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Thread: Death of the Witch-king

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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.

Then what caused gurlie to be injured and needing royal strenght healing powers to survive?
I think that 'friend' should try reading the books.
The Nazgul Lord's dying wail didn't go up until after Eowyn had thrust her sword between its eyes shattering the blade in the process. But, Merry's 'Blade of Westernesse' was crucial in the downfall of the Nazgul Lord, aka the Witch-King of Angmar, for with it Merry was able to cripple his enemy allowing time for Eˇwyn to strike her mortal blow.

Of course, had Tolkien told us that the Nazgul Lord had in fact an 'Achilles knee', I might think otherwise. Teacher Smilie
Quite right. I reckon Merry broke the spell with his sword (and his not benig a man might have something to do with it) and so anyone could kill him then. Yes, I've managed to change my mind again. LOL.
True to all that. When Glorfindel said "Wk not fall by mans hand" and what not, I think that the little more magic that helped Merry was that the woman he respected, her life was in danger, and I think that when he had good intentions with the Westernesse blade, it might of had a more fatal effect.
~Celebrimbor
There is a similar thread somewhere else around the site about this topic in which I commented a few days ago.

Glorfindel said to King Earmur, "Do not pursue him! He will not return to this land. Far off is his doom, and not by the hand of a man will he fall."

In my opinion Glorfindel was not telling Earmur some known fact, that the witchking was immune to either normal weapons or to men, but was in fact sharing with Earmur some of his elven foresight. Elves were renowned for their foresight (which may be a consequence of spending time amongst the Valar, who themselves had seen glimpses of the future during the singing of the Great Music). I think Glorfindel had had a glimpse of the witchking's fate and knew it was not the right time or place for Earmur to fight him.

My reason for believing this is due to the way Glorfindel's whole advice sounds so prophetic. "He will not return to this land," and "Far off is his doom," are words of prophesy not fact. If the witchking was merely immune to Men (race or sex), a hobbit could still have killed him that very day, but no, Glorfindel knew this was not the case. His doom was far off.

Glorfindel had seen the witchking's fate, and because he knew it was not Earmur who had killed him, he knew any fight between the two of them could have only one likely outcome.

From Appendix A, RotK
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Then the Witchking laughed, and none that heard it ever forgot the horror of that cry. But Glorfindel rode up then on his white horse, and in the midst of his laughter the Witchking turned to flight and passed into the shadows.


Here and at the fords of Rivendell Glorfindel drove away the Witchking. Glorfindel was not afraid of him. If anything it was the other way around. Glorfindel, however, knew it was not his fate to kill the Witchking, otherwise he would have pursued him himself rather than returning to Earmur and warning him not to give chase. Over time, however, I think Glorfindel's prophesy would have passed into folklore until men, and the witchking, believed it to be true.
Ok, very nice discussion so far. But I have some questions..

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Virumor:
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 Nazgűl were still quite unstoppable, only a few LOTR characters would be able to survive a confrontation with them. So at that point, the Nazgűl 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 And˙ril, or the spells on a lot of Elvish swords.


Virumor, I am very curious now. Where have you read about these blades from Westernesse? Did you get your information from the history of Middle Earth series? I am very curious on what kinda spells and who made them, and what made them so special. I know that they ended up at Barrow Downs, but I would like to know more about it besides that Merry's and Pippin's swords came from Westernesse and had special powers... so any valid reference ... I would really appreciate it.

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Virumor writes:
Apparently Westernesse craftsmen had the power to put spells on things too... i never 0really 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.


The N˙menoreans were skilled craftsmen as well. Eonwe educated them. Besides the Noldor and the Dwarves, N˙menoreans were skilled as well. I read that either in the Silmarillion or Sauron Defeated.

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Vee writes:
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?'


That is an interesting thought Vee. But remember Eowyn was not quite a happy puppy when she killed the Witch King. I thing the gift of life was the last thing on her mind when she trusted that sword. But then Faramir reminded her of her special gift Wink Smilie

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Amarie wrote:
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!)


Maiar or Istari for that matter are forbidden to interfere in these matters. Gandalfĺs purpose was stated as the following:

"...but not until the time came for him [Mithrandir/Gandalf] to depart was it
known that he had long guarded the Red Ring of Fire. At the first, that Ring
had been entrusted to Cirdan, Lord of the Havens; but he surrendered it to
Mithrandir, for he knew whence he came and whither at last he would return.

'Take now this Ring,' he said; 'for thy labours and thy cares will be
heavy, but in all it will support thee and defend thee from weariness. For this
is the Ring of Fire, and herewith, maybe, thou shalt rekindle hearts to the
valour of old in a world that grows chill. But as for me, my heart is with the
Sea, and I will dwell by the grey shores, guarding the Havens until the last
ship sails. Then I shall await thee.'"

The Silmarillion - p.304

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GrevBukMcJern writes:
There is no bravery in doing anything unless you have a choice. 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.


I am still confused by this one. If there is one thing that is just not either Eowyn and Merry... that is puppets controlled by "Eru". Eowyn wants to break free from the Golden Cage and does as she pleases: off to fight for her lord, her country and the good cause. Merry wants to be with his friends and fight for them wherever he can. So where your idea of Puppets come from...

They acted from free will and free will only.

Now yeah a lot has been said already. I think with man/men is meant the Edain. The moment Merry struck as periannath (hobbit), the spell or whatever the Witch king protected was broken. Eowyn finished him off. There are so many ways you can look at it. Eowyn, being a female, adds nicely to the mix. A nice combination I would say.
The whole puppet thing is in error because it ignores free will. Everything happened according to Eru's plan only because the participants chose to fulfill their parts. Had they not done so, Plan C would then have gone into effect. Eru's plans only got the right people and objects together at the right time; they still had the choose to fulfill doing whatever Eru had in mind for them to do.

For example, In Mordor near Barad-Dur, Isuldur cut the Ring from Sauron's finger and Elrond strongly suggested that he throw the Ring into Orodurin's fire where it and Sauron would be unmade. I'm saying that was Plan A; and it went awry because Isuldur chose otherwise. Plan B was for Frodo to get the ring there and for Gollum's greed to be an insurance policy in case Frodo couldn't do the job.

Had they failed, Plan C would have come to fruition in some later millennium, after a great period of darkness, when Eru's next chosen ones would have again tried to remove Sauron's yoke from Middle-earth and probably by then, all of Arda. Teacher Smilie

Of course I'm ever the optimist. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
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am still confused by this one. If there is one thing that is just not either Eowyn and Merry... that is puppets controlled by "Eru". Eowyn wants to break free from the Golden Cage and does as she pleases: off to fight for her lord, her country and the good cause. Merry wants to be with his friends and fight for them wherever he can. So where your idea of Puppets come from...

They acted from free will and free will only.

My point exactly. Big Smile Smilie

Earlier in the thread a lot of people talked about Merry and Eowyn "fulfilling their destiny" and "doing what they was predestined to do". To me that just didn't seem right. I want free will, not determinism!

A problem occurs when we want the individuals to have free will, but still want an almighty all-knowing god, Eru. I have posted a possible solution in 3-4 threads on roughly the same theme, without making too many converts though. Wink Smilie
Wow hang on, that is if you believe in the Eru theory. I don't sorry. It feels so not completely with what Tolkien meant with the story, IMHO ofcourse.
Eru isn't a theory in Tolkien Middle Earth, he is a fact. Doesn't matter what we belive or don't belive in the real world, Eru excists because Tolkien wrote that he does.

I agree on the plan a,b,c,d,e etc idea. I have partially understood Grevs solutions, but it is quite complicated so I'm sticking to what my poor little brain can comprehend. Wink Smilie
that completely depends if you believe in Eru and the Valar. Does this theory works with atheists?
Tolkien's world depends on Eru, without Eru his world wouldn't have been created. Read 'AinulindalŰ' in The Silmarillion. This is fact in Tolkien's world and our world's atheists and their non-belief in God has no bearing on the subject.

That said, one may debate as to whether Eru is an active god or not, without violating our rules against religious discussion as long as we keep it in Tolkien's world and not our own.
I am keeping it into Tolkiens world actually. I am just wondering, there are elves that have never seen the light of Valinor, the Moriquendi, yes they are children of Illuvatar and yet Illuvatar never guided them as you suggest. They never had a role in big things, so how is Eru working for them. If you say Eru is guiding them all, why not those 'atheists'? I don't think that Illuvatar is guiding the events on Middle Earth at all. Think on it. Gandalf is being send to Middle Earth to kindle the hearts of men to help them. Not by Eru, but by the Valar (most likely Varda or Manwe since he was his servant). The Valar do not get that much guidance from Illuvatar, at least that is my impression. So the Valar do lack in communication skills with the Eldar and Edain, so things go wrong, very wrong (just think of what happened to Numenor). The Valar have to set things right, so they send Istari to help them making things right. Now that I do think of it more.. the second theme of Illuvatar keeps on being disrupted by his own Valar. In the end they get it right, but not with help of Illuvatar himself.
Hmmmm.... Gandalf sent to help, died and was resurrected...... seems familiar.

Does the fact that Iluvatar knew what would happen negate free will? Could it be the extreme power of the supreme creator would give him the knowledge of what was to happen once he had set things in motion without him writing a script?

Iluvatar did help at least once........ I can only think of the one instance at the moment. He helped because he was asked to by Manwe. I get the feeling that Illuvatar, having made the world and set it all in motion, was happy to set the Valar there to 'manage' things. They were 'bounded in the world' to be within it for ever.

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Then Manwe upon the Mountain called upon Iluvatar and for that time the Valar laid down their government of Arda. But Iluvatar showed forth his power, and he changed the fashion of the world....

The Silmarillion - Akallabeth

Seems he had set the Valar a task and like any responsible parent he was prepared to let them fend for themselves, knowing that they would ask for help should they need it.

---------------------------------------------------------


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Manwe upon the Mountain
- everyt time I see this phrase I think of Manuel and His Music of the Mountains........ old latin american band.... Grondy might remember them. Although wasn't 'Manuel' someone else?

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Now that I do think of it more.. the second theme of Illuvatar keeps on being disrupted by his own Valar. In the end they get it right, but not with help of Illuvatar himself.

I think you read another book. The theme was disrupted by Melkor twice, not by other Valar. After the last time, Eru himself set the music straight himself, and then showed it to the Valar.
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V wrote:
Hmmmm.... Gandalf sent to help, died and was resurrected...... seems familiar.


As Gandalf the White, yes, but the deeds he did as Gandalf the Grey.. he did that on request of the Valar. You know, that makes me wonder... did the Valar scream for help when Gandalf plunhed into the darkness of Moria? Did they ask Illuvatar to intervene and bring back Gandalf? *whispers: this has actually nothing to do with the Witchking does it... but I like this discussion*

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Does the fact that Iluvatar knew what would happen negate free will? Could it be the extreme power of the supreme creator would give him the knowledge of what was to happen once he had set things in motion without him writing a script?


Interesting thought. I don't think so actually (the negating of free will), he moulded the Edain and gave them the things they needed for their purpose. I see Illuvatar more as a laid back power that be. But then Melkor came along and later Sauron.. I do believe that Illuvatar trusted the Edain enough to defeat the dark lord. Yes. That is why I have such difficulty in believing the whole Eru theory. It sounds so easy.. you know, the easy way out. Not Tolkien style because in his story there is never an easy way out. Like if the deeds the indivuals did, do did not happen because Eru did it. Mmm a lot of did in that sentence.

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Iluvatar did help at least once........ I can only think of the one instance at the moment. He helped because he was asked to by Manwe. I get the feeling that Illuvatar, having made the world and set it all in motion, was happy to set the Valar there to 'manage' things. They were 'bounded in the world' to be within it for ever.


Numenor is a good example. But yes I completely agree to your manage theory. The Valar could not manage Numenor, so Illuvatar had to intervene. Somehow he did not interfere with the War of the Ring. IMHO ofcourse. The Istari involved were instructed not to intervene, guidance yes, but no intervention.

This whole discussion makes me wanna run to my books and read the letters of Tolkien, the Silmarillion all over again Smile Smilie
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Virumor wrote:
I think you read another book. The theme was disrupted by Melkor twice, not by other Valar. After the last time, Eru himself set the music straight himself, and then showed it to the Valar.


Errr Virumor. Melkor is a Vala... Unless you have been reading a different book then the Silmarillion. That is what I meant by his own Valar, yeah sorry minus the r, slip of the keyboard.
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*whispers: this has actually nothing to do with the Witchking does it... but I like this discussion*

So do I. Smile Smilie Let us continue the discussion in here: Eru's thoughts (Ainur). There are others theads about good/evil and free will too somewhere. Smile Smilie

The Witch King would be VERY grumpy if the Valar stole his thread Wink Smilie
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*whispers: this has actually nothing to do with the Witchking does it... but I like this discussion*

So do I. Let us continue the discussion in here: Eru's thoughts (Ainur). There are others theads about good/evil and free will too somewhere.


I will read that thread Smile Smilie If I have anything to say about it, you will notice that. Eru/Illuvatar and his Ainur are not really my cup of tea.

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The Witch King would be VERY grumpy if the Valar stole his thread


I am no man!!! See, back on topic!
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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.


Banakil 'halfling, hobbit' (Appendix F) might point to a Westron form for 'man', considering both Banazţr 'Half-wise' and tarkil (borrowed from Elvish it would seem, if so).

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'tark' is a corrupted form of Quenya tarkil, which means literally tar- 'lord' + kil 'man', sp 'a Lord of Men', i.e. a Numernorean. ' Carl Hostetter


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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.


Right, and we can also note a couple of things: first, capitalization hardly matters since Glorfindel delivered a spoken prophecy; and second, Tolkien has characters within the tale include Merry and Eowyn with respect to the prophecy (Merry also was not a Man in the following, from a note in The Return of the King).

'For her shield arm was broken by the mace of the Witch-King; but he was brought to nothing, and thus the words of Glorfindel long before to King Eńrnur were fulfilled, that the Witch-King would not fall by the hand of man. For it is said in the songs of the Mark that in this deed Eowyn had the aid of Theoden's esquire, and that he also was not a Man but a Halfling out of a far country,...'

Whatever language Glorfindel delivered his prophecy in, or whatever word he used in his prediction, people within the tale (who spoke no English of course) still considered the prophecy fulfilled by either a female or a Halfling -- not just Modern English speakers who know that the spoken word man can be ambiguous.
Sorry to double post but anyway I do not agree with the (it would seem) popular notion that Merry's strike made the Witch-king vulnerable to other swords. This is not stated in the text, and even Sauron himself had reason to fear Narsil reforged for example. I think 'invulnerable' to other weapons makes the Nazgul-lord too powerful (despite the earlier bit in the tale about the arrows). He already has his advantages; one huge one is instilling unreasoning fear in his enemies, for example.

Merry's blade broke a spell yes, but one that knit the Witch-king's sinews to his will. Variant interpretations of what this means are possible of course, but to my mind it means that the Witch-king could not will his 'sinews' (his body) to ward off ╔owyn's strike. The connection between will and body was broken by a mere leg wound inflicted by a 'mere' Hobbit -- a Hobbit wielding not a mere dagger however.

The Wraith seems to do little to try to avoid or deflect Eowyn's sword, and the choice of wording in the passage does not exactly imply that her reply was lightening-quick. He is now 'vulnerable' in the tactical sense, thanks to the special blade. However I doubt that he had no fear whatsoever of a deadly strike (as opposed to a leg wound) from a Rohir like ╔omer or some other great warrior. The Lord of the Nazgul may even act 'fearless' on the field of battle, or seem invulnerable to many of his foes, but that is quite a different thing from actually being invulnerable to the 'regular' weapon of a potential adversary.

Also, the Witch-king does not say 'no man can kill me' (that I remember, at least in the book), but rather that no living man may hinder him. I think it's a boast that happens to 'echo' the prophecy considering ╔owyn's reply, and so has a lot to do with the prophecy in a sense, but this is good story-crafting in my opinion.

That's my take on some of this anyway. I know there are those who already disagree Smile Smilie
It seems Glorfindel mentioning "Not by the hand of a man will he fall" made the Witch-King cocky and made him believe he was invulnerable; for indeed he could not fathom that a woman'd be able to wield any deadly weapon other than her tongue.

Provided, of course, that the Witch-King actually heard what Glorfindel had been saying to Eńrnur.
If I recall correctly I don't think the Witch-king says anything to ╔owyn that can be said to certainly arise from the prophecy. His exchange with ╔owyn echoes the prediction (his use of 'man' inspires her reply of course), but even his doubt when she reveals herself can be explained outside of the prediction I think -- 'coincidence' as it may be, in this light.

I note too that the Witch-king was said to have feared Boromir (not the Boromir of the Nine Walkers), who was born after Glorfindel's prediction.
How to Kill a Witch-King-turned-Lord-of-the-Nine-Nazgul:

0) Prepare the peoples of middle-earth for the witch-king's demise by sending a prophetic foretelling to a certain Elf (this step can be omitted if necessary, but it adds an interesting mix of "was it free will or wasn't it?" to the dish. Those who are allergic to omniscient god-like figures should omit this step).

1) Infuse one blade with the bitter will to harm the Witch-King (among other spells and very good craftsmanship) using the skills and wills of a people who fought for life and country against the Witch-King before he turned Nazgul. (This is an essential ingredient and cannot be omitted: to do so would ruin the entire dish).

2) Set this blade to aging (like good cheese or wine) in a cool dark place.

3) Create a race of hobbits who are distinct from the race of men, though related. Stir their gene pool such that a certain hobbit, related to certain other hobbits of interest, is given a personality which tends towards impetuous and courageous acts (given the right circumstances...)

4) Send Istari to get all manner of quests going against dark lords, dragons, etc., in middle-earth. Make sure the Istari who will turn into Gandalf is one of them.

5) Infuse a woman of the Rohirrim with a fighting spirit. Place her in a home with an kingly uncle who is slowly being bent to the will of an Istari-gone-bad. Let stand for quite a few years, occasionally stirring in the chivalry of men who think women should stay at home during a skirmish. Simmer together with a worm-tongued, rather unattractive man who wants her. Cover and set aside.

6) Have an enigma rescue aforementioned blade from step 1 (along with some of said enigma's hobbit-friends, including the hobbits from step 3) from said cool dark place. Have this enigma remove any evil barrow-wight spells the blade or the hobbits may have acquired with dispelling good humor and child-like rhymes and sunshine. (Either the rhymes or the sunshine can be omitted if necessary, but not both. Otherwise the hobbit will be swallowed up by the spells of the barrow-wight and the whole flavour of the dish will be lost). Couple the blade with aforementioned hobbit.

7) Send hobbit (along with protective company) on a long journey, with certain life-threatening but not life-taking dangers along the way. (This will act as an emulsifier, to help the hobbit and the blade to settle with one another, and the blade will begin to become an extension of the hobbit. This is an essential ingredient, because hobbits and blades do not normally mix like this).

8) If hobbit and blade should separate during the journey, use any of the aforementioned company to re-connect them.

9) Uncover the Rohirrim from step 5. Remove and discard the worm-tongued man along with influence of Istarit-gone-bad. Pour the hobbit-and-blade mixture into the Rohirrim mixture, cover again and set aside to wait for it to rise.

10) Set the occasion to which the mixture in step 9 will rise, by stirring up the Witch-King in some capacity of attack. It doesn't much matter who or what is attacked, except that it be close enough to Rohan to call the men of Rohan to arms against it.

11) Sit back and watch the whole thing unfold before your eyes. If done properly, the hobbit-and-blade will bond with the woman of Rohan, and both will rise to the top in a blaze of glory.

12) Optional: glaze hobbit and woman of Rohan with athelas administered by the hands of a long-lost heir to an ancient Kingdom. If thus glazed, they will be preserved for use in other dishes after the killing is complete. If left unglazed, hobbit and woman-of-Rohan can be discarded shortly after the deed is done.
That was a great recipe Elanorraine, the results were quite tasty.

Thanks
The easiest way to defeat the Witch King is simply to destroy the Ring.
Finger-licking good... But set at what gas mark? Am I grilling or baking? Orc Smiling Smilie

Do you mean 'easiest' as in quickest? Because if you do mean it, then wouldn't the prophecy coming true be the quickest way? If that hadn't of happened (Eowyn and Merry glazed together Orc Smiling Smilie ), then it would have taken longer to wait for the ring to be destroyed... by about 7 chapters worth Orc Smiling Smilie If not, then I agree with you, as the easiest way.
Let's blow this thing and go home!

All this information is dizzying. I am not an expert in any of this, I tend to favour Vir's thought simply because , if there was a prophecy and it ultimately came from the mind of the Creator as it were, no matter what WAS possible, it simply would be just as was foretold, end of the story. Else HE would not be all powerful and utter chaos and instability would follow. If HE said it then there it was, simply because HE willed it. So what could have happened is really not worth,in my opinion, worrying about.

Generally speaking, knowing the 'future' (a word like 'future' is inaccurate in describing the state of a being outside time) isn't necessarily equivalent to willing something to happen -- especially in only one certain way. 

It's kind of like knowing the contents of a tale 'after' having let the characters 'write' things in the story (by acts of free will) -- within certain confines set up by the Author of course. But again the Author here is outside time, so all things in the book are 'now' to him, while the characters within the story see time unfolding as past, present, future. 

i am embarrased to confess that just about nothing concerning the wraiths,especially the witch king makes a jot of sense to me.

Given that Illuvatar was creator alone and ultimately the giver and taker of life force,I don't understand how the Enemy could possibly have the power to make a man be sort of dead and sort of alive and if one could not kill the witch king and he was not actually alive, nor dead, how could a blade of any kind end the life force in him. I am so confused and don't understand. Perhaps I just am sadly lacking. Please, please , help me understand. Anyone?

My stance on this matter involves some admittedly 'problematic' statements (a couple of Gandalf's mainly), but I think the Nine had faded invisible bodies which could be harmed or killed, and in Tolkien's world 'killing' is the separation of body and spirit by harming the body 'too much'.

In my opinion the wraiths were not dead but the Rings had extended their lives beyond 'true living', so they were 'not living' in a sense too, at least not like regular beings (noting Gandalf's statement to Frodo early on in The Fellowship of the Ring about the rings).

They would also seem like Wraiths, but were not exactly the same as the Dead -- spirits bound to Middle-earth due to their oath breaking.

 

Thus Eowyn's strike killed the body. She slew the Nazgul-lord with Merry's aid -- and the fate of the Witch-king's spirit at this point, if what Gandalf says earlier about Sauron and the Nine indicates that they can be slain but return, is made a non-issue because the One was soon enough destroyed in any case.

The characters arguably did not know everything there was to know about how it all worked. If Frodo wrote the tale with help, how did the good guys really know what was going on with the Ringwraiths after the waters rose against them for instance? Gandalf seemed to know they would return because their Master still had not fallen; and they did, but what really happened to them in the flood?

Hard to know for sure. Then later Gandalf implies (to Legolas) that one cannot slay the flying Wraith with arrows -- why not? Or what does he mean by 'slay' here, exactly? in the sense that it could never return?  

If so, still one would think it would have been good to slay the flying wraith with an arrow, no matter that it could return as long as Sauron lived -- if that was the meaning of Gandalf's statement in any event. It was certainly good that the Nazgul-lord was killed later!

 

I'm not sure Tolkien ever bothered to work it all out -- arguably 'what happened' as far as the characters in the tale could know, was the important thing in any case.

Incredible ideas and points from everyone, fantastic to read and ponder. 

I always thought it was predetermined that a Woman would kill the WK and this was helped by the fact that a Hobbit carrying the barrow blade helped this along.  Someone mentioned however that if that were so, then any Woman, Elf, Dwarf, or Hobbit could kill him - For this to happen, this non man would need to get within striking distance of the WK. Not an easy feat in itself.  The fact that Eowen was able to take out the Fell beast (because of the WK's arrogance in the battle of Pelennor) leaving the WK within striking distance has a lot to do with it.  The WK allowed himself to become vulnerable to attack by grounding himself with no guard or help at hand.

Thankyou. That Eowyn was the one in my mind was foreordained and could not be otherwise, but the 'how' has puzzled and frustrated me from the beginning. I remember reading in the Letters that our professor wished, he very much wished he could live many more years and if he had and had some money and a little leisure I think he would have continued to modify and clarify many points. That he was not allowed that time is a bit depressing, but then, as he must have realized his'real Illuvatar had it turn out exactly like that.'

Incidentally, in draft writing (at least one version) when Eowyn slew the fell beast it was this act that killed the Wraith! no help from Merry.

Tolkien also mused over variations of the prophecy before he decided on the published version. I don't think he could resist the ultimate play on words, for both Eowyn and Merry fulfill the prophecy, as both are not Men in some sense and both were instrumental in the 'fall' of the Witch-king.

To argue otherwise is to argue with the scops of the Rohirrim... and no one would want to do that!

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Given that Illuvatar was creator alone and ultimately the giver and taker of life force,I don't understand how the Enemy could possibly have the power to make a man be sort of dead and sort of alive and if one could not kill the witch king and he was not actually alive, nor dead, how could a blade of any kind end the life force in him. I am so confused and don't understand. Perhaps I just am sadly lacking. Please, please , help me understand. Anyone?

Evil creating by twisting existing creations is a common theme in fantasy. That's how Morgoth created the Orcs, for instance. Or how the Uruk-hai were created.

 Or how the Uruk-hai were created. 

 

Totally off topic, but in my opinion the Uruk-hai aren't necessarily anything but well bred, well trained orcs. If so they would not be perversions of something else (Men), though selective breeding to produce bigger orcs is a form of tinkering I guess. 

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