TTT, Book 4, Chapter 1, The Taming of Smeagol

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TTT, Book 4, Chapter 1, The Taming of Smeagol

Postby Notta Hobbit » Thu Feb 28, 2013 7:17 pm

Summary

Frodo and Sam are stuck in the Emyn Muil, with no food but lembas and no way to get into Mordor. They go down into a gully whose bottom is a cliff. Frodo climbs down and then falls when a Black Rider passes over. Sam remembers the elven rope he was given and hauls him back up. Finally they use the rope to climb down, and the rope obediently unties itself afterward. While resting a little farther on, they spot Gollum behind them climbing face down the cliff. He ends up falling and Sam pounces on him, but Frodo gives him the choice of guiding them instead. He agrees, but tries to escape at the first opportunity. Frodo has Sam tie him up, but the elven rope hurts Smeagol, so Frodo forces him to swear by the Ring "to be very, very good" and "never to let Him have it." His actual promise is "to serve the master of the Precious." Frodo accepts and has Sam remove the rope. Smeagol tells them he knows a way across the marshes.

Questions

1. What exactly about the rope is hurting Smeagol? Is it physical or psychological?
2. Smeagol's promise is actually very vague. Why does Frodo let him get away with it?
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Re: TTT, Book 4, Chapter 1, The Taming of Smeagol

Postby Morwenna » Fri Mar 01, 2013 10:51 am

Frodo realizes that that's the best he's going to get out of Smeagol. Of course, the "master of the Precious" could be either Frodo or Sauron! Be careful what you ask for... But Smeagol does specify "never to let Him have it," which bodes well, sort of. At least he won't turn them in, though he could still do a lot of mischief.

As for the rope, it's probably both. There are magical things in the story, at least as we call magical, and the elven products fall under that. They have a "virtue," as I think Tolkien said somewhere, that manifests itself in physical effects, and this virtue is so in more senses than one because if there's anything that Gollum has been lacking in life for many years, it's virtue. It's almost like putting a D&D spin on it (but then again, this work was one of the main inspirations for D&D!). We'll see it in a future chapter when Gollum can't tolerate lembas.
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Re: TTT, Book 4, Chapter 1, The Taming of Smeagol

Postby Notta Hobbit » Fri Mar 01, 2013 1:45 pm

I think you must be right about Frodo's accepting that this is the best he'll get from Smeagol. Frodo is a better hobbit than I am. I would have left him tied up. What worried me was that the master of the Ring could be Sauron, Frodo, or anyone else who happened to have the Ring in their possession for any amount of time. Plus, I wasn't at all convinced that this meant he wouldn't turn them in. Not with the Ring, of course--but if he could devise another way. . . .
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Re: TTT, Book 4, Chapter 1, The Taming of Smeagol

Postby Morwenna » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:34 am

He did devise another way. With Shelob.
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