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TTT - why the dichotomy?

Quercus

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Here's a question that's been bugging me for eons, please fogive me if it's been covered already.

The Two Towers is clearly a dichotomy, even the title indicates it. But why did Tolkien write it this way? Why does he address the rest of the fellowship in the first half (Book III), and Frodo and Sam only in the last half (Book IV)? Why didn't he just mingle the adventures of Frodo and Sam in between everyone else's doings and keep things in chronological order?

I'm not asking which half of the book you like the best, although you're welcome to express your opinion. I'm also not asking if JRRT made a mistake writing the book in this fashion, although, I suppose if you want to risk it, you can comment on that too. But certainly Tolkien must have had a reason for writing it this way.

Anyone care to venture what that reason was?
 

cortezthekiller

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It seems to me, that I remember reading in one of Tolkien's prologues, that there was actually a good bit of "real world" time between his writing of Aragorn and company's adventures and Sam and Frodo's adventure. Perhaps this has something to do with why the story is presented as it is.
 

Goro Shimura

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Tolkien hated the title "The Two Towers."

It was his desire that the book be published as ONE book... and not as a trilogy.

So the question is... why break it into 6 books... with the 3rd and 4th taking place simultaneously and parts of the 5th and 6th taking place simultaneously. The problem with TT is exacerbated because book 3 is split into different chapters that happen simultaneously, as well....

It could have been MUCH worse. Stephen R Donaldson's GAP series very obnoxiously does dozens of scenes from two and three different points of view. The exact same scenes, now. It's like having a broken instant replay and it ruins the series altogether. (That was ages ago that I read that and I felt really ripped off.)

When I was young... this quality made it very difficult me to make it through the books. Now I treasure every scene and every bit of dialog... and I'm glad that the narrative isn't a garbled back and forth thing like what the movie may be.

It's definitely a relief, though, when all of that stops in book 6 when everybody is together again!


Reason? Maybe it was the only way that he could tell such a huge story. I know of no single work of comparable scope. (Most other fantasy and sci-fi is episodic... NOT monolithic.)
 

aragil

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Tolkien wrote the novel as six books long before Allen & Unwin chose to publish it in 3 volumes. But like Goro says, he had always planned to have the six books published as a single entity, so the TT dichotomy would still have existed, along with the RotK dichotomy. I'm not sure that Tolkien hated the name 'The Two Towers', as I believe he himself offered it. Tolkien did have a problem settling on just which Two Towers the name referred to. Orthanc is the obvious one, but he oscillated between Cirith Ungol and Minas Morgul for the other.
 
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Harad

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but he oscillated between Cirith Ungol and Minas Morgul for the other.
Is this what you mean?

Of them we know only old report and the rumour of bygone days. But there is some dark terror that dwells in the passes above Minas Morgul. If Cirith Ungol is named, old men and masters of lore will blanch and fall silent.
Are there 2 separate towers there?
 

Greenwood

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Yes there are two seperate towers. Minas Morgul was the sister city to Minas Tirith (they had different names then, Tower of the Sun and Tower of the Moon, I don't have my books handy for the exact names -- one of them was Minas Anor, the other was Minas Ithil -- names fixed in later edit). Minas Morgul is where the Nazgul hangout. Frodo and Sam see the head Nazgul lead his army to war from there. The tower of Cirith Ungol is at the top of the pass and is home to good old Shagrat (Gorbag came from Minas Morgul). It was originally a fort built by Gondor to watch for enemies trying to sneak out of Mordor.
 
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aragil

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Uh-oh Harad. Looks like time for another 'Whistling' thread. Why do the loremasters (we'll call them 'Dain') fall silent whenever anybody mentions Cirith Ungol. Shouldn't they be telling people that Ungol is the root of Ungoliant, meaning some-sort of spider thing? Aren't these loremasters in part culpable for what later happens to Frodo and Sam? Sheesh, with loremasters such as Dain around, who needs enemies?

ps Minas Anor (Anorien means sun-land) and Minas Ithil (as in ithildin, the substance for the writing on the gates of Moria that only reflects moonlight and starlight)
 

Snaga

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This does have a lot to do with how it was written. Poor JRRT had a mare trying to synchronise time-scales between the two threads as it was: it would have been ten times as bad had they been intermingled.

Essentially it got written as this (this is from memory - I might be a little wrong here and there):
(1) Get to the end of FotR
(2) Start a version of F+S and abandoned
(3) Write the Treason of Isengard thread, up to and including the early stages of RotK (Muster of Rohan). Long pause at this point!
(4) Start again on F+S
(5) The F+S part mushrooms - especially as Faramir 'appears'
(6) F+S enter Mordor
(7) Events at Minas Tirith written
(8) Book 6 completed
(9) Epilogue removed

It was written in two threads, and interweaving it would have been horrendously difficult.

In point of fact it probably wouldn't have worked very well. The F+S thread gets ahead of M+P etc: this works because you see war emanating from Mordor, before it hits Gondor. This adds to the sense of threat and despair that is built up as Pippin is in Minas Tirith. But then you follow Aragorn and Gandalf right to the jaws of defeat at the Black Gate, without knowing what has happened to Frodo.

The fact that they are not interwoven or synchronised is something that arises out of circumstances and practicalities, but strange as it is, works fantastically well.
 

Aldanil

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The venerable Variag has the conclusion right, fer sure, and very likely has the chronology of JRRT's composition correct as well, or nearly so, as someone else's closer attention to HoME can probably confirm. The primary reason for keeping the two main threads of the tale separate for such long stretches (and I fear Goroshimura will prove prophetic in predicting that PJ's TTT will be filled with cross-cutting) is intended to heighten the story's suspenseful impact, rather than to solve a particular problem in the author's plot-construction. Tom Shippey's new book has some very interesting pages (102-111) on Tolkien's technique of "interlace", which weaves a number of narrative advantages and ironic effects; I won't try to detail them all here, but offer one out of many by way of example. At the end of Book IV, the Ringbearer lies a helpless prisoner in Cirith Ungol; at the end of Book V, the Mouth of Sauron displays Frodo's captured mithril-coat to the armies of the West gathered before the Morannon. The fearful and harrowing shock of that moment would be very considerably diminished, if not lost altogether, were the story to have hopped back and forth between Gondor and Mordor.
 
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Beleg Strongbow

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Originally posted by Goroshimura
Tolkien hated the title "The Two Towers."

It was his desire that the book be published as ONE book... and not as a trilogy.



i think so 2. I always thought it as 1 book it is. Only SOME copies are broken into 3 different parts others you can read in 1 lot. But it is actually broken up into 6 books. But i always think as it as lotr not as a triligy.
 
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aragil

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Aldanil, Shirley you would not wish the movie to run entirely with the Three Hunters/M&P thread for 1.5 hours, then completely switch over to Frodo and Sam for 1.5 hours straight? I like how it works in the books, but I definitely think that would be a mistake on film.
 
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Harad

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There were Towers in ME and there were towers. I never got the impression there were two Towers in the vicinity of the Morghul pass. Maybe one tower (Cirith Ungol) and one Tower (Minas Ithil=Minas Morghul).

As far as how the movie should and will be done--if Aldanil has an opinion--we are quite safe in expecting that the opposite will occur. Thankfully.
 

aragil

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Harad, I guarantee you that Cirith Ungol was a separate, autonomous entity from Minas Morghul. Look at the maps in HoME or some of the recent editions of LotR- the maps of Mordor show CU to be about 30 miles from MM. Your Tower/tower theory might have some merit. Minas Morghul seems to be more of a city (same with Minas Tirith), while the Tower of Cirith Ungol is more of a solitary fortress, along the lines of the Tower of Amon Sul or the Towers of the Teeth.
 
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Harad

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I dont doubt that CU and MM were separate. Harkening back to what were the Two Towers, I am now not sure. Shirly one was Orthanc.

However I dont think that Cirith Ungol was a "Tower," so how could it be the second title Tower. It was a tower. Shagrat was mighty admirable, but no Tower would be run by an Orc Captain. Compare this with Minas Morghul, run by a Nazgul. Thus its hard to equate the second Tower of the title with CU, but it also hard to equate it with MM since nothing really happened there--except of course that the Witch-King launched his Army, perhaps from MM.

Cornfusion.
 

Tar-Palantir

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My first copy of FOTR (paperback, which was all I could afford at the time being in an occupation that didn't pay all that much - teenagerhood), which I bought around 1973 or so, had a note at the end of FOTR. It said something like "part 2 is 'The Two Towers' as it concerns events around the towers of Orthanc and Cirith Ungol." That's not verbatim, but should be close. I'm sure that was written by someone at the publisher's.
 

Bill the Pony

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Ok, Tolkien himself did think Cirith Ungol was a Tower. Let's quote the relevant letters again (thanks to RW and Cian, who posted them on similar threads before)
letter #140
The Two Towers gets as near as possible to finding a title to cover the widely divergent Books 3 and 4; and can be left ambiguous - it might refer to Isengard and Barad-dur, or to Minas Tirith and B; or to Isengard and Cirth Ungol.
and letter # 143
"I am not at all happy about the title 'the Two Towers'. It must if there is any real reference in it to Vol II refer to Orthanc and the Tower of Cirith Ungol. But since there is so much made of the basic opposition of the Dark Tower and Minas Tirith, that seems very misleading.
And then there's the blurb at the end of my FOTR that says:
The second part is called THE TWO TOWERS, since the events recounted in it are dominated by ORTHANC, the citadel of Saruman, and the fortress of MINAS MORGUL that guards the secret entrance to Mordor;
But Tar already pointed out that this may not have been written by Tolkien himself, but rather by the publisher.
 

Legolam

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FOr some reason, I always thought that the two towers were Orthanc and Minas Morgul, because that's where all the danger in TTT is coming from. :confused:
 
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Harad

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Sensibly speaking the action is about:

Orthanc and CU.

Still:

Minas Tirith: the Steward of Gondor
Minas Ithil: The Nazgul Lord
Orthanc: Saruman

Cirith Ungol: Shagrat??????????????????????
 

Bill the Pony

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Harad, since we're off topic now anyway, why does a tower need someone powerful inside to become a Tower? As opposed to humans I'd say what makes a good Tower is its outside, not its inside?
 
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Harad

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Towers are spatial (dutch translation: special). Remember how important it was for Saruman to get the Keys of Orthanc. Similarly special things are associated with Minas Arnor and Minas Ithil.

Cirith Ungol appears to be a multistoried building where Shagrat and his lads hang out. Nothing too special about that.

The more I think about it, the less that "tower" has to do with it. Maybe the second Tower is Barad-dur, since it does dominate the landscape of Book 4? The symmetry would then be that the Book 3 is about the Saruman=Orthanc thread, while Book 4 is about the Sauron=Barad-dur thread.

Not that it matters: even JRRT didnt know what he meant.
 

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