The History of The Lord of the Rings: The Old Forest and the Withywindle

The Old Forest is from the beginning the unsettling and disturbing place it remains in Fellowship. But there are still a few differences. Old Man Willows swallows Bingo and Odo, who will become Pippin. Tom Bombadil still comes to the rescue of the four hobbits, but they do not stay at his house until he saves them from the barrow-wights. He comes then in response to a song of Marmaduke (Merry) and Bingo.

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The History of The Lord of the Rings: Of Gollum and the Ring

I love Christopher’s note that “by this stage my father knew a good deal more about the Riders and the Ring than Bingo did, or than he permitted Gildor to tell” (Return of the Shadow 73).   This chapter contains another version of the conversation Bingo has with Gildor’s company. The hobbit tells the Elves that Gandalf told Bilbo it was all right to use the Ring as a joke or to escape from peril or irritation, but he was not to use it for evil or “‘it may get the better of you.’” (74). After Bilbo leaves, Bingo also relates that the wizard warned him to be cautious with the Ring “‘otherwise you will be overcome by it.’”   After the Elves tell Bingo that the Lord of the Ring is likely after him, he does not know whether this is bad...

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The History of The Lord of the Rings: From Hobbiton to the Woody End

I really like Bingo. To me, he is his own, separate person from Frodo, not just someone who morphed into him. There continues to be great differences – in fact, some are opposite from the final versions – as well as similarities between the first drafts and the completed text. Bingo and two of his nephews head out in haste from Bag End on their way to Rivendell, but no reason is given for their hurry. After a mysterious rider comes along, Bingo uses the Ring to hide from him. In an early draft, this turns out to be Gandalf, but soon it becomes a threatening presence that is much closer to the Ringwraith in the published book. Many of the lines given later to Frodo belong here to Bingo, who wonders if he will ever see Tookland again, but there is no...

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The History of The Lord of the Rings: A Long Expected Party

Welcome to my exploration of The History of The Lord of the Rings! As Christopher Tolkien does in these four volumes, these posts will compare and contrast what the first drafts envisaged ‘the new Hobbit’ would be like with the final masterpiece. The first volume, Return of the Shadow, splits these drafts into three phases, and we will take each one of these separately. This first post concerns Bilbo’s long-expected birthday party and its four different versions. The various drafts have a lot of details that remain unchanged in the final version and several interesting differences. In none of them is the party given by someone who is older than 72. The greatest abandoned idea is that just before Bilbo disappears he announces his intention to get married. He...

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The Return of the King: The Grey Havens

Though Sam “longs to stay with Frodo forever” (Bradley, “Men,” Tolkien and the Critics, 124), he also wants to be with Rosie. Frodo grants both wishes after Sam accepts the invitation to live with his master after the wedding. Frodo continues to be ill in October and March. Elanor is born on the second anniversary of the destruction of the Ring. By this time, there are only six months left before Frodo leaves his home forever. In Frodo’s embrace of the grace that the Valar gave him, the seemingly powerless hobbit gains by sacrifice the home that Saruman forsook out of lust for power. The Ring-bearer leaves Middle-earth and nearly all he loves with nothing but the clothes on his back. Yet he still takes everything that he needs, for he has the same...

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The Return of the King: The Scouring of the Shire

The rebellion that repels the ruffians from the Shire is a physical one, but it begins as a spiritual one. The invaders had mistreated and jailed any hobbits who had resisted them, which frightened others from acting. Merry’s blowing of the horn of Eorl the Young wakes them from their dispiritedness. Once they release themselves from the invisible chains that bound them, they rise up to fight. In insisting that there be no killing if at all possible, Frodo does not want the peaceful nature of hobbits to change. They know how to defend themselves, but they do not glory in battle like the Rohirrim. The Ring-bearer has not given so much to remove such evil only to see it spring up again in his homeland. He has also become aware that the real battlefield is in the...

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The Return of the King: Homeward Bound

Frodo hinted as far back as seeing Arwen arrive for her wedding that not all was well with him. That he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder is made clear, among other things, through his anniversary illnesses, the first of which he endures on the way home at the Ford and at Weathertop. Though N. Duncan Sinclair does not speak of Frodo but of those in this age who have PTSD, his words still give a vivid portrayal of what this time was like for Frodo. “Physically, emotionally and spiritually the old moment [the original trauma] is relived, not just remembered. The unconscious cannot tell time, and when it projects the [trauma] onto the present moment, the time is both then and now. During some of these instances, the present is dimmed to the point where it...

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