While reading any of J. R. R. Tolkien’s major works, be it The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, or The Lord of the Rings, one cannot help but notice the amount of attention that is given to nature. There are numerous details given to describe each location, each character, even each tree. Tolkien did not claim to be an environmentalist, but by spending so much time in his books explaining the importance of nature, it is hard to say that he did not care about it. About the fantasy world that Tolkien recreated, Sherry Turkle argues, “The question is whether that prepares us to live in a world that's complex, where we need to be able to work in a structure where there are no rules and where we have to be really attentive to other people's cultures and other people's ways of seeing things” (qtd. in Grossman 4). Lev Grossman counters this point when he says, “If The Lord of the Rings is a fantasy, it's ultimately a fantasy about growing up and putting childish things aside” (5). Grossman believes that LOTR is a fantasy, but unlike Turkle, he thinks that the reader benefits with a lesson about growing up and sacrifice.
Tolkien placed a great value on the relationship between the characters and nature: from the elves protecting the forest to the hobbits cultivating the ground and living off the earth. He emphasized stewardship and the importance of working with nature, rather than against it. Lucas P. Niiler agrees with this point when he says, “In particular, Tolkien’s work demonstrates one form such an ethic can take: land stewardship, as is modeled by Bombadil and later practiced by the hobbits” (284). Stewardship is evident in how each of the characters relate to their home in LOTR. For example, the Hobbits live in the Shire, a small, quaint neighborhood on the outskirts of Middle-earth. This small neighborhood is perfect for the Hobbits because they are not very fond of adventure, and they are in touch with nature, which I will explain in greater detail later. Sauron, on the other hand, resides in Mordor, a barren wasteland that is dark, and full of evil creatures, such as Orcs and Trolls. Tolkien developed the inhabitants to mirror their homeland: the Hobbits, being simple and provincial, living in a quiet town on the outskirts of everything to Sauron, being dark and evil, living in a black, volcanic land. My goal in this paper is to explore the character of Frodo Baggins, and I will show how Tolkien incorporated ecological qualities into this character.
I. An Introduction to Frodo Baggins
Frodo Baggins is probably one of the most recognizable names from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. He is a hobbit from The Shire, a land on the edge of Middle-earth. Tolkien was interested in the etymology of words, so he put great thought into the naming of each of the characters and locations; Frodo is no exception. Frodo’s name comes from the Old English form of Fróda. Tolkien states in one of his letters “its obvious connexion is with the old word fród...