Lord of the Rings - Frodo's drama

Woah. What a great find! Thanks

Although looking briefly at his site…do you have a link you could give us. I can’t seem to find it.

Hi Jim. Here is a link to one breakdown from him.
http://scribesforge.com/four-stories-of-lord-of-the-rings/. This second link has an image that shows his dramatica quad picture its very small but, http://scribesforge.com/?s=lord+of+the+rings+ . As for the seminar, it seems the page on their website is …off. It was there few days ago. I don’t know what happened. Here is the link for that one. http://scribesforge.com/scribes-forge-revisited/ . So sorry this happened. Cheers.

I get a bunch of 404 errors when I look at that site. Too bad, with a screen name like Gregolas (Greg + Legolas) I would love to’ve seen a breakdown of all the LOTR story forms. This thread looks pretty old, so I won’t start it up again now, but I sure wish i’d signed up in time to be a part of it.

Same here @Gregolas. Sorry it went down.

I wouldn’t mind if you or someone else rebooted this discussion in this thread and try to figure out what the story forms are. You could then compare your results with those of Tracy Hickman, if he didn’t change his mind about doing the breakdown this December.

I think Hickman’s seminar / webinar took place a while ago … I google searched to find this page:
But it mentions it as being “just in time for the premiere of The Hobbit”. So I think it’s old.

Welp, you asked for it. Not sure I have it in me to reboot the topic. I’m not great at analyzing movies with a single story form. See my Jurassic Park thread, for example. But I’ll share some of my thoughts.

Frodo lives in the Shire, a small, quiet place untouched (UNCHANGED) by the hand of the bigger folk. All is fine and as it should be until Bilbo decides to leave the Shire. Bilbo leaves Frodo in possession of the One Ring, which, Frodo learns, is a powerful and very evil ring. When he sets out to determine what to do with the ring he finds that shadows of Mordor are beginning to reach the Shire. Things are beginning to change. Not for the world at large, per se, but at least as far as Frodo is concerned. (MC Domain: Situation, MC Concern:How Things Are Changing)

Meanwhile, the one ring is filled with evil, imbued with the magic of Sauron, or the power of Sauron, or the spirit of Sauron, or whatever (It’s a Horcrux, for any HP fans). As such, it’s sole purpose is to seek darkness wherever it may. When Isildur cut it from Saurons finger, the ring immediately changes sizes to fit Isildur’s finger, showing it’s acceptance of him as its new bearer. Despite Isildur succumbing to the darkness of the ring, the ring betrays Isildur, allowing him to be pierced by the arrow of an enemy. This decision has left the ring lost for several thousand years and it must now find it’s way back to the dark tower of Sauron (IC Domain: Fixed Attitude, IC Concern: Impulsive Responses)

When Frodo gets to the Council of Elrond, representatives from all across Middle Earth and from various races discuss what to do with the ring and how to destroy it. It’s determined that Frodo should be the one to carry the ring to Mount Doom, is perhaps the only one who CAN carry the ring to Mount Doom without being tempted to use it. (More MC Situation) So Frodo, as the bearer of the ring (RS Concern: Playing a Role, or Being), begins the journey of carrying the ring to Mordor. The longer Frodo has the ring, the more it is able to change him, the more he has to fight it, and the weaker he grows because of it. As the rings host, Frodo is blinded to the dangerous intentions of Gollum and is paranoid about Sam’s motives. He eventually begins to desire the ring for himself. (RS Domain: Manipulation)

Although many seek to obtain or to destroy the ring, what most really want is to use the ring for their own purposes or to prevent the ring from falling into the hands of those who would use it for evil. Frodo and Sam seek to move the ring to Mordor to destroy it. The ring seeks Mordor to reunite with its creator. Gollum seeks to help the ring reach Mordor so he can let Shelob kill the Hobbits and then collect the ring for himself. Boromir seeks the ring to use it as a weapon for Gondor. Faramir contemplates taking the ring to his father to complete Boromirs quest and prove himself to his father. (OS Domain: Activity, OS Concern: Doing)

Approach: Do-er - Frodo carries the ring as he walks it to Rivendale and then Mordor. He runs from or fights off creatures that try to take it from him, leaves the Fellowship to journey alone,
OS Driver: Decision Bilbos decision to leave the ring to Frodo leads to Frodos need to escape from the Shire with the ring before the Ringwraiths can take it from him. Frodo’s decision not to drop the ring leads to Gollum attacking him, taking the ring from him, and falling into the lava.
OS Limit: Optionlock Gandalf demonstrates that regular fire cannot destroy the ring. Gimli tries to destroy the ring with his axe. Many people consider attempting to possess the ring, but only Frodo can do so without immediately succumbing to it.
OS Outcome: Success The ring is carried to Mount Doom and destroyed, preventing its further use.
OS Judgment: Good Frodo succumbed to the call of the ring. After it is destroyed, he still feels the pain of his scars for a long time. But he doesn’t mention any guilt about his last second decision not to destroy the ring. He has saved the Shire and finished Bilbo’s story and passed the book on to Sam to finish the last few chapters. Yet, while the darkness has been stopped, things have still changed for Frodo. Rather than going to the Undying Lands to seek peace, he is allowed to go to the Undying Lands for his role in destroying the ring. Since the Undying Lands pretty much seem to be a metaphor for Heaven, I think Frodo sees this as a good thing and is happy about it. So there were some costs, but in the end, I have to believe Frodo felt the journey was MORE than worth it.

A few more notes.

Sam is a guardian. Gollum is a contagonist. Gollum is manipulative, but it’s in his role as a contagonist rather than an IC. He might get the IC handoff here and there, but largely he’s just a contagonist. Frodo wouldn’t have fallen for Gollums deceit early on in the story. It’s only after the ring has an opportunity to manipulate Frodo that Frodo falls for Gollums tricks.

The War of the Ring, i think, is a larger story which contains Frodo’s story of destroying the ring. The War of the Ring depends on the outcome of Frodo’s story, but Frodo’s story is not the same as the War of the Ring.

While Frodo fails to drop the ring into the lava, he succeeds in carrying it to Mount Doom so that Gollum can then destroy it. I also think now that, even though Frodo didn’t drop the ring, he could still be a steadfast character. After the ring is removed from his finger and dropped in the lava, Frodo no longer desires the ring and its manipulation of him is gone, unlike with Bilbo who stills desires to see the ring one last time even as they are on the way to the Undying Lands.

I may be stretching a bit here, but i’m going to say that the ring is a changed character in that the spirit of Sauron was removed from it and it is no longer evil. It’s just a bit of melted metal and no longer has the ability to seek evil. And even though Saurons spirit would probably still be evil, it stopped trying to spread darkness across the land and immediately flees to wherever evil spirits in the Middle Earth universe flee when they are defeated.

Another option is that Frodo actually did change when he put the ring on. But it was that change that gave Gollum the chance to attack and destroy the ring himself.

Either way, whether Frodo changed or remained steadfast, the ring is destroyed which means the spread of darkness ceases, which would seem to be a success for Frodo. I don’t really know, though. That all gets pretty confusing.

Okay, so I felt pretty good about the concerns when I posted this before, but I think I see where I went wrong. I let the War of the Ring drift too much into Frodo’s story and change the concerns. The concerns i came up with felt right to me at the time, of course, because they are all still explored in Frodo’s story.

In the War of the Ring story, everyone wants the ring to use as a weapon (Doing), but in Frodo’s story, I think it really is just about getting rid of the ring (Obtaining) after all. So if the OS Concern switches to Obtaining, then the MC Concern switches Future, which makes sense, because his concern about the way things are changing comes from his fear of what will happen to the Shire and his friends if he doesn’t get rid of the ring (as evidenced when he looks into Galadriels mirror pool thing).

So then the IC Concern switches to Innermost Desires which makes sense because the ring isn’t concerned in Frodo’s story about it’s own Impulsive Responses (i even had to dig into backstory, i think, to make this concern work), but it’s Innermost Desire of returning to its creator while leaving evil in its wake.

And of course the relationship story isn’t really about Frodo Being the “chosen one” who has to carry the ring, but about how the ring Change’s Frodo’s Nature from an innocent Hobbit who desires to get rid of the ring to a Hobbit who desires to keep the ring to himself.

I figured this out when I was looking at the element level for the problem and solution and saw that Conscience and Temptation were not in the Concerns I had chosen. And I’m pretty sure those are in there, although I can’t quite untie the smallest knots to get there yet.

But isn’t it the destruction of the ring that ends the story? And the attack on Boromir etc that lead to Frodo leaving the Fellowship? I think the decisions made in LOTR are forced by Actions.

In general the problem with Frodo’s story is that it isn’t really clear whether he changed in the end, and to what. I my original proposal I said that he did change, and had a bad judgment, because I considered Frodo’s plot to be over right as the ring was destroyed. But, if you include all the endings (which I would now do) then I can’t really say that Frodo changed his point of view to that of Gollum or the Ring (and neither do they really change to that of Frodo’s), who seem to be bigger Influences/Challenges than Sam for sure. Frodo doesn’t have much of a personal baggage that doesn’t somehow relate to the ring.

But let’s assume for a second that there is more. This story form (Steadfast, Stop, Do-er, Linear, Action, Optionlock, Success, Physics, Obtaining, Morality, Temptation) leads to an Influence Character with Problem Temptation, Symptom Hinder, Response Help and Solution Conscience; Main Character Problem of Reconsider, Symptom of Disbelief, Response of Faith, Solution of Consider; Relationship Problem of Avoidance, Symptom of Disbelief, Response of Faith, Solution of Pursuit. These honestly work for me, but I’d have to think about it some more before explaining my reasoning.

I could see “Conscience” as the IC Solution as somehow being applied to Gollum. The only reason he was able to do what he did, is because Frodo showed mercy to him. Does that make sense?

I may not be looking at story driver the same, or even the right way. But my understanding of the driver is that it’s what pushes the story forward. Frodo’s decision not to toss the ring seemed to be what pushed the story to Gollum attacking. I’ve been looking at the driver not as what solves the problem, but as what leads to both the problem and the solving of the problem. This is a very abbreviated story line, but I think Bilbo’s decision (seemingly made against his will) to leave the ring with Frodo leaves Frodo with the problem, which leads to Frodo traveling to Rivendale, which leads to the decision to send the ring to Mount Doom, which leads to Frodo and Sam traveling to Mount Doom with it, which leads to Frodo deciding to keep it, which leads to Gollum attacking and the rings destruction. So in that case, a decision would lead to the problem, and lead to it’s solution. But I would agree that it doesn’t seem like a clear shot from Frodo deciding to keep the ring to Gollum attacking. (EDIT: I’ve begun to wonder if there are really two different stories at play between Frodo keeping the ring, and Gollum falling into the lava with it)

With Boromir, again, it seems to me a decision by Frodo not to give Boromir the ring that leads to Boromir’s attacking Frodo.

There’s a story somewhere that Frodo is involved in that seems to me very deliberation driven. Whether it’s Frodo’s story, or Frodo part in another story I can’t really say. But it would be the one where everyone who crosses paths with the rings has to decide whether they would try to use the ring for good or not try to use it at all. They all have to decide whether to give in to temptation or to go with their conscience.

The stories in Lord of the Rings are like two necklaces in a jewelry box that has been bounced and shaken too much. They’re so tied together that it seems impossible to ever untie them again without just breaking them completely apart.

As far as whether Frodo changed or not, I still can’t really say. It seems he had a definite change when he kept the ring. But was he able to be pulled back within his own story? Or is it a larger story that brought him back? Or is Lord of the Rings, maybe…dare I say it…a broken tale because of Frodo’s confused ending? I can’t really say. (EDIT: Again, i’ve begun to think of Frodo as a changed character that failed to solve his problem, but whose attempt allowed the larger story to end in success)

I suppose Frodo could be changed and failed within his own narrative as he fails to destroy the ring. But when Gollum comes out and takes it from him, that’s the larger story of the War of the Ring stepping in and being solved by Gollum.

Hmm…so here I go changing my mind again. I definitely see the ring as having more of an influence on Frodo than anyone else. And I see the influence that Gollum has on Frodo as part of the Manipulation of the ring. And since the ring manipulates anyone it comes into contact with, maybe the ring should be in Manipulation rather than Fixed Attitude.

And maybe Frodo’s larger problem is less about his situation of being a small Hobbit in a big world or being the ring bearer, and more about his quest to destroy the ring. That would put the relationship into Fixed attitude. Then you would have something like this

MC Story in Activity, Doing
IC Story in Manipulation, Changing Nature
RS Story in Fixed Attitude, Innermost Desire
and OS Story in Situation, Future.

I’m not sure what the OS situation would be exactly, but let’s say that Frodo’s story is about Frodo, Sam, Gollum, and the ring. There are other characters, but those are the biggest characters in it. Then let’s say the OS Situation is the Future of the Shire or something like that, just as a place holder. Something not related to the overall War of the Ring. That would allow Frodo change within the Changing One’s Nature Concern, which causes him to decide not to destroy the ring, and it will have an affect on his Future in that he will be more and more like Gollum and the ring will continue to do evil into the future.

Then Frodo, within his own story, would be a changed character and the outcome would be failure. I’d have to unravel the judgment to see if it was a good or bad and wy.

Then it would be Gollum and the larger story that step in and solve the larger story by destroying the ring where Frodo failed. That seems to work better for me.

As I was skimming through the posts to begin catch up, a dynamic popped into my head: Could the ring be IC with a string of changing MCs, stepping in for each other to complete the task?

@Prish, that’s an interesting thought. There may be some of that going on. I’d say that Isildur and Gollum both have an MC story to the Rings IC. But I think they are both broken tales that serve as backstory to the other stories, to Frodo’s story and the one I’ve been referring to as the War of the Ring.

I’ve been trying to figure this out all weekend. I think i was getting close in the last couple posts but not quite there. I’ve decided now that Frodo’s role in multiple story forms is why it is so hard to tell if he is a change/steadfast character and whether he has a good or bad judgment. His own story has him trying to destroy the ring as a personal goal and failing. but the destruction of the ring is also the goal in the larger story, and that one is a success. Since Frodo is rewarded for his part in that, he seems to have failure and success, bad and good judgments, and looks like a change and a steadfast character, all at the same time.

Frodo’s main story has him trying to get rid of the ring. The problem seems to be something like “overcoming constant and overwhelming temptation”. I know I keep posting versions of this, but this is how I currently see Frodo’s story.

MC - Activity, Obtaining - Frodo is trying to get rid of the ring. Even though others offer, only he can carry it (except for a very small amount of time in which Sam has it).

IC - Manipulation, Changing One’s Nature - The ring tries to turn whoever comes across it to evil, tries to control them…

RS - Fixed Attitude, Innermost Desire - Frodo tries to maintain his innocence while the ring maintains its evil. Frodo wants to get rid of the ring while the ring wants Frodo to put it on.

OS - Situation, Future - I’m still not 100% on this one. They seem concerned with Frodo’s future and safety as he takes the ring to Mordor. Gandalf and Sam are for the story goal of protecting Frodo. Gollum is against it. The fellowship of the nine are for it. Boromir, in his role in the fellowship, is for protecting Frodo…until he switches to the War of the Ring story and tries to take the ring to aid in the fight for Gondor.

Hey Greg & Bob,
I hope you don’t mind if offer some of my ideas to see if they can help. I’m thinking in terms of the books rather than the films, which may not necessarily have the same storyform. So if you are concentrating on the films, take my comments with a grain of salt!

The question of whether Frodo is a Change character really depends on exactly what his personal baggage and issues are, and the perspective those issues have given him. I skimmed the beggining of the book and it seems quite apparent that Frodo’s MC throughline is about “being burdened”. Even before he learns about the ring’s danger, he is burdened with being the one to have to close out Bilbo’s party, burdened with Bilbo’s inheritance and having to divvy things up, even burdened by Bilbo’s absence and the regret of not going with him. Then he becomes the ring-bearer and it’s one more burden of Bilbo’s that he must take on.

I think you can see Frodo’s MC Concern in this quote from Fellowship of the Ring, right after Gandalf tells him his ring is the One Ring:

‘…But in the meanwhile it seems that I am a danger, a danger to all that live near me. I cannot keep the Ring and stay here. I ought to leave Bag End, leave the Shire, leave everything and go away.’ He sighed.
‘I should like to save the Shire, if I could - though there have been times when I thought the inhabitants too stupid and dull for words, and have felt that an earthquake or an invasion of dragons might be good for them. But I don’t feel like that now. I feel that as long as the Shire lies behind, safe and comfortable, I shall find wandering more bearable: I shall know that somewhere there is a firm foothold, even if my feet cannot stand there again.

So his Concern has to do with saving the Shire. And then at the very end of Return of the King, you have this:

‘But,’ said Sam, and tears started in his eyes, ‘I thought you were going to enjoy the Shire, too. for years and years, after all you have done.’
‘So I thought too, once. But I have been too deeply hurt, Sam. I tried to save the Shire, and it has been saved, but not for me. It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them.

I would suggest that Frodo is Steadfast. His perspective is that he will never truly be able to escape his burdens, including the burden of having to save the Shire without being able to call it home again. This perspective, which has not changed but rather been cemented by his many wounds, drives him to leave Middle-Earth. (I think Judgment is still Good though – he is happy that the Shire has been saved and happy for his friends, and doesn’t regret his choices.)

But what does that mean for IC throughline, since the IC must be the Change character? I would look to Sam for that. He is all about admiring Frodo and being loyal to him. I think he starts as a Be-er but moves into a Do-er with all of his heroics, and in the end he starts a family of his own so that Frodo is not his entire world anymore. I think that is his changed perspective. He even accepts Frodo’s big goodbye speech telling him he will be the Mayor and the most famous gardener in history.

Personally, I think at least for the books there is one big storyform “to rule them all”, with Frodo as MC, Sam as IC, and the OS is the entire Fellowship and War of the Ring. The Frodo-Sam relationship has a lot of RS moments too, I think. Definitely there are sub-stories involved but I think that is the big overarching one.

Anyway, just my two cents focusing on the books.

P.S. While skimming I think I noticed that the First Driver is an Action – Bilbo’s unpremeditated difficulty in giving up the ring is what spurs Gandalf into thinking it really could be the One Ring, and forces him to decide to investigate that more.


But it is quite amazing that Gollum’s backstory MC stepped in at the very end to be the one to destroy the ring. I wonder if that is just the screenwriter’s structure or Tolkein’s. When I saw the movie, I never felt it was finished correctly because it just showed Sam going home, yet the whole book series was about the team, and it only ended when Sam turned everything over and took the last boat to the Elf after-land. imho. After 50 years the story kind of jells, I guess.

Hi all - I rewatched the trilogy this past weekend and was looking to see if anyone had done a breakdown online. Forgive the crazy long post, but this is what I came up with for the Frodo story form (excluding the others that are likely there, like Aragorn’s journey from ranger to king etc).

MC Resolve/Growth: Steadfast/Stop - In the end, Frodo works through his external environment - the many forces that oppose, support, and seek to prevent to move the right elements into place to realize his quest (ultimately prompting Gollum’s desperation for the Ring to cause its destruction). I think this manifests in Frodo moving Control to Uncontrolled, that is, giving into the Ring, which results in Gollum tackling him (to Avoid the destruction of the Ring) and falling into the pit destroying it, clearing the whole problem of Pursuit. Not Frodo’s conscious intent necessarily, but from an objective author’s viewpoint, I think this works.

IC Resolve/Growth: Change/Start - Sam rises to the occasion to go from be-er trying to be whatever Frodo needs him to be, to do-er by carrying Frodo and the Ring up the steps himself (I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!). Gollum also goes from his Smeagol/Gollum routine to tricking the hobbits into the spider’s lair and then ultimately just giving 'er and trying to take it (the climax of the 3rd act).

MC Approach: Do-er (While Frodo is not a particularly proactive do-er, Sam and Gollum (ICs) both change everything about themselves (Sam: gardener to savior, Gollum to Smeagol and back) to adapt to their situations. Gandalf also levels up between 1st and 2nd films!)

MC Mentality: Linear (go to Mountain, destroy ring - pretty goal-oriented)

Outcome: Success - Although Frodo doesn’t do it by his own will, the Ring is destroyed in the fires of Mt. Doom – achievement unlocked!

Judgment: Good - Frodo survives, rids himself of his problematic Situation and gets to go to Hobbit heaven, in this case, the Undying Lands in the West.

Driver: Action: Bilbo uses the Ring at the birthday party (action), alerting Gandalf and the world at large to its presence in the Shire and possible nature, prompting Gandalf to insist Bilbo leave the Ring to Frodo against his preferences (decision) and Gandalf to investigate (action) the Ring and determining it could indeed be the One Ring and not worth the risk keeping it in the Shire (decision), prompting him to insist Frodo take it to Rivendell (action) etc.)

Overall Story (Journey to Mt. Doom)

Physics: A hobbit goes on a physical journey to travel to a destination (Mt. Doom) and perform an action (throw the Ring into the fire). Along the way, there are battles, mountain climbs, narrow escapes, etc. - all activities!

  • Obtaining: The goal is not to “quest” for its own sake (doing), gather information/experience (learning) or appreciate the meaning of something (understanding), but to accomplish a goal i.e. destroy the ring in the fires of Mt. Doom.

  • Self-Interest - Character after character who crosses Frodo’s path on the journey to Mt. Doom contends with their desire to possess the ring for purposes that benefit them in some way (Bilbo, Gandalf, Galadriel, Boromir, Faramir, Gollum, Sauron), This is contrasted by those characters who act (and resist the Ring) in favour of the “good left in this world.” The ringbearer also makes it through some scenarios by acting for himself/when others act in his interest (Arwen and the wraith stab wound, wearing the secret mithril shirt, Sam entering the Spider’s lair and the orc tower etc)

  • Pursuit – It’s a classic pursuit/avoid story: the good guys (Frodo and the Fellowship, then solo), pursue the goal of destroying the ring while the antagonists (Sauron and company) seek to prevent its destruction.

  • The characters scramble around the notion of who Controls the Ring (Is it secret? Is it safe?) as well as knowledge of the mission. Again, Sauron and the folks from Gondor have a keen interest in this. The protagonists direct their efforts to keep it out of the wrong hands (Uncontrolled).

  • Avoid – as a steadfast character, Frodo clears the way for Avoid (Gollum who wants to prevent the destruction of the Ring) solving Pursuit (the need to pursue the Ring’s destruction) by working to move Control (struggle to keep the ring off etc) into Uncontrolled (giving into the Ring and bringing on its destruction at the hands of Gollum).

Main Character – Frodo Baggins

Situation: Frodo is in the unique situation of being the only person capable of bearing the One Ring to Mordor without succumbing to its power (Boromir) or allowing a more powerful character (Gandalf, Galadriel) to be co-opted by it (by the best estimation of Middle Earth’s best and brightest). This causes conflict for Frodo by subjecting him to the Ring’s mental manipulations (suffered by him alone), as well as externally as he is pursued by Nazgul, Gollum and those who would take it for their own purposes (namely, people from Gondor).

  • Future: this situation puts strain on Frodo, as being the owner of the Ring narrows his outlook for the future and that of his home, friends etc. Carrying the Ring causes him to grow more paranoid (Galadriel: he will try to take it from you), despairing (e.g. there isn’t going to be a journey home) and isolated (Sam couldn’t POSSIBLY understand!) as the story goes on.

  • Preconception: Frodo’s struggle in this regard are made worse by his adherence to preconceived notions – that he alone is responsible for bearing the Ring to Mordor, that no one else can ease the burden (e.g. Sam couldn’t possibly understand).

  • Help: Frodo’s unique situation (as a hobbit on a mission in a world filled with knights and monsters) means he is powerless to help himself and must put himself in the hands of others without knowing their true purpose or intent (e.g. Strider, Gollum, Faramir etc).

  • Frodo feels bound to the Ring (Controlled) and focuses much mental effort on remaining free (Uncontrolled) of its grasp (many scenes of him resisting the urge to put it on, only to fail)

  • Hinder: Only when Frodo can sort those who are hindering from those who can help will he free himself from his situation – namely by destroying the Ring.

Influence Characters – Sam/Gandalf in Book 1, Sam/Gollum in Books 2 and 3

Mind: After Gandalf’s insistent and prudent advice (E.g. Do not be so quick to deal out death in judgment., etc) in the first film, the two main influences on Frodo are Sam and Gollum. Each of these represents a fixed attitude (and, I think, the competing sides of Frodo’s own embattled psyche). In Sam’s case, a fixation on his promise to stay with Frodo no matter what; for Gollum - getting the Precious back by hook or by crook. Each character faces their own conflict as keeping to these goals proves more difficult. Fear of physical danger (and personal rejection) for Sam, his own conscience for Gollum.

  • Subconscious: In the first film, Gandalf challenges Frodo by coaxing him out of his somewhat naïve worldview –that the world outside the Shire is mostly populated by enchanting creatures like the elves. His apparent death in Moria presents the ultimate challenge: you’re on your own now. Here, Frodo nearly gives up and wants to stop. In the later books, Sam’s innermost desire to help Frodo conflicts with a competing desire to return home to the domestic life he always imagined (e.g. insistence on proper Shire cuisine, Rosie etc). Gollum’s subconscious, internal conflict is literally played out on screen (all the reflective pool scenes etc).

  • Denial: Gandalf mostly pushes against Frodo’s naivety and moral certainty (e.g. Many that die deserve life. Can you give it to them?). This denial ends and Frodo moves into a more independent frame of mind when Gandalf leaves the (Frodo-centric part of) the story. Later, Sam represents cheery optimism in the face of growing danger, acting against Frodo’s despair. Gollum struggles in denial that he is a wretched murderer undeserving of a second chance (the kind of belief Frodo begins to mirror).

  • Both Sam and Gollum struggle to convince Frodo to consider their way of thinking and reconsider the trustworthiness of the other (e.g. the bread, he’ll kill us in our sleep! etc)

  • Pursuit: Gandalf, Sam and Gollum each make a directed effort to push Frodo in the direction they think is best. Gandalf pushes Frodo toward heroic independence (let the ringbearer decide.) Sam pushes Frodo away from trust in Gollum and the Ring. Gollum pushes Frodo toward whatever keeps him closest to repossessing it.

  • Avoid: The influence characters change when they start acting to prevent Frodo from doing what they don’t want (e.g. Sam changes into an action hero to prevent Frodo giving up, Gollum reverts to his original villain self and attacks to prevent Frodo from carrying out his task).

Relationship Story – Companions of the Ringbearer

Psychology: In Part 1, the relationship between Frodo and Gandalf (friends/mentor-mentee) revolves around adjusting Frodo’s way of thinking to account for the much greater and more complex things going on in Middle Earth around them. After this, the continued psychomachia between Angel/Sam and Devil/Gollum and their attempts to win Frodo to their own benefit/ways of thinking is clearly grounded in manipulation. The relationship between Frodo and which part of the Angel/Devil combination goes back and forth as the story progresses.

  • Becoming: the relationship in this triad concerns the way the Ring is changing Frodo’s nature, making him less like Sam and more like Gollum. The 3-way relationship oscillates as Frodo puts more focus on master/servant and less on employer/employee + friend. As the Ring takes hold, Gollum’s influence on the relationship changes.

  • Commitment: their shared commitment to steering the fate of the Ring causes conflict as the relationship faces escalating costs (e.g. Sam and Frodo’s deteriorating partnership as Gollum erodes Frodo’s trust, Frodo’s betrayal of the Smeagol version in turning him into the Gondor rangers etc). This is contrasted by the fact that the relationship is dysfunctional with all three members. Which role (Responsibility) is better suited to helping the one and only ringbearer - a loyal friend or a savvy guide in the wilderness?

  • Conscience: much of the conflict in the relationship is driven by arguments about short-term benefits and long-term consequences. As the trio move closer to Mt. Doom, questions of the right path, rationing/preparing food, whom to trust and why – all heat up conflict in the relationship.

  • Outwardly, the relationship focuses on control and the desire to be freed (much ado about tying people up, who has Frodo’s ear) i.e. Control and Uncontrolled.

  • Temptation: the relationship once again reaches a balance when it moves from arguments about what’s right and prudent to embracing instincts – for violence and mistrust, leading the relationship back on the path to its original, harmonious form with Sam, Frodo and Gandalf.


I’d forgotten I’d posted on here before. I didn’t reread whatever I’d posted 2 yrs ago-and you shouldn’t read it either, haha.

I have no idea what the form is, but when you look at the problem/solution quad, you’re also looking at the character level quad and the motivation quad. When Frodo abandons his quest to destroy the ring and tries to keep it for himself, it seems like he’s taking on a new motivation and doing something that, to that point, had been out of character for him. Why wouldn’t that be a change?

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I’m just remembering the end of the film with Frodo standing there after Gollum snatched it, etc. Actually, isn’t Frodo just the same as at the beginning of the film, being prodded by obligations to do a task of some kind? That just dawned on me.