Invibility mechanics, what if a bearer of the One ring died using it ?

Discussion in 'The Hall of Fire' started by MikeCheck1212, Oct 8, 2018.

  1. MikeCheck1212

    MikeCheck1212 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Kurashiki
    Hello all !

    I was watching the Hobbit just now and asked myself a question during the scene where Bilbo go through Dale to warn Thorin and his kin of the arrival of the forces of Gundabad. Bilbo wears the ring and dodge orcs weapon swings while invisible. My question was : "what if he takes a hit that kills him ?".

    The question is less story driven and more about the invisibility mechanics that go with the One ring (and that's why I chose to post in the LotR forum and not in the Hobbit one).

    Does the invisibility wears off if the wearer dies ? If not then it would have been possible to just lose the ring forever in the eventuality that it happened and that the finger was not cut off.
    I think now that the corpse would have rotten and appear again at one point but still I'm curious.

    Other related questions :
    - Why does Sauron not invisible when wearing the ring (e.g. during the battle of Dagorlad) ?
    - What if someone decided to wear the ring forever ? In this hypothesis, from my understanding, that person would be immortal and the ring would be forever fueled (and not would fall off from the corpse like in my first assumption).

    Thank you for your help !
     
  2. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    523
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    Welcome to the forum!

    First question is a good one. We do know from The Hobbit (book) that an unconscious mortal remains invisible. I don't know about a dead one.

    Sauron would not become invisible -- it was his Ring.

    A mortal who keeps one of the Great Rings doesn't die, but as Gandalf says, "he fades" and becomes invisible permanently. After that, he maintains his "immortal" staus, apparently, even without the ring, as long as it, or the One, exists.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
    MikeCheck1212 likes this.

  3. Alcuin

    Alcuin Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Messages:
    766
    Likes Received:
    258
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    salt miner
    Location:
    Consigned to the salt mines of Núrnen…
    Home Page:
    MikeCheck1212, welcome to TTF. This is a great question as your first post!

    First of all, none of the Rings of Power were made for Men or Dwarves. That we know for certain from a chapter entitled “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age” in The Silmarillion. The Noldor of Eregion (Hollin) were making “magic” rings when Sauron in the guise of “Annatar” (“Giver of Gifts”) attempted to seduce the remaining Eldar in Middle-earth. Gil-galad and Elrond would not permit him to enter Lindon: they mistrusted Annatar; and Galadriel warned the other Noldor in Eregion that she, who had been born and lived in Valinor and knew Aulë the Vala personally, knew of no “Annatar” in the service of Aulë, as he claimed. But the Noldorin smiths, the Mírdain, were eager for Sauron’s knowledge, which he truly had. Under his tutelage and with his help, they made the Nine and the Seven – for themselves. Somehow he made a “back door” into these Rings, as well as the Three, which were made by Celebrimbor alone and never touched by Sauron. If you’d like, I think of this “back door” like a piece of malware on a computer: it allows Sauron to control the person wearing the ring through his One Ring.

    Elves have a strong aversion to “fading”. That’s the process by which their bodies, which Tolkien calls hröa, are slowly consumed by their spirits, or fëar. For instance, it seemed to Frodo that “a white light was shining through the form and raiment of [Glorfindel], as if through a thin veil.” When Legolas ran across the snow in the Redhorn Pass, Frodo noticed that “his feet made little imprint in the snow.” On the way to the Gray Havens, he noticed that Galadriel “seemed to shine with a soft light.” The Rings are made to halt this natural process. They do other things, too, but their principle power is halting the effects of time. In one his letters (Letter 131 to Milton Waldman, his longest), Tolkien wrote,
    Now I’m going say something to which others may (strongly) object: I don’t think the Rings made the Elves invisible. That’s what “fading” does to them, and if the Rings made the “fading” worse, the Elves would have shunned them. However, they’re necromantic: they use Black Magic, death magic if you will, to accomplish this. Galadriel uses her Ring of Power to stop many of the physical effects of time in Lórien. Elrond uses his Ring to stop forgetfulness and retain his immense memory. Elrond and Galadriel and even Gandalf are wearing their Three Rings, but none of them are invisible.

    A Dwarf who wore one of the Seven wasn’t invisible, either. Nor did their Rings lengthen their lives. Their Rings inflamed their greed, however, and allowed them to gather more wealth, especially gold, for which they lusted: Sauron was able to use this to his advantage.

    Men, however, do not naturally fade. They die and leave Arda, the physical world. The Nine Rings kept Men tied to Arda. The same black magic that kept Elves from fading by interfering with the natural effects of Time kept Men from dying. One way it did this was by breaking down the barriers between the physical world and spiritual world, “the other side,” sometimes called the “wraith world.” When Frodo was succumbing to the One Ring, he could see Glorfindel in the “wraith world,” and at the Ford of Bruinen, Glorfindel appeared as “a shining figure of white light.” Gandalf told him that he had seen Glorfindel “for a moment as he is upon the other side: one of the mighty of the Firstborn.” And to Gandalf, Frodo himself showed “a faint change just a hint as it were of transparency about him, and especially about the left hand”, and told him, “‘You were beginning to fade… You were in gravest peril while you wore the Ring, for then you were half in the wraith-world yourself, and they might have seized you. You could see them, and they could see you.’”

    By the way, notice that the “wraith-world” is not necessarily an evil place, but it’s not a place living Men should be in Middle-earth. Wraiths inhabit it, but they’re not supposed to be there, either: they’re using Sauron’s power through their Rings to “break The Rules.”

    So long as a Mortal Man wears a Ring of Power, he is the wraith-world, and he’s invisible. Though it’s not mentioned in The Hobbit, Tolkien says that Frodo and Sam, and later Merry when he kills the Witch-king and suffers Black Breath from contact with the Ringwraith, all have trouble seeing the normal world: things are foggy or misty, something Peter Jackson depicts reasonably well in his films. And as Gandalf tells Frodo at the beginning of the tale, if a Mortal “often uses the Ring to make himself invisible, he fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently.” So that’s your last question.

    Squint-eyed Southerner has answered your second question, “Why does Sauron not [become] invisible when wearing the ring…”) And he’s also spoken to your first question: “an unconscious mortal remains invisible.” Bilbo remained invisible after getting hit on the head in the Battle of Five Armies, and maybe Sam did, too, when he banged himself senseless at the Undergate to Cirith Ungol in Shelob’s tunnels. (No one seems to know when Sam took off and put on The Ring at the end of the Book IV and the beginning of Book VI, not even Christopher Tolkien. Christopher Tolkien thinks he probably had it on when he knocked himself out on the doors, but that’s not positively clear.)

    My answer to your first question, “Does the invisibility wears off if the wearer dies?” is, I don’t know. It does make sense, though, doesn’t it? The only catch is, maybe a Mortal wearing a Ring of Power can’t “die” normally. The Witch-king probably wasn’t wearing his Ring when Éowyn cut off his head, and his spirit was snatched back to Barad-dûr (and maybe his invisible, headless body, too) where Sauron held the Nine Rings and so maintained control of the Ringwraiths. There’s a discussion currently underway about what Sauron might have done with the Witch-king’s ring after that. Tolkien makes it clear that Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam all had the opportunity to kill Gollum; but of course he wasn’t wearing the One Ring at the time. Frodo was hammered in Moria by the Orc chieftain who tried to skewer him; but he wasn’t wearing the Ring then, either. While he was wearing the Ring, Gollum bit his finger off; and while Sauron was wearing the Ring (and seemingly out cold from fighting Elendil and Gil-galad), Isildur cut the Ring from his hand.

    Just one thing, though: if “The chief power of all the rings alike was the prevention or slowing of decay,” then maybe a corpse wouldn’t rot. Unless, of course, the wearer has to be alive for the Ring to have any effect.

    Now I haven’t answered your question, but I hope you have as much fun reading this as I did writing it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2018
  4. Aramarien

    Aramarien New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2018
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    22
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Gender:
    Female
    Location:
    United States
    A very interesting question, MikeCheck. As Squint-eyed Southerner said, an unconscious mortal remains invisible as happened to Bilbo during the Battle of the Five Armies in the Hobbit (book). There is no "canon" about someone dying while wearing the ring, but it seems not to have an effect on inanimate objects, such as the chain that it was hanging on around Frodo's neck. The chain was visible. A dead corpse has become an inanimate object, so therefore, I would conclude that the invisibility would no longer have an effect.

    A mortal wearing the ring would just fade, as Squint-eyed Southerner pointed out. Gandalf said, " A mortal ......fades: he becomes in the end invisible permanently, and walks in the twilight under the eye of the Dark Power that rules the Rings. ...sooner or later the Dark Power will devour him." (FOTR, The Shadow of the Past)

    Sauron does not become invisible when wearing the Ring because the Ring's power is HIS power that he put in it. So it's not like there is an outside power overcoming him as it would be if there was another wearer.
     

  5. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    523
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    I don't know why there would be any objection to this; aside from the fact that Frodo and Sam could see Galadriel while she was wearing her ring, Tolkien stated that the Three did not make anyone invisible (I believe this was in "Of the Rings of Power", though I'm not near my library).

    I'm not positive about the other rings -- they were made with Sauron's active participation, apparently, and "infected" -- but as you say, Elves would likely have shunned, or even destroyed them, had they had that effect.

    As for the dwarves, I was curious about that point, some time ago, and searched for a definititive answer, without success. Do you happen to recall where you saw that?

    Edit: "Hammered in Moria" -- I think I'd choose a better place to get hammered -- The Pony, for instance! :p
     
  6. Alcuin

    Alcuin Registered User

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2005
    Messages:
    766
    Likes Received:
    258
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    salt miner
    Location:
    Consigned to the salt mines of Núrnen…
    Home Page:
    It first appears in Tolkien’s writings in Appendix A, “Of Durin’s Folk”.
    Then in Silmarillion, “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”, Tolkien (“quoting” some older narrator) claims Sauron gave the Dwarves their Seven Rings, including the one given Durin III. Then the feigned narrator continues,
    A nearly identical passage this appears also in Peoples of Middle-earth in the section covering the Appendices to RotK.

    There is nothing definitive in Unfinished Tales about the disposition of the Ring of Durin’s Folk except a reference to Appendix A; however, it does say that Celebrimbor took counsel with Galadriel, who was already removed to Lórien in the middle of the Second Age, when Sauron attacked. He gave Galadriel Nenya, the Ring of Adamant, and at her suggestion sent the other two to Gil-galad. Elrond, sent from Lindon by Gil-galad to Celebrimbor in the war, led many of the Elves (Noldor) of Eregion to Imladris and established a refuge there which subsequently lasted into the early Fourth Age. Elrond was cut off and would have been annihilated had not “Durin sent out a force of Dwarves from Khazad-dûm, and with them came Elves of Lórinand [Lórien] led by Amroth.” Elrond and the Noldorin survivors escaped to the north to Imladris, while the Dwarves and Elves of Lórien disengaged and escaped back into Khazad-dûm, shutting the West Gate behind them to keep Sauron and his armies out: Apparently Sauron couldn’t decipher Celebrimbor’s riddle on Narvi’s doors, either.

    I think this appears somewhere else, too, but I cannot immediately lay my hands on it.

    Moria attracted a rough crowd, too rough for me. Thranduil threw good parties with good wine, and Elrond distilled good liquor. Gildor and his companions had something awfully good to drink: white wine, it sounds like, as did Faramir. And Old Winyards…
     
  7. MikeCheck1212

    MikeCheck1212 New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Kurashiki
    Thank you all very much for your answers and for the welcome wishes! I couldn't have hoped for a keener interest in my questions and it was a pleasure to read you.

    Now you thoroughly answered my question but I have some subsequent ones.

    From what I understand, if the wearer keep the Ring on, he will fade into the twilight forever and the Dark Power will devour him/her. What does that mean exactly? Is Aramarien’s twilight the same as Alcuin’s wraith world? In that case, aren’t the wraiths coexisting with other beings like Glorfindel for instance? Even if they cheat their presence, why does nobody fights them there?

    If mortal beings (except for the Dwarves) turn invisible wearing the One Ring, does that mean orcs and the like should turn invisible too (knowing that they were elves in the First Age (not really sure about this btw)?

    I like the idea of a superior power protecting beings from dying when wearing the One Ring (and even afterwards in Gollum’s case) but what would it be? It appears that this power is acting against the will of Sauron (sparing Gollum's life for instance) and yet the One Ring is supposed to represent his power. Then it would mean that something greater fostered Sauron into forging it? In that case what would it be? “Fate”? Does that have something to do with anything in Tolkien’s works?
     
  8. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Lurking in the Chetwood

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    523
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    Some tall questions. I will address the first:

    My own understanding of the "Wraith-world" is that it is not a "world" separate from this one; I discussed the idea here:

    http://www.thetolkienforum.com/inde...ng-non-maia-live-as-a-non-wraith-in-it.23473/

    And you can find more discussions by browsing the threads on the LOTR board.

    You could say that, from that standpoint, Glorfindel did fight the Nazgul "in the Wraith-world" at the Fords, so far as there was a fight. Certainly they could see him, and he could see them. BTW, yes, "Wraith-world" and "Twilight" are two different terms for the same thing -- as is "Shadows", normally, though Sauron is sometimes called "the Shadow".

    Which brings me back to the Dwarves. I'm familiar with the sections you quoted, Alcuin; I take it your understanding of statements like "they could not be reduced to shadows" is that they would not become invisible, when wearing the Rings. That's certainly possible, yet I wonder if it means simply that they would not "fade". The texts seem ambiguous; that's why I'd been searching for something more decisive.

    Hey, let's not leave out the Green Dragon and Ivy Bush! I'd still like to visit the Floating Log, and especially the Golden Perch!