Bilbo after the Fellowship leaves Rivendell

amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
Question (might be more appropriate several months from now, but it came to me know so I'm typing it now):

How close is Bilbo to following after the Fellowship alongside Gollum, chasing after their collective Precious? If, for instance, Frodo had let his dear uncle hold the Ring one more time in Rivendell, would that have flipped a switch in him?

It this something that is completely off the table, or was it a close thing?

I think it was a closer thing than we'd like to believe.
 
If he’d held the Ring again, who knows, all bets are off at that point. As it actually happened, I’m sure Bilbo regretted not being able to go along, not so much for the Ring as for Frodo and to relive the good old adventuring days. Fortunately Bilbo seems to have made friends among the residents and guests of Rivendell who help him to feel grounded and even valued in his retirement. He might have set out again for another familiar refuge like Dale or even Bree, but I suppose the approaching winter and the threat of Sauron’s spies made that impractical.
 

Forodan

Member
Yes, he was probably feeling an urge to go with them or follow them, but remember, he is already being closely watched. If the Ring left its mark on Gollum, and that is what drew him to Mordor as Gandalf realized -- he says so in The Shadow of the Past "Mordor draws all wicked things, and the Dark Power was bending all its will to gather them there. The Ring of the Enemy would leave its mark, too, leave him open to the summons." -- then how much danger was Bilbo in? Maybe not as much as Gollum, but not none. And this would be the real reason why Elrond refused to let Bilbo travel anymore. Not so much the fear of some servant of Sauron finding him "tottering about in the Wild", but that he would be drawn directly towards Mordor by the sheer will or compulsion that Sauron was exerting to draw all things marked by evil to himself.
 

Darren Grey

Member
I don't think Bilbo was close to this sort of behaviour at all. He gave the Ring up freely and managed to not fall negatively under its influence. When you look at the passage where he requests to see the Ring from Frodo the entire confrontational aspect of it is in Frodo's mind. When Bilbo withdraws it's because he sees the expression on Frodo's face, not because he's done anything wrong. Bilbo was perfectly fine in the Council seeing the Ring and having his offer to carry it again rejected. The only time he gets Gollum-like about the Ring is in chapter one.
 

Beech27

Member
This is a really fascinating question. We might consider--and not for the first time--whether or to what extent the ring can/does "consciously" tempt; and if so, whether it has the ability to to weigh the relative pros and cons of doing so, given the context. As in: Why "make" Bilbo chase the fellowship, since he's too old now to keep up anyway? But one might counter that an enfeebled Bilbo straining against age and his body to chase would weaken Frodo's resolve by orders of magnitude.

To be clear: I don't think the ring calculates with that degree of complexity, or does so in this case; but I think there's at least room for pseudo-canon theorizing that the ring quit Bilbo as much as he quit it.

It's hard, going down this road, not to hear Cate Blanchett intoning "...the Ring of Power perceived its time had now come. It abandoned Gollum." Ascribing motivation of that kind to the ring is, somewhat poetically, rather tempting.
 
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amysrevenge

Well-Known Member
I guess I'm trying to compare the Ring abandoning Gollum to Bilbo abandoning the Ring, and what the after-effects of that might be.

It was by no means easy for Bilbo to give up the Ring - he got in a fight with one of his best friends about it, he lied and changed his mind and then lied about it again, until he was finally juuuuust barely able to turn and walk away. Technically he gave it up "freely", but only by a hair. I reckon that if it came up that the ownership of the Ring were to change (say, Frodo didn't survive Elrond's surgery, whether physical or spiritual), he would think of it as his and renounce his former abandoning of it. If the Ring were taken by anyone else at that point, I propose that he'd become Gollum Part Two and hound that person's steps to the best of his abilities.

Meanwhile Gollum never intended to get rid of the Ring for a second - it left him. All of his actions are easy enough to understand based on that.
 

Forodan

Member
That's a good joke, but of course not true to what was demonstrated when Bilbo gave up the Ring. He found he had put the envelope in his pocket when Gandalf asked about it. And then "accidentally" dropped it when attempting to comply with Gandalf's request to put it on the mantel. That's how it tends to operate, indirection and rationalization. Only someone who already has a tendency to extreme behavior, like Smeagol/Gollum, will act out in extreme ways. Or at least not until completely conquered by the respective Ring, such as with the Nazgul. But then the people Sauron gave those Rings to were probably not very reluctant to be violent in their original lives...

Even when he was traveling to Mordor under this compulsion, Gollum probably didn't realize what he was doing. And similarly, Bilbo would not suddenly get a mania to visit Mordor if he were wandering out in the Wild. He would just tend to keep turning in a certain direction, much like the attempt to navigate the Old Forest kept turning in a certain direction, though in that case because of physical impediments from trees and brush rather than a subtle internal influence.
 
I love this question. I also have thought (and still think) that the Ring had grown very deep roots inside Bilbo's mind over the decades that he had (and not-infrequently used!) it. I think the scene of him wanting to look at it one more time shows that it's been on his mind, and that despite alllll of Gandalf's warnings (and no doubt also in spite of the wisdom of the Elves which he has supposedly been gathering up for 17 years), he very nearly screws everything up within bare minutes of seeing his nephew again. (One can see from this interaction why somebody thought it best that Bilbo drop off the face of the Earth and not try to contact Frodo for those 17 years.)

I *do* think that the shared moment between Frodo and Bilbo with the Ring changes Bilbo, irrevocably. I think for all those 17 years he never truly believed Gandalf. And I think that some latent Ring-desire is part of why the 17 years in Rivendell didn't age him more. When we meet him in Rivendell, he looks older but still extremely hale and hearty. Writing tons of stuff up, composing poetry. But that all changes after Frodo comes and goes. Bilbo has no desire to do anything anymore. He doesn't write more, he doesn't explore. His journey ends. And I think it happens when he sees the Ring again and -- at long last -- *gets it*.

Anyway, so before Bilbo sees the Ring, I would say that he would have been scarily eager to follow Frodo if he knew Frodo was out & about with the Ring. But I think that after seeing it, he truly does let it go. Fully & completely.
 
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