Tolkien Geek

Blogging J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other aimless pursuits.

10/10/2005

FOTR: Bk 2, Ch 8

Farewell To Lorien
"Now is the time", he said, "when those who wish to continue the Quest must harden their hearts to leave this land."
All of the members of the Fellowship are resolved to continue, though they are not all agreed as to what should be their ultimate destination. Journeying south by boat on the River Anduin, they will decide later on what side of the river they will land and continue on foot - either west to Minas Tirith or east towards Mordor. Though they don't know it yet, the west bank will prove to be just as dangerous as the eastern shore because of the machinations of Saruman.

The next morning, the company assembles along the havens of the Silverlode on the southern side of Lothlorien. Aragorn is torn about where he should lead them.
"His own plan, while Gandalf remained with them, had been to go with Boromir, and with his sword help to deliver Gondor. For he believed that the message of the dreams was a summons, and that the hour had come at last when the heir of Elendil should come forth and strive with Sauron for the mastery. But in Moria the burden of Gandalf had been laid on him; and he knew that he could not now forsake the Ring, if Frodo refused in the end to go with Boromir. And yet what help could he or any of the Company give to Frodo, save to walk blindly with him into the darkness?"
While Boromir openly states that his destination is to be Minas Tirith, he agrees to continue with the company until they reach the point when he must turn west. He continues to try and persuade them to accompany him to the White City of Gondor, convinced that it is the wisest choice. Frodo seems to sense the Boromir's conviction may lead to a confrontation before long.

As they pack their supplies, each of them is given a store of lembas bread. The special Elven waybread has properties that will keep a large-sized man on his feet while journeying all day. I always kind of considered this device to be a cheat on Tolkien's part, to allow the travelers (Frodo and Sam in particular) to continue on in places where food was not readily available. At least it provides for an amusing exchange between Legolas and Gimli where the Dwarf, mistaking it for merely a kind of cram (or granola bar of sorts) woofs down a whole cake in one sitting. In the film, PJ plays up the hobbits' infamous appetite when (in the Extended Edition of Fellowship) Pippin admits to eating four or them, after which he lets out a little gas.

They are also given Elven cloaks with green, leaf-shaped brooches for fastening them around their necks. The cloaks will aid them by giving camouflage that will adapt to whatever terrain they find themselves in. The cloaks were woven by Galadriel herself with her maidens and they come to be the emblem or uniform, if you will, of the Fellowship. Indeed, each of them will keep theirs even after their adventures are over.

After they receive a quick tutorial about the boats they are given, the party arranges themselves with Aragorn, Frodo and Sam in one boat, Boromir with Merry and Pippin in another and Gimli and Legolas in the last. The swift current takes them down the Silverlode towards the point where it joins with the Anduin. Galadriel, traveling in a swan-shaped boat sings a song as they go. It is a lament to the waning days of the Elves, and the final lines read as:
"O Lorien! Too long I have dwelt upon this Hither Shore
And in a fading crown have twined the golden elanor.
But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?"
The boats approach a green sward, or triangular area of land, that is formed by the confluence of the Rivers Silverlode and Anduin known as the "angle" or "Egladil". Here they have a parting feast and drink a cup of farewell. In Tolkien's outlines, it seems that he originally intended to have the "scene with Boromir and the loss of Frodo" take place here at the angle, but later decided to move it to later in their journey, at Parth Galen.

Before they depart, there is the famous "gift-giving" scene where Galadriel bestows to each of the Fellowship special tokens, some of which will play a role in the story later on. In addition to a sheath for Anduril, Galadriel gives to Aragorn a clear green stone "set in a silver brooch that was wrought in the likeness of an eagle with outspread wings". In the original draft of this chapter, Tolkien starts playing around with the character's true name or name that is bestowed upon him by the Elf-queen. Tolkien's son, Christopher, plotted the evolution of these various names that follow a circular progression, which looked something like this:

Aragorn (or Trotter) > Elfstone > Ingold > Elfstone (> Trotter) > Aragorn

Because the Dunedain were fluent in Elvish, Tolkien thought he would give Aragorn a more Elvish name that he would go by in Lothlorien, as given to him by Galadriel. At the gift-giving scene, her original line was: "Elfstone is your name, Eldamar in the language of your fathers of old, and it is a fair name" (The Treason of Isengard - History of The Lord of the Rings, Part 2, page 293) The line in the final version of Fellowship of the Ring reads as: "In this hour take the name that was foretold for you, Elessar, the Elfstone of the House of Elendil!"

Of the remaining gifts, Boromir is given a belt of gold and Legolas gets a special bow and quiver of arrows. Merry and Pippin receive small silver belts. In the film, however (the Extended Edition) the two hobbits are given Elven daggers. The reason for this change is that because Jackson cut out the scene on the Barrow Downs where the hobbits acquire blades of Westernesse, he needed to find another way to give Merry something with which he could stab the Witch King in the back of the leg at the Battle of the Pelennor. For Sam, the "gardner and lover of trees", Galadriel gives a small box of earth from her garden. She tells him:
"It will not keep you on your road, nor defend you against any peril; but if you keep it and see your home again at last, then perhaps it may reward you. Though you should find all barren and laid waste, there will be few gardens in Middle-Earth that will bloom like your garden, if you sprinkle this earth there. Then you may remember Galadriel, and catch a glimpse far off of Lorien, that you have seen only in our winter. For our spring and our summer are gone by, and they will never be seen on earth again save in memory."
It would seem that she had also seen the Shire being destroyed in the Mirror as well and foresaw Sam's use of the soil in healing it. When looked at in this context, it is a very hopeful gift for her to give. It will serve to be one final legacy of the High Elves in Middle-Earth when all other traces of them are gone. The concept of transplanting and renewing is used again in this story, with the replanting of the White Tree of Gondor, which traces its lineage back to Valinor in the Elder Days as told in The Silmarillion.

Gimli says he is satisfied with the memory of Galadriel's beauty as gift enough. When she insists that there must be something he desires, one might expect a Dwarf to request gold or something else of great value. But Gimli names a single strand of her hair, that he might set it in crystal as an heirloom and "a pledge of good will between the Mountain and the Wood until the end of days". Galadriel is touched and she gives him three strands. She also declares that so long as hope against the darkness does not fade, that one day his hands will flow with gold, yet "over you gold shall have no dominion". This is a blessing on Gimli from her that he will ever be free of the greed that characterizes his people as a reward for his humble and meaningful request to her.

To Frodo, she gives a glass phial that contains the light of Earendil's star - a light that was cauth in the waters of her fountain. That star that now shown in the heavens was once the single Silmaril that Earendil brought with him to Valinor back in the First Age. Tolkien uses this to tie in the ancient history of the Elves he will later develop in The Silmarillion. "May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out." Indeed it will.

As the Fellowship bids farewell to Lorien, Galadriel sings again, this time in Quenya, the language of the Noldor Elves. It's important to remember that Tolkien, a professor of languages, created Quenya as a completely new language. Containing elements of Finnish, it has a complete vocabulary, syntax and set of grammatical rules. There are actually people who study Quenya as a real language. Of course there are also people who study Klingon, but Quenya is much more pleasing to the ear. They sail down the remaining length of the Silverlode and into the Anduin. The chapter ends with the following exceptionally-written passage:
"Far into the dark quiet hours they floated on, guiding their boats under the overhanging shadows of the western woods. Great trees passed by like ghosts, thrusting their twisted thirsty roots through the mist down into the water. It was dreary and cold. Frodo sat and listened to the faint lap and gurgle of the River fretting among the tree-roots and driftwood near the shore, until his head nodded and he fell into an uneasy sleep."

Safety was now behind them. They will not know it again until the quest is ended.

Next: The Great River

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[Chronology: February 15th through February 16th 3019 T.A.]
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(revised 9/6/06)

2 Comments:

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your view if lembas is all wrong. Far from being a plot device, for Tolkien is is an allegory for the Eucharist. he said his faith was the most important influence on the story.

 
At 9:37 AM, Blogger Gary said...

Oh, I have not doubt of the allegory being used. But you have to admit, it makes things a lot easier when there is a scarcity of food on the journey - particulary for Sam and Frodo in Mordor.

 

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