Lord of the Rings - Frodo's drama

I think the problem is that Frodo doesn’t enter the story with any personal baggage (afaik). His personal problems pretty much start with him getting the ring and becoming the one who has to carry the ring.

I mostly think that he’s Situation from the other throughlines. The Frodo-Gollum relationship is clearly internal. Gollum’s impact on Frodo I’m pretty sure has less to do with his appearance, but more so his obsession with the ring. So as I see it, Objective Story and Frodo are external, Relationship Story and Gollum are internal. I think that their relationship is in Manipulations because they both manipulate each other and Frodo’s insistence on calling him Sméagol seems to indicate manipulations as well, as if he’s trying to change Gollum’s nature back to his old self.
You could argue that the objective story is about getting Middle-Earth ‘unstuck’ from Sauron’s rule… but considering how his rule existed long before the story… It’s finding the ring, the nazgul chasing the ring(-bearer), journeying to destroy the ring, creating Uruk-hai, and so on, that causes problems. I think that the overall story throughline is an external process. I’m sure that Frodo’s throughline is static, although I could see why someone would argue for Fixed Attitude rather than Situation.

Do you have any suggestions? Would you agree that Frodo is a Do-er, and if not, how is he a Be-er?

@keypayton Yeah, Optionlock is pretty clear, but I think that the non-existance of a timelimit isn’t enough to ‘prove’ it to be optionlock. It’s an example of the journey story though, the story has to climax once they reach mount doom.
One example of deliberation would the gathering of the fellowship… but after that, most every shift happens because of actions. Gandalf’s death, Boromir’s death (or the attacking Uru-Khai), and finally the destruction of the ring.

I’m with you completely with the OS in Activity and the RS in Manipulations. I think the fuzziness for me is in separating their objective Roles from their subjective roles.

I haven’t watched the films for a while so, I’m having trouble coming up with examples of do-er or be-er either way. (He volunteers to carry the ring, right? But is that part of his personal throughline?)

I feel like he was hesitant / ill-equipped to carry the ring. Assuming we’re going with Action driver, that might hint at him being a be-er. Either way, I’ve always felt like Frodo was sort of lightly drawn as a character, if that makes sense.

Let’s not forget that Gandalf is the original good-guy Protagonist of this story, with Frodo only taking over the Protagonist functions later in the trilogy. And actually, I think “Destroying the Ring” is too narrow a focus for the Overall Story. To involve all the characters, I think it should be something more like “Saving Middle Earth from Sauron.”

Given that, I concur that Frodo is “stuck” in the Situation domain, because he’s “stuck” as Gandalf’s friend, and is the hobbit that Gandalf (and the ring, sort of) picks for th ring-destroying part of the larger OS.

And have you already developed some consensus that Gollum is the only Influence Character in the trilogy?

Oh, Gollum certainly plays the “we’re not that different” card with Frodo. But both Gandalf and Sam have powerful and personal helping “influence” upon Frodo, while Gollum is entirely Contagonist/Antagonist in his functions – Hindering and Tempting and Preventing (even biting off a finger) so that he will get the ring and not Frodo.

So I think there’s either multiple Influence Characters for Frodo, or that the Influence Character function is handed off (and even handled from different perspectives) from The Lord of the Rings to The Two Towers to The Return of the King.

I was thinking about it while I was running some errands and Sam as IC occurred to me. Certainly, Sam spends the most time with Frodo and their relationship seems to be the heart of that story. But I don’t see him as with an Innermost Desires concern.

Also, I rewatched a clip from the end of Return of the King at Mt. Doom. Frodo goes go all Gollum, but it doesn’t seem like a permanent change. The ring is destroyed shortly after and he’s on the rocks having a sweet moment with Sam.

It’s all kind of murky for me. Hmm.

“Destroying the Ring” might be a bit narrow for the throughline, but I think it’s a good Goal to focus on.

No, we haven’t developed any consensus on Gollum being the only Influence Character. It just seems to me that his influence is the most obvious and memorable. But yes, he doesn’t have much influence in Fellowship, where Gandalf probably takes the spot. In Two Towers and Return of the King Sam and Gollum share the role. Fixed Attitude for IC and Manipulations for RS would still be the case either way.
You could probably make an argument that he’s more of a living forewarning for Frodo and purely an objective character… but considering how much focus there is on him and his relationship with Frodo… no, I think he’s part of the Influence Team.

I agree that Frodo’s side is a bit thin… but then I imagine how long the movies would have been if it wasn’t and I’m not complaining (although Two Towers might have been better if it focused more on that but nevermind).
Sam’s Innermost Desires I could see being about (1) returning home and (2) proposing to Rose (and his love for Mr. Frodo).
Frodo’s Change is… I don’t think he’s the same person as he was at the beginning. The multiple stories and the fact that Frodo’s story is so tightly connected to the ring makes it difficult to determine either way… but I think Tolkien’s intent was for us to think that he changed. And apart from that, Sam, Gandalf and Gollum are definitely steadfast.

They would certainly be longer. :smile:

I’m listening to the Cool Hand Luke analysis now. Chris Huntley asks what relationship exists between the MC and IC that has nothing do with the overall story. Sam and Gandalf’s relationship with Frodo extends outside of the ‘quest’, I don’t think Gollum’s does.

Also, wouldn’t they all have to share the same perspective / influence to hand off that function?

I think it feels like he’s changed, but I’m having trouble trying to quantify that change.

With Frodo’s personal perspective being kind of light, I think it’s hard to say if he’s adopted a new perspective, or if he’s just grown as a character …

The overarching Change I see in Frodo is his ultimate willingness to abandon the Shire and sail off to the Grey Havens. In The Lord of the Rings the Shire means everything to Frodo, and he (under Sam’s influence) often reminisces over their good times there.

But Frodo has accepted a noble challenge from his old friend, Gandalf (who he clearly wants to impress), so he continues forward even while longing to go back. Even at the Council of Elrond, when Frodo volunteers to take the ring to Mt. Doom and destroy it, I think his tone and affect have in them a good bit of “this is what the Shire and Gandalf would have me to do, so I must.”

In fact, I might even argue that Frodo is an active Be-er, and his ultimate Change, when it all comes down to it, is to Do the right thing for its own sake, rather than just for who it might impress or how it might benefit him and those he loves…

Finally: Indeed, bobRaskoph, “Sam, Gandalf and Gollum are definitely Steadfast.” And glennbecker, the trilogy is such an epic, multi-faceted collection of characters and incidents, I too feel a bit “fuzzy” on all the storyforming implications!

Hmmm… I’m not really seeing that… And I’m sure Gandalf/Sam’s biggest impact is created through their fixed attitude and not their situation… So while you might argue for him being a Be-er, would you argue for it?

And yes, Lord of the Rings being such a huge multi-story makes it difficult to decide on which element belongs to which story and so on, which is why I thought talking about the most important and lasting one would make things a bit easier.

My understanding from what I’ve read is that a change character comes to the story with justifications that are torn down, and a steadfast character walks in without justification and builds up walls.

If we’re going with Frodo’s situation being that he’s stuck with the corrupting influence of the ring then he’s able to survive that influence. If he’s coming to the story without and justification, and being put in a troublesome situation, and walking away not being a sunken-eyed, obsessive maniac, doesn’t that feel more steadfast?

But that could be his Protagonist pursuit trait …

If the crisis is him standing in front of the volcano, and him choosing to keep the ring, then he’s change. But it seems wishy-washy, because he comes back from that change shortly afterward. The ring sits on the lava for a while and he doesn’t dive down after it.


I was thinking about Ida, where she seems to completely become like her Aunt Wanda, but then shed that and stick with her original resolve. Frodo seems to avoid becoming Gollum, but Gollum doesn’t change … Argh!


I feel like I’m running in mental circles. Haha

Do you think Bilbo’s book and his (Frodo’s) part in it had something to do with the noble challenge, not just wanting to impress Gandalf?

I am sure that Peter Jackson is itching to squeeze another ending onto the film.

Hi Folks,

Coming to this quite late. Thank you all - I have found it quite fascinating reading to date. Not to tread over old ground, but I am trying to work through if Frodo is indeed a change character or not. @keypayton made a reasoned argument for him being a change character. i.e. willingness to abandon the Shire etc. but I am not too sure.

I would have to rewatch the start of the film to be able to engage with this post in a more informed way - but I was thinking that Frodo does have an adventurous streak in him that longs to go on a trip to see the elves and (from memory) more so than Sam.

I would argue that Sam is more bound to the Shire than Frodo is. “If I take one more step Mr Frodo, it will be the farthest away from home I’ve ever been.”

If we are to argue that Frodo’s change is “happy to leave the Shire behind” - I am not too sure who the IC is that had argued that side of the story. I didn’t really get the feeling that Sam is all for adventure, freedom, leave the Shire behind etc.

@keypaton, I am intrigued when you say:

Frodo is definitely the Change character in the film trilogy, with Sam as the primary Influence Character (Frodo becomes more like Sam, at the end).

In what way do you see Frodo becoming more like Sam - at the end? I’m not saying that I disagree with you (I’m still trying to make up my mind), I think it would be helpful to work through what the change could be and how Sam influences Frodo in respect to that change (if he is indeed the IC).

You’re right, brendon_oloughlin: Re-watching the whole trilogy would probably help us all be clearer about it — and might also confirm that the trilogy contains multiple storyforms, even simultaneous storyforms in each film.

As to Frodo as a Change character: Brendon, you’ve helped me realize that I misspoke when I said it was about Frodo’s willingness to “leave the Shire behind.”

Rather, I think Frodo becomes “more like Sam” in his commitment to “the common good” over personal success or satisfaction — in fact, Frodo could be going through the fairly classic tussle between the Dramatica-defined “morality” and “self-interest.”

Like his Uncle Bilbo, Frodo has big personal dreams beyond the Shire, and he gets to fulfill a lot of them. But in the end, it’s Sam’s commitment to what’s best for all, and to their friendship over individual accomplishment, that helps Frodo stop fighting for the Ring and avoid falling into the lava along with Gollum… or at least that’s how I recall the story today!

Thanks keypayton! I really wish I has a free 14 hours to rewatch the masterpiece - but alas. You may be right regarding Frodo’s change being in the morality<=>self interest. It seems to ring a bit more true. It would be good to see how all the other points hit in the quadrants.

One morality/self interest aspect rears its head at Mount Doom. Frodo: “MY precious…”. I think this is definitely a stronger argument for me.

Now… just to find a spare 14 hours to rewatch the trilogy…

Oh, and bobRaskoph, I now agree that Frodo is indeed a Do-er (I think a bit of a passive Do-er at first, but becoming more obviously an active Do-er in each new movie of the trilogy).

And I still think it’s a Success-Good Outcome and Judgment, because Sauron and the Ring are destroyed, Middle Earth is saved, and all the principal good guys (including Frodo and the other Hobbits) get to enjoy the fruits of their labors (Frodo’s fruit is getting to go off to the land of the Undying Greys).

I simply can’t watch Frodo’s final scene, as he smilingly waves goodbye to Sam, Merry and Pippin, and come down to a Bad MC Judgment…

…especially when Frodo was so ill from the Nazgûl’s evil stab wound, and now he was going to happy elfin health. What is the storyform point for “help from friends”. That seems to be what Frodo was most successful at.

So, if nobody has any further issues, I’d say we lock our storyform with Change, Stop, Do-er, Linear, Action, Optionlock, Success, (Good), Activities (OS: Activities, MC: Situation, IC: Fixed Attitude, RS: Manipulations)
Does anyone have suggestions where we should place the Concerns? Mine was this:

but with Gollum getting replaced as the Influence character, the latter two illustrations no longer hold.

As an alternative suggestion - the following seems to work in a couple of ways.

OS Concern: Doing - Everyone is concerned about getting Frodo to Mt Doom and destroy the ring.
MC Concern: How things are changing - Frodo is concerned about how the ring is changing him
IC Concern: Impulsive Responses - [Not sure on this one - a rewatching is needed]
RS Concern: Playing a role - Sam and Frodo are concerned about who is to take on the role of ring bearer? Culminating in the: “Come on, Mr. Frodo, I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!”

Looking at the issues that these choices throw up though - I’m not too sure.

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Hi all,
I visited Tracy Hickman’s website yesterday. He’s having a LOTR breakdown using Dramatica this December. I think its gonna be paid for. But it’ll be great seeing his insights on this subject. He is afterall a NYT bestseller with his Dragonlance series. So lets all try to see if we can glean some of his insights.