The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOTR.

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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby solicitr » Fri Feb 01, 2013 11:36 am

Morwenna wrote:
My question is about a bit in ROTK when the hobbits are on their way home. I think it might even be before arriving at Rivendell (I'm not sure; I'm at work right now). They've seen Saruman and they're speculating on what's going on at home, and one of them says that Lotho's sure to be behind it, whatever it is. Why Lotho? What's been set up to suggest that, to them or to the reader? Of course they're right, but it looks to me like a glitch. Someone suggested that it was due to the fact of the pipeweed in Isengard, and what they knew of Lotho's character, but frankly I'm not buying it. Lotho can't have been the only source of Longbottom Leaf, surely. And darn it, didn't that happen fast? I mean, unless Saruman was consciously moving against the Shire even before he was demoted, and if so, why? I think it was Farmer Cotton who told them when the trouble started. It gives pelnty of time for the occupation to unfold, but why would Saruman have picked on the Shire for his trade and domination? Was it just because Gandalf liked hobbits? Or because he figured the Shire had something to do with the Ring, either because of Gandalf's interest, or because of some warning from Sauron? (Am I answering my own questions?)


Well, to break your post into two issues- the first one is a bit rickety on Tolkien's part, and suggests psychic powers on Sam's part...

The second, though, is covered pretty well in The Hunt For the Ring etc; and, yes, Saruman's interest in the Shire is in part due to his suspicions raised by Gandalf's interest in the place... but in part also due to Saruman's secret envy of Gandalf, and his surreptitiously taking up smoking in imitation of Big G.

What's not really made clear in THFtR, though, is how Saruman knew that the Ringwraiths were hunting for the Ring when they turned up on his doorstep- or even that the Ring had been found (even if we surmise that, being no dummy, once Saruman cottoned to the Ring's resurfacing he figured out where Gandalf had it stashed).
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby Frodome » Tue Mar 25, 2014 9:26 pm

I have a question. Why did "Do the Balrogs have wings" discussion start? Does Tolkien say something about this?
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby Lackluster » Wed Apr 02, 2014 5:52 am

To my shame I never read threads on Balrogs' wings, but my guess as to why discuss them is this. The Balrog in Moria had wings:

"...suddenly it drew itself up to a great height, and its wings were spread from wall to wall..." (FOTR, The bridge of Khazad-dum)

Yet still it falls (wings too wide to flap? Intentional fall? Wings good for nothing?). Whether all Balrogs were of the same morphology is not clear but Glorfindel's Balrog also falls (and is killed in the fall).

To the subject of this thread, my LOTR issues (by no means 'top' though) would be:

How did Gandalf regain Glamdring and his staff after he came back?

Who spoke the doom to Elrond's children? (I would add 'Who informed Elrond and Elros that they got a choice' but it would be beyond LOTR)

Why didn't Gandalf tell Frodo to leave the Shire as soon as practically possible, once the truth about the a Ring has been discovered?

And one more... The Great rings gave long life to mortal bearers and made them invisible when worn. Were longevity and invisibility related or independent effects? Were these effects the result of the influence from the Master-ring?
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby solicitr » Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:14 am

Were longevity and invisibility related or independent effects?


It's hard to say. While simply possessing a Ring didn't exactly "give long life" but did have the effect of "stretching" one's life over more time- as Bilbo said, "like butter scraped too thin across too much bread," that effect took place whether one wore or used the ring or not; just having it was enough. "Fading" into permanent invisibility, however, Gandalf says is a function of wearing it and becoming invisible, and with some frequency- after all, Gollum isn't transparent. It may however be the case that the latter is to some extent predicated on the former, in that a "stretched" life is then susceptible to fading.
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby solicitr » Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:18 am

Who spoke the doom to Elrond's children? (I would add 'Who informed Elrond and Elros that they got a choice' but it would be beyond LOTR)


I would imagine Elrond did, since they weren't born until the Third Age, after contact with the West had been lost (except for the one-way trip). Elrond and Elros were v. probably told by Eonwe himself, Herald of Manwe, as the Valar's commander and plenipotentiary in the War of Wrath.
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby Lackluster » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:42 am

I too think Eonwe told Elros and Elrond of their choice, I guess I was wondering about how that happened - did he look for them specifically?

Elrond may have technically spoken the doom but I doubt he had the authority to appoint it, and it may be unlikely that he would deliberately give them a choice not identical to his own, which was unconditional - he could select either kindred regardless of where we wanted to live - although irrevocable. In case of his children, they could not be counted among Elves if they stayed in Middle-earth. I would suppose that Elrond (if he was the one to speak the doom) was informed perhaps in his dreams, with Irmo's help (or, was the notion of Olore Malle long since abandoned?), but the doom should be given by Manwe. Yes, the direct contact with the West was lost, but some powers were still acting - for example against the will of Sauron with respect to the Ring-finding (so that Bilbo could stumble upon it). Also at that time there was a west-looking Palantir at Tower Hills...
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby fatty*lumpkin » Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:04 pm

solicitr wrote:
Tolkien wrote:I think that in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, being destroyed with their gardens in
the War of the Last Alliance (Second Age 3429-3441) when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy
and burned their land against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin (vol. II p. 79 refers to it2).
They survived only in the 'agriculture' transmitted to Men (and Hobbits). Some, of course, may
have fled east, or even have become enslaved: tyrants even in such tales must have an economic
and agricultural background to their soldiers and metal-workers. If any survived so, they would
indeed be far estranged from the Ents, and any rapprochement would be difficult – unless
experience of industrialized and militarized agriculture had made them a little more anarchic. I hope
so. I don't know.
--Letter no. 144
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby Lackluster » Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:06 am

A couple of other unresolved issues:

- What was Saruman's ring?

- Why were the bearers of the One ring allowed / invited to go to the West? Would Gollum be allowed to go there too, had he lived?
Last edited by Lackluster on Sat Apr 05, 2014 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby solicitr » Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:25 pm

1) We don't know, other than that Saruman named himself "Saruman Ring-maker" so we should assume it was one of his own devising. However, it doesn't seem to have been an artifact of any great power, since it's never mentioned again
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby scirocco » Mon Apr 07, 2014 9:47 pm

Lackluster wrote:Why were the bearers of the One ring allowed / invited to go to the West? Would Gollum be allowed to go there too, had he lived?


It seems highly unlikely that Gollum would have gone unless he had acted very differently for the last years of his life. Within the morality of the story, the invitation to the West was a reward for beneficial actions taken (and in Frodo's case to find healing). Gollum had been entirely motivated by self-interest and base desires, not to mention having multiple chances for repentance, and had refused them all. The fact that he had actually brought about the destruction of the Ring when Frodo had failed reflected no credit on him.

But in this story it is supposed that there may be certain rare exceptions or accommodations (legitimately supposed? there always seem to be exceptions); and so certain 'mortals', who have played some great part in Elvish affairs, may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus Frodo (by the express gift of Arwen) and Bilbo, and eventually Sam (as adumbrated by Frodo); and as a unique exception Gimli the Dwarf, as friend of Legolas and 'servant' of Galadriel..

Letter 154, J.R.R Tolkien
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby Shadowman82 » Sat Jul 05, 2014 1:34 pm

I always wondered about why some Maia could be hurt by ordinary weapons and others could not . For example Saruman could be killed by ordinary weapons , but Gandalf the white could not . Isildur managed to cut the ring from Sauron's hand with just a sword . But Gandalf also claims swords are no use against the Balrog , what gives with that ?

Why didn't they just use the eagles to fly to mount doom ? I mean when the Fellowship first made out from Rivendell Sauron had zero air defenses . The Nazgul where still riding on horses and it's unlikely he could have recalled them and given them their winged steeds fast enough once he had noticed the eagles coming into to mordor . And it doesn't look like he himself could have done anything to stop them either .
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby Black Numenorean » Wed Jul 09, 2014 9:51 pm

Can you give me the reference to Gandalf the White not being able to be damaged by weapons?

Isildur could cut the ring off Sauron's finger because, firstly Maia can be affected by normal weapons, and secondly, Sauron was forced to keep the form of the Dark Lord after he died (sorta) at the fall of Numenor. We know this because when Gollum describes the Dark Lord, he is said to be missing a finger. As for the Barlog, Gandalf meant it figuratively. Weapons could be used to kill barlogs, many were killed during the wars against Morgoths by Elves and Dwarves, but Gandalf in that context knew that it would take more than just the party at hand to kill the barlog.

I think the eagles were associated with the Valar, as Manwe's servants, and therefore could not directly help in the affairs of Middle-Earth, but yet again they do help Gandalf in The Hobbit and at the final battle outside the Black Gate, but perhaps at that point Manwe decided, hey, lets help them now seeing that Frodo is going to plop the ring in Mount Doom.
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby BerenVonRictoffen » Thu Jul 10, 2014 1:39 pm

1) Who / what was Tom Bombadil?

An ainur who came to Earth before the others took sides with Melkor or Manwe.

2) Do Balrogs have wings?

No. To begin with, consider the term "demon-spirits;" these are of Arda, not Heaven or Hell literature; and therefore balrogs don't look like traditional demons, which are fallen angels who kept their wings but became deformed; this distinction has been missed by a lot of arists, who hear the word "demon" and think "hell-beast" without considering context.
However, Balrogs, like most maiar, were human-like in appearance at the outset, but became "clothed in darkness while their hearts were of fire."
Accordingly, the text expressly says that the balrog "could not be seen," but was "like a shadow at the middle of which was a dark form of man-shape, maybe, but greater." And men don't have wings, so the balrog didn't.
So the balrog's "shadow-like" cloak was some type of light-absorbing magic, which it could grow or shrink at will.
So when the "shadow" reached out like two wings, that wasn't the balrog sprouting a couple of flapping bat's arms; rather, it was using its shadow to scare Gandalf, in response to telling it "the dark fire will not avail you." I don't think Gandalf would be afraid of wings, but he was less powerful against darkness (as shown against the Nazgul at Weathertop, where he was "hard put to it" all night; but drove all nine before him when the sun was in the sky."

Likewise, the narrative follows a pattern of simile-to-metaphor; i.e. first it says that the balrog looked "like a shadow, at the middle of which was a dark form of man-shape;" then it says "the shadow about it (metaphor) reached out like two vast wings (simile);" and then "its wings (metaphor) were spread from wall to wall."
So for balrogs to have actual wings, then their "darkness" would have to be actual shadow.

3) What happened to the two Blue Wizards?

It's unknown, but suffice it to say that they failed to turn the men of the East against Sauron; this is why "all the East was moving" against Gondor- the reason that Denethor killed himself,since he knew that there was no hope against all that.

4) Why didn't Gandalf use one of the eagles to fly someone with the Ring to Mount Doom?

Mordor was
slightly
well-guarded, and a giant bird would attract a fair amount of attention. Even two hobbits couldn't sneak in without one of them being caught.

5) **What happened to the Entwives? Did Sam's cousin see one?**

According to Tolkien, they likely perished in the Battle of Dagorlad; and it's uncertain what Sam's cousin saw. Galadriel also said that the Entwives wouldn't be seen until the Second Music of the Ainur.

6) **Was the Watcher of the Water allied to Sauron?**
( Prompting it to grab Frodo first? )


Sauron was in control of Moria, so the Watcher would serve to attack his enemies but not his servants-- just like Sauron's other "Watchers" at Cirith Ungol and Minas Morgul.

7) **Did Bill Ferny or the Nazgul attack the Inn at Bree?**

Bill Ferny was in on it, but he only sold them information on what he saw, and where they were staying.

8 ) What color was Legolas' hair?

Brown, like every Elf whose hair-color wasn't expressly mentioned-- especially an Elf who was prominent to the plot.

9) Why was there a reference to an "express train" when describing the passing of the dragon firework at Bilbos' farewell party?

Because you know what that is, and would get the simile.

10) Do Elves have pointed ears?

Yes, they are said to have "leaf-shaped" ears.

Honorable Mention...Is that really what the Fox thought? :wink:

Well the wolves can talk, so do the math.
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby Shadowman82 » Thu Jul 10, 2014 1:50 pm

Can you give me the reference to Gandalf the White not being able to be damaged by weapons?


Gandalf says this after he appears for the first time as Gandalf the white to Gimli , Legolas and Aragorn :

"Get up , my good Gimli! No blame to you , and no harm done to me. Indeed my friends, none of you have any weapon that could hurt me "

Now seeing that Aragorn was wielding the sword that cut the ring from Sauron I would say if none of them have any weapon to hurt Gandalf the white than no other weapon can either .

As for the Barlog, Gandalf meant it figuratively. Weapons could be used to kill barlogs, many were killed during the wars against Morgoths by Elves and Dwarves, but Gandalf in that context knew that it would take more than just the party at hand to kill the barlog.


Well if Gandalf alone can destroy the Balrog then I would assume if normal weapons can be used against it that Gandalf together with the others could kill the Balrog even quicker. I suspect maybe Gandalf lied to get the others to safety then .
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby FrodoTook » Thu Jul 07, 2016 4:21 pm

Worth reading, in my opinion.
Image

Smaug the Golden.
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Re: The most commonly questioned / unresolved issues of LOT

Postby Morwenna » Wed Jul 27, 2016 5:13 pm

About Gandalf not being hurt by weapons: that was after he came back after dying with the Balrog. Before that, his body was like any other adopted by a maia. He was "sent back," therefore he was immune to ordinary physical dangers because of the necessity for completing his mission. One could assume that if anything were to harm him, as long as he continued acting in the service of the Light, he would be sent back again.
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