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Frodo’s role as the main protagonist of The Lord
of the Rings changes significantly in the novel’s final
volume. Frodo no longer leads the quest, but is increasingly led
by others and by circumstance. We wonder in what sense Frodo remains
the true Ring-bearer if he himself must be borne by others in order
to carry on his quest. For a brief time at the opening of Book VI,
Frodo does not even possess the Ring. Lying naked in the tower of
Cirith Ungol, Frodo appears a lifeless shell with little control
of the Ring’s movement toward Mount Doom. After the quest is completed,
Frodo looms in the background of the events in Middle-earth and
slips into irrelevance in his home, the Shire. Frodo explains to
Sam in the last chapter that he is “wounded” in a way that will
never heal. Certainly, Frodo is far from morbid or pitiful. His
once-youthful nobility now appears a weathered reticence. Rather,
Frodo is wounded because all the experiences after Mount Doom seem
like a trite footnote. More important, Frodo feels wounded because
he has completed a grand quest in which the goal—to get rid of something—was
distinctly negative. In this, Frodo remains the true hero, for he has
succeeded in a task that no one really wanted. The quest is both futile
and yet the most important deed of all. Frodo’s loss of vigor and
identity after such a strange accomplishment propels his desire to
sail away to the paradise of the West.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Return of the King!