Watcher in the Water

image_character =JHWITW.jpg
image_caption = Book illustration by artist John Howe.
character_name = "Watcher in the Water"
character_alias =
character_title = "The Watcher in the Water"
"The Watcher"
character_race = Unknown (see speculations)
character_culture = Unknown (see speculations)
character_birth = Unknown [First recorded in Third Age 2994 Retrieved on 28-03-2008]
character_departure =
character_death =
Book(s) = "The Return of the Shadow"
"The Fellowship of the Ring"

The Watcher in the Water is a tentacled monster in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings; it appears in "The Fellowship of the Ring", the first volume of "The Lord of the Rings".ME-ref|fotr|"A Journey in the Dark" Pg. 298-302 ] Lurking in a lake beneath the western walls of the dwarf-realm Moria, it is said to have appeared after the damming of the river Sirannon, and was first recorded by Balin's dwarf company 30 or so years before the Fellowship of the Ring sets out from Rivendell. The origins of the creature are not described in Tolkien's works, but writers have compared it to squids, the legendary kraken, and even to Tolkien's dragons.


In "The Lord of the Rings", while the Fellowship is moving towards Mount Doom to complete its quest of destroying the One Ring made by the Dark Lord Sauron, Gandalf must decide which path to take: through the mountains and on to the Elven Woodland realm or under and through the treacherous mines of Moria, where the Balrog resides, and on to the Dimrill Gate. They take the mountain pass, but weather conditions are too treacherous for the Fellowship to pass. Though Gandalf is reluctant to enter Moria, they are forced to flee the mountains and turn to the path through Moria.

The Fellowship locates the entrance to Moria: the Doors of Durin. The Doors are protected, allowing no entrance, requiring a password to be spoken. The Fellowship is blocked until Gandalf recalls it, and the Fellowship is forced to wait outside, fearful of wolves and wargs. Unknown to the Fellowship, something else resides in the lake, the "Watcher in the Water".

Frodo and Boromir unintentionally disturb the water and the Watcher attacks Frodo Baggins as the Fellowship of the Ring is about to enter Moria. The creature grasps Frodo with a long, pale green, luminous tentacle. Samwise Gamgee drives the tentacle off with his sword, but twenty other tentacles emerge from the water. The Company retreats into Moria as the tentacles hurl the enormous stone doors shut and uproot the trees that grow on either side of the entrance. The doors are sealed off, trapping the Fellowship in the mines. The Fellowship has no alternative but to go through the mines and exit them on the other side via the Dimrill Gate. Gandalf and others of the Company note that the Watcher had grabbed only Frodo, the Ringbearer. Frodo and Gandalf were not sure whether it was one creature or many. As Gandalf comments, "Something has crept or been driven out of the dark water under the mountains. There are older and fouler things than orcs in the deep places of the world".

After journeying further into the mines, the Fellowship finds the "Book of Mazarbul", a record of the dwarf Balin's failed expedition to reclaim Moria and its eventual downfall.ME-ref|fotr|"The Bridge of Khazad-dûm" Pg. 313-323] In this manuscript, a scribe relates: "We cannot get out. We cannot get out. They have taken the Bridge and second hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there ... went five days ago ... the pool is up to the wall at Westgate. "The Watcher in the Water took Óin." We cannot get out. The end comes ... drums, drums in the deep ... they are coming."

The "Watcher in the Water" is the only name Tolkien gave to this creature in the "Lord of the Rings", and in any of his writings.cite book |title= The Complete Guide to Middle-earth |last= Foster |first= Robert |edition= Revised Edition |year= 2001 |publisher= Del Rey |isbn= 0345449762]

Concept and creation

An early version of the Fellowship's encounter with the Watcher is found in "The Return of the Shadow", part of "The History of Middle-earth" series, wherein the textual development of Tolkien's Middle-earth-related fantasy is discussed and analyzed by his son and literary executor, Christopher Tolkien. The book (one of four in the series) focuses upon "The Lord of the Rings".

The episode is found in the chapter "The Mines of Moria", equivalent to "A Journey in the Dark" in "The Fellowship of the Ring". Tolkien's account of the creature at this stage is practically the same as in the final published version, except for the names of other characters, however, its emergence, physical appearance, attacking abilities on the Fellowship, and rupture of the Moria Gate are already present in his initial writings. [ME-ref|RotS|"The Mines of Moria"]

Since Tolkien never explicitly stated what the creature is, others have felt free to speculate on its identity and origins. In "A Tolkien Bestiary", David Day calls the Watcher a kraken; however, he also implies that there are some differences between the kraken of Scandinavian folklore and the Watcher in the Water.cite book |title= A Tolkien Bestiary |last= Day |first= David |authorlink= David Day (Canadian writer)|year= 1995 |publisher= Gramercy |isbn= 0517120771] However, Tolkien never called the Watcher a kraken nor described the presence of krakens in Middle-earth. In "The Complete Tolkien Companion", J. E. A. Tyler postulates the Watcher was a cold-drake: "...these dragons rely on their strength and speed alone (the creature that attacked the Ring-Bearer near the Lake of Moria may have been one of these)."cite book |title= The Complete Tolkien Companion |last= Tyler |first= J. E. A. |authorlink= Tony Tyler |edition= Third Revised Edition |year= 2002 |publisher= Pan Books |location= |isbn= 0330411659] Another writer compared it to squids.cite web | last = Fisher | first = Mark | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Encyclopedia of Arda: Watcher in the Water | work = | publisher = Mark Fisher | date = 2002 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-03-22]

Essayist Allison Harl speculates that the Watcher may be a kraken created by Morgoth and bred by him in Utumno. Harl also believes that Watcher in the Water represents itself as gatekeeper whose goal, in the context of the archetypal journey, is to guard the Doors of Durin keeping the heroes from entering into new territory, psychologically or spiritually. This "guardian theory" has also been theorised by other writers such as Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.cite news|url=|title=The monstrosity of the gaze: critical problems with a film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings|coauthors=Alison Harl|date=Spring/Summer 2007|work=bBNET|publisher=bBNET|pages=8|accessdate=2008-04-16] [cite web|url=|title=Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth DVD|coauthors=Campbell, Joseph & Moyers, Bill|date=October 9, 2001 | (spoken)|accessdate=2008-04-16] Craig Hogg has suggested that the watcher in the water may be a guardian of Moria who attacked anything evil so sensing the ring upon Frodo the watcher only attacked him thinking that he was also evil.

Portrayal in adaptations

The Watcher in the Water is mentioned in both film adaptations of "The Lord of the Rings": Ralph Bakshi's animated "The Lord of the Rings" (1978) and Peter Jackson's "" (2001). Bakshi's work follows the book relatively faithfully for this sequence, with only the Watcher's tentacles seen. After Sam frees Frodo from its clutches, Boromir rushes forward and hacks at its tentacles for a few seconds. Fact|date=April 2008 In Jackson's adaptation, the Watcher is portrayed as a colossal, black, giant squid-like monster with a gaping mouth and rows of sharp teeth. Here, too, it grabs Frodo with its tentacles as described in the book, and reaches out for the rest of the Fellowship following Frodo's rescue. Peter Jackson revealed in the commentaries that the original idea was to have Bill dragged under water by the watcher but this was changed. ["The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring"; Scene: "A Journey in the Dark"]

The Lord of the Rings Strategy Battle Game by Games Workshop, based on Jackson's film, calls the Watcher in the Water the "Guardian of the Doors of Durin".cite web | last = | first = | authorlink = | coauthors = | title = Guardian of the Doors of Durin: Making the Watcher in the Water | work = | publisher = Games Workshop Limited | date = 2008 | url = | format = | doi = | accessdate = 2008-03-22]

Due to the popularity of the creature several other items depicting the Watcher were released after the film. [cite web|url=|title='The Watcher in the Water' Medallion No. 8 |accessdate=2008-04-13] [cite web|url=|title=The Watcher In The Water Statue-The Lord Of The Rings-Polystone Statue (Item No. 8707R) ||accessdate=2008-04-13]

The Watcher made its first appearance in ' video game and has since appeared in several games. The version of the Watcher differs dramatically from the film and the book; the creature is portrayed as an amalgamated figure made to look like a hybrid of a mixture of sea creatures, it includes characteristics such as appearing like a finned sea snake, a squid and lobster.Fact|date=June 2008 The Watcher is used as a hero in ' however making no formal appearance.Fact|date=May 2008

ee also

*Alan Lee
*John Howe


External links

* [ Screenshot of The Watcher in the Water from the 1978 film]
* [ Lord of the Rings Board Game by Reiner Knizia and the Watcher in the Water]
* [ "The monstrosity of the gaze: critical problems with a film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings" - an article including the Watcher in the Water] Template group
title = J. R. R. Tolkien's works
list =

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