Frodo’s First Dream

Archive Home > Advanced Lore
Meneldil II 16/Feb/2006 at 10:48 PM
Mercenary of Minas Tirith Points: 633 Posts: 185 Joined: 16/Dec/2003

Ok i am reading the FOTR for the fourth time and i am still wondering about this certain dream that Frodo has.

it is his first one.

It is in "A Conspiracy Unmasked" on page 122:

"He was on a dark heath, and there was a strange salt smell in the air. Looking up he saw before him a tall white tower, standing alone on a high ridge. A great desire came over him to climb the tower and see the Sea. He started to struggle up the ridge toward’s the tower: but suddenly a light came into the sky, and there was a noise of thunder."

I guess my question is what is this tower? Is it tower of Avollone?


Master of Doom 16/Feb/2006 at 11:38 PM
Torturer of Mordor Points: 2358 Posts: 1327 Joined: 26/Aug/2003

I’ve always interpretted it as the Tower Hills west of the Shire, Elostirion perhaps.  I think it is just a foreshadowing of Frodo’s eventual passing over the Sea.  If that is the case, I can think of two explantions for the end.  One, the lightning and thunder are symbolic of the fact that Frodo cannot yet go to the Sea, as he must first complete the task set before him.  The second (and I actually think this one is the more accurate) would be that it was simply a waking dream.  We are told earlier in the chapter that it is a ’vague dream’, followed by your quote which ends the chapter.  Then, in the next chapter, we have "Frodo awoke suddenly.  It was still dark in the room.  Merry was standing there with a candle in one hand, and banging on the door with the other." (FotR, The Old Forest)  My guess was that Frodo was in a state of ’waking dream’ (if you have ever experienced it, you know what I mean) and the candle and banging in reality transformed into light and thunder in his dream before he fully woke from his slumber.

Meneldil II 17/Feb/2006 at 10:58 AM
Mercenary of Minas Tirith Points: 633 Posts: 185 Joined: 16/Dec/2003

Hmm...That is interesting, i always thought that is was something of more importance than just "a waking dream". I kinda knew that it was a premanation of things to come, not excactly of course, I know Frodo dosent climb any white towers in the actual story.

I wonder if there is a way to know for sure?

Bearamir 17/Feb/2006 at 12:01 PM
Emeritus Points: 16276 Posts: 16742 Joined: 21/Sep/2008
Meneldil II: You ask a very good question?  In order to help you get an answer, with your permission I would like to move this thead to Ad Lore where the other "Lore Master’s" will see it.  Certainly among their hallowed (not to mention erudite ranks), there must be *someone* with the information you need.
Kirinki54 17/Feb/2006 at 03:32 PM
Librarian of Imladris Points: 2897 Posts: 1354 Joined: 17/Nov/2005

I wonder if this dream could possibly first be conceived as being about a memory? Frodo (or as he was called then, Bingo) told his companions in one of the first versions of LotR:


There used to be three elftowers standing in the land away west beyond the edge of  the Shire. I  saw them once. They shone white in the Moon. The tallest was furthest away, standing alone on a hill. It was told that you could see the sea from the top of that tower; but I don’t believe any hobbit has ever climbed it.’ If ever I live in a house, I shall  keep everything I want downstairs, and only go up when I don’t want anything; or perhaps I shall have a cold supper upstairs in the dark on a starry night.’                                                                

   ’And have to carry plates and things downstairs, if you don’t fall all the way down,’ laughed Odo.                                         

   ’No!’ said Bingo. ’I shall have wooden plates and bowls, and throw them out of the window. There will be thick grass all round my house.’                                                              

   ’But you would still have to carry your supper upstairs,’ said Odo.                                                                

   ’0 well then, perhaps I should not have supper upstairs,’ said Bingo. ’It was only just an idea. I don’t suppose I shall ever live in a house. As far as I can see, I am going to be just a wandering beggar.’ (HoME 6: To Maggot´s farm and Buckland)


This material – and there is more about houses - was later mainly used in The Prologue, as Christopher Tolkien commented.


Another source that gives an interesting glimpse on Tolkien´s view of the Towers (though published much later):


No doubt Gildor and his companions (Vol. I., Chap. 3), since they appear to have been going eastward, were Elves living in or near Rivendell returning from the palantír of the Tower Hills. On such visits they were sometimes rewarded by a vision, clear but remote, of Elbereth, as a majestic figure, shining white, standing upon the mountain Oiolosse (S. Uilos). It was then that she was also addressed by the title Fanuilos. (Comment to The Road Goes Ever On)


The first quote could mean that ‘Frodo’ was just dreaming about the Towers because he had told a story about them recently. But likely there was a deeper significance. The Sea could to him represent a way out, of not having to cope with his mission. It could also be a foreshadowing of his eventual travelling West, as MOD suggested.


If one chooses to take the second quote into consideration (and basically I think that is possible) note the likeness of image between the Tower and Elbereth herself. The meeting in Woody End is one of the earliest scenes conceived in the first drafts, and possibly Gildor could have told Frodo about their mission. And they where singing of Elbereth at first encounter.


Perhaps a far stretch, but in Frodo´s mind the image of the Tower could represent Elbereth and thus hope. But in order to fulfil that, there was first trouble to conquer – thunder and lightning - manifested by Merry´s knocking and candle.


Zinedine Zidane 18/Feb/2006 at 03:08 AM
Banned Points: 1069 Posts: 123 Joined: 16/Nov/2005

I guess the towers would be the towers of Mithlond, or rather one of them. I think they are referred to as Emyn Beraid. I agree with the others that it represented to him his goal, which would be a clearer sign than the sights he saw in Galadriel’s mirror.

And, by the way, what is Avollone’s tower?

Meneldil II 18/Feb/2006 at 07:11 PM
Mercenary of Minas Tirith Points: 633 Posts: 185 Joined: 16/Dec/2003

Kirinki 54: You bring up two interesting quotes, I actually never heard, (or should i say read) neither of them. Though i find your first one to be the more interesting, im not sure if i would take it to heart, since obvouisly so many things have changed since that draft. On the other hand maybe not so much as far as geographics go, perhaps it is one of the three elf towers.

It is your second quote that strikes my attention, i wonder if Gildor did tell some tales of those kind to Frodo, and if he did, why dident Toliken metion it? It would of definatly made more sense in the dream, but who am i to judge the Master’s work, he knows what he is doing. Maybe he wanted another enigma to the story, something that nobody would ever know for sure(like Tom Bombadil and Goldberry). 

Another thing could be that he dident think people would think  much of it, he might of just wanted us to take how it was, and didnt think a big deal to specify which tower it was. Im sure he wouldent want the reader to worry much about the tower, but rather just what was going on in the Frodo’s dream.

Zinedine Zidane: It is a tower in Avollone, which is a Island to the west of ME and if im thinking right it is that white tower, that when you are on top you can see the island of Valinor. Which is the is the Country of the Ainur and the Mair. I dont know if you have a copy of the Sil but all the info is in that book. 

I personly love the Sil!!!

elendil elessar 19/Feb/2006 at 07:06 AM
Fletcher of Lothlorien Points: 1533 Posts: 4087 Joined: 13/Dec/2008
Quote: Originally posted by Kirinki54 on Friday, February 17, 2006


The first quote could mean that ‘Frodo’ was just dreaming about the Towers because he had told a story about them recently. But likely there was a deeper significance. The Sea could to him represent a way out, of not having to cope with his mission. It could also be a foreshadowing of his eventual travelling West, as MOD suggested.

This is what I would believe, for the next dream that Frodo is having and that is described is in Tom’s house and, forgive me for I do not have the book to quote, is about the sight of an island throughout a mist. This I always took to be a sight of Tol Eressea and therefore a foresight, I agree with you Kirinki54 on the walking dream theory but only for the latest part of the dream when the sky turns black and thunder comes. This could also be seen as the hardship and danger that he will have to brave before his destiny (and maybe longing) comes true.

It is very possible that the Master used his previous dialogue that you quoted to mark the time when he would start introducing the longing for the West in Frodo.

Vugar 19/Feb/2006 at 09:16 AM
Chieftain of Mordor Points: 8170 Posts: 5398 Joined: 01/Jun/2004

The ’Dream of the Tower’ constantly changed location and form in the narrative.  At first there was only one dream, Frodo’s dream of seeing Gandalf’s imprisonment.  But it was the two later dreams combined together. Before Saruman entered the story Gandalf was held captive in the West (White) Tower by the Nazgûl.  The location and time of the Dream constantly changed; first it was with the Elves in Woody End, then Crickhollow, then Bree, then back to Crickhollow.

There is not much change from this text to the final version.

"Then he heard a noise in the distance. At first he thought it was a great wind coming over the leaves of the forest. Then he knew that it was not leaves, but the sound of the Sea far-off: a sound he had never heard in waking life, though it had often troubled other dreams. Suddenly he found he was out in the open. There were no trees after all. He was on a dark heath, and there was a strange salt smell in the air. Looking up he saw before him a tall white tower, standing alone on a high ridge. In its topmost chamber a blue light shone dimly.  As he drew nearer the tower loomed high above him. About its feet there was a wall of faintly gleaming stones, and outside the wall sat silent watchers: there seemed to be four blackrobed figures seated on black horses, gazing at the tower without moving, as if they had sat there for ever.  He heard the soft fall of hoofs climbing up the hill behind him. The watchers all stirred..." (The Fourth Phase, The Treason of Isengard)

"From this point the vision is told in practically the same words as in the previous text, and ends in the same way: ’A light grew in the sky, and there was a noise of thunder.’ When Frodo had dreamt the dream at Bree, the light in the sky and the noise of thunder were associated with Trotter’s opening the shutters with a clang and the light of morning entering the room." (Ibid)

When Saruman entered the picture, the dreams were split up.  The elements of the ’tall white tower’ and ’thunder’ would remain, as Christopher Tolkien writes:

"And so the tall white tower of Frodo’s dream at Crickhollow in the final tale remains from what was the precursor of Orthanc; and the thunder that he heard goes back to the interruption of his dream by Trotter’s thrusting back the shutters at The Prancing Pony." (Ibid)

Based on the association with the Sea the white tower is given, I would have to agree that it is most likely Elostirion.  The palantír at Emyn Beriad "was unlike the others and not in accord with them; it looked only to the Sea.  Elendil set it there so that he could look back with ’straight sight’ and see Eressëa in the vanished West; but the bent seas below covered Númenor for ever." (Eriador, Arnor, and the Heirs of Isildur, Appendix A)


Eretria 22/Feb/2006 at 11:59 AM
Banned Points: 955 Posts: 566 Joined: 27/Apr/2004
I interpreted the white tower in his dream to be one of the towers in the West near the Grey Havens. It is my belief that this dream was meant to be a premonition of the future (foreshadowing), that is to say, that it meant that Frodo would travel to the west and across the sea. I am not certain about the light that comes into the sky, or the noise like thunder, I would like to know what they are meant to represent. Hope perhaps, or their eventual victory.
Wolfbeard 26/Apr/2006 at 08:06 PM
Master of Isengard Points: 168 Posts: 28 Joined: 20/Apr/2006
The tower may just have been a dream, just like the dreams we have today, or it could mean something different. In plenty of books the author tends to describe the dreams the character has, most of them have meaning, but sometimes they don’t and are nothing to worry or fret or dance around like a coomplete luny about. The dream Frodo had could have meant nothing or maybe it could have meant something. If it did I’m sure only Tolkien would know about what the dream meant and there is nothing to worry about, or maybe there are clues left in the story for us. It could have been that that was once some great tower or something or i’m not really sure what it could hve been.
Melyanna Falas 08/May/2006 at 05:48 PM
Guardian of Imladris Points: 4141 Posts: 2688 Joined: 04/Jan/2005
Frodo’s dream in the chapter: "A Conspiracy Unmasked" has always struck me [as it has others as one of the Towers on the Tower Hills.] as the beginning of the sea-longing for Frodo, and a premonition of the future ’going over Sea’ with the Ring-bearers. I think it is somthing that begins to grow in Frodo until the actual embarking.

May I note another text: one in the planned epilogue to the LOTR that was never used [This epilogue is referred to in Letter 144]. It sounds like Sam and Rosie going indoors as in the ending of RotK, but it was written to take place seventeen years after the fall of Barad-dur; "They went in and shut the door. But even as he did so Sam heard suddenly the sigh and murmur of the sea on the shores of Middle-earth." I think this is related to Frodo’s dream, as a kind of vision of Sam’s own passage as a Ring-bearer. Frodo had said ["Grey Havens", RotK] "Your time may come." This seems like a first insight for Sam that it will happen.
Nolatari 11/May/2006 at 07:13 AM
Banned Points: 53 Posts: 3 Joined: 11/May/2006
My belief is that he dreamed of a time past of the tower of Numenor, on Eressea in the western sea. I believe that his dream was both a foreshadowing of what was to come in his journey over the sea, and wishful dreaming.But other than that I think the most probable theory is the the tower on the Tower Hills, just west of the Shire
king_dain 16/Sep/2006 at 09:01 PM
Trader of Erebor Points: 165 Posts: 36 Joined: 13/Sep/2006
yes i beleive it shos that he will evvennttually go over the see and to valinor and wht the staircase of the tower shows that thier is along way till he gets to hi sfinall destination. yet the storma and the lightnign shows thier will be obstacles and evil along the way an dwi it will be tough and difficult but yet the light at the top of the tower shows the way up and to see his finall destination the see or valinor
Obsidian 17/Sep/2006 at 01:43 AM
Pilgrim of Isengard Points: 1896 Posts: 1839 Joined: 02/Mar/2006
It mentioned a ridge, and it is known that the seventh Palantir was kept in a tower at the tower hills. It also mentioned "to see the sea. " This means that the tower MUST be facing the sea. It may be symbolic of Frodo being destined to cross the sea, What’s more, he was sleeping near that tower while he dreamt.
Kaulargorn 24/Sep/2006 at 10:05 AM
Messenger of Minas Tirith Points: 938 Posts: 149 Joined: 30/May/2006
Because of Frodo mentioning the Sea and knowing what happened in the end, the first thing that came to my mind was one of the towers at Grey Haevens.At last, the light and thunder could it be a sign of an unexpected adventure that Frodo had to get through before he would sail for the Great Sea?
NineFingered 26/Sep/2006 at 01:18 PM
Crafter of the Shire Points: 2251 Posts: 1253 Joined: 17/Jul/2005

You know how in classic literature, you usually find some kind of premonition. For example, if two guys are talking and one of them has a dagger, the other one says "somebody could get hurt by that", and at the end one of them does kill the other, and the reader goes "wow! isn’t it funny that he should point that out before". In a way, I see this as a little glimpse of the future, of Frodo’s being called to the Sea but having to pass through many storms to get there.

Elesar 16/Oct/2006 at 08:40 AM
Miner of Erebor Points: 1379 Posts: 1857 Joined: 18/Nov/2008
Well, After reading all the above interpretations, I can honestly say I never looked at it that way before! I always took the white tower to be the uppermost portion of the white city of Gondor; the longing to see the sea his eventuall crossing; and the thunder and lightnings the great battle before he could accomplish either of the other two....

Of course looking at a map of ME I see I almost had to be wrong, as Gondor is quite a bit away from the ocean.
Calenaldawen 25/Oct/2006 at 06:05 AM
March Warden of the Shire Points: 6406 Posts: 4341 Joined: 17/Oct/2006
I also thought that it was a tower at the grey havens. And I also thought that the dream has a meaning:
The tower: Towers are big so maybe they mean that Frodo has to accomplish a big task.
The thunder: A storm is coming up. There’s going to be danger.
The lightning: A sign of hope.
The sea: At the end Frodo is going to sail over the sea.
Lady Aikári 07/Nov/2006 at 12:56 AM
Gwaihir Points: 22495 Posts: 17910 Joined: 24/Jun/2004
Hmmm, something interesting crosses here my path. I have found it always a strange passage when reading it. I have associated with an unknown tower in the west, where the ships for Valinor leave. But as it to be a dream, this tower would be found back unlikely on the charts Tolkien made, or in one of the ’real time’ story lines in the books.
Elros Tar-Minya 09/Nov/2006 at 05:55 AM
New Soul Points: 232 Posts: 134 Joined: 04/Sep/2008
I too am one of the many that thought that this dream was of the towers on Emyn Beraid and that it was about his eventual crossing over the sea and the fact that he couldn’t do it yet because he still had his quest to fulfil.

It also goes onto say in the passage about the dream that;
but the sound of the Sea far-off; a sound he had never heard in waking life, but had often troubled his dreams.
This is why I have always beleived that it is only portentous of his eventual passing over to Eressea, though he did not know it at the time.