An examination of the two contentious paragraphs and theories as to their meaning

Discussion in 'The Treason of Isengard' started by Robert Brown, Sep 20, 2017.

  1. Robert Brown

    Robert Brown New Member

    " Sam could get hold of the Ring. Frodo betrayed by Gollum and taken by orcs (?) to Minas Morgol.(5) They take his ring and find it is no good; they put him in a dungeon, and threaten to send him to Baraddur.
    How can Sam get hold of Ring? He keeps watch at night and hears Gollum muttering to himself, words of hatred for Frodo. He draws his sword and leaps on Gollum, [?dragging] him off. He tries to [insert utter] horrible words over Frodo - incantation of sleep. A spider charm, or does Gollum get spiders' help? There is a ravine, a spiders' glen, they have to pass at entrance to Gorgoroth. Gollum gets spiders to put spell of sleep on Frodo. Sam drives them off. But cannot wake him. He then gets idea of taking Ring. He sits beside Frodo. Gollum betrays Frodo to the Orc-guard. They are overwhelmed and Sam knocked silly with a club. He puts on Ring and follows Frodo. (A ring from Mazarbul would be useful.) "

    In this volume, every instance of unmodified "Ring" refers to the One. "ring" never refers to the One. Christopher says in the introduction that he preserved his father's capitalisations. "ring" in the third sentence would be the only instance of "ring" referring to the One, but it's more likely that Tolkien is consistent in always capitalising it, as his use of hyphens is similarly purposeful and consistent, as discussed in Exploring the LR, though one may not think so without examination. Professor Olsen even realised this, that the One is always capitalised 'Ring', but did not follow it through, not having the ability to do a study of the whole volume's drafts.

    These paragraphs are not two potential versions, but the outworking of one train of inspiration. We can see the spiders' magic is introduced before we're told that the hobbits come to a place with spiders. Similarly we're told of another ring before Tolkien comes up with where it comes from. "How could Sam get hold of Ring?" beginning a new paragraph reads like Tolkien redirecting himself to his initial creative impulse, not a continuation of the previous paragraph where the orcs have the Ring and Sam is trying to get it back. The final sentence being parenthetical adds to the non-linear nature of Tolkien's quick notes. If Tolkien had forsaken the idea of the orcs' getting a ring from Frodo, saying at the very end that a ring from Mazarbul would be useful would be meaningless, as he has just said that Sam puts on the Ring.

    The orcs finding the ring to be no good also points to it not being the One, as Tolkien a few years later would write of Gollum's dread of a goblin putting on his birthday present and coming at Gollum invisibly, which possibility we are not given reason to doubt. And though orcs are slaves whenever there's a big boss around, the orcs of the Tower we later see and the goblins of The Hobbit are self-motivated and strive for dominion and mastery to whatever degree they can, as do Men, for whom the One, Sauron knows, would function according to their measure, granting them dominion or making them great captains. The sentence is also from the orcs' point of view. They just know the ring isn't what they were expecting, not that it's a decoy. Also, threatening Frodo implies they want something from him. If they had the Ring, he would have nothing to give or reveal to them.

    We have not seen a decoy ring before, but we have seen a decoy Ringbearer, with Fatty to play the part of Frodo, even wearing his clothes, to maintain the fiction of his presence at Crickhollow, with the purpose of misdirecting the hunt for the Ring. The idea of a decoy ring also has arisen (?independently) in LotRO, with the Grey Company making false Rings of Barahir.

    Sam might have just taken the ring from Mazarbul, putting his hand on it in the dark, or Gimli may have encouraged the Fellowship to take what they could, as Thorin and company stuff gems into their pockets in the short time they may have in Smaug's absence.

    An attempt at a linear reconstruction of the story presented, with false trails retained:

    There is a ravine, a spiders' glen, they have to pass at entrance to Gorgoroth. [Sam] keeps watch at night and hears Gollum muttering to himself, words of hatred for Frodo. He draws his sword and leaps on Gollum, [?dragging] him off. [Gollum] tries to [insert utter] horrible words over Frodo - incantation of sleep. A spider charm, or does Gollum get spiders' help? Gollum gets spiders to put spell of sleep on Frodo. Sam drives them off. But cannot wake him. He sits beside Frodo. He then gets idea of taking Ring. Sam could get hold of the Ring. (A ring from Mazarbul would be useful.) Gollum betrays Frodo to the Orc-guard. They are overwhelmed and Sam knocked silly with a club. Frodo betrayed by Gollum and taken by orcs (?) to Minas Morgol. They take his ring and find it is no good; they put him in a dungeon, and threaten to send him to Baraddur.

    Therefore, due to textual evidence of capitalisation and the ring being no good and the orcs threatening Frodo, the 'ring' is not the One and therefore a ring from Mazarbul being placed by Sam on Frodo is most likely.
     
  2. Frosty of Forochel

    Frosty of Forochel New Member

    Completely agree. This was the obvious reading to me from the beginning.
     

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