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MonkeyNotes-The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
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The Passage of the Marshes

Summary

Gollum, or Smeagol, leads the Hobbits down the slopes and makes no attempt to escape. He brings them back to the narrow gully they had gotten stuck on before and shows them a way down.

The next stage of their journey is much the same as the last. Gollum leads them over the marshes in single file. His keen sense of direction serves them well, and even though the morning comes, the sun is hidden behind clouds and the land is misty.

On the third day, they come upon the Dead Marshes. They see lights and flames above unseen candles floating in the gurgling water. Sam and Frodo see dead faces in the mud, faces of elves, men and Orcs. Gollum tells them about the battle that was fought there long ago, at the Black Gates, and how the graves of the dead were swallowed up by the marsh. There are candles for every dead creature in it. Somehow they get across the dead marshes, guided solely by Smeagolís senses.

As their journey progresses they sense Smeagolís uneasiness. Later, a winged creature flies over the marshes and Gollum refuses to move until the moon is gone. He tells his Hobbit companions that the creature is a Nazgul of Sauronís, and that it will tell Sauron where they are.

The travelers change as they get closer to Mordor. The Ring weighs heavily on Frodo. The veil that once warded its hostility has become thin and fragile. Frodo has become quieter and more troubled as they travel. Gollum has changed too. For a while, he seemed to have changed into a good person, honest and trustworthy. Now, however, he is fawning and falsely friendly. Sam grows suspicious of both his companions.

On the fifth day of their quest, they come to the desolation that lies before Mordor. The ground is parched, gray and white. Nothing grows on it and even the sunís light is defiled among the ash heaps of the Dark Lords terrain. Amidst this desolation the weary travelers find a dark hole into which they crawl and go to sleep.

When Sam wakes up, he finds Gollum debating with himself over Frodoís sleeping body. Each time Gollum thinks of taking the Ring from Frodo his hand is drawn out, but when Smeagol speaks (which may serve as his conscience) he draws back his hand. Sam realizes that what he had perceived as hunger for Hobbit flesh was actually lust for the Ring. Sam does not let on that he has overheard Gollum, but rouses Frodo, who has been refreshed by a pleasant dream, and they set off.

Two more times they feel the dread and fear passing over them. Though they cannot see the Nazgul they believe it is nearby. Gollum very reluctantly leads them to the Gate.


Notes

The evil forces weigh heavily on Frodo and Gollum. However, good old Sam is untouched. He has the presence of mind to be suspicious of his companions, and to think clearly and pay attention.

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