In a discussion of great literary minds of the twentieth century, there is one name that always stands out. J. R. R. Tolkiens classic story Lord of the Rings is the measuring block by which all other fictional works of the twentieth century are compared. His engrossing characters, beautiful descriptions, and intriguing plot have enraptured generations of avid readers. The most endearing quality of the epic is Tolkiens ingenious use of archetypes, most notably the quest hero. Frodo Baggins possesses all of the qualities of a quest hero: courage, loyalty, and an unwavering sense of duty and responsibility.
Frodo possesses loyalty and a willingness to act under the direction of others who may know better than he, even when he doesnt understand what it is he is being asked to do. He agrees to keep the ring in his possession after Bilbo leaves the Shire, he even accepts Gandalfs demand that the never use it, even though he has seen Bilbo do so many times. Frodo even accepts the horrible task laid on him by Elrond to bring the ring to Mount Doom deep in the heart of Mordor, the one place that he should fear above all others. I will take the Ring, he said, though I do not know the way (Tolkien 324) Frodo is willing to take this responsibility on himself, he doesnt even realize that he has no idea where to even begin his task.The
hobbit is undyingly loyal to his comrades, even when their own minds lead them astray.
Boromir corners Frodo and proceeds to beg, demand, and then attempt to take the ring from him. Even though Frodo could have given in to Boromir, indeed he even wanted to be rid of his burden, he knew that the ring was his alone to bear, and that it would destroy the proud Boromir if he were to use it. He knows his place in the company, and he is determined to never let his companions down through his own weakness.
Frodos strongest quality is his unnaturally strong sense of responsibility. Even when separated from the rest of the company, and with only his faithful friend Sam Gamgee at his side, Frodo presses on, finding a way into Mordor, something no sane person would ever want to do. No matter how desolate his situation became, no matter how hungry, tired and injured he was, Frodo never wavered from his goal.
His face was grim set, but resolute. He was filthy, haggard,
and pinched with weariness, but he cowered no longer, and
his eyes were clear. I purpose to enter Mordor, and I know
no other way. Therefore I shall go this way, I do not ask
anyone to go with me. (Tolkien 289)
Frodo always swore to finish what he started. Gandalf put the ring into his care, so he believed that the destruction of the ring was his duty. He had to undertake this impossible quest for the good of a world that looked at his race as a joke of a species. Frodos own companion, his dearest friend Sam, eagerly wished for his master to turn away from his dreadful task. Sam begs and pleads with Frodo, does all he can to try and sway his master, always trying wanting to turn Frodo away from Mordor and certain death. But the determined hobbit will not be swayed, Heres the gate, and it looks to me as if thats about as far as we are ever going to get! (Tolkien 288) Still Frodo pressed on, he knew in his heart that he had to complete his quest, no matter the odds against him.
Probably Frodos most heroic quality is his inhuman, or rather, inhobbit courage. Again and again he presses on in the face of danger. Whether under attack by one of the nazgul, the giant spider Shelob, or the obsessed Smeagol, Frodo perseveres. He always manages to defeat or escape from certain death, carrying on his all-important task. Frodos quest changes him in this respect. At the beginning of his journey, Frodo appears as nothing but a scared little hobbit, grateful for Aragorns protection. By the time of his struggle with Gollum on Mount Doom, he feels capable to
defend himself, having acquired wonderful weapons and armor, but most of all, having obtained confidence in himself. He is capable of being a leader, whether he is leading only himself and Sam, or a group of hobbits rebelling against cruel tyrants ruling his beloved Shire. He would not be bullied by the Shirrifs the way that the hobbits of the Shire had I am going where I please, and in my own time. I happen to be going to Bag End on business (Tolkien 313)
Frodos transformation from meek young hobbit to courageous warrior, hero of the west, has is in its own way become an archetype. J.R.R. Tolkiens hero has become a model for all aspiring writers in the fantasy genre to follow. One has only to peruse a random novel in the fantasy section of any bookstore to see the success Tolkien has had in creating a hero. Frodo Baggins, or a similar copy, can be found at the heart of most successful fantasy novels. His loyalty, bravery, and sense of ethics is now almost legendary in the fantasy world.
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