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Old 09-16-2015, 07:52 AM   #1
Leaf
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The dissolving Morgul blade

I have a small question regarding this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Flight to the Ford
He stooped again and lifted up a long thin knife. There was a cold gleam in it. As Strider raised it they saw that near the end its edge was notched and the point was broken off. But even as he held it up in the growing light, they gazed in astonishment, for the blade seemed to melt, and vanished like a smoke in the air, leaving only the hilt in Strider’s hand.

What was the cause for the disintegration of the Morgul blade? Did it disintegrate because it was being touched by Aragorn (like the movie suggests), or rather because it was exposed to the growing light?!

I am not a native speaker but it seems to me that the word even suggests a strong (time-wise) correlation between the dissolving of the Morgul blade and the growing light. I think it's notable that Aragorn (contrary to PJ's film) can touch and lift the blade for seemingly some time before it vanishes.

What do you think?

Last edited by Leaf; 09-16-2015 at 08:41 AM.
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Old 09-16-2015, 08:41 AM   #2
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Not a native speaker either, but I think this could be understood either as "just as he held it" or "while he was still holding it". In any case I think you're on the right trace associating the dissolving of the blade with the growing light.

I'd like to add another angle though. The main purpose of the Morgul knife was not to wound the body, but to corrupt the stabbed person spiritually and turn them into a wraith. As Gandalf informs us (and Frodo) in Rivendell, the knife, or at least its blade, was supposed to have stayed in the wound - maybe indefinitely, maybe only until its victim had been fully subjugated by Sauron, we don't know. It may never have been meant to be reused.

Fortunately the blade missed Frodo's heart, but the splinter that broke off worked its way towards it and would eventually have accomplished its mission if left alone. So maybe it was natural for the blade to dissolve after it had fulfilled its purpose to leave a shard in Frodo's body, and it would eventually have done so anyway?
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Old 09-16-2015, 09:02 AM   #3
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Well, I guess there's the possibility that the Morgul blade had an build-in timer (so to speak) and the vanishing of the blade was just by coincidence in time with the growing light and/or Aragorns touch.
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Old 09-16-2015, 09:09 AM   #4
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I'd like to add that perhaps any blade used by the Nazgűl to actually physically wound someone in the "light" world might be expected to vanish.
Since we see that a blade piercing a Ringwraith breaks and is destroyed, maybe contact with the truly living has a similar effect on "dark" weapons. Why this might be is uncertain, but maybe it's related to the nature of the Nazgűl, described as they are as hating light and living things, yet being attracted to them. The Nazgűl existed as extensions of Sauron's fea, and he, being a negative spirit of the dark, might impart some sort of anti-life/anti light into those who share his will and soul, which might filter down into specially made weapons intended for their use.
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Old 09-16-2015, 09:23 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
The Nazgűl existed as extensions of Sauron's fea, and he, being a negative spirit of the dark, might impart some sort of anti-life/anti light into those who share his will and soul, which might filter down into specially made weapons intended for their use.
I think this is an interesting way of looking at it. Perhaps the blades were imbued with that same "nothingness" of which the Ringwraiths themselves were apparently composed.

It's worth comparing to the effect on Merry's sword as well after he stabs the Lord of the Nazgűl with it: it disintegrated too.

Both seem to hark back to Beowulf in which the giant-sword Beowulf uses to slay Grendel's mother dissolves in her blood, the suggestion being, I think, that evil things have a kind of matter-antimatter relationship with the world.

I never thought of it before but it would explain things if the Morgul-weapon dissolved in light, which would also explain why Merry's sword disintegrated almost immediately after he had used it - the shadow from Mordor notwithstanding, it was the middle of the day.
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Old 09-16-2015, 09:29 AM   #6
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I didn't mean a built-in timer, Leaf, and certainly not coincidence. The fact that the blade would dissolve eventually was built in, I think, but being exposed to the light certainly sped the process up - like iron rusts faster in water than in air.

Zil, I think you're on to something bringing the dualism of wraithworld and "light" world into the picture. Maybe the way the knife was to 'wraithify' its victim was by fading back into the wraithworld after it had pierced them and taking the victim with it?
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Last edited by Pitchwife; 09-16-2015 at 09:30 AM. Reason: x-ed with Zigűr
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Old 09-16-2015, 02:31 PM   #7
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Interessing thoughts, Inziladun and Zigűr. The vanishing of the Morgul blade fits well into that theme. Like orcs, trolls and the ringwraiths themselves (to a certain extend) it can't stand the light of the sun. Whilst thinking about this duality a certain passage of text came to my mind:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Many Meetings
Gandalf moved his chair to the bedside and took a good look at Frodo. The colour had come back to his face, and his eyes were clear, and fully awake and aware. He was smiling, and there seemed to be little wrong with him. But to the wizard’s eye there was a faint change, just a hint as it were of transparency, about him, and especially about the left hand that lay outside upon the coverlet. »Still that must be expected,« said Gandalf to himself. »He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can.«
Here we get an impression of the long-term effects which were caused by the Morgul blade's splinter. Frodo went though a great deal of change because the Morgul wound was inflicted on him. He developed an aura and seems to become like a glass filled with a clear light.

It seems to me that the Morgul blade did indeed 'wraithify' (nice neologism, Pitchwife) Frodo, but on the polarised end of the spectrum (where folks like Glorfindel like to hang out).

Last edited by Leaf; 09-16-2015 at 02:44 PM.
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Old 09-16-2015, 02:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pitchwife View Post
The main purpose of the Morgul knife was not to wound the body, but to corrupt the stabbed person spiritually and turn them into a wraith.
Presumably the reason for Frodo's extreme distress on the ride home, when he won't look towards Weathertop and rides past it as quickly as he can ... especially as he has now suffered the relentless assault of the Ring as well.
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Old 09-16-2015, 03:11 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaf View Post
It seems to me that the Morgul blade did indeed 'wraithify' (nice neologism, Pitchwife) Frodo, but on the polarised end of the spectrum (where folks like Glorfindel like to hang out).
Yes, and like I said on another thread I think what we see in the scene you quote is the joint product of the Morgul knife and Elrond's healing, which didn't undo the fading process completely but turned it into another direction.

Pervinca, I think so too. A mere physical wound might not have traumatized him quite as much.
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Old 11-07-2015, 09:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaf View Post
I have a small question regarding this:




What was the cause for the disintegration of the Morgul blade? Did it disintegrate because it was being touched by Aragorn (like the movie suggests), or rather because it was exposed to the growing light?!

I am not a native speaker but it seems to me that the word even suggests a strong (time-wise) correlation between the dissolving of the Morgul blade and the growing light. I think it's notable that Aragorn (contrary to PJ's film) can touch and lift the blade for seemingly some time before it vanishes.

What do you think?
I'm not sure. I'm imagining first of all that it was rather odd? that a Ringwraith left it behind? Or perhaps, Ringwraith narcissism, i.e. "god complex" "oh look at me, and my evil blade - you won't figure the Sorcery out though, mwa ha ha".

I don't imagine that Aragorn, being of the Line of the King was enough to make a blade dissolve, either. I'm imagining though that the crafter would want to hide his sorcery in order to make a cure more difficult?

That doesn't hold either.

Who knows what Tolkien envisioned. Perhaps, it was 'narrative purpose', i.e. 'let's give the reader a scare, and make them shudder'.

I notice each time when I read, that part of the blade was missing. It must not be the part in Frodo? Or else, perhaps Elrond removed two parts of the blade, and a tiny sliver was left behind, which he caught in a narrow margin of time.

I think the idea of '...growing light....' is the best explanation.
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