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Tolkien says of Shelob, "Most '''like''' a spider she was," [emphasis added], and the offspring of Ungoliant differed from normal spiders in respects beyond their enormous size.  Bilbo sees the Mirkwood spiders' eyes as "Insect eyes,"<ref>{{H|8}}</ref> and Shelob's eyes are "clustered" and "many-windowed", with "a thousand facets", like insects' compound eyes.<ref>{{TT|IV9}}</ref>  However, normal spiders do not have compound eyes.  Tolkien may not have been over-concerned with the difference between spiders and insects, as in the same chapter of ''The Hobbit'' he refers to spiders as "hunting and spinning insects". Another difference is that when spiders grow, they moult their skins, but Shelob's hide was "ever thickened from within with layer on layer of evil growth."<ref name=Rateliff>John Rateliff. 2007. ''The History of the Hobbit: Mr. Baggins'', volume 1.  Harper-Collins, p. 322</ref>
 
Tolkien says of Shelob, "Most '''like''' a spider she was," [emphasis added], and the offspring of Ungoliant differed from normal spiders in respects beyond their enormous size.  Bilbo sees the Mirkwood spiders' eyes as "Insect eyes,"<ref>{{H|8}}</ref> and Shelob's eyes are "clustered" and "many-windowed", with "a thousand facets", like insects' compound eyes.<ref>{{TT|IV9}}</ref>  However, normal spiders do not have compound eyes.  Tolkien may not have been over-concerned with the difference between spiders and insects, as in the same chapter of ''The Hobbit'' he refers to spiders as "hunting and spinning insects". Another difference is that when spiders grow, they moult their skins, but Shelob's hide was "ever thickened from within with layer on layer of evil growth."<ref name=Rateliff>John Rateliff. 2007. ''The History of the Hobbit: Mr. Baggins'', volume 1.  Harper-Collins, p. 322</ref>
  
Shelob is consistently described as "stinging" and having a "sting".<ref>{{TT|IV9}}</ref><ref>{{TT|IV10}}</ref><ref>{{RK|VI9}}</ref> That has been taken to mean a sting like that of some insects, which normal spiders do not have.<ref name=Rateliff/>  However, in the quotation from "Letter 163" in the "Inspiration" section below, Tolkien used the verb "sting" in the rare sense of a spider's bite.  Thus all his references to Shelob's stinging may mean biting.
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Shelob is consistently described as "stinging" and having a "sting".
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<ref>{{TT|IV9}}</ref><ref>{{TT|IV10}}</ref><ref>{{RK|VI9}}</ref> That has been taken to mean a sting like that of some insects, which normal spiders do not have.<ref name=Rateliff/>  However, in the quotation from "Letter 163" in the "Inspiration" section below, Tolkien used the verb "sting" in the rare sense of a spider's bite.  Thus all his references to Shelob's stinging may mean biting.
  
 
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