The Lord Of The Rings
by J. R. R. Tolkien In J.R.R. Tolkien's magnum opus, "The Lord of the Rings", he symbolizes a myriad of objects. He contrasts the One Ring in this literary work to the debauchery of power the most. He achieves this by characterizing the One Ring and rendering evidence of how each of his characters envision the theoretical aspects of the eminence of the Ring, especially Frodo. The One Ring of Sauron has had an interesting history. The Noldor smiths, whom Sauron lured, make the Rings of Power. With their knowledge, Sauron forged the One Ring at Mount Doom in Mordor. This ring would rule all the Rings of Power for Men, Elves, and Dwarves. Sauron lost his Ring when Gil-galad, leader of the Noldor Elves, with the Last Alliance of Elves and Men stormed Barad-dur. They killed Sauron. Isildur cut Sauron's finger off to get the One Ring of Power. While fleeing to the north, a band of orcs trap Isildur. He puts on his newly acquired ring to become invisible and jumps into a river. While swimming the Ring happens to slip off his finger. The orcs then kill Isildur with their arrows, while the Ring sinks to the bottom of the river. There, the Ring stayed until two hobbits, by the name of Deagol and Smeagol, were
. Deagol saw its gleam in the sun and got it out of the river. Smeagol, already feeling the Ring's influence, kills Deagol for possession of the Ring and flees to the Misty Mountains. "Very slowly he got up and groped about on all fours till he touched the wall of the tunnel; but neither up nor down it could he find anything: nothing at all, no sign of goblins, no sign of dwarves. His head was still swimming, and he was far from certain even of the direction they had been going in when he had his fall. He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket all most without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment."(Tolkien, Hobbit p76). At this part in The Hobbit, Bilbo stumbles upon the One Ring in the dark. Unknowing the importance of his discovery, Bilbo keeps it hidden until he escapes from Gollum. "Bilbo initially has difficulty giving up the Ring - he wants to keep it, or the Ring wants him to," (Chance p30). Bilbo leaves the Ring to his nephew, Frodo, when he departs. This takes much persuasion by Gandalf. Frodo, unconscious, does not realize that Sam takes the Ring from him. In the Return of the King, Tolkien, shows the reader Sam's thoughts about taking the Ring. This takes about three pages to explain, showing both Sam's thoughtfulness and the importance of time when Sam bears the ring. Sam later saves Frodo from the tower and freely gives the Ring back to him so he can finish the journey. Frodo disagrees with Sam taking the Ring without asking, and shows it by getting upset. He soon resents yelling at Sam and apologizes. The Ring then has one last possessor before it plummets into the fires of Mount Doom. Gollum, during a fight with Frodo at the edge of Mount Doom, bites off Frodo's finger to get the Ring. Gollum then takes one step too far and falls with the Ring into Mount Doom for the Ring's destruction. The One Ring of Power and anything or anyone it concerns is the greatest importance of the Middle-earth. Its destruction is the combination of efforts from many groups and few individuals. The Ring itself is a perfectly round and perfectly forged ring of gold. It can withstand all of nature's elements and additionally the test of time. It is indestructible, except by throwing it into the fires where it was forged, Mount Doom. Sauron's Ring possesses the ability to rule the world. Not only by affecting the way others would act but also alterations to the bearer of this epitome of power. "Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring the all and in the darkness bind them In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie." (Tolkien, Fellowship p7) This poem describes the way the One Ring influences other's reactions and attitudes toward people or suggestions. The wearer of the One Ring could see and control the wearers of the Rings of Power. Theoretically the bearer of the One Ring represented twenty people. The maintainer of the One Ring had abilities that normal people would not. While wearing the ring one becomes invisible to others. It also heightens the bearers senses. For Bilbo, his sight is that of an eagle, while for Frodo and Sam, their hearing enhances to that of a dog. It also gave the benefit that the wearer would not age. In the wrong hands, one could impose doom and destruction on the Middle-earth. The long awaited destruction of the One Ring of Sauron happens on the footsteps of Mount Doom, when Gollum and an invisible Frodo battle. " The fires below awoke in anger, the red light blazed, and all the cavern was filled with a great glare and heat. Suddenly Sam saw Gollum's long hands draw upwards to his mouth; his white fangs gleamed, and then snapped as they bit. Frodo gave a cry, and there he was, fallen upon his knees at the chasm's edge. But Gollum, dancing like a mad thing, held aloft the ring, a finger still thrust within its circle. It shone now as if verily it was wrought of living fire. 'Precious, precious, precious!' Gollum cried. 'My Precious! O my Precious!' And with that even as his eyes were lifted up to gloat on his prize, he stepped too far, toppled, wavered for a moment on the brink, and then with a shriek he fell. Out of the depths came his last wail precious, and he was gone." (Tolkien, Return p275-6). When this great event happens, some desired and some unwanted effects take place. The three Elven Rings fade with all that is made from them. Therefore when Lothlorien fades out, the elves leave Middle-earth. Barad-dur, the tower of the Dark Lord, will immediately fall and dissolve. Most portentously, Sauron will never again have the power to threaten the Middle-earth. Although the external demeanor is uniform, Bilbo's ring and Frodo's ring differ. The effects each has on the people that wear them, their symbolisms are incongruent. Bilbo's ring, the less potent of the two, possesses two primary functions in The Hobbit. First, it serves as Bilbo's equalizer. Second, it lets the reader see how Bilbo meditates over dilemmas. Bilbo's ring depicts an equalizer of enormous importance. "even Samuel Colt's 'Equalizer' did not make all men heroes: it only made them all the same size." (Shippey p61). Before he unearths the One Ring, he is another mouth to feed and cumbersome. He did nothing but get the dwarves caught by a group of trolls without the Ring. After he found the Ring, he becomes the most important person in their company. He saves the dwarves from the spiders and elves, and in addition, he locates the keyhole to Smaug's lair. Strategy plays a prominent part in letting the reader see how Bilbo resolves the problems he encounters. Bilbo must figure out ways to make all the dwarves undetectable with his only his ring. Since the ring will only make one person invisible, Bilbo must find away around this drawback to save the dwarves many times. This proves especially true when he aids in the escape of the dwarves from the elven fort. The consequences Bilbo acquires from using his ring do not come as fast as Frodo's impressions. Only when he finishes his journey and must leave the Ring to Frodo, does Bilbo fight these influences. The Ring corrupts Bilbo to the point where he refers to the Ring as his Precious. "'It is mine, I tell you. My own. My precious. Yes, my precious.'" (Tolkien, Fellowship p59). The only other who alludes to the Ring by this title is Gollum. Frodo's ring, a most prominent source of power, is much more addictive than Bilbo's ring. Frodo's ring also has the power to discriminate between its proprietor. The influences it endows are more threatening to its bearer than those of Bilbo's ring. "The Ring is 'addictive'. All readers probably assimilate Gollum early on to the now-familiar image of a 'drug-addict', craving desperately for a 'fix' even though he knows it will kill him. For the same reason they understand why Gandalf tells Frodo not to use the Ring (use always causes addiction); why Sam, Bilbo and Frodo nevertheless survive their use of it (addiction in early stages is curable); why Boromir succumbs to the Ring without handling it (use has to be proceeded by desire); and why Faramir can shrug it off (a wise person is capable of stifling the desire to become addicted, though no wisdom will stifle addiction once contracted)." (Shippey p106) As T. A. Shippey said in The Road to the Middle-Earth, the Ring could be called addictive. Once you manipulate its capabilities one is compelled to use it again. Only the strong hearted can endure its influence, and even then just for a short time. The One Ring's proficiency to chose its owner justifies that the Ring is an actual thinking character in this trilogy. The Ring did not just happen to slip off of Isildur's finger while he flees from the orcs. It chose to fall off leaving him revealed to his death. It also chose to glimmer in the sun at the right time so Deagol could see it. It was not a coincidence that Bilbo found it in the dark, the Ring chose to reveal itself to him. "Gandalf has said that Bilbo was 'meant' to find the ring in order to pass it on to Frodo as his heir. Frodo was 'meant' to wear it from then on." (Kocher p33). The Ring chooses its owners in hopes that it will someday return to Sauron's hand. "and when he came a second time to 'the cow jumped over the moon,' he leaped in the air. Much too vigorously; for he came down, bang, into a tray full of mugs, and slipped, and rolled off the table with a crash, clatter and bump! The audience all opened their mouths wide for laughter, and stopped short in gaping silence; for the singer had disappeared. He simply vanished,.Frodo leaned back against the wall and took off the Ring. How it came to be on his finger he could not tell." (Tolkien, Fellowship p219) In this scene of The Fellowship of the Ring that takes place in The Prancing Pony, the Ring chooses to be on Frodo's finger in hopes that someone will discover it, and return it to Sauron. It partially succeeds by being noticed, but by someone who already knows about the One Ring of Power. " The ring itself is the epitome of power, the One Ring, forged by Sauron to control the other rings held by elves,men, and dwarves and lost by Sauron after his defeat in battle centuries before:" (Lobdell p58). The One Ring could be most closely associated with power and its ability of corruption. This can be examined by discerning the Ring's effects on the characters in The Lord of the Rings. Aragorn, alias Strider, the true King of Gondor, Isildur's heir, probably has the closest claim to the Ring of any character in this book, except Sauron. He has multiple opportunities to take the Ring and use its power, but his nobility and pride are so great that he is never tempted on a large scale. He inherits the immense job of leading the group after Gandalf is lost in the Mines of Moria. The most eccentric character in this publication, Gollum, takes on a split personality. This personality that consists of Smeagol, who is bound by the power of the Ring, and Gollum, who covets the Ring and its power over him, serves to demonstrate the corruption of the Ring. In the Two Towers by J. R. R. Tolkien, Gollum swears by the Ring. " 'We promises, yes, I promise!' said Gollum. 'I will serve the master of the Precious. Good master, good Smeagol, gollum, gollum!'" (p285) Though later in the trilogy Gollum tries to kill Frodo for control over the Ring. There is some irony surrounding this character. Gollum, the first individual in which one meets that has possession of the Ring, is also the last. Gollum who serves a vital role in this story, is destroyed with the Ring at Mount Doom. This can be compared to both Pearl in The Scarlet Letter, with their split personalities, and Captain Ahab, when they both die trying to achieve their goals. Shelob, a giant obstacle in Frodo and Sam's journey into Mordor, represents one character who has no interest in the Ring. Although unquestionably evil, she would probably throw it away with all of Frodo's other clothes, if she devoures him. Her only preoccupation is food for survival. The Ringwraiths' influence by the Ring is direct. The Ring governs their thought and movements. These bearers of the nine Rings of Power made for men, are entirely subject to Sauron's will, forever searching for the lost One Ring. " Upon it sat a shape, black-mantled, huge and threatening. A crown of steel he bore, but between rim and robe naught was there to see, save only a deadly gleam of eyes: the Lord of the Nazgul. To the air he had returned, summoning his steed ere the darkness failed, and now he was come again, bringing ruin, turning hope to despair, and victory to death. A great black mace he wielded." (Tolkien, Return p140-1) Gandalf the Grey, later Gandalf the White, wants no control over the One Ring what so ever. This is show when he rejects both Saruman and Frodo when they offer it. " 'No!' cried Gandalf, springing to his feet. 'With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly.' His eyes flashed and his face was lit as by a fire within. 'Do not tempt me! For I do not wish to become like the Dark Lord himself. Yet the way of the Ring to my heart is by pity, pity for weakness and the desire of strength to do good. Do not tempt me! I dare not take it, not even to keep it safe, unused. The wish to yield it would be too great for my strength. I shall have such need of it. Great perils lie before me.'" (Tolkien, Fellowship p95) Also T.A. Shippey in The Road to Middle-Earth interprets Gandalf's opinion of the Ring. "Gandalf says a great deal about it, but his information boils down to three basic data: (1) the Ring is immensely powerful, in right or wrong hands; (2) it is dangerous and ultimately fatal to all its possessors - in a sense there are no right hands; (3) it cannot simply be left unused or put aside, but must be destroyed, something which can happen only in the place of its origin, Orodruin, Mount Doom." (p104) The Ring, thus proven, never apprehended Gandalf into its asylum of corruption. The Dark Lord, Sauron, who fabricates the One Ring desires to rule the world for his evil intentions. His power hinges on whether he possesses the Ring. When he forges the Ring, he puts so much of his energy into his creation that he is all but worthless without it. The reader never sees Sauron directly. All that remains of his body is his eye, although usually symbolized as a black cloud. This eye of Sauron has no lid because it never slumbers. All of its time is spent searching for the One Ring. " But suddenly the Mirror went altogether dark, as dark as if a hole had opened in the world of sight, and Frodo looked into emptiness. In the black abyss there appeared a single Eye that slowly grew, until it filled nearly all the Mirror. So terrible was it that Frodo stood rooted, unable to cry out or to withdraw his gaze. The Eye was rimmed with fire, but was itself glazed, yellow as a cat's, watchful and intent, and the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing." (Tolkien, Fellowship p471) Galadriel, the Lady of Lorien, resolves that she would not be fit to carry the Ring. Her temptation to take the Ring is fueled by what will happen to the elves if the One Ring becomes void. The elven Rings of Power will not work if the One Ring does not exist. Therefore, Lothlorien will wither and the elves will be forced to withdraw from the Middle-earth. She knows that if she were to master the Ring that she would have enough power to defeat Sauron. Though this is true, she concludes that Frodo shall keep the Ring. Denethor, Lord of Minas Tirith, presumes that he could control the Ring if it ever came into his hands. He wishes to use the Ring to improve Minas Tirith's army for an offensive against the forces of Mordor. He condemns his own son, Faramir, for not helping him obtain the Ring like his brother, Boromir. He challenges Sauron by gazing into the Palantir. He is driven mad by the evil force in Mordor, and dies in the flames of a funeral pyre of his own creation. Faramir, unlike his father, understands the true power of the Ring as taught by Gandalf. Faramir would prefer to avoid the Ring then seize it and jeopardize becoming corrupt with its omnipotence. Boromir, similar to his father, views the Ring as a weapon that could prove useful against Sauron. Boromir never touched the Ring, but was under the influence of the Ring enough to endeavor to kill Frodo for its control. "'Come, come, my friend!' said Boromir in a softer voice. 'Why not get rid of it? Why not be free of your doubt and fear? You can lay the blame on me, if you will. You can say that I was too strong and took it by force. For I am too strong for you, halfling,' he cried; and suddenly he sprang over the stone and leaped at Frodo. His fair and pleasant face was hideously changed; a raging fire was in his eyes." (Tolkien, Fellowship p517) He tries to persuade Frodo into giving him the Ring, but when this fails he ventures in vain by force. His character is later redeemed, from this act, when he sacrifices himself for Merry and Pippin. Fangorn, The Ent, is "...too old to have any real interest in the affairs of the rest of the world or to desire power..." (Lobdell p61) for himself, but he is not indifferent in the ways of the Ring. He helps to destroy Sauron only to thwart the orcs from chopping down their trees. Tom Bombadil, the liveliest character in this literary piece, has a forever young, merry, singing, and forgetful personality. Tom actually wears the Ring in the Old Forest but does not disappear. Frodo freely gives Tom Bombadil the Ring because it has no dominion over him. Tom does not vanish when he puts on the Ring because Tom is "master of wood, water, and hill, but he is not burdened by owning it; he has no fear," (Lobdell p62). This fearfulness toward the Ring shown by Tom, voids the Rings influences aimed at him. There was talk at the Council of Elrond about trusting the Ring to Tom but everyone agreed "he would soon forget it, or most likely throw it away." (Tolkien, Fellowship p348). Saruman is transformed from a pure and good-hearted wizard into a selfish recluse who lives in a tower starving for power. He agrees to join the Enemy because by doing so, he presumes he will not be corrupted. He plots and schemes to obtain the Ring and to become more powerful and a greater being than Sauron. Close to the finale of the book Sam becomes the Ringbearer in Mordor. He is distraught on whether to take the Ring from Frodo without asking, because it might anger Frodo, which it does, if he were to find out. He also desires the power of the Ring: "Already the Ring tempted him, gnawing at his will and reason. Wild fantasies arose in his mind; and he saw Samwise the Strong, Hero of the Age, striding with a flaming sword across the darkened land, and armies flocking to his call as he marched to the overthrow of Barad-dur. And then all the clouds rolled away, and the white sun shone, and at his command the vale of Gorgoroth became a garden of flowers and trees and brought forth fruit. He had only to put on the Ring and claim it for his own, and all this could be." (Tolkien, Return p217) This yearning to make Mordor into a garden is soon lost in other worries. He later is able to give the Ring back to Frodo. Frodo, the protagonist of the book, holds the Ring longer than any other person, besides Sauron and Gollum. He inherits many influences from the One Ring. These suggestions compel Frodo to do many tasks. At the beginning of his long trek, Frodo is not out to seek great deeds or fame, nor does he have any idea that he will have the willpower to finish the task he has agreed to do. The closer he gets to Mount Doom, the stronger and more frequent the suggestions become. "he tells Sam that he is failing more and more under the evil domination of the Ring and that he has lost the power to give it away or remain sane if it is taken from him." (Kocher p113). Increasing, until the point where the Ring will not let Frodo destroy it. Frodo at the moment of truth, the doorstep of Mount Doom, succumbs to the weight and sway of the Ring: " '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." (Tolkien, Return p274) Whereas most who yield to the suggestions of the Ring deny the fact, Frodo accepts and acknowledges that he wasn't strong enough to stand up to the Ring: " 'Yes,' said Frodo. 'But do you remember Gandalf's words: Even Gollum may have something yet to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest would have been in vain, even at the bitter end."(Tolkien, Return p277) Frodo's decision on whether to bare the Ring and carry it to the heart of Mordor was important. This is important because it is made by his own will and is not forced upon him. If this important decision had been forced on anyone, the journey would have failed, because it takes all of someone's concentration to keep a clear head while bearing the Ring. The Ring has tempted him at many places. These include Weathertop, where he gives in to the power of the Ring because he is inexperienced in the power of the Ring, "...but the resistance became unbearable, and at last he slowly drew out the chain, and slipped the Ring on the forefinger of his left hand." (Tolkien, Fellowship p263) the Ford, where he shows although still wounded he does not concede to the Ringwraiths, "The Riders halted, but Frodo had not the power of Bombadil. His enemies laughed at him with a harsh and chilling laughter. 'Come back! Come back!' they cried. 'To Mordor we will take you!' 'Go back!' he whispered. 'The Ring! The Ring!' they cried with deadly voices..." (Tolkien, Fellowship p286) and at the Mirror of Galadriel, where he sees the form of Sauron for the first time. " Then the Eye began to rove, searching this way and that; and Frodo knew with certainty and horror that among the many things that it sought he himself was one. But he also knew that it could not see him - not yet, not unless he willed it. The Ring that hung upon its chain about his neck grew heavy, heavier than a great stone, and his head was dragged downwards." (Tolkien, Fellowship p471) The Lord of the Rings can compare to almost any novel in some way. One would find that it has striking parallels with the Bible and with the Star Wars trilogy. The One Ring and sin are closely related. Both tempt power or advantage in one shape or form. The Ring and sin tempt many people and most people give in to the false rewards. Thus proving that the One Ring of Power is symbolic of sin and its temptation. The Holy Trinity from the Bible can be paralleled with the three Rings of Power made for elves. These three rings have never been touched by the Dark Lord, as the Holy Trinity has not been touched by the evil of Satan. Also the nine Rings of Power made for men could be a symbol for the nine layers or rings of Hell in Dante's Inferno, which is part of his trilogy, The Divine Comedy. The Star Wars trilogy, although in a different time and setting, and The Lord of the Rings, show some correspondence. First, they have three separate parts. Next, the main confrontation in each is between strong sides of good versus evil. The characters also show similarities. Sauron's double is the Emperor, Frodo's double is Luke Skywalker, magic's double would be the Force, Gandalf's double would be Obi Own Kenobe, Saruman's double would be Darth Vader, and Sam's double would be Han Solo. Both also convey the message to the reader or viewer that power corrupts. In completion, a scrutinizing examination of J. R. R. Tolkien's masterpiece The Lord of the Rings, proves that he relays the message to the reader that power corrupts. He accomplishes this by allowing the reader to observe the performance of each character in conjunction with the One Ring of Power. Works Cited Chance, Jane. The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992. Kocher, Paul. Master of the Middle-earth. : Houghton Mifflin, 1972. Perkins, Agnes and Helen Hill. A Tolkien Compass. Ed. Jared Lobdell. La Salle: Open Court, 1975. Shippey, T. A. The Road to the Middle-Earth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1983. Tolkien, J. R. R. The Fellowship of the Ring. New York: Ballantine Books, 1965. ---. The Hobbit. New York: Ballentine Books, 1965. ---. The Return of the King. New York: Ballantine Books, 1965. ---. The Two Towers. New York: Ballentine Books, 1965.