View Full Version : Why did Frodo feel he had to leave Middle Earth at the of ROTK?
11-28-2003, 11:52 AM
Just finished the third book and was quite impressed with the last few chapters in particular. I was wondering if someone could explain to me why Frodo felt he had to leave Sam and Middle Earth? I understand that the burden of carrying the ring had broken his spirit, in a way, and he realized he was never going to be the "old Frodo" again, but how would leaving Middle Earth make him feel better?
11-28-2003, 12:27 PM
I'm not too sure...but I thought it was something to do with Frodo never being able to find peace again in Middle-Earth- he gave that up when he did the Quest. Or something like that...then Arwen gave him her place on the ship (but I thought that she wouldn't be going anyway, having decided to remain with Aragorn around fifty years previously...?), so that he could go to the Undying Lands and possibly find a bit of rest there.
11-28-2003, 12:45 PM
Welcome to the Downs, morpheus! A worthy question, indeed! You might want to check out a thread that discusses the finer points of Frodo's need to leave Middle Earth in this thread: Frodo's Sacrifice (http://forum.barrowdowns.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic&f=24&t=000018). It is in the closed and laid to rest threads section, but I thought you might enjoy the views expressed there!
11-28-2003, 01:38 PM
Yeah, Frodo couldnl't find peace in Middle Earth... Everything the Ring had done to him, along with the Morgul Blade wound, along with being traumatized by Shelob... it was all just too much worldly suffering for Frodo to deal with.
Since he had ownership of the One Ring, he was then permited to go to the west.
11-28-2003, 02:31 PM
mortals who reach the Undying Lands do not achieve immortality but are able to live out the rest of their life in bliss immeasurable. presumably the ring held no sway in the lands of the Valar because they are altogether mightier than Sauron and it never reached their soil. i assume that he went to the Undying Lands to live out the rest of his life in joy.
11-28-2003, 03:12 PM
Yes, he was never at peace at Middle earth like someone said. That was because of the Morgul wound and Shelob and the other things like imprisonment. Only I thought if you were a ring bearer that you could go Valinor like Bilbo, and later Sam. I think Frodo found peace there and died with his best friend Sam. smilies/smile.gif
Knight of Gondor
11-28-2003, 08:02 PM
It was like the wife of one of the Elves, I believe. At first I was thinking it was Elrond, but now I don't think so. Anyway, she was poisoned by an orc-wound, and lost interest in Middle-Earth and left.
I didn't know though that Frodo would eventually die in the "Undying" lands! I thought it would be akin to the Biblical story of Elijah...he was one who did without death. Where would he go after he died?
11-29-2003, 02:30 AM
Tolkien says in one of the letters that Frodo, in the end, felt like a 'broken failure'. He'd 'failed' in the three things he set out to do - destroy the Ring, save Gollum, & save the Shire - which, I feel is what finally broke him - seeing the place he loved, & had sacrificed so much to save, devastated, realising that though Sauron was gone & the Ring destroyed, still there was malice & evil in the world. Tolkien also says that Frodo had expected to die in achieving the Quest. Having to live on in such a broken state was impossible for him. My own feeling is that it was less a feeling of wanting to go into the West to be healed, & more a feeling that he couldn't stay in the world any longer; as he says to Gandalf "There's no real going back. The Shire may be the same, but I'm not the same". He couldn't go back to the old life, living with Bilbo in Bag End, going for walks among the woods & fields. He'd trancended those things, & the desire for them, but he didn't know anything else - apart from suffering. What else could he do but leave? What he says to Sam at the end, about how some people have to give up the things they love, so that others may keep them sums up his state, & Tolkien's own philosophy. If you get hold of Jobhn Garth's new book, Tolkien & the Great War, about Tolkien's own experiences in World War 1, & the effect it had on him & his fellow soldiers you can get a sense of what that kind of loss & suffering does to people.
[ 4:33 AM November 29, 2003: Message edited by: davem ]
The Squatter of Amon Rūdh
11-29-2003, 06:26 AM
Letter #246 is a very detailed exploration of Frodo's state of mind during the years before his departure. It is from this series of drafts that the following consideration is taken. 'Alas! there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured', said Gandalf (III 268) - not in Middle-earth. Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over the Sea to heal him - if that could be done, before he died. He would have eventually to 'pass away': no mortal could, or can, abide forever on earth, or within Time. So he went both to a purgatory and to a reward, for a while: a period of reflection and peace and a gaining of a truer understanding of his position in littleness and in greatness, spent still in Time amid the natural beauty of 'Arda unmarred', the Earth unspoiled by evil
I think it interesting that Tolkien chooses to use the religiously weighted term 'purgatory' - a period (also a place) of cleansing and preparation for something beyond. It is as though it is necessary for Frodo to be purged, as much as possible, of the Ring's influence if he is to die in peace. Unlike the popular conception of the Christian Purgatory, however, Frodo's journey to the West is also a reward. He has in a sense become too rarified, and his various emotional and psychological wounds, exacerbated by self-reproach for his imagined failure at the Sammath Naur, are too deep for him entirely to belong or to achieve recovery in Arda marred. Tolkien himself is unambiguous, both in The Lord of the Rings itself and in his correspondance:
...I think it can be observed in history and experience that some individuals seem to be placed in 'sacrificial' positions: situations or tasks that for perfection of solution demand powers beyond their utmost limits, even beyond all possible limits for an incarnate creature in a physical world - in which a body may be destroyed, or so maimed that it affects the mind and will...
Frodo undertook his quest out of love - to save the world he knew from disaster at his own expense, if he could; and also in complete humility, acknowledging that he was wholly inadequate to the task. His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body allowed. He did that. I do not myself see that the breaking of his mind and will under demonic pressure after torment was any more a moral failure than the breaking of his body would have been - say by being strangled by Gollum or crushed by a falling rock. It seems clear to me that this is the opinion of Arwen, Gandalf and others when they conspire to put Frodo on a ship to Tol Eressėa.
It is this sense that Frodo has been called upon to attempt the impossible, and although he has succeeded beyond his wildest hopes, he is still broken both physically and mentally; and this is compounded by self-reproach for what he sees as a three-fold failure: to reject the Ring at the final crisis; to lead Gollum to redemption and wholly to protect the Shire. Like Gawain at the end of his adventures with the Green Knight, Frodo regards his relatively minor failings with disproportionate shame, and like Gawain he is more than absolved by those who entrusted him with his charge, as his journey into the West makes explicit.
[ 9:18 AM December 01, 2003: Message edited by: The Squatter of Amon Rūdh ]
Lord of Angmar
11-29-2003, 07:23 AM
I believe that Squatter's and davem's summaries are both quite accurate. In a nutshell, Frodo left because he did not feel wholly comfortable in the Shire (nor in any other place in Middle Earth, really). The main reason he did not want to stay in the Shire, I believe, is because he had grown beyond it in mind and stature, and yet he received no praise from the Shire-folk for all his great deeds. The Gandalf quote that Squatter provided ("Alas! there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured") was also particularly pertinent.
11-29-2003, 09:23 AM
i spent a lot of time questioning this when i first read the books too. and it honestly upset me a great deal that Frodo felt he had to leave, especially the part where the four hobbits are together for the last time. However, i have now come to this conclusion. Before Frodo embarked on the Quest he had no idea, really, about life outside the Shire. He valued highly the life and people there- this was why he was prepaired to give his life to retain what innoncence, if not ignorance, he loved about it.
It was only when he returned he saw it for what it really was. Over the War of the Ring they had met so many wonderful people- so many people who were selfless, brave and apprechiative of everything around them. And i believe this was lacking in the Shire. Though they came close to danger the Hobbits remain oblivious. They hold Merry & Pippin in high reguard because they choose to remind people of their adventures, but Frodo's modesty earns him a lack of interest and thanks i find almost unforgivable. Therefor, i believe in a way, the Shire would never live up to expectation again when put into the big picture, and so Frodo felt in necessary to leave & finish his days in peace with the perhaps more rosetinted memories he had of the place prior to the Ring being brought to his attention.
11-29-2003, 11:14 AM
Just a question... Did everyone in the last ship dwelled in Tol Eressea for ever?
Or did Galadriel and Elrond went to Aman?
12-01-2003, 05:52 AM
so many people who were selfless, brave and apprechiative of everything around them. And i believe this was lacking in the Shire.
Puckey! Hobbits are peace loving, but not cowards. Frodo left because he had lost the innocence that made hobbits hobbits, and did not wish to contaminate them with the darker parts of Middle Earth; much as parents here try to protect their children from the harsher realities of life. There were no flaws in the moral fiber of The Shire, but Frodo had changed too much to ever be happy there again. Even beloved Sam didn't really have a clue about what Frodo had become.
In addition, the physical and psychological wounds that he had sustained rendered it impossible to ever live in The Shire again. Would you expect a young man who had gone to war to come back a year or two later and go back to high school? He had physical wounds that never stopped hurting.........and psychological pain from the Ring. Always a drawing and a pulling at his mind. He had to go to be free of those pains, and he deserved that much at least
12-01-2003, 06:07 AM
he had grown beyond it in mind and stature, and yet he received no praise from the Shire-folk for all his great deeds.
He had grown indeed. Grown so much that he requested that they not be told of those deeds because he did not desire praise. He needed peace, peace from the burning ring in his mind, always there when he shut his eyes, even tho' it had been destroyed.
12-01-2003, 08:44 AM
It is as though it is necessary for Frodo to be purged, as much as possible, of the Ring's influence if he is to die in peace. This is a good point.
What we need to remember is that Frodo did not give up the ring voluntarily. It was bitten from his hand, (much like the removal from Sauron's hand with Narsil by Isildur) by Gollum. Gollum then fell into the fire with the Ring.
Remember what Frodo says when he has returned home to the Shire 'It is gone for ever,' he said, 'and now all is dark and empty.'
I believe a part of Frodo was 'destoyed' along with the Ring. He did not volunteer to throw the ring in the cracks of doom. It was physically torn from him and then destroyed. Imagine what this has done to him.
He has a chance of some peace and rest before he dies by going West, so he follows his beloved Bilbo and departs from the shores of Middle-earth, unfortunately a scarred and broken little hobbit....
[ 10:45 AM December 01, 2003: Message edited by: Essex ]
12-01-2003, 11:16 AM
Hell, all I'm saying is, if I had gotten wounded by a Morgul-knife, stung by an enormous spider, and gotten my finger bitten off by Gollum, I'd sure as heck want to leave Middle-earth!
[ 12:24 PM December 03, 2003: Message edited by: Finwe ]
12-01-2003, 01:00 PM
smilies/smile.gif I probably would also.
Yes, it seems that Frodo was so wounded by all his travels that there was no peace left for him to enjoy in Middle Earth, even though evil had been temporaily vanquished. He sailed to the Undying Lands where all his troubles would be over. I'm sure that the pain of his adventures would have grown on him more every year if he hadn't left, and he probably would have eventually died in Middle Earth.
12-01-2003, 06:47 PM
Oh this thread brings me back to one of my most memorable moments while reading the books..."Why does Frodo have to leave? He went all the way to Mordor and back to save Middle Earth. He did so much to save it, why is he not staying and enjoying it?"
But of course at that time I was ignorant and did not understand the entire situation. But now I understand he had to leave. He was just so changed from that experience that it would have been impossible for him to live a normal life.
But on another thing that was brought up in this thread. I never thought of the whole ring being bitten off situation in the way of something being savagly taken away. That would be terrible, even though it was just a ring (though it was a ring of great power), it would have been like if a child was grabbed out of a mother's arms and taken away forever, or like if you were suddenly dropped into a pool of ice cold water. You would go into shock. Something that was so important to you, something that you were thinking about all the time, and that you cared about so much. Suddenly taken away from you, it would take a great toll on your body and your mind.
12-02-2003, 06:24 PM
I think the ultimate fate of all four hobbits goes to show exactly how much the quest has altered each one of them, and in Sam's case, I think the biggest indicator of how he has change is at the very end of the story, when he has to go on with his life without Frodo. Through the entire story we hardly ever see the two of them apart; Sam is pretty well always at Frodo's side. The relative calm with which Sam begins his life without Frodo indicates some of the change that has taken place in Sam.
I'm not sure if this was in Tolkien's mind at all when he wrote the books, but I think Frodo's departure into the West highlights how much Sam really has grown as a character. In the very beginning, Sam is there out of blind loyalty; his key characteristic is his loyalty to Frodo. That characteristic remains intact throughout the story, but as time progresses, he becomes less like a blind follower in Frodo's life. The fact that Frodo and Sam differ over Gollum - Frodo pities him, while Sam distrusts him - demonstrates the fact that Sam, though still loyal to Frodo, has grown enough to express disagreement with him. After the incident with Shelob, when Frodo is dead, Sam attempts to separate himself from Frodo to destroy the ring; he is unable to do so, but he gets points for trying. Sam's personal growth culminates at the end of RotK, when he parts from his beloved Frodo forever, very sadly, but with a fair amount of grace and strength. He transforms from being Frodo's faithful follower in the very beginning to an independent hobbit with a life of his own and great emotional strength and character.
I realize that I kind of got off topic a little bit from the original question of why Frodo felt he had to leave ME, but I hope maybe this could point to a reason why Tolkien might have written it that way.
12-06-2003, 07:29 AM
what a good point. this summer i did my higher english exam essay on the character of sam and i wish id thought to put this point in. oh well. and in defense of my earlier post i do believe hobbits are kind, peace-loving people: but i also believe that no race should be so ignorant of the world around it. i also found the point of frodo not desiring praise for his actions creditiable, but surely he deserved them anyway? however this point about the ring physically being taken from him is one 2 think about.
Child of the 7th Age
12-06-2003, 09:55 AM
There are some interesting side points to remember that relate to this question. Frodo's need for healing, both physical and psychological, is definitely the immediate factor that precipitated his departure to the West. However, if we read the book carefully, and look at Tolkien's earlier drafts in HoMe, something else also becomes apparent.
As far back as Tom Bombadil's house, Frodo is having dreams that foreshadow his later departure:
That night they heard no voices. But either in his dreams or out of them, he could not tell which, Frodo heard a sweet singing running in his mind: a song that seemed to come like a pale lightbehind a grey rain-curtain, and grow stronger to turn the veil all to glass and silver, until at last it is pulled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.
The vision melted into waking....
I love this passage!
These same words are used by Tolkien to describe Tol Eressea as the Elven vessel reaches its destination.
From the very beginning of the book, Frodo is drawn to Elvish things. He speaks at least some Elvish and has obviously gone with Bilbo on his nightime tramps in the woods near the Shire to find and see Elves. Also, throughout the book, there is a light in his eyes (similar to that of the Elves), which intensifies as the quest continues until it is finally quenched by the power of the Ring. It is Sam who is best able to see this strange light and comment on it: he clearly says this is the reason he loves Frodo, i.e. what that light represents.
And, in Rivendell, when Sam comments on how wonderful the place is and asks Frodo if anything is missing, the latter responds by murmurring 'The Sea...."
Even in the earliest drafts of LotR, when Frodo was still called 'Bingo', and long before Tolkien came up with the idea of Frodo being so damaged that he had to leave the Shire, Tolkien still had Frodo leaving. He says that Frodo withdrew to a small hut on the edge of Hobbiton and eventually left for the West, since he had become too "rarified" to stay in the Shire. (This was the word Tolkien used.)
So even from the beginning, before he is suffering from the guilt of having been unable to destroy the Ring and his continuing desire for it even after its destruction, Frodo was drawn towards the West and things Elvish. The amazing thing about Frodo is that for most of the Quest both his "bad" and "good" sides are growing at the same time. This is the only reason he's able to resist the Ring for as long as he did.
The hope is that the West will enable Frodo to reconnect with that "good" side, the part of Frodo that Gandalf alludes to while he sitting at his bedside in Rivendell:
He is not half through yet, and to what he will come in the end not even Elrond can fortell. Not to evil, I think. He may become like a glass filled with claer light for eyes to see that can.
This is a clear reference to the Phial of Galadriel, which contained a sliver of a Silmaril.
Given the fact that Frodo has faced ultimate evil, it is only by reconnecting with that type of light that healing may happen. And that is more possible in the context of the Blessed Lands than it would be in the Shire. As to whether or not that healing actually takes place, we do not know. Tolkien says that it is not certain if Frodo can be healed within the circles of the world.
Finally, one other possible impetus for him to leave.... Remember that Frodo tells Sam the person he most wants to be with in the world is Bilbo. (This point is often lost, especially with the movie images heavy on our mind.) I have to think that the presence of Bilbo made a difference in Frodo's decision to depart.
A thought way outside what the book actually tells us..... I have sometimes fancifully imagined that part of Frodo's healing in the West might be to serve and help his elderly uncle whom he loved so much, just as Sam had assisted Frodo on the trip and was continuing to do so in the Shire. Sam and Rosie were the ones offering their generous help to Frodo for the two years he did stay in the Shire. But perhaps Frodo needed to be in a situation where someone else he loved --in this case the elderly Bilbo -- truly needed his help. Sometimes going through the motions of helping someone will eventually catch hold in a person's heart and lead to healing and peace.
12-06-2003, 10:25 AM
Just a question... Did everyone in the last ship dwelled in Tol Eressea for ever?
Or did Galadriel and Elrond went to Aman?
Tol Eressea is in Aman. I'm supposing you mean Valinor.
Gandalf would not stay in Tol Eressea, obviously.
The fact that her father and brothers lived in Valinor makes it seem certain that Galadriel would've gone to Valinor. Elrond too, as he was very close in kin to the Royal House of the Noldor too.
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