Arwen's Gift to Frodo

by elenna

Just some thoughts as I think about packing to go home for a visit, I cannot help but think of Frodo and his journey home to the Shire. I have lived away from my home in Wisconsin for ten years now; whereas Frodo’s absence from the Shire was only the span of thirteen months. Yet Frodo and I share something in common; we are both aware that home will not be the same for we are not the same. We have grown and experienced many changes in our lives. Not that our families and friends have remained stagnant. They have gown through their own series of growth and changes and, yes, in some instances regressions in their lives. But this is part of what life is all about: living and growing and changing from birth to death. Frodo even speaks of this to Gandalf. “There is no real going back, though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same.” Frodo was anxious to return to the Shire just as I am anxious to go home.

Before Frodo and company parted from Gondor, Frodo meets with Aragorn and Arwen. Aragorn declares Frodo free to move in the land of the realm of Gondor forever. He tells Frodo that he and his companions are to travel with honor. While a most generous gift from the lord of the land, I believe the greater gift is bestowed by the queen. Arwen presents Frodo with a gift in offering him her place on the ship that will travel into the West; a ship that she may never take given her choice to stay with Aragorn. Arwen also presents Frodo with a ‘white gem like a star…hanging upon a silver chain.’ She places the gem about his neck. “‘When the memory of the fear and the darkness troubles you,’ she said, ‘this will bring you aid.’” Frodo does cling to the gem in time of need as it replaces the Ring he once bore. The gem becomes a gift to the Ring-bearer to aid in his immediate need.

What of the other gift: that of taking the place of Arwen on the ship? Does Frodo need to take the ship to the West? I suppose we could debate this question, but it is a moot point. Arwen told Frodo “But in my stead you shall go Ring-bearer, when the time comes, and if you then desire it. If your hurts grieve you still and the memory of your burden is heavy, then you may pass into the West...” The point being no matter how much we grieve and wish that Frodo did not have to leave, Frodo knew he had to leave. The pain from his wounds and experiences were too heavy on him he needed to take the ship in Arwen’s stead. It was his choice not ours. Personally as much as it grieves me to read about and watch Frodo leave on that ship, I can not bear the thought of him suffering. I have to let him go.

Saruman predicts the future for Frodo in the Shire. “Well, I go and will trouble you no more. But do not expect me to wish you health and long life. You will have neither. But that is not my doing. I merely foretell.” Whereas Saruman’s staff had been broken, he was not bereft of his being. He knew what was in store for Frodo: the remainder of his life would be wracked with ill health to the point that Frodo would desire to make use of Arwen’s gift.

This is not the end for Frodo. Arwen had added a codicil to her gift. She had concluded her statement giving Frodo the opportunity to pass in the West with these words “…until all your wounds and weariness are healed.” What exactly do these words mean? The key word here is ‘until’. One does not take the cure in order to lay down and die; one takes the cure to lead a richer and fuller and healthier life. Unfortunately with no further books completed by Professor Tolkien, this is a bit ambiguous. Even though Frodo had not necessarily realized it yet when he leaves, IMHO I believe the way is open for him to return. Would Frodo want to return after he is healed? What would be the manner of his return? How long would his healing take? I cannot answer these questions, but they do give a person pause. In this respect Frodo is not unlike King Arthur of whom it is said he will return to Great Britain when the need arises. Arwen’s gift to Frodo is one of healing and life and hope. One can only imagine the peace he felt …

“…and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”