Episode 189 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

An overwhelming longing to rest and remain at peace:
  • While Frodo has already volunteered to take the Ring and guard it as far as Rivendell, which surprised and delighted Gandalf, he had still held out hope that this was as far as he would go.
  • However, it has been made clear through the Council that there is no other better keeper for it.
  • Just like Bilbo, Frodo has realized that Elrond’s comments about “small hands” apply to him.
  • The first time that Frodo volunteered to take the Ring, he associated that with following Bilbo, which pushes him in the direction of the quest, and impels him onto the journey to begin with.
  • This time it’s the opposite, since he knows that if he volunteers, he will not only have to leave Bilbo, but he will also be ignoring the impulses of Providence that sent him on this journey.
  • This makes this desire to stay with Bilbo a matter of pity, but it is also suspicious, as it is so different from the other impulses he has received and must be overcome for sake of the quest.
  • This seems to be related to the times before when the Ring stirs him to leave the quest behind.
  • However, the difference in those other instances was that this impulse was one to separate himself from his friends and be alone, while in this case it includes a desire to stay with Bilbo.
  • It’s also important to remember that if Frodo was really enthusiastic about this quest, this wouldn’t bode well, either. Those who take up the Ring without reluctance are in danger.
  • What this reveals about Frodo is that he is not interested in power or glory, but in peace. Whether this is Frodo’s own impulse or the Ring, it makes his decision to take it even braver.
He spoke, and wondered to hear his own words:
  • It seems as though once Frodo admits to himself what he really wants, only then is he used to speak this doom over himself. Frodo seems to be passive, as if having the choice made for him.
  • Frodo does make a choice and an effort to speak, so his wonder only is at the words themselves.
  • By highlighting the smallness of his voice, this seems to be in contrast the weight of his words.
  • This is different from his earlier invocation of Elbereth, in that he serves as a vessel for power through his expression of faith, where here, he is finding something within himself for strength.
  • Frodo’s will seems to be supported from the outside, and it is most likely from Ilúvatar himself.
  • Could Gandalf be putting forth his power to assist Frodo at this moment? While he would be willing and able to help Frodo, this does not have the same characteristics as when he does this.
  • Note: A parallel in The Silmarillion is the coming of Tuor to Gondolin, in which he chooses to make the journey, but once there, he is supported by Ulmo with the words to say to Turgon.
  • In contrast, this seems like a time in which Gandalf holds back to let Frodo choose on his own.
  • Note: While Frodo believes that he’s sacrificing being with Bilbo in Rivendell, by giving it up and taking the burden on himself, he’s ultimately rewarded with the grace to have it in Elvenhome. This is an example of Tolkien’s use of the discussion of fate and free will and Providence and is as openly theological as he is in his narrative and is an extension of the Ainulindalë.
Frodo will take the Ring:
  • By saying that he “will” take the Ring, Frodo is not just volunteering, he is announcing this to the Council as a fact. He has chosen, and he is now enacting that choice in front of everyone there.
  • It’s important that Frodo uses the verb “take”, rather than “bear”. This may mean that he is taking the burden on himself, though it also carries risk of being led to eventually claim the Ring.
  • While the usual reading of “I do not know the way” means that he is unsure how to accomplish the quest, he could also be referring to not knowing the way to take up or use the Ring.
  • Though Frodo is not consciously planning to claim the Ring, this is a parallel journey to doing it.
  • There is a hint of plaintiveness in Frodo’s tone, asking for help in bearing it, and in doing so, passes the last test that he began by volunteering, and understanding what might happen.
  • While the implications of “take” are vaguer and more open, it is also more honest and candid.
This is the hour of the Shire-folk:
  • Elrond’s response seems to be one of an answered prayer, and while no one had been looking at Frodo when he glanced around the room, including Elrond, the contrast here is highlighted.
  • The keenness of Elrond’s glance may be a final test for Frodo, looking into his heart and mind. He needs to know that what lies behind Frodo’s words is a real desire to resist the Ring.
  • Elrond speaks an affirmation of Frodo’s choice, as it is in tune with the Music that he has heard.
  • He has made it clear that this series of events has not been orchestrated by those at the Council, and therefore it is not their place to choose, but to figure out what they are meant to do.
  • In this sense, he affirms that Frodo is the best and only choice, as it seems meant for him to try.
  • By doing this, he’s decreasing the pressure on Frodo, by saying he’s an instrument of Providence
  • Elrond also responds to Frodo’s statement of humility and need of help in not knowing the way directly by saying that it will ultimately be his responsibility to find a way, with or without help.
  • Note: While in the film, the Fellowship is formed and made concrete around Frodo at this moment, in the book, Elrond’s response is more abstract and profound. Elrond is not saying that Frodo is without help, but that help will come from powers far beyond those gathered at the Council. He is also saying that it is Frodo’s own choice that will bring those powers to bear.
  • Elrond is not saying that the hobbits will show themselves stronger than anyone thought them, but that through their smallness and humility they will have a greater effect than the strong.
  • This seems to be a fulfillment of not only Frodo’s destiny, but for Hobbits as a people, which is something that Gandalf and Aragorn and others in Eriador have suspected for a long time.
  • Note: This may be parallel to the biblical beatitude claiming that the meek will inherit the earth. This will be paralleled again in Frodo’s pity for Gollum, which will ultimately show him the way.
  • There is an irony that Elrond thinks that the Wise could not have foreseen this, when Gandalf did, but Elrond is now speaking to the Council at large, in order to make them understand this.
  • By doing this, Elrond is giving his approval as a lore master and prophet and answering the likely objections before they can be spoken, by saying the truly Wise would not be surprised by this.
  • Even Boromir would be convinced, as this matches his dream about the halfling standing forth.