Study Guide

The Fellowship of the Ring Appearances

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BOROMIR  [holding the Ring]: It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing… such a little thing

Boromir, being a man, is concerned with the size of things and with their physical appearance. And really, it is strange, how such a tiny object can cause so much war and death. But that is the power of Sauron, and of greed.

FRODO: Excuse me. That man in the corner. Who is he?
INNKEEPER: He's one of them rangers. They're dangerous folk they are, wandering the wilds. What his right name is, I've never heard, but round here he's known as Strider.

When we first meet Aragorn, he is a shady man smoking a pipe and staring at some hobbits. He really gives us the creeps. Turns out he's the rightful King of Gondor and one of the noblest men alive.

BOROMIR: The shards of Narsil. [He picks up the broken hilt of the sword.] The blade that cut the Ring from Sauron's hand. [He runs a finger along the edge of the blade, expecting it to be dull, and cuts himself] Ah! It's still sharp… but no more than a broken heirloom.

Just because Narsil was shattered does not mean it's benign. In a way, it's like Gandalf, a seemingly harmless old man with a walking stick. Or maybe like Aragorn, a nobody ranger living in the wilderness. Their appearances may be broken, but their power is still intact.

ELROND: And yet to come so far, still bearing the Ring, the hobbit has shown extraordinary resilience to its evil.

Elrond is surprised by Frodo's mental fortitude. He has been able to (mostly) maintain his free will while in possession of the Ring. Just like the Ring is surprisingly powerful for its small size, Frodo's tiny, domestic hobbit body contains a surprising amount of bravery and courage.

GANDALF: My dear Frodo, Hobbits really are amazing creatures. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet, after a hundred years, they can still surprise you.

Check out our Tools of Characterization section to find out what exactly Gandalf is talking about when he says their ways can be learned in a month (their ways involve a lot of eating, smoking, and gardening). Yet despite their simple, social, quaint lives, they are beings with an amazing reservoir of surprises, even to a wizard like Gandalf.

GALADRIEL [Narrating]: The Ring came to the creature Gollum who took it deep into the tunnels of the Misty Mountains. And there it consumed him. The Ring brought to Gollum unnatural long life. For five hundred years it poisoned his mind.

Corruption in LotR can be a very visual, visceral transformation. Gollum isn't the peaceful dude that Sméagol was, and it doesn't seem to just be old age that has morphed his appearance. His bony, dirty body, scraggily hair, and bulging eyes are products of his obsessive soul.

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