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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Frodo quote question

Nira
Lorien


May 4 2013, 7:51pm

Post #1 of 16 (279 views)
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Frodo quote question Can't Post

I am having difficulty understanding the very last line of the chapter "Homeward Bound."

Merry says, "Well, here we are, just the four of us that started out together. We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded." That makes sense to me, but then Frodo says, "Not to me. To me it feels more like falling asleep again."

What is your interpretation of the meaning behind what Frodo said?

Thanks! Smile

"Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end?" -Samwise

(This post was edited by Nira on May 4 2013, 7:54pm)


Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


May 4 2013, 9:55pm

Post #2 of 16 (182 views)
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He still hasn't found his home. [In reply to] Can't Post

To Merry, the Shire is home and reality, and all the strange experiences he had on the road are behind him and are fading into non-reality. For Frodo, the Shire has become as strange as his experiences on the road: He isn't home, he can't rest, and for him the Shire feels as unreal as walking through Mordor.

As we know, he later says that the saved the Shire, but not for himself, and he has to leave Middle-earth to finally be at rest.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


Ataahua's stories


Brethil
Half-elven


May 4 2013, 9:57pm

Post #3 of 16 (168 views)
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Good quote Nira! [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I am having difficulty understanding the very last line of the chapter "Homeward Bound."

Merry says, "Well, here we are, just the four of us that started out together. We have left all the rest behind, one after another. It seems almost like a dream that has slowly faded." That makes sense to me, but then Frodo says, "Not to me. To me it feels more like falling asleep again."

What is your interpretation of the meaning behind what Frodo said?

Thanks! Smile




I think that line has a few layers of meaning.

I think primarily what Frodo is referring to is that while wearing the Ring, and experiencing the world of Spirit (the Other Side) and the power living within the Ring he was feeling things he had never felt before, in a heightened way. So even with the corruption and pain that the Ring brought him, that feeling is beyond the usual ken of mortals and gave him insight into a whole other plane of existence. So turning away from all that is like part of him is going back to sleep.
In more modern parlance many feel as well that the Ring's allure is akin to addiction; in which case one may never have the same sensations without the addictive item, and a return to daily life would potentially seem like a diminishment.
And deeper, from perhaps glimpsing JRRT's own feelings in the matter, the bittersweet return from war perhaps gives one a sense of weariness, even when returning to happy places, due to the loss that one has felt; those happy and humdrum things may not feel the same after the stress of battle, with life and death hanging in the balance every day, and familiar faces gone forever.

Hope that makes sense!

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Brethil
Half-elven


May 4 2013, 10:07pm

Post #4 of 16 (160 views)
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Like your description of the Unreal feeling Ataahua [In reply to] Can't Post

So sad to see him like that in Film. Love that we got that rosy-cheeked smile at the very last.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


Maciliel
Tol Eressea


May 4 2013, 10:14pm

Post #5 of 16 (162 views)
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hi nira : ) [In reply to] Can't Post

 
hi nira : )

to me, in this quote, frodo is talking about the shire's insularity and innocent ignorance of the world outside its borders and the forces at play that actually could annihilate the shire.

ignorance is no protection, but for many generations shirefolk have taken the line to keep their noses out of trouble, and no trouble will come to them. on a local level, perhaps this works, and perhaps this philosophy makes sense if everyone abides by it.

but parts of the world outside the shire are all about trouble-seeking, willfully upsetting the milk jugs and plundering the larders of others.

hobbits have lived in blissful, blissful ignorance for many generations. believing one's world is safe and good is a gift not many have.

thanks for sharing the quote.

what do you think it means?

cheers -

.


aka. fili orc-enshield
+++++++++++++++++++
the scene, as i understand it, is exceptionally well-written. fili (in sort of a callback to the scene with the eagles), calls out "thorRIIIIIIN!!!" just as he sees the pale orc veer in for the kill. he picks up the severed arm of an orc which is lying on the ground, swings it up in desperation, effectively blocking the pale orc's blow. and thus, forever after, fili is known as "fili orc-enshield."

this earns him deep respect from his hard-to-please uncle. as well as a hug. kili wipes his boots on the pale orc's glory box. -- maciliel


Nira
Lorien


May 4 2013, 11:17pm

Post #6 of 16 (153 views)
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Thank you for the great replies! [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi! Smile I'm really not sure. He has had bad dreams that were foretelling. Perhaps he is feeling as if he is about to dream of yet another bad experience that is to come. That is to say, he doesn't yet feel that his journey is behind him. This is in contrast to Merry's journey, which, as far as growing (in more than one way) and moving forward, is mostly complete for him at the moment Gandalf leaves and entrusts the safety of the Shire to him.

Gandalf, the last non-hobbit of the group to leave, had just left and they had not quite reached the Shire yet. Frodo says "asleep again" which means that he has felt this way before. Sleep (or lack thereof) and vivid mostly-negative foretelling dreams seem to be used by Tolkien a lot to convey meaning for the characters, especially Frodo. Because of this fact, I'm not sure if he is using the term "sleep" literally, saying he feels this is like past sleep experiences, or metephorically for other meanings such as what you each described.

"Why, to think of it, we're in the same tale still! It's going on. Don't the great tales never end?" -Samwise

(This post was edited by Nira on May 4 2013, 11:25pm)


IdrilofGondolin
Rohan

May 4 2013, 11:31pm

Post #7 of 16 (150 views)
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How about this [In reply to] Can't Post

Living in the Shire is living in a comfortable spot without any knowledge of the real world. They had become sheltered but had ceased to remember it -- can't remember the exact quote. Aragorn says at one point that simple folk need to be kept from knowledge of the world and the evil in it so that they can remain simple. Meaning I suppose that they can be happy and free. It is people like Aragorn who know the real world, who carry burdens and labor for the security of others.

All this Frodo finally understands. That is why going back to the Shire is like falling asleep to him. It is a beautiful dream, and remains so as long as their are people like the Dunedain who are willing to sacrifice to keep evil at bay.


noWizardme
Grey Havens


May 5 2013, 7:40am

Post #8 of 16 (117 views)
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I have a further meaning to suggest [In reply to] Can't Post

I have a further meaning to suggest (without disagreeing with the other ideas!)

I read Tom Shippey's "Tolkien, Author of the Century" and among the many interesting ideas is one of the Shire as being a sort of half-way point between our world and the rest of Middle-earth. The Shire reads very like early twentieth century England, though populated by hobbits rather than English people. The hobbits (perhaps particularly Bilbo in The Hobbit) can function as interpreters for us- plausibly requiring explanations of things that are likely to be unknown to us, for example. There's also humour to be had in the contrast between "modern" and somewhat bourgeois Bilbo, and his dwarven companions. (Anyway, that's the idea that reading Shippey put in my head!)

So you could imagine that Frodo is returning from the full-on world of Faerie to something closer to the world of us, the audience. Perhaps there's a sense of him feeling he's leaving the story, and its back to dull reality?

Then, shockingly, the "story" has penetrated and damaged what seemed safe in the Shire. And our heroes have to use what they gained from the "story" to put things right.

Maybe there's also a sense that nothing in the rest of Frodos life could feasibly top being a Ringbearer, not in importance, or suffering, or giving oneself over to a cause. While the others have things to look forward to in the Shire, what does Frodo have?

I note this answer echoes some of the others - a view of a differeny part of the same elephant, perhaps?

Disclaimers: The words of noWizardme may stand on their heads! I'm often wrong about things, and its fun to be taught more....

"nowimŽ I am in the West, and by other names in other lands. Mostly they just say 'Oh no it's him - look busy!' "


sador
Half-elven


May 5 2013, 1:15pm

Post #9 of 16 (115 views)
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One point that should be taken into account [In reply to] Can't Post

Is just how different Merry's reaction is - and after all, both have left the Shire and experienced the world beyond.
I have raised this question myself nearly two years ago (here, part IV); both FarFromHome and dernwyn's answers are well-worth reading.
My personal theory is that Frodo is referring to the "real life" of Elvendom, which he has not only lost forever but have been a direct agent in destroying - something Merry never seems to have experienced. I've discussed this idea with FarFRomHome and Darkstone here, referring to NEB's old post.




Darkstone
Immortal


May 5 2013, 8:04pm

Post #10 of 16 (107 views)
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IMHO [In reply to] Can't Post

One common symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder ("shell shock" in Tolkien's day) is the feeling that the everyday world is no longer real and that the sufferer is in a dream-like state.

Tolkien doubtless would have been well aware of that and other PTSD symptoms, if not in himself, then in his friends and comrades. Personally, it is this soldierly connection which makes LOTR a particularly precious and rewarding experience for me.

The fact that Frodo is never cured until he goes west is especially heart-breaking. For you see, "going west" is World War I soldier slang for dying. If Tolkien meant that connection (though many insist that he did not) it makes Frodo a very, very real person to me.

Tolkien is a far more deep and sensitive writer than many give him credit for.

******************************************
The audacious proposal stirred his heart. And the stirring became a song, and it mingled with the songs of Gil-galad and Celebrian, and with those of Feanor and Fingon. The song-weaving created a larger song, and then another, until suddenly it was as if a long forgotten memory woke and for one breathtaking moment the Music of the Ainur revealed itself in all glory. He opened his lips to sing and share this song. Then he realized that the others would not understand. Not even Mithrandir given his current state of mind. So he smiled and simply said "A diversion.Ē



(This post was edited by Darkstone on May 5 2013, 8:05pm)


Brethil
Half-elven


May 5 2013, 8:38pm

Post #11 of 16 (94 views)
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Agreed, Darkstone [In reply to] Can't Post

Very well said.

Manwe, when asked a simple "Yes" or "No" question, contemplated, and responded "the middle one."


demnation
Rohan


May 5 2013, 10:59pm

Post #12 of 16 (78 views)
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Right you are [In reply to] Can't Post

I often take for granted one of the things I appreciate most in LOTR: a very heartfelt-and deeply felt- sense of sadness and loss. And the great thing about Tolkien's approach to his work is that you can believe in the "going west" idea if you wish.

Use Well the Days


BallyWhooo
Bree

May 6 2013, 1:15am

Post #13 of 16 (87 views)
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Waking Up [In reply to] Can't Post

I've always interpreted it to mean that Frodo "wakes up" to the real problems, crises and issues of the world at large when he leaves the Shire, so when going he is returning to the Shire for good (as we think at this point in the story), he feels like he is returning to a place where that lack of knowledge is the norm, going backwards from waking (realization) to sleeping (unknowing).

A side-note link to the movie "The Hobbit". I really liked that the dialogue included Gandalf explaining to Bilbo that the real world was not in his hobbit hole, but rather it is "out there". That feels very similar to what Tolkien seems to be indicating in the books.


dik-dik
Lorien


May 7 2013, 10:08am

Post #14 of 16 (86 views)
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Re: [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
What is your interpretation of the meaning behind what Frodo said?


Mine is that for him, the nightmare he endured became more real than the peaceful world he was returning to. That he saw and experienced too much to ever be the same. And perhaps because he was a ringbearer, he was also turning, to put it in Sam-like words, Elvish; at least as far as mentality is concerned. Throughout the last three chapters of LotR, Frodo reads to me like one of the spiritually distant characters from Valinor. As if, like for Elves, memory is equal for him to reality, and perhaps even more so. The renewal of peace in The Shire would feel alien to him, and he would feel he didn't belong in such a world anymore: whereas for others their lives would feel very real and enjoyable, I feel for Frodo this would be just an illusion, a fleeting dream of things he can never have again; mostly because he already felt (and knew, from Arwen and Elrond) that he would soon be leaving.
Just my two cents.

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington


CuriousG
Valinor


May 7 2013, 12:03pm

Post #15 of 16 (43 views)
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Nice observation [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Throughout the last three chapters of LotR, Frodo reads to me like one of the spiritually distant characters from Valinor.

Glad you made that comment, Dik-Dik. I've always seen Frodo as becoming more spiritually exalted by the end of the book, but saw that as fulfilling his own spiritual destiny, something unique to him. I never made the comparison to beings in Valinor before, but it makes sense, especially since that was where he was headed.


dik-dik
Lorien


May 7 2013, 9:55pm

Post #16 of 16 (49 views)
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Thanks! For me... [In reply to] Can't Post

... it was the descriptions of Frodo filled with light (same type of description as the one referring to the reincarnate Glorfindel, isn't it?) and all tall and elf-like, that first made me think of the Silmarillion goodies. And re-reading his quotes and behaviour especially in the last three chapters, I felt he had something of the high ones of the West, something 'Finarfinish' about him. ;)

"A journalist once asked me what I would like my epitaph to be and I said I think I would like it to be 'He did very little harm'. And that's not easy. Most people seem to me to do a great deal of harm. If I could be remembered as having done very little, that would suit me." ~ Paul Eddington

 
 

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