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Old 05-29-2005, 03:38 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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White Tree LotR -- Book 5 - Chapter 01 - Minas Tirith

With this chapter we begin discussing the final book, The Return of the King. Before starting it, I read the synopsis at the beginning of the book - certainly not because I need to be reminded of what happened, but I was curious to see what would be mentioned - or not. I found it interesting to note that Lórien was mentioned only in passing and Galadriel not at all. That makes me wonder who wrote the synopsis - I can't imagine that Tolkien himself would have left her out of any summary of the plot. Has the authorship of the synopsis been mentioned anywhere in HoME? If you've reread the synopsis, what did you notice?

The first chapter begins with the words "Pippin looked..." - a very programmatic start, since it shows us the events through his eyes. The story remains hobbitcentric. It is a long chapter and chockfull of so many things that I find it difficult to choose or condense them into a few paragraphs.

Through Pippin's eyes, we get a deeper look at Gandalf, as well as by the reaction of the Gondorians to his coming. For the first time, he wonders about his true nature and age. What information do we find about the wizard?

We are introduced to Denethor - what impresses you about him? The description of his ability to see events and read minds sounds like Osanwë - does he have innate abilities there, or do you think it's all the palantír?

The city of Minas Tirith is described quite clearly, though I must admit that I didn't take in those details when first reading the book, since I hurried to find out what happened next.

We are also introduced to Beregond and his son Bergil - a nice touch, to get to know some of the "normal" people of the city, not just nobility. These are among the very popular "minor" characters - what do you like about them? Additional names are mentioned as the leaders and their troops come to Minas Tirith.

Most of all, this chapter shows Pippin's growth and development - a coming of age tale, though he still has four years to go by Hobbit standards.

The chapter ends with darkness - the Darkness that begins, forebodingly announced by Gandalf.


(Take your time in reading this long chapter if you wish - we have at least two weeks to discuss it... )
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Old 05-30-2005, 07:40 AM   #2
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White Tree

I'm just going to pick out a few observations that I noticed when reading the chapter. It's mainly going to deal with Gandalf and Denethor.
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"If you understand it, then be content," returned Denethor. "Pride would be folly that disdained help and cousel at need; but you deal out such gifts according to your own designs. Yet the Lord of Gondor is not to be made the tool of other men's purposes, however worthy. And to him there is no purpose higher in the world as it now stands than the good of Gondor; and the rule of Gondor, my lord, is mine and no other man's, unless the king should come again."

"Unless the King should come again?" said Gandalf. "Well, my lord Steward, it is your taks to keep some kingdom against that event, which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor, nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward? Did you not know?"
The full discussion on Gandalf's "stewardness" could be found here. But, notice the difference in the word "steward" that Tolkien uses. Gandalf draws a difference between Denethor's view of "Steward," and Gandalf's "steward."

Denethor's view is he is the absolute ruler of Gondor, he is subordinate to no man, no matter how "worthy" they are. What he says goes, whether Gandalf is a "steward," or no matter how wise/worthy of a man you are, Gondor's rule is "MINE!" Then the sort of throw away comment at the end to try to make up for his "It's mine!...oh...of course unless the King return." Denethor seems much more like the Frankish stewards who had almost the same power as their kings.

Gandalf's view of "steward" is much more different. More of a guardian role. He watches over, and cares for all worthy things. This could explain better why Radagast did not succeed in his "task." The Istari were sent to middle-earth to care for all the people's, all it's things, they were the "stewards" for Eru, and the Valar. Gandalf is the one who does care for all things that are good, and worthy, while Radagast seems to only fall under the care of nature, and birds.

Quote:
Denethor looked indeed much more like a great wizard than Gandalf idd, more kingly, beautiful, and powerful; and older. Yet by sense other than sight Pippin perceived that Gandalf had the greater power and the deeper wisdom, and a majesty that was veiled....And then his musings broke off, and he saw that Denethor and Gandalf still looked each other in the eye, as if reading the other's mind. But it was Denethor who first withdrew his glance.
From first impressions of Denethor, Pippin thinks that Denethor looks more powerful, and "wizardly" then Gandalf. But, then Pippin realizes it can't be so, and is proven when the two are locked in "mental combat" and Denethor first withdraws his glare. Could this also be foreshadowing? Denethor is arguably has the greatest "mental power" of any mortal during this time (yes even Aragorn), however the key word is he is a mortal. Gandalf and Sauron are on a different level, and when it comes down to it, Denethor just can't contend with them, eventhough that he thinks he can. Is this foreshadowing in that Denethor tries to beat Gandalf, but he withdraws his glance first, then later when Denethor tries to strive with Sauron in the palantir, he just totally loses his mind?
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Old 05-30-2005, 12:09 PM   #3
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Just a few thoughts while I skim the chapter...

I love how humble Pippin is here; and we even get to see a bit of "hobbit pride":

Quote:
'Man?' cried Pippin, now thoroughly roused. 'Man! Indeed not! I am a hobbit and no more valiant than I am a man, save perhaps now and again by necessity. Do not let Gandalf deceive you!'
It's great when contrasted with his joking threat to Bergil:

Quote:
'Though you may have taken me for a soft stranger-lad and easy prey, let me warn you: I am not, I am a halfling, hard, bold, and wicked!'
This is interesting:

Quote:
'He [Denethor] loved him [Boromir] greatly: too much perhaps; and the more so because they were unlike.'
I suppose Denethor was one of those parents who sees his children as the ones who can live out the dreams he never fulfilled, who can do better than he did, except expects a bit too much.

The contrast between the citadel of Minas Tirith and the Great Hall at Meduseld is very markedly given. Pippin notes how there are "no hangings nor storied webs, nor any things of woven stuff or of wood" like there are in Meduseld. Everything here in Minas Tirith is completely carven in stone -- and this seems to be Denethor's mindset, too. He'll maintain the status quo because the course in which the world seems to be going is, to him, inevitable.

Quote:
Denethor looked indeed much more like a great wizard that Gandalf did, more kingly, beautiful, and powerful; and older. Yet by a sense other than sight Pippin perceived that Gandalf had the greater power and the deeper wisdom, and a majesty that was veiled. And he was older, far older.
I like this quote because it proves that appearances aren't everything. As Boromir88 mentioned above, Gandalf's purpose is not to come to Middle-earth in glory and flaunted power and majesty. It's to do the exact opposite: to keep a "low profile" of sorts while helping everyone out. Denethor does not seem to see that -- neither did Saruman.

It's been mentioned in many discussions before, but I just have to say that I adore the line: "For I also am a steward. Did you not know?" This is one of those scenes that I can see perfectly clearly in my mind, and it's a very clever line. It's not quite defiant, but there's a hint of a warning in it, as if Gandalf wants to say that he's going to be working to save Gondor whether Denethor likes it or not.

Pippin's description of Aragorn as "a man who went about with us" strikes me as oddly funny. Obviously he doesn't want to give away any information about Aragorn, but the way he describes him makes the man sound like he just traipses about after the Fellowship, and everyone just humors him even though he's not supposed to be there -- a Fellowship groupie, perhaps.

The closing of the chapter is very grim: "The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn." Light seems to be one of the simplest human desires; all Sam wants in Mordor is light and water. Now even the hope brought by the sunshine is being taken away -- talk about psychological warfare!

I like seeing things through Pippin's eyes here; it's a sort of Everyman approach that we wouldn't get through, say, Gandalf's eyes, or even from a neutral-voiced narrator. Pippin's reactions seem to be close to how our own (meaning the average person's) would be.

That's all for now... I'm glad to be on RotK now. It's my favorite of the trilogy.
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Old 05-30-2005, 12:40 PM   #4
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I am going to reread this chapter before I comment deeply, but I would say that it is one of my favourites partly becasue of the information it provides - like the Counciul of Elrond it is a mine of information for those of us whose interest in Middle Earth go beyond what is strictly necessary for the development of the plot. And a consequence Minas Tirith is somewhere with a great deal of substance in my imagination. Strangely, I must admit it was the place I gave up when I first read the book. I had found book 4 alternately to dull or too scary and now not only was the quest seemingly doomed ( how thick was I not to realise the significance of the title of volume 3?!!?), but I was stuck with the members of the fellowship I liked least. I wanted more of Aragorn and Legolas (or failing that Merry) and I was stuck with grumpy Gandalf and Pippin). Faced with many, many more pages without sight of an elf, and lots of horrors, I stopped - but I was very young (10 I think..) so maybe my lack of perseverance can be forgiven.
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Old 05-30-2005, 01:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boromir88
From first impressions of Denethor, Pippin thinks that Denethor looks more powerful, and "wizardly" then Gandalf. But, then Pippin realizes it can't be so, and is proven when the two are locked in "mental combat" and Denethor first withdraws his glare.
You know, this reference has had me wondering for a very long time: what does a stereotypical wizard look like?

I don't mean here, in our primary world, where Merlin and Gandalf himself have played major roles in developing our mental images of a typical wizard, but in middle-earth. In other words, what is Pippin's default image of wizard?

Denethor, as far as we know, does not have exceptionally long hair. If he has a beard at all, it is not of great length. He has no pointed hat. He wears the fine garments of a Steward- including chainmail.

Now I realise that it was the force of Denethor's powerful personality shining through that must have been the major influence on Pippin's reaction, but I still wonder: before the quest, how did Pippin mentally imagine a "great wizard". And one must remember that Gandalf was really only known for his fireworks, etc, in the Shire, and not for being a great wizard.
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Old 05-30-2005, 01:20 PM   #6
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I think it would be the aura of authority. The istari came in the bodily clothing of old men, and while Pippin had, on his travels, been in the presence of elf lords and young men of high rank, the older men (or seeming men) he had encountered were Gandalf, Theoden (revived), Saruman and Denethor. Now superficially Gandalf might have appeared the least imposing of them all. Denethor in his imposing surroundings and with the the ancient authority of his office would have been very imposing, and Denethor is very learned - it just occurs to me - and of course at this stage Pippin is unaware of Denethor's palantir which is an obvious parralel - that Pippin may be reminded of Saruman in his first impressions of Denethor. If I remember rightly the Steward has a rod as a sign of his office which would be a surrogate staff? I will have a closer look at that possibility when I reread...
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Old 05-30-2005, 01:50 PM   #7
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The whole chapter is seen through Pippin's eyes, and it is written very much as though we only see what Pippin sees; like him we are filled with wonder at this new place so his viewpoint is a perfect one to take, as we too are viewing it afresh. His age is an important factor here. Pippin is still not 'come of age' and is young, and his behaviour throughout the books demonstrates his youth. In this chapter we see Minas Tirith as viewed by a young person who is still learning about the world.

He has a lot of youthful pride:

Quote:
Then Pippin looked the old man in the eye, for pride stirred strangely within him, still stung by the scorn and suspicion in that cold voice.
He is hurt and a little offended by the way Denethor speaks to him, and he has enough pride to be able to speak up against a nobleman he has only just met; this might not be expected of anyone who met Denethor, but instead of showing deference, Pippin is bold enough to speak up. He then has the temerity to offer his service, which to his credit is behaviour appreciated by Denethor. But for all his boldness, Pippin is still touchingly frightened and unsure; he relies upon Gandalf, having Beregond take him back to their quarters to see if Gandalf has returned. Pippin is uneasy without him about. He almost forgets Gandalf's one instruction to him, but once remembered, he takes great care to see to Shadowfax, even bringing him treats.

Pippin is still impulsive, as shown in his eagerness to speak to Denethor, despite Gandalf warning him what he ought not to say; he does not seem to believe in waiting to be spoken to. Likewise, when he is assigned to Beregond for the morning, his first question is to ask where he might get some food. Beregond himself informs Pippin of his status in the hierarchy of Minas Tirith, and he is well respected, but Pippin does not restrict his manner of speech. He wants to know as much as possible, and through his eager talk we too get to know all about the city.

His youth is underlined when he meets Bergil, who he befriends and seems to treat as a younger brother. With his new friend, Pippin the newcomer to the city is even able to show off a little:

Quote:
Bergil proved a good comrade, the best company Pippin had had since he parted from Merry, and soon they were laughing and talking gaily as they went about the streets, heedless of the many glances that men gave them. Before long they found themselves in a throng going towards the Great Gate. There Pippin went up much in the esteem of Bergil, for when he spoke his name and the pass-word the guard saluted him and let him pass through; and what was more, he allowed him to take his companion with him.

'That is good!' said Bergil. 'We boys are no longer allowed to pass the Gate without an elder. Now we shall see better.'
What strikes me about Pippin's character in this chapter is his ability to get along with almost anybody. He pleases Denethor, he becomes a comrade of Beregond and makes friends with Bergil; he even pleasantly surprises Gandalf. Of course, this is essential to the narrative, as we need to meet all these people if we are to learn about Minas Tirith and its situation at that time. If Pippin had been sullen and dull then we would not get to meet these people in quite the same way, but by using his point of view, we also get to see his character more clearly, away from the shadow of the bigger personalities in the Fellowship.

Quote:
They ate and drank; and they talked now of Gondor and its ways and customs, now of the Shire and the strange countries that Pippin had seen. And ever as they talked Beregond was more amazed, and looked with greater wonder at the hobbit, swinging his short legs as he sat on the seat, or standing tiptoe upon it to peer over the sill at the lands below.

'I will not hide from you, Master Peregrin,' said Beregond, 'that to us you look almost as one of our children, a lad of nine summers or so; and yet you have endured perils and seen marvels that few of our greybeards could boast of. I thought it was the whim of our Lord to take him a noble page, after the manner of the kings of old, they say. But I see that it is not so, and you must pardon my foolishness.'

'I do,' said Pippin. 'Though you are not far wrong. I am still little more than a boy in the reckoning of my own people, and it will be four years yet before I "come of age", as we say in the Shire.
This passage interested me. Here we have the youthful Hobbit talking to the seasoned soldier of Gondor and it is the latter who is less experienced. Beregond has been charged with showing Pippin the ways of Minas Tirith, but the hobbit ends up impressing the older man with his tales of Middle Earth.

From this I get a couple of things. Firstly, the men of Minas Tirith may well be trained soldiers, but they do not have a great awareness of the world they live in; their lives are insular, dedicated to the service of the great city, yet they hold the fate of this world in their hands. The passage also shows just how far Pippin has come from his innocence in The Shire; he is indeed growing up throughout his journey. It also serves to remind us that although the Ring may be in the hands of a Hobbit, these Hobbits, when viewed alongside Men, are just as strong and brave.

I'm sure if Gandalf had not taken Pippin with him then we would have had a very different view of Minas Tirith. Gandalf does not go about with the ordinary Men, he instead rushes off to a meeting, and the city is familiar to him. Through his eyes we would not have seen the place with as much of a sense of wonder, and we would not have met Beregond and Bergil and shared their feelings on the eve of battle.
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Old 05-30-2005, 02:13 PM   #8
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This is a long chapter & will probably take some unravelling. I have to say that, as I usually do, I read through the relevant section of HoMe first, & was struck by a few things, some of which seem relevant to our understanding of this chapter.

Now, before anyone accuses me of contradicting other statements I’ve made recently, about simply reading the story & entering into it without analysing it, pulling it apart, or seeking external explanations, I’ll say I’m only using these quotes because they seem to me to shed light on the story itself.

First of all, a note by Tolkien regarding Denethor’s attitude to Gondor, which seems to back up Boromir’s post:

Quote:
In the margin of the page that bears this passage my father wrote:'For his wisdom did not consider Gandalf, whereas the counsels of Denethor concerned himself, or Gondor which in his thought was part of himself'. There is no indication where this was to be placed, but I think that it would follow 'Pippin perceived that Gandalf had greater power, and deeper wisdom- and a majesty that was veiled.'
Now, while this statement didn’t make it into the final text, I think it sums up Denethor’s attitude to his realm. He has come to identify himself with Gondor - indeed, he sees it as less than himself - it is merely a ‘part of himself’. I think this statement gives us an important key to the understanding of his character. Its not simply that he believes that if Gondor falls so will he (which is pretty certain) but that he believes that if he falls then so will Gondor. But ‘Gondor’ in his mind isn’t simply the land, it is also the people - including his own sons. He has become the ‘head’, the land & people his body. He rules the land as he rules himself. I can’t help feeling that this hubris is what brings about his despair in large part. He knows Sauron is winning the battle of wills fought via the Palantir, feels himself about to be overwhelmed, & he translates this as being the same thing as Sauron being about to overwhelm Gondor itself - which may or may not be true, but in Denethor’s mind there is no difference. If he himself is beaten, Gondor is beaten.

This also plays a part, I suspect, in his attitude to Aragorn, & the possibility if his claiming the Kingship. Denethor can only see this possibility as his own defeat & overthrow, & therefore as the defeat & overthrow of Gondor itself. It seems to me that Denethor’s sitting in the throneroom, armed & armoured, but refusing to go out, is not merely his attempt at self preservation; its as if he feels that while he himself is safe & secure then Gondor, by extension, will be safe & secure as well. He can even ‘spend his sons’ because, while he loves them, they are not Gondor.

Another thing I picked up from HoMe, which may or may not be applicable, was a statement from the ‘proto-Beregond’:

Quote:
Many other pencilled alterations were made to this part of the mauscript, mostly to clarify the writing, which is here rather rough. Among these the following may be noted: as Beren and Pippin sat on the seat beside the battlement Beren said: 'We thought it was the whim our lord to take him a page boy', and this was changed by the addition of 'after the manner of the old kings that had dwarves in their service, if old tales be true.'
What’s interesting here is that Tolkien uses the idiosyncratic ‘dwarves’, not dwarfs, so he’s clearly referring to members of the dwarven race, not to ‘short’ humans. This is such an odd idea, because even though his concept of the dwarves evolved over the years, there was never any point in the writings where dwarves would have been concieved as serving as pages to humans. My own feeling on reading this was that Tolkien was making a double point here - first, that the lore of Gondor is in decline, & ignorance of other races is growing. The Gondorians are not simply ignorant of Hobbits, but of Dwarves as well. Second, it shows there is doubt about the veracity of ‘old tales’. Now, in this case, that doubt is correct, but later, in the case of Ioreth, we will see that it is not. In short, the Gondorians retain ‘old tales’, but have an ambiguous relationship to them. Some old tales are true, some are false, some are pure fantasy, but they don’t seem to be able to distinguish which is which anymore. In fact, for all their ‘learning’, they seem to be as ignorant of the world beyond their time & borders as the Rohirrim, & we can understand Faramir’s mourning for the past greatness of his people.
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Old 05-31-2005, 02:00 PM   #9
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A few quick thoughts before I read a bit more closely...

I'm struck by the use of contrasts in this chapter: the high white peaks of Minas Tirith against the shadowed walls of Mordor, Gandalf versus Denethor in the passages discussed above, Borormir versus Faramir from Beregond's words, and even Pippin versus Denethor. Both Pippin and Denethor show pride in this chapter, but while Denethor's pride leads to selfishness as he claims the rule of Gondor, Pippin is lead to give service. Maybe this is an insight into hobbit resistance to evil, since a feeling that leads to negative behavior in Denethor leads to something positive from Pippin.

There might be a hint of Osanwë suggested here. While there is clearly foreshadowing of the palantír's existence in Minas Tirith when Pippin thinks Denethor looked at him while speaking about the Stones, the interaction between Gandalf and Denethor brings Osanwë to mind:

Quote:
He turned his dark eyes on Gandalf, and now Pippin saw a likeness between the two, and he felt the strain between them, almost as if he saw a line of smouldering fire, drawn from eye to eye, that might suddenly burst into flame.

and

...he saw that Denethor and Gandalf still looked each other in the eye, as if reading the other's mind.
This mind reading isn't palantír mediated if it was attempted, but the "as if" qualification brings up shades of the infamous Balrog debate.
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Old 05-31-2005, 02:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Lalwendë:
Pippin is still impulsive, as shown in his eagerness to speak to Denethor, despite Gandalf warning him what he ought not to say; he does not seem to believe in waiting to be spoken to. Likewise, when he is assigned to Beregond for the morning, his first question is to ask where he might get some food. Beregond himself informs Pippin of his status in the hierarchy of Minas Tirith, and he is well respected, but Pippin does not restrict his manner of speech. He wants to know as much as possible, and through his eager talk we too get to know all about the city.
I'm not sure that impulsive is the right word to use. Certainly, Pippin is curious and outspoken, but he has come a long way from the "ridiculous young Took who was giving a comic account of Bilbo's farewell party" at the Prancing Pony. Pippin is now much more wary of his own speech and actions. He must be careful in talking to Denethor, and he is mindful of himself during his meal with the Third Company. He has matured a great deal, and I think his encounter with the Palantír helped a great deal with this. To me, your examples seem more like the normal actions of his personality: friendly, outspoken, almost too bold, but impulsive? I'm not so sure. The one action of his that I might call impulsive is his swearing of service, but he seems to have thought about this already, as he states to Ingold.

Quote:
Originally posted by Formendacil:
Now I realise that it was the force of Denethor's powerful personality shining through that must have been the major influence on Pippin's reaction, but I still wonder: before the quest, how did Pippin mentally imagine a "great wizard". And one must remember that Gandalf was really only known for his fireworks, etc, in the Shire, and not for being a great wizard.
I think you already answered your own question, at least in part. As Pippin tells Beregond, he has known of Gandalf all his life. He knows that Gandalf is powerful, but it still hasn't really hit home. In some ways, to Pippin Gandalf is still the "friendly neighborhood wizard who makes great fireworks." Saruman fit his bill for a "great wizard," if a fallen one, and so now does Denethor. Part of this is, like Mithalwen said, an aura of authority. Another part, I think, is an aura of real power, and in Denethor's case nobility. Gandalf is almost too familiar to Pippin for him to associate these things with him.

I also agree very much with Enca's and Boromir's points on the stewardship line. It's one of my favorites.

Quote:
"Do you think that I do not understand your purpose in questioning for an hour one who knows the least, while I sit by?"

"If you understand it, then be content," returned Denethor. "Pride would be folly taht disdained help and counsel at need; but you deal out such gifts according to your own designs. Yet the Lord of Gondor is not to be made the tool of other men's purposes, however worthy."
This part of the exchange has always seemed rather cryptic to me. It is rather interesting that Denethor would question Pippin so closely while Gandalf could tell him much more. I have always interpreted the reason to be mostly Denethor's pride, knowing that while he might get less information from Pippin, it would probably be more honest and uncensored, whereas Gandalf's would be very guarded. Thoughts?
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Old 05-31-2005, 10:49 PM   #11
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That, Firefoot, and the fact that Denethor and Gandalf have always disagreed on a great many things. It's as if in exchange for the information Gandalf would have given, Denethor knows for sure that he would be used by Gandalf to fulfill his own goals. We have already seen that Gandalf and Denethor "love" Gondor in different ways, therefore they have different ways of protecting it. Denethor would rather spend an hour questioning Pippin who knows less, knowing that he can do nothing about what he says, instead of asking Gandalf for news and having to risk giving him authority to act upon them indirectly.

EDIT: Oh, and it would be easier for Denethor to read Pippin's mind, so he would get more than what Pippin actually says.
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Old 06-01-2005, 05:57 PM   #12
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Originally posted by Mithalwen:

Now superficially Gandalf might have appeared the least imposing of them all.
Quote:
Originally posted by Lalwendë:

Here we have the youthful Hobbit talking to the seasoned soldier of Gondor and it is the latter who is less experienced. Beregond has been charged with showing Pippin the ways of Minas Tirith, but the hobbit ends up impressing the older man with his tales of Middle Earth.
It just occurred to me that this might be part of a recurring theme that things aren't always as they seem. When we first encounter Aragorn in Bree, he doesn't appear to be a likely candidate to become King. Hobbits are the last inhabitants of Middle Earth that would be expected to bring about the downfall of Sauron. "All that is gold does not glitter."
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Old 06-01-2005, 06:22 PM   #13
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Indeed. Don't forget Pippin's:
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"For when you are older, you will learn that folk are not always what they seem; and though you may have taken me for a stranger-lad and easy prey, let me warn you: I am not, I am a halfling, hard, bold, and wicked!" Pippin pulled such a grim face that the boy stepped back a pace, but at once he returned with clenched fists and the light of battle in his eye.

"No!" Pippin laughed. "Don't believe what strangers say of themselves either! I am not a fighter."
This chapter is full of instances on how people are not always what they seem.
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Old 06-02-2005, 02:16 PM   #14
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Taking the events of the chapter in order, I think this was the first thing that stood out:

Quote:
'It is long since the beacons of the North were lit,' he said; 'and in the ancient days of Gondor they were not needed, for they had the Seven Stones.' Pippin stirred uneasily.
It seems that Gondor is moving backwards, devolving from a time when they had a high tech signalling & communications system to one when they were dependent on a very ‘primitive’ means of summoning help. Yet, what we also see is the fading of ‘magical’ means, of Elven ‘technology’, & the increasing use of mundane means. Beacons don’t need superior will in their employment. This movement away from magic can perhaps be seen as a development, an evolution, as anyone can light a fire. We are actually seeing a movement away from dependence on a few gifted individuals to save Gondor to a society where individual merit will determine the future of the realm. But this also places the Gondorians in a very precarious position when facing an enemy who employs magical means to fight. The appearance of the Nazgul brings terror & loss of heart, & only magic can bring them down, whether that’s the power of Gandalf, or of Merry’s Barrow blade, ‘wound about with spells for the destruction of Mordor’. Soon, the magic will pass away, & maybe part of the reason Gondor survives & thrives is that it has found a way of living without it.

Quote:
Gandalf passed now into the wide land beyond the Rammas Echor. So the men of Gondor called the out-wall that they had built with great labour, after Ithilien fell under the shadow of their Enemy.
Shippey compares the Rammas to teh Maginot Line, Lewis & Currie in ‘The Uncharted Realms of Tolkien’, to the ‘Star Wars’ satelite defence system. Basically, they see these things as ‘defences’ which ultimately prove useless & massively expensive ‘white elephants’, which fail at the test, & are particularly dangerous because of the faith placed in them. Gandalf’s words are telling: ‘But leave your trowels and sharpen your swords!' Basically, he is telling them that their own courage & willingness to defend what they love is what will save them, & that faith placed in ‘things’ is most likely to lull them into a false sense of security & lead them to complacency.


Quote:
Yet the herdsmen and husbandmen that dwelt there were not many, and the most part of the people of Gondor lived in the seven circles of the City, or in the high vales of the mountain-borders, in Lossarnach, or further south in fair Lebennin with its five swift streams.
I was surprised when I first read this - it seems Gondor is not all that densely populated. They cannot defend themselves. Rohan is vital to their survival, not because they lack courage, but because they lack numbers. But even in the Gondorians the blood of Numenor is not ‘pure’. Numenor is passing away - for good or ill - & will soon become a memory:

Quote:
There dwelt a hardy folk between the mountains and the sea. They were reckoned men of Gondor, yet their blood was mingled, and there were short and swarthy folk among them whose sires came more from the forgotten men who housed in the shadow of the hills in the Dark Years ere the coming of the kings.
I can’t help feeling that this is part & parcel of the change indicated by the use of the beacons. Neither the replacement of the Palantiri with beacons, nor the fading of Numeorean blood were wished or intended, but both will have a ‘liberating’ effect on the people of Middle earth. We are also told later that :

Quote:
Yet it was in truth falling year by year into decay; and already it lacked half the men that could have dwelt at ease there. In every street they passed some great house or court over whose doors and arched gates were carved many fair letters of strange and ancient shapes: names Pippin guessed of great men and kindreds that had once dwelt there; and yet now they were silent, and no footstep rang on their wide pavements, nor voice was heard in their halls, nor any face looked out from door or empty window.

Quote:
For the fashion of Minas Tirith was such that it was built on seven levels, each delved into the hill, and about each was set a wall, and in each wall was a gate. But the gates were not set in a line: the Great Gate in the City Wall was at the east point of the circuit, but the next faced half south, and the third half north, and so to and fro upwards; so that the paved way that climbed towards the Citadel turned first this way and then that across the face of the hill. And each time that it passed the line of the Great Gate it went through an arched tunnel, piercing a vast pier of rock whose huge out-thrust bulk divided in two all the circles of the City save the first. For partly in the primeval shaping of the hill, partly by the mighty craft and labour of old, there stood up from the rear of the wide court behind the Gate a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel facing east. Up it rose, even to the level of the topmost circle, and there was crowned by a battlement; so that those in the Citadel might, like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below. The entrance to the Citadel also looked eastward, but was delved in the heart of the rock; thence a long lamp-lit slope ran up to the seventh gate. Thus men reached at last the High Court, and the Place of the Fountain before the feet of the White Tower: tall and shapely, fifty fathoms from its base to the pinnacle, where the banner of the Stewards floated a thousand feet above the plain.
Going back to something LMP said in the ‘Tolkien the Artist’ thread, it seems that Minas Tirith itself is almost like a three dimensional ‘mandala’. It is circular, obviously, but I also wonder about the symbolism of ‘seven’ here. ‘Seven stars & seven stones & one white tree’. Why seven levels? In medieval astronomy there were seven ‘planets’ - Sun, Moon, Mercury, venus, Mars, Saturn & Jupiter. I also note that ‘those in the Citadel might, like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below.’

Quote:
The guards of the gate were robed in black, and their helms were of strange shape, high-crowned, with long cheek-guards close-fitting to the face, and above the cheek-guards were set the white wings of sea-birds; but the helms gleamed with a flame of silver, for they were indeed wrought of mithril, heirlooms from the glory of old days. Upon the black surcoats were embroidered in white a tree blossoming like snow beneath a silver crown and many-pointed stars. This was the livery of the heirs of Elendil, and none wore it now in all Gondor, save the Guards of the Citadel before the Court of the Fountain where the White Tree once had grown.
Yet again, we are told of the fading of Gondor. It is a place of memory - but it is also backward looking, unable to move forward. Men in ancient armour guard a dead tree while war approaches.

It has already been pointed out that Gandalf ‘condems’ Denethor’s questioning of Pippin rather than he himself,
Quote:
You can use even your grief as a cloak. Do you think that I do not understand your purpose in questioning for an hour one who knows the least, while I sit by?'
but Gandalf had already predicted this would be the case before they entered the hall:

Quote:
But he will speak most to you, and question you much, since you can tell him of his son Boromir. He loved him greatly: too much perhaps; and the more so because they were unlike. But under cover of this love he will think it easier to learn what he wishes from you rather than from me. Do not tell him more than you need, and leave quiet the matter of Frodo's errand. I will deal with that in due time. And say nothing about Aragorn either, unless you must.'
Gandalf knows Denethor too well.

Finally, for now, we have Pippin’s oath. As has been pointed out, all four Hobbits swear an oath of service - Sam to Frodo, Frodo to the Council, Merry to Theoden & Pippin, here, to Denethor. They all commit themselves to the service of an individual, apart from Frodo, who swears service to a ‘mission’, if I can put it that way. Their oaths bind them, but only Frodo is broken by the oath he swears.
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Old 06-02-2005, 06:19 PM   #15
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Note about the opening. It starts right from where the third book left off. With this I think Tolkien wanted to make it clear that LOTR is indeed one book and not three like some people think it is.

Merry and Pippin were minor characters in the other books but in this one they are drawn into the foreground. Of course in this chapter it is Pippin. I really like that because before the reader wasn't given much of a chance to learn much.
When first reading LOTR I really got to like Pippin in this chapter. I already liked him before but in this chapter I liked seeing how he matured.

When he first came to power Denethor might have accepted the fact that as a steward he wouldn't be the main power in Minas Tirith all his life. But as he got older and no heir appeared he might have begun to think of himself as the "King". Than when he began to look in the Palantir I think Sauron took advantage of this thought or belief and used it to bring Denethor under his spell. Eventually I am sure that Sauron also used Boromir's death to break Denethor. Overall it is a nasty business.

When I read the description of Gondor I immediatly got the impression that the city was in its decline and that all its inhabitants know it too. Faramir mentioned it in Ithilien as well and part of his hope was to see the city restored to its former glory. This state of decay makes the need for victory even more urgent. Or at least that was the feeling I got (which made me read faster ). If evil isn't defeated quickly it could succeed.

The fact that Mordor's shadow is growing rapidly is noticed by everybody's behaviour. It can be noticed by how suspicious the guards at the gate are towards Pippin. Also through this whole chapter there is an stifling atmosphere created by the way things are described and how people act. This chapter saddens me too because it is obvious that Gondor was glorious, and that the decay is now spreading quickly. Actually Moria gives me this same feeling as well. The sadness due to the loss of something great.
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Old 06-03-2005, 03:56 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefoot
I'm not sure that impulsive is the right word to use. Certainly, Pippin is curious and outspoken, but he has come a long way from the "ridiculous young Took who was giving a comic account of Bilbo's farewell party" at the Prancing Pony. Pippin is now much more wary of his own speech and actions. He must be careful in talking to Denethor, and he is mindful of himself during his meal with the Third Company. He has matured a great deal, and I think his encounter with the Palantír helped a great deal with this. To me, your examples seem more like the normal actions of his personality: friendly, outspoken, almost too bold, but impulsive? I'm not so sure. The one action of his that I might call impulsive is his swearing of service, but he seems to have thought about this already, as he states to Ingold.
Pippin certainly seems driven to speak or to act when his pride is slighted. He is laughed about by the men at the Rammas Echor when Gandalf refers to him as a Man. He is at first referred to as a Dwarf, and then his bravery in relation to his size is questioned. This slight on him certainly leads him to be impulsive enough to reveal that Boromir is dead, which Gandalf is not pleased about (though it seems that the men of Gondor are suspicious of this in any case).

Pippin is stirred to speak by his pride, which is not misplaced if we remember what he has been through; he is indignant at the suggestion he is not as brave as any Man. The encounter with the Palantir has not entirely humbled him or he would not act and speak in this way. This is a good thing or Pippin would not have had the sense of pride to be hurt, the memory of having been in great peril, that would eventually prompt him into swearing his oath. Seeing the broken horn seems to stir some great emotion within him and even though he may have had the idea of service, of paying something back for Boromir's death in mind, it takes the catalyst of seeing the broken horn to prompt his oath. I think his growing maturity is more of a process, brought on not just by the Palantir, but by learning just what it means to take an oath and enter into service.

Maybe impulsive is too strong a term, certainly seen in the light of Gollum's impulsiveness in the previous book, but Pippin is certainly not cool and calculated. He is emotionally moved by the sight of Boromir's broken horn in the hands of Denethor, moved by the sight of a father in grief, and coupled with the sense that his own bravery is being questioned, he is prompted to speak and act. In this chapter I think we see that Pippin is very much the young man, in that he wishes to appear capable and brave, but he also wears his feelings on his sleeve and has a great intelligence. Probably more than being impulsive, I think he is simply a little unpredictable, as Gandalf finds out to his pleasant surprise.

Quote:
a towering bastion of stone, its edge sharp as a ship-keel facing east.
Quote:
those in the Citadel might, like mariners in a mountainous ship, look from its peak sheer down upon the Gate seven hundred feet below.
Quote:
the White Tower: tall and shapely, fifty fathoms from its base to the pinnacle, where the banner of the Stewards floated a thousand feet above the plain.
Quote:
their helms were of strange shape, high-crowned, with long cheek-guards close-fitting to the face, and above the cheek-guards were set the white wings of sea-birds;
Quote:
With that Gandalf went out; and as he did so, there came the note of a clear sweet bell ringing in a tower of the citadel. Three strokes it rang, like silver in the air, and ceased: the third hour from the rising of the sun.
I noticed the maritime images in this chapter as being quite curious. Does this hark back to the maritime Numenorean heritage of Gondor? Minas Tirith seems to be described as though it is a great ship, moored to Mindolluin. There is no sea for it to sail off into, and its inhabitants do not have the urge to leave it, but it seems as though one of their ancestors' great ships has been moored here for the future generations to dwell in.

Even the ringing of the hourly bell echoes maritime tradition and the uniforms of the guards include sea bird emblems. Is this tradition intentional, to remind them of their past? We even get a hint here of the shape of Numenorean ships; they are not swan-prowed like Elven ships, but are of the shape we are more used to.
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Old 06-03-2005, 05:54 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
I also wonder about the symbolism of ‘seven’ here
So have I. But all I can remember is that the number seven is associated with perfection... could it have been the Numenoreans' pride, or their desire?


Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
Men in ancient armour guard a dead tree while war approaches.
This act appears as folly to me, not to mention a waste of resources. But in a way it shows that despite Gondor's waning, its people hope that there will be a time for renewal, as if they're waiting for the Tree to be somehow resuscitated or a sapling to be found growing off it. And it gives them hope, looking back on the glory of Gondor, being driven by the desire to see the White Tree in bloom again.
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Old 06-03-2005, 06:40 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
I noticed the maritime images in this chapter as being quite curious. Does this hark back to the maritime Numenorean heritage of Gondor? Minas Tirith seems to be described as though it is a great ship, moored to Mindolluin. There is no sea for it to sail off into, and its inhabitants do not have the urge to leave it, but it seems as though one of their ancestors' great ships has been moored here for the future generations to dwell in.

Even the ringing of the hourly bell echoes maritime tradition and the uniforms of the guards include sea bird emblems. Is this tradition intentional, to remind them of their past? We even get a hint here of the shape of Numenorean ships; they are not swan-prowed like Elven ships, but are of the shape we are more used to.
I think that the tradition is intended to remind them of their past. To step back a few chapters to The Window on the West, Faramir refers to Minas Tirith as "The City of the Men of Numenor" and loves the memory and ancientry of the city. This passage from that chapter is also interesting:

Quote:
"Yet now, if the Rohirrim are grown in some ways more like to us, enhanced in arts and gentleness, we too have become more like to them, and can scarce claim aymore the title High. We are become Middle Men of the Twlight, but with memory of other things."
It seems that there is a longing for the past glory of Numenor, and so it would make sense that the traditions were started as a way to keep the memory alive.
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Old 06-03-2005, 06:43 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lalwendë
Maybe impulsive is too strong a term, certainly seen in the light of Gollum's impulsiveness in the previous book, but Pippin is certainly not cool and calculated. He is emotionally moved by the sight of Boromir's broken horn in the hands of Denethor, moved by the sight of a father in grief, and coupled with the sense that his own bravery is being questioned, he is prompted to speak and act. In this chapter I think we see that Pippin is very much the young man, in that he wishes to appear capable and brave, but he also wears his feelings on his sleeve and has a great intelligence. Probably more than being impulsive, I think he is simply a little unpredictable, as Gandalf finds out to his pleasant surprise.
Absolutely. I was not trying to say that Pippin had fully matured, rather that he had matured some and that this also can be seen in his actions. For example, the Pippin from Book 1 would not in all likelihood have been able to go before Denethor like he does now. He does still have a way to go yet, but he's getting there. Mostly I had a problem with your post because it sounded to me as if you didn't feel Pippin had matured much at all and that he was still the foolish young Took.

Part of his 'impulsivity' I think can be blamed on his inexperience. He did not have the advantage of really getting accustomed to Rohan first, which could have been a sort of intermediary stop. Pippin went from the breaking of the Fellowship to the Orcs to the Ents to Orthanc to Minas Tirith. His personality combined with inexperience is going to lead to some impulsivity. Pippin feels that he has something to prove. The whole reason he is going with Gandalf is because of his mistake with the Palantir; no doubt he will feel he has to make up for it. Then he comes in and the men immediately doubt him, so he associates himself with Boromir to heighten their esteem. (Actually, this may have been a pretty good idea if Boromir weren't dead...) Maybe he didn't think it would do any harm in letting them know about Boromir's death.

Pippin tries hard. He just does not yet have the wisdom and the experience to deal with the situation he is thrown into.
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Old 06-03-2005, 06:46 AM   #20
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Numbers seem to be invested with significance in Arda, just as we invest them with great meaning. Seven is a number with a lot of symbolism. It is a lucky number, it is also significant in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, it numbers those planets/stars/moons in our own system we can see without a telescope. But I think all numbers have their own particular significance within Arda itself, without any reference to how we view them; Tolkien must have been trying to establish a similar history of symbols and symbolism in his own creation.

There are, as far as I can find, several instances of seven being significant. The oldest seems to be Valacirca, the seven stars, which could be the root of all the following symbolism. Then we have the seven fathers of the Dwarves (and the Dwarves are also given seven rings by Sauron), and the seven sons of Feanor. In terms of places, there are seven gates in Gondolin, the seventh being seven hundred (?) feet high, and Minas Tirith is on seven levels, each adding up to seven hundred feet. There are also seven Palantiri.
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Old 06-03-2005, 07:30 AM   #21
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Minas Tirith has a special place in my Tolkien filled heart. This is because it was the first thing I read of ANY Tolkien related things. And thus it didn't make a lot of sense, but I enjoyed it intensely and it encouraged me to read further.
The opening to this Chapter is what remains in my mind the most.

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Originally Posted by Tolkien
Pippin looked out from the shelter of Gandalf's cloak. He wondered if he was awake of still sleeping, still in the swift-moving dream in which he had been wrapped so long since the great ride began. The dark world was rushing by and the wind sang loudly in his ears. He could see nothing but the wheeling of the stars and away to his right vast shadows against the sky where the mountains of the south marched past. Sleepily he tried to reckon the times and stages of their journey, but his memory was drowsy and uncertain.

The Return of the King: Chapter one, Minas Tirith
It always reminds me of why I enjoyed Tolkien. I think this whole chapter, in essence, shows why Tolkien decided to make Gandalf take Pippin along. As I think I mentioned in an earlier chapter, With any imaginary world, there needs to be an ignorant party. Pippin fits this description perfectly. Rather than let Tolkien describe it all in long hand, he allows Pippin to ask all the questions one would in a strange new country, questions like "What is this place", "What is its significance" and of course, "where can we get food".

This is made clear right away from Pippin's first words;
"Where are we, Gandalf?" Allowing Gandalf to explain, rather than the narrative. I was personally amused by Pippins presumption "are there Dragons in this land?" As we all know, a fantasy story is not complete until there are dragons. This made me think back to The Hobbit, and more specifically, its importance on the story. It is obvious that Bilbo's story had had an effect on Pippin, we know that Merry was the only one (besides Bilbo and Frodo) who had seen the manuscript and read it, I assume, Pippin knew the story already and Merry had told him all the extra bits he had read.

I'll think of more to say later.
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Old 06-03-2005, 02:42 PM   #22
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Hobbits & Oath-Taking

In this chapter we have the third (or fourth, if we count Smeagol's) oath of service sworn by a Hobbit. Sam's is, as I pointed out in an earlier thread, the most subtle & the most easily missed:

Quote:
'Well, Sam!' he said. 'What about it? I am leaving the Shire as soon as ever I can--in fact I have made up my mind now not even to wait a day at Crickhollow, if it can be helped.'
'Very good, sir!'
'You still mean to come with me?'
'I do.'
'It is going to be very dangerous, Sam. It is already dangerous. Most likely neither of us will come back.'
'If you don't come back, sir, then I shan't, that's certain,' said Sam. 'Don't you leave him! they said to me. Leave him! I said. I never mean to. I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon; and if any of those Black Riders try to stop him, they'll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with, I said. They laughed.'
'Who are they, and what are you talking about?
'The Elves, sir. We had some talk last night; and they seemed to know you were going away, so I didn't see the use of denying it. Wonderful folks, Elves, sir! Wonderful!'...
'Do you feel any need to leave the Shire now--now that your wish to see them has come true already?' he asked.
'Yes, sir. I don't know how to say it, but after last night I feel different. I seem to see ahead, in a kind of way. I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can't turn back. It isn't to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want--I don't rightly know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire. I must see it through, sir, if you understand me.'
'I don't altogether. But I understand that Gandalf chose me a good companion. I am content. We will go together.''
What we have here is an oath of service sworn not to Frodo, but to the Elves. Frodo accepts Sam's sworn oath, & Sam becomes Frodo's servant. I think its quite significant that Sam's oath is sworn to 'higher' (in his mind at least) beings. The Elves are the nearest thing for Sam to spiritual powers, so his commitment is to something even higher than his friend & Master. Is to something greater, & it is a kind of 'religious' commitment - even if he doesn't understand what he has committed himself to he knows he now has a 'mission'.

Next, we have Frodo's oath:

Quote:
At last with an effort he spoke, and wondered to hear his own words, as if some other will was using his small voice.
'I will take the Ring,' he said, 'though I do not know the way.'
Elrond raised his eyes and looked at him, and Frodo felt his heart pierced by the sudden keenness of the glance. 'If I understand aright all that I have heard,' he said, 'I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will.
This, again, is an oath sworn not to a particular individual but to a cause, yet it is diferent to Sam's oath in that it is a 'worldly' task, & a very specific one, which Frodo commits himself to. Sam can only struggle to explain what he has committed himself to: 'It isn't to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want--I don't rightly know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire.'

So, Frodo's oath is more simple, because more specific, but more 'binding' because of that. Sam doesn't know what his oath binds him to do, what it will require of him, Frodo knows exactly what his oath requires of him. As Elrond says to Gimli, sworn word make break the heart.

Next we have Smeaqgol's 'oath' sworn out a mixture of desire & fear. It is, os all the oaths, the one sworn least willingly, & the one sworn out of selfishness. It should never have been sworn, & much of the suffering that results from it comes as a direct result of this.


Quote:
Frodo drew himself up, and again Sam was startled by his words and his 279 stern voice. 'On the Precious? How dare you?" he said. "Think! 'One Ring to rule them all and in the Darkness bind them. "Would you commit your promise to that, Smeagol? It will hold you. But it is more treacherous than you are. It may twist your words. Beware!"
Gollum cowered. 'On the Precious, on the Precious!" he repeated.
'And what would you swear?" asked Frodo.

"To be very very good," said Gollum. Then crawling to Frodo's feet he grovelled before him, whispering hoarsely: a shudder ran over him, as if the words shook his very bones with fear. "Smeagol will swear never, never, to let Him have it. Never! Smeagol will save it. But he must swear on the Precious."
'No! not on it," said Frodo, looking down at him with stern pity. 'All you wish is to see it and touch it, if you can, though you know it would drive you mad. Not on it. Swear by it, if you will. For you know where it is. Yes, you know, Smeagol. It is before you."
For a moment it appeared to Sam that his master had grown and Gollum had shrunk: a tall stern shadow, a mighty lord who hid his brightness in grey cloud, and at his feet a little whining dog. Yet the two were in some way akin and not alien: they could reach one another's minds. Gollum raised himself and began pawing at Frodo, fawning at his knees.
'Down! down!" said Frodo. 'Now speak your promise!"
"We promises, yes, I promise!" said Gollum. "I will serve the master of the Precious. Good master, good Smeagol, gollum, gollum!" Suddenly he began to weep and bite at his ankle again.
Next up is Pippin's oath to Denethor in this chapter:

Quote:
'Take the hilt,' said Gandalf, 'and speak after the Lord, if you are resolved on this.'
'I am,' said Pippin.
The old man laid the sword along his lap, and Pippin put his hand to the hilt, and said slowly after Denethor:
'Here do I swear fealty and service to Gondor, and to the Lord and Steward of the realm, to speak and to be silent, to do and to let be, to come and to go, in need or plenty, in peace or war, in living or dying, from this hour henceforth, until my lord release me, or death take me, or the world end. So say I, Peregrin son of Paladin of the Shire of the Halflings.'
'And this do I hear, Denethor son of Ecthelion, Lord of Gondor, Steward of the High King, and I will not forget it, nor fail to reward that which is given: fealty with love, valour with honour, oath-breaking with vengeance.' Then Pippin received back his sword and put it in its sheath.
What's interesting here is the 'misunderstanding' - as far as Pippin is concerned he is swearing an oath of service to Denethor, the father of Boromir, who gave his life to try & save him & Merry. Denethor, misunderstands this, possibly deliberately, as an oath of service to Gondor - though, if he does no longer distinguish between himself & Gondor maybe he thinks it is the same thing. Whatever, Pippin swears one oath & Denethor recieves another one entirely. This 'misunderstanding will surface later, when Denethor 'releases' Pippin from 'his' service - ie from service to Gondor - & Pippin says he doesn't want to be released from his oath to Denethor. Denethor recieves Pippin's service without really understanding what the Hobbit has offered. He doesn't take it personally - it is service to the realm, service of a man at arms in wartime as far as he is concerned, not an oath of service to a bereaved father by someone trying to make up for a lost son.

Quote:
But from my word and your service I do not wish to be released while you live. And if they come at last to the Citadel, I hope to be here and stand beside you and earn perhaps the arms that you have given me.'
Finally, we have Merry's oath:

Quote:
'I have a sword,' said Merry, climbing from his seat, and drawing from its black sheath his small bright blade. Filled suddenly with love for this old man, he knelt on one knee, and took his hand and kissed it. 'May I lay the sword of Meriadoc of the Shire on your lap, Theoden King?' he cried. 'Receive my service, if you will!'
'Gladly will I take it,' said the king; and laying his long old hands upon the brown hair of the hobbit, he blessed him. 'Rise now, Meriadoc, esquire of Rohan of the household of Meduseld!' he said. 'Take your sword and bear it unto good fortune!'
'As a father you shall be to me,' said Merry.
'For a little while,' said Theoden.
Like Sam's oath, this is sworn out of love. Like Pippin's it is an oath sworn to a man, not to a 'realm'. It is a personal commitment, & is understood to be such by Theoden - even if he does not take it as quite as seriously as Merry:

Quote:
The king turned to Merry. 'I am going to war, Master Meriadoc,' he said. 'In a little while I shall take the road. I release you from my service, but not from my friendship. You shall abide here, and if you will, you shall serve the Lady Eowyn, who will govern the folk in my stead.'
'But, but, lord,' Merry stammered, 'I offered you my sword. I do not want to be parted from you like this, Theoden King. And as all my friends have gone to the battle, I should be ashamed to stay behind.'
'But we ride on horses tall and swift,' said Theoden; 'and great though your heart be, you cannot ride on such beasts.'
'Then tie me onto the back of one, or let me hang on a stirrup, or something,' said Merry. 'It is a long way to run; but run I shall, if I cannot ride, even if I wear my feet off and arrive weeks too late.'
We seem to have a number of different kinds of oaths sworn, not all of which are sworn on full knowledge, & not all taken as meant. We've discussed this before on other threads, & maybe this repeats some of those earlier discussions, but as Pippin's oath is so central to this chapter I thought it might be interesting to examine the theme in a bit more detail.
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Old 06-03-2005, 10:54 PM   #23
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You can see that Pippin hasn't fully matured yet because if he had he might have thought twice before he offered his services to Denethor. He still lets his emotions guide him, but thet don't overtake him as much as they used to before.
He is also losing some of that innocence that he had back in book 1 or just some of his ignorance which led to curiosity and drove him to do silly things like throwing the rock down the well in Moria.
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Old 06-05-2005, 11:32 AM   #24
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'Dark indeed is the hour,' said the old man, 'and at such times you are wont to come, Mithrandir. But though all the signs forebode that the doom of Gondor is drawing nigh, less now to me is that darkness than my own darkness. It has been told to me that you bring with you one who saw my son die. Is this he?'
This is very similar to the welcome Gandalf got in Meduseld, & on the surface is motivated by similar feelings of grief, yet as Gandalf has said, Denethor can use his grief as a cloak. He is ‘wiser’ than Theoden, yet perhaps that should be ‘cleverer’. Theoden has succumbed to hopelessness for many of the same reasons as Denethor (Shippey points out the similarity of their names, which could almost be anagrams of each other), yet Theoden is still capable of listening to council. Denethor is closed off from all external influence - or so he believes. What we actually see is that while Theoden is capable, through his innate humility, of willingly listening to the words of Gandalf, Denethor has succumbed unwillingly to the words of Sauron. His vision has been corrupted by the Dark Lord till he can only see things as Sauron wishes him to see them, while Theoden still retains his capacity to see true & only requires to be shown the truth to recognise & accept it. Theoden, it seems, has accepted the death of his son as part of the evil of the times,

Denethor seems to see the loss of Boromir as a personal assault on him. Theoden as a result can grieve his loss & move on, Denethor is broken by it, because he sees it as fate being out to get him - everyone is against him, out to destroy him. He is embattled, cut off, waiting for the inevitable end - why bother fighting? He does continue organising the defence of Gondor, but soon he will decide there is no point in that. When we first meet them Theoden seems a worse case than Denethor. The Steward seems more in control of himself, more powerful, more aware & defiant. In actual fact he only seems stronger. The reality is that he is brittle & ready to shatter. What he lacks is Theoden’s inner strength, which is only sleeping.

His words to Gandalf later seem to show his wisdom in conflict with his pride:

Quote:
'Pride would be folly that disdained help and counsel at need; but you deal out such gifts according to your own designs.
It would be foolish to reject help & counsel, he claims, yet he will only have the ‘help & counsel’ that suits him. He’s talking contradictory nonsense - which he quite possibly has been doing for a good while, but nobody, we assume, would dare to point this out. Gandalf does, & gets short shrift.

Another thing that struck me was his statement

Quote:
Bring wine and food and seats for the guests,' said Denethor, 'and see that none trouble us for one hour.'
'It is all that I have to spare, for there is much else to heed,' he said to Gandalf.
He can, apparently, only spare an hour - yet how long has he spent staring at the broken horn on his lap?

Quote:
'That is the horn that Boromir always wore!' cried Pippin.
'Verily,' said Denethor. 'And in my turn I bore it, and so did each eldest son of our house, far back into the vanished years before the failing of the kings, since Vorondil father of Mardil hunted the wild kine of Araw in the far fields of Rhun.
This is an appeal to past glory, by a man who has abandoned himself to his fear of total loss. He is conflating history with ‘mythology’. Araw is Orome, & it was believed that the cattle Vorondil hunted had originally belonged to the Valar. It is an appeal to the dead, to those who have gone West. To Denethor the broken horn is a symbol of the breaking of his & Gondor’s link not just with its history but with its glory, & ultimately with the Valar themselves. The future is shrouded in a black cloud & offers nothing, the past has been taken away. In this context, I wonder about his reaction to Pippin’s sword:

Quote:
A pale smile, like a gleam of cold sun on a winter's evening, passed over the old man's face; but he bent his head and held out his hand, laying the shards of the horn aside. 'Give me the weapon!' he said.
Pippin lifted it and presented the hilt to him. 'Whence came this?' said Denethor. 'Many, many years lie on it. Surely this is a blade wrought by our own kindred in the North in the deep past?'
In an early draft he calls the blade a ‘sax’, which Tolkien changed, probably because of the ‘primary world’ connections it would conjure up, but its interesting that he should use that term. Denethor’s reaction perhaps implies that he sees in Pippin’s blade a whole & solid connection with the past glories of Gondor, but more importantly, his use of the phrase ‘our kindred’ seems to conflict with his later dismissal of Aragorn as ‘last of a ragged house long bereft of lordship & dignity.’ The ones who made the barrow blade,’in the deep past’, were his (taking ‘our’ to be a use of the ‘Royal We) own kindred, their decendents are ‘a ragged house long bereft of lordship & dignity - when did that particular break happen?

The chapter ends with the (as I think Tolkien called it) ‘Homeric procession’ of forces from outlying parts of the Realm. Their appearance is greeted with joy, yet their passing into the city perhaps deepens the inhabitants’ sense of despair. They hoped for thousands & got hundreds. They need Rohan. The great Darkness sweeps over them in the night, & all the lights in the city have been dimmed. Even Gandalf states ‘There will be no dawn.’ On a first reading we feel their despair, on subsequent readings we know it is mistaken, & that a dawn will come, with the crowing of a cock, the departure of the Lord of the Nazgul - never to return - & the horns of Rohan. Another eucatasptrophe. It is always darkest before the dawn - even when we know the dawn is inevitable. This chapter, as much as it is about Pippin, is about Denethor. We may see the events through Pippin’s eyes, but on another level we see things from Denethor’s perspective: we adopt, without realising it, Denethor’s point of view. Its as if he truly is Gondor. His spirit has settled on the city & on us.

Yet the words of Beregond also echo through this chapter:

Quote:
'Nay, though all things must come utterly to an end in time, Gondor shall not perish yet. Not though the walls be taken by a reckless foe that will build a hill of carrion before them. There are still other fastnesses, and secret ways of escape into the mountains. Hope and memory shall live still in some hidden valley where the grass is green.'
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Old 06-08-2005, 03:31 PM   #25
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The idea that Denethor has begun seeing himself as Gondor by this point rings very true and explains some of the Steward’s more mystifying behavior very well. But as for his seeming inconsistency of thought regarding lordship and dignity of his northern kindred, I would hazard to say that he probably thought them less worthy since Arvedui's time, when they had lost all the northern kingdoms. Though I doubt Denethor would have accepted Arvedui himself as king of Gondor viewing the traditional line held by Gondor regarding them.

To be a bit charitable to him on how he was spending his time, it is possible that Denethor only found time to meditate deeply on the broken horn while waiting for Gandalf and Pippin to arrive. And it appears that he was sharp at this point, not off in the deep end at all, even in Gandalf's eyes. So this 'prop' might have been chosen for it's effect in supporting the steward's show of real grief.

Quote:
”Folly?” said Gandalf. “Nay, my lord, when you are a dotard you will die.”
Gandalf says this after he stared down Denethor. Could they have been engaging in some form of osanwe? Tolkien hints, and it seems as though Gandalf contented himself that Denthor’s knowledge was due do the keen sight of Gondorian lords, perhaps a lesser form of osanwe, but it seems as though this display may have served a purpose for Denethor. Perhaps to help screen from Gandalf the knowledge gained via palantír rather than from his messengers. As as for the folly, perhaps Denethor truely recognized his error before his demise.

Also surprising was Pippin's notice of the joy under Gandalf's sorrow. It seems a very Christian concept.

Ah yes, can't forget to mention this little quote, seeing where we are discussing this!

Quote:
'It came out of the mounds that lie on the borders of my country,' said Pippin. "but only evil wights dwell there now, and I will not willingly tell more of them."
Sound advice from Pippin? Come now, not all of us are evil!

Last edited by Hilde Bracegirdle; 06-09-2005 at 03:43 AM. Reason: To fix the mess I had made of it and fill out some thoughts.
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Old 06-08-2005, 07:46 PM   #26
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"Folly?” said Gandalf. “Nay, my lord, when you are a dotard you will die.”
Another interesting thing about this quote is that it is a nice bit of foreshadowing/foretelling. Dotage is defined as (dictionary.com):
Quote:
The loss of previously intact mental powers; senility.
I'd say this certainly applies to the despair and death of Denethor, not to be getting ahead of myself to much. The palantir certainly destroys Denethor's hope and sanity enough that he loses his mental powers; he truly does fall into dotage, and guess what? He kills himself, fulfilling Gandalf's words. I had never really noticed this quote before, instead focusing on what followed it, but it really is an interesting line.
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Old 06-08-2005, 09:17 PM   #27
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To the discussion of Pippin's character development (always an interesting topic to me), I'd like to add something that I've noticed particularly on this reading: his loneliness. This is accented by the necessity of responding to people as a rather ignorant foreigner who didn't even arrive of his own free will; he finds himself explaining to the Gondorians who he is and where he came from. This has happened before, but he was with Merry, whose presence, I suspect, was reassuring. "This is where I'm from, and here is my friend and kinsman who's from there too" is really very different from remarking that one is from the Shire and being regarded with suspicion (or amazement) because of it. Pippin, of course, is very socially adept and even manages to remain reasonably cheerful, but his loneliness is as evident and as important as his worry about battle in the things that bother him.


Of course, as soon as he enters Minas Tirith, he (intentionally or not) takes on a role within it, by swearing his oath. Denethor takes his opportunity to make him one of the knights of the city, giving him a particular place in the structure and schedule and duties, even if the specifics have not yet been made clear. Still, he speaks to Beregond because he is lonely, and finds Bergil good company in the absence of Merry, from whom he is now separated for the first time. Meanwhile, the Gondorians have all come up with their own explanations for who he is that he now has to field (and going from a fool of a Took to the Ernil i Pheriannath from one day to another has to be disorienting).

So for the last part of the story, Pippin has to take on another identity, one not entirely of his choosing.. and he misses his friends. But he accepts it.

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"Greetings!" said that lad. "Where do you come from? You are a stranger in the City."
This is rather sad to me, in much the same way as the ending of the book itself is.
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Old 06-10-2005, 10:25 PM   #28
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It is tough to be alone in a new place with no friends. I really feel for Pippin because I experienced something like what he went through in Minas Tirith. (To a lesser extent)
I moved to a new place and had to start in Highschool in grade nine. Everyone knew everybody else and it was rather intimidating. Also because you are a tiny grade nine and there are many grade twelves who can sometimes give you a hard time.
It is funny that both Merry and Pippin give an oath to serve Denethor or Theoden. It is probably because they both feel somewhat unwanted and alone. Like Pippin said "I feel like baggage" (or something like that, I might not have memorized it correctly) Both Hobbits have the desire to prove themselves and make themselves useful.
I think this is definitly one of the reasons why Pippin offers his service appart from his emotional reasons.
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Old 06-12-2005, 12:52 PM   #29
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We meet few of the folk of Minas Tirith in the book, & I think this is why Faramir is such an important character in the story. Through him we are given a glimpse of the people of Gondor - though admittedly Faramir is not typical, he shows us that the Gondorians are a good people, fighting not just against Sauron, but to uphold an ideal. Apart from his men in Ithilien the first gondorian we meet is Ingold, one of the men building the Rammas:

Quote:
'Yea truly, we know you, Mithrandir,' said the leader of the men, 'and you know the pass-words of the Seven Gates and are free to go forward. But we do not know your companion. What is he? A dwarf out of the mountains in the North? We wish for no strangers in the land at this time, unless they be mighty men of arms in whose faith and help we can trust.'
He doesn’t come across as very welcoming of strangers, to say the least. He refers to Pippin not only as if he wasn’t there, but almost as if he is a ‘thing’ - he asks ‘What is he?’, not ‘Who?’. If we had met this particular Gondorian before we met Faramir we may not have found ourselves rooting for Gondor. If Faramir seems to some readers to be unbelievably ‘goody-goody’ they should maybe ask themselves what they would have felt about Gondorians in general if he had been less of an ‘ideal’. The fact that Tolkien has given us such a shining example of a Gondorian means that he can give us a character like Ingold without him turning us off the people of Gondor altogether. Ingold is a man with a very practical outlook on things - he (speaking for the whole of his people, remember!) states that they only wish to have ‘mighty men of arms in whose faith and help we can trust.' around. It seems he struggles to see much good in any stranger - even Gandalf:

Quote:
'May you bring good counsel to Denethor in his need, and to us all, Mithrandir!' Ingold cried. 'But you come with tidings of grief and danger, as is your wont, they say.'
This is hearsay reported as fact. Ingold doesn’t want ‘foreigners’ around unless they can fight, & even then, he doesn’t trust them.

Beregond, on the other hand, is a Gondorian more in the ‘Faramir’ mouid. He is naturally respectful of Pippin, & wishes to learn from him. If Ingold is a man after Denethor’s heart, Beregond os of Faramir’s party. We perhaps see a ‘split’ in the Gondorians. On the one hand Faramir symbolises the positive, open, compassionate side, the side that loves art, history & knowlege for its own sake - the idealists, if you will. On the other we have the ‘Denethorians’ the isolationists, the ones who openly state ‘If you aren’t with us, you’re against us!’, who seek in history & knowlege only the power to dominate & rule others - ‘For their own good’, no doubt.

Quote:
'You have been in Rohan, I hear. There is much that I would ask you of that land also; for we put much of what little hope we have in its people. ...

They ate and drank; and they talked now of Gondor and its ways and customs, now of the Shire and the strange countries that Pippin had seen. And ever as they talked Beregond was more amazed, and looked with greater wonder at the hobbit, swinging his short legs as he sat on the seat, or standing tiptoe upon it to peer over the sill at the lands below...
Yet, underlying his curiosity, is a deep sadness. He fears the loss of everything he has come to hold dear. He is a man facing the shadow of Death - not just his own death but the death of every hope, dream & value - not to mention his son.

Quote:
'Few, maybe, of those now sundered will meet again. And there were always too few children in this city; but now there are none--save some young lads that will not depart, and may find some task to do: my own son is one of them.'
Why does he allow Bergil to remain? I’ve never quite understood. Why do they allow children to remain in the city at all, rather than evacuating them? A sense of hopelessness - ‘They’re all going to die anyway, because we can’t win this war, so why argue with them, at least we will be with them when we all die.’?

But whatever else we can say about Beregond, he is an ordinary man. He is not in the counsels of the rulers. As much as Ingold, all he has to go on are rumours:

Quote:
And the Lord Denethor is unlike other men: he sees far. Some say that as he sits alone in his high chamber in the Tower at night, and bends his thought this way and that, he can read somewhat of the future; and that he will at times search even the mind of the Enemy, wrestling with him. And so it is that he is old, worn before his time. But however that may be, my lord Faramir is abroad, beyond the River on some perilous errand, and he may have sent tidings.
Yet, this doesn’t make him narrow minded & untrusting like Ingold. Rather it makes him uncertain & sad.

Quote:
'Yet, Master Peregrin, we have this honour: ever we bear the brunt of the chief hatred of the Dark Lord, for that hatred comes down out of the depths of time and over the deeps of the Sea. Here will the hammer-stroke fall hardest. And for that reason Mithrandir came hither in such haste. For if we fall, who shall stand? And, Master Peregrin, do you see any hope that we shall stand?'
He knows that his city is not just ‘in harms way’, it is targetted. Sauron is motivated by a desire to revenge himself on the last of the Numenoreans. But he is not merely concerned for his own city & people - his concern is for Middle earth as a whole. He knows that if Minas Tirith falls Gondor falls & if Gondor falls Middle earth as a whole will fall. When he claims it is an ‘honour’ to bear the brunt of Sauron’s hatred, he means it. One gets the sense that as far as Ingold is concerned the rest of Middle earth could go hang as long as Gondor survives.

Yet I wonder whether Beregond is completely in the grip of despair. It doesn’t take much to inspire him with hope:

Quote:
Then suddenly Pippin looked up and saw that the sun was still shining and the banners still streaming in the breeze. He shook himself. 'It is passed,' he said. 'No, my heart will not yet despair. Gandalf fell and has returned and is with us. We may stand, if only on one leg, or at least be left still upon our knees.'
'Rightly said!' cried Beregond, rising and striding to and fro. 'Nay, though all things must come utterly to an end in time, Gondor shall not perish yet. Not though the walls be taken by a reckless foe that will build a hill of carrion before them. There are still other fastnesses, and secret ways of escape into the mountains. Hope and memory shall live still in some hidden valley where the grass is green.'
He seems to be the kind of man who is naturally hopeful about the future, & his hope seems focussed not on Denethor, but on Faramir:

Quote:
'But things may change when Faramir returns. He is bold, more bold than many deem; for in these days men are slow to believe that a captain can be wise and learned in the scrolls of lore and song, as he is, and yet a man of hardihood and swift judgement in the field. But such is Faramir. Less reckless and eager than Boromir, but not less resolute. .
But it is not Faramir himself who inspires him with hope, it is what Faramir symbolises. So, again, we see how vital it is that Faramir is the kind of man he is. His role, & he knows it well, is not simply to rule, to give orders, it is not even to defeat Sauron. Faramir’s role in life is to inspire his people to be the best they can be in peacetime. It is a heavy burden with which he must struggle, & we can see that in his ‘oath’ to refuse the Ring even if he found by the wayside he is leading by example - this is what he hopes would be the response of all his people to the ‘weapon of the enemy’. Faramir is not simply a man, he is a leader, a ‘shepherd’ to his people. That he has succeeded in that hope is shown by Beregond.

So, we come finally to Bergil. Bergil is interesting in two ways. First, he is, if not a ‘typical’ Gondorian child, he is typical of a certain kind - the ones who refused to leave the city. He is a ‘fighter’ & we see something of the spirit that has enabled Gondor to survive. Yet he is like his father in that fighting is not what he truly loves:

'
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Farewell for this time,' said Bergil. 'Take my greetings to my father, and thank him for the company that he sent. Come again soon, I beg. Almost I wish now that there was no war, for we might have had some merry times. We might have journeyed to Lossarnach, to my grandsire's house; it is good to be there in Spring, the woods and fields are full of flowers. But maybe we will go thither together yet. They will never overcome our Lord, and my father is very valiant. Farewell and return!'
He will fight for what he loves, but he doesn’t love fighting for its own sake (well, no more than most ten year old boys!)

The other way Bergil is interesting is as part of a father-son pair. This pairing runs through the whole of the Legendarium & plays a central role in the two time travel tales Tolkien wrote. Yet within Middle earth we find this relationship repeatedly recurring. Sometimes it manifests positively, sometimes negatively - Tuor/Earendel, Barahir/Beren, Hurin/Turin, Elendil/Isildur, even the Bilbo/Frodo relationship is prety much father/son, & its interesting that in an early version of the Hobbit sequel the hero of the story was to be Bilbo’s son.

Finally, we find Beregond turning up to wish Pippin goodnight, & doing his Warden Hodges impression:

'Can you find your way?' said Beregond at the door of the small hall, on the north side of the citadel, where they had sat. 'It is a black night, and all the blacker since orders came that lights are to be dimmed within the City, and none are to shine out from the walls. And I can give you news of another order: you will be summoned to the Lord Denethor early tomorrow. I fear you will not be for the Third Company. Still we may hope to meet again. Farewell and sleep in peace!'

‘Put those Lights out!’ Don’t you know there’s a war on!’ Now, I have to admit, knowing when the book was written, that came close to breaking the spell!
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Old 06-12-2005, 02:56 PM   #30
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Ingold doesn’t want ‘foreigners’ around unless they can fight, & even then, he doesn’t trust them.
This is another example of how the ordinary Gondorians have become insular. Ingold's insularity surfaces in suspicion of strangers while Beregond's surfaces in the wonder he expresses at Pippin's story. Ingold referring to Pippin as a 'thing' may be explained by this insularity; such men would possibly only have experience of other Men or of Orcs, so a Hobbit might seem a very peculiar looking person. When Eomer first hears of Hobbits it seems he has heard tales of them, but Ingold's reaction suggests that he has not even heard those.

Faramir is stationed relatively far from Minas Tirith, and though he seems much less insular, I wonder what experience he himself can have had of people from outside Gondor? I can imagine that Men from the areas to the south such as Dol Amroth would have visited Gondor, but there can have only been limited opportunity to meet with 'foreigners'. Maybe this serves to underline Faramir's character, that he is more open to the Hobbits when he meets them?
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Old 06-12-2005, 03:15 PM   #31
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On this 'insularity' thing. I'm wondering what to make of Faramir's account in Henneth Annun of 'some of us' still having dealings with the Elves - even going at times to Lorien, 'seldom to return'. Faramir does then go on to say that he deems it 'perilous' to have dealings with the Elves, so it seems that even he suffers from the 'insular' thinking of his fellows. I wonder, though. Maybe that has more to do with an awareness that the time of the Elves is over & that seeking them out is a dangerous clinging to the past - but then again he himself is full of yearning for what Gondor had been & the desire to see it return to that high state.

Faramir seems at one & the same time drawn to the past & knowing that he cannot go back. Like Frodo he seems to have realised that 'There is no real going back.'

Its interesting that Tolkien chooses to bring Faramir back into the reader's consciousness through Beregond's reference to him. Its as though he realised Faramir's vital symbolic importance. Faramir shapes our view of what Gondor is. Tolkien can only present us with such flawed Gondorians because of Faramir & he seems to realise that to let us forget him would be a serious mistake if we are to remain 'on side'.
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Old 06-12-2005, 07:21 PM   #32
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The way Pippin was treated by the Gondorians at the gate always made me wonder at how isolated they were. Throughout the chapter there is a sense of isolation. This isolation came about because of their nearness to Mordor and the spread of evil. Thus the white city knows very little of what is out there. And most of the strange things they hear about they immediatly dismiss as legends or myths. This seems rather ironic to me since their ancestors, the numenoreans, certainly had much more knowledge of the world they lived in then the Gondorians do now.
But throughout LOTR I always had this feeling that nobody except for the elves and Dunadain actually knew who else lived in their world. The hobbits like to stay in the shire, and the people of Bree stay close to Bree. The dwarves stay close to the lonely mountain and the people of Rohan also stay within their borders.
This is probably because of the increasing dangers on the open road but in general nobody seems to care much about what is going on outside of their borders. Untill of course it becomes apparent that Sauron's forces can't be held back by Gondor alone.
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Old 06-12-2005, 08:18 PM   #33
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The fact that Ingold asks "what" Pippin is just seems to reflect the uncertainty of the situation, what with war going on, and not being able to trust anyone. Also, it seems to me that people love to categorize other people, and if they can't then they get uneasy. When asked about my heritage or religion, people often ask, "What are you?" I'm tempted to reply, "Well, I'm human, female..."

On a certain level, though, I can understand his reaction, which is near disdainful. Pippin doesn't look like much of a fighter, and Ingold has no way of knowing all that he's been through. He might view Pippin as just being in the way if he can't help fight.
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Old 06-13-2005, 12:19 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davem
The other way Bergil is interesting is as part of a father-son pair. This pairing runs through the whole of the Legendarium & plays a central role in the two time travel tales Tolkien wrote. Yet within Middle earth we find this relationship repeatedly recurring. Sometimes it manifests positively, sometimes negatively - Tuor/Earendel, Barahir/Beren, Hurin/Turin, Elendil/Isildur, even the Bilbo/Frodo relationship is prety much father/son, & its interesting that in an early version of the Hobbit sequel the hero of the story was to be Bilbo’s son.
You have to wonder WHY this is...

The thought came to me that maybe this has to do with a deficiency in Tolkien's own life. We know that he never really knew his father. His mother may have died young, but he knew her and remembered her. His father is just more a vague influence, the "A.R. Tolkien" on the trunk.

Curious...

As to the chapter itself, this is one of my stated favourites. The "Homeric" procession of allies marching into the city is one of my favourite parts of the entire epic, ending with the magnificient Knights of Dol Amroth and their prince.

Even though Minas Tirith has seen no actual fighting as yet, I got a much clearer feeling that this is an entire country at war that I ever did with Rohan. The regular populace seems a great deal closer and more real. Was it that Tolkien had a greater understanding of the way a major war in a city would be than of a fortress-based battle like Helm's Deep? Or does he understand the mentality of a city population better than that of a more rural Rohirric one?
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Old 06-15-2005, 07:13 AM   #35
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There is little left for me to remark, everything important about Denethor and Pippin having been said.

Just some things I noticed.

I only realized now that the riders Gandalf & Pip passed in the dark were errand riders of Gondor, and one of them must have been Hirgon.

In several places Tolkien makes the connection to the Frodo & Sam - thread, to events that we already have read about, but that take place simultanously with the ones we read about now.
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He wondered where Frodo was , and if he was already in Mordor; or if he was dead; and he did not know that Frodo from far away looked on that same moon as it set beyond Gondor ere the coming of the day.
and I remember vividly that scene from Henneth Annûn.
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...and the warm sun that shone down beyond the river, as Frodo walked in the glades of Ithilien, glowed here on the smooth walls and rooted pillars...
Pippin's first glimpse of Minas Tirith is such a lovely sight!
And the description of the Pelennor is very accurate indeed (I had to look up a lot of words in the dictionary though: like fiefs, tilth, fold , byre, oast and garner...)
I wondered also about the description of the road: "Wide and well-paved, and along its eastern edge ran a broad green riding-track, and beyond that a wall." This is exactly painted like this in a picture of Minas Tirith by Ted Nasmith!
At this reading,I looked up on the map all the places where the troups from the outlands come from.
(Incidentally, does everyone here know, that Pelennor is pronounced Pelennor? The movie crew obviously doesn't, and I am only sure where the stress is since I have heard Tolkien himself pronounce it on a CD!)

The ancient culture in Gondor is such a contrast to the one where Pippin comes from! It is like a journey in a long past, medieval world.
The Shire is much nearer to our world: the hobbits have family names like we have, but in Minas Tirith, Pippin Took becomes Peregrin son of Paladin, soldier of Gondor.
In the Shire, they seem to have watches und measure time as we do, but in Minas Tirith the hours are counted from sunrise and rung with a bell.

I find it very refreshing to meet Beregond (an almost "normal" Gondorian) , and especially Bergil. Yes, I wondered too, why his father let him stay in the city. But the boy himself finds it exciting and doesn't really realize the danger:
"Almost I wish now that there was no war." he says to Pippin.
Beregond's words about Denethor are pretty revealing:
Quote:
The Lord Denethor is unlike other men: he sees far. Some say that as he sits alone in his high chamber in the Tower at night, and bends his thought this way and that, he can read somewhat of the future;and that he will at times search even the mind of the Enemy, wrestling with him . And so it is that he is old, worn before his time.
And Denethor himself, when he tells Gandalf:
Quote:
"For though the Stones be lost, they say, still the lords of Gondor have keener sight than lesser men..."
is almost lying. How can he think that Gandalf doesn't suspect the truth?
I find it a bit strange anyway, that the Gondorians can have completely forgotten the existance of the Palantiri...
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Old 02-09-2019, 12:54 PM   #36
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This is always a favourite chapter of mine! Coming after Book IV, it is always the exciting return to the plots of Book III. It's the introduction to Minas Tirith, to Denethor. It's the first Pippin-centric chapter in the book (and Pippin immediately becomes my favourite point-of-view Hobbit). It's the beacons being lit. It's the Homeric procession entering the city. It's the darkness of Mordor falling as the chapter ends. It's Beregond and Bergil.

It's hard to top, is what it is.

One small thing, looking back at past discussions of Denethor and wizards, is to realise (which we don't reading this chapter) is that Denethor and Aragorn are contemporaries--indeed, Aragorn is older by a couple years. But Denethor is an "old man," contrasted with Gandalf or Théoden, while Aragorn is just "a man." It puts into a different light what it means for Denethor to be old before his time--and Denethor is old more than anything else because of the palantír, something that Aragorn specifically turns to a litmus test of his authority.
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