Tolkien Geek

Blogging J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other aimless pursuits.


TTT: Bk 4, Ch 6

The Forbidden Pool
"Only one true shot, and Frodo would be rid of the miserable voice for ever. But no, Gollum had a claim on him now. The servant has a claim on the master for service, even service in fear. They would have foundered in the Dead Marshes but for Gollum. Frodo knew, too, somehow, quite clearly that Gandalf would not have wished it."
Later that evening, everyone sleeps. But Faramir is alerted of a strange sight outside. Hey wakes Frodo and asks him to come with him. Sam, who also wakes up, follows them. They follow a passage and some wet stairs that takes them out to a small flat cut in the stone that opened to the left of the waterfall. It had a commanding view of the lands to the west:

"[Frodo] lifted his eyes and gazed far away. The world was quiet and cold, as if dawn were near. Far off in the West the full moon was sinking, round and white. Pale mists shimmered in the great vale below: a wide gulf of silver fume, beneath which rolled the cool night-waters of the Anduin. A black darkness loomed beyond, and in it glinted, here and there, cold, sharp, remote, white as the teeth of ghosts, the peaks of Ered Nimrais, the White Mountains of the Realm of Gondor, tipped with everlasting snow."

Frodo wonders about his old companions. And though he still believes him to be dead, Gandalf is at this moment riding with Pippin on Shadowfax, approaching Minas Tirith. And as dawn approaches, Aragorn is preparing to take the Paths of the Dead. It is March 8th.

Faramir directs Frodo to look down into the pool at the bottom of the waterfall. They see a strange creature among the rocks. He asks Frodo if he should direct his men to loose their arrows upon it. Frodo tells him "no", though Sam would love to have cried out "yes". Faramir asks him about the creature and Frodo tells him that Smeagol once bore the burden of the Ring and has acted as his guide. Again, Faramir presses Frodo to justify why he should not kill Smeagol, for the penalty of trespassing is death. Frodo tells him that he is wretched and hungry and that were Gandalf here he would advise against it for just that reason.

Now Faramir explains that they cannot just let Smeagol go free for if he were caught by Orcs they could make him tell them about the refuge at Henneth Annun. So Frodo asks that he be allowed to go down to the pool and lure him out. Anborn accompanies him down the stair and soon Frodo finds himself at the top of one of the pool's banks. It is slippery and hard to gain a footing. At this point, Tolkien uses an peculiar turn of phrase that I never noticed before. He writes: "Frodo crept forward, using his hands Gollum-like to feel his way and to steady himself." (emphasis mine) I find it interesting that in this passage he is creating a subtle connection between Smeagol and Frodo. They are both hobbits (or at least Smeagol was once hobbit-like) and this analogy suggests that they are alike in more ways than one. Perhaps even Frodo sees Smeagol's current state as indicative of what could happen to him if he were to keep the Ring indefinitely.

As Smeagol fusses over a fish he has just caught, Frodo overhears him muttering to himself. He laments that the precious is gone, as he has lost Frodo: "Nasty Men, they'll take it, steal my Precious. Thieves. We hates them." Then he talks of throttling them all if he gets the chance. Now is this a debate between Smeagol and Gollum? It would seem so if you accept the idea the Smeagol part of his personality is benenvolent. Yet Tolkien writes it out as one continuous monologue. I suspect that, while Smeagol has a capacity for good, when he believes he is not being watched or listened to his true nature is not really that much different than Gollum. Gollum, however, is more aggressive and ruthless. He is the underlying driving force behind the creature. Smeagol may be nothing more than a facade. But we will examine that a little more down the road.

Frodo calls to Smeagol and lures him out of the pool where he is snatched up by Anborn. Frodo regrets his trickery but knows it was necessary to save him:
"Certainly what Frodo did would seem a treachery to the poor treacherous creature. It would probably be impossible ever to make him understand or believe that Frodo had saved his life in the only way he could."
They bring him back to the cave. Faramir tells him that he must swear to his Master that he will never return to this place and to obey Frodo and stay with him, otherwise if he is found in this land alone he will forfeit his life. Smeagol swears his promise, again on the Precious. He is very suspicious of Smeagol and tells him that despite the fact that "there are locked doors and closed windows in your mind, and dark rooms behind them" he accepts his promise. Smeagol is forced to tell Faramir exactly where he intends to take Frodo and listening to Frodo's description, he guesses that it is the pass of Cirith Ungol. Faramir tells Anborn to bear Smeagol away so that he might speak privately with Frodo.

Faramir warns Frodo that he must not go to Cirith Ungol, for "there is some dark terror that dwells in the passes above Minas Morgul". Frodo insists that he has no choice lest Minas Tirith become a second Minas Morgul, staring at its counterpart across a "dead land filled with rottenness." Faramir advises that they leave in the morning and hopes that one day they will meet again to share their tales, "laughing off old grief". Frodo falls into sleep before he sets out on the next stage of his journey.

[Chronology: March 7th - March 8th 3019 T.A.]

Next: Journey To The Cross-Roads

(revised 10/2/06)


At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I enjoyed the films, it was at this point I believe Peter Jackson made his biggest misstep: the vicious, brutal treatment of Gollum by Faramir. Apparently Jackson felt that nobility of character is less interesting than "growth". There were other places that Jackson missed the same point- the "compare and contrast" that Tolkien did with Theoden/Denethor for example.

At 7:02 AM, Blogger Chris said...

I was about to make the same point about Gollum myself. Well put, Terry.


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