Friday, January 12, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: Lothlorien (FOTR 2, 6)


As you know, I love Rivendell. I think it sounds restful and quiet and calm -- like a library crossed with a woodland retreat center. But I don't love Lothlorien. It's a little too otherworldly for me, I think. Frodo thinks that "[i]n Rivendell there was memory of ancient things; in Lorien the ancient things still lived on in the waking world" (p. 340). To be honest, that kind of creeps me out. My brain says that it'd be cool to be able to interact with ancient things and people, but my instincts want nothing to do with it. So I don't blame Boromir and Gimli for hesitating to go there.

But anyway, there's one bit here that makes me laugh every time. When Haldir and his brothers encountered the fellowship, Legolas told Sam that "they say that you breathe so loud that they could shoot you in the dark," which seems really rude, but I just have to laugh because "Sam hastily put his hand over his mouth" when Legolas said that, and then when Legolas, Frodo, and Sam get invited up onto one of the elves' flets, it says "behind came Sam trying not to breathe loudly" (p. 333). And that amuses me to no end, the image of Sam climbing a rope ladder and spending more energy on breathing quietly than on climbing.

Also, I love the Elvish word for orcs: yrch. It sounds like someone saying 'yuck,' which is probably exactly what I'd say if I saw an orc. After I quit screaming and running away, anyway.

Favorite Lines:

"We must do without hope," he said. "At least we may yet be avenged" (p. 324).

"Indeed in nothing is the power of the Dark Lord more clearly shown than in the estrangement that divides all those who still oppose him" (p. 339).

"We live now upon an island amid many perils, and our hands are more often upon the bowstring than upon the harp" (p. 339).

"The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater" (p. 339).

On the land of Lorien there was no stain (p. 341).

Discussion Questions:

There's a poignant moment where Merry tells Haldir, "I have never been out of my own land before. And if I had known what the world outside was like, I don't think I should have had the heart to leave it" (p. 339). I'm reminded of what Elrond told Pippin when he and Merry didn't want to be left behind. Elrond said they wanted to go along "because you do not understand and cannot imagine what lies ahead" (p. 269). However, later on, Aragorn will disagree with Elrond's statement when he says of Merry, "[h]e knows not to what end he rides; yet if he knew, he still would go on" (p. 762). Who do you think understood the hobbits better, Elrond or Aragorn? Or does this reflect a change in Merry and Pippin, part of their character arcs?

Do you find Lothlorien kind of eerie or really cool? Or something in between?

4 comments:

  1. I also picked up on the first two of your favorite lines. I think it's interesting how much Tolkien plays on the concept of hope throughout the entirety of LotR. So often, media tries to portray hope as something that can't be extinguished, or else the sole driving force for something. Yet, Aragorn still holds onto something else here, which I find intriguing.

    I think the second quote is quite timely for us, as it likely was for Tolkien. So often we spend our time fighting over petty things when the real enemy lies before us. It's an interesting thought.

    Regarding Merry and Pippin, I think Aragorn understood the hobbits better than Elrond, though I also think that part of the change is a result of their character arcs.

    For me, Lothlorien isn't one of my favorite places in Middle Earth. It feels...too quiet, I guess. Like it's frozen in time and one cannot talk too loudly or move suddenly. Perhaps this stems from Sam's breath-holding earlier in the chapter (which I also find amusing).

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    1. RM, I really love the theme of hope, and what happens when you have no hope, that runs all through this. Tolkien really seems to be saying that hope is not as necessary as people think it is.

      I feel similarly about Lorien.

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  2. I know I remember finding Rivendell more pleasant than Lothlorien. And I remember Merry's comment about the outside world. I'm such a non-risk taker, I could not have agreed more.

    This is such a contrary story for a non-adventurous person like myself b/c I prefer my known world to the world "out there." At this point in the story, all did feel hopeless - I think you mention this in the next chapter post - I really did not feel like there was any hope in this whole venture. Things are bad and getting worse. Even Celeborn's remark was not convincing enough.

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    1. Ruth, I'm very hobbity in my love of my own house, my little world where things are fairly orderly. And yet, sometimes I just randomly go have adventures... which makes me a Tookish hobbit, I suppose :-)

      But yes, things look as if they're getting worse... but appearances being deceiving is another big theme in this trilogy, so just because things look bad doesn't mean they are, necessarily.

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