Frodo Vs. Bilbo: A LOTR Reflection

ImageI am a big Lord of the Rings fan.  Since seeing the first movie I have been hooked on the unmatchable epic-ness created by the music, the battles, and the lovable, but nevertheless complex characters.  There was just one thing I didn’t like about the original trilogy: Frodo.  Could there be a more annoying protagonist? No.  His consistent whining, lack of loyalty and trust in his friends, and that ridiculous expression of pain he always seems to have on his little-hobbit face becomes too much.  He is particularly difficult to abide when compared with straight-shooter Legolas, loyal-as-a-good-dog Sam, and dark-and-mysterious-but-always-noble Strider/Aragorn. It may be argued that Frodo’s burden is beyond understanding, and that his obnoxious behavior should be excused.  In my opinion, Sam’s heart is just as pure (if not purer) than Frodo’s.  Gandalf chose the wrong hobbit. 

After seeing the Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey, the first third of the prequel to the LOTR series, my dislike for Frodo has only increased. I had always viewed Bilbo as a bit of a diva.  His stunt pulled on his eleventy-first birthday, combined with his obvious reluctance of letting go of the ring, made me think he was not to be trusted.  However, the Hobbit proved me wrong. Bilbo is not only more likeable than Frodo, but also more noble. Bilbo never abandoned his friends, the dwarves, (not yet anyway).  Frankly, throwing Bilbo in Frodo’s place would make LOTR, the best movies seen on (middle) earth. 


7 thoughts on “Frodo Vs. Bilbo: A LOTR Reflection

  1. Good call. Bilbo is much a more badass adventurer than Frodo (even if Bilbo is reluctant to leave at first). But the Frodo of the film is different from the Frodo of the text. The film made him into a different character (not sure who to blame for that, the screenwriters or Elijah Wood. Either way…). Frodo of the film is a sissy and a whiner. Frodo of the text, for better or worse, is a typical upper-class British Gentleman. The Frodo-Sam relationship is modeled on the aristocratic British officer (Frodo) and his “batman” or assistant (Sam). Of course, this makes sense for Tolkien as writer, but this would never work in egalitarian Hollywood. So there you have it. Watch the appendices to the film’s extended versions, the first one or two of each film in particular as they discuss this.

  2. So glad you wrote this! My favorite line is definitely “that ridiculous expression of pain he always seems to have on his little-hobbit face becomes too much.” I so agree. I love Bilbo even more today than when we saw the movie. Could Frodo ever have that effect on me? No.

  3. In response to what Ryan says above – I never thought about the Frodo/Sam relationship in that way…. I like it, but also think that our American culture today didn’t recognize it for what it was.

    Also, in the books I don’t find Frodo annoying at all… very different character. And, at least he only abandons his friends because he’s held in the Ring’s wretched power. So he has a good excuse. Although I will say that when I’m watching the second two movies alone I sometimes fastforward through his vomit-faces.

  4. I think there’s something to be said for this.

    A key moment, from both the book AND the movie, is the infamous ‘pity’ conversation Frodo has with Gandalf in Moria concerning Gollum. Frodo is unable to comprehend why Bilbo would have let Gollum live. Now, when he meets Gollum himself he freely admits feeling that pity also, but the circumstance is very different.

    There’s also something to be said of the effect of the Ring. Bilbo has only just begun to carry the ring by the end of the Hobbit, whereas Frodo has already had the ring for 20 years prior to the start of the Lord of the Rings. How much this changes the situation is not clear. However I always did get the sense that even if the Ring had not entered into it, Frodo was just naturally a bit more self-centered. Bilbo always struck me as a regular unassuming fellow of average intelligence who gets thrown into a whirlwind adventure. Frodo struck me as someone who was more withdrawn and guarded who has adventure thrust upon him.

    Frodo’s situation isn’t as fair as Bilbo’s, but I still think he wasn’t as congenial as Bilbo from the beginning. They’re small personality quirks that their adventures brought out in them.

    • Actually Bilbo had the ring for 60 years AFTER the adventure, during that time he continuously fought the influence even as rose in power giving it away at Gadlaf’s urgings.

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