Tuesday, May 6, 2008


I just wanted to say that after reading the books and having watched the trilogy, I believe the people who made the movie did an excellent job of conecting the film to the book. Had I not watched the movies first, I wouldn't have been able to picture all the things Tolkien wrote about so I just wanted to say Kudos to the movie.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Battle of Bywater

At the end of Return of the King, I really don't understand why Frodo is so standoffish. In the Battle of Bywater, he tries to "prevent the hobbits in their wrath at their lossses, from slaying those of their enemies who threw down their weapons" and I think that's a little strange...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grima and Gollum

As I was reading the end of the novel, I was struck by how much Grima was depicted like Gollum. It is said that he moved about the ground almost on all fours, like a dog. He followed his master, not out of love but because this was someone that had control in tough situations and could make sure he was taken care of, even if it wasn't the best situation for Grima to be in. It is also stated how thin and drawn Grima had become. The only difference is that Grima chose to kill his master, while Gollum had to fall over a cliff to become free (because, let's face it: Frodo wasn't the master, the Ring was. Frodo just happened to be its keeper). I am of the opinion that Tolkien depicted Grima in this way to give a parallel to Gollum. We've talked a lot about this character being how the other should have been. Is Grima the embodiment of how Gollum should have ended up?

Monday, April 28, 2008

More of the End

Appendix B, which is located at the end of The Return of the King, gives a nice long timeline of events, one of which gives an account of the events following the end of the trilogy, all the way up to the death of Aragorn. I personally enjoyed reading this, because I liked seeing the broad events of the rest of the Company after Frodo left. Does this list of events ruin the novel's ending for you, or are you glad to have that extra information?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Eowyn's love?

I never thought that Eowyn was really in love with Aragorn. I just thought that she was in love with the idea of him and the glory she could attain with him. I believe that in the book, Aragorn actually says that she only loved but a "shadow and a thought" of him. That's why I think that her feelings for Faramir would actually be more true for she sees him as he is and chooses the man rather than a position of glory and honor. In a way, this choice kind of reminds me of Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind. Through the entire book, Scarlett was "in love" with Ashley, but in the end she realized that she really wasn't, but instead she realized that Rhett was who she really wanted. While both instances restore balance with people choosing to be with those who seem more suitable, it also however seems that they are just waking up to realize who they really care about and who's position they only care about.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Scouring of the Shire

Every time that I read this chapter it always seems to me to be overenthusiastic fan fiction. While I know that all of the hobbits are going to be changed by their experiences, it seems a little overdone.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Return of the Hobbits

I found it interesting that when the Hobbits returned to the Shire, their characters seem so much different than when they left. It is for obvious reasons of course, as they have been through so much.

Before, it seemed to me that they were all simple folk. Minding their own business, never looking for trouble, and tending to their gardens. Now they return with a renewed confidence, able to lead the rest of the Hobbits in an attack of the ruffians. Its interesting to me that none of the other Hobbits (at least up until this point) have noticed or commented on the changes in the Hobbit's personality.

Its also interesting that Rosie commented to Sam that Frodo may be in much danger and Sam should not leave him alone. I liked that Sam found humor in that, as he and Frodo had been through so much together already.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


We were talking about how the ring comes to an end. I have an idea for an ending… I always thought it would have been cool if we could change the part where Gandalf and company leave Middle Earth. Right as they leave on the boat, I thought it would be neat if they made Gandalf into a bad guy. Have the camera zoom in on Gandalf’s ring. Then have Gandalf smile as glowing letters appear on his ring. I like it… Gandalf as the bad guy and another movie/book. What do you think… Any ideas for another ending?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Those evil flying devils

I like to pretend that I know what is going on in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but here's one thing that really throws me. If I am thinking correctly, the Nazgul are the dragon like things that the Ringwraiths fly around on. But the characters in the books seem to use the ringwraith and nazgul names interchangeably. What, then, inflicts the paralyzing fear in the men during the battle at Gondor? They all cry "Nazgul" when it flies over, which would lead me to think that they are referring to the mount, but I didn't think they projected fear like the Ringwraiths did. I can see why the soldiers would be terrified of both, but one would think that the more terrifying one would overshadow the other. So, if anyone has any ideas why these two figures seem to be one in the same, it would be interesting to hear your opinions.

Tolkien Reading:

I found this cool clip of Tolkien reading the portion of Fellowship when Gandalf reads the script on the One Ring. It's rather quiet, so turn up your speakers.

- Kelly Huber

Sunday, April 20, 2008

"The grand climax"

A small note that I have enjoyed the way Tolkien wrote Frodo's reactions and actions as influenced by he ring so close to the achieving of their goal. However, I am really surprised in the way that Tokien has written three books centered on one moment which in the end takes only two paragraphs to actually describe the happenings of the ring. Any similar or opposing ideas? Also, any thoughts on Gollum's sudden lack of balance when all through the book he has been able to move with such stealth?!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Biding time for kingship

Just another way to look at it but...

We mentioned in class that Aragorn was biding his time, but my question is why Aragorn. Gondor has been kingless for some time now, and apparently the king has been around. Aragorn is proof at least for that. Aragorn’s daddy and his daddy and his daddy all should have been king. Even without the sword being “remade” those people were still descendents and rightful heirs. Plus if the fixing the sword is such a big deal, you would think that it wouldn’t have been too much trouble to be like, “Hey Elrond, want to do me a favor?” I’m just saying that waiting for the world to come to an end or “biding time” doesn’t really sound like all that great and noble.

This brings up a couple of questions. If you look at it that way, is Aragorn still the same type of hero? Was he really trying to be King the whole time and accepting the responsibility, or is he hiding from his nobility and responsibility? (Like his ancestors must have done)

Good search for Tolkien subjects

In the Lovejoy Library webpage, go to humanities then project Muse. Go to Tolkien Studies and poof, there's a lost of information on Tolkien. Also you can search for "the years work in tolkien studies". And you can find a summarized index of the articles the volume has.

Hope this helps.

Midievil Literature and the Bible

I am really enjoying finding things in our readings that are similar to the Bible. I am waundering why that is. Why some of our readings are so similar to Biblical texts. I have a theory, but will keep it to myself, as to not affend anyone.

The readings for today from the Pros Eda made reference to apples. The Gods would eat them when they started to get old to regain their youth. This reminded me of Adam and Eve and the apple. The difference would be that Adam and Eve were told not to eat from that tree because they would die. When they did eat the apple they gained knowledge only god had.

I also saw many references to olive branches in Song of Roland and they are supposed to represent peace. In the story of Noah and the Arc it is part of an olive branch that is brought back when the flood is over, signaling peace!

I have found many many more. I deffinitely would like to do some more research in this area.

Existential Villain?

So we've been talking a lot about heroes and their expectations. I was wondering what anyone thought of the villains. I know we've talked about certain characters like the orcs, urk-hai and Saruman, but do they follow the same patterns of expectations as our heroes? What are everyone else's thoughts?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Apocalypse Now

After watching that video in class today, I couldn't help but think of one of the greatest films ever...Apocalypse Now. I guess it has the same idea as Excalibur with the music. Great scene.


Beowolf Movie

I actually watched the movie before reading the poem. Did anyone get the idea that Grendal was King Hrothgar's son? I was surprised when I read the piece, because I had the idea that King Hrothgar had succumb to temptation and slept with Grendal's mother and therefore was the father of Grendal. This is why Hrothgar could not kill Grendal, he could not bring himself to kill his own son. There was a scene when Hrothgar had the opportunity to kill him but did not.

Also Hrothgar's wife would not sleep with him, because he had touched "her". I took this to mean Grendal's mother. When Beowolf killed Grendal, Hrothgar seemed to be relieved on many levels. It was as if someone had cleaned up his mess and his contious had been cleared.

Later it was implied that Beowolf slept with Grendal's mother to give her a child to replace the one that he had killed. I got the impression that Beowolf succame to temptation in the same way that Hrothgar had, therefore coming full circle. Now there was a Dragon, hence Beowolf's son.

I have never seen a movie ADD themes that did not appear in the story. I actually thought the themes in the movie were better. I will have to go back and reread Beowolf and compare the two.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Oliver and roland

I just thought it was funny and I woundered if any one else would to. I could not help but, laugh when they were talking about oliver not taking the time to pull out his sword. Oliver said he just did not have time to because he was to busy fighting. I felt like roland was teasing his friend so I thought it was funny. I wounder if you would realy have time to have a conversasion whild in battle?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Honor vs Loyalty

The betrayal in the Song of Roland just reminds me of all the previous texts we've read and it makes me wonder. How is honor and loyalty valued? Even the betrayer is loyal, just not to the betrayed. One loses honor in the act of betraying, but is honored by those whom the betrayal is for, or is he? Just something to think about...

Y Gododdin

I actually enjoyed this piece, after I looked up a translation I could understand. It reminds me of a eulagy, each piece a seperate eulagy for a slain warrior. As we discussed in class they seem to have a "form" to use when writing eligies that discribes the ideal warrior for that time. So we may not get a clear picture of what these men were really like but we certainly get a picture of what a warrior of the time was supposed to aspire to.

I don't think we discussed in class the role the mead played in this whole thing. The poem eludes to the fact that the mead may have actually been the poison that lead to the deaths of many of the warriors.

"Because of wine-feast and mead-feast they charged, men famed in fighting, heedless of life."

"Men went to Catraeth, mead-nourished band"

"Pale mead their portion, it was poison"

"For a feast of mead they gave their lives,"

These are just a few of the lines taken from "Y Gododdin" that mention mead.
I am curious how others interpret the role/purpose of the drinking of the mead.

Was it the mead that gave them the courage to go fight so bravely? Or did the mead cause them to be really stupid in taking on so many soldiers? And why in the world would they drink and party for a whole year before getting down to business.

Was this a lord/thane thing, where they were being buttered up (so to speak) so they would owe allegiance. If they drank this stuff everyday for a year, I wounder how their health, strength and mental health were when they went into battle

Monday, April 7, 2008


Today, near the end of class we talked a little about what the Pagans were going to send to King Charles. When I first read that part I couldn't believe it. I thought that it was really weird when Blancandrin said that they would rather their children loose their heads than to forfeit honor and possessions, or being reduced to begging. What is that about? The king and all the higher ranking guys would gladly send their children to die. They have already lived long enough, or long enough to have kids, so wouldn't you want your children to live on for the sake of family?


So it's probable that we'll cover this in class today, but I thought that I would go ahead and share my thoughts on how our reading from The Song of Roland reminded me of the Council of Elrond from LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring. Emperor Charles holds a type of council to determine who should be sent out to journey to meet with the pagan king. Several volunteer, but each argues that the other should not be sent or cannot be trusted. It just reminded me when Elrond and company were trying to decide who should be sent to bear the Ring. Elves mistrusted dwarves, and dwarves mistrusted the elves, and men were too prone to fall into the temptation of the Ring's power. I think between the two accounts there are striking similarities.

confused about gondor help!!!

I am confused in th difference between gondor and ministirith. Are they the same thing or two seperate things. Osgillith is a city out side of gondor correct.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Battle Scenes

Its kind of ironic how the LOTR trilogy was on television this weekend. While I watched some of it, I realized that reading the battle scenes just isn't as good as watching them.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Show of Hands Ladies

How many of you cheered when Dernhelm reveals their true identity and kicks a little Ring Wraith butt?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Wisdom and Traveling

Although it is a simple note, I have been somewhat intrigued by the progression of the four hobbit's characters. I feel that Tolkien has done a great job at improving their apparent wisdom gained through traveling. We mentioned wisdom (minimally learning from experiences) and traveling at the very beginning of this semester and I have really enjoyed the character development as reading progresses. Yes, they do still have a few slips in their decisions, but I was wondering if any one else felt the same way.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Pippin's Commitment

In class today, we discussed the new loyalties of Pippin and Merry. I didn't get a chance to ask everyone's opinion- but I wonder how exactly Gandalf feels about Pippin's new commitment. Up until this point, everyone on the mission has had the same purpose in the quest. Now with Pippin's decision, is it possible he may have to choose between the fellowship and Denethor?

On page 18, Gandalf says he doesn't know why Pippin chose to do what he did, but he did it with good intentions, and it honored Denethor. So Gandalf says that he must remember what he has chosen. In your opinion then, do you think Gandalf was proud of Pippin, does he think he shouldn't have made a vow to Denethor, or does it not matter one way or the other?

Milton's influence in The Lord of the Rings

In class today we began to talk extensively about John Milton's Paradise Lost in its relation to The Lord of the Rings. We see Tolkien's view of the orcs vs. the elves in comparison to the faithful vs. the fallen in Paradise Lost. Another similarity is Isilador vs. the fall of man.
We further discussed the elves being angelic figures and orcs are elves fallen from grace; they may not want to be associated with Sauron but nonetheless follow him because there isn't anything better to do and what other races want to be associated with orcs.
I was wondering if my colleagues found any other connections that can be drawn between the two texts. I also was hoping for Dr. Joy's input on the idea of Tolkien drawing on a lot of ideas from Milton's work.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Gollum's Shelob Trickery

Today in class we talked about how Gollum may/may not have used Shelob for his own devices, but we only discussed it *after* Frodo's semi-treachery at the Pool. I thought I had read that, much earlier, Gollum had hatched the plan to lead them to "her" (Shelob). This was before they even reached the Gates, after the Dead Marshes (halfway down on p268):
"We wants it. But--" and here there was a long pause, as if a new thought had wakened. "Not yet, eh? Perhaps not. She might help. She might, yes."
"No, no! Not that way!" wailed Smeagol.

Could "that way" be the secret passageway that leads to Shelob's lair? Gollum/Smeagol sure is quick to offer another path once they reach the gate, and he even mentions that they would have to find another route to Sam before they realized they couldn't pass through the gates - granted smeagol/gollum muttered it under his breath. If that's true, then Gollum was planning on going against Smeagol's promise to Frodo anyway.

Would knowledge of Shelob have stoped them?

Before Sam, Frodo, and Gollum enter Shelob's lair they make note of how bad it smells. It seems to me that they should have known that there was some sort of creature inside other than an orc. So why wouldn't they press Gollum more strongly about what was in there before they went in? I mean they only mildly muse over what might be in there. Do you think at this point that they had come so far and were so committed that even if they did know what awaited them inside they would have gone in anyway?

Five Towers and Zero Alliteration

The Two Towers is a great title but I'm counting a few more pointy buildings in this book: Saraman in Orthanc is a given, then Pippin sees the white tower of Minas Tirith in the palantir, Fram finds themselves climbing stairs near Minas Morgal, then its on to the Tower of Cirith Ungol, and oh yeah, don't forget Sauron's all seeing eye atop Baradur...but just two? Which Two Towers are we talking about here? The world may never know.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Last Act

So much has been said about Free Will, but most of that has been concerning the good side of the book if you will. What about the likes of Worm Tongue and Saruman? Both are given the opportunity to repent their evil ways, and both deny this opportunity. Is it in this final or last act of free will that defines them? In the end, is it this solitary choice that makes them evil? Or are they written so one-dimensionally, that they too only have one choice, once again negating free will?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Why cant it be this simple?

this interpretation of LOTR is inciteful and simple. What do you think?


God-like presence in Middle Earth?

On Wednesday, we ended class discussing pre-destination vs. free will in Middle Earth. We compared characters and talked about how the idea of a "pair" is prevalent throughout these works, ie: Frodo/Sam, Merry/Pippin, Gimli/Legolas, etc. In doing this we came across characters whose pairing made for a stark contrast that reflected more than mutual companionship or brotherhood, ie: Faramir/Boromir, Gandalf/Saruman. With these latter examples, both Gandalf and Faramir are depictions of what the other individual in the relationship could have or should have been--Saruman the White, Boromir being the older brother. Of all the pairings of Middle Earth that we came up, it seems odd to me that Sauron is left out of this common trend. Who could he be paired with? He is this seemingly intangible being (so he's an eye, but that's not the point here) of evil who has no one to answer to, no conflicting power. I feel like his presence in the novel would warrant some type of opposing force equally as powerful, great, and intangible. And if Sauron did have an anti-thesis to his character, maybe this being, entity, idea, or whatever would be just as powerful and capable as Sauron, but still subject to the free will that (seemingly) governs the rest of Middle Earth. But then maybe not? Just a thought.

ps My friend dressed up as the Eye of Sauron for halloween.

good and evil

I was couious about the two towers. We talked about them in class as being good and evil. We have also brought up the the idea of a god but I am lost to what to think. If one tower is good wich one is it? The only thing that I could come up with was that the tower of isengard would be the tower of good after it was taken over by the ents! confused!!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Destiny and Choice

In class on Wednesday, while we were discussing destiny vs choice and free will, I couldn't help but notice that so far the only person who has shown complete free will and made choices without any outside pressure is Sam.

I've always been a big fan of Sam and I think that he, not Frodo, is the true ring bearer. And if you think about it, he's the only one who is there by choice.

At the Council of Elrond there was all that pressure upon Frodo to take the ring, silent pressure though it was. So he submitted to it and agreed to take the ring. Sam chose to go along with Frodo without any outside pressure. Only his own sense of right and wrong.

When meeting Galadriel Frodo again tried to give the ring away, was refused and so continued on his quest. Sam saw alarming visions in the mirror, was ready to leave and then chose to stay of his own accord, to see things through.

To me he seems to be the only character who has complete freedom of choice.

What do you think?

-Kelly Huber

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Army from Cirith Ungol

I don't know if anyone else was a little confused when reading the section about the Stair to Cirith Ungol, but I can't seem to get my head around how the three were not seen by he army. I guess I understand that the Elven Cloaks give them some protection, but I was still a little lost at how an entire army could march by, including the King Wraith, and not see him. Anyone able to shed some light on this please?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Help needed

I need help understanding why Gollum is so willing to help the hobbits and why he isn't more aggresive at snatching the ring from Frodo. His precious is what he lives for and it's right under his nose! I know Gollum swore by the ring to "be very very good" and "never, never, to let Him have it. Never! Smeagol will save it" Is "Him" smeagol himself or was Gollum referring to Sauron? I guess Gollum stuck to the promise because he swore by the ring that owns him? Or he stuck to the promise because he is owned by the ring and will therefore obey its master??

Frodo's development

In our recent readings I have been impressed by Frodo's development of wisdom. I feel he has become a knowledgeable leader for him and Sam and has many moments that are similar to how Gandalf or Aragorn would act or speak. For example, Frodo seems to know how to say something to persuade Gollum for his help. In the past few chapters, Frodo has developed the way wise men keep quiet until he delivers a very well stated reply to someone. On the other side, Sam seems to be speaking much more than he did previously and I am wondering if the ring is having an effect on him in a small way. However, back to Frodo, he also has a respect to others (i.e. Gollum) that wise people seem to also deliver. Anyone else picking up on Frodo's wisdom development?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sam and Frodo

Did anyone else noticed that Sam's personality is different after Frodo and Sam seperate from the others. He seems more outspoken and doesn't act like a servant as he has before.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Question: What are the dwarves doing through all this? Are they just hanging out in the mountains, letting the wars wage while Men fight and die on their behalf? Do they have their own troubles and are too few in numbers to send an army? Other than Gimli, they make no mention of them. Any ideas?

Monday, March 17, 2008

I was excited about BEOWULF...

Sorry to those of you who I offended with my spelling. I was excited about the movie and just was not paying attention to my typing. Also, sorry to those who have the time to read all the blogs and proof read them, I just had an idea and wanted to share it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Is Sauron God?

So I'm reading Book IV of the Lord of the Rings The Two Towers, and I notice something very peculiar...when Gollum is talking about Sauron, he refers to him as "He" "Him" and "His" all starting with capital letters. Now I was taught that you only start he, him, and his with a capital letter when you are talking about or referring to God. This leaves me confused. Did Tolkien do this purposely to make you question the same thing about Sauron or was it done unintentionally and only to emphasize how powerful Sauron is? What do you think?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Boromirs purpose!!!!!

I no that we have already talked about this but, I have had medical issues and have been dieing to ask! We talked about boromir being the end of a line of men that were the beowulf kind of hero wich boromir was. Why then would the council send him if he had no real purpose. Everyone else had something extra great to bring to the table except him. The only story boromir had is that his father is the steward of ministereth and he has faught orcs. Every one else has a unique history or reason, including the hobbits.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Three Persons, One Functional Unit: The Trinity in the Lord of the Rings

In the Lord of the Rings, there are constant instances when the number three is represented. This continuity of the concept of three could make one think of this as having significance, at least for Tolkien. Why did he not choose four, two, or five as numbers that would be used continuously throughout the saga? Tolkien chose three. Obviously this is a reference to the triune nature of God in the Christian tradition. Examples are as follows: Three rings were given to the Elves, Three men established the kingdom of Gondor: Elendil, Isildur, and Anarion; There are three Elven kingdoms: Rivendell, Lothlorien, and Mirkwood; The Fellowship eventually becomes a unit of three: Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli; Frodo, Sam, and Gollum become an independent group with their own journey; Merry, Pippin, and Treebeard have their own story; Three wizards are mentioned: Gandalf, Saruman, and Radagast; Frodo turns 33 at the beginning of the story and Bilbo turns 111, which is three numbers and adds up to three, and the list goes on and on.

The importance of this theme is such that when people and/or kingdoms are involved, they act as one. This is parallel to the idea of God as three persons, but one being. In the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien seems to be putting forth the notion that something whole can still be one even if it has distinguishable parts with distinct functions. The parts or "persons" still are there to function for the existence of each other, which ultimately comprise the one. In a sense Tolkien is conveying that God is a relational being, in that His internal relationship should be the basis for how we should treat one another. The relationship between Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli is that of working together in harmony and creating a sense of interconnectedness in order to achieve the same collective goal. Intuitively, they can only do this if they act as one unit. Gandalf seems to be the only character who brings an "awakening" light to a couple of the triune groups such as Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli, and Merry, Pippin, and Treebeard. This can be an allusion to how Christ brought the reality of the Trinity to humankind through his death and resurrection.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Gandalf the Late

Okay so why does Gandalf always dissapear at the last minute. Does he want to see if the fellowship can last without him? I think Gandalf loves beeing needed. I mean the guy always shows up after his friends have been through hell and back. What is he off doing?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Beowolf: the new movie...

I just watched the new movie that tries to put Beowolf to a Hollywood script. It was crazy, first off the movie is done as a cartoon/ lifelike movie. The plot is totally different that what we read, Beowolf (plot alert) does not kill Grendel's mom, instead he has sex with her to give her a new son. The new son later becomes the dragon that kills Beowolf. Crazy stuff, did anyone else see this new movie, and if so did they like it better than the REAL story line?

On Good Writing and Failing Memory

It seems that Tolkien forgot once that he had already written something, and then he then missed the repeat when he proofread his books.

The Two Towers, p. 151: "Before the wall's foot the dead and broken were piled like shingle in a storm; ever higher rose the hideous mounds..."

and on p. 199: "At the rim of the shattered bowl there lay vast mounds and slopes, like the shingles cast up by a great storm..."


Courage - Blawk Hawk Down

I know it's a little late to be talking about courage again but I remembered a situation where I think courage can be shown. In the film Black Hawk Down, towards the end one of the soldiers decides to go back into the city and he explains to another soldier why he does it. I think that part shows why soldiers do things that people think are crazy, it's because of the guy next to you and not anything else. When stuff goes down you'll do anthing for your best bud.

Friday, February 29, 2008


There is talk about how old Tom is and how old Treebeard is, but how old do you think Gandalf is? He seems to have been around forever too. I mean you can't even kill the guy. He reminds me of a Dr. Who character that continues to exist. Never in the book do they mention that Gandalf is human. When they mention the humans in the company they name Borimir and Aragorn.

While we are at it, how old do you think Aragorn is? The books talk about things that he done 38 years ago. Is Aragorn 50 plus years old when all of this is taking place? This reminds me of Beowulf fighting a dragon at age 70. Aragorn could be 70 too. How long exactly does a Numenorian live?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Anyone else think that he Ents are just awesome. Although their story is pretty sad, about the entwives and all, I think that they are probably one of the most amazing races that Tolkien has come up with in the books. And how deep they seem to be is also pretty amazing. Just curious what others thought about these guys.

Tolkien's thoughts

I discussed with the professors after class about something that I heard on the radio when the movies first came out. Apparently a lot of people were analyzing the religious aspects of the movies much like we are with the books in class. The DJ mentioned that he had read an interview with Tolkien who once commented on similar critiques of the books much like they did with the movies. All Tolkien had said that it was "It's just a story I wrote, read it and enjoy it." The professors and I thought it would be an interesting discussion for everybody. So what are everyone's thoughts on that? Do you think people are analyzing too much or is Tolkien just avoiding unwanted attention?

The Ents going to war

I believe that that Ents deciding to go to war was kind of like Blythe being told by Spiers that he is already dead. The Ents decide to fight now as a group then being destroyed later one by one.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This was a while back, but on page392 of Fellowship of the Ring about 2/3 of the way down the page, it says that the elves at Lorien held back from shooting Gollum. Why? They say that they don't allow someone to walk into the forest and come out alive. They say that they didn't shoot him while he was in their sights because they didn't know if he was good or ill. I highly doubt that they used such discretion before. Why did they do it then while never before?

Thoughts on Sauron, Saruman, and evil

It seems that the orcs are physical representations of evil and chaos. Sauron himself seems to resemble satin or god of evil on (middle)earth with the power "see" and bring all that is evil together. Even the “sinful” men try to come to his aid for example Boromir. The orcs of Mordor are his minions/ death bringers; they will not turn on their master because he is the only reason for their existence; the only one that can give them propose. Without Sauron the orcs would not have common goal and thus would turn on themselves.

One the other hand you have Saruman and the uruk-hai who seem to represent the evils on an industrious world and the faceless army of a dictator. To me Saruman himself could represent Hitler or any of the WWII dictators of Tolkien's time. He is someone with a sliver tough and who is able to gain influence and bend the will others with the power just of his speech. Moreover he cares not for the world he lives but seeks to destroy it in oder to bring it into the future to and create his own ideal utopia just as Hitler and his allies attempted to do in second world war. Like Hitler he obsessed with perfection.

Staying vs Running Away: Honor

We all know that staying to fight during a battle brings much honor even if it means inevitable death. So, of course, we know the alternative is to run. However, it is seldom mentioned that after those who stay to keep their honor are killed, there is a great possibility of an open pursuit for those who run away to loose their lives dihonorably anyway! Just a thought!!!

The Reach of the Novels

Being a knitter, I decided to do a search for patterns that were inspired or designed in response to The Lord of the Rings.

I found:

Hobbit socks so that you too can have furry feet:
Socks knit with Tolkien's runes integrated into the stitches themselves:(They say "The Hobbit, Or There and Back Again)

Adorable crocheted hobbits:

A scarf designed with the One Ring's inscription:

And the white tree of Gondor:

I'm always interested to see what sort of a lasting affect that the written word can have on people. It shows the adaptability of the stories and the characters that they can be taken from paper not only to screen, but also into other forms. Like yarn.

- Kelly Huber

Friday, February 22, 2008

Some Questions

I have some questions for the people in the class that are more experienced with the trilogy and Tolkien. In chapter 9 Frodo recites a poem that has "the Man in the Moon" and a dish that ran off with a spoon. Did Tolkien use the theme of a common nursery rhyme or did the nursery rhyme come after Tolkien? Which came first? I know that the class is past this part in the book but I honestly forgot about the blog.

Also, it seems to me that after Frodo meets and leaves Goldberry his character is more mature. It was mentioned during class once that there are no romantic interests in the books, but to me Frodo acted like he had a crush on Goldberry. Was this so or was Frodo acting like a knight who showed courtly love for Goldberry?

Another thing that I wondered about is the constant use of the word queer to describe something odd. Why doesn't Tolkien use synonyms instead of using a single word over and over?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Racism of Middle Earth

While reading about the Uruk-Hai, I couldn't help but notice how it is impressed upon the reader that they are far more evil than just Orcs.

Later it is revealed that they are half-breeds. A mixture of men and orcs. (I swear I read that somewhere but now I can't find the quote to save my life...)

In a land where each race is isolated from the other, either through distance or ancient feuds, could it be that the mixing of blood is what makes the Uruk-Hai so great a threat to Middle Earth?

-Kelly Huber

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Unification of Cultures: The Chase of all Chases

In the first chapter of the Two Towers, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli make a pact to pursue the Uruk-Hai to save Merry and Pippin. Aragorn boldly proclaimed, "We will make such a chase as shall be accounted a marvel among the Three Kindreds: Elves, Dwarves, and Men." This triune bond clearly represents cultural unity and how collaboration can result in the best possible outcome when faced with a perilous situation. The three run almost endlessly for days on the trail of the Uruks, utilizing each of their ethnically inherent abilities. The concept of an extraordinary action done by a few representatives of different societies as a way to bring them together is another example Tolkien used to condone pluralism. The "New Fellowship" of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli essentially set out on this chase because of their loyalty to their friends and the quest. As a result of this hunt, it is implied that a legacy will be created, which would bring prestige to the three ethnic groups through this unification. One could compare this to the alliances many different ethnic groups made in Medieval Europe, such as the Crusades (in a trans-European sense), and the Romans aligning with the Franks in order to save the Papal States from invasion, and especially the Convivencia in Spain; when Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived together in the south. This theme of uniting under a common goal seems to be an ever recurring one in the Lord of the Rings.

Any thoughts?

'Remembering' Gandalf

This is going back quite a bit in the story, but I have been questioning it for awhile, so I'd like anyone's input...

When Gandalf 'dies' in the previous book, it seems to me that none of the fellowship spends much time thinking about him, or mourning him, or whatever they would normally do in that culture.

I know they don't necessarily have time to stop their mission, but it seems to me that Gandalf played such an important role in the whole journey. Once he was gone, it was mentioned that they missed him, but it seems like they go on with their business without much thought. I felt that Gandalf was not only their leader, but their close friend. Especially from Frodo's point of view. Thats why I wonder why it seems like none of them have much to say about his death. Any thoughts?

Boromir's Saving Grace

This is just a thought that popped into my head tonight after the reading? As we all know Boromir tries to take the ring before Frodo departs the fellowship. However, he gives his life in order to save the other Hobbits, well at least he tried anyway.

The question I pose to everyone is this, are Boromir's actions at Amon Hen enough to gain his honor back after he tried to take the ring? Or is he destined to be remembered as a "betrayer" and "backstabber"?

I believe this does redeem his actions with Frodo. I mean granted he shouldn't have tried to take the ring, but, he was only doing so because he though it would help his people in the coming war. Is it so wrong for him to do so? And can anyone really be blamed for giving into the power of the ring? He must have realized the error of his ways because he gave his life in an attempt to save other fellowship members and maintain his honor.

What does everyone else think?

Father vs. Son

When we were talking about the common theme of father vs. son in stories, I was surprised that no one mentioned the connection between Gandalf and the Balrog. The Balrog consists of two parts: fire and shadow. Gandalf is a "servant of the Secret Fire." This pairing makes for a sort of father/son match, either with Gandalf being the father of the Balrog (making the shadow representative of the here absent mother) or as a son ("servant") of the Balrog.

If one looks at the matter with the opinion that Gandalf represents the father of the Balrog, one could argue that the Balrog is a character foil for Gandalf, who represents fire and good (light). The Balrog represents fire and evil, or shadow (the opposite of good/light). This puts the two and an equal standing on the basis of sharing "fire" and an opposite standing on the basis of good/evil or light/shadow.

Monday, February 18, 2008

An Orc's Thought

What do you think is going through the orcs’ minds? There side of the tale is largely dismissed. Is it possible that they are fighting for freedom? Who knows what Sauron has promised. I bet every orc has at least one family member who has died at the hands of elven arrow or human lance. Maybe they just want the opportunity to live free without fear of being hunted by day dwellers. Or they could be slaves of Sauron who have no choice but to fight. Or just maybe they are thinking about how great it would be if Tolkien didn’t write us as such one dimensional figures?

Gandalf and his bag of tricks

There is all this talk about comparing Gandalf and Obi-Wan Kenobi and old Tom to God, but why not compare Gandalf to Jesus? After all, Gandalf did sacrifice himself and was resurrected, clad in white symbolizing goodness. Gandalf seems to know things that no one else knows. He has an uncanny foresight into the future, an unparalleled wisdom about him. Not to mention, he does pull off few miracles of his own! What connections do you see? Who disagrees? Personally I find it annoying when people try to make everything about Jesus, but I thought it would be a topic people might have something to write about.

Also on page 370, Gandalf says that he is the wielder of the flame of Anor. What is this? Is this his Elven ring of fire? If not, does anyone know the name of the ring? I haven't read the third book yet.

prose eda christianity

I was definately mixed between this being more pegan or more christian. I do not know enough about the bible but I do think this seems to be christian. It reminds me of the ark that noah bilt. All becomes pure and green once more after the flood. It also reminds me of heaven because it talks of how beautiful the earth will be with kind of guides us to a kind of heaven. please help me clarify!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Coming Late to the Conversation: Is Sauron the Good Guy?

Figure 1. page from a manga version of Crime and Punishment (by Tezuka Osamu, 1953)

I am sorry to come late to the conversation that developed in response to Joe Donaldson's post "Is Sauron the Good Guy?" [I am currently at Wake Forest University where I have been guest-teaching on, you guessed it, Beowulf], but I just wanted to say that the level of intellectual conversation here is very, very rich and I am really impressed with all of this commentary on a very difficult question: the nature of evil, goodness, whether or not absolute morality exists, etc. I think Mike Pilato does an excellent job of summing up the different threads of the conversation here and also raising the interesting idea of a pluralistic objective morality, which is not the same thing as an absolutist ethics in which there is always one perfect answer to any ethical dilemma [i.e. God is always right, read the Bible, read the Constitution, read the law codes, do unto others, thou shalt not kill or steal, an eye for an eye, etc.]. Although I would point out that even the Council of Elrond represents different, interested [i.e. subjectively invested in the outcome] parties who, for one reason or other, all come to agree on the importance of destroying the ring--they are a kind of precursor to something like the United Nations [although I'm not sure the U.N. has ever effected a real and lasting peace or helped to avoid disastrous military conflicts, which was one of the intentions behind its foundation: in other words, the U.N. has not triumphed over evil, but then again, although the Fellowship will manage to destroy the ring, that does not mean evil has been eradicated from the world, only that a temporary stay against the wholesale destruction of the world has been effected].

Rocky's point that history is always written by the victors is very apt here, too [and also a famous sentiment echoed by many historians and philosophers over the years], and it connects in certain interesting ways to the idea that one actually can get away with murder sometimes. I want to share with everyone here some dialogue from Woody Allen's film, Crimes and Misdemeanors, during a Seder dinner [a Jewish holiday devoted to the Passover], in which family relatives [one of whom is a rabbi] are arguing over the same provocative moral questions you are all raising here. I will first provide the plot set-up and then the dialogue:

Woody Allen's film, Crimes & Misdemeanors is a kind of creative adaptation of Dostoevky's Russian novel Crime and Punishment. Judah (played by Martin Landau), the sixty-something successful and married opthamologist has been suffering various attacks of his conscience over the fact that he hired a hit man to kill his lover (played by Anjelica Huston), because he didn't want her to expose their affair (which she was threatening to do), and therefore ruin his life and marriage. Repeatedly, throughout the film, he claims he doesn't believe in God, and he doesn't think it's fair that, for one brief adulterous affair, his life should be ruined. How is it justice (?), he wonders, to be destroyed by a "neurotic" woman. He feels he has no choice but to get rid of the girlfriend. He has a patient, a rabbi (played by Sam Waterston), who appears in a dream sequence just as Judah is getting ready to make the phone call to arrange the murder, and says to him, "Don't you think God sees?" To which Judah replies, "God is a luxury I can't afford." The rabbi replies, "Without the law, it's all darkness." Nevertheless, after the girlfriend is killed, he finds he can't sleep at night, and he is convinced he will be caught and punished for what he did. One afternoon, he drives to the house in Brooklyn where he grew up, and as he is wandering through the rooms, he sees himself as a young man and his large extended family having Passover supper in the dining room, and he listens in on the conversation. Saul, his father (a rabbi) is praying and his sister, May (Judah's aunt), interrupts to say, "hurry up, enough of the mumbo jumbo, we're hungry":

Saul: I apologize for my disrespectful sister.

May: This is the twentieth century, you have young boys sitting here. Don't fill their heads with superstitions.

Saul: Oh, the intellectual, the schoolteacher--spare us your Leninist philosophy just this once!

May: Are you afraid if you don't follow the rules God's going to punish you?

Saul: He won't punish me, May. He punishes the wicked.

May: Oh, who, like Hitler?

Saul: May, how can you say that?

May: Six million Jews burned to death and they got away with it!

Saul: How did they get away with it?

May: Ah, come on, Saul, open your eyes! Six million Jews, and millions of others, and they got off with nothing!

Relative 1: How could human beings do such a thing?

May: Because might makes right. That is, until the Americans marched in and stopped the--

Saul: (interrupting) I don't like this kind of talk at my Seder.

May: Okay, okay, all right! You know, wait a minute, there's this joke about the prize fighter who enters the ring, and his brother turns to the family priest and says, father, pray for him. And the priest said, I will, but if he can punch, it'll help.

Relative 2: So, what are you saying May? You're saying you challenge the whole moral structure of everything?

May: What moral structure? Is that the kind of nonsense you use on your pupils?

Relative 2: Do you not find human impulses basically decent?

May: There's basically nothing!

Saul: Such a cynic, my sister, a nihilist--back to Russia!

Relative 3: Listen, I happen to agree with May when it comes to all that mumbo jumbo.

Saul: How can you say that? You come to every Seder, you pray in Hebrew.

Relative 3: Yes, I'm going through the motions. It's like any ritual, it's a habit.

Relative 2: What are you saying, May? There's no morality anywhere in the whole world?

May: For those who want morality, there's morality. Nothing's handed down in stone.

Saul's Wife (Judah's mother): Saul's kind of faith is a gift. It's like an ear for music, or the talent to draw. He believes, and you can use logic on him all day long, and he still believes.

Saul: Must everything be logical?

[at this point, even though this is a fantasy sequence, Judah enters the conversation, while standing in the doorway]

Judah: If a man commits a crime, if he kills?

Saul: Then one way or another, he will be punished.

Relative 3: If he's caught, Saul.

Saul: And if he's not caught, that which originates from a black deed, will blossom in a foul manner.

Relative 3: You're relying a little too heavily on the Bible, Saul.

Saul: No, no, no--whether it's the Old Testament or Shakespeare, murder will out.

Judah: Who said anything about murder?

Saul: You did.

Judah: Did I?

May: And I say, if he can do it and get away with it, and he chooses not to be bothered by the ethics, then he's home free. Remember, history is written by the winners. And if the Nazis had won, future generations would understand the story of World War II quite differently.

Relative 3: And if all your faith is wrong, Saul? I mean, Just what if, huh? If, hmmm?

Saul: Then I'll still have a better life than all of those who doubt.

May: Wait a minute. Are you telling me that you prefer God to the truth?

Saul: If necessary, I will always choose God over truth.

[end of film "clip"]

Another interesting counterpoint to Allen's film [especially in relation to Aunt May's commentary] is this excerpt from Freud's Civilization and its Discontents [you don't have to agree with this, by the way, as it's a rather dim viewpoint on human nature, but it's a viewpoint, that's all]:

". . . . men are not gentle creatures, who want to be loved, who at the most can defend themselves if they are attacked; they are, on the contrary, creatures among whose instinctual endowments is to be reckoned a powerful share of aggressiveness. As a result, their neighbor is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. Homo homini lupus [man is wolf to man]. Who in the face of all his experience of life and of history, will have the courage to dispute this assertion? As a rule this cruel aggressiveness waits for some provocation or puts itself at the service of some other purpose, whose goal might also have been reached by milder measures. In circumstances that are favorable to it, when the mental counter-forces which ordinarily inhibit it are out of action, it also manifests itself spontaneously and reveals man as a savage beast to whom consideration towards his own kind is something alien. Anyone who calls to mind the atrocities committed during the racial migrations or the invasions of the Huns, or by the people known as Mongols under Ghengis Khan and Tamerlane, or at the capture of Jerusalem by the pious Crusaders, or even, indeed, the horrors of the recent World War -- anyone who calls these things to mind will have to bow humbly before the truth of this view.

The existence of this inclination to aggression, which we can detect in ourselves and justly assume to be present in others, is the factor which disturbs our relations with our neighbor and which forces civilization into such a high expenditure [of energy]. In consequence of this primary mutual hostility of human beings, civilized society is perpetually threatened with disintegration. The interest of work in common would not hold it together; instinctual passions are stronger than reasonable interests. Civilization has to use its utmost efforts in order to set limits to man's aggressive instincts and to hold the manifestations of hem in check by psychical reaction-formations. Hence, therefore, the use of methods intended to incite people into identifications and aim-inhibited relations of love, hence the restriction upon sexual life, and hence too the ideal's commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself -- a commandment which is really justified by the fact that nothing else runs so strongly counter to the original nature of man. In spite of every effort, these endeavors of civilization have not so far achieved very much. It hopes to prevent the crudest excesses of brutal violence by itself assuming the right to use violence against criminals, but the law is not able to lay hold of the more cautious and refined manifestations of human aggressiveness. The time comes when each one of us has to give up illusions the expectations which, in his youth. he pinned upon his fellow men, and when he may learn how much difficulty and pain has been added to his life by their ill-will."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valhalla and Valinor

So, I just read on Wikipedia (the most reliable source in the world) that elves go to a place called Valinor when they die, much like warriors would go to Valhalla when they died in battle in Norse mythology. Anybody else see connections here?

Led Zeppelin and LOTR

I'm a pretty big fan of Zeppelin and I don't know if anybody else is. But Robert Plant's favorite books were the Lord of the Rings. Some of their music was inspired by the books and of course, it rocks. If anyone's interested just Google Led Zeppelin and Lord of the Rings, you'll find some interesting articles. Keep on Rockin!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I just saw Vince Vaghn's "comedy" movie the other night. In the end of the 'movie', after documenting the traveling of 30 shows in 30 nights with his buddies, he makes the wonderful declaration to correspond with class: Traveling brings experiences and lessons that cannot be taken away and will change them forever. This was about the only thing that really caught my ear/interest during the entire movie but it so perfectly fit with some of the discussions in class concerning traveling.

Elves in Exile?

Going back all the way to the bottom of page 89... Frodo meets the High Elves, and Gildor (their leader) says that they are Exiles. Are they really exiles, in the sense that they are cast away from their people? or does it just mean that they are waiting until they cross the Great Sea? When I think of Exile, I assume that they have done something wrong where they are not allowed to return.

Power in Small Size?

During the Council of Elrond, I sort of got the idea that one race has faith to handle a situation pretty much only in itself, and does not really trust any one else. Yet all agree to trust Frodo, the small little hobbit, with the Ring. The hobbits continually surprise the others with their ability to "bounce back" and to take on hardships not easily thought of halflings. Aragorn has made at least three exclamations about his opinion, usually with something like "You're strong for your size," or "I never thought such a small hobbit could have so much courage." Is it all/only forshadowing?

And, the Ring is a small object that has a lot of power. Sauron's Ring can destroy the earth, but rings are also important gifts, like in Beowulf. Anyone see any connections, or other ideas?

Spoof of Fellowship

I found this spoof of Fellowship of the Ring and thought I'd share it.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Gandalf with a Lightsaber

A while back, we talked about the similarities between LOTR and Star Wars. It's obvious that George Lucas was a fan and was inspired by LOTR. One noticable similarity is the chacters of Gandalf and Obi-Wan Kenobi. Both are the wise old men of their groups. And both are martyrs to save their friends. Also the scene in the Prancing Pony where the Hobbits meet Strider is a lot like the scene where Luke and Obi-Wan hire Han Solo. Any more similarities you can find.

Is Sauron the Good Guy?

I'm having trouble with perspectives here... one moment we're the good guy- angry at Agamemnon and philosophizing the evils of war- and the next we're screaming our lungs out at the gates of Troy- but if Troy is called Heorot then we're not Achilles- we're Grendel's mom. Sauron (the bad guy) just wants his ring back, but Tolkien used this same set-up in the Silmarillion whereas the Elves (good guys though) just want their rocks back. However both will go to endless wars against anyone who keeps these possessions. Joy asked what separates the hero from the villian- is it a moment? a perspective? or is it just your name? I don't know... 'good is a point of view' (The Emporer from Star Wars) or is that just something the bad guy has to say?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Fair Fight

I am surprised no one has really mentioned this yet, but I have some thought concerning the weaponry and the fights between Beowulf and Grendel, and then again with Grendel's mom. Grendel had already declared that he does not fight with a weapon, thus, I believe is why Beowulf enters the fight also without a weapon. This is one of the oldest traditions and no one has brought it up. When entering a one on one fight, the two opponents come with equal weaponry. Old westerns: each gun-slinger has one gun, sword fights- only one sword. Or, on the other side, a wave displays no weapon, so does a handshake. Even sumo wrestlers slap their thighs and wear their minimal mawashi (the 'uniform') to show they do not have any weapons. Furthermore, in the movies we notice the incredible immorality and, essentially, cheating when the 'bad guy' draws out a hidden knife or gun, etc.
So, as far as weapons are concerned- it is as simple as that as to why Beowulf fought Grendel without "help." When he enters the fight with Grendel's mother, he does not know what exact weapon she may bare.
So there it is: in a true and fair fight, only experience, knowledge, and strength are to be the variables.

Where have I been?

I really do wonder where I have been. Other than hearing of the Lord of the Ring movies, I had no idea the Lord of the Ring existed. I certainly did not know these books had been around that long.

I am wondering how I could have gotten to be this old with out becoming aquanted with these stories. Especially since there seems to be a cult type following like a "Treky".

I had never heard of Beowolf either. It seems to remind me of parts of the Old Testament in the Bible.

I am a bit dissapointed that our Lord of the Ring books have pictures of the characters on the cover. As I have never watched the movies (and will not until after I have read the books), I would have rather their appearance be left to the readers imagination. After all that is the one of the major advantages to reading a book as opposed to watching the movie. I really think that is one reason the movies are never as good as the books, because the reader has already attatched a profile with the character.

I prefer to picture the hobbits to look more like Dobie from Harry Potter. I know that probably doesn't go along with the book, but I am going to stick with that as it is much more interesting then the pictures on the cover that look like regular people.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Gandalf...what's up with the attitude?

I just want to make a general comment, but before I do I want to prelude it with this. I love Gandalf. I think he is someone to be admired and a very intriguing character. Having said that, however, I still wonder what's up with all the attitude he has? I mean, it just seems to me that he is the best and he knows it. He asks everyone to "counsel" him with their ideas, but always does what he wants to do anyway. If I was traveling with him I would give him a piece of my mind (probably only to be punished with his staff or something). Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone else saw the massive attitude problem that he has been displaying for the last set of chapter that we have been reading or if it is just me.

Friday, February 8, 2008

poem in a poem?!

In class we spent much time discussing the importance of the "poem within the poem", but what about the story taking place within the story? That lecture reminded me of Bilbo's story that he is writing, which correlates with the actual LotR series. Bilbo is writing a story of all of he and Frodo's adventures, when actually. Tolkien has already done this. Ironic as well?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

About the Movies

I have only watched the movies before this class. I am enjoying reading the books. My husband is a huge Lord of the Rings fan. He just told me today for all those movie watchers out there that Peter Jackson is going to be making the Hobbit and Hobbit 2 into movies also. The Hobbit is scheduled to be released in 2010 and the Hobbit 2 for 2011. I just thought I would let everyone know.


In class we were talking about Strider being a different kind of hero than Frodo. It seems to me that Strider was breed to be a hero that may be why he feels obligated to go and do the things that he has to. Just a thought.

I do have a question about the women in heroic poetry that was discussed. Why are women to be feared? It seems that in the history books women couldn't do anything but tend to the house and raise the kids. They couldn't own land or work outside the home, so why are they feared?

the fight with Grendel's mum

It seems to me if Grendle's mother is so fierce and so crucial to this part of the tale, that she should be given a proper name. If names are usually given according to the father's name and Grendel has no father, shouldn't his name come down from his mother and not the other way around? I mean if she is a more vicious opponent should she not have her own name or even her own legend as Grendel does. Not only that but the whole confrentation in general seems to not add up. Beowulf's wepondry is no match for her, so it would seem that no one's would be, but yet she houses a wepon that can defete her and displays it in her home. Then there is the issue of Beowulf seeking her out instead of the other way around. This seems to not only break the "avenge" code, but also kind of violates Beowulf's ethos code. Is it that Beowulf doesn't not see her as a threat and there for does not wait for her as he did Grendel? Or is it that Beowulf's sense of urgency got the better of him? To me it is both. It could be that Beowulf doesn't consider Grendel's mother a threat because she is a woman, and there for easily dominated. Also the fact that he just pluges into the conflict with out weighing his opponent seems to support this notion. I don't know, alot of things don't seem reasonable in this battle and therefore make me doubt Beowulf's heroic characteristics.

The Voyage of Ibn Fadlan

Here is a link to a recent article available on-line about Ibn Fadlan, accompanied by a new translation and notes by James E. Montgomery at Cambridge.

Ibn Fadlan

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Is this a running heroic or fantasy theme?

I've read a few different fantasy series and something keeps popping up. It seems that the heroes in whatever story you're reading aren't the first heroes to be around.

In Lord of the Rings, there are the tales of Gil-galad, Beren and Luthien, etc. In Beowulf, there's Sigemund the dragon slayer. It seems in every fantasy series that comes to mind there are heroes of the past to which the heroes of the story are compared.

Where else have you noticed this happening? Does this happen in other genres, or is this a heroic/fantasy thing?


All this talk of Glorfindel being cut from the movie, but can’t the same be said to be true of Gloin. Is Gloin in the movie? The movie seems to cut out the entire dwarven race focusing on just Gimli. I always wondered what happened to all of the dwarves. In the book, there are dwarves who are always travelling the roads. Sure, the dwarfs of Moria are gone, but that doesn’t mean that the race is extinct.

Well as a Forgotten Realms fan, I just wanted to say that I would have liked to have seen more done with dwarves in the movie.


Once the hobbits went off with Strider, they camped out one night and wanted to hear some stories. Strider told of a story of Beren, a mortal man, who was in love with Luthien, an elven princess. He says the story does does not have a known ending. So he tells the story and Beren is slain and Luthien picks mortality.

This story is kind of what Aragorn is living since he is in love with Arwen. Tolkien does a good job of finishing the story of Beren through the life of Aragorn as we find out towards the end of the trilogy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Beowulf and God

I just have a question about the tie between the story of Beowulf, and that of God. There are multiple times so far in the story in which there are statements such as 'The judgement of the Lord', 'Holy Lord', 'Wise God'...etc.

I know we briefly touched on this in class, and I believe when we were talking about Beowulf, we said he had more confidence and faith in himself than in any higher power. I was just wondering other people's opinions as to how the characters forsee 'God'...it seems as if they speak of him and a higher power often, but have much more faith in themselves...

Or maybe I have it wrong?

Sam's Potato Rap

This has nothing to do with anything, except that it has Sam and Gollum, my two favorite characters.

- Kelly Huber

Monday, February 4, 2008

Getting Frodo safely to Rivendale

I just have a quick comment. I have watched the movies but never read the books. In the movies, they made Liv Tyler's part out to be pretty significant. The first appearance she made was when Frodo was stabbed by the knife of the enemy. In the book, however, it was days after he was stabbed before they were saught after to be saved, and it was by no female. I was wondering if anyone could tell me if her character plays a significant role in the book or if it was all just made up for the sake of a "good" movie plot? Also, why all the inconsistencies with the book to the movie? Wouldn't you think if you were making a movie based on a book it would be a little more accurate? Any thoughts?


I know this was a few chapters back... but I seriously love the way Tolkien made Strider appear to be an enemy at the inn in Bree when he's actually a good guy. In literature, dark colors almost always seem to represent evil and Strider dresses in dark green. As he sat and "watched the hobbits," "he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen." Yikes! Furthermore, the way he had earlier followed the hobbits over the gate entering Bree and later secretly followed the hobbits to their room at night. What a creep! My hair stood on end, but he turned out to be the best thing that could have happened to them. So far, that has been the best part of the story. Anyone agree?

Beowulf the movie

The new movie has an interesting twist to Beowulf. Grendel is the son of Hrothgar and a super hot demon played by Angelina Jolie. Although certainly entertaining, I don't know if I liked this idea. I thought that the movie took a lot of liberties to change the storyline, but then again so did the Lord of the Ring Movies. What do you think and what did you think of the movie? I thought that they could have done more with it. Overall, I was left disappointed. I think that I may even prefer the movie, the 13th Warrior based off of Eaters of the Dead.


Pamela Gay from the Physics Dept. here at SIUE (who happens to be a LotR fan, and is quite knowledgeable concerning the astronomy of Middle-Earth) sent me a link to a podcast about Wagner's 'Ring' cycle, which comments on LotR. Enjoy!


Sunday, February 3, 2008

Similarities between LOTR and Beowulf

I've noticed a few things that are very similar that we have touched on in the Lord of the Rings.

There's a lot of talk about ring givers. That being people who give freely of their riches. This matches with the hobbits giving of gifts and of the sayings of the high one. also the term "ring-giver" makes me think there is something more significant about rings in this culture that I'm not seeing. This might add something more significant to the value of the One Ring.

Also the long lineage and the historical value of each person in that lineage makes Beowulf a lot longer than it would be if it just concentrated on him. Definitely reminds me of that Monty Python skit. It also reminds me of the hobbit lineage that just seems to keep going in LOTR.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Why does Tolkien hide the true abilities of the two main heroes we have seen so far in the book? With Strider/Aragorn it seems as if he has this humble outward appearance and he is weary from travel as a ranger, but in reality he is a king. Same with Gandalf, I think it was Strider who says the wizard is more clever than he appears.
-Matt Stapay

Friday, February 1, 2008


After reading the lengthy and very hard to understand text of Beowulf, Grendel descriptions from the reading of beowulf sound a lot like the predessors of modern monsters or creatures. The vague descriptions of Grendel give forms to many types of monsters in our literary world: From Wolves to Vampires to Orcs. From The description of too repulsive, a picture of an ogre like shrek pops into your head, yet shrek for entertainment purposes is pretty round and jolly. When the text decribing his thirst for blood, they basically infer a vampire type creature. But when he totally dismembers and devours the men limb for limb a werewolf type creatures comes up. Too Boot he also has an incantation or spell which leaves him immune to all types of weaponry such as swords, dagggers, arrows, spears, pikes, and everything molded from steel. From his ignorance of thinking he was invincible, he played into beowulf's ploy of fighting hand to hand. If he were to be carrying Sword of some sort, i wouldn't think beowulf would gladly fight him unarmored.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Origin of Orcs

In the Silmarillion it said that Morgoth, who was the master of Sauron way back in the day, created Orcs, also known as goblins, from Elves. Since Morgoth was evil, certain limitations were set upon him, one being that he could not create life. To create minions of his own, he created the Orc race from Elves by corrupting them with his own power. This is why they appear to look like a deformed version of the Elves, because in the beginning of their race they were nothing more than evil elves. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Out of the Shire?

I can't remember if anyone brought this up in class or not, but at the end of chapter 8, Merry talks about the Prancing Pony in Bree. I didn't really notice it until tonight. He says "My people go out there now and again." I was just wondering what everyone else though since we've discussed a lot in class how Hobbits don't really get out of the Shire.

The Silmarillion

If any of you have the time and desire to sift through seemingly hundreds of characters and take notes on a book like you would for a grueling history test, then I highly recommend the Silmarillion. As much as I hate to say it, I can see why they never made it into a movie. What do you think? Did anyone else find it seemingly impossible to follow?

Who Controls the Ring?

Going off of some of the posts I read, and having completed chapters 9-10, I have more questions about the ring. Throughout these chapters, Frodo and the others finally make it to the inn they have been instructed to stay at. While here, Frodo causes some panic and confusion when he 'disappears' in front of the other guests of the inn. Frodo claims that the ring slipped on his finger without his even knowing it.

I believe Rebecca mentioned in a previous note that she questions the power of the ring- whether it is trying to get back to it's owner. My question is, do you think that the ring is gaining more power over Frodo without him knowing it? I mean did the ring actually slip onto this finger without his allowing it to? And if this is true, maybe the panic and confusion was actually caused for the reason that the ring wants people to question Frodo and his friends, so that those hunting for him, might find him quickly.

Or does Frodo use the ring for his own purposes (like disappearing from an embarassing situation like the inn) without even realizing he does so? I have not read the whole trilogy yet, so I'm sure these questions will be answered eventually. But based solely on where we are right now in the book, does anyone have any opinions over who is actually in control of the ring?

Giving up the Ring

Now that Frodo is a Ringbearer that makes him 'special'. Him and Bilbo are now suddenly different than everyone else, but if I am not mistaken shouldn't that translate to a few other characters? Does Tom Bombadil count? He had the ring. Also, if I remember correctly Gandalf took the ring from Frodo earlier in the book, right before he threw it in the fire. Looking back that seems odd to me that he takes it. He could have had Frodo put it in the fire. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

On the same token, you can say that Sam should be considered too. I don't know if the book is the same as the movie, but doesn't Sam give up the ring under his own accord just like Bilbo? Earlier Gandalf is talking about Bilbo and he says, "For he gave it up in the end of his own accord: a very important point." Gandalf and Tom do the same. What are your thoughts?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Tom Bombadil

Is this guy quite possibly the weirdest character in the book or what? Somehow, he knows everything and is everywhere. He skipps around the forest singing about the color of his boots and taking a bath. He is married to a super hot elf and has mysterious magical powers. Frodo calls him "Master". Then for some crazy reason, Frodo gives him the ring. Does anyone else find this odd? The character of Tom Bombadil kind of reminds me of a Father of Time character. From what Tom has said, it seems like he could be very, very, old. What do you think?

Saturday, January 26, 2008


It just amazes me how Frodo and friends can be so trusting so quickly and easily....maybe it is the food that drives them. ;) I just read chapter seven, and how quickly they trusted Tom. I am curious as to how this develops. Nonetheless, I can't help but do the "No!! Don't do that!!"reaction as though watching a movie and the 'dun-dun-dun' foreboding music plays. Anybody else just waiting for their trust to get them into deep trouble?

Friday, January 25, 2008

LOTR & Industry

I was interested in what all of you thought about the portrayal of industry in the books. I realize that we have not made it very far in the trillogy yet, but maybe some who have read it before can comment and others add later.

To me it seems that the two societies that Tolkien paints in the best light are Hobbits and Elves. Both are primarily focused on natural things. The evil forces, Sauron, Sauiman, etc... seem to be goal oriented and will expliot nature to further thier goals.

The character I find most interesting is Tom Bombadil, although there is little explanation about his origens or purpose. If not for him the whole quest would have ended abruptly 30 minutes outside the shire.

Any thought on this, or information on the Bombadil character?

Lord of the Rings song and video

Here is a link to the song "Lord of the Rings," by the german progressive metal band Blind Guardian. I thought most of you would enjoy this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMqozfGT9pM

Blind Guardian also has an album entitled "Nightfall in Middle Earth," which is based off of The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Here is another video entitled "They're taking the Hobbits to Isengard." This is actually very amusing! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tin6NJqQQsM

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Lord of the Rings Family

So I know this is a little off, but I just thought someone would get a kick out of this. I have grown up always knowing about the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit through my Dad. He was very much into Dungeons and Dragons, which I'm not sure if anyone else here is. He was so into it that we had two cats named Bilbo and Baggins. I never knew what the significance was of these names until I read the books in middle school. Anyone else have any strange things like this?

The Power of the Ring

I am brand new to The Lord Of The Rings and I'm still a little bit confused, but what makes the significant power of this ring so evil? Can someone help me out?


I enjoyed reading about the friends collecting information and planning on helping Frodo no matter the ending result. First of all, I was surprised that they were each able to keep it a secret given how chatty and gossip-friendly hobbits appear to be. Of course, they were able to talk amongst themselves, but the entire situation shows a deep relationship among the friends. "Family by choice even though not by blood." There is something about this whole plan and especially the sacrifice that I think our society misses; a feature of deep selflessness that is very atypical. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Off topic, but fun...

I know many of you are well versed in the Middle Earth mythos. For those of you not yet hung up on the immediate satisfaction of xbox look into www.middleearthgames.com. I was a skeptic for a while, but it is a fun stratagy game that follows the books.

Steve Backhus


Today in class there was a conversation about common sense. My question is what are your feelings about the phase: "the smarter you are the less common sense you have."?

Freud-o Baggins?

Tolkien uses the 'divided self' theme many times in Lord of the Rings- and example when Frodo finds himself torn between 'perhaps I shall cross the River myself one day' to which the other half of his mind: 'not yet.' (ch.2) As the ring takes a stronger role in the story, notice how it acts as a wedge further dividing virtue from desire (personified in Gollum/Smeagol). Find any other examples of 'divided self'? Or how is Tolkien advising us to handle that Id on our shoulder?

"Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring" Music Video

Here's a link to the video for "Frodo, Don't Wear the Ring" by New Zealand musicomedians Flight of the Conchords. Not exactly the funniest thing they've ever done, but still enjoyable. It gets funnier toward the end.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tolkien's Military Career

I found this link to National Geographic about Tolkien's involvement in World War I and how it relates to The Lord of the Rings.


Reaping the Benefits of Roleplaying

From what we have read so far about hobbits, humans, elves and dwarfs (although we do not know too much about dwarfs), which race would you be?

I am curious because I think each race has unique characteristics that set them apart from each other, and since it would be hard to get to know all 7oish of you, this would be a fun way to associate a characteristic with a person and in the process, get to know everyone!

I would be an elf because I am rather clumsy, and with elf-grace, I would never embarrass myself! Also, I am a Sagittarius, and we are known for our arching ability, so I think this would be my natural choice.

Your turn!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Feudalism and Society in Middle Earth

In the middle ages society was organized into a strict hierarchy consisting of kings, clergy, nobles, vassals, and peasants. These classes were tied to one another in some manner in order for each to sustain themselves. The medieval ethos was that of loyalty and privilege. A medieval person viewed this social structure as honorable and by today's standards would not view themselves as inferior (in the modern sense) for belonging to a lower class. In the eighth century a system known as vassalage rose out of the Carolingian Empire, which consisted of vassals, or "faithful men," who were tied by a sacred oath to a local lord or noble. This was instituted to organize regional districts by creating loyal men who were ultimately tied to the king. In 768, Charlemagne became the king of the Franks (a people who resided in modern day France and Germany) and created a very sucessful vassalage system known as the "missi dominici," or "agents of the Lord." The vassal would swear fealty, or loyalty and honor, to a man of higher status. In turn, the lord or noble would provide the vassal with what he needed. In J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy, the relationship that Frodo and Sam have to me clearly reflects the medieval feudalistic system of vassalage. Sam takes to his duty as Frodo's gardener with honor and a sense of privilege. Sam never has a problem with being "under" Frodo. In our modern society, we seem to be immersed in rugged individualism, whereas in Medieval Europe feudalism tied people together by necessity; and at times it created a strong sense of community. The Shire appears to reflect the typical social structure in the middle ages. Other political systems in Middle Earth like Rohan and Gondor to me represent the epitomy of feudalism.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Hobbit Feet

One of the most noticeable features of the Hobbits is their bare feet. I think Tolkien chose to do this as a way to show their innocence. We mentioned in class about how child-like the Hobbits are the lack of shoes remind me of how kids will tend to walk around without them as well. Does anyone have any other theories on why Tolkien chose to have the Hobbits not to wear shoes?

Lord of the Rhymes and Ballad of Bilbo Baggins

Here's a video of Leonard Nimoy that's just wierd.

Lord of the Rhymes is hilarious, but they also drop the "F"bomb... A LOT.


I've got a bit of a bone to pick with Tolkien...

He writes this beautiful, epic, amazingly intricate world full of detail and hidden treasures and past histories that the devoted reader can enjoy. He creates hundreds of characters, major and minor, each with their own personalities and quirks.

Then he gives the two villains of the books practically the same name! Argh!! I always have so much trouble keeping them apart.


Why couldn't it be Al and Zebadiah?

-Kelly Huber

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Maps for the trilogy

During a class it was mentioned that people have actually made maps for the setting of Tolkien’s work. After a quick search on Google for Lord of the Rings map I found two websites that have multiple maps. I am assuming that they are accurate, as I have not read the trilogy before. They are http://www.lyberty.com/encyc/articles/tolkien_maps.html and http://www.lord-of-the-rings.org/collections/maps.html. I hope that they will help others in the class when they are reading to keep track of the different locations, as they will me, when I will eventually get lost.

Friday, January 18, 2008


I was thinking about the discussion about Gods in Lord of the Rings in class on Wednesday and came across the passage about Elbereth or Gilthoniel when Frodo encounters the high elves. If anyone out there has read The Silmarillion also by Tolkien, there is a mentioning that the world was created, more or less, by Gods, and that Elbereth is the star queen, or God. Just thought I would try to shed some light on the issue. I don't know if you would really consider them Gods though or if they would be more like demi-Gods...

Tolkien and Culture

In the third chapter of fellowship of the ring, Frodo and company first encounter the legendary Elves. I find it interesting that Gildor comments that Hobbits are dull folk, yet he began to take an interest once Frodo was able to speak their language. Could the Elves' perception of Hobbits be due to the strict isolationist society in which they live? It seems as though this first transaction between the two very different cultures and the process by which they relate to one another reflects Tolkien's desire to promote transcultural integration and harmony.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Race, Ecology, and Middle Earth

For anyone interested, I've posted a link to Niels Werber's article "Geo- and Biopolitics in Middle-Earth" under 'External Links' on our Blackboard site (I would have included a link here; however, access to the article via Project Muse requires that we go through an SIUE portal).

It's a thought-provoking article about racial and ecological discourse in Lord of the Rings in the context of mid-twentieth century Nazi rhetoric concerning race and environment.

Have a read through and share your thoughts once you get blogging!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Day 1 Welcome

Hello All!

Welcome to IS-399 "The Lord of the Rings and Medieval Heroic Poetry"

This Blog will be a forum for discussion of all things Tolkien for the class. Please feel free to continue class discussions on this Blog or start new discussions! Share your thoughts with the class and make your voice heard!