glass bottle

Encountering Shelob

There may be nothing more frightening than being lost in a dangerous place where everything around you screams malice. The tunnel appears to have all the characteristics of a cemetery, only the corpses and leftover pieces of skeletons are exposed for everyone to see. The only thing binding them together, instead of dirt, are spider webs.

Webs and bones

Since Frodo cannot know exactly the amount of danger in which he finds himself, everything he touches sees or smells reeks fear in him. Not only is his inner voice positive of its previous assumption of this place, but he is now transferring all its accumulated knowledge to Frodo’s behavior. 

There is nothing else he can do but run for his life in the hopes of finding his way out. However, Frodo’s every step is hindered by clumps of webs and bones on the ground. The creepiness of this place would make anyone jump out of their skin.

No wonder Frodo reacts with horror and involuntary screams. It is like being trapped in your own worst nightmare or the feeling of being buried alive as all the other whose parts he finds tangled in webs and lying on the floor. 

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Light in the dark

Frodo finds himself backed into a dent in the wall, trembling with fear not being able to untangle himself. His eyes are almost closed due to his unwillingness to see what else is lurking just around the corner. At the precise moment where he might have given up, the voice of Lady Galadriel fills his mind.

It is hard to tell if he himself recalled it wanting desperately to find a way to help himself or if the voice penetrated his mind in order to help him because his fear and panic overtook it. Whatever the reason, the words she speaks are the same as we once heard.

And you, Frodo Baggins, I give you the Light of Eärendil, our most beloved star. May it be a light for you in dark places, when all other lights go out.

Galadriel

Phial of Galadriel

In the Fellowship of the Ring film, when the Fellowship was leaving Lothlórien, they were each given a present from the Lady herself. The presents she presented were to aid them in their future endeavors. Merry and Pippin were given weapons with which they could defend themselves. Sam was given Elvish rope, which came in handy in the maze of Emyn Muil. As opposed to his fellow Hobbits, Frodo was given something much more precious – the Phial of Galadriel – Star-glass. 

The Phial of Galadriel is a crystal phial filled with water from her fountain containing the light of Eärendil’s star. Eärendil was Half-Elven and father to Elrond. His star refers to the Silmaril he wore, the brightest star in the sky. The light of this Silmaril is trapped within the Star-glass.

Frodo fumbles through his pockets. He finds the phial and holds it up in front of him. 

Suddenly, Elvish words come bursting out of Frodo’s mouth, to his own surprise. 

Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima! (Hail Eärendil brightest of the Stars!)

Frodo

Blinding Shelob

The phial lights up like a bright flashlight providing Frodo with a limited amount of visibility. Behind him, he hears subtle movement, which we as the audience can see but still not determine what it could be. This movement turns Frodo’s head in a slow and careful manner, feeling it might be something dangerous. As he now sees the giant spider heading for him, he stumbles to his feet with the phial toward the spider blinding it and incapacitating it to move towards him. 

With the phial in one hand and Sting in the other Frodo manages to run from Shelob with her closely pursuing him. For a moment it seems that he may have outrun her, as he goes through a narrow opening through which she cannot pass. However, he is still not safe as he runs forward and entangles himself into a carefully constructed web trap. The webs are spread between two walls in a criss-cross manner making sure whoever were to pass here would not be able to free himself. 

Frodo helplessness and hopelessness to free himself out of this trap interfere with his problem-solving solutions, so for a brief moment, he is literally stuck with only fear in his heart, looking behind him to see how long he might have before his enemy catches up to him.

Unsuccessful taunt

Out of nowhere, Gollum’s voice reappears. 

Naughty little fly, why does it cry? Caught in a web! Soon you’ll be eaten.

Gollum

Gollum appears from behind a rock watching Frodo with a sense of glee in his face. He is so close to accomplishing his goal and soon enough the Ring will be his again. 

As Frodo realizes the meaning of his words his fear turns to anger. He reaches for the Sting and starts slashing through the webs. Every slash is followed with a grunt of despair and anger. As Shelob comes ever closer to her prey, Frodo manages to free himself from the webs, leaving his Sting entangled in the webs. There was no more time to save it. 

Gollum seeing Frodo progress rapidly widens his eyes in fear at the retribution that might come his way. Now Frodo knows of his intentions and there are no words that can save him from a frontal attack with Frodo. The anger toward Gollum is what helped Frodo push forward and escape Shelob. Now that he has, it is time to repay Gollum for his malice. 

Attack of the Gollum

Frodo runs out of the lair by way of a hole too small for Shelob to enter and falls to the ground exhausted. He was physically weak before he ever entered Shelob’s lair. This confrontation with her environment has his last ounces of energy. Without food or water, he will not be able to maintain any kind of strength.

But before he can take a breath and compose himself, Gollum pounces on Frodo, pounding his head against the rock surface and throwing him on the opposite wall. As Frodo falls Gollum fumbles around Frodo’s neck to take the Ring for himself. 

Gollum: “Got away, did it, precious! Not this time! Not this time!”

Frodo: “No!”

Surprisingly, Frodo’s rage taps into his reservoir of physical strength that he had been harnessing for fighting Gollum. He is not as feeble as presumed. When rage takes over, no amount of weakness or lack of strength exists. He uses this rage to pin Gollum down and start choking him. Frodo’s eyes show the level of rage at which he is operating. 

It is reminiscent of the same rage he felt when he held the Sting to Sam’s throat in Osgiliath. Now, however, the situation is different. He could kill Gollum without sensing guilt or remorse, for Gollum tried to take his life as well, albeit through a proxy. 

A cry to stop

It wasn’t us! It wasn’t us! Sméagol wouldn’t hurt Master! We promised! You must believe us. It was the Precious! The Precious made us do it!

Gollum

In the midst of Gollum’s explanation, Frodo’s eyes start to water. Gollum’s explanation for his behavior brings back the feeling of pity in Frodo. Although he knows Gollum is a direct threat to his life, he cannot help himself thinking how similar they are in their behavior. Frodo understands the influence the Ring has on both him and Gollum, so why should Gollum be punished for something he himself cannot control?

Frodo releases his hold on Gollum, remaining on the ground looking weary and in disbelief. He looks over at Gollum with the same expression he had after his attack on Sam. He does not know his own strength. Moreover, he cannot believe he had done it again. No matter how enraged Gollum’s intentions made him feel, he would never have been the kind of Hobbit to bring death to anyone. Until now, two instances have proven what he is capable of and how his behavior had changed from the one that left the Shire. 

The good and the “precious”

Fortunately, Frodo is still able to recognize good from the bad. And as well as he knows the influence of the Ring, within him still resides a part of his old self the Hobbit that once roamed the rolling hills of the Shire, innocent and good-natured. He could have easily overpowered Gollum, thereby killing him, but his empathy for this creature interpreted his cries as genuine. Therefore, the goodness of Frodo still prevails. 

In Gollum’s defense, the “precious” did actually make him bring Frodo to harm. He is not lying. His admission may be seen as an excuse for his wrongdoing, but it can easily be the truth. Whether he is using his admission to reason with Frodo and avoid being choked, the truth of it is clear as day. He would not have behaved in this treacherous manner had it not been for the Ring in the first place.

Therefore, to blame it on the Ring is logical. Moreover, he has been under its influence far longer than Frodo, meaning it is harder for him to recognize his wrongdoing. It is certainly more difficult whilst in the throes of detoxification from the Ring. 

Sadness to rage

I have to destroy It, Sméagol. I have to destroy It for both our sakes.

Frodo

After Frodo’s first sentence, we briefly have a glimpse of Sméagol. He looks at Frodo with his big blue eyes in sadness. Firstly, his comprehension of Frodo’s statement is lacking. It is as if he cannot believe what he is hearing. Secondly, the thought of parting with the Ring brings him heartbreak, almost vulnerable quality to his facial expression, more human than a creature. 

Frodo’s second sentence turns his emotional vulnerability into an attack of rage and anger. He lunges for Frodo, throwing him on the ground, but before he can reach for the Ring, Frodo takes advantage of the landscape and the chasm leering from the edge. With his feet, Frodo throws Gollum over his head and into the chasm. 

A plea for forgiveness

In his feeble attempt at pushing forward without any strength left in him, clutching at the walls to keep himself upright, Frodo again remembers Sam. 

I’m so sorry, Sam. So sorry.

Frodo

Seeing as he might be feeling as if death were within reach, he apologizes to Sam for his ill decision. There is nothing he can do about it now but ask for forgiveness in his last moments. The one regret he has, he wishes to confess, even if no one is there to receive it or grant absolution. Nevertheless, if he is feeling close to death, it is understandable he should seek to clear his conscience and ask his best friend for forgiveness.

Galadriel’s helping hand

Frodo collapses. But as opposed to his current environment, his head lands on a green lush covered with autumn leaves. He appears to be back in Lothlórien, for before him stands the Lady Galadriel herself. 

This task was appointed to you, Frodo of the Shire. If you do not find a way, no one will.

Galadriel

She reaches out her hand to help him up. At first, he looks at her with an expression of someone who is all but sure he cannot go through with his mission. He is feeling humble and worthless before her, knowing that he may well fail. He is not adequate for this mission. And as he already told her in Lothlórien, “he knows what he has to do, he is just afraid to do it”. The same fear is visible in his eyes now, more so because of his being left alone to fulfill the quest. 

As Galadriel repeats the same words she said to Frodo in Lothórien and helps him stand, his expression changes into that of courage in spite of fear. He knows he has to push on and her little but powerful reminder of his own inner strength drives him to stand up and move forward. 

We turn our attention now to the Riders of the Rohirrim and their journey toward Minas Tirith. Follow me to my next post. 

Featured image by Briam Cute on Pixabay

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