|Tolkien's legendarium character|
|Aliases||Frodo of the Nine Fingers,
Nine Fingered Frodo
|Book(s)||The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
Frodo Baggins is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He serves as the primary protagonist of The Lord of the Rings. Frodo is a hobbit of the Shire who inherits the One Ring from Bilbo Baggins and undertakes the quest to destroy it in the fires of Mount Doom. He is also mentioned in Tolkien's posthumously published works, The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.
Concept and creation
Frodo did not appear until the third draft of A Long-Expected Party (the first chapter of The Lord of the Rings), when he was named Bingo (after a family of toy koala owned by Tolkien's children), son of Bilbo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck. In the fourth draft, he was renamed Bingo Bolger-Baggins, son of Rollo Bolger and Primula Brandybuck. Tolkien did not change the name to Frodo until the third phase of writing, when much of the narrative, as far as the hobbits' arrival in Rivendell, had already taken shape. Prior to this, the name "Frodo" had been used for the character who eventually became Peregrin Took.
Frodo is introduced in The Fellowship of the Ring as the adoptive heir of Bilbo Baggins. The chapter "A Long-expected Party" relates that Frodo's parents Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck had been killed in a boating accident when Frodo was 12; Frodo subsequently spent the next nine years living with his maternal family, the Brandybucks in Brandy Hall. At the age of 21 he was adopted by his cousin,[nb 1] Bilbo, who brought him to live at Bag End. By coincidence he and Bilbo shared the same birthday, the 22nd of 'September'. It was Bilbo who introduced the Elvish languages to Frodo, and they often shared long walking trips together.
The Fellowship of the Ring
The Fellowship of the Ring opens as Frodo came of age (at 33 years old) and Bilbo left the Shire for good on his one hundred and eleventh birthday. Frodo inherited Bag End and Bilbo's ring, which were both introduced in The Hobbit. Gandalf, at this time, was not certain about the origin of the Ring, so he warned Frodo to avoid using it and to keep it secret. Frodo kept the Ring hidden for 17 years, resulting in it giving him the same longevity of Bilbo, until Gandalf returned to tell him that it was the One Ring of the Dark Lord Sauron, who desired to use it to conquer Middle-earth.
Realizing that he was a danger to the Shire as long as he remained there with the Ring, Frodo decided to leave home and take the Ring to Rivendell, home of Elrond, a mighty Elf lord. He left the Shire with three companions: his gardener Samwise Gamgee and his cousins Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Took. They escaped just in time, for Sauron's most powerful servants, the Nine Nazgûl, had entered the Shire as Black Riders, looking for Bilbo and the Ring. They followed Frodo's trail across the Shire and nearly intercepted him.
Frodo and his companions escaped the Black Riders by travelling through the Old Forest, but they were misled by the magic of Old Man Willow until they were rescued by Tom Bombadil, who gave them shelter and guided them on their way. After leaving Bombadil, they were caught in fog on the Barrow Downs by Barrow-wights and were entranced under a spell. Frodo broke loose from the spell, attacked the barrow-wight and summoned Tom Bombadil, who again rescued the hobbits and set them on their way.
At the Inn of the Prancing Pony in the village of Bree, Frodo received a delayed letter from Gandalf, and met Aragorn, also called Strider, a Ranger of the North. Strider became the hobbits' guide while journeying through the wilderness towards Rivendell. The One Ring slipped onto Frodo's finger inadvertently in the Prancing Pony's common room, turning Frodo invisible. This attracted the attention of Sauron's agents, who ransacked the hobbits' rooms in the night. The group, under Aragorn's guidance, quickly fled through the Midgewater Marshes and again escaped the Nazgûl.
While encamped at Amon Sûl, they were found and attacked by five Nazgûl. The chief of the Nazgûl, known as the Witch-king of Angmar, stabbed Frodo with a Morgul-blade, before Aragorn routed all five of them with fire. A piece of this blade remained in Frodo's shoulder and, working its way towards his heart, threatened to turn him into a wraith under the control of the Witch-king. With the help of his companions and Glorfindel, Frodo was able to evade the remaining Ringwraiths and reach Rivendell. Although almost overcome by his wound, once there he was healed over time by Elrond; it was said and later seen that the wound would never completely heal, however, as it was as much spiritual as physical.
In Rivendell, the Council of Elrond met and resolved to destroy the Ring by casting it into Mount Doom in Mordor, the realm of Sauron. Frodo, realizing that he was destined for this task, stepped forward to be the Ring-bearer. A Fellowship of nine companions was formed to guide and protect him: the hobbits, Gandalf, Aragorn, the dwarf Gimli, the elf Legolas of Mirkwood, and Boromir, a man of Gondor. Together they set out from Rivendell. Frodo was armed with Sting, Bilbo's Elvish knife, and wore Bilbo's coat of Dwarven mail made of mithril. The company, seeking a way over the Misty Mountains, first tried the Pass of Caradhras, but abandoned it in favour of the mines of Moria. In Moria Frodo was stabbed by an Orc-spear, but his coat of mithril armour saved his life. They were led through the mines by Gandalf, until he fell battling a Balrog, and then by Aragorn to Lothlórien. There Galadriel, the Lady of the Woods, gave Frodo an Elven cloak and a phial carrying the Light of Eärendil to aid him on his dangerous quest.
Having then travelled some miles down the Anduin by boat, the Fellowship reached Parth Galen. There, Boromir, having fallen to the lure of the Ring, tried to take it by force from Frodo. Frodo escaped by putting on the Ring and becoming invisible. This event broke the Fellowship; Boromir was later slain defending Merry and Pippin from invading Orcs, who captured the two hobbits. Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas gave him a hero's funeral before setting out after the two hobbits. Frodo chose to continue the quest alone, but Sam followed his master, joining him on the journey to Mordor.
The Two Towers
Frodo and Sam made their way through Emyn Muil, followed by the creature Gollum, who had been tracking the Fellowship since Moria, seeking to reclaim the Ring he had possessed for centuries. After Gollum attacked the hobbits, Frodo subdued him with Sting. He then took pity on Gollum, and spared his life (just as Bilbo had done in The Hobbit), instead binding him to a promise to guide them through the Dead Marshes to the Black Gate, which Gollum did. Gollum said that there was "another way" into Mordor, and Frodo, over Sam's objections, allowed him to lead them south into Ithilien. It was there that they met Faramir, younger brother of Boromir, who took them to Henneth Annûn. There Frodo allowed Gollum to be captured by Faramir, saving Gollum's life but leaving him feeling betrayed by his "master". After giving them provisions, Faramir allowed the two hobbits and Gollum to go on their way, but warned Frodo of Gollum's treachery.
The three of them passed near to Minas Morgul, where the pull of the Ring became almost unbearable. There, they began the long climb up the Endless Stair, and at the top entered the tunnel, not knowing it was the home of the giant spider Shelob. Gollum hoped to deliver the hobbits to her and retake the Ring from her leavings. Shelob stung Frodo, rendering him unconscious, but Sam drove her off with Sting and the Phial of Galadriel. After attempting unsuccessfully to wake Frodo, and unable to find any signs of life, Sam concluded that he was dead and decided that his only option was to take the Ring and continue the quest. However, Orcs from Cirith Ungol soon found Frodo's body and knew that he was not dead. Planning to interrogate him after his awakening, they carried him into the tower at the head of the pass.
The Return of the King
Sam rescued Frodo from the Orcs of Cirith Ungol. After a brief confrontation in which Frodo became enraged that Sam had taken the Ring, Sam restored the Ring to him. The two of them, dressed in scavenged Orc-armour, set off for Mount Doom, trailed by Gollum. They witnessed the plains of Gorgoroth empty at the approach of the Armies of the West, but at one point they barely escaped being drafted into an Orc-band. With the Ring getting closer to its master, Frodo became progressively weaker as its influence grew. After running out of water, they left all unnecessary baggage behind to travel light. As they reached Mount Doom, Gollum reappeared and attacked Frodo, who beat him back. While Sam fought with Gollum, Frodo went on to Sammath Naur within the volcano, where Sauron had forged the Ring. Here, however, Frodo lost the will to destroy the Ring, and instead put it on, claiming it for himself. Gollum got past Sam and attacked the invisible Frodo, biting off his finger, and finally regained his "precious". As he danced around in elation, Gollum lost his balance and fell with the Ring into the lava. The Ring was thus destroyed, and with it Sauron's power. Frodo and Sam were rescued by the reborn Gandalf and several Great Eagles as Mount Doom erupted.
After reuniting with the Fellowship and attending Aragorn's coronation as King of Gondor, the four hobbits returned to the Shire to find it taken over by a gang of ruffians, led initially by Frodo's cousin, Lotho Sackville-Baggins, and then by the fallen wizard Saruman. The four travellers roused their fellow hobbits and led them in driving the ruffians out. There they witnessed the deaths of both Saruman and his henchman Gríma.
Frodo never completely recovered from the physical, emotional and psychological wounds he suffered during the War of the Ring. He was taken ill on the anniversaries of his wounding on Weathertop and his poisoning by Shelob. He briefly served as Deputy Mayor of the Shire, but spent most of his time writing the tale of his travels. Two years after the Ring was destroyed, Frodo and Bilbo as Ring-bearers were granted passage to Valinor — where Frodo might find peace. They boarded a ship at the Grey Havens and together with Gandalf, Elrond and Galadriel, the Keepers of the Three Rings, they passed over the sea and departed Middle-earth. Having no children of his own Frodo left his estate, along with the Red Book of Westmarch, to Sam.
According to Appendix D of The Lord of the Rings, Frodo’s birthday was made a festival in Minas Tirith.
"The Sea-Bell" was published in Tolkien's 1962 collection of verse The Adventures of Tom Bombadil with the sub-heading Frodos Dreme. Tolkien suggests that this enigmatic, narrative poem represents the despairing dreams that visited Frodo in the Shire in the years following the destruction of the Ring. It relates the otherwise unnamed speaker's journey to a mysterious land across the sea, where he tries but fails to make contact with the people who dwell there. He descends into despair and near-madness, eventually returning to his own country, to find himself utterly alienated from those he once knew.
Characteristics and appearance
Gandalf described Frodo as "taller than some and fairer than most, [with] a cleft in his chin: perky chap with a bright eye." He had thick, curly brown hair like most other hobbits, and had fair skin due to his Fallohide ancestry.
Bilbo and Frodo shared a common birthday on 22 September, but Bilbo was 78 years Frodo's senior. At the opening of The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo and Bilbo were celebrating their thirty-third and one hundred and eleventh birthdays, respectively. Frodo inherited the Ring at this point, and due to its influence he still appeared about 33 during the War of the Ring, though his age was closer to 50.
Frodo, like Bilbo and his Took ancestors, was considered by many others in Hobbiton to be a little odd. His interest in the outside world and fascination with Elves and faraway places (like those to which Bilbo travelled in The Hobbit) were uncommon among hobbits.
When the hobbits were waylaid by the Barrow-wight, they found long daggers made by Dúnedain in the wight's treasure. These served as short-swords for the hobbits, but Frodo's was broken when he resisted the Witch-king at the Ford of Bruinen. Later, Bilbo gave Frodo Sting, a magic Elven dagger, and a coat of mithril chain mail. The mail saved his life on four occasions, deflecting a spear-point and an Orc-arrow in the Mines of Moria, another Orc-arrow along the Anduin, and finally Saruman's knife at Bag End. Frodo wounded the Barrow-wight and a cave troll, but never killed anyone.
Like other members of the Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo received in Lórien a special cloak from Galadriel, which allowed him to blend in with natural surroundings. Galadriel also gave him a vial that reflected the light of Eärendil, the Evenstar, (and, by extension, of the Two Trees of Valinor).
Before he set out for the Shire from Gondor, Arwen Evenstar gave him a white jewel on a silver chain, saying that if the memory of his dark journey and his painful wounds continued to trouble him he could depart to Valinor for a time. The book states that he "wore always a white gem like a star, that he often would finger."
Names and titles
Frodo is referred to by several names and titles in The Lord of the Rings. On leaving the Shire he uses the alias 'Mr Underhill'. Gildor Inglorion calls him 'Elf-friend' in acknowledgement of his ability to speak Elvish. After the Council of Elrond he is given the title 'Ring-bearer'. After the fulfilment of the quest he is referred to by the bards as 'Nine-fingered Frodo' or 'Frodo of the Nine Fingers', after Gollum, in an effort to steal the Ring, bit off his finger in order to get it off of the invisible Frodo.
Frodo is the only prominent hobbit whose name is not explained in Tolkien’s Appendices to The Lord of the Rings. In his letters Tolkien states that it is derived from Old English fród meaning "wise by experience". A character from Norse mythology called Fróði is mentioned in Beowulf, where it is rendered in Old English as Froda. Tolkien did mention he changed final a's to final o's in male Hobbit names.
In the early drafts of The Lord of the Rings the principal character is called Bingo Baggins; the name Frodo is given to another hobbit. In the drafts of the final chapters of The Lord of the Rings published by Christopher Tolkien as Sauron Defeated, Gandalf names Frodo Bronwe athan Harthad (Endurance Beyond Hope) after the destruction of the Ring. Tolkien states that Frodo’s name in the fictional language of Westron was Maura Labingi. His name in Sindarin (another of Tolkien's invented languages) appears to have been Iorhael, which is derived from ior meaning 'old' and hael meaning "wise". In The Return of the King he is also referred to by the name 'Daur', a Sindarin word meaning "noble"  (or perhaps "Wise by experience," if it means the same as "Frodo" does.)
In Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings, Frodo was voiced by Christopher Guard. Billy Barty was the model for Frodo, as well as Bilbo and Sam, in the live-action recordings Bakshi used for rotoscoping.
In the 1980 Rankin/Bass animated version of The Return of the King, made for television, the character was voiced by Orson Bean, who had previously played Bilbo in the same company's adaptation of The Hobbit.
In The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (2001-2003) directed by Peter Jackson, Frodo is played by American actor Elijah Wood. The timeline in Jackson's movie trilogy is simplified and much shorter than in the novel; in the movie Frodo sets out on his adventure a few months after inheriting Bag End and Bilbo's possessions, including the Ring. Consequently he is the same age as his friends Sam, Merry and Pippin, when he begins his adventure. Dan Timmons writes in the Mythopoeic Society's Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (Mythopoeic Press, 2005) that the themes and internal logic of the Jackson films are undermined by the portrayal of Frodo, whom he considers a weakening of Tolkien's original. Elijah Wood reprised his role of Frodo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first part of The Hobbit trilogy (2012-2014).
On stage, Frodo was portrayed by James Loye in the three-hour stage production of The Lord of the Rings, which opened in Toronto in 2006, and was brought to London in 2007. In the United States, Frodo was portrayed by Joe Sofranko in the Cincinnati productions of The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003) for Clear Stage Cincinnati. In Chicago, Patrick Blashill played Frodo in the Lifeline Theatre production of The Two Towers in 1999.
Notes and references
- Although Frodo referred to Bilbo as his "uncle", they were in fact first and second cousins, once removed either way (his paternal great-great-uncle's son's son and his maternal great-aunt's son).
- The Return of the Shadow, Vol. VI in The History of Middle-earth, p. 28–29.
- The Return of the Shadow, p. 36–37.
- The Return of the Shadow, p. 309.
- The Return of the Shadow, p. 267.
- The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 10, "Strider"
- Christopher Tolkien, The History of Middle-earth, Volume XII, The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Appendix on Languages", pp. 48, 50.
- The name Frodo (referring to Sam's son) appears as Iorhael in the tengwar version of the King's Letter to Sam. Christopher Tolkien, The History of Middle-earth, Volume IX, Sauron Defeated, "The Epilogue", pp. 117, 126, 128, 130, 131.
- The Return of the King by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Timmons, Dan (2005-01-01). "Frodo on Film: Peter Jackson’s Problematic Portrayal". In Croft, Janet Brennan. Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. Altadena: Mythopoeic Press. ISBN 1-887726-09-8. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
- at the
- Frodo Baggins at the Internet Movie Database
- Frodo Baggins at the Encyclopedia of Arda
- Frodo Baggins at the Thain's Book