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Topic: LOTR Book Discussion Club - Book I, starting from Chapter 2

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Being lies with Eru - Rank 1
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Date: Mar 29, 2014
LOTR Book Discussion Club - Book I, starting from Chapter 2

I decided to provide the full annotation just in case - both within and outside this thread, the latter for the beginning of the discussion in separate threads, and some other threads.

 

'Procedural' thread, "LOTR Book Discussion Club" (Timing of the discussion, volunteering, suggestions on contents etc) 

Extension thread for the discussion of the pertinent material from sources other than LOTR

 

Prologue part 1 Concerning Hobbits

Prologue part 2 Pipeweed, The Ordering of the Shire, and The Finding of the Ring

Book I

Chapter 1. A Long Expected Party

Chapter 2. The Shadow of the Past

Chapter 3. Three is Company

Chapter 4. A Short Cut To Mushrooms

Chapter 5. A Conspiracy Unmasked

Chapter 6. The Old Forest

Chapter 7. In the House of Tom Bombadil

Chapter 8. Fog on the Barrow-downs

Chapter 9.  At the sign of The Prancing Pony

Chapter 10. Strider

Chapter 11. A Knife in the Dark

Chapter 12. The Flight to the Ford

Book II

 



-- Edited by Lorelline on Sunday 7th of February 2016 05:45:11 AM

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LOTR Book Discussion Club - all chapters starting from Chapter 2

Post #2

CHAPTER 2: THE SHADOW OF THE PAST

Discussion points

1. Gandalf tells Frodo that a mortal who keeps a Great Ring does not die but continues living until at last every minute is a weariness, and if a mortal uses the Ring too much to become invisible, he fades - becomes invisible permanently. But this kind of fading seems different from Elven fading where the fea consumes the hroa. What does a Great Ring do to the fea and the hroa of its mortal keepers/wearers?

2. When Frodo asks whether Bilbo will be able to rest in peace, what does he mean?

3. Who made the verse about the Master-ring that makes its very first appearance in this chapter, "Three Rings for the Elven-kings..."? At least two lines are Sauron's (corresponding to the inscription on the Ring). He said that in Black Speech though. Did Celebrimbor both 'hear' it and 'perceived' its meaning (much like Frodo got the meaning of the Gildor's company singing), or did he simply know Black Speech? It is sort of interesting if this verse is not a translation of what Sauron said in full, but rather a piece of Elven lore that incorporates Sauron's words in this poetic way.

4. Why didn't Sauron generate more Nazgul by giving humans the rings recovered from Dwarves (with whom he could not reach the desired effect)? Those rings were not designed for either Dwarves or Men anyway.

5. Sauron seems to be 'overthrown' by Gil-Galad and Elendil but 'vanquished' by Isildur's cutting the Ring from Sauron's hand. Should this be understood like the fana ('body' of an Ainu) of the 'overthrown' Sauron was still in existence (still with or already most likely without 'spirit', not sure if there was a separate word for that) and this fana only disintegrated after the loss of the Ring?

6. Are the Nine rings kept by Sauron, or do Nazgul have them at the time of the story?

7. How does Sauron know where Isildur fell? (Gandalf said he knew that). Also, why does Gandalf think that Sauron considered the Ring destroyed at first?

8. Gandalf nicely lays out the logic by which, in his opinion, Sauron concluded that Gollum's ring was the One. Why didn't Gandalf himself employ this same logic to recognize the One much earlier?

9. Having told the story to Frodo, why doesn't Gandalf urge him to leave ASAP?

10. Sauron has been defeated/disembodied a few times in the past, both with and without the Ring. He should have been losing strength each time. Why is he thought unconquerable at the time of the story, in case he regains the Ring?

11. Gandalf's account on Gollum is mostly negative. What makes Gandalf still have hope for Gollum?



-- Edited by Lorelline on Saturday 29th of March 2014 05:44:04 AM

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Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past
Is this considered Post #3?

I'm glad we've finally moved on to Chapter 2.

To me, Chapter 2 was significant in that it outlines all the reasons why a timid little Hobbit should take on the perils of such an epic quest and the nightmarish reality of A Dark Lord threatening to devour our meekest of heroes at all times. It tells us of the significance of the Ring and its history which captivates as well as gives a tangibility to Middle-earth's history, making this book not only an epic tale but gives one the feeling of diving down the "rabbit hole" of their own imagination to stand beside Samwise Gamgee as he trims the verge. And it's only Chapter 2. ****Writers take note of when to introduce conflict ( I certainly didn't know).****

To discuss Lorelline's opener I will reply by her numbered questions or comments:

#1. I think the Ring worked on the Will of a mortal. None of the nine Kings of Men wanted to relinquish the might and power which the Rings bestowed. They must have went nearly Mad as their hröar (Body) began to die, and die it did. The mortal body, no matter how much it possesses the "will to live", will expire in its due time. There they were (the Kings of Men), like the Undead, continuing while their bodies decayed. But their will to remain in power and possession of said Power caused their Wills to endure.
The Fea (Soul) is the thing that goes to Mandos and does not die, therefore it must be much stronger than the Hroa. The Fea gives us emotions, resolve, perseverance, and most importantly Will. Mothers have been known to lift cars off of their children who are caught beneath its wheels in a pinch. IT is the Fea that ignites the adrenaline to enable the sinew to drive the body to do more than it is actually capable of. But (with the Rings) the Will is enslaved by the desire for Power by granting certain (unnamed) qualities to the possessor that are beyond their innate abilities...therefore creating a need (like a crutch) for such power. Imagine if those same women who found the remarkable strength to lift a car suddenly and continually possessed the strength to do so? Knowing what we know about human nature, would she go back to her normal life without ever using said power again for any reason? Or would the draw of being more than her neighbors finally prove too much of a temptation? And if someone had the ability to take it from her in a harmless and peaceful way would she give it.....freely?
Sorry if my example of the Lady and a trapped child are a little unsettling...I was merely trying to tie a significant (documented) example of power beyond we humans.

The adrenaline doesn't kick on by itself. There is a trigger. What IS that trigger? Our eyes see (windows to the Fea), our conscious reacts....This is our own Fea making things possible.
I think the Ring tapped into the Wills of Men and in Gollum. Men for the Power (which in itself is a bane) and Gollum because he had nothing else...no outside influence to hinder the poisoning of his Will for 500 years, desiring neither power or long life...only The Ring. In Bilbo's case; there were so many other joys in his life that he even went on to say "butter over too much bread" meaning his Fea was growing weary and he did not desire the power of the Ring although he desired the Ring itself. Gollum having no other joy than the Ring, may not have even noticed his "thinning" in comparison to the unparalleled delight of worshiping his Precious.

#2 I think Frodo was concerned that Bilbo might be cursed ever after for possessing such an evil artifact. But Frodo was assured that his Uncle was released from its harm as soon as he (Bilbo) released (dispossessed) the Ring.

#3......I hope others will fill in here as I have many different views based on the question posed...to be continued

#4 Perhaps the long waiting for the Years of Men to pass into shadow was much too long for Sauron's impatience. Dwarves would not succumb, if they did they kept the Rings and became fey with the power. It was Sauron's first try. Like a science project perhaps his yield was too much of a pain to achieve and he was lucky enough to redeem some of his labor by getting The Nine. Like a consolation prize he just cashed out and walked away. He might give a Ring to one he deemed worthy, meaning "a sure-bet of enslaving" but since the Numenor had dwindled and the Elves could not be coerced...who was left? The Wizards? Whew! Don't get me going on that prospect...lol.

I'll give myself a little break here. The others could do better than I on this in-depth questioning, and with actual official documents to boot! Good Discussion Lorelline....this chapter is a heavy one.


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Post #4

Thank you, JD7, for summarizing the Chapter. I guess it was part of my job which I happily neglected... because it didn't really occur to me!

I just wanted to add that we are not limited to the points I posted. It would be great if people come with more discussion points.


My take on the points you addressed:

#1. We are not actually told if the wearers of the Nine desired immortality. If they did they got their desire actualized - the fea would cling to the hroa, instead of leaving it and traveling beyond the circles of Arda. Yet from at least the action of the One (which may be similar in that respect to the Nine or not), its possessors could not die whether they really wished or they didn't - so the fea could not leave because it was 'stuck' with the hroa, by the power of the ring (which didn't even have to be worn! It's effects were lasting). The fading element, to me, looks as if it has to do with invisibility. How this comes about is mysterious, because conferring invisibility is not an intended property of all those Rings, that's what they do to mortals who are not supposed to have them (not sure about invisibility of the Dwarves though).

#2. To me (I may be quite wrong), rest in peace means dying peacefully, and so I was startled that Frodo should refer to Bilbo this way. If Frodo just meant peaceful existence, then no problem.

#4. Why indeed not give former 'Dwarf'-rings to Men who were converted to Sauron's slaves most successfully? A simple answer might be that without the One ring he could not establish control over new carriers of a Great ring? He could still control the Nazgul even when he didn't have his Ring anymore.
Somehow he had to and was able to draw them to himself when he started to reappear. So this is not exactly clear.

I personally think that Sauron probably could have made more rings, or even reuse not only the recovered three 'Dwarf'-rings but maybe even those Nine rings if he had them, but he probably turned to using Morgul-blades that had much the same effect, only quicker? And besides, he likely realized that human race was the only one susceptible to his influence, and so much so that he could rule humans without any rings. Immortality and therefore less effort retraining new slaves perhaps was the only practical and desirable quality of those Great rings from the Sauron's point of view. Unless Morgul-blades too made those wounded 'immortal'.

Or maybe, because all these Great rings each had their 'proper gem', they all had different qualities (just like the Three were all different), and Sauron might have had an idea (or so he thought) as to which gem was more suitable for enslaving which race... Or even which person? And so, the 'Dwarf'-rings might not be as effective with humans. (I am definitely pressing the matter too much here).



-- Edited by Lorelline on Sunday 30th of March 2014 11:57:06 PM

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Good points. I'd like to further #4 if I may.

I think Sauron enslaved the Men easiest and quickest and even before the Ring was lost he had enslaved their souls and reclaimed them upon reemerging in Dol Guldur. They were never free after they became his.

My opinion of the Morgul blade was that they were simply made of toxic metals and a wound sustained by them was to have ones blood poisoned. Perhaps the Nazgul were commanded not to touch the Ring...ever. So their mission was either bring Frodo to him dead or alive. Stabbing him with the Morgul blade would have accomplished both...one way or the other. The way to assure that Frodo's will would be broken is if he was dead and still possessed the One Ring, it would be as if the Ring was the Hook and Frodo the fish, all Sauron had to do was reel him in after that.

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#3. I have no answer. I've always wondered this.

#4. I'd imagine after seeing what happened to the men that became the Nazgul, no man would want to take a ring from Sauron.

#11. I don't think Gandalf fully realized how powerful the Ring actually was. Look what it did to Frodo after 13 months. Gollum had it for..was it 500 years?

- And this is just a pragmatic question, which, as often is the case in fantasy, we may just have to suspend disbelief, but if Sauron did recover the Ring, how would he use it? Would it be thrown into the Eye?



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Post #7

#3 - who made the verse about the Rings?
If Sauron himself said that, it means he knew how the events would turn out. But this is unlikely. He hoped to enslave Elves. If somebody else made lore out of this, the person should have known how the Rings were distributed. I wonder how that was known, but it probably could have been even guessed that each Dwarf House would get a Ring (seven in all). Maybe the Dwarves did not make a secret out of this. I wonder if it is told anywhere whether Sauron himself gave them the Rings, or through somebody else (will have to look into that). If the House of Durin did not receive their Ring from Celebrimbor, then, given what happened to him, wouldn't the Dwarves from that house have declined to accept anything directly from Sauron?

It probably could have been guessed that the rest of the Great Rings were given to humans. Then Nine could be deduced if the overall number of the Great Rings was known e.g. to survivors from Hollin. Maybe someone of them made the verse then.

#4. (Ring recycling) I would agree, the only condition would be for potential recipients to recognize Nazgul as former possessors of a Ring. I am not sure it was common knowledge. Not at the time of the story.

#11. (Hope for Gollum). Maybe because Gollum did not at least fade while possessing and at some point frequently wearing the Master-ring, as compared to Nazgul who totally faded having relatively lesser Rings. Perhaps for this reason Gandalf deemed Gollum more resistant to the effects of the Ring, and besides, Gollum after all was a hobbit and that too may have contributed to the hope that Gandalf had for him.

As to your question, in fact Sauron wasn't just an Eye, he had a fana (body); I recall it mentioned later in FOTR, and in the next volume even the want of his finger is mentioned as well. (Which reminds me of the details of reincarnation. So a Maia, after at least a few reincarnations, can only re-create the body in the last remembered condition, without the finger for example. Probably to maimed Elves who are to be reincarnated it does not apply). Sauron still had enough fingers and would have been able to wear his Ring.


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As for who gave the rings to the races, I remember reading somewhere that Sauron didn't give them the rings, he just taught them how to make them. But of course, knowing how they were designed, he would then know how to create a ring that could control the others. Anyone else recognize this theory?



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Post #9

Sauron indeed gave some instructions, but it was to Elves - Celebrimbor and Gwaith-i-Mirdain specifically - not to other races, for which the rings were not originally intended. Surely because with the Three rings Celebrimbor followed largely the same instructions, Sauron could control them with the One, even though he never saw them; he may have learned about them only when he first put the One on his finger.

I myself wonder if the number of the Rings mattered, or whatever number of them could be controlled with the One. There were those Lesser rings (some beta-versions of the Great rings), with still some power to them, were they too subject to the One's influence?..

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2. When Frodo asks whether Bilbo will be able to rest in peace, what does he mean?

I had always thought that he meant, would he not be bothered by Sauron's minions. Now, I wonder if it was resting from the cares of having the ring. Good question.

11. Gandalf's account on Gollum is mostly negative. What makes Gandalf still have hope for Gollum?
I think that he has hope for him because Gollum did not start out all bad. And he's related to hobbits who are pretty hardy folk. The combination of those two traits might have done it. Also, I think Gandalf is just an optimist.

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If Sauron knew he could (and would) create a ring that could control the others, or knew the effect the rings would have on Men (Nazgul), why stop at 3, 7, and 9 rings? Why not make hundreds of rings. He could have had an army of Nazgul.

Also (completely unrelated, I just want to share) fun fact I saw on this page I follow:
Tolkien died in 1973. Reverse the number: 3, 7, 9, 1



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The same year I was born and that's how his spirit endured and all his greatness passed onto me!

The End.

Sorry guys! It's science.

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God Bless you Jaido!

Bless every self-delusional neuron!

Here is to Tolkien ... and of course to your mom! 

(and science)



-- Edited by Bear on Monday 14th of April 2014 02:13:33 AM

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Hi guys.

Honestly, I believe, there is so much information and subtext in this chapter that we could spend a month discussing it and not get through it all. In light of that, would you guys agree that we move on to chapter 3? Let me know!



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Teralectus,
I think you are right.  This forum in itself shows the inexhaustible points of discussing Tolkien's works.
Setting a time limit per chapter (a generous one I suggest - maybe 1 or 2 weeks) will be helpful in keeping the integrity of this threads purpose.
Perhaps a solution might be that if a topic becomes inexhaustible that a thread of its own be created ... like this one ...
"What exactly did Gandalf know about Frodo's ring when he left the Shire in 3001 S.R." or "Why did Gandalf leave The Shire in 3008 S.R."
So I support the time limited interaction because it stops us from bogging down in discussion that should have its own thread and will keep the construct of it being a chapter discussion held in the context of The Lord Of The Rings.
I look forward to others response.

Bear





-- Edited by Bear on Monday 14th of April 2014 10:17:24 PM

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Post #16

"Sauron knew he could (and would) create a ring that could control the others, or knew the effect the rings would have on Men (Nazgul), why stop at 3, 7, and 9 rings? Why not make hundreds of rings. He could have had an army of Nazgul."

This is an interesting question. Seems when Sauron has departed to Mordor, to work on the One, he wasn't aware of the Three. Maybe he deemed that the number of Great rings already made was enough for his purposes. It seems conceivable that if he could make the Master ring he should have been able to make any number of 'Great' rings - again depending on the availability of gems; perhaps those were not natural but the famous Noldorin artificial gems, yet why wouldn't Sauron be able to create them as well?.. The process however may have been laborious and/or have needed much time, otherwise why even care about the existing Rings, which were under the domination of the One anyway? And also, since the original plan - ensnaring Elves with the Rings - went awry and Sauron had no clear idea on the effects of the Rings on other races, he may have been reluctant to spend lots of efforts on additional rings. Indeed Dwarves with Rings turned out useless.

And to address some other points:

6. Are the Nine rings kept by Sauron, or do Nazgul have them at the time of the story?

It seems Sauron kept them, after all. There is one place where Gandalf says that 'The Nine the Nazgul keep' or something, but maybe this is grammatical inversion. I just wonder when Sauron got the Nine...

7. How does Sauron know where Isildur fell? (Gandalf said he knew that). Also, why does Gandalf think that Sauron considered the Ring destroyed at first?

Sauron may have known where Isildur fell from Saruman who found some Isildur's belongings (or should I say heirlooms, Elendilmir I recall).

A correction. Sauron was searching the Great River near the Gladden Fields for the One ring already by 2939, when it became known to Saruman, after which the latter agreed to an attack on Dol Guldur (to prevent finding the ring by Sauron, although it wasn't there). This happens way before Saruman actually starts using the palantir (through which Sauron could learn about Isildur's death from Saruman). In The Peoples of Middle-earth (The Tale of Years of the Third Age) it is said that '...Sauron has learned the manner of Isildur's death (maybe from Orcs)...' . That is interesting...

But I think it was wishful thinking on Gandalf's part that Sauron believed the One to be destroyed.

8. Gandalf nicely lays out the logic by which, in his opinion, Sauron concluded that Gollum's ring was the One. Why didn't Gandalf himself employ this same logic to recognize the One much earlier?

9. Having told the story to Frodo, why doesn't Gandalf urge him to leave ASAP?

I am inclined to think that both #8 and #9 are mainly plot considerations. Plus of course false assurances from Saruman whose machinations took a while to unmask.

10. Sauron has been defeated/disembodied a few times in the past, both with and without the Ring. He should have been losing strength each time. Why is he thought unconquerable at the time of the story, in case he regains the Ring?

The Valar thought so, and Gandalf represents their point of view. The Valar definitely don't have much trust in Men, while very little Elven force and magic remained in Middle-earth by the end of the Third age. Sauron above all desires order (as he understands it). But order seems to go against the nature of Men. And additionally memories that Sauron has been overthrown in the past by a Man (Isildur), even if not entirely true, may remain as inspiration. It may take much longer but Sauron's defeat doesn't seem impossible. There always remains a direct intervention by Eru as a last resort.

I think we may be ready to move on to Chapter 3 now, if others agree. But I don't think 1 week is generous, it is barely adequate; of course depending on what was meant - one week for reading, or for both reading and discussing? Chapters vary too, some may need longer discussions and more time. Two weeks might be ok, but we seem to take longer time per chapter so far.



-- Edited by Lorelline on Tuesday 22nd of April 2014 06:14:52 AM

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Post # 17                        Lord of the Rings Book Discussion.    

                         Chapter 3: Three is Company  

I feel that Chapter 2 has properly had its "Day in the Sun" and then some...so without further ado, I will volunteer to keep this ball rolling...since apparently this Book Discussion leads to good feedback, at the very least.

 

                                                                         Let us begin......

                              

      For me, this Chapter really represents Frodo "Cutting the Ties" and "Leaving the Nest", both things that he most likely never thought he would do (for any permanent reason). Which in its own way represents the beginnings of the Hero's Journey. This, of course, was done in proper Hobbit fashion; Frodo swaddling himself with the images of a peaceful journey to Crickhollow where he would spend his days in peace. But he soon learns that his fantasies of an invigorating walk through the countryside to a cheerful hearth with friends soon becomes a thing of nightmares.

      In this Chapter we learn how close the enemy came to having Frodo and the One Ring within their grasp (on several occasions) had it not been for the luck of some "chance meetings" (fate??), hospitality and good advice.  Frodo is given a taste of just how REAL the Dangers of which Gandalf had warned him were, in Chapter 2. All the wisdom and foresight that Gandalf shared with Frodo pertaining to: where he should go, when he should leave and who he should trust, all seem to culminate. From this point on, the Perils of True Adventure sharpen and tear down the veil that was Frodo's view of the world from the threshold of his round door in his quaint little "Hole in the Ground".

'Well, now we're off at last!' said Frodo.  They shouldered their packs and took up their sticks, and walked round the corner to the west side of Bag End.  'Good-bye!' said Frodo, looking at the dark blank windows. he waved his hand, and then turned and (following Bilbo, if he had known it) hurried after Peregrin down the garden-path.  They jumped over the low place in the hedge at the bottom and took to the fields, passing into the darkness like a rustle in the grasses.---LOTR, Three's Company, page 70. 

 

1.  One has to wonder about the "sniffing" that the Nazgul did while they hunted about for Frodo.  It is said that they had terrible sight in the daylight so maybe that is why they employed their other senses?  

 

2.  The riding figure sat quite still with its head bowed, as if listening.  From inside the hood came a noise as of someone sniffing to catch an elusive scent; the head turned from side to side of the road. 

    A sudden unreasoning fear of discovery laid hold of Frodo, and he thought of his Ring.  He hardly dared to breathe, and yet the desire to get it out of his pocket became so strong that he began slowly to move his hand.  He felt that he had only to slip it on, and then he would be safe.----Three is Company, LOTR page 75.

     I feel that it was the Ring's power making Frodo wish to put on the Ring, therefore making himself known to the nearby Nazgul. 

     Remember: "The Ring wants to be found."  Or was it possibly that the Nazgul was casting fear before it which made Frodo wish he could use it to disappear and escape?

 

3.  I think we have thoroughly discussed the meeting with Gildor and the Elves and their purpose of being High Elves.  The only thing new that I have gleaned from reading this Chapter is that another form of Elvish Wisdom is that they are pretty tight-lipped about their affairs and warn Frodo that he should also be wary.  They do not give any information unless Frodo actually hits so close to the truth of his own words that Gildor will speak a little about it. 

 

4.  In this Chapter Tolkien gives the Elves a greater weight than he had in the Hobbit.  For the first time we get to know them as very shrewd individuals and very capable of using the natural woods about them to create comfortable surrounds like magic.  Unlike the silly song-singing imps that Tolkien makes them out to be as Bilbo and the Dwarves come to Rivendell in the Hobbit.

 

5.  Three great sayings near the end of this chapter that bear repeating:

                    A)  'Towards danger; but not too rashly, nor too straight'---Gandalf

                    B)  'Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.' ---Gildor

                    C)  'Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.'----Frodo

                    D)  '.....advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise and all courses may run ill.'---Gildor

                    E)  'Courage is found in unlikely places.'---Gildor

 

 



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'1. One has to wonder about the "sniffing" that the Nazgul did while they hunted about for Frodo. It is said that they had terrible sight in the daylight so maybe that is why they employed their other senses? '

"They themselves do not see the world of light as we do, but out shapes cast shadows in their minds, which only the noon sun destroys; and in the dark they perceive many signs and forms that are hidden from us... And at all times they smell the blood of living things... Senses, too, there are other than sight or smell. We can feel their presence - they feel ours more keenly. Also... the Ring draws them".

This all is from a chapter well ahead, 'A Knife in the Dark', and is told by Aragorn, at which I keep wondering - how does he know? From Elrond? From the lore of Dunedain who had to deal with the Witch-King in the past?..

 

2. '... I feel that it was the Ring's power making Frodo wish to put on the Ring, therefore making himself known to the nearby Nazgul.

Remember: "The Ring wants to be found." Or was it possibly that the Nazgul was casting fear before it which made Frodo wish he could use it to disappear and escape?'

It seems both are true, Frodo doesn't want to be seen by the Nazgul and the Ring would be convenient to use as he thinks; yet the desire to put it on is also irrational, likely the influence of the Ring itself.

 

'4. In this Chapter Tolkien gives the Elves a greater weight than he had in the Hobbit. For the first time we get to know them as very shrewd individuals and very capable of using the natural woods about them to create comfortable surrounds like magic. Unlike the silly song-singing imps that Tolkien makes them out to be as Bilbo and the Dwarves come to Rivendell in the Hobbit.'

This depends, for a reader, on the order in which the books were read. The Elves in the very early legends are already quite serious; whoever started with the Lost Tales might actually be surprised with the silly Rivendell creatures from The Hobbit... But maybe not with the hostility of the Elves from Mirkwood.

 

I would also mention that Gandalf suddenly feels anxious at the end of June, after staying in the Shire for over two months. Later he says that a cloud of anxiety was on his mind, and he had a foreboding of some danger. I was always wondering how that came to pass.

Also there is this cute scene when a fox comes across the sleeping hobbits. The fox is portrayed as a smart creature, so there is little wonder that animals in Middle-earth were able to transmit messages. This episode is already present in the early versions.

Gildor was indeed discussed as thoroughly as possible, yet I just noticed that when talking to Frodo he noted that he already knew 'a little', apart from what he could read in Frodo's face and thought. What does he know, and how?

 



-- Edited by Lorelline on Wednesday 9th of July 2014 05:22:13 AM

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4. In this Chapter Tolkien gives the Elves a greater weight than he had in the Hobbit. For the first time we get to know them as very shrewd individuals and very capable of using the natural woods about them to create comfortable surrounds like magic. Unlike the silly song-singing imps that Tolkien makes them out to be as Bilbo and the Dwarves come to Rivendell in the Hobbit.

 

I feel have to differ with your account of the Elves in the Hobbit and this chapter. To me the Elves in the Hobbit were silly, they were merry. And in this chapter the Elves were laughing and teasing the Hobbits, which also shows their merry side. Yes, Elves are wise and serious and experienced as we see in all the other books; but I wonder did they learn to be more merry because of the turmoil they'd gone through over the ages.

Plus, I feel like it makes the Elves more multi-dimensional. They laugh, make up nonsense songs as well as cry and fight the evil powers. Kind of like us.



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Would it be fair to say that at the beginning of the LOTR trilogy the Elves still reflect the demeanor and ways of the Elves in the hobbit, but as the series goes on, they become more and more somber (ie. Elrond, Legolas, Haldir)? If so, do you guys think this was intentional, or is it a case where "the story started telling itself"? And then, of course, in the Silmarillion Elves are very somber, stoic perhaps, prone to war, and some seemingly evil (Feanor). What's strange is that the Silmarillion was started long before LOTR and finished after the trilogy, so my question would be, why would Elves behave differently in one book (Silmarillion) than another (The Hobbit).

I feel like Tolkien may have had mixed feelings about what he wanted Elves to be, because I just can't see him intentionally writing an entire race in the same fantasy world as having controversial behavior and lifestyles, depending on the book. Of course, that is HUGE conjecture. Hope this all makes sense.

Thoughts?



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Teralectus,

I think a huge chunk of it was who he was writing to.

  • The Hobbit was meant to be a children's tale.
  • The Lord of The Rings was written at the request of a publisher who was reaching for a young adult/adult fantasy market.
  • The Silmarillion was written for an audience familiar with Anglican/Gemanic/Scandinavian folklore and Tolkien's own pleasure.

 

These are at least three reasons I think Elves are portrayed differently.



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Hmm. That makes sense; I just hate to think he was writing for audiences/publishers and not fully for his own love of the mythos he created.



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Great points made by all,

I personally think that Tolkien wrote the Hobbit as a way to get his foot in the door as an Author. He knew he had the Sil written (back in the trenches at the battle of the Somme) but he had to make something tangible for audiences to adhere to. His target audience were (was?) children. Having children of his own, it probably made great sense to him to write a lighter more whimsical adventure for young minds. It must have been obvious to him to use the world of his own making as the setting but I strongly feel (at the start of the Hobbit) that he did not even consider a Ring as the main focus let alone Rings of Power....I think that brilliance came out as soon as the Hobbit did (or shortly thereafter).

But I think for the case of the Varying Elvish behavior can be solved when we consider the "mode" in which the story was told. In a children's tale (The Hobbit) the Elvish "mocking songs" to the Dwarves would be comical. If we had a parallel version of that LOTR style, the Elves would have been a little more cruel and condescending to the Dwarves and the Dwarves would have been full of their own type of contempt for the Elves and the passing of Thorin's company would have created a big stir.....and no mistake!!! The only other example of Elvish behavior in the Hobbit was the greed and meanness of the Thranduil in the perilous forest of Mirkwood, that is of course besides the demeanor of Lord Elrond who came across like the only adult in a realm of silliness....sorry....I mean "merriness" (nod to Laurelin).

To sum it up I guess it was to whom Tolkien was telling the story that shed a different light on the creatures within his mythos. In a room full of kids LOTR would be told differently...is my guess....I dunno


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From an earlier post:

'Towards danger; but not too rashly, nor too straight'---Gandalf

What does he mean "nor too straight"?



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"Towards danger; but not too rashly, nor too straight"

Often in military briefings there is a meeting before battle where specific strategies are discussed including the possibility of a frontal assault, or in soldier's slang "straight on."
While in the trenches during WWI, Tolkien would have heard this tactic and seen the disastrous effect the tactic would have at the  the
Battle of the Somme. Casualties were massive and the tactical and strategic outcomes almost nil.
So a pattern would develop that by attacking from the flank after heavy bombardment would decrease casualties and a tactical and strategic advantage could be achieved.  But this tactic required great coordination in timing so troops weren't hit by their own guns, , in routing the troops to attack at an angle to to avoid enemy trenches and machine gun fire, and again in the common soldiers vernacular; "
towards battle; but not too rashly, nor too straight."
I
think that Gandalf says this with a slight change as a caution, to cause reflection about timing, security in secrecy, and avoidance of the predictable routes, with courage and awareness of the dangers.
But I am sure Tolkien has heard this phrase before it ever makes it into his works
.
I have heard it myself while preparing for battle.

 



-- Edited by Bear on Wednesday 30th of April 2014 06:37:02 PM

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Post #26

I seem now to disagree with myself and some others... Tolkien was indeed writing "for his own love of the mythos he created", and in those very Lost Tales he portrayed both Elves and even the Valar as silly enough.

An excerpt from what Rumil (an Elf) says to Eriol (a human mariner) - a complain about a bird singing in some new language:

" '...Indeed sir you find me in a sour temper; for lo! here I have a black-winged rogue fat with impudence who singeth songs before unknown to me, and in a tongue that is strange! It irks me sir, it irks me, for methought at least I knew the simple speeches of all birds. I have a mind to send him down to Mandos for his pertness!' At this Eriol laughed heartily..."

Or Melko who, at the arrival of the Valar at Utumna (so spelled then) (whereby the Valar are pretending to do homage to him) says, "...wilt thou come Manwe and kneel before me, and after you all the Valar; but last shall come Tulkas and kiss my foot..."

And besides, later in FOTR the Elves are also shown as merry/silly, when they tell their opinion to Bilbo concerning his Earendil poem. When Bilbo says, "'... it would be too tiring to repeat it all!'
'Not too tiring for you', the Elves answered laughing. 'You know you are never tired of reciting your own verses."

And when Bilbo says that Men and Hobbits are as different as peas and apples, Lindir points out, laughing, that "To sheep other sheep no doubt appear different".

I realize this all goes quite beyond the Chapter 3 but I would say Tolkien portrayed Elves (and others) as silly or serious depending on the situation described... Not so much on the targeted audience. It seems to me though that his later writings are almost uniformly pretty solemn, while there is quite a degree of silliness in the earlier texts.


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Post #27
I have been neglecting the numbering of posts....terrible....

Anyway I can see how someone might think these light-hearted phrases uttered by Elves as "silly".
A person speaking about a bird, who speaks in a different language? Preposterous!

Elves were prone to fits of humor, anger, mirth, pity, sadness and all this stuff. I think everyone in the histories of Arda, in some form or another, encompassed the full range of humanity in their demeanor and thoughts.

While the Elves could say things that might seem silly they weren't goofy by any means, or be at risk of being written as fools (jesters). The hobbits had a simplistic rustic feel to them and their naivete made for colorful expressions and funny comments, although their worldly ignorance often left them wondering why Elves laughed at them so readily.

As for Melkor saying that Tulkas would come and "kiss his foot"...that was an outright challenge and open scorn directed at Tulkas; a slight that was certainly no joke. You could almost see the tension dripping from the pages as you read it. Sure it gets a chuckle but that wasn't Tolkien's intent, I'm sure. It was written to show Melkor's contempt for Tulkas.

But on the whole, I agree that Tolkien definitely took a different approach to Elves from the Hobbit to LOTR. But if he had written the very serious accounts of Elves of the First Age and of Gondolin and all that other jazz before he wrote The Hobbit, why then would he totally take this extremely non-canonical approach to the Elves in the Hobbit?......to get his foot in the door with the reading public....brilliant.



-- Edited by Jaidoprism7 on Wednesday 30th of April 2014 10:14:48 PM

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Post #28

I was casually reading "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" and I came upon a letter that answers the whole "silliness of the Hobbit" situation rather nicely.

Tolkien was asked by Walter Allen, how he felt writing for children differs from writing for adults and Tolkien said this:

Letter #215

"When I published The Hobbit - hurriedly and without due consideration - I was still influenced by the convention that 'fairy-stories' are naturally directed to children (with or without the silly added waggery 'from seven to seventy'). And I had children of my own. But the desire to address children, as such, had nothing to do with the story as such in itself or the urge to write it. But it had some unfortunate effects on the mode of expression and narrative method, which if I had not been rushed, I should have corrected. Intelligent children of good taste (of which there seem quite a number) have always, I am glad to say, singled out the points in manner where the address is to children as blemishes."

Later in the same letter he said:

"The relation between The Hobbit and its sequel is I think this. The Hobbit is a first essay or introduction (consideration will admit I think that it is a very just point that which to begin the narration of the subsequent events) to a complex narrative which had been brewing in my mind for years. It was overtly addressed to children for two reasons: I had at the time children of my own and was accustomed to making up (ephemeral) stories for them; I had been brought up to believe that there was a real and special connexion between children and fairy-stories."

Then Tolkien admits:

"I think that The Hobbit can be seen to begin in what might be called more 'whimsy' mode, and in places even more facetious, and move steadily to a more serious or significant, and more consistent and historical.....But I regret much of it all the same....."


I suppose saying any more about the topic would be fodder for another thread as I am guiding this conversation off course, severely. Just thought I would share with you what I had uncovered in the uncanny event that I just Read something which paralleled our conversation about the difference of Elvish Behavior from The Hobbit to LOTR.



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I wouldn't really say you're "steering it off course," Jaido. This isn't supposed to be like a book report where we all read and talk strictly about what the text says :P What you're saying - and this whole topic about how elves behave - is us looking much deeper into the story and seeing things that really nobody else ever thinks about while reading the books, yet at the same time everything we're talking about is still relevant.



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Teralectus,
Might I add to your piece regarding "and this whole topic about how elves behave - is us looking much deeper into the story and seeing things that really nobody else ever thinks about while reading the books, yet at the same time everything we're talking about is still relevant" that the topics brought up in this thread can be found scattered through out the other threads and topics contained in our Tolkien Forums.
That these topics show up in this thread emphasizes that we re-connect with the archetypal themes such as elves, rings, wizards and good vs evil and even moral ambiguity.
I might suggest that while we are reading this chapter by chapter we remember that we have a wealth of resources in our Forum that will fit with "everything we're talking about is still relevant."

And that proves that people really are thinking about such things while reading the book.

Bear



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Thank you for the correction, Bear



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Teralectus,

Meant no correction ... just a different perspective ...
I think your observations are right on from your POV.
Bear



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Post #33

It seems I still have a chance to disagree with JD7 on this 'not-so-much-off-topic' after all. Namely on this:

"As for Melkor saying that Tulkas would come and "kiss his foot"...that was an outright challenge and open scorn directed at Tulkas; a slight that was certainly no joke. You could almost see the tension dripping from the pages as you read it. Sure it gets a chuckle but that wasn't Tolkien's intent, I'm sure. It was written to show Melkor's contempt for Tulkas."

I am sure the impression JD7 got, and I got, and maybe others, is exactly what Tolkien intended. A fairy-tale-style, lighthearted presentation of Melko's (that's the name) malice. He is a villain of cartoon proportions, and all he does and the other Valar do is curious and entertaining but not really grave or serious (at least not in my impression). Manwe is not obeyed by other 'good' Valar, who behave like self-willed children...


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Hello Book Clubbers,

I am going to be out until Friday and seeing as we are kind of in a lull, I am going to (unless anyone objects) post the discussion topics for chapter four today. Feel free to carry on ahead of me this week. I don't know how often I will be able to be on until Friday, but I want to keep this going. Discussion topics should be up later today.

Also, a note: I am the first person to admit I love digging through every source of Tolkien's works to find answers to questions, but thanks to so some friendly shared insight, I noticed our "Lord of the Rings" book club is delving into other Tolkien works (the Hobbit, the Silmarillion, even letters from Tolkien). While I do enjoy using as many resources as possible to find answers, I feel like with any work of Tolkien, asking one question just leads to two more, and most questions never get sufficiently answered before we move on to the next question, unless we set boundaries. So I propose that anything from the trilogy is fair game to cite as a source in a discussion, with exceptions if you deem something to be "common knowledge" that is not explicitly written in the LOTR text. This will keep our "Lord of the Rings" book club about "The Lord of the Rings." What do you guys think?

- Teralectus



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Teralectus,
I think you are right. As moderator you have the right to identify, clarify, and modify the boundaries of discussion.
And I think you are doing a great job!
And I think this will improve everyone's knowledge by focusing on LOTR.
Looking forward to Chapter IV.



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**CHAPTER IV: A Short Cut To Mushrooms**

There are some odds and ends questions, but there are quite a few questions I am raising regarding the Black Riders.

 

A. It seems that as the series goes on, the Nazgul become more and more menacing. In these early chapters, they just come off as mysterious, creepy nuisances (to me at least).

1. On ~p.96, it says, Under the morning sun the prospect of seeing a whole troop of them [the Black Riders] did not seem very alarming to him [Pippin]. Right after that, though, the text shows that Frodo is more afraid of them than Pippin is. Is this because Frodo has the Ring and knows/assumes they are after him, or because he just has a better sense of how sinister these "Black Riders" actually are?

2. On ~p.96, it says Gildor only gave Frodo "hints and riddles" regarding the Nazgul. Why would he not fully inform Frodo what he was up against?

3. On ~p.106, Farm Maggot describes his encounter with a Black Rider, who talks seemingly quite colloquially and even offers Maggot a bribe in gold. This seems like very human (or Man, Elf, Dwarf) behavior for something as dark and twisted as the Nazgul seemed to be portrayed as later in the books. Do you think Tolkien's perception of what he wanted the Nazgul to be changed over time as he wrote?

4. Why, do you think, were the Nazgul given horses and not fell beasts right from the beginning? Stealth purposes perhaps?

 

B. Regarding the hobbits and their journey specifically.

 

5. Sam speaks about having some sort of purpose that he needs to accomplish, something he says he "must see it through," on ~p.98. Do you think Gandalf selected Sam as Frodo's companion because he just happened to be in the right place at the right (or wrong) time and figured a companion for Frodo wouldn't hurt, or do you think Gandalf had some sort of "wizard's intuition" that Sam would play a large role in Frodo's journey?

6. Any idea what that gold drink was that the Elves gave the hobbits (~p.101) and does it ever appear in the series again?

7. Despite the famous "fool of a Took" line, Pippin seems actually quite pragmatic and intelligent in this chapter, even taking initiative at a time in trying to wake the group to keep moving them along. Not to get off track, but this is not how he was portrayed in the films. What role, as a character, do you think Tolkien meant for Pippin to play? (ie. a guide, comic relief, etc.)

8. How many of you do/enjoy reading the songs and poems (a recurring element in the series)?

9. Does anyone else get disoriented in your mind when reading about where the hobbits are when traveling throughout the Shire without consulting a map?

 

 



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RE: LOTR Book Discussion Club - all chapters starting from Chapter 2

Post #37

Chapter 4: A shortcut to Mushrooms.


Tolkien definitely ramps up the pressure here in these scenes..

#1. As for the Nazgul, we can definitely chalk up Pippin's nonchalant view of the Black Riders to his naivete concerning them. Terelactus writes: "Is this because Frodo has the Ring and knows/assumes they are after him, or because he just has a better sense of how sinister these "Black Riders" actually are."  I think there was definitely an effect that the presence of the Nazgul combined with the power of the Ring had on Frodo's perceptions but more than that; Frodo had more knowledge of what he carried.  He knows who is looking for it and he heard the cold voice of the Nazgul asking about him as he was leaving The Shire...so he was already on "High Alert" one could say.  He did not let his friends know at this point because he was hoping that they would not have to join in his peril (to spare them the danger, so to speak).  Pippin was just helping out and being a good cousin and blissfully unaware of what was really going on. 

#2. I think Gildor does not rightfully warn Frodo about what the Black Riders actually are, for this reason:
"And I warn you that peril is now both before you and behind you, and upon either side." (Gildor)
"You mean the Riders? I feared that they were servants of the Enemy. What are the Black riders?" (Frodo)
"Has Gandalf told you nothing?"
"Nothing about such creatures."
"Then I think it is not for me to say more-lest the terror should keep you from your journey."---Three is company, Fellowship of the Ring.
Perhaps both Gildor and Gandalf felt that Frodo would have not been so willing to set out on the journey had he known exactly what the creatures were. That is classic Gandalf though, cryptic and knowledge given in measure.

#4. The Nazgul upon Fell Beasts would have been a quicker means to accomplish the Dark Lord's bidding but most likely would've drawn premature attention to the Black Land and revealed Sauron's presence far too early for his purposes...at this time he had learned that Gollum was Captured and taken to Mirkwood-- "...so great was the terror that went with them (the Ringwraiths) (even invisible and unclad) that their coming forth might soon be perceived by the Wise."--UT, Hunt for the Ring.

"But Sauron did not underesteem the powers and vigilance of the Wise, and the Nazgul were commanded to act as secretly as they could...." UT, Hunt for the Ring.

Then this statement from the same source shows that Sauron was not ready to act openly and besides...where do you park a Fell Beast without drawing some attention..ha!---

"Of this (Saruman's treachery) Sauron became aware, but his arm was not yet long enough to reach Saruman in Isengard. Therefore he hid his knowledge of Saruman's double dealing and concealed his wrath, biding his time, and preparing for the great war in which he planned to sweep all his enemies into the western sea."

Unfinished Tales goes on to say: "They (the Nazgul) reached the west-shores of Anduin a little north of Sarn Gebir, as they had trysted; and there received horses and raiment that were secretly ferried over the River. This was (it is thought) about the seventeenth of July." UT, The Hunt for the Ring.

So overall I think Sauron wasn't properly strong enough to make himself known or his agent. I think also that he wished to find the Ring, by which he would complete his strength but the more who knew about his plan to find the Ring, the more obstacles he would have to deal with...so he needed to be extremely careful.



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Teralectus wrote:

There are some odds and ends questions, but there are quite a few questions I am raising regarding the Black Riders.

 

A. It seems that as the series goes on, the Nazgul become more and more menacing. In these early chapters, they just come off as mysterious, creepy nuisances (to me at least).

2. On ~p.96, it says Gildor only gave Frodo "hints and riddles" regarding the Nazgul. Why would he not fully inform Frodo what he was up against?

I had wondered this myself often. Sometimes, I think it's for the reason Gildor states of giving the wrong advice. But, perhaps it's also because Elves don't like to speak of evil things in detail. Also, it was nighttime when this conversation happens; Gandalf didn't want to speak of them at night either in Chapter 2. Could it be for the same reason?

Jaido, don't you think that being told I'm not going to tell you because it's too scary, is more scary than being told what's what? At least, my imagination will go nuts once I hear that.

3. On ~p.106, Farm Maggot describes his encounter with a Black Rider, who talks seemingly quite colloquially and even offers Maggot a bribe in gold. This seems like very human (or Man, Elf, Dwarf) behavior for something as dark and twisted as the Nazgul seemed to be portrayed as later in the books. Do you think Tolkien's perception of what he wanted the Nazgul to be changed over time as he wrote?

Is Farmer Maggot using his own "voice" to quote the Nazgul? I never thought of it as being a direct conversation. And remember, even if it was a direct conversation, the Nazgul were once human.

4. Why, do you think, were the Nazgul given horses and not fell beasts right from the beginning? Stealth purposes perhaps?

 I agree, stealth.

B. Regarding the hobbits and their journey specifically.

 

6. Any idea what that gold drink was that the Elves gave the hobbits (~p.101) and does it ever appear in the series again?

Wasn't it Miruvor (or miruvoir)?

8. How many of you do/enjoy reading the songs and poems (a recurring element in the series)?

I like some of the poems and some I find tedious and skip over them. Shh, don't tell.

9. Does anyone else get disoriented in your mind when reading about where the hobbits are when traveling throughout the Shire without consulting a map?

 Yes, which is why I wound up on this site in the first place, looking for a decent map. I have found some, but I want a really detailed map that shows each journey up close and personal.

 


 



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Post #39                              Chapter 4:  A Shortcut to Mushrooms

 

Laurelin,
I can definitely agree about this: Jaido, don't you think that being told I'm not going to tell you because it's too scary, is more scary than being told what's what? At least, my imagination will go nuts once I hear that.
This is true.

As for Laurelin's #3...Do you think Tolkien's perception of what he wanted the Nazgul to be changed over time as he wrote?

     I'd have to say that Tolkien was doing his brand of teasing in these early chapters. Taking the naive perceptions of the Hobbit's into account at all times...it isn't until Rivendell that we start to get a broader over view of the challenges and dangers that Frodo would face....and thanks to the "knowing" that we get in Rivendell the pieces of the Chess Board are more clear but gain that much more weight in their peril. Here is a good example which I thought boils down what Tolkien was doing by leading us in certain directions with the Nazgul, because I think he understood (quite well) that Not Knowing was way worse than Knowing as Laurelin mentioned above.   Green highlights are showing the clever ramping up of "doom-like" wording that create all the tension....

They reached the entrance to the Ferry lane at last. It was marked by two tall white posts that suddenly loomed up on their right. Farmer Maggot drew in his ponies and the waggon creaked to a halt. They were just beginning to scramble out, when suddenly they heard what they had all been dreading: hoofs on the road ahead. The sound was coming towards them.
Maggot jumped down and stood holding the ponies' heads, and peering forward into the gloom. Clip-clop, clip-clip came the approaching rider. The fall of the hoofs sounded loud in the still, foggy air.
"You'd better be hidd, Mr. Frodo," said Sam anxiously. "You get down in the waggon and cover up with blankets, and we'll send this rider to the righabouts!" He climbed out and went to the farmer' side. Black Riders would have to ride over him to get near the waggon.
Clop-clop, clop-clop. The rider was nearly on them.
"Hallo there!" called Farmer Maggot. The advancing hoofs stopped short. They thought they could dimly guess a dark cloaked shape in the mist, a yard or two ahead.
"Now then!" said the farmer, throwing the reins to Sam and striding forward. "Don't you come a step nearer! What do you want, and where are you going?"
"I want Mr. Baggins. Have you seen him?" said a muffled voice- but the voice was the voice of Merry Brandybuck. (Then comes the sigh of relief from the audience).  A dark lantern was uncovered, and its light fell on the astonished face of the farmer.
"Mr. Merry!" he cried.
"Yes, of course! Who did you think it was?" said Merry coming forward. As he came out of the mist and their fears subsided, he seemed suddenly to diminish to ordinary hobbit-size. He was riding a pony, and a scarf was swathed round his neck and over his chin to keep out the fog.---LOTR, FOTR, A Shortcut to Mushrooms.


The Professor was definitely showing his spooky ghost-story telling abilities here.  A technique used in every horror film to scare you with nothing....smoke and mirrors done rather well I might add.



-- Edited by Jaidoprism7 on Wednesday 21st of May 2014 07:50:42 PM

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Post # 40

I just wanted to add that in this chapter we see again that Frodo is prone to usual 'human' fears. He is still quite afraid of farmer Maggot and his dogs. Yet he is undertaking this quest and even contemplates not taking anybody with him. Interesting.

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