Apr 23 2009 5:16pm

LotR re-read: Fellowship II.6, “Lothlórien”

cover of The Fellowship of the Ring Another week, another chapter in the Lord of the Rings re-read, namely Fellowship II.6, “Lothlórien.” Before the usual spoilers and comments, a note for those of you who like e-books: LotR, The Hobbit, and The Children of Hurin are now available, so check your preferred retailer. Nb.: it’s far cheaper to buy LotR as one volume/file than as three individual volumes.

(This would be the third edition of LotR I’ve purchased new; it’s absolutely worth it to me because I find it so much easier to flag things on my PDA. Unfortunately, though the e-book is of the 50th anniversary edition, which opens with two Notes about the text’s revisions and corrections . . . it has munged some of the accented words in the introductory Notes, Foreword, and Prologue, truncating some (Éowyn, Théoden, Dúnadan) and misspelling others (“Barad-dûen”). However, the text of the chapter we’re discussing this week, at least, looks okay, as do the few other chapters I’ve spot-checked.)

What Happens

The Company departs from the dale outside of Moria. On the way, Gimli, Frodo, and Sam look into the Mirrormere, Kheled-zâram. They head for Lothlórien, pausing to rest and treat Frodo and Sam’s wounds (revealing Frodo’s mithril-coat). When they arrive at Lothlórien, Boromir briefly resists entering on the ground that he has heard it is a perilous land. They cross the stream Nimrodel; Legolas tells them the story of its doomed maiden namesake and her equally-doomed lover Amroth.

They decide to sleep in the trees for safety, but discovered that one of the trees is already occupied by Elves of Lothlórien. These eventually agree to admit the entire Company on the condition that Gimli is blindfolded. The hobbits sleep on one of the tree platforms, and Frodo is woken by Orcs. Though they pass by, something else starts climbing the tree; it flees when Haldir, one of the Elves, returns.

The Company crosses the Silverlode River into the Naith of Lórien, where Gimli is displeased to discover that he is to be blindfolded; Aragorn resolves the tense situation by directing that all members of the Company be blindfolded. That evening, they meet another company of Elves who report that the Orcs had been almost entirely destroyed; a strange creature was seen escaping south down the Silverlode; and the Lady of the Galadhrim has directed that all of the Company be permitted to walk free. Haldir takes Frodo and Sam to a high tree platform on the hill of Cerin Amroth and shows them the surrounding land.


There is a lot of water in this chapter. And, except for the story of Nimrodel and Amroth, it’s all benign or even healing water, to wit:

(Kheled-zâram, by the way, is one of my favorite things in the series, perhaps because it’s one of the rare things I have a very vivid mental image of.)

  • The torrent “like a white lace” that flows beside the Dimrill Stair—a delicate non-threatening description of a series of small fast waterfalls.
  • The calm beautiful mystery of Kheled-zâram, which draws Frodo “in spite of hurt and weariness.”
  • The spring from which the Silverlode arises, “a deep well of water, clear as crystal.”
  • The unnamed stream that joins the Silverlode at the dell where they rest and treat Sam and Frodo’s wounds.
  • And the stream Nimrodel, which is said “to be healing to the weary,” whose sound Legolas hopes “may bring us sleep and forgetfulness of grief,” and whose touch makes Frodo feel “that the stain of travel and all weariness was washed from his limbs.”

Honorable mentions:

  • “(T)he sound of the shaken rings (of Frodo’s mail-coat) was like the tinkle of rain in a pool.”
  • Upon Cerin Amroth, Frodo hears “far off great seas upon beaches that had long ago been washed away,” part of the timeless quality of the land.

I’d never before consciously recognized how all this water supports the healing respite given to the characters: not underground, not built, and of course, not fire.

* * *

Lothlórien proper:

I wonder what Boromir has heard to make him so wary? But it’s very characteristic of him, isn’t it, to want “A plain road, though it led through a hedge of swords”; concrete, straightforward, within his area of expertise. And you know, there are definitely days I sympathize.

And on the flip side, I wonder what the Elves of Lothlórien had heard of hobbits, many long years ago?

So: running across a single rope as if it were a road, better or worse than running on top of snow? I vote for better, in the sense of marginally plausible, but I still want to smack Haldir for being all, “Follow me!” He can’t possibly be so sheltered as to not know that it’s an unusual ability.

The blindfolding standoff: I’m on Gimli’s side, here, because it is not cool to tell him that he’ll be forced to wear a blindfold only after he’s crossed the rivers and won’t be allowed to go back. Plus I liked that he saw the absurdity inherent in Aragorn’s solution that they all be blindfolded.

(And Haldir gives us an explicit statement that “in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those will still oppose them,” for all that he feels that they’re in a prisoner’s dilemma-type situation.)

Finally, while I like the respite after Moria, I find this chapter somewhat repetitive in its descriptions: we’re told twice that no shadow or stain lays on Lórien, and three times that the land has a timeless quality.

* * *

Aragorn on Cerin Amroth:

I don’t believe that remembering your lover will make you look like you’re wearing white clothes instead of travel garments. Sorry.

Look, a mention of Arwen!  . . . in untranslated Elvish without explanation.

I think when I was a kid, I was faked out by the conclusion of this chapter, which says that Aragorn “came there never again as living man,” because I thought it meant he was going to die before the end of the quest. Now, I just wonder why he doesn’t ever go back.

* * *


I do wish Tolkien hadn’t given Aragorn a childhood name meaning “hope,” and then had his mother make a deathbed pun on it, because now every damn time he says the word I get distracted.

Gimli’s eloquence surprised me when he was remembering Gandalf’s remark on Kheled-zâram: “Now long shall I journey ere I have joy again. It is I that must hasten away, and he that must remain.” (Or, possibly, I’m conditioned to think of “archaic” as “eloquent.”)

Also, why I did have the idea that Dwarves didn’t like heights? Was I mixing them up with hobbits? At any rate, I was also surprised when he was the first to suggest sleeping in trees for safety.

The road from the Gates “fad(es) to a winding track between heather and whin.” Since I went to the trouble of looking it up, “whin” here means “gorse,” evergreen shrubs.

I don’t think I’d caught before that Galadriel probably knows everyone in the Company, not because new messages came from Rivendell, but because she saw it in the Mirror.

Finally, there’s Gollum, but I just don’t have anything to say about him yet.

* * *

On the whole, a needed respite but not a chapter that really inspires me, as you probably can tell.

« Fellowship II.5 | Index | Fellowship II.7 »

1. bookworm
For some reason, I always expected something more from looking into the Mirrormere. A little self-realization, I dunno.
2. Tony Zbaraschuk
This is how dwarf humor actually ought to be done.

Note that Aragorn is engaged to Galadriel's grand-daughter, and yet the most he can get out of her borderguards is that they'll treat him just like they treat the Dwarf. The levels of suspicion are not small in this land.

It's interesting that we keep hearing about how perilous Galadriel is, but we usually don't see that with elves. Tolkien addresses some of the heartbreak of mortal/immortal relationships in other works of his, but we usually don't see anywhere in his writings where it's dangerous for Men (or Hobbits). Is this something where he's depending on a common knowledge in his audience of something that his own presentation has entirely swept out of ours?
rick gregory
3. rickg
"Now, I just wonder why he doesn’t ever go back."

I think Aragorn never returns because the elves have left there and the magical quality of the place vanishes with them. By time things have stabilized in Gondor and he could visit, Galadriel, Celeborn and their kind have left.
Eric Scharf
4. EricScharf
Much has been said elsewhere on Tolkien's views of loss, nostalgia, and hope for the future, here I'll only note that while Aragorn holds due reverence for the past, he is neither paralyzed by nor maudlin about it.  He's got to usher in the next Age, and he has no time to haunt mausoleums, lonely wharves, or overgrown meadows.

This contrast appears later in Gimil and Eomer's "wager."  Gimli champions Middle-Earth's Spring, but Eomer's (and Aragorn's) duty is to its Autumn.
5. DemetriosX
I never really noticed all the water in this chapter and its connection with healing is obvious. For me, though, this chapter offers a respite, but the healing only comes with the eulogy poem for Gandalf, which I believe is in the next chapter.

JRRT didn't give us any specifics on what tales were told about the wood and its lady, but he was assuming his readers would have a familiarity with similar tales that were told in England.

The blindfold incident is Aragorn's first leadership challenge. He does fairly well, but you would think he could command a little more respect in the land ruled by his fiancee's grandparents.

I would say he never returned to Lothlórien again as a living man, because it was largely abandoned after the fall of Sauron. Galadriel went west and Celeborn founded a new colony east of the Anduin. (I looked that up.)

Unfortunately, I can no longer see Haldir as anything other than the very swishy elf from the movies.

You're right. There isn't much to this chapter.
6. legionseagle
"Whin" is an expression I was brought up with. "Whinberries" (see link here: Whinberry picking in Shropshire ) is an alternative name for bilberries, a fruit of the upland fells, which grows among the heather. It looks a bit like a small blueberry, but blueberries taste infinitely bland compared to bilberries (whinberries) which have a subtle, delicate, wild flavour. Polish groceries stock them in bottles, in light syrup, if you're lucky and they make fantastic pies and crumbles.

I suspect the name is Norse; they grow on the fells and on the sides of ghylls; the white forces tumble beneath the rocks beside where the whinberries can be plucked and their dark, purple sheen glows amid the ling.

Further comments as and when; that's a linguistic one.
Jill Hayhurst
7. pericat
Not much going on in this chapter, no, but I do like the first impressions of Lothlórien here. It's the first nice woods we see, outside of the Shire.

Someone who can see straight to your heart, past the tangle of motivations and conflicting desires and loyalties you may yourself be unaware of, is indeed perilous.

I don't see anything untoward in the Elves' treatment of Aragorn. Haldir says he is known to them and "has the favour of the Lady". Later he is blindfolded, but it is at his own insistence.

He may be engaged to Arwen, but he's still from Outside, not kin.
8. legionseagle
Also, whin is not in the slightest like gorse. Gorse bushes grow waist-height, are noted for their thorns and their vivid yellow flowers, which have the most evocative smell ever ("When the gorse is out of bloom, then is kissing out of fashion"). Whin grows ankle or, at best, calf height (even on a hobbit) and has small, shiny, tear-drop-shaped leaves.

The books of my childhood did not often include much of the landscapes of my childhood. They tended to be confined to the warm, lush, South-East of England (if one was allowed to dream of dragons, they had Home Counties pedigrees). One of the joys of Tolkien was his inclusion of words like Trollshaws and whin, which were the words I knew, from a Northern English county which had once been part of the Danelaw and whose sons had fought alongside Tolkien on the sunken road.
9. Ceroth
I can imagine that the reason he never returns is because after Galadriel leaves and then Celeborn and the vast majority of the elves leave with him later on, is it must be a very sad place. I think I remember reading that after King Elessar dies, that Queen Arwen returns to Lothlorien and passes the remainder of her years there and that it is a very pale sad shadow of what it was.
10. Erunyauve
I have always been bugged about Aragorn's childhood name, but my logic was not about Gilraen's punning (this always struck me as just tragic and ironic) but that Hope is a girl's name. (it's also my name, as it happen, and that really bugged me when I was younger).
As for why he never goes back to Lorien, I completely agree that it wouldn't have made sense - by the time that he could take an extended trip like that, the Lorien that exists at this point in the story was gone. Also, it is possible that Lorien would have held lots of complex (and not entirely welcome) memories for himself and Arwen. I would imagine that they probably didn't go to Rivendell either.
One thing strikes me about Boromir here - he again is very protective of the hobbits, but his protectionism is again very paternalistic (as before, on Caradhras) - he's looking out for them like you would look out for a child or someone who otherwise needs extra help. This doesn't make Boromir a bad person, of course, just indicates a lot about his worldview. When push comes to shove, he cannot acknowledge that Frodo has the right to refuse the Ring to him, a conclusion that flows wholesale from his view that Frodo is lesser, a childlike being protected, helped - and guided by his betters.
Michael Ikeda
11. mikeda

I'd guess that Aragorn (and probably Arwen) did visit Rivendell from time to time.

Arwen's brothers were probably still there. And Celeborn moved there shortly after Galadriel went over sea.
mark Proctor
12. mark-p
I wondered why as well. It always seemed very sad that he never returned.
That is one of the paragraphs (and other parts with similar feelings) that stood out to me when I read lotr when I was younger for some reason.
I often think to my self "will ever I come back here?", when I am leaving a place which is important to me.
rick gregory
13. rickg
Another thing... remember that we don't KNOW what he did in any detail after the LotR story ends. While it might be fun, it's also somewhat pointless to speculate on things that are not only unknown but that cannot be known since they didn't really happen. There's no possibility of finding artifacts that settle the question one way or another.
14. DBratman
The perception of Lorien as perilous comes across more clearly when you get to see what the Rohirrim have to say about it. As Aragorn makes clear in the first instance, it's a function of the suspicions than outsiders bring to it, though those outsiders think it's the other way around. This is one of those hidden ironies Tolkien specializes in.

I don't find it too hard to believe that Haldir does not at first realize the Fellowship aren't tightrope walkers. As Legolas is, clearly it's one of those Elven things, and he has probably had little contact with other folk.

Aragorn's comment on discovering Frodo's mithril shirt is a clear echo of the nursery rhyme "Baby Bunting," only one of a surprising number of such echoes in the book.

DemetriosX @5: "I can no longer see Haldir as anything other than the very swishy elf from the movies." And their defenders say the movies cause no harm. Hah! You know what I can't do? I can't read the first line of Legolas's Lay of Nimrodel without continuing as it does in Bored of the Rings. That's how much that book rotted my mind in youth.

DemetriosX and pericat @7: Aragorn commends considerable respect in Lorien. Without that, Gimli would not have been admitted at all, blindfolded or otherwise.

Erunyauve @10: Good observation on Boromir's failing. He's not inherently evil, but a good man who goes wrong. It's salutary to watch that happening.
15. sps49
I was not conscious of the water theme here; thanks! I do think this continues the "ivory tower" disconnect that most Elves had.
Andrew Foss
16. alfoss1540

- fad(es) to a winding track between heather and whin -

I also thought about this as I read it this time - and immediately saw images of Scotland from Treasure Island and Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.


- I don’t believe that remembering your lover will make you look like you’re wearing white clothes instead of travel garments.

JRRT was Catholic - and pretty Victorian in thinking - certainly they were not lovers. lol Wouldn't they wait until marriage??? LOLOL I just read Beren and Luthian in The Silmarillion - another odd pairing in a Catholic world where sex happens only in wedlock. Both would sacrifice and die for each other - up to facing down Morgoth - on the promise of a physical relationship in the future, as it is obvious Thingol will never suffer the relationship??

Erunyauve@10 - on Boromir - How old is he? It was commented on comparing him to Aragorn who is almost 80. Boromir is being protective of a "man" in his 50's and 3 "men" in their 30's (Pippin is 29). Age trumps size in most worlds, even when they haven't "come of age" in their own land.

Kheled-Zaram - my mind always sees Yosemite here and I want to jump in the ice cold water - Am I being dense. What are the stars in the reflection? Was this illusion explained elsewhere or are we accepting its beauty and magnificence and the breathtaking view that it is meant to be.

Also the stream /spring that is too cold to drink from - I giggle again.

Haldir - The writers of the movies were as dense about Elves as the men of Gondor, who hadn't read the series 50 times. - Also, did they run out of Elf actors in the Movies. I would swear the same guy meets up at the battle of Helms Deep. But that time I was so pissed at the plot departures that I was trying not to think about it.

In total - we came from the secret life of dwarves in Moria - Dark, ominous, stoney, craggy caves - to the secret life of elves in Lorien - light that cannot be described - as rich a contrast as Kansas in Wizard of Oz to Munchkinland - Alive with growth despite winter. I get lost in Lorien every time I read this section.

Gollum - still can't see how he caught up so fast. We are about to travel through Ithilien with him. Nothing about the way he travels is fast - only slippery and agile and COMPLETELY scared of the sun.
17. Erunyauve
alfoss1540 @16:
According to the appendix of RotK, Boromir was born in T.A. 2978. Thus, he is 41 (or 40, we don't know what month he was born in) years old. Faramir, as it happens, is 5 years younger than his brother.
Thus, Boromir is younger than Frodo and Sam, while being only a few years older than Merry and Pippin. I think you're right on the size thing, but you can't make the argument that Boromir is as old (even close) as Aragorn - remember that Aragorn served briefly Boromir's grandfather Ecthelion. While Denethor's year of birth is not given, I've always presumed that he and Aragorn were within a few years of each other in birth. Aragorn is a generation older than Boromir.
When it comes to Haldir, what actually comes to mind are the VSD - Haldir arrives with a bad weave and all that. I do have trouble visualizing Haldir as anything other than how he appears in the film. And yes, the Elf that shows up at Helms Deep in the film is supposed to be Haldir himself. Obnoxiously deviating from the book.
18. Jon Meltzer
Denethor's birth is given in Appendix B. Hé's one year older than Aragorn.
19. Iain Coleman
It bothers me that Boromir doesn't make the strongest argument for not going into Lothlorien:

"Look, guys, I don't know much about these woods, I'll admit. But I do know that they're ruled by a powerful Elvish sorceress. Is it really a good idea to bring the Ring to her? What if she takes it from us? What if our shortarsed Ringbearer - no offence, Frodo - decides on a whim to offer it to her? OK, Aragorn, so she's a member of the White Council. So was Saruman. If he has turned traitor, why not her? It's too great a risk."
20. legionseagle
Iain@19 An excellent point, and well-made. Furthermore (though it's unlikely that Boromir knew this) Galadriel isn't just any old Elven sorceress. She's an Elven sorceress with a history of student radicalism and revolt; effectively she's a Soixante-Huiter and she's banned from returning to Valinor while the dossier on her remains live.
21. DemetriosX
Re: the age thing. Frodo may be older than Boromir and the other Hobbits not that much younger, but in terms of maturity Boromir is still the elder. Frodo at 50-something is roughly equivalent to a man in his 30s. Pippin is not even of age at 29. Remember, Bilbo's birthday party also celebrated Frodo coming of age at 33. This doesn't excuse the paternalism, but it isn't quite as bad as if they were humans of the same age.

As for the no sex aspect of these romantic relationships, I don't know how much of it is JRRT's Catholicism rather than his reflecting medieval romances with their ideals of courtly love.
Terry Lago
22. dulac3
Just to reiterate what others have said in regards to the perilous nature of Lothlorien: this is indeed a longstanding characteristic of the nature of Faerie with which Lorien shares many qualities. "Perilous" need not mean "evil" simply "not completely safe to interact with" and that is indeed the case. No one can enter the Otherworld and return unchanged, and I believe that is the case for the Fellowship upon entering Lorien as well. We can see Lothlorien, and esp. interaction with it's Queen Galadriel, as a life-changing event that is a catalyst for each of the characters. Gimli's change to a true elf-friend, as both pal to Legolas and ardent admirer of Galadriel, really starts here. Boromir is confronted with his own inner demons, Aragorn must move further along the path of leadership and choice both within the Fellowship and in regards to his position as heir to Gondor, and Frodo will be confronted with some major decisions about the Ring. Boromir's fears are not unfounded, though they speak to the elements of his character that contribute to his personal failings (which he is luckily able to overcome in the end).

legionseagle @20: I think that at this point Tolkien had more or less rejected the notion of Galadriel as exile from Valinor being punished and unable to return and instead promoted the idea that she was willingly staying back in order to fight Sauron and the vestiges of Morgoth's influence...though I myself somewhat regret this as making her a little too perfect and think the idea of her instead making atonement for her part in the flight of the Noldor and only being 'forgiven' when she rejects the temptation of the Ring more compelling.

Being Catholic myself I don't see the utter strangeness of someone being able to truly love another prior to jumping in the sack with them and even being able to make life changing and difficult decisions as a result of that relationship. The converse of being able to sleep with someone you have no real feelings for at all is certainly a common enough reality that I don't think sex somehow makes a relationship more real.

Yeah movie-Haldir was way too swishy and I regret that (though not as mnuch as the crappy Dwarf jokes) but the tragedy is that despite this poor Celeborn still makes Haldir look like a robust he-man in comparison.

Erunyauve @10: Aragorn's name is Sindarin, not English, so the fact that "Hope" happens to be a female name for us does not mean it must be for them. Also, lots of names are cross-gender...not really sure why that should bug you.

Boromir and the hobbits: as DemetriosX said hobbits have a different rate of maturity than humans so looking at strict age-in-years isn't really accurate. Merry & Pippin at least are still very much kids (tweens I believe is the word Tolkien uses) and for all of Frodo's 'mature' wistfulness and Sam's hard-headed common sense they are very much not "men of the world" and I'm sure that shows to Boromir. You can argue that his "paternalism" is a bit patronizing, but the hobbits have been consistently shown to underestimate the dangers they are in even when directly faced by them and perhaps he was able to see this in them and, given the importance of their quest, felt that someone had to keep a very close watch over them. Sometimes taking care of someone else, even when they think they don't need it, isn't a bad thing.
Kelly McCullough
23. KellyMcCullough
I've always imagined that Boromir's reaction to Lorien is rather predicated on all the Queen of Elfland tales that men who have become mostly estranged from the elves have been concocting. I occasionally imagine a Middle-Earth alternate Le Belle Dame though that's clearly a bridge to far.

I guess I'm going to stick in a minor counter-theme on the movies, and say that I quite enjoy them despite being a lifelong fan of the books. In part, that's because I never expected them to follow the books in more than rough outline--more as if the screenwriter were trying to write their own version of the underlying events and material rather than trying to map a book one-to-one onto the screen. Adapting any literary work to the stage or screen is a task that is likely to involve a lot of alteration and especially so if it's longer than a novela simply for length reasons as 1 page = about 1 minute of staging. But more than that, the two different mediums speak very different artistic languages and that has all kinds of consequences for the transfer. Now, I know that it can be done accurately, but I think that's much more a function of some books being naturally cinematic than it is of better movie-makers.

There are things I don't like about the movies, and I certainly don't begrudge anyone simply hating them, but overall I felt they were successful at what they were.
24. JWezy
I have been a fan of the books for over 40 years, but I am also a big fan of the movies. They attempt to tell a similar story, but in markedly different ways, and necessarily diverge.

I won't pretend I like all aspects of the movies - I thought the transplanted Elves at Helms Deep was not a good choice, for instance. However, neither do I feel that the books are perfect - Tom Bombadil, for instance, is a complete diversion that adds nothing lasting to the story (IMO) and does not even fit in well with the mythos. Personally, I thought that was a good choice to leave out of the movie.

And what about Ghan-Buri-Ghan and the men of the forest - what is their purpose other than providing something to write about in that chapter? Did that section really provide any doubt as to whether Rohan would arrive, or materially change the manner of their arrival?

One thing I thought the movies did well was to integrate a lot of ancillary material about the Elves, and to bring home the sorrow of the Elves, that though they are immortal, this only means that they must endure to watch all things of the material world change and fade. To be doomed to be a part of the world yet immortal, outside entropy yet forced to behold its ravages, is truly not to be envied. This is not something LOTR bring to the fore (it is not their story, after all), but without it some of the core conflicts and issues make only limited sense.
25. Erunyauve
dulac3 @ 22:
I am not bugged now so much about Aragorn's childhood name, but it really kinda bugged me when I first read it, i.e. when I was a kid. The teasing of the other children didn't help.
As for Boromir's paternalistic attitude towards the hobbits, yes I know that sometimes they do need looking after - I never said they didn't. After all - sometimes a paternalistic attitude is very needed and important. However, the trick to being a good parent/parent stand-in is knowing when to turn off the paternalistic attitude and stepping back. Boromir's chief failing - and I completely agree with DBratman @ 14 here - is that he's a good man who is in a situation that should never have been presented to him. He is a very proud man (with good reason, I might add), and he isn't flexible enough to recognize the fact that there is value in people/thoughts/ideas/ways of living outside of his own sphere of knowledge. His failure is one of imagination, not one of courage, strength, or really even character. I think this is really where Tolkien's religion was showing through here - if you cannot have faith (hope/imagination) that you are saved, then nothing else can help you and you will fall into darkness. Boromir, though a good man, was a man of limited vision who lacked the necessary faith and thus he fell to the Ring and was destroyed. Though it is something that Jackson inserted, I do like the scene in Lorien where Boromir and Aragorn are talking and Boromir says, "It has been long since we had any hope." Spiritually, Boromir is a defeated man. He doesn't believe that Frodo could succeed and thus, when push comes to shove at Amon Hen, he breaks. However, his attitude - that the hobbits need looking after - is part of it. I always read the initial part of that confrontation between Boromir and Frodo (before Boromir angrily says that he is no thief) as Boromir addressing Frodo in the way that we would address someone who is 10 or so - old enough to grasp what is going on, but not old enough to fully get it. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your perspective), Frodo is not 10, he's past 50 (which, as DemetriosX @ 21 says, means that he is effectively a late twenty-something/early thirty-something) and thus he is not receptive to this type of argument.
Iain Coleman @ 19: Totally, totally agree. I don't know why he doesn't make this argument - I suppose it must boil down to the Law of Narrative Causation.
26. Francis Burdett
DemetriosX @ Unfortunately, I can no longer see Haldir as anything other than the very swishy elf from the movies.

dulac3 @ Yeah movie-Haldir was way too swishy and I regret that (though not as mnuch as the crappy Dwarf jokes) but the tragedy is that despite this poor Celeborn still makes Haldir look like a robust he-man in comparison.

So you are saying there are no "swishy" "he-men" :-)

The NZ actor who played Haldir is Craig Parker and is gay.

He looks pretty hot in the publicity stills in the link in my opinion.

However even I noted when I saw him on screen something like "dang, look at the wig on her"
27. legionseagle
I liked Craig Parker's comment in the "Making Of..." documentary that he had to work at making Haldir heroic and memorable, otherwise he risked being thought of as "the short, fat Elf".

Fond as I am of the films, I think the elf hair was more or less unfortunate throughout. I felt particularly sorry for the elf who had to try and restrain Arwen from bolting back to Rivendell. Bad wig and mascara, both.

But apropos Elves being "swishy" I think they should have stuck with book canon, and had the first line uttered by an Elf in the whole thing be "Bilbo Baggins on a pony? Isn't it delicious, my dear" so as not to offend Elf purists.
Terry Lago
28. dulac3
KellyMcCullough @23: At the risk of turning this into a book vs. movie debate instead of commentary on the re-read: I certainly agree that a movie is not a book and any attempts to slavishly copy a book, page by page, onto the screen is doomed to fail. I also liked quite a lot about the movies and don't hate them by any means; they are different media with different demands. That being said, however, (you knew there was a "however", right?) I think the movie should still stay true to the spirit of the book (and, as much as possible, to the content). I thought they did an excellent job of this with the Fellowship...making changes that made sense, but remaining very true to the books. It's with the other movies where they not only elided things from the books (such as Tom Bombadil) which they thought didn't add directly to the plot, but either added or significantly changed things (with little justification IMHO) that they got on my nerves. These changes would include Gimli-as-butt-of-jokes-simpleton, Frodo dragged half way back to Gondor by supposedly 'realistic'-Faramir, and ghost-army winning the Battle of the Pelennor fields instead of the courage of Gondor and valiant charge of Rohan. Good movies overall, but many of these changes weren't, I think, necessary to make the movie work as a movie and drastically changed fundamental elements of Tolkien's story. End of rant.

Erunyauve @25: I generally agree with you, at least in regards to Boromir's failings. He was his father's son after all and thus shared somewhat in the despair (one of the most unforgiveable sins for a Catholic) that led to his father's downfall, as opposed to his brother Faramir who retained hope even in the darkest moments.
Andrew Mason
29. AnotherAndrew
Legionseagle@6 and 8: 'whin' certainly can mean gorse. Is the kind of whin you're familiar with prickly? For me the primary assciation of 'whin' is the Lyke Wake Dirge, 'the whins will prick ye to the bare bane'.

Dulac@22: Tolkien certainly did change his mind about Galadriel's backstory as you say, but my memory is that this happened some time after he wrote LOTR (possibly precisely to block the argument that the fellowship should have distrusted her?) (I think this is a sign of the danger of using Unfinished Tales and HoME as a guide to what really happened; Tolkien may at different times had had different ideas of what really happened, all of which are consistent with the published material, and there's no way of saying which is right.)
30. DBratman
Dulac3 @22: "Perilous" need not mean "evil" simply "not completely safe to interact with"


Gimli: "I thought Fangorn was dangerous."

Gandalf: "Dangerous! And so am I, very dangerous: more dangerous than anything you will ever meet, unless you are brought alive before the seat of the Dark Lord. And Aragorn is dangerous, and Legolas is dangerous. You are beset with dangers, Gimli son of Gloin; for you are dangerous yourself, in your own fashion. Certainly the forest of Fangorn is perilous - not least to those that are too ready with their axes; and Fangorn himself, he is perilous too; yet he is wise and kindly nonetheless."
Andrew Foss
31. alfoss1540
Elf Friends - We mentioned this before - Frodo was named Elf Friend back in the Shire and again in Rivendell. Aragorn is an Elf Friend - and is noted as such by the guards. Looking at Elf Friends of old (Beren, Hurin, Turin et al) what constitutes Elf Friend, what does it mean, does naming them such give them a special smell - that lingers like the mithril artwork outside the West end of Moria? Or is one just lucky that other elves have heard of them?

Racism - We talked about this before in reguard to JRRT and the Black Riders. I feel that the elves of Lorien act truely racist - toward Dwarves. It seems more than just an old score to settle. Dwarves were getting the same treatment as Orcs. Things change later, but it starts feeling the same as "Back of the Bus" and "coloreds only" racism to me.

Movies - As for the movies - I enjoyed them (at least the first 2) and have allowed many of the images to shape my own. The movies encouraged me to reread the series at least 4 times - during each movie release and then some. But some of the changes were unforgivable. I cannot watch ROTK without turning it off in disgust multiple times. And the Dwarf Humor is offensive.
32. DBratman
legionseagle @ 20: Galadriel isn't just any old Elven sorceress. She's an Elven sorceress with a history of student radicalism and revolt; effectively she's a Soixante-Huiter and she's banned from returning to Valinor while the dossier on her remains live.

Leaving aside the question of the certainty of Galadriel's backstory, it's useful to remember that according to this one she's been spending the last several thousand years trying to make up for that. Now's her chance. Reading The Silmarillion makes it clear why the Elves in The Lord of the Rings are so humble, even passive: They've learned their lesson. They've seen where over-certainty and arrogance get you, and they're not going there again.

dulac3 @22: Agreed about Aragorn and Arwen. The idea that they would have needed to have sexual relations before declaring their commitment would have struck Tolkien as risible. That, in his view, is something that grows from commitment. He married his own wife without giving her a test run in bed, and without doing a genetic analysis to find out what her children would be like, either. You trust in God, and the power of love, and your own faith in your commitment to make marriage work.

Kelly McCullough @23: Also trying to avoid rant, but the question isn't whether the book needs to be changed to be adapted into a movie - obviously it'll be abridged, for one thing - but whether the changes made were necessary or well-advised for the purpose. As Tolkien himself says somewhere, if a book can only be adapted to film by demolishing it (in this case, by altering its spirit so drastically), it would have been better to pick some other book better suited to the filmmakers' vision.

JWezy @24: Your complaints would be valid in an plot-oriented book pointed firmly at its own ending, a book you read to get the storyline and then have done with it. The Lord of the Rings is not that sort of book. Bombadil's "function", if he can be diminished so by demanding one, is to ground the story in the earth and remind both the hobbits and the reader of what's at risk here. So do the opening Shire chapters, which is why they're so long. Bombadil also serves the plot function of easing the story into the further strangenesses to come, instead of dumping the heroes in head-first. This helps convey that they're traveling a great distance, both physically and conceptually. As for the Woses, Ghan-buri-Ghan's people, whether they help or hinder the Rohirrim is not that important to the plot (though it is morally). They're there to remind us that there is more to this world than the peoples we already know, and that those others live their own lives, not under the control of either Sauron or the West.

legionseagle @27: If that was Craig Parker's goal, it didn't work. Pity. Many of the films' actors were very good at their acting job, but not all.
33. DemetriosX
I feel somewhat compelled here to a) apologize for the threadjacking my throwaway comment has produced and b) point out that I really don't have any problem with Craig Parker's sexuality or Haldir's for that matter. It just really jumped out at me from the moment he first came on screen and some of the looks he exchanged with Legolas added some odd unintentional subtext to the movies.

Dulac3 @22 on "perilous" and DBratman @30 additions were a lot of what I was trying to say earlier. I think what Tolkien was trying to do here was give us a sense of how he viewed elves as apart from the Vitorian/modern kitsch concepts. There have been various discussions among the hobbits thus far about their nature, and here JRRT is reminding us that there may be a dark side to them as well. It also provides a little context for Éomer's comments later.
James Goetsch
34. Jedikalos
You write that the chapter did not do much for you. Yet it for some reason has always haunted my imagination since I first read it as a ten year old lo these many moons ago. It seemed (and seems) to me like a kind of dream in the middle of the tale, a picture of something truly wonderful and magical that Tolkein is able to evoke for me so clearly. When I think of the LOTR it is one of the first things I think of: Lothlorien.
Kate Nepveu
35. katenepveu
General comments first:

As far as not returning to Cerin Amroth--I ws thinking that it's still beautiful no matter who's living there, but I'd not fully taken into account that Arwen would probably have mixed feelings about returning to an empty Lorien, so, fair enough.

Also, clearly I should've said "beloved" rather than the ambiguous "lover," since I fully agree that they aren't having sex.

Finally, more on Lorien-as-Elfland next time.

bookworm @ #1, my immediate reaction is that self-realization from looking in Mirrormere is in a different kind of novel.

alfoss1540 @ #16, Chad (my husband) also commented on the too cold to drink spring, but I hate drinking really cold water and so found it perfectly natural. =>

No, I don't think the Mirrormere is ever explicitly explained; I conjecture that it's something Aule, the creator of the Dwarves, put there as a message to Durin.

Iain Coleman @ #19, it never occured to me that anyone should have objected to going into Lorien on the grounds that Galadriel was dangerous in proximity to the Ring. It's a good point. I can't see Aragorn agreeing with him, and so I don't know how effective it would be, but still, a good point.

DBratman @ #32, I would prefer it if you chose an axis other than "validity" to discuss a difference of opinion of the kind and magnitude offered by JWezy on Bombadil.

Jedikalos @ #34, it may be that dreamlike interludes are less my kind of thing. I never felt like I really comprehended the Lost Land interlude in _Silver on the Tree_, for instance.
36. DBratman
Jedikalos: I think most of what most readers remember about Lothlorien, the place, is from the next two chapters. Patience!
Kelly McCullough
37. KellyMcCullough
@ 32 DBratman, as I said, I have no objection to people hating the movies. That's every viewer's right. I just don't have agree with the people who feel that way. I believe the movies were very good at what they wanted to do, witness the fact that many people love them and that they were enormously successful both financially and in terms of critical acclaim. That what they did may not agree with what every fan of the books wanted them to do doesn't change the fact that for many fans of the books they were very satisfying and did not materially harm the story.
38. DBratman
Kate: I'm sorry if the word "valid" bothers you; I could have written "meaningful" or "well-taken" or something else entirely. But this is the kind of criticism that complains that a screwdriver does not make a very good hammer. Bombadil is separable, in the sense that if you're going to abridge the book for dramatization, he can be taken out with fewer threads left dangling than anything else, but a plot-oriented view of LOTR is always going to be frustrating, and lead to complaints that aren't ... whatever it is they aren't. The solution to that is either to learn to see the book for what it is (use the screwdriver for screws instead of nails) or just go read something else more to one's tastes (get a hammer).
Kate Nepveu
39. katenepveu
"Valid" implies that there's an external objective standard against which one's opinions of literature can be judged. And there isn't.

(Unless one's opinions are based in objective factual errors, e.g., the people complaining that Gaiman's _Books of Magic_ plagiarized the Harry Potter books. And yes, I'm aware that I'm edging toward making the same kind of decree that I'm objecting to you making in declaring "liking Bombadil" in a different category.)
40. legionseagle
Kate@39: Actually, if you want a good example of a factual error that isn't as open to the concern that it's a disguised form of subjective value statement, there was the claim that Peter Jackson named the second film "The Two Towers" because he was cynically cashing in on 9/11. And a very extraordinary review of the third film from some West Coast paper (I think San Diego but I could be wrong about this) which claimed that Shelob owed her origin to Jackson's fondness for 50's B movies and Eowyn got to chop the head off the Fell Beast because he'd been pressured by the feminist lobby to throw them a sop.

But even complaints of pure factual errors are probably coloured by the context through which one views them; there are some factual mistakes people can make about a book which I know are mistaken but which don't wind me up, and there are some which do.

And apropos of mistakes - fair cop, AnotherAndrew. A case where I was mistaking local usage for universal usage, I think.
41. DBratman
Kate @39: An actual opinion, "I liked this" or "I didn't like that," is inarguable, and I would never say it's invalid. In this case the critic went beyond that: the discussion was of the inherent qualities of the book that prompted the specific dislikes. The criticisms were accurate, in the sense that the book was not being misread, and the factors causing that reaction are really there, but they were invalid, in the sense that the problem appeared to be that this reader wanted a different sort of book, rather than a book that did its own job better. Returning to my previous metaphor: a criticism of a screwdriver for being a poor screwdriver may be disagreed with but is not invalid, but a criticism of a screwdriver for being a poor hammer may be inarguably correct, but it is invalid, because that's not what a screwdriver is intended to be. LOTR does not take a teleological view of its own plot, and readers who read it that way always have problems with it. For my part, I have problems with a lot of books that rush through things I'd rather linger over, but I recognize that's the kind of book they are.

Kelly @37: Sure the movies were very good at what they wanted to do, which was to make an action-adventure story stripped, as much as possible, of what makes Tolkien's book more than an action-adventure story. And viewers who wanted that, of whom there were many, have every right to be blissfully happy. I have no more objection to people loving the movies than you have to people hating them. The question remains what it was in my previous comment: were the specific changes made necessary or well-advised for the purpose? Jackson could have made just as good an action-adventure film without also whanging away at Tolkien's worldmaking integrity and moral sense in the manner which dulac3 @28 mentions only a few examples of.
42. Viviannn
Kudos to Kate for getting this post up before Friday. :) Thanks Kate.

When does Aragorn's mother make a pun on his name? Is that in LOTR or one of the other books?

Do you have particularly flavourless blueberries in the UK? I have to ask, because the concept of "bland" blueberries is one I can't wrap my mind around.

LOTR movies: I thought they got worse as they went along. Fellowship of the Ring was OK, I guess, but I was disturbed by the portrayal of Frodo as perpetually silent and staring, as if socially maladjusted. In the books he is quite capable of speech.

I came very close to walking out of The Two Towers when Jackson decided to revise the plot with a machete and have Faramir kidnap Frodo and Sam and drag them to Gondor. This doesn't only mutilate the character of Faramir, it takes all the sense out of the story. When Faramir realizes his mistake, he doesn't take them back to where he found them, or give them ponies for speed, no, he just lets them go, and they have to walk ALL the way back to Mordor on their short little legs. With this setback, how could they ever have destroyed the ring in time? Sauron would have won.

I was so disgusted by the first two movies that I didn't bother to see the third in theatres. It eventually came on TV, but I missed the first half (tuning in wasn't high on my priorities list), so I can't comment on that. As for the second half, I thought it was hilarious when Frodo and Sam were carried off by eagles. It looked so silly! So Jackson messed that bit up too.

The only change Jackson made that I thought was a good idea was giving Arwen more to do. And other than some pretty shots and atmospherics, I don't know what the movies have going for them.
Kelly McCullough
43. KellyMcCullough
@ 41 DBratman. I don't agree with that reading of the movies and their relationship to the books. What you call "whanging away" I call a mostly reasonable adjustment to fit the medium and story choices and a modern audience. Do I agree with everything that Jackson did? No, of course not. Do I feel that he did horrid things to the books? Equally no. Do I agree that a reading of the translation of one to the other as "whanging away" is privileged over a different reading? Again no.

For the record, I love the often languid pace and depth of world building of the original books. I love the poetry and Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire. Many things that I love about the books were cut in the making of the movie. At the same time, I have some understanding of what goes into making a successful fantasy movie and I expected to lose some major aspects of the original when it was made into a film. I even expected to have significant plot points rewritten because that's how movie-making tends to work. So, I was delighted that the movies kept as much of what I loved about the books as they did rather than the much more radical revision I expected.
44. legionseagle
Viviann@42 Compared to the whinberries of my childhood (an opinion reinforced by the rare occasions I've eaten them since) the blueberries I've tasted in Britain, Canada and the United States over the years are indeed bland: they taste like the remembered fruit of the Shadowlands, in The Last Battle as opposed to the taste of the trees behind the door, where in my case I would certainly expect to find whinberries. It's a purely personal preference, like whether one finds Tom Bombadil twee and embarassing or profound and world-shattering, but it's my preference.
Kate Nepveu
45. katenepveu
Viviannn, the pun's in Appendix A, Part I, section v. She tells Aragorn that she'll probably die soon because she can't face the gathering darkness, he says there may be light beyond, and she says something that translates as "I gave Hope to the Dunedain, I have kept no hope for myself," and dies within the year.
46. cmk
I agree that this wonderful series of discussions shouldn't get sidetracked onto "book vs movie" debates. I did enjoy the movies, pretty much by considering them as their own separate entity (which of course they are).

That said (saw that coming, didn't you?), it's one thing to cut Tom Bobadil and the Woses, for example. I can go either way on changing the role of the Army of the Dead. It certainly was cinematic, although it did take away what to me are some of the high points of RotK.

Completely re-writing the characters of Faramir and Denethor, though, was uncalled for and contributed nothing except to throw me wildly out of the story. I suppose we all have our points where we can't compromise on our vision.
Agnes Kormendi
47. tapsi
Iain Coleman @ 19

Most likely that sort of danger didn't even enter his mind. After all, Gandalf (who uncovered Saruman), Elrond and Aragorn all seemed to trust Galadriel and apparently he trusted them. Even around the Ring.

legionseagle @ 20

I don't think any of the Noldor were forbidden to return to Valinor after the defeat of Melkor, though certainly there weren't that many original rebels left. And even if Galadriel had still been banned from returning, I don't see Boromir knowing this; after all, he's not that interested in ancient lore -- he (and Faramir) didn't even know what Imladris was (see 'The Council of Elrond'). I don't think he knew much more about Lórien or Galadriel than Éomer confessed to knowing a few chapters later.

DemetriosX @ 21

Re: sex and medieval romances... some of them are ambiguous enough, to say the least. But I agree that Tolkien's heroes and heroines are chaste.

Viviannn @ 42

"I came very close to walking out of The Two Towers when Jackson decided to revise the plot with a machete and have Faramir kidnap Frodo and Sam and drag them to Gondor."

I just started swearing... That was such an unnecessary change.
48. Lsana
@47 tapsi,

At least according to the Silmarilion, the rebel Noldor were forbidden to return to Valinor, though that prohibition went into effect right after they left rather than an age later. Even without the Valar's orders, the barriers they put in place made it almost impossible for any ship to reach Valinor. The elves who left after Morgoth's defeat went to Tol Eressea (sp?) rather than Valinor.
Kelly McCullough
49. KellyMcCullough
This is me officially dropping the book vs. movie threadjack. My apologies.
50. Shireling
What a treat to read the comments here. Intelligent discussion exists on the Web! I have been a huge fan of LOTR (poems, songs, Bombadil and all), since age 13, and through many re-readings. Yet some of the insights shared here have made me see an old friend in a different way.

legionseagle@44: Your whinberries sound a lot like our Canadian wild blueberries. Not the bloated, blander, cultivated fruit in supermarkets. Wild blueberries are tiny and bursting with flavour. They only grow in a cold climate, AFAIK. Could the two possibly be the same thing?

As for book vs movie: The first two movies had me wincing at the liberties taken. By the third, I just settled in to enjoy it for itself. The inclusion of a lot more genuine JRRT dialogue in the third made it much easier to like. One thing the movies did was capture the feeling of Tolkien's world. Peter Jackson introduced that world to many people who had never read the books. Many new Tolkien fans were created (never a bad thing). And come on people, Edoras was PERFECT.
Kate Nepveu
51. katenepveu
Hey guys--I don't object to discussion of the movies here, of course, but I am thinking about doing posts specifically on the movies at the appropriate points, so don't feel that there won't be opportunities.
52. legionseagle
Shireling@50: I've just done a bit of digging and they certainly seem to be related: the whinberries are vaccinium myrtillus and your wild blueberries seem to go by the scientific name of Vaccinium angustifolium so they certainly seem to be kissing cousins. Very similar soil types and climate conditions, too.

And in a desperate bid to rescue this thread from yet another derailment, I'm quite sure that Lothlorien Cobbler - stewed whinberries sweetened with wild honey and topped with a lembas-crumb topping, served with clotted cream - was invented on the spot by Celeborn and Galadriel's cook, as soon as the word was passed that they had no less than four hobbits to feed.
53. legionseagle
Incidentally, am I the only one to read "he left the hill of Cerin Amroth and came their never again as living man" as an indication that his bones came there? After all, it was where Arwen was buried and you would have supposed they'd have wanted to be buried together.
54. DemetriosX
legionseagle @53 Aragorn's bones definitely didn't go to Lothlorien. It's stated in the appendices that he was laid to rest in the burial hall of the kings (or whatever they called it) and that Merry and Pippin were put there next to him. That's working from memory, but I'm pretty sure of my facts. (Going to have to dig the books out soon.)
55. legionseagle
DemetriosX: Appendix B says that "It is said that the beds of Meriadoc and Pippin were set beside the bed of the great king" and Appendix A says "And long there he lay, an image of the splendour of the Kings of Men in glory undimmed before the breaking of the world". However, neither of those statements are conclusive that he stayed there (unlike the statement about Arwen's grave, which clearly is "for ever and ever, amen" or, to use Tolkien's expression "until the world is changed").

Furthermore, since the Appendices date from later than the main body of the text, the phrase "Never came there again as living man" might have been intended to foreshadow a burial in Cerin Amroth which Tolkien later changed his mind about. But it's very sloppy use of language if it's simply a fancy way of saying "and he never came there again."
Clark Myers
56. ClarkEMyers
I took the phrasing to mean the place was to be so changed during his lifetime as to make moot any return - that is one of the places intended to pass away in the change of age and quite promptly.

I suppose the bald statement that with the destruction of the ruling ring the sustaining ring would stop sustaining nearly so well and that which had been sustained would decline could have been worked in. The language used is in tune with the change from Strider as hidden to Aragorn as leading figure and even shaper of the change.

Much in the manner of the ante-bellum south for those who favored that place and time FREX there where soul.....
Terry Lago
57. dulac3
legionseagle @55: I'd hardly call it sloppy wording. I think the term you're looking for is poetic.

I think it is simply meant to underline the importance of the place to Aragorn emotionally and the fact that this was the last time he ever went there and experienced it in a way analagous to when he met Arwen there. Whether he went there again after the War of the Ring or not it had, by that time, changed irrevocably. It's a repetition of the theme of loss and change in the world that Tolkien was always at pains to express.
58. legionseagle
dulac3: "never came there again as living man" is an authorial statement. I am absolutely convinced that if Tolkien had meant that the living Aragorn had come to Cerin Amroth but found it immeasurably changed he would not have used that phrase.

However, what does "as living man" add to the sentence "never came there again"? Well, it implies that Aragorn did come there in some sense, though not in the flesh. I'm trying to explore what sense Aragorn can have come to Cerin Amroth other than as a living man. Frodo has a sense in this chapter that when his bodily self had left Lorien he will continue to walk there in some sense, but this appears to be an artefact of him, as ring-bearer, reacting to Galadriel as ring bearer, though it's possible that Aragorn suddenly going visibly white (clothing wise) and looking a lot younger is because the Aragorn Frodo is seeing is the younger Aragorn who is still there from his last visit, superimposed over the corporeal Aragorn who entered Lorien this time round. And, therefore, it's possible that both the Aragorns leave shades or memories behind when the living Aragorn departs, and those shades linger on in some sense. But I'm working on the basis that a question-begging phrase like "as living man" was intended by the author to have some meaning as a distinction.
59. DemetriosX
Another possibility is that Tolkien wanted to suggest something along the lines of Aragorn's and Arwen's spirits wandering Cerin Amroth after their deaths. There is a great mystery as to what happens to the souls of dead humans (and presumably those elves who have made the same choice as Arwen) as opposed to what happens to those of elves.

Or it could be that he is simply being overly poetic. Lothlórien is one of those places where he uses a shift in language patterns to convey atmosphere. We have here a lot of elevated, fancy, almost Spenserian phrasing that is meant to evoke medieval romances. This is in keeping with the atmosphere of elves in general and Galadriel especially. Once the Fellowship leaves the elves, the language will go back to something more standard until we are among the Rohirrim.
60. MTG
Kate, just wanted to say how much fun I've had over the past week catching up on the posts and accompanying comments. Great insight both from yourself and the many insightful commentators.

I agree that little actually happens in this chapter, but I always loved the piece about Kheled-zaram. As far as I can recall, it's the only time in the book that we get an insight into the spiritual tradition of Dwarfs, and it's wonderfully affecting. Any time I see a mountain mere or loch, I think of it. Another favourite is when Gollum sniffs around the bottom of the tree - wonderfully creepy.

Legionseagle@53, Demetriosx@54 - my own take on the the line about Aragorn never coming there again "as living man" was always that it was put there as a contrasting note, that the place was eternal and he was mortal (and fleeting). So, poetic in a sense, but not meaninglessly so.

Following on from earlier discussions of contrasts and juxtapositions in the book, that's also how I always saw this chapter. After the dark, enclosed, lifeless and fiery world of the past few, we get light, life, space, growth and clean water. It always seemed very deliberate to me. I can't recall whether it was laid on rather thick, but it's been a while.
61. Elaine T
There is a lot of water in this chapter. And, except for the story of Nimrodel and Amroth, it’s all benign or even healing water, to wit

Somewhere I remember reading a commentator (in a book) comparing Lorien and the rivers that guard it to the medieval and Biblical descriptions of Paradise. It was darn convincing when I read it. When they enter the Naith they're entering earthly Paradise. That's why the emphasis on unstained, I think.
Kate Nepveu
62. katenepveu
legionseagle, re: Aragorn's ultimate grave: I can't bring myself to parse that line in that depth when we have a _non-omniscient_ narrator relating things that only an _omniscient_ narrator could have known in the "Tale of Aragorn and Arwen"--if she dwelt in Lorien alone, how do we have these touching details about her death?

I apologize for falling down on my analytic duties.

MTG, thanks very much.

Elaine T, comparing Lorien and the rivers that guard it to the medieval and Biblical descriptions of Paradise--that makes much sense to me. Thanks!
63. firkin
#61: comparing Lorien and the rivers that guard it to the medieval and Biblical descriptions of Paradise

similar also to Doriath in the Silmarillion, bounded and crossed by a number of rivers, and hidden and protected by the powers of Melian the Maia; none could pass the borders without her knowledge and permission.
64. debraji
kate @62 re: non-omnisicient narrators and unknowable details

As I see it, Bilbo and Frodo wrote the bulk of the Red Book of Westmarch; and Sam touched it up a little at the end, after Frodo left. Merry added background information on the origins of pipeweed (a hobby of his). And down through the years, various scribes have added their touches as they copied out the manuscript, mostly in the appendices, tacking on legends, linuistic essays, and the like. Tolkien was merely the latest of these.
65. debraji
Ack! For "linuistic" read "linguistic".
Kate Nepveu
66. katenepveu
Yes, but as a scribe touching up the story, Tolkien-the-scribe would still be _making it up_ because _no-one_ could know what Arwen's death was like.

Of course Tolkien-the-author is making it *all* up, but there's a suspension of disbelief issue here.
67. CathWren
delurking here to defend Boromir.

First: There is a difference between age and experience. This has been highlighted by others who pointed out that Frodo's hobbit 50 is more like man's 40 or even younger and the Tweenness of Merry and Pippen. But also, the hobbits have lived sheltered lives with nothing but old stories to tell them of the harshness of the world. Boromir was born and raised in a place on the edge of war and has spent his whole adult life in the war. He is a war leader; he is also the son of the ruler and would expect to rule after Denethor. He is a leader and a good one. A good leader guides his people, and protects them, if necessary. This is not necessarily paternalistic.

As a 40+ year lover of all things Tolkien, I have to say that he completely fell off the horse when it came to Boromir. Tolkien "tells" us that Boromir is a noble man, a great man, but what he "shows" us is a proud loser. And this is, IMO, the greatest thing Jackson and Bean did -- they showed us both sides of Boromir, his pride AND his nobility. In Moria, as Gimli kneels weeping by Balin's tomb, Boromir comes to him and grasps his shoulder is sympathy, if not shared grief. He is the only one that acknowldeges Gimili's loss. The others just stand around looking scared.

With dozens of readings of LotR over the years, I never could like Boromir. I may not have voted him off the Fellowship but I was never sorry when he died either. After seeing the FotR movie, I reread the book expecting to like Boromir more now that I was "older." Instead, I found nothing but examples of his pride and arrogance just as I had remembered them.

Whatever other travesties may have been in the movies, I'll always be grateful to Jackson for showing me the Boromir that Tolkien told me about.

relurking now with thanks for the great time Kate is giving us
Chris Meadows
68. Robotech_Master
The whole "too cold to drink from" spring puzzled me, too, especially given how in the last chapters Gandalf warned against drinking from streams in Moria. You'd think that a cold, pure elf spring would be just the thing after that. And if they couldn't drink it now, they could have refilled their waterskins (undoubtedly empty after their Moria sojourn) and let it warm up!
Kate Nepveu
69. katenepveu
CathWren @ #67 (just for the record, at this point): I never really had an opinion on Boromir until the movies, when I was startled to find how compelling Sean Bean and the little script additions made him.

Robotech_Master @ #68, am I the only person who gets ice-cream headaches from really cold water? Though I'm not sure the text outright rules out them filling their waterskins from the stream; I don't think we really get much discussion of water sources until Moria?
70. (still) Steve Morrison

No,you're certainly not the only one.

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