Frodo Finds a New Home

Jessica Harnsberger '07, English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2003

Surrounded by waves of leaping fire and cave walls throbbing with rage, Frodo finally accomplishes the great task that saves the world from the consuming darkness of Sauron: he destroys the One Ring in the Cracks of Doom, but only with the help of the wretched creature Gollum. Frodo, having lifted then immense burden of bearing the ring, appears peaceful and much like his old self of the joyful days in the Shire. However, on the journey back to the Shire, Frodo, unlike the other hobbits, feels ill and cannot share the others' joy in returning home. When Gandalf notices Frodo's uneasiness, he asks:

"Are you in pain, Frodo?" . . . .

"Well, yes I am," said Frodo. "It is my shoulder. The wound aches, and the memory of darkness is heavy on me. It was a year ago today."

"Alas! There are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured," said Gandalf.

"I fear that it may be so with mine," said Frodo. "There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?" [967]

After Gandalf leaves the hobbits to continue on home by themselves, Merry reflects on their return to the Shire:

"Well here we are, just the four of us that started out together," said Merry. "We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded."

"Not to me," said Frodo. "To me it feels more like falling asleep again." [974]

Sam visits Frodo one evening in the study and finds his master looking quite strange. He

was very pale and his eyes seemed to see things far away.

"What's the matter, Mr. Frodo?" said Sam.

"I am wounded," he answered, "wounded; it will never really heal." [1002]

When Sam realizes that Frodo intends to depart on a ship with the Elves, Sam says with tears in his eyes:

"But . . . I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too, for years and years, after all you have done."

"So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them. But you are my heir: all that I had and might have had I leave to you." [1006]

Questions

1. Why can Frodo not return permanently to the Shire? How has he changed compared to the other hobbits, who can successfully go back home?

2. Why will Frodo's wounds never heal? How might he come to terms with them?

3. Merry and Frodo have very different views of returning to the Shire. What is implied by their comparisons to dreaming and sleeping?

4. When Sam finds Frodo in the study, Frodo's eyes "seemed to see things far away." What are these things he sees? Can these things be similar to what drove Bilbo to ultimately leave the Shire never to return?

5. Can Frodo and Sam be compared to Anodos and the knight in Phantastes? In this parallel, what does the Shire represent?

References

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. Houghton Mifflin, Boston: 1966.


Victorian Web Overview J. R. R. Tolkien Victorian courses

Last modified 2 March 2004