The Transparency of Mr. Baggins

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Tar Zeratul 11/Dec/2005 at 09:11 PM
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If we’ve already done this subject, my apologies, but I have been lately considering the meaning of the "transparent" quality in him after he is attacked on Weather Top.

Gandalf notices it first...so for a time, you think it may be something only the wise and gifted can see:

"But to the wizard’s eye there was a faint change, just a hint as it were of transparency, about him, and especially about the left hand that lay outside upon the coverlet.

’Still, that must be expected’ said Gandalf to himself. ’He is not even half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can foretell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass with a clear light for all eyes to see that can."


Then, in Mordor, Sam sees the same thing. Tolkien says in this beautiful quote:

"Sam looked at him. The early daylight was only just creeping down into the shadows under the tree, but he saw his master’s face very clearly, and his hands, too, lying at rest on the ground beside him. He was reminded suddenly of Frodo as he had lain, asleep in the House of Elrond, after his deadly wound. Then as he had kept watch Sam had noticed that at times a light seemed to be shining from within; but now the light was even clearer and stronger. Frodo’s face was peaceful, the marks of fear and care had left it; but it looked old, old and beautiful, as if the chiselling of the shaping years was now revealed in many fine lines that had before been hidden, though the identity of the face was not changed. Not that Sam Gamgee put it that way to himself. He shook his head, as if finding words useless, and murmured: ’I love him. He’s like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no.’"

What do you think causes this transparency...this inner light? I admit, when I first read of it, I think I attributed it to the effects of the Morgul blade...how near he was to becoming a wraith.

But I’ve since come more to the opinion that it was NOT the brush with evil, but Frodo’s proximity to the good forces in the world that the brush with death has magnified in him.

Any thoughts?

WŪdfara 12/Dec/2005 at 07:57 AM
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Tar Zeratul: Nice post. I have to rethink this know as you have caused me to wonder about the way I have always looked at this. I too, always thought of the transparency of Frodo as in something that was taken away by the Morgul blade as in subtracting from Frodos matter so to speak. Then as you point out in the quote perhaps rather then subtraction it is more of an addition of light replacing and filling Frodo. Light being a special concept and theme running through all of Tolkien’s works.
Phil_d_one 12/Dec/2005 at 08:19 AM
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Tar-Zeratul: I would personally point towards a number of factors, without emphasis on any particular one, or any connection between them. He has, first and foremost, been bearing the Ring with the greatest effect (longest time in such close proximity to Sauron and when both Sauron and the Ring are so active) for quite a while, and we know that the Ring can bring about ’fading’. Then there is the effect of the Morgul Blade that you mention. Then of course there is his innate goodness, and perhaps foreshadowing of his journey to Aman, hence the White Light from within. Then, what with the comparison to glass and a light, it could be a parallel to the Phial of Galadriel.
Bearamir 13/Dec/2005 at 12:04 PM
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Ladies & Gentlemen:  This discussion has the potential to be an excellent discussion.  For this reason (with your kind permission), I am moving this to Ad Lore.   I hope this meets with your approval...What say you?

In the meanwhile, my compliments (and a small tribute to everyone) for your efforts.

 

Something Else 13/Dec/2005 at 04:33 PM
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Well, I think the idea is partially just a visual description, but also a sign of Frodo’s inner goodness. I think we focus too often on how Frodo became corrupted, while ignoring the fact that the only character who could have withstood the Ring’s power longer than him was Sam. I think Frodo is definately a good, heroic character, and even with the combined power of the ringwraith’s wound and the ring, he still manages to be a character of tremendous inner strength.
Tarondar 13/Dec/2005 at 06:58 PM
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Yes its great this was moved to advanced lore thx but back to the topic at hand, many of you are saying its something just of either good or evil but really i look at it as both.  The morgul blade would have helped in this "transparency" it took away his spirit u may say for many days while he was healed and brought him close to joining the alternate plain of the wraith world.  Another thing which has been mentioned is his possesion of the ring which slowly decays his body toward the shadows of the wratih world which i think is the transparency we think of because he is slowly becoming invisible to the normal plane of the world.  The factors that keep this fading to a slow pace is the good inside him and the will he shows to stop evil throughout the world. that is all i can think of for now and this is a very interesting topic so lets see soem more responses
Istanira 13/Dec/2005 at 07:34 PM
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I have always thought that Frodo’s transparency had a connection with his being called an ’Elf-Friend’--something Goldberry could tell from Frodo by his voice and the gleam (light) in his eye, even though that naming came before the Morgul-wound occured (foreshadowing?). Gildor also saw it in Frodo, but that too was before the wound. I especially made this connection because of the way Gildor Ingoliron and Co. ’shimmered in the moonlight’ as they were approaching the Hobbits in the forest, after their near-disaster with the Ringwraith.

I thought this transparency/light-shining-through was a foreshadowing of Frodo’s ultimate ending--to go into the West.

But, I do think Phil_d_one’s comment made a lot of sense--that Frodo had been in posession of the Ring for a long time and he was just simply ’beginning to show the effects’.
elvensong 13/Dec/2005 at 11:26 PM
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I was pondering a bit while reading the posts in this thread and what struck me was that, for good or for evil... Frodo’s greatest battle wasn’t in the realm of the physical but the spiritual. He, alone among the Fellowship, battled on the plane where the true power of the Thing lay. Sauron was no longer physically mantifest... in many senses the wraiths straddled the planes as well. In that sense he had to be drawn into a form of existance he was not naturally suited for from the purely physical side. At least, that was my take on it.
Tar Zeratul 14/Dec/2005 at 01:31 AM
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Thanks Bael,

And yes Phil, I too actually thought that the "glass and light* part had some connection or a foreshadow to the light of Earendil that Galadriel gives to Frodo, though I did think that was debatable. Apart from that I hold another theory.

 I wonderd if Frodo’s growing transparency points to a theme of transformation or transfiguration through suffering. After the first Morgul-wound, Gandalf seems to be pondering which way the transformation will tend--to the wraith-world or the world of light. Suffering can embitter people, but it can also ennoble. Tolkien’s spiritual tradition would have valued the humble embrace of suffering as a path to transcendence. What Sam sees in the passage I quoted would be Frodo’s progress along this path.
Something to contemplate. . . .

 

elvensong 14/Dec/2005 at 07:56 PM
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I rather agree with you Tar... it seems that Frodo was destined for one extream or another. But nothing in between. The ordinary life in Hobbiton was an ill-fitting coat after the Scourging of the Shire. It just never quite impacted him again, the simple pleasures hobbits pursue with such gusto. It is sad for him that the reward of so much pain and toil was to become something like an outcast... but within his own skin, if you see what I mean.
elendil elessar 15/Dec/2005 at 02:58 AM
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Phil_d_one makes a very interesting parallel with the Phial of Galadriel.
If we look at the physical envelope, Frodo’s body, it as been weakened by the Morgul blade : You were begining to fade, Gandalf to Frodo, Many Meetings, FotR; and by the power of the One : I am almost in its power now. Mount Doom, RotK.
Has the physical layers were fading it is normal to see more clearly what is inside (the fea). There my opinion is that it was Frodo will to fight against corruption and for all the free people, a very noble and chivalrous thing, that influenced the "clarity" of his fea. Had he been corrupted by the One the luminosity wouldn’t have been there and he would, in my mind, have had a very different aspect, still of a glass but filled with, I don’t now, darkness, nothingness, rage, fire...
Also the light we can see in the High Elves is due to the fact that they so the light of the Two Trees, wich was captured in the Silmaril, wich was on Earendil brow, wich was set amids the water of Galadriel, wich was given in the Phial to Frodo.
As though Earendil had himself come down from the high suset paths with the last Silmaril upon his brow. TT, Shelob’s Lair; it is as if Frodo had seen the Silmaril, so in a way the light of the Trees, some of his radiance toward the end ( the fact that it was visible to Sam’s eyes maybe) might just then come from there.
Vardandil 15/Dec/2005 at 07:33 AM
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For me it seemes as if the this qoute presented the affection of the Ring on it’s bearer, not too such an extent as after a Morgul Blade wound, but still gradual and constant. Like if the Ring was so powerful a burden that it could possess it’s bearer gradually becoming a part of his identity and at the same time making him less present at the reall world: that’s why you can see through him. But at the same time Frodo maintains his gentleness and devotion to good, that’s why he also contains an inner light, a sign of nobilty as the chose one and the servant of a good purpose.

elvensong 17/Dec/2005 at 06:55 PM
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Adun: For me, the question you asked -> doesn’t theses qualitites that we see in frodo also exist in Sam?
So why doesn’t he turn transparent?
is mainly resolved by knowing that Sam hadn’t carried the Ring very long. I did like your point that Sam hadn’t endured the Morgul’s blade, and that would make a huge difference. While both Frodo and Bilbo had at times complained about feeling ’stretched’ if my memory is correct the morgul blade was the first time that phenomenon was made visible to onlookers. Frodo carried the Ring for many years before his adventure though, I would think that both those events tied into one another.
Tinw 19/Dec/2005 at 02:24 AM
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Another significant point to remember: the Ring gives powers to its Bearer equal to the bearer’s stature. Gollum did not become transparent. Frodo seems to be transforming in a manner peculiar to him. I believe Istanira has the right of it: there is a light in his eye, which earns him the title of Elf-friend very easily. That is not a casual title.

Frodo resisted the Morgul-blade longer than expected. Why? Was it only because Hobbits are startlingly resilient? Or is there something special about this Hobbit?

~ He is able to see Galadriel’s Ring.
~ He is able to use the Ring to see things far-off.
~ He is able to see Glorfindel’s "Unseen" form, as a figure of light.
~ He is able to use the Ring to command Gollum, and when he does so, he appears as a towering figure of light.

This last metamorphosis is, to me, significant. Frodo appears to Sam in the "Seen" realm almost the way Glorfindel had in the "unseen" realm!   Or think of Galadriel or Gandalf, who also seem to shine when exerting their spirit and power.

The Morgul-knife was supposed to weaken Frodo’s tie to the physical world, as elendil and others have pointed out, and draw him into the wraith-world which was also the "unseen" world of the Elven fŽa. Powerful beings like Maiar and certain High-elves seem to exist equally on both sides of the mirror. Other beings tend to get shoved to one side of the "Seen/Unseen" dichotomy. The Morgul-knife could draw Frodo across that barrier, but it could not change the fundamental nature of his spirit, his fŽa ó and that fŽa proved surprisingly resilient. The light shining through him is a sign and token of that.

Think also of the Maiar and Valar who could cloak themselves in "physical raiment", yet I believe that their natural form was unseen as well. Saruman, who fell from grace, found himself blocked from returning to the Unseen part of the world.

I think this touches on the reason why Frodo, not Sam, is the Ringbearer. In his nature, he is strangely close to the Elves and Maiar-- though not there yet, of course; he turns invisible when he puts on the Ring, meaning he does not occupy both sides equally; he just seems to have a toehold in the Unseen world, and vice versa.
elvensong 20/Dec/2005 at 01:48 AM
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The nine riders did lose their physical form’s in FotR when the Anduin flooded. Yet the physical loss didn’t stop them, as they regained bodies and steeds. Frodo didn’t have that capacity, certainly... but what is striking is that the soul is written very very clearly into the plot arc there, and perhaps more subtly other places. I would think that the texture and fibre of Frodo’s soul was very much on Tolkein’s mind, and I believe it was something he took several occasions to show us glimpses of.
EndymionMallorn 02/Jan/2006 at 04:51 PM
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Yeah, I think I agree with the general gist of this discussion. Frodo’s inner light is an indication in my mind that he is both a figure of good and that he has come very close to losing himself to darkness. The aging thing that Sam sees is what bugs me. Because while it’s fairly clear that the light that Frodo et al. emit is certainly an indication of his power, and we know that the wisest were the eldest, i.e. Galadriel and Fangorn, not to mention the Istari. Could this aging in the light be an indication that he is growing in not only power, but wisdom as well? And if so, why is it that only Sam sees it? Is that perhaps a part of Sam’s gift, not to see all of what is unseen, but to be given the strength to gauge a person?

And if so, would that be why he’s ths strongest of the ringbearers?
Gorbadad 03/Jan/2006 at 07:26 AM
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in my opinon there can by named many sources for tolkien says that if used often the ring would make you transparent. i beleve if kept the ring would turn you in time to a wraith. Bilbo felt it as he said

*why, i feel all thin, sort of streached, if you know what i mean: like butter that has been scraped over to much bread. that cant be right*

bilbo was begining to feel the steach of long life. i would of changed him. Smeagol was father down the wraithing process for he’d borne it for years and changed/mutated him adapted him to the dark witch i guess sped up the process. frodo did change with him being in wraith world when the ring was on. for he bore it for many a year, but being stabbed by the Morgul knife he was in wraith world, if not fully. he would never fully heal so he was really in a hole (no pun intended.)

melerian 12/Jan/2006 at 05:38 AM
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Well, if I’ve understood Gorbadad correctly, I can’t say that that’s all there is to it. In my opinion, Frodo could be considered a bit like an uncut gem. The evil power of the ring sort of "wears away" at him, but often exactly in the " calm" after a tough trial is when one can see his inner beauty, strength, ... The Nazgul attack on Weathertop is a good example: Frodo is fighting hard against the "evil" (ring, morgul blade), and after this non-physical fight, when he is truly resting,  you can see through to his good qualities, while during the fight he is sort of wearing armour, which is almost all the time.
Ankala Teaweed 20/Jan/2006 at 06:24 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by elvensong on Tuesday, December 20, 2005
The nine riders did lose their physical formís in FotR when the Anduin flooded. Yet the physical loss didnít stop them, as they regained bodies and steeds. Frodo didnít have that capacity, certainly... but what is striking is that the soul is written very very clearly into the plot arc there, and perhaps more subtly other places. I would think that the texture and fibre of Frodoís soul was very much on Tolkeinís mind, and I believe it was something he took several occasions to show us glimpses of.

Are you sure of that, elvensong? I believe what was written was that they had lost their steeds and their cloaks and boots, etc. They had no real physical forms; they are wraiths. They most certainly did not regain bodies. They had new beasts on which to ride after their return to Mordor.

And just what capacity are you speaking of in reference to Frodo not having in comparison to ringwaiths?

Kirinki54 21/Jan/2006 at 04:09 AM
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I wonder have any of you read Verlyn Fliegerīs book Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World (William B. Erdmans Publishing, 1983)? It has been on my reading list for a while, but I have seen a review though. The book mainly contains an analysis of The Silmarillion, but the conclusions are relevant to the overall mythos of Tolkien.

 

Apparently the title of Fliegerīs book refers to the theory of Owen Barfield that language and meaning both are increasingly fragmented over time. Flieger draws the parallel to the plot development in The Silmarillion, where the world, the light of the Two Trees, peoples, and languages develops in the same way: everything fragments over time.

 

According to the review, Flieger proceeds to discuss pairs of contrasting ideas that are played out in The Silmarillion -- man/elf, dark/light, nonbelief/belief, and also free will/fate. Flieger sees The Silmarillion as a study in contrast -- light/dark, good/evil, belief/doubt. The way in which these pairs of opposites interact, within and without the characters in his work, is thus crucial to understanding Tolkien’s writing.

 

It is not a simple question of good versus evil in the world; actions of the Valar and the elves cause both good and evil (light and dark). The potential for both is embedded everywhere and in everyone. Elvish languages are connected to the concepts of light and dark, both metaphorically and literally. The first things that the Elves relate to linguistically are the stars.

 

Flieger also goes on to observe Tolkien’s description of elves’ and mankind’s capabilities as defined in the third theme of Iluvatar. She explores the implications of the Music being "as fate" for the Elves, whereas only men have free will to define external events and the ability to grow beyond what was set out initially in the Music. But fate and free will are also intertwined; they overlap and combine so that each helps fulfill the potential of the other.

 

I have tried to be brief; if you wish to see the full review this is the link http://www.greenmanreview.com/splintered.light.htm

 

Fliegerīs theories are very appealing to me. It seems to me that Gandalfīs speculation on whether Frodo will turn into the likeness of a glass filled with clear light is a very good demonstration of the applicability of the theories also on LotR. The connections between light and dark, good and evil, and the free will of Man are made very clear in that text.

iluftar 24/Jan/2006 at 01:54 AM
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I think the transperacy that gandalf mentioned and the light seen by sam in his master are two diferent things. the transperacy being an effect of the morgul blade, the fading to a wraith, and that the light was a sort of healing power whitin him that countered the effect of the morgul blade. and when he continued his journey whit the ring that light sort of protected him against the effects of the ring. we all know that one of the effects of the rings is that the bearer doesn’t physicly seems to age. and now when sam sees the light again in frodo he also sees frodo whit an old face as if he never even touched the ring. could it be that this light was there to see frodo safely to mount doom? was it something from whitin himself or was it put in him, mabey by elrond when he healed him? 
Lasaria Mithril 29/Jan/2006 at 02:34 PM
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The transparency could be caused by the using of the Ring. It seems as though the agelessness mentioned would apply there. However, there is the problem of Gollum to consider. How could he become so hideous if the ring is what’s causing the transparency? Just a thought, but what are your opinions?
Celandine 13/Mar/2006 at 08:31 AM
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Hi everyone. Iím reading TTT and came across the same referencing to the transparency that Gandalf sees as well as the light within Frodo that Sam sees too.

A few details have been left off that maybe some might consider.

1) Shortly after Tolkien describes Samís view of Frodoís light within, Gollum/Smeagol comes up behind him and also looks at Frodo asleep with the light shining in him. His reaction is to close his eyes and turn away. Gollum/Smeagol avoids the Yellow face and the Moon at all costs. For him to see Frodo in this way makes me think two things: the light was very bright and/or Gollum/Smeagol knew what the light meant. He did have the ring for 500 yrs. so you would think that he knew something.

2) Samís comment, "I love him. Heís like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no." To me this is very cryptic. But it doesnít seem as if Sam thinks itís altogher bad.

3) Faramirís questioning of Frodo shortly after this seems to indicate that Faramir noticed something different about Frodo too.

"there is something strange about you, Frodo, and elvish air, maybe.

This quote goes back up to a post by Istanira refrencing his connection in some way to the elves.

Any other comments on this thread?
**
Bearamir 15/Mar/2006 at 04:40 PM
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Ladies & Gentlemen:  The purpose of Ad Lore is the in depth discussion of a topic...it is not intended to be simply the opportunity to garner 2 points by posting a few lines of barely germane commentary.  For the most part, contributors to this thread *have* shown great expertise in their posts....but I will say that there were a few overly "fluffly" posts, however...so I have edited this thread to remove those posts that were not consistent with the spirit of this forum. 

Moving forward, for those new contributors who wish to participate in this discussion, *please* consider well what you contribute....I truly do not want to have to delete any more posts in this thread.  

Ankala Teaweed 10/May/2006 at 05:02 PM
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There is at least one other passage dealing with the concept of transparency (or translucency), although it does not touch directly on hobbits. It is interesting, however, as hobbits are relations of men, and therefore their fŽar are akin to those of the Elves.

 

Here, from Morgoth’s Ring, in the Later Quenta Silmarillion II, pg. 250, is a passage from "OF THE SEVERANCE OF MARRIAGE", which touches on the story of FinwŽ and Miriel:

 

"For though the fŽa in itself is not visible to bodily eyes, it is in light that the Eldar find the most fitting symbol in bodily terms of the indwelling spirit . . .

"And those in whom the fŽa is strong and untainted, they say, appear even to mortal eyes to shine at times translucent (albeit faintly), as though a lamp burned within,"

 

And, from pg. 308, from the ARTHRABETH FINROD AND ANDRETH, Finrod says of the kinship of the fŽar of elves with those of men:

 

"ye are our kin, in a kinship far closer (both of hrŲa and fŽa) than that which binds together all other creatures of Arda, and ourselves to them."

 

One could speculate much on Frodo’s unique ability to have had the Ring in possession so many years without handling or using it, prior to leaving the Shire; that he was able to survive the attack at Weathertop though with Elrond’s last-minute intervention after so many days had passed to get to the Ford; and that he then carried it all the way to Mount Doom before it took hold of him at last at the brink of its destruction.
Was it that his fŽa so strong and untainted initially which made him the one who was chosen to be the Ring Bearer?

 

Aredhriel 11/May/2006 at 10:23 AM
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Quote: Originally posted by Lasaria Mithril on Sunday, January 29, 2006
The transparency could be caused by the using of the Ring. It seems as though the agelessness mentioned would apply there. However, there is the problem of Gollum to consider. How could he become so hideous if the ring is whatís causing the transparency? Just a thought, but what are your opinions?
I think you just made an interesting point Lasaria, because if we are going to consider that this transparency and or inner light drew its source from the One Ring, we slso have to look at the effects that it has had on others. Undeniably, the Ring marred Gollum beyond recognition of his former self and though it marred Frodo as well he maintained enough of himself in the end to still bear resemblance (both physically and inwardly to some degree) to his former self. Perhaps it is due to the inner nature of the Ringbearer itself that causes the difference?
Maedhras 15/May/2006 at 02:14 AM
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It is said in Silmarillion that in every age of Arda there are some events that even the wisest can’t predict. I believe that the birth of Frodo was one of this events. It is more than clear to me that something greater than simple accident caused the ring to come to his possesion. The light thar Tar Zertaul speaks of is probably the gift that Frodo recieved from Eru himself. 
Luthien. 21/May/2006 at 04:52 AM
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I very much like your idea of transparency being a positive thing. However, i can’t bring myself to agree with you. The forces of good tend to be very real, very present, like Tom Bombadil or Aragorn. Very real, nothing ghostly or wraith like. The Nazgul of course are- as is Bilbo under the influence of the Ring, which makes him feel like "butter, spread over too much bread". Frdo is pure, he has an inner light- he is an ’elf friend’ which gives him an inner light, but does not, i believe, lead to his ’transparency’.
Telacontar 22/May/2006 at 05:29 AM
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I think that the transparency and light shining from within has to do with his innate goodness for the most part winning the spriitual battle between good (him) and evil (the ring).  Because until he came upon Mt. Doom, he meant to destroy it, and probably still did but the ring was just stronger than he.

Eollyn 22/May/2006 at 05:47 PM
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Quote: Originally posted by Lasaria Mithril on Sunday, January 29, 2006
The†transparency could be caused by the using of the Ring. It seems as though the agelessness mentioned would apply there. However, there is the problem of Gollum to consider. How could he become so hideous if the ring is what’s causing the transparency? Just a thought, but what are your opinions?


Yes, and how come Bilbo doesn’t look more transparent? He says he is feeling "stretched", but we never hear of him being a glass filled with light. It seems to apply to Frodo only of all the Ring bearers. Maybe the Ring has nothing to do with it.
Gandalf does think that the transparency is especially evident around Frodo’s hand, where he wore the Ring. But he did not mention this in the Shire, before Weathertop, so maybe it had something to do with the Nazgul and Morgul blade. Tough question!
Ghostlore 23/May/2006 at 04:48 AM
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Eollyn - That is a very good point. For the purpose of defining what precise factors are contributing to the transparancy, we can look towards Bilbo and ask ourselves, what is different? You have already mentioned the wound of the Morgul blade.

Here are some thoughts (be patient with me while I state the obvious, trying to preface here). The ring, belongs to Sauron, and houses his essence. Sauron has bound himself to the ring. The ring, when worn by Sauron, increases his power. So then in turn, could we not say that Sauron, increases the ring’s power? There have been previous owners who have worn the ring, yes, but none of them possesed it at a time when Sauron was even corporeal. Frodo bears the ring during a time in which we are to believe Sauron has greatly increased his influence in the physical world. Not only that, but Frodo’s entire purpose of carrying the One Ring is to bring it to Sauron’s doorstep. Would it be safe to assume that as Frodo’s proximity with Sauron increased, so too did Sauron’s will gain greater dominion over the artifact?

We are told that over time, the ringwraiths, who were once men faded to shadows of their former selves, and ultimately became slaves to Sauron, and their rings. Though this was hastened because they used their rings, and Frodo does not use the ring very often. Maybe it is the process of corruption in the individual that is really misunderstood here? Perhaps it has been linked to Sauron’s strength of will, and the presence of his physical power all along. Whether Frodo wears the ring or not, for months he carries it, hanging about his neck, resting against his breast. It cannot be a healthy thing to wear a dark lord over your heart.

The ring can be considered a sentient object, if it can speak to people as a voice in their own minds, if it can probe a person’s desires, it can also interpret their intentions. The ring knows Frodo intends it harm. It could be that in an act of self preservation, (which is notably often a component of sentience) the ring seeks to convert him into a malleable ring slave, but is unable to exert that level of power or control over the physical plane while not resting upon Sauron’s digit. And so for a brief moment, we see the ring struggling to subvert Frodo, seizing on the moment of weakness presented by the Morgul wound, as an opportunity for survival.

Eollyn 23/May/2006 at 06:18 PM
Stablemaster of the Mark Points: 651 Posts: 252 Joined: 21/May/2006
So as Sauron grew ever stronger, did the power of the Ring grow, too? Maybe by the time it got to Frodo it was at its most powerful, and was more capable of changing its bearer. It seems to be more powerful than before in this passage:

"And yet it would be a relief in a way not to be bothered with it any more. It has been so growing on my mind lately. Sometimes I have felt it was like an eye looking at me. And I am always wanting to put it on and disappear, don’t you know; or wondering if it is safe, and pulling it out to make sure. I tried locking it up, but I found I couldn’t rest without it in my pocket. I don’t know why."
The Fellowship of the Ring, chapter 1 (A Long-Expected Party)

However, there is again the fact that no transparency is seen in Frodo until after Weathertop. After Bilbo leaves the Ring to him, he lives on in Hobbiton with simply "good preservation". So, like you said, probably the Ring used the Morgul wound to its own advantage.
Ghostlore 24/May/2006 at 09:54 AM
Farmer of the Shire Points: 512 Posts: 171 Joined: 02/Apr/2006

Maedhras raises an interesting point in mentioning that perhaps Frodo was born, or rather destined to bear the burden of the ring. Actually the comment "The light that Tar Zertaul speaks of is probably the gift that Frodo recieved from Eru himself" has me a bit confused. By this are you referring to free will, or mortality?

There is an interesting theory regarding Weathortop, that Frodo’s crying out "Elbereth" was more in response to actually seeing Elbereth there, than calling for Elbereth to appear. If this is truely the case, then it would be an example of the Vala directly interfering with the natural course of events. Or was the interference itself also pre-destined?

What weighs most heavily on my mind, is if there be pre-destination, and as Shakespeare says; life is a drama and we all have parts to play, we have our curtain calls, and our exits (paraphrase), then why play out the drama? If Eru knows exactly what will happen, as would any omnipotent being, why bestow gifts? Why intervene? Is it all some grand testing of the gift of free will? Though how can it be a test, if the outcome is already known? Why allow Sauron to exist? Why allow him to create the ring? Surely The One Ring is as much a device of Eru as it is of Sauron. Now before this strays horribly off-topic, I will attempt to reel it back in and ask this.

Could it be that Frodo’s transparancy is an indication that he is briefly beyond even the reach of the ringwraiths? Seeing Frodo pierced by the Morgul blade, and sending Elbereth to intervene, Eru renders Frodo temporarily invulnerable to further damage, so as to assure the continuance of the quest beyond that point? Divine intervention?

Light of Arnor 26/May/2006 at 04:47 AM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005

After reading the posts in this thread, there is a recurrent theme that suddenly strikes me square in the face. Hobbits appear immune to wraithdom from Rings of Power!

Look at Gollum...he carried the ring, wearing it very frequently, for over 500 years, yet we see no "wraith" figure before us. Yes, he’s altered, yes, he’s a contorted, paranoid shell of his original form...but he does not fade.

Bilbo, no less, does not fade. At most, his "stretched thin" statement is a sensation, not an actual visual alteration. In fact, his perpetual youth is not an insignificant irritation to others in Hobbiton as he celebrates his good-bye birthday party.

Frodo, despite his time and burden, does not really fade, until directly penetrated by a Morgul wraith blade. The blade, not the ring, advance the path to wraithdom and shadow.

Frodo’s "transparency" is, in my mind a consequence not easily explained. We cannot account it to the Ring’s influence, since the entire history of the Ring has shown us that it will not take a Hobbit to wraithdom. We equally cannot explain this unusual trait by it being merely a trait of his character. The only reasonable hypothesis I can create is that this was unique to Frodo, perhaps borne out of proximity to items that had heavy involvement in the ethereal world. And this is the second point I wanted to make. Many speak of the "shadow world" or "wraithdom" as if that is the essence of the ethereal world. I do not see it this way. This "spiritual world", one that both Elven Lords as well as Nazgul existed in, was not the realm of Sauron and Melkor alone. I believe that those brought completely into that existence could become subject to the Master of who took them there (i.e. the Nine being Sauron’s slaves). We are led to believe, even early in the tale, that Frodo was Destiny’s choice for the end of Middle-earth as we know it. Divine intervention is a good way to describe it, albeit such application remained obtuse enough to keep it easily recognised.

I believe Frodo’s use of the Ring connected him to fea, as mentioned by Ann, and once that connection existed, it flourished within. What protected him from it’s adverse effects (until the end, when he succumbed) is a subject for debate without clear resolution. Perhaps it was the unique effect taking the Ring with intent on it’s destruction instead of it’s use, that provided access to fea without automatically pathing him into servitude of Sauron. Perhaps it was the fact that his persona, as a choice destined to accomplish the task, was visibly unique and demonstrated such to onlookers on chance occasion. If only the good Professor was here to explain....

 

LoA

Eollyn 28/May/2006 at 07:27 PM
Stablemaster of the Mark Points: 651 Posts: 252 Joined: 21/May/2006
Quote: Originally posted by Light of Arnor on Friday, May 26, 2006

After reading the posts in this thread, there is a recurrent theme that suddenly strikes me square in the face. Hobbits appear immune to wraithdom from Rings of Power!




I don’t think they’re immune, but that just as Gandalf said, they "fade very reluctantly." When he is talking to Frodo in Rivendell, just after Weathertop and the Ford, he makes it clear that Frodo has had a very close shave.
Light of Arnor 29/May/2006 at 04:52 AM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005
Quote: Originally posted by Eollyn on Sunday, May 28, 2006
Quote: Originally posted by Light of Arnor on Friday, May 26, 2006

After reading the posts in this thread, there is a recurrent theme that suddenly strikes me square in the face. Hobbits appear immune to wraithdom from Rings of Power!




I donít think theyíre immune, but that just as Gandalf said, they "fade very reluctantly." When he is talking to Frodo in Rivendell, just after Weathertop and the Ford, he makes it clear that Frodo has had a very close shave.

Gollum wielded the ring, without hindrance or caution, for over 500 years. He did not fade. He may have become a wretched creature, but he in no way became a creature of Shadow, existing even the smallest portion in the Shadow realm. Again....500 years of continuous bearing and wearing of this artifact. I suppose, to take Gandalf’s statement literally, we could eventually see fading, but for all intents and purposes, Gollum becomes an irrefutable example that hobbits are essentially immune to such an endpoint. I believe 1/2 a millenium is an adequate litmus test for this study.

LoA

Light of Arnor 29/May/2006 at 04:56 AM
Huorn of Fangorn Points: 532 Posts: 77 Joined: 10/Mar/2005

My apologies for a double post, however I must make one additional clarification. Frodoís "very close shave" was not a function of the Ringís influence, but of the results of a Morgul Blade. This is an entirely different matter, being an instrument specifically designed to turn the victim into a wraith. Bilbo did not fade (feeling stretched thin may have been how he "felt", however his peers envied his perpetual youth to the day he left), Frodo did not fade, and Gollum did not fade. I did not state Hobbits were immune to wraithdom. I stated they were immune to wraithdom as a result  of using the Ring.

<Nessa Edit:  No apology necessary, these thing happen from time to time>

Eollyn 29/May/2006 at 02:56 PM
Stablemaster of the Mark Points: 651 Posts: 252 Joined: 21/May/2006
Good point; you won that round. To come back to the topic, I must confess that I don’t believe we really know what caused the transparency. Many good theories have been aired, but since Tolkien didn’t explain himself we just don’t know for sure. So unless someone turns up with a quote, I think it’s a mystery.
Sir Fredrickson 03/Jun/2006 at 10:04 AM
Miner of Mordor Points: 835 Posts: 294 Joined: 07/Feb/2006

I think that the transparency has a bit to do with the power of the rings but also a some to do with the morgul blade, and maybe inner goodness.

Frodo, as a ringbearer stands a chance of becoming a ringwriath, but that is not likely to happen for a long time, the morgul blade speeds this process up, but elrond manages to stop it, after this incident gandalf notices the transperency, I think that this is becasue, he is a very wise person and can see that frodo really was on the verge of ring wraithism, I also think that perhaps elrond also would have noticed this trancperency. Then when sam sees him he has become so close to frodo, that he knows what he looks like, and when this changes, as he gets closer to mount doom, he notices it, the light is the inner good ness of Frodo trying to fight the power of the ring, that is trying to turn him in to a ring wraith

Norfirion 09/Jun/2006 at 08:03 AM
Scout of Lothlorien Points: 40 Posts: 5 Joined: 30/May/2006

Myabe someone already said this, but still i will say it.

In the Silmarillion, tolkien says that Frodo probably survived with help and interaction from Valar. If im not misstaking, they are called the children of light. (Or it was Ainur, long time ago i read it)

Dinwilwaren 14/Jun/2006 at 11:42 AM
Youth of Imladris Points: 66 Posts: 16 Joined: 09/Jun/2006

Hey

I’m new to the site and i thought this post sounded interesting so here i am, umm let me think.

Maybe after Frodo had that brush with becoming a wraith he wasn’t just fighting it physically, but internally, maybe his soul was fighting to hold on to the world, trying to keep from being taken into the darkness from which he would not be able to return, maybe that fighting brought his soul closer to the surface and because he fought and didn’t give in it became stronger  and he kept fighting and he was becoming stronger and fought harder. The light could finially be seen from the outside if it was looked at in just the right way it became visible.So it’s his internal ’good’ fighting that could be seen.

Eollyn 15/Jun/2006 at 08:16 PM
Stablemaster of the Mark Points: 651 Posts: 252 Joined: 21/May/2006
So, Frodo’s soul is a light?

(Welcome to the Plaza, by the way )
Kaulargorn 16/Jun/2006 at 01:09 PM
Messenger of Minas Tirith Points: 938 Posts: 149 Joined: 30/May/2006
I beleive that by wearing the ring Frodo passed in a dimension somewhere between life and death because the description of what he saw while wearing the ring were similar to what he saw when he was going to die on Glorfindel’s horse when going to Rivendel.This dimension I also beleive that is timeless cause when wearing it Bilbo didn’t age and gollum’s corruption and physical decay I beleive its because of the fact that it slipt to the world of the dead and it looked like a puppet of Sauron,the ringmaker, should look like and not from age.
Ankala Teaweed 16/Jun/2006 at 07:59 PM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 6116 Posts: 4487 Joined: 15/Apr/2002
Quote: Originally posted by Ann Kalagon on Wednesday, May 10, 2006

. . .   hobbits are relations of men, and therefore their fŽar are akin to those of the Elves.

 

Here, from Morgothís Ring, in the Later Quenta Silmarillion II, pg. 250, is a passage from "OF THE SEVERANCE OF MARRIAGE", which touches on the story of FinwŽ and Miriel:

 

"For though the fŽa in itself is not visible to bodily eyes, it is in light that the Eldar find the most fitting symbol in bodily terms of the indwelling spirit . . .

"And those in whom the fŽa is strong and untainted, they say, appear even to mortal eyes to shine at times translucent (albeit faintly), as though a lamp burned within,"

 

And, from pg. 308, from the ARTHRABETH FINROD AND ANDRETH, Finrod says of the kinship of the fŽar of elves with those of men:

 

"ye are our kin, in a kinship far closer (both of hrŲa and fŽa) than that which binds together all other creatures of Arda, and ourselves to them."

 

One could speculate much on Frodoís unique ability to have had the Ring in possession so many years without handling or using it, prior to leaving the Shire; that he was able to survive the attack at Weathertop though with Elrondís last-minute intervention after so many days had passed to get to the Ford; and that he then carried it all the way to Mount Doom before it took hold of him at last at the brink of its destruction.
Was it that his fŽa so strong and untainted initially which made him the one who was chosen to be the Ring Bearer?


I found the following in Paul H. Kocher’s MASTER OF MIDDLE-EARTH: The Fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien (bold face my highlight):

"Alone among the hobbits in Rivendell, Frodo is given visions of Elvenhome in the Uttermost West: ’...seas of foam that sighed upon the margins of the world.’ Alone among the Fellowship in Lorien, he receives from Galadriel a gift that puts him under the protection of Elbereth, the phial of water from her mirror in which is caught the light of Earendil’s star, a gift most precious to elves. Although Frodo cannot actually turn into an elf, his innate spiritual kinship to them is revealed by his physical state after recovery from the wound inflicted by (the Witchking of) Angmar on Weathertop. Gandalf sees a transparency about him and speculates to himself that Frodo ’may become like a glass filled with a clear light for eyes to see that can.’ (et cetera)

 

Ankala Teaweed 16/Jun/2006 at 08:01 PM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 6116 Posts: 4487 Joined: 15/Apr/2002
oops, meant to close quotes and give citation (pg. 112, paperback)
Arvellas 04/Jul/2006 at 10:17 AM
Warrior of Imladris Points: 5462 Posts: 3016 Joined: 16/May/2006

I think that Frodo became both less and more throughout the trilogy, having been influenced very strongly by both good and evil.  The hardships he went through wore him down both physically and emotionally, taking a toll on his body and the way he looked at the world.  His innocense and naiivity were stripped away, while at the same time, he learned to see the world for what it really was, and learned what was really important- not his own comfort, but making sure that Sauron would not continue to hurt the world.  I believe that his outer "shell," his "seen" or mundane part, wore thinner and thinner and grew transparent, while his spirit, his true self, the one that had the power to change the world, grew stronger and brighter, so that in the end, as Gandalf thought he would, Frodo became like a sort of glass lantern.  But at the same time, he lost what he had originally thought was his true identity, and was left not a cheerful Hobbit, but more of Elf in a Hobbit body, a wiser, "enlightened," and "faded" being.

This becomes even more apparent when we look at other Hobbit characters, particularly Merry and Pippin.  Both of them are a little wiser and less innocent, being knights of their respective kingdoms and having fought battles and overcome great obstacles, but they are both able to return to the Shire and live as bright, cheerful Hobbits for the rest of their lives.  Sam comes just a little closer to what Frodo went through, I think because he had the Ring for a little while, but he is able to find joy in the Shire again, and can find satisfaction in his peaceful married life.  Frodo, however, is never the same, and never seems truly joyful or satisfied ever again.  He does not have the ability to be perfectly content in the Shire; he needs something different after what he has gone through, something both less and more, because he himself is both less and more.  I would like to believe that he found what he needed by going to Aman with the Elves, since he had become so "Elf-like."

Thoronthalion 21/Sep/2006 at 07:27 PM
Herald of Imladris Points: 240 Posts: 52 Joined: 16/Mar/2006
I think we are missing a big part of this puzzle. When did this fading begin? It did not manifest until after Frodo’s wounding on Weathertop. My personal theory is that the catalyst was the Morgul Blade. The magic surrounding this blade was intended to cause its victim to become a wraith -not ringwraith- under the NazgŻls’ power. In this case, the user would be as they are, a tortured being of fear under the will of the Eye.

In Frodo’s case, the blade missed the heart and the shard was removed before the full effects could be realized. However, I think that the magic/poison of the blade was still in Frodo’s system and was never entirely purged. This fact is what lead to the fading. I believe that the ring is insubstantial as a cause of the fading.

Now, as to the light, I believe it is because he was an Elf-Friend, a powerful and, I believe, magical status. Glorfindel himself had no true fear of the NazgŻl and, indeed, it seems that they feared him. The text only mentions the horses being frightened, but somehow, I cannot imagine that the NazgŻl themselves were not frightened by this Elf lord’s wrath. All that to say that, as an Elf-Friend, I believe Frodo inherited a part of that power that the dark things fear. That is what I think is shining through.
Aganaphel 22/Sep/2006 at 01:24 PM
Miner of Mordor Points: 951 Posts: 116 Joined: 01/Sep/2006
I think the key quote for answering this thread’s question was posted by Ann Kalagon "And those in whom the fŽa is strong and untainted, they say, appear even to mortal eyes to shine at times translucent (albeit faintly), as though a lamp burned within,
That is what could be seen in Frodo. And the partial transparency of Frodo’s physical body allowed to see this inner light better.

This inner light was constantly growing as Frodo’s spiritual power was growing. Galadriel’s gift must have had two planes: an ordinary plane - a magic device to defeat Shelob and pass by the Silent Watchers- but also a spiritual plane. I think it was meant to strengthen Frodo’s spirit with the Light of Earendil - a reflection of the light of the Trees by virtue of which the Calaquendi fŽar shone.

Also the Light of the Trees may be akin to the Flame of Anor that, IIRC Tolkien somewhere described as the Holy Spirit in Christianity. But here I am out of my depth so I wonít develop it further...
I can only give this quote from the Letter 181: "The Quest _ was bound to fail as a piece of world-plan, and also was bound to end in disaster as the story of humble Frodo’s development to the ’noble’, his sanctification."

Compare the clear white light that sometimes shone through Frodo’s body to the red light (Flame of Udun?) visible to mortals in a Nazgulís
eyes.

As for transparency, I think it is another matter altogether - an undesirable after-effect of the Morgul wound. When Gandalf looks at the sleeping Frodo in Rivendell, he is concerned: "But to the wizard’s eye there was a faint change just a hint as it were of transparency, about him, and especially about the left hand that lay outside upon the coverlet." Frodo was wounded in the left shoulder and his left arm was cold and immobile for days. Note that to Gandalf, the left hand seems more transparent than the rest - and the hand was probably the only part of his left arm left uncovered by clothing. So, I have no doubt that his wraith-like appearance was due entirely to his Morgul wound.

There were other other after-effects of the Morgul wound as well, Frodo’s senses became sharper: "Though he had been healed in Rivendell of the knife-stroke, that grim wound had not been without effect. His senses were sharper and more aware of things that could not be seen. One sign of change that he soon had noticed was that he could see more in the dark than any of his companions, save perhaps Gandalf. And he was in any case the bearer of the Ring: it hung upon its chain against his breast, and at whiles it seemed a heavy weight. He felt the certainty of evil ahead and of evil following; but he said nothing."