Character Analysis Frodo Baggins


When Frodo begins his journey, he does not consider himself particularly heroic, but the job must be done and he is the only person available. Many times along the way, especially before he and Sam separate from the rest of the Fellowship, either he or one of the powerful individuals he encounters comment on his obvious lack of qualifications. He is not wise like Elrond; he is not valiant like Aragorn; his not powerful like Gandalf. In fact, he lacks all the usual features of heroism. He is only a hobbit, gifted with such pedestrian virtues as common sense, a good heart, and the determination to do his best.

The first challenges to confront Frodo dramatize his inexperience. He is indecisive, delaying his departure from the Shire as long as possible even though he knows the task is urgent. He opts to risk the dangers of the Old Forest, nearly getting himself and his friends killed — twice. He behaves foolishly in Bree, drawing unnecessary attention to himself. And he gives in to the temptation to put on the Ring at Weathertop, making himself vulnerable to the Ringwraiths' attack.

Nevertheless, Frodo survives both the obvious dangers and his own mistakes. The novel attributes his success to two main factors. First, as Gandalf is fond of pointing out, hobbits are tougher than they look, and simple toughness — the ability to endure hardship and move past it — goes a long way in this struggle. Second, Frodo does not want and never sought the power of the Ring, meaning that he continues to resist its lure. Although he lapses momentarily at Weathertop, he reiterates his commitment to resist at the Ford of Bruinen. Heroism does not require perfection, only the aspiration to do good.

As the journey progresses, Frodo develops as a hero not by acquiring new wisdom, strength, or power, but by trusting his own virtues: the common sense, goodness, and determination that motivated him from the beginning. Spurred by Boromir's actions, Frodo realizes that the Ring will destroy everyone around him. His common sense tells him that he will have to rely on himself to complete the task, and his heart tells him not to endanger the others — physically or spiritually — by bringing them along. And as the exhausting journey continues, only his determination to see it through allows him to continue, struggling step by step along the difficult path.

Befriending Gollum is a crucial point in Frodo's personal journey as well as his physical one. When he first hears of Gollum, Frodo's initial reaction is one of disgust and anger. If only Bilbo had killed the creature, none of this terrible journey would be necessary; Sauron would not have learned of the Ring and Frodo could have remained safe in his hobbit-hole. He does not believe Gandalf when the wizard says that Gollum is pitiable, but he finds this to be the case when they at last meet. Gollum's service as a guide proves invaluable, even considering tricking them into Shelob's lair, but that is only one part of the service he does for Frodo. For the Ringbearer, Gollum serves as both an object-lesson (here is what the Ring will do to its bearer) and a glimmer of hope (if Gollum can be saved, perhaps Frodo himself will not be destroyed by the quest). Although Frodo does not see it, Gollum's moment of hesitation on the steps of Cirith Ungol shows that Frodo's hope has not been misplaced.

Frodo's quest succeeds through the fortunate intervention of Gollum and his life is saved by the eagles, but like many who leave to fight for their homes, Frodo suffers physical and spiritual wounds that cannot heal. While we would like to believe that heroes can come home, sometimes the struggle is too painful. Frodo's departure from Middle-earth acknowledges and rewards his sacrifice, freeing him from the pain of lingering in a world that he can no longer enjoy.