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Old 10-15-2005, 09:53 AM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
Silmaril LotR -- Book 6 - Chapter 4 - The Field of Cormallen

This relatively short chapter is of vital importance to the story. It ties together the previously separate threads of the tale; as a matter of fact, it brings the Fellowship back together again! First we are taken back in time briefly, going to the battle at the Black Gate just before the Ring is destroyed. Though the situation seems grave, we quickly see clues that the eucatastrophe is close at hand. Aragorn's gleaming eyes, a shadowless Gandalf, the clear sky to the north, and then the coming of the Eagles - the latter an especially eucatastrophic deja vu to those who previously read The Hobbit.

It's interesting to speculate on whether or not the Eagles could have won the battle against the Nazgûl, but like Gandalf vs. the Witch-King, it doesn't happen. The flight of the Ringwraiths has a different reason.

Sauron's minions lose the central will that drives them, but there is a differentiation between orcs and similar creatures and the Men who are their allies. The latter have a will of their own. Explaining this difference will make for some interesting discussion!

Gandalf's "Stand, Men of the West!" has a very Biblical ring to it, like the children of Israel who stood still (Jericho, etc.) to see their enemies conquered without their own effort.

Going back to Frodo and Sam, we hear Frodo's last words once more, yet Sam, with his practical hope never quite quenched, tries to do something against the despair. Had he not, would there have been no possibility for the Eagles to rescue them?

Sam again thinks of the story they are in - doubly so, for it is true both in their (fictional) time and in our time. The fulfillment of his wishes toward the end of the chapter is one of its most touching and moving moments! What do these sentences evoke in you when you (re-)read them?
Quote:
...until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.
"Is everything sad going to come untrue?" No, this is no fairy-tale; though there is a happy ending, it is not absolute nor comprehensive. Yet Frodo and Sam are honoured, for they have accomplished the task which they set out to do.

Again Frodo rejects a sword, not even wanting to wear one ceremonially, but he is persuaded to do so by Gandalf. Why do you think that is important on this occasion?

As always when members of the Fellowship meet after separation, there is much to tell. Tolkien uses their conversation to tie up loose ends, such as what happened to Pippin after we thought him dead.

We have a poem, Legolas' longing for the Sea, prophetic in nature. How do you like it?

The chapter ends with waiting, looking toward another transition - from war to peace, from Stewardship to Kingship for Minas Tirith.

Which parts are your favourites? Do you feel relieved or bored now that the Quest is over?
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Old 10-16-2005, 11:06 AM   #2
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’This chapter begins a few moments before the ending of the previous one, but continues with its sense of impending doom - the Ring may have gone into the Fire but we do not expect Frodo & Sam to survive. The first thing that happens is the appearance of the Eagles. Eagles are the birds of Manwe & their sudden appearance heralds victory. So far ‘divine intervention’ has been in the form of winds out of the West, blowing away the Darkness of Mordor, Now the Eagles appear to drive off the Nazgul. This is an example of where a prior knowledge of The Silmarillion adds depth to the events in LotR. This is not simply an example of the Cavalry arriving in the nick of time, but of the Valar joining battle fully, supporting the king to be. It also shows that the sins of Numenor are forgiven, but it is also their swansong in Middle earth.

Then the unexpected victory, the Eucatastrophe, comes. The Dark Tower falls, the Nazgul flee, the servanst of Sauron are unmanned. Sauron’s ‘ghost’ appears, menacing but impotent, blown away on the wind - and all this happens because Gollum fell over his feet.

The question of why Gandalf takes three eagles with him is difficult to answer. Most probably because he didn’t know the fate of Gollum & thought there would be three survivors awaiting rescue. This would be interesting, showing that even at the end he was concerned for Gollum, & was still hoping for his ‘’salvation’.

The interchange between Frodo & Sam encapsulates the difference between them now the Quest is over:

Quote:
]I am glad that you are here with me,' said Frodo. 'Here at the end of all things, Sam.'
'Yes, I am with you, Master,' said Sam, laying Frodo's wounded hand gently to his breast. 'And you're with me. And the journey's finished. But after coming all that way I don't want to give up yet. It's not like me, somehow, if you understand.'
'Maybe not, Sam,' said Frodo; 'but it's like things are in the world. Hopes fail. An end comes. We have only a little time to wait now. We are lost in ruin and downfall, and there is no escape.'
'Well, Master, we could at least go further from this dangerous place here, from this Crack of Doom, if that's its name, now couldn't we? Come, Mr. Frodo, let's go down the path at any rate!'
Tolkien stated that Frodo expected to die at the end of the Quest. He speaks of ‘the end of all things’, & when Sam suggests not giving up quite yet, because that’s not like him, Frodo counters that its like things are in the world. Unlike Frodo Sam never lost hope. Its as if Frodo wants Sam to forget hope too. ‘Hopes fail’ he says, ‘an end comes...there is no escape. This is much what he had said to Sam in the Tower of Cirith Ungol. Even after the Quest has been achieved it seems that Frodo is still there, in that Tower. For Frodo the world is a place, not simply without hope, but a place where hopes fail. We may begin in hope, but the world will take that hope & dash it to pieces. The fact that he says ‘there is no escape’ is significant, as it shows that the idea of escape from the world is already in his mind - even if he believes it to be an impossible dream. Sam, on the other hand, is still thinking of the future - even if he will not be part of it. He talks about the tale they have been in & wishes he coulld hear it told. Frodo wants it all to stop now, Sam wants it to go on.

Yet we seem to see a change in Frodo when the two rescued Hobbits awaken in Ithilien. He laughs, & calls Sam ‘Sleepyhead’. He seems almost his old self again. But this is an illusion - its almost as if he himself has forgotten that he has no hope, being caught up in Sam’s joy. Soon, though, he will remember.

The significance of the date of the Fall of Sauron has been pointed out by Shippey. It is the date of the Annunciation & the old date of Good Friday. The Gondorian new year will always begin on that day from then on. Again, Tolkien comes close to allegory here, but it is not blatant & most readers will miss it.

Sam gets his hoped for ‘reward’ - the minstrel sings the ‘Lay of Frodo of the Nine Fingers & the Ring of Doom. There is joy & celebration, soon the survivng members of the Fellowship will meet up again & the whole story could end here, with victory achieved. Merry & Pippin appear, along with Gimli & Legolas. Aragorn is already the king - though he has not yet been crowned. But, as in real life, the participants must go home - if they can. So, the rest of the story will deal with that, & what happens when they get there.

Frodo is urged by Gandalf to wear a sword. Frodo at first refuses, then gives in. His reason for refusing has been speculated on. Probably its because he has already told Sam that he did not think it was his part to bear a sword again. What’s interesting is that Gandalf urges him to wear one. Why? Just so he won’t be the only one not wearing ‘ironmongery’? A sword is the weapon of a warrior & this is a celebration of victory in war for the other participants. For Frodo it is not. It seems that he already feels he is not worthy to be there. He ‘gave way’ & wore the sword, but one gets the sense he would rather be somewhere else.

Legolas, too, dreams of being elsewhere. Though he is a Sylvan Elf rather than one of the exiled Noldor, the Sea is in his heart

Quote:
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,
In Eressea, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!'
But Legolas, unlike Frodo, has somewhere to go. Frodo, as far as he is aware at this time, must remain in this world where hopes fail.

Tolkien stated that he wept during the writing of this chapter & as Humphrey Carpenter stated, it is written in his ‘epic style’. Sam is lost in wonder at it all, but Frodo clearly believes he doesn’t belong in an epic. He’s right. Frodo is out of place here. Frodo’s presence undermines the Heroic Romance. He’s a twentieth century man who’s strayed into the world of medieval epic poetry. His values are different, so he’s out of place. Yet his foray in that world has changed him to such a degree that he cannot go back to his own world. He has stared into the abyss too long & too deeply. At the heart of Middle-earth is a Fire that burns away all things - from Magic Rings to hope. Frodo didn’t die. He no longer knows how to live. Tolkien had wanted a happy ending for Frodo right from the begining. He speculated on him settling down & living happily ever after with Bilbo. Even in this chapter that hope surfaces:

Quote:
And in the morning they rose again in hope and peace; and they spent many days in Ithilien.
The question is, why could he not allow Frodo his happy ending? Frodo has suffered & will continue to suffer. Only the fact of his going into the West at the end makes it possible to bear reading about him. An athiest could not have written LotR. It could not have encompassed the depths of suffering & the gleam of hope.

Back to the Minstrel.

Quote:
And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness’.
I can’t help thinking that’s a perfect description of Tolkien himself.
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Old 10-16-2005, 11:08 AM   #3
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When Sam awoke, he found that he was lying on some soft bed, but over him gently swayed wide beechen boughs, and through their young leaves sunlight glimmered, green and gold. All the air was full of a sweet mingled scent.

He remembered that smell: the fragrance of Ithilien. 'Bless me!' he mused. 'How long have I been asleep?' For the scent had borne him back to the day when he had lit his little fire under the sunny bank; and for the moment all else between was out of waking memory.
When Sam wakes up, the scene is unusual. He is in a bed, but he is outdoors. Of course, they are some distance from Minas Tirith or any other habitation so camping will be necessary, but this is camping without a tent, not at all unusual in Middle-earth, but some form of tent has been brought along as there are 'pavilions' on the field, described later on; it might be expected that Frodo and Sam, being wounded/ill would be given shelter. I think there is a reason that they are laid in beds in this grove, and that is the 'fragrance of Ithilien'. Like the way that the scent of the Athelas works in the Houses of Healing, it brings Sam memories of a happier time.

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At length Gandalf rose. 'The hands of the King are hands of healing, dear friends,' he said. 'But you went to the very brink of death ere he recalled you, putting forth all his power, and sent you into the sweet forgetfulness of sleep. And though you have indeed slept long and blessedly, still it is now time to sleep again.'
And it does seem that Aragorn has again been involved in some healing; perhaps Frodo and Sam have been placed in the grove as the scent of the herbs is much more potent and effective.

Quote:
They stepped out of the beech-grove in which they had lain, and passed on to a long green lawn, glowing in sunshine, bordered by stately dark-leaved trees laden with scarlet blossom. Behind them they could hear the sound of falling water, and a stream ran down before them between flowering banks, until it came to a greenwood at the lawn's foot and passed then on under an archway of trees, through which they saw the shimmer of water far away.

As they came to the opening in the wood, they were surprised to see knights in bright mail and tall guards in silver and black standing there, who greeted them with honour and bowed before them. And then one blew a long trumpet, and they went on through the aisle of trees beside the singing stream. So they came to a wide green land, and beyond it was a broad river in a silver haze, out of which rose a long wooded isle, and many ships lay by its shores.
They wake in a grove, attended by a wizard, and then progress out of it across a magical sounding lawn and under an aisle of trees; this is an odd description and made me think of druidic groves. It is as though Frodo and Sam have been rescued from the grim realities of the world, sent to sleep and then have been wakened into something resembling Faerie. Maybe this is one of those occasions when Tolkien does touch on the 'real faerie'?

Quote:
and the day after they came to the green fields of the Pelennor and saw again the white towers under tall Mindolluin, the City of the Men of Gondor, last memory of Westernesse, that had passed through the darkness and fire to a new day.
And there in the midst of the fields they set up their pavilions and awaited the morning; for it was the Eve of May, and the King would enter his gates with the rising of the Sun.
This another striking moment at the end of the chapter. The Eve of May? Passing through fires? The new King? The sunrise on May Day? This is extremely close to ideas of Beltaine. Fires would be lit during the festival, through which cattle would be driven and people would jump for purification; and there has been purification, when some of the Men entered Mordor to destroy the fortifications. When Frodo and Sam are given their new 'linen' clothes it is also a form of purification. This ritual would take place between rituals of banishment (downfall of Sauron) and of consecration (Aragorn's Coronation).

The idea of a May King is now not so common; we tend to just have May Queens, usually teenagers forced to dress up in frocks and look pretty for the day (and normally sulking about it ). But at one time a May King would also be present, possibly as the Green man or as a Robin Hood figure. Allegedly, sometimes the May King would also be subject to sacrifice at some date during the year; we see this idea in The Wicker Man. May Day is also traditionally a good time to find faeries, and it a time when the unsuspecting are 'taken' from one world into the other; when Aragorn passes through the gates of the city on May morning, it could be said to be symbolic of his passing from the old world of war and conflict into the new world in which he is King.
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Old 10-16-2005, 12:24 PM   #4
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We have at the beginning of the chapter another example of the story-telling technique Tolkien used for the arrival of the Rohirrim at the Pelennor fields. He gives the story up to the critical point first from one point of view, then from another; then he continues from the critical point from one point of view and then from the other. In this way, he is able to take the same event and make use of it four times; he maximizes the use he gets out of it.

Thus, in book V, he tells up to the arrival of the Rohirrim first from the viewpoint of the people of Minas Tirith, then from the viewpoint of the Rohirrim; and then he continues with the story first from the point of view of the Rohirrim and then from that of the characters in Minas Tirith.

He has told up to the point of eucatastrophe from the perspective of the army in the last chapter of book V. Then he switched to Frodo and Sam and told up to the same point in chapter 3 of book VI. Now in chapter 4 he carries on from the same point, first from the perspective of the army and then from that of Frodo and Sam. This is an interesting technique and, I think, it demonstrates Tolkien's supreme skill in the handling of a story. Every change in viewpoint seems to come at exactly the right moment.

We have with the arrival of the eagles not only a reminder of The Hobbit but also of The Silmarillion. As a matter of fact, the eagles recall two moments in the Silmarillion. The more obvious is the eucatastrophe of that work, the coming of Earendil and the eagles to defeat Ancalagon and win the War of Wrath. But there is a more specific connection here with the tale of Beren and Luthien; Gwaihir and Landroval were the two eagles that accompanied Thorondor to rescue Beren and Luthien from the gate of Thangorodrim. This resonates with Sam's earlier observation that he and Frodo are part of the same story as Beren and Luthien.

A small point that I just noticed re-reading this chapter: Gandalf says to Gwaihir, 'Twice you have borne me'. This must refer to his escape from Orthanc and his journey from Zirak-Zigil after the battle with the Balrog. But this would mean that the "lord of the eagles" from The Hobbit was not in fact Gwaihir.

As for the rest of the chapter - in my opinion, this is perhaps the greatest evocation of pure joy in literature. Estelyn points out that:

Quote:
"Is everything sad going to come untrue?" No, this is no fairy-tale; though there is a happy ending, it is not absolute nor comprehensive.
And Davem wrote:

Quote:
Yet we seem to see a change in Frodo when the two rescued Hobbits awaken in Ithilien. He laughs, & calls Sam ‘Sleepyhead’. He seems almost his old self again. But this is an illusion - its almost as if he himself has forgotten that he has no hope, being caught up in Sam’s joy. Soon, though, he will remember.
Now, both of these things are obviously true, at least in some sense. But I think there is a danger of focusing too much on the tragedy and loss in LotR. It is not an absolutely happy ending, but it is quite close to one. Sauron has been defeated. The kingship of Gondor will soon be restored. Many years of prosperity will follow for most of the good people.

Nor do I think that Frodo's recovery is entirely illusory. He has lost something, and his wounds will not heal in Middle-earth. But he is far better off now, far healthier in mind and spirit, than he was in the preceding weeks. He is capable of joy again.

In short, I don't think that any of the bad things that are to follow cancel or even mitigate the pure joy, the triumph, of the Field of Cormallen. Here (though of course, only here), Frodo and Sam are given the honour they deserve. Both Aragorn (king of Men) and Gandalf (emissary of the Valar) humble themselves before the Hobbits:

Quote:
And then to Sam's surprise and utter confusion he [Aragorn] bowed his knee before them
Quote:
and Gandalf, as if he were their esquire, knelt and girt the sword-belts around them, and then rising he set circlets of silver upon their heads.
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Old 10-17-2005, 07:33 AM   #5
Fordim Hedgethistle
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Ok, call me a sentimental idiot, but this is easily one of my very favourite chapters as, for me, it is the fullest unravelling of the eucatastrophe of the tale. The ‘real’ climactic moment came in the last chapter, I suppose:

Quote:
‘Precious, precious, precious!’ Gollum cried. ‘My Precious! O my Precious!’ And with that, even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail Precious, and he was gone.
This is going back a bit, I know, but a few comments seem necessary: first, I love how here, at the end, the paragraph is NOT about the destruction of the Ring but about the death of Gollum: “he was gone”. It’s almost as though the narrative itself is not going to make Gollum’s mistake and focus on the Ring at this moment, but remain focused instead on the ‘human’ aspect of the story. This moment could have been narrated in two ways – the first is the way Tolkien chose to narrate it: as the story of an individual who has finally lost his identity (he is Gollum here, not Smeagol) falling to his individual death. The other way to narrate it would have made more sense of the story, but would have made for less compelling reading: that narrative would have focused on how Eru or Providence (or luck) pushed the Ring into the fire. And with great anxiety and dread, but to prove an important point (that such a paragraph could have existed at this point) I would conjecture something like:

“And as Gollum gazed upon the Ring” (not the unspecific ‘his prize’) “he stepped too far, and whether it was the buckling of the ground, or some last shred of Smeagol in the creature he had become that willed him to it, or perhaps even luck, he fell into the fire, and the Ring was no more.”

OK, I know how pale that is in comparison to what Tolkien could have done, but I wanted to give an example of this ‘other’ kind of narrative that Tokien did not write.

So why go back a chapter to talk about this one? Because the current chapter maintains and broadens this focus on the human and the individual and intimate, forsaking any narrative that would attempt to place the destruction of the Ring into any ‘wider’ scope. As davem has already pointed out, the first members of the Fellowship whom we see reacting to the success of the Quest are Sam and Frodo, and they have a conversation about their individual love and respect for one another. It’s also interesting that outside Mordor, where the ‘big events’ are really going on, the army is treated to that wonderful image of Sauron being blown away by the west wind, while Frodo and Sam see nothing of the kind just a few miles from Barad-Dur – they are too involved with each other to even see the great events unfold.

This sets up the series of revelations that make this chapter so utterly moving to me. When Frodo awakens to see that Gandalf is alive he reacts with the joy of seeing that his friend is not dead:

Quote:
’Gandalf! I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself. Is everything sad going to come untrue? What’s happened to the world?’
(This moment hearkens all the way back to the last paragraph of the first chapter, in which we saw foreshadowed Gandalf’s death, when his “cloaked figure quickly vanished into the twilight” and “Frodo did not see him again for a long time” – testimony to how careful a craftsman Tolkien was.)

When Sam sees the Man who has become Aragorn, Son of Aragorn, Elessar Telcontar the Returned King of the Reunited Kingdoms of Anor and Gondor, The Elf-Stone, Dunedain, he cries out:

Quote:
’Well, if that isn’t the crown of all!…Strider, or I’m still asleep!’
And in the final act that makes me willing to die for this man, Aragorn takes the name of Strider from Sam’s lips with affection and pride.

And then comes the part that gets me misty every time I read it. I shall let it speak for itself:

Quote:
And when the glad shout had swelled up and died away again, to Sam’s final and complete satisfaction and pure joy, a minstrel of Gondor stood forth, and knelt, and begged leave to sing. And behold! He said:

‘Lo! Lords and knights and men of valour unashamed, kings and princes, and fair people of Gondor, and Riders of Rohan, and ye sons of Elrond, and Dunedain of the North, and Elf and Dwarf, and great-hearts of the Shire, and all free folk of the West, now listen to my lay. For I will sing to you of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom.’

And when Sam heard that he laughed aloud for sheer delight, and he stood up and cried: ‘O great glory and splendour! And all my wishes have come true!’ And then he wept.
(As do I each time.)

Here’s Sam at his best – Sauron has fallen, the hosts of the west are free, the minstrel is going to sing a ‘big’ song, and Sam has his moment of uttermost joy for the sake of his dear friend – he’s happy that Frodo is going to be recognized and lauded as Sam feels he should be. It’s a moment of friendship that shatters me with its utter beauty and purity.

It’s also Sam who brings the point home: when he hears of the ‘great’ events that have been taking place while he and Frodo toiled in their individual trials he merely says,

Quote:
‘But I missed a lot, seemingly.’
I think this is the narrative’s acknowledgment that the feelings of joy that Tolkien called eucatastrophe are not linked to these greater events but to the individual trial and struggle. It’s simply not a historical even but a personal one, and this, I think, is an acknowledgement that eucatastrophe is really the experience of the reader – for the great, deep, tear inducing joy that I feel at this moment is a profoundly personal thing: the reward, almost, for having come so far with these characters. The real quest here is the one that I’ve completed – that all individual readers have completed – so it makes sense that it would culminate with a story like the one we’ve been reading.
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Old 10-17-2005, 10:13 AM   #6
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Moments of pure emotion lace this chapter - just some examples.
Quote:
And so it was that Gwaihir saw them with his keen far-seeing eyes, as down the wild wind he came, and daring the great peril of the skies he circled in the air: two small dark figures, forlorn, hand in hand upon a little hill, while the world shook under them, and gasped, and rivers of fire drew near. And even as he espied them and came swooping down, he saw them fall, worn out, or choked with fumes and heat, or stricken down by despair at last, hiding their eyes from death.
Now we know that Sam and Frodo do not die here, but it still jars my soul every time I read this, (except for the first time when I was overjoyed that Gwaihir would save them) - Yes, they survived, but just read the text in bold - they, themselves, KNEW they were going to die, and horribly so. How my heart goes out to them......

And then of course, we get the supreme moment (for me) in the whole of the book. (and as an aside the one bit in the movies when I cried like a baby!)
Quote:
'Well, if that isn't the crown of all!' he (Sam) said. 'Strider, or I'm still asleep!'
'Yes, Sam, Strider,' said Aragorn. 'It is a long way, is it not, from Bree, where you did not like the look of me? A long way for us all but yours has been the darkest road.'
And then to Sam's surprise and utter confusion he bowed his knee before them; and taking them by the hand, Frodo upon his right and Sam upon his left, he led them to the throne, and setting them upon it, he turned to the men and captains who stood by and spoke, so that his voice rang over all the host, crying: 'Praise them with great praise!'
This was so powerful to me. The King of Gondor bowing before two hobbits. Not only did it show the great importance and praise of the hobbits, but also showed the Mark of the Man in that Aragorn, King, would bow to others. A King normally does not bow, and it shows great humility and honour in Aragorn.
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Old 11-05-2005, 05:39 AM   #7
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Give me a medal, my lord? What for? Better make a song about me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fordim
Ok, call me a sentimental idiot, but this is easily one of my very favourite chapters as, for me, it is the fullest unravelling of the eucatastrophe of the tale.
Call me too

But what is at it's fullest in this chapter, is a theme of 'reward' - what it is 'good' people get for their trouble at the end of their labour (or intermediate end, following Frodo/Sam discourse about 'tales that never end' and have not one 'beginning')

I'll have to jump a bit between chapters to illustrate the poing, but the fullest expression, as mentioned, is the song of Frodo of Nine Fingers:

Quote:
Lo! Lords and knights and men of valour unashamed, kings and princes, and fair people of Gondor, and Riders of Rohan, and ye sons of Elrond, and Dunedain of the North, and Elf and Dwarf, and great-hearts of the Shire, and all free folk of the West, now listen to my lay. For I will sing to you of Frodo of the Nine Fingers and the Ring of Doom
(Not unlike Sam, the minstrel sends shivers down my spine )

For Middle-Earth, song seems equivalent of what in modern world is expressed through medals and honours and awards. And not unlike our world, in most cases, such a 'medal' is given posthumously:

Quote:
Then the Riders of the King’s House upon white horses rode round about the barrow and sang together a song of Théoden Thengel’s son that Gléowine his minstrel made, and he made no other song after....

...Out of doubt, out of dark, to the day’s rising
he rode singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
Hope he rekindled, and in hope ended;
over death, over dread, over doom lifted
out of loss, out of life, unto long glory
Théoden may have been respected and loved when he was idle and will-less, but he became worthy of a song only after great deed accomplished. Would they make such a song about him, if he simply died in his hall of old age? Listing of the kings type of chronicle, yes, maybe. Praise - doubt it.

Likewise, fallen heroes of Pelennor Fields:

Quote:
We heard of the horns in the hills ringing,
the swords shining in the South-kingdom.
Steeds went striding to the Stoningland
as wind in the morning. War was kindled.
There Théoden fell, Thengling mighty,
to his golden halls and green pastures
in the Northern fields never returning,
high lord of the host. Harding and Guthláf
Dúnhere and Déorwine, doughty Grimbold,
Herefara and Herubrand, Horn and Fastred,
fought and fell there in a far country:
in the Mounds of Mundburg under mould they lie
with their league-fellows, lords of Gondor.
Neither Hirluin the Fair to the hills by the sea,
nor Forlong the old to the flowering vales
ever, to Arnach, to his own country
returned in triumph; nor the tall bowmen,
Derufin and Duilin, to their dark waters,
meres of Morthond under mountain-shadows.
Death in the morning and at day’s ending
lords took and lowly. Long now they sleep
under grass in Gondor by the Great River.
Grey now as tears, gleaming silver,
red then it rolled, roaring water:
foam dyed with blood flamed at sunset;
as beacons mountains burned at evening;
red fell the dew in Rammas Echor.
And all it echoes with Silmarillion and Fëanor - of old in Middle-Earth song about deed is the dearest honour and award:

Quote:
And it was told by the Vanyar who held vigil with the Valar that when the messengers declared to Manwë the answers of Fëanor to his heralds, Manwë wept and bowed his head. But at that last word of Fëanor: that at the least the Noldor should do deeds to live in song for ever, he raised his head, as one that hears a voice far off, and he said: 'So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been.'
Fame, and it's expression through song is as by-product for striving for good cause. Though it is not the end in itself, it is understood that if the deed is worthy, it's currency of exchange is song:

Quote:
Legolas

Follow what may, great deeds are not lessened in worth,’ said Legolas. ‘Great deed was the riding of the Paths of the Dead, and great it shall remain, though none be left in Gondor to sing of it in the days that are to come
Quote:
Théoden

Maybe we shall cleave a road, or make such an end as will be worth a song-if any be left to sing of us hereafter.
And coming back to my favourite, Boromir:

Quote:
Through Rohan over fen and field where the long grass grows
The West Wind comes walking, and about the walls it goes.
'What news from the West, O wandering wind, do you bring to me tonight?
Have you seen Boromir the Tall by moon or by starlight?'
'I saw him ride over seven streams, over waters wide and grey;
I saw him walk in empty lands, until he passed away
Into the shadows of the North. I saw him then no more.
The North Wind may have heard the horn of the son of Denethor.'
'O Boromir! From the high walls westward I looked afar,
But you came not from the empty lands where no men are.'

From the mouths of the Sea the South Wind flies, from the sandhills and the stones;
The wailing of the gulls it bears, and at the gate it moans.
'What news from the South, O sighing wind, do you bring to me at eve?
Where now is Boromir the Fair? He tarries and I grieve.'
'Ask not of me where he doth dwell-so many bones there lie
On the white shores and the dark shores under the stormy sky;
So many have passed down Anduin to find the flowing Sea.
Ask of the North Wind news of them the North Wind sends to me!'
'O Boromir! Beyond the gate the seaward road runs south,
But you came not with the wailing gulls from the grey sea's mouth.'

From the Gate of Kings the North Wind rides, and past the roaring falls;
And clear and cold about the tower its loud horn calls.
'What news from the North, O mighty wind, do you bring to me today?
What news of Boromir the Bold? For he is long away.'
'Beneath Amon Hen I heard his cry. There many foes he fought.
His cloven shield, his broken sword, they to the water brought.
His head so proud, his face so fair, his limbs they laid to rest;
And Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, bore him upon its breast.'
'O Boromir! The Tower of Guard shall ever northward gaze
To Rauros, golden Rauros-falls, until the end of days.'
It's a lament, yes, but it is a reward as well - if Boromir haven't overcome himself, would Aragorn make a song for him, I wonder?

You do deeds for the Good's sake, even, as Frodo, knowing that noone will mention you in song, or noone will be left to mention you, but you have the right to hope that if you do your duty to the end, there will be a song to mention you and be sung ever after. And Cormallen field is a place where deeds, (happy event - for heroes still alive), are fully paid for in that currency.
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Old 01-07-2006, 09:25 AM   #8
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The contrast between the relationship of Frodo and Sam to that of Sauron and his minions is very striking here. Or at least it struck me. Even after Frodo ‘failed’ his last and greatest test, Sam of his own free will, did not abandon him, but rather moved to rescue his Master in this time of Frodo’s greatest weakness. This was not so with the crowd gathered around Sauron. While the Nazgul did come when called, the army, bereft of his constraining Will, melted away.

At this read through, I could not help but feel that there might have been a bit of a connection been Sauron and Frodo here in the following passage.

Quote:
'Maybe not, Sam,' said Frodo; 'but it's like things are in the world. Hopes fail. An end comes. We have only a little time to wait now. We are lost in ruin and downfall, and there is no escape.'
To me these words struck me as another apparition of Sauron, given voice by Frodo, a lingering effect of Frodo’s burden. Is this how the dark lord kept his servants in hand, by robbing them of their individual hope so that they believed all rested only in his successes?

And despite Frodo’s strength and courage in bearing the Ring to the end, he must have felt himself the least of the company in Cormallen, after hearing of all their doings in this chapter.

Upon reading this chapter and thread, I get the sense of a great jigsaw puzzle with many pieces. Each piece may not have an idea of their own value, or be able to know on what a truly grand scale the completed picture is, perhaps even encompassing the Valar, yet it could not have been completed without each of them. And the picture honestly is quite beautiful.

Closing with a quote that has been mentioned before, but I think would bear another round. It is one of the most lovely things I have ever read, very true and wonderfully evocative of the feeling that overwhelms the reader.

Quote:
‘And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.’
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Old 01-08-2006, 02:23 PM   #9
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[quote]The question of why Gandalf takes three eagles with him is difficult to answer.[/qoute]

no it isn't, he was riding the third one.
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Old 01-08-2006, 06:38 PM   #10
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The real question is how is it the eagles kept Frodo and Sam from falling off? I suppose they were exceptionally skilled, from all the practice!

But this following quote I found very curious.
Quote:
'Twice you have borne me, Gwaihir my friend,' said Gandalf. 'Thrice shall pay for all, if you are willing.'
Is this simply a strange turn of phrase or is Gwaihir paying Gandalf back for a favor we are unaware of?

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Old 01-13-2006, 02:06 PM   #11
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Quote:
originally posted by Hilde Bracegirdle
Is this simply a strange turn of phrase or is Gwaihir paying Gandalf back for a favor we are unaware of?
Well , in the Hobbit there is mentioned (after they were rescued from the 5 firtrees):
Quote:
As a matter of fact Gandalf, who had often been in the mountains, had once rendered a service to the eagles and healed their lord from an arrow-wound.
At least, up to now I had taken it for granted that "the lord of the Eagles" was Gwaihir.
But just now I read Aiwendil's post:
Quote:
originally posted byAiwendil
Gandalf says to Gwaihir, 'Twice you have borne me'. This must refer to his escape from Orthanc and his journey from Zirak-Zigil after the battle with the Balrog. But this would mean that the "lord of the eagles" from The Hobbit was not in fact Gwaihir.
So now I am confused, too! Somehow it doesn't seem plausible to me that there is a second "lord of the eagles" around with whom Gandalf was friends...
But that rescuing in the Hobbit was quite some time ago (78 years, to be precise)
so it could be that Gandalf is just mentioning the two other incidents in the same year.
But isn't "Thrice shall pay for all" a kind of proverb, as we have in German: "Aller guten Dinge sind drei" ?
And are Gwaihir and Landroval really meant to be the same eagles from the first age? or did Tolkien just re-use the names like he did with Legolas and Glorfindel?
Quote:
originally posted by davem
The question of why Gandalf takes three eagles with him is difficult to answer. Most probably because he didn’t know the fate of Gollum & thought there would be three survivors awaiting rescue. This would be interesting, showing that even at the end he was concerned for Gollum, & was still hoping for his ‘’salvation’.
Well, that's certainly a fascinating idea!
But I supposed the same as Bergil - that Gandalf was riding the 3rd eagle. I guess the other 2 eagles were carrying Sam and Frodo in their claws, as in the movie (and in the Hobbit)

Of course I do love this whole chapter, too! But after all the great posts here I have nothing else to add.
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Old 01-13-2006, 02:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hilde
Is this simply a strange turn of phrase or is Gwaihir paying Gandalf back for a favor we are unaware of?
Its a common proverb, apparently:

Quote:
"If you mean you think it is my job to go into the secret passages first, O Thorin Thrain's son Oakenshield, may your beard grow ever longer,"he said crossly, "say so at once and have done! I might refuse. I have got you out of two messes already, which were hardly in the original bargain, so that I am, I think, already owed some reward. But 'third time pays for all* as my father used to say, and somehow I don't think I shall refuse. Perhaps I have begun to trust my luck more than I used to in the old days" he meant last spring before he left his own house, but it seemed centuries ago"but anyway I think I will go and have a peep at once and get it over. Now who is coming with me?" TH 'On the Doorstep'
Whether it was a specifically Hobbit proverb which Gandalf had picked up, or whether it was a commonplace saying in Middle-earth is another question. If the former we'd expect Gwaihir to respond to Gandalf with a 'Sorry, I don't follow.' Seems we have to go with the latter, which implies a collection of common sayings known by members of many different races. Where did these sayings originate? And why, exactly, does the third time pay for all?

EDIT

Maybe these sayings were part of a collection of lore passed down even among Hobbits:

Quote:
Pippin was silent again for a while. He heard Gandalf singing softly to himself, murmuring brief snatches of rhyme in many tongues, as the miles ran under them. At last the wizard passed into a song of which the hobbit caught the words: a few lines came clear to his ears through the rushing of the wind:
Tall ships and tall kings
Three times three,
What brought them from the foundered land
Over the flowing sea?
Seven stars and seven stones
And one white tree.
"What are you saying, Gandalf?" asked Pippin.
"I was just running over some of the Rhymes of Lore in my mind," answered the wizard. "Hobbits, I suppose, have forgotten them, even those that they ever knew."
'No, not all," said Pippin. 'And we have many of our own, which wouldn't interest you, perhaps.
'Minas Tirith'
EDIT again:

Quote:
Hobbits are not quite like ordinary people; and after all if their holes are nice cheery places and properly aired, quite different from the tunnels of the goblins, still they are more used to tunnelling than we are, and they do not easily lose their sense of direction undergroundnot when their heads have recovered from being bumped. Also they can move very quietly, and hide easily, and recover wonderfully from falls and bruises, and they have a fund of wisdom and wise sayings that men have mostly never heard or have forgotten long ago.
Shippey in a talk at Birmingham claims he counted over 70 proverbs in LotR. Gandalf's words to Frodo are interesting:

Quote:
'I can't believe that Gollum was connected with hobbits, however distantly,' said Frodo with some heat. 'What an abominable notion!'
'It is true all the same,' replied Gandalf. 'About their origins, at any rate, I know more than hobbits do themselves. And even Bilbo's story suggests the kinship. There was a great deal in the background of their minds and memories that was very similar. They understood one another remarkably well, very much better than a hobbit would understand, say, a Dwarf, or an Orc, or even an Elf. Think of the riddles they both knew, for one thing.'
These common riddles are obviously very ancient & come from before the settling of the Shire. What's interesting is the way they have survived down to Bilbo's time. Shippey pointed out that Gollum's riddles have their roots in Anglo-Saxon riddles (as found in the Exeter Book for example) while Bilbo's seem to be recent creations (ie invented by Tolkien) so the process of inventing riddles seems to have gone on. Bilbo therefore has an advantage over Gollum - he knows the old ones but has access to new ones whereas Gollum only has the ones he learnt 500 years previously. So we seem to have ancient lore (& riddles) handed down & new ones invented - as with Bilbo's 'Out of the frying pan, into the fire' & 'Never laugh at live dragons.' So we get a collection of lore building up over the years, some of it the common property of all races, some of it unique to each race (as with Butterbur's: 'But there's no accounting for East and West as we say in Bree' & Pippin's ironic response "'Handsome is as handsome does' as we say in the Shire)

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Old 01-13-2006, 03:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Where did these sayings originate? And why, exactly, does the third time pay for all?
Regarding why the third time pays for all....

"Three" has a special meaning in fairy tales. For example, the hero is usually given three trials. He fails the first two and succeeds at the third. Thus, "three" is the path of wisdom. The number three is found in so many tales, and the third person or try often represents wisdom:

  • 3 billy goats gruff: it is the third goat who bests the troll
  • Goldilocks and the 3 bears--it is the third and littlest bear who finds Goldilocks
  • 3 little pigs -- it's the third pig whose house prevails
  • 3 sisters in the Cinderella story and the third daughter is "blessed" with looks and wisdom
  • 3 sons in Puss in Boots and, of course, it's the third one who shows his wisdom by getting the cat

There are also three Graces (Greece), three Norns (past, present, future) of Norse myth, and, of course, the Trinity, all of these representing enlightenment. I known that some point to the mother/father/child triad as the origin of this usage with the child pointing to the path of wisdom.

I think Tolkien is using three in its traditional sense, as a tip of the hat to the Gaffer's experience or wisdom, which his son acknowleges. I do know you can google the phrase "third time pays for all" and come up with several modern instances of the phrase. But as to how this specific saying originates in the context of Middle-earth (or of our earth), I am not sure at all.

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P.S. I didn't see your edit till now. Very interesting. Notice also the use of three times three.
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Old 01-13-2006, 03:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Child of the 7th Age
I think Tolkien is using three in its traditional sense, as a tip of the hat to the Gaffer's experience or wisdom, which his son acknowleges. I do know you can google the phrase "third time pays for all" and come up with several modern instances of the phrase. But as to how this specific saying originates in the context of Middle-earth (or of our earth), I am not sure at all.
There are at least a couple of instances, other than the "three times three" instance where three could be seen as a significant number to the peoples of Middle-Earth.

There are three original kindreds of Elves: Minyar, Tatyar, Nelyar (Vanyar, Noldor, Teleri).

There are three kindreds of Edain: Beorians, Halethrim, Hadorian.

There are three kindreds of Hobbits: Harfoots, Stoors, and Fallohides.

There were three Great Lights: Pillars, Trees, Sun and Moon.

There were three Silmarils.

There were "three Rings for the Elvenkings".

There were three realms of divided Arnor: Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhuduar.

There were Three Ages, as of the Lord of the Rings.

And I'm sure there are more.

Now, admittedly, some of these would seem to be more coincidental than incidental, the three realms of Arnor, in particular. But several of these would be highly significant, such as the original kindreds and the Silmarils.

Of course, one can't say whether, in Middle-Earth, they had any connection to the saying "third time pays for all". A possibility for a fanfic, perhaps?
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Old 01-13-2006, 04:26 PM   #15
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Shippey in a talk at Birmingham claims he counted over 70 proverbs in LotR.
I've found 80, so far. I have been collecting them for nearly 3 years now, since first I joined this game in "quotable quotes" and became intrigued by all those timeless wisdoms. I think Tolkien is quite unique in this respect!
In UT there are also a lot of proverbs (I found 20 so far, many said by Sador Labadal!)
See also Esty's game The Gaffer's mixed-up proverbs on the BD Homepage

Since English isn't my mothertongue I don't always know which of them are genuine traditional proverbs and which ones are made up by Tolkien - they all sound authentic!
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Old 01-13-2006, 06:00 PM   #16
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Formendacil,

Excellent list!

Also, the quest to dispose of the Ring could not be accomplished by two. Frodo and Sam needed the help of Gollum. Surely, this is one of the most pivotal trios in the book.

LotR itself, in its conception, was a "double three", representing the original six books.
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Old 03-16-2019, 01:37 PM   #17
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Silmaril

It's fascinating to reread this thread with its high praise for this chapter and mentions of it being personal favourites--because the thing that struck me most while I was rereading "The Field of Cormallen" was how... unreal it was.

Not in a bad sense! But the biggest moment that hit me in the chapter was the shift from Mordor to Ithilien, from the fumes of Orodruin to the herbs of Cormallen. And two weeks pass! Frodo waking in the House of Elrond was but the prefigurement of this moment.

Part of the reason for my sense of unreality is no doubt that we are here seeing the story at its most heightened: not just the words, but the events themselves, are like something out of a legend or medieval epic. Sam's bewilderment, wondering if somehow all bad things are veing undone, describes the whiplash of this chapter, coming on the heels of the starvation, exhaustion, desperation, and injury of the previous chapter.
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