Frodo undertook his quest out of love to save the world he knew from disaster at his own expense[Letters p327

There are very distinct elements of the Carrying of the Cross in Frodo's and Sam's trek towards Mt Doom. The text has so many points of similarity between the burden of the Ring ol Evil that Frodo carries, and the burden of Sin [symbolized by the Cross] that Jesus bore, it is astonishing.

An extraordinary passage, also noted by Joseph Pearce, relates the parallel of Frodo's burden to that of 'the suffering Christ':

"Frodo seemed to be weary, weary to the point of exhaustion. He said nothing, indeed he hardly spoke at all; and he did not complain, but he walked like one who carries a load, the weight of which is ever increasing, and he dragged along, slower and slower, so that Sam had often to beg Gollum to wait and not to leave their master behind.

In fact with every step towards the gates of Mordor, Frodo felt the Ring on its chain about his neck grow more and more burdensome. He was now beginning to feel it as an actual weight dragging him earthwards. But far more he was troubled by the Eye: so he called it to himself. It was that more than the drag of the Ring that made him cower and stoop as he walked. The Eye: that horrible growing sense of a hostile will that strove with great power to pierce all shadows of cloud, and earth, and flesh, and to see you: to pin you under its deadly gaze, naked, immovable. So thin, so frail and thin, the veils were become that still warded it off. Frodo knew just where the present habitation and heart of that will now was: as certainly a man can tell the direction of the sun with his eyes shut. He was facing it, and its potency beat upon his brow." [LotR p.616] [M&M p.110-116]

Another similar passage;

"All this last day Frodo had not spoken, but had walked behind half-bowed, often stumbling, as if his eyes no longer saw the way before his feet. Sam guessed that among all their pains he bore the worst, the growing weight of the Ring, a burden on the body and a torment on his mind..." [LotR p.914]

Frodo bears the burden of the Ring, but Sam bears the burden of caring for Frodo and at one point actually carries Frodo. Sam is also shown to be a co-participant in the role of salvation for Middle-earth; a sort of Simon of Cyrene character who helped Jesus carry his Cross on the way to Calvary.

For Sam: " was a torment greater than Sam had ever thought that he could bear. He was in pain, and so parched that he could no longer swallow even a mouthful of food

breathing was painful and difficult, and a dizziness came on them, so that they staggered and often fell. And yet their wills did not yield, and they struggled on." [LotR p.918]

This un-mistaken similarity to the Carrying of the Cross is also seen when Sam takes the burden of the Ring upon himself after the episode with Shelob;

"And then he bent his own neck and put the chain upon it, and at once his head was bowed to the ground with the weight of the Ring, as if a great stone had been strung on him. But slowly, as if the weight became less, or new strength grew in him, he raised his head, and then with a great effort got to his feet and found that he could walk and bear his burden." [LotR p.716]

But through their love and fortitude they push on. Sam is a tower of strength for the ever deteriorating Frodo:

"No more debates disturbed his mind. He knew all the arguments of despair and would not listen to them. His will was set, and only death would break it. " [LotR p.919]

Frodo is the 'sacrificial lamb' for Middle-earth; he is weak and defenceless in his trek through Mordor, he is bruised and stricken but refuses to use the enemy's methods - and because of this wisdom of not using might to fight the battle; in the end, the lamb overcomes the lion.

But his own future enjoyment of the Shire is compromised and his life forever altered.

Both Frodo and Sam sacrifice a quiet life in the Shire and venture into the unknown. On more than one occasion in the books it is shown that both characters intensely wish they were home in the known and safe elements of Hobbiton.

Sam's love for Frodo is heroic in its selflessness,

"Sam's mind was occupied mostly with his master, hardly noticing the dark cloud that had fallen on his own heart. He put Frodo in front of him now, and kept a watchful eye on every movement of his, supporting him if he stumbled, and trying to encourage him with clumsy words." [LotR p.616-617]

Sam's own conviction begins to waver but he fights it and resists for love of his master;

"I'll get there, if I leave everything but my bones behind... And I'll carry Mr Frodo up myself, if it breaks my back and heart." [LotR p.918]

Frodo and even more especially Sam, epitomizes the gospel truth that, 'One can have no greater love than to lay down one's life for another'. Their friendship is true friendship. It is built on self-sacrifice and love.

Frodo expends every fibre of his being and strength to reach Mt Doom; he sacrifices all he is to get there with the help of Sam. This violent struggle in the heart and soul of Frodo and Sam to complete the mission is yet another reflection of the 'good fight' that St Paul writes of in the New Testament, and also of Jesus' words;

"The Kingdom of God belongs to the violent and those who take it by force." [Matt 11:12] - which is referring to the violence of love, that gives everything and even oneself. It also refers to those who fight their inclinations to evil.

In one of his letters, Tolkien points out that "Frodo is not a pacifist." [Letters p.255], i.e. he is not someone to sit passively back and do nothing in the face of on-coming evil.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"

[Edmund Burke - Irish philosopher].

"The strength of wicked people is the weakness of good people" [St John Bosco]. [see Priest, Prophet & King for more on Frodo's sacrifice]


Gandalf is another character where sacrifice is evident and provides a greater good. The Fellowship is saved from the Balrog by the sacrificial act of the Grey Pilgrim. Frodo says of Gandalf,

"Gandalf was our guide, and he led us through Moria; and when our escape seemed beyond hope he saved us, and he fell." [LotR p.346]

And the return of a more powerful Gandalf is integral to the final successful outcome of Middle-earth.

Gandalf is prophetically warned by Aragorn not to enter the Mines of Moria but he continues with no concern for his own safety. His concern is for the remaining members of the Fellowship and those of wider Middle-earth in wanting to see the mission continue. Tolkien writes of Gandalf's confrontation;

"Gandalf sacrificed himself " and; "...for in his condition it was a sacrifice for him to perish on the bridge in defence of his companions... " and in sacrificing himself he is "...enhanced in power [that is, under the forms of this fable, in sanctity]." [Letters p.202] [Letters p.203]

Gandalf is increased in sanctity by his sacrifice and he returns more powerful than before. Gandalf is like a martyr who gives up his life and it bears extraordinary fruit. He is increased in sanctity and moves higher in his Order of Istari as he now takes Saruman's place as the head of the Order. He humbles himself and is raised up. His increase in power is still used for good in uniting all those who oppose Sauron.


Aragorn is also written as a man who is also willing to sacrifice,

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