Frodo's Success or How can a Ringbearer Destroy the One Ring?

By Varda-(Valar)
March 12, 2002
Updated Sept. 13, 2002 


    The Ring could only be destroyed by a Ringbearer taking it to the fire where it was made and sending it in to be unmade. But a Ringbearer is unable to hurt the Ring on purpose, protecting it and indeed cherishing it. Paradox? The Ring should therefore be indestructible and Frodo's mission completely impossible.
It is said that Frodo failed in his quest to destroy the One Ring. I submit that he succeeded. The Ring would have gone to Sauron if not for Frodo, and not just because he was the only one in all of Middle-earth who could successfully carry it to its destination.
    The statement that Frodo failed is because, right at the crack of doom, the Ring took Frodo over so that he finally claimed it rather than destroyed it. Gollum attacked Frodo by surprise, biting off his ring finger, then fell into the fire holding Frodo's finger that still wore the Ring.
    But why did Gollum fall into the fire? He was very agile and had just attained all he wanted. He knew exactly where the precipice was and in his excitement at having taken the Ring, could have forgotten in his mad dance with his eyes on the Precious and stepped too far, casting himself and the Ring into the fire.  The first impression, then, is that the Ring's destruction was an accident.
["Mount Doom"]

    Consider then the oath Gollum gave Frodo earlier, swearing on the One Ring.
    Frodo would not take the elven rope off of Gollum until he swore that he would not hurt Sam or Frodo. But Gollum would swear only by the Precious.
Frodo warned Gollum how dangerous it was to swear on the Precious.
    "It will hold you. But it is more treacherous than you are. It may twist your words. Beware!"
    But Gollum did swear by the One Ring. His words were:
"To be very, very good," said Gollum Then crawling to Frodo's feet he grovelled before him, whispering hoarsely: a shudder ran over him, as if the words shook his very bones with fear. "Smeagol will swear never, never, to let Him have it. Never! Smeagol will save it…"
--"The Taming of Smeagol", The Two Towers
    Concerning the oath that Gollum made, Frodo later told him,
    "But I warn you, Smeagol, you are in danger."
    "Yes, yes, master!" said Gollum. "Dreadful danger! Smeagol's bones shake to think of it, but he doesn't run away. He must help nice master."
    "I did not mean the danger that we all share," said Frodo. "I mean a danger to yourself alone. You swore a promise by what you call the Precious. Remember that! It will hold you to it; but it will seek a way to twist it to your own undoing. Already you are being twisted. You revealed yourself to me just now, foolishly. Give it back to Smeagol , you said. Do not say that again! Do not let that thought grow in you! You will never get it back. But the desire of it may betray you to a bitter end. You will never get it back. In the last need, Smeagol, I should put on the Precious; and the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to command you, you would obey, even if it were to leap from a precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my command. So have a care, Smeagol!"
--"The Black Gate is Closed", The Two Towers
    The command had been stated in the manner that if Frodo were wearing the Ring it would be in effect.

    On the road up the mountain to the Crack as Sam carried Frodo over rough ground, the weakened Gollum attacked from behind, knocking down Sam, and tried to take the Ring from Frodo. This brought Frodo out of his semi-conscious state into fighting with Gollum. Frodo flung off Gollum and clasped the Ring, no longer feeling pity, and powerfully commanded,
"Begone and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom."
--"Mount Doom", The Return of the King
    Standing at the Crack of Doom, Frodo was wearing the Ring and overmastered by it. He was in his last need, attacked again by Smeagol. When Gollum bit off the Ring-finger, the Ring remained on Frodo's finger so that it continued to see Frodo as its wearer and his commands to still be in effect. The Ring did not seem to "realize" that it was no longer connected to Frodo and therefore was unaware of its own danger when it, obeying Frodo's command, sent Gollum over the precipice into the Fire of Doom.
    Gollum had also promised that he would not let Sauron have the Ring, and Sauron had just become aware of its presence and the danger when Frodo put on the Ring by the Crack of Doom. All his thought was bent immediately to it, taking him from all other pursuits and sending all the Ringwraiths to the Mount of Doom. They could not have escaped the Ring's taking by Sauron except by its unmaking.
    Thus the oath sworn to Frodo on the Ring and his additional commands worked together so that Gollum was forced to become the tool for the destruction of the Ring and destroy himself the moment that Frodo was stopped by the Ring from completing the quest, claiming it.
    Add in that Bilbo bequeathed the One Ring to Frodo and let him take the terrible mission to carry the Ring to Mount Doom because he understood his own infirmities of age, and we have a third Ringbearer who took part in its destruction.
    Samwise, as well, may be added to that number bringing it to four, as the Ringbearer who voluntarily returned the Ring to Frodo, and who selflessly aided Frodo's quest, even to the point of giving him the last of the water and carrying Frodo on his back up the mountainside.
    Add in as well the oft-forgotten Deagol, who found the lost Ring deep in the waters of the Anduin, bringing the Ring back into play for its ultimate destruction.  If not for him, it would not have come to Smeagol/ Gollum to hide in the roots of the mountains until it could be given, as Gandalf said (in FotR, "Shadow of the Past") it was "meant" to be, to Bilbo.  From there it was inherited by the finest of the hobbits, the one who would return the Ring to its beginnings, Frodo.
    Thus, thanks to all of the hobbit Ringbearers, the only ones able to carry the Ring for any length of time without being taken over by a desire for power, the Ring was doomed.

    Fellowship of the Ring: "Shadow of the Past"
    The Return of the King: "Mount Doom"
    The Two Towers: "The Taming of Smeagol", "The Black Gate is Closed"