Frodo's Task

by Elenna, with responses
After reading Lizmybit's great paper on a comparison of Frodo and Job, I have been doing a lot of thinking about Frodo and his role….well, nothing new there, I think about Frodo a lot it seems. I have brought some of this up before. Please forgive the repetition. I disagree with the notion that Frodo was only to be the ‘Ring-bearer’.

I feel that the task of destroying the Ring was clearly laid out at the Council of Elrond. After going through the whole history of the Ring insofar as it could be compiled, the Council spent long deliberation on what to do with the Ring: should the Ring be sent into the West? Should the Ring be cast into the sea? While both noteworthy ideas, neither would have been entirely safe from the clutches of Sauron. The only possible solution was to take the Ring to Mordor and cast it back into the fires from whence it was forged. Great, now that that was settled, who would be the lucky soul to do the task? Dear Bilbo, sweet brave hobbit that he is volunteers…well it was no longer his responsibility was it? The Ring had passed on from him to another: dear, sweet, unwitting Frodo.


I am reposting here something I wrote a few months back as it fits in with both my mood today and this topic:

“The Council of Elrond has always kind of bugged me. “This is your job. No one else can do it…but we’re not going to force you into this.”

Ah dear, sweet, wonderful Frodo…..

A victim? I would agree that he is not. I think the whole scene at the Council of Elrond is very telling. All the information has been presented. The members in the know or the Wise if you prefer have hashed it all out back and forth as to what must be done with the Ring. And then it happens; a volunteer. Bilbo sets himself forward and is turned down because the Ring has passed on. Then comes the silence … that awful dreadful silence. One can almost hear a clock slowly ticking away the minutes which must seem like centuries as they wait for some brave soul to volunteer to take the Ring and destroy it. Frodo sits there quietly. He glances at the circle of faces that have all turned away from him and sat ‘with downcast eyes’. No pressure here. What was it that Gandalf had said to Bilbo only moments before? Oh yes, ‘The Ring has passed on…’ The Ring has passed on? Did it die? No you silly little Hobbit, not passed on in that way. It has passed on to someone other than Bilbo. Hmmmm…..I wonder who that could possibly be…. “A great dread fell on him, as if he was awaiting the pronouncement of some doom that he had long foreseen and vainly hoped might after all never be spoken….” Wait … someone else is volunteering! What a brave soul he must be! And he hears his own small voice saying: “I will take the Ring…though I do not know the way.”

In all fairness Elrond speaks up and says, “If I understand aright all that I have heard … I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo: and that if you do not find a way, no one will. This is the hour of the Shire-folk …. But it is a heavy burden. So heavy that none could lay it on another. I do not lay it on you. But if you take it freely, I will say that your choice is right…”

OK, Kiddoe, see, it is time for you little guys to do something important for a change. If you listened to anything that has been said here today, you know that the job goes to the one who holds the Ring. Yeah, kind of like the game of ‘Hot potato”. That’s right, when the music stops or, in this case, when the talking stops, the guy sitting here holding the Ring is ‘it’. What? That’s you? Well all right! You’re it, little fellow. Now, this thing could get pretty hot and pretty heavy before it’s all said and done. I’m not going to tell you what to do here, boy, but if you say that you want to be ‘it’, you’d be doing the right thing. That is the decision that you are expected to make. Now nobody likes a quitter, so you just go ahead take a little time and make up your mind. I’ll just sit back with the rest of the good old boys here and twist your arm a little more. All righty? You know, boy, if you do this here little job for us, why we’d see your name plastered up on billboards and everything. Why, you’d be on the Middle-Earth version of Mt. Rushmore along with Hador, Húrin, Túrin and even ol’ Beren himself.

Did Frodo willingly agree to take the Ring? He most certainly did or Elrond would not have allowed him to go. To not go willingly would have doomed the quest to failure. Was Frodo frightened? You bet. But Frodo did go on this quest and he did endure. Because this task had been appointed for him he is the only possible person who could have fulfilled this quest. He also knew deep down in his heart that this was his quest. Frodo is also a special Hobbit in that he is the only one with the necessary stamina to succeed. The men, dwarves and, yes, even elves would have fallen under the sway of the Ring. The younger three Hobbits would also have succumbed to the Ring. The Ring had passed to him for a purpose. This was his quest and his alone appointed to him with some divine intervention by Ilúvatar. He would not allow his chosen instrument to fail.”


Well, most of that was pretty tongue in cheek, but I think it shows a lot about Frodo’s character as well. The point I am trying to get across is that Frodo was not only meant to take the Ring to Mordor, but he was meant to take the Ring all the way to the Sammath Naur and cast it in. This was not a relay race he was involved in. There was no one waiting to pass the Ring off to on any given step of the way. Frodo had to take the Ring and Frodo had to cast it into the fires of Orodruin. This was an impossible task that no mortal would have been able to fulfill because of the effects of the Ring. Even Gandalf did not wish to be tempted with its power. Yet it was the task appointed to Frodo because of his stamina and the trueness of his heart, and quite frankly, in part because of his stature as a Halfling. Sauron’s pride would lead him to look for some dramatic and grandiose force marching against him. He would not have looked for something small and insignificant in size the likes of a Hobbit, nor would he have looked for something alone. Peter Jackson has Pippin express this concept when he explains to Treebeard that the closer they were to danger the ******** they were from it. This is the same principle expressed at the Council of Elrond.

So, we are back to the whole question of Frodo’s task. If we are reluctant to accept the charge as given to Frodo at the Council of Elrond, then I believe Frodo himself has a few words to say while standing at the Sammath Naur. I love the way Peter Jackson directed this part. Elijah Wood is incredible here in the film. The whole struggle with the Ring is one of my favorite scenes in the whole trilogy. Frodo’s tears…there are two…show the deep turmoil going on within him. Movie Frodo does a lot of facial expression acting here and simply states: “The Ring is mine,” as he glowers with a wicked expression on his face and puts on the Ring. Book Frodo proclaims: “’I have come,’ he said. ‘But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!’ And suddenly as he set it on his finger, he vanished from Sam’s sight.” Either way one looks at this scene, Frodo himself acknowledges that his task was to destroy the Ring.

This is where Frodo fails in that he as a mortal being could not bring himself to destroy the Ring. The Ring had worked its power ever more strongly on Frodo the closer he came to Orodruin to the point that, struggle as he might right up to the brink, the Ring won out and claimed him even as he claimed it. This is where the mercy of Ilúvatar or Eru if you prefer plays its part. Gandalf had told Frodo early on that Gollum had some small part to play before it was all over. It almost seems like a series of concentric circles. Frodo claims the Ring making himself vulnerable to become like Sauron. Gollum bites off Frodo’s finger taking the Ring back and saves Frodo from said fate. Gollum in his joy over repossessing the Ring falls over the brink in to the Sammath Naur OR is this really what happens here?…that is a whole different subject IMHO) and destroys the Ring and its power. Because of the destruction of the Ring, Middle-Earth is saved. Bilbo passed the Ring on as an inheritance to Frodo making possible Frodo’s task. Bilbo out of pity spared Gollum’s life making possible Gollum’s future role. Sméagol kills Déagol to obtain the Ring and then destroys the Ring (accidentally) and is killed himself. There would have been mercy offered in this life to Gollum; hence the fact that three eagles were sent to rescue Frodo and Sam.

IMHO Frodo knew he would fail in his quest. He hoped he would not fail. He struggled against the power of the Ring as it grew ever stronger. Frodo states in reference to Gollum: “But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over.” Gollum’s role is key to the destruction of the Ring. It was not Frodo who cast the Ring into the fires; Frodo had claimed the Ring as his own. Once he had done that there was no way he would be able to take the Ring from his finger and throw it into the fires. This is where Gollum’s act though born out of evil intent is so important; for in his Ring lust he becomes an unwitting hero.

Just some thoughts and MHO here. Thanks for reading…

I am not really certain here how Frodo figures that he [Frodo] destroyed the Ring….though I do have a theory which is forthcoming in another paper, essay, writing, thing quest....

Response by Lithilien:

Well, Elenna, your musing is certainly well thought out and yet I must disagree with you. I will not present my opinion in anywhere near as eloquent nor thorough a fashion as you have done; instead, I will simply, as they say, cut to the chase.

I agree that the Council, the Wise and Frodo all perceived his task as being the destruction of the Ring, though even Gandalf admits early on that he doesn't really hold much hope for the accomplishment of the task. You may argue that he feels this simply because of the overwhelming odds that Frodo would be captured before reaching Mount Doom. But I hang my argument upon the statement that "even the very wise cannnot see all ends". I don't think either Elrond or Gandalf thought for a moment that they saw the end clearly. They, and Frodo, and everyone else involved, used what wisdom they had to attempt to see the end, certainly. And they all assumed that the successful completion of the Quest would entail Frodo actually being the instrument of the Ring's destruction.

Ah, but there was Another who could see all ends, and He knew that no one, not even singular, incredible Frodo, could hope to deliberately destroy that corrupting beauty. But He who brought the world into being through the marvelous harmony He ordered had planned even for this. And we know how so many played a part in that plan, even Sméagol in the end. So I believe that it was never Eru's intent that the "task appointed" to Frodo be the actual destruction of the Ring, but to simply bear It as long and as far as he could, even to the Cracks of Doom, where the harmony of Eru's plan would at last, and unexpectedly to even the very wise, be realised.

No, Frodo did not fail at his appointed task. He fulfilled it every jot and tittle. And weren't the Wise surprised! If they were indeed wise, they were also at least a little humbled to note that their assumptions, however obviously correct they may have seemed, were quite wrong.

I think of Galadriel's words to the Ring-bearer: "If you do not find a way, no one will." Well, Frodo found a way, in quite an unexpected fashion, through his pity and mercy toward Sméagol. And that is what is responsible for the destruction of the Ring. ::Galadriel-like smile::

Faramirgirl (vaires):

I think that you both had very well taken points. Frodo would of failed long before if Sam had not been there. Sam is what keep Fordo going. In the end Frodo would not throw the ring into the fire. But Gandalf did say that Gollum had a part to play before the end. And Gollum did play the part of the evil that Gandalf said he would. The ring was destory but I don't think that any one knew what really happen at the fire because I believe that Sam would not of told anyone that Frodo said that the ring was his and had put it on. So Frodo is still the hero for getting it to the fire of Mount Doom, and Gullum just helped him out by takng the ring and falling into the fire, so in a way Gollum had saved Frodo and killed himself in the progress.

Bregalad:

Could someone please explain something that just bugs the heck out of me. If this is all Eru's plan, does that mean that this was all fate and no one had free will. That there was only one possible outcome. For example, that Bilbo 'had' to spare Gollum - that Gollum 'had' to escape from Mordor - that Faramir 'had' to spare Gollum, etc., etc. This turns Eru into a puppetmaster and eveyone into puppets. Someone HELP.
The Fate thing drives me crazy.

Lizmybit:

Does not mean he can control it. God always knows what the end result of something will be, but he does not, in anyway, make our decision for us. Thus we all have free will. Make sense? Eru is not a puppet master, but just able to see more than mortals or Elves for that matter. It would be like if you were standing on a street corner and you could see down to the end of the block. However, if you climed to the roof of a building you would be able to see much farther, but you are not able to change anything in the distance, just to view it. Kind of a silly way to think about it I know, but that is how I always envisioned it.

Bregalad:
Let me re-phrase your analogy in another way and see if I am understanding this concept. We have a crystal ball to see into the future, and see a particular event occur; but we do not see the paths that led to that event and we don't control the decisions of the ones that ended up in that future event. So the individuals involved along the path had free will to make decisions and the decisions they made led to that particular future event or end result. Does that make sense?

Another thing. When you say "Does not mean he can control it.", shouldn't it be that Eru 'can' control it but chooses not to? Just like he chose to let Melkor's disharmony in the Great Music abide rather than delete it? He is Eru and can control all things, but lets events unfold as they will.

By the way, I don't think your analogy is silly at all. If it helps you to clarify your thoughts on something and works for you, then that's what matters. I've taken some strange paths in my time to reach an understanding of a particular thought or idea.