Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 581
Central to The Fellowship of the Ring is Frodo Baggins and his friendship with his faithful servant, Samwise Gamgee. Although Frodo may hail from the middle class and Sam from slightly humbler origins, both represent the ability of the common person to rise to the occasion and accomplish uncommon tasks....
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- Critical Essays
Central to The Fellowship of the Ring is Frodo Baggins and his friendship with his faithful servant, Samwise Gamgee. Although Frodo may hail from the middle class and Sam from slightly humbler origins, both represent the ability of the common person to rise to the occasion and accomplish uncommon tasks. Both Frodo and Sam, and particularly the latter, bring a commonsense "everyman" approach to problem solving, even when the problems confronting them seem far beyond those with which most people would consider themselves equipped to deal. Fellowship ends with the breaking of the company of nine, with Frodo and Sam headed into the "Land of Shadow," but together at least, largely because of their close relationship and Sam's ability to predict his master's actions.
Tolkien uses both Aragorn and Gandalf as Christ-figures in the novel. Aragorn is actually descended from a long line of western kings, although he appears to come from the most humble of origins, to the extent that even many of those whom he protects as a leader of the rangers scorn him or remain ignorant of his existence. His power, represented as his sword, has lain dormant (broken) for some time, but in Fellowship that sword is re-forged. Gandalf performs numerous supernatural feats and faces death in his confrontation with the Balrog of Moria, sacrificing himself to free the rest of the party from a devil-like creature and destroying the Balrog's power even as he loses his own life. Both Aragorn and Gandalf also represent the importance of tempering action with wisdom—and the value of taking action at the appropriate time.
Boromir, the other human in the fellowship, betrays his comrades even as he seeks the greater glory of his own nation. Boromir's attempt to take the Ring from Frodo, although undoubtedly selfish at least in part, nonetheless sought the defeat of the common enemy of the fellowship and the protection of his own people as a whole. However, Boromir acted on his own, at cross-purposes with those who had allied themselves to protect the Ring-bearer. Thus, Boromir represents the potential hazards of pursuing one's own agenda in the face of great danger, another lesson that Tolkien might have drawn from his experiences in Europe during the world wars.
Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf seem polar opposites, but gradually grow from distrustful allies to close friends over the course of the novel. Gimli shares his love for deep caverns, jewels, gold, and stone carvings with Legolas, and Legolas shares with Gimli his appreciation for the outdoors, particularly the woods and forests of Lothlorien. Although somewhat extreme as individuals, together they demonstrate for Tolkien the necessary balance of creativity (on the part of the industrious Dwarf) and appreciation for the creation (on the part of the nature-loving Elf). As with so much else in Tolkien, the pairing of these two dissimilar characters points to the importance of balance and friendship in defeating societal evils.
The last two members of the fellowship, and the last to be chosen by the Council of Elrond, are also Hobbits—Frodo's friends Pippin and Merry. Chosen because of their friendship for Frodo rather than their supernatural power or might in battle, both act almost as children throughout the novel, observing their surroundings with awe and wonder. Through their eyes, Tolkien allows the reader to appreciate the mystery and adventure of his fantasy setting in a way that would not be possible through either the hardened Aragorn or the wizened Gandalf.