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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**Out of the Frying Pan...** Part I - 'The courage that had been awakened in him was now too strong'

Elizabeth
Valinor


Aug 14 2012, 4:40am

Post #1 of 6 (380 views)
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**Out of the Frying Pan...** Part I - 'The courage that had been awakened in him was now too strong' Can't Post

Greetings! I am posting this for sador, who is traveling. Per some messages between sador and squire, I have been asked to move ahead with "Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire", so herewith is sador's first post.

Bilbo had escaped the goblins, but he did not know where he was. He had lost hood, cloak, food, pony, his buttons and his friends. He wandered on and on, till the sun began to sink westwards-behind the mountains. Their shadows fell across Bilbo's path, and he looked back. Then he looked forward and could see before him only ridges and slopes falling towards lowlands and plains glimpsed occasionally between the trees.

  1. Now that's a surprise! Or is it? Didn't Gollum speak of "the Back Gate" as opposed to the goblins' "Our Front Porch"?

  2. Did you ever experience a similar sense of disorientation, and sudden revelation regarding were you are?

  3. Try to remember your first reading. Did you realize what was going on immediately – or did you need the next paragraph, in which Bilbo exclaims that he must have got to the other side of the Mountains?

  4. Can this moment of recognition be successfully presented on film? How?


  5. He still wandered on… but all the while a very uncomfortable thought was growing inside him. He wondered whether he ought not, now he had the magic ring, to go back into the horrible, horrible, tunnels and look for his friends. He had just made up his mind that it was his duty, that he must turn back-and very miserable he felt about it –

    But we'll stop here for the moment.

    This is, in my opinion, a no less than momentous occasion. It is another of several landmarks in Bilbo's career. It requires a tremendous and lonely courage (foreshadowing his courage in going down to the sleeping Smaug), as well as showing true concern for his companions. Well, they did (ineffectively) try to help him in the trolls episode, and did carry him in the goblins' tunnels – but they were a group; and nobody really expected such heroism from Bilbo. Silneldor called it one of Bilbo's_finest_moments, and I concur.

  6. How does this decision compare to other significant occasions? Is this one of your favourite Bilbo moments? What others do you have?

  7. The "horrible, horrible tunnels" contrast here very strongly with the pleasant scenery. Is this Tolkien's way of highlighting Bilbo's courage, or is this the standard fare among his descriptions of nature?

  8. Does this help you forget that after all, Bilbo is in a quandary – no food, no friends, alone in an unknown land?

  9. And a last point – the cloak and hood he had lost. These were Dwalin's, right? But aren't these the very hood and cloak he wore when finally leaving Bag-End? Where did he get them back from?


  10. Just to refresh your memory:

    From a locked drawer, smelling of moth-balls, he took out an old cloak and hood. They had been locked up as if they were very precious, but they were so patched and weatherstained that their original colour could hardly be guessed: it might have been dark green. They were rather too large for him.
    -- A Long-expected Party.




    Welcome to the discussion of ‘Out of the Frying-pan Into the Fire’! As I've said before, I am going to regret taking this upon myself – but at the same time will enjoy every minute.

    I have no time to discuss this chapter in the detail necessary to do it justice (a big thank you to Elizabeth for helping me post these!) – it is full of both beautiful description and action scenes, one of which is iconic enough to have been depicted often. Both Anderson and Rateliff have added several very interesting details and insights, and some comments by Shippey are also appropriate.

    Despite the hectic action this chapter as teeming with, neither of the previous discussions really took the simplest, linear approach. So I will. Obviously, I will not be able to discuss each incident like I did the opening paragraph; three or four questions per scene, two or three scenes per post – if I do more than that, I won't manage. It's up to you to fill the gaps.
    Regarding the previous readings – in March 2004, entmaiden led the discussion; twelve out of the thirteen threads she posted (not counting the open discussion) were about characters and peoples – Bilbo, Gandalf, the Dwarves, wargs, goblins and eagles – and one about the scenery. Here is a link to that discussion (scroll down to it), which unfortunately I have not yet had the opportunity to read through. Just to realize her achievement – this discussion followed another discussion, nineteen threads long, of Riddles in the Dark – which she also led! Hardy are our admins!

    I wasn't a member at the time – but I do remember the discussion of April-May 2009, led by batik. This included six threads (words and phrases, landscapes, stories told by characters, adventure until meeting the wargs, goblins and eagles, movie_questions) and was very interesting. I might re-use some ideas I got back then – from batik, or the others which participated.

    So that's (nearly) all for this thread. We have stopped with the voices Bilbo heard, which prevented him to go back into the goblin's tunnels. As you all know, the voices were those of Gandalf and the Dwarves. Before moving on, three stories will be told: the adventures of the dwarves until they escaped (told by Dori), Bilbo's account of his adventure with Gollum, and Gandalf telling of his part in this whole business. The next post will cover the first two stories.

    But before taking my leave, I want to return to Bilbo's choice. In her first post of the 2004 discussion, entmaiden seemed to think that returning to the tunnels was the obvious thing to do, and actually asked:

  11. Do you think the ring was influencing Bilbo’s reluctance to go back into the tunnels to look for his friends?
    Now that's a different approach! What do you think?







Join us NOW in the Reading Room for detailed discussions of The Hobbit, July 9-Nov. 18!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


CuriousG
Valinor


Aug 18 2012, 7:24pm

Post #2 of 6 (113 views)
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"Frying pan"--it's always about food! [In reply to] Can't Post

And buttons. I like the addition there. At this point in a long journey, I think most people would have stopped caring about their buttons. The reference is a good reminder of how Bilbo retains his Hobbiton self.

  • Now that's a surprise! Or is it? Didn't Gollum speak of "the Back Gate" as opposed to the goblins' "Our Front Porch"?
  • My question is: why is the west "Front" and the east "Back"?

    Did you ever experience a similar sense of disorientation, and sudden revelation regarding were you are?
    Every morning when I wake up. (Where's Darkstone? He's the one to say things like that.)

    Try to remember your first reading. Did you realize what was going on immediately – or did you need the next paragraph, in which Bilbo exclaims that he must have got to the other side of the Mountains?
    I was caught quite off-guard. But it's good in a way, because it has continuity with the riddles, most of which I didn't guess correctly. The narration here is like a riddle with a hint put in it.

  • Can this moment of recognition be successfully presented on film? How?
  • Not sure how, but I hope with some subtlety, not with Bilbo looking at the sunset and exclaiming, "Look! I'm on the other side!" Then trumpets blow, balloons are released, and a talking fox tells him he's right. This is how to mess up Tolkien.

  • How does this decision compare to other significant occasions? Is this one of your favourite Bilbo moments? What others do you have?
  • Now THIS ought to be on film somehow. Bilbo's personality is somewhat neutral to me--he seems okay, but I don't find myself liking him as I do the 4 main hobbits in LOTR. But moments like this, and his equally desperate attempt to join Thorin in the troll fight, make me like him as a character. To think of a Bag End Baggins going back to a goblin fortress from which, even with a magic ring!, he barely escaped with his life, with the sole purpose of saving his friends or dying in the process, makes him a cut above most people. We'll see in just a moment that the dwarves, who are more skilled in battle, are far more reluctant to go back and save Bilbo, and it's another point in his favor that he doesn't hold a grudge against them for their lack of reciprocal loyalty, isn't it? Thanks for focusing on this episode, which is brief but important, like most of Tolkien's character development scenes.

  • The "horrible, horrible tunnels" contrast here very strongly with the pleasant scenery. Is this Tolkien's way of highlighting Bilbo's courage, or is this the standard fare among his descriptions of nature?
  • Both.

    And a last point – the cloak and hood he had lost. These were Dwalin's, right? But aren't these the very hood and cloak he wore when finally leaving Bag-End? Where did he get them back from?
    Since his original cloak & hood were a spare set, I think he got another spare one. Good catch.

  • Do you think the ring was influencing Bilbo’s reluctance to go back into the tunnels to look for his friends?
  • I think one could make a good argument for this, but I'd also say that Bilbo, like most people, felt plenty of his own reluctance.


    sador
    Half-elven


    Aug 22 2012, 11:35am

    Post #3 of 6 (40 views)
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    I forgot to ask this! [In reply to] Can't Post

    But I intended to. Blush



    In Reply To
    My question is: why is the west "Front" and the east "Back"?


    I agree. It doesn't make sense, does it? Especially in The Hobbit, but in general we would expect the goblins to come from the east - and that is where their allies lives, don't they? And their main gate is in a different mountain pass. Oh well.

    "In the morning Bilbo misses breakfast. – is this the most unbelievable part of this chapter?"
    - Elven



    The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for a somewhat less clever discussion of Queer Lodgings!


    dernwyn
    Forum Admin / Moderator


    Aug 23 2012, 2:24am

    Post #4 of 6 (57 views)
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    Front and back [In reply to] Can't Post

    1. Now that's a surprise! Or is it? Didn't Gollum speak of "the Back Gate" as opposed to the goblins' "Our Front Porch"?

    Well, the terms "Porch" and "Gate" fit those entrances; and since Bilbo had come in what they called "Front", then if he went out the "Back", one would assume that he'd gone through the mountains! But that is a good question from CuriousG: why is west "Front", and east "Back"? I wonder if it had more to do with elevation than location. On Bilbo's return journey, when he stops at the place where the "Front Porch" is/was, he can see Mirkwood and beyond - so the "Front" entrance must have been at the highest point on the path. The "Back" entrance is much lower down.

    5. How does this decision compare to other significant occasions? Is this one of your favourite Bilbo moments?

    Bilbo's moment of courage here hadn't really occurred to me before! I had thought of it as a "what else is there to do" moment, since he was wandering and alone. Die of starvation in the wilderness, or return and try to find someone - anyone? Think of the possibilities: he could have ended up invisibly haunting the goblins' dwelling, just as he would the elvenking's halls later!

    And the Ring, at this point, if it had any influence at all, would have been encouraging Bilbo to return, in order for a more "suitable" creature to "find" it.

    8. And a last point – the cloak and hood he had lost. These were Dwalin's, right? But aren't these the very hood and cloak he wore when finally leaving Bag-End? Where did he get them back from?

    I first realized this a few years ago, and it bothered me, so I've had to assume that Bilbo came by another cloak and hood, probably in Laketown, which was still a bit too large for his hobbit stature. But this is another moment of the author "falling asleep", as it's rather obvious Tolkien intended these to be Dwalin's original garments.

    And speaking of garments and authors, Tolkien did originally intend for Bilbo to acquire a pair of boots in Rivendell for wearing while journeying in Wilderland, but has admitted he forgot to include this fact in the text! His picture of Bilbo with Smaug, you may recall, clearly shows the hobbit with footwear.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "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




    sador
    Half-elven


    Aug 23 2012, 8:53am

    Post #5 of 6 (33 views)
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    That's good. [In reply to] Can't Post


    In Reply To
    I wonder if it had more to do with elevation than location. On Bilbo's return journey, when he stops at the place where the "Front Porch" is/was, he can see Mirkwood and beyond - so the "Front" entrance must have been at the highest point on the path. The "Back" entrance is much lower down.





    Regarding the boots - they just won't do. Gollum would have heard Bilbo, and I expect that in Mirkwood he would also be heard, as well as in the Elvenking's Halls. Even buying a pair in Esgaroth seems silly - did he really expect to creep down quietly to Smaug wearing a pair of boots, and a new one to boot?


    "In the morning Bilbo misses breakfast. – is this the most unbelievable part of this chapter?"
    - Elven



    The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for a somewhat less clever discussion of Queer Lodgings!


    dernwyn
    Forum Admin / Moderator


    Aug 23 2012, 11:26am

    Post #6 of 6 (139 views)
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    They would not be [In reply to] Can't Post

    as silent as a pair of bare hobbit-feet, would they! For this reason, it's just as well that Tolkien forgot about writing them into the text.

    I just took a look in Annotated Hobbit at Tolkien's illustrations, "Sketch for The Forest River" and "Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves", and sure enough, that Hobbit is wearing boots!

    I'd love to sit down with Tolkien in a pub somewhere and discuss this with him...


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "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



     
     

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