Jul 21 2009 1:44pm

LotR re-read: Two Towers III.6, “The King of the Golden Hall”

cover of The Two TowersWe come to the midpoint of the first book of The Two Towers with chapter 6, “The King of the Golden Hall.” After the jump, the usual spoilers for all of The Lord of the Rings and comments.

But first, a silly graph: Characters in The Lord of the Rings and Miles Vorkosigan, by Height. (It’s the last item that makes it for me.)

What Happens

Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli ride to Edoras in Rohan. At the doors of Meduseld, the King’s golden hall, the Doorward Háma directs them to leave their weapons. Aragorn has to be persuaded to leave Andúril, and Gandalf cannot be persuaded to leave his staff, so Háma trusts his judgment and allows him to keep it.

When they enter the hall, they find Wormtongue counseling a bent and aged Théoden King not to trust Gandalf or Éomer. Gandalf bids him be silent and makes the hall darken through a storm, complete with lightning. Gandalf invites Théoden to come outside the hall’s doors. He does and, at Gandalf’s direction, casts away his own staff and stands straight.

Théoden tells Háma to bring Éomer, imprisoned for threatening Wormtongue. While they wait, Gandalf tells him something of hope for the future, though not of the Ring itself. At Éomer’s arrival, Théoden calls the Riders to arms. Gandalf tells him that he has already taken his counsel: “To cast aside regret and fear. To do the deed at hand.”—namely, by seeking to destroy Saruman’s power by riding forth immediately while the women, children, and elderly take refuge in the mountains.

Wormtongue is brought before Théoden and attempts to avoid going to battle by staying as a steward. Gandalf accuses him of having been bought by Saruman, in part by a promise of Éowyn, Éomer’s sister, and tells Théoden to judge him through his choice between riding to battle or leaving. Wormtongue spits on the ground and flees.

They eat, discuss Saruman’s treachery, and give and receive gifts: Shadowfax to Gandalf, and armor for the warriors. Aragorn is troubled by his interactions with Éowyn. Théoden names Éomer his heir, since his son was recently killed, and names Éowyn as leader in his absence at the suggestion of Háma. The men ride away as Éowyn stands alone and watches.


I don’t know if it’s the post-Readercon busyness and blahs, guys, but I’m not really excited by this chapter. A lot happens in it—I’ve been pleasantly surprised to realize that the pace of this book is quite brisk—and I have notes, but nothing that really fired me up to write. So let’s see how this goes.

* * *

On the trip there, I infer that Aragorn must be preparing to deal with Théoden as an equal under his true name, to explain his staying awake after the hard journey when Gimli and Legolas sleep.

Though some of Tolkien’s theories of language are nonstandard, I do like that he realizes that languages diverge along with population movement and that the Rohirrim would now have their own language. So many fantasy novels have a handy uniformity of language across a continent, which just doesn’t work when it comes to humans.

Do any of our language experts here have links to or examples of poetry that “Where now is the horse and the rider?” is modeled after? Would it be related to why Tolkien only gives the poem translated—the Internet claims that “Westu [name] hal” is Old English, so would the untranslated poem be basically Old English? (By the way, until now, I always mis-read “hal” as “hai”; it just looked more probable to me.)

* * *

Arriving at Edoras, and another example of insularity being bad, with Wormtongue being behind the refusal to give entry to anyone who does not know their language or come from Gondor.

We’ve discussed the bit at the door with the weapons a couple times before. *rummages* First, Graydon commented that “In handing over Glamdring, Gandalf is handing over the more famous, and better sword, compared to Narsil/Anduril,” and discusses its lineage. In the chapter, Aragorn says that “Telchar first wrought [Narsil] in the deeps of time,” which prompted me to search my e-book for “Telchar”; I didn’t find anything else in LotR under that name (perhaps the making was discussed in more general terms), but The Silmarillion says that Telchar was a dwarf, which surprised me because I’d always vaguely assumed that Narsil was of Elvish make. Second, Firefly described how “The arrival at Meduseld in fact closely mirrors passages in Beowulf,” and how the demand to disarm is actually a serious insult that requires appropriate response—which I found very useful because, you know, I don’t go around armed and neither do most people I know, so my attitude toward weapons in my home is rather different than that of the characters here. I admit without that context I found Aragorn’s behavior unusual, though I liked that he was able to still laugh when Gandalf refused to give up his staff.

* * *

Wormtongue. I hadn’t noticed before that his physical description, upon introduction, contains a small amount of ambiguity: “a wizened figure of a man, with a pale wise face and heavy-lidded eyes.” Unless this is some archaic non-positive use of “wise”?

His initial comment doesn’t give a good impression of his wisdom or effectiveness, but then he’s been saddled with As-You-Know-Bob’ing recent history: “You speak justly, lord. It is not yet five days since the bitter tidings came that Théodred your son was slain upon the West Marches: your right-hand, Second Marshal of the Mark.” I actually liked his observation about a third kind of person who only shows up when there’s trouble: “pickers of bones, meddlers in other men’s sorrows, carrion-fowl that grow fat on war.” Don’t we all know someone who delights excessively in the misfortunes of others? And his persuasive efforts later in the chapter are somewhat better, when he tries to be left behind with the women (especially Éowyn), children, and elderly. But I still didn’t get the impression that he was, as Gandalf called him, “bold and cunning.” Instead I saw him, as Gandalf says later in that paragraph, a “snake,” or at least our stereotypes thereof: insinuating, clever, but not employing physical force and probably a coward—so, okay, not a constrictor but a venomous snake. A spitting one.

(I base the cowardice on his sprawling on his face when Gandalf summons the storm, as I refuse to believe that Gandalf directly forced him down.)

I see no textual evidence to support any magical source of his influence over Théoden. Indeed Gandalf reawakens Théoden much more easily than I’d remembered, and I wonder how that looks to those who don’t know he has the Ring of Fire to “rekindle hearts in a world that grows chill” (Appendix B). I also wonder what he said about hope that had them look East, since he explicitly did not tell him about the Ring. (I’m not going to do the math on Legolas seeing Minas Tirith and Mount Doom from Edoras; maybe the world really is flat except for where the Seas were bent to prevent people from going to Valinor.)

Speaking of Théoden, I don’t get a very strong sense of his personality from this chapter. Worn with care, determined, not as open-minded as his younger subjects to think that Éomer is the last of his House and forget Éowyn, but willing to leave her in charge upon being reminded. What about you all?

* * *

Éowyn. I don’t want to get too far in discussing what happens regarding her before we get there in the text, so I’ll just note the principal description of her here for reference.

Grave and thoughtful was her glance, as she looked on the king with cool pity in her eyes. Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver; but strong she seemed and stern as steel, a daughter of kings. Thus Aragorn for the first time in the full light of day beheld Éowyn, Lady of Rohan, and thought her fair, fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood.

Two things: I find the last clause a weirdly mixed metaphor. And I’m not sure what I think about “cool pity,” if that fits what I remember about what we learn about her relationship with Théoden later on, so I’m noting it for future reference.

Also, the end of the chapter is a wonderfully brutal reversal:

The trumpets sounded. The horses reared and neighed. Spear clashed on shield. Then the king raised his hand, and with a rush like the sudden onset of a great wind the last host of Rohan rode thundering into the West.

Far over the plain Éowyn saw the glitter of their spears, as she stood still, alone before the doors of the silent house.

All that stirring heroic display and departure and then bang down into the one left behind. I may have actually said “ouch” out loud instead of just thinking it.

* * *

Three final small notes:

Gandalf says “I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a serving-man till the lightning falls.” My emphasis—that removes the ambiguity from his prior description. Also, a great line.

Gimli and Legolas are almost entirely silent from the time they arrive at Edoras until the end. I have to say that I experienced the return to Gimli, as he walks along with his axe on his shoulder, saying, “Well, at last we set off!” with more relief than I’d expected. I don’t know if I’ll have the same reaction to Pippin and Denethor, but the change in tone was actually nice for a change.

Word looked up this chapter: “Faithful heart may have froward tongue”: stubbornly disobedient, unmanageable.

Oh, and you should take a look at Jo Walton’s post “Ambiguity in Fantasy,” I think you’ll find it interesting. I’m still chewing it over myself.

« Two Towers III.5 | Index | Two Towers III.7 »

Andrew Foss
1. alfoss1540
Kate - You mentioned Gimli and Legolas Sleeping while Gandalf was awake. Funny that Legolas did sleep

This chapter is hard knowing how badly it was emasculated in the movie. I guess it was an expensive set that they had to reuse where it shouldn't have been.

I love the descritpions in this chapter of the surroundings - The mounds of the fathers of Theoden, the stream that runs through the street - the design of the hall - gilded maybe, the design of the roof to allow smoke to rise through, lighting in the hall the tapestries. Always both rustic and dominant at the same time.

From here on out - Gandalf is badass Gandalf - I like him that way.
Jon Meltzer
2. Jon Meltzer
"Where is the horse and the rider" is similar to an Old English poem, "The Wanderer". (Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wanderer_(poem))

In Chapter 2 Aragorn tells Eomer that he knew Theoden, but we don't see any indication here that Theoden remembers him. (Left to fanfic, I guess.)
j p
3. sps49
I remember wondering why nobody in Rohan, including Theodred, ever looked at Grima as an undesirable influence.
Jon Meltzer
4. EmmaPease
Well we know Eomer considered him a bad influence and probably others, but, he had the king's ear. Also I suspect a lot of his advice was generally good except he probably advised against special military preparation and probably against Gandalf and for Saruman. Once Gandalf escaped and revealed Saruman's treachery then the bad advice probably came fast but that escape was only a few months ago (and Gandalf took Shadowfax which officially should have only been ridden by Theoden).
Jon Meltzer
5. DemetriosX
This is more of a setup chapter than anything else. Really, apart from Gandalf's brief argument with Wormtongue, there isn't much more here than character introduction and triggering of future plot events.

Hal would be cognate with hail (as in greetings, not frozen rain).

Telchar is interesting, because in ancient Greece there were stories about the Telchines, who were evil blacksmiths and wizards. I don't know if Telchar had a thoroughly positive presentation or if he was more like Mime in the Niebelungenlied.

Wise used as it is to describe Wormtongue probably maps more closely to what we think of as cunning or knowing. In the older Germanic languages that influenced JRRT here, it is connected simply with the word for "to know" and is found in words like wizard or wizened as well as wisdom. Not necessarily a positive connotation, but negatives as well.

Wormtongue's exposition is also related to the way he controls Théoden. By constantly restating things over and over, especially bad news, in the worst possible way, he keeps the king disheartened and in despair. It's a bit like hypnosis without the trance. Gandalf breaks through that with his own powers of persuasion, drawing on Théoden's inner core of strength. They probably look to the east for hope because that is where Minas Tirith is and that is where they would expect to find their best hope for defeating the coming evil. we probably get no real feel for Théoden's personality, because he only shakes off the cobwebs and becomes his real self at the end of the chapter.

Gandalf's comment about fire and death could be interpreted to mean there was a lot of death around him, rather than that he had died. OTOH, I've always been of the opinion that he did die after defeating the balrog.

sps49 @3. Both Théodred and Éowyn appear to have been consistently critical of Wormtongue as a bad influence. They were just unable to get anyone to listen to them. I'm not positive, but I think his connection to Saruman was known and Saruman's treachery was not yet known.
Charles Dunkley
6. cedunkley
The scene where Aragorn is forced to set aside Anduril is one of my favorite moments in the entire trilogy.

It must be no easy thing for Aragorn to set his sword aside. His family has kept this heirloom for so many generations waiting for their time to reclaim their status in the world.

Here, before Hama, I think we see Aragorn, a descendent of Numenor shine through the long-worn outer shell of Strider the Ranger, for the firt time.

I've always viewed Aragorn as believing Anduril to be essential to his regaining his throne. And while Glamdring may have the more presitgious history and lineage, it is Narsil/Anduril that Sauron himself remembers and fears.

Anduril is a rallying point of Man, not Glamdring, which represents the past that is already fading from Middle-earth.

To me, Anduril is as inseperable from Aragorn as Excalibur was from Arthur.

But then again, I've always viewed Aragorn and Gandalf as who and what Arthur and Merlin could have been had their fates been less tragic.

Also, I recall that Grima was, in the beginning of his service to Theoden quite useful and helpful. The man we see here, Wormtongue, isn't the man he once was before Saruman claimed him. Or at least that's the impression I remember, whether it was from Gandalf's musings or other info somewhere else.

ALso, I loved the descriptions of Eowyn. For what little time she gets in the book I think Tolkien really nailed her character. If this was written today by someone else, Eowyn would probably have ended up replacing Boromir and they they would have all set off after Frodo and Sam.

As it is, I like the journey Eowyn's character takes. Here we are first introduced to her and we see glimpses of her fears.
Jon Meltzer
7. Jon Meltzer
When even the guards are calling you by a derogatory name, you must not be that popular in Rohan.

In fact, Theoden is the only one that calls him Grima.
Tony Zbaraschuk
8. tonyz
The description and _feel_ of the chapter are important elements in its appeal. The grave-mounds of the old kings, the challenge at the gate, the silent city, and the oppressive darkness of Meduseld: all are key to the chapter and the journey. Tolkien excels at setting a mood, and it's great to see him doing stuff with language (nor is it coincidental that a lot of little comments about language history sneak into the book!) The poem is a different mood from the funeral lament for Boromir, and gives us some clues to the Rohirrim.

I like Legolas' comment about "Five hundred times have the leaves fallen in Mirkwood since then"; it gives you a reminder of the age of the Elves. Legolas may well have _met_ Eorl back when the Riders lived in the upper Anduin and north of Mirkwood.

Grima's clever, and suggestive, and Theoden is old and ill. It wouldn't be the first time that a cunning counselor gained altogether excessive power over someone, particularly if most of the time the advice was in line with what the someone wanted anyway. (There are probably echoes of Britain 1940 in this as well, and maybe of earlier days.) Eomer at least gets to the point of threatening to break the peace of the hall and kill Wormtongue in front of the king... what Eowyn thinks can only be guessed, but we know what Grima thinks he's going to get when this is over, and I think she knows what he thinks of her; she's too perceptive not too.

(Theoden's dead son Theodred is kind of the missing cipher in this whole riddle, but the heir's position must have been fairly important in the court. Was he a friend of Grima's to start with, or more in Eomer's camp?)

Gandalf does, I think, tell Theoden about the Ring. Later on he mentions to Theoden things about which even yet he cannot speak openly to him, implying -- it seems -- that he did speak of them to Theoden earlier, and this looks like the only real opportunity. "We have hope at which has not guessed" fits in too well with Gandalf's later speech in front of Minas Tirith about the Enemy not being able to guess that anyone with the Ring will try to destroy it.

Aragorn's reaction is even more exquisitely tormenting when you remember that, by rights, Theoden and all his people are just vassals squatting on Gondorian land. Theoden owes his land and his entire throne to Aragorn's _Steward_ (though Aragorn himself will graciously re-confirm and re-swear the Oath of Eorl with Eomer after the war is over), and denying your _liege lord_ the right to enter your hall with weapons is a great and grievous insult. And Aragorn has already announced his name and title to the Rohirrim -- remember his meeting with Eomer! -- so it's not like they don't know what they're doing (or should know, anyway; it may be doubted whether or not Theoden let Eomer get all the way through his report before throwing him into jail). Note Gandalf's legalistic little quirk "Didn't your guards announce our names?", which is intended to give Theoden the "out" of putting the blame on the guard's carelessness or maybe Grima's advice, rather than forcing Theoden to assume the responsibility.

And _Westu Theoden hal!_ is Old English, because according to Tolkien's "translator" conceit, the language of the Rohirrim, being similar to the ancestral speech of the Hobbits, was cast into a form similar to that of the ancestral speech of the language Westron was translated into. :)
Hugh Arai
9. HArai
About Telchar: He was supposedly one of the greatest smiths ever, and not only forged Narsil, but Angrist, the knife Beren used to cut the Silmaril from Morgoth's crown and the dragon-helm worn by one of the dwarven lords and later by the heroes of the house of Hador.
Jon Meltzer
10. EmmaPease
The Rohirrim as people were not vassals but free allies of Gondor so Aragorn even if the crowned king was not their liege lord (though once crowned king the land of Rohan reverted to Gondor unless, as Aragorn did, the oath was renewed).

Aragorn was also not yet King of Gondor that required the consent of the people of Gondor (or at least the lords).

As to why people didn't recognize him as Thoringil (or whatever name he took in Rohan). He had been Thoringil from 2957 until 2980 and only in the first part had he been in the service of Rohan. Theoden was 9 years old when he first started serving and might have only been a older teenager when Aragorn left for Gondor. Most people in Edoras were too young to remember Aragorn (and those like Theoden who were old enough probably didn't click that the Thorongil who had vanished heading south nearly 40 years ago was the same as this stranger claiming to be the heir of Isildur). I wonder if Aragorn debated showing up as Thorongil?

In Gondor the recognition was more likely but for many it might have been an Aha! moment and not necessarily something Pippin or Sam would have picked up on.
Jon Meltzer
11. DBratman
"would the untranslated poem be basically Old English?" It would indeed. As Jon @2 points out, it's specifically an echo of "The Wanderer". For the reasons tonyz @8 explains, the Rohirrim get to speak Anglo-Saxon. Specifically the Mercian dialect.

Re Wormtongue's pale wise face, all I can add is that Gandalf says, no doubt sarcastically, "You are held wise, my friend Wormtongue, and are doubtless a great support to your master."

It's worth remembering that his other name, Grima, is no honor either: it means mask, visor, or spectre.

"I see no textual evidence to support any magical source of his influence over Théoden." Certainly not! The possession by Saruman, or anything even remotely like it, is purely Peter Jackson's idea. DemetriosX @5 is good on this.

"Gandalf says “I have not passed through fire and death to bandy crooked words with a serving-man till the lightning falls.” My emphasis—that removes the ambiguity from his prior description." In the original text this was "fire and flood." Tolkien changed it precisely to remove the ambiguity. See Letters p. 201.
Hugh Staples
12. hugh57
EmmaPease @10: Given that Thorongil had vanished 40 years earlier, and that the people of Rohan had no notion that he was one of the Dúnedain, blessed with long life, anyone old enough to remember Thorongil would have expected to see an old man in his eighties if they saw him again at this point. Which Aragorn is, but he certainly doesn't look it. He appears to be a hale and hearty man in his thirties. If any of the older men of Rohan noticed a resemblance between Aragorn and Thorongil, they might have supposed that Aragorn was Thorongil's son, or even grandson.
Kate Nepveu
13. katenepveu
Hi, all.

Jon Meltzer @ #2, thanks for the link to the poem. I suspected it was something like that.

DemetriosX @ #5, besides that Dwarves are warlike and fierce fighters, Telchar doesn't seem to be presented negatively.

tonyz @ #8, good point about the dead Theodred being somewhat of a cipher. What was he like, what was his position like in the court? I have no idea.

Gandalf does, I think, tell Theoden about the Ring. Later on he mentions to Theoden things about which even yet he cannot speak openly to him, implying -- it seems -- that he did speak of them to Theoden earlier, and this looks like the only real opportunity.

I dunno, it seems like an awfully big risk, though you're right that "openly" could mean what you infer.

EmmaPease @ #10, thanks for looking up the chronology of Aragorn's past service in Rohan.
Jon Meltzer
14. Steve Morrison
What little is known about Théodred comes mostly from a section of Unfinished Tales called "The Battles of the Fords of Isen". Théodred was a close friend of Éomer and remained loyal to him even when he was out of favor with the King. This entry at The Thain's Book has a decent summary.
Jon Meltzer
15. MKUhlig
When I read the books it got stuck in my impressions that Eomer would have been the eldest, whereas in fact Theodred was 13 years older. That would be a significant amount and would seem to have made him close to a generation removed from Eomer and Eowyn - he was maybe 24 when they came to live at Edoras and Eomer was only 11 and Eowyn 7. I do not picture them forming a really close bond, since Theodred would mostly have been out riding and defending the Rohan while Eomer was still growing up.

I guess the fact that Eomer is the prescence we know from the book and Theodred is off stage must be why I placed Eomer in the leadership role.
Jon Meltzer
16. EmmaPease
One thing not directly mentioned here but consider

Feb 25 - Theodred killed
Feb 27 - Eomer sets out at midnight from the Westfold to pursue the Orcs
Feb 28 - News of Theodred's death reaches Edoras (not yet 5 days on Mar 2)
Feb 28/29 - Eomer destroys the Orcs
Feb 30 - Eomer starts back to Edoras
Mar 1 (or possibly Feb. 30) - Eomer returns to Edoras and is arrested
Mar 2 - Gandalf and co arrive at Edoras

Eomer did not know that Theodred had been killed when he left the Westfold and probably the first thing he learns upon arriving at Edoras is that his cousin and foster brother had been killed. This probably contributed to the outburst that caused him to draw steel on Grima.

I suspect that Theodred provided much of the training that Eomer received beyond the basics. Also any ideas on whether Theodred was married (we can be fairly sure he was childless); he was after all the king's heir and over 40?
Agnes Kormendi
17. tapsi
and denying your _liege lord_ the right to enter your hall with weapons is a great and grievous insult.

I can't remember what book I read it in, but apparently there was an Anglo Saxon custom called the king's peace that forbade the bearing of weapons in the hall. So it was not an insult at all - in fact, Aragorn could have expected it.
Jon Meltzer
18. Jon Meltzer
tonyz's argument was that Aragorn, being de jure King of Gondor, is Theoden's liege lord and thus king's peace was overridden in that case.

However, if Theoden had officially recognized a pretender to the throne of Gondor as its legitimate king, then Denethor would not have been too pleased. In fact he likely would have taken that as an act of war.
Agnes Kormendi
19. tapsi
In agreement with EmmaPease @ 10, I don't suppose the Rohirrim considered themselves as vassals of Gondor. I just wanted to draw attention to the fact that the request to lay down their arms before entering the hall wasn't actually very unusual or rude.

The Golden Hall is also a very Germanic / Anglo Saxon thing; the hall of Heorot in Beowulf is one example of a hall with a golden roof that represents the essence and the glory of the warrior society. I don't think this parallel is unintended, even though the stories touching on Meduseld are apparently a lot less symbolic (for example, it doesn't challenge evil monsters simply by existing).
Soon Lee
20. SoonLee
cedunkley #6:
That also is my recollection, that Grima/Wormtongue was not always evil.

Kate and others re: Telchar.
I remember that in "The Silmarillion", along with brief references to Telchar, there were also brief mentions of the interactions between the Noldorian elves and the Dwarves of Nogrod & Belegost, including the traffic in arms before relations soured between them. Elves didn't have a monopoly on the manufacture of named First Age artifacts.
Jon Meltzer
21. other alias
Just to let you know, the latest few posts are missing from the RSS feed, some posts don't have a links to the next one, and there's no link to the movie post on the index.
Kate Nepveu
22. katenepveu
The movie post is at the bottom of the index. I'll check the other things, thanks (all of which would be my fault, fwiw).
Jon Meltzer
23. Steve Morrison
The phrase which Tolkien uses, "froward tongue", occurs in the King James Bible's translation of the book of Proverbs. Does anyone know whether there is an earlier example anywhere?
Jon Meltzer
24. TA Widman
Just a quick comment on your question regarding wise, with regards to Wormtongue. At first I thought this might mean something akin to "wisened" which fits the description we are given of his looks. However, looking in the dictionary, the archaic meaning of the word is "having knowledge of magic or witchcraft" which I found fascinating and quite plausible. There are also quite a few variants which fit here too:
Shrewd; crafty
Rude and disrespectful; impudent
aware, cunning

With all that, which I'm sure Tolkien was aware with the word choice, it makes for an interesting character description. I cannot think of other examples on the spot, but this ambiguity in word meaning happens many time in Tolkien's writing...usually offering further insights.
Jon Meltzer
25. Judith Proctor
I think 'cool pity' is a wonderful phrase to describe how Eowyn looks upon Theoden.

She pities him, but she also respects the man he was and his position as king. She doesn't fuss over him, doesn't treat him as a helpless child. She stands back and gives him dignity by being dignified herself.
James Whitehead
26. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard

That's an interesting way to look at that phrase; which I like as well (reminds me of Shakespeare's 'cold comfort').

With Eowyn, at this point, I took it to mean more that she has distanced herself from Theoden 'cause she cannot bear to see what he has become.

He is no longer the grand, golden haired king of the Rohirrim. Saruman, through Wormtongue, has sapped is strength through self doubt pushing him almost past the point of no return with the death of Theodred.

Pity, to me, has always implied something less kind or caring than, say sympathy. It is why she is so thrilled to see Theoden emerge from his 'dotage' and is concerned that he might relapse.


PS - I, like you, came late to this re-read. I will, however, discuss/talk/debate any points you'd like; as this is my favorite series.
Jon Meltzer
27. Doctor Thanatos
Kato and Judith,

Pity, to JRRT, seemed to be something on a higher, spiritual level. The Valar took pity on the Elves; someone's heart was moved to pity; Niennor was the Valar of pity ...I think that pity in his use is not the same as what we think of i.e. "have pity on a poor wretch" or "pity tha fool."

Cold pity may read as a sympathy and understanding tempered by the coldness of Eowyn's emotional stunting brought on by her interactions with the worthy Grima...was she not described as touched with frost a few times?
Kate Nepveu
28. katenepveu
Doctor Thanatos, that's a very interesting point about the way Tolkien uses pity, in contrast to my idiom which tends to have a slight connotation of superior position. Though both uses also suggest to me a certain distance, which is the main thing I take away from that description of Eowyn.

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