Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Two Towers -- Book Four

by J.R.R. Tolkien
   I've a nasty confession to make: I was lazy and didn't finish the second half of The Two Towers this week. Reading The Lord of the Rings always takes me forever, and I've read it enough before that some parts get a little stale and my mind wanders. The very fact of my mind wandering makes me sad, because there are some parts I missed that I should have been laughing over, or smiling at, or otherwise happy about.
   Book Four encompasses Frodo's journey from the Emyn Muil into Mordor. I love the fact that Tolkien, unlike so many modern authors would have done, didn't follow the movie path, where Sam and Frodo scenes are alternated with Aragorn, Pippin, Merry, and other Fellowshippers (is that a word?) scenes. Not that I condemn Peter Jackson for doing this; I think it was definitely the best way to make the movie. (Although I've another confession: Sam and Frodo parts in the movie are my least favorite because of their darkness and hopelessness.)
   As aforesaid, Sam and Frodo are the main characters in this half. Tolkien is going to shift more and more toward the lovable Sam as Frodo's burden gets heavier and heavier. This is another thing I admire about Tolkien's writing; he knew the strongest way to portray a suffering person: through another person's eyes. Since we know the personalities of Frodo and Sam already, I'm not going to expound on them. I don't really want to, and I doubt that I need to.
   It may be in this half, dear readers, that you come across some huge descriptions of the landscape that bore you to death. It depends on if you read like me and think like me, but Frodo and Sam's story has always been harder to bear than the other members of the Company because of the acute pain. Watching the movies for the first time (unfortunately before I had read the book), I consciously felt sick. Trying to eat ice cream while watching them was disgusting. And going through the books for the first time, I remember that when the End came I felt a weight lift off my heart, as though I were Frodo himself. But Tolkien still holds his mastery over words; his method of writing them just could bore you a little.
   I'm sorry that I haven't given much focus to anything moral in my last few reviews. That should be one of the foremost things of my reviews, and it hasn't been lately. But there's not much to say of them, morally, that hasn't been said already--very little magic is used in this half (that comes from the absence of the wizards I think); justice is given where justice is deserved (generally; more on that below); and evil is never condoned. I believe you're safe, but you should follow what you think God has laid on your heart to do about any of these fantasies/science fictions, since I know that in Christianity their subject matter can be controversial. If you're reading The Lord of the Rings right now, tell me what your thoughts are about it!

   Now about that "give justice where justice is deserved" (taken from The Fellowship of the Ring: Book One: Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past):
   "But this is terrible!" cried Frodo. "Far worse than the worst that I imagined from your hints and warnings. O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had the chance!"
    "Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity."
   "I am sorry," said Frodo. "But I am frightened; and I do not feel any pity for Gollum."
   "You have not seen him," Gandalf broke in.
   "No, and I don't want to," said Frodo. "I can't understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death."
   "Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

   Fast-forward to The Two Towers: Book Four: Chapter 1: The Taming of Smeagol.
   "Very well," he answered aloud, lowering his sword. "But still I am afraid. And yet, as you see, I will not touch the creature. For now that I see him, I do pity him."
   Sam stared at his master, who seemed to be speaking to some one who was not there.

   Fast-forward to The Two Towers: Book Four: Chapter 6: The Forbidden Pool.
   "Dirty hobbits, nasty hobbits. Gone and left us, gollum; and Precious is gone. Only poor Smeagol all alone. No Precious. Nasty Men, they'll take it, steal my Precious. Thieves. We hates them. Fissh, nice fissh. Makes us strong. Makes eyes bright, fingers tight, yes. Throttle them, precious. Throttle them all, yes, if we gets chances. Nice fissh. Nice fissh!"
   So it went on, almost as unceasing as the waterfall, only interrupted by a faint noise of slavering and gurgling. Frodo shivered, listening with pity and disgust. He wished it would stop, and that he never need hear that voice again. Anborn was not far behind. He could creep back and ask him to get the huntsmen to shoot. They would probably get close enough, while Gollum was gorging and off his guard. Only one true shot, and Frodo would be rid of the miserable voice for ever. But no, Gollum had a claim on him now. The servant has a claim on the master for service, even service in fear. They would have foundered in the Dead Marshes but for Gollum. Frodo knew, too, somehow, quite clearly that Gandalf would not have wished it.
   "Smeagol!" he said softly.


  1. When I first read LOTR when I was twelve, I was so excited I read them all in three weeks, I probably would've finished them sooner if I didn't have to wait for the library to get them for me.

    but now that I'm reading them again for school it is harder because I already know what's going to happen! Ugh, they aren't easy books to read.

    1. They definitely aren't the easiest books to read, but I still love them :) I know, the first time I read them rather voraciously, but fourth time through = not so easy. But still, definitely worth it!

  2. I agree with you! I'm reading LOTR for the first time, and right now I'm almost to Chapter 6: The Forbidden Pool. Some parts were SO boring! And it is hardest for me to watch the Frodo and Sam parts in the movie as well, for the same reason. But it's still a wonderful book!! :)

    1. Some parts *are* so boring! Especially when he goes to Frodo and Sam . . . I wonder if it's because he had little else to say and had to fill in space with landscape descriptions? :D Just kidding :)


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