Dec 9 2010 11:39am

LotR re-read: Return of the King VI.6, “Many Partings”

The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien We resume (finally, I know) the Lord of the Rings re-read with chapter VI.6 of The Return of the King, “Many Partings.”  Spoilers and comments—and a tentative plan for finishing this re-read—follow after the jump.

What Happens

Frodo asks Aragorn and Arwen for permission to leave soon. Aragorn says that the remaining Fellowship members will travel together, as they are escorting Théoden’s body back to Rohan. Arwen offers Frodo her place in the Havens and a white gem to aid him against the memory of fear.

Éomer returns; he and Gimli settle their dispute over the beauty of Galadriel when Gimli excuses Éomer for putting Arwen first. Théoden’s escort leaves Gondor, consisting of the Fellowship, the Rohirrim, Arwen, Faramir, Imrahil, and those from Lórien and Rivendell. On the way to Rohan, Aragorn proclaims that the Forest of Drúadan belongs forever to Ghân-buri-Ghân and his folk.

They attend Théoden’s funeral. After, Éomer is proclaimed king and announces Faramir and Éowyn’s engagement. Éowyn gives Merry a horn. Faramir, Imrahil, and Arwen remain at Edoras, Arwen saying a private goodbye to Elrond.

Gimli and Legolas go to the Glittering Caves; Legolas admits that only Gimli can do them justice. At Isengard, they find that Treebeard and the Ents have planted many trees but let Saruman and Wormtongue go, judging them now harmless. Treebeard says farewell and declines Aragorn’s suggestion that the Ents go east and search for the Entwives. Legolas and Gimli depart for Fangorn. Aragorn leaves the company near the Gap of Rohan.

Near the Misty Mountains, they encounter Saruman and Wormtongue. Saruman scorns their help and pity, hinting not-very-subtly at trouble in the Shire. Later, Galadriel and Celeborn take their leave, after lingering to speak mind-to-mind with Gandalf and Elrond.

They arrive at Rivendell in time for Bilbo’s birthday and tell him of their journey. Bilbo asks Frodo to finish his book. The four hobbits and Gandalf leave, Frodo and Sam feeling an urge to be home. When Elrond says farewell, he tells Frodo that next year at this time, he and Bilbo will be coming through the Shire.


So I have a confession to make. Not anything about why I’ve been gone so long—that’s really boring, just an absurd amount of work. Though I will say that I’m committing to a big push to get this entire thing done in the next couple of months. I’ve been tentatively scheduled to appear on a panel at Arisia, a Boston con, on the LotR movies; that’s in the middle of January, so it would be good if I were done actually re-reading and re-watching by then. I’m making this my free-time priority, and I think we can get pretty close, at least (these posts take more time than you might guess).

Anyway, my confession. I have a terrible weakness for book endings where we go around and spend time with all the characters and see how they’re doing and just hang out for a while. To the point where I once used to cope with really bad insomnia by re-reading the great hunks of pages at the close (and start) of David Eddings’ Malloreon series devoted to just that.

Right, now that I’ve thoroughly embarrassed myself, the point of that confession: I can’t help but love this chapter. While I complained about the slow pace of the beginning, and I remarked previously about how it’s weird that they defeat Sauron in Chapter Three of this book, I cannot tell whether this chapter wrecks the pace of the ending, because it is my mental equivalent of a down comforter and a cup of hot chocolate. I will say that I was vaguely surprised that they got as far as leaving Rivendell by the end, for what that’s worth. But what did you all think?

* * *

This chapter has a lot of foreshadowing of the two big things that are left, the Scouring and the Ringbearers’ eventual departure. I’d love to hear how people took these the first time through. On this re-read, I found them a little obvious, but of course I’m not a good judge of that.

Of the specific statements, I wanted to quote Arwen’s to Frodo: “If your hurts grieve you still and the memory of your burden is heavy, then you may pass into the West, until all your wounds and weariness are healed.” We’d previously talked about whether Frodo gained immortality from going to the West, and I don’t read this statement as conclusive either way. (I say no, he didn’t, because that was Sauron’s lie to the Númenóreans and death is Iluvatar’s gift to mortals.)

* * *

Arwen’s conversation with Frodo are her very first on-screen words, all the way here in the last half of the sixth and last book of the volume. They tell me that she’s kind and able to perceive Frodo’s trauma, and that’s it.

These are also her very last on-screen words in the main volume. My initial reaction was that it was a good choice to not show her goodbye conversation with Elrond, because that would be ridiculously difficult to do well. On the other hand, it’s all part and parcel of the really weird decision to put the most emotionally-intense portions of that story in the Appendices, which I have disliked more and more as we go. And, while typing, the thought popped into my mind, “Guy Kay could have done it.” So I don’t know.

I also wonder why Arwen chose to stay at Rohan rather than travel as far as she could with her family. I’d like to think that she and Éowyn struck up a friendship and had lots of conversations not involving men off-screen, but in my crankier moments I suspect that nothing in Middle-earth passes the Bechdel test, whether or not we see it. Probably it was just that they didn’t want to prolong the goodbye and had, after all, literally thousands of years to spend with each other before.

Finally, the choice of Lúthien. I never really thought about this until now. And I feel awkward saying this as a very happily married person who intended, and still intends, her marriage to be for life, but I don’t find it an obvious or an easy choice. I think it’s a difference in fundamental worldviews: I don’t believe in love at first sight, soulmates, destined true loves, or anything like that. I believe that the world is a big place and that, in theory, there are other people than Chad out there that I could be happy with. (The likelihood of finding one of them, however, I truly don’t care to contemplate.)

So the idea of giving up my family, my entire society, and oh yeah, immortality, for one person—that’s a seriously difficult decision from where I’m sitting. I find Lúthien’s choice easier to understand than Arwen’s, as Beren needed Lúthien in a way that Aragorn never needed Arwen. And once she escaped from her family because she was the only one who could save his life and worked with him to recover a Silmaril and all the rest, it would be a lot more difficult to contemplate leaving him. Also, of course, Beren was dead, so her options were limited.

Which brings me to an ambiguity in Arwen’s choice, which is actually from the Appendices (I am going to do posts about those, but it seems more useful to discuss this bit here). Appendix A, section I, subsection (i) says, “But to the children of Elrond a choice was also appointed: to pass with him from the circles of the world; or if they remained to become mortal and die in Middle-earth.” In other words, one-time offer, no second chances. However, subsection (v), the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, reports this conversation between the two:

“I speak no comfort to you, for there is no comfort for such pain within the circles of the world. The uttermost choice is before you: to repent and go to the Havens and bear away into the West the memory of our days together that shall there be evergreen but never more than memory; or else to abide the Doom of Men.”

“Nay, dear lord,” she said, “that choice is long over. There is now no ship that would bear me hence, and I must indeed abide the Doom of Men, whether I will or I nill: the loss and the silence. But I say to you, King of the Númenóreans, not till now have I understood the tale of your people and their fall. As wicked fools I scorned them, but I pity them at last. For if this is indeed, as the Eldar say, the gift of the One to Men, it is bitter to receive.”

In that version, Arwen’s choice may be irrevocable only out of practical considerations, not decree of the Valar. Which makes their ending sadder, I think, but further points at something I’d wondered, why Arwen couldn’t marry Aragorn without giving up her immortality—after all, Idril did just that in The Silmarillion. So it looks like the text gives us two potential answers to that: either the Valar have made a rule specifically about Elrond’s children, or the way is shut (to borrow a phrase). Of course, the second is reported in dialogue and thus is probably inherently less reliable than the text’s flat-out assertion. I’m not sure I have a preference between them.

Wow, that’s a lot of talk about approximately ten paragraphs in the chapter proper. I’ll try to be more concise about the rest.

* * *

The bits wrapping up old business. I had rolled my eyes at Éomer and Gimli making plans to fight over Galadriel, but I admit to a fondness for the way it’s resolved. I mean, I still think it’s a dumb thing to talk about, but it is so sweet and sad when Gimli says, “You have chosen the Evening; but my love is given to the Morning. And my heart forebodes that soon it will pass away for ever.”

I also really liked that Legolas acknowledged that Gimli was right about the beauty of the Glittering Caves, because I’d loved that section before. And that Ghân-buri-Ghân’s people are given full sovereignty over their land—they don’t even have to swear aid to Gondor like Rohan.

* * *

The Rohan scenes. First, we’re told that Merry wept at the close of the section describing Théoden’s funeral, and then the next section opens with, “When the burial was over and the weeping of women was stilled.” On one hand, I like the continued use of the hobbits to cross societal lines in Middle-earth, this time by showing a male hobbit behaving as females do. On the other, rigidly restrictive gender roles are stupid.

(When Éomer announces Faramir and Éowyn’s engagement, he does phrase it as Éowyn giving her consent, which was better than I expected. Aragorn comments to Éomer about giving her to Gondor, but it’s meant to be a joke.)

We also get a very short history of Rohan via the lists of kings, which I found effectively conveyed how young a land it is compared to Gondor.

Word looked up: “Holdwine,” which appears to have been coined just for Merry and  probably means something like “faithful friend.”

* * *

This chapter is called “Many Partings,” which almost requires a comparison to the chapter “Many Meetings” (Fellowship II.1). The mirrored portions that I saw were being joyfully reunited with Bilbo at Rivendell (who asks after the Ring), and seeing Arwen for the first or last time. Otherwise “Many Meetings” is much smaller in time and space, and I don’t see a lot of resonances.

* * *

Miscellaneous short comments. I was briefly amused when Aragorn told Frodo that “whatever you desire you shall take with you”; if this were a different genre, that would have been a very dangerous statement indeed, and the start of the story, not the end.

Tolkien twice ignores trees! He says that the characters saw “no living thing” when they came to the Forest of Drúadan and to Isengard, but there are trees there and Tolkien is not the author I’d expect to exclude them from the category of “living things.”

Treebeard mentions Orcs attacking Lórien, which is the first time we hear about battles outside of Mordor during the lead-up to the Ring being destroyed.

Treebeard also says that it’s too much trouble to look for the Entwives (“It is far to go. And there are too many Men there in these days.”).

Why does Celeborn know that Galadriel will leave him? Why does she leave him? Or, rather, why doesn’t he go with her?

The scene with Saruman and Wormtongue. I know that you can’t necessarily tell which scenes were fun to write, but Saruman’s dialogue here is so deliciously, perfectly nasty that I do like to imagine Tolkien chortling to himself. And I bet it’s particularly fun to read out loud, too.

Finally, I believe this is the last variant of “The Road goes ever on,” where Bilbo talks about going to the lighted inn to sleep.

And hey—we’re going to an inn next time. See you all then.

« Return of the King VI.5 | Index

Kate Nepveu was born in South Korea and grew up in New England. She now lives in upstate New York where she is practicing law, raising a family, and (in her copious free time) writing at her LiveJournal and booklog.

Kate Nepveu
1. katenepveu
Also, when I said last time that chapter 5 was the high point of the high-fantasy/non-hobbit section of the book? I'd forgotten how quickly all the non-hobbits fall away. By the end of the chapter, the only one left is Gandalf. We're shedding high fantasy trappings like mad here.
Dr. Thanatos
2. Dr. Thanatos
I also liked this chapter; it's the hobbits' return from Faerie to their own world, slowly shedding the companions they'd accumulated but not quite returning to their old selves.

My favorite scenes:

1) Aragorn making it clear to Eowyn that that they were just friends
2) Gandalf and the Elves sharing mind-melds at night
3) Saruman hinting to Galadriel that he knew her most shameful secret without knowing he was out of the loop on this topic
4) Bilbo all of a sudden acting his age---driving home more than anything else the fact that the Ring was gone. Did Frodo pick up on this as part of his personal Ring-withdrawal, I wonder?
Kent Aron Vabø
3. sotgnomen
I don't have the book with me, but I assume Celeborn will go to Valinor eventually, as will the Sons of Elrond.. If so, then this makes good sense.
Galadriel was born in Valinor, she is an exile (Is she banned until making amends? I can't remember). If so, I expect she has spent thousands of years missing it, and is rather eager to return.
Celeborn on the other hand has never seen Valinor, and is far from tired of Middle-Earth. This is understandable, as he knows he will see Valinor eventually, even if it should be upon his death in Middle Earth. He will see Galadriel again. He also knows that once he leaves, he can never return. This would make him very hesitant about leaving before he is absolutely sure.
One could also ask why Elrond leaves, when he could at least stay long enough to meet his grandchildren.. But I guess seeing Arwen grow old would be too painful, and also I think he only stayed this long to see to the return of the King (their line is his brother's after all), as I'm sure he misses his wife.
Dr. Thanatos
4. Dr. Thanatos
Regarding Celeborn,

I can't help but think that Galadriel would share with him her reprieve, and that as a Ringbearer she had to go. I don't remember if he was part of the rebellion that came back from Valinor or if he was pure Sindar; that shouldn't keep him from having a ticket to Valinor just like Legolas. Maybe being accounted as the wisest of the wise but seeing Saruman as head of the Council and everyone deferring to his wife as the most important Elf around had him in a bad mood...
Dr. Thanatos
5. stillcmk
I don't remember how strongly the foreshadowing in this chapter struck me on first reading; it's been too long, and I've been back through too many times.

As to the choice of Arwen, I read (and am pretty sure I always did read) "there is now no ship" as a poetic description of her choice as irrevocable, not just a statement that she'd missed the boat.
Dr. Thanatos
6. pilgrimsoul
On the dispute over the fairest between Gimli and Eomer--I'm pretty sure they had twinkles in their eyes and the whole challenge thing was a joke no matter how sincere their devotion to the ladies was.
Merry weeping at Theoden's grave isn't a feminization. Tears start in the eyes of many manly types during the course of the stories and run down male cheeks, too. Merry is playing his role at the funeral. JRRT is referring to the historical role of women ritually weeping and keening over deaths.
I'll probably have more to say on the post later. You have been warned.
jon meltzer
7. jmeltzer
On Legolas's response to the Glittering Caves: I always read that as him being polite to Gimli, and I suspect that Gimli would have given the same response when asked about Fangorn. 
David Levinson
8. DemetriosX
I quite like the way the members of the company are slowly peeled away until, admittedly in the next chapter, we are back where we started with the hobbits. It's a fairly effective technique, a kind of depressurization.

Celeborn was Sindar and had never been in the West. The last that is heard of him is that he retired to Rivendell to live with the sons of Elrond. It's assumed he went West eventually, but that isn't confirmed. Do the Sindar even have the right to go West? Legolas did it, but he is something of a special case thanks to his involvement with the Ring. He even took Gimli with him.

I don't think I picked up on the foreshadowing of Saruman. Well, I connected his nasty comments with Sam's vision in the Mirror, but didn't realize his involvement. I saw him more as a bitter and broken old man now doomed to wander with someone he hated and who hated him.

I always took Arwen's "no ship" comment to imply that even if there were a ship she wouldn't go, but since there isn't then it doesn't really matter anyway. (Hmmm, and if there weren't any more ships how did any other elves, like Celeborn, return?)
Dr. Thanatos
9. Dr.Thanatos

Other Sindar sailed: Amroth for example. It was commented in I think Fellowship by Legolas that "many of my people have set sail from the havens at Amroth" or words to that effect.

We know that Legolas built a ship and sailed west; surely Celeborn could get the Sons o' Elrond to put a few planks together...

I saw Saruman speaking from his "wisdom" as to what would happen to the Elves, Wizards, etc after the destruction of the Ring: their powers would fade and they would turn into garden-gnomes unless they set sail . I don't see him foreshadowing the events in the Shire as much as gloating over them...

I think that Arwen wasn't physically forbidden to book a cruise to Valinor; but she was smart enough to know that it would be limited to the Titanic, the Edmund Fitzgerald, or the Lusitania and she didn't want to end up sharing Davy Jones' locker with Amroth...
jon meltzer
10. jmeltzer
@8. The great evil is defeated. The rest of the cast has moved offstage. We're back with the hobbits again.  But we've all watched too many horror movies not to know what's coming next ... 
Beth Friedman
11. carbonel
Once upon a time I had a copy of "The Parting of Arwen," written by Marion Zimmer Bradley and published by (IIRC) T-K Graphics. She thought Arwen and Elrond's farewell scene deserved some screen time, so she wrote her own version.

I mostly remember being boggled at the concept of a real-name author writing literary fanfic -- and I suspect the Tolkien estate would have stomped on it, had they been aware.
Dr. Thanatos
12. (still) Steve Morrison
The Sindar were allowed to sail West, because they were Eldar; it was the Avari who had no such right.
Andrew Mason
13. AnotherAndrew
I would read 'there is no ship that would bear me hence' as 'they wouldn't let me on' rather than 'there are no ships going that way any more'.
Mari Ness
14. MariCats
Kate, Tolkien's letters agree with you: Frodo went into the Uttermost West to be healed and then to die; as a mortal, he couldn't live in Valinor forever. My inner twelve year old, however, informs me that you and Tolkien are both completely wrong and that it's not as if we can expect any insight into a work from its author, after all. So as far as I'm concerned, and against Tolkien's own evidence and Arwen's little speech here, Frodo is still alive, and always will be alive, wandering through the glory of Valinor. What?

As far as Celeborn is concerned, that always puzzled me. He and Galadriel are, after all, happily and I always assumed eternally married, and given that she had already decided to remain in Middle-Earth a little longer with him, it seemed odd that he couldn't, or wouldn't, return to Valinor with her.

Unfortunately I'm still unpacking books, so I can't find the exact reference, and I can't remember if this is in the letters or in Unfinished Tales, but I seem to recall Tolkien explaining that Galadriel, as one of the leaders of the Noldor rebellion, had not been able to return to Valinor until she had proven her true repentance, which she did by refusing to take the Ring. Which makes sense, but also makes Celeborn staying even more inexplicable (to me) -- after all, he hadn't rebelled against anyone, and it could be said that he had nothing (or not as much) to repent about.

Which is a lot of rambling to say I never understood this.
Dr. Thanatos
15. Foxessa
In my earlier readings of LoTR when younger this chapter, the journey to the Shire, the Shire return and the trip to the Grey Havens were more dutiful than interested.

In my last re-readings, and older, these have become almost my favorite chapters, and I wish there were more of them, and that they went on longer.

Love, C.
Dr. Thanatos
16. Elaine Thom
I've always thought that all Elrond's children chose mortality, given how the decision is phrased in the published texts: 'pass with him" or wtte wherever it comes up. I take it to mean go with him when he goes or stay and be mortal. Arwen stayed, chose mortality and that's why she couldn't take a ship - it wasn't that ships weren't going, after all, Legolas sails after Aragorn's death. And Cirdan is still around, as far as I can tell.

JRRT said in a letter that Elrond's sons delayed their choice, but I ignore that.

I don't get Celeborn's comment about 'treasure remaining with you until the end' if it's not about Galadriel leaving him for Valinor, but even if it is, I don't understand it. Unless Celeborn has a glimmering of foresight that Arwen's loss of Aragorn is going to be very very hard for her?

Something that properly goes in the previous chapter comments, but I only listened to it (Rob Inglis reading) the other day and noticed: Aragorn wants his friends to see him married, and they are Frodo and the rest of the company. I know they all loved each other by the time the company split up, but it made me wonder - doesn't he have any other friends? OR was he always marked out as the leader of the Dunedain and never quite on a 'friendship' level with his own people?

That's one thing I liked in the movies, Aragorn is shown as having a friend.
Dr. Thanatos
17. Dr. Thanatos
His friend in the book was his close kinsman Haldir; Haldir bought it in the battle of the Pelennor. I think in the movie the character may have had the same name...I suspect that the Ranger lifestyle, involving wandering around for years on dangerous quests, serving in Gondor and Rohan using fake names, and going to Harad and Rhun, didn't leave much time at home with his buds. He did refer to Gandalf as his friend, and had worked with him; I never got the sense that there was a Ranger lair where they would relax together and knock back brewskis...
David Levinson
18. DemetriosX
Dr. Thanatos @17: Halbarad, not Haldir. Haldir was the elf who led the company into Lorien. The really swishy one in the movies who showed up later at Helm's Deep (instead of Halbarad and the Grey Company).
Soon Lee
19. SoonLee
Foxessa @15:

Doesn't work as well in the movie version though.

Maricats @14:

I too thought that Frodo got to go to the West to heal, but remained mortal.

On re-reading, the choice & timing of various people departing for the West becomes more problematic. Another example is Elladan & Elrohir, who didn't leave with Elrond but remained immortal? I'm guessing there was a certain degree of shoehorning of narrative aptness on the part of the author.
Dr. Thanatos
20. Dr. Thanatos
DemetriosX@18: I stand corrected. In the book that was the closest we saw to family , much less a friend. Elaine, what friends did he have in the film other than our stalwart heroes?
mark Proctor
21. mark-p
Kate thanks for posting this its always interesting to read and I am glad you haven't died from over work or assassination.
I've spent too much time at work today myself, so have't got much to say other than these last few chapters have always been my favourite part of the book, seeing the characters separate and return to their lives and the changes that have happened.

I can't completely remember my first read but it must have been obvious even then that Saruman would still cause trouble. I don't remember being surprised at sharkey's real identity.
Dr. Thanatos
22. pilgrimsoul
@ Maricats 14
There's an unpublished epilogue to LOTR with Sam and Elanor talking it all over--and it's really quite dreadful--but Elanor asks Sam if Celeborn is sad that Galadriel is gone and IIRC he replies that he misses her but Elves have eternity and can wait so the separation isn't the same as for mortals.
But I have to say when I read LOTR I wondered about it, too. I wondered if Celeborn just got sick of Galadriel being just so much more wonderful than anyone else.
BTW Don't you do the Oz Rereads? I lurk and enjoy!
Dr. Thanatos
23. Hooded swan
I don't have access to my copies either, but I've always interpreted Arwen differently from sotgnomen. That she forfeited her mortality but did not become human to the extent that she aged like 1. If she had, the aging would have been apparent between her pre-Hobbit betrothal to Aragorn & the events of LOTR.
So you're going to be on a panel about the movies. I would be interested in your take on the differences between the books & the films. Cutting things out was entirely understandable to me. The additions & the exaggerations trouble me.
Mari Ness
24. MariCats
@19 Soon Lee -- Just to clarify, my inner twelve year old says that Frodo lives forever and ever and never ever dies.

This is not what Tolkien says, my adult self admits. But, you know, all he did was write the book. So. Um. I'm sticking with my happy version.

@22 Pilgrimsoul -- Hmm. That seems....problematic to me. I would think it might actually be worse. At least in Tolkien's Christian viewpoint, mortal spouses will meet up in an afterlife once they die, which would presumably be a shorter timespan than what Celeborn is talking about?

I like your explanation, that Celeborn is just tired of/can't handle being with someone who is so utterly perfect. Because, otherwise...I would think that a permanent separation from someone that you've literally spent thousands of years with would be utterly devastating. Or maybe I'm wrong and it would be a major relief?

And again, hopefully these books will be unpacked soon, but, if I'm recalling correctly, Tolkien at least at one point had the idea that the various fairies and leprechauns and such still lingering in England but not exactly inclined to talk to mortals, and much diminished and "smaller," were the Avari, immortal elves that had never gone to Valinor, and thus couldn't go now. I may have this wrong.

(And, oh yes, I also do the Oz posts.)
Kate Nepveu
25. katenepveu
Hi, everybody. Long time no see.

Dr. Thanatos @ #2, do you mean, did Frodo notice that Bilbo was acting his age, or did Frodo also start feeling his own age?

sotgnomen @ #3, the Appendices say re: Rivendell: "There, though Elrond had departed, his sons long remained, together with some of the High-elven folk. It is said that Celeborn went to dwell there after the departure of Galadriel; but there is no record of the day when at last he sought the Grey Havens, and with him went the last living memory of the Elder Days in Middle-earth."

--which is very interesting, in that Elrond's sons remained--and therefore became mortal? The length of their stay may be attributable solely to their ancestry. Maybe they wanted to see their nephews and nieces?

It does presume that Celeborn goes eventually, though. As for the rest of your speculations, I have no sense of his character whatsoever, so I can't say.

(Doubling back as I read through: DemetriosX @ #8, I read that as stronger than a presumption.)

As for Elrond, I think he needed? strongly desired? to leave Middle-earth once the One Ring was destroyed.

stillcmk @ #5, AnotherAndrew @ #13, you may well be right that I was reading it too literally, though that's not the most obvious way of putting that to me.

pilgrimsoul @ #6, yes, other male characters in _LotR_ weep, but none are said to do so at this particular occasion, while women explicitly are, and the contrast is inescapable.

jmeltzer @ #7, oh, no, that idea makes me very sad and I refuse to believe it!

carbonel @ #11, was it any good?

(still) Steve Morrison @ #12, yup, I have just looked up the derivation of the Sindar , and yes, they were once Teleri, which means they were Eldar.

Another thing I used to read to put myself to sleep was the first two sections of _The Silmarillion_, so I retain a surprising amount of the list of Valar, but all of the groupings of the Elves were too much even for trying to fall asleep.

MariCats @ #14, my inner twelve year old is happy to let your inner twelve year old believe that if it won't argue with me that Sam makes it to Valinor and that Merry struck the fatal blow to the Witch-king.

Foxessa @ #15, why are they your favorites now?

Elaine Thom @ #16, hmmm, good question. He grew up in Rivendell and then went to learn and fight abroad, where he was concealing his identity. He doesn't seem to have spent any time with the Dunedain at all before he was 49 (when he returns from his journeys and Arwen falls in love with him), and I don't know how much time after, and also by then he would be very firmly established as the leader. What an interesting angle on his life; I hadn't put all that together so far. (Gandalf had been his friend before, though, I would think.)

mark-p @ #21, assassination?! I can't think of anything less likely.

Hooded swan @ #23, if Arwen became both mortal and human--which, you're right, there's a distinction--well, I wouldn't be surprised if the effect wasn't until marriage, what with the common view of it as a symbolic passing from one family to another. Also, there are two posts about the first two movies at the bottom of the index (link at the bottom of this post); I'll do a separate post about the third when I'm done reading.
F Shelley
26. FSS
Hi Kate,

Re: Elrond needing to go after the One Ring was destroyed. I beleive I've read that the power of the Elvin RIngs was in preservation, or keeping things unchanged. Perhaps to an immortal, once the power of the rings was destroyed or diminished, they could feel the world beginning a headlong rush to changes they (counting Galadriel) couldn't adjust to. Bah - pure conjecture on my part.

Re: women weeping. It could have just been a cultural thing. Go to a funeral in some places in the deep south and men are rather stoic for most of it, and women kinda let loose on the crying. They all seem fine at the wake, though. :)
Dr. Thanatos
27. Dr. Thanatos

What I was getting at was that when Frodo last saw Bilbo he was awake, alert; when he came back Bilbo was doddering. The power of the Ring was clearly gone. This is the most obvious sign we have seen (other than Sauron going pffft) that the Ring is really gone. Would realizing this have an effect on Frodo? Like finding a letter from your father a month after the funeral, did this make it more real for him?
Geoffrey Dow
28. ed-rex
Right, now that I’ve thoroughly embarrassed myself, the point of that confession: I can’t help but love this chapter. While I complained about the slow pace of the beginning, and I remarked previously about how it’s weird that they defeat Sauron in Chapter Three of this book, I cannot tell whether this chapter wrecks the pace of the ending, because it is my mental equivalent of a down comforter and a cup of hot chocolate. I will say that I was vaguely surprised that they got as far as leaving Rivendell by the end, for what that’s worth. But what did you all think?

What do I think? Mostly, that you have nothing to be embarrassed about. That Tolkien had the confidence (or naivety) to blithely spend a couple of hundred pages after his ostensible climax on the return journey is an example of just why his book is so special.
But of course, they aren't unimportant chapters. Rather, the defeat of Sauron is in many ways a false climax. Not a cheat, but a subterfuge, albeit one that builds organically on the very weird "victory" of that Frodo managed on Mount Doom.
Dr. Thanatos
29. Jerry Friedman
I think I always enjoyed these "anticlimax" chapters.

I too refuse to believe that Legolas was just being polite. Cave formations are beautiful. But we never find out what Gimli said about Fangorn!

I don't see the twinkle in Gimli's and Éomer's eyes, and I really dislike that business, and I rejoice that Tolkien doesn't show us any interaction between Gimli and Galadriel on the ride north. And in that letter that Steve Morrison (I think) pointed us to, Tolkien says, "This tale does not deal with a period of ‘Courtly Love’ and its pretences; but with culture more primitive (sc. Less corrupt) and nobler.” Really? Dueling over which married lady is fairer doesn't count? Possibly I don't know what courtly love is (and certainly some people here know much more than I do).

I like the telepathic conversations among the holders of the Three Rings. Could Gandalf and Galadriel be consoling Elrond? There are a lot of possible character interactions here that Tolkien, perhaps wisely, doesn't show.

I also like Treebeard being shifty and Saruman being surly. Tolkien does that kind of thing well, I think.

I too like Arwen's giving Frodo her place, but it would mean more if it didn't seem later that there were places for Sam and Gimli.

LotR has many long delays of the kind I don't expect in adventure stories, where everything is usually breathlessly hurried. The ones in this chapter strike me as the strangest. Even if Gandalf isn't going to say anything, Sam saw trouble in the Shire in Galadriel's mirror, and Frodo knows about it, and there are other clues. Sam thinks it's time to get back after the meeting with Saruman. Why don't they want to race back and see their families once they've seen Bilbo? Why wait for frost on the cobwebs? Apparently so Saruman can be entrenched and do a lot of damage before the hobbits get home.
Dr. Thanatos
30. elenilote
Kate, RE: the weeping of women at Theoden's funeral...In many cultures ritual weeping at funerals is still practised, I did not read this part as Merry being feminised, he was simply overcome by the death of a man who was 'like a father' to him.
Wesley Parish
31. Aladdin_Sane
My view of Frodo's passing into the West was for healing, so he could finally feel at peace with himself, and die in peace when he was ready.

And Celeborn - he was a prince of the Sindar of Beleriand, one of Elu Thingol's people; one of the Teleri who stayed behind looking for him when he was "abstracted" by his meeting with Melian, while Olwe his brother and the majority of the Teleri took ship on Tol Eressea to Valinor. I always thought he stayed behind to sort out the details of the last remnants of the High Elves - you know, handing over matters Elvish and Numenorean to Aragorn in the North that had lapsed or been caretakered by Elrond, keeping the home fires burning in Lothlorien while the Sindar and Silvan Elves who had made it their home, packed up and took ship - or went north to Thranduil's kingdom in Greenwood the Great ... and Galadriel had no part in that as such, and besides, she felt she deserved to return to Valinor, to meet family she hadn't seen in over seven millennia ...

I don't think the Avari as such were prohibited from going to Valinor - it was just that they had made their decision, and in HoME, The War of the Jewels, Quendi and Eldar, the implication is that many had no intention of ever going back on that ancient decision, and resented the Eldar for turning up in force:

"The first Avari that the Eldar met again in Beleriand seemed to have claimed to be Tatyar , who acknowledged their kinship with the Exiles, though there is no record of their using the name Ngoldo in any recognizable form. They were actually unfriendly to the Noldor, and jealous of their more exalted kin, whom they accused of arrogance.
in contrast the Lindarin elements in the western Avari were friendly to the Eldar, and willing to learn from them; and so close was the feeling of kinship between the remnants of the Sindar, the Nandor, and the Lindarin Avari, that later in Eriador and the Vale of Anduin they often became merged together."

So there you have it - Thranduil's probably a lieutenant of Thingol's, probably a friend of Beleg's amd Mablung's, who went east when things went pear-shaped in Doriath, married an Avari girl, and cobbled together a kingdom when his mates from Doriath and his new family supported him - with probably quite a bit of pushing and shoving from Celeborn and Galadriel in the south-west - probably while the Eriadorians and the Numenoreans were getting into trouble with one Sauron of Mordor, lately passing himself off as a gift-giver. So Legolas is both Avari and Sindar - I don't think it really mattered.
Dr. Thanatos
32. Hooded swan
Kate, thanks for your response. Just speed read through the FOTR & T3 re-watch pages. A few thoughts that I hope aren't redundant:
In the films, Saruman was responsible for the Uruks. In the books, it was Sauron - his improvement on Morgoth's creation, if you will. Saruman was responsible for the half-orcs. Since JRR wrote this decades before artificial insemination & test-tube babies, that was seriously creepy.
In the books, the Haradrim were described as black skinned, red eyed. My reaction to the Haradrim in T3 & TROTK was "Arabs/Persians". And that PJ was simultaneously sensitive to contemporary sensitivites re people of African descent & going along with the crowd in portraying Arabs/Persians as the villians of the moment. What that means for the portrayal of the orcs...
Nearly all fighting types, good or evil, were filmed wearing plate armor. This was a cost saving measure. In the books, they wore mail.
I felt that Mirando Otto lacked the height & athleticism to pull off masquerading as 1 of the boys. But she is a fine actress.
Although the elves appearing at Helm's Deep bothered me quite a bit at the time, I now suppose it was a suitable substitute for their "off screen" defense of Rohan in the books.
Dr. Thanatos
33. Anna_Wing
If you are an Elf and have a lifespan measured in geological time, a few millennia of separation aren't going to matter much at all, especially if you know that you are married forever. In the variants of the story of Galadriel and Celeborn, I think at least one has them separated for quite a substantial amount of time, of their own free will. It's in HoME as well, in one of the essays. The Eldar are always married once they're married, barring exceptional circumstances, but they don't always live together all the time.
The really obvious choice that Arwen could have made was to marry Aragorn, live with him until he died and then leave with Elrond. It's not logically impossible, and even has a precedent; one of Imrahil's ancestors was supposely an elf who did something very similar.
Dr. Thanatos
34. Dr. Thanatos

The only problem is that in Elf terms Arwen is still a teenager and needed her father's consent to marry; and he said "no one less than the king of the United Kingdom" which by definition would not happen unless Sauron got offed and the 3 Rings went pfft and Elrond got the urge to sail.

I don't know much about Elf politics or whether they have arranged marriages, but I don't see Arwen running off with Aragorn against her father's will as a viable option, especially when Aragorn's mom explicitly told him not to hack off Elrond because they were basically living off his good will...
Ian Gazzotti
35. Atrus
@6 : JRRT is referring to the historical role of women ritually weeping and keening over deaths.
Still done in some parts of southern Italy; some women are even 'professional' mourners and get paid for it!

MariCats@24 : Tolkien could not make Frodo immortal because there's no such thing in Middle-earth; even the elves have no real immortality but 'just' a serial longevity through reincarnation.

On that note, I think Arwen's choice made her human on a spiritual, rather than biological, sense: when her body died, her soul just went "outside" instead of going to Mandos.

As for why Celeborn remained on Middle-earth, I think sotgnomen got it right: he can wait. He'll have to go to Valinor eventually, one way or the other, and he's going to miss his land for a lot more than he's going to be reunited with Galadriel - which is, literally, until the end of time.
On the contrary, Galadriel and Elrond probably felt life in Middle-earth too hard to bear after they lost the power that preserved time in their abodes, and Galadriel in particular felt the longing to return home now that the ban has been lifted.
Dr. Thanatos
36. Dr. Thanatos

But if she didn't become human "biologically" why would her body die? An elven body doesn't just stop; although there is one example, Finwe's wife, who just lay down and went to sleep---do we presume that Arwen chose to end it just as Elessar did, and take the Big Nap? And if so, was her elven body still there "until the world is changed?" We are given no guidance from Luthien; it just said that they died without giving specifics. Did Luthien age? Did they "die of natural causes?" Did Luthien choose the time of her passing as Miriel and Arwen did?
Dr. Thanatos
37. EmmaPease
@33 I think if an elf fully consents to marriage it is an eternal marriage which means if they marry a mortal they will die shortly after the mortal dies (much like Luthien does the first time though she has to plead her case to be allowed to follow Beren beyond the bounds of the world). For Imrahil's ancestor who married an elf, one gets the feeling the elf did not fully consent. Arwen herself dies fairly quickly after Aragorn (though one is left wondering who buried her given that Lorien was supposedly abandoned).
Dr. Thanatos
38. Gorbar
FWIW, I've been working my way through the genealogies in the Silmarillion, and have of course realized that Galadriel is Arwen's grandmother. So she's losing both her father and her grandmother - her mother Celebrian's already gone overseas to Valinor to recover from torture orcish hands have dealt her.

And another thing - you can follow the line of seniority through the various senior figures in that family through the First and the Third Ages, and after Finwe dies, Feanaro takes it, only to lose it to Fingolfin, who loses it to Fingon his son. After it skips the junior Ereinion aka Gil-galad, Turgon is the ranking senior from the House of Fingolfin until he dies in the fall of Gondolin. Then it reverts back to Gil-galad. In the House of Finarfin in Exile, Finrod is the ranking senior, until he loses his life in defense of Beren. Orodreth is then the ranking senior, though he does not come across as a very convincing one, and he loses his life during the fall of Nargothrond, and his daughter Finduilas never gets the chance to shine, as she loses her life after Nargothrond's sack.

As after the First Age, we have five senior people - Cirdan, then High King Gil-galad, his cousin Celebrimbor, his "second-cousin" Galadriel, and his "second?"-"third?"- cousin Elrond, in overall charge of the Elven presence and kingdoms in Middle Earth. And after Gil-galad dies, Galadriel is effectively the most highly senior ranked Elvish royal on the scene, as Elrond never pulls rank that we can see - he comes across as more a "facilitator", a sage.

I like Tolkien when he is being subtle. He never comes right out and declares this. But we see a very powerful ruler, who has kept a demiurge at bay for two ages on her own power and authority, abdicate to let her lesser husband take control of the winding up of the princedom they have jointly ruled, knowing he is to be trusted in that task.
j p
39. sps49
Tuor became counted among the Elves, so Idril faced no choice.

Galadriel knows when she gets her reprieve, during the scene with her Mirror (I will diminish, and pass into the West, and remain Galadriel). She may have felt some urgency to get back while the getting was good :)

Kate @ 25- Celeborn is apparently the last Elf old enough to remember the First Age, is all. I think it is hinted that all 3 of Elrond's kids stayed, but I can't remember where.

Aladdin_Sane @31- Many of the Sindar/ Teleri set out on the Great Journey and tarried along the way. For thousands of years, sometimes. No Avari remeeting is indicated.

Atrus @35- Serial reincarnation? That doesn't happen often; usually if Elves die they go to hang with Mandos. I think the only one restored to normal life is Finrod, mentioned as reunited "with Finarfin his father".
Dr. Thanatos
40. pilgrimsoul
I agree with sps49 re Tuor, and there is a marked difference in his "historical" circumstances compared to Aragorn and Arwen. Tuor came to an Elvish kingdom during an age dominated by Elves. He married Idril, and moreover the union was foretold by one of the Valar. It didn't make him automatically welcome in Aman, but I think some of Elvish saturation had something to do with it.
Fast forward to the third age and Elves are fading. Aragorn needs to reestablish a kingdom of Men. The circumstances of Arwen's choice is different. Aragorn might have made a case that he deserved Elvish immortality, too, but by that point in "history" it was time to embrace human mortality.

JRRT said that Bilbo's and Frodo's time in Valinor was like purgatory--in otherwords a temporary sojourn for healing and purification before passing to their eternal homes. I don't know what Sam and Gimli were doing there. Valinor sounds boring to me.
Ian Gazzotti
41. Atrus
Dr. Thanatos@36 : Elvish bodies can stop if killed, by weariness, or by an act of the will, as demonstrated by Miriel and (possibly) Arwen herself; they're long-lasting but neither indestructible nor eternal.
Luthien's life, AFAIK, was consumed more quickly by her wearing the Silmaril at all times.

The corpses: interesting question. I always assumed their bodies would decay naturally after physical death, if just to avoid the creepiness of an elf visiting his own dead self.

sps49@39 : Another one is Glorfindel, that came back with Gandalf; you don't see many of those because, when reincarnated, they usually have to stay in Aman. "Serial longevity" to describe elvish immortality is a term used by Tolkien himself (in letter 208 or 211, according to a quick Google search) and picked up again by several critics.

As to the specifics of reincarnation, Tolkien changed ideas several times (as usual): initially he went for reincarnation in newborn children, then in later age he opted for whole new bodies made ad hoc by the Ainur.
Kate Nepveu
42. katenepveu
FSS @ #26, yeah, that's what I meant re: Elrond.

Dr. Thanatos @ #27, thanks for the clarification. We don't get much of Frodo's thoughts about Bilbo in this chapter, and I don't recall that he ever thinks of this, but it is plausible.

ed-rex @ #28, no, I'm embarrassed about confessing to re-read the Mallorean; I re-read the Belgariad a bit ago and it did not hold up for me at all, and I think the Mallorean would be even worse!

Jerry Friedman @ #29, no, we don't need spoiler warnings. I'll have to look at the chapter after this one, though, to see if there's anything about the timing of when they eventually get there that is particularly optimal.

Aladdin_Sane @ #31, thanks for the background on the complex Elvish groupings.

Dr. Thanatos @ #34, oh she could have done it if she wanted to, Luthien did. But (uncharitable) she decided to sit at home and let the menfolk decide her fate / (charitable) she hadn't been pushed far as Luthien yet.

EmmaPease @ #37, I took the "there is her green grave" to be less than literal--resting place, not actual grave.

Gorbar @ #38, and yet Aragorn's comment to Galadriel is about the only in-text reference to that relationship. Arwen spent time in Lorien, too. Odd.

That is a very interesting point about Galadriel abdicating; contrast to Denethor.

sps49 @ #39, yeah, but Tuor was counted with the Elves after, not as of their marriage.
Dr. Thanatos
43. HelenS
Am I the only one who hated the mind-to-mind stuff? It seemed kind of cheesy and out of character.
Dr. Thanatos
44. Dr. Thanatos

Actually for me it confirmed a suspicion based on previous episodes where Gandalf would look into someone's eyes and talk about seeing things in their minds, and Faramir and Aragorn doing the same thing, and elves somehow knowing things from a distance---I saw it as a "reveal" that the elves and wizards, and their pupils the Men of Westernesse, had something hinted at but not previously revealed.
Dr. Thanatos
45. HelenS
I dunno. It just seemed too much to have even their chats around the campfire go all numinous and important, as if even Gandalf had lost his common touch -- whereas the Gandalf we used to know would be very much Gandalf even when mind-speaking over a distance: "Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!"
Dr. Thanatos
46. formerly DaveT
Word looked up: “Holdwine,” which appears to have been coined just for Merry and probably means something like “faithful friend.”

I think I've mentioned this to you before, Kate, but the biggest gaffe in the French translation of LotR concerns this word. The translator (understandably) mistook it for a modern English word, and translated it using a mediaeval French word for "cup-bearer". Given the connotations the myth of Ganymede has given to that particular role, this was Not A Good Choice.

Tolkien later wrote an essay giving guidance and advice to translators. I have to think that was motivated, in part, by all the ways the early Ledoux translation got it wrong, such as NOT having the hobbits address everyone indiscriminately using familiar/intimate pronouns.
Dr. Thanatos
47. formerly DaveT
Oh, and I like to think that Holdwine was a pun. 'Hold' does mean honorable/praiseworthy/faithful/devout/etc., but 'Holt' means forest/wood. So the name would mean "faithful friend", but would sound almost the same as "friend of the forest", which would probably please Fangorn.
Dr. Thanatos
48. pilgrimsoul
Holdwine of the Mark aka Merry Brandybuck. I love the definition of "Faithful Friend," and he really deserves that horn. There's probably some tiresome linguistic reason that JRRT would know about that would preclude the subtext of "friend of the forest" which is just too bad.
Kate commented earlier that JRRT slipped up on "no living things" which (duh) trees Totally Are. And we know from many and varied sources that he loved trees. I can't explain it.
@ Dr. Thanatos. You have not come up with a ridiculous nickname for Saruman. We need to discuss him using a pejorative name (Hey remember Mouthie?) I know you can do it. We need it for Scouring of the Shire. Sharkey? Meh. Jaws? Pfui.
Dr. Thanatos
49. Dr. Thanatos
Pilgrimsoul@48, I'm working on it. His outstanding characteristics were his persuasive voice and his tendency to wear white after Labor Day...

formerly DaveT@47, doesn't "faithful friend" translate as "Kimosabe?" I initially thought that Holdwine referred to the infamous Hobbit ability to drink a great deal at dinner whilst maintaining their faculties...
Dr. Thanatos
50. pilgrimsoul
@ Dr. Thanatos
Thanks for coming through for us in one regard. Merry as the Lone Ranger (shouldn't this be Aragorn re Bored of the Rings) . Ok I just can't see it, but it's good for a chuckle. Just for the record the Hobbits are imbibers of beer or ale not wine--although it is hinted the Brandybucks have a cellar so . . .
To be sure Miss Manner would be very severe on S for the white after Labor Day, but what of the Rainbow Robes?
Dr. Thanatos
51. Dr. Thanatos

See the numerous references to wine in the first 2 chapters,including the wine that Frodo finished off at the last birthday party so the S-B's wouldn't get it. I think that there was wine referenced at the Party...and Papa Tolkien was no enemy of puns, as our good Halfast can attest; would he have loved to give Merry a name denoting his loyalty to both his friends and to his sensual pleasures?

I suspect that our friend tried the Rainbow Robes but they didn't blend in at the klan meeting...they would have seen that he was a Ringer . Still working on it...
Dr. Thanatos
52. anna_wing
I recall no evidence for Arwen being considered a "teenager". She was around three thousand years old. And nothing in Tolkien indicates that an elf needed anyone's permission to marry anyone they wanted. The only extraneous consideration I can think of might have been the fact that she and Elrond were royal, and had other factors to consider besides their own wills.

I recall no evidence that Imrahil's elvish ancestor did not consent fully to her marriage.

My understanding of marriage among elves was that it lasted while both parties lived. If both parties were elves, and eligible for rehousing, the marriage subsisted indefinitely unless one of them made the choice to stay dead permanently (cf Finwe and Miriel). Thus if an elf married a mortal, whose death would be permanent, the marriage would logically end when the mortal died, and the elf would be free if he or she wished to contract a subsequent marriage. In my view, Luthien died the first time because she chose to, being determined to get Beren back, rather then resigning herself to their permanent separation, and Arwen as well. But in Arwen's case she knew she was going to die anyway, having chosen mortality, and merely took the more dignified course, like Aragorn, of doing it at a place and time of her own time choice.
Dr. Thanatos
53. HelenS
Papa Tolkien was no enemy of puns, as our good Halfast can attest

Only in US idiom and pronunciation (I suppose you mean a reference to "half-assed"?). I very much doubt Tolkien intended a pun there.

I do remember reading of him greeting a herd of deer near Magdalen College with "Hail, fallow, well met," though.
Dr. Thanatos
54. Jerry Friedman
Kate @ #29: I didn't mean there was anything optimal about the timing of the hobbits' return to the Shire, just that their two weeks in Rivendell give Saruman about six weeks instead of four to do damage. My real question is why the hobbits aren't in a hurry to get back—especially Sam, who saw his father evicted.

HelenS @45: I'm not sure their chats are all that numinous. Gandalf may be teasing Elrond ruthlessly for wanting to send Merry and Pippin back to the Shire.
Dr. Thanatos
55. Dr. Thanatos

I spoke somewhat tongue-in-cheek; Arwen was born in the Third Age and is many thousands of years younger than her father, and Aragorn did go to Elrond for permission to marry, and he did make it conditional.


I believe I saw the "halfast" pun is referenced in one of the HoME books; if you look at the conversation, where that individual was cited for seeing a walking tree and was considered to be someone a bit unreliable and likely to jump to conclusions, it does make sense. I suspect that Tolkien, being a philologist, may have been aware of the slang Tolkien did drop at least one other pun on us: "I see you are an Elf-friend; the light in your eye and the Ring in your voice tells me" .
Michael Ikeda
56. mikeda
Dr. Thanatos@49

Although perhaps we should leave Saruman's nicknames alone.

We don't want this topic to Jump the Sharkey...
Dr. Thanatos
57. Dr. Thanatos

Not to worry, haven't you heard?

White Wizards can't jump...
Dr. Thanatos
58. pilgrimsoul
@ Mikeda 56
Dr. Thanatos
59. Dr. Thanatos
and I believe that it was Wormtongue who jumped the Sharkey...
Kate Nepveu
60. katenepveu
HelenS @ #43, #45, it is unusual in that the ability to speak mind-to-mind is explicit where before it was mostly implied. Maybe that's the point, that Gandalf is changing the way he relates to other people, here at the end of his task?

formerly DaveT @ #46, mildly unfortunate indeed.

pilgrimsoul @ #50, Miss Manners would only care if he was wearing white shoes after Labor Day.

(I love Miss Manners and will not hear a word spoken against her.)

anna_wing @ #52, Arwen may not have *needed* Elrond's permission by anyone else's standards, but she doesn't seem to have considered that she & Aragorn were free to act without it.
Dr. Thanatos
61. pilgrimsoul
@ Kate 60
I would never be so crass as to utter even a syllable against Miss Manners as I esteem her greatly likewise.
Dr. Thanatos
62. Dr. Thanatos
Gentle Readers,

While Miss Manners is very clear that from her perspective it is white shoes that are prohibited after Labor Day, other authorities note a longstanding tradition of unknown origin to avoid any white shoes, shirts, ties, and even wizard robes during this time period. As the "gentleman" in question, one Curunir, chose to wear white year round long before the advent of Ms. Manners and her restriction of the ban to shoes, we may add this to his list of crimes...

As he said to Gandalf, "I am Saruman the Many Colored, Saruman the Ringmaker" he should have added "Saruman the Fashion-impaired." Someone call Stacey and Clinton...
Dr. Thanatos
64. HelenS
The suggestion that "Halfast" might be a pun on "Half-ast" occurs in one of the essays in _Tolkien and the Critics_, as I recall. I remember wanting to throw the book across the room at that point. As for the "ring in your voice" -- that's one that I am convinced Tolkien would have omitted if anyone had pointed it out to him. If intentional, it would have been in utterly bad taste and completely out of key with that passage. And yes, I am also in the camp of those who do not believe that Tolkien would have been happy to have people think of canned fish at the same time as the hill of Túna.

My feeling about the mind-to-mind stuff was probably influenced by bad sf, which is of course not Tolkien's fault (that would be like blaming Shakespeare for some of the excesses of Forbidden Planet -- it's not that Shakespeare hasn't got any cheesy bits, but they're quite different ones). I'm actually glad that scene works better for others than for me. I just didn't want to be the only one who felt that way, if you see what I mean.
Dr. Thanatos
65. (still) Steve Morrison
Tolkien discussed telepathy in Middle-earth in an essay called "Osanwe-kenta" which was published some years ago in the journal Vinyar Tengwar. Evidently all intelligent creatures in Middle-earth have some telepathic ability, but humans find it hard to use because our minds and bodies are too strongly bound and because of our habitual use of language. This old Usenet post includes some discussion of the essay.
Dr. Thanatos
66. Irina Rempt
@HelenS, I did actually throw "Tolkien and the Critics" across the room, though I don't remember what exactly it was that made me do it. Fortunately that didn't damage it-- it was a library copy.
Dr. Thanatos
67. pilgrimsoul
@ HelenS and Irina Rempt

When I read Tolkien and the Critics I seriously wondered what book they'd been reading because it wasn't the LOTR I knew!
Dr. Thanatos
68. Dr. Thanatos

Returning to the Elvish practice of giving names...

Saruman referred to himself as the White Hand---there is much mischief that can come from this. I'm not sure how Handy he wound up being; his hand statue on the road to Isengard was broken up, as we read in Book III, and Fangorn handed him that digit lying in the road as a parting gift, thereby giving him the finger...

I also note that he wanted to be as big as Sauron, but didn't quite measure up. So instead of being a major-league S, he was more of a half-S
Dr. Thanatos
69. pilgrimsoul
@ Dr. Thanatos
If mischief is to be had, we can count on you. I'm afraid I wasn't thinking beyond something like Sarujerk or Scumoman.

I don't just find this character upsetting. I find him Personally upsetting. As Treebeard (IIRC) says, "Wizards should know better." And I wish Merry Brandybuck had stuffed his tobacco pouch down Saruman's throat. So there.
Michael Ikeda
70. mikeda
Dr. Thanatos@57

But do Balrogs bounce?
Dr. Thanatos
71. Dr. Thanatos

Let's go back to Book III; Gandalf's story, if it didn't specifically say that the Balrog bounced down the mountain, sure sounded like it. I do know that Ballhogs bounce ...

Saruman was a very troubling person, I agree. I'm glad that Treebeard and our other stalwart heroes kicked his white S...


There are lots of possibilities and I'm waiting for the one that grabs me by the shpilkes; I want to make something of Curunir "the Man of Skill" but that may be reaching a bit. Handy or the Half-S are still in the running but I'm also willing to take to take suggestions from the audience...
Dr. Thanatos
72. Dr. Thanatos
Then again, Scummyman has a certain basic appeal to it...
David Levinson
73. DemetriosX
Dr. Thanatos @72, et al.: You're overthinking this. You've got to let it just flow. When the time is right, it'll come to you. Maybe something Kate writes will inspire, maybe it will be something that comes up in the comments. Just relax and let come to you naturally.
Cait Glasson
74. CaitieCat
I often think of him as Sorry (excuse for a) Man. It's not effective for this use, though.

Sharkey probably works as well as anything, and has the advantage of being relatively canon. :)
Soon Lee
75. SoonLee

Pairs well with Wormy.
David Levinson
76. DemetriosX
Coming back around to this chapter, a couple of things. First of all, I would hope that Elrond put some thought into his insistence that he would only let Aragorn and Arwen marry if Aragorn became king. Elrond is after all the greatgrandson of Beren and Luthien. Considering Thingol's ill-thought-out conditions for their relationship, I would have expected Elrond to be more wary.

We've talked off and on about Aragorn's "specialness" that makes him king. I've been rereading The Silmarillion and something jumped out at me this time. Aragorn is not just the descendent of the kings of Numenor. He is also descended from all three houses of the Edain - the Men who first encountered the elves in Beleriand, from the original king of the Noldor (who had been to Valinor), from several other Sindar, and (and this is the biggie) a Maia. He pretty much has the whole of the First Age wrapped up in his genealogy.
Dr. Thanatos
77. pilgrimsoul
And Aragorn's union with Arwen reunites some of the lines.
I figure if Elrond was willing to see his daughter sacrifice her elvishness--and apparently he was--he wanted such sacrifice to have great meaning and benefit.
On the other hand, the real Aragorn--the one in the book not the movie--seemed to need no extra motivation and had no doubts of his worthiness for his destiny.
Dr. Thanatos
78. Dr. Thanatos
It is true that Aragorn is the Big Heir: Numenor, the Edain, the Noldor, the Sindar, and Maia---no family tree linkage to Durin, Bombadil, or Fangorn, as far as I can tell would make the trifecta...].

Having just re-listened to the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen I am struck by the juxtaposition of his learning of his heritage and his meeting Arwen . It's like he was being primed for this. He also drew the parallels between Luthien/Thingol and Arwen/Elrond and Elrond said explicitly that turning Arwen mortal was such a big deal that he would only agree if basically Aragorn had beaten Sauron, reunited the kingdoms, and won Dancing with the Stars. I'm sure they were aware of the parallels but I would also note that "win the war and save the world" is not the same as "do the impossible because I know you will die instead of succeeding and then I can continue to have the creepily controlling relationship with my very attractive daughter." Elrond did not intend for Aragorn to die trying like Thingol did for Beren, and I think that makes all the difference.

And I think I may have something to call Saruman but let's wait until the Scouring to see if it works...

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