Comment on the choice of Elbereth and Lúthien:
Comment on the choice of Elbereth and Lúthien:
- The attempt to use Elbereth’s name again isn’t the same this second time, as the first time he was doing it seemingly involuntarily. This time he is using it consciously and differently.
- Why invoke Lúthien? As far as we know, Frodo doesn’t know the full story of Beren and Lúthien, and he only knows as much as he’s been told by Strider.
- Lúthien isn’t a figure to whom one can pray. She’s dead and no longer in the circles of the world.
- Even though Lúthien, in the full tale, defeats Sauron, Frodo doesn’t know that part yet.
- Note: The original reading audience for The Lord of the Rings did not know that, either, as The Silmarillion would not be released until 1977, after Tolkien’s death.
- What does Frodo know about Lúthien from the story he is told? Strider emphasized her beauty, her rescue of Beren from Sauron, their triumph over Morgoth, and her death and self-sacrifice.
- Strider downplays the resurrection of Beren and Lúthien, but he speaks of their descendants.
- The pairing of Lúthien with Elbereth may have to do with the light Strider describes in her face.
- This idea of light might be very present to Frodo’s mind as the darkness is overwhelming him.
- It’s also possible that the power in the story of Beren and Lúthien demonstrated in Weathertop to repel the Ringwraiths is in his mind, but only if he understood that had happened.
- He would not have an association with the name of Lúthien directly, as he had an association of power with the name of Elbereth before he even met Gildor and his folk.
- Frodo is probably not reasoning this out. This is probably a spontaneous invocation, based on her association with light and standing up to darkness.
- Note: That they are both women echo Catholic invocations of female saints, especially the Virgin Mary, and he is calling them, like saints, to intercede for him.
- Note: There seems to be an association of light and beauty with strength, much as Sam does in Mordor, when he sees the star. This insight is about faith, which is also what Frodo is thinking.
- Note: In the period after the time in Lothlorien, Galadriel will be invoked in a similar way. The main difference will be that they will have met Galadriel personally, unlike Lúthien or Varda.
- This moment is the most powerful that we have seen the Witch-king behave so far.
- Why does Frodo’s heart begin to labor? is this because of the wound, or directly from this?
- The breaking of the sword is important, as it is one of the swords possessed of the red flash that had daunted the Ringwraiths before. It is broken at the hilt, like the Witch-king’s knife.
- The sword was made for the destruction of the Witch-king, and it has been a symbol of Frodo’s resistance so far, so it’s breaking is a signal of the end of that resistance.
- Asfaloth’s reaction shows that he is not cowed by this, but he is affected somehow.
- It’s not clear if the leader is the one in the front who nearly reaches the shore, but it seems so.
- The Witch-king has stopped Frodo from being able speak, maybe to prevent him from making more invocations. This is the second time that there has been an intervention in his speech.
- Note: There are two “cleaving’s” in the paragraph, thought the word is only used twice. His tongue cleaves to his mouth and the sword is cleaved in two. The verb “cleave” is a contranym that means both one thing and it’s opposite, in this case to join together and to split apart.
- This is not the first time that Frodo has come up against an agent of evil that he cannot defeat no matter what he does. He is not on equal footing with the Witch-king.
- He has been helpless before, such as against Old Man Willow and the Old Forest in general.
- Why didn’t the Witch-king break the sword on Weathertop? He probably had been surprised by the appearance of the sword the first time, but also, he didn’t believe that it was necessary.
- Frodo also wasn’t alone the first time; therefore, the breaking wouldn’t have made a difference.
- The Witch-king is claiming Frodo this time. The Witch-king had been attempting to subvert Frodo’s will without his knowing before, but now he is doing it openly and in plain sight.
- Frodo is unable to do anything to defend himself, but he has still not submitted to them.
- This last attempt to claim Frodo is through force, having seen that he will not submit to them.
- It seems remarkable that Frodo is still able to resist at all, given how close he is to succumbing to the Morgul wound. This is partly why Glorfindel wanted Frodo on the horse, to buy him time.
- The cleaving of the tongue and of the sword are depriving Frodo of his two weapons to resist.
- Does the presence of Glorfindel matter here? He has said that he can’t oppose all nine Riders together, which they are now, but there is an urgency in dealing with Frodo first.
- The normal Ringwraith tactic is to spend a long-time inducing fear, which is not available here.
- Also, there is the unknown quantity of the hobbits that are with Glorfindel and Strider.
- Is Asfaloth responding with fear or aggression? This may be fear, as it is different from the defiance that he showed earlier when he turned to face them, but he could be ready to fight.
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