Note: The Fellowship of the Rings contains a cast of characters too numerous to consider
individually. These notes focus on those characters playing a significant role in the
book's action. Readers should remain aware that some characters not discussed here
grow in importance over the course of The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
Frodo is the Hobbit given the quest of carrying the One Ring to its destruction in Mordor.
Although Frodo enjoyed the simple, quiet life he lived prior to his quest, even then he
experienced restless desires to seek adventure beyond the rustic borders of the Shire.
Throughout The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo struggles against the temptation to wear
the Ring; rather than interpreting this struggle solely as a character flaw, readers should
understand that it also illustrates the Ring's power to corrupt even the most gentle and
innocent of souls. Frodo shows both reluctance and resolve with regards to his quest; he
thus represents any ordinary person thrust, against their own choosing, into extraordinary
events. He does not feel important enough for this mission, yet he strives to carry it out
as best he can. The initial strength he shows, however, will wear away as The Lord of the
Samwise ("Sam") Gamgee
Sam is Frodo's gardener, a loyal servant and companion on the quest to destroy the Ring.
Sam is more rustic in speech and behavior than Frodo; the differences between the two
characters thus reflect the British social strata with which Tolkien was familiar. Sam
loves the natural world-again, reflecting Tolkien's passion for nature. He remains
fiercely devoted to Frodo throughout The Lord of the Rings; he calls him by the title
"master," but also displays genuine affection for him. Sam has a particular fascination
with Elves, indicating that, while he is more reluctant to leave the Shire than Frodo, he,
too, feels the lure of the world beyond.
Also called "Strider," Aragorn is a Ranger, one of the last descendants of the Men who
first dwelled in Middle-earth. He is equally at home among Elves, and is romantically
linked to Arwen, daughter of Elrond. Aragorn is the rightful heir to the High Kingship of
Middle-earth, though his appearance as a rough, weather-beaten wanderer belies his royal
status. While brave and strong, Aragorn shows some uncertainty when he assumes
leadership of the Fellowship following Gandalf's fall in Moria. He is torn by the desire
to aid Frodo on the journey to Mordor, but also responds with Boromir's plea to aid in the
defense of Gondor. In this ambivalence, then, he may function as a foil to Frodo; through
both characters, Tolkien explores how people rise (or fail to rise) to unsought yet
momentous occasions. As The Lord of the Rings progresses, readers will see Aragorn
grow stronger as a leader, while Frodo increasingly falters.
The son of the Steward of Gondor, Boromir is a Man proud of his people and greatly
concerned for their welfare as they struggle to stave off the armies of Sauron. He often
expresses his pride in the Men of Gondor as disparagement or suspicion of others: for
example, of the Riders of Rohan who no longer come to Gondor's aid, and of the Elvish
Lady Galadriel, whom he wrongly fears is an evil enchantress. Boromir's pride becomes
hubris at the end of Book II, when he seeks to take the Ring from Frodo by force; he
believes only the Ring can save Gondor, and he thinks himself invulnerable to its
corrupting influence. Boromir thus illustrates the danger of seeking noble ends through
the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf are perhaps best considered as a pair in The Fellowship of
the Ring. Each is proud of his people, their histories, and their accomplishments; for
example, Gimli alone is eager to reach the Mines of Moria, where a great Dwarf kingdom
was once located. In their pride, they mirror Boromir. Yet, as Book II progresses, they
are able to move past their pride in a way that Boromir is not. Gimli and Legolas begin a
friendship unique among their peoples-in Lothlï¿½rien, Legolas often takes walks with
Gimli, "and the others wondered at this change"-a friendship that deepens in the final
two volumes. Perhaps the experience of entering Lothlï¿½rien blindfolded together creates
empathy in Legolas for what Elven law requires of Dwarves. For his part, Gimli is in
awe of the Lady Galadriel, whom he calls "fairest" of all; he carries strands of her hair as
"a pledge of good will" between Dwarves and Elves in days to come. These two
characters illustrate reconciliation between not only individuals but also entire peoples.
Gandalf the Grey
Gandalf is the Wizard who embodies wisdom for the Fellowship. He is not, however,
infallible; for instance, note his temporary befuddlement at the doors to Moria. Neither is
his power infinite; he falls, apparently to his death, at the hands of the Balrog.
Nevertheless, Gandalf proves a sure guide and a powerful defender. Unique among
Wizards, he is intensely interested in Hobbits and Hobbit-lore; he thus illustrates one of
Tolkien's major themes, that true wisdom is often to be gained from the unlikeliest
Meriadoc ("Merry") Brandybuck and Peregrin ("Pippin") Took
are the two Hobbits who round out the Fellowship. They are Frodo's cousins and two of
his closest friends. They help Frodo arrange his "move" to Crickhollow, and insist on
going with him to Rivendell and then to Mordor, displaying their loyalty to and affection
for Frodo. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Merry and Pippin do not occupy "center stage"
much of the time, and readers may be hard pressed to view them as anything but "typical
Hobbits" who enjoy fun, food, and comfort. Merry does seem more knowledgeable in
some respects (for instance, lore about the Old Forest) than Pippin, and Pippin, who is
younger, seems more impulsive than Merry (for example, he almost reveals Frodo's
identity in Bree, and he tosses a stone down a well in Moria, possibly alerting the Orcs to
the Fellowship's presence). In the latter volumes, however, both characters are
developed to a greater degree as they increase in importance.