Too Comfortable and Peaceful to Argue

Since Tolkien has entered full montage mode while the Fellowship makes its way south along the western slopes of the Misty Mountains, let’s take a look back to Frodo’s time in Rivendell starting with his awakening at the beginning of “Many Meetings,” Chapter 1, Book Two.

How Frodo comes to consciousness of the world around him tells us a lot about our hobbit. First, it’s the practical – he thinks “that he had slept late, after a long unpleasant dream that still hovered on the edge of memory.” Disregarding that, he wondered if he might have been sick.

Opening his eyes for the first time, he sees that the ceiling wasn’t very hobbit-like. Nevertheless, he found himself lying there listening to, of all things, a waterfall. He then questions where he is, out loud and apparently to the ceiling.

But it is Gandalf who replies. The last Frodo heard Gandalf was still missing. Of course, the first thing Gandalf does is chastise Frodo. But the hobbit “felt too comfortable and peaceful to argue.”

Before Gandalf spoke again, he remembered most of his journey (except how he got to Rivendell). But he then asked for Sam and his other friends, of course.

The whole time that Frodo was fading from the effects of the Morgul-wound, Tolkien measured his far-goneness by how well Frodo could see his friends. Now that he was apparently cured, he needed to see them. Gandalf puts it off, but assures Frodo that they’re perfectly fine.

I’ve talked about the effects of the Morgul-wound before, so I won’t go into too much detail here. This is where Gandalf explains just what happened on Weathertop and why he was so ill.

But here it’s revealed that Frodo had not only been asleep for three nights and four days, but that he talked about his journey. Specifically, he told the story of the Barrow-wights, which Gandalf overheard.

Gandalf’s chastisement was that Frodo had done some “absurd things” since leaving Hobbiton. He soon apologized for it, allowing that it had been “no small feat to have come so far” still holding the Ring.

“‘We should never have done it without Strider,’ said Frodo, ‘But we needed you. I did not know what to do without you.'” This is a fairly good point. Gandalf was supposed to meet them along the way. Of course, the Hobbits were supposed to leave much earlier. If Frodo had left when Gandalf wanted him to leave, “soon” after Midyear’s Day (which was the second of three days between the months of June and July), Gandalf would have been imprisoned during the whole of Frodo’s journey. Not only that, but Gildor would likely not have run into the hobbits and word would never have gotten back to Rivendell. Things worked out pretty much as they should have.

Still, Frodo had to ask. And all Gandalf could say in reply was “I was delayed.” He also delayed telling Frodo exactly how and why he was delayed. But he did say that he was captured. Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, okay?

There’s a phrase that Tolkien uses fairly often and I think it’s pretty important to point it out. Gandalf says: “There are many powers in the world, for good or for evil. Some are greater than I am. Against some I have not yet been measured. But my time is coming.”

Power, in Tolkien’s world, isn’t just a measurement in hit points (if it’s that at all), but a question of timing. The Witch-king’s power works in the same way. His time had not yet come, though it was close at hand. In Return of the King, he tells Gandalf that his hour is at hand. So, soon.

A Few Notes

  • I’m still not quite sure what I’ll be covering and when. Maybe I’ll jump around. Maybe I’ll take it page-by-page. Who knows, really. But I’ll do a little and then go back to dig around the earlier manuscripts to see what’s there.
  • Where applicable, I’ll take a look at later stories and manuscripts that Tolkien wrote long after publishing LotR that fill in some of he gaps.
  • Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at this Strider fellow, and at Elrond.
Camera: Polaroid Automatic 250 Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 250
Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

About the Photo
Rivendell is a haven for rest, right? And you know that it’s got some great truck parking. Glorfindel totally moonlights as a trucker.


  • Day 97
  • Miles today: 6
  • Miles thus far: 480
  • 440 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,298 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Book II, Chapter 3. Marching south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. (map)

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4 thoughts on “Too Comfortable and Peaceful to Argue

  1. Gandalf’s speech here is one of my favorites in the book. “Against some I have not been measured.” Is so perfect. Humble and yet badass, in an awesome way. As a kid I sometimes lamented gandalf not being a full d and d style lights how wizard. Lines like this are why you need to read the story as an adult to really get how awesome he is. “But my time is coming” indeed!

    • It really makes you wonder how much Gandalf the Grey knew / remembered from when he was Olorin, and how much he knew about his own powers. Tolkien talked a bit about that in one of the Unfinished Tales essays (I think), but it’s still not super clear. It seems like he was very limited in this form when compared to Gandalf the White.

      I mean, look at the difference between regular Torgo and Torgo the White. Regular Torgo wouldn’t have been able to escort TV’s Frank to Second Banana Heaven.

      And in the end, Gandalf really took care of things while the Master was away.

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