For all the charges and breaches of gates that have taken place in Gondor, Frodo finds himself lying alone in a tower. He does not know what brought him here, how he ended up there or why his clothes are missing. As he wakes from Shelob’s stinger stupor, he is overtaken by panic and fear. What else could he possibly feel? Alone, almost naked in an unwelcoming place with his hands tied. That he managed to keep his composure as he awoke is an incredible achievement.
After he realizes the murkiness of his surroundings, the two Orcs standing guard behind him, divide the loot they found on him.
Shagrat: “Hands off that shiny shirt! That’s mine!”
Gorbag: “It’s going to the Great Eye! Along with everything else.”
The mithril vest, a present he was given by Bilbo now lies in the hands of the enemy. That same mithril vest was a token of friendship that Thorin Oakenshield showed his friend Bilbo. It not only bonds the two Hobbits and their quests, but it also is a bridge between the two races who once underestimated each other.
It connects the two races through two-time spans in which the fate of an entire world rested on the shoulders of two Hobbits. It is a testament to the rest of the world what a race as insignificant as Hobbits are capable of.
For all that Bilbo left Frodo in Bag End, this is not only the most valuable but also the most sacred. When Bilbo gives it to Frodo in Rivendell, he himself looks upon it with nostalgia. He is reminded of the journey he took himself, and what it meant for him. It changed him, as much as this quest changed Frodo.
One could say that the One Ring binds the two of them together, and in fact, that would be true. However, in terms of making a lasting positive association with their journeys, the vest is a better option. The Ring will always be there, not in any physical form, but in the way, it altered their inner worlds so completely. That is a reminder that no one would willingly accept, let alone treasure. It is something with which they have to cope, every day.
Missing the Ring
As Gorbag reminds Shagrat of the orders of his superiors about the loot, Frodo remembers the Ring. His hands automatically search his chest for the necklace it dangled on but find nothing. Now, more than ever he is panic-stricken, knowing that the Ring has landed in the enemy’s hands. It only takes one Orc to bring it to its master and all his efforts would have been in vain.
However, without consciously realizing it, Frodo’s reactions are quicker, as are his physical responses. His eyelids are no longer at half-mast. He is able to think more clearly about his current situation, and if all is lost, he still has to find a way out of there. The Ring is gone and with it all the burden that he had been carrying with him since the Shire. He is a different Hobbit, much more lively and sprightly than before. The weight of the world had finally been lifted.
Prelude to a fight
Thankfully, as if a prayer for distraction had been answered, the Uruk and the Orc standing guard come into conflict about whose orders should be followed.
Shagrat: “I don’t take orders from stinking Morgul rats!”
Gorbag: “You touch it and I’ll stick this blade in your gut!”
The two start to wrestle with each other. Shagrat pushes Gorbag down a ladder which lands him in the middle of an Orc pack. They look up for instructions.
The scum tried to knife me! Kill ’em!Shagrat
Shagrat’s Uruks attack Gorbag. One of the Orcs ends up on the ground level, where, incidentally, Gorbag’s troops are enjoying a gathering. The two Orc factions attack each other ruthlessly.
The courage of Sam
Sam walks inside the tower full of enemies, all alone. The sight he encounters is not an encouraging one. Slain Orcs lie dead in his path. Carefully and mindfully of other Orcs that may be skulking around, he continues his climb of the tower.
He climbs the stairs of Cirith Ungol. Shadows of Orcs approach him. He is alone and terrified. There are but two things he can do now, either run for his life or fight through the situation. Since his friend’s fate is unknown to him, and because he made a promise to Gandalf, his only option is to fight through the fear and the oncoming Orcs.
So, he grunts and growls to scare as much life out of the Orcs as possible. The shadow of Sam that approaches them helps him in his intent, for it grows in size as he comes closer. However, as soon as he steps outside of the shadow that has been protecting him, the Orcs share a laugh and set on the Hobbit.
That’s for Frodo! That one is for the Shire! And that’s for my old Gaffer!Sam
A determination similar to that of the fight with Shelob, and rage unequaled, Sam wields the Sting, fighting the Orcs off. His three motivations for this quest have at this moment turned into gusts of incredible courage, with which he comes out of his confrontation with the Orcs without a scratch on him.
Thankfully, as the Orcs are busy slaughtering each other and Sam had cleared his path, Shagrat makes his way out of the tower with the mithril vest.
As Frodo struggles to untie his bonds, Snaga appears over him.
Stop your squirming, you dunghill rat! I’m gonna bleed you like a stuck pig!Snaga
As Snaga moves to stab Frodo, a glowing Sting appears poking through Snaga’s chest. Sam appears from behind the Orc.
Not if I stick you first.Sam
As soon as Snaga drops to the floor dead, Sting stops to glow, meaning there are only the two of them in the tower, Sam and Frodo.
Frodo: “Sam! Oh Sam, I’m so sorry! Sorry for everything.”
Sam: “Let’s get you out of here.”
Frodo is more than glad to see his friend come to his rescue, although because of his recent behavior towards him, he might not have deserved it. This thinking shines through as Frodo looks at Sam apologetically. The first words that come out of Frodo are those of apology. As he had not thought of seeing Sam ever again, to have him come to his rescue in the nick of time is amazing.
Frodo’s apology is met with a smile and a look of appreciation. Sam, of all of the Fellowship, knows how the Ring exercises its power upon its carrier. The weight of its malice is more than anyone person can bear. Therefore, an apology is almost redundant.
Sam is duty-bound to Frodo to take care of him, and that is what he will do, no matter the consequences or the manner in which Frodo converses with him. He knows his friend well enough to know that this type of behavior would not happen had it not been for the Ring. Therefore, he takes the good with the bad and pushes on.
Frodo: “It’s too late. It’s over. They’ve taken It! Sam! They took the Ring!”
Sam: “Begging your pardon, but they haven’t.”
Although in much better spirits and strength without the Ring, Frodo announces the end of their journey, for the Orcs have taken it and probably already placed it in the hands of their master. His journey ends here, on the watchtower in Mordor. So close, and yet so far away. Their mission has failed and this disappointment is what shows on Frodo’s face. The burden may be gone but the world’s only shot at destroying the Ring has now ended abruptly. He loses faith in this conclusion.
What Frodo hadn’t thought of is Sam’s cleverness. Frodo was unconscious at the time the Ring had switched carriers. He could not have known that Sam would be resourceful enough to keep it for himself. Not because he might try to use it, but so that the enemy would not get his hands on it.
Sam takes the Ring out of his pocket, still dangling on Frodo`s chain necklace.
Sam: “I thought I’d lost you… so I took it. Only for safekeeping.”
Frodo: “Give it to me. Give me the ring, Sam.”
As soon as Sam presents the Ring to Frodo, the need for possession and the Ring’s allure grab hold of Frodo instantly. He is almost angry at Sam’s behavior. This is not to say that he does not value his efforts in keeping the Ring from falling into enemy hands. It is only a matter of another Hobbit being pulled under its influence, and Frodo not letting it happen to his friend.
The allure of the Ring
The Ring begins to emanate its allure on Sam. It speaks to him in a manner it always had. Like anyone else, hearing the Ring’s call leaves Sam confused and locked onto it. As Frodo urges Sam to give him the Ring, Sam momentarily hesitates. The Ring has found a way to lure Sam into its possession. It has uncovered his darkest wishes and it is using the vain promise of their fulfillment so as to trap him.
To find one’s innermost wishes is to also uncover one’s weakness. The need for the wish to come true is a powerful motivation for one to do anything to fulfill it. Therefore, it weakens one’s ability to reject any harmful influences. Objectiveness loses in value, and one’s own ego takes center stage.
With Sam, this would be the first time in the whole trilogy that he would have the lead role. Although a hero in his own right, Sam has been in the shadow of his friend for the length of the journey, so it isn’t inconceivable for him to want to have a moment for himself. No one is without flaws, and at some point, everyone wants to be seen and heard as a kind of authority figure.
This may be the wish that the Ring may be reflecting back to Sam. And even when his wishes may be benevolent, wanting to save the Shire and his old Gaffer, the power it would grant him would skew his character into greed for ever more power.
Back to “normal”
Sam! Give me the Ring. You must understand, the Ring is my burden. It will destroy you, Sam.Frodo
Sam slowly brings himself to hold out the Ring to Frodo, who snatches it quickly. As if in a daze Sam snaps out from under the influence of the Ring. Frodo puts the necklace back around his neck. As he does so, the burden and the weight of it crushes his spirit instantly. His eyelids are again at half-mast, his speech is slower and his overall countenance is weaker. Frodo is back to his “normal” self.
Come on, Mister Frodo. We best find you some clothes. You can’t go walking to Mordor in naught but your skin.Sam
And as it always was, Sam comes back to himself, offering help to Frodo in any way he can. Since the Orcs have taken each other out, there are enough of their clothes and armor to cover up both of them. They would not be able to enter Mordor, with its army brewing in their own clothes. They leave the tower of Cirith Ungol and reach a hill overlooking the vast lands of Mordor.
Sam: “We did it, Mister Frodo. We made it to Mordor.”
Frodo: “There are so many of them. We’ll never get through unseen! It’s Him! The Eye!”
While Sam finds their achievement of reaching Mordor a hopeful one seeing as how close they are to the goal, the campfires standing between them and Mount Doom give Frodo enough reason to lose his confidence and raise his fears. And then he sees it. Not in the Void, not as a projection of Amon hen. On top of the Barad-dûr tower, the Eye of Sauron is there in the flesh searching frantically for any sign of his beloved Ring.
Frodo freezes in place, paralyzed with fear. The thing that haunted his dreams for what seems an eternity stands now before him in all its evil glory.
We have to go in there, Mister Frodo. There’s nothing for it. Well, let’s make it down the hill for starters, shall we?Sam
Sam is right. There is nothing they can possibly do but move forward. They have reached the “promised” land. Now, they have to walk through it, one step at a time.
A council consisting of the Three Hunters, Éomer and Gandalf convene in the throne room of Minas Tirith. They are wrecking their brains to come up with some form of aid they can offer Frodo. Read about it in my next post.