#11—“A Knife in the Dark”

The Hobbits make their all-too-public exit from Bree and travel towards Weathertop in this eventful chapter.

The topic of hedges and what they symbolize once again rears its head, but our analysis section focuses more on nostalgia and the longing for what used to be.


5 thoughts on “#11—“A Knife in the Dark”

  1. Very much enjoyed the episode! Honestly, I’ve never really understood why they stay on Weathertop after exploring the area. Seems like they will be exposed either way, but crossing the road would be a short moment, while there they are trapped. This is also the first moment when Frodo is seriously tempted by the ring, if we assume what happened at the Prancing Pony was an accident. In that case the outcome is not very reassuring… or it is just the presence of the wraiths…


  2. Thanks for your comments Almáriel, glad you enjoyed the episode!

    Perhaps part of the explanation is Aragorn’s (i.e. Strider’s) Númenorean lineage. He is drawn to Weathertop (Amon Sûl), which was built as a great watch-tower, the site of a palantír, part of the Kingdom of Arnor established by Elendil. Since Aragorn can trace his lineage directly back to Elendil, he might find some comfort in this place, in the midst of a very dangerous, dreary treck across a wild landscape (while being hunted by wraiths intent on murdering them). You’re right to point out the strange decision to remain at Weathertop even after Aragorn has inspected the site and found evidence of Gandalf perhaps being attacked there. Although crossing the road would have certainly exposed them to their pursuers…

    You make a very good point regarding Frodo. We’ll often see Frodo struggle with the temptation of the Ring; while it’s certainly a burden no other character would wish to bear, there are many hints throughout the quest that Frodo himself may be incapable of completing it.


  3. Telperion, your explanation makes a lot of sense. Though, now I wonder what it must be like for Aragorn to see the realm of his ancestors in this state…
    To me it seems like they would have been exposed either way. Being on Weathertop leaves them without an escape route, but then they can also see the Nazgûl wraiths coming, so the attack does not take them by surprise. That is a strategic advantage, I think, Aragorn himself thinks the wraiths might wait for them there before they reach it. Maybe I was hasty in my previous conclusion… 😉


  4. Excellent site, guys and a great concept. I’ve really enjoyed listening to your comments and your analysis.
    I believe Aragorn decides to stay in the dell on Weathertop because he knows the wraiths are coming and it is better to face them where they have fire rather than in the darkness somewhere. He also knows that the attack will be more of a ‘spiritual’ one rather than a physical one (we have seen how the wraiths attack at Crickhollow). They will slowly creep up and paralyze the hobbits with fear over time. By staying in the camp Aragorn can deploy an ‘antidote’ to the fear – the telling of stories, especially the one of Beren and Luthien, keeps the fear from the hobbits which is not something he could do if they were trying to secretly escape on foot. It is only after the tales have finished and the wraiths are nearly upon them that the hobbits feel their presence. Aragorn, I believe, knew they were approaching hours before.


    1. Michael, wonderful insight! Thanks so much for the comment. I can definitely see what you’re saying. I was thinking about this encounter last week from a somewhat different perspective. I was thinking about how certain uncomfortable/dangerous things are sometimes unavoidable, in which case it is actually foolish perhaps even delusional to think you can escape them. There is wisdom, then, in doing what you can to prepare yourself, whatever that may be.

      This scene also seems to be an escalation of the first real sign of danger that the hobbits have: the single wraith in the woods sniffing for them. As you suggest in your post, the wraith isn’t that powerful and doesn’t actually pose that great of a threat…the hobbits were RIGHT THERE! The real threat, similarly, seems to be a spiritual one caused by the fear that the wraith produces. Frodo is tempted to put on the ring and as the story makes clear, wearing the ring increases its sway over you. i’m tempted to say that the only reason Frodo passes this test is because he is surrounded by friends…


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