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** Flies and Spiders: 4. "hark to the singing and the harps" **

N.E. Brigand
Half-elven


Sep 4 2012, 5:26am

Post #1 of 3 (463 views)
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** Flies and Spiders: 4. "hark to the singing and the harps" ** Can't Post

Next morning the food has run out, and though they can hear that it is raining, the water doesn't penetrate the thick forest canopy. Then Bombur awakes, but he remembers nothing since leaving Bywater. He recounts an enchanted dream of a royal woodland feast, but the other dwarves don't want to hear about food. The party walks one more day, and then Bombur will go no further. As they argue, Balin spots a distant fire. They leave the path to investigate, and discover an elvish feast, but when they step into the clearing, the fire goes out and the elves disappear. Some time after Bilbo and the dwarves find each other in the dark, Dori spots another fire. Again the feasting elves vanish in darkness, but this time Bilbo, chosen by the dwarves to represent them, falls into an enchanted asleep from which he is woken only with difficulty. The whole process repeats once more after Kili sees another fire hours later, and Thorin steps into the festivities, but this time our heroes lose each other, and Bilbo hears distant cries of distress before he is left alone in the dark.

Have they actually run out of water as well as food, or does their thirst indicate they are merely (!) on very short rations?

Why does Bombur wake up at this point? Does it have anything to do with the rain? Why does Tolkien choose this moment for Bombur to wake up?

Is the spell meant to wear off with time, or is it expected that everyone who falls asleep will drown in the stream?

Why does Bombur lose his memory of events since the first chapter?

Does the reference to "tuppence" tell us anything about coinage in the world of The Hobbit?

Couldn't Beorn have provided the party with an axe to go with the bows and arrows? It would have helped with getting across the stream (to build a raft) or to clear a space here for access to the rain!

By counting words, I find that the very middle of The Hobbit are the two words "the ground" in this sentence: "After a good deal of creeping and crawling they peered round the trunks and looked into a clearing where some trees had been felled and the ground leveled." That fact may have had more significance when Peter Jackson was adapting the book into two films rather than three. (This is just an observation; I don't have a question here.)

Why don't the moths and bats mob the elves' fires as they had the dwarves' earlier in the chapter?

Do elves in The Hobbit not hear as well as elves in The Lord of the Rings shouldn't they notice the dwarves approaching?

Why do none of the dwarves fall into an enchanted sleep when they disturb the first feast?

Bilbo is thrust into the second feast before he can put on his ring of invisibility. Does this show that he ought to have told the dwarves about it before?

Would the ring have protected him from the enchantment?

Why don't Bilbo and Thorin lose their memory like Bombur?

Are the three elvish feasts separately-planned events, or one event that gets rescheduled twice? The king is only seen at the last and grandest affair.

Is there any significance to the specific dwarves who spot the fires?

What would happen if, instead of stepping into the glade, one of the dwarves had called out to the elves for help?

"Loud and clear and fair were those songs, and out stepped Thorin in to their midst." What does that sentence really mean?

Bilbo thinks he hears his companions' distant "yells and cries for help". Was Tolkien evoking this scene when he described Frodo's experience on the Barrow-downs?

Further thoughts on this section?

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sador
Half-elven


Sep 4 2012, 6:47am

Post #2 of 3 (222 views)
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Not late this time! [In reply to] Can't Post

Have they actually run out of water as well as food, or does their thirst indicate they are merely (!) on very short rations?
Once you are on short rations, and hear the rain pouring but it doesn't reach you - you remember that you are thirsty indeed.

Why does Bombur wake up at this point?

Persumably they cast him down with exasperation, the dwarves carrying him trying to rummage through their packs for anything.

Does it have anything to do with the rain?
Might have been.

Ah, the glories of rain, which not even Ulmo thought of by himself...

Why does Tolkien choose this moment for Bombur to wake up?
It lessens the dwarwes burden, at least.


Is the spell meant to wear off with time, or is it expected that everyone who falls asleep will drown in the stream?
Naturally, they would drown. Bombur is strong and with high vitality, while the dwarves are steafast and loyal!

Why does Bombur lose his memory of events since the first chapter?
The spell doesn't leave one unscathed.

A few monthe ago, I suggested that only at this stage did Bombur turn into the comic figure he later cuts. And Tolkien is merciless to him.

Does the reference to "tuppence" tell us anything about coinage in the world of The Hobbit?
No, in the world of the narrator. Which is clearly England.

Couldn't Beorn have provided the party with an axe to go with the bows and arrows?
He didn't think of it.
Thorin might have, but Dwarves begging a werebear for an axe? The humiliation!

It would have helped with getting across the stream (to build a raft) or to clear a space here for access to the rain!
How? Would they climb to the tree-tops and clear them?


In Reply To
By counting words, I find that the very middle of The Hobbit are the two words "the ground" in this sentence: "After a good deal of creeping and crawling they peered round the trunks and looked into a clearing where some trees had been felled and the ground leveled." That fact may have had more significance when Peter Jackson was adapting the book into two films rather than three. (This is just an observation; I don't have a question here.)


Knowing you, I kind of expected this type of observation.

Why don't the moths and bats mob the elves' fires as they had the dwarves' earlier in the chapter?
Several tried; the rest have learned from that experience.

Do elves in The Hobbit not hear as well as elves in The Lord of the Rings shouldn't they notice the dwarves approaching?
How do you know they didn't?

Why do none of the dwarves fall into an enchanted sleep when they disturb the first feast?
Only the first stepped into the clearing.
Did you notice that the dwarves (or Bilbo) get progressively nearer each time, before the lights go out?

Bilbo is thrust into the second feast before he can put on his ring of invisibility. Does this show that he ought to have told the dwarves about it before?
That's a nice observation!

Would the ring have protected him from the enchantment?
Did the lights really go out by magic? Someone kicked out the sparks of the first feast, implying that the fire was real.

Why don't Bilbo and Thorin lose their memory like Bombur?
It wasn't the same enchantment - definitely not in terms of power!

Are the three elvish feasts separately-planned events, or one event that gets rescheduled twice? The king is only seen at the last and grandest affair.
I would say the second was the first relocated, as just feasting of a hunting party. Whereas the third was an important event - the end of summer's feast.

Is there any significance to the specific dwarves who spot the fires?
It's nice to see that Dori was not permanently demoted. And Kili has persumably the second-best eyes, so perhaps he saw the fire from far off (for once, Tolkien uses him rather than Fili).

Will Kili be smitten by Tauriel in this scene? Do I really want to know?

What would happen if, instead of stepping into the glade, one of the dwarves had called out to the elves for help?
This might have helped; but I wouldn;t count on it.

"Loud and clear and fair were those songs, and out stepped Thorin in to their midst." What does that sentence really mean?
Literally, that Thorin stepped into the midst of the feasting Elves. Which means that he was far more professional than Bilbo, or that they were far more distracted. It also means the Elvish guards are, um, second-rate - which will be used by Bilbo in the next chapter; however, the guards in A Thief at Night seem to know their business well.

Metaphorically, these are Avari singing of the time when the world was fair and free, and the first Elves where left alone, and not intruded upon by strangers whether good or evil, by creatures of Melkor, or by Men - or Dwarves.

Bilbo thinks he hears his companions' distant "yells and cries for help". Was Tolkien evoking this scene when he described Frodo's experience on the Barrow-downs?
It is a similar experience.
But again, a brilliant observation.

Further thoughts on this section?
It makes one hungry.


"When light finally begins to come into our lives after a long darkness, only to reveal that one has still farther to go, what various ways might one react?"
- Dreamdeer



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


dernwyn
Forum Admin / Moderator


Sep 7 2012, 2:12am

Post #3 of 3 (316 views)
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Say not 'unscathed'... [In reply to] Can't Post

But not 'unchanged', either: Bombur is suffering the after-effects of a coma-like sleep. I like to think that his memory returned eventually. But his waking up probably has more to do with the enchantment losing potency after a week (using Fonstad's guide, he fell into the river on August 15, and it is now August 23).

As for Tolkien's timing, I bet you're right that the rain had something to do with Bombur's wake-up: thoughts of water from the rain, thoughts of food from the dreaming dwarf, and a light in the distance - it's the perfect set-up!

Great point about the ineffectiveness of the Elf guards. Assuming they had them, of course, but with those spiders around, it would not make sense to be undefended. Considering the "dwarvish racket", how could the uninvited guests not have been heard until they (literally) crashed the party!

(And Kili might be "smitten" by Tauriel in this scene - in the other sense of that word! Wink)


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

"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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