Quote for the Day: Frodo’s Apostacy
I meant to use this as a quote last week, following Frodo's Failure and Frodo's Failure (II).
"The Quest to Mount Doom was bound to fail... Fail it would and did as far as Frodo considered alone was concerned. He apostatized -- and I have had one savage letter, crying out that he should have been executed as a traitor, not honored... [But] the salvation of the world and Frodo's own 'salvation' is achieved by his previous pity and forgiveness of injury. At any point any prudent person would have told Frodo that Gollum would certainly betray him, and could rob him in the end... By a situation created by his forgiveness, he was saved himself, and relieved of his burden. He was very justly accorded the highest honors." (J.R.R. Tolkien, Letters, #181, to Michael Straight)
The reader who thought Aragorn should have killed Frodo at least understood the story correctly (that Frodo apostatized and failed), but he didn't get the full picture. Pagan heroes are bound to fail, and Frodo's pity for Gollum redressed his failure in any case.