JUNG AND FRODO: 7 PATHS OF INDIVIDUATION IN THE LORD OF THE RINGS The Lord of the Rings is many things, large and small, but central in the book are the stories of individuation, of transcendence, of all the major characters. Each path is different, each can speak to a different human need. Jung and Frodo identifies 7 psychological paths to maturity and selfhood, each taken by a particular character or pair of characters. These paths are: The Path of Curiosity. At the start, Merry and Pippin care only about creature comforts, but driven by their curiosity, they gradually grow brave and wise. Though In the early parts of the quest, they constantly cause trouble through their monkey-like curiosity, that curiosity leads them to see more of the world than anyone else in the book. The Path of Opposites. Gimli the Dwarf and Legolas the Elf - Earth and Air - are representatives of opposing cultures, which despise each other. Gimli and Legolas grow first to respect, then to love each other, thus providing the possibility of a union of opposites, as their joint time passes from the earth. The Path of the Wizard. The Wizard, already the wisest of the wise, must resist arrogance, serve those less wise, then willingly accept death to save others, as a step toward transformation. Saruman fails this test, while Gandalf passes. Gandalf the Grey becomes Gandalf the White. The Path of the King. The King must lower himself to the level of commoners, before rising once more to his full stature. Boromir fails this test, while Strider/Aragorn passes. He grows stronger and wiser in the process, and is finally crowned King Aragorn. This would have been the ending of any other hero's journey, but not The Lord of the Rings, which is far wiser. There remains the three final great paths: of Gollum, Samwise, and Frodo. Path of Tragic Failure. Driven by greed and avarice, Gollum loses his identity, reduced to nothing but desire for his precious ring. Yet, even in failure, even while committing evil, Gollum plays an indispensable part in the Quest. Like a Greek tragic hero, though fated to fail personally, he yet serves greater needs. The Path of Love. Sam's is the simplest, yet the most touching of all paths: his simple loyalty and love for Frodo makes him the single person who never wavers in his task throughout the book. When Frodo can no longer even walk, and will not let Sam carry the Ring, Sam carries Frodo. Then, when Gollum joins them, Frodo's kindness has to be balanced by Sam's stern limits. Ultimately Sam's outcome is the happiest of all those on the Quest: he has been able to see the Elves who so fascinated him, able to serve as Frodo's companion on the greatest of all quests, and finally able to return to his blessed Shire, and his loving Rosie. The Path of Transcendence. Then there is Frodo - and Frodo's path transcends that of any other hero in literature. Seemingly the least, always aware of his own fears, his own limitations, he yet accomplishes more than any of those seemingly greater figures like Elves and Dwarves, Kings and Wizards. Even when the great quest is complete, The Lord of the Rings is wise enough to recognize that there can be no simple happy ending for Frodo. Like Hamlet, Frodo can find no peace on earth. At the end, he is left to find some new answer, some unique way to transcend the limitations of life. All of these paths speak to each of us, some paths more than others. Few of us are forced to take a path as difficult as Frodo's, yet in these strange days when the old passes away, there are some for whom this is the only path that can be followed.