The Fellowship of the Ring
Strength and Skill Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
In the dead night, Frodo lay in a dream without light. Then he saw the young moon rising; under its thin light there loomed before him a black wall of rock, pierced by a dark arch like a great gate. [...]
At his side Pippin lay dreaming pleasantly; but a change came over his dreams and he turned and groaned. [...]
It was the sound of water that Merry heard falling into his quiet sleep: water streaming down gently, and then spreading, spreading irresistibly all round the house into a dark shoreless pool. [...]
As far as he could remember, Sam slept through the night in deep content, if logs are contented. (1.7.28-31)
In some ways, Tolkien's portrayal of Sam seems quite dismissive: he's the comic relief. While Frodo, Merry, and Pippin are all having deep dreams, Sam sleeps like a log. Frodo is actually dreaming of the future, while Merry and Pippin are at least affected by the events of the day. But Sam sleeps "through the night in deep content." Good old Sam: even watching his friends nearly get swallowed by a tree can't disturb his sleep. But while Sam occasionally seems unimaginative in the early pages of The Fellowship of the Ring, his calm practicality makes him a good balance for high-strung, sensitive Frodo. And he really comes into his own as the series progresses.
There is a seed of courage hidden (often deeply, it is true) in the heart of the fattest and most timid Hobbit, waiting for some final and desperate danger to make it grow. Frodo was neither very fat nor very timid; indeed, though he did not know it, Bilbo (and Gandalf) had thought him the best Hobbit in the Shire. He thought he had come to the end of his adventure, and a terrible end, but the thought hardened him. He found himself stiffening, as if for a final spring; he no longer felt limp like a helpless prey. (1.8.31)
When Frodo wakes up in the Barrow-downs, he thinks he's going to die. But he finds the courage to deal with his situation, against all odds. Hobbits may not look impressive, but they have hidden reserves of courage. And Frodo is apparently (according to Bilbo and Gandalf) the best of the Hobbits, so he has even more courage than most. But while Frodo looks the part of the hero a little better than most Hobbits, being a bit taller and a bit braver than some, he's still not Superman. Why does Tolkien focus his adventures on characters with hidden strength rather than obvious skills? What would the Lord of the Rings series be like if it started with Aragorn or Legolas instead of Bilbo and Frodo?
In the early night Frodo woke from deep sleep, suddenly, as if some sound or presence had disturbed him. He saw that Strider was sitting alert in his chair: his eyes gleamed in the light of the fire, which had been tended and was burning brightly; but he made no sign or movement.
Frodo soon went to sleep again; but his dreams were again troubled with the noise of wind and of galloping hoofs. The wind seemed to be curling round the house and shaking it; and far off he heard a horn blowing wildly. He opened his eyes, and heard a cock crowing lustily in the inn-yard. (1.11.10-1)
In the buildup to Frodo's confrontation with the Ringwraiths at Weathertop, we get indications that he has special insight into where they are. While Frodo is at Tom Bombadil's cottage, he dreams of the Ringwraiths galloping out of Mordor, and in The Prancing Pony, Frodo sees them attacking the house at Crickhollow (though he doesn't know that's what he's looking at). We know that the Ring makes Frodo particularly vulnerable to the Ringwraiths, but it also gives him some extra knowledge of what they are doing. These prophetic dreams on the way to Weathertop also build the reader's suspense about the Ringwraiths' power: we know that they have some kind of magic tie to Frodo, but we don't yet know the full extent or power of that link.