Thursday, March 10, 2016

No, Frodo was NOT Euthanized

I was recently listening to a Silmarillion Seminar podcast from the Tolkien Professor, and an interesting topic came up.  Often as I listen to these podcasts I wish that I could jump in and comment!  I wasn't able to, of course, but I wanted to share my thoughts anyway.

Some of the participants were comparing Frodo going into the West to the euthanasia of the chronically ill.  They all understood that Tolkien's Catholic view point and his general opinions certainly did not match up with condoning this and each of them tried to explain why Frodo was not euthanized.  I just wanted to share my thoughts on it.

From first glance, the bringing of Frodo into the West to make his last few months easier and to ultimately end is life a bit early does sound like euthanasia.  However, when you look closer, it becomes clear that was not the reason Frodo went into it the West.

The goal of sending Frodo into the West was not to end his life early, but to heal him of his hurts so he could pass away with a clean soul.  It was not about killing, but healing.  

As for the fact that bringing him to the Undying Lands would end his life early, I'm not necessarily sure of that.  He was accorded a special honor to go into the West, and I'm sure that it was no one's intention to kill him.  

Further, as I mentioned, he was not brought over just to give him peace for his last few living months, but to heal him for his remaining life and also for after his death.  

If you have a counterpoint or question, I would love to converse with you about it in the comments!  Thanks for reading and have a great day!



  1. I agree- that's always how I've viewed it. He went to Valinor because it was the only place where the shadows could not touch him, and thus he would have a better chance to rest and heal. :)

  2. Wow, I'd never have thought of it quite that way! It's interesting because the undying lands do kind of have a connotation with death, or rather transcendence of mortality (The Numinorians can't go to where the Valinor live, most of the mortal people who have been accorded the honor went when their work in middle earth was complete etc.).

    Of course, a lot of fans are going to interpret the story within the framework of issues that we might face today, and I think that's completely acceptable. But I don't think it's what Tolkien was thinking of when he wrote it. Bilbo, Sam, Gimli also went "into the west" and none of them needed to be "euthanized".

    1. I agree. I think what it comes down to is the fact that Frodo was about to die and so the elves wanted to let him look upon the grace of Valinor before he did--not to shorten his life, but just to allow him to see it before he naturally died.