way beyond Shippey" (he went beyond Helms too, but no one mentioned Helms). After Blue Wizard, echoing the thoughts of several discussion participants, argued that Curious was pushing minor connections to the point of absurdity, NZS, in a post titled "No extreme is too absurd in literary analysis!", argued that Curious was engaged "some very standard literary criticism," and he offered some examples of what the parallels that Curious had identified might signifify. Here is the portion of his post relevant to the current discussion:


Quote
Here's a simple case: In both Book I and II Frodo is viciously attacked by the agents of evil. He suffers, both times, a terrible stab to the breast. Both times his friends think he is dead (Weathertop and Chamber of Mazarbul).

The nature of the attack is different (Morgul blade vs. ordinary weapons); but what makes the real difference in the result is this: the second time Frodo is wearing a Mithril coat. And he only seems to have been wounded the second time, whereas the first time is very real. I trust I don't have to explain the symbolism of putting on armour (i.e., how outer phyiscal armour can reflect inner growth -- it's a topos as old as the hills, as the Reverend will gladly explain with reference to Paul's epistle to the Ephesians).



Treachery, treachery I fear; treachery of that miserable creature.

But so it must be. Let us remember that a traitor may betray himself and do good that he does not intend.


-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
<><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><>
Discuss Tolkien's life and works in the Reading Room!
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=
How to find old Reading Room discussions.

 
 

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