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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reading Group meeting 10/7/10


Blogger Dr. Lynn Forest-Hill said...

10.7.10 – with thanks to Chris for compiling the following:


Julie opened the discussion by asking whether Shelob was really a spider. Mike said that her appearance was certainly spider-like but, as Angela pointed out, Shelob was half Maia being a child of Ungoliant. A debate then followed concerning Tolkien's experiences with spiders and whether he had been stung. Ian confirmed that although Tolkien had been bitten by a tarantula this had left him with no dislike of spiders.

Julie said that the tunnel had clearly been there a long time and wondered who had constructed it. Angela confirmed that Shelob came there after the First Age. A discussion then followed comparing the relationship between Morgoth and Ungoliant with that between Sauron and Shelob. It was decided that Shelob was not related to Sauron i.e. not part of 'the family'.

Julie pointed out that Gollum's worshipping of Shelob is the only overt mention of religion in the work. It was asked how Gollum could have struck up such a close relationship with Shelob and Chris gave an explanation saying that as Gollum could see in the dark he would initially have been able to avoid her but as both dispatched the odd orc, he soon realised that they had a common need. To gain her confidence Gollum probably lured a few orcs into the tunnel making it easier for her to catch her prey. In return Shelob allowed Gollum free access to all the tunnels. Although Gollum worshipped Shelob he clearly disliked her as he was going to pay her back once he obtained the Ring.

Chris mentioned another example of blindness which affected both mind and body as soon as Frodo and Sam enter the tunnel and he suggested that this could relate to Lynn's point that this could in some way be figurative of death. Ian said that he felt this was more about oblivion – forgetfulness – with the opposite occurring when wearing the Ring as this makes you aware of everything around you.

Angela said that only elven blades can cut the spider's web unlike the Dúnadan knives one of which Sam carries.

Mike said that when Sam thinks about the phial of Galadriel it is like an icon which talks to you. Laura said this was like the Angels of Mons.

Julie compared Tom Bombadil and Shelob and said that although they are opposite in character they are both impervious to the power of the Ring and both are confined by geographical boundaries.

Laura asked what were the animals referred to as “great hunting beasts” as there does not appear to be any mention of such animals in LoTR.

Mike pointed out how the reader is led to forget Gollum until he suddenly reappears and attacks Sam. We agreed this related to Lynn's point about the 'side by side' description of the hobbits emphasising the exclusion of Gollum.

Chris said Sam's debate about what to do mirrors Gollum's earlier debate with himself as overheard by Sam. In both cases two voices speak, in Sam's case one voice beginning with 'I' the other with 'you'. Mike said that he felt the whole decision chapter was about 'see it through'. Julie said it reminded her of Hamlet ' to be or not to be' with the added thought of suicide as indicated by the 'bright point of the sword'.

Julie said the way Sam cares for Frodo's body is similar to Aragorn's care of Boromir's. Chris said that Frodo's apparent death is a foretaste of Eowyn's apparent death in battle, with Eomer believing that she had died.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Dr. Lynn Forest-Hill said...

There was debate around the word 'Hola' used by the orcs. Ian said that Father Francis knew Spanish and so could have influenced Tolkien.

Julie wondered why the orcs would think the elf warrior would have an axe. Laura said that the orcs' discussions are a bit like a boy's adventure with the story of the orc left hanging for Shelob and the thirst for torture.

It was asked if orcs knew much about cats and kittens.

Julie said that Shagrat describes Frodo as 'precious' even though he [Frodo] does not have the Ring. Laura said that the Ring does not try to reveal itself to the orcs when it is used by Sam. You would think that as the Ring is so near home it would have made itself known. Julie said that it was Sam's love of Frodo that wards off the worst influences of the Ring plus help from the phial of Galadriel.

For the next meeting it was decided to read Chapters 1 and 2 of The Return of the King namely Minas Tirith and The Passing of the Grey Company.

11:44 AM  

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