As most of us know, all of Tolkien’s books had religious inspired symbolism (See my blog, Tolkien and Symbolism). I have searched and searched trying to find what Tolkien had intended each thing to symbolize. So, for those who want to know just as I had, I am going to try to figure out what it means. If you agree, great! If you don’t, comment what you think the meaning is.
To start, I’ll go to the beginning of the Lord of the Rings. In the books, after Bilbo’s birthday disappearance, Frodo meets with Gandalf. Gandalf tells him about what he wants Frodo to do, that is to take the ring to Rivendell. Only, Frodo doesn’t leave until Gandalf comes back, which is twenty years after! That is a long time! Granted it probably wasn’t too long for Gandalf, or even Frodo for that matter, who will live longer than humans will.
So, why such a long time? After putting in a bit of thought, I realized something. Think about the Shire. It is the perfect, most comfortable, most homely place one can live. Everyone is happy and works together for the most part. Nothing bad ever happens. It’s almost as if Sauron couldn’t even get there, even if he wanted to. What place in the world would it be impossible for evil to reach? Sounds like pre-earth life to me!
Think about what we do before we come to earth. Well, what are we doing? I’d imagine we would be excited for our turn to come to earth. At least I would be! But, obviously we couldn’t just choose to go to earth whenever we felt like. We had to wait until it was our time. Until our earth parents gave birth to us. Frodo spends a long time in the Shire, waiting for Gandalf to tell him it’s his time to go out into the world, where perils await that he would have never foretold. As a lot of us know as well, Gandalf is symbolic of Christ. Christ had the power to send us to earth when it was our turn, just as Gandalf had the power to send Frodo on his journey.
So, next time you read the Lord of the Rings, bored out of your mind waiting for Frodo to just get on with it. Think about what it is supposed to mean. Try to maybe even interpret it for yourself. And please share your thoughts on what you think it means.