🧙 The Tolkien Forum 🧝

Welcome to our forum! Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox! Plus you won't see ads ;)

Is the Ring a Passive Device?

Eonwe

Upper Class Twit
Joined
Dec 24, 2001
Messages
543
Reaction score
1
Is the Ring simply a passive device of power? Or is it an aware being, capable of making decisions and acting on its own?

What is the evidence in LoTR against just a passive device?

1)Gandalf says:

"A Ring of Power looks after itself" FoTR Shadow of the Past

2) Frodo on Amon Hen is drawn against his wish to look at Barad-dur

3) "Begone" or I will cast you into the crack of doom speech by either Frodo or the Ring on Mount Doom

4) It slips off Isildur's finger

5) It left Gollum? Or did he just lose it?

6) It "moves", gets heavier, near Mordor and the Nazgul

7) It appears to others as a point of power in confrontation (re: the Orcs in the tower of Cirith Ungol, to Gollum, etc).

What do you think? This is more interesting than an evil magnet...
 

Lantarion

no house
Joined
Aug 19, 2001
Messages
3,734
Reaction score
6
Location
Finland
The evil which lives inside the One Ring is induced by the magnificent power of Sauron. He passed a great deal of his own power (he was a Maia, don't forget) into the Ring to increase their potency, and so he could rule the other Rings of Power. It is Sauron's unconcsious will that drives the Ring to do all it does. It is kind of like Sauron was a remote control and the Ring was the object being controlled, only Sauron cannot actually make the Ring do anything; he can only stretch his power towards it and think of it to make it do his will. The Ring is only a hunk of gold, but with Sauron's will poured into it it is much more than that.
 

Goro Shimura

Scribe of the Eldanyárë
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Messages
416
Reaction score
0
Location
Meneltarma
Obvious powers:
Confers Invisibility to mortals...

Less Obvious powers:
Makes wearer visible in the "wraith" world...
Causes wearer to become a wraith over time...
Gives power according to stature ("Samwise to Strong" "Gollum the Great") while tempting the user to take over the world.
Augments senses of hearing... and sometimes sight as well...

Weirdest power:
A former ring addict that swears by the ring and breaks his promise the weilder will get whatever the consequences are of his oath.


Did the ring make that stuff happen to Gollum??

Weird.
 

Eonwe

Upper Class Twit
Joined
Dec 24, 2001
Messages
543
Reaction score
1
Frodo seemed to think so. He says the precious will hold you to it!

What about what Gandalf says, that the Ring looks after itself? Did the Ring cast Gollum into the crack 'o doom? Where does the Ring stop and Illuvatar begin?

Is the will of the Ring actually separate from Sauron's will?
 

Goro Shimura

Scribe of the Eldanyárë
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Messages
416
Reaction score
0
Location
Meneltarma
A fairly astute reader posted this quote from Sil:

And thou, Melkor, shalt see that no theme may be played that hath not its uttermost source in me, nor can any alter the music in my despite. For he that attempteth this shall prove but mine instrument in the devising of things more wonderful, which he himself hath not imagined.
So...

Sauron creates the ring... the ring (as a seperate will-force) compells Gollum both to break his promise (through the addiction-lust) AND to fall in the crack of Doom... and incredibly...

Illuvatar's will is accomplished....

This is the heart of the story... and also a really interesting view of God, Evil Spiritual powers, free will, and providence.

Doesn't this ideology come from Norse paganism?? :)
 

Eonwe

Upper Class Twit
Joined
Dec 24, 2001
Messages
543
Reaction score
1
"fairly astute" I like that :)

Yep all this stuff was laid out in the Elder Edda ;)
 

Lantarion

no house
Joined
Aug 19, 2001
Messages
3,734
Reaction score
6
Location
Finland
That's Ilúvatar. :)
But that is a marvelous observation, Goro! It really blends into this confirmation school I'm in at the moment, all the talk about God's will. But I think religion and gods in the LotR is much greater than here on Earth, because we know the facts; that there are actual Gods, and a greater God behind them, whose will is working all the time. In real life we know nothing, so our faith is constantly tested and we are in doubt (I personally don't believe in God as such, but it would be nice to get some evidence proving otherwise).
 

Eonwe

Upper Class Twit
Joined
Dec 24, 2001
Messages
543
Reaction score
1
In reading the Hobbit again, and in thinking about how the Ring slips off or on in certain situations:

One of its main powers is to change size. This nearly got Bilbo caught at the Goblin gate inside the Misty Mountains, killed Isildur and made him lose the Ring, made Frodo disappear at Bree?, slipped off Gollum while he killed the "little squeaker" (sorry squeeky) before Bilbo found the Ring, and shrank to accomodate Isildur's finger. Where else did this happen?
 

Goro Shimura

Scribe of the Eldanyárë
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Messages
416
Reaction score
0
Location
Meneltarma
Some clarifications:

I think the ring left (betrayed) Isildur of its own accord.

The ring left Gollum in response to Saurons command-- so in that case the rings will was responding to Saurons will.

At Bree the ring responded to a command of a Nazgul...

And in other scenes, we see Frodo responding to the commands of the Nazgul because of his possession of the ring.



Eonwe... we seem to see very few of these sorts of scenes after Book I. (Or am I mistaken?) I think that's because the Nazgul don't have any idea where Frodo is and also because Frodo is getting tough.


A remark on the view of Good/Evil that is portrayed here:

Many of the Gnostic Heretics believed in Dualism, a philosophy that asserted that the creation was the work an evil God (or that it was only created indirectly by the good God.) (Not to get too far off topic, but they ended saying that Jesus did not come in human form-- he was just an apparition-- because matter was evil. They also believed that the Old Testament "God" was wicked and seperate from the "Good" God of the New Testament.)

Tolkien stands with the Orthodox Christian view that views creation as good, that evil is the result of disobedience to God by either angels and men, and that God's will is accomplished in history in spite of this disobedience-- yet at the same time (even though its confusing) all creatures have free will to obey or disobey. A corollary to these assertions is that evil cannot create-- it can only twist and pervert. (This last idea is explicitly stated in both LotR and Sil!)

Pontifex... what are your views? (P/M me if you'd rather not drag them into this thread!)
 
Last edited:
H

Harad

Guest
It states in "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields" that the Ring was still trying to get back to its master (it was still warm, not hot). The Ring leaving Isildur is no different than the Ring leaving Gollum, or for that matter, forcing Frodo eyes toward Barad Dur while he is on Amon Hen. Its the Ring taking action to get what it/Sauron want: reunification.

My problem with the Ring, is that it doesnt always act that way. Why would you call it "passive"?
 

Greenwood

The Guild of Ost-in-Edhil
Joined
Dec 26, 2001
Messages
1,596
Reaction score
3
Location
New York
The Ring is neither a passive device of power, nor an aware being capable of reasoned thought and planning. It is a magical "thing" somewhere in between. We have nothing like it in the "real" world we live in, hence we run into problems when we try to make it conform to everyday categories of things. Yes, the Ring has great powers and it conveys some of those powers to its possessor, but that possessor must have great powers of his/her own to fully utilize the Ring. Hence Gollum did not become the evil Lord of Middle-earth even though he possessed the Ring longer than anyone. But like a double-edged sword, especially one with an unstable grip, the Ring is dangerous to possess for anyone but its maker. Since Sauron imbued the Ring with much of his power and ill will, it does have some will of its own, especially when it comes to trying to return to its maker, or in encounters with its maker's servants. This does not mean, however, that it is capable of conscious thought and planning. It is not a truly animate creature the way we understand such creatures, but something else.
 

Eonwe

Upper Class Twit
Joined
Dec 24, 2001
Messages
543
Reaction score
1
Harad -- "doesn't always act that way" -- I agree to a point. I don't think it is as inconsistent as I felt a month ago or so. I get the feeling that if you look at it this way:

"A Ring of Power looks after itself" (ok I know we hate that quote)

that you can make some of the inconsistency go away.

For instance (forgive the rehash):

1) The Ring, specifically when Bilbo stands in front of the Goblin guards at the gate in the Misty Mountains, is suddenly revealed. The Ring slips off.

2) Isildur -- we all know the story (although UT DotGF is slightly different, the Ring slips off well before the Orcs see him)

3) Frodo at Bree, et. al.

The Ring is not capable of calling out, of broadcasting triangulation signals, of making a billboard, and also needs time to overcome the will of who wears it depending on the power of that person and on the power of the Ring at the time! The Ring near Orodruin is able to overcome Frodo completely, but in Bree it is a different story, able to get on and off of his finger if he's not careful. Its not powerful enough to do much other than make the person desire to wear it, if its not actually on someone's finger. But near Orodruin it has power enough to speak through someone not even wearing it!

The question is, without Sauron, the Ring stays with Gollum for 500+ years. With Sauron around, it eventually leaves the Mountains as his power grows. Is there some connection with the will of Sauron to the will in the Ring, but since the capability of the Ring is very limited, it cannot connect?

Let me explain this somewhat. Sauron made the Ring, stuck most of his (soul?) power into it, and of course the last thing he thought would happen is that someone else would take it. If he had thought it might be taken from him, doubtless he would have given it other abilities. But perhaps one of the abilities was for it to shrink or grow (why?). So when it is with Gollum or Frodo, this is what it is capable of. But there has to be some mechanism for transfer of power, and Sauron even 1000 miles away knows that mechanism.

You have to think of some sort of sinister rat (sorry squeeky) inside that thing, with at least a little bit of sensory capability. Does it take over the senses of the one who wears it (as JRRT said it enhances the senses of the one who wears it) and thus could see or sense where Barad-dur was?
 
H

Harad

Guest
It appears simple to me. The Ring and Sauron belong together--like the north and south poles of magnets. When Sauron is "vanquished" "down" and "forsook" the Ring doesnt have a pole to be attracted to. When Sauron makes a comeback, the Ring starts feeling that "old black magic" attraction again. When the Ring gets closer to Sauron the attraction-action of the Ring, gets stronger, again like a magnet. When its too close, I pity the fool between the Ring and Sauron.
 

Eonwe

Upper Class Twit
Joined
Dec 24, 2001
Messages
543
Reaction score
1
Originally posted by Goroshimura
Eonwe... we seem to see very few of these sorts of scenes after Book I. (Or am I mistaken?) I think that's because the Nazgul don't have any idea where Frodo is and also because Frodo is getting tough.
I would guess. I mean who other than Frodo or Sam would be Abel to take it into Mordor... Its constantly tugging at you as you get near Sauron to put it on, so that it can see what you see, and direct your will.

What a horrible thing JRRT dreamed up!
 

Goro Shimura

Scribe of the Eldanyárë
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Messages
416
Reaction score
0
Location
Meneltarma
I'm not sure if we decided this or not....

But are we all agreed that the ring is not passive, right?

It has a seperate will from that of Sauron... though in some sense Sauron imparted his nature to the ring. (Is this a contradiction?)

The ring behaves the way Sauron did in the former ages:

Doesn't Sil refer to Sauron as the "Bearer of Gifts" or something like that? He appeared fair to the elves when tempted them with his gifts of knowledge of ringmaking... and he seduced the Numenoreans into thinking they could "eat from the tree of life" as it were by breaking the Ban of Valinor.

Though the ring is very beautiful (as Sauron perhaps once was)... it nurtures unwholesome desires in whoever posesses it.

It is not quite sentient... though it is much more than a mere cursed object.
 
H

Harad

Guest
Its like a magnet (see above) or a homing device. It has the ability to mentally coerce and take small actions (like change size), but not grow legs and walk where it wants.
 

Eonwe

Upper Class Twit
Joined
Dec 24, 2001
Messages
543
Reaction score
1
and most bizarre of all, it has a complete connection with the "other" will of Sauron, in Dol Guldur and in Barad-dur. When it is near him or his servants the Nazgul, somehow IT senses the other side, the RING at least, is attracted to this spirit, literally

ring tugs on its chain passim
 

Goro Shimura

Scribe of the Eldanyárë
Joined
Dec 30, 2001
Messages
416
Reaction score
0
Location
Meneltarma
Is the will of the Ring actually separate from Sauron's will?
Eonwe,

I say yes.

Sauron imparted his nature to the ring, but the ring is seperate from him and has it's own will and purpose.

The ring abandons people (wether in response to a cue from Sauron or not.)

Sauron does not directly cause the ring to abandon people-- if that were so, could he not have made the ring abandon Frodo in the same way that it left Gollum and Isildur?
 

Thread suggestions

Top