Thread: The Ent mystery....
What we do know, is that they became estranged from the Ents sometime during the First or Second age, and crossed over the Anduin into the land we now know as the Brown Lands. Here they grew beautiful gardens and taught agriculture to Men. Prior to the end of the Second Age, however, Sauron burned and destroyed these gardens, turning this area into a brown and treeless land (hence its name). Whether the Entwives perished here defending their gardens, or managed to flee is open to debate.
There have been no reports of them in 3000 years, which is a long time to remain unseen, but there are many wilderness places where it is possible a tree-like being could remain hidden if they so wished.
It is possible Tolkien may just have given us a clue to their whereabouts in FotR. In the Shadow of the Past chapter, Sam mentions over a round of ales that his cousin Hal saw a Tree-man walking across the path while he was hunting in the North Farthing. Apparently this being was as tall as an elm tree and walked with a seven yard stride. Is it possible this was an entwife?
Although it seems very unlikely that the Shire could be the home of the Entwives, there are several reasons why it could be so....
Firstly, although we see the Shire as being a thriving Hobbit community, it has evaded Sauron's attention for a long while. With the fall of Artthedain, it has been a wilderness with few Men. An ideal place, then, for the Entwives to settle.
Secondly, we have in this area both the Old Forest and Tom Bombadil. Both would have been strong attractions to Entwives seeking a new home.
Thirdly, the Ents originally came from Beleriand. It is possible the Entwives decided to retrace their steps to their ancestral homes after the destruction of their gardens. The Shire would have been en route to Beleriand if they had taken that journey. Once they reached Lindon and discovered Beleriand now lay beneath the sea, they may have settled close by in the wilderness they had just come though.... the land which became the Shire.
For some reason, the early Hobbit settlers who were migrating West from the Gladden fields chose to settle in the Shire. What attracted them? Although the Entwives were not mentioned in Hobbit-lore, it may have been their gardens which so appealed to these early Hobbits. The Entwives had a love of Smaller things, flowers, fruit trees and bushes etc. I am sure the Hobbits would have been a source of pleasure to such beings. The nature of Hobbits and that of Entwives does seem to compliment each other.
But that is just my theory.... it is just as likely they were destroyed with their gardens, or that they fled and settled in the vast wilderness of Mirkwood.
I think that in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, being destroyed with their gardens in the War of the Last Alliance (Second Age 3429-3441) when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their land against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin (vol. II p. 79 refers to it2). They survived only in the 'agriculture' transmitted to Men (and Hobbits). Some, of course, may have fled east, or even have become enslaved: tyrants even in such tales must have an economic and agricultural background to their soldiers and metal-workers. If any survived so, they would indeed be far estranged from the Ents, and any rapprochement would be difficult – unless experience of industrialized and militarized agriculture had made them a little more anarchic. I hope so. I don't know.
And in letter #388 :
As for the Entwives: I do not know. I have written nothing beyond the first few years of the Fourth Age. (Except the beginning of a tale supposed to refer to the end of the reign of Eldaron about 100 years after the death of Aragorn. Then I of course discovered that the King's Peace would contain no tales worth recounting; and his wars would have little interest after the overthrow of Sauron; but that almost certainly a restlessness would appear about then, owing to the (it seems) inevitable boredom of Men with the good: there would be secret societies practising dark cults, and 'orc-cults' among adolescents.) But I think in Vol. II pp. 80-811 it is plain that there would be for Ents no re-union in 'history' — but Ents and their wives being rational creatures would find some 'earthly paradise' until the end of this world: beyond which the wisdom neither of Elves nor Ents could see. Though maybe they shared the hope of Aragorn that they were 'not bound for ever to the circles of the world and beyond them is more than memory.'....
Hope this helps to answer your question.
We believe we may meet again...but it is foreboded that that wil only be when we have both lost all that we now have
Apparently this being was as tall as an elm tree and walked with a seven yard stride. Is it possible this was an entwife?
While 'Tree-men' is admittedly suggestive, I'll just add (years later) that there would probably have to be some notable exaggeration in this story with respect to size.
An English Elm, for example, averages between 50 to nearly 100 feet tall, while Ents -- although giants to Men and certainly to Hobbits -- are notably shorter I think. Interestingly however, 'Giant Treebeard' appears to have been quite huge with respect to early notions -- well before Tolkien reached the chapter in which the Entwives were introduced...
... but Tolkien envisioned Treebeard notably smaller when he arrived at the writing of this chapter... then embiggened him a 'little' after that... but not nearly back up to 50 feet tall for instance.
I feel such sorrow and grief about the Ents and their ladies, it brings tears to my eyes. About a year ago or longer i could not bear it any longer so wrote in our journal section my own solution to the mystery. Then i cried for half an hour but felt I had some closure anyway.
To me that is one time when great long life does not have the joy or hope or peace that one would hope for , because the thing that makes life great, in the earthly sense at least, is who you know and who you are cherished by and well when that is ripped away from you it becomes an existence with a constant heavy ache in the heart.
Talk about tender hearted. Now you have gone and done it with that gentle heart of yours. I am crying and now i can scarce see. We spend a lot of time each year trying to love and do something with the lonely and forgotten. It can happen to anyone, royalty to the poorest on earth. i remember that Judy Garland had become so lonely and alone she phoned into a talk show just to hear another voice share with her.
Your cheque is in the mail.
It is a shame no one knows what happened to the ent-wives because this way there will be no more ents and the trees will take over the world! Eek! That is a scary thought and I hope we work out what happened to them before that happens! :P
Brego, i agree with you about what the story of the Ents and the Ent wives represent. But i would go a little further.
The most beautiful thing of all this is that the Ents did not forget or quit the search for the wives. I thinks it's beautiful and sad at the same time. Sad cause, search for someone without any clue of where to begin searching or even if he or she is there is touching. Beautiful because i think that this kind of hope is the truly one, truly faith.
- Vince Calav.
Yes Calev, and also there's always the hope that the Ents are actually low ranking Maia, followers of Yavanna, sent to Middle Earth to watch over the forests and try to protect them. If they were, their spirits would end up back in Mandos and then Valinor the Undying. So eventually the Ent Wives would find their children and husbands. Back home where nothing withers or dies. What a comforting thought.
Oh, i didn't have thought about that.. That's comforting indeed.
Elvulia and Caliv, wonderful to see you here and thoughtful your comments. Really.
Thanks! I was just thinking about this and when thoughts come over me I have to tell someone! I think it is sad because I would hate to have lost someone and not have a clue where they are or what they look like. Poor ents!