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Old 10-05-2009, 01:23 PM   #1
skip spence
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The Eye The Eye: what was it?

I've noticed Peter Jackson has taken a lot of flack (from bookish fans) for equating Sauron's physical shape with The Eye, you know, that huge, flaming search-light on the topmost tower of Barad Dur. With some right too I'd to say, because Sauron did in all probability have a mannish, physical shape at the end of the third age and most talk about The Eye of Sauron in Tolkien's books seems to be metaphorical rather then literal - when The Eye is on someone, they have the nagging feeling of always being watched by the Dark Lord, rather than having an actual eye staring at them.

Yet one must say that the images in the movie isn't that far fetched. There was apparently some sort of eye with a search-beam on top of Barad Dur that could turn 360 degrees, through which Sauron could see from, as this quote suggests:

Quote:
Originally Posted by LotR; Mount Doom
One moment only it stared out, but as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing eye; and then the shadows were furled and the terrible vision was removed. The Eye was not turned to them: it was gazing north to where the Captains of the West stood at bay...
So, what do you think of The Eye? What was it?
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Old 10-05-2009, 01:32 PM   #2
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Interesting.

I'd always thought of it as just a manifestation of an innate remote-viewing ability possessed by Sauron; something along the lines of Morgoth's (with my eyes you shall see', as Morgoth said to Húrin).

Maybe the Eye had a red hue because Sauron's eyes in his Third Age 'terrible' shape were red, and Frodo and Sam could see it more clearly because of their close proximity to Barad-dûr.
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Old 10-05-2009, 07:27 PM   #3
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The Eye

There is little doubt that the "eye" whether physical or not, had great signficance to Sauron, it is after all the symbol he chose for his emblem and what his Orcs (and presumably men) were marked with (as the WK's forces were marked with the White Moon and Saruman's Uruk-Hai used the White hand). Heck even the Flies in Mordor were marked with the red eye. That sound like something more than a mere "metaphorical construct to me"

As for whether Saurons pysical eyes were red I'm not sure but I think its possible. We actually get to "see" sauron's eye in the story I think; unless I've been wrong all these years, I've always beleived that the Eye Frodo saw in Galadriel's Mirror was Saurons actual factual physical eye that if one were to physically be in the room with Sauron and look at him in person he would have eyes as described, yellow, slit pupiled, wreathed in flame and ringed with darkness (as for the lidless thing, I dont know whether sauron actually had no eyelids of this was a metephor for the fact he never slept and therefore never closed them)

As for the beam that may or may not indicatethere being a eye on the tower seperate from Sauron's body. The top of the tower is Sauron's Scrying room (the place where he keeps his Palatiri (the line you quote indicates there is a physical beam there sometimes it doesn't necessarily follow that there one there at all times. As to the nature of the beam I have a little theory, we know that Sauron makes use of a Palatiri and that Palatiri can be used for veiwing as well as communcation. What if what we are seeing whne we see the red beam is Sauron's eye being transmitted through the Palantir like a light being focused through a lens; a visible path of his vision. Granted we hear no mention of such a phyical trace being seen with any of the other "scryings" with a Palatir, but I'm willing to be that Sauron is the first being using one who has actual physical light coming out of his eyes (yes, Elvish eyes "shine" but that's not the same as having actual physical light coming out) at least that's how I see it.
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Old 10-05-2009, 07:49 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfirin View Post
What if what we are seeing whne we see the red beam is Sauron's eye being transmitted through the Palantir like a light being focused through a lens; a visible path of his vision. Granted we hear no mention of such a phyical trace being seen with any of the other "scryings" with a Palatir, but I'm willing to be that Sauron is the first being using one who has actual physical light coming out of his eyes (yes, Elvish eyes "shine" but that's not the same as having actual physical light coming out) at least that's how I see it.
I thought of that, but then, why does the path of the Eye not always show red? When Frodo sat on Amon Hen and perceived it searching for him, he saw it as a 'black shadow'. All I could think of was Frodo and Sam's nearness to Sauron, or, maybe being tinted by volcanic smoke or fumes around Barad-dûr, made it appear red.
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Old 10-05-2009, 07:58 PM   #5
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Hmm...

I know that in this chapter especially Sam's point of view dominates, but Frodo was still the character who supposedly recorded all of this. Might his perception of the Eye be some side effect of his Ring-enhanced perception, much like the wheel of fire which apparently manifested itself on a physical level to him?

At any rate this eye-like imagery still comes from a window in the top of the tower and is very faint, not this dumb lighthouse-style searchlight thing that looks like nothing so much as a mussel prized from its shell and stuck between the outer tines of a fork...

What does weird me out with all the canon descriptions of the Eye is how very catlike it is, when the last time Sauron was described in catlike terms he was Tevildo!
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:04 PM   #6
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Sauron wasn't able to manifest in a form that was "pleasing" t o others. My question is, why was he able to manifest in "ugly" forms? The Ainur that entered the world, Valar and Maiar, could "clothe" themselves in whatever form they liked. I'm confused as to why Sauron was different.
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Old 10-05-2009, 08:07 PM   #7
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Sauron wasn't able to manifest in a form that was "pleasing" t o others. My question is, why was he able to manifest in "ugly" forms? The Ainur that entered the world, Valar and Maiar, could "clothe" themselves in whatever form they liked. I'm confused as to why Sauron was different.
Originally Sauron could take on a fair form as the other Maia. He lost the ability after the destruction of his body during the fall of Númenor.
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Old 10-06-2009, 07:44 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Inziladun View Post
I thought of that, but then, why does the path of the Eye not always show red? When Frodo sat on Amon Hen and perceived it searching for him, he saw it as a 'black shadow'. All I could think of was Frodo and Sam's nearness to Sauron, or, maybe being tinted by volcanic smoke or fumes around Barad-dûr, made it appear red.

My best guess on that is as follows since the projection is of Sauron's eye in totum, it is broadcasting both light and shadow since Sauron has both emanating from his eyes. In Mordor, due to 1. The nearness and 2. The Volcanic fumes making the sky perpetually dark the light was visible. However when Frodo sat on Amon Hen, he was presumably doing so during the day and possibly a relitively sunny day at that. In daylight the light would be obscured and what you would see is just the shadow. Think of it like looking at the same campfire (out of your immediate line of site) from a distance during the day and the night. At night what's going to catch your eye most is the light from the fire, During the day it will be the plume of smoke.
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:13 AM   #9
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The Eye Was Sauron's physical form

in the Silmarillion chapter called Akallabeth, near the end, Tolkien wirtes that (in the fall of Numenor) " Sauron was robbed of that shape in which he had wrought so great an evil, so that he could never again appear fair to the eyes of men...he wrought himself a new guise, an image of malice and hatred made visible: and the Eye of Sauron the Terrible few could endure."

thie is reiterated again in the chapter Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, "he had wrought for himself a new shape: and it was terrible, for his fair semblance had departed forever when he was cast into the abyss at the drowning of Numenor. He took up again the great Ring and clothed himself in power; and the malice of the Eye of Sauron few even of the great among Elves and Men could endure."
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Old 10-06-2009, 09:22 AM   #10
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Thanks for the comments, I'll try to respond to some of them later on. For now I'd like to throw this passage into the mix. It is from the description of Minas Morgul, and seems somehow relevant:

Quote:
Originally Posted by LotR; The Stairs Of Cirith Ungol
...the topmost course of the tower revolved slowly, first one way then another, a huge ghostly head leering into the night.
A revolving, peering turret is perhaps a common feature in Dark Towers?
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Old 10-06-2009, 10:39 AM   #11
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A metaphor for the presense, control, and watchful will of Sauron...nothing more. No time to explain that quote you give.

However, I can point out the "Eye" is first a metaphor associated with Morgoth and then Tolkien uses it again for Sauron in LOTR.
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Old 10-06-2009, 11:09 AM   #12
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Old 10-06-2009, 01:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfirin
We actually get to "see" sauron's eye in the story I think; unless I've been wrong all these years, I've always beleived that the Eye Frodo saw in Galadriel's Mirror was Saurons actual factual physical eye that if one were to physically be in the room with Sauron and look at him in person he would have eyes as described, yellow, slit pupiled, wreathed in flame and ringed with darkness (as for the lidless thing, I dont know whether sauron actually had no eyelids of this was a metephor for the fact he never slept and therefore never closed them)
I dunno, don't you think it seems strange only to see one Eye, and not a pair, if it is indeed Sauron's actual eye?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffF
thie is reiterated again in the chapter Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age, "he had wrought for himself a new shape: and it was terrible, for his fair semblance had departed forever when he was cast into the abyss at the drowning of Numenor. He took up again the great Ring and clothed himself in power; and the malice of the Eye of Sauron few even of the great among Elves and Men could endure".
I believe that The Eye here is metaphorical, that it symbolises the will and intent of Sauron. Actually, representation perhaps is a more fitting word. It is actually clear that Sauron had a mannish physical shape during the War of the Ring. Gollum had apparently met him and noted that he only had four fingers on his black hand - Isildur cut one off remember. Just read an article here that also quotes a letter by JRRT, which confirms that the Dark Lord isn't a burning Eye, but quite literally a Dark Lord.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRRT
Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mnemosyne
At any rate this eye-like imagery still comes from a window in the top of the tower and is very faint, not this dumb lighthouse-style searchlight thing that looks like nothing so much as a mussel prized from its shell and stuck between the outer tines of a fork...
To be fair, the quote says "as from some window" which is only to say that they imagined it came from one, but couldn't actually see it, and though the fiery beam is said to "flicker" this isn't the same as saying it's very faint, only that it's unsteady. I like your theory of the Ring-enhanced perception though, this could be an explanation to Frodo's vision.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfirin
There is little doubt that the "eye" whether physical or not, had great signficance to Sauron, it is after all the symbol he chose for his emblem and what his Orcs (and presumably men) were marked with (as the WK's forces were marked with the White Moon and Saruman's Uruk-Hai used the White hand). Heck even the Flies in Mordor were marked with the red eye. That sound like something more than a mere "metaphorical construct to me"
It does to me too. I mean, from where does this symbol or representation originate? Sauron isn't a big Eye, but while few unlucky souls have seen Sauron in person, everyone in Mordor at least seems to be familiar with The Lidless Eye that never sleeps, ever watching over the lands. I actually don't discount the idea of an actual Eye on top of the Dark Tower.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Boro
A metaphor for the presense, control, and watchful will of Sauron...nothing more. No time to explain that quote you give.
I'm eagerly awaiting your explanaition.
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Old 10-06-2009, 06:42 PM   #14
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The Eye

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Originally Posted by skip spence View Post
I dunno, don't you think it seems strange only to see one Eye, and not a pair, if it is indeed Sauron's actual eye?
I have in fact wondered the same thing, I just didn't mention it for fear of sounding foolish. The best answer I can come up with (both I admit rather shakey) are as follows (I am assuming for the moment that the Palatir was involved at Sauron's end with regards to the incident, i.e. that Sauron didn't interface with the mirror's "sight" directly 1. at the time Sauron was holding the Palantir up to his eye like a giant monocle (we know that the ideal scrying distance for a Palantir is about three feet away but maybe when your trying to send your will through the stone having it closer is adventageous. Ultimately only Saruman and Aragorn likely know, both having confronted Sauron face to face in the Palantir (I'm not sure about this, but I get the felling that While Sauron was able to know whne Denetroy was using the stone, and was able to twist what Denethor saw he never out and out showed up in the Anor stone in person to confront Denethor face to face.) and neither of them said.

Heck for all I know the eye is a physical or at least visual manefestation of Sauron's "third eye" (that is where psychic powers are supposed to be broadcast from, right?). If there is an eye on top of the tower I doubt it's flesh and blood or at least I doubt it's physically connected to Sauron's body (somehow the image of a dark lord with a long umbilicus running from his head up trough the celing and connecting to a giant flesh and blood eye on the roof doesn't sit well with me.).
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:10 PM   #15
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Hmm, Jackson's representation of the Eye always made me think that someone had left on the Flaming Eye Beacon atop Castle Anthrax....

Jackson's interpretation aside, the Eye was a symbol, but not Sauron's physical form in the Third Age. In speaking of Aragorn's confrontation with Sauron via the palantir, in letter 246, Tolkien says:

Quote:
...in a tale which allows the incarnation of great spirits in a physical and destructible form their power must be far greater when actually physically present. Sauron should be thought of as very terrible. The form that he took was that of a man of more than human stature, but not gigantic.
So it would appear that Tolkien intended Sauron to have a physical man-like form in the Third Age. "The Eye" to me always equated with Sauron's attention, or his focused powers of mind. The stab of red fire mentioned in skip's original quote is to me no more of a surprise than the stab of white fire that came from Gandalf's upraised hand during the rescue of Faramir; the light is a manifestation of power being exerted, and Sauron was certainly exerting his power to see all he could of his enemies' actions during the battle before the gates. He was probably exerting considerable power to control his armies from afar as well. I could well imagine that his "very terrible" physical form might have hideous and piercing eyes, which his minions and slaves would remember quite well, and come to equate with him.
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Old 10-06-2009, 08:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skip spence View Post
I'm eagerly awaiting your explanaition.
Such a patient person, it's usually a quality I lack. Anyway, to my explanation.

In the Third Age there is an 'Eye of Sauron' (sometimes just short-handed by Tolkien as 'the Eye') as there was an 'Eye of Morgoth.' In both cases (in my opinion I should also stress) it's a metaphor to both Dark Lords' dominant, over-powering wills.

Frodo see the Eye in Galadriel's Mirror as Galadriel goes to point out:

Quote:
"You saw the Eye of him that holds the Seven and the Nine."~Mirror of Galadriel
And in the Silm:

Quote:
"He took up the great Ring and clothed himself in power; and the malice of the Eye of Sauron and few even the great Elves and Men could endure"~Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
Now with the quote from Mount Doom, I would call it a delusional vision of Frodo's:
Quote:
One moment only it stared out, but as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye; and then the shadows were furled again and the terrible vision was removed. The Eye was not turned to them: it was gazing north to where the Captains of the West stood at bay, and thither all its malice was now bent, as the Power moved to strike its deadly blow; but Frodo at that dreadful glimpse fell as one stricken mortally. His hand sought the chain about his neck.
"but as from some great window...the flicker of a piercing Eye." >>>the start of the metaphor (or simile if you would prefer).

Frodo's vision is over, but Tolkien continues with "the Eye" to describe Sauron (something that he also used for Morgoth). He also uses another metaphor for Sauron as "that Power" something Saruman does too:
Quote:
A new Power is rising. Against it the old allies and policies will not avail us at all. There is no hope left in Elves or dying Numenor. This then is one choice before you, before us. We may join with that Power.~The Council of Elrond
Note with both "the Eye" and "that Power", the consistent capitalization of the words, which would denote that they are both referring to person, almost like a personal title. When Saruman says "that Power," Gandalf and everyone knows he's talking about Sauron. It's no different with the Mount Doom quote, where the Eye is a vision of Frodo's, and Tolkien then used the Eye and the Power as metaphors to refer to Sauron's will (or his "malice") which was now entirely bent towards the Captains of the West.

I got another Sauron metaphor for you
Quote:
As when death smites the swollen brooding thing that inhabits their crawling hill and holds them all in sway, ants will wonder witless and purposeless and then feebly die, so the creatures of Sauron, orc or troll or beast spell-enslaved, ran hither and thither mindless, and some slew themselves, or cast themselves in pits, or fled wailing back to hide in holes and dark lightless places far from hope.~Field of Cormallen
Here Tolkien is describing Sauron's servants as ants with Sauron as their Queen, and when their queen was destroyed, they were crazed and mindless. Thos not held under the Eye...erm Iron Will of Sauron (like the Men of Rhun and Harad) they had a much different (and far more noble) reaction.

Quote:
"It is true, of course, that Morgoth held the Orcs in dire thraldom, for in their corruption they had almost lost all possibility of resisting the domination of his will. So great indeed did the pressure on them become ere Angband fell that, if he turned his thought towards them, they were conscious of his "Eye" wherever they might be....this servitude to a central will that reduced the Orcs to an almost ant-like life was seen even more plainly in the Second and Third Age under the tyranny of Sauron, Morgoth’s chief Lieutenant."~Home X: Morgoth’s Ring, Myths Transformed
I'm pretty sure there are several places in the Silm too where Morgoth is referred to as "the Eye," but right now time is short and I'm too lazy to flip through the pages. But I will end with...what was Sauron's symbol? A red Eye. Seeing as Sauron loved order, co-ordination (to the point of being a control freak) he seemed to also push the Eye as a metaphor for himself. So many metaphors, maybe Sauron aspired to be an English teacher, in his early good lil Maia days. Oh and what was Saruman's symbol? A white Hand...was there a white Hand on top of Orthanc?
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Old 10-07-2009, 05:33 AM   #17
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That actually sums it up quite succintly. Saron's gaze and will is his All-seeing Eye, much as the force of his armies is described as his hands and fingers. Though I do still hold deep in my heart that the eye in the mirror if not Sauron's literal eye resembles it in apperance, he must have gotten the idea for the shape from somewhere.
Your comments of Saruman actually also works. Much as Saron desired ultimate order and personal control of the world (all under my All seeing gaze). Saruman, at least intially professes to wanting to rule the world becuse he thinks it needs his and the other wizard's guidance i.e. a "guiding hand" As for the WK symbol, well, his current residence did used to be called the Tower of the Moon, and the Moon has always been associated with Magic.

One final aside, just to satisfy my own curiosity. Would most of this forum agree that, inaproppriate and undesirable as Peter Jackson's depiction of Sauron is, its still light years better than the way he was shown in the Rankin Bass Cartoon, I mean what was that, a compass rose?, a sixteenth century chart of the sun and ther planets??
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:54 AM   #18
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Thanks for the replies. As you may have noticed in the op I am well aware that The Eye is primarily a metaphor and a symbol and certainly not the physical manifestation of Sauron himself. I even quoted the same letter as you did in my previous post, Ibrin. I think that from an outside perspective, The Lidless Eye is just that and nothing more, a metaphor Tolkien uses to symbolize the never sleeping watchfulness of Sauron (though one wonders how fitting the cat-eye likeness really is, seeing how cats spend the great majority of their lives sleeping).

It’s certainly a very powerful one too, with applications that go beyond Middle Earth. To me it symbolizes the need for control in a totalitarian society - come to think of it, totalitarianism isn’t at all necessary for one to imagine how The Eye is on you these days. As an aside, a friend of mine got busted for possession of marijuana a few years back and one of the consequences was being ordered to go see a doctor at his own expense to prove he was no addict. “You know that big Eye in the LotR movies?” the doctor asked my mate who nodded. “That Eye is on you now, it's watching you carefully and it isn’t going to lose focus for a looong time” The good doctor was referring to the state machinery.

Yet, from an inside perspective I’ve began to wonder if The Eye isn’t perhaps more than a symbol after all. This image is just so universal. Frodo sees The Eye before he (in all likelihood) learns that Sauron uses this symbol, and Galadriel immediately recognizes the vision, because she has it too, the very same it seems. Didn’t Bilbo see the Eye too, many years before the events in Lord of the Rings? The Orcs often refer to The Eye when speaking about Sauron and his intent, and I very much doubt that many if any of them actually have seen the Dark Lord in the flesh, seen his actual eyes. No, clearly this image isn’t accidental. It must have been chosen by Sauron himself, and I believe he uses it as a representation of himself and his power. The vision of The Eye is something that he projects, as a sort of visual manifestation of his intent to control and subjugate.

With this in mind, would it be so hard to believe that there actually is a red eye on top of Barad Dur? That opening quote seems to suggest that Frodo and Sam though so, though they didn’t see it directly, only sensed it. That would be pretty intimidating for the Orcses I think, seeing a glowing red beacon peering down at them, much like how Frodo and Sam saw the light in the tower at Cirith Ungol, yet with much added malice. I included the description of Minas Morgul because it actually describes something similar to PJ’s forkeye in the movies (and this is most likely a literal description) – a revolving top course of a tower shaped like a ghostly face, watching over the lands with ‘magic’ means, as there would be no need for revolving if there were actual people standing in the windows. Why can't Barad Dur have a similar feature? Hm. I also think there's something unsatisfactory with the image of Sauron leaning out of a plain window for hours on end, trying to decipher what’s going on outside the Morannon. It seems undignified somehow. I’d much rather picture him sitting on his dark throne in front of the Palantir, which he’s managed to hook up to his terrifying Eye device.

And Boro, I'm still waiting for your explanation of the quote in the op. Edit: Sorry, now I see that you did, though I'm not entirely convinced. Should think before I speak

Lastly, while there was no white hand on top of Orthanc, there certainly was a large one outside of Isengard.
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:38 AM   #19
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Yet, from an inside perspective I’ve began to wonder if The Eye isn’t perhaps more than a symbol after all. This image is just so universal. Frodo sees The Eye before him long before he (in all likelihood) learns that Sauron uses this symbol, and Galadriel immediately recognizes the vision, because she has it too, the very same it seems. Didn’t Bilbo see the Eye too, long before the events in Lord of the Rings? The Orcs often refer to The Eye when speaking about Sauron and his intent, and I very much doubt that many if any of them actually have seen the Dark Lord in the flesh, seen his actual eyes. No, clearly this image isn’t accidental. It must have been chosen by Sauron himself, and I believe he uses it as a representation of himself and his power.
I think Bilbo said he felt as if the Ring was an 'eye' on him, but didn't descibe it more plainly.
When Pippin looked in the Palantír of Orthanc, he saw Sauron in person, but unhelpfully gave no specifics as to Sauron's facial appearance.

As an aside, weren't dragon's eyes said to be catlike? Would that have some influence with Sauron choosing that as his military symbol, and his own personal representation of himself?
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Old 10-07-2009, 01:55 PM   #20
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I've always thought of the eye as being a spiritual (for lack of a better term) manifestation. Sort of operating on a slightly different plane. Frodo is thus able to see it/ feel it more clearly due to the ring. Others may feel a sense of dread when under its gaze/control. While it was maybe a little big in the movie, I thought it operated fine as an image.
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Old 10-07-2009, 03:09 PM   #21
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And Boro, I'm still waiting for your explanation of the quote in the op. Edit: Sorry, now I see that you did, though I'm not entirely convinced. Should think before I speak
I was about to respond to this with a "look above," but didn't see the Edit note, so we would have both been guilty.

Anyway, for a more detailed explanation of why this wasn't a "real" vision of Frodos, per se, but why I think it's a delusional (almost day-dreaming) vision caused by the Ring...

Note after the vision, Frodo collapses and tells Sam he can't stop himself from trying to grab for the Ring. When looking at it as a reader, this is one of the most terrifying things we witness to Frodo. He is literally losing complete control over himself, and he is losing control of his own body. "Help, me, Sam! Hold my hand! I can't stop it!" Morsul's humorous Star Wars reference is not so far off taking Frodo's episode after the vision into account.

Plus Frodo wasn't looking at the top of Barad-dur at all, it was through some great unknown window, that is where Frodo gets the red flicker of a piercing Eye.

Capitalization of "the Eye" being perhaps the most important thing, because capitalizing denotes a specific person or place. Like Saruman referring to Sauron as "that Power." If Saruman was talking about the random idea of accumulating power, it would not be capitalized. Since it is, Saruman is talking about joining Sauron, Sauron being "that Power." Or it is like when Gandalf in The Shire uses "Ring-maker." Yet again the capitalization means Gandalf is referring to a specific person, and yet again this "Ring-maker" is Sauron.

The capitalized Eye, therefor is referring to not a spot-light on-top of a tower, but Sauron himself. Specifically Sauron's will that held his Orcs in thraldom as the Home X quote shows when Morgoths will is then referred to as his "Eye." (Think of the symbol for Big Brother in George Orwell's 1984...what was it? )

Whatever the case it is definitely a symbol that Sauron pushed, one to represent himself. There would be no need though for an eye spot-light, because the orcs have the symbol on their helmets, which serves as a pleasant reminder to them of what Grishnakh tells Ugluk: "Saruman is a fool, and a dirty treacherous fool: but the Great Eye is on him." (The Uruk-hai) Grishnakh isn't saying Sauron's got his spot-light pointed to Isengard, because Sauron had more important things to focus on than Saruman, but it was a message from one Dark Lord's servant to the wannabe Dark Lord's servant...Saruman isn't trusted and he's being watched.
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Old 10-07-2009, 04:54 PM   #22
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[QUOTE=As an aside, weren't dragon's eyes said to be catlike? Would that have some influence with Sauron choosing that as his military symbol, and his own personal representation of himself?[/QUOTE]

This part at least I feel safe speculating on. In all proababilty Sauron (or Tolkein) chose the eye to be slit pupiled and catlike simply because, to a human that is more menacing. we have a prettly deeply ingrained racial terror of things with slit pupiled eyes way back when we were cavemen, most of the things that had eyes like that (big cats, big reptiles like crocodiles very large lizards (I'm thinking of somthing like Australia's fear lizard here NOT dinosaurs) were predetors of us or at least degerous to us (like poisonous snakes) such eyes are also usually only found on nocturnal animals and we've alaways been a little afraid of tem as well.
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Old 10-07-2009, 09:23 PM   #23
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I think that what's really at play here is Tolkien's 'ear' for language-games. There's a wonderful pun at work surely: the eye/I of Sauron, blazing out across the landscape. He's not able to manifest as a body but as an ego only. The lack of physicality and the overwhelming nature of his gazing self ("I") is in direct contrast to the intense physical suffering of Frodo (as his body is attacked by morgul blade, sting and starvation, then tooth) and the slow erosion of his own self, his own "I" which finally succumbs to the Ring. In the end of course, it is the humble "I/eye" of Frodo, which looks for and after others, that triumphs over the prideful "I/eye" of Sauron that wishes to call all other eyes to regarding its own gaze.
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Old 10-08-2009, 09:51 AM   #24
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That's an interesting reading, Fordim. A bit obvious, only.

It could also be that the character Sauron is part of a prophetic vision Tolkien had regarding the rise of the heretic Rastafarian movement in Jamaica. Sauron is the mystic union of Eye & I, and is worshipped by his followers like a living God on earth, just like Haile Selassie. Think about it!

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Originally Posted by Boro
Capitalization of "the Eye" being perhaps the most important thing, because capitalizing denotes a specific person or place. Like Saruman referring to Sauron as "that Power." If Saruman was talking about the random idea of accumulating power, it would not be capitalized. Since it is, Saruman is talking about joining Sauron, Sauron being "that Power." Or it is like when Gandalf in The Shire uses "Ring-maker." Yet again the capitalization means Gandalf is referring to a specific person, and yet again this "Ring-maker" is Sauron.

The capitalized Eye, therefor is referring to not a spot-light on-top of a tower, but Sauron himself.
Was just about to point out in triumph that the e isn't in fact capitalized in the Mount Doom quote, but checking the book I realised that I'd made a typing mistake, and that it really was. Blasted!

Quote:
Plus Frodo wasn't looking at the top of Barad-dur at all, it was through some great unknown window, that is where Frodo gets the red flicker of a piercing Eye.
When I checked the passage again I learned a few things that I missed last time round. Firstly, Frodo did see the top of Barad-Dûr.
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Originally Posted by LorR; Mount Doom
...and then he saw ... the cruel pinnacles and iron crown of the topmost tower of Barad-Dûr
Also there is apparently a window up there, since the dark entrance into Mount Doom is described (by the Author) as "gazing straight back to the Window of the Eye in Sauron's shadow-mantled fortress."

A curious thing though is that when Frodo and Sam get a glimpse of the Dark Tower they should be looking straight at the Window of the Eye, since they are close to the entrance it is facing, but The Eye is then turned North, towards Morannon, and since Mount Doom is North-West of Barad-Dûr, they can't see the window directly, it is behind the Tower from their direction. Apparently the Eye is gazing out of not the Window of the Eye, but out of another less renowned window.

Unless the Window of the Eye can actually revolve.
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Old 10-08-2009, 01:02 PM   #25
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Or the Window of the Eye refers to where Sauron sits in his tower watches and waits for victory, something that Denethor has taken after as well:

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Denethor laughed bitterly. "Nay, not yet, Master Peregrin! He will not come save only to triumph over me when all is won. He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling. Or why should I sit here in my tower and think, and watch, and wait, spending even my sons? For I can still wield a brand."~The Siege of Gondor
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Old 10-08-2009, 01:24 PM   #26
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A curious thing though is that when Frodo and Sam get a glimpse of the Dark Tower they should be looking straight at the Window of the Eye, since they are close to the entrance it is facing, but The Eye is then turned North, towards Morannon, and since Mount Doom is North-West of Barad-Dûr, they can't see the window directly, it is behind the Tower from their direction. Apparently the Eye is gazing out of not the Window of the Eye, but out of another less renowned window.
There's an interesting parallel with Sauron looking out from Barad-dûr with the Eye.

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Then [Sauron] made [Minas Tirith] into a watchtower for Morgoth, a stronghold a evil, and a menace; and the fair isle of Tol Sirion became accursed, and it was called Tol-in-Gaurhoth, the Isle of Werewolves. No living creature could pass through that vale that Sauron did not espy from the tower where he sat.
Silm Of the Ruin of Beleriand

The power of far-seeing seems to be the same, though it is not used with the Eye imagery.
I'm mostly convinced that the Eye was mainly symbolic, a contrivance of Sauron in Third Age 'tyrant' guise to appear more threatening, to his forces and his enemies alike. As someone else may have mentioned, the idea of his Great Eye constantly observing them was probably a considerable motivation for his troops as well.
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Old 10-08-2009, 04:54 PM   #27
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. As someone else may have mentioned, the idea of his Great Eye constantly observing them was probably a considerable motivation for his troops as well.
Shades of Orwell, "The Dark Lord is Watching You"

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Old 10-10-2009, 04:54 PM   #28
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^There sure is. One wonders if there was any influence between them, one way or another. 1984 was published 1949, LotR in 1954-55, but Tolkien started writing on it much earlier unless I'm mistaken.

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I'm mostly convinced that the Eye was mainly symbolic, a contrivance of Sauron in Third Age 'tyrant' guise to appear more threatening, to his forces and his enemies alike. As someone else may have mentioned, the idea of his Great Eye constantly observing them was probably a considerable motivation for his troops as well.
Agreed, and I'm not really suggesting that the Eye was some cunning device Sauron conjured up to see better. It's psychological warfare, and that is why I'm not entirely discounting the idea of a physical Eye on Barad-Dur, gazing over the lands. That would keep the Shagrats and Gorbags of Mordor thinking of the lesson at hand and not their own petty schemes, methinks.

I kind of agree with ElanorFB that the movie-image worked pretty well and served its function - twas' a bit over the top perhaps, but I suppose you have to be rather obvious in the big blockbusters. However, equating Sauron with it made for some glaring lapses of logic that are harder to forgive.
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Old 10-14-2009, 04:41 AM   #29
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PJ had little choice but to create an Eye with which we, humble folk, could relate. For Tolkien the Eye was part of the Evil with which he is dealing.

Sauron did not 'need' an eye, he used the palantir onto which he could impose his will and create images which suggested the future to those who gazed into them. The Eye was a symbol of oppression and fear - that fear that haunts all of us in those unguarded moments. When we are controlled by fear there is no need for anyone to keep an 'eye' on us - we are struck impotent by our own sense of oppression and helplessness - we are no threat to those who would seek to place us under their control.

That is why Sauron is Evil - he HAS to know the future - and to KNOW the future in all its detail is to remain all powerful - to play God no less. To KNOW the future robs everyone of hope, drains all of any thought of adventure, robs us of our sense of wonder. In the end we avoid risk-taking.

The Fellowship is a risk - the future is far from certain. That is why the Fellowship succeeds and Sauron and his host fails.

I know all this probably bypassed the movie-goer but I suspect PJ saw some things better that Tolkien. However, I don't know how else PJ could have gone about creating the Eye other than making is rather visible and identifiable.
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Old 10-14-2009, 02:00 PM   #30
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However, I don't know how else PJ could have gone about creating the Eye other than making it rather visible and identifiable.
I actually thought the way he did it in Fellowship was credible because it was more something the characters saw (and even then, not in the physical sense) than the audience. Would've been nice if he'd kept that up through Towers and King.
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Old 10-15-2009, 06:10 PM   #31
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I actually thought the way he did it in Fellowship was credible because it was more something the characters saw (and even then, not in the physical sense) than the audience. Would've been nice if he'd kept that up through Towers and King.
Good point - had not considered that aspect - but I tend to agree - the aspect of the Eye being something internal rather than external - but I think the moviegoer would have demanded something more tangible.
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Old 10-16-2009, 10:46 AM   #32
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The Eye

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I dunno, don't you think it seems strange only to see one Eye, and not a pair, if it is indeed Sauron's actual eye?
If anything, it's a cool literary device, no? Made me think of an enormous cyclops the first time I read the book. *shiver*

Also, it makes you think of the common expression - "a third eye," the ability to see beyond physical things, telepathy, power, etc. When Pushkin, for example, refers to a kind of Slavic fairy princess as having a "star blazing on her forehead," he's actually symbolizing her third eye, her power and wisdom.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about as I was being wowed by creep-tastic Sauron.
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:10 PM   #33
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If anything, it's a cool literary device, no? Made me think of an enormous cyclops the first time I read the book. *shiver*
Something like this perhaps?

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Also, it makes you think of the common expression - "a third eye," the ability to see beyond physical things, telepathy, power, etc. When Pushkin, for example, refers to a kind of Slavic fairy princess as having a "star blazing on her forehead," he's actually symbolizing her third eye, her power and wisdom.

Anyway, that's what I was thinking about as I was being wowed by creep-tastic Sauron.
I've little to add but that's a good point about the third eye.
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Old 10-21-2009, 02:59 PM   #34
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Something like this perhaps?
I was waiting for someone to bring that up.
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Old 10-22-2009, 08:24 AM   #35
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Good point - had not considered that aspect - but I tend to agree - the aspect of the Eye being something internal rather than external - but I think the moviegoer would have demanded something more tangible.
Yes, the representation in the Fellowship movie is much more effective.

There should have been a way to visually expand on this in The Two Towers and Return of the King, without having to resort to plonking a fiery eyeball atop Barad-dur!

I would like to have seen a representation of Frodo's "Wheel of Fire" as being something like the Eye. That would have livened up the Mordor scenes considerably; I found them to be quite anti-climatic until Gollum reappears. Also ... the notion of the Eye as being a presence inside the Tower would have been good.

What the moviegoer was demanding was an actual visual of Sauron, I think, rather than a giant eye. PJ's movies implied that Sauron still had not attended a regular physical form. If I was making the movies I would have opted for just hinting at Sauron's appearance. Showing him in brief glimpses, wreathed in shadows. Letting our imaginations do the work.

Of course, PJ isn't noted for his subtlety.
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Old 11-14-2009, 12:06 PM   #36
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I found what appears to be an interesting reference to the symbolic Eye of Sauron, in an unexpected place in the books. While Frodo was in Rivendell awaiting the start of the second phase of his quest, he looked at the sky and saw something somewhat ominous.

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But low in the South one star shone red. Every night, as the Moon waned again, it shone brighter and brighter. Frodo could see it from his window, deep in the heavens, burning like a watchful eye that glared above the trees on the brink of the valley.
FOTR

'Red' and 'watchful eye'? And he sees it in the South. Surely that isn't just a coincidence. Even in Rivendell, is he being influenced by the Ring and his ordeal with the Nazgûl to see the Eye?
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Old 12-19-2012, 11:49 PM   #37
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^There sure is. One wonders if there was any influence between them, one way or another. 1984 was published 1949, LotR in 1954-55, but Tolkien started writing on it much earlier unless I'm mistaken.


Agreed, and I'm not really suggesting that the Eye was some cunning device Sauron conjured up to see better. It's psychological warfare, and that is why I'm not entirely discounting the idea of a physical Eye on Barad-Dur, gazing over the lands. That would keep the Shagrats and Gorbags of Mordor thinking of the lesson at hand and not their own petty schemes, methinks.

I kind of agree with ElanorFB that the movie-image worked pretty well and served its function - twas' a bit over the top perhaps, but I suppose you have to be rather obvious in the big blockbusters. However, equating Sauron with it made for some glaring lapses of logic that are harder to forgive.
Dunno --- I saw the movie as representing Sauron AS the eye floating on top of Barad Dur, his body consisting in the eye. And I found it silly - how would you go on wearing a ring if your body was in the shape of an eye?

I don't like the idea of it floating freely either. There's no things or people levitating of flying by willforce or by magic in LOTR - so I find it out of place that it can float.
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