The West and the Grey Havens

Devorah West '07, English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2003

After the destruction of the One Ring, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, return to the Shire only to find that it too suffered from the effects of the evil that besieged Middle-earth. Yet, with the help of loyal hobbits, they re-conquer and rebuild their once idyllic land. Though many years pass, and the Shire acquires its original beauty, Frodo remains restless. Sam joins him on one last journey to Rivendell, but on their way they unite with Galadriel and a group of Elves making their way to the Grey Havens. Sam then realizes that Frodo is going with them and leaving Middle-earth. Merry and Pippin meet Frodo and Sam at the Grey Havens to say one last parting farewell.

Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went abroad; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last one night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the water that was soon lost in the West. There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the sound of then sank deep into his heart. Beside him stood Merry and Pippin, and they were silent. [1007]


1. What are the Grey Havens? And to where are Frodo and the Elves going?

2. Why must those who have carried rings of power, such as Frodo, Bilbo, and Gandalf, leave Middle-earth?

3. Why does Tolkien refer back to Frodo's dream at Bombadil's house to describe what the land was like beyond the Sea?

4. Are the Grey Havens and the passage into the West similar to the to Aslan's country in The Chronicles of Narnia?

5. The Sea holds a kind of reverence throughout the novel. How does Tolkien create this effect?


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