Here comes peril! Our hobbits and Strider make it to Weathertop, but split up before seeing a number of Black Riders on the plain below. After Strider tells them stories to calm them, the Nazgul attack! Frodo’s will loses out to the Ring, but he still manages to make them flee – but not before he is seriously injured.
Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 11-12 (p186-199 50th Anniv. Ed.)
There is so much to talk about with this scene on Weathertop. In fact, there is so much that I’ll be talking about it for days. The miles following Weathertop are scantly described and time is compacted into another walking montage. I’ll take that time to talk more about any number of things concerning this passage.
But as far as overall observations, the thing that really struck me this time was how quickly the attack came and went. It’s really just a lunge, a counter-lunge, and a retreat – with a couple of stabs thrown in for good measure. It’s dramatic, but not overly so. Hell, the related story of Baren and Luthien takes up several times as much space.
For today, my question is this:
Would Frodo have been able to drive off the Nazgul if he had not put on the Ring? It was because of Ring-o-Vision that he was able to see them. Everyone else saw “nothing but vague shadowy shapes coming towards them.” More than likely, if he had not slipped on the Ring, that’s all Frodo would have seen.
Once the Ring was on his finger, “their eyes fell on him and pierced him, as they rushed towards him.” Jumping ahead a touch, Gandalf will tell Frodo that “You were in the gravest peril while you wore the Ring, for then you were half in the wraith-world yourself, and they might have seized you. You could see them, and they could see you.” But, if Frodo had remained as he was, sans Ring, would the Nazgul have come specifically for him? Apparently not.
Frodo had cut the Nazgul leader’s cloak and pierced his foot – something he wouldn’t have been able to do without the Ring (since he wouldn’t have been able to see them). To that, Strider says: “This was the stoke of Frodo’s sword […] The only hurt that it did to his enemy, I fear; for it is unharmed, but all blades perish that pierce that dreadful King.”
Strider is saying that the only hurt that Frodo’s sword did to the Nazgul was to cut the King’s cloak. Frodo “struck at the feet of his enemy,” apparently hitting both the cloak and piercing the King. [see comments below about this]
Strider then concludes: “More deadly to him [the Witch-king] was the name of Elbereth.” Since Strider said “more deadly,” it should be okay to conclude that Frodo’s sword (which he got at the Barrow-downs and was of Numenorian descent) did at least some damage.
So the question is, then, would Frodo have called the name of Elbereth if he had not put on the Ring?
A Few Notes:
- Through the next week or two, while writing about this, I’m sure I’ll have tons of questions and few answers. It would be great if you, dear friends, could help me out. Also, if you have ideas for topics specifically concerning this passage, post it in the comments section and we can address them.
- I’ve actually got a list of things I want to discuss – from the Nazgul’s horses, to the distance from Rivendell; from Frodo’s wound to (of course) the older manuscripts; from Baren and Luthien to the Nazguls’ movements.
- My suggestion to you would be to read this passage. It begins with “It was already mid-day when they drew near the southern end of the path….” in chapter 11, and ends right before “They made their way slowly and cautiously round the south-western slopes….”
- Did I just give a homework assignment? Crazy. See you tomorrow!
About the Photo
Yeah. You tell me this isn’t Weathertop. Go ahead.
- Miles today: 5
- Miles thus far: 241
- 219 miles to Rivendell
- 1,538 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place: On Weathertop. Lookout! (map)