Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lust for power, or evil nature?

In the Lord of the Rings, great and mostly benevolent people are either warned against using the ring or refuse to wield it based on their own wisdom. Gandalf is a notable example. I was considering the following question: does Tolkien believe that too great of power inevitably corrupts even the best intentions or is the ring simply an evil power that hijacks the will of the good? Strong evidence exists for the for the former. When Boromir suggests using the ring for good, Elrond replies "Alas, no... It belongs to Sauron... and is altogether evil." However, later in the passage he suggests that Saruman was corrupted by mere lust for the ring. This seems more ambiguous. Either the ring acts over any distance if only thought it bent on it or Saruman turned evil just by lust of power. I feel that it may be a combination of those too explanations and more. If anyone wants to share opinions the passage I looked at that has a lot of dialogue pertaining to this is about 30 paragraphs from the end of "The Council of Elrond."

7 comments:

Diamond Took said...

I messed up twice here but I don't think I can edit. That one sentence should read: Either the ring acts over any distance if only thought is bent on it... and Strong evidence exists for the former. Instead of "for the for the"... oops, sorry!

Haleth said...

This is interesting to me. Throughout reading The Lord of the Rings, I always thought it was interesting when the ring is described as a sentient being. I feel like the ring doesn't belong to anyone and that it kind of embodies evil and power. It wants to get back to Sauron because he is also evil and powerful. I think the ring brings out the worst in people because it was created out of malice and evil intentions.

Miriel said...

I learned an interesting thing in one of my other classes today; some ancient cultures believed that greed was a mental illness. I wonder if Tolkien was trying to get at this message by making the ring so destructive to anyone who possesses it, and those who lust for it.

Finwe said...

I agree with Haleth. The ring doesn't seem to activate precisely evil or purposefully corrupt but has a mind of it's own. I think it more taps into a person or creature's weakness of power,greed, or evil to survive or return to Sauron.

Idril said...

I completely agree on the Rings power to tempt the bearer. However, from what I understand the Ring of Power represents a portion of Sauron's body and soul. While forging, he invested the majority of his power as a Maiar into the Ring with the full intention to "ensnare the Free Peoples of Middle Earth." While Tolkien does describe the Ring as a separate being, I feel it more adequately represents the relationship of a lost dog trying to find its way back to its owner. Rather, an evil lost dog trying to find its way back to its evil master!

Elendil said...

I think Idril said it best. The Ring is meant to tempt and pervert any good intention because it is a part of Sauron's soul. Since (to my knowledge) none of the other Rings of Power corrupt in that manner, I believe that it has this effect on people because, once upon a time when he had a body, Sauron also had this effect. The Ring is described as somewhat sentient because it is a part of Sauron as much as the Eye is.

Radagast said...

I agree with Idril, but I would comment that I think it is more like a piece of the owner, rather than a dog, trying to find the owner. I think there is a stronger connection here than two beings who were together. It seems to me like the ring is holding some of Sauron, and it seeks to find him because when he is whole again, they have the most power. So, it's more than the ring is evil and Sauron is evil. I think they are part of each other and only when whole do they have full power.