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From Lord of the Rings/Appendix A/Gondor and the Heirs of Anarion
Glorifindel says to Earnur of the Witch King:
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“Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off yet is his doom, and not by the of hand man will he fall.”


From Lord of the Rings/The Battle of the Pelennor Fields:
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Merry’s sword had stabbed him from behind, shearing through the black mantle and passing up beneath the hauberk had pierced the sinew behind his mighty knee.

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So passed the sword of the Barrow-downs, work of Westernasse. But glad would he have been to know its fate who wrought it slowly long ago in the North-kingdom when the Dunedain were young and chief among their foes was the dread realm of Angmar and its sorcerer king. No other blade, not though mightier hands wielded it, would have delt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will.


During our last class discussion in Bilbos-study, we had quite a bit of discussion about the role of the Barrow-downs blade in the death of the Witch-king. Who or what really killed the Witch-king?
Was the spell of the Ring broken by the blade making him vulnerable to the sword?


My views are documented in the Bilbo-study notes. I'm not about to bash my head against another brick wall. Good subject though, one I find interesting.
True, V, but rather then have people read through the entire log to find your insight on this topic, it would be a good starting point for the discussion if you would post your views. Teacher Smilie
Not sure I can do it justice at the moment but the quotes you give are the pertinent ones. Neither Merry nor Eowyn were men. But I don't think it was just a matter of Eowyn being a woman and killing the WK - it was a joint effort.

The Barrow-blade was set up in the FotR and Tolkien makes it clear that this blade was the right blade in the right hands at the right time. Merry finally has a part. He breaks the spell, she kills him. Neither one without the other.
It would indeed seem that Merry broke the spell with the Westernesse blade (if he had any other blade it wouldn't have worked), by which he also saved Éowyn's life so the latter could finish the work.

I think at this point it didn't even matter who thrusted a sword under the crown, after Merry broke the spell the Witch-King of Angmar was vulnerable to anyone. A man would also be able to kill him after the undoing of the spell, but a woman did it at that time so Glorfindel's prophecy was fulfilled.

The Witch-King pointing out that 'no man can kill me' is confusing, though. Clearly he is referring to the spell that protects him against any 'normal' blade. But if a man would thrust the Westernesse blade into him, would the spell be broken too? Would for instance Aragorn with Merry's blade be able to break the spell? I say yes. Glorfindel's prophecy doesn't say a man is unable to kill him, it only says a man will not kill him.

I always thought that the Witch-King's quote referred to the fact that a woman could kill him if she put a sword into him. But it seems that a woman wouldn't be able to break through the spell that protected his body either (with a normal blade, at least). The fact that a blade of Westernesse was involved in his death, proves this.

In one word, the Witch-King of Angmar wrongfully thought he was invulnerable, he didn't count on his enemies, thought he was invincible, was arrogant like all evil dramatis personae are. And like always, this proved the downfall of evil.

Teehee.
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But if a man would thrust the Westernesse blade into him, would the spell be broken too? Would for instance Aragorn with Merry's blade be able to break the spell? I say yes. Glorfindel's prophecy doesn't say a man is unable to kill him, it only says a man will not kill him

I agree with you, Virumor. The blade from the Barrow-downs was significant in that it broke the spell that Sauron held over the Witch-king through the Ring.
I also think you have a valid point about Glorfindel's prophecy and it is entirely possible that the Witch-king could have been killed by Theoden or Aragorn provided the Barrow-down blade had done its work.
Does this mean that the blade held stronger "magic" (or curse, if you will) then the one Ring?
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Does this mean that the blade held stronger "magic" (or curse, if you will) then the one Ring?

Well, the Nazgûl are just shadows from the mighty, threatening spirits they would be if Sauron would have the One Ring back. I believe Gandalf said this. I think in that case, the Nazgûl would be pretty invincible.

The reason why the Westernesse spell worked was because the One Ring wasn't in Sauron hands. Of course, even without the One Ring his Nazgûl were still quite unstoppable, only a few LOTR characters would be able to survive a confrontation with them. So at that point, the Nazgûl are just supported by a part of Sauron's power (absence of the ring). Apparently the Westernesse spell was stronger than part of Sauron's power...

We don't know who made the spell on the blade and how the spell was made, of course. Maybe the spell was similar to the Elvish spell on Andúril, or the spells on a lot of Elvish swords. Apparently Westernesse craftsmen had the power to put spells on things too... i never really thought about this until now. I thought only Elves were able to put spells because they were the only of the children of Eru who were alike a bit to the Valar. But... remember that Isildur was able to curse the hill people who betrayed him too. And they are descendants from Melian, so it's logical they still have a bit of Ainu powers in them.

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Is anything mentioned in The Letters?

It doesn't really matter anyway because neither Aragorn nor Theoden were in the right place at the right time but Eowyn and Merry were and they were the two who shouldn't have been there so I think Tolkien was showing the prophecy fulfilled.
Ok, my first forum post, but I couldn't resist this topic. I have though a lot about this subject. It occurs to me that Merry is no more a man than Eowyn is, as Pippin is quick to point out upon entering Minas Tirith with Gandalf.
Yo Silme, weetie!

And yep, neither Eowyn nor Merry are men, neither should be there, Merry had the barrow blade... what a set up! I bet the WK didn't see *that* one coming.



As i was trying to point out, the barrowblade is most important. Anyone - man, woman or machine - who stabbed the witch-king with the barrow-blade or another magical weapon would break the spell so anyone - man, woman or machine - would be able to kill the witch-king.

I know that Éowyn and Merry did it, I know, but it's important to realize that they weren't the only ones capable of doing that. In fact, it was Merry who contributed the most to the witch-king's death : he broke the spell ànd saved Éowyn's life so the latter could brutally slay the witch-king.

The point is that the witch-king's quote "no man can kill me" was only partly true. "No man with a normal blade can kill me" would be more exact. It even seems that the witch-king was so confident about himself that he wasn't even afraid of battling Gandalf the White. No, he was even confident that Gandalf the White would be killed by him. Pity that the duel between them was cut short. I'd put my money on Gandalf.

A man with a fitting blade could cream him. Andúril for instance would be a blade able to mortally wound the witch-king. At the Dagor Dagorlad, Gil-Galad and Elendil killed Sauron. Did they do this with normal weapons? nope. Both Aeglos and Narsil (the future Andúril) surely must have had some magic on them too.

To conclude this post, neither Éowyn or Merry would have survived killing the witch-king either, if Aragorn hadn't saved them. Their body and spirit wasn't big enough, as Aragorn pointed out. This doesn't take anything away from their heroic performance, it is just striking that even in death, the witch-king is deadly. But it was perhaps fitting that Éowyn and Merry toppled the witch-king.

Glorfindel's prophecy was fulfilled : a man did not kill the witch-king. For once, an Elf was right!

As I said

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Neither one without the other.


It happened as Tolkien wrote it. Anything else is just an interesting theory. That's my point. Eowyn and Merry were there, they did it. It happened to fit the prophecy. The End.
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To conclude this post, neither Éowyn or Merry would have survived killing the witch-king either, if Aragorn hadn't saved them. Their body and spirit wasn't big enough, as Aragorn pointed out. This doesn't take anything away from their heroic performance, it is just striking that even in death, the witch-king is deadly.

That is an interesting point, Vir. I think most of us just remember the Witch-king's death at the hand of Merry and Eowyn, forgetting that Aragorn had a part to play as, indeed, it would have been difficult to celebrate the end of the Wtich-king had the heroes reponsible died as a result of their deed.
It is interesting how Tolkien had played this out leading the reader (and the Witch-king) to believe that it was Eowyn's gender that enabled her to kill the Lord of the Nazgul and not an enchanted blade. Tolkien has done really well in drawing it all together. The recovery of the Westernesse blades from the Barrow-downs made them seem like old relics from days of old and when Frodo stabbed at the Nazgul at Weathertop he only slashed the black robe so the power of the blade was never revealed until after the demise of the Witch-king.
V, I did find a reference in his letters about the Westernesse blade.
From Letter 155:
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Alongside the final paragraph, Tolkien has written: 'But the Numenorean's used "spells" in making swords?'

I am not sure why the question mark. I will have to look a little further.
Eru's servant, Tom Bombadil, as his part in the plan, removed from the Barrow four blades and as he did so he told that they were forged by the Men of Westernesse, the foes of the Dark Lord. And as another of Tolkien's precursors of things to come, said:
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... some still go wandering, sons of forgotten kings walking in loneliness, guarding from evil things folk that are heedless.
And he followed with a vision of
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"... Men, tall and grim with bright swords, and last came one with a star on his brow.
This last was named Thorongil, who in Appendix A we learn was Aragorn and whom we were to soon meet as Strider in the Prancing Pony. (Until today, I had over looked that vision, but it complemented a recent Trivia question.)

This same Strider, now recognized as Isidur's heir, retrieved two of these same Blades of Westernesse from Boromir's deathsite, where the Orcs had despoiled and discarded them upon their capture of the hobbits. Later, at Isengard, by returning them to Merry and Pippin, he ensured that at least one of these blades could arrive on the Fields of Pelennor at its appointed hour; thus doing his part towards fulfilling Glorfindal's prophesy and Eru's plan.

And of course, Eru had to ensure that someone placed these special blades in that barrow to begin with.

I had always assumed that Merry's blade merely interrupted the Nazûl Lord's concentration allowing Éowyn to remove the iron crown and its invisible head. But I see now that both were necessary for his downfall.
Bearing in mind Tolkien's portrayal of women as being quite 'different' to men, is it just possible that it is the power of creation within women that enabled Eowyn to kill old WK? The fact that she had within her the gift of life, spiritual earth-mother thing? Whereas men are the destroyers. So maybe the WK was immune to attack by men and it did need a woman's touch?
In my opinion, the witch-king was only killed by Éowyn so that Glorfindel's prophecy could be fulfilled. Predestiny.
It's not because the witch-king claims he can't be killed by a man, that this is necessarily true. Like i said earlier, this is merely arrogance. I think he only says this because he is sure that nothing can break his spell. The reason why he says that ' no man can kill him ' is because he doesn't even take women into consideration. He can't imagine women as warriors at all (like all Middle-Earth inhabitants). Don't forget the witch-king hesitated a little after Éowyn laughed and exclaimed "but i am no man. I am a woman!" in his face.

Anyway, for the same he could've said "nothing can hurt me". Which was true, safe for enchanted blades.

Well, of course we do not know for sure if a man cannot kill him. We only know that a woman killed him. The only source claiming that a man cannot kill him, is the witch-king himself. Not really a trustworthy person, imo. There aren't really any other sources in the story which say something about this.

For me, anyone could've killed him once the spell was undone. But, as previously was posted it doesn't matter because Éowyn and Merry did it anyway. It matters to me, though.
I though Merry distracted him so Eowyn could do what only she could do as well. Bu t that doesn't sound right anymore.
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The reason why he says that ' no man can kill him ' is because he doesn't even take women into consideration. He can't imagine women as warriors at all (like all Middle-Earth inhabitants).
Not only does a short fellow with hairy feet break the spell, he gets beaten by a girl! The ultimate humiliation! He probably died from shame as well. Eowyn was destined to kill the witch-king, therefore her urge to get out of the house and DO something. It faded and gave her peace (and great respect!) after her deed was done.

The women might mostly sit at home and look after the house in Tolkiens books, but he must have knows some pretty strong chicks in his life, for when the girls decide to do something they really get things done.
The only source claiming that a man cannot kill him, is the witch-king himself

The first reference I have to that is from Glorfindel not the Witch King himself although he obviously believed it so maybe it was part of ancient lore.

Also, as well as Eowyn needing Merry to stab the WK first, it also needed the WK to be distracted for a moment by Eowyn when she said her "But no living man am I" thing so that Merry could recover enough to actually stab him.

There is no evidence to show that any man could have done what Eowyn did but there is evidence that shows a man did not kill the WK. I'm going with the Women as Creators theory. I think Tolkien was clear in the whole set up and execution of that storyline that no man could kill or would kill the WK so why a woman? Because she was a woman.

YMMV
Welcome Mahai to PT.
I have created a thread with your discussion questions under Gandalf and the Balrog.
Moderator Smilie Rednell
I think the only way to know if 'no man' ment no human or no male is to find out what word Tolkien would use for 'man' in the Common Tongue. I have stired some (english speaking) people in here befor when I reminded them that the Hobbits and Humans did not speak English! We would not understand a word they said if we went there, the Common Tongue has been translated so we can understand.
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The first reference I have to that is from Glorfindel not the Witch King himself although he obviously believed it so maybe it was part of ancient lore.

Again, Glorfindel's prophecy only says a man will not kill the witch-king, it does not say a man is unable to kill the witch-king. That is NOT a reference.

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There is no evidence to show that any man could have done what Eowyn did but there is evidence that shows a man did not kill the WK.

And? Those two things have nothing to do with each other. The fact that a woman killed the witch-king, doesn't take away the possibility that a man was able to kill the witch-king too.

Because a man didn't do it, doesn't mean he is unable to do it. (only referring to the witch-king here)

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I'm going with the Women as Creators theory. I think Tolkien was clear in the whole set up and execution of that storyline that no man could kill or would kill the WK so why a woman? Because she was a woman.

Your whole women as creators theory i don't follow. Tolkien never wrote or said anything about this.
Tolkien made Éowyn kill the witch-king because she was the only active female character in LOTR who doesn't act behind the scene like Arwen and Galadriel. Again, you are pointing out that the set-up showed that no man could kill the witch-king but this is not proven at all. The whole set-up only shows us that the witch-king was killed by a woman. We don't know if a man would be able to kill the witch-king for sure, it only is logical (at least for me) to conclude that a man is as much able to kill the witch-king as a woman once the spell is undone by an echanted blade.

In fact, we do know something about men vs Nazgûl : we know the Nazgûl's major weapon is fear and dread. Once you are able to withstand those, they're pretty harmless. Don't forget Aragorn was able to chase away the Nazgûl at Weathertop. No, he didn't kill them or even wounded them, because Narsil wasn't reforged yet. Certainly Aragorn at the Pelennor Fields would've been able to defeat the witch-king of Angmar.

The fact that a woman killed the witch-king was clearly because JRRT wanted his strongest, best developed female character to do a great deed at the battlefield. What greater deed at that day than killing the witch-king of Angmar?
If we only look at it storywise, it was clearly all predestined and set by Eru himself.

I think i agree with Amarië now, that the witch-king with "no man can kill me" could be referring to the race of Man. And even if he didn't mean it, the quote clearly showed that he thought he was invincible --- the fact that he is so eager on fighting Gandalf shows this.
My memory of the battle is not clear at all, but if a elven sword could kill him, why doesn't Gandalf just wack him with Glamdring? Doesn't he have a little show-down to chase him away, or was that 'just' a Nazgul? (Help me out here Vir!)

Or do they not know? No of course they do not know, then they would have done it long time ago wouldn't they...

But does Tom Bombadil know? He is the one who gave the swords to the hobbits. And if he does, why didn't he tell the Council? Oh that Bombadil is quite an enigma.. Smile Smilie
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Bearing in mind Tolkien's portrayal of women as being quite 'different' to men, is it just possible that it is the power of creation within women that enabled Eowyn to kill old WK? The fact that she had within her the gift of life, spiritual earth-mother thing? Whereas men are the destroyers. So maybe the WK was immune to attack by men and it did need a woman's touch?

There is little argument that Tolkien definitely had a stereotype in mind when it came to women as is evident with the majority of his female characters. Even the Valar are created male and female in temperament, male controlling weather, sea, moving rocks and shaping the earth, while those of female temperament are more nurturing. (But we will leave that for another discussion). Even though Tolkien refers to Eowyn as a shieldmaiden, the fact that she had to disguise herself as a man is somewhat contradictory. Now to the discussion at hand. The statement made by Glorfindel does only state that the Witch-king would not die at the hands of a man. A statement, which most likely did lend itself to the Witch-king’s arrogance even when he met Gandalf. It would seem of course, that the prophesy (form whichever source that it originated, Numenorean would not surprise me), neglected to mention that the Sauron’s spell would have to be broken first.

That is a good point about the meaning of the word "man", Amarie. Giving another reason for the WK to be confident of his invunerablity so that even if Eowyn was revealed to be a woman he may not have seen his fall coming.
Tolkien has certainly left this one open to interpretation.

I am not so sure I get the creation theory, V. Could you explain a bit more?


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Your whole women as creators theory i don't follow. Tolkien never wrote or said anything about this.
Tolkien made Éowyn kill the witch-king because she was the only active female character in LOTR who doesn't act behind the scene like Arwen and Galadriel. Again, you are pointing out that the set-up showed that no man could kill the witch-king but this is not proven at all. The whole set-up only shows us that the witch-king was killed by a woman. We don't know if a man would be able to kill the witch-king for sure, it only is logical (at least for me) to conclude that a man is as much able to kill the witch-king as a woman once the spell is undone by an echanted blade.


Sorry Vir, this agument is becoming circulatory - your theory is based on what? Nothing more than mine? All we have is what Tolkien wrote and intended - the prophecy fulfilled. You wanted a reason why it had to be a woman, I gave you one. But it is just a theory.

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Certainly Aragorn at the Pelennor Fields would've been able to defeat the witch-king of Angmar.


Not proven.


Interesting theories.
I think I know what Vir is trying to say (and I agree with him).
If Eru had decided that Eowyn would kill WK, then no other than her could have done it.

If Eru had no plans for this, so that nothing was decided, then anyone could have killed WK after the spell was broken, even a lost arrow. Or any elven sword could have both broken the spell and killed him.

But; COULD any elven sword have broken the spell? Or was Merry and the westron sword destined to do so, as she was destined to kill WK?
I definately only saw it as a profecy of what would happen, and not in anyway a claim that only that could happen.
Much like Frodo seeing into Galadriels mirror. He sees the future, but does not get to know why it happened or what it meant.

On the man - (hu)man note, I read the book in german. There the two words are different, and mann, not mench was used. Obviously, since Eowyn is human! But in german the meaning therefore become that no male of any species would kill him.

I don't see/feel that they would not be able, only that it would not happen that way. I'm not reading too much purpose into it either, neighter by Eru or Tom, just coincidents leading to a foreseen result.
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I don't see/feel that they would not be able, only that it would not happen that way. I'm not reading too much purpose into it either, neighter by Eru or Tom, just coincidents leading to a foreseen result.

I believe nothing what happens in Tolkien's stories is coincidence. Everything is foreseen by Eru and/or by Tolkien.

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On the man - (hu)man note, I read the book in german. There the two words are different, and mann, not mench was used. Obviously, since Eowyn is human! But in german the meaning therefore become that no male of any species would kill him.

It could be a misinterpretation in the translation, although i don't think so. I think i stand with my previous note, that the witch-king just wants to say he's invincible. He just uses "man" because he only thinks bout male warriors and thinks women don't leave their homes.
The witch-king says "no man can kill him" because of the spell that bounds his unseen sinews to his will. Indeed, once this spell exists, no one -including women of any species- could kill him. But once the spell is gone, anyone - including men of any species- can deliver the death blow. However, without the hands of a healer those killers wouldn't survive the killing of the witch-king either.

But in the end the whole argument isn't really important. We are only sure about what JRRT wrote, about what he didn't wrote everyone can design his/her own beliefs and theories. That is the power of the LOTR story.

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But; COULD any elven sword have broken the spell? Or was Merry and the westron sword destined to do so, as she was destined to kill WK?

I believe only swords with spells on (like the barrow blade) could do that. Most elven weapons were kinda enchanted or magidal so i believe so.
Anyway, i believe everything in LOTR was predestined by Eru so that Éowyn and Merry finishing off our favourite wraith was indeed destiny.
Also, Éowyn killing the Witch-King in fact also leads to her 'physical' cure by Aragorn and leads to Faramir, who makes her reconsider her feelings towards Aragorn so that her heart changes and she becomes happy again.

So, again predestiny leads to happy ends everywhere. How nice.

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My memory of the battle is not clear at all, but if a elven sword could kill him, why doesn't Gandalf just wack him with Glamdring? Doesn't he have a little show-down to chase him away, or was that 'just' a Nazgul? (Help me out here Vir!)

Well, Gandalf was going to do that, but then the army of Rohan arrived...
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I believe nothing what happens in Tolkien's stories is coincidence. Everything is foreseen by Eru and/or by Tolkien.


Um! You are aware that it is fiction, right? Tongue Smilie Winking Smilie

Perhaps the word coincidence was not a good one. But I do believe, and want to believe, in a free will of some sort. If people (of all species) only do what they do because they are predestined to do that, the new poll makes no sence. There is no bravery in doing anything unless you have a choise. There are no loyalty, mercy or kindness unless you have the option of doing the opposite. If Merry and Eowyn are where they are, doing what they are doing only as puppets, there are no reason to admire them or their deeds at all. They didn't do them! It would then only have been done through their bodies, but without any participance of their own wills.

We can perceive the world as a 4 dimensional plane, like a pice of paper, with all the world in the paper but Eru, as creator, both in the plane but also outside it. Therefor he, as the only one, can see all times and places in one glance, so to speak. Without micromanaging too much he can therefore choose the first song leading to the wanted result. So although he doesn't map out the lives of each individual, but leaves it up to them to lead their own lives, the end result is clear to him. Therefore, although Eowyn and Merrys actions was not preplanned by Eru, he sees them from before the world is, sees them as good and leading to the final goal, and therefore accepts them. (What he actually does is accept the song. For him the world both is, and is already ended, as he sees everything and everytime.) This is also why there are no evil in Eru. How can something leading to the final good be evil? The evil is only felt by the creatures of ME, as they do not see the whole picture.
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On the man - (hu)man note,


Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember reading somewhere in the biographies I've read of Tolkien, that he said hobbits, Elves and Dwarves, are human, but just a different sort of human. Also in TLOTR, Tolkien refers to us as Man (notice the capital) not humans, so this would probably mean if you said 'human' you were referring to all the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. in this case, you would say: "On the man/Man note."


Vee, where did you get your avatar? It's real cool.
I'm pretty sure I read this somewhere, but if anyone real brainy like Grondy or Val or Taz know better, just tell me.
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Perhaps the word coincidence was not a good one. But I do believe, and want to believe, in a free will of some sort. If people (of all species) only do what they do because they are predestined to do that, the new poll makes no sence. There is no bravery in doing anything unless you have a choise. There are no loyalty, mercy or kindness unless you have the option of doing the opposite. If Merry and Eowyn are where they are, doing what they are doing only as puppets, there are no reason to admire them or their deeds at all. They didn't do them! It would then only have been done through their bodies, but without any participance of their own wills.
There is Free Will in that once the so called "puppets" are at the place in their appointed hour, it is their choice as to whether they will take up the gauntlet and do what is expected of them. If they don't "Plan E" will have to be put in place further on in time.

For Merry and Eowyn you must see, were "Plan D". Like, "Plan C" was for Isildur to chuck the damned-able ring into Orthanc's maw some three-thousand-nineteen years earlier. "Plan B" was for Feanor to relinquish the three Silmarils to Yavanna that the Two Trees could be renewed and the Valar could then see well enough to toss Melkor in the slammer until the end of time. And initially "Plan A" was that Melkor would be a good little Vala and do what was expected of him instead of exercising his own Free Will.

Teacher Smilie

Does any of this make sense, or am I just blowing smoke? Smoke Smilie
That made a lot of sense Grondy! At least to me! I've been wondering how the free will and free choises of Erus creations fits with Erus plan. He just gives a new chance later on! And Eowyn took it! Big Smile Smilie
It makes sense, yes. I assume the one that "appoints the hour" and "expects" certain people to do certain things is Eru. My problem is that if he sees (or appoints) the hour, then he must either see the future or control everything leading up to that moment. (to make Merry, Eowen and the spooky guy all be there at once).
The first option leave Eru with little power, only the power to see the future, and not very well either, if he doesn't see what will happen in this clash. I see Eru all all-powerful, like God in Christianity. If he is left to only hope (and pray?) that his creations do his will, then... hmmm....
The second option produces three-thousand-nineteen years without free will between plan C and D... Basically only a very few people have free will and only in one spesific action? Did Merry and Eowyn have the option not to be at the battlefield? Did they have free will in that also, or only in what they did when faced with the critical situation?

OK, OK! I do see this is not quite what you ment! But in my opinion this leave Eru with too little power, it makes him dependent on the will of his creatures, and that doesn't sound quite right to me. Cat Smilie

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Not sure I can do it justice at the moment but the quotes you give are the pertinent ones. Neither Merry nor Eowyn were men. But I don't think it was just a matter of Eowyn being a woman and killing the WK - it was a joint effort.


I totally agree!
You took the words right out of my mouth, Randallin!
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I do see this is not quite what you ment! But in my opinion this leave Eru with too little power, it makes him dependent on the will of his creatures, and that doesn't sound quite right to me.

Eru has the ultimate power. He just doesn't interfere directly in what happens on Arda, as he gave dominion to the Valar. The only time he interfered directly in Arda is when he removed Valinor from Arda and made Numenor go down. Didn't quite show he had little power.

I think it was predestined by Eru that evil would be defeated, only the way this would happen was not foreseen. Several occasions and opportunities for evil to be defeated once and for all occured through the history of Arda, but no one took that chance... until the very end of the Third Age. It was predestined by Eru that Eowyn and Merry would meet up with the Witch-King, but their actions at that time were up to them. Well, i don't know actually. After Melkor set the Music of the Ainur to his hand, Eru changed it again. Maybe at that point he set everything what would happen on Arda once and for all until the Second music of the Ainur, so that in fact Eru just sat back in his couch and watched his 'puppets' do what he made them do... it is more positive to think not everything was foreseen, of course. The only mentioned fully predestined feat i can think of is the fact that Morgoth will be killed by Turin, at the Dagor Dagorath.

Anyway, i am more inclined to think there indeed not onely was one plan, but also a plan A,B,C and D. Perhaps like in the Bible, Eru wants to test his men and elves in their struggles against evil, to see if they're worth being created... but the fact that everything what happened in Middle-Earth was predestined, is equally possible too. That's just the eternal discussion whether a god/God has everything foreseen or leaves it to his creations to find their own cause.
Hmm. Loni, you said:
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember reading somewhere in the biographies I've read of Tolkien, that he said hobbits, Elves and Dwarves, are human, but just a different sort of human. Also in TLOTR, Tolkien refers to us as Man (notice the capital) not humans, so this would probably mean if you said 'human' you were referring to all the Free Peoples of Middle-earth. in this case, you would say: "On the man/Man note."


Could you say where you found it? Anyway, Elves and Dwarves were not related to humans at all; they were wholly different races. Hobbits were somehow related to mankind, though differently, though that is another matter. About your capitalization note, Tolkien wrote Man, Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Hobbit (though I also found hobbit), so I would believe 'man' would refer to the prophecy that no male would kill him.
First let me say what a great topic you selected Nell! This has been a most interesting thread, and I’ve learned a lot from all the great responses!

Personally, I’d never given much thought to the blade Merry used to stab the Wiki. I had always thought that he had just managed to distract him long enough for Eowyn to make her move, and I had always thought that it was Eowyn’s destiny (as pre determined by Eru) to defeat the Wiki, so the revelation about the blade being ‘enchanted’, and possibly breaking a spell was very interesting for me.

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There is Free Will in that once the so called "puppets" are at the place in their appointed hour, it is their choice as to whether they will take up the gauntlet and do what is expected of them. If they don't "Plan E" will have to be put in place further on in time.

For Merry and Eowyn you must see, were "Plan D". Like, "Plan C" was for Isildur to chuck the damned-able ring into Orthanc's maw some three-thousand-nineteen years earlier. "Plan B" was for Feanor to relinquish the three Silmarils to Yavanna that the Two Trees could be renewed and the Valar could then see well enough to toss Melkor in the slammer until the end of time. And initially "Plan A" was that Melkor would be a good little Vala and do what was expected of him instead of exercising his own Free Will.

Does any of this make sense, or am I just blowing smoke?


Makes perfect sense to me Grondy, in fact, that’s pretty much how I’ve always viewed things!

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After Melkor set the Music of the Ainur to his hand, Eru changed it again. Maybe at that point he set everything what would happen on Arda once and for all until the Second music of the Ainur, so that in fact Eru just sat back in his couch and watched his 'puppets' do what he made them do... it is more positive to think not everything was foreseen, of course.


You touched on a good point here Vir! After Melkor wove his discord into the Music of the Ainur, Eru countered him with a final theme all of his own. It was in this final theme created by Eru that I feel he countered all that Melkor had tried to undo, and it was in this theme where people like Beren and Eowyn’s fates for example were pre determined by Eru.

Here’s a cool quote from the first chapter in The Silmarillion by Eru that I think kind of explains things,

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Mighty are the Ainur, and mightiest among them is Melkor; but that he may know, and all the Ainur, that I am Illuvatar, those things that ye have sung, I will show them forth, that ye may see what ye have done. And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself has not imagined.


Elf Smilie
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You touched on a good point here Vir! After Melkor wove his discord into the Music of the Ainur, Eru countered him with a final theme all of his own. It was in this final theme created by Eru that I feel he countered all that Melkor had tried to undo, and it was in this theme where people like Beren and Eowyn’s fates for example were pre determined by Eru

I tend to agree with you, Elfstone.
The think about prophesy is that nothing is ever revealed to the prophet (fortune-teller, psychic, or whatever) in enough detail to change the future. As in the case of Glorfindel's statement, only that the witch-king would not be killed by a man. And it will happen as foretold simply because we don't really understand it until the prophesy is fulfilled.
So plan A, B, C and so on... in which case if Eowyn had not killed the WK the next plan would be put into action but this does not mean the WK would have been killed anyway, just that the story would continue. If Eowyn had been a man the WK would not have hesitated, so Merry may not have been able to stab him, thus breaking the spell that held him together and he would have probably killed them all. Even Aragorn could not have killed him if Merry had not stabbed when he did. So the prophecy would have remained unfulfilled for a while at least.

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The Black Captain, in doubt and malice intent upon the woman before him, heeded him no more than a worm in the mud.


RotK - Battle of the Pelennor Fields.
My original reply was lost due to having to re-login.

Anyway, I agree with those who said that Glorfindel's prophecy is just that, a prophecy. Glorfindel was given the gift of far-sightedness so he probably forsaw the WK being killed by a female human and possibly even saw a second male non-human.

The way I see it, for lack of a better example, the Nazgul are similar to the immortals in the Highlander series. They can be killed if you hit the right spot. A mortal can kill an immortal in Highlander the same way an immortal kills another. I don't see it any different for the Nazgul, as they can survive being drowned/crushed and the WK survived falling due to his Fell Beast being shot out from under him. However, with the right sword stroke, any Nazgul, including the WK, is dead. Aragorn, Faramir, etc. could have killed the WK, IMHO, if they were capable of swinging their sword to hit where the head should be (or however it was described in the Novel, as the movie differs). The fact that Glorfindel saw that the death stroke was dealt by a female just indicates that it was not going to be a "man" who dealt the blow and she was only able to do so because Merry distracted the WK by stabbing him in the back of the knee.

I do not recall anything in FOTR that indicated that there was a spell on the sword. I do seem to recall there being mention of a spell on the WK that was broken when Eowyn killed him, however, I attribute that to the spell from Sauron that gave him unnaturally long life. Read Smilie
About a 'spell' on Merry's sword; there was a line in RotK that read:

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"No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will."


I think that's what the reference was to.
Arco (if you don't mind me abbreviating your name like that), I read your quote differently, in that the spell was not on the sword, but in the ring that kept the WK alive (i.e. the one he wore). Afterall, the WK would have been long dead had it not been for the ring that Sauron gave him, and the fact that the One Ring was not yet unmade.

I believe the only significance to the blade of Merry was that it assisted in the killing of the WK, the same WK that defeated the kingdom of Anor, where the owner of this sword (and possibly maker) lived and defended. As a matter of fact, had the sword truly had a spell on it, it would have been more assistance at Weathertop, wouldn't it? And I believe if Tolkien had had a sword with a spell on it, Frodo would have had it and in the FOTR text, wasn't it the sword that Frodo picked up that had more significance, until it was lost on Weathertop?

Just another point of view, that's all.
this is only an academic question, but could Eowyn's vengefulness to the WK after his wounding Theoden have played any part in enhancing the undoing of the spell on the WK's ring or the effects of Merry's blade on the WK's immortal flesh? Also, could it have been possible that the closer Frodo neared to Orodruin(Mt. Doom), all powers or spells associated with Sauron's One Ring were automatically weakened,such as the Witch King's, so that a blade such as Merry's Barrow-Downs sword, which may have had powers of its own, could have effectively put any of Sauron's servants into a state of vulnerability? I am sorry if this question is naive, it just seems to me that Tolkien was very big on what motivated his characters, as well as what the effects of the Ring were...
it's the first time I hear about this 'special sword' of Merry. I never noticed it in the books, as many other things you discover each time you read them.
Reading this discussion, I would think there isn't really a spell on Merry's sword, a spell that would make the sword more powerful in any battle. I think, regarding the WK, the origin of the sword is important. It is possible that is the weakness of the WK.
About the words 'no man can kill me', I never really understood what they meant. If 'man' implies the race of 'Men', the Elves, Hobbits and even Gandalf would be able to kill the WK. If 'man' is meant as the male sex, then only a woman can kill him. But then you can ask yourself, why didn't Galadriel kill him?
My view on this part of the story is, Merry could wound the WK, because of the origin of his sword, but Eowyn could kill him, because she is a woman.
It can be completely wrong, but so far, this is how I see it.
I always took Glorfindel's words to mean not that only a female was capable of killing the Witch-king, just that a female human would kill him. Not could, would.
I think Tolkien is very clear in his statement:
"No other blade, not though mightier hands had wielded it, would have dealt that foe a wound so bitter, cleaving the undead flesh, breaking the spell that knit his unseen sinews to his will."

Tolkien tells us explicitly that no other blade could harm the WK that much. If Merry had used
another sword, it wouldn't have broken the spell. -It would certainly have been the end for both Eowyn and Merry.

Earlier comments about 'confrontation between Gandalf and the Witch-king' and what power he had except 'fear', are not quite right I think.
It should be remembered that the WK was a mighty sorceror as well as being a nazgul. The latest movie, part 3 doesn't reflect what's written in the Tolkiens book when the gate to Minas Tirith is smashed.
In the book, it can be read that the orcs try to break the gate by smashing Grond several times into it, but they don't succed. Still using Grond, the WK then comes on a black horse (not fell beast), speaks "words of terror" in a forgotten language and the gate is broken into small pieces as a lightning strikes. In my view, this is a clear example of the WK's skill as a sorceror.
Inside he meets Gandalf, and a confrontation is about to begin when the Rhorrim arrive.
At this time, Gandalf and the WK had already met somewhat eralier at Weathertop.
In "Fellowship of the Ring", Tolkien writes that Aragorn, Frodo (+ the rest) can see lightnings in the horizon in the area around Weathertop. In Rivendell, Gandalf tells about his encounter with the nazgul at Weathertop. The WK was there, and Gandalf fought with them all night until he was able to escape early in the morning.
Having this encounter in mind, I think the WK knew what powers Gandalf posessed when meeting him again in Minas Tirith. The WK certainly wasn't afraid of Gandalf, but I don't think he knew that Gandalf had become "Gandalf the White". Gandalf was "Gandalf the Grey" when they fought on Weathertop.
Ok... Some of this might have been mentioned before, but just wanna put in my opinion here as i wasn't online when this discussion happened Sad Smilie (thanks Khamul for bringing it back to life! Big Smile Smilie)

First of all, I always thought that when Tolkien said in the book "no Man" (Glorfindels profecy) i assumed (maybe wrong, but still...) that he meant the race of Men. With that in mind, Eowyn wouldn't have been able to slay him even though she wasn't a man cause she was still within the race of Men. Merry on the other hand is a Hobbit and that's a whole different story Wink Smilie But Merry - being kinda small - wouldn't have been able to kill the WK himself, so basically they both needed each other to kill him. IMO even Aragorn w/Anduril wouldn't have been able to kill him alone without the blade Merry used to break the spell, as it says in the book quite clearly that no other blade could have broken it! Gandalf on the other hand is NOT from the race of Men, and would probably have been able to kill him himself hadn't he been interrupted by Pippin.. (again - no proof exits of this, just my personal guess really Wink Smilie )


The WK did indeed have a little encounter with Gandalf at Weathertop, but as Khamul pointed out Gandalf was "the Grey" at that time, and FAR from how powerful he was after becoming the White! That might have been the reason WK wasn't especially afraid of Gandalf when he met him just inside the Gate of MT - he probably wasn't aware that this was another Gandalf than the one he had fought before.
I agree with everything Perwing said...

When I read LOTR the first time, I also thought that it was completely Merry that killed the WK, and that Eowyn didn't really do anything at all. She stuck her sword into him, yes, but I thought that all she did was injure herself. Merry alone as the fulfillment of the prophecy. Or maybe Eowyn was just a distraction, so that Merry could destroy the WK... who knows.

Anyway the barrow-downs' sword was definitely what broke the spell.

Tolkien is so awesome, isn't he? Cool Smilie
I think all of you people should talk to my friend. He thinks that (and he's read it a couple times) Merry killed the Witch King and he says that he let out his shriek when Merry stabbed him and that Eowyn just stabbed into nothingness because the Witch King was already dead.
Yes, I think we should have a little talk with your friend... Paranoid Smilie Wink Smilie
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