Episode 304 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member
SESSION 304

After only a brief rest:
  • Note: Alliteration and assonance dominate the language used in this passage, including initial vowels, as might have occasionally been done in Anglo-Saxon poetry. The passage begins in a more prose way, gradually giving way to a more poetical style, driven by the alliteration. Also, the description of the weapons gives a heroic style to the prose, which is otherwise descriptive.
  • Aragorn walking at the back implies his position as being second-in-command of the Company.
  • Since the only light is coming from Gandalf’s staff, those at the back are walking in complete darkness, and are most vulnerable to attack, which is interesting, as Boromir is next to Aragorn.
  • Boromir’s proximity to Aragorn shows his willingness to bear danger with him, and that he has mastered himself after experiencing near-panic when the doors shut behind them at the gate.
  • Aragorn’s grimness and silence, while typical for him, is probably even more prominent now, given his previous experience in Moria, and his request to Gandalf to not go to Moria again.
  • There is an irony that the two great warriors, Aragorn and Boromir, have to master their fear of Moria, while the experience hobbits in particular are not highlighted, and perhaps not as afraid.
  • Lack of fear in the hobbits may be attributed to ignorance of dangers or comfort underground.
  • Gandalf has demonstrated his leadership in both his honest assessment of the situation and confident guidance he is providing through the darkness, taking the front of the Company.
  • Boromir has also learned not to speak out loud for fear of the echoes carrying to the others.
  • Aragorn is probably a steadying influence for Boromir, though this may be out of competition.
  • The dichotomy of honor and shame are prominent in Middle-earth, especially among Men.
  • It’s possible that Boromir might feel shame at not having put himself between danger and the hobbits at the gate, but with Aragorn as an example of courage, he might feel doubly shamed.
  • Note: Honor vs. shame is a prominent theme in The Lord of the Rings, especially later in Rohan. It is important to remember that Boromir has previously faced the Witch-king in battle and did not shame himself in that instance, which highlights the power of the fear that the Nazgûl wield. There is an intertwining of fear and shame that also is highlighted by Boromir’s response, and will be shown again and again, such as Pippin’s shame at being afraid in battle in Minas Tirith.
  • Since Boromir sees himself as Gondor’s representative, and Gondor as the protector of the weaker peoples in the West, then he would consciously want to protect the younger hobbits.
Glinting in the dim light:
  • The “gl” is one of Tolkien’s favorite alliterating combinations, and it is quite prominent here.
  • There is a heavy “g” alliteration present, ending by referring to Aragon as “grim”, as per usual.
  • All of the “gl” words have to do with kinds of light and transition between light and darkness.
  • These point to ideas that are very important to Tolkien, such as Elves singing in the gloaming, or a glint of light in the darkness that gives hope or is a sign to the person who sees that light.
  • Those “gl” words are interwoven with the proper names, especially Glamdring, appearing twice.
  • Note: It’s possible that within the story frame, this passage was written later by someone like Findegil, as it omits the names of Merry and Pippin, probably done for the sake of the rhythm.
  • Omitting the young hobbits’ names keeps it from sounding merely like a list, and emphasizes the others’ singularity, especially Boromir, who is shown as on his own, and Aragorn is featured.
  • There is a connection between this order of march and the listing of the weapons in Rivendell.
  • Note: The way this sort of catalog works differently in the film than within the text. However, in neither case does the order of march impact the plot, so the significance is primarily symbolic. Rather, the order is revealing about character and the relationships within the Company, and this is unlike the practical reasons to reveal the order of march in multiple places in The Hobbit.
  • There is also an epic register associated especially with the frontmost members of the Company.
Bewildering beyond hope of remembering:
  • There is no attempt to reveal a clear map of Moria through the text description, and rather there is enough to imagine the scene visually and how the characters feel about the place.
  • In a sense, the presents Moria as a nightmarish maze, which is the opposite of a clear map.
  • The fact that it is hot there is unusual and would be unsettling for anyone familiar with caves.
  • Note: The source of the unlikely heat is never revealed, just like what is through the large openings, and the mystery of it leads to uncertainty and wonder, which is the actual point.
  • This description is similar to the description of the east wind in Hollin, done in ambiguous terms and is more about the experience of the characters, even though none of them are named.
  • While emphasizing the scary nature of the scene, there is also the sense of grandeur and scale.
  • This lends an impressive feeling toward the Dwarves who made all these architectural wonders.
  • Note: This description plants the seeds for Sam and Gimli’s conversation and the later poem.
  • These images work together to make explicit the connection between feelings of fear and awe.
END OF SESSION
 

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