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Old 08-23-2014, 03:36 AM   #1
Lotrelf
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Why Frodo is so misunderstood and underrated character?

Okay, this has been my question since the day I finished the books last year and joined the Facebook pages of LotR. It's quite common to see people degrading Frodo most of the time. Like, "Frodo wouldn't have made it without Sam," "Frodo's quest would have been in vain if not for Gollum." or "Frodo didn't do a ****.." and blah blah! Many, I see, completly misinterprete his character. For example there was a thread entitled Failure and Punishment where the author of the book (whose ideas about Frodo were reason of the thread) made many silly comments. Rest, I see people talking about him from start to the end in all the negative terms: His decision to go to Mordor in Rivendell is said to be his desire to not being able to part with the Ring; while in reality it is complete the opposite. His mercy for Gollum is said to be "his selfish desire to have a way for himself to survive" while books speak completly the opposite. His so-called failure is deemed as a sign "of weakness" and by some "of pride". Books completly speak otherwise. His sacrifice is said to be of lesser degree than it actually is. And worst of all, his departure from ME is believed to be "his desire to enjoy the life/bliss in the UL." While reading the books, I nowhere got these ideas, so how come many readers ignore there facts clearly written the book and degrade Frodo?

I really apologise for the thoughts not being not proper for now. I hope it all made sense.
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Old 08-23-2014, 04:33 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotrelf
Like, "Frodo wouldn't have made it without Sam,"
But this statement is undoubtedly true. To claim otherwise would be the opposite of "degrading".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotrelf
"Frodo's quest would have been in vain if not for Gollum."
This statement is true aswell. Evidently Frodo claimed all the power the ring could offer. He failed. That´s not to say that I don´t understand this failure. I guess no person in ME would have been able to destroy the ring willingly.

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Originally Posted by Lotrelf
Rest, I see people talking about him from start to the end in all the negative terms: His decision to go to Mordor in Rivendell is said to be his desire to not being able to part with the Ring; while in reality it is complete the opposite.
I don´t know if it is the "complete opposite". I would rather say that both might be true. Frodo feels responsible for the fate of the ring. Wishing not to depart from the ring is just the other side of the coin. I guess they both mark the end of a spectrum.

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Originally Posted by Lotrelf
His mercy for Gollum is said to be "his selfish desire to have a way for himself to survive" while books speak completly the opposite.
Again, there is truth in this statement. However, I wouldn´t argue that his actions regarding Gollum are solely motivated by selfishness. He feels compassion towards Gollum. But in order to feel this kind of sympathy there has to be some kind of self-reference! So called selfishness doesn´t have to be a bad thing.

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Originally Posted by Lotrelf
His so-called failure is deemed as a sign "of weakness" and by some "of pride". Books completly speak otherwise.
As I said before, his failure is a sign of weakness, and pride aswell. But they are not personal flaws of his character per se, but structural, inherent character traits of all persons.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lotrelf
And worst of all, his departure from ME is believed to be "his desire to enjoy the life/bliss in the UL." While reading the books, I nowhere got these ideas, so how come many readers ignore there facts clearly written the book and degrade Frodo?
Hm, I don´t see the problem here. Frodo left ME because he felt a kind of unrest which could not be healed there. His wish to live a life without this pain might be inspired by self interest, but I wouldn´t condemn him for this.

P.S. It would be neat if you adress the, so called, clearly written facts. Often times you claim that the book says the complete opposite. Maybe you could give us examples of this, or explicate. In many cases I really don´t know what you a refering to and just stating that they are there is not very helpful.

Last edited by Leaf; 08-23-2014 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 08-23-2014, 06:04 AM   #3
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But this statement is undoubtedly true. To claim otherwise would be the opposide of "degrading".
I never claimed it was wrong. All I meant the help that Sam provided doesn't degrade the struggle that Frodo did. Most of the readers tend to ignore this. They in order to think or say "Frodo wouldn't have gotten that far without Sam" completly overlook the battle Frodo fought and Sam didn't. I don't think it's really appropriate to do so and ignore Frodo like this.

Quote:
This statement is true aswell.
Again, I didn't mean it to be wrong. But this one, too, doesn't prove Gollum ever struggled as much Frodo did. So, for Gollum and his efforts, ignoring Frodo is absolute wrong. The problem is, I think, most people go for the success. They hardly notice the struggle of an individual. This is how the world works. And as Brain Games says, we see things the way we are used to, so we do see things this way. What majority says or thinks is not often true.

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I don0…7t know if it is the "complete opposite". I would rather say that both might be true. Frodo feels responsible for the fate of the ring. Wishing not to depart from the ring is just the other side of the coin. I guess they both mark the end of a spectrum.
Quote:
But how does that prove Frodo's decision of taking the Ring to Mordor was not heroic or isn't worth the praise he gets from the characters? I did not get the impression of this until I saw others say so. I may be wrong in my thinking, but I am sure it wasn't of selfish motive as many suggest.


Quote:
Again, there is truth in this statement. However, I wouldn0…7t argue that his actions regarding Gollum are solely motivated by selfishness. He feels compassion towards Gollum. But in order to feel this kind of sympathy there has to be some kind of self-reference! So called selfishness doesn0…7t have to be a bad thing.
It's an impression many get from the movies, I think. In the book, at the end of FOTR, Frodo tells Sam he doesn't hope he'll see others again. This suggested he wasn't having any kind of hopes for himself to survive. If so, why would he think of beyond that? There's no doubt of the self-reference thing. He sees himself as Gollum and understands what Gollum has been through. This makes him pity Gollum, not out of selfish reasons but rather of understanding a "human" or human nature.

Quote:
As I said before, his failure is a sign of weakness, and pride aswell. But they are not personal flaws of his character per se, but structural, inherent character traits of all persons.
I wonder, if they are not his personal flaws, why he needs to be blamed in such manner. What of those who refused to fight with the Ring? Are they bigger failures than Frodo? No, because they fought. So why one has to doubt Frodo's devotion for his quest and his intentions. I can't see how the "pride" was the reason of his failure. Would you please elaborate?
Hm, I don't see the problem here. Frodo left ME because he felt a kind of unrest which could not be healed there. His wish to live a life without this pain might be inspired by self interest, but I wouldn't condemn him for this.
I forgot to mention something else: "He abandoned Sam to enjoy bliss in UL." This statement is completly wrong. IIRC, Professor Tolkien nowhere mentions "Frodo wanted healing", he says, "Frodo needed healing." Frodo went to UL not only because he wanted to, but also because if he didn't Sam would be "torn in two". The reason Frodo left can't be only for his own welfare but that of Sam's too. I hope I haven't confused you now. I tried to be as clear as possible.
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Last edited by Lotrelf; 08-23-2014 at 06:11 AM.
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Old 08-23-2014, 06:53 AM   #4
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Well, the problem for me is that I never saw anyone making such claims until you brought them up in this thread. For all I know this could be strawman arguments. But I woulnd't really care if this is indeed the case either. Frodo's reputation among readers doesn't concern me at all. I just wanted to answer to some of your statements in a contentual fashion. I'm really not interested in a discussion about who is blaming Frodo or if Frodo deserves the blame.
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:15 AM   #5
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Perhaps some people critisize Frodo because they fundamentally dont understand the depth of his character, or they see him through the corrupting lens of 21st century values, ie heros MUST be big butch sword weilding aggressive types. They MUST be manly if they are male, they are expecting Frodo to 'man up' and kick some butt. He doesnt. He is gentle and vulnerable to the bitter end. He is an unlikely hero and some people just dont get it. Its their loss.
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Old 08-23-2014, 08:33 AM   #6
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You are confusing me, FerniesApple. According to your last post in the Movie area Book-Frodo is an aggressive guy who's fighting alot. Now it's the complete opposite?! Or are you talking about the movies, again? Besides I have never seen anyone complaining that Frodo should go full Conan. This is such an absurd claim...
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Old 08-23-2014, 11:14 AM   #7
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I think you are confusing me. I didnt say Frodo was an aggressive guy fighting a lot. I said he was more assertive than film Frodo. Book Frodo does fight more than in the film, for example on Weathertop.
Also you are putting words in my mouth that I never said. I have never said people are saying he go 'full on Conan' you seem to have completely missed the point I am trying to make. try reading my post again.

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Old 08-23-2014, 11:57 AM   #8
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Frodo is misunderstood because most folks lack reading comprehension....



including a certain director and his scriptwriters who have a penchant for overwrought fan-fiction.
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Old 08-23-2014, 12:33 PM   #9
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I think you are confusing me. I didnt say Frodo was an aggressive guy fighting a lot. I said he was more assertive than film Frodo. Book Frodo does fight more than in the film, for example on Weathertop.
Also you are putting words in my mouth that I never said. I have never said people are saying he go 'full on Conan' you seem to have completely missed the point I am trying to make. try reading my post again.
Well it would be helpful if i knew what you are talking about. Was your post about Film- or Book Frodo, or a mixture of both? Im just trying to figure out if you think readers of the book will go "meh, what's with that wuss Frodo? Why is he so unmanly? He should kick more ***!" Because that is what you are describing and I just don't see that happen.
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Old 08-23-2014, 02:20 PM   #10
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I am talking about film Frodo being negatively compared to book Frodo. Some people critisize the fact that film Frodo seems to be less assertive. They critisize Woods performance as being 'wimpy'.
I have not personally heard of anyone critisizing book Frodo. Most people I have spoken to about LOTR seem to think Frodo in the book is courageous. They normally bring up moments like his challenging the Ringwraiths at the Ford.
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Old 08-23-2014, 09:46 PM   #11
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Frodo is misunderstood because most folks lack reading comprehension....



including a certain director and his scriptwriters who have a penchant for overwrought fan-fiction.
What about those who claim to have read books for decades? I often see such folks on Facebook who completely fail to understand him. Many article/essay writers tend to have this problem as well.
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Old 08-24-2014, 07:08 AM   #12
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What about those who claim to have read books for decades? I often see such folks on Facebook who completely fail to understand him. Many article/essay writers tend to have this problem as well.
You mean, you don't think those people understand Frodo the way you do.
I think it's interesting that Tolkien did not consider Frodo to be the "hero" of the story, but Sam.

Different people are going to like/dislike things done by Frodo, and all other characters, colored by their own personalities and beliefs. What one reader considers heroic, another may see as merely stupid. That's the beauty of books: people take from them what they put into them.
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Old 08-24-2014, 07:11 AM   #13
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I think the problem here (if problem it is: my thesis is essentially that it is a symptom of a good thing) is that there is something of a paradox at the heart of Frodo's portrayal.

On the one hand, Frodo legitimately is a weak person. Gandalf and Elrond make it quite clear that Frodo's smallness is tied to his fitness for the quest--if he were a great warrior, he would end up as Boromir or worse, and this is but part of the greater theme that Tolkien is playing, that it is the small of the world that will shake its foundations. And as far as this goes, the theme absolutely requires that Frodo be dependent on Sam and be dependent on Gollum, etc.

By the same token, the books (not so much the movies... but we not speak of those in this post) make it clear that Frodo is exceptional. His status as an Elf-friend is not only extended to him early, it is STILL not extended to Sam, Merry, and Pippin at the end of the book, even though they are arguably greater then than Frodo was at the beginning. Tolkien goes out of his way to say that no one could have carried the Ring as far as Frodo, even if he succumbed in the end.

And that end, the failure/success in Mt. Doom is sort of the crux of the matter. Frodo DOES fail but he DOES succeed. This is the theme that the hands of the small make possible miracles that the deeds of the great do not, the idea that, though they are legitimately small, Hobbits are also incredibly tough. As the central character of the book, it is natural that Frodo should embody the entirety of this paradox--and being a paradox, it is impossible to entirely resolve it: you can only collapse one side of it and pretend that either:

a.) Frodo is weak and useless and completely dependent on others, or
b.) Frodo is the greatest of all heroes, inimitable in his success.

Of course, both are true. And that's the point.
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Old 08-24-2014, 08:30 AM   #14
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You mean, you don't think those people understand Frodo the way you do.
I think it's interesting that Tolkien did not consider Frodo to be the "hero" of the story, but Sam.

Different people are going to like/dislike things done by Frodo, and all other characters, colored by their own personalities and beliefs. What one reader considers heroic, another may see as merely stupid. That's the beauty of books: people take from them what they put into them.
I was waiting for you reply, sir! Yes, that's true everyone is free to have their own opinions according to their psychology, experiences and lives, but there are some facts that do not change with these opinions. Frodo being the hero of LotR is one of them. Tolkien did say Sam was the chief hero but he wrote in most of his letters Frodo is the hero. And I'm talking about everyone understanding or liking Frodo the way I do, the real question is of general knowledge. For example, there was an article where the author compared both Bilbo and Frodo, and he concluded that Bilbo's adventure was no less frightening than that of Frodo's; still Bilbo comes as stronger one. He also said that Bilbo's company didn't give him the respect that Frodo's did etc. etc. Albeit these points hold true for the stories but they don't prove why Bilbo's struggles are greater than Frodo's. Frodo literally carried the fate of ME on his shoulders, why wouldn't they support him, while Bilbo became the man of focus in Mirkwood? Bilbo's adventures were certainly never as childish as children might assume but they did not require all from Bilbo. What's need to say Frodo's not as heroic as is meant to be?
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Old 08-24-2014, 08:46 AM   #15
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I think the problem here (if problem it is: my thesis is essentially that it is a symptom of a good thing) is that there is something of a paradox at the heart of Frodo's portrayal.
I agree. Frodo is indeed a paradox. His actions or their outcomes contradict themselves in all ways. For example his weakness, strength, failure, success etc.

Quote:
On the one hand, Frodo legitimately is a weak person. Gandalf and Elrond make it quite clear that Frodo's smallness is tied to his fitness for the quest--if he were a great warrior, he would end up as Boromir or worse, and this is but part of the greater theme that Tolkien is playing, that it is the small of the world that will shake its foundations. And as far as this goes, the theme absolutely requires that Frodo be dependent on Sam and be dependent on Gollum, etc.
Elrond says if Frodo has taken this decision freely, his seat/place should be among the great Elf-friends. His weakness turned out to be his strength.
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By the same token, the books (not so much the movies... but we not speak of those in this post) make it clear that Frodo is exceptional. His status as an Elf-friend is not only extended to him early, it is STILL not extended to Sam, Merry, and Pippin at the end of the book, even though they are arguably greater then than Frodo was at the beginning. Tolkien goes out of his way to say that no one could have carried the Ring as far as Frodo, even if he succumbed in the end.
Even though he succumbed, it doesn't the fact that he struggled the most. Most of the quote by him in the books and Tolkien words in his letters prove the same.
Quote:
And that end, the failure/success in Mt. Doom is sort of the crux of the matter. Frodo DOES fail but he DOES succeed. This is the theme that the hands of the small make possible miracles that the deeds of the great do not, the idea that, though they are legitimately small, Hobbits are also incredibly tough. As the central character of the book, it is natural that Frodo should embody the entirety of this paradox--and being a paradox, it is impossible to entirely resolve it: you can only collapse one side of it and pretend that either:

a.) Frodo is weak and useless and completely dependent on others, or
b.) Frodo is the greatest of all heroes, inimitable in his success.

Of course, both are true. And that's the point.
It's more like you are given two things: you have to choose good or bad. It depends on your personality or thinking if you choose bad. I'm ashamed to say that most folks I see around choose this negative side of the coin. Wonderful post, btw.
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