Monday, January 31, 2011

Foreshadowing and Compare/Contrast in FoR

Tolkien uses foreshadowing of the impact of the quest on all the people groups of Middle Earth in the first several chapters of Fellowship. Dwarves, Elves, Hobbits, and Men are all mentioned early on: dwarves help Bilbo with party preparations, Gildor (an elf) encounters Frodo and his companions (hobbits) in the woods of the shire, and the "Big Folk" are mentioned throughout. The inclusion of these people groups signifies the far reaching power of the Ring and that no corner of Middle Earth will go unscathed.

Tolkien compares and contrasts Bilbo's original journey with the quest Frodo begins. Frodo begins his journey by taking the same route from home that Bilbo travelled and heading toward Rivendell. This is Frodo's "maiden voyage" just as Bilbo's adventure was his first expedition out of the Shire. However, the tone of Frodo's travels is more sinister than Bilbo's somewhat comical start out from Bag End. Frodo sets out to destroy, Bilbo worked to regain and conquer. Bilbo flees his hobbit hole because of a stubborn wizard, whereas Frodo gets out from under his hill just in time to avoid one of Sauron's most feared servants. The overall theme of the first installment of the Lord of the Rings is much darker and more mature than The Hobbit's fanciful and fun adventures.

4 comments:

Luthien said...

As I read, I found it really interesting that Tolkien put in those little "hints" and reminders of how Bilbo left the Shire and contrasting/comparing them with the way that Frodo leaves. I think this contrast can be extended to when Bilbo and Frodo each return home. The darker tone of FotR and more serious & dangerous adventure that Frodo experiences causes him to be even more changed than Bilbo was when he returned. Because of this, Frodo must leave the Shire for good not long after he returns, whereas Bilbo is content for a while to live in his hole - though, in the end, he also leaves the Shire for good.

Sorry - I don't want to totally change the topic of this post, but I wonder what this leaving-of-the-Shire could signify on a larger, deeper scale - why did Bilbo and Frodo ultimately leave their homeland (and I don't like the "they missed the land outside the Shire" kind of answer)? I'm sure we'll discuss this more when we read Return of the King, but I think there are clues in the beginning of FotR about Bilbo leaving that might shed some light on the matter.

Miriel said...

This is an interesting question to ponder. I think one of the reasons, that is probably obvious, is Bilbo and Frodo are different, in a way, from all the other hobbits, including Sam, Merry, and Pippin. They have something in them that is very essential to accomplish the journeys they did.
Another thought I have is the power of the rings compels the possessor to become an outcast and hide themselves away from society. Gollum hid himself away in the woods after he found the ring, and Bilbo said he wanted to live his life in the wilderness (before he handed over the ring). Of course, this is a different from the reason why Bilbo left the Shire in The Hobbit.

Elwing said...

In comparing Bilbo and Frodo's journeys I think it is important to remember their relationship with the elves. Both hobbits are known to the elves, know some of their history, and speak their language. Frodo is also called "Elf Friend". This forshadows that Bilbo and Frodo will follow the elves over the sea to the Undying Lands. Even though they return to the Shire differently, they both leave Middle Earth together in places of honor with the elves.

Radagast said...

I think it's also interesting to compare how Bilbo and Frodo each take the news of their impending journey. Bilbo doesn't really want to go, but there is definately a part of him that wants to go and prove himself. However, he is still practically pushed out of his door to actually leave. On the other hand, Frodo really doesn't want to go. There might be a small part of him that desires to follow Bilbo, but it was never enough for him to actually go. But when the time comes and he must, Frodo makes his own decision to go and leaves willingly (to some extent). I'm not sure all of that made sense, but what I'm getting at is it's interesting how Biblo more-so wants to go and is shoved out of his door, whereas Frodo more-so doesn't want to go but leaves on his own.