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Some ramblings after just finishing my re-read of LotR
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Aug 2 2013, 5:17am

Post #1 of 26 (575 views)
Some ramblings after just finishing my re-read of LotR Can't Post

I just finished about ten minutes ago. Thought there would be no better place than here to let it settle.

It had been a few years since reading it, so this has been a very refreshing experience for me in terms of the smaller details that the films do not address or hint at (the films being my primary medium for a few years).

I really don't know what to say. Call it a cliché, or call it a cliché for calling it a cliché, I'm speechless. It's a sort of quiet sobbing that I'm still having, even now. To clarify, I have read LotR before, but for some reason it has so much more behind it than the last time. There were so many mixed emotions that came up as I read Sam's final line. I don't have it in me to start on the Appendices tonight, but that's what tomorrow is for. It's so strange to feel like I can't come up with the right descriptors. My mind seems too overwhelmed to formalize these thoughts. I will say, I feel at peace, albeit with a slight bitterness that brings on some tears.

I don't appear to be rambling as much as I figured I would, so I suppose I spared you of some of that. Smile

I'd like to hear everyone's thoughts, though, on how you feel/felt during these first few minutes I'm currently at after completing the trilogy (doesn't have to be the most recent time). What do you remember about your thoughts as you put down the book after Sam finishes the tale? Or is articulating it as hard for you as it is for me?

Also, I've been trying to decide on how often I'll read the books, whether it be a yearly reading (like many here, I'm sure) or every 2, 3, 4, etc. I never have seemed to make an established system to adhere to. I am curious to hear your approach. My main thought is that I want them to feel as fresh as possible, without feeling like they're losing their mythical quality. (My gut still says do a yearly reading, assuming real life doesn't prevent it for some unforeseeable reason. *fingers crossed* of course).

So come ramble on here with me about anything that comes to mind. I"m looking forward to read all of your own experiences tomorrow, after some rest. End of the week+finishing LotR= good, peaceful night's sleep. Here's to a great read, and all of the subsequent times yet to come!


(This post was edited by cats16 on Aug 2 2013, 5:20am)

Tol Eressea

Aug 2 2013, 12:29pm

Post #2 of 26 (289 views)
More ramblings - [In reply to] Can't Post

- I felt pretty much the same on my first reading - though, because I had no idea what was going to happen in the story (this was 1976) - I also felt each part as it happened; not just at the end. When Gandalf fell in Moria, I was stunned. I put down the book and wandered round the room for a bit - I was speechless. And more than a bit happy when he returned in the next volume. Think how Tolkien's early readers must have felt, with months between the printing of each volume!

I don't read the book much these days - but I listen to the unabridged audio book most days, while I'm at work. Sometimes, when I get to the end, I just start from the beginning again.



Aug 2 2013, 12:40pm

Post #3 of 26 (288 views)
Here id my take... [In reply to] Can't Post

First of all I have read LOTR many many times. Whenever I am bored ( when I do not have any thing else to read that excites me) I like to pick it up and just flip to a random page and start reading. Sometimes just a few pages, other times a chapter or two. I always notice little things that seemed to slip my memory the first time I read it.
I regularly reread LOTR in full from start to finish about one a year. And I reread the Silmarillion in parts each year. I have found it to be a little overwhelming if you read the whole thing in one sitting. But I am always left... well speechless... after I finish. I still cry at Boromir's death and Théoden's fall.no matter how many times I read it I will never grow tired of Tolkien's masterpiece!

Faithful servant yet master's bane,
Lightfoot's foal, swift Snowmane


Aug 2 2013, 1:27pm

Post #4 of 26 (296 views)
I am torn in two [In reply to] Can't Post

The last half of ROTK is my favorite, and I re-read it more often than the earlier parts of the books. The ending always makes me cry for Frodo.

I watch him struggle, willingly sacrifice everything he has, succeed only by grace, fall out of the story, be misunderstood and marginalized, try to come back, struggle in pain some more and ultimately throw himself back on the grace that he might be healed, after one last sacrifice.

Like Sam, I am torn in two. I rail against the unfairness of life for Frodo, at the same time I acknowledge that it couldn't end any other way. I mourn for all the things he should have as reward but never will (honor and acceptance from the hobbits, time to watch the Shire recover and prosper, his own family and children, being allowed to use his wisdom as Mayor) , while simultaneously giving thanks for that one last chance for true healing in the West (acceptance of his success and failures, physical healing if it is possible, the chance to understand the larger picture). I miss him for Sam and his cousins. It always makes me cry.

"That is one thing that Men call 'hope.' Amdir we call it, 'looking up.' But there is another which is founded deeper. Estel we call it, that is 'trust.' It is not defeated by the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but from our nature and First Being. If we are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any enemy, not even by ourselves. This is the last foundation of estel, which we keep even when we contemplate the End. Of all His designs the issue must be for His children's joy."
Finrod, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, HoME X Morgoth's Ring

Ethel Duath

Aug 2 2013, 3:54pm

Post #5 of 26 (261 views)
I react very much the same. [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo often haunts me; especially the unfairness of it all. But he's my inspiration even more often.Evil


Aug 2 2013, 4:16pm

Post #6 of 26 (256 views)
enlighten me... [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm really glad I read your post, FantasyFan. Ever since I read the books for the first time, and every time I watch the movies, I am left very confused and bitter because I don't understand why Frodo leaves the Shire. I understand his physical wound and how that won't heal, but for me, it's not enough of a reason to leave behind his closest friends and family.

You mention that he is misunderstood and marginalized by the hobbit community. I must have missed this when I read the book. Was this something directly in the text, or is it from the appendices? Can you (or anyone) point me to the source of this misunderstanding and marginalization? I think it would help me much better understand Frodo's decision to go to Valinor. Because after 13 years, it still bothers me.

Any insight to this aspect of Frodo's life in the Shire after the ware of the ring would be very much appreciated! Thanks!


Tol Eressea

Aug 2 2013, 4:29pm

Post #7 of 26 (259 views)
I tend to read every 4 or 5 years [In reply to] Can't Post

When enough time passes that I feel like the details are going a bit fuzzy, I read again. One of the unfortunate side effects of TORN & the movies that the details don't go fuzzy as quickly anymore,. Crazy

I love the movies, though not without many reservations - there's plenty that makes me cringe or hope for a re-do some day. But I'm grateful to the movies for enriching my book experience - helping me separate the characters of Merry & Pippin, giving me visuals of Middle Earth & its characters (I'm horrible at visuals). And, at times, making me appreciate the brilliance of Tolkien because no one does it better!


Happiness: money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important and so are friends, while envy is toxic -- and so is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude. - The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner as summarized by Lily Fairbairn. And a bit of the Hobbit reading thrown in never hurts. - NottaSackville


Aug 2 2013, 5:27pm

Post #8 of 26 (261 views)
This can be a big old discussion all in itself! [In reply to] Can't Post

And it would be a good one.

A couple of thoughts.

One, to jump way out of Tolkien only to find my way back.

I had also been very affected by Frodo's death. The story of my rereading LOTR for the first time in 30 years the summer of 2002 is too long to tell her. But it was an experience that I was primed for in many ways and the ending affected me so deeply I sobbed through the last half of ROTK and for a week after.

Later, I had the unfortunate experience of one of my online Tolkien friends dying unexpectedly from suicide. It shook me very badly and in talking about it with another Tolkien friend, he brought it back to Frodo and said, 'Some hurts are just too much for this world to heal and they have to be given over to others.'

Those words have brought me solace for many a deaths since then.

Frodo was too wounded. Someone online called it PTSD which helped me understand. Frodo didn't so much choose to leave those he loved and who loved him as he choose to seek and find healing. It's just that his healing was beyond what his friends could provide.

I think the part about 'misunderstood and marginalized by the hobbit community' is subtly woven into the story. It's there to find, often on the 10th or 20th reread. I wrote something for a LOTR class a decade ago that might point out a similar aspect to what you're directly asking her for. I'll go find it and repost it as a reply.

But I don't think, for a moment, that Frodo left because he felt misunderstood and marginalized. I think those aspects just heightened his increasing detachment from life in general. It's been my experience that some people know when death is coming. Or perhaps they are just in a place where they welcome it. Or stopped fighting the concept. Or something.

But they will slowly start to detach, both mentally and physically, from this world - the corporeal and tangible parts of it (by stopping eating or drinking) and the mental parts of it (by being more in their heads and less interested in human interaction). I think Frodo was doing this to some extent and the rest of the world was just going about its business not quite understanding or noticing it.

But I don't think this bothered Frodo much. I think he was already moving beyond matters like that by time he returned to the Shire.

These are good questions to ask, Nuradar. They always create the most marvelous discussions. :-)

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Aug 2 2013, 5:51pm

Post #9 of 26 (258 views)
writings from the past: "A Sad Ending" [In reply to] Can't Post

Nuradar, this doesn't quite get to the question you asked. But it may provide some insight anyhow. And I think it kind of shows how paying very close attention to subtle details can reveal some really interesting insights. Every time I reread (re-listen) to the book, I have a moment where I notice a subtle detail - often a series of details that are linked - that I've never noticed before that make me understand - and connect to - the story at a deeper level

This below is just as I wrote it 10+ years ago.

From: M(agpie)
Saturday, 5-Oct-2002 1:34 PM
Assignment Questions:
Is this really a happy ending?
How significant is it that the story begins from Frodo's point of view and ends with Sam's point of view?
Is this really a happy ending? I think this subject is what has driven me to think so hard about this book and among other things, take this course.

I felt extreme sadness, specifically in regards to Frodo, after reading the book. I felt like I had been ‘kicked in the gut’ or ‘whooped upside my head’. I was stunned. There were lots of personal reasons why I might feel like this but I was convinced that Tolkien’s style/craft/gift of writing was also responsible. What had this man done with his words that had impacted me so deeply?

I’ve tried to look at a couple of things that Tolkien did in his writing. I’m really hoping Dana (Paxson... the class instructor - he's done some writing on Tolkien if anyone wants to check him out) and others can not only provide feedback but, more importantly, give me further things to think about or read. I want to know (understand) more.

I was really struck by the change of Frodo’s demeanor at the end from the beginning. (This was even more evident to me because I was finishing the book, but I was also watching the beginning of the movie at the same time 6, 7, 8, 9 times). Once he’s left Bag End with Sam and Pippin, he begins joking with the others. They laugh and hum tunes together. There’s lighthearted teasing about the weight of packs and fetching water. When they meet Gildor “Frodo sat, eating, drinking, and talking with delight” Frodo is deciding when to leave, what path to take, and where to stop. He jumps up on a table at the Prancing Pony and sings a long, ridiculous song not once but twice.

But by the end Frodo has changed greatly. I went to “Return of the King” to look specifically at mentions of Frodo, starting at the point at which Sam wakes up after the destruction of the ring. From there until the end of the book, we are given little insight as to how Frodo is feeling or what he is thinking. Sam wakes up aware of the soft bed, swaying tree boughs, glimmering sunlight, and sweet smells. But Tolkien does not let us into Frodo’s head. He does laugh occasionally, but Tolkien doesn’t write from Frodo’s viewpoint. We don’t hear of his taking delight in sounds, smells, sites. Throughout the rest of the chapters Sam, Merry and Pippin are responsible for most of the conversation and activity. It seems a subtle removal of Frodo’s personality. The concrete is that he’s not as visible to us because the other hobbits are carrying the story. The inferred, I believe, is that Frodo is withdrawing. From his friends, his previous life, and the world.

Frodo’s role becomes a bit more passive. In “The Field of Cormallen”, Frodo is led by people, dressed by people and made to stand back to back with Merry and Pippin. Others are directing his activities.

Before leaving Rivendell (on the journey home) with a promise to see Bilbo again soon, Frodo talks with Elrond. Elrond tells Frodo that he should look for Bilbo in the woods of the Shire in the fall and that Elrond will be with him. Tolkien writes “These words no one else heard, and Frodo kept them to himself.” Again, Frodo is slowly separating himself from his friends.

After leaving Rivendell, Frodo begins to suffer physically and emotionally. Near the Ford of Bruinen “his eyes appeared not to see them or things about him.” (He is alone in his head.) The next day he is merry again, he cannot even look upon Weathertop. He “rode through its shadow with head bowed and cloak drawn close about him.” (Withdrawn)

The hobbits, and I think especially Frodo, looked at both Gandalf and Aragorn as protective father figures. When they say good-bye to Aragorn, Tolkien writes, “The hobbits were grieved at this parting; for Aragorn had never failed them and he had been their guide through many perils.” Frodo says, “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?” and “Gandalf did not answer.” Both of the figures that had been provided support, guidance, and advice were now removed from Frodo’s life. I think it showed the hobbits’ growth. If they were child-like in the beginning, they have matured into adulthood now. They must make their own way in the world, but facing all the adult cares and worries can be a daunting thing.

In the “Scouring of the Shire” twice, comments are directed at Frodo but Frodo is not the one that answers. When Sam begins to see the destruction of the Shire he “was beside himself. ‘I’m going right on, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I’m going to see what’s up. I want to find my gaffer.’” This is not the voice Sam would have used with Frodo at the beginning. Regardless of the ‘Mr.,’ Sam is no longer looking to Frodo for guidance or permission. (He means no disrespect, I’m sure) But more interestingly, Frodo is not the one who answers. Merry is. He is taking charge about what must be done with the ‘gang of ruffians’. Later, when the hobbits are told that some of the men have ‘shot one or two of our folk’, Merry cries ‘There you are, Frodo. I knew we should have to fight. Well, they started the killing.’ Farmer Cotton is the one who replies, however. I think this was another way of ‘removing’ Frodo, bit by bit from those around him. Circumstances have forced and fostered growth in everyone. They are feeling confident. I don’t think they’re ignoring Frodo. But I think that these interchanges were deliberate on Tolkien’s part in making us feel the Frodo’s separation.

Once in “Grey Havens” Frodo is often ill without those close to him even knowing. It is the ultimate, in my opinion, in ‘alone-ness’ to be sick alone. The Shire is returning to health. Trees are springing up, children are being born, fruit is plentiful and Tolkien says, “No one was ill, and everyone was pleased.” Two paragraphs later, however, Frodo is found lying on his bed, clutching Arwen’s gem as if half in a dream. He recovered but said nothing to Sam about it. Later Tolkien says, “All things now went well, with hope always of becoming still better.” , but then says, “Frodo dropped quietly out of all the doings of the Shire.” It seems to me, that Tolkien has declared a standard of “Everything’s okay” and an exception of “Frodo”. I don’t think Tolkien was trying to discount Frodo or disregard him. I think he was, drip by drip, removing him from the world of Middle Earth and from us the reader.

So I think, that by time he leaves, we have come to really feel, through all these devices of writing, just how separate and alone Frodo feels.

Now Dana wrote in a post, “What struck me the first time I read LOTR, is how the ending reads as a kind of consolation for incalculable losses and sacrifice on Frodo’s part. He receives a reward that no human or halfling in Middle-Earth has ever received: the gift of the Undying Lands.” I thought when I read Dana’s comment, “True, why didn’t I see it that way?”

Tolkien says that among the Elves leaving Middle-earth rode Sam, and Frodo, and Bilbo and they were ‘filled with a sadness that was yet blessed and without bitterness.’

And once Frodo makes up his mind to leave his heart seems lighter. He sings again. As the ship went out into the High Sea ‘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.” He is coming alive again. He smells things, he hears things, and he see colors (a common description of depression is that everything is in black and white, and treating depression successfully results in the return of color.)

But when Sam realizes that Gandalf is leaving as well as Frodo, he “was sorrowful at heart, and it seemed to him that...the parting would be bitter.” I’m with Sam. I’m feeling the bitterness of the loss. Frodo has withdrawn not only from his friends but from me, the reader. So I’m identifying with Sam and not really understanding what Frodo is feeling or thinking. I haven’t been allowed in. And Sam doesn’t know that Frodo’s begun healing already. ‘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 waters that was soon lost in the West.” (Again the grey imagery). And that’s were I am, in the grey.

So what does this all mean? I don’t know. I think Tolkien wanted it to be bittersweet but I’m not sure. I’ve found the epilogue from the History of Middle Earth to be quite soothing. But Tolkien did not want the epilogue published with the book. So was it his intention that we not feel (too?) soothed?

LOTR soundtrack website ~ magpie avatar gallery
TORn History Mathom-house ~ Torn Image Posting Guide


Aug 2 2013, 6:55pm

Post #10 of 26 (236 views)
I'm starting to "get it" [In reply to] Can't Post

Wow, thank you for that excellent answer Magpie. I always love your posts.

I really had not noticed the subtle changes to Tolkien's writings as the story wound down to an end. The excerpts you highlight below are excellent examples of how Frodo is withdrawn. I'm really going to keep this in mind when I do my next reading, which I plan for this fall.

Knowing this, I think it's much easier for me to accept (finally!) why Frodo leaves The Shire and ME. I can now see it wasn't really a "choice" after all.

Thank you Magpie! And I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. My deepest sympathies.


The Shire

Aug 2 2013, 7:28pm

Post #11 of 26 (227 views)
I read it... [In reply to] Can't Post

at least once a year, sometimes 2. I find I get a little more out of it each time. I still feel that sense of, "damn, I'm done--it's over", so I usually re-read the Hobbit then the Silmarillion, then move onto the Narnia Chronicles.

I'm chasing sound. Has anyone seen any?


Aug 2 2013, 11:05pm

Post #12 of 26 (216 views)
Likewise. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have friends who read it annually, but I like to let a few years lapse.

Of course, in the interim there's usually one if not two chapter-by-chapter read-throughs here in the TORn Reading Room which I follow (and usually contribute at least one chapter, often one per book). But I don't always read the chapter being discussed, as I know it well enough. Every one of the close readings yields new insights.

But, then, when I take it up for a cover-to-cover read, it's a different experience: then I get the rhythm and sweep of the story more, and it just gets richer.

And "Well, I'm back" still produces chills and tears, every time.

Ziggy Stardust

Aug 3 2013, 12:53am

Post #13 of 26 (211 views)
Same here [In reply to] Can't Post

I read it once or twice a year, I can't go any longer without it. It's one of my favorite novels, if not my favorite. I read, but am rather particular of what I read. Lord of the Rings, and some of the Literature Classic are some of the books I really like. I read those often, as they give me comfort, inspiration, and just make me feel generally good. Not a lot of books do that for me.


Aug 3 2013, 2:25pm

Post #14 of 26 (190 views)
Excellent post Magpie [In reply to] Can't Post

It is often true that those who fight (or make sacrifice) for a better world, are themselves unable to enjoy or be a part of that "better world" achieved.

If no where else, if not in his own life even, Tolkien probably saw this in some of his comrades returned from the Great War.


Aug 3 2013, 2:39pm

Post #15 of 26 (178 views)
Great, Magpie [In reply to] Can't Post

It really traces that drift that Frodo has, getting further and further away from that part of his life and needing to move on the next step.

Is there a Tolkien topic that you have wanted to look into more deeply, and write about your thoughts on it? If so, we'd like to hear from you for the next TORn Amateur Symposium- coming in November. Happy writing!


Aug 3 2013, 4:08pm

Post #16 of 26 (184 views)
I never thought of... [In reply to] Can't Post

how Tolkien's early readers must have felt with that gap in time! Perhaps a similar feeling to those who haven't read the books, but were/are fans of the films and are eagerly awaiting the story to continue? Of course they're getting an interpretation of the book from a filmmaker, but the anticipation may come from a similar place.

I don't usually listen to audio books, but perhaps I'll try it out with LotR one day. Many describe how it gives them a slightly different experience, having it read to you at the narrator's pace and tone.

Thanks for your comments, geordie!


Aug 3 2013, 4:23pm

Post #17 of 26 (175 views)
Great thoughts on Frodo and Sam [In reply to] Can't Post

Your comments, as well as others up-thread, really do highlight some of my experience with finishing the book. This time, I really saw those passages (that Magpie has pointed out specifically, above) about Frodo's slow removal from Middle-earth. It was so sad to see. I think I really picked up on it during The Scouring of the Shire. I noticed how 1) the other hobbits have changed greatly since they began their journey, and 2) Frodo has also changed, but in a very different way.

The last half of ROTK really separates Frodo and Bilbo as protagonists, based on how I read the books. For most of the time, I see many similarities in them. But here, Frodo becomes so much more to me. What he goes through, gives up, and never gets to have really distinguishes him from Bilbo.

And your thoughts on Sam are on point. I find it interesting how quickly (to me) Merry and Pippin are able to behave in a normal sense (laughing, joking) on the return from the Havens. I think it speaks a lot about their personalities (how they deal with grief, pain) and the hardships they experienced along the journey in Rohan and Gondor, but it's still intriguing to me nonetheless.

It's great to have the feeling that you have an understanding of something/someone, and yet continue to be mesmerized by its impact on you.



Aug 3 2013, 5:31pm

Post #18 of 26 (163 views)
Love your perspective on the movies [In reply to] Can't Post

I share pretty much all of your thoughts on enriching the experience of Tolkien. (I agree also, about TORN's side effects on the fuzziness.)

Just a general comment here, not only to you, Notta: I love reading and responding to comments of long-time members of these boards, with whom I haven't had many chances to interact with (except perhaps in Off-Topic every once and awhile). It's great to get chances like this to hear some of your thoughts, as I know some of you do not post very much in the movie forums (though you very well may lurk there, or you do post but I somehow miss them Cool).

Thanks, everyone else too! Didn't want to single out long-time members and not thank everyone else for their thoughts as well. You've given me many ideas to consider the next time I read the books (still haven't decided on the frequency I'll re-read them...but time will tell).



Aug 3 2013, 5:41pm

Post #19 of 26 (158 views)
Lovely analysis, Magpie. [In reply to] Can't Post

Many of your observations also stood out to me as I read recently. I didn't, however, pick up on the speaking parts during the Scouring of the Shire showing these changes. Also, I love your thoughts on Aragorn and Gandalf as being father figures for the hobbits. I saw this develop greatly as the story grew, and it was so sad to see these characters go. Not only for Aragorn and Gandalf's sakes, but also for those whom they love and are loved by. The growth of the hobbits, really, is one of my favorite things to follow in the story.

I'm half tempted to immediately start reading the books again, right now. With my individual thoughts at the end, on top of everyone's thoughts here, I have a lot of motivation to do so. But...we'll see.Smile

Ziggy Stardust

Aug 3 2013, 6:11pm

Post #20 of 26 (154 views)
Very well said Magpie [In reply to] Can't Post

I feel for Frodo, and that was very well written.

Aunt Dora Baggins

Aug 3 2013, 7:40pm

Post #21 of 26 (164 views)
I used to read them every year [In reply to] Can't Post

but after about 20 times I had just overdosed. I went into another overdose in the early 2000s as the movies were coming out. I tried things to make them fresh, such as reading them out of order, following one party (like Merry and Pippen) from the Breaking of the Fellowship all the way to the end and then going back and picking up the next group. That made it seem much shorter, for some reason. (On the other hand, I tried reading it chronological order and it felt interminable and I gave it up.) I also read it in Spanish once, which gave it a different flavor.

I've read the drafts of LotR in HoME and found some freshness that way too.

I guess it's been about seven years since my last read. I haven't felt the bug yet. I used to feel obliged to read it every year, but now I'm content to wait until it calls to me.

"For DORA BAGGINS in memory of a LONG correspondence, with love from Bilbo; on a large wastebasket. Dora was Drogo's sister, and the eldest surviving female relative of Bilbo and Frodo; she was ninety-nine, and had written reams of good advice for more than half a century."
"A Chance Meeting at Rivendell" and other stories

leleni at hotmail dot com

(This post was edited by Aunt Dora Baggins on Aug 3 2013, 7:42pm)


Aug 3 2013, 10:16pm

Post #22 of 26 (139 views)
I think you've said my number one concern [In reply to] Can't Post

The last thing I want to happen is for them to lose their freshness.

I really like the way you put it, "until it calls to me." That way of thinking really speaks to me. I would rather start reading them at a time when I feel that "call" you mentioned, as opposed to feeling an obligation to read them at a time when they might not have as much impact because of overexposure. I have (I'm sure many others here have as well) had a similar experience with the films, whether in the theatrical, dvd release, or a combination of both. I try to limit myself to two viewings of the films each year (ok, I'll concede that sometimes 3 or 4 times happens tooCool) to keep it fresh.

Maybe now I can think of reading the books the same way (or in a similar way, rather) as watching the films. I never thought to think of it like that, so thank you! Smile


Aug 3 2013, 11:15pm

Post #23 of 26 (131 views)
Magpie says it very well; my additions [In reply to] Can't Post

Other things I can quote from the text that speak of Frodo's state of mind on his return:
‘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 like a dream that has slowly faded.’

‘Not to me,’ said Frodo. ‘To me it seems more like falling asleep again."

The real world seems unreal to him, an his experience is different from the others.

Regarding the battle of Bywater:

So ended the Battle of Bywater, 1419, the last battle fought in the Shire, and the only battle since the Greenfields, 1147, away up in the Northfarthing. In consequence, though it happily cost very few lives, it has a chapter to itself in the Red Book, and the names of all those who took part were made into a Roll, and learned by heart by Shire-historians. The very considerable rise in the fame and fortune of the Cottons dates from this time; but at the top of the Roll in all accounts stand the names of Captains Meriadoc and Peregrin. Frodo had been in the battle, but he had not drawn sword, and his chief part had been to prevent the hobbits in their wrath at their losses, from slaying those of their enemies who threw down their weapons.

Frodo is not mentioned in the roll or the discussion of status. I doubt his compassion to the enemies was well understood or appreciated. But the most telling is:

Frodo dropped quietly out of all the doings of the Shire, and Sam was pained to notice how little honour he had in his own county. Few people knew or wanted to know about his deeds and adventures; their admiration and respect were given mostly to Mr. Meriadoc and Mr. Peregrin and (if Sam had known it) to himself.

Ultimately, it resolves as:

‘But,’ said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, ‘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. ...'

Sam has and becomes what Frodo feels he cannot have and be: father, husband, mayor, Cousellor, historian, wanted, needed, busy, happy. It is also the source of the title for an essay called Too Deeply Hurt: Understanding Frodo's decision to Depart (1998, archived at http://web.archive.org/web/20080312221631/http://www.geocities.com/karynmilos/toodeeplyhurt.html ) in which Karyn Milos discusses the aftermath of his trauma. (sorry I can't make a link)

Another interesting discussion of the PTSD aspects of Frodo's experience took place here at TORn on the old boards, I think in the Reading Room. I copied out this post, but unfortunately neglected to get a link or even identify the author at the time:

As a matter of curiosity, does Frodo in fact meet DSM-IV criteria for PTSD?

A) The person has been exposed to a traumatic event in which both of the following were present: (a) the person witnessed, experienced, or was confronted with an event or events that involved actual or threatened death or serious injury, or a threat to the physical integrity of self or others; (b) the person’s response involved intense fear, helplessness, or horror.


B) The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in one (or more) of the following ways: (a) recurrent and intrusive distressing recollections, (b) recurrent distressing dreams of the event, (c) acting or feeling as if the traumatic event were recurring, (d) intense psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event, (e) physiologic reactivity on exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event.

Check on (d) & (e) (severe psychological & physiologic reactions on various anniversaries).

C) Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the trauma and numbing of general responsiveness (not present before the trauma), as indicated by at least three of the following: (a) efforts to avoid thoughts, feelings, or conversations associated with the trauma, (b) efforts to avoid activities, places, or people that arouse recollections of the trauma, (c) inability to recall an important aspect of the trauma, (d) markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities, (e) feelings of detachment or estrangement from others, (f) restricted range of affect, (g) sense of foreshortened future.

Check on (b) (avoidance of Weathertop), (d) (withdrawal from social life in the shire), (e) (estrangement from his fellow hobbits; sense that he is too wounded to continue living in the shire), and (g) (no hope for his own survival and well-being in middle earth).
One might also argue that his newfound pacifism is a form of avoidance as well (the (a) criterion).

D) Persistent symptoms of increased arousal (not present before the trauma), as indicated by at least two of the following: (a) difficulty falling or staying asleep, (b) irritability or outbursts of anger, (c) difficulty concentrating, (d) hypervigilance, (e) exaggerated startle response.

I don’t see any evidence for any of these in the text.

E) Duration of symptoms more than one month.


F) Disturbance causes significant distress or impairs social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

Check on significant distress.

So although Frodo DOES have a lot of the symptoms of PTSD, he lacks the evidence of autonomic arousal, and so doesn’t meet full criteria.

Finally, Tolkien's own words on Frodo's experience (From Letter 246 to Mrs. Eileen Elgar):

But what Frodo himself felt about the events is quite another matter.

He appears at first to have had no sense of guilt (III 224-5); he was restored to sanity and peace. But then he thought that he had given his life in sacrifice: he expected to die very soon. But he did not, and one can observe the disquiet growing in him. Arwen was the first to observe the signs, and gave him her jewel for comfort, and thought of a way of healing him.* Slowly he fades 'out of the picture', saying and doing less and less. I think it is clear on reflection to an attentive reader that when his dark times came upon him and he was conscious of being 'wounded by knife sting and tooth and a long burden' (III 268) it was not only nightmare memories of past horrors that afflicted him, but also unreasoning self-reproach: he saw himself and all that he done as a broken failure. 'Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same, for I shall not be the same.' That was actually a temptation out of the Dark, a last flicker of pride: desire to have returned as a 'hero', not content with being a mere instrument of good. And it was mixed with another temptation, blacker and yet (in a sense) more merited, for however that may be explained, he had not in fact cast away the Ring by a voluntary act: he was tempted to regret its destruction, and still to desire it. 'It is gone for ever, and now all is dark and empty', he said as he wakened from his sickness in 1420.

'Alas! there are some wound that cannot be wholly cured', said Gandlaf (III 268) - not in Middle-earth. Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over the Sea to heal him - if that could be done, before he died. He would have eventually to 'pass away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within Time. So he went both to a purgatory and to a reward, for a while: a period of reflection and peace and a gaining of a truer understanding of his position in littleness and greatness; spent still in Time amid the natural beauty of "Arda Unmarred', the Earth unspoiled by evil.

...It is clear, of course, that the plan [for Frodo to sail West] had actually been made and concerted (by Arwen, Gandalf and others) before Arwen spoke. But Frodo did not immediately take it in; the implications would slowly be understood on reflection. Such a journey would at first seem something not necessarily to be feared, even as something to look forward to – so long as undated and postponable. His real desire was hobbitlike (and humanlike) just 'to be himself again and get back to the old familiar life that had been interrupted. Already on the journey back from Rivendell he suddenly saw that was not for him possible. Hence his cry 'Where shall I find rest?' He knew the answer, and Gandalf did not reply. .... But at Rivendell he came to understand things more clearly. The conversations he had there are not reported, but enough is revealed in Elrond's farewell III 267. From the onset of the first sickness (Oct. 5, 3019) Frodo must have been thinking about 'sailing', though still resisting a final decision — to go with Bilbo, or to go at all. It was no doubt after his grievous illness in March 3020 that his mind was made up.

"That is one thing that Men call 'hope.' Amdir we call it, 'looking up.' But there is another which is founded deeper. Estel we call it, that is 'trust.' It is not defeated by the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but from our nature and First Being. If we are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any enemy, not even by ourselves. This is the last foundation of estel, which we keep even when we contemplate the End. Of all His designs the issue must be for His children's joy."
Finrod, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, HoME X Morgoth's Ring

(This post was edited by FantasyFan on Aug 3 2013, 11:19pm)


Aug 4 2013, 4:09am

Post #24 of 26 (130 views)
{{{cats16}}} [In reply to] Can't Post

It's always so surprising how powerful this story is... and how The End always leaves me, I don't know, hovering and so emotional. Definitely disconnected from where I'm sitting and still connected to Middle-earth. I still cry.

What I find is most amazing is that I find the story speaks to each period of my life. I've read it at least once a year since 1971, and each time I'm stunned that I get more. I'm always comforted. And it feels like coming home every time I read it.

The best thing to do is to pick it up and read it whenever you're inspired to. Don't have an set time. You'll get so much more from LotR and The Hobbit when you're drawn to them :)

I'm so happy for you. There really is no way to describe the feeling, is there :) It's universal... and so personal.


4th draft of TH:AUJ Geeky Observation List - May 1, 2013


"There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West."

I'm SO HAPPY these new films take me back to that magical world!!

TIME Google Calendar
TORn's Geeky Observations Lists (updated soon)


Aug 4 2013, 4:45am

Post #25 of 26 (129 views)
Thank you so much, gramma! [In reply to] Can't Post

As always, a joy to read your thoughts.

You're right, it is so hard to put it to words. I can't wait to keep reading them as the years go on, and as I change, seeing more and more in them each time. Its a very special thing. It puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.

I love your advice, btw! This thread has given me great input on how to think about when to approach the books time and time again. I want them to feel so spectacular, so incredibly moving, each time I read them (which of course they are).

I'm glad I decided to post this immediately after finishing them. Had I decided to wait until the day or two after, I might have started getting more analytical and forget about my basic emotional response. I read my post now and I see how I felt. It's such a great feeling, despite the sadness and bitterness of the story's end. There's really nothing else like it.

Thank you, and a geeky high-five to you and Professor Tolkien for such great experiences. Can't wait for my next trip back into Middle-earth (sooner rather than later, I hope)!


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