Wednesday, May 28, 2014

LOTR Read-Along: The Last Debate (ROTK Ch. 9)

I'm always amused by Legolas and Gimli's exchange at the beginning of this chapter.  Gimli says, "When Aragorn comes into his own," and Legolas replies with "If Aragorn comes into his own" (p. 854, emphasis added).  It's like a little extra insight into their characters, Gimli confident and charging ahead, Legolas more cautious.

There's a theme in this later section of the trilogy of, to put it Hamletishly, being hoisted with one's own petard.  It comes up most pointedly now, when Aragorn refers to the Army of the Dead felling so many Mordor troops.  He says, "[w]ith its own weapons was it worsted!" (p. 858).  I don't have anything particularly to add to that, just thought I'd mention it.  Sauron's own weapons get used against him several times, don't they?  Most obviously, the ring, of course.

Favorite Lines:

"Pale swords were drawn; but I know not whether their blades would still bite, for the Dead needed no longer any weapon but fear" (p. 858).

"Follow what may, great deeds are not lessened in worth" (p. 859).

"We come now to the very brink, where hope and despair are akin.  To waver is to fall" (p. 862).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Gandalf returns to a theme he stated way back in chapter two of The Fellowship of the Ring, and which Galadriel reiterated:  "Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.  What weather they shall have is not ours to rule" (p. 861).  Why do you think Tolkien emphasizes this repeatedly?


  1. Gandalf might have emphasized that wisdom because he knew that if 'ordinary' people thought they had to 'master all the tides of the world' to make a change, they would loose their nerve and do nothing. So he had to repeat again: every little thing you do is of importance.

    1. Yes, I think Gandalf knew just how easily someone could be cowed by the thought that everything depended on them. Because he kind of lives with that, doesn't he? In a way -- all this is his great fight, he needs to get the various players into the game, he needs to do absolutely everything he can with the time that is given him. The extra time, since he's come back now.

    2. You're right. But you don't often think about it that way (at least I don't), because Gandalf's power and importance is so often hidden behind his 'old-man-facade' and his humor. But he ís one of the Mayar, so he is the most powerful of all.

    3. No, I don't tend to think of him that way, but this read-through has really had me picking up on how busy he is, and how his actions (or inactions, like when he had to go save Faramir, so it was Merry and Eowyn who felled the Witch King of Angmar) have pretty serious ramifications. What a heavy burden that knowledge must be for him!


What do you think?

Comments on old posts are always welcome!

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