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"Threes Thursday": 11 November - The Shadow of the Past


Nov 11 2021, 9:27am

Post #1 of 15 (678 views)
"Threes Thursday": 11 November - The Shadow of the Past Can't Post

This week our chapter is LOTR Book I Ch2, The Shadow of the Past.
Tell me, if you wish, what threes you find in that chapter. You can do that in any way you like including:
  • A sort of scavenger hunt into the text to find a three of something
  • Using the idea of threes to comment on the chapter in some way (e.g. write about three things you like; three plot points; three characters...)
  • On occasion we might find places where the number three or a pattern of three seems likely to have been put there deliberately by Tolkien for inspiration, symbollism, use of a writing technique etc. (Or, sometimes, where such inspiration or symbollism might not be deliberate on the part of the author, but is something a reader can find and enjoy).
Contributions can be long or short, learned or simple, and from anyone.

And really this 'threes' idea is only there to encourage people to look at the chapter and join in a discussion about it. So if the 'threes' thing is a barrier to join the discussion, just feel free to post about the chapter without having to shoehorn some threes in.
I have a vague plan to carry on through LOTR like this week by week, provided the response makes it seem worthwhile. But we'll see.

So over to you - what do you want to say about LOTR Book I Ch2, The Shadow of the Past?

My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )

The Shire

Nov 11 2021, 2:41pm

Post #2 of 15 (633 views)
Some "threes" ... [In reply to] Can't Post

Some occurrences:

For three years after the Party he [=Gandalf] had been away.

Seven the Dwarf-kings possessed, but three he has recovered, and the others the dragons have consumed.

... and then, of course, the three great Rings of the Elves.


Nov 11 2021, 5:06pm

Post #3 of 15 (625 views)
Three purposes [In reply to] Can't Post

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them

Growth after all is not so much a matter of change as of ripening, and what alters most is the degree of clarity with which we see one another. -Edith Pargeter


Nov 11 2021, 7:25pm

Post #4 of 15 (621 views)
Three kinds of information [In reply to] Can't Post

I'd like to try something within this format. I hope you'll like it, but it's possible that it is annoying - let me know!
My idea is that Tolkien tells (and sometimes shows) us a bunch of things in this chapter. Three classes of them are:
  1. Information we need to know now, in order to understand the plot as it moves forward
  2. Information that is incidental. We hear briefly of this person, place or whatever and it probably doesn't matter if we forget. We'll hear of them again later, and an incidental mention now helps it to feel as if these people, places and whatevers are native to Middle-earth, rather than just made up when they matter to the plot.
  3. Information of very high significance, which I think Tolkien is quite happy to hide amidst the other things. Only later do we think back to this chapter (or encounter something on further readings) and go "Oh.....!"
Now I could give examples right away, but for one thing I've got to get the dinner on right now. For another, is it more fun to think about this and find you own examples?

My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )

Tol Eressea

Nov 11 2021, 10:22pm

Post #5 of 15 (612 views)
Multiples of three [In reply to] Can't Post

not in nine days or even ninety nine....

which leads to a google search of the idiom ......

This term originated in a proverb dating from Chaucer’s time, “For wonder last but nine night nevere in toune.” It was recorded by John Heywood in 1546: “This wonder (as wonders last) lasted nine daies.” Another version is “A wonder lasts nine days, and then the puppy’s eyes are open,” referring to the fact that dogs are born blind, which may be the ultimate source of the analogy—that is, after nine days one’s eyes are open and the so-called wonder is seen for what it really is.

Which is fitting enough as Frodo's eyes are certainly opened in this chapter.

Fourth Age Adventures at the Inn of the Burping Troll http://burpingtroll.com
Home of TheOneRing.net Best FanFic stories of 2005 and 2006 "The Last Grey Ship" and "Ashes, East Wind, Hope That Rises" by Erin Rua

(Found in Mathoms, LOTR Tales Untold)


Nov 12 2021, 1:07am

Post #6 of 15 (606 views)
Three essential Gandalf quotes [In reply to] Can't Post

"So do I," said Gandalf," and so do all who live to see such times. But it is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

"Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he was so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity."

"Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Growth after all is not so much a matter of change as of ripening, and what alters most is the degree of clarity with which we see one another. -Edith Pargeter

Tol Eressea

Nov 12 2021, 6:16am

Post #7 of 15 (590 views)
I used that last quote [In reply to] Can't Post

to persuade an attorney to an anti-capital punishment position. (Admins:Please don't consider this political. It really was the JRRT quote that convinced him.)

"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."


Nov 12 2021, 6:33am

Post #8 of 15 (588 views)
That's wonderful. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien's work is so full of wisdom, and he's a great advocate for mercy.

Growth after all is not so much a matter of change as of ripening, and what alters most is the degree of clarity with which we see one another. -Edith Pargeter


Nov 12 2021, 4:16pm

Post #9 of 15 (568 views)
Friedrich W. Tolkien [In reply to] Can't Post

I think those quotations really do lay down some of the cornerstones of the whole story. Another one, I think, is that the power of coercion that is Sauron and his Ring can't be met with an equal and opposite power working the same way. Coercion is bad regardless of who is doing it - bad morally, and bad in practical consequences. So Frodo can't give the Ring to Gandalf (which of course he does try to do in this very chapter)- Gandalf would either lose in a war of dark lords, or emerge victorious as the new dark lord. Either way things would not be much better for the world, and catastrophically worse for Gandalf.

So Tolkien is agreeing with his fellow philologist, Nietzsche :

Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.

Friedrich W. Nietzsche

In this chapter we also get first mention of Saruman, the book's prime abyss-gazer and toppler into that abyss.
Of course Tolkien being Tolkien he sees the limitations. The nice fireside by which Frodo and Gandalf have this disturbing chat would be a burned-out ruin if forces all too near The Shire got their way. And I suppose they're kept out by the bright swords of the Dunedain - coercion in its sharpest form - rather than by a few chats about moral philosophy.

My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


Nov 13 2021, 3:28am

Post #10 of 15 (544 views)
The three doomed and the three blessed mortal ring-bearers [In reply to] Can't Post

Yes, we all know these things. It just interests me that every time I read the book something catches my attention in a different way, and so we see the usefulness of threes. (auto correct wanted me to write "of the trees", which of course could work, but we'll find that out farther on, won't we? Smile)

We learn from Gandalf that the Ring used its own evil powers to find three unsuspecting agents in making its way back to Sauron.

"The Ring was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from Isildur's hand and betrayed him; then when a chance came it caught poor Déagol, and he was murdered; and after that Gollum, and it devoured him...when its master was awake once more and sending out his dark thought from Mirkwood, it abandoned Gollum."

But then The Lord of the Rings is a story of how

"There was more than one power at work, Frodo."

and the Ring's plans were foiled. Another very different sort of power intervened, and three Hobbits - our Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam - came under the protection of powerful agents for good, and those three most unlikely persons imaginable had the final responsibility for moving the Ring towards its destruction. (Can't you just hear the triumphant, swelling music!)

The Ring tried its worst with all three of them, but that other power for good gave them friends and "lucky" breaks along the way to overcome it. The three Keepers of the Elven rings gave our heroes aid and watched over them, and a Fellowship of 3x3 trusty companions was created for the final journey. Even there the Ring thought it might use Boromir in its service, but Frodo used the Ring itself to escape him. Boromir, that basically decent man, benefited from the gift of an interfering stone that sent him sprawling and brought him to his senses so that in the end he could come to die as honourably as he had lived.

So, here we learned the fate of the three most unfortunate ring-bearers,
we will eventually learn that the blessed three sail on to the Undying Lands.


Nov 13 2021, 4:45am

Post #11 of 15 (538 views)
And who says, Elanor, [In reply to] Can't Post

that fantasy writers and fans are out of touch with reality? Heart

(This post was edited by Lissuin on Nov 13 2021, 4:47am)


Nov 13 2021, 5:37pm

Post #12 of 15 (490 views)
we all know... [In reply to] Can't Post

I really liked these ideas, But first, may I respond to

In Reply To
Yes, we all know these things. It just interests me...

Yes, we all know these things, and want to her them again! It would be a shame if people held back from posting because of a fear of not being original enough, or deep enough or whatever.

LOTR has been picked over on this board alone many times, and that's a mere Shire compared to a Middle-earth of criticism and other appreciation. The chances of any of us coming up with something truly original must be pretty slim. And I'd say that doesn't matter in the slightest.

Although some of use (not me!) have a foot very much in the scholarly camp, these forums are really something for amateurs, in the positive sense of lovers of the material. One very important purpose of the boards, if you ask me, is so that peoepl can post things that interest them, just for the fun of doing so -- and because very, very often it will interest someone else. I don't recall reading room ever having a problem of far too many uninteresting posts. I do recall several times (and now is one of the) where very little is going on, and it is easy to imagine a downwards spiral.

So Please do feel encouraged to share you're thoughts, everyone. Otherwise we risk being like a group of hungry peoepl in a kitchen, but nobody cooks in case someone else is better at it. Really - what hobbits would ever behave like that? Plain fare and plenty of it is a perfectly good enough delight (though if someone has thoughts equivalent to a case of Old Winyards, then I'm absolutely happy to share in those too!)

Errm... I forgot I'm scared of heights! Could someone help me down from this soap box please Smile
..ah thanks! Next for some thoughts about trios of Ringberarers (but I'll put that in a separate post, so that this one can be about encouraging peoepl not to think they are too boring to post!)

My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


Nov 13 2021, 5:47pm

Post #13 of 15 (488 views)
Three doomed Ringbearers [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that's a great 'three' - it immediately encourages me to compare and contrast. To start with, I think each of them serve a writing purpose:
  • The fall of Isildur shows us that nobody is too grand to come to grief from the Ring
  • Deagol's murder gives us the starkest contrast between how Smeagol starts his Ringbearing career and how Bilbo does. We could discuss whether choosing murder rather than mercy shows what each of them already is like, or what they are to become. Either way, Gandalf tells us that how you begin is important.
  • Smeagol serves many purposes, but one of them is certainly as an awful warning closer to home. I enjoy Frodo's initial denial or snobbery that any hobbit could behave in that way. I thin that later on he becomes well aware that any hobbit could.

I've mentioned a writing purpose for Deagol (he's useful to the plot so that he can be shockingly murdered by his best friend, poor chap). But what might a wise citizen of Middle-earth think about it? Was there "There was more than one power at work" at that point too, in that Deagol might have been a blessed Ringbearer (assuming the necessary help) but the Ring preferred Smeagol? We can only speculate of course...

There's probably far more to say about this (and about the trio of blessed Ringbearers) but I'll stop here and see what others think.
Thanks for highlighting this aspect of the chapter, Lissuin! Heart

My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


Nov 14 2021, 2:55am

Post #14 of 15 (465 views)
A bit more of dooms and blessings and the 'coincidence' of three. [In reply to] Can't Post

I enjoy Frodo's initial denial or snobbery that any hobbit could behave in that way. I think that later on he becomes well aware that any hobbit could.

Interesting point on Frodo's preconceptions - and the blessing, and doom, of any traveler who steps out their door, no matter how near or far. Leaving the well known and the comfortable tends to upset some treasured, because locally shared, world views. No small wonder that the Ted Sandymans considered Bilbo and then Frodo "cracked" for their choices of odd friends, ideas and habits. It is more than possible, it is undeniable, that Tolkien's initially reluctant but ultimately willing and open Bagginses have been inspirations and companions on my own journeys.

I'm happy to have lived in three (3!) other US states and three (3 Shocked!) countries after thirty (3x10!) years of calling one place my home. It has made for some lively and sometimes heated discussions in that first dear old hobbit hole over the years, but that seems to have been my doom - and my very great blessing. It was an eager Tookish tween who set off on her first adventure to foreign parts fifty years ago. It has all been an eye-opener, and no mistake. Now the Baggins side is happy to settle down and do her philosophizing from this one last lovely spot.

I'm also happy to share that soap box with you any ol' time, noWiz. Wink



Nov 15 2021, 7:22pm

Post #15 of 15 (403 views)
Frodo's strange quest [In reply to] Can't Post

In this chapter Frodo learns he must undertake a quest. Here are three (3 Smile !) things about it:
  1. It's unusual in that it is a quest to dispose of or lose something, rather than to get something - a sort of negative quest. I can only think of two prior examples of such a quest (Sir Gawain who sets off to be killed by the Green Knight, and 'The Bottle Imp' By Robert Louis Stevenson (But maybe a better-read person can complete that three, or find three more?)
  2. It's completely unexpected! Before this chat with Gandalf, Frodo had no idea he'd have to do this.
  3. Frodo does not seem like a prime quest candidate. He says he's 'not made for perilous quests'. When he asks why he was 'chosen, Gandalf says 'You may be sire that it was not for any merit that others do not posses'.
I notice that all three of those are in contrast to Aragorn and his quest, which we'll meet in Chapter 2 of Book 2. Aragorn sets out to gain a kingdom (and a bride). He and his family have been waiting for the occasion for generations. And Aragorn has many merits that others do not posses - both personal skills, and being the rightful heir to the throne.

My profile picture is "Kaninchen und Ente" ("Rabbit and Duck") from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter (see https://en.wikipedia.org/...2%80%93duck_illusion )


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