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In the movie, Frodo tries to give the One Ring to Aragorn in Parth Galen. Aragorn deftly refuses the offer. Why does Frodo do this? Hadn't the council told him not to offer it to anyone else?

Boromir 'attacks' Frodo trying to get the Ring from him. After this frightening encounter, Frodo meets Aragorn . At this point Frodo mistrusts Aragorn as well and asks him:

"Can you protect me from yourself?"

Frodo then offers the Ring to Aragorn, who refuses it. Why did Frodo do this? Didn't he mistrust Aragorn as well (before he refused it)? If Frodo thought that Aragorn also wanted it, why did he try to give it to Aragorn, wasn't this dangerous? Was Frodo trying to test it on Aragorn as he had done with Galadriel?

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    Frame challenge on your last bit: Frodo was not trying to test Galadriel, he was (vainly) trying to find someone better to carry the burden of the Ring. When Galadriel declines and says she passes the test, I suspect she is thinking of the Ban of the Valar upon the Noldor, and her own personal worthiness to travel to the Undying West. Had she taken the Ring for herself, no matter how the story shook out, she would never have been permitted to return to Valinor. Therefore, Frodo was not "trying to test Aragorn" in the same way. (What would be the good of passing or failing from Frodo's POV?) – Lexible Jul 20 '20 at 15:45
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To some extent you could suggest that Peter Jackson was testing his Aragorn character and proving that he was strong willed enough to be the King.

Frodo sees Boromir struggle to resist the Ring and later challenges Aragorn asking:

“Can you protect me from yourself? Would you destroy it?”

Peter Jackson's inclusion of this made up scene seems to challenge Aragorn's purity and strength and allows him to have a significant role in the separation of Frodo (and Sam) and the Three Hunters. It also lessens Frodo's role (as is done throughout the film) as more of a passive character to other people's ideas/motivations. Aragorn giving up the Ring and letting Frodo go demonstrates his ability to realise that this is not his quest, and that Frodo needs to continue on alone. Also that he wouldn't have the strength to resist it and to keep the others in the party from having to face the challenge.

This seems to be supported by the Director's Audio commentary from the Fellowship of the Ring (between writer Philippa "Pippa" Boyens and director Peter Jackson)

Philippa: No, that was Fran and I. Remember one time when we were just like, “What the hell is all of this? What the hell is all of this?” and we realised that… One of the reasons for this particular scene is that we felt very strongly that early on – especially in earlier drafts, before we started filming – that these two great characters – who go on to carry the main story threads for the rest of the films – needed this moment together. And actually –.

Peter: [interrupting] And also it juxtaposes exactly what’s happened with Boromir in the sense that [Philippa: Exactly.] there’s one Man who was tempted by the Ring [Philippa: Mmm.] and –

Philippa: Nobody’s…

Peter:couldn’t resist and here is another Man who is tempted by the Ring at this moment, and he does resist it. He is… He has got the strength to push it away, so it’s also important for Aragorn because, in a way, this actually proves something to Aragorn himself: that Aragorn can see that he does have the power to reject the Ring when it’s offered to him.

Philippa: Yeah.

Peter: And that leads Aragorn, then, to believe that there is some strength in his own race [Philippa: Yes.], so, in a sense, you know, that moment, for his character, we felt was very important.

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    Although it happens differently, he does offer the ring to Aragorn in the books. At the Council of Elrond IIRC. – Darren Jul 20 '20 at 14:43
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    @Darren That is right. Frodo thinks that Aragorn, the heir of Isildur, is the owner of the Ring: "Then it belongs to you, and not to me at all." he says, if I remember the text. The " Director's Audio commentary" merely shows the incredible misunderstanding, stupidity and confusion about Aragorn's character. In the novel, he has been raised and trained by many hardships to be the possible King and marry the woman he loves (classic fairy-tale stuff); in the movie, he refuses his burden and is willing to let Arwen go until something changes his mind. Nonsense. – Wastrel Jul 20 '20 at 17:36
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    @Wastrel In the books Aragorn has very little in the way of a character arc. He rises in power, but he doesn't overcome any particular personal struggles. In the movies he starts out with the potential for leadership, but worries that he will fall into the same temptations that brought down his line in the first place. This is a moment where he shows that he doesn't have the weakness that Isildur had since he was able to let go of the ring, and he later goes through stages of taking up the mantle of the king that he was born for. A much more interesting arc in my opinion – Kevin Jul 20 '20 at 20:44
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    @KevinWells -- Presumably he's done his heroic paradigm thing already. Aragorn's story arc wasn't what Tollien was interested in, I think. LotR is most surely about Sam, almost first and foremost, and also Frodo. – elemtilas Jul 20 '20 at 23:17
  • @elemtilas - to that point, see this answer – The Fallen Jul 20 '20 at 23:49
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Edlothiad's answer gives a great perspective on why Aragorn was presented with this challenge, and why it is an important moment for Aragorn, but I'd like to add my thoughts on why Frodo would choose to test Aragorn in this way.

Frodo needed to see if he could continue with the Fellowship.

I think there was a lot of subtext in the question,

Can you protect me from yourself?

It seems like the unspoken part of that question was, Can I continue with the Fellowship, or will my companions betray me, one-by-one?

Aragorn certainly saw the implication of the question, because he responded in a way that showed his understanding that Frodo could no longer trust the Fellowship and must depart on his own:

I would have gone with you to the end... into the very fires of Mordor.

and later, to Legolas:

Frodo's fate is no longer in our hands.

Frodo was at a crossroads, and he needed affirmation that the ring was his own burden.

Part of Frodo still believed that someone else may be better suited to carry the ring, and he needed to solidify his resolve if he was to continue. By challenging Aragorn, he was, to some extent, asking if it really had to be his own burden after all. Aragorn was, by any standard of Middle-earth, the best person to hold an object of such danger and power, so refusing it proved to Frodo that he could not allow anyone else to possess it.

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  • By the standards of ability, Gimli would be a better choice than Aragorn. The seven rings basically didn't work on them, so probably not the one either. – Joshua Jul 20 '20 at 23:45
  • @Joshua - that's sort of true, but they did cause them to become extremely greedy - and one might extend that to possibly being affected in some base desires by the One as well – The Fallen Jul 20 '20 at 23:51
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    @Joshua Yeah, if Gimli got the Ring, he would become Smaug the Second, possibly richer than Smaug the First. XD – TheMadHatter Jul 21 '20 at 3:55
  • I really like this answer's perspective; after reading that last paragraph, I'm reminded of the fact that, throughout the second two films (I'll focus on the films rather than the books since we're talking about a scene from the film only here), Frodo is a lot more like "the ring is my burden" when talking to Sam, at least, so it does suggest that Frodo has, by this point, accepted that it really is up to him and only him. – NathanS Jul 21 '20 at 9:32
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    @Joshua I think there are a lot of reasons why Aragorn would be the natural choice as ring-bearer. Number one is that he is Isuldir's heir, later he even wielded the re-forged sword that removed the ring from Sauron. Fortunately, Aragorn was wise enough to see that his ancestor's folly could easily become his own. – BlackThorn Jul 21 '20 at 15:22

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