Frodo’s Dream Tower

I’ve written before on the theological significance of the sea in Tolkien’s writings, and hence of the tower of Frodo’s dream at Crickhollow which he wanted to climb so that he might look out upon the sea (an image that also occurs in Tolkien’s allegory about the Beowulf poem from his essay). I always assumed that the tower of Frodo’s dream, if it were real, would have been located at or near the Grey Havens. I’ve only just noticed, however, that the tower was in fact real, and that Tolkien references (or presumably does so) in his Prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring.

the Elves of the High Kindred had not yet forsaken Middle-earth, and they dwelt still at that time at the Grey Havens away to the west, and in other places within reach of the Shire. Three Elf-towers of immemorial age were still to be seen on the Tower Hills beyond the western marches. They shone far off in the moonlight. The tallest was furthest away, standing alone upon a green mound. The Hobbits of the Westfarthing said that one could see the Sea from the top of that tower; but no Hobbit had ever been known to climb it. Indeed, few Hobbits had ever seen or sailed upon the Sea, and fewer still had ever returned to report it. Most Hobbits regarded even rivers and small boats with deep misgivings, and not many of them could swim. And as the days of the Shire lengthened they spoke less and less with the Elves, and grew afraid of them, and distrustful of those that had dealings with them; and the Sea became a word of fear among them, and a token of death, and they turned their faces away from the hills in the west. (Fellowship 16)

We’re not told exactly that this is the same tower as in Frodo’s dream–Frodo’s tower is white, but no mention is made of its color here, and while the Grey Havens tower is “alone on a green mound,” Frodo’s tower is “standing alone on a high ridge.” The fact, however, that it is singled out by Tolkien as the one from which the Hobbits believed they could see the sea, and yet “no Hobbit had ever been known to climb it,” would seem to be pretty conclusive that this is one and the same tower.

Frodo dreams of the tower even though he’s never seen it, but he’s surely heard about it. Elsewhere in Tolkien’s stories, however, when someone dreams of a place or an experience they have not personally encountered, it’s because they’ve inherited the experience from either an ancestor or possibly from the immediate environment itself–see, for example, Faramir’s dream of the tidal wave destroying Numenor and Merry’s inherited memory at the Barrow-Downs. (For more on inherited memory, see this resource and this.) Is it possible Frodo is having his own, inherited-memory experience in his dream of the tower and desire to see the sea?

 

4 thoughts on “Frodo’s Dream Tower

  1. “Three Elf-towers of immemorial age were still to be seen on the Tower Hills beyond the western marches. They shone far off in the moonlight.”
    This fills me with yearning!
    Tolkien’s allegory of the tower is hauntingly beautiful too. In itself it seems to take you on a journey to faerie, because he’s not satisfied with just an allegory and in the end he makes it real: you can *climb* the allegorical tower/poem and “look out upon the sea”.

    Apparently there’s a Palantir in the tallest tower:

    ‘For as time went by, Tolkien further developed his conception of these high coastal towers. They became the work of Elves rather than mortals (who else could build a tower that allows mortals to glimpse the realm of Faërie and itself symbolizes a fairy story?) And within the tallest Tolkien now placed a palantír, an Elvish crystal ball that allows mortals to see with Elvish vision. So, in The Silmarillion, we find:

    “It is said that the towers of Emyn Beraid were not built indeed by the Exiles of Númenor, but were raised by Gil-galad for Elendil, his friend; and the Seeing Stone of Emyn Beraid was set in Elostirion, the tallest of the towers. Thither Elendil would repair, and thence he would gaze out over the sundering seas, when the yearning of exile was upon him…” ‘

    http://yemachine.com/tolkien/the-view-from-the-tower/

  2. One might assume that with the Tower Hills being added to the Shire (LotR, Appendix B “Later Events Concerning … The Fellowship”) and a settlement of hobbits being founded there, including Sam’s daughter Elanor, that tower was eventually climbed by hobbits and their fear of the sea diminished, perhaps even becoming a symbol of hope. Conjecture, sure, but it would be a nice overcoming of the lies of pseudo-Amlach you mention in the linked post, above.

  3. Pingback: Frodo Longs to See the Sea. The Dream at Crickhollow. | Wisdom from The Lord of the Rings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s