Study Guide

The Fellowship of the Ring Exploration

Exploration

FRODO: Before you came along we Bagginses were very well thought of.
GANDALF: Indeed?
FRODO: We never had any adventures, or did anything unexpected.
GANDALF: If you're referring to the incident with the dragon, I was barely involved. All I did was give your uncle a little nudge out of the door.
FRODO: Whatever you did, you've been officially labeled as a "disturber of the peace."

So Bilbo goes out in one of the most epic adventures in recent history (and probably the most epic in all of hobbit history) and that's somehow thought poorly of? Well, that's the life of a hobbit: the Shire is good and anything outside is bad.

SAM: This is it.
FRODO: This is what?
SAM: If I take one more step, it'll be the farthest away from home I've ever been.
FRODO: Come on Sam. Remember what Bilbo used to say. It's a dangerous business—
BILBO [voice over]:—going out your door. You step onto the road and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.

Hobbits are not the most adventurous creatures, so Sam's traveling all the way to Bree, even if it's just a neighboring town, is a big adventure. But Bilbo's quote is reassuring in a way. If even stepping outside of your door can be dangerous, then everything is in doubt and our choice is either to hide in fear or go to the market and deal with the possibility we could be slaying giant spiders and taking Morgul-blades to the chest by nightfall.

[When the hobbits get to Bree, it is a dark, rainy night. The streets are muddy and full of commotion. Inside the Prancing Pony, the innkeeper towers over the hobbits and the other men look at them as outsiders.]

Bree is a pretty terrifying place, and that's saying a lot coming from a forest filled with Nazgûl. But if we stop think about it, Bree is just a small, rural village. It's probably quite quaint, if a bit dirty. But it's all about perspective. To the hobbits (and to us, their vicarious viewers) Bree is a big, foreign, scary place.

FRODO: Packed already?
SAM: No harm in being prepared.
FRODO: I thought you wanted to see the elves, Sam.
SAM: I do.
FRODO: More than anything.
SAM: I did. It's just—we did what Gandalf wanted didn't we? We got the Ring this far to Rivendell and I thought, seeing as how you're on the mend, we'd be off soon… off home
FRODO: You're right Sam. We did what we set out to do the Ring will be safe in Rivendell. I am ready to go home.

You'd think that getting to such an old, storied elven haven would be like, the coolest thing ever. But hobbits, as we've learned, aren't particularly adventurous, so they're already getting ready to head back to the Shire.

BILBO: I want to see mountains again. Mountains, Gandalf. […] I meant to go back: wander the paths of Mirkwood, visit Laketown, see the Lonely Mountain again. But age, it seems, has finally caught up with me.

Once Gandalf "nudged him out the door" Bilbo has scarcely looked back. Yes, he seems to be living the life of a typical hobbit but his mind has been living elsewhere, in the adventures of his past.

BILBO: So there I was at the mercy of three monstrous trolls and they were all arguing amongst themselves about how they were going to cook us. Whether it be turned on a spit or whether they should sit on us one by one and squash us into jelly. They spent so much time arguing the witherto's and whyfor's that the sun's first light cracked open over the top of the trees. Poof! Turned them all into stone!

Bilbo has turned from a grand adventurer at the heart of an epic tale to an old hobbit telling stories to kids that none of the adults probably believe. It's almost like Bilbo himself has been turned to stone.

FRODO: I miss the Shire. I spent all my childhood pretending I was off somewhere else... off with you on one of your adventures. My own adventure turned out to be quite different. I'm not like you, Bilbo.

Frodo says this before he realizes what his adventure really is. He's much more like his uncle than he suspects, and not just because of the Ring thing.

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