This has been really fun to follow. I couldn’t sleep last night so got to thinking. Here is my take on it all:
- Frodo is the Main Character
- Sauron is the Influence Character (primarily acting through the ring in the case of the relationship story)
- (Sam & Gollum’s roles make a lot of sense from the Motivation Characteristics below without having to be influence characters - Sam isn’t trying to influence Frodo, he is purely supportive of him, and Gollum isn’t trying to change Frodo, he just wants the ring)
- Relationship story - from bitter enemies to acceptance
- Sauron is a steadfast character, Frodo is a changed character.
- Frodo is a stop character - he grows out of an old attitude
- Overall story is the destruction of the ring, not winning the war. While Sauron wants to “cover the lands in darkness”, this is a more overarching goal that occupies him over millennia (while deadly serious for Gondor, Rohan and the other free civilisations, i would argue that for Sauron the overall conflicts in LotR are lower stakes (a battle rather than the war). While the battles get a lot of airtime (especially in the movies), the core opposition, comprising the Fellowship and its supporters, are primarily focused on destroying the ring). In this story form, it is all about destroying the ring, or from Sauron’s perspective, by retrieving it directly or corrupting the bearer.
- Limit is optionlock
- Frodo is a do-er (constant efforts to ensure the destruction of the ring)
- Frodo is a linear thinker.
- The outcome of the Overall Story is success, as the ring is destroyed.
- Main character judgement is bad, as Sauron corrupts Frodo into choosing not to destroy the ring. The fact that it is destroyed soon after is irrelevant. Sauron influences Frodo to change his mind, and that is the end of the MC/IC/RS through lines. (The ring’s destruction is a cleverly disguised Deus ex Machina, a common theme in Tolkien’s very Christian-related works, where God/Providence, which may on the surface just appear to be luck/bad luck, intervenes at key moments throughout the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, in all cases a positive intervention following moral behaviour, or a negative intervention following sinful behaviour (Gollum falling to his death after greedily trying to seize the ring from Frodo)). (The change in Frodo afterwards is similarly irrelevant in my opinion. This represents the power held over him by the ring dissipating following its destruction, but this is a different thing from the through lines of the story form).
I believe Relationship Story Domain is Manipulation (corruption of Frodo), the Overall Story Domain is activity with a concern of Obtaining (destroying the ring, obtaining a result). Sauron’s problem is Control. Frodo’s Domain is Situation with a Concern of the Future. This then narrows down the story forms to 1, and without analysing every single point looks pretty good at a glance.
Some very interesting combinations here.
*edit (I switched the MC/IC, so the Support/Oppose and Hinder/Help can just be swapped.)
Pursuit - Sauron (“The Pursuit characteristic leads a character to determine what he needs to achieve and then makes a beeline for it.” - Sauron needs to prevent the destruction of the ring and he does everything in his power to do so)
Control - Sauron (“The Controlled characteristic causes a character to methodically directs its actions and deliberations to the specific purpose at hand. This leads to a great degree of focus.” - Sauron does exactly this to prevent the destruction of the Ring. “ The drawback is that when one focuses, one loses peripheral vision. The purpose becomes so all consuming that many peripheral, yet essential parts of the equation are ignored until it is too late to save the whole project.” - Sauron doesn’t consider that a tiny group could penetrate his defences and reach Mt Doom.)
Logic - Frodo (“Logic is the mental process of choosing the most efficient course or explanation based on reason.” - Frodo always considers the logical way to destroy the ring, for example by taking on the job when everyone else is bickering to make sure it gets done, to go it alone when his allies prove unreliable etc.). “The Logic characteristic is very efficient, but has no understanding or tolerance that people do not live by reason alone. As a result, the character with the Logic characteristic often ignores how other’s “unreasonable” feelings may cause a very real backlash to his approach.” Frodo doesn’t consider the actions of “emotional” Bilbo, Boromir or Gollum and suffers for it)
Consider - Frodo (“A character possessing the Consideration characteristic keeps pondering an issue, running it over in his mind.” - Frodo’s entire storyline is consumed by his thoughts on what to do with the Ring).
Support - Saruman (“Support is aiding the effort without actually participating in it.” Saruman plunges Middle Earth into war on multiple fronts, which helps Sauron, but is generally not directly involved with pursuing the Ring - pursuit of fellowship by orcs was a direct order from Sauron.
Uncontrolled - Saruman (“The character representing Un-Controlled spreads himself very thin by expending his energy and motivation in all directions at once.” - Saruman captures Gandalf without a real plan, creates an army, creates an entire industry to support his war efforts, wipes out the surrounding forests without thinking of the consequences (ents and ecology), manipulates King Theoden, goes to war with Rohan etc.)
Hinder - Gandalf (“The Hinder characteristic strives to undermine another’s efforts” - Gandalf is at all times, on multiple fronts, acting to prevent Sauron from getting the Ring)
Oppose - Gandalf (“The Oppose characteristic causes a character to speak out against any effort, although he does not actively engage in preventing it.” - Gandalf runs all over Middle Earth trying to convince various factions to help destroy the Ring).
Temptation - Bilbo -> Boromir -> Gollum (“Temptation is the draw towards the belief that the negative consequences of an action are imaginary or can be avoided.” - Bilbo is still tempted to use the Ring despite knowing of its dangers; Boromir thinks he can use the Ring to win the war and then put it aside; Gollum is constantly tempted to steal the Ring from Frodo).
Conscience - Aragorn -> Galadriel -> Faramir (“Conscience is the motivation that negative consequences are unavoidable if a present desire is acted upon.” All three characters acknowledge the dangers of the ring, refuse to put themselves in the position to be corrupted by it, and set Frodo on the right path)
****The above groups go back and forth to contrast the different view of the Ring: Bilbo and Aragorn; Boromir and Galadriel; and Gollum and Faramir).
Feeling - Bilbo -> Boromir -> Gollum (“The Feeling characteristic cares not for what is efficient or even practical as long as it is “feels” right.” - This feeling is the draw of the Ring, which they all succumb to)
Reconsider - Alliance of Free Peoples (“The Reconsideration characteristic represents the drive to reexamine one’s conclusions to see if one is still valid. This leads to a pragmatic approach to one’s own beliefs, but also undermines resolve with every new obstacle that crosses one’s path.” - The “good guys” as a whole keep reconsidering plans to fight Sauron and his allies and destroy the ring throughout the story, with resolve being constantly undermined by obstacles (Saruman’s betrayal, Gandalf’s disappearance; traversing the mountains; the discovery of the state of Moria; Gandalf’s death; ambush of the Uruk Hai; Frodo and Sam run off etc etc)
Avoidance - Alliance of Free Peoples (“Preventing a problem” - trying to stop Sauron from destroying the world)
Help - The Nazgul (“Direct assistance to another’s effort.” - As Sauron’s agents, the Nazgul are directly involved in preventing the destruction of the Ring)
Disbelief - Gimli (“Disbelief is absolute confidence that something is not true.” - Gimli does not believe that the Mines of Moria could have been overrun, that elves could ever be anything but a hindrance etc)
Faith - Sam (“When one has Faith, it cannot be argued with since it does not rely on logic or proof.” Sam has complete faith in Frodo from start to finish)
If this is right, I believe this story form thus covers almost all the scenes in the movies except for the complete story of Aragorn respecting Arwen’s decision and taking up the role of king, making the whole thing two primary storyforms and therefore less complicated than it appears.
The story is finished upon the destruction of the ring, and everything after is just epilogue, including the destruction of Sauron’s armies.
**edit. had the whole thing as Sauron main and Frodo influence, then realised it’s an easy switch and a few things fit even better.