Shelob's Lair (chapter)

From Tolkien Gateway
The name Shelob's Lair refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see Shelob's Lair (disambiguation).
Shelob's Lair
Chapter of The Two Towers
EventFrodo and Samwise are attacked by Shelob.
Date12 March 3019
LocationShelob's Lair
PerspectiveFrodo and Samwise
Preceded byThe Stairs of Cirith Ungol
Followed byThe Choices of Master Samwise

Shelob's Lair is the ninth chapter of the second book in The Two Towers.


Gollum led Sam and Frodo to a dark stone wall and to a cave within it, which they entered. The smell was overwhelmingly bad. Gollum reported that the cave was the entrance to a tunnel, but he did not say its name, Shelob's Lair. Despite the possibility that the cave was filled with Orcs, Sam and Frodo knew that they must enter.

The tunnel was totally dark, and the Hobbits proceeded by feeling the walls. Strangely, Gollum disappeared, leaving the Hobbits to find their way themselves. Suddenly, Frodo was aware of an intense feeling of hostility and danger emanating from the darkness. They heard a bubbling hiss, but could see nothing. Sam shouted to Frodo to raise the Phial of Galadriel, a small container blessed by Galadriel that Frodo wore around his neck. The phial shone a strong light that illuminated hundreds of tiny eyes, all of them staring at the hobbits. The eyes belonged to Shelob, a giant spider-monster ever hungry for creatures to devour, used by the evil Sauron to guard his passages.

Frodo was terrified, but he walked boldly toward the eyes, which retreated as he advanced. The Hobbits headed for the end of the tunnel, but were held up by cobwebs stretched across the passageway. The cobwebs were too strong to be cut by a knife, and the Hobbits feared they were trapped until Frodo remembered Sting, his Elven-made knife. They cut their way through, and the Hobbits were within view of the exit from the tunnel. Frodo shouted that they should run and pulled ahead. Sam lifted the phial to see, noticed that there were orcs ahead, though, and hid the phial. Suddenly Shelob attacked, moving swiftly between Sam and Frodo. Sam shouted a warning to his master, but he was silenced by the clammy hand of Gollum, who had betrayed the Hobbits by leading them to Shelob. Sam removed himself from Gollum’s grasp and threatened to stab him, but Gollum moved quickly away.


The chapter was probably written around May 1944.

By that time Tolkien's earlier sketches had been obsoleted (because motives and times had changed) and wrote the last three chapters of Book III with great effort, and changing the sequence of events.[1]