Episode 305 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member
SESSION 305

Gimli’s stout courage:
  • Gimli’s enthusiasm for seeing Moria still sets him apart from the rest of the Company, and it points to his steadiness of courage, rather than his being particularly braver than anyone else.
  • That the darkness does not affect Gimli as it might others is his great advantage helping Gandalf.
  • Whatever stories of grandeur Gimli has heard about Khazad-dûm, he would also have heard the stories of fear that have kept the Dwarves from attempting to reclaim Moria prior to Balin’s try.
  • Dáin’s experience was probably not one of seeing Durin’s Bane, but of feeling the effects of it, and that was enough for him to attempt to dissuade Balin and his followers for some time.
  • Therefore, in spite of his excitement, he would be overlaid with a dread unique to Dwarves.
  • This is also a sign of Gandalf’s kindness towards Gimli, using him as sounding board and given a place of honor at the front of the Company being one of Durin’s Folk returning to his homeland.
  • Referring to Gimli’s father and heritage is a reminder of the importance of returning to Moria.
Do not be afraid:
  • Just as Gimli is little help in practical terms to Gandalf, so are the memories of his prior journey.
  • Therefore, Gandalf his using his own confidence in his skills and knowledge to choose the way.
  • This confidence is a sign of his leadership, and that he knows being decisive is more important than always choosing the quickest path, as any wrong path wouldn’t be a greater delay.
  • Being decisive and steering them by a sense of direction is what the Company’s morale requires.
  • Since Aragorn tells them not to be afraid, this points out that they are in fact afraid at the pause, but Aragorn saying it twice creates a sense of reassurance about Gandalf in the wider sense.
  • Aragorn’s confidence in Gandalf counteracts the doubts created by the darkness around them.
  • While Aragorn might have talked more about his prior journeys with Gandalf, but he also admits that this journey is the most frightening, while emphasizing the stories he has heard about him.
  • Aragorn is talking about Gandalf as a legendary figure and makes a confident assertion of trust.
  • This also reveals that even among the Elves of Rivendell, Gandalf is a figure of respect and awe.
  • Aragorn does not rule out the possibility of their doom by admitting there might not be a path.
  • He even includes himself among those who were afraid to enter Moria but has faith in Gandalf.
  • There is a parallel between the cost of their fear at entering Moria and what it might cost Gandalf, and his faith is in Gandalf’s heart even more than his knowledge or experience.
  • Aragorn wishes them to let go of their anxieties and imagined fears and to focus on Gandalf.
  • Note: Some other instances in which characters are told not to be afraid include Galadriel bringing Frodo back from his vision in the Mirror and into reality, much like Gandalf wishes to reorient Pippin to the safety of Minas Tirith in the face of his fear after looking into the palantir, and when Aragorn comforts Pippin when he fears for Merry’s life in the Houses of Healing. In all these situations, what is being expressed is that there is possibly no reason to be afraid, and to focus on the good of the present or future. In contrast, Frodo tells Sam to not be afraid in Shelob’s lair as an act of defiance against a certain danger and to be willing to fight if necessary.
The cats of Queen Berúthiel:
  • It is important that Tolkien is presenting this comparison without the context of the referenced story and does so knowing that he will leave it unexplained, has the effect of creating mystery.
  • Tolkien almost certainly had not created the background story at all by the point of writing it.
  • As it is Aragorn speaking, and her name is Elvish, one may presume it is a Gondorian story, but that is not explicit, and there is nothing to indicate if this is a legendary or historical queen.
  • The similarities between Berúthiel and famous female elves, it could be about an Elvish queen.
  • There is also a possibility that she could be a metaphorical or mythological person with her cats.
  • Given that up to this point, no catalogue of the Valar has been given, she could be one of them.
  • This story may have devolved into a proverb that is understood by those who have heard of her.
  • We also only know that there are multiple cats, but not if they are wild or domesticated, or what kind of cats, given that some female deities in real-world mythology have big cat servants.
  • If the cats were symbolic of natural phenomena, then the comparison would be to that.
  • Given that Tolkien has associated cats with evil entities in the past, one could assume that these cats are being compared to something malicious, but those stories had not yet been published.
  • The only cat that has appeared thus far in The Lord of the Rings is the cat from the fiddle song.
  • While Tolkien might have his unpublished stories in mind, there is no way for a reader to know.
  • The comparison to cats lets know that Gandalf can see well in the dark and is clever in the hunt.
  • This is also a very homey comparison, and probably aimed primarily at the hobbits’ associations with housecats, which Bilbo also revealed were part of the hobbits’ experience and worldview.
  • While the comparison with cats can be worked out, the unexplained name of Queen Berúthiel gives the full proverbial expression a mythic and probably superlative quality of comparison.
  • This is not meant to be a non sequitur, but it is unknown if these cats were heroic like Gandalf.
  • Note: This also allows for a kind of world-building in which the characters know more about their world than we, as readers are not, hinting at depth to the legendarium that is not shown.
END OF SESSION
 

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