Frodo and Sam in Emyn Muil

The Maze of Emyn Muil

And then there were two, alone in an unfamiliar and inhospitable place. Emyn Muil is disorientating, depressing and misty, with smells ranging in various degrees of stink. Finding a way through this maze without a guide is proving to be an almost impossible venture. 

Inhospitable environment

Bogs and rope and goodness knows what. It’s not natural. None of it.

Samwise Gamgee

Sam in frustration with the environment they have to go through, points out its unnaturalness. Sam`s reaction to this environment is a subjective view of their current situation. However, he has always known only the green pastures of the Shire. So, it is only natural for him to find Emyn Muil a terrifying place. When fear strikes in an unknown environment, negative impressions follow.

Lost

Based on my own experience as a little girl lost in a forest, I can empathize with what Frodo and Sam might be feeling. In an unfamiliar setting without a sense of time and place, there is a fear that creeps in slowly but surely. The initial reaction may be to ignore that fear for your own sake in order to keep your mind from panicking, but it catches up quickly.

When fear takes over, any hope of keeping your head calm in search of a solution is lost. The mind starts painting worst-case scenarios, giving a panic room to expand. It is the most unpleasant feeling of all – hopelessness. Trapped by the environment itself, feeling it closing in. All reasoning is lost and all that is left is the numbing repetitiveness of your surroundings. 

Sam`s nostalgia

Frodo with seasoning

Sam is cute with his „roast chicken“ comment. He brought along with him a tiny box of seasoning he could use to cook for the two of them. This tiny box of seasoning from the Shire shines a ray of hope that all will not be that bad. Sam holds hope as he only wishes to do good for Frodo – their little bit of home and a memento giving them a reason to keep moving forward. They are doing this for the Shire after all. 

Sam provides Frodo with his sunny, light attitude and such disposition will come in very handy on their journey. Frodo`s expression turns from tense to relaxed with this one remark. He holds Sam in high esteem with a lot of love and appreciation. Which is why this simple remark pulls him out of any negative thought he might have. 

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Gandalf`s fate

Frodo dreaming of Gandalf doesn’t help the situation. It only reminds him of loss in an already miserable environment. This unconscious connection that Frodo and Gandalf share comes up in a couple of instances in the trilogy. In this particular scene, Frodo dreaming of Gandalf’s fall and his fight with the Balrog, apart from giving the film an exciting intro, provides viewers with a puzzling thought: was it only a dream of Frodo`s or has it actually happened? Food for thought, brilliantly done whatever its intention. 

Sam: “I don`t think Gandalf meant for us to come this way.”

Frodo: “He didn`t mean for a lot of things to happen, Sam, but they did.”

Knowing what we know about the exchange between Gandalf and Saruman, it is safe to say – although he didn`t decide to go through Moria – Gandalf knew what fate awaited him there. Gandalf had come to terms with the consequence of going through the Mines. Although fear and dread were in his heart, he nevertheless did what he could to protect the rest of the Fellowship.

It is true that Gandalf didn`t mean for any of this to happen, especially because he wouldn`t have wanted to leave Frodo to his own devices. However, if he hadn`t stood against the Balrog, the entire Fellowship might have faced the same fate. 

The weight of the Ring

Frodo and Sam look at Mordor

Sam: „It’s the Ring isn`t it?“

Frodo: „It’s getting heavier.“

Frodo can see the Eye of Sauron in his mind’s eye. It debilitates him and he drops to his knees and clenches the Ring. Terror envelops him. Sauron will always be right in front of him, as long as the One Ring is around his neck. Sam might only see the landscape of Mordor in the distance. Frodo`s sight, however, goes deeper into the Black Land itself, facing Sauron.

Sam notices it and draws the conclusion that it must be the Ring. This is the first instance in which Sam starts to understand the burden his friend is carrying. Sam expresses concern for his friend, carefully examining his behavior and reactions. This, in turn, helps Sam anticipate various needs Frodo might have.

It is a most unconventional behavioral pattern to witness and become adjusted to, but Sam takes his role in this venture very seriously. Whatever it may cost him, he is there to take care of “Mr. Frodo” in the best way he knows how.

Frodo, on the other hand, notes that the Ring is getting heavier. The power it has over him grows as they walk ever closer to Mordor. The Ring is debilitating Frodo in every sense possible. It is gaining in strength and therefore looking to weaken its carrier.

New discoveries

Sam prides himself in tying a tight knot, as they climb down the sharp cliffs of Emyn Muil. The knot he ties does help them climb down safely. Only the pride of his “knotmanship” leads Sam to believe that he would have to leave it behind, and that saddened him. After all, the rope was Elvish and a personal gift from the Lady of Light herself. He was almost resolved in leaving it when it came loose with only a pull of the strand.

The fact that it is “real Elvish rope”, it comes undone without a hitch, leaving Sam a bit embarrassed for claiming his expertise on the skill of tying knots. 

The unfamiliar turfs teach us a lot about ourselves. We may learn new things in order to help ourselves along, prove ourselves with what we already know, or we might be humbled by an unexpected event, which in any normal situation it might have a different outcome.

It is a challenge and an experience that can only lead to growth and better acquaintance with oneself. 

The nasty bog smell they come across while walking in circles, is not a bog at all. Frodo states that they are not alone, and low and behold, they aren`t. The smell is emanating from a creature whose mere existence fills Frodo with anger and fear, not knowing how this creature would behave, having only heard stories about it. Read about it in my following post.

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