Episode 194 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member
SESSION 194

Nothing was decided beyond choosing poor Frodo and Sam:
  • Bilbo’s “well, anyway” could be seen as dismissing Gandalf’s objection to his having an eye-opener, but he is also transitioning away from the Council and toward their future plans.
  • While Bilbo and Frodo probably spoke more with the other hobbits at another time, at this point neither one of them are interested in talking more about the Council at this moment.
  • Bilbo can probably see that Frodo is still emotionally affected by his decision to take the Ring.
  • Using the word “poor” is a kind of commiseration with Frodo and Sam, matching their mood.
  • Bilbo feels responsible for this landing on Frodo shoulders, especially since his offer was denied.
  • He now wants to pivot to a more hopeful subject by pointing out that Frodo will not be alone.
  • Bilbo demonstrates insight into Elrond’s thought process, unlike Sam, who had only spoken in the Council because of the possibility that Frodo will be sent out alone, which Bilbo doubts.
  • Bilbo seems to anticipate Elrond’s sending out scouts, which he uses to reassure Frodo that everyone is in this together and that they will act accordingly to support the quest of the Ring.
  • It’s even possible that the sending out of scouts was decided in the Council after Sam spoke up.
  • Note: Like Arwen, Elrond’s sons seem to be a relatively late addition to the story and remain peripheral characters throughout the text, though Elladan and Elrohir are directly involved.
We shall have to scour the lands all round:
  • This scouting had already been going on since before Frodo even arrived, such as Glorfindel, though now the purpose of the scouting has a new purpose with regards to the party.
  • The fact that scouts are being sent all the way to Mirkwood show that they are anticipating the party traveling far and would need to cross over the Misty Mountains at some point.
  • Before, Thorin and company cross the passes based entirely on outdated advice from Elrond, which proved disastrous since the goblins had laid traps for travelers in the meantime.
  • Note: While several passes are mentioned in The Hobbit, Tolkien seems to have deliberately limited their options here to the Redhorn Pass and through Moria, since the Gap of Rohan is closed to them. This may be due to increased world-building on Tolkien’s part, but also that the northern passes might be unpassable at this time of year or too far north to be useful.
  • With the Nazgûl showing up in Eriador, there may be a thought that they represent merely the vanguard of many enemy groups being sent out from Mordor beyond the Great River.
  • Even back in Back End, Gandalf feared that servants of Mordor might be secretly abroad.
  • Does Gandalf know or suspect that Saruman has started having secret dealings with the Shire?
  • Note: There is evidence is presented in Unfinished Tales that Gandalf was already aware that Saruman had taken up smoking pipe-weed and therefore had some knowledge of the Shire.
  • Saruman suggests that he has spies or informants near the Shire keeping an eye on Gandalf.
  • Note: The general series of events between “The Shadow of the Past” and “The Council of Elrond” mirror one another, as they are followed by discussions of ways and means and secrecy.
  • While they want to keep their direction of travel undetected for as long as possible, Elrond and Gandalf may also want Sauron to believe that they are ultimately heading for the Sea.
  • Sauron may still be thinking that they would not leave Rivendell at all and be certain that someone among the Wise will take up the Ring to oppose him if they don’t run to the Valar.
  • Having committed the Nazgûl to search for the Ring, once Sauron assumes that someone will take up the Ring and come to Minas Tirith, he must regather them to use their full strength.
  • Though not mentioned, its possible that other parties will be sent out as decoys for Sauron.
  • Contacting Thranduil in Mirkwood shows that they are covering all their bases in terms of route.
  • While Aragorn had no trouble from Dol Guldur while bringing Gollum to Mirkwood, that has changed since the orcs invaded in hopes of rescuing Gollum and has become more active.
  • Note: This activity will culminate in the large battles with Mirkwood and Lórien later in the war. Before the hunt for the Ring, the Witch-king had rendezvoused with other Nazgûl at Dol Guldur.
You will probably make quite a long stay here:
  • Gandalf mentions this as if he knew the longing that was in Frodo’s mind before volunteering.
  • This time will satisfy his desire to be with Bilbo and explore Rivendell as he had wanted to do.
  • Why didn’t Gimli and Legolas go back to their homes after the Council? Did they know that they would be asked to be part of the Fellowship, or did they not want to travel that late in the year?
  • Note: It would be normal for travelers to winter in a place after a long journey and head back in the spring in pre-modern times, as travel in winter is dangerous. Bilbo and Gandalf spent the winter on their return trip from Erebor with Beorn, and it’s possible that those from Mirkwood and the Lonely Mountain were afforded this same offer by Elrond, since it’s now late October.
(continued below)
 

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Tony Meade

Active Member
(continued)

Long enough for winter to come:
  • Note: Sam’s glum assertion about winter shows that he is not a particularly cheerful person, and though he will become an exemplar of hope later in the book, his focus is from a practical perspective of the journey itself, unlike the others, who are focused on the end of the Quest. He is also being more hopeful; in that he is not focused on their likely deaths, but on the mundane.
  • Why does Bilbo bring up Frodo’s decision to leave in the fall? It’s partly hobbitry to tease Frodo, but also to show affection for Frodo, as he will always be a “lad” to Bilbo in the end.
  • Bilbo also gets to express his dislike for the Sackville-Bagginses, which might seem rather harsh.
  • However, this is overall a deflection in order to draw Frodo’s mind away from his worries about the future by pointing out the irony and humor in Frodo’s choice to leave around their birthday.
  • Frodo could easily respond to this with more hobbitry, which Bilbo seems to invite him to do.
  • The pettiness of the feud between Bilbo and the Sackville-Bagginses invites mocking anyway, but especially in the light of the much bigger events in the world at large, which is his joke.
  • Note: This feud will be resolved in the Scouring of the Shire, after much larger issues are shown to be more important and to take the place of these petty squabbles, and with Lobelia’s grace.
A winter poem and proverb:
  • This poem is unsurprisingly in iambic tetrameter, or typical hobbit poetry meter, but also features almost all monosyllabic words, with stresses on consonants and vowels unstressed.
  • This seems like a child’s recitation to teach them about this, and though he is addressing Frodo at this moment, he may be reminding Sam of a poem that he already knows from his teachings.
  • The rhyme scheme is equally simple, using two rhyming couplets of A-A-B-B, so this seems to split the poem into two equal parts. The poem also features several internal alliterations.
  • The use of “when” at the beginnings of the first and third lines make the two couplets parallel.
  • The word “crack” not only is a distinct use of onomatopoeia, but it also breaks the meter in the line, using a stressed syllable where there should be an unstressed one, in perfect hobbit meter.
  • The short “a” sound also stands out following a series of short “e” and “I” vowel sounds.
  • This vowel likewise stands out with the use of “black” in the third line, serving a similar function.
  • The first three lines work together to build tension toward the resolution of the final line. Having had the central word emphasized, the listener is guided to emphasize the word “Wild”.
  • The point of this poem is not that winter itself is bad but is about traveling in the Wild. This is a lore poem to remind people who might be considering going against the proverb.
  • While “evil” is a strong word, it is only used as an adjective to describe traveling in the Wild.
  • The syntactic structure of the poem as a whole is one complete sentence with three subordinate clauses leading to the final independent clause that is the actual point of the poem.
  • This makes “’tis” both the subject and verb of the overall sentence that makes up the poem.
  • The heavy use of labial consonants and their alliterations make the word “crack” stand out.
  • It seems highly likely that Bilbo wrote this poem, given the hobbitish structure, and the fact that this structure is very unusual in rhymes of lore, showing that this is not a translation of Elvish.
  • It’s possible that this is a proverbial hobbit poem that Bilbo is remembering, given the sayings that Bilbo remembered his father saying when he was young, though not from experience.
  • While rhymes of lore are usually used to remember knowledge that would otherwise not be known or be lost, but in this case, it is reinforcing common sense, and has the tone of a riddle.
  • This all points to Bilbo being the author, given the context and audience of the younger hobbits.
  • Bilbo may have written this as part of a primer when he was teaching them basic reading skills.
  • Since Sam likes poetry, Bilbo may have emphasized poetry in his lessons, which he remembers.
  • Also, since this is in response to Sam’s gloomy pronouncement, this is probably an inside joke.
  • Note: We see Sam’s inclination towards poetry throughout the book and his ability to remember and even compose poetry his emphasized at several important points in the story.
  • This is not the first time that Sam has been included in the hobbitry, but the first with Bilbo.
  • Bilbo and Sam have a different relationship than Frodo has with Sam, as Bilbo’s former student.
END OF SESSION
 

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