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Old 05-27-2006, 02:40 PM   #1
Estelyn Telcontar
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Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!Estelyn Telcontar has reached the Cracks of Doom and destroyed the Ring!
Pipe The Hobbit - Chapter 19 - The Last Stage

This is the final chapter of this book, and we finish our journey as Bilbo does his! At first Gandalf and Bilbo stay at Rivendell once again, a home away from home - safe, yet still Elvish and other-worldly.

There's lots of poetry in these few pages! The Elves sing a variation of the "Tra-la-la-lally" song, telling the story that the hobbit and his companions experienced. It begins more seriously, then goes back to the light-hearted spirit of their first stay. A bit later they sing a lullaby that wakes him up - what a paradox! And when Bilbo returns to the Shire he chants a poem that is the predecessor to "The Road goes ever on and on" of LotR. I find this version somewhat weaker - "Roads" is not as strong as "The Road", and the repetition of "ever" less pleasing than "on and on". Still, it is evidently good enough to draw Gandalf's attention to the change that has taken place in Bilbo.

Retracing their steps brings to memory (both Bilbo's and ours) the trip in the other direction a year earlier. There is a reference to the White Council and the Necromancer, a tantalizing glimpse of the larger Legendarium, which has by now become the background to this story.

There is a cute reference to the beginning of the journey in the mentioning of the red silk handkerchief that Bilbo "borrowed" from Elrond - I wonder if or when he ever gave it back?! The trolls' gold adds to the hobbit's wealth, though I remember reading (and can't find the exact reference now) that he later gave it away, feeling that it was not his to keep.

The homecoming is surprising and unexpected - almost like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn arriving back for their own funeral! We find out that even the peaceable Hobbits had need for lawyers, since the auction was obviously conducted by a legal firm. The Sackville-Bagginses are mentioned for the first time, and in a manner that shows them to be avaricious and dishonest.

Bilbo's life is changed, and as a German proverb says, if your reputation's already ruined, you can live whatever way you want to. The changes make him less connected with the community in which he lives, but more connected with the rest of Middle-earth by his contacts with other races.

The final paragraphs tell of a later visit by Gandalf and Balin and in doing so, the narrative tells us what happened in Dale and Lake-town after their restoration. Gandalf's final words are both deep and humorous - typical for him! The story ends with a very hobbity note - the tobacco-jar.

How do you like the story's ending? How does it compare to a typical fairy-tale, and how does it differ? Did the ending leave you wanting more about Hobbits, or Middle-earth, or Elves, or Dwarves - or maybe all of them? Do you think "There and Back Again" is an appropriate title for Bilbo's memoirs?


Thanks to all who participated in these discussions! The threads remain open, so if you want to join in later on, you are welcome to do so.
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'Mercy!' cried Gandalf. 'If the giving of information is to be the cure of your inquisitiveness, I shall spend all the rest of my days in answering you. What more do you want to know?' 'The whole history of Middle-earth...'
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Old 05-28-2006, 10:17 AM   #2
Bęthberry
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Silmaril As all things come to an end, even this story ...

Estelyn comments on how very much singing and poetry there is in this chapter. How very different from Smith of Wootten Major where in the Great Hall there is no longer singing. It is valuable to see this last chapter of The Hobbit in light of what Tolkien has said about Smith

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tolkien in Carpenter's biography, chapter 'Headington'
As usual there is no 'religion' in the story; but plainly enough the Master Cook and the Great Hall, etc., are a (somewhat satirical) allegory of the village-church, and the village parson: its functions steadily decaying and losing all touch with the "arts", into mere eating and drinking--the last trace of anything "other" being left in the children.
The song I would like to comment on is one Esty does not mention, Sing all ye Joyful", because it's rhyme-scheme, rhythm, and phrasing remind me so much of many hymns, choral music, and biblical passages. That archaic ye is used for a reason methinks.

For similarity to biblical passages you can check out this link: here, most particularly in passages from Psalms. Anyone who is familiar with Christmas carols can see some of the similarities also.

What is even more striking is what has happened to this song from Tolkien: it has been put to well-known choral music by Ruth Watson Henderson . The title track is none other than "Sing All Ye Joyful".

Another link: Elmer Iseler Singers.

So it is not only RPGers who extend Middle-earth.

Thank you also, Estelyn, for true and faithful work on both the Chapter by Chapter threads. Well done, Moddess!
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Old 05-28-2006, 10:33 AM   #3
davem
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Quick one.
Quote:
It was now nearly lunchtime, and most of the things had already been sold, for various prices from next to nothing to old songs (as is not unusual at auctions).
Interestingly songs were often handed down in families, & it was considered bad form for anyone else to sing them (see Bob Stewart: 'Where is St George: Pagan Imagery in English Folksong' & UnderWorld Initiation). Tolkien seems to be alluding to this - if a song could be considered personal property it would, in theory, be possible to 'sell' it, or use it to pay for goods.

the other thing that springs to mind is the last scene in the BBC Radio version of TH, where Gandalf & Balin are having a conversation while Bilbo goes to the pantry. Balin points out that Bilbo is writing a book. Gandalf replies "He'll never get a publisher."
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Old 05-30-2006, 07:33 AM   #4
Selmo
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A few minutes ago I was listening to the final words of the BBC's version of The Hobbit that Davem refers to. I listened to the original broadcasts and have played my audio tapes many times and missed the comment about not finding a puplisher. I notice it for the first time and then come here and read Davem's post; a strange coincidence.

The last scene in the book, which the BBC chose to emphasise (with Tolkien's involvement? It seems like a very Tolkienish joke.), tells us that, although his adventures have changed Bilbo, he remains essentially the same in his core. His main interests are still good food, companionship and idle gossip.

.
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Old 05-30-2006, 08:44 PM   #5
Texadan
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Quote:
The trolls' gold adds to the hobbit's wealth, though I remember reading (and can't find the exact reference now) that he later gave it away, feeling that it was not his to keep.

From TFotR, "Flight to the Ford"...
Quote:
'There!' said Merry. 'That must be the stone that marked the place where the trolls' gold was hidden. How much is left of Bilbo's share, I wonder, Frodo?'
Frodo looked at the stone, and wished that Bilbo had brought home no treasure more perilous, nor less easy to part with. 'None at all,' he said. 'Bilbo gave it all away. He told me he did not feel it was really his, as it came from robbers.'
It's interesting that to everyone else Bilbo was "the thief" yet his regard for wealth was less than avaricious. In this last chapter he tried to give all the trolls' wealth to Gandalf but Gandalf insisted they share. Perhaps watching the effects of gold on Thorin made him realize that his wealth was something to be used and shared, not hoarded.
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