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LotR Free Discussion: Are there any moral dilemmas in Middle-earth?
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entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 20 2009, 4:09am

Post #51 of 73 (200 views)
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Oh, no. It's a Reading Room [In reply to] Can't Post

tradition to contradict yourself. So you're fitting right in -- Welcome!

And your point about Elrond and Gandalf not facing a moral dilemma at the Council of Elrond is very interesting. Since the only possible solution was to let Frodo destroy the Ring, maybe they didn't face a moral dilemma!

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Radhruin
Rohan


Mar 20 2009, 7:38am

Post #52 of 73 (206 views)
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I wonder [In reply to] Can't Post

what you mean by having no "pressing function to serve by living". After everything is confusion, and the people 'you might have saved' are gone, might you not be the best person to lead a remnant to salvage what is left? Or maybe support the leader who remains? (I'm speaking as a single person who has none of the ties you speak of (spouse, children, parent, etc...) I don't find my life to be more expendable than any one other person's life in that circumstance.

Was Frodo seeing Middle Earth as ceasing to exist if he didn't complete the task, literally, as opposed to being corrupted by Sauron? If the former, than I can see his not taking the charge of the ring as cowardice. If the latter it most certainly is not. Since he would (or could) have the hope of attempting to correct it.

I see Frodo's choice as a moral dilemma, precisely because he was free. His life is as valuable (in the future perhaps) as any family member's, intellectual or political worth might be at the moment.

I don't see it as a moral versus practical choice at all. Frodo could morally have chosen to decline to take the Ring. To save himself if nothing else.

"Too many times we've been postally pipped
We've loaded the saddles, the mickeys are slipped
We're swapping the turf for the sand and the surf and the sin
'Cause the fix, the fix is in..."

~Elbow


sador
Half-elven

Mar 20 2009, 9:10am

Post #53 of 73 (176 views)
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Welcome! [In reply to] Can't Post

Just one clarifying question:
How did Frodo "come to the same conclusion as Gandalf and Elrond"?
Once he got there, sure. For him, it was not a moral decision as much as a question of strength. That is what Sam said; and you might argue that offering Galadriel the Ring was more of a moral failure than Mount Doom!

But I am more interested in Gandalf and Elrond at this point. We seem to accept too readily their position that sending Frodo to Mordor was the only option.
And even if they are sure beyond doubt (a certanity which should terrify any modern reader, living in a world with no direct communication with God) - didn't they manipulate him into taking the Quest?
Was it right to place that burden on him - sacrifice him, in effect, for the desperate gamble that they cannot see any way out of?
I think these two faced the greatest moral dilemma in the book. And it is a very fine line they are trading on.

In the Council, Erestor calls this choice the way of despair, and nearly calls it folly. Oddly enough, Gandalf accepts the tag "folly", but rejects "despair" - because he sees a single way out: the madness which Boromir speaks of, identifying it quite correctly as sending a witless halfling into Mordor, and giving the Enemy every chance of recovering that which he had once lost.
It is interesting that despair is worse than folly (see how Denethor is condemned), and also that Tolkien manages to sell a modern audience this idea. But is it morally defensible to sacrfice an innocent hobbit for the sake of your folly?

"Half a sticky mile from here to the gate!" - Pippin


Jerene
Registered User

Mar 20 2009, 4:25pm

Post #54 of 73 (166 views)
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Thanks for the welcome [In reply to] Can't Post

These are interesting questions. I think that Frodo came to the same conclusion as Gandalf and Elrond in two ways - one of which you could say was through "manipulation" or at least through listening to the well-planned arguments laid out at the council by Gandalf and Elrond, the other, not. In my reading, Tolkien often proposes two (or more) motivations or reasons, etc.

First, I view Frodo as not quite the "innocent" small, hobbit he may have been before leaving the Shire. The following are just my interpretations, but I find it distracting to qualify with "I think" or "I believe" in every sentence, so please just consider it implied. Smile He has been told by Gandalf in the Shire that the ring is evil, it turns everything to evil, a mortal wearing it will fade eventually, and live as a wraith. Then, he has experienced the barrowwight incident, and the wounding at Weathertop. Wearing the ring, he has seen the Ringwraiths, and heard them say they intend to take him to Sauron. Gandalf told him in their conversation upon wakening in Rivendell that the Ringwraiths were trying to turn him into a wraith, and that he would have been taken to Sauron to be tortured, not least of which by seeing the ring on Sauron's finger. Gandalf is not sugar-coating the quest at all or talking to Frodo like a small, insignificant hobbit to be used in his plans. Gandalf does not make the mistake of viewing Frodo, or the other hobbits, as lesser beings because of size. He sees Frodo has changed, he recognizes that he will continue to change, but doesn't think he will end up evil. The scene of the Council could be read as one big manipulation by Gandalf and Elrond, but it can also be read as both Gandalf and Elrond viewing Frodo as intelligent and capable of making an independent decision based on the information presented. As to the question of whether the ring should be destroyed or used or hidden, Frodo has actually more insight and knowledge than anyone at the Council. Only he has worn the ring, carried the ring, faced the most dreadful servants of Sauron while wearing the ring. He concludes independently that it must be destroyed, certainly not used as a weapon. At some point (I think to Faramir) he even says he would have nothing to do with such a plan.


I agree though, that Frodo probably has to take at face-value Gandalf and Elrond's assertions about the other options of either hiding the ring at Rivendell or Lorien, or sending the Ring to across the sea or just dropping it in the sea, but I don't see any reason to doubt their assertions that those options would not work. Elrond states that he is not strong enough at Rivendell to resist a direct attack by Sauron, and that Lorien is not, either. I can't see anything in the text to support an argument that he is wrong on this point. The elves at the Council state that the Valar would not accept the ring, that it is a problem of Middle Earth. Considering that the Valar sent the wizards to Middle Earth, and make no other attempt to join directly in the fight against Sauron, I think this seems to be accurate, thus, sending the Ring over the sea is not a true option.

Elrond argues that dropping it in the sea would at best delay the problem. Even if dropping it in the sea would work, I think the same question as to who would take it has to be answered, and I think the same result - Frodo - would have to be reached. Frodo has the ring. All the talk of "we could send it" or "we could drop it in the sea" aside, "we" really means "one person to carry the ring" because only one person can carry the ring. Handing the ring to Gandalf or Elrond or Glorfindel or Aragorn or any other powerful person in Rivendell so that person can take the ring to drop in the sea surely carries the same problem as having them take it to use, or hide, or carry to Mordor. They know that they are incapable of carrying the ring for any purpose without succumbing to the power and becoming just another Sauron. That fact, though, is one that I think has to be accepted for the storyline to work - any powerful person carrying the ring will become a dark lord; only a less powerful person who still has strength enough to resist the power for at least long enough for the journey can carry the ring. Elrond (I think) states that the journey to the sea would still be dangerous, and does not address the problem of Sauron remaining in existance in Middle Earth. Sauron, even without the ring, can eventually destroy Gondor, Rohan, the Shire, and eventually even Rivendell and Lorien, since they have admitted they could not resist a direct attack forever. It will take him longer without the ring, but he can still accomplish it with his armies. Which is why this option is rejected. As long as this is true, then I don't think that stating so to Frodo is manipulation, it is just the truth. Frodo appears wise enough to understand this.

Which is why I don't see Gandalf and Elrond as having a true "moral dilemma" using the criteria that both options (or all options) must be morally defensible. It cannot be morally defensible to choose a bearer who will become another dark lord, just as dangerous to Middle Earth as Sauron. Although certainly Gandalf and Elrond do not want to become a dark lord for their own good, it is also for the good of Middle Earth. So, what is the other morally defensible option? Another bearer? It can't be one of the strong, powerful persons at Rivendel (i.e., not morally defensible because it would set up another Sauron), it can't be Bilbo - he is too old and weak now, and bore the ring too long to be able to withstand the power for the long trek to Mordor. Could it be one of the dwarfs? The implication is no, but that may be Elvish prejudice. Smile In any case, if it can't be one of the powerful, then I think the facts presented do lead to Frodo as the only option. He has experience, he has resisted putting on the ring while facing the Ringwraiths (at least at the ford), and he actually currently has the Ring, which is another plus. Even if Gandalf and Elrond chose someone else, it is Frodo who must give it up. Can he even do that at this point? The only other possible option of sending the ring to the Sea is not morally defensible, because Sauron has been able to grow in strength, and can now pose a terrible threat to all Middle Earth, even without the ring. Thus, destroying the ring is the only option which holds the promise of destroying Sauron and resulting in at least some of the free peoples surviving.

If Frodo is wise enough to understand the task, then understanding these arguments should not be beyond his abilities. I think he is shown to be wise enough. I think Gandalf and Elrond (and Aragorn and Galadriel, and probably others) realize that Frodo is more than an innocent hobbit now, and they treat him with respect and as a wise individual, albeit not as powerful as they are.

The second reason that I see for Frodo accepting the quest is that Frodo (like Sam) "knew" he was "meant" to carry the ring to Mordor. It was his task, just as Sam knew, even back in the Shire, that he had a job to do that was outside the Shire, and that was going all the way with Mr. Frodo. Frodo knew it all along, even though he didn't want it to be true, which is why at the Council, just before he says he will take the ring, he feels he is waiting for some doom that he long has foreseen and hoped in vain would not happen (or something close to that). Was it the "manipulative" arguments by Elrond and Gandalf, or just Frodo's "fate," "destiny," the plan of the Valar or Illuvatar, the plan of the one who meant Bilbo to find the ring, and meant the ring to come to Frodo, and who was not the ring's maker? Tolkien offers the long (really, really, really long - when I was 13, I thought the Council of Elrond chapter would never end), well-reasoned, practical arguments of why the ringbearer should be Frodo, and then tosses in, off-handedly, the spiritual truth that it is meant to be by the off-scene "One". I just love it!


Jerene
Registered User

Mar 20 2009, 4:31pm

Post #55 of 73 (174 views)
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Thank you for the welcome [In reply to] Can't Post

I am glad it is Reading Room tradition to self-contradict. I hope I do fit in!

I posted (in an overly long post) more about my thoughts on Elrond and Gandalf. I do believe that the only real option was the destruction of the ring, which negates a true moral dilemma.

Of course, another example of moral dilemma that I overlooked before was Aragorn after the breaking of the fellowship. To follow Frodo and Sam or to try to save Merry and Pippin. Both morally correct, and he obviously struggles with the fact that he cannot do both.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 20 2009, 6:09pm

Post #56 of 73 (158 views)
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You may have a point [In reply to] Can't Post

If Frodo thought that he could also serve by mounting a resistance to the spread of Sauron into the Shire, that might give the question a moral spin. And in fact, in his absence, Lotho's takeover of Bag End proved disastrous. Did Frodo, perchance, forsee that outcome? Did he know just how far his cousin could sink without other members of the family to take him in hand? I personally don't think he could have foreseen the consequences of his departure, but there's enough ambiguity where I could see someone else considering it.

I was looking at the dilemma as carry the Ring, or do nothing of any near equivalent significance. But if he knew that leaving his cousin in charge of the family estate was like leaving a candle unattended in a pile of tinder, then yes, he did have a moral dilemma.

Which brings to mind another moral dilemma in the book: Sam looking into the Mirror of Galadriel. He saw the Shire ruined and his Gaffer made homeless in his absence. He had to decide whether it was more moral to go home and defend his family and his native land, or go on and help Frodo complete his quest. He made his decision, but not easily, and not without consequences.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 20 2009, 6:20pm

Post #57 of 73 (189 views)
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Brilliant argument! [In reply to] Can't Post

You have changed my perspective on several points, not least on the dignity and maturity of hobbits.

I have one small disagreement. I still think that Elrond and Gandalf faced a moral dilemma, because although Frodo turned out to be the best candidate for the job, it took a lot of reasoning and questioning of alternatives to get there--they resolved the dilemma, but that does not make it any less of a dilemma to begin with. And no matter which way you look at it, they had to expose somebody to irresistable corruption, for the greater good. That's a moral dilemma no matter who goes forth.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 20 2009, 7:24pm

Post #58 of 73 (171 views)
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I see it more as gaining consensus [In reply to] Can't Post

instead of resolving the dilemma. Elrond and Gandalf may have had a good understanding that Frodo needed to be the person to volunter to take the Ring, but they had to bring everyone else along without seeming to impose their will. If they had started out by saying that Frodo was the best answer, they would have met with universal opposition, including from Frodo himself. Instead, they had to bring everyone up to speed on what had happened to the Ring, to the dwarves, to Gollum and to Gandalf, then they had to examine the various alternatives available to them. It was the process of the discussion that generated the outcome, not the actual information put before the Council.

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Jerene
Registered User

Mar 20 2009, 7:35pm

Post #59 of 73 (179 views)
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dilemmas [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, thanks! I like the hobbits. I think that one of Gandalf's real strengths was his ability to look beyond the size and food-and-pipe lovingness of the hobbits and see real potential and worth. The hobbits have their own set of faults, like all the Middle Earth races, but they are just as strong as any in their own way.

I think we actually agree on the point about Elrond and Gandalf more than disagree; the only difference seems to be in what is considered a morally defensible alternative. I think they definitely had a difficult choice, or rather, that accepting that only one choice was possible was difficult, because that choice was so dangerous to Frodo and the Company. But viewing it from the moral dilemma definition I was working from - that you have two (or more) options that both (or all) are morally defensible (i.e., could result in the saving of some people or in some good result), but cannot both be taken. In this situation, not choosing a bearer (not exposing somebody to irresistible corruption) is not a morally defensible option, in my view, because the ring doesn't get destroyed or have a chance of being destroyed, Sauron still exists, and eventually all free peoples will be destroyed or overcome by Sauron. So, basically, it is a terrible choice to have to make to send someone, which is why they took the time to reason and question and discuss at great length, yes, but one without any true, helpful, alternatives. So no real moral dilemma, as in the train example - you can stop the train from killing one or stop the train from killing five, but you will definitely save one or five, and can be morally defensible. Here, they had one chance, although a slim one, of saving Middle Earth. No other option would result in the saving of anyone in the long run. So, in my view, the choice wasn't for the 'greater good' but for the 'only chance of any good' coming out of it.

I also slightly disagree with the idea that Elrond and Gandalf exposed Frodo to the ring's corruption. Bilbo found the ring when he was alone. Gandalf was not present. Once Bilbo had it, even after he told Gandalf about it, it was not for Gandalf to take it from him. He could advise about it, but not take it. At the time of Bilbo's party, Gandalf had begun to suspect (if I have any problems accepting the story-verse, this is the big one. Really? Gandalf knew Bilbo had found a golden ring that could make him disappear, and it took, what, over 60 years before he considered whether could this be the missing "one ring" and followed up on it? Did he never mention it to Elrond, who maybe would have said, hey, that ring Isildur cut from Sauron's hand at the Last Alliance battle was a plain gold ring) about the ring, but didn't know for certain at the time he encouraged Bilbo to leave the ring to Frodo. Was it Gandalf's idea or Bilbo's? It seems to have been first Bilbo's idea, because part of him wanted to get away from the ring, even though he found it hard to do. Certainly Gandalf agreed. I don't know if you can say Gandalf exposed Frodo to the ring's corruption or Bilbo did, but either way, not Elrond. By the time Frodo gets to Rivendell, the ring is in his possession. Unless there is another feasible alternative bearer, which is not the case, in my view, what can they do? It was not by Elrond or Gandalf's actions that the ring was found, and only indirectly did Gandalf influence the ring coming to Frodo. In my view, neither Elrond or Gandalf exposed anybody to the irresistible corruption of the ring. That was just the unfortunate result of it having been found. Now that it has been found, a decision has to be made about what to do with it.

Also, I strongly feel that a major reason the bearer had to be Frodo was that Frodo had it already. Could he have handed it over, at that point? Bilbo was the only one who was able to give up the ring to another voluntarily. Even if Frodo could have maybe done so, would it have been a huge risk to ask him? What if he couldn't do it and starts to give in to the corruption of the ring at the mere threat of someone else taking it? He saw Bilbo as a orc-like creature when Bilbo just wanted to see it. Can you then say, okay, never mind, you be the bearer, Frodo. You wouldn't want to risk starting the quest with a fight in Rivendell over the ring.

I think Gandalf does feel the strain of having Frodo, one of his beloved hobbits, taking on the horrible quest. I think it is why he chooses to be one of the Fellowship, to help him with the burden for as long as he can. But I don't think any of it is a moral dilemma in the sense that there was another morally defensible option.


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 21 2009, 12:35am

Post #60 of 73 (224 views)
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Another good point! [In reply to] Can't Post

I hadn't thought of it that way, but yes, you're right. Frodo had already come into the Ring's influence without any help from the Wise.

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


Nerdanel
Rivendell


Mar 21 2009, 6:33am

Post #61 of 73 (222 views)
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Throw Frodo from the Train [In reply to] Can't Post

A thing that bothers me about the onrushing train dilemma is that the (I guess) generally accepted "right" answer is to divert the train from the five so it kills the one. What this really amounts to is deliberately killing the one. The explanation, that doing so would save five, relies on something approaching hubris--it assumes the actor is able to know for certain what the future holds. Otherwise the choice must be seen as kill the one or not kill the one. Which may be, morally, the only way to look at it.

To the extent that Gandalf and Elrond "know" that sending Frodo to Mordor with the Ring is the only solution, they should also "know" that Frodo will be unable to throw the Ring into the Fire--Gandalf had already seen that he was unable to throw the ring into the fireplace at Bag End. For the scheme to even appear to be a solution, at least one other member of the Fellowship--or maybe all of them--should have had instructions to divert the train--to toss Frodo, Ring and all, into the Crack of Doom. But that would be affirmatively causing evil, not just failing to prevent it. In Tolkien's world, there would be no last minute gift of grace to save that plan.

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Jerene
Registered User

Mar 21 2009, 11:51am

Post #62 of 73 (158 views)
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Hang on Frodo [In reply to] Can't Post

Darkstone wrote that most ethicists would say the correct answer is to not divert the train, because in that case you are actively causing the death of one, instead of passively allowing the death of five. I also remember a similar example about an overcrowded lifeboat.

That is the problem - how to destroy something that has the quality of making its bearer not want to let go of it without destroying the bearer as well. It does make you wonder if a conversation like that between Gandalf and Elrond may have taken place. I think, though, that neither of them would actively divert the train, and would not counsel any other member of the company to do it, either. It seems to be more of a "this is the plan that all signs point to, and so a way will be found" attitude.

I suppose another way of considering it is that, affirmatively, Frodo is more akin to the five in the path of the train, rather than the one you could save by diverting it. He already has the ring. The best you can do without actively giving another the worst present in the history of Middle Earth is to coach Frodo to keep running until it can hopefully be derailed at Mount Doom.

Which leads back to the original thought about moral dilemma. I don't think that I believe there is a moral dilemma in choosing what to do because no other plan (story internally) has a chance of saving ultimately anyone in Middle Earth. But the dilemma about choosing a bearer could be one. In which case Frodo chose to stay on the train without allowing it to be diverting to another, because that would actively put that person in danger. He already had it, it was not his fault that he had it, but could he give it to another, even one who had the same goal of going to the Cracks, without acting unethically? I still do not believe that it was just Gandalf and Elrond's choice. They could advise, but not forcibly take it from Frodo. But even if they were the ones who could make the ultimate decision, then I suppose the ethical decision would be to leave it with Frodo and counsel him the best they could, rather than actively diverting the ring to another.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 21 2009, 1:41pm

Post #63 of 73 (141 views)
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The process of discussion [In reply to] Can't Post

It seems that way to me, also. Bring all the facts forward, discuss the options, eliminate the obvious failures, and whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the solution (to borrow from Sherlock Holmes).

And there's one other thing. Gandalf - and Elrond - knew that Frodo had already been "sacrificed" by the wound received at Weathertop: "He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can."

Was putting Frodo on this Quest their way of ensuring his "redemption"?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 21 2009, 2:17pm

Post #64 of 73 (150 views)
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Oooh! Interesting thought [In reply to] Can't Post

What would happen to Frodo if he didn't go? Would the wound from Weathertop (lots of alliteration there!) eventually consume him?

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Darkstone
Immortal


Mar 21 2009, 3:04pm

Post #65 of 73 (193 views)
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Why Frodo? [In reply to] Can't Post

After 17 years of possession of the ring, the weakening stabbing at Weathertop, and the pyschological submission to the Nazgul at the ford ("Here I am! I've stopped running! Come and get me!") it would seem more appropriate to pass along the ring to a fresh hobbit. Say, Merry. After all, that's why M&P, and even Sam were really brought along: spare hobbits.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.



entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 21 2009, 6:09pm

Post #66 of 73 (178 views)
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You could ask that of anyone at the Council [In reply to] Can't Post

and that was partially discussed in the consideration of alternatives. Clearly Frodo had the best mix of characteristics that made him the best choice, even though he wasn't ideal. The other members of the Fellowship were sent along as spares, even though some of them had a different task that happened to be in the same direction as Mordor.

Despite Frodo's hardships, it appears that Elrond and Gandalf still considered him the best choice, or at least the least bad of the choices available.

Each cloak was fastened about the neck with a brooch like a green leaf veined with silver.
`Are these magic cloaks?' asked Pippin, looking at them with wonder.
`I do not know what you mean by that,' answered the leader of the Elves.


NARF since 1974.
Balin Bows


Dreamdeer
Valinor


Mar 22 2009, 12:14am

Post #67 of 73 (116 views)
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Thank you for a terrific discussion, Curious! [In reply to] Can't Post

 

Life is beautiful and dangerous! Beware! Enjoy!


sador
Half-elven

Mar 22 2009, 6:46am

Post #68 of 73 (123 views)
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I like that thought! [In reply to] Can't Post

Was putting Frodo on this Quest their way of ensuring his "redemption"?

But I think we should notice, that on October 6th Frodo seems to be after in great pain, so perhaps he wasn't redeemed completely? And on March 1420 he is really taken by the dark.
So your idea depends on how we see his sailing to the West, and in a way on how we read his words to Farmer Cotton when he was ill that March. We discussed that here.

{Despite Darkstone's brilliant post, I still think my answer on that thread was right; also, I misremembered that discussion, and thought nobody mentioned The Sea Bell in that context - but it turns out that a.s. did. Kudos to her!}

"Half a sticky mile from here to the gate!" - Pippin


Entwife Wandlimb
Lorien


Mar 22 2009, 10:37pm

Post #69 of 73 (133 views)
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The price of mercy [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
Was Theoden right in letting Grima go free? I agree, there was no harm done. But was Treebeard right in letting Saruman and Grima?


I think this is an example of a theme throughout LotR of the tension between justice and mercy. It is most clearly stated when Gandalf advises Frodo in TT "be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice" (book IV, p 221). It concludes when Sharkey/Saruman tries to kill Frodo in the Shire. Frodo, now fully aware of his own need for mercy and the personal benefits of bestowing it, is determined in his pity. Surrounded by the ruined Shire and the freshly spilled blood of Hobbits, Sam and the others want justice but Frodo is confident.

"No, Sam!" said Frodo, "Do not kill him even now. For he has not hurt me, And in any case I do not wish him to be slain in this evil mood. He was great once, of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands against. He is fallen, and his cure is beyond us; but I would still spare him, in the hope that he may find it."


He does not find it. Saruman is soon murdered and we see that there is justice that does not rely upon us to mete it out. Still, mercy has it's price, too.


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 23 2009, 12:22am

Post #70 of 73 (152 views)
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I suspect that if he didn't [In reply to] Can't Post

go West, he could never have been fully healed from it.

I wonder, if he had stayed in Middle-earth, if he would have died before fading to wraith-form? But it would have become a more and more miserable life...


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Mar 23 2009, 12:38am

Post #71 of 73 (114 views)
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The quest would not have [In reply to] Can't Post

given him redemption, but instead, I think, put him on the path to it, and ensured his passage West, the only place where full healing could happen.

Arwen's "relinquishing" of her seat on the ship to him was, to me, said more to reassure him than as an actual exchange of places; he had already "earned" the right to go, as had Sam!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
"I desired dragons with a profound desire"

"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915


a.s.
Valinor


Mar 23 2009, 10:25am

Post #72 of 73 (99 views)
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Wanda!! Good to see you in the RR. // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"an seileachan"

Madeleine L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME was rejected 29 times. Just a thought, when feeling discouraged.


Call Her Emily


Entwife Wandlimb
Lorien


Mar 24 2009, 8:11pm

Post #73 of 73 (200 views)
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Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

I've missed the place and you all. NE Brigand made me think someone was impersonating me when I saw replies to my posts emails the other day. Maybe I can have some self-control and participate in moderation rather than quitting cold turkey.

Nice to find you all are just starting The Hobbit. Glad to see you are still here, a.s.

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