The Fellowship of the Ring
The Home Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Hush!" said Gandalf from the shadows at the back of the porch. "Evil things do not come into this valley; but all the same we should not name them. The Lord of the Ring is not Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor, whose power is again stretching out over the world! We are sitting in a fortress. Outside it is getting dark." (2.1.75)
Tolkien introduces Elrond's house in The Hobbit as the Last Homely House before the mountains of the east. Tolkien repeats that portrayal in The Fellowship of the Ring, using the same line from his earlier novel: "a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all" (2.1.64). But Gandalf quickly reminds us that we can't let ourselves get too comfy with Rivendell's homey-ness. Even Rivendell is not safe from Mordor; it is no longer just a "Homely House," but a fortress against the dark. The Elves who live in this valley are not the jesting singers of The Hobbit's portrayal; they are ancient warriors like Gildor and Glorfindel. To suit the much more epic scale of the Lord of the Rings, Tolkien reuses the idea of Rivendell (an Elf valley) but changes its representation (not just a home, but a fortress in a grand war).
In the South the realm of Gondor long endured, and for a while its splendour grew, recalling somewhat of the might of Númenor, ere it fell. [...]
[I]n the wearing of the swift years of Middle-earth the line of Meneldil son of Anárion failed, and the Tree withered, and the blood of the Númenoreans became mingled with that of lesser men. Then the watch upon the hills of Mordor slept, and dark things crept back to Gorgoroth. And on a time evil things came forth, and they took Minas Ithil and abode in it, and they made it into a place of dread; and it is called Minas Morgul, the tower of Sorcery. [...]
So it has been for many lives of men. But the Lords of Minas Tirith still fight on, defying or enemies, keeping the passage of the River from Argonath to the Sea. (2.2.41-3)
Gondor is a very different kind of home from the Shire: it was once the abode of the Kings of the West, and now it has fallen into disrepair. But it will be Aragorn's job to rebuild it, if he lives long enough to take back the crown of the Kings of Gondor. At this stage in the Lord of the Rings series, Gondor is all about potential: it was once a great city of men, with the White Tree and so on. But now, it is reduced to the Tower of the Guard, with the ruin of Osgiliath sitting between present-day Gondor and Mordor's Minas Morgul. So we can see the ruins of what Gondor once was, and we can imagine what it will be again, if Sauron is driven out. But for now, it is a home only in the abstract; if Aragorn succeeds in his quest, then it will be a home to great men once more.
"Some there are among us who sing that the Shadow will draw back, and peace shall come again. Yet I do not believe that the world about us will ever again be as it was of old, or the light of the Sun as it was aforetime. For the Elves, I fear, it will prove at best a truce, in which they may pass to the Sea unhindered and leave the Middle-earth for ever. Alas for Lothlórien that I love! It would be a poor life in a land where no mallorn grew. But if there are mallorn-trees beyond the Great Sea, none have reported it." (2.6.138)
Haldir bemoans the fact that the end of this war against Sauron may also mean the end of the Elves' time in Middle-earth. Already, the wood of Lothlórien has passed from spring to autumn. Tolkien is well aware that all great stories of quests involve sacrifice: the hero has to give something up to achieve his dearest wish. Otherwise, the treasure the hero gains would seem less valuable; everything truly important has a cost. The cost that Middle-earth is paying over the course of the Lord of the Rings is the loss of some of its magic: to defeat Sauron, an old enemy of the Elves, the Elves have to be willing to let their kingdoms fall. We see this more in The Return of the King, but we just wanted to stop and acknowledge the huge sense of nostalgia and loss that fills this series from The Fellowship of the Ring onwards.