Lord of the Rings - Frodo's drama

I’ll admit I’m rather new to the theory and the character grid spooks me, ha ha!

I felt that Frodo made sense as a Steadfast character because his problem doesn’t seem to stem from an internal dilemma, but forces that pile heap after heap of trouble on him - the Ring and its effects first and foremost. He goes from free will to enslavement, but this is the effect of an outside magical object, not a personal demon of some sort. He “loses” after a fashion when he puts on the Ring, but the result is the success of the mission - not sure whether he has to be consciously thinking about it for it to count for Success in the Dramatica sense!

Does anyone else think it’s strange that this post has been around since 2015 and we still can’t figure out a storyform for the most significant and beloved epic fantasy?

Anyway @bbto I agree with you definitely down to the Concern level. I also lean toward Frodo being Steadfast for the reasons you name, though I’m not prepared to defend it.

I’ve got to believe the Temptation quad is in here somewhere though. Isn’t that kind of at the core of the story?

On the other hand, if Temptation is the Problem I can’t quite see how Conscience is the Solution.

The app placed Conscience/Temptation in the Relationship in this example, but I find that throughline is a little harder to nail down myself. If you look at Temptation/Conscience as short-term benefits vs. long-term gains and vice-versa, I can see how the arguments back and forth in the Frodo/Sam/Gollum relationship about what to do next make a kind of sense.

But as for Frodo and the Ring, I saw it more as Frodo holding out as long as he could against the Ring (kind of an antagonist, “it WANTS to be found” and uses its power to get Frodo to reveal his whereabouts to Sauron by putting it on). At the Council of Elrond, it’s Frodo’s resilience to the corruption (and the political neutrality of a lowly hobbit, rather than a dwarf or elf (old grudges there) or super-corruptible man or (too powerful to even go there) wizard, having the Ring) that makes him the best and only candidate for the mission.

If the problem is the Temptation to use the ring, I mean he does that quite a few times (Weathertop, Prancing Pony, after Boromir tries to take it, Osgiliath (I think?). It gets him out of trouble, but also causes problems, could that be an example of using short-term benefits (get out of a scrape) despite long-term consequences (exposing yourself to enemies)?

The lower layers are where the problems seem to come out! This is fun!

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The other thought I had was we keep your quad, but move Pursue/Avoid to Focus and Direction.

Then we have:

Problem - Control: Everyone wants Control of the Ring
Focus - Pursuit: Everyone thinks the problem is that Sauron’s pursuit of the ring
Direction - Avoid (Prevent): We have to prevent him from getting the ring by destroying it
Solution: Uncontrolled – Frodo loses control of the ring, which leads to Golum falling into Mt. Doom


True - Frodo’s mental state definitely gets him to a place where he believes Sam wants to take control of the Ring and leaves him behind (to wander into a trap). Gollum obviously wants to control the Ring as well. Frodo already controls it, which certainly causes problems for him.

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Would Frodo have tried to keep the ring to himself in the beginning of the film?

Not sure exactly what you mean, but as it was said somewhere above, if the goal is to destroy the ring and the ring is destroyed at the end, then that’s a success. Characters don’t have to think about it or mean to do it. The fact that it’s in the story means that the Storymind is doing all the thinking about it that needs to be done.

Not particularly. There are movies with one storyform that are hard enough. LOTR seems to have many. And it’s not been made clear which story anyone is even talkomg about yet. For instance, is the OS about the whole War of the Ring that all of Middle Earth is involved in? Or is the OS we’re discussing just about the fellowship of the ring?

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“Everyone wanting the ring” seems to across as more of a problem with Desire than Control. And I think everyone trying to control or possess the ring is really more of an indicator of the concern of Obtaining.

Also, it’s true that Temptation pops up a lot in this story. I believe that’s what leads to everyone wanting to control the ring.

From the beginning, isn’t it temptation that causes Isildur to fail to destroy the ring and restore balance? Isn’t this what leads to Saruman joining forces with Sauron? And I think Boromir’s betrayal could be a great example of temptation. He and Gollum at least seem to share the Contagonist role.

Plus, there’s the scene where the other hobbits cook a nice dinner, clearly too focused on the immediate benefits of dinner to realize the possible consequence of their actions.


[quote=“Greg, post:66, topic:436”]about
Would Frodo have tried to keep the ring to himself in the beginning of the film?

No, but he knew nothing of the ring then. His uncle was taken from him and he was kind of wondering what to do, now the ring was taken and he’s wondering what to do. Just interesting. No major point, just seems steadfast in needing help, I guess.


Does Frodo wish he had been able to keep the ring at the end of the film? Is he sad that it’s been destroyed, just when he realized how much he loved it?

What worldview or perspective change does his last minute refusal to give up the ring signify? Does he realize now that he should have given up resisting its power long ago?


Hey guys,
I’ve been following along the renewed interest in this. Not sure if you’ve seen my post above but I think it’s still valid, although I’m not 100% sure on Frodo being Steadfast anymore. The part I quoted from the beginning might just indicate foreshadowing, not necessarily Frodo’s actual perspective. Although I do think his burdens are a big part of it.

I definitely like Temptation as the OS Problem though. Gandalf does recognize it at the beginning (“Don’t tempt me!” he yells when Frodo offers him the Ring) but that’s okay, he’s wise and might be one of the rare characters who actually sees the problem as it is.

Disbelief/Faith make a good Focus & Direction, with all the concern about who they can trust (e.g. initial skepticism towards Strider), and Faith is another word for Fellowship.

Part of the reason I like Temptation so much is because it’s a clear moment of Conscience that leads to the Ring’s destruction: Near the top of Mount Doom, Sam is about to kill Gollum, but takes pity and spares him.

Sam’s hand wavered. His mind was hot with wrath and the memory of evil.
It would be just to slay this treacherous, murderous creature, just and many
times deserved; and also it seemed the only safe thing to do. But deep in
his heart there was something that restrained him: he could not strike this
thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly wretched.

And later Frodo admits it was Gollum who saved them all, and talks about forgiveness:

‘Yes,’ said Frodo. ‘But do you remember Gandalf’s words: Even Gollum
may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed
the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let
us forgive him! For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad
you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.’

Of course these quotes are from the books … not 100% sure the storyform is the same, though it probably is?


I was thinking I shouldn’t weigh in since it’s been a while since I saw the movies and even longer since I read the books. But Temptation felt so strong to me from what I remembered that I started watching YouTube clips to see if I could find examples of Conscience as the solution. That quote is a perfect example.

EDIT to add to this: In addition to your points above about Sam going from Be-er to Do-er, isn’t there also a part earlier where he argues strongly for killing Golum (Temptation)? That he shows compassion at the end (and that this leads to the resolution of the OS) suggest to me that he is the change character.

And with this arrangement, his Focus/Direction are Hinder and Help which also seem spot on, no?


Yes!! I was going to say that, but I’d actually decided to wait to see if anyone else noticed it. Awesome. I also think Sam’s problem of Temptation is seen very early, when he eavesdrops on Gandalf & Frodo’s all-important conversation about the Ring. Talk about something that gets him into trouble!

Definitely agree! Sam is very focused on Frodo’s great burden as a problem, and tries his utmost to help Frodo at every turn.

The question now is whether Reconsider can work as Frodo’s MC Problem (Steadfast Drive). I think it does – this may actually be why he seems like a Change character at times (changing his mind, rethinking past decisions). I’d have to look for more examples, but there’s a decent one near the beginning where Frodo knows he doesn’t want to be the Ring-bearer and have to leave the Shire, but then he reconsiders when a desire to follow and find Bilbo comes over him:

as he was speaking a great desire to follow Bilbo flamed up in his heart - to follow Bilbo, and even perhaps to find him again. It was so strong that it overcame his fear: he could almost have run out there and then down the road without his hat, as Bilbo had done on a similar morning long ago.


At the end of the film? Or at the end of the problem solving process? At the end of the problem solving he goes from wanting to get rid of it (telling Gandalf something like “here,you take it!”) to wanting to keep it. Then, after it’s destroyed and the problem is over, goes back and he’s glad it’s gone.

Don’t know. Havent considered it. If his MC throughline is something external-say, being a hobbit or whatever-then maybe he’s switching to an internal mindset of accepting or wanting the ring.


How do you define the end of the problem solving process? I always thought that the way to define a changed character was to look at the beginning and the end of the story and see if the character has a different worldview, or perspective, no matter what wavering takes place in the middle, even up to the climax. It doesn’t make sense to me that the problem solving process goes right up until just before the ring is destroyed but not a moment after. (You still have to take care of the story judgement after all).

Also, isn’t the subjective character change the thing that enables the overall story solution? If the OS goal is to destroy the ring, and that goal is successful, then how does Frodo’s change to wanting to keep the ring facilitate the overall goal of destroying it?

That’s a great example there.

I don’t have a lot of others, but I have this feeling that in addition to his own reconsidering, Frodo – just by virtue of who he is – is always forcing others to Reconsider as well. How can this little hobbit carry the ring? But he’s always surprising them.

Is this a stretch? From Wikipedia:

After seeing that Frodo was unconvinced, Boromir half begged, half commanded him to at least lend the Ring, and when Frodo still refused, Boromir leaped to seize it. Frodo vanished by putting on the Ring and fled, intending to continue the quest alone. Boromir, realizing his betrayal, immediately repented his actions and wept.


Yeah, this makes a lot of sense. Everything that happens with Frodo at the VERY end, living in the Shire for a while and then going to the Grey Havens to depart Middle-Earth, all of that is very clearly linked to the conflict with Sauron and the Ring. It’s the same story (form). (It’s also a great example of a Cost of Subconscious – “I have been too deeply hurt” – a sign that we have the right IC Concern!)

Also, Frodo “wanting” the ring has nothing to do with his personal perspective – it’s just the Ring’s influence on him. When a character’s choices are controlled by magic or mind-controlling drugs or something, you can’t call that a Change of perspective. If Frodo had truly Changed to wanting to keep the Ring, he would have been upset it was gone, rather than being so relieved.

No I don’t think there’s any hard and fast rule there. It can be like Elliot in E.T. where he’s changed by the events of the story. It’s the MC Unique Ability that enables the OS to succeed. (In the storyform I have the MC UA is Delay, which would make sense as Frodo being able to delay the RIng’s claiming him until the very end, at the brink of Mt Doom when it was so vulnerable.)


I was going to start talking about that MC drive of Reconsider, but I’m having trouble because Reconsider feels more like a demotivator for him. Or maybe I’m mixing up when he’s Reconsidering vs when he’s Considering (or Disbelieving). I think it would help to try and create a gist that could be (loosely) applied to Frodo’s throughline.

One other option I thought of is that maybe Sauron is the protagonist, the problem element is Conscience, and then Frodo is driven by Conscience only to change to Temptation momentarily as the storyform ends. The problem is that the goal of the story seems to definitively be “Destroying The Ring”, and that makes Sauron the antagonist, and Temptation the problem element.

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Interesting thought about Sauron being the Protagonist! But yeah, I think the First Driver is Gandalf’s discovery that Bilbo’s ring is the One Ring, setting up the need for the Goal of destroying it. Plus, Temptation seems to be much more a source of conflict than Conscience. Even after Gandalf warns him about the RIng, Frodo is tempted to remain amongst the comforts of the Shire for the rest of the summer, and so they almost get caught by the Ringwraith.

Since his Universe throughline is probably “being the Ring-bearer”, a simple summary of Reconsider might be, “constantly rethinking whether he’s worthy / cut out to carry the Ring”.

But Reconsider gets him into trouble in other ways too, like here he reconsiders Gandalf’s advice never to put on the Ring and the Ringwraith almost gets him:

He felt that he had only to slip it on, and then he would be safe. The advice of Gandalf seemed absurd. Bilbo had used the Ring. ‘And I am still in the Shire,’ he thought, as his hand touched the chain on which it hung.

That said, I’m not 100% sold on this storyform quite yet … need to find some examples of Avoidance as an imbalance & drive for the relationship between Sam and Frodo, and Pursuit as the solution or balance. Do they pursue their friendship at the end?

Also, does it make sense for the story’s message to involve Disbelief (Crucial Element)? I actually feel like Faith would work better for the message, something about friendship and loyalty.


No, the Everyman theme of the series wouldn’t support that. I see him humbly realizing everyone succumbs to power eventually and needs friend association to help keep on track. That is the theme of fellowship, imho. He was exhausted and spent, wanting to glide with friends to the elf afterlife place. If he was into regret for resisting its power, he would be looking to make another ring from the [surely] powerful melted down refuse sputtering up and out and through cracks at the bottom of the mountain, or some such. He would be a golem clawing at every spirt through the years.


Just to add to your point. Remember when Gandalf first discovered the ring? Frodo offered it to him and he refused. He said to Frodo “Don’t tempt me further!”.

When the problem is solved…or the inequity balanced.

There’s a temporal aspect to it, too, though. One can permanently change, stay changed for a while, or change just for a moment and then change immediately back. It would be like if Luke trusted the Force to blow up the Death Star, landed back at base, and then said, “yeah, I bet I could trust the Force anytime I wanted.” He’d’ve had to change to solve the problem even if he did change right back. Any change that happens after the goal has been determined a success or a failure, would, I’d think, be outside of the problem solving process. The wrap up that still needs to take place is just to show if it was a good or bad path.

Wasn’t it recently said that the MC Unique Ability is what allows the problem to be solved? Maybe in this case, Frodo’s ability to have pity on Sméagol rather than killing him?

If we look at that scene as being about the end of one GAS, then it’s a very weird scene. Clearly Frodo COULD have destroyed it without first deciding to keep it, but he does decide to keep and it still gets destroyed.

But if that scene represents the end of 2 GASs-maybe one being a FOTR OS and one being a WOTR OS-then maybe it’s not as weird. Maybe the Fellowship of the ring fails to destroy the ring (Frodo puts it on instead), but the War of the Ring, through the return of the king, succeeds in ending the war (they distract the enemy so that Frodo can get close enough to Mount Doom for Gollum to destroy the ring).

That’s why I think it needs to be made very clear which story is meant by “Frodo’s” story. Need to know which OS we’re talking about and specifically what the goal is.