Nine Companions

Of Men, Dwarves, Elves, a Hobbit and a Wizard

A light, brighter than the Sun, pure, almost godlike with only a musical female voice introducing it with elegance and enlightenment – Arwen. This beautiful white light is seen through Frodo’s eyes, the same ones that are passing into shadow. As his surroundings grow dark, his eyes perceive her as a beacon of much-needed brightness. Through Arwen, her being, her manner, and her beauty, we are introduced to the Elves of Rivendell.

The Valley of Imladris

Ah Rivendell, Heaven on Earth. It is a place out of a fairy tale, beautiful, elegant, at one with nature surrounding it, and running through it. Sadly in Lord of the Rings, Rivendell has reached Autumn and it will be dying soon, as the Elves are leaving Middle-Earth. Nevertheless, its beauty is still magnificent timeless. A perfect fantasy. It is the most inviting place, full of knowledge, wisdom, and peace. A perfect place to come together and solve Middle-Earth`s chiefest problem – the destruction of the Ring.

The role of Frodo

Elrond: „His strength returns.“

Gandalf: „That wound will never fully heal. He will carry it the rest of his life.“

Elrond: „And yet to have come so far still bearing the Ring, the Hobbit has shown extraordinary resilience to its evil.“

Gandalf: „It is a burden he should never have had to bear. We can ask no more of Frodo.“

This little scene between Gandalf and Elrond, tells us more than what has been written in the script. Firstly, he admires the resilience of Frodo for carrying the Ring thus far and sees him as a positive agent, one who could carry out the task until the end. Secondly, Gandalf regrets putting Frodo in this position in the first place. And thirdly, he presents the consequences of his journey so far, knowing Frodo would never be the same.

Gandalf`s facial expressions show his deep involvement in Frodo`s well being. He never actually pushed Frodo to make this journey, Frodo understood it as the only possible option under the circumstances. Nevertheless, Gandalf`s responsibility toward the Hobbit is palpable, as it is his urgency to relieve Frodo of his imminent task. The care that Gandalf harbors for Frodo has blossomed into protectiveness. His efforts to protect him, however, are failing by the minute.

Elrond`s musings

Elrond: “The time of the Elves is over, my people are leaving these shores. Who will you look to when we`ve gone? The Dwarves? They hide in their mountains seeking riches. They care nothing for the troubles of others.”

Gandalf: “It is in Men that we must place our hope.”

Elrond: “Men? Men are weak. The race of Men is failing. The blood of Numenor is all but spent, its pride and dignity forgotten. It is because of Men the Ring survives.”

Elrond is somewhat peeved with Men and Dwarves of Middle-Earth. He describes them stereotypically, Dwarves are greedy, Men are weak. It would seem that Elrond holds a grudge against Men in general. He does not trust them, and although he has the right not to, given his own history with Isildur, he has been holding on to the past for all these years.

After all, Elrond could not have been able to change or influence Isildur`s behavior or mind, so his grudge against all Mankind is somewhat pointless. He could only influence himself, in that he remains on good terms with all races, and not simply cut everyone off.

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The weight of the past

Generalizing a race based on one individual`s weakness is pointless and dangerous. Residing only with one’s own people is alienating and destructive. You only remain in the confounds of what you already know and poison your own mind with prejudice. This way your reality becomes distorted and you remain in the same frame of mind, without experiencing growth or wisdom.

If you hold on to the past, the present and future become irrelevant. You base them solely on a preconceived notion, which is faulty, to begin with. Acceptance, tolerance, and openness to everything outside of your comfort zone are that which enables you to grow. Residing within the same walls of perception is numbing and joyless.

An attempt at destruction

As Gimli tries to „destroy“ the Ring with his ax, the eye of Sauron flashes, hurting Frodo and startling his seat. Frodo is the only one feeling the burden of the Ring, and Gimli`s attempt only shows how strong his bond with it has become. He feels pain and starts to sweat as Black Speech emanates from the Ring, drawing him ever closer to his destiny.

The ensuing quarrel of who should partake in this journey of destruction ends up not having anything to do with the Ring, it has become a quarrel of wits between races that haven’t liked each other for ages. Gandalf is trying to settle the situation, however, no one reacts to his attempts.

Sauron’s voice chanting the markings on the Ring and reflecting the quarrel engulfing everyone in flames is a perfectly timed metaphor. The Ring is showing Frodo what would happen if they don`t unite. Gandalf closes his eyes for a moment after hearing Frodo exclaim that „he will take the Ring to Mordor“. He opens them, grief and regret spill out of them in a well of feeling.

United they don`t stand, yet

There is no real brotherhood between the races as they sit on the Council. Every race is making a point for themselves. But everyone goes against each other. Every race hides in this way or another. Rivendell, Lothlórien and Woodland Realm are all hidden Kingdoms, the Dwarves dwell in the mountains and the Halflings haven’t even seen other races apart from Gandalf, who they have labeled as a „disturber of the peace“. Men are divided within their own race. This is why a fellowship makes sense.

This fellowship is then a great possibility for all of them to learn things about each other that are more than simple stereotypical preconceived notions. It’s a chance for all of them to grow and learn to accept and respect each other. Not just individuals among themselves, but entire races. They have to stick together if they want this task accomplished.

Every one of them has something to offer, and every one of them has the strength and ability that the others don’t share. They need to work as a team, get over their petty arguments and see the other race for what it is. Frodo is here quite neutral. His race does not have any meaningfulness in history, they aren’t known to others that well.

Their part in this story is only beginning, and they will prove to be the toughest race yet. Since Hobbits have not been around any race before, they don’t have any grudges against them or prejudices. They are like blank sheets of paper, absorbing everything and learning as they go. The others have a much longer mental and emotional journey to overcome.  

Boromir – a mighty man of Gondor, or is he? Although he has only a brief stint in the Fellowship of the Ring, his life, and his death, are incredibly insightful. Follow me to my next post.

Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash.

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