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The Rings of Lewis and Tolkien

Noldor_returned

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In The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis, rings are used to travel between the worlds of Narnia and our place. In The Lord of the Rings rings are used, and in the case of the One Ring, when Frodo/Bilbo or even anyone put it on, they would go into the Wraith 'world'. What I'm wondering is whether Tolkien and Lewis both planned to use rings, or is it just a coincidence? And why do they both take the wearer go to another realm?
 

Majimaune

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well nr in the Magicians Nephew the magician's nurse when he was you was acctully a fairy of some kind and gave to him a box that he should never open and of course he did open it. in it was a dust and the dust was from the inbetween land as it might be called with all the pools into other lands.the magician made rings and put dust in each of them the yellow ones talking you to the inbetween land and the green ones taking you away. as you probly know the children got into narnia in the first time but the green rings and out but aslan i think
in lotr the wraith world is not so much a world but well i dont really know what it is
the connection between the the rings is pretty great with them taking you to other places rather than worlds
whether the use of rings was coincidence i dont know but it is probable

Majimeune Leganimdok
 

HLGStrider

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I think it is convenience and coincidence, mainly. Rings are probably the most convenient form of jewelry for magic, bracelets and pendants work but can be a bit unwieldy. A ring is small, easy to use (on finger, off finger), and a lot easier to hide/conceal than a magic sword or pair of boots.

Now, of course, magic rings are so connected with Tolkien that it can never be convincingly used again. . .
 

HLGStrider

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I was being broad and sweeping for the sake of exaggeration. ;)

I'm sure a very good author could pull it off, but anything less than perfection is going to end up with a skeptical "Sure, you just snatched that out of Tolkien 'cause you couldn't think up your own plot device" from any fluent fantasy reader. Magic pendants I am using in my work. Rings I'm afraid to touch.
 

octoburn

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Noldor_returned said:
Magic pendants I could live with. Rings would be a bit plagiaristic, I think.
magic rings, rings of power, etc. go back much much further than Tolkien. in Norse mythology, Odin, the "supreme" God of their Mythology, held a ring, Draupnir, which was forged with the skill of two elves, and the wisdom of Odin. every nine days Draupnir produced 7 new rings (which were "controlled" by Draupnir) which Odin handed out to govern his people.

now that's a run-on sentence :D
 

Hammersmith

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As Octoburn says, neither Lewis nor Tolkien invented rings in fantasy. But I feel the actual question's been lost. The fact that they knew each other so well suggests to me only two possibilities. First, that one pinched the idea from his fellow, imagining that both books would not be published so successfully, or secondly that they shared sources and historical subjects of interest while building their respective mythologies, one of which discussed rings, and which they both chose as inspiration.

Of course, rings were first mentioned in Tolkien's work as a major plot device in 1937, whereas Lewis wouldn't write The Magician's Nephew or The Last Battle (I think the only two of his books where he mentions magic rings?) in 1955 and 1956 respectively, while Tolkien wrapped everything about his ring in print during 1954-5. So it looks like Tolkien had a distinctive edge on his colleague (as I'm sure is discussed at length on this and other sites). With that in mind, one can still only speculate who actually 'thought' of it first.
 

HLGStrider

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Also, there are some distinct differences between the rings.

L: Have gem stones
T: The main one doesn't.

L: Transport someone to another world.
T: Makes someone invisible.

L: No obvious corrupting power.
T: Very obvious corrupting power.

L: In the end are hidden.
T: Must be destroyed.

L: Many rings with equal power.
T: One ring to rule them all.

I'm sure there are more, but Magician's Nephew is not my favorite of the books and it has been a long while since I read it.
 

Noldor_returned

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HLGStrider said:
Also, there are some distinct differences between the rings.

L: Have gem stones
T: The main one doesn't.

L: Transport someone to another world.
T: Makes someone invisible.

L: No obvious corrupting power.
T: Very obvious corrupting power.

L: In the end are hidden.
T: Must be destroyed.

L: Many rings with equal power.
T: One ring to rule them all.

I'm sure there are more, but Magician's Nephew is not my favorite of the books and it has been a long while since I read it.
As for the first one, were there jewels on the elven rings or not? Number 2, didn't the One Ring take them to the wraith world? Number 3, I think you're right there, the next, neither should be used though. The last one I think you've got right as well. Perhaps Lewis' subconcious was working for him?
 

HLGStrider

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The Elven rings did have stones which is why I specified the "Main" ring. The Elven rings, while important with the mythology, really don't have a lot of "screen time" in the book itself. We see Galadriel's ring in the one scene and then see them at the Grey Havens, but they really have limited importance as far as the structure of the novel is considered. The nine have much more importance in how they effect the story.

As for two, whether Wraithiness is a world or a state is something I'm unsure of. I know that they refer to it as a world or some such language, but the wraiths are still mainly present in Middle Earth, simply their relationship to it has been dramatically altered, so I think there is a still a significant difference from being bodily removed from one plane/planet/universe into another.

If you remember at the begining of The Last Battle, the group is actually going in search of the rings in order to gain entrance to Narnia in its time of crisis, so I would say they are not viewed as evil, simply as something that shouldn't be used except in great need.
 

HLGStrider

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Well, out of Tolkien's twenty only three are known to have stones, and I always assumed the 7 and 9 were plain. I don't know if there is anything behind this, but the Elven rings, to me, were set apart and easily identifiable from the other bunch. Of course, we never get a good look at either the 7 or the 9.

Now, I don't think the ideas are similar enough to call it "plagurism" but it might be that Lewis is intentionally giving Tolkien a "nod" in his work.

For instance, I gave a nod to P. G. Wodehouse in my last fairy tale by having a maid turned into a Pekignese. My sister read and said that a Pekignese wasn't a very fairy tale-ish dog, and I said, "Yes, but Wodehouse . . . oh never mind. . ."
 

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Gandalf said:
The memory of words at the Council came back to me: words of Saruman, half-heeded at the time. I heard them now clearly in my heart.

' "The Nine, the Seven, and the Three," he said, "had each their proper gem. Not so the One. It was round and unadorned, as it were one of the lesser rings; but its maker set marks upon it that the skilled, maybe, could still see and read."
Half-heeded words ;).
 

Noldor_returned

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Considering there is no knowledge of it anywhere that I can find around here, it seems as though Tolkien didn't really care. They were good friends after all, and they weren't always thinking about someone copying them. Heck, Tolkien (at the time Lewis' books were published) didn't imagine his works being as successful as they are.
 
J

jjaysonn42

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I think it is convenience and coincidence, mainly. Rings are probably the most convenient form of jewelry for magic, bracelets and pendants work but can be a bit unwieldy. A ring is small, easy to use (on finger, off finger), and a lot easier to hide/conceal than a magic sword or pair of boots.

Now, of course, magic rings are so connected with Tolkien that it can never be convincingly used again. . .
Yes, you are right for sure. :)

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