Middle Earth Diary

Bilbo’s Own Reality: a Middle-Earth Diary

When the reality one lives in becomes unbearable, or one is simply fed up with having to play a certain role in it, the mind tries to escape it. It focuses all its energy on more delightful and perhaps fictional surroundings, enabling a life one can`t wait to live.

This behavior can be damaging, not only for oneself but for others as well. The more one is absorbed in this particular reality, the more the non-fictional reality becomes a nuisance. Others are given a place on the sidelines and treated as outsiders, and even enemies, trying to penetrate this “fictional” reality. One feels misunderstood and therefore reduces communication to its bare minimum.

Bilbo is a classic case of this phenomenon. He brings his desired world to the foreground. Thorin`s map, his accounts of the journey and the artifacts he was able to bring back with him. Since he has been doing this for some time now, he might have lost his grip on reality. Not saying that he has lost his mind, but he is reliving his adventures at every possible moment.

The episode with the three Trolls seems to bring a particular gleam to his eyes. He is not telling the story only for the sake of the children, he is momentarily reliving it. However, the longing of those days and those types of adventures are at the forefronts. When a mind is remembering an event and the heart becomes excited, that is a testament to what this character desires.

Introversion and reclusiveness

As much as friendship and home permeate the films, the introversion of some of its characters represents the polar opposite. Bilbo Baggins is definitely one of them. He has taken on a life of solitude, of pretense and boredom. With an explicit sign on his door, he is clearly stating his position on visitors.

Bilbo has turned a once pristine Hobbit hole into a messy storage room, all his maps and writings scattered on the floor. He is purposefully re-imagining himself wandering through the Wilderland again, surrounding himself with the remains of his own journey.

Bilbo Baggins is pouring over old maps and locking himself in his study. He is writing his accounts with the Ring of Power tucked safely in his blazer pocket. It might be because of old age or simple forgetfulness that he suddenly thinks he has lost the Ring. Genuine panic overtakes him, as he fumbles through his jacket`s pockets to find it. It has taken him, slowly but surely.

Up until then, the beautiful sounds of the Shire become elongated and intertwined with a darker melody. They slowly introduce the Ring`s presence, twisting this once carefree Hobbit`s disposition into a very clouded and codependent one. The possession of the Ring is crucial. Not to use it in any malicious or dangerous way, but simply owning it, possessing it, treasuring it.

Bilbo is exhausted and past his limit of enduring his life in the Shire. He fences himself off from the rest of the world because he can no longer accept it. His patience has run out. When there is an unfulfilled wish, then the desire to fulfill it becomes ever greater with every passing day. Everything keeping one away from granting oneself this wish becomes a nuisance.

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A Farewell to Frodo

I`m very selfish, you know. Yes, I am, very selfish. I don’t know why I took you in after your mother and father died but it wasn’t out of charity. I think it was because, of all my numerous relations, you were the one Baggins that showed real spirit.

Bilbo

Bilbo is saying a lot more here than it meets the eye. It seems clear why he took him in. He is honest about it and gives a genuine reason why he did it. However, with the changing expression on his face, one could gather that Bilbo chose Frodo out of two connecting reasons:

  • Firstly, Frodo`s adventurous spirit. It means that he would have understood better than anybody else what it felt like to wander the world.
  • Secondly, because of Frodo`s adventurous spirit, can Bilbo be safe in case he has to leave the Ring behind someday. Frodo would be able to cope with the power of the Ring.

The point is…you’ll be all right.

Bilbo

As he says this line, the expression changes. Bilbo goes from sternness to sadness, where his eyes meet the ground. He presumes what the future might hold for Frodo and with a heavy heart, he lets it happen. He knows what the Ring has done to him and what it could do to Frodo. Also, he knows he is going to leave him, without telling Frodo.

He knows that Frodo is a responsible lad and he would take care of himself well without him. He is also sad to leave him. As Frodo remarks, Bilbo has talked about leaving many times but never as a final decision.

Bilbo is quite a shy Hobbit when it comes to uttering his feelings. They can, however, clearly be spotted. His eyes tell a tale of affection towards Frodo. Although not verbally expressed, Frodo sees his expression and understands the underlying emotion that Bilbo was not able to express.

A celebration with a twist

Bilbo’s 111th birthday celebration. Most everyone was invited, the banner was put up. Everyone chipped in to make it an event to remember. However, in Bilbo`s case, it was a matter of keeping up appearances, I would say. Hobbits enjoy celebrations. Their purpose in life seems to be to celebrate as many things as they can, and Bilbo’s birthday is no exception. He has dressed appropriately and behaved in an appropriate manner. But in this celebration, he seems to be playing a part. A part of an ordinary Hobbit, a host, a relative.

However, I don’t believe his heart was ever in it. His heart remained in the Wilderland, wondering when he would be back to reclaim it. Unfortunately, he never did. Bilbo might have found a way to keep his spirit alive by taking care of Frodo. He could relive his tales by retelling them and have Frodo imagine how it would have been like had he had the chance to come with him. Through Frodo, his spirit lived on.

The switch between his true self and his adapted Hobbit self is clearly visible as he comes to the end of his speech. He is lost in thought and the only thing on his mind is to leave. One can see that he is actually quite frustrated to be still standing there, living this life that he obviously wants to leave behind.

He has „put this off for far too long“, waiting this long to be and live as he once did, on the road and with a rekindled spirit in his heart. With a final goodbye, given silently and only to Frodo, and somewhat dramatic last remarks, he disappears.

Vanishing into thin air, his final trick will be worthy of remembrance to the Shire-folk.

The road goes ever on and on,

Down from the door where it began,

Now far ahead the road has gone,

And I must follow if I can.

Bilbo

The Ring of Power, Isildur’s bane. How does it influence the characters exactly, and why is everyone affected differently? Come and follow me to my next post to find out.

Featured image by Anja🤗#helpinghands #solidarity#stays healthy🙏 on Pixabay

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