Tolkien Tuesday #27

~ 19 July 2022 ~

I hope if you’re living in a place that’s been affected by the heatwave these past few days, you are staying cool and hydrated and safe…I do not like the hot weather, by which I mean my ideal summer temperature is around the 25-28 degree mark – warm enough to enjoy, but cool enough to go for a nice long walk! As I’m writing this it’s already 37… Yesterday I kept out of it by staying indoors and reading Tolkien – which is why this post is ready to go for once 😉 I suspect, the same is on the cards for today…Take care all x

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we concluded Book 2, Chapter 2: The Council of Elrond.

The council continues with Gandalf declaring either Sauron already knows that they have the ring in Rivendell, or he will very soon. Boromir asks what has become of Gollum. Aragorn answers that he was handed over to the care of the Elves of Mirkwood, but Legolas reveals his purpose in coming to Rivendell was to tell them Gollum has escaped.

Gandalf then explains what kept him from returning to the Shire to meet Frodo. On the hunt for news, he met Radagast the Brown who had an important message for him from Saruman. Gandalf, tired, spent the night in Bree, leaving a message for Frodo, and then travelled on to Isengard, only to be imprisoned by Saruman. He claimed the only options ahead for them is to work with Sauron or to take the ring himself, revealing how his purpose has turned against theirs.

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Gandalf, held captive at the top of Orthanc, was then rescued by the Great Eagle Gwaihir, who took him to Rohan, where the wizard was not warmly received but told to take a horse and leave. There Gandalf met Shadowfax, who carried him to the Shire where he found Frodo gone, to Crickhollow to find the house had been broken into and empty, to Bree to learn the hobbits had joined Strider and they were being pursued by ringwraiths, some of whom he encounters at Weathertop. Knowing it to be impossible to find the others in the wilderness, he then rode on to Rivendell, where he sent out help and helped prepare for their arrival.

Those at the council then discuss the options open to them, and they are not many: to hide the ring for as long as possible, or try to destroy it. The ring cannot be used as a forced for good. Yet to hide the ring now will only lead to subjecting future generations to the terrible danger it poses should it be found. So the decision is that they must attempt to destroy the ring.

But who shall take it? Bilbo offers to go. Although his suggestion is met with respect, it is clear that he is not strong enough to do it. As the councils falls into quiet reflection, Frodo seems to realise this is a task he has to undertake, even if he would rather not. And so he announces he will go, and Sam offers to go with him.

This is a long chapter, with many different story threads coming together, which is why I like it. It gives a real world dimension to the story, showing that what Frodo and the others have been going through is not taking place in a vacuum.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

Quotes, quotes, quotes…this week I’ve chosen my three favourite from this half of the chapter:

“And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.”

(page 276)

‘”Worst is a bad word,” I said to him, “and I hope you do not live to see it.”

(page 280)

This one struck a chord with me. One of the mantras I use when I need to find a sense of perspective is, “Things can always be worse”. And coupled with this unprecedented heatwave we are experiencing over here (and throughout Europe), it makes me fear for a much warmer world, a world where weather extremes become the norm…

“For nothing is evil in the beginning.”

(page 285)

Elsewhere

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I’ve been trying to sort out all of the notes I’ve written on Middle Earth since I first read The Hobbit (when I was in Year 5 at school). That’s a good few years of thoughts, notes, ideas, questions, doodles and drawings, random musings and even an essay or two, inspired by these stories and their histories.

And, since the start of the year when we began this slow re-read, those scribblings have multiplied! Each week, I’ve been making pages of notes, though I do try and condense these posts down to hopefully no more than 1000 words!

For now, I’ve set myself the more manageable task of finding some order for my lists of favourite quotes…As easy as I thought that would be, I’ve already hit my first hurdle: should I order them by chronology or theme?

I suspect, like with most things, I’m over-thinking this…

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

What do you think Bilbo’s motivations were in offering to take the ring? If he had been allowed to go, do you think he would have succeeded?

I think the main reason he offers to take the ring is because he does believe he is responsible for the predicament they are in and he thinks he should fix it rather than expecting someone else to clean up the mess. However, I’ve always wondered if there might be a very small part of him, perhaps a subconscious part, that offers to take the ring so he might get it back, at least for a little while. That’s not to say I think he would take the ring, go rogue and refuse to destroy it outright – he’s Bilbo after all. Like Frodo, a good hobbit, resilient to a certain extent, true and trustworthy.

That being said, and this leads on to my answer for the second question, I don’t believe that when it came to destroying it, he would have had the mental strength to do it. I also struggle to believe he would have the physical strength to undertake the journey as well as the internal strength to fight the power of the ring. After all, he had been exposed to the ring for a lot longer than Frodo has been and that has lasting consequences.

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29 thoughts on “Tolkien Tuesday #27

  1. Hi yes interesting conundrum – I think the power of the ring is overwhelming and it is hard to resist so I feel that is his motivation (really the ring’s motivation) and No he wouldn’t have been able to destroy it I don’t think he would have got even half way!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I love the Council of Elrond chapter as it discusses some important issues, such as the history of the Ring, what happened to Gandalf, who Aragorn really is, and why Tom Bombadil would be an unsuitable guardian of the Ring, among other things. Gandalf says of Sauron: “For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts.” I think this is an apt description of any tyrant or would-be tyrant.

    I think Bilbo was genuine in his offering to take the Ring to destroy it, and I think for the reason he states, but coupled with that offer is an unsaid genuine desire to possess the Ring again. I don’t think he would have the strength to destroy it. At least Frodo had Sam and Gollum/Smeagol with him and that helped at the end. I don’t see Bilbo having the same help if he actually undertook the journey, and for that reason he would fail.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Wow, Sammi, you are so organized! You’d need a database for your notes, number them, tag them, then you can search for the tags.
    I also loved the council. Gandalf’s story about Saruman’s betrayal gets me every time. What a shock and disappointment that must be for them all. One of the few wizards, one so powerful and storng, one they trusted and even one like him gives in to temptation. News like this can suck the hope away. It appears even more strange, or even ridiculous, that the Hobbits are tasked with something the powerful cannot achieve.

    ***SPOILERS***SPOILERS***

    Your question: Yes, I think Bilbo wanted to go out of good intentions but also because he wanted the ring back. The desire is strong and he had it for a long time. On top of that, I think he still doesn’t understand the full danger of the ring, of the power it has over its bearer.
    Do I think he would succeed? No. But not because he is too old. He’s a Hobbit, he’s strong, he had the ring and would have it again. Think about how old Gollum is and how strong he was/is with and without the ring.
    He wouldn’t be able to let go of the ring in the end just like Frodo. Unless, of course, Gollum would do the same thing he does with Frodo. Bilbo doesn’t have that loving support from Sam, Merry and Pippin though. Unless Frodo would have decided to go with him… but that would have caused conflict between Frodo and Bilbo because both would have wanted the ring. Maybe there wouldn’t have been the same fellowship. All very different with very different consequences.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Great insights, Gabi. 🙂 Such an interesting point you make, about Bilbo not actually understanding “the full danger of the ring, of the power it has over its bearer.” That makes so much sense.
      And definitely interesting about if Bilbo had taken the ring. I always thought if he had gone, Frodo would have gone too, but you’re so right, the conflict between them would have been unbearable and would have completely destroyed their relationship.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Great points, Gabi. I wish we could have seen more about how Saruman was before he turned to the dark side and how they all interacted, so that we could more fully appreciate how shocking it must be for all of them to realize that he has betrayed them. But then, the way that Saruman tells his side, I don’t think he thinks he has betrayed them — he is doing all of this, getting more power for himself, so that he can rule more wisely and more powerfully. Really he is helping everyone, can’t they see that? He is only forced to take measures against them when they interfere….. Brr Makes me shiver!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Of course Bilbo offers to take the ring, for he does feel responsible for unleashing it, so to speak, and if he has any idea of how horrendous the task, he wouldn’t want his nephew to face it. But he’s had that ring for far too long and it’s eaten into him. I think it would end in calamity if he too it

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wonderful synopsis. You blow me away week after week, Sammi. It was a long chapter! And an important one. It was great to have the blanks filled in on what had happened to Gandalf.
    I agree with everyone that Bilbo was both wanting to “undo his wrong” but mostly, wanted that ring back in his possession. I fear he had it long enough for it to hold too much power over him. Frodo is the best choice. While he already feels the pull, he also has a great support system to help him do the right thing.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m back finally, stopping by, better late than never! Sorry to have been off-line for so long. I have been in the long process of preparing and then conducting a move across the country, from California to New York state. The move is not done yet (my belongings have not yet arrived even after three weeks) but I have enough done to pause and catch up ever so slightly.

    I really appreciated the whole scene of the council, how they all tell their part of the story and debate the questions about what’s happened and what their options are, and especially answering why they can’t just ask Tom Bombadil to take care of it.

    On this read I noted the contrast between Saruman’s desire for the Ring and Boromir’s. Saruman’s argument struck me as a wizard’s version of the “white man’s burden” bigotry, with his belief that the wizards know better than mere men, and thus have the responsibility to take control and rule them for their own good. This is also a great example of how “order” in the Gygaxian sense is not necessarily aligned with “good” even if those imposing the order on others appear to have benevolent intentions. By contrast, I could sympathize with Boromir wanting the Ring as a weapon against evil, to bolster Gondor’s defenses of their own land (and that of all the free peoples), rather than to gain power for himself.

    To your question, I also thought that Bilbo was motivated at least in part by the desire to touch the Ring again. That said, I thought he was sincere in his offer but that no, he would not be able to destroy it in the end. Not after carrying it and using it for so long. Even Frodo failed in the end, after all.

    Liked by 2 people

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