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"Threes Thursday": 16 December - The Old Forest

noWizardme
Half-elven


Dec 16 2021, 12:50pm

Post #1 of 10 (2555 views)
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"Threes Thursday": 16 December - The Old Forest Can't Post

This week our chapter is LOTR Book I Ch6, The Old Forest.

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, symbolism, use of a writing technique etc. (Or, sometimes, where such inspiration or symbolism 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.

This is the last of these
I'm going to post. There must certainly be at least three good reasons to stay with Tom and Goldberry for the holidays, and in any case my sense is that the game has lost its appeal.

So over to you - what do you want to say about
LOTR Book I Ch6, The Old Forest?

~~~~~~
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 )


noWizardme
Half-elven


Dec 16 2021, 5:21pm

Post #2 of 10 (2530 views)
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The Old Read-throughs [In reply to] Can't Post

Having looked back at some earlier ideas about the Brandywine Ferry (as a contribution to last week's Threes Thursday) I thought I'd post a link to our last read-through of this week's chapter. It was a particularly good discussion. It might suggest some 'threes' material for this week, and in any case I still find it a pleasure to read.

So here is The Old Forest discussion, led by BlackFox in January 2015
Should anyone have a taste for other parts of the 2014-2017 read-thorugh (the sixth this forum has hosted) then there is a full indexing of it here on a most useful site run by squire. You will also find indexes of the earlier read-throughs there, where those lands have not gone 'under the wave'. Much excellent material there too. But I am partizan, because that period in the mid twenty-teens is the Reading Room as I fondly remember it with all its contributors, good nature, energy and humour, 'before the fire nation attacked', or whatever it was that happened.

~~~~~~
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 )


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Dec 18 2021, 12:52am

Post #3 of 10 (2467 views)
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Fool me once... [In reply to] Can't Post

The hobbits choose three times to follow sketchy paths in the Old Forest.

After bushwhacking to Bonfire Glade where Merry comments 'There is the Bonfire Glade ahead of us (or I hope so), but the path to it seems to have moved away' the hobbits fall for the first tempting path. 'At the far side of the glade there was a break in the wall of trees, and a clear path beyond it...up this path they rode...it seemed to them the Forest had relented.'

This does not work out well, and they wind up lost on a hilltop. They choose to follow the next path that appears on the north side of the hill. 'At length they made their minds to go on again...at first their choice seemed to be good.' Not.

After leading to River Withywindle, the Forest offers a third path. What's more,' he (Merry) said, 'there seems to be something like a footpath winding along on this side of the river.' Pippin (showing unexpectedly good thinking) is suspicious. But, since protagonists in scary stories always make the worst decision: 'There being nothing else for it, they filed out.'

At this point I'm with Pippin in expecting the worst. Then the river path offers a little hope, as it skirts pools and bogs. Tree trunk and carefully laid brush bridges are more friendly than frightening. The third path leads into danger (Old Man Willow) and also to Tom and Goldberry's house.


noWizardme
Half-elven


Dec 18 2021, 1:04pm

Post #4 of 10 (2435 views)
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Three phases of it all going wrong [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi oliphaunt! Your Three phases of it all going wrong is a very fine 'three'.

I like your 'protagonists in scary stories always make the worst decision'! I'm pretty sure we must at some point have compared & contrasted Frodo et al. here with Bilbo et al. in Mirkwood. Bilbo's party is told under no account to leave the path, and so one immediately starts to think they will somehow end up doing just that. Frodo et al. have a contrasting problem I think - how to find a path, when the most obvious (or sometimes seemingly only one) is not the right one.
An unanswerable question is about mechanism. Does Old Man Willow ('OMW') really have the power to make the trees scuttle around, the bushes yield in only one direction, or the landscape otherwise change? Are the hobbits really left with no good choices because of the very lie of the land? Or is there an element of illusion, so that a mind more resistant to OMW's spells would see the hobbits miss very obvious opportunities to escape (such as paths that don't go towards OMW and which he therefore causes the hobbits not to see)? I'm guessing 'illusion' myself, but I don't see how it can be anything other than a matter of opinion.

I suppose that is a bit academic for our poor hobbits though. Even if a stronger mind might theoretically see through an illusion, it might as well be real for all our heroes can do about it. I find I'm wondering what else they could actually have done -- suggestions welcome from all! Sitting tight and waiting for rescue isn't an option, and once they come to the conclusion they are being herded then trying to retreat to the hedge might not be possible either. It would of course also be a big setback: they would be forced to leave along the road with their departure noticed, which would be bad for the reasons Frodo explained in the last chapter. For me it adds to the scary story that the hobbits know it is all going wrong, but are helpless (or think they are helpless) to resist.

But in the end, as you say oliphaunt, "The third path leads into danger (Old Man Willow) and also to Tom and Goldberry's house." Tom later says that he was expecting them (news from Gildor), that he thought they would end up down by the withywindle, and that this was one of his last forays down there. Of course Tolkien needs to make his adventure work and so danger and rescue/escape are only to be expected. But I suppose it's also plausible to note that OMW's schemes only in the end serve to introduce the hobbits to Tom and Goldberry; and imagine this this was 'meant' to happen, by forces within Middle-earth, rather than just Tolkien plotting his tale.

Whether the hobbits learn immediately from this chapter's adventure is debatable. As I see it , they make similar mistakes on the Barrow Downs - misjudging the difficulties of their day's journey, and succumbing to external (magical) suggestions of sleep. And there's a similar feeling of running out of good options, and having to make the best of poor ones!

PS: you're reminding me that I one wrote an ee cummings parody about OMW, and managed to creep myself out quite effectively!


~~~~~~
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 )

(This post was edited by noWizardme on Dec 18 2021, 1:17pm)


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Dec 18 2021, 5:29pm

Post #5 of 10 (2416 views)
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Who believes trees can move around? My cousin Hal for one! [In reply to] Can't Post

Paths in the woods by my house shift around season to season, mostly the work of deer and turkeys, the occasional bear crashing through, and even some people. So OMW may have other help than the plants. And illusion as well.

I'll keep in mind the hopeful thought that positive outcomes are 'meant' to happen. Not fated, though encouraged by the free goodwill of characters scoring wins over the free ill will of others.

Will I find more examples of the 'Third time pays for all'?

Off to read your ee cummings X omw exposition.


GreenHillFox
The Shire


Dec 25 2021, 12:55pm

Post #6 of 10 (2215 views)
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I’m a bit late to react, but here is a thought. [In reply to] Can't Post

The very few paragraphs early in the chapter (from Crickhollow to the edge of the Old Forest) well succeeded to create a gloomy atmosphere of uncertainty and vague menace.

I liked the following three quotes (to illustrate this):

Everything was still, and far-away noises seemed near and clear: fowls chattering in a yard, someone closing a door of a distant house.

They mounted, and soon they were riding off into the mist, which seemed to open reluctantly before them and close forbiddingly behind them.

Merry got down and unlocked the gate, and when they had all passed through he pushed it to again. It shut with a clang, and the lock clicked. The sound was ominous.


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jan 3, 7:56pm

Post #7 of 10 (1952 views)
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Not sure that I can contribute much to the threes motif [In reply to] Can't Post

But there is a certain sense that the tale is meandering a bit at this point. Does it really take around 5 chapters to finally get to the chase between the Black riders and the Hobbits? One can certainly imagine an editor, or future film-maker thinking for goodness sake get on with it Mr Tolkien. Or is there something in these more sedate chapters?


oliphaunt
Rivendell


Jan 4, 12:55am

Post #8 of 10 (1941 views)
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Reluctant to leave the Shire [In reply to] Can't Post

Perhaps JRRT was reluctant to leave the Shire behind?

Even the Old Forest is lovely in it's way.

How often do the hobbits remember the Shire later on?

On Mt. Doom Sam asks "Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo? ... Do you remember the taste of strawberries?"

Frodo tells Bilbo "I miss the Shire. I spent all my life pretending I was off somewhere else."

Can readers learn to care about the hobbits and the Shire during this meander from Hobbiton to the edge of the Wild? How important is this longing for simple goodness and beauty?


squire
Half-elven


Jan 4, 1:59am

Post #9 of 10 (1947 views)
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Certainly Tolkien uses the first book to develop the hobbits and their world [In reply to] Can't Post

Many new readers, told to expect a heroic epic, have expressed surprise or even repugnance at Book I's leisurely pace to Rivendell, with one adventure about every other chapter, followed by a chapter of rescue, rest, and refreshment.

Tolkien himself was kind of winging it, as he had not yet really developed the scope or size of the book that finally resulted. These chapters are expanded from their model in The Hobbit, with its episodic "night, night, sleep tight" endings of each new chapter on the Road. As you say, the felicitous result is a loyal reader's deep understanding both of the hobbits and their roots in their land, and of their desperate need to develop some survival skills with each mile they trudge further from their cozy homeland.

I'm often reminded of this when critics of the New Line films carp about the omission of the Scouring chapter at the end - and yet never complain that the filmmakers cut the opening scenes of Shire lore and Shire folkways to the bone. Yet the rule of Sharkey and the Scouring, unless it is to be taken entirely as an allegory for the liberation of occupied France or the return of the Conservative Party to power in the early 50s or something, only makes sense as a commentary on the first five or six chapters of Fellowship, where indeed "readers learn to care about the hobbits and the Shire". To have filmed the second part of a frame like that, without providing the first part, would have made no sense on the internal narrative level and Jackson and Co. had the wit to know it.

Beware of using movie quotes to support arguments about how Tolkien crafted his story! In the book Sam in Mordor asks Frodo if he remembered the stewed rabbits of Ithilien, not the Shire. Likewise Tolkien's Frodo never pretended he was somewhere other than the Shire, in emulation of Bilbo - the closest I can think of what the writers were going for is Frodo's remark to Gandalf at Bag End that, although he often found the Shire stuffy and boring, and in need of an invasion of dragons, he would be glad to know it was still safely and boringly there behind him when he departed on his own Bilbo-like quest.



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


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BlackFox
Half-elven


Jan 26, 6:15pm

Post #10 of 10 (1361 views)
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'Twas a fun discussion! [In reply to] Can't Post

Can't believe it was seven years ago, though! Shocked

 
 

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