Pacing and Chapter Titles in LOTR (The First Two Chapters)

Etholod

New Member
As I'm fundamentally unqualified for the Discussion of more complex themes in the LOTR I'm going to try to think about the Pacing and Chapter Titles, I know I haven't read the Lord of The Rings in over 2 Years but when considering Book 1 and the Little bit of Book 2 that we've 'Explored' I always see the Lord of The Rings as starting quite slowly. It begins in a very calm atmosphere. The very title" A Long-Expected Party" cannot simply be seen as a (if I may be allowed to use my English Teachers term) 'Hook' to draw in readers of The Hobbit but also as a statement of pacing in this Chapter: Not only will this be a slow, much more (to quote C.S.Lewis) Hobbit, chapter but also structured in such a way as to introduce many new characters in such a way that doesn't enable 'glossing over' like the Long Name lists in the Valaquenta and (much more importantly) at the start of The Quenta. These long lists of names have often led to some confusion (especially in my first abortive read through) as the Sons of Feanor are very important to the Plot and introducing them in such lists enables the Reader to think that they simply aren't important. At the same time it doesn't introduce the Hobbits in the same way as the Dwarves in 'The Hobbit'. They are introduced in such a grandiose way as to persuade the Reader to think that they're important in an individual sense (as opposed to a ensemble or group). Tolkien in LOTR introduces us to the theme of a Party right at the beginning to allow us to get into the frame of mind of meeting new people: Both through the Chapter title or more literally opening up this new book (as most people don't read the introduction). Of course most of the hobbits will not play an active role but some scenes (particularly The Green Dragon) can help us sympathize with Sam when he looks back upon the Shire by actually remembering the Names and to some extent Personalities of those in The Shire. (On further consideration I believe that Tolkien repeats his Motif in both Book 1 and Book 2 but I am certainly not the first one to bring this up). Of course the chapter had a very consistent pacing of calm and serenity and joy in the simple pleasures. From this we can see echoing back a key theme in LOTR: 'Small Hands do them because they must'. When looking back from even Rivendell one can easily see how mundane and dull life is like in the Shire. But still their life continues and they continue to work. In fact from taking a respite from the 'Work' in a party such as this can help us see their everyday lives.


The next Chapter is "Shadow of the Past". Considering that another major theme of Chapter 1 is that of Journeys it is a natural conclusion to draw that this chapter is to be following either Bilbo or Gandalf. With the benefit of hindsight we can easily say that 'of course it's going to be Frodo-he was given the darned ring!" but too many first readers this is not immediately clear. So why did Tolkien choose this Chapter title. I would make the argument that this title is designed to mislead. Instead of drawing us into to the narrative it chooses to expel us from it and that make all the revelations in this chapter all the more surprising. The words 'Shadow' is clearly juxtaposed with the joyful 'Party' of the previous scene but it is also less clearly juxtaposed with the word 'past' in the same chapter title. See how in all of the previous albeit more Hobbit focused glimpses at the past. It seems nostalgic: The dates on the Old Toby for instance as opposed to Gandalf in the Unfished tales stating: "The Long Winter...Which none of you can remember". This statement can be interpreted as either 'None of you were around' or 'none of you can remember it even happened'. Personally, and considering what we've seen about the positive nostalgia of the Hobbits, I think it’s the latter. But back to the subject. The Title expels you from the text by juxtaposing itself with the last title and itself but the narrative itself expels you from the Shire in the same way that Gandalf's account expels Frodo from his cosy world. It is mainly focused around one night and whereas one might expect a comfortable bit of 'padding' of Hobbitisms of either side. It follows in the footsteps of the previous chapter by stopping quite suddenly and unsatisfactorily. Now as loathe as I am to do this exercise best kept to English Classes (making me perhaps quite susceptible to such flights of fancy) but it does seem to offer to representations of Hobbit life it the structure of these Chapters. It shows the mundanity of the normal Hobbit life in the fact that it reapeats while at the same time offering us a representation of 'Adventures' by ending all together unnaturally. The Pacing of this chapter is too out of line with our nearest comparison: The Hobbit. In The Hobbit all of the main cast had been introduced in the 1st chapter. However we meet Pippin and Merry first in this chapter along with Folco and Fredigar. However I would argue that this is not a name list as seen in the Quenta but something altogether more intriguing. Of these Names 3 are mentioned else ware. No information in this is needed and it follows a Paragraph about parties again making us more open to learning about new people. But from here we go down to the Green Dragon. This is intriguing Narratively as it serves no real purpose (you could argue that it heightens the sense of danger in the Shire but the fact that is sent in a Pub and the one real sense of danger (that being the talking tree) is immediately brushed of) but I would say is a very important part. It is the last bit of Hobbit culture we see not directly impacted by the ring. It heightens the sense of down-to-earthness and Hobbit sense through which we can see the pieces of advice given to us by the Gaffer; it helps us to hold hobbitry in a much higher regard than say the Wisdom of Elves in the first Book. I this way it’s even more shocking when we see it destroyed in (spoilers!) The Scouring of the Shire. From here we move into the Bag-End we heard about in the previous paragraph. This gives us a sense of superiority over the Green Dragon Hobbits-this enables us to not just pity them but also to humour them when we next hear from them. In this way Tolkien has paced his work here in an odd way. The hurrying to and fro from Bag End and the sudden departure of the Wizard speeds things up whereas the Green Dragon scene slows thing down allowing us to focus on the 'regular hobbits'. It also allows Tolkien to speed the work up by giving us a single scene in the place off several it helps heighten the sense of everyday life while at thesame time driving the timeline on. In Conclusion, Tolkien used the Chapter Titles and Pacing in order to enable us to see many key motifs in his work while also using it to craft a narrative and deliver a story. It can also help us to be placed in state of mind and help us be more open to the ideas and Characters Tolkien introduces.

I would like to thank anyone who has managed to reach this far in this post. This is actually my first post and as such I would dearly like to receive any tips. I’ve being listening consistently now (due to my EU time zone and School) for most of the sessions of Exploring the Lord of The Rings and I felt I should finally make my voice at least join the din of ideas that is ‘Questions for Narnion’. I originally felt such an out of world exploration wouldn't be accepted (and if you disagree with such an approach please let me know) but then I began listening to the Mythgard Academy class on Unfinished Tales (Which I highly recommend) and in it Professor Olson discussed in much more articulate terms than I have here the two ways one can look at a piece of work. Horrendously oversimplifying for the sake of brevity it boils down to whether you look at it (analysis of the Authors Methods) or down it (Looking at In world lore). I am awful at the latter so I have attempted some of the former.
 

Jim Deutch

Active Member
I'm fundamentally unqualified for the Discussion of more complex themes in the LOTR
Nope: I'm afraid you've amply demonstrated in the rest of your post that this is false!
the two ways one can look at a piece of work. Horrendously oversimplifying for the sake of brevity it boils down to whether you look at it (analysis of the Authors Methods) or down it (Looking at In world lore).
Corey does tend to focus on in-world lore: he likes to approach the books as a naive reader. But he does a lot of analysis of the author's methods, too, especially with the poetry. Every time he asks "what is the effect of this passage?" he is crossing over that boundary.
I would dearly like to receive any tips
If you really, really want an opinion, I would say--and please know that I am not criticizing--keep it short. Focus! I often write a post, then delete three-quarters of it before posting: I find I get far more replies and "likes" from a short post. Use short paragraphs. Sum up your arguments at the end, or even at the top of the post with the longer explanations down below. Draw the reader in first.
--
"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time" - Blaise Pascal
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
If you really, really want an opinion, I would say--and please know that I am not criticizing--keep it short. Focus! I often write a post, then delete three-quarters of it before posting: I find I get far more replies and "likes" from a short post. Use short paragraphs. Sum up your arguments at the end, or even at the top of the post with the longer explanations down below. Draw the reader in first.
--
"I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time" - Blaise Pascal
OT a bit, but...

One of the most valuable lessons I ever got in Engineering school was one course where we had to do small reports on particular topics, with very precise word count requirements. "Write a short piece about the ancient ruin of your choice. Must be between 281 and 284 words long, as MS Word counts words." You can either go shallow and stretch, or go deep and cut. Either way you learn valuable lessons about writing.
 
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