Episode 203 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

The Company of the Ring shall be Nine:
  • While Elrond had been more passive during the Council, allowing them to reach the conclusion to send the Ring to the Fire on their own, he is now more proactive in putting forth this plan.
  • By speaking in the future indicative mood, Elrond is making positive declarations for them.
  • Elrond makes it clear that those going are volunteering and know the conditions of the journey.
  • While Elrond had said that he had not called the Council, he is clear that it is no accident that he is picking these particular people to go, based on the fact that they were seemingly led there.
  • Elrond is also clearly aware of the symbolism of the representation of all of the Free Peoples.
  • As he is speaking to all five of the hobbits, it seems he includes Hobbits among the Free Peoples.
  • Note: Other folk, such as the Ents, are not included among the Free Peoples partly because at this point in the composition, they hadn’t yet been invented, and there are none present here.
  • While Elrond has already made it clear that the companions are doing so out of free will, he is also conceding that unforeseen future circumstances may force them to change their plans.
  • This may include them being unable or unwilling to go forward, but also new information.
  • Note: That Elrond is going out of his way to not bind anyone to the quest will become even more clear when he forbears oaths to be taken in this exchange with Gimli at their departure. He understands that none of them are ultimately responsible to get Frodo to the Cracks of Doom.
  • There seems to be no expectation that the companions will make it all the way to the very end.
  • Note: Elrond’s choices will be vindicated, as all of them do great deeds for the Free Peoples.
Hope in speed and secrecy:
  • Elrond invites a parallel between this Company setting out from Rivendell and the Last Alliance.
  • However, Elrond makes it clear that he neither has an army like the Last Alliance to send, but that it would also make their mission more difficult, and that this is the right choice now.
  • The “hope” Elrond is referring to is amdir, as in hope for actually achieving their quest.
  • Also, he is not sending anyone like Glorfindel, as his high visibility would actually make it harder for them to maintain that hope in speed and secrecy that they will need to get into Mordor.
  • Gandalf himself is “cloaked”, in his words, meaning that he can conceal his presence and power.
  • Note: Only Frodo, and later Gollum, take oaths with regard to reaching Mordor and Mount Doom, though Sam has also taken an oath earlier to Gildor’s folk to follow Frodo wherever.
  • Frodo and Sam are seen as a unit, and therefore Sam is not considered one of the companions.
  • Note: The primary difference between an oath and a promise is that something is usually called as witness to an oath, and consequences for not keeping the oath are outlined at it’s taking. In modern times, occasions to take oaths are few, and seem to carry less weight in secular society.
  • While Sam had been commanded by Gandalf to accompany Frodo, he actually gave permission to Sam to do what he already wanted to do, and since Sam has reaffirmed this choice as free.
  • While invoking the Last Alliance, Elrond uses the term “Elder Days” to also invoke the mythic past of the War of Wrath, which he actually witnessed and saw the host of the Valar in battle.
  • Elrond also understands that the appearance of help from the West is even more unlikely now with Valinor removed from the world, and the Valar knowing the destruction that would come.
  • Without this kind of intervention, then any military move by them would be counterproductive.
The Nine Walkers set against the Nine Riders:
  • Elrond doesn’t refer to the group as the Fellowship, but rather as the Company of the Ring.
  • The word “company” carries with it the connotation of a very small military unit, which implies a contractual bond. The term “fellowship” used later refers to more of a spiritual bond.
  • There is also a link between the words “company” and “companion” which has been seen in the “Three’s Company” chapter title, and the reference to “Thorin and Company” from The Hobbit.
  • Note: The title of The Fellowship of the Ring was imposed upon the first of the three volumes well after the writing of the full book, when it was decided to divide it to make it cheaper to buy.
  • Why does Elrond use the symbolism of the number nine, and for who’s benefit is this done? This is in parallel to how Bilbo used the number 144 symbolically during the Long-expected Party.
  • In what sense are the Nine Walkers “set against” the Nine Riders? They have no plans for their company to actually fight against the Black Riders, since speed and secrecy are their hope.
  • Note: Later in Rohan, Aragorn will set Gandalf the White in opposition of the Black Riders alone.
  • It’s important that Elrond is clear that he wishes to balance the Enemy’s servants spiritually, despite the fact that it’s implied that the Riders are greater in strength than the Walkers.
  • There is also a reversal in their purposes, as the Riders were sent out to find the Ring, while the Company is to set out with the Ring to destroy it, making Elrond Sauron’s opposite in this.
  • Elrond understands that though he did not call the Council himself, it was called at his house, and therefore he has been given a role of authority to play in the plans the Council decided.
  • The inverse parallel with Sauron is shown in the way that Elrond delegates these tasks to those who will take them on willingly, while Sauron commands and subjugates others to his will.
  • Both the Black Riders themselves in their actions are evil and are being used by an evil master.
  • By contrast, the Nine Walkers will go forth willingly and in order to save the world at their cost.
  • Note: It seems as though Elrond is recognizing that Gandalf has been appointed to take the place of Saruman in leading the fight against the Enemy, even though it’s Galadriel who makes that visible. She had already recognized that Gandalf should have been the White long before.
  • Elrond is recognizing the finality of whatever the outcome of the quest, as this is the end of the age, when he proposes that this may be the end of Gandalf’s labors, and this their last play.
  • Why does Elrond take a representational approach in choosing the members of the Company?
  • He seems to do this because it feels right considering the folk who arrived at the Council.
  • Why is Legolas chosen to represent the Elves? He may fit the need for an Elf while still fulfilling the need for stealth as coming from one of the Silvan communities, and won’t attract attention.
  • It’s also possible that both Gimli and Legolas have the advantage of heading home to the East.
  • Since the Ring will go south, Legolas and Gimli will still have to go out of their way to accompany them to the southern passes of the mountains if they are to turn towards home afterwards.
  • Elrond is choosing those that seem to have been sent him by Providence, and not for strength.
  • The four mentioned by name, aside from Gandalf, are all heading in the same direction anyway.
  • Frodo’s use of “Strider” connects Aragorn’s relationship with him back to simpler times in Bree.
  • Note: It’s not clear when Aragorn arrived in the room, either coming with Elrond or afterwards.