The Two Towers: Novel Summary: Book IV - Chapter 8

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Summary: Gollum, Frodo, and Sam arrive at Minas Morgul, the city of the Ringwraiths. The terrible thundering they have been hearing reaches its loudest peak, and the Morgul horde breaks forth, heading to war in the west-heading for Minas Tirith, capital city of Gondor, the last defense of men. At the army's head rides the Ringwraith who wounded Frodo at Weathertop. (Readers will learn in Book V that this is the Witch King of Angmar.) The King of the Ringwraiths seems to sense that the Ring is near, but, at the last minute, he ignores Frodo's presence, and the dreadful army's march continues; "and yet," the narrator ominously informs us, "it was but one and not the greatest of the hosts that Mordor now sent forth." Gollum and the hobbits begin scaling the incredibly steep stairs of the passage of Cirith Ungol to enter the land of Mordor.
 
At one point, they stop to rest. Sam and Frodo awaken later to find Gollum gone. As they wait for their guide to return, the two hobbits discuss stories (see Analysis below). Gollum eventually returns-looking "almost spider-like," the narrator remarks-and guides the hobbits toward the tunnel into Mordor itself.
 
Analysis: Frodo's resolve, after his brief lapse into despair, that he must enter Mordor, and do so "whether Faramir or Aragorn or Elrond or Galadriel or Gandalf or anyone else ever knew about it was beside the purpose," is another clear illustration of Tolkien's allegiance to the old Norse mythological definition of heroism.
 
That definition is at the heart of Sam and Frodo's discussion of story and narrative, and that discussion is in many ways at the heart of The Lord of the Rings. Please see "Theme Analysis" for more information on this important topic.
 
Also not to be missed in this chapter is Gollum's display of pity toward Frodo. As he watches Frodo sleeping, he almost repents of the evil he is plotting against him, and the narrator tells us that, to an outside observer, Gollum at that moment would have looked simply like an old, worn hobbit. Frodo has shown mercy on many occasions to Gollum, and here we have a hint that, had circumstances been different (although exactly how, readers may be pressed to say-had Gollum never had the ring, had Bilbo not taken it in The Hobbit, had Frodo not "tricked" Gollum at Henneth Annen, had Sam not accused him in the moment of "sneaking"), Gollum might indeed have responded in kind and been thus "redeemed." Redemption, however, is not the part he has been fated to play.




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