187 votes
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How is Shelob's name known?

From Letter 144: Shelob (English representing C.S 'she-lob' = female spider) is a translation of Elvish Ungol 'spider'. 'Shelob' is therefore not, strictly speaking, a name, but rather a ...
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147 votes
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Why did Aragorn call this stranger father?

Definition 4 of “father” from Collins English Dictionary: A respectful term of address for an old man. That is the sense in which Aragorn uses the word, he doesn’t think that the old man is ...
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129 votes

How is Shelob's name known?

"Shelob" probably wasn't her name Fun fact, Sam's name is actually Banazîr and his father Ham is Ranugad. Tolkien's stories are meant to be translations of old books into English. He did, however, ...
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  • 10.7k
122 votes

What does Gandalf the White mean by his strange speech about Boromir?

What Gandalf has to say probably has to be understood from Tolkien's religious point of view. The Lord of the Rings is subtly—but significantly—influenced by the author's devout Catholicism, ...
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  • 86.5k
114 votes

How could Saruman lose the battle of Helm's Deep?

The defenders had a bunch of things going for them. First, they had nowhere to run. This is the situation Sun Zu called Desperate or Death Ground. "死地則戰" or "on desperate ground, fight". A shaky ...
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  • 13k
100 votes
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Treebeard: "I always like going South, somehow it feels like going downhill." - Is it really?

This was ad-libed by John Rhys-Davies, the voice actor for Treebeard It is stated by Peter Jackson in the commentary track of The Two Towers Extended Edition that John Rhys-Davies would often throw in ...
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  • 75.5k
96 votes

How could Saruman lose the battle of Helm's Deep?

The battle was all but lost until Gandalf turned up with the forest of Huorns, who proceeded to swallow up the Orcs altogether and scare the Dunlendings into surrender. The defenders themselves had ...
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93 votes
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Which are the Two Towers in The Lord of the Rings?

Tolkien Gateway says: Tolkien came up with the title under deadline pressure and later expressed dissatisfaction with it. In letters and one sketch he considered several possible sets of towers, ...
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89 votes

Treebeard: "I always like going South, somehow it feels like going downhill." - Is it really?

Classically, south-facing gardens get the most light (in northern hemisphere gardens, that is). Treebeard is referring to being drawn by the increased sunlight coming from that direction. Update ...
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89 votes
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What does Faramir mean by "divers characters"?

books and tablets writ on withered parchments, yea, and on stone, and on leaves of silver and of gold, in divers characters. Let me de-archaic this for you: The books and [plaques written] on [old ...
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  • 17.7k
81 votes
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Why was the breaking of the wall of Helm's Deep so important in "The Two Towers" movie?

The whole fortification complex at Helm's Deep was not only meant to defend itself, but also, and mainly, to protect the whole valley from external threats. Technically speaking, Helm's Deep was the ...
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  • 14.6k
80 votes
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What is the picture on the front of this edition of "The Two Towers"?

The painting is known as "The Dark Tower", by John Howe. Howe is one of the greatest Tolkien illustrators, and worked with Jackson on the movies' art direction. Originally painted in 1990 ...
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73 votes
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How can a storm cloud in Middle-earth "move behind the sun"?

My reading of that line requires you to imagine the perspective of the Rohirrim. They're in the west, watching a huge, unnatural storm front move in from the east. Assuming that it's around mid-day (...
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72 votes

Why does Gandalf the White not remember his original name?

The key is that Gandalf the White and Gandalf the Grey aren't quite the same person. The Gandalf that Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli knew died, and the being that came back was similar, but not quite ...
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71 votes
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What is Elrond's position/status, as compared to Galadriel's?

As has been pointed out, no Elves fight at the battle of Helm's Deep in the book1. However, there is a way of justifying this, and it comes down to the succession of the High Kingship of the Noldor2, ...
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69 votes
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Why does Gandalf think he's not strong enough to reveal himself to Sauron via the palantir?

I always thought of it this way: Gandalf knows that in a contest of wills between Saruman and Sauron, Sauron won. He has no reason to believe he's that much stronger than Saruman. That answers the ...
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67 votes

What did Gandalf mean by "first light of the fifth day"?

Gandalf calculated the time he would need to fulfill the task and come back, and the result was "at the morning in five days from now, I assume to be back". And because he knows, from which ...
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  • 1,902
64 votes

What was the purpose of the quote "Meat is back on the menu boys" in Lord of the Rings?

The orcs from the White Tower had just started a fight/finished killing the orcs from Mordor (Morgul) so they mean they are going to eat the dead orcs. It’s funny because right before that, the orc ...
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  • 65.5k
58 votes
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Was it reckless to allow Wormtongue to go free?

There is always some risk in being merciful The question quotes the discussion between Théoden and the others about what to do with Wormtongue. It is clear from that discussion that they are aware ...
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  • 20.4k
52 votes

How is Shelob's name known?

“Shelob” may be a name of the orcs’ invention Shelob is what the orcs call her, not necessarily her real or original name. ‘You won’t go again, you say? Curse you, Snaga, you little maggot! If ...
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  • 112k
52 votes

What are the advantages of breeding Uruk-hai for Saruman?

You are comparing the Uruk-hai to Humans or Elves, which isn't a very relevant comparison. Instead, compare them to the other breeds of Orcs that serve Sauron, which the Uruk-hai were bred as a ...
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50 votes
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What was the purpose of the quote "Meat is back on the menu boys" in Lord of the Rings?

tl;dr: It's just a funny* line of PJ's. * Your funny mileage may vary. From an in-universe perspective, I agree with Himarm's answer. From an out-of-universe point of view, we can add that the line,...
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  • 5,844
48 votes

Does a transcription of Tolkien's handwriting in this image exist? (Part 2)

Transcribed by hand "That's that!" said Sam. What we I expected. And I don't like it. I suppose now we are just exactly where he wanted to bring us. Well, let's get moving away as quick as we can. ...
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  • 131k
47 votes
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What was Aragorn talking about when he said "Helms Deep helped them survive in the past"?

The War against the Dunlendings, TA 2758 A Dunlending man Freca, claiming descent from King Fréawine, rode to Meduseld and asked for King Helm's daughter's hand for his son Wulf. Helm, however, mocked ...
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  • 75.5k
47 votes

Was it Gollum who untied Sam's Elf-rope?

In the novel the rope is noted to have been secured tightly He took up the rope and made it fast over the stump nearest to the brink. LOTR: The Two Towers and it does indeed fall down when tugged, ...
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  • 620k
46 votes

What is the picture on the front of this edition of "The Two Towers"?

It looks to be The Witch-king of Angmar and his fell beast chilling out outside Barad-dûr. The same image is on The Lord of The Rings wiki with the title: John Howe - The Dark Tower
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  • 33k
44 votes

Why was the breaking of the wall of Helm's Deep so important in "The Two Towers" movie?

The Deeping Wall protects the Deep behind the Keep, this is the only escape for the Defenders What you seem to be misunderstanding is the layout of Helm's Deep. The Wall, defended the actual "...
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  • 75.5k
43 votes
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Why did Theoden allow the Uruk-Hai to approach Helm's Deep without harassing them?

In the books, the battle plays out a little different... Regarding your question in particular: First, there's a dike "two furlongs below Helm's Gate" that they indeed try to use to harass/...
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  • 2,070
41 votes
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Why doesn't Sam have to say "Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima"?

It doesn't need to be activated by the words. It's activated when a person of strong spirit (and hope) wields it. Seen in the case of Frodo when he first remembers of the Phial: 'The star-glass?' ...
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  • 25.4k
40 votes
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What's the meaning of "your life will be forfeit?"

Something perhaps worth emphasizing here is that that film dialogue is not a very accurate paraphrase of the book. As already noted in another answer, the book's quote, spoken by Faramir, is: I ...
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