Is Frodo a hero?

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Is Frodo a hero?

Postby Chariot Rider » Sat Dec 19, 2015 9:10 pm

Hello community

I am new to the forum so I am going to put a bit of a backstory of myself so you can understand my view of Tolkien and Middle Earth. I am a huge fan of Tolkiens works and would consider myself a loyalist to the books. Sorry Peter Jackson.

So here is my question. I am not sure what my stance is on this so I am interested in your opinion. Is Frodo evil? Is Frodo any better than isildur. Frodo drags the ring all the way across middle earth in order to destroy the ring and what does he do when he finaly gets there? He keeps the ring for himself. Now don't get me wrong this is the one ring. I am sure no other character (other than Tom bombadi maybe) would have been able to destroy the ring. But at the same time Frodo was hand selected at the council of Elrond to bear the ring. He was chosen because gandalf believed he could or was at least thier best shot. But Frodo fails everyone in middle earth. The only reason the ring is destroyed is because of gollum. I am not saying that Frodo is evil. In fact is it really Frodo at this point? What are your thoughts?
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Re: Is Frodo a hero?

Postby john Vogel » Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:07 pm

I read (or saw in a documentary) that Tolkien got angry mail from fans upset that Frodo failed in the end. His reply was that Frodo was never supposed to succeed in the end. The ring was ultimately too powerful for anyone.

My take is that it was the choices that Frodo made along the journey that ultimately won the day. He didn't kill Gollum when he had the chance. Even though he probably should have. "Pity" made Frodo a hero. That was the factor that made good triumph over evil. And because Frodo tookpity on Gollum, Gollum was able to destroy the ring. In effect, evil defeated itself.

So really it wasn't the very end of his journey that won the day... it was all the tests he passed as he made his way to the volcano.
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Re: Is Frodo a hero?

Postby original wombat » Thu Jan 07, 2016 3:30 am

john Vogel wrote:I read (or saw in a documentary) that Tolkien got angry mail from fans upset that Frodo failed in the end. His reply was that Frodo was never supposed to succeed in the end. The ring was ultimately too powerful for anyone.

My take is that it was the choices that Frodo made along the journey that ultimately won the day. He didn't kill Gollum when he had the chance. Even though he probably should have. "Pity" made Frodo a hero. That was the factor that made good triumph over evil. And because Frodo tookpity on Gollum, Gollum was able to destroy the ring. In effect, evil defeated itself.

So really it wasn't the very end of his journey that won the day... it was all the tests he passed as he made his way to the volcano.


Indeed. The point, I think, is that no one 'hero' can save the world entire. Frodo's act of compassion to Gollum ensured his success. So no, he didn't fail.
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Re: Is Frodo a hero?

Postby Voronwe_the_Faithful » Thu Jan 07, 2016 7:43 am

In the words of Tolkien himself, "no, Frodo 'failed'."

To elaborate further, he wrote in a draft letter in 1956:

If you re-read all the passages dealing with Frodo and the Ring, I think you will see that not only was it quite impossible for him to surrender the Ring, in act or will, especially at its point of maximum power, but that this failure was adumbrated from far back. He was honoured because he had accepted the burden voluntarily, and had then done all that was within his utmost physical and mental strength to do. He (and the Cause) were saved – by Mercy : by the supreme value and efficacy of Pity and forgiveness of injury.
Corinthians I x. 12-131 may not at first sight seem to fit – unless 'bearing temptation' is taken to mean resisting it while still a free agent in normal command of the will. I think rather of the mysterious last petitions of the Lord's Prayer: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. A petition against something that cannot happen is unmeaning. There exists the possibility of being placed in positions beyond one's power. In which case (as I believe) salvation from ruin will depend on something apparently unconnected: the general sanctity (and humility and mercy) of the sacrificial person. I did not 'arrange' the deliverance in this case: it again follows the logic of the story. (Gollum had had his chance of repentance, and of returning generosity with love; and had fallen off the knife-edge.) In the case of those who now issue from prison 'brainwashed', broken, or insane, praising their torturers, no such immediate deliverance is as a rule to be seen. But we can at least judge them by the will and intentions with which they entered the Sammath Naur; and not demand impossible feats of will, which could only happen in stories unconcerned with real moral and mental probability.

No, Frodo 'failed'. It is possible that once the ring was destroyed he had little recollection of the last scene. But one must face the fact: the power of Evil in the world is not finally resistible by incarnate creatures, however 'good'; and the Writer of the Story is not one of us.


As he wrote in another letter that same month, "Frodo deserved all honour because he spent every drop of his power of will and body, and that was just sufficient to bring him to the destined point, and no further. Few others, possibly no others of his time, would have got so far. The Other Power then took over: the Writer of the Story (by which I do not mean myself), 'that one ever-present Person who is never absent and never named'." He failed, but he still should be honoured.
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Re: Is Frodo a hero?

Postby john Vogel » Tue Jan 12, 2016 9:23 am

That's probably what I read years ago. Good post. It's an interesting way to look at a hero.
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Re: Is Frodo a hero?

Postby Billobob » Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:39 pm

I see Frodo as the hero who had accomplished the impossible by getting the ring to Mordor but just simply finish the impossible task of destroying it. So in a sense I see him as a failed hero who was saved by chance.
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Re: Is Frodo a hero?

Postby Elvish Hobbit » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:33 am

I've always found this topic insanely interesting. Did Frodo fail? Did Frodo succeed? Was there anything one could do? Probably we will never know, but as john Vogel says the choices that were made along the way mattered the most which kept foundation for the final moment to shape the way it did.

For Frodo, the word "failed" in its literal sense seems much more harsh than it ought to be. It can safely be said he "failed" but then who could really succeed? Comparing him with Isildur isn't fair, I suppose, since his life was literally sucked out through out this journey and even after that he didn't lose his nobility either in sorrow or pride. That's one virtue I admire probably the most in him. Also, let's not forget he was the one tested to his last remaining strength and not Isildur.
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Re: Is Frodo a hero?

Postby WesternSeas » Wed May 11, 2016 1:17 pm

I think as well it would be interesting to think about about what would have happened had Gollum not come upon them at the last moment, if he had say, been caught or killed by orcs along the way. Sam was there too, begging him to destroy the ring - would Sam have tried to overpower him and destroy the ring himself? My copy of the book is not immediately at hand, but I am remembering from the film in Moria Gandalf telling Frodo that he thought Bilbo was meant to find the ring, and that therefore Frodo was also meant to have it. If the same is there in the book, this would indicate that there was definitely some kind of higher purpose behind it all. Voronwe quoted Tolkien before in saying "The Other Power then took over" implying to me a greater good was steering people towards their cause, and I think both gollum and Sam were there because Frodo couldn't destroy the ring on his own having carried it so far. Therefore Frodo didn't fail to me, he simply played the part he was meant to, and his decision to take the ring for himself was the catalyst to bring either Gollum (through desire) or Sam (through love) into play to ensure success.
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Re: Is Frodo a hero?

Postby Denethor » Wed May 18, 2016 3:39 am

WesternSeas wrote:I think as well it would be interesting to think about about what would have happened had Gollum not come upon them at the last moment, if he had say, been caught or killed by orcs along the way. Sam was there too, begging him to destroy the ring - would Sam have tried to overpower him and destroy the ring himself?


The possibilities:

1. Frodo claims the Ring. He jumps into the Fire, as the only way of resolving his internal conflict.

2. Sam tries to overpower him. If Sam ends up with the Ring, I think you end up with a variation of (1), but more likely I think you see them both fall into the Fire together.

3. Frodo with the Ring overpowers Sam, and is drawn outside. The result is described in Tolkien's Letters - the Ringwraiths wall up the entrance and play for time until Sauron himself turns up, whereupon Sauron squashes Frodo like a bug.

All three possibilities are a good deal more depressing than the actual event.
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