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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
What power is in the Shire?


Dec 27 2012, 5:58pm

Post #1 of 18 (904 views)
What power is in the Shire? Can't Post

Talking to Frodo at Rivendell (in "Many Meetings"), Gandalf says:

"Indeed there is a power in Rivendell to withstand the might of Mordor, for a while; and elsewhere other powers still dwell. There is power, too, of another kind in the Shire. But all such places will soon become islands under siege, if things go on as they are going."

What kind of power does the Shire have, do you think?


Dec 27 2012, 6:28pm

Post #2 of 18 (520 views)
Ent-wives... [In reply to] Can't Post

Lurking about in The Shire! At least that's what Treebeard wants to believe. Cool

The greatest adventure is what lies ahead.


Dec 27 2012, 6:39pm

Post #3 of 18 (489 views)
Could be - cousin Hal's tree-man? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sam's cousin Hal claims to have seen a tree-man up on the North Moors (Sam relates to his drinking buddies in "the Shadow of the Past".)

Maybe Treebeard is right & that was an Entwife?


Dec 27 2012, 6:55pm

Post #4 of 18 (513 views)
It is of "another kind" - it doesn't involve force, but rather the opposite. [In reply to] Can't Post

I think Gandalf is referring to the Power that is revealed by Frodo at the end of the story:
"No hobbit has ever killed another on purpose in the Shire, and it is not to begin now." (LotR VI.8)

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.


Dec 27 2012, 7:12pm

Post #5 of 18 (497 views)
"Decency" then? [In reply to] Can't Post

Interesting thought Squire- that the Shire might have resources of decency: it would be hard to turn the Hobbits on each other, so helping them resist evil?

Fredeghar Wayfarer

Dec 27 2012, 8:57pm

Post #6 of 18 (476 views)
Decency and resilience [In reply to] Can't Post

I think the "power" in the Shire was indeed a metaphorical variety. Hobbits showed inner strength and resilience against corruption throughout the stories. There was peace in the Shire, no crime to speak of, no war, no strife between families other than Sackville-Baggins style squabbling. Bilbo and Frodo resisted the Ring's corruption longer than other beings would. Gollum was eventually enslaved to the Ring but retained physical form rather than turning into a wraith. Hobbits just seemed to have reserves of inner strength that made them special and unusual among the peoples of Middle-earth.

Ethel Duath

Dec 27 2012, 9:13pm

Post #7 of 18 (463 views)
Nail on the head--this says it all. [In reply to] Can't Post



Dec 27 2012, 11:31pm

Post #8 of 18 (452 views)
what about [In reply to] Can't Post

Tom Bombadil? isn't the old Forest in the Shire? its right next to Cricket Hollow

Ethel Duath

Dec 28 2012, 12:11am

Post #9 of 18 (442 views)
Well, Bombadil certainly is a Power, but [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien was speaking of the intrinsic power within Rivendell, the Shire, and the other communities he referenced (but did not name). Elrond's ring of power, Glorifindel, the other elves, their courage and resolve, their ancient history in Middle Earth, etc. is intrinsic power in Rivendell--not from the outside, even close by.

Tolkien made it clear that Hobbits had special strengths and abilities, and that those qualities were often hidden from others (and sometimes from themselves), but those attributes would become manifest when some sort of threat or challenge came their way. I do not believe Tolkien would mention a power in the Shire without hinting at those qualities as he so often does throughout the books.

Also, even though he is close geographically, Bombadil is still outside the Shire, and unknown to most of its residents. I don't think Tolkien would intend Bombadil to be thought of as a power "in" the Shire since "Old Tom" really has nothing to do with Hobbits except possibly with a rare individual near the border, like Farmer Maggot. I would think he might help if the time came, but as far as this passage, Bombadil would, I believe, be one of the "other powers."

Aragalen the Green

Dec 28 2012, 1:09am

Post #10 of 18 (447 views)
Bombadil had great respect for Farmer Maggot, [In reply to] Can't Post

and this may have been Bombadil's acknowledgment of the "intrinsic power" in the Shire, as personified by Farmer Maggot. I did not get the sense that Bombadil was otherwise protective of the Shire.

" Well well!", said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it delicious!"
"Most astonishing wonderful!"


Dec 28 2012, 1:25am

Post #11 of 18 (454 views)
Bombadil did nothing to stop Lotho and Saruman [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't believe he's protective of the Shire either. Maybe friendly and well-disposed, but not part of it and not willing to intervene there. Gandalf said at the Council of Elrond:

"And now he is withdrawn into a little land, within bounds that he has set, though none can see them, waiting perhaps for a change of days, and he will not step beyond them." [emphasis mine]

I agree that Fredeghar nailed it quite nicely.


Dec 28 2012, 3:02am

Post #12 of 18 (425 views)
Of course he did nothing. [In reply to] Can't Post

He's a Vala*, not some blockheaded Bracegirdle from Hardbottle with an umbrella full of stolen silver spoons in her hand and a willingness to attack thieving ruffians twice her size! He's been quite the single-minded park ranger for millions of years, though. At least we could admire that determination.Wink

The shire is a place mostly free of the darkness of Morgoth. Probably it is not by chance that it is close to Bombadil's domain. It is a blessing to live near the abode of a Vala, even one as odd as Bombadil.

*or so I think.


Dec 28 2012, 1:10pm

Post #13 of 18 (456 views)
In 'The Quest of Erebor' [In reply to] Can't Post

Gandalf is said to have observed and admired the hobbits' courage, resilience and help for each other during the Long Winter. Gandalf would have called this a power, wouldn't he?
At least, I do.

The Shire

Dec 28 2012, 2:29pm

Post #14 of 18 (437 views)
Things that grow [In reply to] Can't Post

I think it's also worth noting that one of the charachteristics of Hobbits is that they are simultaneoulsy a natural and a productive people. They like farming and trees and gardens and growing and making things, but crucially they enjoy doing it in a way that doesn't damage their environment. Some of their power may lie in that. In their ability to work with and live in harmony with their particular environment. Considering the other environmental messages I don't think its a stretch to say that that ability wold have been considered powerful.


Dec 29 2012, 7:15pm

Post #15 of 18 (384 views)
This.... [In reply to] Can't Post

and Fredeghar's answer 'Decency and Resilience'. Put the two together and you have the power of the Shire.

In Tolkien's work there is a power in the land itself, and the hobbits are closer to the land than the other peoples - 'down to earth' you might say.

Aragalen the Green

Dec 30 2012, 5:14pm

Post #16 of 18 (394 views)
The Hobbits are content, and do not seek power [In reply to] Can't Post

or dominion over others. That may also be one reason the Ring did not have such an influence over Bilbo and Frodo. Sam considered it while carrying the Ring when going in to Mordor, but realized pretty quickly it would be a trap. Love and "plain hobbit-sense" grounded him. And yes, "down to earth"!

" Well well!", said a voice. "Just look! Bilbo the hobbit on a pony, my dear! Isn't it delicious!"
"Most astonishing wonderful!"


Jan 9 2013, 3:33am

Post #17 of 18 (362 views)
It's well known that Bombadil is actually [In reply to] Can't Post

the Witch-King. Everyone knows this. The irrefutable chain of reason is laid out here.


"I like the kind of literary criticism that tries very hard to understand what the author is saying. I despise the kind that cares only about how the reader responds to it. The first requires a great deal of hard scholarship, ultimately as much as had the writer. The second can be practiced by anyone with a navel into which to gaze."
~Reverend Brian Smith


Jan 9 2013, 6:31pm

Post #18 of 18 (513 views)
King, sorcerer and crossdresser! The source of the queerness of the Old Forest :) // [In reply to] Can't Post



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