A Fresh Eye on the Fellowship: Chapter 1 - Looking at LOTR from a different point of view

Don't you just love family reunions?
The chapter began in a local inn with a discussion of the upcoming party to celebrate Bilbo’s 111th birthday and Frodo’s 33rd,“coming of age”, birthday. Many of the hobbits were talking about the different things that they had heard about Bilbo, Frodo, and Bag End. Topics included Bilbo’s journey, Frodo’s lineage, and whether or not there was treasure at Bag End.

When the party actually came around, Bilbo surprised everyone by pulling a disappearing act during his speech, an act that was no surprise to Frodo and Gandalf. Bilbo had decided to leave the Shire and go travelling with Dwarves and find some place that he could settle down and finish his book. But before Bilbo could leave, he was confronted by Gandalf. Gandalf wanted Bilbo to leave the ring behind to give to Frodo. Bilbo got very upset and said that the ring was his and he would never give up his ‘precious’.

Finally Bilbo realized that Gandalf’s advice made sense and left it for Frodo. When Bilbo had gone and Gandalf was about to leave, his suspicions about the ring were confirmed when Frodo told him of the desire to use the ring when he was confronted by Lobelia regarding Bilbo’s going away present.

It was at this point that I realized the meaning to this chapter besides the obvious points of main character introductions and also the suspicions that there is something more to the ring than we’ve already read about. This chapter also symbolizes Bilbo’s want for peace taking two different forms. The first being back on the road with the Dwarves, the second being that he no longer has to carry the burden of the ring. Gandalf realized that Bilbo was becoming more like Gollum and it would have continued to change him.

Also, with the introduction of Frodo and Bilbo leaving him the ring, it gives Tolkien the opportunity to explore exactly what the ring does to its bearers. And it also a coincidence that Frodo is have his ‘coming of age’ birthday, but I don’t feel that he fully realizes that coming of age doesn’t always mean that he has grown anymore than he will by the end of the story.

With the first chapter finished, I have restarted a journey that I began nearly fifteen years ago and I am looking forward to finally finishing this book and then reading it again with a clearer perspective. I am not only writing this for you fans online, I am also writing these as notes, if you will, to look over after I see the movie to see if Tolkien’s messages are the same as I see them to be, or to see if they are something altogether different.

Just some food for thought,

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