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?


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…

Beregond, Anders Stenström

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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