The Return of the King
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Return of the King Theme of The Home
Ah, home at last. By the end of The Return of the King, the hobbits have returned to their home in the Shire. Despite the miseries that the hobbits have had to endure, and despite the fact that the Shire suffered, too, they go on to rebuild the Shire better, richer, and nobler than it was before the War of the Ring. Frodo decides that, "people [in the Shire] will remember the Great Danger and so love their beloved land all the more" (6.9.76). While it is horrible that the hobbits' home must be threatened, it is precisely that threat that makes it possible for them to appreciate the Shire in the way a true home deserves.
Questions About The Home
- Home is a literal place for many of the characters in The Return of the King. For example, the hobbits come from the Shire, so the Shire is their home. But "home" also seems to refer to particular people, too: Merry and Pippin both think of each other when they think of home, for example. How does the idea of the home connect to family or to love among people in this novel?
- Why does Aragorn take such a long time to enter Minas Tirith, now that he has finally reached Gondor—his new home? What ceremony does Aragorn need in order to inhabit his new home? How is a king's home different from an ordinary person's home in The Return of the King?
- As Legolas and Gimli walk through Minas Tirith, they judge the City according to their own homes. Legolas thinks it needs more gardens, while Gimli would like to improve the City's stonework. How do each character's origins influence his idea of home? What can a particular character's image of home tell us about that character?
Chew on This
Aragorn's relationship to Minas Tirith is more symbolic than an ordinary person's link to his home because Minas Tirith represents not only Aragorn's dwelling place, but also his seat of power as King of Gondor. It's not about comforts; it's about rule.
Sam's constant memories of the Shire even as he and Frodo crawl up the side of Mount Doom tell us that he'll be able to fit right back into his old home life, once he's back from the quest. On the other hand, Frodo's inability to remember the Shire thanks to the tortures of the Ring foreshadows his own struggles with homecoming.