Galadriel: “You are a ring-bearer, Frodo. To bear a ring of power is to be alone. This task was appointed to you. And if you do not find a way, no one will.”
—The Fellowship of the Ring
Galadriel, the Lady of the Woods, says these words to Frodo near the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. The fellowship has just barely escaped from the mines of Moria, where they believe Gandalf has been killed. The experience has made them all uneasy. As the others sleep, Galadriel makes Frodo look into a mirror, in which he sees visions of what will happen if his mission fails: among other tragedies, the Shire will be overrun by orcs and his friends will be imprisoned. She tells Frodo that the fellowship has broken and that one by one the others will come after the ring, a statement that anticipates Boromir’s attempt to steal the ring at the end of the film. Frightened by the awesome responsibility before him, Frodo offers Galadriel the ring, which she refuses.
When Frodo says he cannot accomplish his task on his own, Galadriel responds with the quotation above. She means to encourage him but also to let him know that his journey has just begun. The fellowship has given him a start, but the task ahead is his and his alone. He no longer needs the others, and, indeed, he separates from them at the end of the film. These words also serve as a warning for Frodo, alerting him to the solitude he’ll struggle with as long as he has the ring. Frodo will wrestle with solitude even after he’s destroyed the ring and returned to the Shire. When Galadriel tells Frodo, “To bear a ring of power is to be alone,” she demonstrates her understanding of exactly how enormous Frodo’s task is, and how separate he is from the rest of the fellowship. His task is completely solitary, and it will consume his life.