Blogging A to Z Day 17: One Ring (to rule them all . . .)

image by Deviant Artist lucasmt

Since I began blogging in November of 2013, I’ve written at least 25,000 words about the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Most of those posts have been part of a long series devoted to analyzing the way various characters interact with the One Ring. Over the last year, I’ve looked at Isildur and Gollum, and I am working on Bilbo this year.

My basic reading of the One Ring, for purposes of this series, is that it is more than a mere appendage of Sauron or an intelligent artifact. It’s a character in its own right. I’ve identified passages which clearly demonstrate that:

  1. It has a will of its own. Its primary motivation is to return to its master, but it delights in betrayal and in instigating conflict between other characters – especially murderous conflict.
  2. It seems prescient at times, or at the very least, has a limited ability to see what’s going on in its immediate vicinity.
  3. Although it has no power of locomotion, it is able to manipulate its own weight and size, and to attract the attention of living creatures through a sort of empathic communication.
    Click here for the A to Z list Art by Jeremy of Hollywood Nuts!
    Click here for the A to Z list Art by Jeremy of Hollywood Nuts!

It is not necessary to read the Ring as a fully-formed character, but I think the texts – especially The Lord of the Rings, more than support that reading. The interactions between the Ring and the other characters are the key to understanding how good and evil function in Middle Earth. In fact, I like this reading so much, I might just write about the One Ring for the Great Villain Blogathon next year.

What you think? Is the Ring a character, or am I pushing the interpretation too far for the sake of some nerdy fun?

If you’re on the hunt for great Tolkien-related internet content, you might want to check out Sweating to Mordor, A Tolkienist’s Perspective, The Leather Library, and Middle Earth News. I follow them all and check in with them as often as I can. And do stop back by on April 23 to read what I have to say about the good professor himself.

42 thoughts on “Blogging A to Z Day 17: One Ring (to rule them all . . .)

    • Thanks! I am glad I’ve proven my point at least to one other persons’ satisfaction! The conversation about whether it’s a character or not has been fairly interesting at times.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. You have made the case for me Gene’O. I say the ring is definitely a character in it’s own right. I really appreciate the new perspective you have given me. Time to re-read LOTR 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I recommend the re-read for sure. I read them all at least every three years. Always find new stuff that I hadn’t noticed before when I do. The Tolkien is a deep well of ideas.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. This statement: “Is the Ring a character, or am I pushing the interpretation too far for the sake of some nerdy fun?”… there is no such thing as too far when it comes to needy fun 🙂 I think you’re spot on, from my admittedly (and surprising ) lack of knowledge of LoTR.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah. This is definitely a place where close reading is a valuable tool. Actually, one of the reasons I spent so much time on the verb choices and the construction of the narrator in the beginning is that I hope, at some point, to turn the Tolkien blogging into a useful example of close reading analysis to help people who are . . um . . English scholars understand what close reading is.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely! The One Ring is a stand alone character in my mind. It is ever present with the way it interacts with the other characters. Especially the different ways it interacts with Gollum and Smeagol. The ring may be the only character who recognizes the creature as separate entities.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The ring was the reason for LotR’s existence. Without it the story would’ve been all about pissy elves, drunken dwarves, some evil dead creatures, and a bunch of sentient bunnies! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, the Ring is absolutely a character. I know that the LOTR movies really wanted to give it that feel, too. I see it as a personification (as lust [lust for power, lust for material things, lust for long life, etc.]) on the same level with the Fates in mythology, or Death as grim reaper. The Ring’s presence is very real. Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Ever since I first read LOTR in the 1970s, I have felt that the One Ring has a life of its own. That seems to be a theme in a lot of old stories and myths – the artifact/object that changes the storyline itself. And of course Tolkien would have known many of those old tales.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh yes. He knew them all. Oxford Don with expertise in Germanic language and such.

      Have you read his essay “Tree and Leaf?” it’s a non-fiction thing about how fairy tales work. If not, worth a read if you are into aesthetics or are a writer.


      • Tree and Leaf was one of the earliest works that I read – still got my copy, along with hardback LOTR copies. And I am a writer so suspect Tolkien has influenced me. Actually my first encounter with the Professor was through his academic writing – as I said in another comment. Cheers

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Blogging A to Z Day 23: Tolkien | Sourcerer

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