One of my favorite scenes in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy comes near the finale of The Fellowship of the Ring (this favorite scene of mine can be viewed via the video at the top of the page). It is the scene that comes just after Frodo has escaped from a maddened Boromir and the Eye of Sauron.
Scared, but knowing that the Ring has corrupted at least one member of the Fellowship, Frodo is preparing to leave his friends in order to protect them from the Ring’s influence. That is when Aragorn arrives, having tracked Frodo to the summit of Amon Hen using his Ranger skills.
Seeing Frodo so frightened, Aragorn’s first instinct is to try and calm his friend down. Having been confronted with the insanity of Boromir, Frodo is afraid to trust any member of the Fellowship. His statement that “the Ring has taken Boromir” causes Aragorn even greater concern. If the Ring has been lost or stolen, then Middle-earth will fall to Sauron’s evil.
Frodo misreads Aragorn’s concern for him and their quest in his fear and pulls away from him. Realizing that something very dire has happened, Aragorn pulls back and reminds Frodo that he is his friend. His concern is only for Frodo as his friend and for the safety of their quest.
But with the loss of Boromir, Frodo is not so sure of that. He asks, “Can you protect me from yourself?” and then holds out the Ring.
“The Ring!” Gandalf said. “What shall we do with the Ring, this least of rings, which Sauron fancies?” – The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Ring is temptation in physical form; temptation for power. It whispers to Aragorn in Black Speech. What it tempts him with, who can say? I for one cannot understand Tolkien’s fictional Black Speech, which suits me perfectly.
Despite the persuasive hisses of the Ring, Aragorn closes Frodo’s hand over it and releases him. But while he has won this battle of wills with the One Ring, what about the next one? And the one following that? In this moment, Aragorn realizes that Frodo is right. One day he will not be able to resist the Ring’s power. One day Gimli will also fall under its influence. Legolas, Merry, Pippin, and even stalwart Sam cannot resist the Ring forever.
Still, he swore to protect the Ringbearer. He swore to protect his friend, for friends he and Frodo have become throughout their journeys together. He does not want to let Frodo go into Mordor on his own, but if he remains, then Frodo is in twice as much danger.
Scenes like this are among my favorites in film and literature. The bond between true friends is something second only to a true love bond between husband and wife. You can take a thousand hammers to it, you can try to destroy it anyway you want, but it will never break. Though Frodo’s best friend is perhaps Samwise Gamgee, the friendship he and Aragorn have is still very strong.
It is the strength of their friendship which allows Aragorn to step back and let Frodo go. He does not want to, he does not want to lose his small friend somewhere between Amon Hen and Mordor, but the risks of staying beside him are too great. Better for them to part now, on their terms, than to be pulled apart by the Ring’s seductions.
The timely arrival of a battalion of Orcs does not hurt, either.
Frodo and Aragorn’s friendship is fictional, but it does have a base in reality. Examples of true friendship can be found all through the ages, down through to today’s harried time. Many people today consider someone they can talk to readily to be a friend.
But are they really our friends? Friends are people who stick beside you through thick and thin, when you are proved right or wrong, when your decision turns out bad or good. Or when you decide you have to part ways for the greater good of the other person. Friends are tested by pain and danger – slight or great – whereby they earn real trust.
One of the jokes about Facebook is that you may have a thousand friends on the website but how many of them are going to show up and help you in a crisis? Is your coworker more likely to help you out of a bad situation, or are the twenty thousand followers you have on Youtube going to do that?
The worst solitude is to have no real friendships. – Sir Francis Bacon
Too true. The only thing worse than that to my mind, however, Sir Bacon, is to have a real friendship and then to somehow ignore it, misuse it, or abuse it completely. What friendships do we imperil because we are searching for what we already have?
Until next time,
The Mithril Guardian