Why couldn't they get through the Redhorn Pass?

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by BalrogRingDestroyer, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    Gandalf is a freaking wizard. How could he not have gotten them through somehow? And why did Gimili act like the mountain itself hated them?


    Was there some sort of supernatural power like Sauron, Saruman, or even the Balrog blocking their way? Gandalf even made some comment that the malice of Sauron was behind the impassable pass.


    More to the point, why not take the Misty Mountains pass that Bilbo and the Dwarves took? It was right next to Rivendale.
     
  2. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    It may be a point of debate whether Gandalf would have had weather conditions under his control; the story suggests he had not.

    In the dwarves' past they had met with much misfortune there (and they would soon discover more bad news there); Gimli certainly knew about much of the evil past.

    As for the reason why they weren't taking the closest mountain pass, you might remember that while the Fellowship was waiting to depart from Rivendell scouts were sent out in all directions. From that, they learned the following:

    Even from the Eagles of the Misty Mountains they had learned no fresh news. Nothing had been seen or heard of Gollum; but the wild wolves were still gathering, and were hunting again far up the Great River.

    In setting their course towards Hollin, it was explained as follows, in line with the news they had from the eagles:


    Their purpose was to hold this course west of the Mountains for many miles and days. The country was much rougher and more barren than in the green vale of the Great River in Wilderland on the other side of the range, and their going would be slow; but they hoped in this way to escape the notice of unfriendly eyes. The spies of Sauron had hitherto seldom been seen in this empty country, and the paths were little known except to the people of Rivendell.
     

  3. Celebrimbors bane

    Celebrimbors bane New Member

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    Not to mention the misty mountains were raised by morgoth a power far beyond Gandalf! So if it was the mountain itself playing up probably not much Gandalf could of Done, even if it was sauron doing it he's still more powerful than Gandalf the grey, so really yeah not much old gandy could do.
     
  4. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    As often, Tolkien leaves it ambiguous. Such exchanges as this:

    "I wonder if this is not some contrivance of the Enemy" said Boromir. "They say in my land that he can govern the storms in the Mountains of Shadow that stand upon the borders of Mordor. He has strange powers and many allies".
    "His arm has grown long indeed, if he can draw snow down from the north to trouble us here three hundred leagues away", said Gimli.
    "His arm has grown long", said Gandalf.

    And others in a similar vein, could imply that the storm was caused by Sauron, but Gimli cautions against that view, and as Merroe said, he probably knows more about the mountain's history than any of the others, possibly even Gandalf.

    IIRC, Tolkien at one point toyed with the idea that Sauron was directing all the various enemies encountered by Frodo & company, even Old Man Willow, but decided against it.

    And keep in mind that the Istari were messengers, sent to help and encourage the people of Middle Earth, not to work miracles for them. Yes, they had "powers" of a sort -- Gandalf's association with fire makes him a kind of seraph figure -- but they were severely limited in what they could do, by the will of the Valar.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2018

  5. Kharina

    Kharina New Member

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    It is certainly left ambiguous in the story, although it does seem to be assumed by all the characters that there is some other force causing it, whether that's Saruman, Sauron or Caradhras itself. I suppose another option could be that it is just an unseasonably bad storm and the characters are being (understandably!) paranoid, another demonstration of Sauron's psychological power perhaps.

    I wonder whether the Ring could influence the thoughts of people around it to make them more likely to think the storm was created by Sauron or some other agent rather than being 'just' bad weather, which might make them slightly more likely to turn back. Although either way it seemed very dangerous for them to have continued on that road- even without a malicious will behind it the storm itself was bad enough!

    If it was Sauron or Saruman though you'd think they would have tried controlling the weather again, especially as the company gets nearer to them (e.g. after Lothlorien when they sail up the Anduin). And if Sauron knew where they were then you'd think he would have been able to send forces after them as well or at least keep tracking them until Frodo and Sam get near enough to Mordor that he can get them. I'd always thought Sauron wasn't aware that they planned to destroy the Ring and that's how he got away with it, so how would he know they were on Caradhras and why would he be so worried about stopping them?
     
  6. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    Yes, I think it highly unlikely for Sauron to be aware of them at this point. I lean heavily toward the malevolence of the mountain itself, not only from the evidence of the episode as a whole, but also because it mirrors the Old Man Willow episode in Book I.

    I won't go into all the ways the structure of Book II repeats that of Book I here, but in both episodes, Frodo & Co. learn that nature can be, not only benevolent, as in the Shire, but malicious. In Middle Earth terms, that would be due to the taint from Morgoth.

    I'd tend to doubt that the Ring would be able to affect the members of the Fellowship (other than perhaps Boromir, who is a special case). In fact, that is an objection that has been raised by critics over the years: Tolkien wasn't "playing fair" with the Ring, having some characters corrupted by it, while others are seemingly not affected at all. I think that stems from a misunderstanding of romance conventions, more than anything else.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2018
  7. Kharina

    Kharina New Member

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    That's a good link between the mountain and the Old Man Willow sections of the story, I hadn't thought of that but they do link together really well!

    You may well be right as I think you have a much greater knowledge of the wider Middle-Earth lore than me, but why would the Ring be unable to influence the other members of the Fellowship? Gandalf himself admits he could not have the Ring in his possession without eventually being tempted to use it and turning to evil, and I think Aragorn understands the same thing if he were to take it. The other Hobbits are probably at least as susceptible as Frodo, and when Sam does briefly take the Ring I think I remember him getting some 'visions' of being a great lord which he quickly realises are devices of the Ring and dismisses. Of course, the Ring was in his possession then and Gandalf fears it being in his possession rather than just being near it, so it may just be that it only influences everyone whose possession it's in and only some who happen to be close to it but not possessing it (Boromir and arguably Smeagol when he murders Deagol would be examples).
     
  8. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    The "minor" characters, if I may call them that for the moment (I mean Merry&Pippin, Gimli&Legolas) are, in romance terms, the Faithful Followers who help the hero in his quest, participating in his adventures, but not prey to the temptations and inner agonies he faces.

    At least in the earlier parts of the story. But of course, Tolkien doesn't leave it there: with the breaking of the Fellowship, M&P begin their own separate, but important, adventures; G&L, for the most part, continue their companion roles, but attatched to Aragorn, whose King-quest comes to the fore, signalled by Gandalf's handing over the Palantir.

    As for the others, Gandalf has previously refused the Ring, and Aragorn, with "Isildur's fault" present in his mind, would resist any temptation from the Ring, along with other reasons.

    Your memory is right: Sam does indeed undergo the temptation of the Ring, but he had just been wearing the it,and was perhaps partly open to its effects; more importantly, he was standing at the entrance to Mordor, in sight of Mount Doom where the Ring had been forged, and as the story says,

    "The Ring's power grew, and it became more fell, untameable save by some mighty will".

    He passes the test, of course, but the episode has a function in the structure of symbolic imagery as well: his vision of himself as a mighty hero is a "demonic epiphany" (I'm following Northrop Frye's use of the term),; significantly, it takes place at the highest point of the pass, the high point, whether mountaintop, tower, or tree, being the traditional place of epiphanic vision. The true epiphany comes with Sam's star vision on the Morgai.

    There are many such contrasted pairs in the story: for instance, Frodo's vision in the Dead Marshes is a demonic parody of the katabasis episode of the Mirror of Galadriel. But I digress.

    As for Smeagol, bear in mind that his story is made up from what he was willing to impart, even under duress; it would be highly colored by his own view of himself, and of course the influence of the Ring. Gandalf filled in the story with his own shrewd guesses, but it's fairly clear that his was a mean nature from the start.

    Bilbo, remember, possessed the Ring for many years, and except for the "stretching", neither he, nor the people he was closely associated with, seem to have been affected.

    "Greater knowledge". Hmm, well, I don't know about that. I have been studying and thinking about LOTR for a long time, so that's just down to longevity; but I confess I often feel I'm still groping in the dark. I want to kick myself, for instance, whenever I think of how many years and readings it took for it to dawn on me that the attack on the house at Crickhollow is a -- "foreshadowing" is too weak a word; I'd call it a template -- of the assault on the gate of Minas Tirith. But then, it's just one more example of the ancient artifact Tolkien was so fond of: the riddle. Opaque until you "get it".

    There is always more to discover. And that's what keeps us going back, again and again.

    Kharina, have you left us already? Please come back -- you raise some interesting points!

    I meant to underscore your mention of "possession"; it's a theme in Tolkien, one that he uses again and again. Recall Gandalf's exhortation to Bilbo:

    "Go away and leave it behind. Stop possessing it." (My emphasis).

    Possessiveness is seen as a fatal flaw in Arda, beginning with Melkor, extending through Aule, Feanor, and on down to to the Elves who manifest it through their desire to "preserve" things as they are,to not allow "their" Middle Earth to change. Galadriel recognizes this failing. And Tolkien emphasizes it several times in the Letters; he seems to view it as a trait acquired by Man in the Fall. Note the narrator's wry comments about Smaug in The Hobbit; there, it's a sort of funny irrational obsession; things turn darker in LOTR.

    Certainly Sauron is the ultimate Third Age expression of it, and anything closely associated with him, the Ring most of all, would be heavily tainted with the same poisonous affliction.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 15, 2018
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  9. Kharina

    Kharina New Member

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    Hi, I've not left, just been really busy with real-world things and also didn't see anything I had a lot of thoughts on so haven't posted in a while. Sorry, didn't mean to abandon you!

    That's interesting what you say about possession- I wonder how much that ties in to what I might call the 'pro-nature, anti-industrialisation' theme that I see in LOTR, particularly in relation to Saruman and the Ents. I imagine Tolkien was living through a time of increasing industralisation and materialism, and I wonder whether the theme of possession being corrupting might link to this as well? I suppose this is getting a bit off the topic of the Redhorn gate though!
     
  10. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Not to mention Mountains are Morgoth's little addition to Middle-earth to impede Oromë in his travels, back in the ancient days.

    Thought I should mention that. I guess Morgoth's taint is still yet felt.

    CL
     
  11. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    I was under the impression it was only (or mainly) the Misty Mountains he raised for that purpose. It's been a long time since I read the relevant passage, though , so I may well be mistaken.

    Hi Kharina, nice to hear from you! Have you read "On Fairy Stories"? Tolkien goes into possessiveness and industrialization, and their connections, in that essay.

    "Real world things". Ugh. I know what you mean. That's what I come here to get away from.

    Life. Don't talk to me about life. --
    Marvin the Paranoid Android
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
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  12. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    I had known that Morgoth raised mountains to impede Oromë, but at the same time wasn't sure which ones. I'll have to check myself.


    CL
     
  13. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    It was in the published Silmarillion, wasn't it?

    Anent Saruman and the storm, I see someone included the "Trololo" version in a scene remix here:



    I wish they'd included the "lalalalalala" right at the end, though.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2018
  14. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    That is where I remember reading it. I'll have to see.


    CL
     
  15. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    Just checked. Yes, page 54 of the HB. Interestingly, he says:

    Yet they were taller and more terrible in those days. . .

    Which I take to mean they were much worn down and eroded by the Third Age. Or were tumbled somewhat in the Breaking. Or both.

    Further down the page, the Elves come to the Ered Luin, but he doesn't mention a connection with Morgoth there.
     
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  16. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Huh. Thought they would mention him.

    Thank you for checking.
    CL
     
  17. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    No, you're right about the Misty Mountains. The line I quoted goes on:

    . . .and they were raised by Melkor to hinder the riding of Orome.
     
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  18. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Ah hah. There we are.
    Thank you, Squint-eyed Southerner!
    CL
     
  19. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

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    Yeah, I just meant the Blue Mountains weren't mentioned in connection with Melkor.

    Sorry for being unclear.

    Not enough coffee. Come to think of it, it's tea-time!
     
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  20. CirdanLinweilin

    CirdanLinweilin The Wandering Wastrel

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    Ah.

    No worries.

    Enjoy!


    CL
     

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