September 17, 2001

Fave Scenes
Rich H.

Thanks for responding on the above subject Steve L - over the course of your numerous posts to this site, I find myself agreeing more and more with you on the issues you raise and discuss.

Like you I think there are many scenes that warrant special mention but the reason I picked the face off between Gandalf and the Witchking at the gates of Minas Tirith follow:

1) Purely from a prose point of view this is a hugely powerful scene. The text very much resembles poetry - ie, the repeated line of "... In rode the Lord of the Nazgul..." (I'm quoting from memory here, so I may have gotten that slightly wrong), creates a dynamic that is very rarely found outside poems. Before this, Tolkien also uses the hammering of the gates with Grond to actually dictate the pacing of the scene: an exceptionally clever literary skill, giving the text an extremely powerful rhythm and pace.

2) Beyond the 'science' of literature, I believe this scene is a metaphor for the whole book's 'good vs. evil' morality. This is a very simple ideal, but is nevertheless extremely powerful.

Here we see Gandalf standing alone against what is basically the right-hand of Sauron. The personification of good resisting the symbol of evil. It is the first time that this is expressed in such an iconic format. It could be said that Gandalf did this when facing the Balrog in Moria but I do not believe so: the Balrog was portrayed very much as an elemental force, whereas the Nazgul are intellectualised evil. These points combined with the fact that the Lord of the Nine stands beneath the archway of Minas Tirith dictates greater emotion and power.

3) This scene also brings hope, and the possibility of real victory in the form of the arriving Rohirrim, but I think a stronger metaphor for this is the cock crowing with the first rays of dawn. I believe this symbolises a greater force at work against Sauron - and that even the most powerful of evil's servants can be humbled by something as simple as daybreak.

Hope this explains my choice! A challenge Steve L: from all the scenes you've previously nominated I'd like you to pick your favourite. Absolutely no fence sitting will be allowed! :-)