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Old 01-22-2016, 06:34 PM   #1
Boromir88
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There and Back Again

I decided to read The Hobbit again and I don't understand why it gets pushed aside as a story. The Lord of the Rings is a grander tale and a larger scale, which might make TH look like a "little brother" by comparison. But the two stories follow quite a similar pattern and structure, which both makes them great stories on their own.

When reading TH again, I truly realized what makes the story (and LOTR does as well) succeed to me. They're both simply stories of establishing a sense of "home," a character is thrust into a world of strange and mysterious lands, and then the character returns home.

To succeed every part of the story must be told and must be convincing. Even though The Shire is a strange fantasy land to the readers, Tolkien must make us feel at home. Frodo mentions The Shire being a "foothold," if he knows home lies safe behind he can pursue this quest to destroy the Ring and save it. The Shire must make us feel at home, just as it's a foothold for Bilbo and Frodo. Then both hobbits (and the readers) get pulled into unfamiliar and strange lands. The characters we encounter are mysterious, some are frightening, the strange is meant to be shocking, frightening, thrilling. We're certainly not "at home" anymore.

The story can't end with the victory at the battle and Bilbo in Erebor. To Tolkien, the return home seems just as important in completing the story. It's why he says in The Foreward to LOTR, the Scouring was an "essential part of the plot, foreseen from the outset." We have to come full circle, and no matter how many times you read either story, it's bitter-sweet. Bilbo and Frodo set out from The Shire, leave home and long to return there, but they return changed and see The Shire in a different light. Tolkien doesn't need to change The Shire (although in LOTR it is quite a different Shire, because of Saruman), the return to home has to be perceived differently because Bilbo and Frodo have changed.
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Old 01-23-2016, 09:21 AM   #2
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and then the character returns home.
But "home" is not the same and can never be entirely made what it once was. This reminds me of the Odyssey.
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Old 01-23-2016, 10:19 AM   #3
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But "home" is not the same and can never be entirely made what it once was. This reminds me of the Odyssey.
"Home" can seen unchanged if the person coming back is unchanged as well, but as noted, neither Bilbo nor Frodo were the same person as when they left.

Bilbo was certainly the less negatively affected by his experiences, so we see him living in apparent contentment for many years after his return. The Ring's effects on him were very gradual.
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Old 01-23-2016, 02:30 PM   #4
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Bilbo was certainly the less negatively affected by his experiences, so we see him living in apparent contentment for many years after his return. The Ring's effects on him were very gradual.
Frodo certainly got the worst of it. I'm paraphrasing but he says something along the lines of "The Shire has been saved, but not for me." Although, I think Bilbo's changed too, he just doesn't seem to care. The end of The Hobbit says Bilbo lost more than his possessions after he returned, he lost his respectability, he just didn't really care. The Bilbo who left Bag End cared about respectability, just the adventurous Tookishness won the internal battle. I also have to think returning to find out he's presumed dead and in the middle of his stuff being auctioned had to be hard on him. I'm not sure how much more he felt The Shire was "home" after that...the only thing that apparently kept him in Bag End for so long was for Frodo to come of age so he can be named his heir.

I wonder if any of the hobbits who left and came back ever felt the same way about The Shire, as they felt before leaving it. Sam departs into the West after Rosie dies. In their later years Merry goes to rejoin Eomer and Pippin goes to Gondor and gets buried next to Aragorn. None of them died nor buried in The Shire.
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Old 01-23-2016, 02:55 PM   #5
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I wonder if any of the hobbits who left and came back ever felt the same way about The Shire, as they felt before leaving it. Sam departs into the West after Rosie dies. In their later years Merry goes to rejoin Eomer and Pippin goes to Gondor and gets buried next to Aragorn. None of them died nor buried in The Shire.
I think the Shire had changed for Sam as a result of his journey with Frodo, his observation of the deep sacrifice Frodo had made to save it, and Sam's own struggle against the lure of the Ring.

With Merry and Pippin maybe, their own sense of 'growth' was so closely intertwined with the experiences they'd had in the service of Rohan and Gondor that they felt dying in the place of their greatest achievements was only right.
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Old 01-23-2016, 05:25 PM   #6
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The difference in the treatment of "home" is an interesting point of comparison for the two tales. Certainly, the hero in each tale returns home a different person, but the effects upon home itself are different.

In The Hobbit, Bilbo returns to the Shire to find it virtually unchanged--yes, Messrs Grubb, Grubb, and Burrowes attempt to auction off his belongings aside, Bag End and Bilbo's place in it are left the same at the end of the story as the beginning. In keeping with the smaller ambitions of The Hobbit, Bilbo's self-change allows him to appreciate what he has (note all the moments of longing for the simple comforts of Bag End).

In The Lord of the Rings, Frodo returns to find the Shire different and one of the "morals of the story" (to use that hackneyed term) is that you can't go home. "I left to save the Shire, Sam, and it has been saved--but not for me" to paraphrase what Frodo says--is made explicit. After a series of denouements as Frodo returns from Gondor to Rivendell to Bree, a first time reader is gulled into thinking that the final return to the Shire will be one last stage in this drawn out process of "falling back asleep"--a true "Back Again"--only to abruptly encounter "The Scouring of the Shire." Everything about the Shire--about home--is different, because time hasn't stopped passing in the heroes' absences and even as the hobbits have been changing, the Shire has been changing.

In The Hobbit, home is the hope that sustains Bilbo; in The Lord of the Rings, Frodo discovers that home isn't enough to sustain him: unlike the visions of it that keep Bilbo going, Frodo discovers that the constancy of home is an illusion. But that constancy he sought in returning to the Shire isn't, despite that, presented by Tolkien as an impossibility. Instead of finding it in his real home, Frodo is able to find healing in Elvenhome. Put in more "theological" terms, one might say that the longing for earthly comfort and belonging is not enough, but it does point the way towards a true comfort and belonging that is satisfied beyond.

Good topic!
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Old 01-23-2016, 05:43 PM   #7
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I think Bilbo's changed too, he just doesn't seem to care. The end of The Hobbit says Bilbo lost more than his possessions after he returned, he lost his respectability, he just didn't really care.
I think it's not so much that Bilbo "didn't care", as it is that while both he and Frodo were changed by their travels, Bilbo was changed for the better while Frodo was changed in a negative way. Bilbo returned having grown spiritually and emotionally, bringing back with him a wealth of experience and a deep pool of (mostly) positive memories - he could live his life now in the Shire content: his (at first unadmitted) desire for travel and adventure had been appeased, and he was secure in the knowledge that one day he could and would set out again to revisit the wondrous places of his travels. He was able to balance the "small town" comfort of the Shire withe a deep first-hand knowledge that the world is a vast and mysterious place full of wonders...

On the contrary, Frodo's experience was wrought with unbearable responsibility, tragedy, desperation and pain. The Middle-earth that he experienced was not one of wonder so much as danger. His return to the safety and complacency of the Shire, of "home" was tempered and tainted with the knowledge and experience he'd gained: unlike the sense of wonder and longing Bilbo gained, Frodo was filled with a despairing and debilitating knowledge that the world is a cruel and dangerous place, where true evil exists, and the balance of good and peace and safety hang precariously by a thread... As such, he could never truly feel safe or at ease anywhere again. Except perhaps (one would hope) in Valinor.
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Old 01-23-2016, 06:23 PM   #8
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Very interesting thread, and very interesting ideas!

As I was reading this thread, it occurred to me that an additional difference between Bilbo's and Frodo's returns is their feeling of responsibility. Bilbo never felt responsible for the world, or for the Shire more specifically. Meanwhile, Frodo knows full well the gravity of his mission - it's not just adventure for him - and it weighs down on him, especially because he transposes that sense of responsibility onto his home. He goes through the entire journey in part to save the Shire, to keep it whole.

Of course, that's a perilous path to take just on its own. If your beacon of light is your memory of a person or place, coming back to realize that it (or you) changed in your absence and there's no going back to the way it was before is harsh. But in Frodo's case, there's the added sense of responsibility. He felt it was his duty to keep the Shire safe and hobbitishly unconcerned about the greater troubles of the world. He came back to find that he failed on that count, and he failed to keep the Shire from "growing up" character-wise (becoming worldly-wise?) even when all the repairs were finished. In a way, the Shire as a whole developed during that year like Bilbo during his trip. The Shire changed too, not just Frodo.

New thoughts are popping into my head, and I realize I'm falling a bit off my original track with them. The thought I wanted to put out is that Frodo feels responsible (and guilty) for the change that happened in the Shire both physically and character-wise. Bilbo doesn't feel the responsibility for the Shire, and it doesn't change much during his journey; it's only him that changes. He just looks at the same Shire with different eyes - the things that used to matter to him stop mattering so much. But for Frodo, the biggest pain is that he wants to go back to the memory of his peaceful life before the Ring, filled with small earthly concerns, and he can't. So The Hobbit ends up bitter-sweet, but positive, slightly "grown up", but LOTR ends up sad and nostalgic.
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Old 01-23-2016, 07:57 PM   #9
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Interesting topic! Alot of the themes you're discussing are culminating in the very last exchange of views between Bilbo and Gandalf:

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Originally Posted by The Hobbit. The last stage
» Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!« said Bilbo. »Of course!« said Gandalf. »And why should not they prove true? Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!«

»Thank goodness!« said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar.
I always liked this ending. It is interesting in so many ways. The most interesting aspect is, in my opinion, that here's one of the very few instances where Gandalf errs: but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all! This statement is only true in a strict sense. Bilbo is just a single person in this world. But even though Gandalf's objection is (as always) well reasoned and appropriate given the recent events; it is ultimatly flawed aswell. As it turns out later, Bilbo and his actions are from the uttermost importance for the history of the whole world and everyone in it.

And in way it's as much Tolkien's error as it is Gandalf's. Both of them had no way to foretell Bilbo's special status at the given time. One could also suspect that Gandalf's words were voicing the author's thoughts. I think Tolkien tries to degrade his own protagonist from the center of the story to a mere aspect of his fictional world. A fictional world which began to take shape long before The Hobbit, and without Bilbo. It was lurking in the backround, unpublished and unfinished. So, I think this might be Prof. Tolkien's reflection of his relationship with the character of Bilbo and The Hobbit, as a novel: You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!

It's funny that it came to pass that the wide world of the 'legendarium' couldn't get around Bilbo and The Hobbit after all.

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Old 01-23-2016, 08:12 PM   #10
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As it turns out later, Bilbo and his actions are from the uttermost importance for the history of the whole world and everyone in it.
That is true, but in Gandalf's defense, only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero.

ETA: Reflecting upon an earlier point, I feel that upon his return to the Shire, sure, Bilbo probably felt offended and somewhat betrayed that his things were being put on sale. However, after sorting out that initial mess, I feel like he just had a feeling of good-natured amusement towards the Shire. He still loves it, he's just outgrown it.
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Old 01-23-2016, 09:58 PM   #11
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Very interesting thread, and very interesting ideas!

As I was reading this thread, it occurred to me that an additional difference between Bilbo's and Frodo's returns is their feeling of responsibility. Bilbo never felt responsible for the world, or for the Shire more specifically. Meanwhile, Frodo knows full well the gravity of his mission - it's not just adventure for him - and it weighs down on him, especially because he transposes that sense of responsibility onto his home. He goes through the entire journey in part to save the Shire, to keep it whole.

Of course, that's a perilous path to take just on its own. If your beacon of light is your memory of a person or place, coming back to realize that it (or you) changed in your absence and there's no going back to the way it was before is harsh. But in Frodo's case, there's the added sense of responsibility. He felt it was his duty to keep the Shire safe and hobbitishly unconcerned about the greater troubles of the world. He came back to find that he failed on that count, and he failed to keep the Shire from "growing up" character-wise (becoming worldly-wise?) even when all the repairs were finished. In a way, the Shire as a whole developed during that year like Bilbo during his trip. The Shire changed too, not just Frodo.
What's interesting to me about Frodo's journey versus Bilbo's is that Bilbo was out on a treasure hunt, something that's not going to affect the Shire at all. Frodo is going out already knowing somewhere within himself that he might die trying to save everything he's ever known. The Shire might die in the process, it might not. Frodo has no idea what the end of his adventures is going to bring. What you said earlier, G55, about Frodo's beacon of light really shines true for a lot of people, including myself. If you idealize wherever you came from to cope with your long and hard journey, you're going to find home not quite as homey as it was when you left it. Frodo and the Shire changed in a way that is irreparable. One of the saddest parts of the Scouring to me was the destruction of the party tree in Hobbiton. It was beautiful that Sam was able to replace it with the seed and soil from Lothlorien, but it was a loss to the Shire all the same. That moment struck me as the hardest tangible change the Shire had to pass through. Just like Frodo had to deal with the physical harm he endured on his journey, the Shire must deal with its physical scars as well.

I'm not entirely sure where I was going with this, to be honest. But I think I was just trying to say that Frodo and Bilbo's changes were fundamentally different. Frodo's change coupled with the Shire's change made it hard for him to have peace, while Bilbo's adventures brought him a comfortable life and more friends. Bilbo had peace, Frodo didn't.
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Old 01-24-2016, 08:19 AM   #12
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What's interesting to me about Frodo's journey versus Bilbo's is that Bilbo was out on a treasure hunt, something that's not going to affect the Shire at all.
Was treasure his main object, though? Bilbo was more after his idea of 'adventure', with monetary reward being only a side benefit.[/QUOTE]

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Frodo is going out already knowing somewhere within himself that he might die trying to save everything he's ever known.
Frodo didn't really understand at the time he set out, though. He'd been told by Gandalf what the stakes were, but I don't think things truly became clear to him until he was wounded by the Witch-king's blade. Until then, I think he mainly saw himself as following Bilbo to Rivendell, with the Ring being something he had to just deliver. After being healed of the knife-wound, which was far more dangerous to him spiritually than physically, he might have felt 'marked' as the true Ring-bearer, and Gandalf's words about him being meant to have the Ring became more than just words.

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I think I was just trying to say that Frodo and Bilbo's changes were fundamentally different. Frodo's change coupled with the Shire's change made it hard for him to have peace, while Bilbo's adventures brought him a comfortable life and more friends. Bilbo had peace, Frodo didn't.
Yes, Bilbo at least had an unchanged Shire to welcome him. The friends were probably not as numerous, since he'd shown himself to be so eccentric as to go off on an 'adventure'.
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Old 01-24-2016, 08:35 AM   #13
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Thanks everyone for the compliments and responses. A lot of good stuff here and I didn't think about how their very different journeys/experiences impacted them in very different ways which made their return to home different. As others have said Bilbo goes off on almost a holiday (a dangerous holiday, but he's not setting out to "save the Shire."), Frodo is leaving Bag End because it will (he hopes) save the Shire.

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'I should like to save the Shire, if I could - though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt than an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them. But I don't feel like that now. I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold even if my feet cannot stand there again.'~The Shadow of the Past
A couple things here...I haven't read LOTR in a while, but I just burst out laughing remembering Frodo admitting he's thought an earthquake or a dragon invasion would do the hobbits some good. Haven't we all felt that way about the places we live? In the end though, we don't seriously wish ill-will upon meddlesome relatives and neighbors. The last sentence is nifty foreshadowing. Frodo's decided to leave and finds "wandering more bearable", as long the Shire lays behind safely. But Frodo seems to know already this journey is going to change him, it's much different from Bilbo's and he is attempting to keep the Shire safe and comfortable, but not for himself: "even if my feet cannot stand there again."

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'Of course, I have sometimes thought of going away, but I imagined that as kind of a holiday, a series of adventures like Bilbo or better, ending in peace. But this would mean exile, a flight from danger into danger, drawing it after me. And I suppose I must go alone, if I am to do that and save the Shire. But I feel very small, and very uprooted, and well - desperate. The Enemey is so strong and terrible.'~ibid
Frodo's imagined leaving as well, but more like Bilbo's journey. Yes, Bilbo face several dangers and came back changed, but it's quite different from fleeing from danger into even more peril. Bilbo's Took-side overruled his Baggins side of "what will the neighbors say and think?" He had a choice to leave. What choice does Frodo really have? I mean Gandalf comes in and pretty much details Frodo's only option is to flee with the Ring. No wonder he feels "uprooted."

Some other random musings on home and the estrangement from home. That's what sparked the idea to start this thread. I'm trying to find it, but one day I was reading commentary about sci-fi/fantasty stories establishing recognition and estrangement. Recognition being "home," or just having things from the readers' world that we recognize/relate to. The best fantasy stories are created when the author can establish recognition/home to the reader. Tolkien makes it quite easy to relate to Bilbo and Frodo, because even in his Middle-earth, there are simple moments he added to make us feel home, like Bilbo and Frodo. Bilbo chooses to run into this vast land of the strange and unknown, Frodo is essentially forced and thrust into it by the Ring. In both cases, the readers are going through the same exact experiences, we are following Bilbo and Frodo...out of home, into the strange "wide world." But as discussed, it doesn't end there. In fact, I would say it can't end there. We must return home, and either Frodo and Bilbo have changed, home has changed, or both.

Edit: I meant to say, for myself, recognition of home is immediate in The Hobbit. That famous first line pulls you in to "home" right away, and then the description of Bilbo's home. Even if a hobbit-hole isn't my home...there's that saying "Home is where the heart is..." or something along the lines of "Home is what you make of it." The Shire/Bag End isn't our home, but it can feel like, remind us of what home is to us, because of Tolkien's story-telling brilliance.
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Old 01-24-2016, 09:37 AM   #14
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By Galadriel55 He felt it was his duty to keep the Shire safe and hobbitishly unconcerned about the greater troubles of the world. He came back to find that he failed on that count, and he failed to keep the Shire from "growing up" character-wise (becoming worldly-wise?) even when all the repairs were finished.
This is really perceptive. Frodo began by seeking to save the Shire and lure the Ringwraiths away from his home. He then volunteered and set out to save not just the Shire but all of Middle Earth. He does not turn back even when Sam glimpses evil happening in the Shire in Galadriel's mirror, they do not turn back. When they return to the Shire, they find that they failed to do what they set out to do.
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:08 AM   #15
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This is really perceptive. Frodo began by seeking to save the Shire and lure the Ringwraiths away from his home. He then volunteered and set out to save not just the Shire but all of Middle Earth. He does not turn back even when Sam glimpses evil happening in the Shire in Galadriel's mirror, they do not turn back. When they return to the Shire, they find that they failed to do what they set out to do.
I think, and quite a few scholars have commented as well, that the return to the Shire by Frodo and friends mirrored many of the veterans returning to Britain after WWI. They left to fight the Hun and for a way of life, but there was a great deal of disillusionment upon their return. It was as if not only they had changed but England, too, was no longer recognizable.

Of course, they left as boys and returned as men, but it was more than that. Some, like the brilliant poet Wilfred Owen, did not escape the abject horror of the war, but rather sought his inevitable doom and willfully died on the front lines rather than going home (there is a story that Owen's friend and fellow writer Siegfried Sassoon, also wounded in the war, threatened to stab Owen in the leg if he tried to return to the front line - Owen secretly returned in spite of the threat). Sassoon and German writer Erich Maria Remarque would eloquently recall the destruction of the body, mind and soul of surviving soldiers.

Tolkien, too, would reflect on this stranger in a strange land effect, and the premise that you can never really go home again. He lost many dear friends, and Britain itself had drastically changed, the agrarian society of his youth was making way for Orkish engines and great brick chimneys belching black smoke above Bywater, and Frodo himself, pale and full of melancholy, could best be described as a shell-shocked soldier unable to cope with the cottages mowed under, replaced by God-awful factories and ugly new houses.
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:15 AM   #16
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Allegory? Or "applicability", then?
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Old 01-24-2016, 11:40 AM   #17
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Allegory? Or "applicability", then?
Allegorical, but only on a "subsumed" basis, of course.
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Old 01-25-2016, 07:11 AM   #18
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I would definitely call Frodo 'shell-shocked,' but I don't think it's allegorical. Tolkien admits every writer is effected by their experiences to a certain point, but Frodo's shell-shock isn't truly caused by experiences as a soldier in the horrors of war. I think the only battle of army against army he sees is when the Haradrim are ambush by Faramir's men. That was Sam's "first experience" at seeing war up-close and personal, I would guess it was Frodo's too.

Frodo's change is the One Ring removed every sense of home from him and then when the Ring was destroyed there was nothing. Those feeling of home didn't return. For me, it's probably the most chilling, unnerving part of LOTR:

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'Do you remember that bit of rabbit, Mr. Frodo?' he said. 'And our place under the warm bank in Captain Faramir's country, the day I saw an oliphaunt?'

'No, I am afraid not, Sam,' said Frodo. 'At least, I know that such things happened, but I cannot see them. No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark, Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades.'~Mount Doom
Sam's role in this journey is keeping Frodo grounded in home. We're surrounded by strange and shock, Sam is in the middle of it all stewing a rabbit. Talking of oliphaunts and people at home will never believe it! He talks of planting trees and seeing Rosie and other friends again. He succeeds marvelously in keeping Frodo reminded of home, until the very end when the Ring inevitably has taken over completely. There is nothing left, Frodo is naked in the dark and he even begins seeing nothing else with his "waking eyes" except "the wheel of fire." That part always gives me intense goose bumps.

The Ring is destroyed, what's left then? No memories return, no sense of home comes back and the only thing he can remember was destroyed. I'm just guessing here, but I think if the Shire was the same as always when Frodo returned, he could have had some sort of recovery post-destruction. Old memories that were lost, could have been replaced by returning new memories to a completely familiar home. But, the changed Frodo and physical change in home...I have no words to describe just how awful to experience it.
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Old 01-25-2016, 08:22 AM   #19
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Frodo's fate is the obvious counterpoint to the argument that The Lord of the Rings lacks consequences because so few of the protagonists die. It could be argued that in some respects Frodo suffers a fate worse than death, or at least would have had he not been afforded the possibility (and only a possibility, I believe - success was not guaranteed) of healing in Aman.

I think we see a little of that in Bilbo as well; the outcome of his adventure was not universally positive for him, even if it mostly was.

On the one hand, in Letter 151, Professor Tolkien does say that "Frodo is not intended to be another Bilbo. Though his opening style is not wholly un-kin. But he is rather a study of a hobbit broken by a burden of fear and horror — broken down, and in the end made into something quite different."

On the other hand, however, in Letter 246, Professor Tolkien observes of Bilbo and the journey to Aman that "he also needed and deserved the favour on his own account. He bore still the mark of the Ring that needed to be finally erased : a trace of pride and personal possessiveness. Of course he was old and confused in mind, but it was still a revelation of the 'black mark' when he said in Rivendell (III 265) 'What's become of my ring, Frodo, that you took away?'; and when he was reminded of what had happened, his immediate reply was: 'What a pity! I should have liked to see it again'."

Of course that's arguably more to do with the Ring than with his experiences.

Similarly, I also don't think Frodo's experience was wholly negative, although it certainly was to a great extent. Frodo gained great wisdom through his experience, however: even Saruman noticed it. Frodo's insight about Saruman is very telling of the understanding he achieves: "He was great once, of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands against." I suppose this could be perceived as either a good or a bad thing.

It's interesting to note that while Bilbo's adventure ultimately left him unsatisfied with Hobbit society, he did settle down in Rivendell rather than pursuing his wanderlust indefinitely, which seems to favour the possibility that his experiences fostered the desire for a different society more than it made him that much less sedentary.
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Old 01-25-2016, 10:26 AM   #20
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It's interesting to note that while Bilbo's adventure ultimately left him unsatisfied with Hobbit society, he did settle down in Rivendell rather than pursuing his wanderlust indefinitely, which seems to favour the possibility that his experiences fostered the desire for a different society more than it made him that much less sedentary.
I would say that the same impetus toward 'adventure', which was an innate part of his being, was what landed Bilbo ultimately in Rivendell.

He'd had the affinity toward Elves, and an interest in the outside world long before Gandalf approached him about the Quest of Erebor. Indeed, Bilbo's apparent difference from others of his race were what attracted Gandalf to him as a part of Thorin's company.

Having given the Ring and nearly all his possessions to Frodo, there was nothing holding him to the Shire. He also needed the safest place possible in which to live, since Sauron had become aware of him and his connection with the Ring. What better place for Bilbo than Rivendell?
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Old 01-25-2016, 12:54 PM   #21
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He also needed the safest place possible in which to live, since Sauron had become aware of him and his connection with the Ring.
Except Bilbo was blissfully unaware of any of that; Gandalf didn't tell him. In fact, Sauron had no idea that "Baggins" and "Shire" were of any significance at all until he interrogated Gollum, not long before Frodo set out.
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Old 01-25-2016, 01:26 PM   #22
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Except Bilbo was blissfully unaware of any of that; Gandalf didn't tell him. In fact, Sauron had no idea that "Baggins" and "Shire" were of any significance at all until he interrogated Gollum, not long before Frodo set out.
Well, fear of Sauron wasn't Bilbo's motive for going to Rivendell, but it was a factor in his staying there permanently.
Bilbo told Frodo that he'd considered going back to the Shire to get the Ring but had been dissuaded by Gandalf and Elrond because Sauron was searching for him.
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Old 01-25-2016, 09:59 PM   #23
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The only time-frame during which that would have been possible would have been within the preceding year, IF (we don't know this) Gandalf passed through Rivendell on his way from Mirkwood, where he interrogated Gollum, to the Shire, where he had the "Shadow of the Past" conversation with Frodo. From thence he went straight to Isengard, and didn't reach Rivendell until shortly before Frodo's arrival there.
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Old 01-25-2016, 10:08 PM   #24
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I want to point out that Bilbo, though remarkably well-preserved, was quite an elderly hobbit after all. Had he been younger, and had young companions, he might have adventured some more with them. However, that wasn't the case; but even so, Bilbo picked one spot to settle down where there was most diversity of what to do and how to feel. He says himself that it's just great to do everything from eating to exploring nature in Rivendell.

Also, I'm getting rusty, so I'm not 100% sure, but did he not visit the Lonely Mountain for a time while Frodo had the Ring in the Shire? He didn't settle down completely for quite a while.
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Old 01-26-2016, 08:41 AM   #25
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Also, I'm getting rusty, so I'm not 100% sure, but did he not visit the Lonely Mountain for a time while Frodo had the Ring in the Shire? He didn't settle down completely for quite a while.
He did get to Dale. I would imagine he saw the Lonely Mountain again, but doesn't seem like he visited:

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'I got here without much adventure,' he said, 'and after a rest I went on with the dwarves to Dale: my last journey. I shan't travel again. Old Balin has gone away. Then I came back here, and here I have been.'...~Many Meetings
As for what Bilbo knew about the Ring and any danger he was in once settled in Rivendell:

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'I hear all kinds of news, from over the Mountains, and out of the South, but hardly anything from the Shire. I heard about the Ring, of course. Gandalf has been here often. Not that he has told me a great deal, he has become closer than ever these last few years. The Dunadan has told me more. Fancy that a ring of mine causing such a disturbance! It is a pity that Gandalf did not find out more sooner. I could have brought the thing here myself long ago without so much trouble. I have thought several times of going back to Hobbiton for it; but I am getting old, and they would not let me: Gandalf and Elrond, I mean. They seem to think that the Enemy was looking high and low for me, and would make mincemeat of me, if he caught me tottering about in the Wild.'~ibid
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Old 01-26-2016, 10:18 AM   #26
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It seems, perhaps, dormitat bonum Homerus. Gandalf didn't know anything in particular about the Ring until he found the Isildur scroll at Minas Tirith in 3017, and then questioned Gollum in Mirkwood. Aragorn would have learned what Gandalf knew (or was willing to tell him) in the same time-frame; presumably he went straight from Thranduil's halls to Elrond's. In other words, that old ring of Bilbo's couldn't have caused much of a "disturbance" until roughly a year or so before the Council
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Old 01-26-2016, 02:54 PM   #27
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In the broader scale, beyond just the Hobbits, none of the Fellowship is, at the end, in the same place as they were at the beginning of LOTR.

The Hobbits all die away from the Shire; Aragorn dies in Minas Tirith, though his 'home' was in Eriador; Gimli goes south from the Lonely Mountain and becomes Lord of the Glittering Caves; Legolas takes Elves from Mirkwood and goes to Ithilien.

Granted, with Gimli and Legolas, we don't know that they stayed in those new places, but Legolas did build his ship in Ithilien, with Gimli sailing away with him, as the tradition went.

Of them all, only Gandalf really went 'home'. That's especially noteworthy, since he was the only one of the Fellowship who could be said to have been homeless all during his time in Middle-earth.
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Old 01-26-2016, 04:13 PM   #28
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It seems, perhaps, dormitat bonum Homerus. Gandalf didn't know anything in particular about the Ring until he found the Isildur scroll at Minas Tirith in 3017, and then questioned Gollum in Mirkwood. Aragorn would have learned what Gandalf knew (or was willing to tell him) in the same time-frame; presumably he went straight from Thranduil's halls to Elrond's. In other words, that old ring of Bilbo's couldn't have caused much of a "disturbance" until roughly a year or so before the Council
Or Bilbo thought several times in the past year of going to get it.
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Old 01-29-2016, 07:34 AM   #29
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Boots Why Bilbo left in 3001 TA

This is an interesting thread, in terms of Bilbo's motivation for leaving the Shire for a second time in 3001 TA, this time for good.

According to what he said in Book 1, Chapter I, he first said to Gandalf, just before he left:

'I feel I need a holiday, a very long holiday, as I have told you before. Probably a permanent holiday. I don't expect I shall return. In fact, I don't mean to, and I have made all arrangements.'

He then said he was 'old', though he didn't 'look it'. He was 'beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts'. He felt 'all thin, sort of stretched', like butter scraped over too much bread. He then commented, 'That can't be right. I need a change, or something'.

He said he had made up his mind:

'I want to see mountains again, Gandalf - mountains; and then find somewhere where I can rest. In peace and quiet, without a lot of relatives prying about; and a string of confounded visitors hanging on the bell. I might find somewhere where I can finish my book.'

He also said to Gandalf:

'I want to see the wild country again before I die, and the Mountains; but he [Frodo] is still in love with the Shire, with woods and fields and little rivers'.

In Book 2, Chapter I, when the 4 hobbits got to Rivendall, and Frodo and Sam met Bilbo, the latter said to those two about his travels:

When he had left Hobbiton he wandered off aimlessly, along the Road or in the country on either side; but somehow he had steered all the time towards Rivendell.

He then said:

'I got here without much adventure, and after a rest I went on with the dwarves to Dale: my last journey. I shan't travel again....Then I came back here, and here I have been. I have done this and that. I have written some more of my book. And of course, I make up a few songs. And I listen and I think. Time doesn't seem to pass here: it just is.'

Near the end of LotR, in Book 6, Chapter VI, 'Many Partings', when the 4 hobbits visited Bilbo in Rivendell, he said that he had returned from his first journey 'by too straight a road'. But he admitted that if he had done so, the auction would have been over; and he would have had 'even more trouble than I did'. He then observed:

'Anyway it's too late now; and really I think it's much more comfortable to sit here and hear about it all. The fire's very cosy here, and the food's very good, and there are Elves when you want them. What more could one want?'

Looking at this, Bilbo's reasons for leaving appear to be:

1. Being very old but not looking old: He was aware that he was a very old hobbit, 111 years old, but certainly didn't look it, something he rightly felt was unnatural. He said to Gandalf that this conflict between how he felt and how he looked made him feel 'stretched'. Also, this was the subject of gossip, people being aware that there was something funny going on without knowing what it was. There was no reason why they should; because Bilbo and Gandalf weren't aware at that time of the Ring's true identity.
2. Peace and quiet: As a result of his age, Bilbo wanted to go somewhere for peace and quiet, without being disturbed by others, and where he would have access to the resources, both living and documentary, to enable him to write. He would also be well looked after, without being an emotional burden on Frodo and other hobbits he cared about. Frodo could also be his own master, in full control of Bag End.
3. To return to old places: Again as a result of his age, he wanted to look again at the places he had been to on his last journey before he died, which he did, going to Dale and the Lonely Mountain before settling in Rivendell. (I have an amusing picture of him being asked to open a new hobbit tea room in Dale or the Mountain! )
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Old 01-29-2016, 09:38 AM   #30
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When he had left Hobbiton he wandered off aimlessly, along the Road or in the country on either side; but somehow he had steered all the time towards Rivendell.
I wonder what the dwarves who accompanied him thought of all this aimless wandering.
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Old 01-29-2016, 09:50 AM   #31
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Boots A suggestion

Presumably they were well aware that he was very old by hobbit standards, and would treat him as they would a very old and honoured dwarf, as long as he didn't put himself and themselves at risk. Perhaps they had orders from Dain to do this...
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Old 01-30-2016, 10:20 AM   #32
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1. Being very old but not looking old: He was aware that he was a very old hobbit, 111 years old, but certainly didn't look it, something he rightly felt was unnatural. He said to Gandalf that this conflict between how he felt and how he looked made him feel 'stretched'. Also, this was the subject of gossip, people being aware that there was something funny going on without knowing what it was. There was no reason why they should; because Bilbo and Gandalf weren't aware at that time of the Ring's true identity.
You know, this part, and the rest of your post, prompt the question if part of Bilbo's desire to travel around with Dwarves was an attempt to recall the "good old days" of adventure. But, of course, it's not the same, so he retires permanently to Rivendell.
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Old 01-30-2016, 11:18 AM   #33
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Presumably they were well aware that he was very old by hobbit standards, and would treat him as they would a very old and honoured dwarf, as long as he didn't put himself and themselves at risk. Perhaps they had orders from Dain to do this...
I was sort of being half joking.

I think that the dwarves held Bilbo in a degree of reverence that it was considered a honor to accompany him, especially since they eventually brought him to Dale.
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Old 02-15-2016, 09:40 AM   #34
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I wonder if any of the hobbits who left and came back ever felt the same way about The Shire, as they felt before leaving it. Sam departs into the West after Rosie dies. In their later years Merry goes to rejoin Eomer and Pippin goes to Gondor and gets buried next to Aragorn. None of them died nor buried in The Shire.
I arise from my chronic lurking once more!

I have not read this entire thread yet (I will!) but I wanted to comment on this particular point while the thought was fresh in my mind.

To paraphrase the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, "No man ever steps in the same river twice. It is not the same river and he is not the same man." From what little of his writings have survived it appears that Heraclitus's philosophy was based on the idea that everything is changing all the time - that all is in flux - in both the spiritual and the physical sense.

With that in mind, one could argue that the Hobbits are changing too, just like everything else. So is the Shire. When a Hobbit stays in the Shire, he changes along with it; the changes are not as noticeable. But when a Hobbit spends significant time outside of the Shire and having a lot of non-typical (for a Hobbit) experiences/adventures, the course of his changing diverges from that of the home he left behind. The Shire will not be the same when he gets back. And neither will he.

It is much like being a kid and your grandmother making a big fuss over how much you've grown since she saw you last summer. You have been growing the whole time, of course, but have not noticed it since the change was so gradual and slow. Your grandmother does not perceive the change in quite the same way...

Great thread.
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