i Nili o i Ardanolë Newsletter:

Your source for Lord of the Rings News, Updates, Poetry, Art, Parody and Satire.


Issue 61, Volume 3, 17 September 2005.

Editors: Perian, Xara. 
Chief Correspondent: Prongs.
Columnists: Lady Morrigan Shadow, Padfoot, Cerridwen.
Archivist: Ivy.
Contributor(s): Zilch. 

In this issue:
Frodo's Final Journey - Metaphor for Death? by Xara.

In every issue*:
Ask Samwise.

Find past archives or contribute at http://inili.iwarp.com/

*With the exception of this one.

  It is precisely 12:53 on a Friday night/Saturday morning, and this issue has one article. One which Xara wrote about nine months ago. Thank Eru for Xara's period of massive, quality writing production. Actually, there are three articles by her sitting in my Newsletter files, but I'm very reluctant to post them, because when they run out I have a notice to post which will lead to the end of an era with this newsletter. But that is a different story, and one that I hope to postpone yet a while longer.
  12:58. A good start. You see how much you can write in but a few minutes? That ramble was approximately twice the size of the average Classified.
  No Letters, no Tolkienish, no Ask Samwise. I feel like Tolkien trying to write LotR with nothing but Bingo and Trotter to work with. Absolutely thrilled in some areas, completely blank in others. Thrilled on a personal level. There is simply so much to write about! Inspiration flooding in. And a teacher of English asked me whether I have ever considered a career in writing. No, this isn't simply a random gloat by a semi-drunken editor. This is a blatant, in-your-face bribe! Look, see what forced creativity can bring you? Fame! Fortune! A whole lot of words scribbled on random pieces of paper which you find a few years later and wonder 'what the (bleep) was I thinking when I wrote that?'! It's a brilliant life.
  Care to give it a try?
  Which reminds me... I'm behind on the behind the scenes work, so it shall be done up-front this time.
  ORANGES! (Sorry, that was me.)
  Now that I have your attention, would you care to join the newsletter staff? I am most impressed with your work thus far and if you are able would like to see more of it. Whatever your answer, write to me... Perian@HotPOP.com Also, I'm curious to know whether you would prefer a more packed monthly newsletter, or for it to continue in is somewhat scant but regular fortnightly manner? Everyone can respond to that question. You are the readers, you are why this publication exists.
  Where was I?
  Ah, here. Right.
  There are two or three themes coming up for the newsletter.
  Identity Crisis: Cases of mistaken identity, confused identity, multiple identities ... whatever you like! There are a plethora of them in LotR, so you have a lot of material to work from.
  Myth and Magic: (to steal John Howe's book's name) A dual topic... you can either focus on any ties LotR/The Sil. has to cultural myths, or the myths which Tolkien himself created (such as Ëarendil and Gil-Galad or the Valquenta) or you may choose to focus in on the magic aspect, how it is used, misused, hidden, displayed, etc. If there are enough of each, I may slice it into two topics.
  Of course, I'm always open to more!
  Now, permit me to turn it over to Xara, and something a wee bit more coherent. A great deal more coherent, as a matter of fact...
Frodo's Final Journey - Metaphor for Death?
By Xara.
  As all book-readers and movie-goers will surely by now be aware, the Lord of the Rings's poignant ending features a scene in which Frodo, unable to carry on his life as it was before his long journey, and suffering from wounds physical, mental and emotional, takes a ship with the elves to the Undying Lands; the land of Valinor, never to return. This we know. And yet, there is much debate amongst devoted followers of The Lord of the Rings as to whether this is a simple statement by Tolkien of the final events of the story, or a metaphor for Frodo's death.
  Before we can draw any sort of tangible conclusion to this question, we must first consider the facts; all the facts (or rather fictitious facts, as until Perian proves otherwise we must assume all of Tolkien's writings to be just that; fiction) laid down by Tolkien in the body of his work and in various appendices. First of all, Frodo was granted his place on the ship to Valinor because Arwen, having married Aragorn, would not be presenting her ticket at the Grey Havens. She was staying in Middle Earth, eventually to die. This would suggest that Frodo was in fact going to Valinor to live, as Arwen would have done, had she gone in his place. We must also acknowledge the fact that, many, many years after the War of the Ring, when his beloved Rosie finally died of old age, Samwise too, now an old man, rode to the Grey Havens, and took his own place on a ship to Valinor. What does this suggest? Samwise had to be one and whole for many years, Frodo said so, was he now going to death as Frodo had done, or was he going to die at Frodo's side, across the sea in the land of the Valar?
  However, very strong evidence is also leant to the case of those who would say Frodo's journey over the sea is a metaphor. Let us remember that the souls of the dead in Middle Earth were said to travel over the sea to Valinor, to the Halls of Mandos. In the words of Annie Lennox "All souls pass into the west...Grey ships pass into the west." We know that Peter Jackson is a supporter of the Metaphor Theory as it shall be dubbed (he confesses so on the RotK Extended Edition DVD) and had a hand in these lyrics, so they cannot be considered unbiased evidence, but they do put it very succinctly. The elves travelled across the sea to rest from the troubles of Middle Earth for the rest of eternity (or, for all the forseeable future), and the rest of the mortals travelled across the sea to rest after they had died. As Frodo was a mortal, it would not be unreasonable to say that Frodo's journey was the latter; a journey of death.
  But, this is not all the information we have on the matter. For there is more, in the pages of "The Unfinished Tales", a collection of Tolkien's notes, Tolkien mentions something which perhaps swings balance in favour of the idea that Frodo's trip was no metaphor at all. In the chapter "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" Tolkien says that, after being tempted by the Ring, and passing the test as it were, Galadriel prayed to the Valar to permit Frodo to travel over the sea to Valinor and be healed from his pain and suffering. Surely, if this were a journey all mortals took it would need no prayer on Galadriel's part to make it so?
  We must also consider Tolkien himself. As a self-confessed hater of allegory, would Tolkien have used such a metaphor? Let me first explain for those who are wondering, what allegory is. Suppose I were to tell you a story about a man who is given a copy of Lord of the Rings, decides its a bunch of fantasy rubbish and throws it away. The next day he is attacked by a balrog, and is killed because, having not read LotR, doesn't know to stand on a bridge, crack it and then lure the balrog on as well, making the beast destroy itself with it's own weight. This would be allegorical as it is really just symbolising a principle; don't discount books as useless if you haven't read them, and certainly never EVER throw away a copy of Lord of the Rings!! However, is Frodo's trip to Valinor as a metaphor for death really allegorical? That is something which could be debated. Would Tolkien consider it so? Well of course we don't know, he's not here to ask.
  In the end, it pretty much all comes down to that; we don't know. But does this matter? Perhaps Tolkien meant for there to be no single answer to this question. Let those to whom Frodo's journey to Valinor had meaning as a metaphor believe it to be a metaphor, and let those who preferred to think he was off to bask on some jewel covered beach across the ocean believe he was off to bask on some jewel covered beach on the ocean. Personally I'm for the latter, but as for the rest of you, well, that's up to you isn't it? Quite a beautiful ending either way though, don't you think?



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