The Wraith Dimension

Discussion in 'Questions for Narnion' started by Wyatt Eichholz, Apr 13, 2019.

  1. Wyatt Eichholz

    Wyatt Eichholz New Member

    Yet again, I'm a catch-up listener who has a question relating to the discussion from a few sessions back.

    A fascinating aspect of the Lord of the Rings is its description of the wraith world. The blurry vision and wraith-perception depicted in the films doesn’t come close to the true nature of the wraith world, as we have noted. At first, I was more likely to imagine it like the “upside down” from Stranger Things: a parallel, corrupted universe that the ring-bearer can phase into or out of at will. The wraiths in this model are permanently in the other dimension, and only projections of their being bleed through into the main dimension.

    I don’t like this interpretation, though, mainly after we learn what Frodo sees of Glorfindel as he himself is mainly within the wraith world: he perceives him as a bright shining light. We don’t get enough information to learn if this is unique to Glorfindel or if all Elves possess this property, but it could suggest that the “wraith world” is not necessarily an inherently evil place, but a neutral dimension that both the darkness and the light exist in.

    I am going to assume, for the sake of argument, that the glowing light is a property of all Elves. What might be the explanation for this property? And why wouldn’t hobbits or mortals appear as anything more than shadows in the wraith world? One of the biggest distinctions in my mind that separates elves from men is their immortal souls. We know that elves as the Firstborn have a spirit that will always remain in Middle Earth or Valar. The mortal beings like hobbits and men do not have this property. Could it be that the “wraith world” is some spiritual dimension that elves, with their immortal soul, naturally inhabit?

    This theory offers an interesting explanation for “wraithification:” the drawing of a mortal being into the immortal spiritual realm. We know that the rings extend life indefinitely. We are told that his process is akin to being stretched too thin. Perhaps taking a finite mortal being and thrusting him into the spiritual realm is what accounts for these properties.

    I know not why this effect occurs. Is it the intended goal of the Rings, or a side effect of invisibility? Alternatively, is it possible that this is the method by which mortal souls are made invisible? Perhaps immortal souls like Galadriel or Gandalf are not cloaked by their rings of power because they already exist in this spiritual realm?
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019 at 9:23 PM
  2. First of all, I really think this is an excellent question and way to think about all this.
    If your thinking is correct, than extending the thought, the thin and stretched feeling is a reflection that the order of things set by the One, in which the ability to depart Arda is the Gift of Iluvatar is being subverted. The immortality granted by Sauron's power is only a mockery of the gift of the One. The mortal in question "does not gain new life," as Gandalf tells us, so the finite life of the mortal is stretched out over years they were never meant to inhabit.
    Another extension of your question, is this realm you are positing also the dimension in which the unrobed Valar live when they do not choose to wear the raiment of a body?
    Welcome to the fun and what a great beginning!
    Wyatt Eichholz likes this.
  3. Ardent Crayon

    Ardent Crayon New Member

    I imagine that the wraith or immortal realm is co-existent with the living world, but most mortal beings like men or hobbits lack the physical, mental, or spiritual ability to perceive it. In the case of Frodo, the “wraithification” process is somehow altering his perception so that he can see things which were always there, but beyond his perceptual range. The concept is physically analogous to infrared vision or ultrasonic hearing; mentally it might be compared to illusions like the popular “magic eye” puzzle pictures, which require a certain shift of perspective for the viewer to “see”, even though the image itself never changes. The spiritual aspect is, perhaps, an epiphany or revelatory trance state.

    On a related note, I wonder if Frodo can only hear the taunts and commands of the Nazgul because of his wraith-like status. If he had wraith-ears earlier in the story, might he have been able to decipher the eerie cries of the Black Riders in the Shire?
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  4. Rhococo

    Rhococo New Member

    It makes me wonder whether elves can see the Nazgûl as they appear to Frodo with the Ring on.

    As we will soon read in class—

    “[Elves] do not fear the Ringwraiths, for those who have dwelt in the Blessed Realm live at once in both worlds, and against both the Seen and the Unseen they have great power.”

    Frodo sees Glorfindel as a white shining figure when he’s on the brink of wraithification, so is that how the wraiths see him always? Yet Glorfindel can plainly see the “physical” world without a problem, which the wraiths can’t do. Can elves switch their vision back and forth; or do they see both worlds at once?
  5. amysrevenge

    amysrevenge Well-Known Member

    There is definitely something to the divide between Calaquendi and Moriquendi - whether it's the light of the Trees, or whether it's just living in Aman - that seems to have a great impact on how the Elves interact with "both worlds". I suspect that on-the-verge-of-wraitification Frodo would see Glorfindel and Legolas very differently.

    As far as Elves go, I'd like to imagine that they can see both at once, but not interfering with each other. Everything from both worlds at once. Sort of the way you can hear and see at the same time without them fighting each other.
  6. Rhococo

    Rhococo New Member

    Makes total sense. And hello, fellow Albertan!
  7. Arnthro

    Arnthro Member

    While I am fairly certain there is no text that hints at this notion (at least in LotR), I wonder if there is music or tones or frequencies associated to the uncloaked.

    Meaning, when Gandalf or Glorfindel, etc. are uncloaked, all lit up and what not, I wonder if there is a steady and pleasant Iluvatarian hum or frequency emulating from them. In contrast I wonder if there is dissonance, a subtle, constant, yet annoying frequency(ies) that comes from the Nazgul.

    Even if human ears, hobbit ears, or dwarf ears couldn't necessarily hear the frequencies, the effect would still be a positive one from Glorfindel and the like, and a headache, an uneasiness, an uncomfortable feeling from the Nazgul's frequencies. Unheard sonic vibrations and frequencies can still effect the unbeknownst listener.

    Just a thought.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019 at 6:21 PM
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