Thursday, July 7, 2016

Ending the Way it Started

Sauron and Frodo--one thing they have in common.
Have you ever noticed how The Lord of the Rings story begins with the cutting off of Sauron's finger and ends with the biting off of Frodo's finger?  In this post I'm going to explore whether or not there is significance to this.

In Sauron's case, the Ring was cut from his finger by a (at that point in time) well-meaning, brave soldier, namely, Isildur.  Isildur then took the Ring and refused to throw it away.  He did not throw it away.

In Frodo's case, the Ring was cut from his finger by a malevolent Gollum bent on power.  Gollum then briefly took the Ring, and he too refused to throw it away.  However, Gollum tripped and he inadvertently destroyed the Ring.

Sauron's wound initiated the start of The Lord of the Rings and Frodo's ended it.  Sauron's loss of his finger and the Ring was the worst thing that could have happened to him while Frodo's loss was the best possible scenario (since he had already refused to dispose of the Ring himself).

I think the significance of the fact both our antagonist and our protagonist ended up with the same maiming is to further distinguish their differences (that is, the different causes and effects of the finger-losing) and also highlight their similarities (their ultimate inability to part with the Ring).

In the last moments in Mt. Doom, Frodo has become Sauron, or at least listens to his call.  Losing his finger could be seen as a kind of punishment for giving sway to Sauron's beckoning but his life was spared ultimately in reward for all the hard work he had done on the quest.

The loss of Frodo's finger also brings him in the ranks of Beren One-Hand and Maedhros of the Noldor.  Sam explicitly references the story of Beren and Luthien throughout the quest and remarks about how that story is not quite over yet.  You can read more about the comparisons in this post, but basically they both end with our heroes getting an appendage chopped off.

Frodo's remark "It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them." also highlights the self-sacrifice necessary to complete the quest and the loss of his finger definitely demonstrates not only the physical toll the quest has taken on him but also hints the psychological problems resulting from such a deep sacrifice.

The bottom line: both Frodo and Sauron suffered in similar ways but in different circumstances.  But comparing and contrasting this we can see their similarities and differences.

What do you think is the significance of their finger-loss?

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