FoTR - The Breaking of the Fellowship: Bk II, Chapter X

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Riv Res
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FoTR - The Breaking of the Fellowship: Bk II, Chapter X

Postby Riv Res » Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:55 pm

The Breaking of the Fellowship

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© Catherine Karina Chmiel



It is here that we fully understand that Tolkien's story is taking a definite and drastic turn...and as it turns out, it is splintering into several different directions...each with its own dramatic importance. What we learn here, however, is that Boromir can no longer hide his coveting of the Ring, that Frodo decides to go it alone, that Sam isn't about to let him, and that Aragorn may be the future King of Gondor and Arnor, but today he is unfortunately the King of disarray.
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Wed Sep 17, 2008 3:11 pm

Nice intro, Riv Res, and a perfect picture!

I'll start with an opening salvo to the Boromir fans: I can forgive him for trying to take the Ring away from Frodo. I can't forgive him for failing to report Frodo's whereabouts and state of mind to the rest of the Fellowship when they realized he was missing.

Did he redeem himself? I don't know. But it was brilliant of Tolkien to kill him off at that point, so we would have the pleasure of considering the question!
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
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Riv Res
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Postby Riv Res » Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:34 am

Merry wrote:But it was brilliant of Tolkien to kill him off at that point, so we would have the pleasure of considering the question!


Interesting point indeed Merry.

In Christopher Tolkien's 7th volume of The History of Middle-earth, there is that chapter (The Story Foreseen From Moria) where CT shares Tolkien's original vision of The Breaking of the Fellowship where Legolas and a disheartened Gimli travel north towards Lothlorien, where it is they who meet up with Gandalf. Boromir lives and he and Aragorn turn south to Minas Tirith. Eventually the truly corrupt Boromir emerges (realizing that Aragorn stands to inherit the throne of Gondor, which he covets) and he returns to Isengard where he forms an alliance with Saruman.

So...what made Tolkien make this dramatic change in his plot and storyline? What made Tolkien give Boromir that noble death rather than morphing him into a truly evil enemy of Aragorn and the forces of good?

I must re-read that volume of CT's HoM-e and see what I can find out. :wink:
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Merry
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Postby Merry » Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:01 pm

I did not know this! This is amazing!

I think Boromir represents the race of Men in Tolkien's mind, and he really must have had ambiguous feelings about our goodness. I'm glad he departed from this script!
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all the days of your life.

Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Thu Sep 18, 2008 4:28 pm

I am too - this wouldn't have worked. Boromir's flaws make him human and being human (and desperate) makes him vulnerable to the Ring. It's inconceivable, though, that after fighting Mordor for so long he would go to Saruman and plot against men. It would take all reality from his character making him some one-dimensional cardboard villain. As he stands in the finished book there is something of the Shakesperean Tragedy about him, even in his forgiveness at the end when the scales have fallen from his eyes. Much better for him to die a warrior's death saving the hobbits.

And being flawed (rather than totally corrupt) he is a much better counterpoint to Aragorn (who is so good). Push them too far apart and they both look too extreme. If I remember rightly Aragorn doesn't come out so well in that draft, being overconfident and facing off Boromir on his home turf in a very heavy-handed way.

Interesting about Legolas and Gimli going North. Even if Frodo and Sam had left, the Legolas and Gimli we know in the finished book would stay with Aaragorn out of love for him, no matter what lay ahead in Minas Tirth. Much more satisfying!
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Postby Kirill Leonov » Tue Sep 23, 2008 11:44 am

Yes, I recall that (read that ages ago, but still remember some things), and I also think it is better that way, without Boromir betraying his entire kind by serving Saruman just because he is second in command. The way it is, Boromir is a lot more believable - a lot more human.

Aragorn the kign of disarray :lol: - well, I really wouldn't want to have to make his decisions in that chapter. Those are hard choices.

I find his original plan interesting, that he and Frodo go to Mordor and maybe take Gimli, it is an interesting thought experiment to wonder how it would have played out.
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Postby Iolanthe » Tue Sep 23, 2008 7:08 pm

A whole different story! I wonder if they would have made it at all? Frodo and Sam needed Gollum and I can't imagine Aragorn having any truck with him. How exactly would Aragorn have got them into Mordor? Would he have tried the Morgul Vale? We know that Aragorn has walked very near to there before. Could he have stayed unoticed as well as two small and quiet hobbits?

But, ultimately, would any of them thrown the Ring in the Fire with no Gollum to resolve it? Assuming Aragorn could get the Ring off a reluctant and invisible Frodo without killing him that really would have been the ultimate challenge for Aragorn - standing where his ancestor stood and facing the same decision.
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Lindariel
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Postby Lindariel » Wed Sep 24, 2008 2:01 pm

You know, Iolanthe, I wonder if that's what the Professor originally had in mind -- having Aragorn face Isildur's dilemma and succeed where his ancestor failed? It would certainly be interesting, but it would fly in the face of one of his most important premises -- that at the Mountain of Doom, NO mortal could resist the Voice of the Ring -- not Aragorn, not even Frodo.

Isildur did not fail because he was weak; he failed because NO ONE could have succeeded. It required the Hand of Grace, for whom Gollum was ultimately an instrument of deliverance. And more importantly, I think Frodo had to earn that Grace by taking pity upon Gollum. Would Aragorn have been capable of extending such pity, after his previous experiences with Gollum and the resulting hatred between the two? I don't think so.

Here's what I wonder. Did the Professor ever consider putting Sam in that position? Or perhaps we should save that conversation for the appropriate chapter thread in ROTK?
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Iolanthe
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Postby Iolanthe » Wed Sep 24, 2008 7:31 pm

Naw - let's have it here and now (not that I'm around the next few days - marbretherese and I are off to Oxonmoot tomorrow :D ). But we can chip in when we get back!

I also think Aragorn would have failed the 'pity' test with Gollum. He wouldn't have let himself be led by him and if Gollum followed I think eventually he would have dealt with him - at least enough to ensure he would never be able to follow them to Mount Doom. And I also think you're right about the challenge the Ring would have given him once they arrived. If the Ring is everything Tolkien said it was (which of course it must be) then he couldn't have done it.

By that reckoning neither could Sam. I wonder if Tolkien did ever consider putting Sam to that test? I think there would have been two stumbling blocks:

:arrow: To get the Ring off Frodo he would have had to have hurt him. I don't think Tolkien could have allowed that to happen. Even if Sam could have brought himself to do it for the good of Middle-earth it's somehow not fit for the character that all readers grow to love and I don't think Tolkien could have bourn it.

:arrow: I somehow find it impossible to believe that Sam would have claimed the Ring. I think Tolkien would have found it impossible to believe too and having him pass the test would have completely contradicted the premise about the Ring above. It really wouldn't do - best not go there at all!
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Lindariel
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Postby Lindariel » Thu Sep 25, 2008 8:16 pm

The only way I could see Sam dealing with the Ring (he absolutely could never hurt Frodo or take the Ring from him) is to sacrifice both himself and Mr. Frodo for the good of Middle-earth, i.e., grabbing Frodo and tumbling together into the Fire. But I really don't see this as a solution either for two reasons: (1) because I believe the Professor would have found the notion of suicide abominable, even for such a worthy end; and (2) I also think it flies in the face of Sam's virtually cellular-level and completely unquenchable hope and optimism.

Frodo believed very early on that he would not survive the Quest, and I think towards the end he probably believed that the only way he would be able to destroy the Ring would be to throw it and himself in the Fire. He never SAYS so, but every statement he makes about the Quest implies that his sole hope is to get to the Mountain and see the deed done; he never expected to survive it.

It is Sam who constantly worries about their provisions and about having enough left to "get home." It isn't until after their disastrous encounter with the troop of orcs that force-marches them across the plains of Gorgoroth to the entrance to Udun that Sam finally realizes their provisions might at best get them TO the mountain, and that's all:

. . . and when the task was done, there they would come to an end, alone, houseless, foodless in the midst of a terrible desert. There could be no return. 'So that was the job I felt I had to do when I started,' thought Sam: 'to help Mr. Frodo to the last step and then die with him? Well, if that is the job then I must do it . . . .' But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new strength. Sam's plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue.


" . . . or seemed to die," is a very telling statement by the Professor. Even when Sam "seems" to have given up hope, he really hasn't. After Gollum and the Ring go into the Fire, Frodo is ready to just lie down and die, but Sam has other plans. " . . . after coming all that way I don't want to give up yet. It's not like me, somehow, if you understand . . . . Well, Master, we could at least go further from this dangerous place here, from this Crack of Doom, if that's its name. Now couldn't we? Come, Mr. Frodo, let's go down the path at any rate!"

Even when they can't go any farther and are cut off from any hope of escape by the lava, Sam determinedly keeps his fear at bay, wishing he could hear the story of "Nine-fingered Frodo and the Ring of Doom" and keeping his eyes firmly to the north "where the sky far off was clear, as the cold blast, rising to a gale, drove back the darkness and the ruin of the clouds."

Nope, if the Professor ever did consider putting Sam in the position of getting rid of the Ring, I think he very quickly figured out that the only possible scenario for doing so would ultimately be completely against Sam's basic nature.
Last edited by Lindariel on Fri Sep 26, 2008 2:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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“Therefore I say: Eä! Let these things Be! And I will send forth into the Void the Flame Imperishable, and it shall be at the heart of the World, and the World shall Be.”

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Postby Merry » Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:16 pm

I agree. I don't think Tolkien ever considered this. If I remember correctly, Frodo and Gollum at Mount Doom was in the Professor's mind fairly early in the writing process, as well as the role of Pity (always capitalized) in the ending. There are several references in the letters that indicate that this theme was the point of the whole thing.

I suppose that if Aragorn and Gimli had accompanied Frodo into Mordor, it still would have ended up that Frodo and Gollum danced at the fire's edge.
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Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.


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