In Defense of Frodo Baggins

For many, the least interesting part of the Lord of the Rings was Frodo Baggins.  Frodo was never the funny Hobbit, the loyal one, or the one with a special gift for plants.  He’s been accused of being boring, the “everyman” character, someone who should have just let Sam go fetch him the mountain cuz it would have been faster than him walking there himself.

That’s not the Frodo I read about, though.

Frodo was orphaned at an early age and adopted by Bilbo.  Then, just as he was coming of age, Bilbo–his only remaining father figure–left, and even without the Ring as a factor, that ought to have caused  Frodo some issues but it didn’t.  Frodo carried the One Ring for seventeen years after Bilbo left without using it, while the Enemy’s strength was approaching a peak and giving the Ring more power than it already had.

Seventeen years of the Ring quietly pulling at Frodo’s mind without interruption, and somehow it didn’t corrupt him until it was too late.

Smeagol had only to see the Ring to be willing to murder for it.  Bilbo lied to protect it after carrying it for less than a day.  Boromir was in its general vicinity for a few months before it got to him.  But Frodo carried it for seventeen years before the Nazgul came to the Shire, and while the Ring could make him want to put it on, it rarely managed to actually make him do it, even with Ringwraiths nearby and adding to its power.

It took the combined effects of hunger, travels, trauma, sorrow, and the Ring to make Frodo go dark–and even then, that lasted only a few minutes.

Not bad for the everyman character.

In addition–every choice Frodo made up till the end was in defense of someone else.  He left the Shire, which he loved more than Bilbo ever had, to protect it, and not for the promise of adventure and dragon-gold.  He abandoned the Fellowship after the Ring took Boromir because he couldn’t bear to see it drive his friends mad.  He even tried to redeem Gollum, despite all the risk.

But his experiences after he left the Shire took away his characteristics that made him best able to live in the Shire.  Hobbits didn’t have much by way of mental health treatment.

I don’t know that I would call Frodo the best character to ever be written, but  looking at him closely, I see a lot worth valuing.  Perhaps that is partly because I know what it is to  fight a war in your own mind as he did.

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2 thoughts on “In Defense of Frodo Baggins

  1. Great post! At first I didn’t like Frodo, but now I’ve come to really enjoy his character. He has the type of strength that isn’t always readily apparent. The amount of mental strain he must have been under was huge, but he still managed to keep fighting. I find that inspiring. 🙂 Thank you for putting it into words!

    Liked by 1 person

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