A familiar sight, Gandalf’s carriage pulls into Hobbiton again, only this time with a completely different mission in mind. There will be no dragons to slay or Rings to carry on this particular path. This, their last journey will be a safe and comfortable one.
The last journey
Bilbo once told me, his part in this tale would end, that each of us must come and go in the telling. Bilbo’s story was now over. There would be no more journeys for him… save one.Frodo
Two Hobbits, two separate journeys. Both very distinguished inhabitants of the Shire, widely known for their courage and sacrifice. As Gandalf once said in the Mines of Moria, Bilbo was meant to find the Ring as Frodo was meant to finish its journey to Mount Doom. It is a causal link that binds these two Hobbits together and who all Middle-Earth should honor.
Gandalf’s carriage is somewhat different than it was the last time he came to Hobbiton. This time there are no fireworks to amaze the children of Hobbiton, for this is a somewhat somber occasion.
The highest honor
Frodo and Bilbo sit behind Gandalf in the carriage.
Bilbo: “Tell me again, lad, where are we going?”
Frodo: “To the harbor, Uncle. The Elves have accorded you a special honor. A place on the last ship to leave Middle-Earth.”
And what an honor it is. The Elves had left the shores of Middle-Earth for Valinor whilst the Men were fighting for their freedom. The wisest remaining behind took upon themselves to be the last ones to leave. Elrond had come to terms with his daughter’s choice for mortal life. Her wish for spending a lifetime with Aragorn had come true and all that she had hoped for has now come to fruition. With his daughter well taken care of in the arms of the King of Gondor, he can take the last ship to Valinor.
The ships are normally a vessel designated for the Elven race to reach Valinor. However, given the part that Bilbo had played in saving Middle-Earth, he was given an honor beyond his reckoning.
Loss vs. destruction
Frodo, any chance of seeing that old Ring of mine again? Hmm? The one I gave you?Bilbo
An amazing testament to the still lingering seductiveness of the Ring. Although destroyed, Bilbo’s want for its possession is still alive and well. It was his precious, a thing he cherished for years that kept him from aging. Even now, when his old age has caught up with him and 4 years since the Ring had last been seen, the influence on the mind is not lost.
Frodo: “I’m sorry, Uncle… I’m afraid I lost it.”
Bilbo: “Oh, pity. I should like to have held it, one last time.”
What could he have said differently? Frodo could have been honest and told him the truth about his adventure. He could have told him about his heroism in the quest to destroy the Ring. He opted not to.
It is one thing to say the Ring is lost, that would mean it still exists somewhere in Middle-Earth, but to tell him that it was destroyed would mean that not even the hope of its retrieval exists. It is easier to hold onto things if we know they still exist on Earth. Once they are gone, the feeling of loss will turn into a grieving process which would inevitably lead to an expression of anger. This would, in turn, create an unpleasant situation between Frodo and Bilbo.
It can be plainly seen in Frodo that the malice of the Ring had done its damage to his inner world. Combined with the wound of the Morgul-blade, Frodo does not have a prayer in the world of avoiding the Shadow that has remained in his soul. His facial expression is not that of happiness or fulfillment. He has lost a part of himself that he will never be able to recover.
The one person/creature who understood his pain was turned into ash by the molten lava of Mount Doom. As Bilbo was after his adventure and long afterward, so is Frodo too, ensconced in his own world with no one on the outside to understand him.
A beautiful sight
At the Grey Havens, the Hobbits look out at the sea.
Oh! Here is a sight that I have never seen before.Bilbo
There cannot be a more beautiful sight. The fairest Lady Galadriel, bathed in the golden light of the setting sun. In the company of Elrond and Celeborn, she stands as a welcoming party for the last farewell.
Galadriel: “The power of the Three Rings is ended. The time has come for the Dominion of Men.”
Elrond: “I Aear can vên na mar.” (The sea calls us home.)
Bilbo: “I think I’m quite ready for another adventure!”
The words of Lord Elrond wash over Bilbo like a warm breeze of sweet scent. His excitement rises. He would have loved to have seen the Lonely Mountain again, walked the path he once did, but there was no more strength left in him to sustain him through a journey like that. To leave Middle-Earth with the Elves, however, is an adventure of special significance.
Farewell… my brave hobbits. My work is now finished. Here at last, on the shores of the sea, comes the end of our Fellowship. I will not say, do not weep, for not all tears are an evil.Gandalf
Gandalf had passed through fire, water, and death to help Mankind overthrow the powers of Sauron. He had replaced Saruman in the greatest of manners. He had nudged both Bilbo and Frodo out the door and into their respective adventures. Gandalf was the instigator and now the last link to their Fellowship. As everything had worked out better than anyone had hoped, his purpose in Middle-Earth had been fulfilled.
The last goodbye
Gandalf, however, is not the only one who will be leaving the Fellowship on this one-way voyage. He walks towards the ship, but stops and turns around.
Gandalf: “It is time, Frodo.”
Sam: “What does he mean?”
Frodo: “We set out to save the Shire, Sam. And it has been saved. But not for me.”
Sam: “You don’t mean that! You can’t leave!”
The Hobbits stand confused as Gandalf announces Frodo’s leaving as well. No one expected it to happen. They thought they would have him with them for as long as they all lived, but it seems Frodo had one last secret he kept for himself.
The Shire is saved. However, Frodo cannot find any thread to hold onto and keep him there. There is nothing of the former life he left behind when his journey began. He is no longer the Hobbit they came to know and love. The darkness that crept into his soul during his quest has changed his inner world to the point of no recognition. There is no warmth in the sun or happiness among his own.
At peace at last
The last pages are for you, Sam.Frodo
Both Bilbo and Frodo’s adventures have been captured within the pages of the red leather-bound book. These are there for the posterity to pass onto. Both events helped shape the peace that now covers Middle-Earth. For that, the two Hobbits deserve to be canonized for eternity.
For all their efforts, however, there are people they are leaving behind, the ones that formed a Fellowship that is now ending. Merry, Pippin, and Sam are in tears over Frodo leaving. Although they might not know why he has to leave they know not to hinder him.
As Frodo walks onto the ship with Gandalf, he turns to his fellow Hobbits and gives them the last smile. He now appears to have reached peace. A smile like this has not crossed his lips for years. Now that he is finally on his way to healing, he can truly feel peace and happiness.
The ship sails out of the Grey Havens.
Return to Hobbiton
Sam returns to his wife and children in Hobbiton.
My dear Sam, you cannot always be torn in two. You will have to be one and whole for many years. You have so much to enjoy and to be, and to do. Your part in this story will go on.Frodo
There is much more in Hobbiton for Sam than it will ever be for Frodo. He has a community that he belongs to now more than ever since he married his Rosie. There is a life for him there, a normal life. His journey with Frodo to Mount Doom will always be a part of him, but his family is now a part of him as well, a part for which he had only begun to live. Sam will be the one to end the book of Bilbo and Frodo’s travels, he will have the final word.
Well, I’m back.Sam