Thursday, May 12, 2016

Why Frodo is NOT a weak character

 
Basically this is a "defend Frodo" post.   Why does he need defending?  Well, because I feel like a lot of people underestimate him.  He's the hero of the story, and yet he doesn't seem to be a general favorite.  Sam probably has a larger fan base than Frodo, and I find that rather curious.  Not because Sam shouldn't have such a large fan base, but because I think Frodo is an equally interesting, strong, and loveable character himself and ought to be as highly talked of  as any of them. 

So, can we talk about Frodo?
 
[First, though--before I begin--I must give an explanation.  I am not defending the Frodo of the movie.  I am defending the Frodo of the book.  The Frodo of my imagination.   The real Frodo.  (And yes, of course the Frodo of my imagination is the real one.   How could there be any doubt?)]
 

[And secondly--before I begin--I'd like to dedicate this post to my sister who's just above me in age, because Frodo has always been her special character.  Also to my sister-in-law because she understands Frodo, too.  Sisters dear, this post is for you.  I hope I can do justice to the subject.]
 
Now to begin.  (Oh, and just so you know, I won't be warning about spoilers, so if you're concerned about that then you probably don't want to read this.  Just sayin'.)
 
One common complaint I've heard about Frodo is that he is a weak character, so that's what I aim to address in this post.  (Surprise, right?  I mean, the above title never gave the slightest suspicion of what my subject was going to be about, did it?  ;))  Anyway, I'm not sure if people get this idea of Frodo being weak from reading the book or mostly from watching the movie.  If it stems from their view of him in the movie then I have nothing else to say except read the book--because in my personal opinion Frodo does appear rather weak in the movies, so I can't really defend him on that point--but the Frodo of the book is anything but weak. 
 
Allow me to expound on that.
 
  • To begin with, Frodo willingly undertakes the task of destroying the ring, which shows an amazing amount of courage and selflessness.     The destruction of the ring was an impossible task from the beginning.  No one could have succeed at it.  And yet Frodo walks blindly forward, choosing to do the right thing even though he has no clear idea what he's getting himself into.  And those are traits of a strong character, not a weak one. 
  • Secondly, Frodo shows enormous strength in resisting the power of the ring on more than one occasion.  Understand that the ring really is powerful. It poses a huge temptation to anyone who has it in their possession, and it's a temptation which goes beyond the strength of most people to resist.
 

Then as a flash from some other point of power there came to his mind another thought: Take it off!  Take it off!  Fool, take it off! Take off the Ring!
    
The two powers strove in him.  For a moment, perfectly balanced between their piercing points, he writhed, tormented.  Suddenly he was aware of himself again.  Frodo, neither the Voice nor the Eye: free to choose, and with one remaining instant in which to do so.  He took the Ring off his finger.

The struggle is painfully real.  But he makes the right choice.  He does it.  And any of us who have been faced with strong temptation in our lives know how hard it is to make the right decision in the heat of the moment.
 
  • Point number three.  Some seem to think that Sam is a stronger character than Frodo because after carrying the ring for a few days he didn't hesitate to give it back to Frodo, while Frodo on the other hand goes berserk if anyone suggests that he hand the ring over to them.  Ahem.  Weellll...that is true, but only if you're considering the end of the book and not the entire story, because there are parts nearer the beginning when Frodo willingly offers to give the ring to someone else.  Galadriel, for instance.  He as good as says to her, "Take it.  I don't want it."  And then there's that undeniable fact, that the longer one has the ring in one's possession, the harder it is to give it up.  Frodo had the ring for years.  Sam only carried it a couple of days at the most.  So it's not really an equal comparison.

 
  • Frodo also shows great strength in his ability to make wise decisions even when he's feeling terribly afraid.  His conversation with Boromir is an excellent example of that, and will explain it better than I can, so I'm going to include it.

"You are kind," answered Frodo.  "But I do not think that any speech will help me.  For I know what I should do, but I am afraid of doing it, Boromir: afraid."
     Boromir stood silent.  Rauros roared endlessly on.  The wind murmured in the branches of the trees.  Frodo shivered.
     Suddenly Boromir came and sat beside him.  "Are you sure that you do not suffer needlessly?"  he said.  "I wish to help you.  You need counsel in your hard choice.  Will you not take mine?"
     "I think I know already what counsel you would give, Boromir," said Frodo.  "And it would seem like wisdom but for the warning of my heart."
     "Warning?  Warning against what?" said Boromir sharply.
     "Against delay.  Against the way that seems easier. Against refusal of the burden that is laid on me..."

I find Frodo's words in this passage truly inspiring.  "Against the way that seems easier."  How often do we ourselves choose the way that seems easier?  How often do we settle for that which is comfortable and self-serving, and refuse to give ourselves up to the hard tasks--which while difficult in the moment, will yet in the end bring unbounded good to those around us.   

Oh, no.  Frodo is anything but a weak character.

 
  • Of course, I suppose I must also mention the obvious fact of Frodo's failing at the end.  His inability to destroy the ring, and his claiming it for himself, might seem to speak loud and clear to a weak character.  And yet, again, I'd like to say different.  As we've already said, it was an impossible task.  No one could have tossed that ring into the fire after carrying it for so many months, with it's power growing stronger every day.  Frodo gave up everything to perform a task which was utterly impossible for him to perform.  He struggled through, enduring all the pain, all the hardship, all the endless torment, firmly fixed upon that end goal.  And yet in the end he wasn't able to do it.  It proved too much for him.  And help had to come to him from elsewhere.  (Kind of reminds me of us.  There's only so much we can do with our limited abilities, but when we put our faith and trust in God and walk according to His plan for our lives, He'll never fail us.  He'll always send us what we need, just at the right moment.)  And so it's true.  Frodo did not succeed in destroying the ring, but that does not annul the fact that he went to the extreme limits of his own powers to do what he knew to be right.  And that's a success in and of itself.   And a huge indication of a strong character.  Indeed, how many of us can say as much for ourselves? 

"Well, this is the end, Sam Gamgee," said a voice by his side.  And there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself again; and in his eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any fear.  His burden was taken away.  There was the dear master of the sweet days in the Shire.
     "Master!" cried Sam, and fell upon his knees.  In all that ruin of the world for the moment he felt only joy, great joy.  The burden was gone.  His master had been saved; he was himself again, he was free.  And then Sam caught sight of the maimed and bleeding hand.
     "Your poor hand!" he said.  "And I have nothing to bind it with, or comfort it.  I would have spared him a whole hand of mine rather.  But he's gone now beyond recall, gone for ever."
     "Yes," said Frodo.  "But do you remember Gandalf's words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do?  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.  I am glad you are here with me.  Here at the end of all things, Sam."

I just have to say, I love how Frodo's first thought is to forgive.  To let the past rest and move forward, grateful for having been brought through it.  The pain in his hand at the moment must have been excruciating, but it was as nothing compared to the joy and relief in his heart.
 
  • Just one more point I can't leave out.  Frodo is merciful.  And really, it takes a lot of strength to show mercy to one's enemies--to let them go free when you know they deserve to suffer for their wrongdoings.  To stand unwavering in your decision even after they show gross ingratitude to you for your kindness.  To humble yourself and allow them to walk away with nothing to gain from it for yourself except the hope that by giving them a second chance they just might live a better life and be a different person.  Frodo shows mercy to others on more than one occasion.  And I really like that about him.

 
Well, I was going to say more, but I decided this was a rather good place to stop--and besides I think I've talked your ear off long enough. (Now, now.  You don't have to agree with me so completely.)  
 
 
What is your opinion of Frodo?
Among the things I mentioned, is there anything in particular to which you agree or disagree?
 
 
And don't forget.  If you're in the mood for more Lord of the Rings posts (which you may  very well not be after this one) check out Cordy's blog here and join the fun!
 

27 comments:

  1. I think the movie is largely responsible for the "Frodo is a weak character" conclusion that fans come to. Reading the book you realize, exactly as you said, that he was a strong character and he undertook the impossible task. I wish more people recognized that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I wish more people did, too, because I love Frodo. He's such a sweet character. And yes, you're right, it probably is mostly the fault of the movie that makes people think of him that way.

      Delete
  2. Sadly I've only watched the movies (which were really gross sometimes!), and read The Hobbit one summer, so I don't have much opinion on Frodo. But I'm sure you're right! :) My least favorite part in both The Hobbit and The LOTR movies, no mater how terrifying they got, were the scenes with the giant spiders. That freaked me out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my goodness, yes! The spiders are terribly disgusting and freaky. And of course they made sure to have nice long scenes with them, too, which wasn't exactly loads of fun. Ha! ;) You should read the books sometime. That is, if you like fantasy. If you don't, well then you might not like them very much...but at any rate they're much better than the movies. :)

      Delete
  3. I really enjoyed reading this post, Miss March! To be honest, I'm not a huge fan of LOTR or the Hobbit, so I didn't really think about Frodo being a weak character. But now I know I'll never think that :D You got me convinced even before I thought about it ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! :) I know not everyone is a fan of LOTR so I was really hoping I wasn't boring people too terribly much with this long post. :/ I'm glad I was able to convince you before you even thought of it. Saves a lot of trouble, right? Haha! ;) Have you ever seen the movies or read the books?

      Delete
  4. Here, here, Miss March!! :D I understand and agree with your sentiments!!

    I will say that I can't personally blame the movies for their representation of Frodo. Personally, I've actually analyzed these kinds of things in different books and movies. Some things, I find, are easier to understand if they are written out while other things are easier understood when they are visually before you. (Thus why you should read the books and then watch the movies, or at least enjoy both formats so you get the whole picture somehow!) I think something people don't understand while reading the physical toll the ring would take on Frodo. When they watch the movies, that physically appearance is right before them and they think to show that struggle is a weakness. Does any of this make sense? To make the viewer grasp the tremendous burden of the ring we are seeing rather than reading Frodo's struggles with the ring.

    Haha, sorry if that didn't make any sense at all but there it is. ;P

    Again, I really enjoyed this post! You did a very good job of defending and explaining your points!!!

    ~Cordy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. First, I'm SO sorry it has taken me this long to respond to your comment. I started to respond days ago, but couldn't think well enough at the time to formulate my words into something coherent. ;)

      Ah yes. I think I know what you mean. (Granted, my brain's a bit slow right now so please tell me if I'm totally missing your train of thought.) Are you saying that when reading the books people don't always understand how much the ring would physically have affected Frodo, and so then when they watch the movies and actually SEE Frodo struggling, they interpret that as weakness? Because that makes a lot of sense, and I can totally see how that might be the case with some people. Personally, though, I have to admit, I really don't think Frodo stands up against the power of the ring as firmly in the movies as he does in the books. Honestly, I find the struggle VERY real in the books...and yet Frodo seems to be master of himself a lot more than he does in the movies.

      Haha. That's how I'm feeling about what I just wrote. :P Did it make any sense??

      Aww. Thanks, Cordy. I'm so glad you think so. :) And thank you so much for doing the LOTR week. I'd been wanting to write this post for awhile, but hadn't had proper incentive until now. :)

      ~Miss March

      Delete
    2. Ha! I think I beat you for responding to comments tardily so no worries. :D Haha. And you had a wonderful excuse!! Your busyness was so nice to read about...but I will save more for a comment on that post. :)

      I see your point. I know of one particular part in the movie when Frodo literally walked to a Nazgul in Osgiliath (I think that's how you spell it--and I'm to lazy to go and look it up...hehe) and is just standing there. THAT drives me crazy!! So I totally understand in that sense.

      Yes, sense was made. ;)

      Wahoo! Just your incentive here signing in and off on this addition to our comment conversations. :D

      ~Cordy

      Delete
    3. YES! THAT PART! It drives me crazy, too! It's like, "No Frodo!!! What in the world are you DOING?" Haha. Glad you can understand about that. ;)

      Oh good. That's a relief. ;)

      I love our comment conversations!! :D

      ~Miss March

      Delete
  5. FRODO!! *sobs* I totally agree with you!
    Sam is adorable and sweet, but I believe Frodo is the strong one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YES! Isn't Frodo wonderful? I think all the hobbits are strong in their own way, but Frodo's strength was certainly tried far beyond the rest of them. By the way, do you have a favorite character in the LOTR? The hobbits are definitely my favorites, but I can never choose which one I like best. :)

      Delete
  6. I would defend the Frodo of the movie as a strong character as well, but I thought it was cool that you recognized that they are two different people. Thank you for that! So many people would consider them the same person and though I love them both, it bothers me when people don't see that there are two Frodo's: the book Frodo and the movie Frodo.

    By the way, we seem to have a lot in common so I have followed your blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's true. The movie Frodo certainly shouldn't be clocked down as a totally weak character. I guess I just find him weaker than in the book and that bothers me, because I'm a bit of a book purist and when I feel like the filmmakers have misinterpreted a character I get annoyed. Haha. ;) Yes. There really are differences between the movie Frodo and the book Frodo. I agree. And I'm glad you can take them as two separate characters and love both of them. That's something I have a rather hard time doing myself, though I guess I don't actually DISLIKE Frodo in the movie. I just find it hard to swallow when he does things the book Frodo would NEVER have done. (Like sending Sam home for instance. That makes me mad every time--mostly mad at the scriptwriters--because that is SO not what Frodo would have done. But, yeah, I won't go into that right now. ;))

      Aww. Thanks! I'm glad you feel that we have some things in common, because it's always fun to find someone you can relate to. And thank you for commenting. It was awfully nice to meet you! :D

      Delete
    2. Well, he definitely comes across as very young in the movie, so that probably adds to the "weak" persona somewhat. I think they tried to capitalize on that to make him seem very scared and alone and dependent on Gandalf and Aragorn.

      I totally get where you're coming from! It used to make me really mad too:) But I find that if you can think of them as two totally different stories and realize that no movie will EVER be a perfect enactment of the book, you don't hate the characters as much;)

      Absolutely! Nice to meet you too;)

      Delete
    3. Yup. Frodo is definitely younger in the movie than in the book, and given that I guess it does make sense that he would appear more helpless and scared. I suppose that's where the creative side of turning a book into a movie comes in. After all, it would be pretty impossible to do EVERYTHING in the movie EXACTLY the same as it was in the book.

      Oh! I'm glad you understand. You're right, though. I probably do need to work on separating the books and the movies in my mind a little more so I don't get so frustrated. :/ But it really is hard to do that sometimes, especially when one little tweak here and one little tweak there would have set the whole thing straight. Haha. ;)

      :D

      Delete
    4. Definitely! Personally, I think Peter Jackson did a pretty amazing job and his respect for the story and Tolkien really comes through loud and clear. Most filmmakers are not that dedicated so I admire him a lot.

      I know!!! Frustrating:)

      Delete
    5. Yeah, the movies really do follow the books pretty well. I'm always amazed when I think about how much of the story they actually included. And, yes. There definitely was a lot of dedication to the project. They certainly didn't take the easy route in bringing those books to film. :)

      Delete
  7. *nods head*
    Yes... Frodo is always a hard one for me. (As in, the answer to what my opinion is of him.) It's kinda hard to explain... and I honestly still haven't decided WHAT I feel about it. Heh. But I don't dislike Frodo at all - he just was never my favourite character. And I always feel bad about that. I also realized, though, that in the book, you see Frodo AT HIS WORST. Seriously, his faults shine through at some points because of the circumstance he is in - he isn't naturally LIKE that. I try SO hard to like Frodo, but I'm still only warming to him properly. I feel like the older I get, the more I will understand and admire him. Because he is one to be admired. That much I am sure of.

    ~Miss Meg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh! Don't feel bad about it, Miss Meg. Everyone has different favorite characters. Frodo certainly doesn't HAVE to be your favorite. :) I am glad you think he's one to be admired, though, despite his faults. (Haha. Come to think of it, I can't actually remember any of his faults right now. I think I must be in a very biased frame of mind at the moment. ;)) By the way, who is your favorite LOTR character?

      ~Miss March

      Delete
  8. You know I agree with all of this. :D

    -claps- This is so well done, Miss March! Great job defending Frodo. I know we talked about him on a different occasion, but I love the other things you pointed out-about Frodo having the ring longer than Sam so OF COURSE he's going to have a hard time giving it up, and how he does not take the easy way out....and how he forgives!! Ah yes. I love it all. I'm going to use your points if I ever talk to someone who thinks Frodo is a weak character. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Natalie! I'm so glad you liked this post. Your approval means a lot to me. :)

      And, oh! I'm positively delighted that I was able to give you a few new points to use if ever you get into a discussion over the "weakness" of Frodo's character. That makes me really happy--just the fact that my work "ain't been in vain for nothing." ;) (Haha. That was a Singin' in the Rain quote. It just came to me, so I used it.)

      Delete
    2. Aww, thanks!

      Heehee, yes, indeed! I can't wait to defend Frodo one of these days. I haven't seen in "Singin' in the Rain" in such a long time, but I really want to. :)

      Delete
  9. I can't wait to read this post! I've just been saving it for when I have time to really sit and read it and comment leisurely--which, unfortunately, is not this time. Boo :( But I shall return! I shall! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. *Squeal!* Ohhh! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on it, Olivia!! (Heehee. I've sort of been waiting for your comment, actually, 'cause I was sure Olivia would have some thoughts on this subject. ;)) But, yeah, I know what you mean about finding time. It is really hard to keep up with all the posts, isn't it? No rush, my dear. :D

      Delete
    2. Well, look who decided to show up! I finally read it! And it was WONDERFUL :)

      I completely agree with everything, really. The two points I especially appreciated (since they were things I've struggled with wondering about) were how you mentioned the fact that Sam carried the Ring a total of a week, at most, while Frodo had it eating away at him for YEARS--and how, though he doesn't destroy the Ring, he goes to absolutely insane limits of physical and mental ability to TRY.

      I recently realized that I myself have quite under appreciated Frodo (that's when I wrote my "I'm Glad" post), and I have to say, even movie-Frodo isn't really weak, per se, he's just not as obviously strong as he is in the books. He's an amazing hero either way ;)

      Absolutely fantastic post, my dear :) I wish I had more to say, but you've said it all so well already :D

      Delete
    3. What do you know? Hi, Olivia! ;) Oh, I'm so glad you liked this post. *big huge grin*

      And I'm glad I was able to address a few points that you'd wondered about. Frodo is such an intriguing character to me.

      Oh! you're probably right. He's not really a weak character in the movie, either, just not as "obviously strong as he is in the books." Very true. Thanks for pointing that out. :)

      Aww. Thank you so much, dear! :D

      Delete