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Why did K. Elessar ban man from entering Shire?

pgt

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That one jumped out as something that I didn't quite see the logic in.

There is of course the single solitary bad man incursion by Sharkey's gang that is routed by the returning companions. But with Bree as a model of 'cant we just all get along' and the king reestablishing control and order in the North and lot sof hints and suggestions of potential trade, growth and travel in that part of the world - I don't see the problem or risk for the somewhat draconian segregation by law. You can't even enter, just go around I suppose.

I guess if you want to buy some weed, you have to go up to the border and ring the bell but don't cross that line or you'll meet ME's first ever Guillotine. Personally if I were Fantasy King for a day I'd slap 'em with a self ruled protectorate status, let 'em call their own shots, provide them with a defensive umbrella and remind them that they still owe me some archers in the future should the need arise. ;-)

Could the author really be wishing for a revisionist return to his pastoral English countryside?
 

Snaga

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Probably because the Hobbits want to be left alone. It pretty clear throughout the early parts of LotR that the Hobbits of the Shire don't feel comfortable with Big People, and want to be left in peace.

Self determination for Hobbits!!!!
 

pgt

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Yeah, I buy that and remember exactly what you are talking about. It just seems that under scrutiny Merry & Pippin really stepped up and come into their own w/ men by the end of the series. We closely see their interactions and I don't detect even a hint of discomfort or reticence in all their first contact situations with various cultures of men. 'Course they're Tooks and Brandys so it's probably not safe to base too much perception on them. Not always a safe bet to make too many generalizations on hobbits based on those 2 adventurers! (fancy way of saying I think I fell into that trap!)

thanks
 
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E

Eorl the Young

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In both The Hobbit and LOTR, mention is made that hobbits are very quiet and tend to scramble into the underbrush at the approach of "the big folk". I think Aragorn made this decree based on his long experience (the Rangers had been protecting the Shire) with the hobbits and to insure that nothing like Sharkey's scheme could occur.

This is my first post so dont be too hard on me.
 

EverEve

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ya welcome eorl.....i think that the shire hobbits were kinda afraid of the "Big Folk". after all, tolkien does state that they run from them...........
 

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As some of you know, there was recently a debate on this topic.

I had included my own opinion in my judgement but ended up not posting it. I saved it though, and here it is:


I don't see why it sould be up to the King of men to shelter what should be an independant people. In my opinion, sheltering the hobbits is the best way to decrease :)D) their capabilities to defend themselves from a potential attack or invasion. The Shire would not be safe forever, nor would it belong to the hobbits forever, Gildor even points this out to the hobbits. The day would come when the hobbits would have to either fight or be driven into hiding... having been protected by men from without the Shire, I do not see how they would be equipt to deal head-on with a serious problem on their own.
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Doubtless Aragorn understood that among men there are those who would see hobbits as "easy prey" for banditry or some type of coercion such as that which occurred with Saruman. Remember, Saruman began his attempts to rule the Shire by entering into a "partnership" with a like-minded hobbit, Lotho Sackville-Baggins.

Hobbits could "hold their own" when they lived with men (see the arrangement in Bree), but Shire hobbits preferred to live in "seclusion". Aragorn, as their King, understood and accepted that desire and ruled therefore that no man might enter the Shire - even himself.

Whether that was "good" for the Shire hobbits or not, it is what they wanted and their King acquiesced thereto not the least as a reward for the service of Frodo and his companions.
 

pgt

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Gosh this is an old thread of mine...

Upon seeing it and reflecting further, I continue to miss any logic to banning men from entering the Shire.

Yes, the Shire Hobbits, unlike those from Bree, are somewhat portrayed as isolationists. However I don't see isolationism as a fundamental Hobbit trait. Their history reaching all the way back to Anduin suggests varying degrees of interaction w/ men not to mention a willingness to migrate. Indeed they arguably migrated further over greater terrain variations than Eorl himself! Their lives in Bree also suggest this. All the significant Hobbit characters we 'got to know' in the books are quite comfortable, indeed plucky and forthright, in their interactions w/ all kinds of folks. Not a single one, not Sam, Bilbo, Pippin, Merry, Frodo or Bilbo resembled anything remotely shy or reticent in my observations. The only sense of isolationism that is thoroughly communicated is from the good ol' boys down at the Green Dragon if memory serves. (The forward from The Hobbit is A) a reference to 'present day' circumstances and B) well, it's from The Hobbit).

Further, at the beginning of the FA, the two hobbits that are the heir apparent to the power elite, Pippin and Merry, seem to spearhead somewhat of a Shire renaissance. THey clearly maintained both personal and political ties w/ the 2 best known kingdoms of men (3 including the arguably restored Arnor kingdom). And of course the Shire seems to be adopting an expansionist policy at that.

It also establishes a double standard. Hobbits are certainly free to visit other parts and accept hospitality and such but now, by law, cannot return the favor.

Technically, I'd have to say that Gandalf would too be banned from visiting the Shire were he still about as would Radagast and others.

Finally, the ban effectively shuts down the existing East-West road. I don't recall off hand if the ban only pertained to men or if it only pertained to those over a certain height but that road - of all the roads outside of those perhaps internal to Gondor, is perhaps the most long lived and important road for several ages of ME. Elves used it (until they were all gone?) and Dwarves certainly used it for untold years.

I suspect not just many an Innkeeper in the Shire but many a merchant depended at least somewhat on trade w/ the Dwarves and had for many lifetimes.

And if there were any increasing interest in pipeweed in other lands, something suggested in the books... - well such a ban could put a minor crimp in it. Eithers Hobbits would have to leave the shire to deliver such goods or exchange points established right on it's borders.

For me, the ban just seems to fly in the face of everything else that is 'suggested' by the flourishing environment of the new age upon ME. I think a simple re-affirmation of the Shire's right to self-rule and acknowledgement of allegience to the King would have done quite nicely.

Thanks,
-T

PS: Does Bree continue in self-rule (like the Shire) or is it now under the direct rule of the newly restored kingdom of Arnor or Gondor or whatever...?
 

Aulë

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From what I interpreted whilst I was doing the debate, only Men were banned from the Shire. Elves and Dwarves (and Maia) were still free to pass through.
 

Mrs. Maggott

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I think what you see in Aragorn's "ban" keeping men out of the Shire is Tolkien's wish that all the wonderful "rustic" places in England that he so loved (the Shire) had been protected from "progress" as men understood it in those days. Perhaps if some great King had been able to say to the "planners" and "fixers", "No, you "progressive men" may not enter this or that rustic paradise and 'fix it' in accordance with your concept of 'good'..." the England that Tolkien loved would have survived him.

I don't know if this is an "answer" to the question, but it certain explains to me why the author would have thought it not only necessary, but beneficial. After all, Aragorn was wise (for a man) and there is no reason to believe that Tolkien did not consider this action of his to also be "wise".
 

pgt

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I think, Mrs Maggot, that it's very much a part of the answer to consider the authors personal background or perspective. I'd agree that's very likely the ultimate rationale behind it. While I don't think it's realistic in reality - I do strongly suspect that IS the rationale even though it comes from outside the books per se.

Would "the England that Tolkien loved [] have survived him" had his government implemented no-growth legislation or implemented draconian border controls? In the long run, I seriously doubt it.

thanks,
-T
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Originally posted by pgt
I think, Mrs Maggot, that it's very much a part of the answer to consider the authors personal background or perspective. I'd agree that's very likely the ultimate rationale behind it. While I don't think it's realistic in reality - I do strongly suspect that IS the rationale even though it comes from outside the books per se.

Would "the England that Tolkien loved [] have survived him" had his government implemented no-growth legislation or implemented draconian border controls? In the long run, I seriously doubt it.

thanks,
-T
It may be that some forethought on the part of particularly "scenic" English villages and areas to keep things as "traditional" as possible even if only for the tourist trade might have meant that some of Tolkien's more treasured sites would have survived him. But, of course, that is only speculation. However, we do know that certain castles, manor houses, gardens etc. have been "preserved", so it can't be that everything dear to JRRT was "paved over" during his life!
 

Viceras Daydark

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RE: Nom

In your post (Sorry, I haven't made it to the bottom of the thread yet --- so excuse this post if it is ill-placed), but you disagree with Aragorn banning men from entering the Shire. While I can understand the disagreement, that it's unfair to govern the Shire, and not letting them govern themselves in this matter, I can also understand Aragorn's decision. In my opinion, which can be flawed and much different from most of you, Tolkien makes the Shire a somewhat-representation of innocence, in a world that can easily be overwhelmed by evil. While it may be unfair for Aragorn to have placed the ban on a world-wide perspective, I believe it to have been a very wise one on a focused perspective of the Shire. The Shirefolk know very little, if nothing of the greater stretches of Thera, and they are quite pleased and happy with the way things are familiar with. Why ruin their carefree world with the worries and woes of a world bound to disaster (over and over again). They've known nothing but a carefree country side, with the biggest worries before the intrusion of Sharkey, was a cold winter in which wolves invaded from the north. And the only hardship that the majority of the Shire remembers, was overthrown by 4 "stereotypical" heroes. If you were Aragorn, would you want to ruin the Shire's innocence and peacefulness? I know I wouldn't.

Forgive me if this post doesn't flow smoothly, I worked a 12 hour shift today ;)
 

Mrs. Maggott

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It was quite obvious after the return of the four members of the Fellowship to the Shire and the overthrow of Saruman and his forces, that all the Shirefolk wanted was a return to the status quo. Their "introduction" to the wide world around them had not engendered in most of them any desire to expand their horizons. They simply wanted to return to the days in which the Shire existed virtually cut off from the rest of Middle-earth. Remember, it had been mentioned early in the text that hobbits had visited Bree from the Shire in far greater numbers earlier in their history but even that benign contact with the world outside their borders had dwindled virtually completely. For example, both Merry and Pippin - considered among their kind to be quite "adventurous" - did not venture forth from the Shire until the beginning of the quest although they knew more about the "outside world" (at least with respect to the Old Forest and Bree) than most others.

This particular attitidue is most clearly displayed by the failure of the Shirefolk to "honor" Frodo for his great accomplishment (to Sam's eternal dismay and regret). In fact, the honor that is accorded to Frodo arises from his pre-quest position in the Shire which itself was based upon his perceived wealth and family connections. Indeed, the Shirefolk have no interest whatsoever in the quest and the Ring or the overthrow of Sauron and the re-establishment of the two Kingdoms and ask no questions except "where were you?" (and even that as a form of rebuke for not being present in the Shire "when they were needed" against the ruffians!).

It is quite clear from Tolkien's narrative that all the Shirefolk want is to return to "the way things were" and it is in the spirit of this desire that King Elessar makes his decree because he knows that this is what Frodo and the others would wish for their beloved Shire and its people. In a way, Aragorn is trying to accomplish what Gandalf said could not be done - "wall the world out" of the Shire.
 

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Hobbits were very much like men, they were also tough and could adapt when forced into a situate were adaptation would be of use. Naturally the hobbits of the Shire would wish to keep their peace and ways of life... what people would not? The problem is that these hobbits had known that peaceful way for so long that they became comfortable to be shut away, and distrustful of even men with whom they were most akin and had delt with closely in their past. A law against men entering this place where hobbits wished not to leave would only futher the hobbit's isolation and disturst. The hobbits could either mingle and learn to trust good men again, or they could remain shut in and distrustful of all. If they remain shut in, they will fall away from the world around them.
For the hobbits the world around would catch up with them through invasions of the Shire by men. A day would come when men would invade... there is really no way around this. How are these isolated people expected to fight off the world outside forever? There is no way that they can. The only way the race could surivive would be through friendship with men, and protection by men from within the Shire. To mingle with men the hobbits would be putting themselves in league with all good men of Middle-earth, and through this they would be keeping up with the time, and have knowledge of the wide world. It is better to let good men enter the Shire, even if this is against the wishes of the hobbits, because the hobbits would eventually learn that some men are good to have around. In this way the hobbits and men would really be one people, and the hobbits of the Shire would last longer in the world of men since they would build the future together and their ways would become merged, and over time the nature of the hobbits would change, just as it had in the past. The hobbits of the Shire were more sheltered than was good for them, and it is the nature of sheltered people to remain so, especially when they fear the world outside. The only way to overcome this is to go through a short period of unpleasantness, maybe even a rude awakening, a loss of innocence, but that would leave the person better able to getting along in the world. Good men entering the Shire would be the way to bring the hobbits into the world, even if by first bringing the world to them, so that they can be a part of it, and with a good King in place is the time for this to happen.

I'd like to show a few things found in the Late Writings in PoMe (History of Middle-earth XII), and all quotes in this post are from that book.

Of the tradition of the hobbits that they left the lands near Anduin because they no longer felt at ease because of the shadow of fear that had fallen on the forest, and because of the multiplication of the Big Folk, this is said:
This evidently reflects the troubles of Gondor in the earlier part of the Third Age. The increase in Men was not the normal increase of those with whom they ad friendship, but the steady increase of invaders from the East, futher south held in check by Gondor, but in the North beyond the bounds of the Kingdom harassing the older 'Atanic' inhabitants, and even in place occupying the Forest and coming though into the Anduin valley. But the shadow of which the tradition spoke was not solely due to the human invasion. Plainly the Hobbits has sensed, even before the Wizards and the Eldar had become fully aware of it, the awakening of Sauron and his occupation of Dol Guldur.
This shows a couple noteworthy things.
1) It was only the multiplication of men invading from the East (and not those men the hobbits where frineds with) that contributed to the hobbits leaving.

2) The hobbits could sense evil more so than humans and this could, for a time(at least until the nature of hobbits has changed enough that this sense is lessend), benefit hobbits and men who live together.

3) When the hobbits sensed this evil, they did not prepare to defend their homes, but packed up and ran away. This nature to run away is not that of a people who would rather fight hard than run away. Nothing wrong with running away, but in the 4th age where would they run to if they must leave the Shire? Nowhere to run.

The problem I see with my opinion, and one I don't recall anyone mentioning is that a change in the nature of hobbits, one that better equipts them to live in the world with men, and as a result of the mixing of the races, might eventually become drastic enough to qualify as a loss of what it means to be a hobbit.

To that I would say that it was a natural loss, the kind that always comes with change, and not a loss of the race of hobbits, just a change in them. Now if hobbits would have eventually mated with men, then we could see the end of the race. One might say that the loss of the race of hobbits resulting in them being too sheltered and isolated to deal with the world, is also a natural thing. I would not disgaree with that. I think either course, if happend, would be a natural thing, but at least living among men the race will last longer. Even if mating with men the race of hobbits eventually ended, this would differ from the race being forced into a war that kills many and drives the rest into caves where they being scattered and hidden would eventually become extinct, in that in one way the bloodline/ decendants would live on.


Hobbits on the other hand were in nearly all respects normal Men, but of very short stature.
In their unrecorded past they must have been a primitive, indeed 'savage' people, but when we meet them they had (in varying degrees) acquired many arts and cussoms by contacts with Men, and to a less extent with Dwarves and Elves. With Men of normal stature they recognized theur close kinship, whereas Dwarvs or Elves, whether frinedly or hostile. were aliens, with whom their relations were uneasy and clouded by fear.
Here we see they were primitive and savage but their ways changed through contact with men. This just shows that the race on the whole, in not unchangable. Further contact with men in the Shire must end up resulting in the hobbits changing more. This also shows the kinship with men versus that with elves and dwarves (though this is told in LoTR prolog).

The language they spoke when they entered Eriador was evidently adopted from the Men off the Vales of Anduin (related to thd Atani, in particular to those of the House of Beor [> of the Houses of Hador and Beor]); and after their adoption of the Common Speech they retained many words of that origin. This indicates a close association with Big Folk; though the rapid adoptation of the Common Speech in Eriador shows Hobbits to have been specially adaptable in this respect.
and...
Bilbo's statement that the cohabitation of the Big Folk and Little Folk in one settlement at Bree was peculiar and nowhere else to be found was probably true in his time (the end of the Third Age); but it would seem that actually Hobbits had liked to live with or near to Big Folk of frinedly kind, who with their greater strength protected them from many dangers and enemies and other hostile men, and recieved in exchange many services.
It seems to me that it was not the original way of hobbits to isolate themselves the way the Shire hobbits came to do. I do not think this was a deep seeded trait, but just a preference they grew into, and it could have been grown out of so that they coud be interactive with the rest of the world, and remain a part of it far into the future. Men and hobbits would benefit if the Shire hobbits could accept men. A law keeping men out is a good way not to try.

As for Aragorn's point of view, he can not have known all that we know as readers and people of this age. He may have thought better of men than they are worthy of. Or, maybe his decision was best and I am wrong.
 

Mrs. Maggott

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Whether or not Aragorn was correct in his decision to prohibit men from entering the Shire was not the question, at least as I understood it. The question merely concerned the reason(s) for his decision. A number of different possibilities have been addressed on this thread including his concern for the depredations that men might commit upon these peaceful, un-warlike people.

But to my mind, this particular gesture (which does not appear in the body of the story) has to do with the author's wishful desire for an untouched idyllic sanctuary within his country which was being "overrun" by the 20th century - to his great dismay. Tolkien would have liked nothing better than for a benign despot (like King Elessar) to bestow upon his beloved "Shire" - rural England - a surcease from "development" and the depredations of men not by war but "progress". To my mind, this particular literary ploy is one of the most direct statements by the author regarding his dismay at the encroachments made by "progress" in his beloved England.
 

Confusticated

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Whether or not Aragorn was correct in his decision to prohibit men from entering the Shire was not the question, at least as I understood it.
Well no, the question was this:
Could the author really be wishing for a revisionist return to his pastoral English countryside?
I am don't even care to answer that, but I had assumed that pgt was wanting to dicuss the logic of the Edict. I guess he/she can let us know if I am mistaken in this.
 

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