Tolkien Tuesday #31

~ 30 August 2022 ~

After a couple of weeks away, I’m ready to resume talking Tolkien! Thanks so much to everyone who left me a lovely message last week. I truly appreciated it.

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we finished Book 2, Chapter 4: A Journey In The Dark.

While the company are waiting for Gandalf to work out how to open the doors, Boromir throws a stone into the pool and says he does not like this place. Frodo, agreeing that he doesn’t like it by the pool either, asks Boromir not to disturb the water.

Gandalf remembers the password and speaks it. The doors become visible and open revealing darkness with only the barest hint of a staircase inside. They make to enter when a tentacle from out of the pool grabs Frodo. Sam rescues him. Gandalf ushers everyone inside. The monster from the pool closes the door behind them, and with a crash of stone, seals them inside.

Photo by Elisabeth Fossum on Pexels.com

Gandalf starts the long and dangerous task of leading them through the Mines, at least a forty mile journey to the other side of the mountains, to the Dimrill Dale, which is their next destination. They travel quietly, moving as quickly as they can, but when Gandalf can’t decide on the right choice of path when their road divides into three, they are forced to stop. Taking shelter in a guard room, Pippin’s curiosity is taken by a well in the floor and he drops a stone into it. After it strikes the bottom, faint knocks sound before silence falls again.

They have a good long rest here, and while Gandalf is on watch, he decides on the way forward. On they go, covering a great distance, when their road brings them out into a wide hall. They wait here for daylight to show them where they are for the upper halls had windows. They have reached the ancient mountain city of the Dwarves, Dwarrowdelf, of which Gimli recites a song. Gandalf then speaks of Durin’s Bane, the reason why the Dwarves fled Moria, but also of mithril, and the shirt Thorin gave Bilbo.

Frodo misses home. Whilst on watch he thinks he imagines two eyes peering out from the darkness, belonging, he suspects, to the creature responsible for the echo of soft footfalls he has been possibly hearing. He is relieved by Legolas, then falls to sleep. On waking he, and all the others, can see the hall by the soft beams of daylight. Gandalf believes they might be outside by the end of day.

To find their exact bearings, they explore a little. They come across a chamber, in which there is a tomb, inscribed with the name of Gimli’s kinsman, Balin.

You can feel the tension steadily building in this part of the chapter, until it’s almost a relief to discover what became of Balin. Yet, that isn’t much of a respite, is it?

Frodo’s thoughts of Bilbo, and of home, I found to be the most poignant yet, given they are under a mountain, almost continually surrounded by darkness and dread. That longing for peace and safety and the familiar really pulled at my heartstrings.

Next week we will begin Book 2, Chapter 5: The Bridge of Khazad-dum

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

“There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep places of the world.”

(From The Fellowship of The Ring, Book 2, Chapter 4: A Journey In The Dark)

This passage, as the journey takes the company beneath the mountains and into the Mines of Moria, plays on and explores human fears of the dark, of what cannot be seen, and of what is hidden below ground.

The below ground world is very different to the one above it. The air feels different. Sounds are different. It’s very easy to lose your way in the dark, and there is a whole city of halls, chambers and passageways to be found beneath these mountains. Add to that the eeriness of abandoned, neglected places…

All the company, even the hobbits, have heard of Moria. Before they step foot on the under-the-mountain road, they must be thinking of the dark and dreadful stories told to them when they were in a safe and warm place, probably cosy by the fire. Stories told to chill and thrill them. Now faced with the reality of the stories, the prospect is very much different. And, once the door is sealed, that atmosphere is inescapable until they make it out of the other side of the mountain.

Gandalf’s quote above serves to remind them all that they are entering a different world and they don’t know what they’ll find there. Orcs are bad enough, but ancient monsters who dwell in the dark…how many horror films have been made with the same premise?

Elsewhere

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The reference to Queen Beruthiel’s cats seems to never have registered with me before this reading – yay for slow, intentional reading this time around! Intrigued by this reference I got out a couple of my encyclopaedias to see if I could learn more…but unfortunately, these trusty tomes had nothing to tell me.

So I did I a quick google search and found an interesting article on Beruthiel on Tolkien Gateway, which I can highly recommend. Beruthiel sounds like an interesting, if somewhat dark-hearted lady…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

What would have been your thoughts and feelings about this forty mile or more walk in the dark beneath the mountains?

Fear and anxiety would have been at the forefront of my mind, I think, at least in the beginning. I suspect that the further they went, encountering nothing but the darkness (which in itself is cause for concern) tiredness would have battled the desperate need to keep moving.

Until Pippin throws the stone in the well there is little evidence that there is anything living in this part of the mountains. After hearing the knocking sound and becoming aware of “other” things and in turn, they being alerted to your presence, the tension certainly increases.

On reaching Dwarrowdelf, and seeing the scale of the architecture, which I find is one of the most visually-striking parts of The Lord of The Rings, I would, I think be overcome with awe and amazement. And here, where there is some daylight, I can imagine it would be quite easy to feel that little bit safer, with the atmosphere being less oppressive, and the darkness pushed back just that little bit.

16 thoughts on “Tolkien Tuesday #31

  1. I’m with you: Anxiety for me and I’m sure weariness would soon take over. I remember the first time I read this scene and feeling the awe and joy of seeing the sunshine, at the same time, I remember feeling something terrible was about to happen. The more I read these posts, the more I need to pick up my books and reread the. And cats? Totally missed them.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I doubt I would enjoy it. I probably would be constantly on edge fearing something would happen. I would probably only fall asleep due to sheer exhaustion.

    Pippin, who is the youngest of the hobbits. is the most curious one of them. Here in Moria he throws a stone down a well, later on in the book he does another thing which also endangers others around him. Out of all of them, Elrond had wanted Pippin to stay in Rivendell and eventually go back to the Shire, as he was concerned Pippin was too young for the journey. Sometimes I wonder if he was right, though that said, Pippin’s actions do eventually end up having a positive effect as well, in both cases.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. My first thought is panic. But despite the dark it’s not claustrophobic. And Dwarrowdelf, wow! I’ve been down a gold mine and a flint mine (would love to visit the copper mine at Orme Head), but Moria…huge! I think my curiosity alone would keep me going.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. It would be hard not to panic – thankfully they are together so that definitely helps to keep them in check. No way my heart would be be a-palpitating at every turn. Finally arriving in a place where they can see some light would bring an immense sense of relief – at least for now. It is not time to become complacent, that is for sure.
    The tension in this part was palpable. I completely missed the cats! What is up with that?

    Liked by 1 person

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