Hi Laurel...well, I think all ringbearers had to leave Middle Earth. As for why they had to leave Middle Earth, I don't know. Can anyone answer that?
Here's what JRRT wrote about it in his Letters :
Frodo undertook his quest out of love – to save the world he knew from disaster at his own expense, if he could; and also in complete humility, acknowledging that he was wholly inadequate to the task. His real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body allowed. He did that. I do not myself see that the breaking of his mind and will under demonic pressure after torment was any more a moral failure than the breaking of his body would have been – say, by being strangled by Gollum, or crushed by a falling rock.
That appears to have been the judgement of Gandalf and Aragorn and of all who learned the full story of his journey. Certainly nothing would be concealed by Frodo! But what Frodo himself felt about the events is quite another matter.
He appears at first to have had no sense of guilt (III 224-5);1 he was restored to sanity and peace. But then he thought that he had given his life in sacrifice: he expected to die very soon. But he did not, and one can observe the disquiet growing in him. Arwen was the first to observe the signs, and gave him her jewel for comfort, and thought of a way of healing him. Slowly he fades 'out of the picture', saying and doing less and less. I think it is clear on reflection to an attentive reader that when his dark times came upon him and he was conscious of being 'wounded by knife sting and tooth and a long burden' (III 268) it was not only nightmare memories of past horrors that afflicted him, but also unreasoning self-reproach: he saw himself and all that he done as a broken failure. 'Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same, for I shall not be the same.' That was actually a temptation out of the Dark, a last flicker of pride: desire to have returned as a 'hero', not content with being a mere instrument of good. And it was mixed with another temptation, blacker and yet (in a sense) more merited, for however that may be explained, he had not in fact cast away the Ring by a voluntary act: he was tempted to regret its destruction, and still to desire it. 'It is gone for ever, and now all is dark and empty', he said as he wakened from his sickness in 1420.
'Alas! there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured', said Gandalf (III 268) – not in Middle-earth. Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him – if that could be done, before he died. He would have eventually to 'pass away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within Time. So he went both to a purgatory and to a reward, for a while: a period of reflection and peace and a gaining of a truer understanding of his position in littleness and in greatness, spent still in Time amid the natural beauty of 'Arda Unmarred', the Earth unspoiled by evil.
Bilbo went too. No doubt as a completion of the plan due to Gandalf himself. Gandalf had a very great affection for Bilbo, from the hobbit's childhood onwards. His companionship was really necessary for Frodo's sake – it is difficult to imagine a hobbit, even one who had been through Frodo's experiences, being really happy even in an earthly paradise without a companion of his own kind, and Bilbo was the person that Frodo most loved. (Cf III 252 lines 12 to 21 and 263 lines 1-2.)2 But he also needed and deserved the favour on his own account. He bore still the mark of the Ring that needed to be finally erased : a trace of pride and personal possessiveness. Of course he was old and confused in mind, but it was still a revelation of the 'black mark' when he said in Rivendell (III 265) 'What's become of my ring, Frodo, that you took away?'; and when he was reminded of what had happened, his immediate reply was: 'What a pity! I should have liked to see it again'. As for reward for his pan, it is difficult to feel that his life would be complete without an experience of 'pure Elvishness', and the opportunity of hearing the legends and histories in full the fragments of which had so delighted him.
It's interesting that Shadowfax went with Gandalf into the West as well :
I think Shadowfax certainly went with Gandalf [across the Sea], though this is not stated. I feel it is better not to state everything (and indeed it is more realistic, since in chronicles and accounts of 'real' history, many facts that some enquirer would like to know are omitted, and the truth has to be discovered or guessed from such evidence as there is). I should argue so: Shadowfax came of a special race (II 126,129, III 346)1 being as it were an Elvish equivalent of ordinary horses : his 'blood' came from 'West over Sea'. It would not be unfitting for him to 'go West'. Gandalf was not 'dying', or going by a special grace to the Western Land, before passing on 'beyond the circles of the world': he was going home, being plainly one of the 'immortals', an angelic emissary of the angelic governors (Valar) of the Earth. He would take or could take what he loved. Gandalf was last seen riding Shadowfax (III 276). He must have ridden to the Havens, and it is inconceivable that he would [have] ridden any beast but Shadowfax; so Shadowfax must have been there. A chronicler winding up a long tale, and for the moment moved principally by the sorrow of those left behind (himself among them!) might omit mention of the horse; but had the great horse also shared in the grief of sundering, he could hardly have been forgotten.
from Letters of JRRT
Vee posted :
I don't think the Ring Bearers and Wearers *had* to leave ME. The elves were going because they were elves, Gandalf was going home and for Bilbo and Frodo it gave them the chance for peace which they wouldn't otherwise have if they stayed.
Oh, the Elves had to go as well. After the destruction of the Three, there was nothing left for them in Middle-Earth, safe Legolamb and weariness. And had Frodo stayed in ME, he would've died soon.
But the Elvish weakness is in these terms naturally to regret the past, and to become unwilling to face change: as if a man were to hate a very long book still going on, and wished to settle down in a favourite chapter. Hence they fell in a measure to Sauron's deceits: they desired some 'power' over things as they are (which is quite distinct from an), to make their particular will to preservation effective: to arrest change, and keep things always fresh and fair. The 'Three Rings' were 'unsullied', because this object was in a limited way good, it included the healing of the real damages of malice, as well as the mere arrest of change; and the Elves did not desire to dominate other wills, nor to usurp all the world to their particular pleasure. But with the downfall of 'Power' their little efforts at preserving the past fell to bits. There was nothing more in Middle-earth for them, but weariness. So Elrond and Galadriel depart. Gandalf is a special case. He was not the maker or original holder of the Ring – but it was surrendered to him by Círdan, to assist him in his task. Gandalf was returning, his labour and errand finished, to his home, the land of the Valar.
from Letters of JRRT.
Laurelindhe posted :
1. The fact that he, in the end, was called to leave again...I know Eru only sent him temporarily, but why? Shouldn't his "new cycle" of life be allowed to play itself out? Is there any information anywhere on why Tolkien chose to have him leave Middle-Earth, rather than allow him to live out his days in the place that was dear to his heart? Couldn't he have been afforded much luxury and comfort and peace at the side of his friend King Elessar in the refurbished Minas Tirith?
2.Gandalf said he had returned naked from where he went "beyond thought and time", where did he descend? Does it ever say how long exactly he roamed throughout Middle-Earth before he was discovered by Treebeard, the two hobbits, and finally Aragorn, Gimli, and Let-go-lass after he came back?
I am sure that these questions have already been answered somewhere, but I am a member of the Talentless Lazybones Guild, after all...
Isn't the cycle of life from the Lion King?
1. well Gandalf's work was done in ME, and so he departed back home. There's also something about this in the previous Tolkien quote :
Gandalf is a special case. He was not the maker or original holder of the Ring – but it was surrendered to him by Círdan, to assist him in his task. Gandalf was returning, his labour and errand finished, to his home, the land of the Valar.
And in ROTK Gandalf says this, just before Aragorn finds a new sapling of Nimloth :
'I know it well, dear friend,' said Aragorn; 'but I would still have your counsel.'
'Not for long now,' said Gandalf. 'The Third Age was my age. I was the Enemy of Sauron; and my work is finished. I shall go soon. The burden must lie now upon you and your kindred.'
2. he descended back where he had died, on the mount of Zirak Zigil, Gwaihir then picked him up (being sent by Galadriel) to Lothlorien, where he was clothed in white.
From the timeline included in the appendices of Middle-Earth, i've found that Gandalf the white already spent 14 days back among the living before he joined Aragorn, Gimli and Legolamb in Fangorn Forest : Gandalf was resurrected on 14 february 3019 III (the same day on which Frodo and Sam looked in the Mirror of Galadriel) and jolned Aragorn and Co on 1 March 3019 III.
'Naked I was sent back – for a brief time, until my task is done. And naked I lay upon the mountain-top. The tower behind was crumbled into dust, the window gone; the ruined stair was choked with burned and broken stone. I was alone, forgotten, without escape upon the hard horn of the world. There I lay staring upward, while the stars wheeled over, and each day was as long as a life-age of the earth. Faint to my ears came the gathered rumour of all lands: the springing and the dying, the song and the weeping, and the slow everlasting groan of overburdened stone. And so at the last Gwaihir the Windlord found me again, and he took me up and bore me away.
from TTT, chapter "The White Rider"