FOTR The Ring Goes South: Bk II Chapter III

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Philipa
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FOTR The Ring Goes South: Bk II Chapter III

Post by Philipa » Thu Mar 02, 2006 8:32 pm

The Ring Goes South



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Caradhras

© marbretherese



The Company is now formed and leave Rivendell on December 25th. It is a long haul to reach Hollin and onward to the Redhorn Gate. The shadow veils the sky as they near Caradhras. Let's discuss this chapter together. Why do you suppose Tolkien chose December 25th as thier departure date? Will crebains deliver messages to Isengard of the coming of the Company?

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Post by Philipa » Thu Mar 02, 2006 10:52 pm

I remember reading this the first time and realizing that all those other Tolkien titles must explain what Legolas was talking about regarding Hollis and Gimli the mountain ranges ahead. I knew I was in trouble then and that I'd be reading the Sil after the LoTR books. :lol:

Have any of you more advanced Tolkien folk seen any sugnificant reason why Tolkien chose Dec. 25th as the start off date for the Company from Rivendell?
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Post by Merry » Fri Mar 03, 2006 6:37 am

Here's what Shippey says about that, Philipa:

25th March remains a date deeply embedded in the Christian calendar. In old tradition, again, it is the date of the Annunciation and the conception of Christ--naturally, nine months exactly before Christmas, 25th December. It is also the date of the Fall of Adam and Eve, the felix culpa [happy fault] whose disastrous effects the Annunciation and the Crucifixion were to annul or repair. One might note that in the Calendar of dates which Tolkien so carefully wrote out in Appendix B, December 25th is the day on which the Fellowship sets out from Rivendell. The main action of The Lord of the Rings takes place, then, in the mythic space between Christmas, Christ's birth, and the crucifixion, Christ's death.
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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Post by bruce rerek » Fri Mar 03, 2006 3:54 pm

One also must keep in mind the fact that we are setting out during the shortest days of the year and the longest nights. The overall motif is finding one's way through darkness and doubt. I find the leave taking to be especially moving becasue it resonates a wise sorrow about mortality:
I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
I shall never know.
The way is hard and cold without the comfort of fire or a warm meal. Caradhras much like Old Man Willow bares no love or brokes no tresspass on its person. In the Hobbit I recall the mountains hurling rock for its ammusement, for JRR was keen about including a certain animi to rock and mountain. To be plauged by the spies of the dark lord is one thing but to have a force of nature to contend with quite another.
Boromir's vigor is an interesting counterpoint to the mountain's malicous snow storms. Each uses sheer brute force to achieve its ends. His bomastic horn blast certainly informed fell ears on their departure, but his reslove most certainly kept the Hobbits from perishing on the mountain.
Yet, the mountain did defeat them, which might inform that forces for ill or good are beyond some powers that are older than they are. As we wil later see, this darkness will now extend from the heights of the earth to the depths of lowest places.
Bruce
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Mornie alantie
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Post by Philipa » Mon Mar 06, 2006 3:31 pm

Ahh thank you both for responding to my question. :D

Bruce wrote:Boromir's vigor is an interesting counterpoint to the mountain's malicous snow storms. Each uses sheer brute force to achieve its ends. His bomastic horn blast certainly informed fell ears on their departure, but his reslove most certainly kept the Hobbits from perishing on the mountain.


Yes, I remember being very impressed by his take charge attitude in this chapter. Although in the previous chapter that 'take charge' method is seen as impatience it served well for the Hobbits on Caradhras.

And we also see the gracious Elf in motion here as well. I remember reading this for the first time and wondering who were these creatures so high and mighty that walk on snow? :lol:
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Post by Merry » Mon Mar 13, 2006 4:59 am

Reading your post again tonight, Philipa, made me think of all the different 'types' of men we find in Tolkien. The experts tell us that he was fascinated with Jungian archetypes while writing LOTR. I can't remember much about what I've read about Jung, but weren't there four male archetypes? Warrior, lover, jester, king? (Or is one of them wizard or wiseman?) Something like that?

So while Boromir's character is clearly that of warrior, I think one of the reasons we love Aragorn so much is that he is not so neatly categorized. All of these roles begin to be delineated in this chapter, I think. I remember, on my first reading of LOTR, not really being able to tell the difference between Merry and Pippin (at WRoR, we call them 'Mippin') until Pippin starts getting himself in trouble with Gandalf at Moria. Merry begins to delineate himself as being the wiser of the two.
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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Post by Iolanthe » Sat Mar 18, 2006 8:51 pm

Mippin :lol: .

Koon, in his interesing 2003 essay LOTR: from an archetypical perspective sets the Archetypes in LOTR out as:

SAINT: Elrond/Galadriel
MAGICIAN: Gandalf
KING: Aragorn/Frodo
JESTER: Merry/Pippin
WARRIOR: Legolas/Gimili
LOVER: Faramir (though this is tenuous as LOTR isn't a love story)
SAVAGE: Tom Bombadil/Treebeard

He hasn't put Boromir in as a 'Warrior' archetype, maybe because he was flawed. Koon says of Legolas and Gimli:

They are unyielding in their battle and faithful to their comrades.

Should Boromir be there, do you think?

And there's also a list of shadow archetypes:

SAINT: ?
MAGICIAN: Sauruman
KING: Sauron/Ringwraithes
JESTER: Grima Wormtongue
WARRIOR: Orcs/Uruk-hai
LOVER : Gollum
SAVAGE: Balrog/Shelob

He doesn't mention a shadow archetype for SAINT, but I think Denethor fits the bill. This is how Koon defines the Saint in LOTR:

In LOTR the role of the saint is represented by the wise leaders of the elves, Elrond and Galadriel. They don’t take part in the battle, but give wise advice and influence the course of history from their high positions. They are in contact with the laws of the cosmos and know the course of history of Middle Earth.


What do you think, load of rubbish or some interesting ideas there?
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Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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Post by Merry » Sun Mar 19, 2006 2:40 am

Oh, really interesting, I think! Especially the shadow archetypes. I'd put Sauron as the anti-saint rather than king: he is a Maiar, semi-divine, and so has a sinner/demon personality.

I had to think about Gollum as lover for a minute, but I think that's right. It's interesting to think of Faramir and Gollum as polar opposites, but it works.
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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Post by Iolanthe » Sun Mar 19, 2006 12:46 pm

Yes, it does doesn't it? Faramir has all the gentility of the Medieval lover though he only finds the object of his love late in the book. Koon emphasises that LOTR isn't really a love story so it was hard to fill the role of Lover without stretching it a bit. But he does firmly reject the Ring - and Gollum, who fills the role of Shadow Lover very well, becomes his polar opposite, obsessed by it as his only desire.

Sauron as anti-saint is interesting :-k but I do see him as Aragorn's opposite (I have a file of arguments somewhere)... but that belongs somewhere else as I'm now leading us well away from the Ring Goes South :oops: .
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

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Post by Philipa » Tue Mar 28, 2006 2:30 am

Shall we venture into Moria tomorrow? :D This conversation can remain active of course but I'll set up the next chapter in the morrow.
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Post by Merry » Sun Dec 17, 2006 4:41 am

I am back-tracking to this chapter for a bit, I guess. I'm going to write my essay for the contest about December 25, the day the Fellowship leaves Rivendell. And so I have been thinking about the scene in this chapter when the Fellowship is about to depart, especially the little disagreement between Gimli and Elrond over whether or not oaths should be taken to encourage the members of the Fellowship not to abandon their quest. I remember the first time reading this, I was on Gimli's side: I wanted everyone's word! And Tolkien writes great oaths, as we have seen. But Elrond disagrees.

Here's the passage:

'The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servant of the Enemy nor indeed to let any handle it, save members of the Company and the Council, and only then in gravest need. The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.'

'Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' said Gimli.

'Maybe,' said Elrond, 'but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.'

''Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,' said Gimli.

'Or break it,' said Elrond. 'Look not too far ahead!'


An interesting exchange, and I don't think I've ever read any secondary source discussing it. Was Elrond right? If Boromir had taken an oath, would he have behaved differently? What was Tolkien thinking of when he wrote this exchange? Insights?

I also think the image of Aragorn sitting with his head bowed to his knees, contemplating the importance of this hour in his life, is poignant.
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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Post by librislove » Mon Dec 18, 2006 7:10 am

It would not be any wonder if Elrond were wary of oaths and the results of following them blindly--he would have been familiar with the story of Feanor and all the chaos, tragedy, and destruction that followed his famous oath concerning the Sils.
Many live who deserve death; some die who deserve life--can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be so quick to deal out death in judgment. Even the wisest cannot see all ends.

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Post by Lindariel » Mon Dec 18, 2006 3:16 pm

Absolutely correct librislove! Elrond would certainly be very wary of the dangers inherent in oaths, knowing full well the disaster of the Oath of Feanor. I think there is also Pity implicit in Elrond's desire to avoid any oath-taking at the outset of the Quest of Mount Doom. As he says, "Yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road . . . . Maybe, but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall."

I think, like Galadriel, Elrond foresees that there will come a time when Frodo will have to break company with the Fellowship as the Ring begins to exert its power over various members. To bind them by oath to stay together would have been folly. He also must be thinking of the youngest members of the party -- Merry and Pippin -- who have absolutely no idea what they are undertaking. It would have been cruel to bind them to this Quest with an oath when they know so little of the world.

Also, I think Aragorn learns from Elrond's example. Later, when Aragorn leads the Men of the West to the Black Gate, there is the incident in which a number of men are so overhelmed and dismayed by the sight of the desolation at the Pass of Cirith Gorgor that they cannot continue. Instead of berating them for failing in their duty (i.e., for failing their oaths as soldiers of Gondor and Rohan), Aragorn takes pity on them and gives them leave to go and undertake a different task -- re-taking Cair Andros and holding it to the defense of Gondor and Rohan. Some, offered such mercy, were able to summon up their courage and continue; those who could not nonetheless took hope in being given a meaningful task they could undertake with pride. Elrond certainly didn't bestow the name Estel (Hope) upon Aragorn lightly!

Merry, I also was very moved by the image of Aragorn sitting with his head bowed to his knees, nearly overwhelmed by what he is about to undertake. He is setting out on the Quest that will determine his future and Arwen's, and he is undertaking it with Anduril -- the reforged Sword of Elendil -- in his hands. It is a HUGE moment for him, and yet it is accomplished so quietly and without any fanfare (other than Boromir's rash blast on the Horn of Gondor).

As you will recall, this moment was the subject of the poem I wrote for last year's MeJ Yule Contest!
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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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Post by Merry » Mon Dec 18, 2006 5:53 pm

I had forgotten that, Lindariel, but I looked it up again--wonderful poetic moment!

I think you're right about the Oath of Feanor, librislove.
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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Post by librislove » Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:18 pm

Great observations, Lindariel! I think Elrond (and Tolkien speaking through him) also understood that the real binding ties were those of love, not oath. Oaths taken are broken with tragic results (Feanor, the Oathbreakers in the Army of the Dead), but the ties of love are both stronger than oath, and more flexible. Love it is, not oath, that keeps the Dunedain and Legolas and Gimli and even the horses following Aragorn on the Paths of the Dead; love binds Sam and Frodo. And the failure of love can pervert any oath, as when Denethor uses Faramir's love and loyalty to him and to Gondor to pursue the useless attempt to retake Osgiliath. Elrond knew this, and knew that ties of love would endure and strengthen even when the needs of the Quest took its members far from each other. Aragorn would have gone with Frodo to the the end, but the flexibility of love as opposed to oath allowed him to let Frodo go when the need to do that came, and pursue Mippin with a clear conscience. As it turned out, that was exactly what needed to happen to further all their ends.
Many live who deserve death; some die who deserve life--can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be so quick to deal out death in judgment. Even the wisest cannot see all ends.

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