J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring is the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy which tells the story of Frodo Baggins and his quest to destroy the One Ring so that he can defeat the Dark Lord Sauron and save Middle-earth. The text’s central conflict revolves around Frodo’s increasingly complex feelings about both the Ring and his status as the Ring-bearer. Throughout the book, Frodo is often caught between the Ring’s corrupting influence and the responsibility and burden that fate has placed upon him. 

The inciting incident of the text occurs when The Hobbit protagonist Bilbo Baggins bequeaths the Ring to his nephew Frodo. In passing the Ring from Bilbo to Frodo, Tolkien establishes that Frodo will become our story’s hero. This moment is crucial; it provides the backdrop and context for the unfolding hero’s journey narrative. The Fellowship of the Ring is a typical hero’s journey text, one in which the protagonist leaves the safety of home to embark on a quest that will transform them into a hero. By giving Frodo the Ring, Bilbo inadvertently prompts Frodo’s hero’s journey. 

The first phase of the novel’s rising action begins when Gandalf returns to the Shire after researching the Ring for many years. He tells Frodo that the ring Bilbo left him is actually known as the One Ring which Sauron wielded to rule over Middle-earth. Gandalf informs Frodo that Sauron’s forces know that he has the Ring and are on their way to the Shire so that Sauron can rise to power once more. This moment is crucial to Frodo’s development and his hero’s journey because he instantly and selflessly decides to bring the Ring to the Elves in Rivendell so that no harm will come to the Shire.

Although he intends to set out alone, he is soon joined by his friends Sam, Pippin, and Merry who pledge to accompany him on his task. The four Hobbits encounter a number of mini adventures that test their courage, including run-ins with agents of Sauron, Old Man Willow, and barrow-wights. This section is also important because Frodo begins to feel the pull of the Ring for the first time. For example, he repeatedly grapples with the desire to put the Ring on despite being forbidden to. He also develops a possessive need to keep hold of the Ring at all times, and he has a growing feeling that he is being watched by dark forces just out of sight. 

The second phase of the novel’s rising action occurs after Frodo arrives at Rivendell. It is decided at the Council of Elrond that someone needs to take the Ring to Mordor so that it can be destroyed, and Frodo volunteers. This marks a major turning point for Frodo, in that he accepts the burden of being the Ring-bearer despite wishing he could simply go home or stay in Rivendell. This moment reveals the depth of Frodo’s selflessness and heroism because he is the first person to volunteer for this dangerous and potentially fatal mission. It is also a crucial step in Frodo’s hero’s journey because he chooses to continue on instead of turning back.  

Elrond decides to create the Fellowship of the Ring, a company of nine individuals who will accompany Frodo. The Fellowship is composed of the four Hobbits, as well as Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli. The Fellowship represents the unifying power of a common enemy; it is composed of four races (Hobbits, Men, Elves, and Dwarves) who are often at odds. The Fellowship encounters many obstacles and adventures on their journey, including Gandalf’s sacrifice in Moria and a run-in with the Lothlórien Elves. As the story progresses, these moments underly the developing bond between the members of the Fellowship as well as the growing hero status of Frodo and his fellow Hobbits, who were not seasoned fighters like the rest of the company. 

The climax of the novel occurs when Boromir, who has felt the pull of the Ring more keenly than the other members of the Fellowship, tries, in a moment of madness, to take the Ring from Frodo, exemplifying the corrupting influence of power as a theme. This moment is not just thematically significant but also narratively significant; it triggers Frodo’s decision to depart for Mordor alone, setting up the events of the next two books in the trilogy.  

In the novel’s falling action, Sam realizes that Frodo is trying to leave and convinces Frodo to take Sam with him. Frodo’s selfless decision to leave the group so that nobody else can be corrupted by the Ring, and Sam’s steadfast decision to stay with Frodo, represents the inherent goodness that endures even in the face of fear and uncertainty. Tolkien solidifies this characterization by ending the novel with Frodo and Sam (the personifications of sacrifice and loyalty, respectively) setting off together to defeat Sauron as a team.