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Old 01-09-2003, 07:56 PM   #1
Carrūn
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The Eye Frodo at Sammath Naur

From the Return of the King.

Quote:
The light sprang up again, and there on the brink of the chasm, at the very Crack of Doom, stood Frodo, black against the glare, tense, erect, but still as if he had been turned to stone.

"Master!" cried Sam.

Then Frodo stirred and spoke with a clear void, indeed with a voice clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard him use, and it rose above the throb and turmoil of Mount Doom, ringing in the roof and walls.

"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!"
I never really thought to much about this scene the first several times I read it - my intial reaction was more of a 'wow' along with a 'I guess that could almost be expected.' Then the other day I read the following out of Tom Shippey's J.R.R. Tolkien - Author of the Century. He analyzes the scene from pages 139-142 as part of Concepts of Evil in LOTR, but this particular section caught my attention the most:

Quote:
In this place, "the heart of the realm of Sauron...all other powers were here subdued.' At that moment, standing on the very edge of the Crack of Doom, Frodo gives up. His words are: "I have come...But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine."

With that he puts it on for the sixth and final time. It is a vital question to know whether Frodo does this because he has been made to, or whether he has sucumbed to inner temptation. What he says suggests the latter, for he appears to be claiming responsibility very firmly: "I will not...the Ring is mine." Against that, there has been the increasing sense of reaching a centre of power, where all other powers are "subdued." If that is the case, Frodo could no more help himself than if he had been swept away by a river, or buried in a landslide. It is also interesting that Frodo does not say, "I choose not to do," but "I do not choose to do." Maybe (and Tolkien was a professor of language) the choice of words is absolutely accurate. Frodo does not choose; the choice is made for him.
He then goes on a bit about how this relates to the 'Boethian' and 'Manichean' views of evil.

I was curious as to what some of your opinions where on this scene - how much of the decision is Frodo's and how much of it is made up for him but external forces? Also, is Shippey accurate in his analysis or should is he grasping.

Your thoughts?

[ January 09, 2003: Message edited by: Carrūn ]
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Old 01-09-2003, 08:23 PM   #2
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Sting

I always thought Frodo had just been "fully" corrupted by being so close to the Ring's forging place -- like Gollum, he took it as his own, but unlike Gollum, not because he wanted to, but because the Ring made him do it. I think Shippey was pretty accurate in his assessment.
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Old 01-09-2003, 09:27 PM   #3
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1420!

I still think that part of Frodo said no, just like any other ringbearer save Sauron. To me, it it just that the part of Frodo that was saying no was blocked by the desire for the ring. He's not fully corrupted, but the side of the ring is in control or the ring itself is in control. It's very complicated and no one knows, we can only guess and assume. But none of the decision is Frodo's, I believe it is the ring's decision. It's really hard to tell, I'll have to think about it some more.

Shippey's idea is interesting, however, I disagree with him on on the arrangement of words.
Quote:
It is also interesting that Frodo does not say, "I choose not to do," but "I do not choose to do."...the choice is made for him.
'I choose not to do,' does mean it is that person's choice. And, 'I do not choose to do,' means that he (Frodo) is choosing not to. Because he can only choose to do, and if he doesn't choose that, then he's choosing his only other choice, not to do. I can see how the two different wordings seem to have different meanings, I could see myself doing the same. And it all comes down to the arrangment of them, but they still keep the meaning.

Now that doesn't mean that Frodo chose to do what he did, I agree that he didn't. However the reason why is not because of that wording, but because of the ring. I believe that the ring was taking control of Frodo. The ring dominated Frodo's mind, so I believe that Frodo objected, he had no say in that choice. What Frodo wanted to do, that part, was too weak compared to the ring, or at least the ring at that moment.

This is a very interesting topic. The information we have is very vague, based on a few paragraphs or less. But I'll leave with a question. It is very similar to Carrun's, but even the slightest change of words and arrangments can have different meanings, as we have seen through Shippey's idea. So here it is: Was it the ring talking and choosing, Frodo talking and choosing, or a mixture of both? Or was it Sauron talking (through the ring or Frodo)?

Carrun, if you feel that this is off topic at all, tell me. Thanks for listening.
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Old 01-10-2003, 03:14 AM   #4
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Eye

Quote:
he puts it on for the sixth and final time
I find this fact to be a very interesting one. Isn't six the number of imperfection? I don't think that Tolkien put any numerology into his work on purpose (and the significance of six is probably wide open for debate), but it underlines what I think was happening at the time. Frodo, as an imperfect individual, had finally succumbed to the lure of the Ring, where it was at its most powerful (not to mention desperate). I believe that in the end Frodo claimed the Ring, also turning to it for support and relief from his suffering, and used its power to restore his strength (temporarily, though I am sure that would be).

For one of many discussions on the climatic scene, including the fabulous quote
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If the Ring could speak, why didn't it shout out to the nearest servant of Sauron? "Hey! Here I am!"?

- The Barrow Wight
click here.
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Old 01-10-2003, 08:26 AM   #5
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Thanks for the link!
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Old 01-14-2003, 10:29 AM   #6
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Sting

I personally believe that none of the decision to claim the Ring was Frodo's. I think by this point he had been so beaten down and weakened by his journey, his wound, the sting and various other maladies that the proximity of the Ring to It's master finally overwhelmed him. Even as he speaks the words, Sam observes that it is with a voice that is not his own.

And I think the wording of the phrase has everything to do with the point. If you read any of the Christopher Tolkien's "The History of The Lord of the Rings," you will see where J. R. R. Tolkien wrote and re-wrote many passages in the book to make the intentions of his characters more clear. Sometimes it was simply a case of rearranging words in a sentence to reflect the nuance that he was trying to illustrate.

IF Tolkien was attempting to point out that Frodo had no real choice in the matter, I have no problem believing that the precise phrasing was intentional.
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Old 01-11-2004, 07:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
with a voice clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard him use
This doesn't state that a voice other than Frodo's was heard, so I don't think that this indicates the presence of another entity (Sauron or even the Ring) speaking through him. It is likely that the words, and the power with which they were spoken, came to Frodo's mind from an external source, but I believe that it was still Frodo's voice speaking.

Sam, Frodo, Merry and Pippin (!) are all at some point heard to speak with the words of another. But does this mean that they are not speaking the words themselves, that they have no will in the matter and are possessed, or acting as some kind of conduit? Possibly in Pippin's case this could be true, particularly given the description of the unnatural tone of his voice. What do you think? Was Frodo speaking with his own voice or not?

Personally I believe that Frodo had full knowledge of what he was doing. He made the decision himself (albeit under immense pressure from the evil of the Ring), spoke the words himself, and knowingly claimed the Ring for his own.
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Old 01-11-2004, 07:45 PM   #8
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Sting

I think that the words "I choose not to do" explain Frodo's situation perfectly. Choosing not to do something good is just as "evil" or "bad" as choosing to do something "evil" or "bad." It's very easy to get the two confused.
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Old 01-11-2004, 08:19 PM   #9
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i think the observation of frodo using the words:
Quote:
i choose not to do
as a phrase with mutliple meanings is a great one. If Frodo said for example "I have chosen not" this could be taken as his decision, rather than the ring's. This would give a feel of a definitive decision with possible premeditations of his intentions. By saying "I choose not to do" Frodo sounds more like his decision at that moment is undecided and, ultimately, that his fate and actions to come are out of his control. And the following when frodo says
Quote:
I will not do this deed. The ring is mine.
Is almost like a response to the uncertainty. Those lines would not be necessary if Frodo simply meant he chose to keep the ring...instead the those 2 lines follow, acting as a verification.
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Old 01-11-2004, 09:00 PM   #10
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I think that it is also interesting how Frodo is using the present tense when he uses verbs. He says "I do not choose to do" instead of "I have not chosen" or "I did not choose". This would seem to indicate that he is at that moment making the choice. It was not five minutes or two minutes or even ten seconds ago, it was right at that moment. If this is then true, then I would say that he at least thought about casting the Ring into Mt. Doom.

It has been said on other threads (I can't think of any right now) that no one could possibly throw the Ring into the fire, not even the strongest willed person in all of ME. It was there that the Ring's power, and Sauron's power working through the Ring, was at its absolute highest. Frodo was able to resist temptation until that point and because of all of this, I would say that it was the Ring's power working on Frodo that caused him to say these things. It was Frodo who said it and Frodo's will to do it but it is only because of and under the immense and evil power that the Ring was exerting on him. As for the fact that his voice was loud and clear, I would say that that is also because of the intense power of the Ring.
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Old 01-11-2004, 09:08 PM   #11
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Sting

Since the topic's been revived I'll add some more of Shippey's comments and my muttered ramblings.

The phrasing of "I choose not do do" vs. "I do not chose to do" could be nothing more than just a particular way of saying the same thing. Assuming it's more it raises additional questions for thought. Shippy ponders whether Frodo has given into temptation or simply been overpowered by evil. Since his words make more sense then mine, here's another segment from page 141:

Quote:
If one puts the questions like that, there is a surprising and omnious echo to them, which suggests that this whole debate between "Boethian" and "Manichaean" views, far from being one between orthodoxy and hersy, is at the absolute heart of the Christian religion itself. The Lord's Prayer...contains seven clauses or requests...

'Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.'

Are these...saying the same thing? Or do they have different but complementary intentions, the first asking God to keep us safe from ourselves (Boethian), the second asking for protection from outside (Manichaean)?
Shippey writes that, based on a letter to David Masson, the last three clauses of the Lord's Prayer, especially "Forgive us our trespasses" were on Tolkien's mind when he wrote the scene at Sammath Naur that that it was meant to be a "fairy-story exemplum" of them.

Shippey then raises the final question of whether the danger of the Ring is internal and sinful, or external and hostile. Since, according to Shippey, one can never tell for sure when reading the Trilogy, this is one of its greater strengths. We all see (for the most part) the amount of harm we can do to ourselves and others and at the same time see disasters happening that no one can feel any responsibility for.
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Old 01-12-2004, 04:12 AM   #12
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Sting

I can't help feeling that the reason the Ring overwhelms Frodo at that point is that he is at his weakest. The Ring offers, or seems to, what the individual feels they lack. Only Tom Bombadil isn't tempted by it because, as Goldberry says 'He is'. ie he is 'complete', not lacking in anything, with no desire for any more power than is innate & natural to him. All the other characters are tempted by the Ring because of what it can offer them - power, control, victory (apart from moral victory). Frodo is at a point when he lacks everything except the strength to stand up - if even that strength isn't given him by the Ring at that point. So he is totally vulnerable to the power of the Ring. He has nothing, probably feels he is nothing, so for him the Ring would be everything. He would possibly feel that to destroy it would be to destroy himself & everything that mattered, or had mattered to him, to replace it with a void, total emptiness, nothingness. The Ring would have suddenly become, for him, the opposite of that. So the choice is the Ring, or the horror of the void. Perhaps it felt like by not destroying it he was 'saving' the world, keeping it in being.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 5:15 AM January 12, 2004: Message edited by: davem ]
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Old 01-12-2004, 08:11 AM   #13
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Sting

davem, good post. Further support for your position can be found on 13 March 1420 Frodo's delirious lament: "It is gone forever, and now all is dark and empty." Especially after his statement "I am naked in the dark, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it with my waking eyes, and all else fades."

Quote:
He has nothing, probably feels he is nothing, so for him the Ring would be everything. He would possibly feel that to destroy it would be to destroy himself & everything that mattered, or had mattered to him, to replace it with a void, total emptiness, nothingness.
<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:19 AM January 12, 2004: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 01-12-2004, 04:51 PM   #14
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I think that, in the Letters at least (sorry, I don't have them to hand to quote), Tolkien is quite explicit that the choice is Frodo's. Exercising free will was a crucial thing for him. And if Frodo did not fail here, it seriously undermines his decision to leave Middle-earth: his unhealable wounds are not physical (or just physical), they are spiritual also. He knows he surrendered to the Ring at the last- understandably, given the pressure and situation, but still a choice.
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Old 01-12-2004, 07:16 PM   #15
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Sting

Several pertinent letters are 181, 191, 192. If you do not have a copy of the letters (and Tolkien's thoughts seriously interest you) I heartily recommend you get one.

Over the past year I have referred to this book more than any other Tolkien resource.

"The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter (with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien.) ISBN 0-618-05699-8. (Fifteen bucks for the paperback. "Must-have" for the Serious Tolkien Fan. And no, I don't get a kickback from Houghton-Mifflin for saying so. But why guess what Tolkien might have been thinking when you can just look it up?

A brief snippet from Letter 191:
Quote:
"There exists the possibility of being placed in positions beyond one's power. ... But we can at least judge them by the will and intentions with which they entered the Sammath Naur; and not demand impossible feats of will, which could only happen in stories unconcerned with real moral and mental probability.

"No, Frodo 'failed'. It is possible that once the Ring was destroyed he had little recollection of the last scene. But one must face the fact: the power of evil in this world is not finally resistable by incarnate creatures, however 'good'; and the Writer of the Story is not one of us."
<font size=1 color=339966>[ 8:28 PM January 12, 2004: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 01-13-2004, 03:34 AM   #16
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Sting

I think the big question is What is the nature of Frodo's failure? More, surely, than simply failing to throw the ring into the fire. Does Tolkien mean that he failed to trust in a higher power, Illuvatar, the Wise, the Valar? Doesn't he take on the 'resposibility' for 'saving the world'? He convinces himself, by the end maybe, that the Ring is all there is, or all that matters. It replaces, for him, any 'higher'/spiritual power. He doesn't trust 'God' to put things right. He feels all will be lost if he destroys the Ring. Essentially, the Ring comes to replace everything for him. His 'failure' is a rejection of faith & trust, & perhaps this is what he feels he cannot go back to. Perhaps he had lost his ability to trust, to have faith in anyone or anything - in this world at least. He gives in to despair - there is nothing for him except the Ring, there is no hope for anything without it. 'Hope' becomes synonymous for him with the Ring. But could any of us throw away all hope & live without.

I wonder if Tolkien is pointing to a lack in this 'Pagan' world of Middle Earth, saying, as he does in the Athrabeth, that Man's salvation must come from outside, by the direct intervention of Illuvatar into his creation, that 'hope' based on things found within the world will always lead to 'failure' like Frodo's? Frodo (& the others seduced by the Ring) seeks to 'save' himself by means of some worldly object, rather than by placing faith in The Authority (as Tolkien put it) beyond the world. I admit I'm fumbling at something now which I can't properly formulate as yet. [img]smilies/confused.gif[/img]
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Old 01-13-2004, 07:41 AM   #17
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Sting

It's getting a bit confusing, and I may be repeating what's above, but:

Quote:
But I do not choose now to do what I came to do
Means Frodo has chosen NOT to throw the ring into the fire. It does not mean he has chosen to claim the ring.

This may be saying that he has taken the descision himself not the throw the ring in (ie he failed, he couldn't do it as well as possibly everyone else on ME), but he is not saying he has chosen to CLAIM the ring as his own. i.e. Frodo could have sat there and waited for Sauron to reclaim the ring. But what it MAY be saying is that he was forced / co-erced into CLAIMING it as his own.

Therefore: Frodo's has a concious descision not to throw ring into fire, but not a concious descision to claim the ring for himself.
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Old 01-13-2004, 08:26 AM   #18
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Sting

Except that your quote is followed by the simple statement, "The Ring is mine." And then he puts it on.


Another pertinent thread here

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:38 AM January 13, 2004: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 01-13-2004, 08:42 AM   #19
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Means Frodo has chosen NOT to throw the ring into the fire. It does not mean he has chosen to claim the ring.
I disagree ... I think that the sentence quite literally states that Frodo has NOT made a choice at all, which seems to imply an inevitable course of action (taking the ring).

A scientific equivalent would be matter moving through a vaccume; unless acted upon by another force (i.e. Frodo making a choice to throw the ring in) it will continue to move on its current path, the inevitable path (i.e. Frodo failing), but if acted upon its path changes.

Frodo was incapable (as was any mortal in ME I think) of making the choice to alter the "natural state" of things in Sammath Naur. Or at least that is an argument for the situation. [img]smilies/evil.gif[/img]
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Old 01-13-2004, 08:58 AM   #20
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Sting

Davem,

Quote:
I think the big question is What is the nature of Frodo's failure? More, surely, than simply failing to throw the ring into the fire. Does Tolkien mean that he failed to trust in a higher power, Illuvatar, the Wise, the Valar? Doesn't he take on the 'responsibility' for 'saving the world'? He convinces himself, by the end maybe, that the Ring is all there is, or all that matters. It replaces, for him, any 'higher'/spiritual power. He doesn't trust 'God' to put things right.
Quote:
Frodo (& the others seduced by the Ring) seeks to 'save' himself by means of some worldly object, rather than by placing faith in The Authority (as Tolkien put it) beyond the world. I admit I'm fumbling at something now which I can't properly formulate as yet.
Your ideas are interesting but I still think we're not clearly hitting at what lies at the core of Frodo's failure to throw away the Ring. I am basing my argument on the material presented in Tolkien's letters as well as the author's overall attitudes about the nature of Man (and Elves!) and, most importantly, the general views presented in the Legendarium as a whole. The quote Helen gave above bears a second look.

Davem, in one sense, I must agree with you. By the end of the book, Frodo is completely unable to trust or perceive anything outside of the closed circle he is in, a circle that contains only himself and the Ring. This is true whether we are referring to the "Authority", Frodo's friendship with Sam, or even the natural world itself. Frodo is unable to perceive any of these basic truths. And there is no doubt that, speaking in regard to human history, Tolkien would have said that our main problems stem from man's inability to turn to the Authority and trust in Him to guide the results.

This inability to believe or trust is implicit in this scene in LotR, but it is not what the author has chosen to emphasize. Rather, the heart of the message lies in the flawed nature of Man. This same message comes out again and again throughout the entire Legendarium.

Simply put, there is no way Frodo could have won through on his own. The kind of complete belief and trust you are referring to simply doesn't exist in the hearts of men. This is true whether we're talking about the so-called pagan men of LotR (whose ethical example frankly outshines most of our own) or modern man who has, in Tolkien's view, the benefit of a fuller revelation.

The flawed nature of man is as true today as it was back in Middle-earth. Just as Helen quoted, we are incarnate creatures and we have limits. To think otherwise is folly!

I can cite quote after quote in the Letters that reinforces the view that Frodo, by himself, could not succeed. Here are just two more:

Quote:
The 'Quest' was bound to fail as a piece of world-plan, and also was bound to end in disaster as the story of humble Frodo's development to the 'noble', his sanctification. Fail it would and did as far as Frodo considered alone was considered.
Quote:
If you re-read all the passages dealing with Frodo and the Ring, I think you will see that not only was it quite impossible for him to surrender the Ring, in act or will, especially at its point of maximum power, but that this failure was adnumbrated from far back. He was honoured because he had accepted the burden voluntarily, and had then done all that was within his utmost physical and mental strength to do. (the italics are Tolkien's and not mine)
I think that we can assume, from the key passage by Gandalf in the LotR regarding Bilbo and Frodo having been chosen, and even more so from what is said in UT, that the Authority selected Frodo for this task. And I think we can also assume that the Authority knew enough (and cared enough) to select the one being who would come closest to being able to do this task. Despite all our second guessing whether Sam might have been the better choice, the answer to that must remain "no" unless we assume we can make better decisions than the Authority! To put it simply, if Frodo couldn't do it, no one could....

If you read the Silmarillion, you are impressed by the fact that it is essentially a story of failure. Yes, there are a few exceptions in the gloom, such as Beren's recapture of the Simaril, but these exceptions are few and far between. Moreover, nowhere does an act by Man or Elf make a serious dent in the power of Morgoth or Sauron, and their hold over the earth. In this context, what happened in the LotR is quite amazing. These poor remnents of the Third Age, largely men and hobbits, are nowhere portrayed as being as great and mighty as the Elves of the First and Second Age. Yet, working together, and with definite help from the Authority (the final scenes at Mount Doom and the scene where Gandalf is sent back to help them), they achieve what no one else has done in the entire Legendarium -- for a short time at least, incarnate evil in the form of Sauron is beaten back. And Frodo is a very important piece of that puzzle. Indeed I would argue that he is the most important piece.

What is amazing about Frodo is not that he failed, but that he succeeded to the extent he did. The Authority (and even Gandalf) was well aware of the limited nature of Man. My guess is that Frodo's real task was not to throw the Ring into the crack, which neither he nor anyone else could do, but to get it to the slopes of Mount Doom where something else could take over. Equally important was how he acted on that journey -- the extent to which his behavior reflected the best attributes of man. The mercy that he showed to Gollum, a mercy that was wholly illogical but utterly decent, was the fruit of that behavior.

On a personal note, I can not count the number of threads that we've had on the Downs raising the question of Frodo's "failure". It is a discussion that needs to take place with every newbie on the site, because the message of that scene lies at the heart of the LotR and Tolkien's lessons for us. Even so, I keep asking myself "why". Why do people keep raising the question of Frodo's failure, when Tolkien quite clearly says that he is not responsible for that failure, any more than he would be responsible for dying if a giant rock came and crushed him on the head?

I think the answer is this. All of us want to be in control of our destiny. We want to be able to do or believe something that will enable us to prevail against the evil we see around us. We don't like to be told "you can't do that because you are too weak or flawed." But that's just what Tolkien is telling us through the figure of Frodo! So we squirm uncomfortably and speculate on ways that Frodo "could have/should have" been a success.

Really, all of us are in Frodo's boat. All around us we see evil things, things that need changing. And if we are decent people, we will try to do something about it. But in the end we will fail unless something from outside comes in to help us: family, friends, and ultimately that which lies beyond the circles of the world. That is pretty sobering, and it's definitely what Tolkien believed.

Cami/Child/sharon

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 1:03 PM January 13, 2004: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 01-13-2004, 09:44 AM   #21
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This quote from Child's post:
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What is amazing about Frodo is not that he failed, but that he succeeded to the extent he did. The Authority (and even Gandalf) was well aware of the limited nature of Man. My guess is that Frodo's real task was not to throw the Ring into the crack, which neither he nor anyone else could do, but to get it to the slopes of Mount Doom where something else could take over. Equally important was how he acted on that journey -- the extent to which his behavior reflected the best attributes of man. The mercy that he showed to Gollum, a mercy that was wholly illogical but utterly decent, was the fruit of that behavior.
...makes me think of one of my favorite old time threads -- What caused Frodo to finally give in to the power of the Ring and claim it?

Frodo's 'failure' certainly has been discussed at length here on the Downs, but it's one of those rare topics which bears continuous study and discussion. It's such a complex and dynamic culmination of events and themes that there always seems to be some new angle from which to approach it.
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Old 01-13-2004, 11:43 AM   #22
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davem:
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that Man's salvation must come from outside, by the direct intervention of Illuvatar into his creation, that 'hope' based on things found within the world will always lead to 'failure' like Frodo's? Frodo (& the others seduced by the Ring) seeks to 'save' himself by means of some worldly object, rather than by placing faith in The Authority (as Tolkien put it) beyond the world.
Child of the 7th Age:
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This inability to believe or trust is implicit in this scene in LotR, but it is not what the author has chosen to emphasize. Rather, the heart of the message lies in the flawed nature of Man. This same message comes out again and again throughout the entire Legendarium.
AS you might expect ( [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] ), I've been following this thread for a little while, and now must add my thoughts, for what it's worth! I read through the pertinent Letters last night and also engaged in an exercise of focus during my Walk yesterday, trying to get inside the mind of Frodo and what attitude he took towards the Ring and what the Ring means to him. This is what I came up with (so far...):
The Ring is, as all here know, a burden Frodo has taken upon himself, and thus in this sense, he has accepted a stewardship, just as Gandalf or even Denethor has, although of a different basic nature. In this sense, the ultimate responsibility is laid on Frodo himself, and he cannot trust it to anyone else. In the end, he cannot relinquish this stewardship, and I agree with the above quotes and what I saw in the Letters--this is a basic flaw in Man, this tendency not to trust or to consign one's fate to a higher power.

I recall somewhere that Peter Jackson had described this burden to Elijah Wood as like a bomb that must not be dropped or else the entire world will blow up. Now carry it on a long trip...what would you do? You'd be REAL protective of it; a good person would treat the burden responsibly, but a lesser person would compromise smaller values for larger ones, inevitably. It is to Frodo's great credit that he does not compromise his basic ethics for the sake of this world-affecting burden, and that is his great triumph, overshadowing his failure at Sammath Naur.

This 'exercise' also gave me an insight into the description Sam gives of a figure robed in white with a wheel of fire at its breast. Frodo has gone as far as he can go and, as has been described elsewhere, he has been broken down completely, becoming this vessel for clear light to shine through, thus the image of the white robed figure. But at the heart of the matter is the Wheel of Fire, the burden, that must be given up to Eru Iluvatar, or else it will consume even the most pure of heart and intention.
Quote:
A crouching shape, scarcely more than the shadow of a living thing, a creature now wholly ruined and defeated, yet filled with a hideous lust and rage; and before it stood stern, untouchable now by pity, a figure robed in white, but at its breast it held a wheel of fire. Out of the fire there spoke a commanding voice. "Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom." [ROTK: Mount Doom]
it is interesting that the white robed figure is pitiless and commanding. At this point, it seems that Frodo is over-reaching his calling, taking upon himself the role of Eru Iluvatar, and of course, such a course must fail, for it is beyond Frodo's capability to order the fate of the universe. I can see how he might fall prey to such a delusion at the end, as he has carried for long miles a burden that holds within it such power. The wheel of fire at his breast might represent the inherent fallenness of any who cannot ultimately trust in a higher power, nor resign ultimate control in one's destiny. At its core is self-focus, a clinging to personal responsibility, rather than the focus on the eternal or the universal. I see such a failing as linked inevitably to fear and isolation, an incarnate being's inability to trust ultimately in something beyond itself.

It is also interesting that Gollum is shown as fully stripped down as well--merely a shell for incarnate lust and greed, the selfish motivations with which he began his stewardship of the Ring. I'm not sure I can come up with anything more at the moment; this post has eaten up much of the last couple of hours (!). But in the course of searching for references online, I did find an interesting article if you're interested:
A Bit of Light--Visions And Transformations Of The Ring Quest

Cheers!
Lyta
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Old 01-13-2004, 12:06 PM   #23
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I never noticed before-- but each time, Sam calls on Elbereth; Frodo calls on Earendel. That's a big difference. Food for thought.
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Old 01-14-2004, 03:40 AM   #24
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Child, Lyta, I agree with both of you. As I said, I'm fumbling after something. The Athrabeth is as clear a statement as Tolkien ever made within his fiction that 'salvation' - whatever you concieve that to mean - can only come from outside, beyond the circles of the world, by the intervention of an external force, therefore, dependence on/faith in any worldly object will only bring failure & ultimately a loss of any kind of hope. Frodo, I think gives in to despair at the end simply because he can no longer see anything beyond the Ring, which is perhaps the 'World', materialism, the Machine. He becomes convinced that the world can olny be saved by something within the world. This is not to say that any of us, having been through what he had, would have been able to do any differently. But is Tolkien saying that that is our nature as fallen beings - that if pushed beyond our limits we will all fall into materialism & rejection of the Authority? He relates the incident at the Sammath Naur to the lines in the Lord's Prayer, but perhaps (though maybe he would not have presumed to state it) he has in mind Christ's cry 'My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?' Perhaps Frodo is at that point of ultimate despair, but whereas the divine Christ can still trust, even in a God he percieves as 'absent', the 'human' Frodo cannot. Frodo 'fails' because he must, because he cannot succeed. Maybe Tolkien is pointing up the inevitability of human failure, that Frodo is not the 'Christ' figure that too many casual readers (& some not so casual, like Humphrey Carpenter) interpret him as. Perhaps it is Tolkien's faith that requires Frodo's ultimate failure at that point. If anything truly 'foreshadows' Frodo's failure at the end perhaps that's it. LotR is the work of a Christian - how could Frodo succeed?
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Old 01-14-2004, 09:43 PM   #25
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Davem,

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Frodo 'fails' because he must, because he cannot succeed. Maybe Tolkien is pointing up the inevitability of human failure, that Frodo is not the 'Christ' figure that too many casual readers (& some not so casual, like Humphrey Carpenter) interpret him as. Perhaps it is Tolkien's faith that requires Frodo's ultimate failure at that point. If anything truly 'foreshadows' Frodo's failure at the end perhaps that's it. LotR is the work of a Christian - how could Frodo succeed?
I think we are saying the same thing only coming at it from two different angles. I totally agree with the quote above.

This is one of the reasons I probably have little patience with discussions that raise the hypothetical question: "Would "X" have succeeded as Ringbearer? Usually, we insert "Samwise" in the "X" spot, but other names have been suggested as well. The basic point is this: given the nature of Man (and Elves and Hobbits), and the nature of good and evil in Tolkien's world (and implicitly in our own), no one can have "success" as a Ringbearer without outside intervention of some kind. The question is simply artificial, since the job requires more than any carnate being can possibly give.
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Old 01-15-2004, 03:15 AM   #26
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I think we are saying the same thing, as you say. I am, I suppose, trying to make sense of what it is in Frodo which gives in - or if there is any part of him which says 'Yes' to the Ring - ie is he simply broken by what he goes through so that at the end he just lets the Ring do as it will with him, or is there still some part of him which 'sins' & chooses the Ring? And if so, what is it that he is choosing - the World, power,something, anything over the nothingness that seems the only alternative. I hope I haven't come across as condemning Frodo. I don't think any of us could have succeeded, or got as far as he did. Perhaps I'm trying to look into Frodo's soul & see if I can learn anything about myself.
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Old 01-15-2004, 07:48 AM   #27
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In hisletters (here I go again) Tolkien says that after the Ring is destroyed, Frodo is tempted by two things: one, the desire to have been a hero after all, instead of simply an instrument of providence; and two, he is tempted to still desire the Ring. THe latter statement indicates that Frodo's temptation is simply the desire to possess it. Hence his simple statement: "The Ring is mine." Not, I am now ruler of Sam's- Garden- of- Mordor; not "all shall love me and despair"; not Boromir's "I shall become a great leader, all men will rally to me, and I will become a king, benevolent and wise"; none of that.

Just-- simply-- it's Mine. Finally, finally, it's Mine.

Kocher's theory is that the Ring intensifies two desires: one, the desire to dominate the will of others; two, the desire to posess the Ring. Kocher points out that hobbits aren't by nature domineering folk, so (unlike men and elves) the domineering temptation has little power. Bilbo didn't take over the Shire. Gollum didn't take over the Anduin. And Sam, while tempted to make a garden out of Mordor, quickly saw his own inadequacy to do it. Neither does Frodo plan to rule anything.

Bilbo's biggest struggle is to give up the Ring instead of posessing it, and he couldn't do it without Gandalf's help.
Gollum can't give it up at all, and losing it drove him mad.
Sam's desire to possess was mercifully kept in check by his love for Frodo at least.
Frodo's desire to possess it niggled at him, or hammered at him, all along the whole quest, I think. He fought it and fought it.

But at the Sammath Naur, he couldn't fight it any more. Sin? Yes, I think so; willful sin? I don't think so; Tolkien didn't think so; hence his attitude that Frodo deserved all honor, but did need healing, and was tempted to still desire it. Tolkien said something to the effect that nobody could have resisted the Ring at that point (as Sharon quoted) and Frodo's "fall" certainly should not lessen him in our eyes, since no elf, man, dwarf, or hobbit, or Maia or Vala, could have done better.

Edit: Theology... The difference between an 'allegory' and a 'type' is important when discussing "Christ figures." Old Testament individuals who imperfectly foreshadow characteristics of the Messiah are called "Types." There are lots of them. David, Isaac, Joshua... Daniel... on and on, and on. Too many to count.

In THAT sense, LOTR has three: Frodo (the suffering servant), Aragorn (the coming King and healer) and Gandalf (powerful, supernatural, wise, and back from the dead.)

It's interesting to note that each of these had some sort of deathlike experience. Aragorn travelled for Three Days on the Paths of the dead. Frodo when stung by Shelob was rendered into a deathlike state, and was left for dead by Sam (albeit mistakenly), and imprisoned in a guarded place made of stone. And Gandalf, of course, is just plain resurrected.

In a similar vein, Earendil in the Sil is a Christ-"type"; **Not** an allegory; an imperfect foreshadowing. Very important theological distinction. However, I mention Earendil because although Sam calls on Elbereth, Frodo calls on Earendil. Maybe I'm reaching here; but to me that implies that Sam feels the need for light, courage, and comfort; but Frodo feels the need for intercession, deliverance, salvation. Huge difference.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 9:02 AM January 15, 2004: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 01-15-2004, 08:18 AM   #28
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I still wonder what is going on with Frodo. If we accept that he gives into desire in some way, ie, he 'sins' - because if he doesn't, if his will is totally overwhelmed by the power of the Ring he would have no knowledge of claiming it, & therefore no feelings of loss or guilt or failure - then he is claiming the Ring as 'something', ie it will represent something, or the means to something, for him, & he will be giving in to his desire for whatever that thing is.

I've read Kocher's book, but I wonder at this idea of claiming the Ring as a thing in itself - a circle of http://www.ntsearch.com/search.php?q...v=54&src=derekgold</a>.Is it possible to think of the Ring as just that? Wouldn't one, especially after carrying it all that way, experience it as something more? I just wonder what Frodo thinks he is claiming as his own.
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Old 01-15-2004, 09:25 AM   #29
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I just have to step into this interesting conversation to make a point or two:
Quote:
...if his will is totally overwhelmed by the power of the Ring he would have no knowledge of claiming it, & therefore no feelings of loss or guilt or failure...
First, the loss of will does not, in my view, denote a loss of consciousness. Frodo was aware of what occurred at the Sammath Naur, even if he had lost all will to resist the Ring.

And secondly, I respectfully disagree with the last half of that quote. People can feel intense guilt for actions they don’t remember committing, even for actions or circumstances they know they’re not responsible for.

Incidentally, the thread I linked above attempted to explore that exact question – what is that secret desire that causes Frodo to claim the Ring? I don’t think it’s one that can be answered with any certainty, but it can lead to some interesting discussion.
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Old 01-15-2004, 12:14 PM   #30
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The question is, are Frodo's feelings of guilt 'rational' - ie, did he want, to any degree, to claim the Ring, in which case he is 'justified' in feeling guilty & blaming himself. Or are those feelings 'irrational' - ie, did he feel absolutely no desire for the Ring, in which case he is not justified in feeling guilty. I suppose what I'm asking is 'Did Frodo desire the Ring for himself in any way. If he did feel such desire, then what was it he was desiring - power, control, or was he simply being driven by a desire not to be completely 'lost' - ie had he by that time so completely identified himself with the Ring that it's destruction meant the same to him as his own destruction?' Was there any 'will' on Frodo's part to claim the Ring? Did some tiny part of him say 'Yes' to that 'sin', & is that the seed from which his later feelings of guilt & failure spring? Or was he merely so broken by that point that he had no control, & was almost like an outside observer, watching his body refuse to let the Ring go?
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Old 01-15-2004, 12:36 PM   #31
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Quote:
I suppose what I'm asking is 'Did Frodo desire the Ring for himself in any way.
Yes, of course he did, viscerally, even though he knew theoretically that it was not his to posess. He didn't want to destroy the Ring even in Bag End, in his own fireplace. He desired it even then. And he had to fight that desire every step of the way. That is what makes him a hero.


Quote:
Was there any 'will' on Frodo's part to claim the Ring? Did some tiny part of him say 'Yes' to that 'sin', & is that the seed from which his later feelings of guilt & failure spring?
From the time he knew it had to be destroyed in Bag End and couldn't make himself do it even then, he desired it. But he knew he had to try and destroy it. I think that's why despair caught up with Frodo so often along the way.

Quote:
Or was he merely so broken by that point that he had no control, & was almost like an outside observer, watching his body refuse to let the Ring go?
As he entered the Sammath Naur, I would say, Yes. I think that is consistent with Tolkien's letters:

Quote:
But we can at least judge them by the will and intentions with which they entered the Sammath Naur; and not demand impossible feats of will, which could only happen in stories unconcerned with real moral and mental probability.
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Old 01-15-2004, 02:42 PM   #32
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I agree with Helen on this. I do think that Frodo actively desired the Ring, and that he fought that desire all the way from Bag-end to Mordor. When he reached Sammath-Naur, the point where the Ring was forged, its power became so overwhelming that he could no longer resist the temptation. Most of us would have caved in far back along the road.

The more interesting question is the one Mister Underhill raised: that of Why? Why did he claim it? Did he desire it for its own sake, as the glittering golden band which held a fatal attraction, with no other intention or thought in his mind? Or were there goals he desired that he could clearly see could be accomplished only by owing the Ring, and hence he wanted it...?

It's clear there were hobbits who desired the Ring as the Ring. The three that come to mind are Smeagol, Deagol, and Bilbo. None of them really understood the power of the thing, so they could only respond to its intrinsic pull rather than desiring to create or take over something with it. OK, maybe Smeagol/Gollum wanted to be king of a pond with a lot of fish, but I don't think that was his chief desire! He simply wanted to hold the thing in his hand. But that temptation for the Ring alone was strong enough to cause a hobbit to murder another hobbit, the only such incident of murder among the hobbits that we know about.

Frodo's case was different. And I also think Frodo's personality was very different than the three other hobbits. First, he does understand that the Ring has power and that it could allow him to do 'impossible' things he desired. If I had to guess (which is all it is), this is what I would say. First, judging from the severity of his attacks, and the manner in which he withdrew from other people in the Shire, Frodo was feeling very, very guilty about what had happened. I don't think that guilt stems solely from Sammath Naur, although that was obviously the biggest thing. I think the seeds of that guilt were planted on the journey itself as Frodo reflected on the Ring. Some of this reflection stems from the second difference in Frodo's case, which is his particular personality.

Let me explain. My guess is that both issues were involved -- the desire for the Ring as an object, and the desire to accomplish something with that Ring. All those days of trudging across the face of Middle-earth! Surely at some point he asked himself "what if". We are rarely let into Frodo's head the way we are in Sam's or even Merry and Pippin. We see Frodo largely through their eyes (also Gollum's). But we do know certain things about Frodo; he was very reflective for a hobbit and a little more withdrawn, polite, and formal than some other hobbits. Not totally, mind you -- he could still dance on tables, sing bath songs and had rosey cheeks. But by the end of the tale, even this cheerful behavior would fade, to be replaced by a kind of gentle formality.

Moreover, Frodo strikes me as the kind of hobbit who would run things through his head more than once. And for a hobbit, that would indeed be unusual! For example, the kind of questions he poses to Gandalf about "why me" must have spun through his mind a thousand times before. And what other hobbit would have looked at Faramir's men facing the West to honor Numenor and what lay beyond and wished that his own people had such a custom?

To be quite blunt, Frodo is a hobbit who, on occasion, looks and acts more like an Elf! He has a light growing in his eyes, and Gandalf speculates that it will ultimately shine through his whole body like the Phial of Galadriel. Samwise speaks of his wisdom, hardly a typical hobbit trait! He is called "Elf-friend" early in the book and can even speak a bit of the language. And what other hobbit, one of the people with "no religion", would wish that his own kind had a custom like that of Faramir's men, a custom which comes mighty close to "worship" in my eyes.

This Elf-like nature of Frodo probably made him more resistent to the evil of the Ring, but it may also have opened him up to some of the same shortcomings that the Elves had.....specifically, the desire to preserve and embalm.

How many times did Frodo lie awake at night thinking what he could do if he had the Ring? I think that is a real possibility. What did he want? I think Mithadan nailed it on an earlier thread. I am paraphrasing his words...

1. The one thing we know is that Frodo loved Bilbo more than anyone.

My comment - Bilbo was getting older, and he was going to die soon. The fact that Frodo had no wife and that he had lost his parents at the age of twelve (and Tolkien had also lost his!) makes this desire to cling to Bilbo even more understandable.

2. Frodo loved the Shire; he wanted it to be the same for him as when he left.

My comment - That's not possible, of course. The Shire, at least the book Shire, had changed slightly. More importantly, Frodo had changed vastly.

There is, I think, a third option. Part of Frodo expected to die, and in a sense wanted to die. This would be the crowning glory of his sacrifice. I think there are two things Frodo can be "faulted" on (and only two!): he was sometimes reluctant to rely on others (i.e., running off from the Fellowship and later withdrawing from people in the Shire), but wanted to do things his own way (maybe he got some of this from Bilbo's stubborn example!), and I get the sense part of him not only accepted his sacrificial role as Ringbearer but even welcomed it a bit. Dying would have put the cap on that sacrifice.

But if Frodo did not die, what "future" would there be? My guess is that, according to his Elf-like nature, he wanted to preserve things: just as Mithadan said, he wanted Bilbo to be with him forever, and he wanted to have the same happy relationship with the Shire he'd had before. Indeed, Frodo, like many of us, wanted to stop the world from whirling forward so fast! And the Ring was one way to do that.

In the Fourth Age, which was the beginning Age of the Dominion of Men, the hallmark would be change because that is Man's true nature. Old ways inevitably faded and new ones came in. Perhaps Frodo could even see this? After all, later he would tell Sam about how many children he would have, so he might have known a thing or two he kept to hiumself.

How could Frodo ever fit into such a world given his internal hurts and his Elf-like proclivities, causing him to cling to past people and places? Sam, yes; but Frodo, no. So perhaps Frodo chose to say "It is mine" in hopes of regaining control and preserving what had existed in the past. But providence intervened, and he was ultimately afforded entry to Elvenhome, the place where nothing changes, so he would have the time and setting to deal with his hurts.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 3:58 PM January 15, 2004: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 01-16-2004, 03:34 AM   #33
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I still, I suppose, wonder if Frodo understood what the Ring actually was. I agree with everything you say about what the Ring meant to Frodo, Child, & in that case, his claiming of the Ring is not a 'sin'. But was there another part of his mind which knew exactly what the Ring really was, & exactly what he was claiming, & that that claim could ultimately damn all of Middle Earth to Sauron's domination, & was he saying 'Yes, I'll even accept the possibility of that if there's a chance I can preserve my old life in the Shire with Bilbo. I'll gamble the world against getting what I want'. To what extent is his claiming of the Ring at the end based on a desire keep things as they were, with no thought or knowledge of what Sauron would do when he inevitably took the ring from him, or did Frodo acknowlege the possibility of Sauron taking it from him & still decide to risk it? Does Frodo 'sin' - by deciding that what he wants is worth risking the suffering of every being in Middle Earth to achieve - does he consent to that possibility, or does he not 'sin' - which would be the case if you're right & his desire is only for things to go on as they had been. In the end that would determine for me whether his feelings of guilt & failure at the end have validity or not.
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Old 01-16-2004, 09:50 AM   #34
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davem, you need a copy of The Letters. Go buy one or borrow it from the library!

Child, I spent all last evening scanning the letters for discussions of what the One Ring does. Preservation is mentioned, but in the same discussion that preservation is also discussed as the "thin, stretched, wire-pulled-tighter or butter scraped over too much bread" kind of preservation. No more life, just prolonging, so it becomes a torment.

Frodo didn't personally hear Bilbo speak his "Thin, like butter" line, so perhaps he was less aware of it than Gandalf (or us). I guess I'm still struggling with the idea that Frodo would have fallen for that deception. He's brighter than that. I don't think he would have wanted to see Bilbo "stretched" and just continuing. I think he would have turned from that idea. And really, how would the Ring have prolonged Bilbo's life? Is there any evidence that a Ring of power prolongs anybody mortal's life besides the bearer/wearer? (Are you including "The Mouth of Sauron" in the list of the things that the Ring preserved, even though Sauron wasn't wielding it during the War? I'll have to think that one over.)

As far as saving the Shire: Same question. If he had access to one of the Elven Rings I can see your point. But the One Ring wasn't made with preservation in mind, was it? Frodo said to Faramir, "Would you have two Minas Morguls grinning at each other?" He had seen the Ringwraiths face to face; he knew what "neither living nor dead" means. I don't see that as much of a temptation for him, nor turning the Shire into another Minas Morgul. He always shrank from that sort of thing.

But all along the trip, he kept saying "The Burden is Mine." He was (I think) proud of carrying it. And the martyr's complex there is pretty obvious.

So-- for preservtion of The Shire (and Bilbo)-- I see that he would want those things, yes, but I'm just not convinced he'd buy the Rings' offer to do it. He knew better, and I think his "good hobbit sense" would have told him (as it told Sam) that such things would not be.

But-- "I begin to see it with my waking eyes." All he could see was the Ring; he couldn't SEE the Shire anymore; I don't see how he could be clinging to it anymore. So I go back to his own words at Sammath Naur-- not "Now I can save The Shire", but simply and directly, "The Ring is mine." I really think that's the core of it. I think by Sammath Naur he'd even been stripped of The Shire, just as he said.

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 11:08 AM January 16, 2004: Message edited by: mark12_30 ]
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Old 01-16-2004, 03:42 PM   #35
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Seeing as Letters has been mentioned a few times, I took a look at HOME to see what was said regarding Frodo at Sammath Naur.

Not that I totally agree with them, but it is interesting to see Christopher Tolkien’s observations regarding the changes his father made to the Mount Doom section in his Histories of Middle Earth series. Who am I to disagree with him? Anyway, CT has a very certain view on Frodo’s inability to complete his Quest:

From the first draft of Mount Doom:

Quote:
'I have come,' he said. 'But I cannot do what I have come to
do. I will not do it. The Ring is mine.' And suddenly he vanished
from Sam's sight.
Christopher’s note on this (my italics)

Quote:
Frodo's words 'But I cannot do what I have come to do' were
changed subsequently on the B-text to 'But I do not choose now to do
what I have come to do.' I do not think that the difference is very
significant, since it was already a central element in the outlines that
Frodo would choose to keep the Ring himself; the change in his words
does no more than emphasize that he fully willed his act.
CT seems to think it is pretty cut and dried, fully concious decision by Frodo, where as I do not.
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Old 01-16-2004, 06:26 PM   #36
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Quote:
But I do not choose now to do what I came to do.
Quote:
the change in his words does no more than emphasize that he fully willed his act.
Well, I am with Christopher Tolkien on this one.

Taking these words alone, the inevitable consequence of Frodo's decision not to choose to destroy the Ring is that it will not be destroyed by him. Since he is consciously not choosing a course of action that would result in the destruction of the Ring, he is effectively choosing not to destroy it.

But the answer may be found in the other words that he speaks in any event. The full quote is:

Quote:
But I cannot do what I have come to do. I will not do it. The Ring is mine.
So, he expressly states that he will not do what he came to do, namely destroy the Ring. The words used clearly indicate that this is an act (or, more accurately, an omission) consciously willed on his part.

I agree with those who have said that he could not have chosen to destroy it. No one (with the possible exception of Tom Bombadil [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img] ) could have chosen to do so. But that does not mean that it was not his choice not to destroy it. It is simply that he was powerless to resist making that choice.

The distinction is important, I think. The fact that it was his choice not to destroy it, albeit one which he could not resisit, is what leads to his later feelings of guilt.

The one thing which still puzzles me from the quote is the meaing of the words: "The Ring is mine". Does he decide not to destroy the Ring because he already regards it as his own, or does he decide to claim it as his own having decided not to destroy it?
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Old 01-16-2004, 11:03 PM   #37
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Well this is an amazing thread, with many amazing responses. I will try my best to make a meaningful contribution [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]

Quote:
Frodo was feeling very, very guilty about what had happened. I don't think that guilt stems solely from Sammath Naur, although that was obviously the biggest thing. I think the seeds of that guilt were planted on the journey itself as Frodo reflected on the Ring. Some of this reflection stems from the second difference in Frodo's case, which is his particular personality.
I have never thought about Frodo actually being guilty about distroying the ring. That is very interesting. I know that he was affected greatly by this experience, so much that he wasn't able to go on. But I guess it kind of sounds like that at this time (or up until the very, very end) he had some kind of split personality thing going on. I would think that after everything had happened he had a part of him going "oh, why was the ring destroyed? Why didn't you stop Gollum?” and then another part going "Yes, the ring was destroyed, it turned out well, what needed to be done was done." This probably most likely was happening to him before they got to Mt. Doom. But at the moment, the other side took over, and it was completely about the ring.
(I know this sounds weird, and it had already most likely been said before, but I just had to say something.)

Quote:
The one thing which still puzzles me from the quote is the meaning of the words: "The Ring is mine". Does he decide not to destroy the Ring because he already regards it as his own, or does he decide to claim it as his own having decided not to destroy it?
I think that is a very interesting question, but it is not something that can be answered easily. I personally think that it is a combination of both. But I would lean towards the top one, just because he had the ring for a while, and during the time that he had had it, it was much more powerful than it had been during the time Gollum had had it. And most likely because of his extreme attachment to it, he believed it belonged to him. This ring had become everything, and everything had to do with it. He did most likely think that it was his own.
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Old 01-17-2004, 02:46 AM   #38
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Helen, I have the Letters, but its about a year since I last read them, so I suppose I should go back (if there is any real going back [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img] ).

But as far as I remember (but I do, I admit, have a rather Butterburesque memory), Tolkien doesn't go into this question of what the Ring actually Frodo meant to Frodo at that point - I think Child has just given us more insight into Frodo's feelings at the end than is there, explicitly, in Tolkien's letters. My own question, what exactly is Frodo claiming as his 'own', what is he claiming to be 'mine', what does he concieve it to be, still remains, I think.
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Old 01-17-2004, 10:55 AM   #39
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Saucepan Man,

You raise a question and Gorgwingel refers to this as well:

Quote:
The one thing which still puzzles me from the quote is the meaing of the words: "The Ring is mine". Does he decide not to destroy the Ring because he already regards it as his own, or does he decide to claim it as his own having decided not to destroy it?
I had honestly never asked myself this before. Just from a reading of Frodo's character and what's happened in the story up till then, I would probably lean towards the view that Frodo already regarded the Ring as his own. Yet there are things that Tolkien mentioned in his earlier drafts of this scene that perhaps suggest the latter to be true. I'll get into that below, since this also pertains to some ideas that Helen raised. Sorry, but this will probably be long and a bit muddling....

See the quotation below from Helen's post which is part of an argument where she questions whether Frodo would have been thinking of the preservation of the Shire and Bilbo when he claimed the Ring (or at least had seriously considered this option at some point on the long road through Mordor).

Quote:
So-- for preservation of The Shire (and Bilbo)-- I see that he would want those things, yes, but I'm just not convinced he'd buy the Rings' offer to do it. He knew better, and I think his "good hobbit sense" would have told him (as it told Sam) that such things would not be.
Let me again say that this is pure speculation on my part. There is nothing in Tolkien that actually answers the question of why Frodo chose to claim the Ring. However, it is clear from the story that Frodo cared about two things more than any other: the Shire and Bilbo. And it also true that Frodo is the most "Elvish" hobbit I've ever seen, which means he may have some of the good and some of the not-so-good traits that are typical of Elves. Hence, the desire to preserve the past.

This was my reasoning in regard to the whole question of "preservation." Whoever wielded the One Ring would clearly have power over the other lesser Rings. Here, I am thinking of Nenya which obviously exercised some kind of a preserving power in Lórien. The type of preservation exemplified there seemed different than the "stretched out" kind of preservation that a bearer of the One Ring would experience. Certainly, it seemed gentler. And since the bearer of the One Ring could eventually command the others, even though the Elven Rings were presently hidden, he or she would have the ability to weave a web of protection around the Shire, similar to Lórien.

I didn't see Frodo hoping to turn the Shire into Minas Morgul, "neither living or dead". Instead he wanted a kind of Lothlórien, the meaning of which is "blossom-dream-land". Those kind of dreams must have looked pretty attractive to a bent and weary Frodo.

Of course, all his desires would have been an illusion. The One Ring would surely have swept away all goodness, from both Lórien and the Shire, and nothing could have withstood its corruption. But it may have been a believable illusion to Frodo as he contemplated his choices on the trudge through Mordor.

Regarding your comment...."his 'good hobbit sense' would have told him (as it told Sam) that such things would not be."

I'm not so sure....

If you look in Sauron Defeated, there are five outlines and one very early sketch that touch upon the Mount Doom scenes. Of these the sketch and three of the outlines directly deal with Frodo's decision not to destroy the Ring.

First, just to show how certain Tolkien was that no one could throw away the Ring.... When Tolkien first began the book, before "Frodo Baggins" even existed as a separate character, and before the Necromancer was fully replaced with Sauron, the author put forward the idea that the hobbit bearing the Ring (Bingo) could not throw it away. So Frodo was truly doomed even before Tolkien put his pen to the page! (The italics and question mark occur in the original text.)

Quote:
At end.....When Bingo at last reaches Crack and Fiery Mountain he cannot make himself throw the Ring away.....? He hears Necomancer's voice offering him great Reward --to share power with him, if he will.

At that moment Gollum -- who had seemed to reform and had guided them by secret ways through Mordor --comes up and treacherously tries to take Ring. They wrestle and Gollum takes Ring and falls into the Crack.
In the subsequent drafts, Tolkien elaborated on this story. I am quoting the final draft before the chapter was written, but the earlier ones are identical in meaning on this point.

Quote:
Frodo now feels full force of the Eye.....? He does not want to enter Chamber of Fire or throw away the Ring. He seems to hear a deep small persuasive voice speaking: offering life and peace -- and finally a share of the Great Power: if he will take Ring intact to the Dark Tower. He rejects this, but stands still -- while thought grows (absurd though it may seem): he will keep it, wield it, and himself have Power alone; be Master of All. After all he is a great hero, Hobbits should become lords of men, and he their Lord, King Frodo, Emperor Frodo. He thought of the great poems that would be made, and mighty songs and saw (as if far away) a great Feast, and himself enthroned and all the kings of the world sitting at his feet, while all the earth blossomed.
So, according to Tolkien, at least in this outline, his "good hobbit sense" was not adequate protection against such dreams! This isn't surprising. In fact, it reminds me of what Gandalf said: that he himself would take the Ring out of a desire to do good that would then be corrupted.

Regarding Saucepan Man's question whether Frodo already had a sense of owning the Ring.

It seems to me, according to this draft, that Frodo did not have a clear sense of ownership of the Ring prior to Sammath Naur. Indeed, in outline 1, this is stated more clearly. Again, the italics are not mine...

Quote:
Then suddenly a new thought arose--not from outside -- a thought born inside himself: he would keep the Ring himself and be master of all
This earlier draft likewise states that Sauron's offer to share power "actually terrifies him."

None of this, however, made its way into the final book. So did Tolkien reject these ideas?

I'm not so sure....

There were ideas in the earlier drafts that Tolkien clearly rejected by putting comments in the margin. For example, he speculated that Gollum would be reformed and voluntarily jump into the Fire with the Ring. Beside this, JRRT put a great big "No" in the margin. (Interestingly, this is the same idea he later mentions in his Letters.)

There were other ideas in the earlier outlines that Tolkien clearly refuted by offering a different version in the book. For example, except for the very first sketch, the earlier drafts speculate that Sam pushes Gollum into the pit. This would have been a big change from what we finally got in the end. Sam would have been a "hero" in a more conventional sense and the hand of Providence would be less evident. Tolkien clearly rejected this.

But what about this idea of Frodo being tempted? Tolkien nowhere rejects it. He simply doesn't allow us to get inside the hobbit's head in the final scenes. But there are things here that do ring true. (Pardon the pun!) the Letters specifically mention that Frodo wanted to be a "hero" and that this was one reason he suffered. He simply couldn't accept being a mere instrument of Providence. Doesn't this tie back with the scene depicted in the earlier draft? So perhaps this was going on inside Frodo's mind; only we can't see it. And how typical of Frodo to think of himself as a great King not in terms of battles or power, but rather of feasts (how Hobbitish to think of food!), songs, flowers, and poetry.

I am also drawn to the line with Sauron "offering Life and Peace." Again, to me, by definition, that life and peace would have to come to Frodo in the context of a preserved Shire with Bilbo by his side.

Of course, we'll never know. The final scenes are presented by Tolkien in a more cryptic manner. We have less of an idea what's going on. But the more I look at HoMe, the more I think that this whole train of thought may still have been going on inside Frodo's mind (and Tolkien's). But JRRT chose not to share it with the reader.

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Old 01-17-2004, 03:05 PM   #40
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Quote:
Or were there goals he desired that he could clearly see could be accomplished only by owning the Ring, and hence he wanted it...?
Another arabesque on this theme could be that the Ring would be the only concrete proof that he had done something or affected the world in a real way. Frodo's struggle was internal and in the realm of the aversion of disaster, not in the visible construction or conquest of people, places or things. In a spiritual battle, one is alone. The Ring would be not only company, but a talisman to show to the rest of the world that validates his struggle. Without the Ring, Frodo is merely a broken warrior who fought with a ghost long gone.

Quote:
In fact, it reminds me of what Gandalf said: that he himself would take the Ring out of a desire to do good that would then be corrupted.
Indeed, Frodo's situation reminds me inevitably of Gandalf's and the possible road to the Maia's corruption. The desire to do good would lead to the enforcement of that good, a terrible goodness. Of course, Frodo would not have the strength to enforce his will as Gandalf would.

One portion of Letter 246:
Quote:
They (the Ringwraiths) would have greeted Frodo as 'Lord'. With fair speeches they would have induced him to look upon his new kingdom, and behold afar with his new sight the abode of power that he must now claim and turn to his own purposes'. Once outside the chamber while he was gazing some of them would have destroyed the entrance. Frodo would by then probably have been already too enmeshed in great plans of reformed rule--like but far greater and wider than the vision that tempted Sam--to heed this.
What a sad fall that would have been! But it does speak to Frodo's thoughts of ruling and of his desire to reform the rule--a grandiose vision of King Frodo indeed!

My previous thoughts on Frodo's inability to ultimately trust to Eru and the unknown in his fate seem to me to tie in to this delusion of reformed rule that Frodo seems to have experienced. The vision, as Sharon points out with excellent HoME references above (which I lack in my 'library', so am very thankful to see here!) points to the blossoming and prosperousness of this imagined new realm, his dream to "save the Shire." Somehow it seems he cannot imagine saving it without having a direct hand in it, without maintaining control in this way. In other words, it points directly to Frodo's inability to reliquish control, his need to be a hero in the traditional sense.

I hope these thoughts added something; I'm sure there is more to it, but I wanted to add a few bits of flying debris from my whirling conscious brain before I lost them! (I, also have a Butterbur-ish tendency to forget things!)

Cheers!
Lyta
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