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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:38 pm 
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Let me just add briefly that I also am in agreement with the point about Sam's brief bearing of the Ring, and it's crucial importance to his evolution.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:12 pm 
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As Galadriel tells the Company, ' ...your Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a liitle and it will fail, to the ruin of all.'

It is a call for moral probity. If the wrong moral choices are made then there are consequences. In Tolkien's high romance those consequences are semi mythological. As I said earlier I believe Sam's easy recourse to hostility on the Stair of Cirith Ungol had consequences both rational - Gollum turned from near repentance back to betrayal - and mythological - the centre of Sam's life is brought near to death and the Quest is almost destroyed. Bear in mind Tolkien almost certainly consciously gives us alternative ways of looking at predestination in the story, much as he gives us alternative ways of looking at evil.

Sam's empathy from bearing the Ring is interesting. Supremely, it allows him to recognise what has twisted Sméagol on the slopes of Orodruin and perhaps that final gesture of Mercy and Pity is what allowed the Quest to succeed again both rationally - Sméagol survives to thwart the power of the Ring - and again mythologically in that the Quest is 'allowed' to succeed.

Tolkien distinguishes between the pity that comes from the superior position, the position of comfort and moral certainty and that which comes from recognising a commonality with the unfortunate which says, 'There but for the Grace of God go I.'

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:22 pm 
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I do not agree ...

I know what is meant when someone says that Sam lacks imagination, and yet the entire statement strikes me as wrong. It is Sam who tries to imagine what life was like for the dead enemy soldier he sees. That is empathy, and it comes from no experience that Sam has in his life. That flash of kinship comes from imagination. Sam's understanding of the elves, his understanding of the beauty they carry, a beauty that is passing away: this comes from imagination. Sam's life in the Shire does not prepare him for the elves, or tell him the essence of what they are. Sam has imagination, the kind that sees the roots of things. How else can he resist the ring so easily?

I understand, I think, what Jnyusa means when she says the ring confers empathy to Frodo and Sam. I do not disagree with the meaning in context, but I disagree with the meaning I would take from the sentence stripped of context. The ring confers only experience. I think this is important. The bearer chooses how to use that experience. Almost any experience can either purify or taint. How do I receive what happens around me? How do my choices signify how it has changed me? I am not the same person I was yesterday. Neither is Sam. His experience with the ring is his gateway to empathy for Gollum. It needn't have been. Sam could have cut off empathy, denied the possibility he had seen in himself if he had kept the ring and let it gnaw at his soul. He could have denied the subtle and horrible kinship with Sméagol that he perceived. How ghastly. What a horrible thing for Sam to see, and yet he only struck angrily with words, not his sword. There is also this: his experience need not have been his gateway to empathy because he might have seen it earlier, through imagination. Bilbo did! His empathy was not conferred by the ring. Bilbo had the ring when he spared Gollum's life, be he as yet had not had any experience with the burden of the ring. The gateway for Bilbo's empathy was imagination.

I cannot let this go. I keep arguing, talking about horrible Gollum, and I wonder why. I love Sam, but I have to love him as he is, not as I want him to be. His hostility toward Gollum is wrong. I know it is because I could so easily share it and I know it would be wrong in me too. Gollum is so distasteful I do not think I could bear it if I really was in the presence of him and his behavior.

Frodo has distaste for Gollum. This is the very word used to describe how Frodo feels about Gollum when he goes into the forbidden pool to rescue him. How he feels! But not how he acts. I was wrong before, when I said distaste is the same as hostility. You cannot order your emotions, but you can order your actions. That is how we live. Of course it is hard. As I have said many times, I am not interested in blaming Sam, whatever blame might mean. I will just tell what I see. Both Sam and Frodo think about ordering Gollum's death in the forbidden pool. They both want to, but neither does. Sam, because he knows Frodo will disapprove, at least. And Frodo? Is it empathy that spares Gollum there? Is it really? I don't think Frodo would have ordered Gollum slain even if he had no empathy for him. No matter what it would have been a horrible, cowardly, treacherous act to have killed their guide who had done them service. And yet as it was Gollum took the events there as treachery. I am convinced, that this, more than anything Sam did, set Gollum firmly on the path to betrayal.

So I do not blame Sam.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 11:29 pm 
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I agree with you, Faramond.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:50 am 
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As do I. ...

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:21 am 
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I hope I haven't rushed into a reply just because my immediate reaction was so visceral.

Ah me. Actually, Faramond, I'm the one who said that bearing the Ring precipitated an empathy to Sam. Twice. In two separate posts. I quote myself:

On page 3, I said:
Quote:
Well, he wouldn't understand the dynamic between Frodo and Gollum, now would he? He wasn't (yet) a ring-bearer and without that synergy his only concern would be Frodo's safety


and

Expanded a bit on page 6:
Quote:
I continue believing that the primary reason why Sam could not overcome his initial distaste (and this is important) is because he had not, as yet, suffered the burden of the Ring. Sméagol and Frodo had a created (inadvertent) bond . Frodo understood Gollum's mind and frequently his motives, in ways impossible for Sam. Frodo could empathize! You'll note that only after Sam carried the Ring and had experience of its terrible seductive power, then, and only then was he capable of pity and mercy! And why only afterwords? Because whether he wanted it or no, he had shared ....... and only by sharing could he move from sympathy into a genuine empathy. 



I know you know where I am going with this; I know you know I disagree, I'm sorry.

The very brief reflection about the dead soldier is not empathy. It is sympathy and fleeting at that. I make the distinction between sympathy and empathy. The latter puts oneself in place of another and 'walks in the other shoes' as it were. Sam hardly feels either of those emotions. He does not feel the soldier's pain, he simply wonders how that soldier got to be at the losing end of a battle in Ithilian. Sam is curious, maybe sympathetically curious, about the soldier's motives and what drove him to take up arms for Sauron. He does not identify with him and surely empathy requires identifying. So, you see, I cannot accept that incident as an prior example of Sam's capacity for empathy.

I will, however, renege upon a rash statement made in another post where I said that possibly Sam lacked imagination. He does not and you make good points.

But this:

Faramond said:
Quote:
The ring confers only experience. I think this is important. The bearer chooses how to use that experience. Almost any experience can either purify or taint.


No. Just no. The Ring confers far more than just experience. Far, far more. You cannot compare the experience of carrying the Ring to anything else in the whole of Arda. The Ring is a Power, an evil power and it fundamentally changes the bearer in irrevocable ways. You cannot equate the absolute evil that is the One Ring with any other thing under the sun nor do I believe that you can apply the same criteria. I did not say, nor ever consider that the Ring conferred empathy. That would be a preposterous belief: what happens instead, imo, is that because the experience of the Ring is so devastating it allowed Sam to glimpse (and feel) the misery and the pain Gollum has endured for centuries ..... therefore Sam has a new-found ability for empathy with that miserable, rotten little creature.

Bilbo you say had empathy for Gollum because he did not kill him. I am not as intimately connected to the Hobbit (not at all, to be truthful; read once and I can't get through it again) but two arguments spring to mind. Bilbo was more concerned with escaping than he was in murder and The Hobbit was written as a children's book before Tolkien was cognizant of the magnitude of what the Ring truly was. Or what it became I should say. And, besides Bilbo and his tale had not yet metamorphosed into The History of LotR.


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I cannot let this go. I keep arguing, talking about horrible Gollum, and I wonder why. I love Sam, but I have to love him as he is, not as I want him to be. His hostility toward Gollum is wrong. I know it is because I could so easily share it and I know it would be wrong in me too. Gollum is so distasteful I do not think I could bear it if I really was in the presence of him and his behavior.
 

The difference then, between us, is that I do love Sam as he is. I don't want my Sam without fault. I don't want him to understand the reason for Gollum's spiritual depravity before the right time which is after Sam bore the Ring. Gollum is despicable and I would rather have the story of Sam with all of his stumbling and all of his dogged, determined, one-dimensional, tunnel vision which is solely focused on survival and getting Frodo to Mordor in one piece.

I apologize for quoting myself so extensively but it's easier to copy/paste than it is to paraphrase:

Sass said:
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Sam is not a saint. Never was. Never will be. Never could be. He is not 'transparent' or 'transformed' like Frodo and I don't suppose that his air was ever 'Elvish', but to my mind, his value is in the wonder of him representing Everyman. He represents Us, he is US with all of our struggles and in striving to do the right thing he lays bare the heart and shows what is best in us.
 

This is still my opinion of Sam and, for me, it is the right one. Or perhaps I should say that it's the one with which I'm the most comfortable.

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Is it empathy that spares Gollum there? Is it really? I don't think Frodo would have ordered Gollum slain even if he had no empathy for him. No matter what it would have been a horrible, cowardly, treacherous act to have killed their guide who had done them service. And yet as it was Gollum took the events there as treachery. I am convinced, that this, more than anything Sam did, set Gollum firmly on the path to betrayal


Wow! I have never seriously considered this before. You are absolutely, positively right. Of course you are. It makes so much sense. This was THE betrayal by the one person in all of Middle-earth Gollum was starting to trust. The single person whom Gollum might have loved. Did love. That betrayal cut deeply. Given Gollum's paranoia, no, no recovery is possible.

Ach. So sad.

< see, I feel sympathy here, not empathy. I doubt I could ever feel empathetic toward Stinker or Slinker> :D

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:23 am 
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Sassafras wrote:
I know you know where I am going with this; I know you know I disagree, I'm sorry.


My dear Sass, that is definitely not something to apologize for. While there have certainly been many times over the course of this running seven year long ( :shock: ) conversation that we have had about Tolkien's works where the participants have found sudden and sometimes surprising agreement, it has been the kindly yet passionate disagreements that have fueled this remarkable group exchange (and can anyone doubt that has been -- and continues to be -- remarkable?). I am thankful for the times where you, or Ath, or Faramond, or Jn, or Ax, or one of the many other wonderful people that have contributed over the years have challenged things that I have said as I am for the times when I have been agreed with. More so.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:35 am 
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Faramond wrote:
I understand, I think, what Jnyusa means when she says the ring confers empathy to Frodo and Sam. I do not disagree with the meaning in context, but I disagree with the meaning I would take from the sentence stripped of context.


So would I. :)

'Confer' was a poorly chosen word. The sunset ‘gives’ me joy, but only in the reflexive sense; I would never write of the sunset that it confers joy upon me.

It would have been more accurate for me to say that Frodo and Sam respond by finding empathy. Empathy is not granted by the Ring itself, obviously. It is the bearer who rises to the occasion, not the Ring.

Faramond responds with quality but not with empathy as such; nor is Boromir’s response antipathetic as such. Their inner demons are different from those of Frodo and Sam. What is interesting about it for me, thinking about it in a focused way now, is the breadth of response possible, even though the Ring itself is presented as overpoweringly monolithic in its effect on those who see it and/or bear it. For all its power, it has little influence in the end. It takes Frodo at the end only by brute force, the last resort of those who have exhausted their influence and surrendered the battle of convictions.

Marcus Aurelius says, “Of each particular thing, ask: what is it in itself?” When a character comes into contact with the Ring, what is revealed is not so much the power of the Ring as the essence of the one responding to it, who they are in themselves. By the end of the story we know no more about the Ring itself than we knew in the earliest chapters.

Faramond wrote:
The ring confers only experience. I think this is important.


Sass wrote:
No. Just no. The Ring confers far more than just experience. Far, far more. You cannot compare the experience of carrying the Ring to anything else in the whole of Arda. The Ring is a Power, an evil power and it fundamentally changes the bearer in irrevocable ways.


Well, both are right, I have to say. :D

I think you are using the word ‘experience’ to mean two different things having different import. I understood Faramond to mean that the Ring is ‘outer’ - it prompts response from the bearer but does not cause the response that is given. It is a catalyst, and every character is changed by it differently depending on his own nature. And I understood Sass to be referring precisely to this quality, that it is more than neutral experience, it is catalytic, unveiling, precipitous in a way that nothing else in Arda can be.

Faramond wrote:
I cannot let this go. I keep arguing, talking about horrible Gollum, and I wonder why. I love Sam, but I have to love him as he is, not as I want him to be. His hostility toward Gollum is wrong. I know it is because I could so easily share it and I know it would be wrong in me too.


Sass wrote:
I don't want my Sam without fault. I don't want him to understand the reason for Gollum's spiritual depravity before the right time which is after Sam bore the Ring. Gollum is despicable and I would rather have the story of Sam with all of his stumbling and all of his dogged, determined, one-dimensional, tunnel vision which is solely focused on survival and getting Frodo to Mordor in one piece.


I don’t believe in the redeemability of Gollum. Finding goodness in Gollum was a lost cause, a chimera of misguided optimism, in my opinion; and I do not fault Sam for refusing to give Gollum any benefit of the doubt. It is enough for me that Sam refrains from killing him, and not only because of newfound empathy but also simply because "not even the very wise can see all ends."

Frodo, above the Forbidden Pool, and Sam, on Sammath Nuir, both eschew the convenience of getting rid of Gollum for the deeper wisdom of letting him live, and it is enough, I think, for us to acknowledge which is the better path and to act accordingly. I agree with Faramond that if empathy were missing, imagination should suffice.

But in fact it does not matter to me whether Gollum was redeemable or not. I have no religious impediments to believing either way, whereas I understand that for Tolkien there was a large religious impediment to making Gollum irredeemable.

Maybe that impediment was a good thing, because the resulting ambivalence toward Gollum reflected by the characters, and the ambivalence provoked in us readers, is most realistic of the truth about evil, which is that we are rarely able to reconcile our native repulsion to our logical knowledge that an evildoer may not be a wholly evil person.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:56 am 
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Jnyusa wrote:
I don’t believe in the redeemability of Gollum.


Neither do I. Moreover, I don't want to believe in it. It does not trouble me to feel that way.

The Gollum we heard about, that crept into nurseries and stole from cradles - the Gollum that strangled Déagol within heartbeats of seeing the Ring - after hearing that, no room left for pity or empathy or anything but horror.

The Gollum that leads Sam and Frodo to Mordor is bad enough, what we see of Gollum is disgusting, and unpleasant. But I never saw him as "really" a serious, present threat to Frodo's life - maybe because Sam was there, maybe because that Gollum was more icky than Evil. Gollum had chances to kill Frodo and he didn't. He could have thumped Sam on the back of the head and been onto Frodo in seconds - but he didn't. The promise he made stopped him, I guess, but not because he thought promises were sacred - he knew (maybe unconsciously?) that if he tried to take the Ring he would go into the fire -because that's the curse that Frodo laid on him.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:38 am 
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vison wrote:
The Gollum that leads Sam and Frodo to Mordor is bad enough, what we see of Gollum is disgusting, and unpleasant. But I never saw him as "really" a serious, present threat to Frodo's life - maybe because Sam was there, maybe because that Gollum was more icky than Evil.


Now that I hear you express it, vison, I realize that I never saw Gollum as a serious threat either. He was threatening only because he was so close and so unpredictable. But I think that on my very first reading of the book, I expected Frodo to kill him at some point in the story. Gollum had to come to an end because there was nothing for him in a world without the Ring. If not killed outright he would have fizzled like the Wicked Witch of the West. I guess I thought that Frodo would be the one to do it, and that it would be a mercy killing.

This is a different topic ... I didn’t know how long I would be able to write when I was writing the post above vison's so I continued with the following as a separate post.

Someone ... vison maybe? or Sass? ... asked earlier whether Aragorn would have have been able to resist the Ring had he been ringbearer.

The way Tolkien has set things up, I feel quite confident that the answer is yes. If we are speaking purely of character, and the essence of character, he would have resisted as well as Frodo, maybe even better ... but that would have been an entirely different plot, an entirely different sort of story. It would have been a book about something completely different.

The temptation that would have confronted Aragorn, I concluded some years ago, is what the story of Arwen is about, and why that story is in the appendix at all along with the account of both their deaths.

Aragorn, in my opinion, was Sauron’s primary target from the moment the Shadow rose again in Mordor - not to kill him but to recruit him. Had Araagorn been ensnared by Sauron he would have usurped the Wiki and become lord over the Ringwraiths. If the Ring itself had not been found, this coup alone would have guaranteed Sauron the conquest of Middle Earth. (And failure of this outcome is what the prophecy for the Wiki is really about - not a prophecy of despair but one of hope; he will not be killed and his ring taken by Aragorn.)

The knowledge about Hobbits that Gollum gives to Sauron is as much a surprise to Sauron as it is to everyone else - suddenly there is a new twist in the wind, a new possible strategy, and the Ring is of course far more important to him than Aragorn could be and so his primary target shifts from Aragorn to Bilbo Baggins, at which point our tale begins. But remember that when Aragorn first met Arwen, the Ring had not yet been found. Aragorn was still in more danger than anyone else in Middle Earth, while simultaneously being the embodiment of everyone’s palpable hope that Arnor and Gondor might rise again and be united under his free kingship.

The worst thing Aragorn could do was to fall in love with an immortal woman. Sauron was the only one in Middle Earth who could grant any desire of his to be immortal together with her (however diseased such immortality would be). That is why immortality is what Arwen must foreswear, and why Elrond says that if losing Arwen is the only way to defeat Sauron then he will agree to it. (For some reason everyone reads Elrond’s statement backwards, and really, Tolkien writes with exceeding clarity.)

But once Arwen has chosen mortality, and Elrond has agreed, and they are betrothed, nothing could have swayed Aragorn from his chosen quest. I do not believe so. There was simply nothing the Ring could have offered him that he wanted and did not already have. On the contrary, accepting the Ring would have cost him everything, separated him from Arwen forever, she then mortal and he not.

Éowyn’s story also falls into a better-tailored place if we see Aragorn as the natural successor to the Wiki in Sauron’s reckoning ... it is my strongly-held opinion that she is the only person in Middle Earth who could have killed the Wiki, and that Tolkien was writing in a venerable literary tradition when he placed her on that battlefield.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:22 am 
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Jnyusa wrote:
The temptation that would have confronted Aragorn, I concluded some years ago, is what the story of Arwen is about, and why that story is in the appendix at all along with the account of both their deaths.

Aragorn, in my opinion, was Sauron’s primary target from the moment the Shadow rose again in Mordor - not to kill him but to recruit him. Had Araagorn been ensnared by Sauron he would have usurped the Wiki and become lord over the Ringwraiths. If the Ring itself had not been found, this coup alone would have guaranteed Sauron the conquest of Middle Earth. (And failure of this outcome is what the prophecy for the Wiki is really about - not a prophecy of despair but one of hope; he will not be killed and his ring taken by Aragorn.)

The knowledge about Hobbits that Gollum gives to Sauron is as much a surprise to Sauron as it is to everyone else - suddenly there is a new twist in the wind, a new possible strategy, and the Ring is of course far more important to him than Aragorn could be and so his primary target shifts from Aragorn to Bilbo Baggins, at which point our tale begins. But remember that when Aragorn first met Arwen, the Ring had not yet been found. Aragorn was still in more danger than anyone else in Middle Earth, while simultaneously being the embodiment of everyone’s palpable hope that Arnor and Gondor might rise again and be united under his free kingship.

The worst thing Aragorn could do was to fall in love with an immortal woman. Sauron was the only one in Middle Earth who could grant any desire of his to be immortal together with her (however diseased such immortality would be). That is why immortality is what Arwen must foreswear, and why Elrond says that if losing Arwen is the only way to defeat Sauron then he will agree to it. (For some reason everyone reads Elrond’s statement backwards, and really, Tolkien writes with exceeding clarity.)

But once Arwen has chosen mortality, and Elrond has agreed, and they are betrothed, nothing could have swayed Aragorn from his chosen quest. I do not believe so. There was simply nothing the Ring could have offered him that he wanted and did not already have. On the contrary, accepting the Ring would have cost him everything, separated him from Arwen forever, she then mortal and he not.


This is an extremely interesting reading of the Aragorn/Arwen tale and its meaning.

A reading that speaks of the "humanity" of Aragorn, perhaps as a complement to the "humanity" of Sam.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:42 am 
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Yes, that's a fascinating new way of thinking of it, and despite being new to me, convincing. The idea of Arwen choosing mortality being a key event in Sauron's defeat is very, very interesting, but also quite logical.

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Warning: massive digression from stated thread topic, my apologies in advance.

Jnyusa wrote:
The worst thing Aragorn could do was to fall in love with an immortal woman. Sauron was the only one in Middle Earth who could grant any desire of his to be immortal together with her (however diseased such immortality would be). That is why immortality is what Arwen must foreswear, and why Elrond says that if losing Arwen is the only way to defeat Sauron then he will agree to it. (For some reason everyone reads Elrond’s statement backwards, and really, Tolkien writes with exceeding clarity.).

That's a whole new take on the Arwen/Aragorn tale I had never even considered before. Thank you.

I have always read Aragorn and Arwen as a parallel with Beren and Lúthien. I am probably not alone in this - after all, on seeing Arwen for the first time Aragorn called out the name Tinúviel. In the story of Beren and Lúthien, Lúthien's father demands a Silmaril in exchange for his daughter's hand. In the story of Aragorn and Arwen, Arwen's father demands that Aragorn reclaim the crowns of Gondor and the North, a condition that struck me about as impossible but somewhat less fatal perhaps than marching into Angband and stealing a jewel from Morgoth's crown. As I have always read it, Elrond would not allow his daughter to give up her immortality for anyone less than a king and I just sort of assumed it was a skeptical daddy thing. But Jnyusa's idea puts this in a whole new light. Elrond was fighting Sauron with every weapon at his disposal, including the lives of his fosterling and his daughter. The only way Aragorn could ever fulfill the conditions Elrond set was to put Sauron down forever, and so Elrond was not offering his daughter's hand in marriage as a reward. Rather, he was offering her as Aragorn's shield. What could have been seen as disdain on the part of Elrond instead becomes fear for both Aragorn and Arwen.

Wow.

As far as Aragorn's ability to resist the Ring, he probably would have held it off as well as Frodo did. He refused to touch it when offered. In fact, at one point he says he has utterly rejected the Shadow. But he had a different part in this story and, also, I think how one comes by the Ring affects how one is affected by the Ring. Claiming ownership of the Ring certainly matters, but I also have a sense that those who come by it most legitimately seem to do better with it. Isildur claimed it as weregild, which, in that time and place, was a perfectly fine and legal way to acquire something. He vanquished the enemy who killed his father. He was entitled to a blood price. And though the Ring ultimately betrayed him (vengance?) it did not, AFAIK, corrupt him. Sméagol/Gollum stole it and look what happened to him. Bilbo's case is arguably theft, but one could also maybe argue he won it or claimed it as finder's keepers. IIRC, Bilbo did not know who the Ring belonged to when he picked it up, though he found out when Gollum reacted. And though Bilbo held up well, the Ring had set to work on him. But Bilbo did manage to do something only one other Ring-bearer in the whole saga managed to do: he gave up the Ring and gave it up willingly, passing it on to Frodo as part of Frodo's inheritance. Frodo did not take the Ring. He did not at any point, in the beginning, claim it for his own. It was given to him. Of the people living in Middle Earth at that point in time, the only other people who had claims just as legitimate as Frodo's were Isildur's Heir, who flatly refused it, and Sauron, who'd actually lost the thing fair and square but was sending out an army to reclaim it because he thought he could. Yet even Frodo ultimately succumbed, partly because there was a proximity effect (the Ring's evil became more...pungent the closer they came to Sauron) and maybe because Frodo had also started to take ownership of it. When it was time to surrender the Ring, he did not do it.

And who was the other person to take up the Ring and then give it up willingly? Samwise Gamgee. Sam took it from Frodo's neck when he thought Frodo was dead, not with any intention to use it or keep it for himself, but to carry on because he thinks Frodo can't. The Ring gets to work on him, but the Ring proves to be ineffective on him. And when he finds Frodo alive, he gives the Ring back to him because it's not his. Sam has no illusions about himself or his place in the world. He is a gardener, not The Gardener. He is actually more than he believes himself to be, but his belief that he is no more than a simple gardener is what allows him to shake the Ring so readily.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:54 am 
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Jny

Thank you for a whole new take on Aragorn/Arwen. I had never thought of Elrond doing it that way at all. I had always figured it was a daddy thing, but your thoughts make a great deal of sense.



My thoughts on Aragorn and the ring have always been that he could have resisted the power, but the one reason he utterly rejects the shadow is because of his history. I think it wasn't he didn't have the ability to destroy the ring, but he was afraid to because he knew he had the same blood in him(or same weakness as it were) as Isildur. In my mind Aragorn not wanting the ring had more to do with his fear of repeating history.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:17 pm 
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I've had no time to participate in this thread until now.

Sassafras, :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug: :hug:

Sassafras wrote:
Faramond said:
Quote:
The ring confers only experience. I think this is important. The bearer chooses how to use that experience. Almost any experience can either purify or taint.


No. Just no. The Ring confers far more than just experience. Far, far more. You cannot compare the experience of carrying the Ring to anything else in the whole of Arda. The Ring is a Power, an evil power and it fundamentally changes the bearer in irrevocable ways. You cannot equate the absolute evil that is the One Ring with any other thing under the sun nor do I believe that you can apply the same criteria.


Agree with this 100%. 8)

On Bilbo's empathy

Quote:
Bilbo you say had empathy for Gollum because he did not kill him. I am not as intimately connected to the Hobbit (not at all, to be truthful; read once and I can't get through it again) but two arguments spring to mind. Bilbo was more concerned with escaping than he was in murder and The Hobbit was written as a children's book before Tolkien was cognizant of the magnitude of what the Ring truly was. Or what it became I should say. And, besides Bilbo and his tale had not yet metamorphosed into The History of LotR.


I've not reread The Hobbit for some 10 years :upsidedown: but there's a fantastic little passage just as Bilbo is about to escape from Gollum ... mixed in with his fear and disgust he has a brief feeling of pity and horror for Gollum's unimaginably bleak and lonely life. It's very powerful. It spoke to me as a child when I heard the story for the first time and it puts a deeper element into the story, and Bilbo's character. And also great foreshadowing for LotR.

On the redeemability of Gollum

In the end, Gollum chose the darkness. :(

I am of the opinion that he could have been redeemed. I take Frodo's view in this and make no apology whatsoever for it. :P

I am fine with other readers coming to different interpretations. :halo:

Also fine with Sam wanting to protect Frodo, and not trusting Gollum.

But it was Frodo's mercy towards Gollum that was used by Providence to destroy the Ring, IMO. It was Frodo's mercy towards Gollum that Sam finally 'got', and understood.

:wave: to all

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 2:45 pm 
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Wonderful post, Jnyusa. Much to ponder.

For myself, I always trusted Aragorn.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:31 pm 
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Brian wrote:
This is an extremely interesting reading of the Aragorn/Arwen tale and its meaning.


Thank you, Brian. I wrote about this interpretation for the first time in the Moral Universe thread over on TORC all those years ago ... 2003 or 2004?

Tolkien did not write much that was accidental, in my opinion. Those inserted glimpses of earlier times spring from very tight, well-defined relationships between all the characters (including the character Middle Earth) and there is, in my opinion, a thematic evolution within the story that each and every character serves to fulfill.

We know from earlier drafts that he did not begin his work with all these pieces in place, but I believe that having written so many of the stories of the First Age before embarking on LotR, and given his theological perspective, much of LotR evolved instinctually as an anti-Gottendammerung, Tolkien’s response to his own myth. From that perspective, Aragorn above all must reflect to some extent the flawed, non-epic humanity that Beren could not be permitted to possess for narrative reasons.

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In the story of Beren and Lúthien, Lúthien's father demands a Silmaril in exchange for his daughter's hand. In the story of Aragorn and Arwen, Arwen's father demands that Aragorn reclaim the crowns of Gondor and the North ... As I have always read it, Elrond would not allow his daughter to give up her immortality for anyone less than a king and I just sort of assumed it was a skeptical daddy thing.


Yes, this seems to be the interpretation everyone seizes upon ... I think it may be so because of preconceptions about Elrond’s role in the story.

But if you reread the passage you will see that this is not what Elrond says. This is actually the opposite of what he says.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 5:46 pm 
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I think Gollum is redeemable. He has been alive a long time, and almost all that is left of him is twisted pettiness. But he has not wholly forgotten his life before the ring, and he still possesses free will. And I think Tolkien's description of Gollum's approach to the sleeping hobbits on the stairs of Cirith Ungol is as clear a statement as we could get that redemption is possible while still having the story remain true.

I find that passage a definitive statement that redemption is possible, though I know that other interpretations are possible. The moment is described as fleeting, and that may be a wedge for the view that redemption is impossible. In one sense I sort of agree that redemption is impossible. I find the word "fleeting" necessary because it keeps the story true. It is not realistic that Gollum would be redeemed. That would not be as good a story, as true a story, and I think Tolkien knew it, and so that is not how it goes. What is important to me is that the moment of redemption was there, no matter how briefly. The moment when Gollum could see beyond the ring. This moment that speaks to me and says that even in darkness I could find a new path.

And then it was gone, and I do not blame Sam at all. If it wasn't Sam it would have been something else. I do not fault Sam for reacting negatively to Gollum when he wakes and sees him pawing at Frodo. Well, he shouldn't have used the word "sneak", but he apologized for it very quickly, without even Frodo's urging. That is more than good enough for me, and it was good enough for Frodo too. That should have been the end of it, no harm done. But Gollum was petty, and vindictive, and eager to use the word to wield hatred against both himself and Sam. Gollum seized upon it the word "sneak" and would not let go. He was only too happy to make it truth. It bothers me now when Sam is blamed for Gollum's failed redemption, because it was all Gollum's choices in the end.

But they were choices, and for that, Gollum's redemption has to be possible, in some way. And Gollum did not hate Frodo.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:58 pm 
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I believe Gollum could be redeemed--if the Ring did not exist. And of course, if the Ring is destroyed, he dies as well, probably in short order.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 9:58 pm 
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The first thing Sméagol did when he saw the Ring was to murder Déagol. The first thing Bilbo did when he got the Ring was to not kill Gollum.

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