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Old 09-13-2004, 02:24 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Silmaril LotR -- Book 2 - Chapter 01 - Many Meetings

We now begin our discussion of Book 2! Thanks to all those who have stuck with us and contributed so far.

This chapter is the account of one single day, told completely from Frodo’s point of view. It is his first conscious day in Rivendell, the awakening after his near-tragedy and the eucatastrophe which he did not remember experiencing. It begins with the reunion with Gandalf, though Frodo (and we) are not yet told why he failed to meet him earlier. Gandalf’s narrative fills in the empty spaces in the story, but more than that – he praises Frodo’s strength to withstand the influence of evil so far. Interestingly, he calls the experience in the Barrow the most dangerous moment of all. The possible reasons for that will provide us with interesting discussion material! (…in this most dangerous place… ) The dialogue, which consists mostly of Frodo’s questions and Gandalf’s answers, takes up the first pages of the chapter.

Then come more of the meetings of which the chapter title speaks – reunions with Frodo’s friends, and later on, with Bilbo - yes, and with Glorfindel too; and acquaintance with new friends in Rivendell. Elrond is introduced, as is Arwen; Glóin is an old friend to those who have previously read The Hobbit, though known only by hearsay to Frodo; and Lindir is named as one of the many Elves who live at Rivendell. (His comment is one of my favorite lines in this chapter: “To sheep other sheep no doubt appear different, or to shepherds.” ) We get to know Aragorn from his kingly side, and another of his many names is revealed.

Two poems give their special flavour to this chapter: Bilbo’s “Ëarendil was a mariner” and the Elves’ “A Elbereth Gilthoniel”. No translation from the original Sindarin is offered here for the latter (a daring authorial decision, but one that adds to the verisimilitude of the story!), though Bilbo comments that it is a song to Elbereth. However, Tolkien provided one along with explanations when the poem was set to music by Donald Swann in The Road Goes Ever On. Here it is:
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O! Elbereth who lit the stars, from glittering crystal slanting falls with light like jewels from heaven on high the glory of the starry host. To lands remote I have looked afar, and now to thee, Fanuilos, bright spirit clothed in ever-white, I here will sing beyond the Sea, beyond the wide and sundering Sea.
How is this chapter significant to you? What information do you find most important, what part of the tale most enjoyable?
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Old 09-13-2004, 06:57 AM   #2
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He found laid ready clean garments of green cloth that fitted him excellently
.

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True Thomas lay on Huntlie Bank
A ferlie he spied wi’ his ee
And there he saw a ladye bright
Come riding down by the Eildon tree

Her shirt was o’ the grass-green silk
Her mantle of the velvet fine
At ilka tett of her horse’s mane
Hung fifty siller bells and nine.

True Thomas, he pulled off his cap
And /louted low down to the knee
‘All Hail, thou mighty Queen of Heaven
For thy peer on earth I never did see

‘O no, O no, Thomas’ she said
‘That name does not belong to me
I am but the Queen of fair Elfland
That am hither come to visit thee
..........

He has gotten a coat of the even cloth
And a pair of shoes of velvet green
And till seven years were gone & past
True Thomas on earth was never seen.
(The Ballad of Thomas the Rhymer- traditional Scottish ballad)
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Wearing of green is associated with magic, witchcraft, fertility. ‘A green gown is the traditional term for rustic defloration, & overall weariing of green is associated with earth-magic. Thomas the Rhymer is given clothing of green by the Queen of Elfland. The significance within the Tradition is that the wearing of Green signifies unity with the Land.
(RJ Stewart: The UnderWorld Initiation)
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One of the few things that most accounts agree upon is that the favourite colour of the fairy folk was green. It is for this reason that some people still think of green as unlucky, since it could only be worn by the people of Faery & to copy them was to court their anger.

‘Virtually all the elfin folk of Britain & Ireland dress in green, a colour, indeed, that is pretty generally characteristic of fairies’ says Professor Wimberley in his Folk Lore & Ballad & goes on to cite a number of Faeriy ballads such as Tam Lin & Thomas the Rhymer (Child Ballads nos 37 & 39)....In the description of the second faery court in Tam Lin we read how:

‘The next court that comes along
Is clad in robes of green
And its the head court of them all
For in it rides the Queen

As to the reason, if any is needed, why the Faerie folk should choose this colour, one may decide whether one sees it as a natural reflection of their closeness & participation in the world of growth & greenness, or whether the association of the colour green with death & witches derives from the faery tradition, or whether it influenced that tradition in turn. (John Matthews, ‘Robin Hood: Green Lord of the Wildwood’)
So, wearing green is symbolic of death, & is the colour of the clothing worn by the inhabitants of the OtherWorld. Frodo has crossed fully into the OtherWorld now. In a sense he did die at the ford, symbolically at least, & entered the magical world of the elves. Bilbo had crossed over into the Otherworld previously & found the Ring, which he took back to the living world with him, but the wrath of the OtherWorld powers pursued him. The Magical object must be returned by Frodo if the fury of the powers is not to lay the Land waste. So, Frodo must pass symbolically into the realm of the dead to return the magical object to its place of origin.

We know we are no longer in ‘our’ world ‘Time doesn’t pass, in Rivendell, it just ‘is’, its difficult to even stay awake - one is constantly drifting into dreams. Frodo has finally passed over the ‘River’, which he had dreamed of doing, but he will never fully be able to pass back. The others will, like Thomas, returning from the OtherWorld with the gift of prophecy (‘The Tongue that Cannot Lie’) but Frodo won’t ever be able to reintegrate fully into this world - why? Perhaps because he became too bound to the ring, the ultimate source of OtherWorldly power & magic. Ironically, the more he integrates himself into the OtherWorld, the more he severs his links with the world of the iving. On their return the others feel like they’re waking up from a long dream, but Frodo feels like he is falling asleep. In the end the living world will become for Frodo what the OtherWorld is for his fellow hobbits - a place of dream, unreal, & he will always feel out of place, yearning for the place he has come to belong in.
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Old 09-13-2004, 08:24 PM   #3
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After the excitement of the previous two chapters, Book II begins with a needed respite. Like chapter 1 of Book I, there is no real danger in this chapter, and the plot is not very much advanced. What does come across very strongly here is milieu - the feeling of Rivendell (that is, the feeling of Faerie) is perfectly captured. Book I began with a chapter that offered a vivid impression of Hobbiton; the rest of that book amounted to a journey away from the mundane and toward Faerie. As others have noted in previous chapter discussions, each time Frodo crosses a river he moves farther into the "otherworld". Now he has fully arrived, and a chapter offereing a vivid impression of Rivendell completes the journey.

This chapter also contains a rather impressive poem, Bilbo's "Earendil was a Mariner". I never cease to be impressed with the scheme of the poem, rhymes on every second line and assonance between the end of the off-lines and the second foot of the rhyming lines. Tolkien wrote that he was only able to write in this meter once and never again - but the "Earendil" poem is actually a heavy revision of his older poem "Errantry"; so he had sufficient command of its form at least for that. Interestingly, the version found in LotR was not the one that was meant to be. Tolkien had revised the poem further, but apparently could not find that revision at the time of publication and was forced to use this one. The "correct" version can be found in HoMe VII.
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Old 09-13-2004, 08:55 PM   #4
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Ah, True Thomas. A great guy and a great poem.

A very interesting post regarding the significance of the green clothing, davem, and the points you make are quite valid. The green is symbolic of the "Otherworld," as you say, and of how Frodo is being permanently drawn into this world. But I would not exactly also take a view of green being symbolic of life or rebirth. Here he is entering a world of calm and peace amid the dangers outside of Rivendell, and is regaining his health. He is not the same due to his experiences with the Ringwraiths, and he never will be, but he is still on the road to recovery. The color green could offer protection, since, as Gandalf says, Rivendell is safe

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at present, until all else is conquered.
Also, the cloaks of Lorien sometimes appear green, offering protection and camoflage.

One of the parts I find most interesting in this chapter is the part when Bilbo asks to see the Ring, especially the following passage:

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"Yes, I've got it," answered Frodo, showing a strange reluctance. "It looks just the same as ever it did."

"Well, I should just like to see it for a moment."

When he had dressed, Frodo found that while he slept the Ring had been hung about his neck on a new chain, light but strong. Slwoly he drew it out. Bilbo put out his hand. But Frodo quickly drew back the Ring. To his distress and amazement he found that he was no longer looking at Bilbo; a shadow seemed to have fallen between them, and through it he found himself eyeing a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands. He felt a desire to strike him.

The music and singing round them seemed to falter and a silence fell. Bilbo looked quickly at Frodo's face and passes his hand across his eyes. "I understand now," he said. "Put it away! I am sorry: sorry you have come in for this burden: sorry about everything. Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story."
Well, at least Bilbo didn't exactly go rabid like he did in the movie! But this does show what a great hold the Ring still has on him, and here we see echoes of Gollum. This is one of the first points at which Frodo actually understands what terrible powers the Ring has, for here he sees it at work on one of the people closest to him.

As a final thought: has anyone else noticed the similarities between the Hall of Fire in this chapter and the Tale-Fire of HoME I?
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Old 09-14-2004, 01:44 AM   #5
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To what extent is Frodo's time in Rivendell similar to Niggle's in the workhouse? Both periods take place in a post 'death' state, & both result in the hero ultimately leaving & going beyond the limits of the physical world (the 'Mountains' or the 'Sea'). Rivendell would work for me in that role - the place of preparation for the task ahead, the creation of Niggle's Parish,or the destruction of the Ring - though of course in a sense the whole of Frodo's journey is his 'workhouse'.

On Aiwendil's point about the Earendel verse in LotR not being the final version (it misses out a verse on the attack by the Sons of Feanor on the Havens of Sirion, among other things) :

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(From the start of stanza 4:
In might the Feanorians
That swore the unforgotten oath
Brought war into Arvernien
with burning & with broken troth;
And Elwing from her fastness dim
then cast her in the waters wide
but like a mew was swiftly borne
uplifted o'er the roaring tide.
Through hopeless night she came to him,
And flame was in the darkness lit
(etc)
& just as an aside, in the new anniversary edition of LotR out in October/November, we are told that it will be the edition that JRRT originally envisioned (it will contain the pages for the Book of Mazarbul which Tolkien drew but which weren't included for cost reasons), & CT has supervised it. Now, as CT has pointed out a number of these 'errors' in the published version of LotR, I wonder if we'll see these verses included, & what would the general reaction be to that? This perhaps belongs in the Canonicity thread, as if CT did make such changes, would they be 'canonical' or not? Is even the inclusion of the pictures acceptable, as Tolkien didn't authorise this edition?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Encaitare
Well, at least Bilbo didn't exactly go rabid like he did in the movie! But this does show what a great hold the Ring still has on him, and here we see echoes of Gollum. This is one of the first points at which Frodo actually understands what terrible powers the Ring has, for here he sees it at work on one of the people closest to him.
I always felt this was Frodo's perception of Bilbo, rather than something that happened to him, & can't help but wonder to what extent he was seeing Bilbo as Sauron would have seen him - seeing Bilbo, the person he loves most in the world as 'a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands' who he feels a desire to strike.' seems somehow deeply out of character for Frodo - so out of character that its one of the most shocking events in the story for me. this perverted vision, this desire to use violence - after Gandalf has told him he's safe in Rivendell, no evil in Rivendell, eh? We see, perhaps, a glimpse of another Frodo, filled with contempt & violence for others, & perhaps also a glimpse of what the 'Eye' sees when it looks at others.
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Old 09-14-2004, 03:40 AM   #6
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Aiwendil, I too noticed the similarity of the two poems "Ëarendil was a mariner" and "Errantry", which also has a mariner as its main protagonist. Since I didn't know which one was written first, I wondered if "Errantry" was perhaps his own parody, but your comment answers that question. Thanks! I may come back with a closer look at comparing the two if I have time this week.
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Old 09-14-2004, 04:55 AM   #7
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Hmmm…I appear to have a slightly different view of this chapter than some. Yes, I see that this chapter is one of the refuges in the refuge-danger cycle of the narrative, but I don’t see it as a pause in the action, nor as a moment in which Frodo makes any grand kind of transition between starkly opposed realms (life/death, mundane/faerie). What I thin is happening here is that Frodo is continuing his journey toward a fuller awareness of the world around him – of both the light and dark.

The chapter is full of moments in which the nature of things is revealed. The brilliance of the chapter is that nothing ‘new’ is really learned (that is for the masterpiece ‘Council of Elrond’ coming next week *pant pant*); instead, we & Frodo learn more about things we are already familiar with.

It is, fittingly, Gandalf who kicks off the chapter’s ambivalent exploration of reality with his mysterious return, and equally mysterious refusal to explain why. We learn from him that:

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‘There are many powers in the world, for good or evil. Some are greater than I am.’ … The Morgul-lord and his Black Riders have come forth. War is preparing! … for the Black Riders are the Ringwraiths, the Nine Servants of the Lord of the Rings.’
A lot is happening in this brief passage. First, we learn that the world is full of good and evil that is stronger than Gandalf, so we are treated to equal parts hope and despair, and given a look into the future and the moment at which those forces will meet when Frodo is a the Crack of Doom. We learn that all out war is preparing – something we’ve not heard of until this point – and the identity of the Black Riders. It’s interesting that the Riders do not become any more frightening by the knowledge, but it’s significant that the first thing Frodo learns in the House of Elrond, loremaster, counsel giver, is the identity of the creatures that have been attempting to destroy him, and that their appearance heralds an all-out war! Finally, it’s here in the ‘refuge’ of Rivendel that Frodo first hears the appelation “Lord of the Rings”.

But the light is revealed, as is the dark. Gandalf goes on to explain who Glorfindel is and that because of Elves like him

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‘there is a power in Rivendell to withstand the might of Mordor, for a while: and elsewhere other powers still dwell. There is power too, of another kind, in the Shire.’
So it’s not just that Frodo is moving from one world into another, but into a perspective from which he can see the world more clearly, in all of its power for good and evil: Mordor, Imladris, ‘other powers’ (Lorien? The Ents? Eru?) and – most significantly – the Shire is included in this list. Frodo is not moving beyond his realm into others, but learning that his world is as much a hidden power as any in Middle-Earth, so he is growing in apprehension, I think, rather than from one ‘self’ to another.

The rest of the chapter works through a number of such apprehensions as Frodo begins to see the world and the people in it in a whole new way. Aragorn looks like a person transformed at the banquet, thanks to his presence near Arwen, who is herself a revelation of the full reality of M-E, in all it’s glory and sadness: “the likeness of Luthien had come on earth again: and she was called Undómiel, for she was the Evenstar of her people.”

We are then treated to the poem in the Hall of Fire (which I love, and thanks Aiwendil for your perceptive comments), in which the full beauty of the world is revealed fully to Frodo, immediately followed by Bilbo’s ‘transformation’ in which the full ugliness of the world is rather forcefully brought home to him. It’s almost as though poor old Frodo is stuck between two ways of looking at the world, here in Rivendell. On the one hand, is the way he looks at Arwen at the banquet, in which Frodo is almost able to have Elvish eyes onto the beauty, power and majesty of existence – tinged with sadness though it may be, it is wonderful; on the other hand, he is able to ‘see’ the Nine for what they really are, and Bilbo looks like Gollum to him. This is the conflict that will begin to consume him as he travels (hope and despair?).

The chapter ends with a great little bit of foreshadowing though, in which we look ahead to get a hint of how this tension might be resolved for Frodo, finally:

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then suddenly it seemed to Frodo that Arwen turned towards him, and the light of her eyes fell on him from afar and pierced his heart.
Even though he will never be able to heal from the Morgul blade that tried to “pierce his heart”, this piercing by Arwen will grant him healing and comfort from that wound – and the others that his journey will give him – in the West.
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Old 09-14-2004, 05:52 AM   #8
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Tolkien

Expanding a little on the things Fordim just said (posted), it is here that we begin to see more clearly Tolkien’s use of the Hobbits as the ignorant party. In a mythology such as this there always has to be an ignorant party to ask the questions that the readers are asking, thus it helps to get things explained. With out them there would not be a lot that people would understand, else Tolkien would have to paddedd a lot of it out with explanations.

This is especially so in the counsel of Elrond and ever after. I belive that this is also one of the reasons that Gandalf took Pippin to Minas Tirith, Tolkien knew he needed someone to be asking questions about the city and its culture so that the reader did not have to.
Well, that what I think anyway.
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Old 09-14-2004, 06:28 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estelyn
Since I didn't know which one was written first, I wondered if "Errantry" was perhaps his own parody, but your comment answers that question. Thanks! I may come back with a closer look at comparing the two if I have time this week.
CT goes into the history of this poem in some depth in vol 7. Errantry came first & was published in The Oxford magazine on 9th Novenber 1933. Tolkien said in Letter 133 that the poem was

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in a metre I invented (depending on trisyllabic assonances or near assonances, which is so difficult that except in this one example I have never been able to use it again - it just blew out in a single impulse
CT quotes Carpenter's remark in Letters:

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It may appear at a first glance that Tolkien did write another poem in this metre, 'Earendil was a mariner', which appears in Book II Chapter 1 of The Lord of the rings. But this poem is arguably a development of 'Errantry' rather than a seperate composition.
CT then states 'That this is true will be seen from the earlier forms of Bilbo's song at Rivendell', which he then gives.

One other thing struck me as odd in this chapter - Gandalf's remark:

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(Speaking to himself about Frodo's current state)But to the wizard's eye there was a faint change, just a hint as it were of transparency, about him, & especially about the left hand that lay upon the coverlet.

'Still that must be expected' said Gandalf to himself. 'He is not half through yet, & to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can'
'Not half through yet' - what can Gandalf mean? Does he know that Frodo will take up the task? It seems like on some level Gandalf 'knows' what Frodo's destiny will be, that he knows what Frodo's choice as regards the Ring will be, even before Frodo does himself. Of course, it could be that while Frodo has 'talked long in his sleep' he has spoken of this, or perhaps Gandalf knows that Frodo will not be able to hand the Ring over (perhaps he has read between the lines & seen how much of a hold the Ring already has over Frodo). It just seems mysterious that Gandalf knows that Frodo has a long journey before him, & so the question arises as to the degree of free will Frodo actually has in all this.
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Old 09-15-2004, 07:55 AM   #10
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Boots Carrying on the story

Quote:
Estelyn wrote:

This chapter is the account of one single day, told completely from Frodo's point of view.
Quote:
davem wrote:

its difficult to even stay awake - one is constantly drifting into dreams.
Quote:
Aiwendil wrote:

What comes across very strongly here is milieu - the feeling of Rivendell (that is, the feeling of Faerie) is perfectly captured.
Quote:
Fordim wrote:

This chapter is full of moments in which the nature of things is revealed.
These ideas all dance around a particularly elvish object in this chapter. Point of view, dreaming, Faerie, apprehension/revelation--these observations all come together, it seems to me, in the final subject of this chapter, Bilbo's song of Eärendil. We have spoken here of the "objective facts" of the poem--its metre and rhyme scheme, its derivation and publishing history, its imperfect form (as reproduced here)--but we have not considered what the poem or its rendition by Bilbo tells us about experiencing this piece of literature. There is a small tale here about interpretation.

What is it that Sam tells Frodo about Rivendell, this place of Faerie? He says, and he speaks of the house, but house is often a metaphor for literature:

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"It's a big house this, and very peculiar. Always a bit more to discover, and no knowing what you'll find round a corner."
Like good gothic art, Rivendell seems to provide the experience of the unexpected rather than the fulfillment of what is expected. Frodo's vision of Bilbo as seen through the Ring is one example, as is Frodo's shockingly violent response to the gollem-like vision. And powerful this vision is too, for it halts the music around them, which resumes once Frodo puts the Ring away, "leaving hardly a shred of memory." Not all perceptions stay with us, some are lost, our apprehensions are neither linear nor cummulative.

Bilbo, however, understands. To Frodo he says,

Quote:
Don't adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.
This remark seems to me to suggest the very nature of Tolkien's art, still to sing on. The remark is all the more remarkable for the event which intrudes upon the storytelling which ensues. Sam. Frodo and Bilbo are interrupted in their reveries about the Four Farthings by the arrival, at first unnoticed, of The Dúnadan, yet another name for Strider.

And what does Strider do upon this entrance? Bilbo calls to him for help finishing his song. At the very moment (or time) when the two are collaborating over the song, though, Frodo's apprehension moves away from them. We are never given the scene of their discussions; what does follow is an extraordinary description of the effect of elven music upon Frodo. The actual composition itself is represented in the text by a gap, an absence. And it is reported on only in retrospect.

Quote:
Bilbo speaks

"I want your help in something urgent. Elrond says this song of mine is to be finished before the end of the evening, and I am stuck. Let's go off into a corner and polish it up!"

Strider smiled. "Come then!" he said. "Let me hear it."

Frodo was left to himself for a while, for Sam had fallen asleep. He was alone and felt rather forlorn, although all about him the folk of Rivendell were gathered. But those near him were silent, intent upon the music of the voices and the instruments, and they gave no heed to anything else. Frodo began to listen.

At first the beauty of the melodies and of the interwoven words in elven-tongues, even though he understood them little, held him in a spell, as soon as he began to attend to them. Almost it seemed that the words took shape, and visions of far lands and bright things that he had never yet imagined opened out before him; and the firelit hall became like a golden mist above seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world. Then the enchantment became more and more dreamlike, until he felt that an endless river of swelling gold and silver was flowing over him, too multitudinous for its pattern to be comprehended; it became part of the throbbing air about him, and it drenched and drowned him. Swiftly he sank under its shining weight into a deep realm of sleep.

There he wandered long in a dream of music that turned into running water, and then suddenly into a voice. It seemed to be the voice of Bilbo chanting verse.
I cannot think of anything else in Middle earth which evokes so magically the experience of imagination. Dream, water and voice. It is the slowly returning recognition of something known and remembered which draws Frodo out of the dream into awareness of the song. And when Bilbo finishes, we are in the midst of an elven audience. Bear with a longish quotation again, my friends.

Quote:
"Now we had better have it again," said an Elf.

Bilbo got up and bowed. "I am flattered, Lindir," he said. "But 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. But really we cannot answer your question at one hearing."
Now, the attentive reader might be caught up short and sharp. What question had Bilbo asked? Turn back the several pages, past the song itself, and we cannot find Bilbo's question to the elves. We, the reader, have been lost, as it were, with Frodo in his dreaming sleep. Yet what an extraodinary way to show that other things were occuring.

And what are those other things? A question of authorship, if you please.

Quote:

"What!" cried Bilbo. "You can't tell which parts were mine, and which were the Dúnadan's?"

"It is not easy for us to tell the difference between two mortals,' said the Elf.
And thence ensues the jokes about the elven disinterest in other things: "But Mortals have not been our study. We have other business."

Bilbo leaves the elves to guess and turns with his question to Frodo, who declines. Bilbo explains the authorship as follows:

Quote:
As a matter of fact it was all mne. Except that Aragorn insisted on my putting in a green stone. He seemed to think it important. I don't know why. Otherwise he obviously thought the whole thing above my head....

"I don't know," said Frodo. "It seemed to me to fit somehow, toughI can't explain. I was half asleep when you began, and it seemed to follow on from something that I was dreaming about. I didn't understand that it was really you speaking until near the end.
And here my long post about the delightful play on authorship and art ends as well. I find the passage intriguing for its sense of the multiplicity of sensations which it ascribes to the experience of the Hall of Fire. There is nothing linear here or necessarily objective or empirical. Rather, it evokes the experience of art--or at least elven art, assuming we will grant to Bilbo the accolade of calling his song elven. Or perhaps we are meant to think that polyphonous experience applies to Mortal art as well.

Aside: Encaitare, my 'thesis' here did not allow for any mention of your point on the colour green, which I think was a helpful reservation about interpreting colour symbolism, although davem's wonderful examples provide an astonishing wealth to contemplate.
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Old 09-16-2004, 06:43 AM   #11
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Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as bilbo had long ago reported, 'a perfect house, whether you like food, or sleep, or story-telling or singing, or just sitting & thinkking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all'. Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, & sadness
So, is Rivendell Tolkien's own ideal place, the place he wished had existed in this world, where he could go & 'finish his book'?

It seems to me that it was the place he wanted most to exist out of all the places he invented - all the realms & palaces. Its really Mar Vanwa Tyalieva, the Cottage of Lost Play from the Lost Tales in another form. But what does it tell us about him? I can easily see Tolkien, like Bilbo, more at home in Rivendell, than in Oxford or Bag End, & certainly more than in Gondolin or even Rivendell. Actually I could see myself being more at home there than any other place, real or fictional. It seems a place where learning is dominant, where in some sense history is alive, & those who had lived through the great events of history were stilll around to speak to was Tolkien's 'Earthly Paradise'.

Its the 'Last Homely House east of the Sea, ie this side of Death, & we know that in an early draft it was intended that Bilbo should die there, & not make the Journey into the West. I think its significant that that its in many ways the ultimate 'home' - the heimat, even more so than the Shire in many ways - at least for Tolkien.

I have to say that my image of it is not at all like the movie version - I always think of it as being like one of the Swiss houses he would have seen on his trip to Switzerland, white walled, timbered, shutters on the windows, much simpler than the 'elven palace' the movie gives us - which hardly what I'd call 'homely'. I see roaring fires, wooden bowls, a very 'rustic' place all together (& I'm not sure cuckoo clocks would be out of place!).

I can't think of a more Middle-earthly place (apart from the view from the summit of Weathertop!).
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Old 09-17-2004, 04:39 PM   #12
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I have been following the comments on the color green in these threads, with some degree of interest. I have long been fond of the hue, and if pressed might just declare it my favorite, so I am finding it rather amusing to discover all the associations and symbolism it brings up. On that note I am finding it rather odd that it should be somehow connected with death, for to my mind, it is invariably connected to verdant growth and life, and standing for obvious reasons for nature. But perhaps I am misunderstanding. I can see that the faerie world and perhaps a sort of earth-based magic conceivably fit this color. Even the sickly greens reminiscent of rot and disease, as discussed in the Fog on the Barrow Downs thread, could in their own right be associated with corrupted form of nature rather than say a spirit world.

So Frodo’s being arrayed in green did not strike me as otherworldly. Especially, taking into consideration it is a favorite color of the hobbits as well. But it does seem striking that so much is made of the color. Aragorn is also dressed in green if you recall, and he insisted Bilbo mention the green stone in his poem. It does appear to be a color of some significance. And if it does represent, for instance, his moving on to a different mindset, I think we can say it is a mindset that Aragorn already possesses.

Also mentioned before, I think, but amusing to note once again, is how similar hobbits and elves are in that they only seem interested in the things that concern their people directly, as expressed by Lindir and Gildor. As I write this I am realizing that my feeble judgement rests solely on the comments of two elves! Mercy me! Still, it makes me smile.

The mention of Balin almost passes by unnoticed, in the stream of dwarven names. But it is interesting to see Tolkien tying the events in Moria.

Quote:
I always felt this was Frodo's perception of Bilbo, rather than something that happened to him, & can't help but wonder to what extent he was seeing Bilbo as Sauron would have seen him - seeing Bilbo, the person he loves most in the world as 'a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands' who he feels a desire to strike.' seems somehow deeply out of character for Frodo…
Yes, davem. I agree completely! Something more is afoot in this passage. And I seriously doubt that there was any real change in either Bilbo or his behavior.
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Old 09-18-2004, 11:31 AM   #13
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Hilde - I too would not associate it with death, but like davem says in his first post on this thread, I'd also associate green with the 'otherworld'. I think it does have some sinister undertones (no pun intended) as a colour, due to this association; it's considered unlucky to wear green at a wedding or to dress a child in green, and witches traditionally have green eyes. I do like the way that elves and hobbits seem to have such a fondness for the colour, as it lends a mystical air to think of someone slipping through woodlands, cloaked in green.

The meeting between Bilbo and Frodo where Bilbo asks to see the ring reminds me of a father and son, wary of one another and Bilbo's words after the ring has been put away are touching. He feels regret that his heir, a hobbit who is very much like his own son, has in effect been 'signed up' for war.

One thing struck me the very first time I read this, and that was the appearance of Aragorn standing beside Arwen - here was the rough ranger dressed in kingly fashion, and although the text is very subtle, it was something of a revelation to me exactly why they were standing together, and the image made a big impression on me at that age. I still like these sentences, as Tolkien managed to express their relationship delicately but powerfully in just these few lines. Quite the opposite to the movie.
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Old 09-18-2004, 04:20 PM   #14
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Yes, 'other world' but not 'netherworld', I suppose. And I certainly hope the association of green with death and witches derives from the faerie tradition and not the other way round! But at this gathering, Frodo has become recognized as part of the history of Middle-earth, and his simpler life has died. So in some respect, I see these green garments as a symbolic of his new, vital role in history.

It is strange too, how Frodo, when talking with Gandalf about encountering the Witch King, says that it was good he didn't know exactly what the effect of the knife would be, or he would have been too scared to move. Yet as we will see, now that he does know the sort of things he is up against, he volunteers to continue. I wonder if he really was made of sterner stuff than he thought, or whether it was a function of this life long wound. Are some of his actions at this stage to be attributed to the pull of the ring, or rather his close call with becoming a wraith himself?

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They tried to pierce your heart with a Morgul-knife which remains in the wound.
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…then suddenly it seemed to Frodo that Arwen turned toward him, and the light of her eyes fell on him from afar and pieced his heart.
These two lines also caught my attention, like bookends. But it is interesting that Tolkien has the light of Arwen’s eyes and not simply her gaze itself effectively pierce Frodo's heart. Earlier, he mentions that thought and knowledge were in her glance, but the light of the stars were in her eyes.
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Old 09-19-2004, 02:51 AM   #15
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Silmaril

Finally reaching Strider and the hobbits' first destination, I felt a sigh of relief escaping my lips. Never mind whatever is happening in the world outside nor what danger is yet to come; in this place there is peace, there is healing, and there are Elves, sir!

I was as joyful as Frodo probably was upon again seeing Gandalf. But when he said
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At the moment I will only say that I was held captive
I was disheartened. He was depicted in the previous chapters as a powerful person, and this created doubt. It made me wonder what other dangers are in the world. The Nazgul were scary enough. Is there actually something, or someone, worse?

The way Elrond was mentioned by Gandalf made him seem like he was under the authority of the Halfelf. Honestly, I thought that Elrond was a killjoy, an "old maid" what with all his orders. I knew it was all for Frodo's welfare, but after all he's been through, maybe he would cut him some slack.

I agree with Frodo with this:
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Thank goodness I did not realize the horrible danger! I was mortally afraid, of course; but if I had known more, I should not have dared even to move. It is a marvel that I escaped!
Hopelessness would have paralyzed him, even with the presence of Strider and Glorfindel, knowing how powerful his enemies are and what the consequences of his being caught will be. Thank goodness indeed!

Moving into the latter part of the chapter, I saw another reason for Aragorn's swoon-worthiness.
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They were so deep in the doings of the Four Farthings that they did not notice the arrival of a man clad in a dark green cloth. For many minutes he stood looking down at them with a smile.
It was a simple smile, yes, but it touched my heart so: the thought of a kingly man being so concerned with the little hobbits! He even gave his time to help Bilbo with his song--time he could have instead spent with his beloved Arwen (if daddy agrees ), as he was not able to before because of the arrival of Elladan and Elrohir (her brothers, incidentally).

The latter deed concerning Elladan and Elrohir made me realize the sacrifices he has to make for his love for Arwen. I see it this way: the pressing news brought by Elladan and Elrohir concerns, more likely than not, the War of the Ring. And as Elrond said in the Appendix (forgive me, Esty) that he would not let his daughter marry someone less then the King of Gondor or something like that, Aragorn had to put matters related to this first. So instead of spending only a short time with Arwen, as he could have done in this chapter, he chose to do something that (hopefully) in the end would lead to him being with her for the rest of their lives. Swoon!

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Old 09-19-2004, 02:51 PM   #16
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*Trying to catch up* It was very interesting to read all your posts and as usual I learnt a lot..
I didn't know that the colour green was associated with Faeries, and hitherto the mention of the new green clothes for Frodo had quite escaped my attention. (For me green just stood for nature and life and hope."Grün ist die Hoffnung" as we say in German)

I love Gandalf's cryptic remark about Frodo
Quote:
"He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can".
I think it refers somehow to Frodo's spiritual growth. Much later on their journey it is stated that Sam can see that light:
Quote:
Then as he kept watch, Sam had noticed that at times a light seemed to be shining faintly within; but now the light was even clearer and stronger. Frodo’s face was peaceful, the marks of fear and care had left it; but it looked old, old and beautiful, as if the chiselling of the shaping years was now revealed in many fine lines that had before been hidden; though the identity of the face was not changed. Not that Sam put it that way to himself. He shook his head, as if finding words useless, and murmured: „I love him. He’s like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no.“
I think Faramir can see it too.
And the picture of the glass filled with clear light somehow reminds me of Galadriel's phial.

That moment when Sam comes in I find particularly touching:
Quote:
He ran to Frodo and took his left hand, awkwardly and shyly. He stroked it gently and then he blushed and turned hastily away.
Sam is very fond of his master and adores him. His joy at finding him well overwhelms him, yet he is afraid to show his feelings, he probably thinks that as a servant he isn’t entitled to act like that..

I love the description of the Elves and their music. Its effect on Frodo reminded me of what Tolkien wrote about the elvish craft, enchantment in „On Fairy-Stories“

To find Bilbo in Rivendell was a big surprise for Frodo. Though Gandalf, Aragorn and Gildor knew all along that Bilbo was there, none of them had told it to Frodo who had been so longing for news about Bilbo ! I wonder why?

At my first reading, I could make neither head nor tail of Bilbo’s „Earendil poem“ I kept wondering what it was about.. More glimpses of a mysterious past, and very intriguing, like the non-translated Elbereth song. (I had no rest til I had found out its meaning…thanks to the internet .)
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:16 PM   #17
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Tolkien The Second Book Baggins! ...Begins!!!

So here we are, moving on to the next book. We ended up with a cliffhanger, as we will at the end of each book (more or less, except the last), and now the first chapter begins - and it is peaceful and relaxing, as the stay in Rivendell was for Frodo. My impression from this chapter was like that this time: Let's catch up the breath and relax now, while we can. This is the last time we actually can - everything's in place, the Ring is in Rivendell, and nothing evil can happen here, as Gandalf says in this chapter. There will be no other place like that - even in Lórien and such, there is the knowledge of the perilous journey ahead and the despair of the desperate mission lies upon us. Now is the time when we don't know anything about any future quest yet and can just enjoy the atmosphere of the valley.

The atmosphere makes large part of the chapter, another thing is using the time to explain things which happened. During Gandalf's speech to Frodo at the beginning, we learn a lot of information and with Frodo we get lots of answers: what happened at the Ford, what happened before, what the Riders intended, who they were, what the Morgul-Blade was supposed to do, why was Gandalf delayed (sort of - it is not still explained concretely) and other things.

What I noticed this time is that several of the characters we already know are emphasised in this chapter and we learn more about them, namely Glorfindel and Aragorn. About Glorfindel we first hear from Gandalf and here we hear what he really is, we confirm what we just assumed from the previous chapter: that he is not "just an ordinary Elf" but someone noble, ancient and powerful. This returns when we see him sitting at the table next to Elrond (and opposite to Gandalf). Let me make a little excourse now - I just thought how interesting this is when I used the words "opposite to Gandalf" - Glorfindel actually is something like an opposite to Gandalf, not meaning any "anti-Gandalf", but more like "second to the pair". I think this might be interesting if one looked at their characteristics deeper (although there's not that much about Glorfindel), but let me name one thing for all - facing the Balrog (that is, if we agree that Glorfindel really is the Glorfindel of Gondolin - which I take as given, but the fact is that it is not stated explicitely anywhere as far as I know).
Anyway, the second character worth noticing is Strider, about whom we finally learn (although also not explicitely, but we can put it together from the hints given) his reason for longing so much for Rivendell. Also, we learn about him being "Dúnadan" and we learn who he is (again, twice: first Gandalf says to Frodo that he is "just a Ranger", of course, but that what the Rangers are are the Kings of Men; second, Bilbo explains to Frodo what Dúnadan is - this really looks to me like Frodo is somewhat slow in realising these things). We also have cryptic clues like that Aragorn has something to do with the song of Eärendil and the green stone and other things.

Which brings me to the poem of Eärendil, which is a beautiful piece of work, and I actually realised how beautiful and how strong images it has only after I learned to sing it (not in English, though) - I suggest everyone to try that. Another song is the song of Elbereth, written only in Elven language here, and I actually recall I never cared about that. I knew the song in Elvish, and was singing it since I first read the books, and I never cared that I don't know the translation (actually, I thought it is something similar to the song sung by Gildor, maybe even the same - which it actually is not?). I am saying that because that surely says something about the effect of including the song in the book.

What else? I could name the minor characters in this chapter - Bilbo, Glóin (very nice fellow. There is actually a tension he causes, since although he provides nice connection and reminds us of the Dwarves from TH, we learn that something happened to several of them - and actually they are the three ones I liked among the most, especially Balin, and I am sure Tolkien was aware of that Balin will be popular among the readers - honestly, tell, which of the living Dwarves you like the most?), Elrond (who is not very active here and is more in the background here), and Arwen. I have to stop at Arwen. She is portrayed as fair, even as an image of Lúthien, Frodo considers her beautiful, and when she looks at Frodo we feel the "Elvishness" shining out from her, yet - yet we don't really learn much about her. In fact, nothing. She does not say a word, and what she is, similarly to what is between her and Aragorn, is only hinted in some way. It is somewhat strange, if nothing else.

And last of all characters, I have to name Pippin at least, for I find this piece of dialogue incredibly funny (the boldened part, mainly):
Quote:
"Hurray!" cried Pippin, springing up. "Here is our noble cousin! Make way for Frodo, Lord of the Ring!"
"Hush!" said Gandalf from the shadows at the back of the porch. "Evil things do not come into this valley; but all the same we should not name them. The Lord of the Ring is not Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor, whose power is again stretching out over the world! We are sitting in a fortress. Outside it is getting dark."
"Gandalf has been saying many cheerful things like that," said Pippin.


Well, anyway, what's your view on this chapter? What caught your eye there? Or do you have anything to add which you consider interesting, or important?
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:24 PM   #18
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I find the discussion of this chapter, and Rivendell, as a place to "catch one's breath" interesting, especially in light of what Tolkien had to say about the place, in Letter 131 (itself a long and intriguing "chapter" ):

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Elrond symbolizes throughout the ancient wisdom, and his House represents Lore -- the preservation in reverent memory of all tradition concerning the good, wise, and beautiful. It is not a scene of action but of reflection. Thus it is a place visited on the way to all deeds, or "adventures". It may prove to be the direct road (as in The Hobbit); but it may be necessary to go there in a totally unexpected course. So necessarily in The Lord of the Rings, having escaped to Elrond from the imminent pursuit of present evil, the hero departs in a wholly new direction: to go and face it at its source.
I find this especially interesting, because it applies to all three of what I have long considered a sort of "heroic triumvirate" of LotR's characters: Frodo, Aragorn, and Gandalf. All three had come to Rivendell fleeing the pursuit of a present evil, and all three would leave it to go and face evil at its source -- but not necessarily the same aspect of evil, nor the same source. That we see Rivendell here through Frodo's eyes is appropriate to the presentation, this being an account of the War through the eyes of Hobbits. Frodo knew from the onset that he was heading for Rivendell, but he had not expected it to be with the Nazgul at his heels, nor, do I think, was he considering the possibility that he might follow a dark road beyond Rivendell. Without this visit along the way, and the opportunity to find rest, reflection, counsel, and healing, Frodo might well have been unable to continue. The respite is necessary not only for the reader, but for the hero -- or heroes, as the case may be.
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Old 08-09-2018, 08:49 AM   #19
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Silmaril

Not an essential chapter, plotwise--perhaps not a likely candidate for "only chapter on a desert island" either--but a beautiful one. Though we visited Rivendell in The Hobbit, though we'll stay here through the beginning of "The Ring Goes South," and though we'll pass through again in "Homeward Bound," this chapter is the definitive up-close look at Rivendell. Reading it through this time, it seems that fifteen years of reading critical Tolkien studies have finally sunk in, because this is the first time my mind immediately recognised Rivendell's kinship with the Cottage of Lost Play (a connection also made much earlier on this thread by davem:

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Originally Posted by davem View Post
It seems to me that it was the place [Tolkien] wanted most to exist out of all the places he invented - all the realms & palaces. Its really Mar Vanwa Tyalieva, the Cottage of Lost Play from the Lost Tales in another form.
Once this clicks, it becomes an inescapable comparison, and it's one I find quite affecting, since it means that the beauty, the comfort--indeed, the homeliness--of Rivendell isn't just something that Tolkien inserts as a rest in the plot (here or in The Hobbit) but is an illustration of somewhere near and dear to his heart. The Cottage of Lost Play is the location of the transmission of the Lost Tales to Eriol/Ælfwine. Given that "Translations by Bilbo from Rivendell" supplants "Ælfwine" as the mode of Tolkien's Transmission Conceit, the closeness of their settings is noteworthy--and perhaps Tolkien himself realised this when he eventually abandoned the Ælfwine elements in the Silmarillion (admittedly sometime after writing the LotR)--not only was Bilbo just as serviceable a conduit as Ælfwine, but there was no need for a Cottage of Lost Play when there was already a Last Homely House in the story.

Though, I feel obliged to point out, that mirroring locations is very much a part of Middle-earth: Gondolin is a mirror of Tirion-on-Túna, the Elvenking's Halls a mirror of Menegroth, Kortirion was a mirror of Kor. And, certainly, there's no conceptual reason why, once he crosses the Seas at the end of this tale, that Elrond could not have built a new home in Tol Eressëa like unto his old one--no reason, in other words, that he could not have been the new Master of the Cottage of Lost Play in a later version of Ælfwine's tale. But even if you hold some private headcanon of that sort, it is still unnecesssary--and how should the tales Ælfwine learns cross back over the unBent seas?

Speaking of the transmission of tales in the Hall of Fire, we not only see Rivendell taking on the trappings of the Cottage of Lost Play, but fulfilling its function when Bilbo recites his poem of Eärendil. This poem, believe it or not, is pretty the only complete version of the Mariner's tale that Tolkien ever writes--certainly, it's the last version. It ranks with the Gil-galad and Lúthien poems of "A Knife in the Dark" as a personal favourite, and it's probably the most technically impressive of Tolkien's poems--a poetic form he only mastered once ("Errantry," which features the same scheme, is actually the earlier version of this poem--Tolkien changed it by stages to be about Eärendil.)

Continuing the Lost Tales comparison, and looking specifically at connections to Eärendil, both Rivendell and the Cottage of Lost Play feature a direct connection to the Mariner: the Cottage had Ilfirin "Littleheart" the son of Voronwë, who had been a companion of Eärendil on the great voyage, while Rivendell is, of course, the home of Eärendil's son. I always enjoy the line Bilbo gives us from Aragorn, about him having cheek to make verses about Eärendil in the House of Elrond, because it hasn't been made explicit yet that Elrond is Eärendil's son--and though Elrond tells us this directly in the next chapter, "The Council of Elrond" is so full of details about history and the plot that it is easy to forget (as a 11-year-old version of me did) that the light of Eärendil's Star in the Phial of Galadriel is the light of Elrond's dad's star.
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Old 08-19-2018, 09:06 PM   #20
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I've always appreciated how the chapters in Book I and Book II follow the same pattern, to the point where they nearly mirror each other.

A Long-Expected Party - Many Meetings

What happens in these chapters is a grand party/feast takes place and the matter of the Ring is pushed off/delayed to a later time. A Long-Expected Party, we aren't told anything about the Ring other than Bilbo's acting most unusual and Gandalf's worried about it.

Many Meetings, Frodo presses Gandalf for answers on why he was delayed and what will be done with the Ring now that he's got it this far to Rivendell. Gandalf keeps refusing to answer, or only giving half-answers and says "we'll talk about that later, for the present all is good." During the feast, Gloin guesses at Frodo's troubles and reasons he's in Rivendell, Frodo doesn't want to talk about it and Gloin doesn't want to discuss why he's in Rivendell, at the present.

It's a chapter, where all the characters keep saying they don't want to discuss anything to do with the Ring or why Elrond's called for a Council, 'at the present'. A Long-Expected Party we weren't aware of the danger of the Ring. In Many Meetings we are and we know the Ring can't stay in Rivendell, but the question of what's going to happen gets put off to a date that's not the present. And then both chapters get followed by some of the longest chapters in the books, with a lot of dialogue and the question "what will happen with the Ring?" is thoroughly discussed,

And here we see another side to Aragorn's character I never really considered before. His bloodline and descent from Numenor is made clear in this chapter. He is one of the 'high and mighty' characters, but soon after this is revealed by Gandalf and Bilbo there he is sitting and helping an old hobbit write songs.

Some other tidbits I picked up on this time through

- Gloin's mention "tolls" charged by Grimbeorn and his folk in keeping the path from Dale to Rivendell safe for travelers. You can get stuck thinking this is a tale of just all good people vs. all evil people, but Grimbeorn's charging 'high tolls' to keep roads safe. I know it's absurd but I'm just picturing Grimbeorn and a band of merry men (think they wore tights?)

-The description (through Frodo's eyes) of his first sight of Elrond, with Glorfindel and Gandalf on his right and left hand side: "revealed as lords of dignity and power"

Gandalf shorter than the other two, but looked "like some wise king of ancient legend"
Glorfindel "voice like music, on his brow sat wisdom, and in his hand was strength."
Elrond "Venerable" "a tried warrior in the fullness of his strength," "mighty among both Elves and Men."
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