Elrond mentions that going to The Undying Land which is west of Middle Earth allows Elves to be immortal.

Does this apply to other creatures such as Hobbits?

I know Frodo and Bilbo Baggins go there at the end of the Lord of the Rings but do they go there to die or to be immortal?

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    Actually, Arwen would have died for a number of reasons - both because of her choice to embrace mortality and because she didn't go into the West. After the marring of Arda, ALL elves slowly faded with time until they became wraiths; this is why the elves were all forced to leave for the safety of Valinor.
    – user3536
    Dec 4, 2012 at 23:51
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    Arwen says that she chooses a mortal life so that she can live with Aragorn in Middle Earth and not sail with the other elves to Valinor, and in the story of Beren and Luthien, Luthien also does this. I think that means that other elves may also have the choice to become mortal, because Luthien is fully elvish, though in her case, it may just be the fact that she loves Beren and that is why she is given the choice to remain immortal or return and become mortal. Another interesting fact is that in the story of Tuor and Idril, because in their story, Idril does not choose to become mortal, in fa
    – user4197
    Feb 23, 2013 at 4:35
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    There are clues "I will diminish and remain Galadriel and go to the West" Galadriel rejecting the ring. "You have seen him as he is on the other side" Gandalf to Frodo at Rivendell ref. Glorfindel. Sam could not believe a whole month had passed in Lothlorien. The time warp had to be be explained to the other seven. Tolkein never attempted to explain the subtle and not so subtle differences between Middle Earth and Varda.
    – user4221
    Feb 25, 2013 at 20:58
  • One way to read Lúthien's story is that she bartered her immortality to resurrect Beren. Jan 1, 2021 at 3:41

3 Answers 3


I am delivering here a relevant portion of a forum thread concerning the immortality of mortals who pass to the Undying Lands. It seems that Christopher Tolkien used many of his father's letters to accumulate a fair body of knowledge about Middle Earth and its rules in The Silmarillion, but that some letters specific to the life and death of Frodo and Bilbo Baggins were unclear, (perhaps intentionally so - my interpretation - The whole thread is a very interesting read).

Here is the relevant passage I found:

But in this story it is supposed that there may be certain rare exceptions or accommodations (legitimately supposed? there always seem to be exceptions); and so certain 'mortals', who have played some great part in Elvish affairs, may pass with the Elves to Elvenhome. Thus Frodo (by the express gift of Arwen) and Bilbo, and eventually Sam (as adumbrated by Frodo); and as a unique exception Gimli the Dwarf, as a friend of Legolas and 'servant' of Galadriel.

I have said nothing about it in this book, but the mythical idea underlying is that for mortals, since their 'kind' cannot be changed for ever, this is strictly only a temporary reward: a healing and redress of suffering. They cannot abide for ever, and though they cannot return to mortal earth, they can and will 'die' - of free will, and leave the world. - Letter #154

Or from letter #325:

As for Frodo or other mortals, they could only dwell in Aman for a limited time - whether brief or long. The Valar had neither the power nor the right to confer "immortality" upon them. Their sojorn was a "purgatory", but one of peace and healing and they would eventually pass away (die at their own desire and of free will) to destinations of which the Elves knew nothing.

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    Well, the letters make it quite clear, that living in Valinor won't make a mortal immortal.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 9, 2012 at 21:23
  • These letters are quite clear, but most of the thread delivers details that are cryptic, except to what would be a well-read Middle Earth maven.
    – wbogacz
    Jun 9, 2012 at 22:06
  • Major necroing here but - "at their own desire", "of free will" - does that not mean they would otherwise - if they had no desire to die - keep on living forever ?
    – deg
    Sep 6, 2017 at 20:34
  • Sounds to me like they would eventually lose the desire to live. As in, all they wanted to accomplish is complete and they're at peace with themselves and the world.
    – user57010
    Sep 8, 2017 at 6:50
  • @deg The Numenorians (Aragorn being the most well-known example), had the ability to choose the time and circumstance of their death if they wished and pass peacefully away with dignity. That said, Numenor utimately fell because they became envious of Elven immortality and were swayed by the lies of Sauron who promised to help them escape death- something they could not do on their own.
    – jmbpiano
    Jan 14, 2020 at 4:27

The elves are immortal by nature and it isn't Valinor that makes them immortal (they would have lived forever in Middle Earth, too, they just go to a nicer place to live). Likewise does it not cause the mortal hobbits to live forever. It is called the Undying Lands because only immortals live there and not the other way around.

But on the other hand, this Wikipedia site says:

...only immortal beings were allowed to reside there, but the land itself, while blessed, did not cause mortals to live forever. Amongst the exceptions to this were the surviving bearers of the One Ring — Bilbo and Frodo Baggins and...

But the phrasing here is a bit unclear. It could be they were an exception to only immortals being allowed there, or they could be an exception to the fact that it didn't cause mortals to live forever.

It's been quite a long time since I read LotR and The Silmarillion, but I don't think Frodo and Bilbo were going to live forever. They just got a nice place to die.

  • How come Arwen becomes mortal by staying in Middle Earth? Is it only because she marries a man or is it because she stays in Middle Earth? Jun 9, 2012 at 19:35
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    Wikipedia states: "Arwen pledged her hand to him in marriage, renouncing her Elvish lineage and accepting mortality, the "Gift of Men". Elrond withheld from Aragorn permission to marry his daughter until such time as his foster son should be king of Gondor and Arnor reunited. To marry a mortal, Arwen would be required to choose mortality and thus eventually deprive the immortal Elrond of his daughter; and Elrond feared that in the end Arwen might find the prospect of death (her own and that of her husband) too difficult to bear." which suggests she will herself be mortal too Jun 10, 2012 at 7:49
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    @PriestVallon Ah, interresting point. But it seems it is the marriage that makes her mortal and not the staying in Middle Earth.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 10, 2012 at 9:17
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    As Arwen was a half-elf, she was given the choice whether to be counted as elf, or human; she chose humanity to stay with Aragorn. (“for mine is the choice of Lúthien, and as she so have I chosen, both the sweet and the bitter”, and “The uttermost choice is before you: to repent and go to the Havens […] or else to abide the Doom of Men.”)
    – Mormegil
    Jun 12, 2012 at 9:20
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    "It is called the Undying Lands because only immortals live there and not the other way around." Yes. We tried telling Ar-Pharazôn that, but he wouldn't listen.
    – TRiG
    Dec 3, 2012 at 12:38

No, The phrase "Undying Lands" is not a place of immortality bestowed. It was a realm inhabited by Ainur (spiritual beings) and Elves whom are already immortal. The "Undying Lands" do not grant immortality, the Valar do not have the power; OR the authority to bestow immortality upon mortals (though they did "bless" the Men loyal to them during the War of the Wrath, the "Numenoreans", with extended lifespans).

The Undying Lands are simply named for the immortal inhabitants. The Ringbearers travel there to receive healing for the wounds (spiritual or physical) incurred as a result of ownership of the One Ring; the effects of the Ring is ubiquitous (albeit differing in time) to all beings immortal or otherwise. They would still die, but the hope was that they could live the rest of the time without Suffering or if they could be healed; allowed to return. The elves that bore rings of power also went there after the power of their rings was "spent" thus their domains would deteriorate.

In Tolkiens letters he describes... Frodo was sent or allowed to pass over Sea to heal him - if that could be done, before he died. He would have eventually to 'pass away': no mortal could, or can, abide for ever on earth, or within Time.

—Letter 246

Also stuff in Valinor happens very... very slowly since all its usual inhabitants are immortal there's little need to rush tasks, and 100 years would seem like just a mere blink of an eye, so really its not a nice place for a mortal person to reside; less they're left to rest.

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