Episode 190 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

It is a heavy burden:
  • Elrond seems to have gone out of his way throughout the council that no one was constrained into taking on the Ring, but that Frodo, or anyone else, made their own choice to volunteer.
  • He also endorses Frodo’s choice in a way that echoes the calling of the Council by chance.
  • What has been implicit up to this point is now made explicit, and what seems to have been known by Gandalf and Elrond all along but can only now be expressed once Frodo volunteers.
  • Elrond also makes a public performance of acknowledging Frodo’s choice of will, in order to ensure that free choice is clear to all present, and not something that Elrond has laid on Frodo.
  • By using “if”, Elrond still doesn’t constrain Frodo, even though Frodo has already chosen. This allows him to give Frodo the chance to change his mind, and if not, to confirm that choice.
  • Elrond could have made this statement to convince Frodo before, but chose not to do that. However, now that Frodo has chosen it freely, he can make this statement as an affirmation.
  • His affirmation is not only for Frodo’s courage, but that it seems to be answering the call.
  • Elrond is not guaranteeing success nor safety, but that he will be playing the part set for him.
  • This also confirms the Council’s choice to send the Ring to the Fire now that Frodo will bear it.
The mighty Elf-friends of old:
  • Note: The commas between the names seems to be for the sake of cadence, not grammar.
  • Why include Túrin in this list? The other names are fairly intuitive to readers of The Silmarillion.
  • That Túrin is mighty physically is in no doubt, including Frodo in this list seems to point to a different kind of mightiness. Therefore, Elrond must be referring to their spiritual strength.
  • Why is Tuor left out of this list? It might possibly be only because he is Elrond’s grandfather.
  • While the list doesn’t need to be exhaustive, it points to something in common among them.
  • In what way are Hador, Húrin, and Túrin’s story related to Frodo’s story, if not their strength?
  • Túrin was also certainly an Elf-friend, through his relationship with Beleg, but apart from his slaying of Glaurung, which was a great deed, he often had a negative effect on the Elves.
  • If Elrond’s intention is to encourage Frodo, Túrin is then an odd choice, given his story’s end.
  • Would Frodo know these names? Likely, as these are the kinds of stories he learned from Bilbo.
  • Note: First-time readers, especially those in the initial release, would not have known these names, apart from Beren, because Aragorn had sung his story to the hobbits earlier. Also, while Tolkien did develop the story of Túrin after The Lord of the Rings, the core elements remained.
  • Does this change the meaning of “Elf-friend”? Perhaps, in the sense that he expands it to Túrin.
  • By saying “Beren himself” and placing him at the end, Elrond puts him in the place of honor.
  • Frodo’s story will be continually compared with Beren’s, and by Sam, as a continuation of it.
  • Like Beren, Frodo is taking up a quest to enter into the stronghold of the enemy himself, and to accomplish the most unlikely feats, in which the destruction of Ring is compared to the Silmaril.
  • There are also parallels in their wounding, like Beren’s hand and Frodo’s finger, and in being carried to safety by Eagles, which Tolkien later claimed were in fact the same Eagles.
  • Húrin’s sacrifice at the Fens of Serech and his defiance of Morgoth to his face are remembered as his greatest deeds, neither of which were accomplished by even the great among the Eldar.
  • Hador is remembered as the most like the Elf-lords among the Edain. While the House of Bëor were friends with the Elves, the House of Hador were seen as peers and war allies of the Eldar.
  • Bëor’s friendship with Finrod was personal, while Hador made a political alliance with Fingolfin.
  • Túrin is notable in that he continually attempts to do the right thing, though he is thwarted.
  • It’s possible that there is a parallel being made between Frodo’s quest and what was originally intended for Túrin in the Dagor Dagorath, in which he kills Morgoth in battle at the end of days.
  • Túrin is on the list not because of his superlatives, but for dealing the deathblow to the Enemy.
  • Therefore, in each of the characters named, a different aspect of Frodo’s quest is highlighted.
  • Elrond also makes his statement about Frodo’s seat among the great Elf-friends preemptively, in that it is not dependent on the success of the quest, but in making the choice to try to do it.
  • Elrond knows that Frodo doesn’t have the strength or wisdom to achieve the quest on his own, nor do any of them, but it is in providence for the willingness to go that they place their hope.
  • Note: While there is also a comparison to be made with Frodo in Túrin defying the will and curse of Morgoth over his life, he also did that by taking a new name, Turambar, and retiring from public life in order to try to avoid his fate. Frodo leaves his safety and pursues his fate willingly.
  • Has Tuor not defied the Dark Lord? Not directly, and any parallel of him and Frodo is less clear.
  • Note: Frodo is a very atypical fantasy hero, and this is of course intentional on Tolkien’s part.
  • Frodo has been prepared for this quest, through his adoption by Bilbo, and in his inheritance. Bilbo seems to have known these stories and passed them on to Frodo when he was younger.
  • Note: Bilbo seemed to have set himself as the purveyor of Elf-lore among the Hobbits generally later in his life, which seems to have even included people like Ted Sandyman, who scorned it.
Unable to contain himself any longer:
  • The fact that Sam uses the phrase “send him off” after Elrond has made it clear that he is not forcing Frodo to go does not show that Sam is not paying attention, but that he is attentive.
  • Sam understands that, though Elrond may be giving Frodo a chance to turn away, Frodo will not, but also that the Council could send him off alone, based on the lack of a need for strength.
  • This also means that Sam is volunteering, which Elrond understands and to which he responds.
  • Sam also understands how hard this quest will be, but because of his loyalty and friendship, cannot abide seeing Frodo sent off alone. Sam wants to help Frodo more than to save the world.
  • Note: This humble intention is never lost by Sam, and until the end, holds to serving Frodo. Sam’s role of humility and self-sacrifice was always present in the planning and composition once his character emerged after the earlier shuffling among the roles of the hobbits. In an early draft, Sam attacked Gollum and sacrificed his own life to ensure the destruction of the Ring
  • Sam may also have a deeper understanding of the Ring through his relationship with Frodo.