Tolkien Dilemma

This has been bothering me over the last few days:

How does Shelob manage to sting Frodo when he’s wearing the mithril vest?

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I always pictured it as a chain mail shirt, which are vulnerable to piercing attacks, ala arrows, or in this case, giant spider stingers.

Mmm. Yes, but it repels an orc spear (or, in the movie, a pike wielded by a troll!) They must also be pretty pointy, surely…

I always assumed that a mail shirt wouldn’t repel injuries to 100% of the body – just a limited portion of the torso.

That’s true. Perhaps it was a buttock attack.

Or perhaps sufficient venom could be injected under pressure through a porous mail shirt without the need for piercing the skin, a bit like those guns for vaccinating schoolshildren without using needles…

According to Shagrat, Shelob’s habit was to giveher victim “a dab in the neck” (chapter “The Choices of Master Samwise”: paragraph 112). And indeed Frodo complained of a pain in “the back of his neck, above his left shoulder” (“The Tower of Cirith Ungol”: 85). Thus, he was apparently stung above the mailshirt.

Ah – thanks, Anders! Problem solved. I can relax now 🙂

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