Keep it secret; it will keep you safe


New Member
Hey. So throwback to a few episodes back (I am running about a month behind on podcast listening; sorry. That means I'm like, three paragraphs behind you). Thinking about why Bilbo told Frodo not to let anyone else know that he had given him the coat of Mithril. There were a bunch of ideas that were presented, and I think they're all good ones. But people are complex and do things for complex reasons, so this is not to say "those are wrong" merely, "here's another element to it, in addition to the other ideas."

Bilbo was embarrassed.

What's he doing with the Mithril coat, that should be in Michel Delving? He's planning on going on more adventures, obviously. He's already gone on a few. But I think he's still planning another grand caper. We see it in the council, where he says he'll take the ring to Mordor.

In his mind, his adventuring days aren't done.

Or rather, weren't done. But we've had a couple major shifts in who Bilbo is the last two years or so (our time, not story time). We have had the realization at the Council that he is not to be the ring bearer. We have had his interaction with Frodo where he asks to see the ring, and he realizes what the ring has done to Frodo, and how Frodo sees him, and realizes he is no longer the owner of the ring. And it's given him a new outlook on life. Maybe he is starting to accept his role as documenter. Story teller, not story maker. Author, not hero.

And I think he has had a vision of himself from what he perceives to be Gandalf's perspective, and sees a silly old hobbit. He doesn't want Gandalf to know that he harboured these dreams of going on more big adventures, that he brought along his sword and mail in the hopes of getting out and seeing the world again.

In a word, his Baggins side has come to the fore, and is appalled at the Took in him, and doesn't want anyone—most certainly not Gandalf—knowing what a silly old Hobbit he is.

He's not, and nobody, I think, would view him that way, but he is scared they will, and is mortified at the thought of Gandalf giving him that Gandalf look. So he asks Frodo not to tell anyone, for this reason. And if it is discovered, he can pretend it was one big jape.

And, you know, wandering about unknown lands with the worth of a small nation openly on your back is also a bad idea

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I may be the only person in the class to feel this way, but I don't think Bilbo took his mementos of his adventure with him because he was planning on more adventures - trips, possibly, but not the kind of adventure that would need a sword and mail. Already when he left Bag End, he knew he wouldn't be coming back, and these things hold treasured memories. And he has settled in Rivendell and realized he does not really want to go anywhere else once he had been back to Erebor. He feels his age, whether he looks it or not. He was already feeling it when he left Bag End, and I don't think that was all because of the Ring. He was, after all, 111. I think it is natural to take one's most treasured possessions along when you move away.

I think you are right about his thinking about the Ring as still being his Ring, that he has left with Frodo. But I think he saw a lot more in Frodo's face in the Hall of Fire than the Ring's effect on Frodo - I think he finally realized the effect it had had on himself. Up until then he has considered Gandalf's talking to him about the Ring passing on, telling him he cannot go back and get it as he proposes, mere fussiness. He has not understood his final scene with Gandalf at Bag End, not at all. But when he sees Frodo's reaction to his asking to see it, it finally hits him, and he truly does understand everything. When he asks "Don't adventures ever end?" he is also realizing that other people have to take them up like a burden.

I think he is embarrassed in his farewell visit with Frodo because his feelings of love and fear for Frodo are almost overwhelming and such feelings are embarrassing. Merry calls it being afraid of saying too much, so they don't have the words when jokes are inappropriate. Giving Sting and the mithril coat to Frodo are his way of still taking care of Frodo without having to put it into words. Putting the mithril coat on Frodo is a ceremonial passing of the torch, but it is also a hug.

He is also aware of Frodo's intense feelings, even before Frodo's attempt to thank him. So he turns Frodo's accepting the mithril coat into a favor to himself and a shared secret between them. I don't think he's afraid of what others would think of his having taken these things with him, but is a way to spare Frodo embarrassment, either of gratitude to Bilbo, or of making himself conspicuous to the others.
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