As Thorin and company hide in the rocks and survey the ruins of Dale and the great Front Gate, they see steam and smoke but no signs of life. The only exception is an occasional "black and ominous crow." Crows often have symbolic significance in literature. Symbolism is a literary device in which something literal represents something abstract. Do the crows here symbolize anything abstract? If so, what? What do crows typically call to mind? Can you think of any other passages in this story which contain symbolism?
Last Edit: Sept 16, 2004 20:43:20 GMT -6 by Sparrow
"To have another language is to possess a second soul." --Charlemagne, 742-814
Crows. I like 'em. Lots of people don't. Farmer types seem positively to hate 'em, though the grand killing fests of Autumn that marred the Indiana fields seem largely to be done and gone. At least I've not seen advertisements of bounties for each black-feathered head... Maybe the population has been so far beaten down that crows are scarce enough now to present no economic disadvantage to those who gather in the crops?
The crow, perhaps as a scavenger, also got a ghoulish reputation for making sport with those poor souls that were hanged and left to dangle to advertise the majesty of the law. They haunt the fields of battle (a good job of recycling all that wasted protein!) and provoke a "too late" revulsion in those who find the sounds of drums and trumpets some sort of inspiration...
Tolkien taps into these connotations, when he casts his crows and crebain in a villainous role, but it is interesting to see that he enobles the larger species, the raven, as do many other cultures (Native North Americans especially) -- yet the lifestyle of the ravern is still a scavenger's existence.
i also like crows...but then again i have never been a farmer. yes, they are carrion birds but i do prefer the term 'recycle' Andorinha...it does sound more like they have a higher purpose. why i think they frighten people is that they seem a foreshadowing of bad things that might happen. the birds seem to know so they are hanging around to clean up the aftermath...
the only thing i can think of as to why JRRT used them was to make us realize that Smaug was still alive and that the birds were feeding off the remains he was leaving...but maybe i read into it a different way?
but they also seemed to make the prospects of the adventure more ominous and almost futile to Bilbo.
Majah oh yeah...what is up with the Raven thing? i always wondered about that myself...
Post by Desi Baggins on Oct 6, 2004 20:31:27 GMT -6
Andorinha, Great job on the search. That was some interesting info. Which made me remember my dream book that I mentioned in some other threads about dreams. I looked up crows there to see what it meant if you dream about them and everything listed is very negative. If you dream of A crow: Disappoinment in everything Crows flying: Grief and misfortune Crows flying over head: Death in family A large flock of crows: Serious disaster ahead Hearing the croak of crows: Illness of children A woman dreaming of a crow: Death of her husband A man dreaming of a crow: Death of his wife
I hope no one dreams of crows!
- 'It's an ill wind as blows nobody no good, as I always say. And All's well as ends Better!'