The Corrupting Influence of Power: The Felowship of the Ring

The most prominent theme throughout J.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, and much of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, is the corrupting influence of power. When the dark lord Sauron forged the One Ring he poured, “his cruelty, his malice, and his will to dominate all life”. Whoever wields the Ring has access to Sauron’s power. Although the nature of Ring’s power is never specified, the way the characters react and interact with the Ring resonates a power, almost limitless, and quite corrupting.

The Ring severely clouds the minds of characters, making it extremely difficult for many characters to resist the temptation to take the Ring for themselves and use it for their own ends. Boromir is an obvious example. During the Council of Eldron when discussing the fate of the Ring, Boromir expresses to the council his desire to use the ring against Sauron, rather than destroying it:

            “It is a gift. A gift to the foes of Mordor. Why not use this Ring? Long has my father, the Steward of Gondor, kept the forces of Mordor at Bay. By the blood of our people are your lands kept safe! Give Gondor the weapon of the enemy. Let us use it against him!”

Boromir sees the potential that the Ring’s power has, and puts a foolish belief that his people of Gondor could defeat Sauron by wielding the ring in battle, even though it is said the Ring has a will of it’s own and will stop at nothing to get back to it’s master and the idea to dominate all life.

Boromir’s desire for the Ring increases as the fellowship travels the road. When they travel along the snow, Frodo falls over and drops the Ring. Boromir pick it up, and appears to have glaring desirably at Ring, unable to give it back to Frodo.

Even worse, Boromir is picking up wood for a fire when he sees Frodo alone. After much confrontation, Boromir loses all rational thought and tries to attack Frodo and take the Ring:

            “It is not yours, save by unhappy chance. It could have been mine! It should be mine! Give it too me!

It seems the Ring’s power of temptation is a tactic to manipulate minds to make it’s way to Sauron.

We also see a glimpse of how the ring would corrupt Gandalf the Grey, the wisest character in in the trilogy.

When Frodo and Gandalf find out that the ring Frodo possesses is the One Ring, Frodo panics and demands Gandalf to take it:

“Don’t tempt me Frodo! I dare not take it. Not even to keep it safe. Understand Frodo, I would use this Ring from a desire to do good. But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.”

Even the wisest of men will fall to the temptation of the Ring.

Gollum, who once was a young hobbit named Smeagol, killed his friend Deagol for the Ring. After years of possessing the Ring, constantly calling it his “precious”, he slowly turned into a demented, crouching, troll-like creature who desired nothing but holding the Ring.

Also the Ringwraiths were poisoned by the power of the Ring. Once human kings, they were transformed into ghastly Black Riders who serve Sauron in battle and retrieving the Ring.

Through the power of temptation, the Ring resembles the true source of evil, and evil that will stop at nothing to dominate all, and will manipulate, torment, any to get what it desires. For many, the Ring overrides all rational thought. The Ring answers to no one; it is the greatest temptation of Middle-earth, therefor the greatest threat.


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