Letter to Eileen Elgar (September 1963)

From Tolkien Gateway

Between 22 September and 3 October 1963 (when it was postmarked), J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a letter to Mrs Eileen Elgar.[1]


... The most important point was that of Frodo's "moral failure". Only one other correspondent has referred to it; and he abused F. as a scoundrel, and me — for holding him up to admiration ... Frodo failed as a 'hero' conceived in abstract ideal terms: he succumbed to the pressure of the Ring, which at that instant reached its maximum, when starved, utterly exhausted, and after months of increasing fear and torment. But we are all finite creatures, having absolute limits to our powers of soul, mind, and body ... Frodo took the Ring in complete humility, and his motive was entirely selfless ... By his sufferings he provided a situation in which the quest could be achieved, and by his pity (for Gollum) he made the means for this available. We, the readers, and within the book the Great can, I think have no doubt whatever in our praise ...

See also