Why can Bilbo, Frodo and to some extent Gollum resist the Ring's influence to a greater extent than men? What is the significance of this?

  • 7
    Asking why an author may a basic decision about the universe is pointless in the extreme. They wanted to tell a story. Full stop. Had they made a different assumption you'd have gotten a different story. Jun 2, 2013 at 1:43
  • Frodo repeatedly put on the Ring, even after being explicitly told not to by Gandalf and of course he succumbed to its power at Mount Doom. Therefore I would not say he resisted the Ring's influence. Jun 3, 2013 at 13:41
  • I don't think they can, why then didn't Frodo want to give up the ring and cast it into the Fire of Doom? The ring only has a different influence on the Hobbits, because they are different in nature, as all the other creatures are different in their nature.
    – Secko
    Jun 4, 2013 at 21:25
  • @Secko - You are ignoring the circumstances surrounding Frodo's actions in Mount Doom. He had been carrying the Ring for a year, and only at the last possible second did he succumb to it. Contrast this with Boromir, who succumbed to the Ring within a couple of weeks, and within seconds of being alone with Frodo for the first time. Frodo held up pretty well, considering how long he was a Ringbearer.
    – Wad Cheber
    Aug 5, 2015 at 0:35
  • @WadCheber Dude, I wrote this two years ago. I'm much older and wiser now. Besides, I don't get your point. Aren't we saying the same thing?
    – Secko
    Aug 5, 2015 at 1:16

2 Answers 2


Looking at this from the aspect of your comment (“why did Tolkien choose to create hobbits without these character traits?”) on @Andomar’s answer (which actually includes evidence from the books — reward it with upvotes, readers), one of the themes of Lord of the Rings is the idea that the smallest, humblest person can change the destiny of the world, and become a hero.

The Hobbits represent small, humble, ordinary people. They don’t lust for power or fame, or aspire to do great deeds. Thus the Ring can’t corrupt them in the way that it would corrupt Boromir or Galadriel, although it can make them covet it as a possession.

This might have been inspired by Tolkien’s experiences in the First World War. The folk with grand ambitions and a lust for power seek terrible weapons to dominate the world, and the ordinary folk are forced to go to war and suffer as a consequence. To quote Harry Patch, and/or Radiohead:

Give your leaders each a gun and then let them fight it out themselves

  • @TGnat: phew, cheers for the correction, I thought I might have got my wars mixed up. Jun 2, 2013 at 12:00
  • @Secko: aw, cheers! Jun 4, 2013 at 21:49
  • It's possible that I'm confusing this with a similar situation in the Dragonlance books, but weren't the Hobbits also designated as a "younger race" and therefore lacked some of the weaknesses of the earlier ones?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Mar 5, 2014 at 12:56
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    For Bilbo and Frodo, it might also be worth noting that the manner of acquiring the ring was significant in the nature of its influence. I think it is specifically mentioned by Gandalf that if Bilbo had killed Gollum when he had the chance the ring's negative influence would have been greater (starting with pity not only saved the world [as Gollum was needed to destroy the ring] but saved Bilbo).
    – user11683
    Aug 16, 2014 at 14:57
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    @WadCheber: if I see an opportunity to use a war veteran in order to gain points on a website, I grab it. Aug 5, 2015 at 9:50

Dwarves were even more resistant to rings. Sauron couldn't control dwarves who wore a Great Ring. The Dwarf's life was not extended, and he did not become invisible. From The Silmarillion:

Seven rings he gave to the Dwarves; ... The Dwarves indeed proved tough and hard to tame; they ill endure the domination of others, and the thoughts of their hearts are hard to fathom, nor can they be turned to shadows.

All a ring did was amplify the Dwarf's bad character traits, like lust of gold.

While a Hobbit's life could be extended, a Hobbit (and especially Bilbo and Frodo) does not have many bad character traits that the Ring could work with. But the Ring overcame Frodo in the end:

'I have come,' he said. 'But I do not choose now to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!' And suddenly, as he set it on his finger, he vanished from Sam's sight.

A Dwarf would not have been overcome like that. But Dwarves are not very good at sneaking. That's why Thorin was looking for a Hobbit in the first place :)

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    Don't think you can conclude that just because the 'Seven' rings that were given to the Dwarves didn't grant invisibility or long life that Dwarves were resistant to all rings especially the 'One'. How do we know if Sauron didn't just simply create the 'Seven' without those characteristics ? Can you provide additional citations to support the 'dwarf resistant to rings' premise ?
    – Stan
    Jun 2, 2013 at 2:03
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    @Stan: From Wikipedia "the Dwarves' rings did not respond to the One's control as Sauron expected". From The Silmarillion: "Seven rings he gave to the Dwarves; ... The Dwarves indeed proved tough and hard to tame; they ill endure the domination of others, and the thoughts of their hearts are hard to fathom, nor can they be turned to shadows."
    – Andomar
    Jun 2, 2013 at 5:43
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    Well, Sauron didn't try giving rings to Hobbits (mainly because he wasn't aware they existed), so I guess we'll never know :)
    – Andres F.
    Jun 4, 2013 at 23:04
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    Hobbit rings of power would be doughnuts.
    – Oldcat
    Jan 8, 2014 at 1:01
  • @Stan - If you're curious about whether Tolkien actually said that Dwarves were more resistant to the Ring, you should ask it as a separate question. I can assure you that Tolkien did say this, and on more than one occasion. He wrote that the only impact the Rings had on Dwarves was to increase their preexisting tendencies towards greed for jewels and precious metals.
    – Wad Cheber
    Aug 5, 2015 at 0:42

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