Returning home from the end of the last Hobbit movie Me and Mrs G had “that argument” again. Mrs G and me rarely argue, I would like to put this down to the fact we are very similar in beliefs and temperament so we have some kind of harmonious relationship, or it may just be that I’m right all the time.
Religion, politics, we are fine with even when we have polar opposite views. We accept that the other person has reasons why they would take the position they do. There is only one thing we can’t ever seem to see eye to eye over and that is whether Frodo Baggins is a hero.
Before I give considered reasonings I should do this in a scientific manner by presenting my hypothesis, so here we go.
Frodo Baggins is not a hero because he fails in the heroes quest, the task he is assigned he fails and then does not make a large enough sacrifice to redeem himself.
Initially he does act vaguely heroically. At the council of Elrond it is Frodo who stands up and decides to take the ring to Mordor. Nobody asked him to, or expected him to do so but he acted with courage to take on the dangerous quest. Except he didn’t know the way, or what to do.
Now imagine there is a burning house and you are standing outside whilst a number of highly trained firemen ate arguing because there is a danger of collapse or explosion. You take the initiative and decide to run into the building with no safety equipment or training to rescue the poor kitty who is trapped on the first floor. If you rescue the kitty you may be declared a hero, but the fire crew would have called you reckless and stupid.
Frodo is that person running into the burning house to rescue the kitty. Yet Frodo is not a hero because in Lord of the Rings he does not save that poor feline.
Frodo has one task. Put the Ring of Power in the fires of Mount Doom. It’s as simple as that, put A in B and save the day. Okay it may be more like take A all the way to B then put in B after travelling through C, D, E and F avoiding X, Y and S.
So he carries the ring all the way to the Mordor, well done, but the key part of the journey, that critical phase of Operation End All Evil, he baulks at completing. Instead of destroying the ring he claims it for himself.
Going back to the burning house analogy, it is the equivalent of the fire department putting out 99% of a fire and deciding they had done enough. Oh, and then throwing in a molotov cocktail for good measure. Quickly everyone get the ticker tape parade ready, these guys are the best.
Frodo is not a hero because he fails to redeem himself. After Gollum takes the ring from him he does not decide that the only way to destroy the ring is by self sacrifice, it is only through the tussle to claim back the precious that he accidentally causes the destruction of the Ring.
When he returns to The Shire it is his friends who defeat Saruman and reclaim their homeland. Frodo just mopes about not really doing much. Then rather than face his friends he locks himself up to write the story of his failure. Then when the time comes he gets rewarded for endangering all the free people of Middle Earth by being given passage to the land of the Valar. Everyone else who gave their lives for the cause, you’ll have to wait in the Halls of Mandos till the end of time I’m afraid. Not Frodo, he gets to bathe in the glory of the Gods.
He is the guy who ran 99 yards to score a touchdown but failed at the one yard line, he is the man who spent a lifetime solving Fermat’s last theorem but got the final part of his calculations wrong, he is *the man that got within 10 feet of being the first person to climb Everest.
Frodo is not a hero, he is reckless and fails in his masterplan. You often see these kind of characters in books, the ones who are thwarted at the end and find themselves sent away.
Frodo Baggins is a villain.
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