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 fishing. 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. Boston: 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,
---. The Two Towers. New York: Ballentine Books, 1965.


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