QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
I am sure that this has been covered somewhere, but when the Witch-king says "No living man may hinder me," what was the signifigance of "no living man" as opposed to "no living person"? If "Dernhelm" had been male, would the outcome have potentially been different, and what might have Tolkien been trying to say?
Clearly the Witch-king is aware of the prophecy that says that he will not fall by the hand of man. We later see this is proven to mean "by the hand of woman and hobbit," but perhaps in his arrogance, the Witch-king takes it to mean "not by the hand of any member of mankind" or even "by any living sentient being." There's really not much meaning to the question of what if Dernhelm was male; Dernhelm's existence was founded on "his" identity as Eowyn. Essentially, only Eowyn and Merry, in that time and place, could have dealt the Witch-king his death blow.
I have a question regarding the death of the Witch-king. Even though he seemed physically slain by Eowyn, is it possible that, if the ring wasn't destroyed so soon after, he could have been resurrected by Sauron's will? It seems that was exactly what happened when all nine Nazgul were drowned in Fellowship, but they were given new bodies and new animals to ride. What is the Green Gooks' opinion?
Ah, but they weren't killed in the river in Fellowship. Gandalf clearly says that you can't kill Nazgul as easily as all that; that it was only their forms (their robes) and their horses that were swept away and destroyed. In the killing performed by Eowyn and Merry, however, the spiritual center of the Witch-king's power is clearly destroyed beyond any resurrection.
In the line "Bilbo was meant to find the ring, in which case you also were
meant to have it," I think we see this idea recurring a lot throughout LotR,
that things are just meant to happen. Right? So Bilbo was meant to stumble upon
this ring, just as Déagol was meant to find it in the river and be murdered.
Then how is it that Gandalf comes to Bilbo in the beginning of The Hobbit? From what I understand, they didn't know each other prior to that. Was Gandalf just using his wizard's sixth sense or foresight, knowing that Bilbo and his
relative were destined for great things, and that's why he was compelled to come to
him at Bag End? Like he was just doing his job as an Istar to make sure some
lazy hobbit gets out the door on time without a handkerchief so that the world
will be saved?
Personally, I think that destiny is largely a matter of hindsight. Gandalf is wise and gifted with a certain amount of foresight, but if he knew where the Ring was, he could have gone into the tunnels himself at any time. No, I believe Gandalf realizes that he himself, like other created beings, is an instrument in the hands of Iluvatar, and that if Bilbo was "meant" to find the Ring, then Gandalf was "meant" to help him along the way.
My question concerns the palantiri and the fact that both Sauron
and Saruman possessed one, and wielded them with ease. Why didn't
Sauron know of the Fellowship's journey, their intention, and their
location? Even if we concede that he needed to target a specific
location before using the palantir (as opposed to just letting its view
roam over the countryside), he had that once his Nazgul had chased the
One Ring to Rivendell. Later, Saruman actually wanders in Fangorn
(Aragorn & Co. see him at night when he frightens the horses away)
looking for news of what became of his orcs, and Gandalf is pleased
with the fact that Saruman will be beside himself with anxiety over
whether or not the hobbits his orcs had been carrying had the ring or
not. As with Sauron, couldn't Saruman have just used his palantir and
saved himself some stress and a long walk? I don't think the palantiri
had the ability to look through time as well as space (did they?), so
maybe Saruman's orcs were attacked while he was taking a nap or
something, so he missed the whole thing and had to rely on more
traditional methods to figure out why they were suddenly no longer
breathing. But that wouldn't explain Sauron's ignorance of the
Fellowship; he already knew the Ring was headed south, for he fully
expected someone to claim it for his own and openly challenge him. He
had lots of spies, months to learn their precise location at any point
along the journey (and he did know it precisely when they were in
Rivendell), a palantir to play with, and he never slept.
Thanks very much,
Tolkien probably had some of these difficulties in mind when he
wrote the essay on the Palantíri that appears in "Unfinished Tales".
Remember, Tolkien himself did not learn of the Palantíri until
Wormtongue lobbed one out from Orthanc, and it was initially seen as a
device to establish the link between Isengard and Barad-dûr. As a
tool for intelligence gathering, a too powerful palantír would indeed
spoil the story. In an early outline of the chapter on The Palantír,
JRRT wrote that it "kept watch on movements in neighbourhood but its
range was limited to some 100 leagues?"
Certainly for the purposes of the story, and indeed in the Unfinished
Tales essay, the primary purpose of the Stones seems to be
communication rather than observation, their usefulness for the latter
purpose is limited. Gandalf says of the Orthanc-stone that "alone it
could do nothing but see small images of things far off and days
remote." And, by the time of the War of the Ring, it was no longer
useful to Saruman for spying: "I wonder, has he been constrained to
come often to his glass for inspection and instruction, and the
Orthanc-stone so bent towards Barad-dûr that, if any save a will of
adamant now looks into it, it will bear his mind and sight swiftly
In the essay, we learn that the stones have an optimum distance for
clear sight (in both time and space, for they can see into the past,
but only the distant past with clarity); the range of the stones of
Orthanc and Minas Ithil is about 500 miles. This is considerably less
than the distance from Mordor to Rivendell; more like the range to
Lórien. In a way, they are like a telescope (a Greek word whose
meaning, 'that which looks far away', is identical with 'palantír', a
fact that Tolkien would have known very well). You can focus quite
closely on a subject in a telescope or palantír; but you have to know
very precisely the direction and distance on which to focus.
I was wondering what exactly do the seven stars on Gondor's flag
represent? I have heard that they may represent the seven palantiri,
or the seven ships that bore a palantir to Middle-earth. Also, are
these stars the same stars that are mentioned in the Rhyme of Lore by
Gandalf where it mentions that the Numenoreans brought "seven stars and
seven stones"? The stones, I assume, would be the palantiri, but what
about the stars?
Thanks very much for your help!
The answer, unusually enough, is to be found in the Index to the
Lord of the Rings that was prepared for the second edition. Under
"Star, as emblem" we read of the "Seven stars, of Elendil and his
captains," further clarified: "originally represented the single stars
on the banners of each of the seven ships (of 9) that bore a palantir;
in Gondor the seven stars were set about a white-flowered tree, over
which the Kings set a winged crown."
In The Fellowship of the Ring-The Ring goes south
"The sons of Elrond, Elladan and Elrohir, were the last to return; they
had made a great journey, passing down the Silverlode into a strange
country, but of their errand they would not speak to any save to Elrond."
Where did they do and why???
If you pass down the Silverlode, you end up in that strangest of
countries, Lórien. It is never said what their errand was, but it may
be inferred that they brought tidings of the Council of Elrond to
Celeborn and Galadriel; and may have returned bearing messages from
them as well. The message that Haldir received in the Naith is
interesting: "They bring me a message from the Lord and Lady of the
Galadhrim. You are all to walk free, even the dwarf Gimli. It seems
that the Lady knows who and what is each member of your Company. New
messages have come from Rivendell perhaps." It suggests that Haldir
knew of previous messages from Rivendell, those from the sons of
Elrond; how Galadriel learned more details of the company's composition
is not told. She also knew that Gandalf the Grey had set out with the
Company. Whether she had been already known of Elrond's intention to
send Gandalf from his sons, or whether Elrond chose Gandalf (and a
representative of each of the Free Peoples) in whole or in part based
on her advice, none can say.