Why, in The Fellowship of the Ring, does Aragorn choose to pursue Merry and Pippin, and disband the fellowship, instead of simply catching up with Frodo and Sam?

Did Aragorn fear he was unable to resist the temptation of the ring? Did Boromir’s lapse in restraint prove to Aragorn the folly of man?

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    I think it was because they couldn't catch Frodo without a boat. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 20:33

2 Answers 2


Because he knows that if he tries to go after Frodo and Sam, the other two hobbits will be tortured and killed, and he refuses to countenance that:

'Our choice then,' said Gimli, 'is either to take the remaining boat and follow Frodo, or else to follow the Orcs on foot. There is little hope either way. We have already lost precious hours.'

'Let me think!' said Aragorn. 'And now may I make a right choice and change the evil fate of this unhappy day!' He stood silent for a moment. 'I will follow the Orcs,' he said at last. 'I would have guided Frodo to Mordor and gone with him to the end; but if I seek him now in the wilderness, I must abandon the captives to torment and death. My heart speaks clearly at last: the fate of the Bearer is in my hands no longer. The Company has played its part. Yet we that remain cannot forsake our companions while we have strength left.'

(The Lord of the Rings, Book III, Chapter 1, "The Departure of Boromir")

Aragorn certainly realizes that Frodo and Sam are in a hard place, and he does feel an obligation to aid them, considering that his ancestor arguably got the hobbits into this situation in the first place (as he says elsewhere, "it seemed fit that Isildur's heir should labour to repair Isildur's fault"1). But he is more certain of Merry and Pippin's torture and death than of Frodo and Sam's, and appears to have a gut feeling of sorts that it's his task now to protect the weak, rather than to accompany the Ring.

1The Lord of the Rings, Book II, chapter 2, "The Council of Elrond".

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    he also knows that frodo lost trust in the fellowship, because of boromir. after these events it would have been very unlikely that frodo would accept help from the rest.
    – Armin
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 20:57
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    @Armin He's not necessarily certain of that; and he doesn't mention that as a reason - nor does the narrator. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 20:58
  • I remember that Aragorn read the traces and noticed that one person moved the boat into the water by himself and another one followed later. And that indicates that one person tried to run alone to mordor, but was followed by another one. It could be that this was only in the German radio drama.
    – Armin
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 21:03
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    No, it wasn't; it was in the book as well. I left it out of the answer because there's no indication in the book that this was a specific reason why Aragorn decided to go after Merry and Pippin rather than Frodo and Sam. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 21:25
  • @Armin On the other hand, Frodo never truly liked or trusted Boromir to the same extent he did Aragorn—with good reason, as it turned out. I don't think Frodo would have distrusted Aragorn or Legolas (perhaps not even Gimli) if they had caught up with him and Sam. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 23:51

Frodo's fate is no longer in my hands.

In short the fellowship is broken.The quest of the Ring still continues.Aragron decides to go through Merry and Pippin because he knew that the One Ring can tempt him also and the other members of the fellowship. That's why decided to save Merry and Pippin, he doesn't want to get tempted by the One Ring.

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    From Matt's answer above, which contains much more dialog, it sounds like he just deosn't want Merri and Pippin to be totrtured abd killed. Not that he's worried about being tempted.
    – Daft
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 15:11

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