Thread: what gandalf says?
Gandalf, therefore, would not have to "command" mountain giants. He would only have to make the request that the giant plug up the whole so that travelers are not enslaved or eaten by the more uncouth inhabitants of the subterranean. Any decent giant would be more than willing to render such a simple, yet nonetheless beneficial, service to the greater population.
Although it is also possible that, during his many escapades, Gandalf may have performed some deed that would have earned him leadership over the mountain giants. This is unlikely, however, because Gandalf seems to have preferred to remain politically neutral so as to prevent the complication of his already complex and numerous duties as a semi-divine guardian of what is just and good.
And not having any of Saruman's blasting powder, or whatever it was that Saruman's Uruks used to open the hole in the outer wall at Helm's Deep, a giant was probably the best individual to collapse the tunnel openings. Dain's Dwarven Warriors assuredly would also have been able to do the trick.
But I have an idea that Gandalf's line was a 'throw away' line and he never followed through with the project, due to a previous, and more pressing engagement at Dol Guldur.
Still, something must have been done, for the Beornings were able to keep the Mountain Pass open circa Bilbo's Long Expected Party.
As for Beorn's shape shifting ability, I think Tolkien meant to leave that to the readers' imaginations. It would make sense to me that, early in Middle-Earth's history, a man may have somehow found favor in the eyes of a Valor, who may have given him the ability to help him out of a tight spot. Being a bear can be very convenient at times, such as when the weather is dangerously cold or you are unarmed and surrounded by unfriendly beings. That man who was given the ability most likely passed it on to his children. As far as I know Tolkien does not give an explanation, the mystery only makes the story that much richer and more unpredictable for me.
You should also keep in mind that Tolkien wrote The Hobbit just as a story. Years later, he decided that he would use it as a legitimate chronicle of Middle-Earth. Because it was originally intended to stand on its own, the book may have a few loose ends that Tolkien never got around to tying off.
Because it was originally intended to stand on its own, the book may have a few loose ends that Tolkien never got around to tying off.
Interestingly, he did "tie up" the gollum/ring finding story - does anyone happen to have a copy of the "first" version (which prompted the line I, having read the revised version of the Hobbit, always puzzled over in The Fellowship of the Ring, about Bilbo having told/wrote a different version of the story previously.) But as the ominous nature of the ring was central to LoTR, this is not surprising. Beorn will not have had this urgent need to be explained and "fit in" to the rest of the mythology.
As for Bilbo's different version, I always thought that referenced how he had at first lied to the dwarves of how he escaped and found the ring, not that the book was any different.
According to Hammond and Scull, Tolkien once wrote to his publishers: 'I have decided to accept the existence of both versions of Chapter Five, so far as the sequel goes' and he found a solution in the Ring quickly asserting some control over Bilbo, whose false account was (said to be) set down in his memoirs, and seemingly still appeared in the Red Book.
Tolkien considered revising the entire Hobbit to make it better fit with The Lord of the Rings. He began it, but didn't finish it. For example in this version Gandalf could not read the writing on the swords due to dried Orc-blood.
For example in this version Gandalf could not read the writing on the swords due to dried Orc-blood.
Boy, that would have been lame! All Gandalf had to do is wash or chip the Orc blood off. I'm glad he left The Hobbit as originally written.
'... They were not made by any troll, nor by any smith among Men of these days. But there's black blood on them, goblin-blood. When they are cleaned and the runes on them can be read, we shall know more about them.'
The Broken Bridge, the 1960 Hobbit
This explains (nicely enough) why Elrond could read the writing but Gandalf could not, and the later scene need only be slightly revised, with Elrond describing the clean blades.
The characters in the tale however, have plenty to do and think about directly after finding these swords, and Gandalf knows that Rivendell is not far away in any case. These were weapons the company didn't have in the first place, as well.
Had JRRT originally written it this way I tend to doubt there would be any threads: why weren't the swords washed and read before Rivendell? because the answer need only be that doing so was really not important enough at the time (at least not important enough to constitute some sort of plot problem).
I am with Grondy on this. totally.
By the way Grondy dear, do you play chess?
"Never play cards with wizards, for they win most of the time, due to their ability to change the number of spots on the cards." - gleaned from the wisdom of Grondy