Real Heroes

Two characters I am constantly having to defend from being spoken against are Frodo Baggins and Edmund Pevensie. People will say they don’t like Frodo because Sam had to get him out of some tight spots, or because he wouldn’t throw the Ring into Mt. Doom when he finally arrived. Or they won’t look past Edmund’s attitude and actions at the beginning of his journey. They tend to look at their weak points and decide that these characters aren’t as heroic as their friends, like Peter or Sam. But I believe that ALL of these characters are examples we should follow and that Frodo and Edmund show us something about being a hero the others do not.

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“I will take the Ring,” he said, “though I do not know the way.”

Right from the start, there was nothing in the mission for Frodo. He had agreed to take the Ring to Rivendell in order to save the Shire but ended up taking it all the way to Mordor. No one forced him into it, no one even asked him to. He volunteered to travel far in unpleasant conditions, leave behind all comforts, and go to the darkest, most evil place he knew of. The chances of returning were slim. That already shows how brave Frodo was, and how much he was willing to sacrifice to save Middle-earth.

Before even reaching Rivendell, he had been stabbed with a Morgul blade in the Black Riders’ attempt to get the Ring. He bore the tip of the blade in his flesh for seventeen days. For years after, it would plague him on the anniversary of that night. Frodo had already come close to defeat, and the real journey hadn’t even started. He had to always be on his guard, even around the members of the Fellowship, because the temptation of the Ring’s power was strong. He didn’t know who he could truly trust.

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As he carried the Ring, it grew heavier with each step. No one else could take the burden of it away, even though they tried to help. Sauron’s eye was always on him, hunting him. Frodo could always feel it, even more as they drew closer to Mordor. Each time Sauron could see them, Frodo felt it; it hurt him and there was no relief from it. He was constantly in battle with him, as Sauron tried to get him to bring the Ring. Bilbo didn’t suffer that. Yes, the Ring still had power over him, making him choose to lie in order to keep it a secret. But Sauron’s attention wasn’t on the Ring then, he was focused on orchestrating the Battle of the Five Armies. He didn’t even know Bilbo had it.  Frodo forgot the taste of good food, of the memory of the Shire. Frodo realized there would be no going back to the way things were. Sam was the only thing that kept him going when his hope had been drained. And he did keep going, even with the terrible burden of the Ring.

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When Frodo finally, finally makes it to Mount Doom, he’s so exhausted, so dragged down by the Ring that he can’t walk up the mountain. At last, he has his chance to finish this and destroy the Ring forever, but he hesitates. The Ring is his, he says. Can anyone entirely blame Frodo for this? The Ring was unstoppable, it corrupted people, it ate at the one who carried it until they forgot who they were. Bilbo, Sméagol, Boromir, Isildur – the list of people who were overcome by the Ring’s power at some point is long and includes many of the bravest and strongest people. Even Gandalf would not agree to take the Ring, he didn’t even want to look at it. The same goes for Aragorn. Frodo was able to hold out against the Ring and Sauron’s power for an impressive amount of time. He’d had it for many years, locked in a chest, and never even touched it after all. Because he was so kindhearted, so stubborn against its power, he lasts longer than anyone could have. But in the end, Frodo was no match for the Ring’s evil power, and it finally won, even though he didn’t mean for it to.

“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on when in your heart you begin to understand there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend, some hurts that go too deep that have taken hold.”

Upon arriving back at the Shire, Frodo realized that nothing was ever going to be the same for him. He had a kind of hurt that would never heal. Because of his sacrifice, the Shire was saved, but not for him. He had to give it up after all his bravery and perseverance. And he had peace with that. He went to the Gray Havens smiling, even though it wasn’t what he had planned to do with his life.

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The first time we met Edmund, we get the impression that he’s a little grumpy, and can be a little rude. I personally think they made him slightly more disagreeable in the movie adaptions than in C. S. Lewis’ original books. He complains and is usually frowning. Pretending that he hadn’t really been to Narnia was an awful thing to do to Lucy. In short, Edmund had lots of room to grow over the course of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When he met the White Witch, he was cold, lost, and afraid. She gave him the things he wanted and talked of giving him power, respect, things he felt he didn’t have as the third-oldest sibling. Tempting him with something that he wouldn’t easily forget, she planned to use him to put an end to Aslan. And there’s really no way around it: Edmund did make the decision to be deceitful and gave the Queen information that helped her. This led to Aslan having to sacrifice himself for Edmund. I think it’s pretty safe to say that everyone has given into selfishness before and caused some issues. We’ve all failed at some point or another.

But that never has to be the end of the story.

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Before going to the Stone Table, Aslan talks with Edmund. We aren’t told what is said, but everything is cleared up, and Edmund is completely different afterward. He doesn’t listen to the Witch anymore, and he stopped thinking only about himself. Because of his betrayal, there must be payment, and Aslan takes the punishment for it. He dies in Edmund’s place. When Aslan comes back, he ends the Witch forever, and his power and love are revealed. Aslan uses Edmund’s failure and the Queen’s schemes in his plan. Without Edmund’s betrayal, we wouldn’t have seen that.

During the battle with the Witch, before Aslan’s arrival, Edmund fought valiantly. Peter said: “It was all Edmund’s doing, Aslan. We’d have been beaten if it hadn’t been for him. The Witch was turning our troops into stone right and left. But nothing would stop him. He fought his way through three ogres to where she was just turning one of your leopards into a statue. And when he reached her he had the sense to bring his sword down on her wand instead of trying to go for her directly and simply getting made a statue himself for his pains.”  He was badly wounded, and Lucy had to use her cordial’s liquid to heal him. He was healed of not only his physical wounds, but of his shame, pride, and selfishness.

“He had become his real old self again and could look you in the face. And there on the field of battle Aslan made him a knight.” 

Edmund can be called “King Edmund the Just” because he has experienced the need for mercy along with judgment.

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Sometimes, people think that because a character messes up, or needs help, they’re less of a hero. But that is not true. Yes, Frodo wouldn’t have been able to succeed without his friends, but they would not have had victory without him. Edmund did fall, and there were consequences, but he got back up as a different person. I believe Frodo and Edmund show us something about heroes that we don’t always see: Heroes aren’t perfect. They’re not super strong people who can do everything all by themselves. But they do keep going no matter what. They do learn from their mistakes. They make sacrifices. And they don’t always win, at least not always the specific heroes themselves. What makes someone a hero is when they realize they can’t win by their own power. Frodo and Edmund do these things and demonstrate what a real hero is.


This article was written by Audrey L., Staff Blogger for The Elven Padawan, and first appeared on ElvenPadawan.com


Are there any characters you often find that people dislike for no good reason? What is one thing a fictional hero has taught you?

10 thoughts on “Real Heroes”

  1. YAY AUDREY FOR DEFENDING EDMUND!! Edmund is one of my all-time favorite fictional heroes. He is such a good example of someone lost in their failings and then being saved by great mercy and grace. I must say that I have never had to defend Frodo, but hey, now I have more ideas! Way to go!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! 😄 People in my Challenge class say stuff about Ed every time we bring up the “Should Edmund have followed the White Witch?” for ANIs, and I just sit there refuting everything in my head. And hi! You haven’t been on AIOC much lately, I miss you! (But I totally understand if you’re busy, or can’t for other reasons.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw I miss you too! And yes, I have been very busy. I have been wanting to get back on for a long time, but I just haven’t. I WILL be on there soon hopefully! Would you say hi to the girls for me and tell them I’ll try to get back on super soon?
        Yes, I refute everything about Ed as well! My mom always says he’s super annoying and I say, “Think about later when he’s one of the most noble people!” 😁

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Yes, yes yes! Wonderful analysis! Frodo is my favorite character in Lord of the Rings (it’s really hard to pick, but yeah, Frodo’s my favorite), for the reasons you listed–his humility, his love for his home, his perseverance. And that he fought to the end while broken and almost hopeless–he’s literally dragging himself through the ash of Mordor near the end of the story, BUT HE KEEPS GOING. Huge inspiration.

    Great post, examining the struggles and triumphs of these two characters!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know, it’s so hard for me to pick too! I end up listing almost everyone because all of Tolkien’s characters are amazing! (Except Denthor, I still don’t like him, not because of anything Tolkien did, but I don’t think I’d have much to say in defense of him.) And thank you! 😄

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow! Thanks for putting this out. Here in this day and age it sometimes is hard for people to find heroes, with their flaws. Especially with movies coming out now for younger children and teens. The Narnia series is definitely one of my favorite book series and movie series. And as much as I like Peter and Susan, the younger two, Edmund and Lucy I think I’ve always seen as more of a hero. Because even when they were wrong they always came through. Thanks for posting this Audrey.!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great job on this blog, Audrey!! I really enjoyed reading it while editing, you picked a great topic! 😀

    I saw where you and Amelie were talking about how flaws make characters more relatable, and I thought I should bring up this example. Though I know you haven’t been able to watch the Marvel movies first-hand yet, I think you’ll still understand it fine. One thing that often comes up when it comes to the “are they actually heroes?” argument in Iron Man aka Tony Stark vs. Captain America aka Steve Rogers. I originally did not care for Tony and was much more inclined to claim Cap as my favorite when it came to discussions of the MCU. In general, I thought Cap acted much more “heroic” than Tony ever did. He had great morals: respect for women, honor in battle, undying dedication to his country and belief system, as well as his friends and teammates. He could always be counted on to be level-headed and do the right thing. Tony, on the other hand, was always running off with another pretty reporter or celebrity girl, getting drunk and doing stupid things to be spread all over the internet, and often made reckless or badly thought-through decisions based on his emotions. And many times, though he never meant to harm anyone, these bad decisions led to tragedy. Although Tony was always trying to do better, and through hard work did manage to fix some areas of his life, he still jumps off the deep end every now and again. So yeah, it makes total sense that anyone should choose Cap over Tony in the end when it comes to a hero to look up to and view as a role model, more than just someone who looks good in a superhero suit.
    But as time went on, I realized something – even though Cap has his flaws, and we’ve seen him struggle… Tony is so much more relatable. He’s ALWAYS messing up, and even though this was the reason that I originally didn’t care for him, I’ve now come to see that it makes him so much easier to connect with. We sympathize with Tony better because he’s so transparent. I don’t want to take away anything from Cap, because I still love that “star-spangled superhero”, but I’ve recently decided that I really do love Tony as a character because he’s always falling, and always trying desperately to claw his way back up.
    Which brought me to an extremely interesting conclusion: do you know what the reason for it being so easy to dislike Tony Stark is? It’s that he is so incredibly human. The reason it’s easier to love Captain America and turn up our noses at the man under the Iron Man suit is that *he’s so much like us*! And that’s no fun. None of us want to see a hero who’s always failing and doing the exact same dumb things we do in our everyday lives. We want to see one who never fails to do the right thing, not one who cracks under the pressure and starts to panic when he’s under stress because of the things he’s gone through. Tony Stark is, if it’s possible, TOO human. And that’s why we’re inclined not to like him.

    Anyway, sorry for ranting all over the comments page. Maybe I should write my own post on this subject. I’ve got Marvel on the brain lately, for a reason you already know very well. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! (Wow I am so late replying to this. 😆) And those reasons are why I decided that I do like Tony a lot too, because I disliked him before because of the things you mentioned.

      Liked by 1 person

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