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Thread: Bilbo character VS Frodo character

  1. #1
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    Bilbo character VS Frodo character

    Bilbo VS Frodo...

    Please excuse the long winded nature of this post - this is something that has only come to me over many years and I'm curious what others think.

    As a child, I fell in love w/ reading the Hobbit and of course Bilbo was THE character from that book for me.

    Shortly thereafter I graduated to the Lord of the Rings. I tore into it wanting to learn more about Bilbo and the Shire etc and was quite satisfied until...

    It dawned on me in a couple chapters in (carefull here - I'm reaching way way way back in my faulty memory trying to recall initial impressions here!) that this may not revolve around Bilbo. What!? It's this new cat, Frodo. But I dont' think I fully gave up hope as to Bilbo's involvement until Frodo reached Rivendell. That's when it really hit home. That was an intriguing moment in the 1st reading for me.

    Well now we have the cinematic releases and that's probably where this (I'm coming to it) began to crystalize somewhat (especially after listening to the directors commentary on the EE). (NO this is not a movie post - do not move it to that forum)

    So I go back and skim through or read a few chapters here and there and sure enough...

    What I'm coming to is this: for me, Bilbo is just a much much more flushed out and tangible character whereas I find Frodo a distant, cold and well shallow or 2 dimensional character. There are perhaps a myriad of reasons for my impression and it's taken me something like 25 years before this has even dawned on me. 1.5 books on Bilbo and I feel like I know him quite well and get more than just a kick out of his ups, down, fallibilities etc. Frodo? I'm treated to at least as many pages across 3 books and he just seems so detached, cold and serious. I just am having trouble seeing that same 3 dimensional depth to him that I find in Bilbo. In all honesty I found better character development and more genuine characters for the most part in other members of the fellowship compared to Frodo for that matter.

    Maybe it's just the setting or the nature of the quest or the other characters that 'stole the show' so to speak. Dunno.

    I know for many Frodo is THE character and this may be blasphemy. Hopefully what I've posted won't be taken too seriously.

    Opinions?

    thanks,
    -T

  2. #2
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    Makes all kinds of sense to me. The parts about Bilbo are always more enjoyable than anything about the superly boring Frodo. Bilbo has more personality. Frodo is just a body to accomplish some huge task. Too bad that body wasn't as cool as another achingly cool character from The Hobbit. I'm talking about Gollum! Anyways, sure, I agree with you. Even though I don't really like any of these nasssty hobbitses. Anything else we need to talk about? Or were you just expecting lots of people to show up and defend the superly boring Frodo?
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  3. #3
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    You're correct, I hadn't actually thought about it - but Biblo is a more developed character because of 'The Hobbit', whereas, Frodo is just one of the 'Fellowship' so to speak in LotRs. For me, Sam comes across as the 'stronger' hobbit character, not Frodo.
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  4. #4
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    I totally agree with you on this point. Bilbo's character is much more devolped and sounds much more familiar then Frodo's one, although the coldness and certain lack of jovialness is lessened if one' reads the earlier drafts of HOME7,8.

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    There is one Letter, I don't remember which ;(, in which Tolkien addresses just that, the character of Frodo. How Frodo is imbued with the sense of mission and therefore becomes detached from all others. You have to remember the poor guy is never away from the Ring's influence, which is much more malevolent than it was for Bilbo.

    In the cinematic release, compare Frodo in the opening scenes (with Gandalf, and perhaps the other scenes with hobbits before the Ring is exposed, especially on the EE) with Frodo in the rest of the movie and you'll se what I'm talking about.

    Tolkien also said that Sam is the hero of the book in his eyes, the main character, Idril.

    *Eriol ducks from the curses and stoneses thrown at him by YayGollum*
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    I'll bite the bait on ths one and be the devil's advocate...

    I know many are probably sick of my babbling about thematic development. I find that LOTR is much more thematically rich than the Hobbit.

    Tolkien does get into the head of Bilbo in the Hobbit more frequently than Frodo in LOTR. However I don't think that was Tolkien's goal with LOTR. The Hobbit was more of an introduction into Middle Earth. It seems that Tolkien was writing for a younger audience in the Hobbit than LOTR. In fact I would argue that you could see the evolution from kids story to deep story in the second half of the Hobbit! By the time you get to LOTR the kiddie stuff seems to have disappeared altogether. Frodo seems to be a much more believble character because of this.

    The Hobbit surrounded around Bilbo. Tolkien did not develop anyone else's character that well in the Hobbit. Frodo had to share the stage with Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, Gandalf, Mery, Pippin, Sam, etc. Tolikien developed all of these characters well. I think that Tolkien did a good job of developing Frodo's character considering.

    Overall, I like Frodo better than Bilbo. I feel that his tale was much more meaningful and deep than Bilbo's. Bilbo was a force for good amongst the dwarves, elves and men in one region of Middle Earth in "The Hobbi"t. Frodo was a force for good for the whole world. The thought of a little person carrying aring into the biggest hell on Earth Developed the theme of "Even the meek halep shape the good of all." Bilbo did this to a much lesser extent than Frodo.

  7. #7
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    Why would I toss curses and stoneses at you for tossing someone's opinion about who the hero was? What other people think doesn't make the fact that Gollum is the true hero. oh well. Anyways, how can Frodo be thought to have more personality than Bilbo if you're already tossing excuses for why that happened? Sure, he might have had more of a personality before the One Ring messed with him, but oh well. We don't get to see it. Things happened that prevented him from tossing superly cool personality traits around. Too bad. Too late. Bilbo had the chance. He got to toss superly cool personality traits around. Also, why like a character just for what he does? Sounds like if that's why you like him so much, you agree that he's just a body with the name Frodo attached to it. You're more a fan of the action going on.
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  8. #8
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    I didn't feel that way. I liked Bilbo better the way one likes ones grandfather more than ones cousin. Bilbo was funnier. Bilbo had a lot of characer. However, I felt for Frodo as well. He has some very human. . .er. . .hobbitish moments.

    Por ejemplo: the scene on Caradras where he is dreaming that Bilbo is questioning him. I liked that.

    Sam is easier to get into. Frodo is complicated. I didn't feel it was two dimensional, however.

    I was more attached to the Frodo who leapt up and said "Then the Ring belongs to you and not to me at all." then the tired one. The one who bantered with Gildor. . .etc.

    When Frodo is awake, he is more interesting. He just spends a lot of the book asleep due to all those troubles.
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  9. #9
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    Well good - I was afraid I'd his on some folks sensibilities and be cast upon the pillar of shame. I suppose because he was the ringbearer I sort of accepted him as THE character for the longest time. Part of why it took me a while to come to his is that I read the book when I was relatively young and so certain concepts were accepted then that took a while of and a couple re-reads as an adult to undo so to speak.

    I couple good points raised here I wanted to answer.

    YayGollum, - I'd agree to a certain point - Gollum did become surprisingly well developed - I never saw that coming on the 1st read thru. I'd certainly include him on a level w/ the members of the fellowship.

    Eriol - I'll add, and purely IMO - that sense of mission is very much what cost him character development - at least for me.

    Hadhafang - YG is right - you've just provided the very support for the Frodo character not being as well developed as Bilbo. I'd have to say that literally every other character save perhaps Boromir stole the show in character development from Frodo. I honestly can't say I felt he grew that much or that I knew him that much by the end. Oh there's repeated mention of how he 'suffered' but it fails to make me 'feel' what he felt as I did w/ so many other characters.

    I fully agree about the 'kiddy' aspect of Hobbit and I only hesitantly and carefully draw parallels between those two. But you can still see much of Bilbo, the interesting, fun, intriguing charcater w/ depth even in the limited chapters that he is present in LotR.

    Yes, Bilbo's 'adventure' is superficial and lacks meaning (other than some gold and a little ring) compared to Frodo who literally saved the world. And yes, Frodo is the more serious. Other serious characters were nicely developed like Aragorn and Boromir and even a few of the new heroes added in Gondor and Rohan.

    But for me, compared to some of the serios heroes and even if you discount Bilbo's more 'likeable' demeaner - the character development itself just always seems so darned flat and 2 dimensional at best in this one very notable and important character to the plot. When I am reading about Bilbo I can really relate to him - it's many things like the unexpected variances or the fun factor. But w/ Frodo - I just don't relate to 'feeling serious' myself. If anything Gollum probably provided the best foil to let us see some depth to Frodo. BUt it's too little too late for me.

    Great posts everyone - really appreciated it and liked hearing the differing opinions. Hey I wasn't even cast upon the pillar of shame.

    -T

  10. #10
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    Not too late for that, pgt..
    I will agree that Bilbo was far more interesting and developed of a character than Frodo. Bilbo was jovial, hearty, funny and reasonably sensible before he found the Ring; but also incredibly annoying!
    It's a little difficult to explain, but I'll try:
    In the Hobbit, the first real dialogue we see is between Gandalf and Bilbo. I have always found this dialogue to be a little too thuoght-out, a little forced even. You must admit, they don't talk like everyday people would. And I found Bilbo to be rather curt as well, but that wasn't too bad as his other, more favourable qualities were shown as the Hobbit progressed plotwise.
    And as a matter of fact, in the Hobbit Bilbo is quite an enjoyable character. He doesn't chatter nonsensically, he doesn't have irrelevant and odd manners (yet) and he fits so well into the throng of events simply because he isn't supposed to be there!

    But in the LotR it seems that senility has crept up on him. He talks far more than he should, or is needed, and fidgets about like he's had too much coffee. On the one hand it's nice to have a character who isn't too bland or too 'normal' or cliché, who is a link to the past and to relevant history; but on the other hand if this character annoys you, or if his quirks that at first seem cute and funny start to bore you, perhaps they should have been toned down a little.

    Just MO thugh.
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    I agree with you, pgt. I was just adding some explanation for that phenomenon. But surely Frodo is a less developed character than Bilbo.

    I still like him, though Lack of development allows the reader to 'fill in' the gaps... I can certainly relate with him more than with Bilbo, I can see myself reacting in a similar way in some occasions.
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    I like Frodo better. This may have something to do with me not liking The Hobbit 'because I disliked fantasy books" before seeing the movies, and have having the movies, with Elijah Wood, show me that Tolkien's stuff was a lot better than I thought. I mean, the moment I saw Frodo's head pop up onto the screen, I knew I'd read LOTR. Over and over again and love it.

    I never really thought about how well each Frodo and Bilbo's characters were drawn out. I guess I thought that Frodo and Bilbo were very similar, so Tolkien didn't go through very much to develop Frodo. I always thought that Frodo's Bilbo hobbitness was just concealed when the Ring begins to show its power on him. I mean, Frodo is faced with very sad things and tough decisions right from the beggining, it's a sad thing for him having Bilbo leave. Bilbo is kind of dragged into his story. I thought Frodo was acting rather grim sometimes because he was missing Bilbo, and was then 'forced' to carry the ring.

    To me, both characters have the same weight. I think maybe that it felt like to me that more weight was added to Bilbo when I read LOTR.
    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.

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    My version of Frodo was a whole lot happier than other people's perceptions seem to be. He was often tired, but he smiled in a tired sort of way when Sam talked or something like that. I think a lot of it is in facial expressions I gave to him that weren't mentioned in the book.
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  14. #14
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    Originally posted by Hadhafang
    Overall, I like Frodo better than Bilbo. I feel that his tale was much more meaningful and deep than Bilbo's. Bilbo was a force for good amongst the dwarves, elves and men in one region of Middle Earth in "The Hobbi"t. Frodo was a force for good for the whole world. The thought of a little person carrying a ring into the biggest hell on Earth developed the theme of "Even the meek halep shape the good of all." Bilbo did this to a much lesser extent than Frodo.
    I think you make a great point in that the Hobbit was ment to be a fun kids book, with a fun and likeable little hobbit who is the main character beyond a shadow of a doubt, and who gets to be the hero and who ends up happy back at home and is everyones idea of a happy ending... With Frodo, not only were there three other primary main characters(Gandalf, Aragorn, Sam), bit the plot is so much deeper and encompasses a bigger picture whose outcome effects more than just a few dwarves and a little town and some drunk elves. Don't get me wrong. I loved the hobbit. I still love it. Bilbo is everyones idea of a fun loving hobbit who had a grand adventure, one which I think we all would have enjoyed taking part. But no one, having read Lord of the Rings, would say the same thing about Frodo and Sam, for Frodo's quest was one of doom and despair. Even when he did succeed, he was never able to go back like Bilbo and live happily in the Shire.

    Was Frodo more real than Bilbo? Yes... and because of that, I liked him better.

    Originally posted by HLGStrider
    My version of Frodo was a whole lot happier than other people's perceptions seem to be. He was often tired, but he smiled in a tired sort of way when Sam talked or something like that. I think a lot of it is in facial expressions I gave to him that weren't mentioned in the book.
    When I read LotR I found myself thinking the same thing. I did not see him as this depressed, teary-eyed, moody and unpredictable character. I found him a believable hero and his adventure realistic as far as victories and failures.

    Bilbo will always be a happy and smiling hobbit in my mind who was forced from his home to go on an adventure that eventually shaped the entire history of ME. Frodo (and Sam) will always be the true hero(s) to me because what they did was so much more incredible and amazing.

    -me
    For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, angles nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord - the apostle Paul - Romans 8:38-39

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    An intriguing topic. I disagree with the Frodo fans. Frodo is a well-developed character, but much more serious than Bilbo. Of course, he has his moments (for instance when he sings Bilbo's bath song at Crickhollow,) but he did have something of a bigger task than Bilbo and that would tend to make anyone a little moody. Sam, I think, carrys on the tradition of the down-to-earth carefree but honest Bilbo more than Frodo. Fathful to the end, Sam may even be the true hero of the tale. Could Frodo have made it without his lightheartedness? This seems to be pretty common in Tolkein's writing. There are certainly the great men that everyone looks up to like Aragorn and Beorn, but seek out the lowlyest and least likely of characters and he turns out to be the real hero. Christians can relate to this. It is often the weakest and homlyest of people who are chosen and transformed for the most radical tasks. Just a thought!
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