Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Character Progression

When looking up videos for the multimedia project I came across a documentary called "A Study of the Maker of Middle-earth," in this there was an interview with Verlyn Flieger and she stated that her favorite character was Frodo because she felt that he was the true hero and most notable character- this reminded me of our discussion in class about whether Tolkien's works showed character progression. I personally feel that Sam was a 'better' character than Frodo and that Frodo actually showed very little change- someone mentioned that he couldn't even stay in The Shire because the impact of the ring was so great- I'm not too sure I agree with this idea, I almost get the vibe that leaving with the elves was a reward whereas Sam's reward was family. Maybe I'm just hating on him too hard- Thoughts? Who was your favorite?


Vana said...

I would say that Sam is my favorite, mostly because I do feel as though Frodo's character is extremely shallow.That is, I have a hard time ever connecting with his character, so I care little for him by the end of the trilogy. On the other hand, I find Sam quite relatable and thus feel more deeply about him in the end. I can see that, obviously, Frodo has changed by the end of Return of the King. However, in my mind is not a drastic or meaningful change because Frodo has remained somewhat detached to me.
Maybe in some way, because Sam is the more relatable character, we detect change where there is not that much because we also detect our own change throughout our journey with the Hobbits.

Lórien said...

Sam is without a doubt my favorite character of the two, and among my favorites in Tolkien's Legendarium. The films only served to strengthen my feelings about Sam. For one, he is fiercely loyal, not just to Frodo but to all of his friends. Additionally, he is a lot more intelligent then it at first seems. He recognizes the traitorous spirit in Gollum's heart and he realizes that he is beyond redemption, where not even Gandalf is able to see the outcome. The facts that Sam is not a took, doesn't really have an adventurous spirit, and much more closely tied to the shire than Frodo is makes him more brave not less. Sam doesn't want to push forward deeper into darkness and he does have many more opportunities to abandon the quest, where Frodo simply can't. However, none of this prevents him from struggling against the odds. To me at least, there is no purer expression of true bravery than holding fast to courage even in the face of overwhelming and insurmountable odds. He fights not for himself or for glory, but for Frodo and his other friends and for everyone he left behind in the shire, that is very difficult not to admire. Sam takes on challenges that Frodo crumbles against. It is interesting to me that the non-took is the one who drives off the spawn of Ungoliant and rescues Frodo from Cirith Ungol. Sam willingly takes on the arguably more difficult job of supporting a collapsing Frodo, as he is crushed slowly under the power of the ring. The list of reasons to like Sam go on and on.

That being said, I think it is impossible to argue that Frodo does not undergo some amount of change as a character. First of all he undergoes physical changes, he is stabbed on weather top, impaled in Moria, and has his finger bitten off by Gollum. These wounds stay with him for the rest of his life and serve to reflect the irreparable internal damage he suffered from the power of the ring. He begins his journey just as innocent as Sam but comes out understanding something new about the world and the nature of evil. He is unable to return to a peaceful life in Hobbiton because of the mental scars from the ring and the journey. They lead him to dwell on the darkness of the past. He develops friendships that will never be forgotten and he becomes heralded as the savior of the world. Sam is able to hold on to the fact that there is still good in the world despite all of the evil and hate. Frodo is never quite able to do this, he requires the peace of the Undying Lands as do all of the ring-bearers. He follows the changes of the classic Hero almost to the letter and then some. I think therefore it cannot be said that Frodo is not a round character that undergoes changes and reacts to new experiences and environments.