The consistent theme surrounding Mount Doom is whether Frodo fails in his quest. I must admit that this was not an issue to me in my first reading. “Failure” was not really a concept I questioned at all. The quest, in the end, was successful, and Frodo played the largest part in it. Therefore, I saw Frodo as a successful hero. Granted, this interpretation has been problematized over the years, but it is an accurate account of my initial response.
I observed all the instances foreshadowing Frodo’s decision in my subsequent reading. In that first experience, though, Frodo’s refusal to destroy the Ring was an utter shock. Then I read as one dumbfounded as Gollum’s greed brought about the destruction of the Ring. This was certainly a plot twist unlike almost anything else I had read up to that point in my life. Again, I knew that there was no such thing as coincidence in Middle-earth, therefore this seemed like a providential moment. I remembered Frodo’s recollection of Gandalf’s words just prior to entering the heart of the mountain, and the idea of mercy rang through for me, even as a child.
A quick side note, I should mention that, for all the faux grief aimed at Tolkien for calling this most important place Mount Doom, I always rather liked the name. It reminded me of the simple names of the Shire, and made the end seem not so distant or so harsh as it ultimately was.
As a final note, the escape from Mount Doom on the wings of the Eagles was certainly an unlooked-for joy to me. The deterministic coincidences leading up to this occurrence prepared me to accept it as a significant aspect of Middle-earth, not as some form of Deus ex Machina from Tolkien himself. Of course the Eagles came: they were part of the fate that governed the quest from the beginning! This made sense to me in my first reading.
Where Do We Go From Here?
To think about Sauron and Evil, then Aragorn as King.
What Do You Think?
How did you react to the events on Mount Doom?
Which surprised you the most?
Did I miss anything? Let me know!
One thought on “LotRFI Pt.53–Mount Doom”
On the first reading of the narrative at this point, I couldn’t put the book down. I was gripped by the impending conclusion of Frodo’s quest. Mum was telling me to turn the light out and go to sleep, and I read the final events concerning the Ring in the dimming light of failing flashlight batteries under my blanket. I like the name Mount Doom also. I like the Sindarin name Orodruin, mountain of red flame, as well.
It was an impossible task, “beyond the strength of any will” Letter 131, but Frodo’s determination and sacrifice got the Ring to Sammath Naur intending to destroy it, enduring a journey comprising many challenges, carrying an ever increasing burden. So perhaps it wasn’t so much a moral failure, but a failure of strength and ability to withstand an overwhelming power. But of course the cost had been colossal, and Frodo was broken and haunted by the wounds to his body from the knife on Weathertop, and the wounds to his soul from prolonged exposure to the darkness of the Ring. Having read much more of the Legendarium now, I agree with your comment about Gollum’s intervention being a ‘providential moment’. Which is really interesting considering Eru Ilúvatar is a deity who doesn’t intervene in his creation often.
I often wonder about the synergy between Isildur cutting the Ruling Ring from Sauron’s finger with the hilt-shard of Narsil, and Gollum biting off Frodo’s finger to take the Ring.
LikeLiked by 1 person