48

After Frodo is stabbed with a Morgul-blade on Weathertop, a shard of the blade remains inside the wound, slowly turning him into a wraith.

Aragorn knows that Frodo as a wraith would be enslaved under the power of the Witch King. It is only because of the unforeseen hardihood of Hobbits that he didn't succumb before reaching Rivendell.

Why didn't he take the Ring from Frodo (perhaps giving it to another Hobbit) in order to safeguard it?

3
  • 20
    It's not his burden to give.
    – Möoz
    Oct 6, 2021 at 23:34
  • 13
    Aragorn's original mission was to escort Frodo to Rivendell, which he did. At the council, it was decided that Frodo would carry the ring. Aragorn believed in this decision, and was humble enough to believe himself not worthy of doing so. Basically, he had faith that Frodo was the right choice.
    – Omegacron
    Oct 6, 2021 at 23:38
  • 13
    One does not simply take the One Ring and then give it away.
    – Misha R
    Oct 7, 2021 at 12:19

3 Answers 3

75

There's no definitive explanation in the book, but several points seem clear.

First, what other Hobbit? If Frodo had proved too weak, would any of the others have appeared stronger? The options were two irresponsible kids and a servant. (While Sam did have much more strength than anyone -- including Sam -- expected, Aragorn can be forgiven if he failed to see that yet.)

Second, it seems clear that Gandalf had told Aragorn much about the task and about the Ring. (In The Prancing Pony, Aragorn is unsurprised when Frodo disappears and comments that he "put his finger in it".) Gandalf trusted Aragorn above any other Man and trusted him to guide Frodo in his place. He would not have kept Aragorn ignorant and risked Frodo and the Ring, so Aragorn probably knew most of what Gandalf knew or surmised about the Ring: How Frodo came to have it, the Ring's effects, Gollum, the Ringwraiths and all. And Gandalf would have told Aragorn, a friend of Bilbo's, about how hard it was for Bilbo to give it up.

Aragorn would thus have known enough to realize that taking the Ring from Frodo would have had serious consequences -- Frodo would certainly have resisted and the hobbits would almost certainly have sided with him -- and this would most likely have blown the party apart in the midst of wilderness and pretty much guaranteed the loss of the Ring.

Thirdly, Aragorn had to have been warned by Gandalf about the risk of taking the Ring himself. (Gandalf knew of the Ring's habit of making people lust for it.) Even aside from that, if Aragorn couldn't give it to a different Hobbit without blowing the company apart, he certainly couldn't take it for himself.

Fourthly, Aragorn had to have thought about all this and decided that as long as Frodo continued to resist, the Ring had best stay with him, but doubtless had a last-ditch contingency plan to take the Ring from him if Frodo fell to the wound of the Morgul blade.

Finally, he gave his word "I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will", and he took that seriously.

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  • 3
    All good. I might add that Frodo would have fought to retain the Ring, and he didn't have the strength to spare. Aragorn knew that too. Oct 7, 2021 at 1:23
  • 36
    In Merry's defense, he was only an irresponsible kid in the movie. In the books, he was actually very competent.
    – LAK
    Oct 7, 2021 at 1:46
  • 1
    @Mark Olson Aragorn spent enough time at Bree to get used to treating child-sized hobbits like adults. Merry was 36, the hobbit equivalent of being about 23, and Pippin was 28, the hobbit equivalent of about 18. So I don't think that Aragorn thought they were kids. Merry and Pippin came from aristocratic families, and all the human aristocrats Aragorn knew, Dunedain, Gondorians, and Rohrimm, trained warriors from childhood. Furthermore, Frodo's weekness was not innate, but cuased by a Morgul wound, which the other hobbits didn't have. Continued. Oct 7, 2021 at 17:49
  • 6
    Do you mean the Merry who went out --- alone -- for a breath of air at night in Bree with Black Riders around and then went off to follow a horrible black shadow he saw down the street? I'm sorry if I offended people by insulting someone who turned out to be a brave Hobbit, but all Aragon could go on is what he saw, and he had just met a very foolhardy young man. "Strider looked at Merry with wonder. 'You have a stout heart,' he said; 'but it was foolish.' " (Doubtless if you asked Aragorn six months later, his opinion would have changed for the better. But not yet.)
    – Mark Olson
    Oct 7, 2021 at 18:57
  • 5
    There's no direct textual evidence, but (in a different version of the story where they tried to relieve Frodo of carrying the ring after he was wounded) I would not be at all surprised if trying to take the ring from him would stir up his desire to possess it, and that would lessen his ability to resist the corruption from the morgul wound (as he would be more under the ring's sway).
    – Ben
    Oct 7, 2021 at 21:31
57

Aragorn knew that the One Ring overmastered*, and some time after betrayed his ancestor Isildur to his death, so he was afraid of the Ring claiming himself as well should he take possession of it.


* The Ring overmastered Isildur at the very moment he was best positioned to destroy the Ring.

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  • 12
    I think that’s the real answer. Aragorn is terribly afraid of the ring (and rightly so).
    – Michael
    Oct 7, 2021 at 11:11
  • 6
    I agree that this is the correct answers. The others are based on assumptions and guesses. This one however, has a strong base: Frodo offers the ring to Aragorn at some point. He does not accept it. Because he fears to succumb to its powers just like his ancestor did. He's afraid of it.
    – Opifex
    Oct 8, 2021 at 9:43
10

Aragorn could no more let Frodo keep the Ring nor make him give it up than Gandalf. From The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, chapter 2, "The Shadow of the Past":

'All the same,' said Frodo, 'even if Bilbo could not kill Gollum, I wish he had not kept the Ring. I wish he had never found it, and that I had not got it! Why did you let me keep it? Why didn't you make me throw it away, or, or destroy it?'

'Let you? Make you?' said the wizard. 'Haven't you been listening to all that I have said? You are not thinking of what you are saying.'

...

Gandalf laughed grimly. 'You see? Already you too, Frodo, cannot easily let it go, nor will to damage it. And I could not "make" you except by force, which would break your mind'.

If Gandalf the Istar couldn't do it we shouldn't suppose Aragorn the Man could, even if they weren't out in the wilderness and Frodo weren't wounded.

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