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Thread: dreams/ prophecy in LOTR

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Sepdet began this thread by posting.

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Like any good epic or myth, dreams, prophetic or merely symbolic or psychological, pop up quite a bit.

I was just pondering some of Frodo's. They seem to be a mixture of his fears and recent experiences (as most dreams are), laced with dreams of the past or future.

At Crickhollow he dreams of a forest looming around him and creatures sniffing for him: obviously his concern for the road they mean to take in the morning, coupled with his first run-in with the Black Riders. Classic dream psychology.
But the second half of that dream is more complex: he dreams of climbing a white tower, hearing the Sea, and a great storm coming with lightning, and he's struggling to climb Again, dreams often have a "quicksand" aspect where one struggles to make progress; it's a common sort of anxiety, suited to the quest he's just starting.
The night before he had just met a party of High Elves coming back from the White Tower (I can't remember how explicit that is in LOTR; it's explained more fully in The Road Goes Ever On). Evidently he picked up one what they'd been doing, whether or not they actually told him. There's a special Palantir on that tower letting one looking towards Tol Eressea, and perhaps even into the past.
Frodo could be dreaming of his own fate. But the storm reminds me of Gilgalad watching for the arrival of Elendil after the fall of Númenor.

In that passage Tolkien notes the sound of the Sea often troubled Frodo. It's that Elvish air about him again; he's got the sea-longing even before Legolas! I wonder whether he ever heard it before the Ring came to him.

Does Frodo dream of the fall of Númenor at any time? I can't quite remember. I know he sees, in the Mirror, ships which are either Elendil's or the Corsairs Aragorn hijacks. Also he sees a boat leaving Mithlond, and it's easy to geuss which.

At Bombadil's house Frodo dreams of going to Valinor. At Bree he dreams of hoofbeats which coul be Shadowfax or the Riders on his tail (or, knowing dreams, both).

Also I think he dreamed of Gandalf imprisoned somewhere in there. Again I wonder whether the Ring is extending his powers of awareness, or whether prophetic dreams are just a staple of this style of literature. I don't think any of the other hobbits get them, though, except when Sam actually looks into the Mirror, or when Bombadil's stories give them a premonition of the Rangers and Aragorn.

Aragorn has flashes of prophecy himself: he warns Gandalf about Moria, and in the Tale of Arwen adn Aragorn in the Appendix he actually whips out a prophecy on Elrond, which is a bit cheeky!

Faramir and Frodo remind me of one another so often. Faramir keeps dreaming of the fall of Númenor, a great wave. Also, of course, he and his brother dreamed the Sword that was Broken prophecy-- Faramir more often than his brother. I suspect this is common in those of high Númenorean blood, and Faramir seems closer to his ancestors than many. Is that from their thin Elvish blood? Maia? Why does Frodo have it?

Finally, listening to the radio play again today I noticed Pippin commenting to Merry in the houses of healing, "Was there ever anyone like Aragorn? Except Gandalf. I think they must be related!"
I had never really caught that before, but yes, they are very distantly related, aren't they? At least in the sense that Aragorn's got a touch of Maiar.

No very profound remarks here; just musings on an interesting aspect of the books.



Grondmaster replied


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The night before he had just met a party of High Elves coming back from the White Tower (I can't remember how explicit that is in LOTR; it's explained more fully in The Road Goes Ever On). Evidently he picked up one what they'd been doing, whether or not they actually told him. There's a special Palantir on that tower letting one looking towards Tol Eressea, and perhaps even into the past.


Yes, in The Road Goes Ever On it says

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After the fall of Elendil, the High-Elves took back this Stone into their own care, and it was not destroyed, nor used again by Men.


This comes from footnote 2, page 352, Appendix A, RotK (Viggo's Aragorn on the cover), where it says:

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The only Stone left in the North was the one in the Tower on Emyn Beraid that looks toward the Gulf of Lune. That was guarded by the Elves, and though we never knew it, it remained there, until Cirdan put it aboard Elrond's ship when he left... But we are told that it (this palantir) was unlike the others and not in accord with them; it looked out only to Sea. Elendil set it there so that he could look back with 'straight sight' and sea Eressëa in the West; but the bent seas below covered Númenor for ever.


I didn't remember that and I doubt if it was capable of seeing any timeshift except the small loss due to the speed of light. Of course I may be wrong and that crumpet is documented elsewhere. Elf With a Big Grin Smilie
I'm re-reading Fotr and Frodo's dreams have struck me as particularly interesting this time around. He dreams of arriving at the undying lands at the very start of his adventure: How odd. But comforting, in a way -- to know that he was headed there from the start, even before he went through most of his trauma and brokenness.
Maybe it was not a vision of the future as such, but a vision of the Undying Lands as seen from the eyes of Quendi arriving there, shown to Frodo as a courtesy of Irmo. Maybe it was the Valar lifting a tip of the veil of the future, so to speak, showing what Frodo's possible fate could be.

Frodo also saw Gandalf on top of Orthanc in that same dream, if I am not mistaken.

Considering Frodo dreamed this during the night at Bombadil's house, it seems that this very special house stood in both worlds, similar to the Quendi being in both worlds at the same time.

Or maybe Frodo simply dreamed his prescient dreams because he was, above all, the Kwisatz Haderach.
The what? Orc Going Huh Smilie
Maybe the dreams came from bombadil????
I think that's possible, I mean, no one really knows the full extent of his powers, maybe not even Bombadil himself. His house is kind of timeless, you know, and yet at the same time, it's full of it. When you step through his door, you've sorta left time in the rest of the world, and entered into a place where it means nothing, other than the continual change of night and day. You're in the past, present, and the future, all at the same instant. I don't know, at least that's how I see it.
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Considering Frodo dreamed this during the night at Bombadil's house, it seems that this very special house stood in both worlds, similar to the Quendi being in both worlds at the same time.


I think actually, that Bombadil's house was kind of its own world, it didn't belong to either one of the worlds, yet it was a part of both. Independent of each, existing separaretly from both, yet a part of each. You guys understand what I mean, 'cause I can't really explain it any other way.
I wonder if Tolkien knew when he wrote this what Frodo's fate would be in the end, or if it's one of the things he worked in as he 're-wrote the story backwards' (as I think it says in a prologue to one edition). If Tolkien wrote it before knowing Frodo would end up on a ship to Valinor, that seems like some evidence that it's not meant to be a prophecy-dream, but only an 'elvish' dream, probably brought on by stories, by meeting elves, and mostly by Bombadil's transcendence. If he only wrote it in after knowing Frodo's fate, that points to it deliberately being a kind of foreshadowing for Frodo of his own end.
I think Illuvatar gives glimpses of what will be to those He has , well ordained for a lack of a better word, for certain tasks. It seems to be both to lessen the shock when it occurs and to honor the person as someone worthy of peering into the council of their Creator.But being merely a humble hobbit, I imagine this sudden thrusting him forth into the across the sea otherworldy habitation could be more than terrifying and disconcerting.
But then poor Bilbo Baggins of the Shire had no preparation time either before h e was visited by the great Wizard and overwhelmed with the adventure that he was catapulted into .
Each Event is preceded by Prophecy. But without the Hero, there is no Event.

Meaning, of course, that Prophecies can never unravel the Free Will of a person.
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Meaning, of course, that Prophecies can never unravel the Free Will of a person.
Possibly; however, one can run kicking and screaming away from a Prophecy and find Death saying, "HOW ODD, I HAD EXPECTED TO FIND YOU IN SAMARKAND TODAY, BUT AS LONG AS YOU'RE HERE....."

The above isn't quite what happened in the story, but it also makes the point with fewer words.
Naw, that's why there's usually the Mysterious/Powerful Guide type around to make sure that the hero(ine)-to-be does not stray from the path and does what is necessary to save the world.

Without a Gandalf, Allanon, Belgarath, Polgara, Moiraine, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Caterpillar, Cheshire Cat, etc. around the hero(ine) would never be born.
There is a lot of truth in what you both said. I often think of the intricate paths all at some point woven together in LOTR that make up the whole. It can be exhausting.
Had not Bilbo found the ring, had not h e had compassion on Gollum, had not Gandalf met Bilbo etc. It rather boggles the mind.
Now just imagine our own world history "had not" .... or "what if" ? Had not tolkien had children, had not he met with the Inklings, had not he 'broken off' the Hobbit tale from his larger mythology, had not it been published... where would this website be? and how many different things would have changed? The face of art and literature would not be what it is today.

Had not ....