Or did they just go to Tol Eressea?
To Valinor. It’s made clear when Arwen symbolically swaps her destiny with Frodo’s.
It’s unlikely she actually swapped destinies with him, and that Bilbo and Frodo at some point returned to Middle Earth to die, and that her claim of it was a poetic way of saying that the Valar made an exception for the Ringbearers.
Hopefully someone will come along with more detail, if not I’ll look it up over the weekend and post more.
I don’t think there’s really any evidence one way or the other, but I see no reason why the Valar would’ve let them sail 90% of the way just to stop them short. There is not, to my understanding, any barrier between Tol Eressea and Valinor proper in the same way there is being Middle Earth and The West (collectively).
While the Valar are Super Angels and can pretty much do what they want, it seems like a strange for them to have gone halfway like that.
The LotR wiki says that they probably died in Valinor. Makes sense to me, since the trip to Valinor is a one-way deal.
I thought that the Avari and those who followed Feanor (e.g. Galadriel) were retricted to Tol Eressea.
I don’t remember anything to that effect, but this isn’t my area of expertise either. Can we get us a real Tolkien Scholar in here please?
The relevant wiki pages claim that the only mortals allowed into valinor proper were the ring bearers frodo, bilbo and Sam.
Right, I’ve spent a while researching, and unfortunately I can’t find a definitive answer, but here’s some background that may be interesting.
Letter 246 from The Letters Of J.R.R. Tolkien has some detail about this, in the context of discussing Frodo’s failure at Mount Doom.
Tolkien talks about Frodo’s gradual withdrawal from day to day participation in the life of The Shire, whilst the other three Hobbits who were his companions are heroes there.
Tolkien goes on to say that Frodo still desired the ring, even though it was gone forever, and, as Gandalf said, there was no power in Middle Earth that could heal him of that desire, or of his despair. Bilbo was sent with him as a companion, and also as a reward in his own right for his bearing of the Ring. Even at the end, he too still desired to see it again.
The plan was made by Gandalf and Arwen, and revealed when Arwen says to Frodo of Bilbo “he will not again make any long journey save one”. It’s clear that the Council knew the effect that carrying the Ring would have on Frodo, even if they didnt reveal it to him, and that they were prepared to break the rules to allow him to be healed.
In letter 326, he writes
I can find no reference in Tolkien’s writings that states specifically that the Hobbit’s went to Valinor, but the implication is clear that, whether they went to Valinor or Eressëa, the healing power was there, and if they did not go to Valinor, it was because there was no need, or desire on their part, to do so.
I’ll give some background on the “died of their own free will” part from the second letter. In Tolkien’s universe, the main difference between Elves and Men is spiritual, not physical - they are physically close enough to marry and have children, for example, which in the natural world would make the the same species. The most obvious difference is the ‘immortality’ of Elves, and the ‘mortality’ of Men (and Hobbits are Men for the sake of this discussion). The spirit of Elves are bound to the physical world (or later, the separate part that is Aman, which, despite being removed from the “circles of the world” is still, in some way, part of Earth) until the end of time, and upon physical death their spirits return to Valinor to await their bodily reincarnation, either during the course of time, or at the battle at the end of time.
Men, on the other hand, were given the Gift, or Doom, of Man by Ilúvatar, that when they die, their spirits leave the confines of the world, and only He knows where they go. This was considered a genuine gift by the Men of Númenór for much of their history, until their corruption by Sauron, and at least their kings, if not the common people, did die at the time of their choosing, before becoming decrepit. Aragorn, as King of Gondor and direct descendant of the Kings of Númenór, followed this tradition, saying to Arwen “Take counsel with yourself, beloved, and ask whether you would indeed have me wait until I wither and fall from my high seat unmanned and witless. Nay, lady, I am the last of the Númenóreans and the latest King of the Elder Days; and to me has been given not only a span thrice that of Men of Middle-earth, but also the grace to go at my will, and give back the gift. Now, therefore, I will sleep”. (A Part Of The Tale Of Aragorn And Arwen, Appendix A, The Lord Of The Rings)
It’s nowhere explicitly stated, but it’s my belief that when Sam crossed the sea some 60 years after the others, he was reunited with Frodo.
Thanks for your labors on this topic, Steophan. That’s a very good analysis. I agree with all your conclusions.
Thanks. I enjoyed doing it, and I’m glad it’s appreciated.
If you reach the undying lands, you become undying. That’s how I always understood it. “The fate of Tuor was sundered from other men’s.” Al Pharazon and his men are entombed alive for as long as it takes.
It’s not the Valar who confirm immortality on the likes of Tuor, Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, and Gimli but Illuvatar himself.
It’s my hope Sam met Frodo again, but aren’t there some parts of the Silmarillion that imply that mortal life burns very brightly in Valinor?
I strongly doubt that, as death is specifically described as the Gift of Iluvatar to Man. I don’t believe he would remove that gift even from Ar-Pharazon, let alone from the Ringbearers. Even if they were granted physical immortality, as the Elves are, at some point, when they are healed, they would choose to die, as the Numenoreans did.
The only Mortal I can think of who went to Valinor in The Silmarillion was Tuor, and he was granted immortality.
I can find a reference to Elven spirits that have seen the Trees burning brightly, and their bodies living less long than other Elves, but nothing about mortals.
So if Tuor can gain immortality by marrying an elf princess, why not the ring bearers? Poor Gollum, he just missed it.
Why would they? They wouldn’t be gaining anything, and they would be losing their Humanity (or Hobbittity, if you prefer). To become immortal they would have to lose their mortality, and that mortality is the Gift Iluvatar gave uniquely to Men. That Men doubt this, and fear death, is due to the evil of Sauron, and the lies he spread in Numenor before it’s fall.
Immortality is not presented in Tolkien’s work as a good thing generally, and there’s no reason to suspect he’d wish it on his heroes.
The Undying Lands are Undying because of the nature of the people who live there, rather than any kind of property of the land itself. Only Tuor was granted the life of an Elf
Even Illuvatar has an exception clause as you mentioned with Tuor. Tis all I’m saying. Not sure if this is obvious but I think more than half the normal people you ask would choose immortality (and Eru would know that.)
It’s a small sample, to be fair, who had the choice. Elrond chose to be an Elf, his brother Elros chose to be a Man. Arwen chose to be mortal. I’m not sure what Elladan and Elrohir chose to do. Tuor chose the life of an elf. Luthien had a couple of goes, but she eventually chose the life of man.
E&E would have chosen immortality as they eventually left for the havens. Celeborn I think was the last noble named elf to stay in Rivendell before he himself took ship.
I don’t think the fate of E&E is decided. Nor for that matter is that of Celeborn. Tolkien himself could not make up his mind, a prince for sure, but of the Sindar or the Noldor, who knows? For Galadriel, an elf who has existed from before the world was made round, who can say?