Why not to speak of wraiths, Mordor, or the fall of Gil-galad

Bruce N H

Member
Hi all,

I've been thinking about a few things in relation to past discussions and discussions yet to come. A few data points:

Back in "Strider", Aragorn says the Nazgul won't attack the inn because it is "not their way. In darkness and loneliness they are strongest; they will not openly attack a house where there are lights and many people ..."

We see at the start of "A Knife in the Dark" that the approaching Nazgul fill Fatty Bolger with terror. Of course later at Minas Tirith the flying Nazgul will fill the city's defenders with fear and despair, one of their chief weapons.

When we discussed the assault on Crickhollow, Corey made the point that this is a spiritual battle, that the Nazgul are terrible not just because they're amazing fighters (though we're not denying that), but because of their impact on the spirits of those they are attacking. When they do attack on Weathertop they're not trying to kill the hobbits, just wound Frodo and let him succumb to their will.

By contrast, the hobbits of Buckland raising the alarm is a weapon against the Nazgul, not because they're going to raise an army of hobbit warriors to fight them off, but the very communal spirit of cooperation and goodness is itself the weapon. Later after Weathertop Strider will say the name of Elbereth was a more powerful weapon against the Witch King than any sword.

In the wilderness between Bree and Weathertop Strider doesn't want Frodo to speak of becoming a wraith, and later he doesn't want to further tell the story of the fall of Gil-galad or speak the name of Mordor. Instead he tells the story of Beren and Luthien, a tale of the triumph of love and one of Morgoth's greatest defeats. "It is a fair tale, though it is sad, as are all the tales of Middle-earth, and yet it may lift up your hearts." This is in response to Sam's request for a tale of the elves of old, because "the dark seems to press round so close."

Anyway, here's my proposal. Aragorn doesn't want them to speak of being wraiths or mention Mordor or tell tales of defeat not because he is afraid that speaking the names will draw the Nazgul to them, like repeating the name of Beetlejuice or Tom Bombadil. Rather he doesn't want to depress their spirits, because this spiritual depression would make them more susceptible to the spiritual attacks of the enemy. Instead he wants to raise their spirits to and push back against the pressing darkness (literal and metaphorical), to make them more resistant. He knows that ultimately it won't be through feats of arms that the hobbits can triumph, both here and ultimately later in Mordor, but rather through the strength of their spirits.

Bruce
 
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Arnthro

Active Member
Prof. was pondering Strider's choice to go to Weathertop in the first place or rather that Strider is possibly drawn there.

Your post makes me wonder if Strider wants to go to historic Weathertop to inspire and bolster his own spirits in preparation for a potential Nazgul attack.

Kind of like how the airlines tell the parent to put their oxygen mask on first before the child, Strider wants to raise his spirit first in order to raise the spirits of the Hobbits.
 

Lincoln Alpern

Active Member
Kind of like how the airlines tell the parent to put their oxygen mask on first before the child, Strider wants to raise his spirit first in order to raise the spirits of the Hobbits.
I find this analogy highly amusing. Unfortunately, all this talk of Strider raising his and the Hobbits' spirits has shot my mind straight into video game/DnD mechanics again:

"All right, Strider, you need to raise your own SPT to at least 15 before you can raise SPT on the other party members."

"Dammit, if Gandalf could only be bothered to show up for game night regularly, he could do it from an SPT 10 ..."
 

Arnthro

Active Member
Ha! I actually haven't gone the game mechanics route with these notions. The text speaks to the fear the Nazgul utilize and I'm just thinking that Strider simply wants spirits lifted to prepare for the fear that he knows is coming because anything at all helps.

One can be all spirited up all they want against the Nazgul and still die or fall to the ground in paralyzing fear or get stabbed in the shoulder. ;)

.....although Strider does in fact drive them off.
 
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Harnuth

Member
Either we go to Weathertop or we do not Either the Nazgul are at Weathertop or they are not. Key point: Weathertop has a commanding view of all the surrounding countryside, and our mission success depends heavily on the Nazgul not knowing where we are. If they see us from Weathertop, they will know where we are.

So:
(1) We don't go there and the Nazgul are not there: We sneak by unmolested. Chance of mission success greatly increased.

(2) We don't go there and the Nazgul are up there watching: They see us, know where we are while we do not know where they are. They set up a carefully planned ambush. Mission failure almost certain.

(3) We do go there and the Nazgul are there: Aragorn now knows where they are and can drive them off. Chance of mission success greatly increased.

(4) We do go there and the Nazgul are not there: Hooray! Carry on! Chance of mission success greatly increased.

So the decision on whether to go to Weathertop seems obvious to me. Go go go!


But... (5) We do go there and the Nazgul are not there, so then Aragon goes out for groceries, leaving the hobbits to fend for themselves? *That* is the decision I would wonder about.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I'm concerned about 3. Yes, that's how it more-or-less turns out to happen (with a shopping interlude as hinted to by 5), but is by no means a sure thing.......
 

Harnuth

Member
I'm concerned about 3. Yes, that's how it more-or-less turns out to happen (with a shopping interlude as hinted to by 5), but is by no means a sure thing.......
Ohhhh… good point! I was thinking that if the Nazgul are up there, the chance of mission success is greatly increased over not going up Weathertop, because of (2) the certainty of an ambush when the party is least prepared for it.

As it turned out, although the Nazgul did find the hobbits alone, the hobbits were aware of the Nazgul's coming and were able to organize into a defensive position. I assume that's why the Nazgul approached slowly instead of just falling on the hobbits en masse and snatching the ring from Frodo's corpse.
 

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I more meant the "drive them off" bit. It happened, but... well, I was going to start speculating, but why don't we wait for it to come up in class before deciding how near of a thing *that* was?
 
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