The Passage of the Marshes

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Paul Raymond Gregory - The Dead Marshes.jpg
The Passage of the Marshes
Chapter of The Two Towers
EventFrodo, Samwise and Gollum take the passage of the Dead Marshes.
Date1-4 March 3019
LocationThe Dead Marshes
PerspectiveFrodo and Samwise
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The Passage of the Marshes is the second chapter of the second book in The Two Towers.

Summary[edit | edit source]

Gollum guided Frodo and Sam through the marshland that surrounded Mordor. The creature had once been on the run from Orcs in the area, so he knew it well. Gollum was fearful of the sun, which he called the “Yellow Face,” so he preferred to travel by night. The Hobbits continued to feed on lembas cakes, and they offered some to Gollum, but he found Elven products painful to eat. He choked and spit out the cake, constantly yearning for fish and complaining that he would soon starve. As the Hobbits got ready to camp for the night, Sam worried that Gollum might trick them while they were sleeping, so he waited until Gollum fell asleep first. Sam whispered the word “fish” in Gollum’s ear, and when he got no reaction, he was satisfied that the creature posed no danger, at least not on this night. Frodo and Sam both fell asleep, despite Sam's insistence on keeping one eye open, fixed on Gollum.

The next morning, the Hobbits awoke to find Gollum gone. They again discussed their concerns about their food supply. Sam repeated that while he was not fond of lembas cakes, they were at least nourishing and kept him on his feet. But even the lembas was running out; Sam calculated that they had only enough left for three more weeks. Suddenly, Gollum reappeared and said he was hungry. He left again, but soon returned with his face dirty with mud. The Hobbits believed that they could trust him.

Gollum led Frodo and Sam through the foul-smelling Dead Marshes, which were haunted by the slain warriors of a great past battle. Ghostly, floating lights surrounded them on the path. Gollum told the hobbits to ignore the lights, which could lead them into the realm of the dead. They proceeded onward for several days, nearly fainting from the stench of the marshes. One night, the dark shape of a Nazgûl flying overhead struck fear into all three of the travellers. Gollum warned that the Nazgûl saw everything, and reported back to their master, the Dark Lord. Frodo was deeply disturbed by the idea that a great power was constantly watching him.

On the fifth morning, they woke to see that they were very close to Mordor. The land was desolate and unwelcoming, full of poison pits. Even the stinking marshland dried up, leaving an expanse of completely barren ground. That night, Sam heard the dozing Gollum in conversation with himself, torn between his need to get his "Precious" and his conflicting vow to obey the hobbits. Gollum recognized that Frodo was the master of the Ring, and that he must serve the master of his "Precious". Frodo realized that Gollum knew the Nazgûl are searching for the Ring just as he was. Gollum said something about never letting the servants of the Dark Lord get the Ring.

The next morning, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum had nearly arrived at the gates of Mordor. The Hobbits thanked Gollum for fulfilling his promise of guiding them to the gates. A Nazgûl flew overhead for the third time, which Gollum claimed was a very bad omen. Gollum refused to proceed, and Frodo was forced threaten him with a knife to make him go forward.

Composition[edit | edit source]

The chapter was probably written around April 1944.[1]