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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Reading Group meeting 22/10/05

On this day....

'At length they came to Weathertop;...'
The Return of the King, Homeward Bound

and the year before....

'Their piercing cries were drowned in the roaring of the river.....Frodo felt himself falling....He heard and saw no more.'

The Fellowship of the Ring, Flight to the Ford


Blogger Rymenhild said...

Our meeting this week took on some heavyweight topics as we followed the Fellowship on the Journey in the Dark. With her customary attention to detail, Pat noted that Sam weeps a good deal in this chapter. Other characters do too, but not so often, and we concluded that this added a particularly significant facet to Sam’s character, as it shows the range of his compassion, as well as indicating that he feels overwhelmed at times. He thus becomes a more rounded character as his own personal journey takes him from being a gardener to a hero, and he never loses that deep compassion.
We considered Moria and its environs in terms of the four major, or cosmic, elements – earth, air, fire and water. The ancient Greek belief that all things are made from varying amounts of each element seems to be played out in the realm of the Dwarrowdelf. It is interesting that while the balrog is fire and shadow, Gandalf too is associated with fire.
The topic that offered the most potential depth of discussion took us all rather by surprise when Shirley directed our attention to it. She pertinently observed that Moria is associated with an unusual array of body parts – feet, eyes, shoulders, under-arms. It was remarked that in the dark of Moria feet rather than eyes took priority, and Frodo’s ears – his hearing – distinguishes between the different footfalls of the company, even hearing Gollum’s soft pattering. But there is no mention of Gandalf’s footfall! Is there, we were asked, a play here on sole/soul – does Gandalf have a soul? Is it his lack of one that makes his progress silent. Lynnette checked his ‘condition’ in The Silmarillion and his likeness to an angel was mentioned.
This was not, however, the most controversial aspect of our discussion. We also considered the Freudian or Jungian imagery of rebirth than can be applied to the Fellowship’s exit from Moria. The underground journey can be seen as a trip into the hellish underworld populated with demons of various kinds. It can also be seen in terms of (1)the swallowing womb, and (2)the greater female principle. It can be regarded in terms of the Greek dichotomy of eros and thanatos. The fragmentation of bodies fits perfectly in this context as entry into Moria signals the decomposition of death, while the exit from Moria signals a new beginning for all the Company who have shown new aspects to their characters. Everyone changes - Legolas shows that Elves know fear, Gimli the stoic dwarf weeps for his kinsman, the hobbits become warriors, and Boromir comes into his own.
We were rather scathing about poor Boromir in our previous meeting, but we noted that he’s a good man in a fight! When he sounds his horn even the balrog hesitates!
There is much more Freudian/Jungian material surrounding Moria, but we would have to return to this at another time. For our next meeting we are moving onto a far more esoteric and metaphysical plane as we discuss the palantirs.

11:23 AM  

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