One of the things that we already learned in The Lord of the Rings is that the One Ring could only be destroyed by the flames of Mount Doom, which was the very volcano that helped forge it. That’s why Frodo and Sam were on a quest to get to Mordor and Mount Doom so that they could destroy the One Ring and defeat Sauron once and for all. However, if Sauron knew that only Mount Doom could destroy the One Ring, why wasn’t he there to guard Mount Doom?
Sauron never thought that anyone would try to destroy the One Ring because those who have had it in their possession always tried to keep it for themselves. As such, he didn’t think that something as simple as a Hobbit was able to resist the Ring’s temptation long enough to take it to Mount Doom.
The simple fact that no one had ever dared to destroy the One Ring before Frodo and Sam did was what made Sauron complacent enough to lower his guard. Of course, this eventually led to his eventual downfall, as Sauron was proud enough to believe that everyone could be tempted by power. Now, with that said, let’s look at the reason why Sauron didn’t guard Mount Doom.
Where Was Sauron When Frodo And Sam Were In Mount Doom?
In The Lord of the Rings, we learned that Sauron had kept himself hidden throughout the earlier portion of the Second Age before he forged the Rings of Power and used them to corrupt some of the people that wielded those rings. He used the One Ring, which contained a huge part of his spirit and malice, to make sure that he could control those who wore the Rings of Power. And that’s why the One Ring is so important to Sauron, whose might relied almost entirely on such a small and simple trinket.
The Lord of the Rings movies allowed us to see that Sauron lost his form the moment Isildur cut the Ring off of his ringer. That’s because, as mentioned, Sauron poured his malice into the Ring so that he could create it. This explains why a good part of his power is contained within the One Ring and why he has to have it in his possession so that he can return to his former glory once more.
Of course, the One Ring found itself in possession of Frodo Baggins, who inherited it from his uncle, Bilbo Baggins, who acquired the Ring from Smeagol/Gollum during the events of The Hobbit. The fact that Frodo was in possession of the One Ring was what launched the quest to finally destroy it once and for all. And the only way for the Ring to be destroyed was to throw it into the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor, where Sauron created it thousands of years ago.
As such, the Fellowship of the Ring was created to accompany Frodo on a journey to destroy the One Ring in Mount Doom. However, Frodo and Sam ended up separating from the group because of the possibility that the Ring might tempt the others, just as it did Boromir. That’s why only Frodo and Sam went to Mordor, as Gollum eventually accompanied them. Meanwhile, the other members of the Fellowship of the Ring decided to aid the different cities of Men in their attempt to resist the armies of Mordor.
We all know that Frodo and Sam eventually got to Mount Doom, where they were able to destroy the Ring despite the fact that they did encounter troubles with Frodo finally falling to the temptation of the Ring. But when the Hobbits got there, Sauron was nowhere to be found. So, where was Sauron when Frodo and Sam were in Mount Doom?
Sauron was more fixated on the fact that the heir of Isildur and the armies of Men were marching on the Black Gate during the Battle of the Morannon. Aragorn led the armies of the West as they were marching on the Black Gate to distract Sauron from what the Hobbits were planning to do while they were in Mordor. As such, Sauron had his eyes and his armies fixed on the Black Gate, thinking that one of the people in Aragorn’s army had the Ring in his possession.
Of course, while we didn’t see Sauron during the events of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings (except during the opening scene), it is worth noting that the original plan was to have Sauron appear in the Battle of the Morannon. In fact, this version never made the final cut.
As you can see, Sauron is there fighting with Aragorn. The release version of the movie showed a massive armored Troll fighting Aragorn instead. However, what was originally planned was for Sauron to personally fight Aragorn right then and there.
Whatever the case may be, Sauron was out there in the Black Gate to help his army resist Aragorn’s own forces. And this allowed Frodo and Sam enough time to get to Mount Doom and destroy the One Ring.
Why Didn’t Sauron Guard Mount Doom?
Of course, Sauron knew well enough that the only thing that could undo the power of the One Ring was the fire of Mount Doom itself. But, if that’s the case, why didn’t he even bother to guard Mount Doom at all?
First off, as mentioned, his attention was fixated on the army of the West marching on the Black Gate. A part of him must have believed that one of the people that Aragorn had with him possessed the One Ring, as he probably believed that either Merry or Pippin had it. Of course, he was also still holding on to the grudge he had against Isildur’s heir because it was Isildur himself who cut the Ring from his finger a long time ago.
But there is also a unique take that could only be seen in the book. You can see it in this excerpt:
“He is in great fear, not knowing what mighty one may suddenly appear, wielding the Ring, and assailing him with war, seeking to cast him down and take his place. That we should wish to cast him down and have no one in his place is not a thought that occurs to his mind. That we should try to destroy the Ring itself has not yet entered into his darkest dream.”
In short, Sauron was more afraid of the fact that the Ring could be used against him because he never thought that anyone could ever think of destroying it. After all, everyone who has ever held the Ring got corrupted due to the temptation of its power.
That means that Sauron was quite confident in believing that the Ring’s temptation was so powerful that no creature in Middle-Earth could resist it. But he underestimated the fact that Hobbits were simple creatures that cared nothing for power. Sauron didn’t think that something as simple as a Hobbit could be a threat to his power, and that’s why he never cared to guard Mount Doom.
Instead, he cared more about his enemies using the Ring against him. As the excerpt says, he was more afraid of someone becoming more powerful than him and casting him from his place by using the Ring. And the idea that a Hobbit would dare to enter Mordor to destroy the One Ring was something that he had never imagined.