Hooray for Hobbits: Frodo Baggins

March is a busy month in Middle Earth!  Today happens to be March 25th, the day the Ring was destroyed.  So we’re taking a break from my Aragorn rambling, so I can ramble about someone else: the hobbit who carried the Ring from the Shire to Morder.

Frodo is a very interesting hero, not to mention an unlikely one.  Him ending up getting the Ring at all took a lot of unlikely coincidences–or miracles (as perhaps Gandalf would prefer I say).

‘Beyond that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker.  I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker.  In which case you also were meant to have it.  And that may be an encouraging thought. (The Fellowship of the Ring, 61)

Frodo is not a stereotypical hobbit (he’s Bilbo’s nephew, after all, and I’m not sure anyone could help being a bit “queer” after being adopted by someone like that!) but he’s a hobbit just the same: cheerful, fun-loving, calm, and easily pleased.  While he’s adventurous, yes, a tramp around the Shire or a pony-ride as far as Rivendell might have felt like adventure enough.

And he could have chosen that–all he would have had to have done was sit quietly and keep his head down at the Council of Elrond.  No one asked him to take the Ring anywhere.

Still no one spoke.  Frodo glanced at all the faces, but they were not turned to him. . .  An overwhelming longing to rest and remain at peace by Bilbo’s side in Rivendell filled all his heart. (The Fellowship of the Ring, 303)

But no one offered to do it himself instead.

Frodo ventured his well-known line: “I will take the Ring, though I do not know the way (The Fellowship of the Ring, 303)” into a waiting silence.

He could have sat quietly and let the moment pass.  He could have said he wasn’t qualified.  Because let’s be honest: it would have been true.  He was sitting in the presence of many who had walked the length and breadth of Middle Earth, while he was literally on his first trip beyond the Shire’s borders.  He had little experience, limited knowledge of the Ring itself, no knowledge of the lands between the Misty Mountains and Morder.  But no one else was volunteering.

The I’ll-wait-for-someone-more-qualified argument sounds humble and prudent.  But what if no one more qualified ever shows up?  Frodo could have let Elrond deal with the Ring, he could have followed Boromir to Minas Tirith and let some warrior of Gondor handle it–hypothetically.  But what if they couldn’t?  What if they wouldn’t?

So Frodo took it, even though, in the end, it cost him everything.

Tolkien was a great fan of unlikely heroes, but maybe that’s why his world appeals to so many people.  I believe in unlikely heroes.  Look at the Bible–the people God chose weren’t always the biggest, the strongest, the best.  They weren’t always qualified–but God was.

Tolkien wove a tale around a small, frightened hobbit, who was willing to believe he could do great things.  We might not be qualified, but the Author of our story is, if we’re willing to take the risk.

But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind.  Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it.  But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.  And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. (The Two Towers, 696)


Check out these posts if you want to hear more about hobbits today!

Ellen – Hooray for Hobbits: Merry and Pippin

Cerra – Hooray for Hobbits: Samwise Gamgee

Aragorn: The Gentle Warrior

Some of you may have seen this coming.  And really, it was inevitable.  There are going to be a lot of posts, full of reasons to like this awesome character; there are many things I love about him.  But my obsession is, and I think always has been, lodged in this: he’s compassionate.

In the post I write for his birthday last year, I said:

“He’s one of the greatest warriors in the whole trilogy, but he has a soft side too. . .  The fact that he can live through anything (and has lived through almost everything) doesn’t dull his awareness of others’ weaknesses.”

I can’t think of a new way to sum it up.  I admire the way Aragorn loves “his people” and will sacrifice anything to protect them, and how frank he is about showing that love.

‘There go three that I love, and the smallest not the least,’ he said.  ‘He knows not to what end he rides; yet if he knew, he still would go on.’ (760)   – “The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien

I love how he recognizes how hard the hobbits are fighting, even though it often looks different from his kind of strength.

I’m a purist for the books, but I still love Aragorn in the movies, even though they changed him a little.  This is probably because they still gave him the caring, selfless nature I saw in the books.  Which, as I said earlier, is what’s most important to me.  I love the way they portrayed him as always being “there” for people in the movies–this unspoken, behind-the-scenes encouragement.

I love the scene in Rohan, when Aragorn follows Merry up to the battlements and watches Gandalf and Pippin ride away.  He just stands there–he doesn’t feel the need to say anything, do anything, fix anything.  He just doesn’t want Merry to be alone.

And when you find out how long Aragorn has known Gandalf, you realize they are both watching one of their best friends leave.

Aragorn: The Servant Leader

Hello, readers, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood!!  We had some crazy, Nebraska wind today and a bit of hail.  I happen to like storms, so I was quite happy.  Also, I have my first Aragorn post written!  It took me longer than I expected, but here we are.  If I have more to say (and I haven’t bored y’all out of your minds) at the end of March, I’ll let it spill over into April. 🙂  Let me know what you think!

One of my favorite things about Aragorn, and one that came to mind first when I wanted to write about him, was his example of servant leadership.  Because the greatest leader really is a servant.

Jesus is, and always will be, the best example of a leader; and He made himself a servant.  The story of Jesus washing His disciples feet comes to mind quickly.  Washing feet was a job for the lowest servant, but Jesus chose it, and told his disciples to do the same.  In Philippians it says:

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!”

It’s obvious that Aragorn’s goal in The Lord of the Rings is to claim the kingship of Gondor: he is the heir to the throne, and he knows it.  Aragorn is the rightful king and a born leader–but he knows what being a leader means.  And part of leading is putting your followers before yourself.

I especially loved the way Tolkien depicted him as a healer.  Caring for the wounded is often portrayed as the job of those who were too weak to fight, but Aragorn’s healing powers came with physical strength, which fascinates me.  I think the idea of a king being a healer is such a powerful one.  (We’ll discuss the whole kingship thing in another post, so more on this later. 😉 )

The wounded are always sent to Aragorn, and he never refuses the job.  It’s most obvious in The Return of the King, at the Houses of Healing.  But really, Aragorn is serving quietly throughout the trilogy.  In The Two Towers, Gimli insists on riding with the others, despite being wounded in the latest battle.  He claims the wound is only a scratch and doesn’t matter.  Aragorn responds “I will tend it, while you rest,” (page 532).  It took me a while to realize that this implies Aragorn would not be resting.  And you see the same scenario through all three books, from Frodo’s wound after Moria to the Houses of Healing.

I also appreciate how raw and how real Tolkien’s work was.  As much as you can tell Aragorn loves being a leader, Tolkien portrayed how leading can be a burden as well.  At the end of The Fellowship of the Ring and the beginning of The Two Towers it’s especially obvious.  You can see that Aragorn doesn’t see himself as qualified to take Gandalf’s role, and feels so lost without him.  I pity him, honestly.  Without Gandalf to guide Frodo, Aragorn feels responsible for helping him, and therefore taking on part of the responsibility of carrying the Ring–he literally has the fate of kingdoms on his shoulders.

But leading the fellowship after Gandalf’s death was Aragorn’s choice in the first place, which brings us back to what I said earlier–he knows he’s a leader.  Literally his first words after Gandalf’s fall are, “Come! I will lead you now!” (The Fellowship of the Ring, page 371)

And there’s no dispute–the fellowship knows he’s the one qualified to lead them.


It’s honestly hard to remember my sad life before I read The Lord of the Rings.

But I do recall entreating a friend of mine not to tell me any spoilers, as I was about to start The Fellowship of the Ring.  She started listing off Tolkien’s lovely names instead and gave me a whole string of them, adding, as if as an afterthought, “And Strider.  You’ll like Strider.”  I was rather annoyed at the time, as it gave away that this Strider person was good and likable–as I guess I just gave away for you, sorry–but it turned out to be quite the prophecy, as Aragorn has since grown to become my favorite character out of all the stories I’ve ever heard.

Right from the get-go, he’s been my favorite.  Middle Earth is peopled with beautiful, amazing, relate-able heroes–there is stiff competition.  But since before I even started reading The Two Towers, Aragorn has been my favorite.

And. . . (drum-roll please) today just so happens to be his birthday–March 1st.  I was late posting for it last year, so I’m making up this month.  I’m going to do a series of posts through March about why I love him.

I listed most of the reasons in last year’s post, but now I’ll be expounding on them a little more.

They will be over-thought and geeky–fair warning.  But I think they’re the sort of thing I like to read, and perhaps someone else enjoys that sort of thing too.  If not, I’ll have fun writing them. 😉

His legs were stretched out before him, showing high boots of supple leather that fitted him well, but had seen much wear and were now caked with mud.  A travel-stained cloak of heavy dark-green cloth cloth was drawn close about him, and in spite of the heart of the room he wore a hood that overshadowed his face; but the gleam of his eyes could be seen as he watched the hobbits. (177)
-“The Fellowship of the Ring”by J.R.R. Tolkien