The Myth of the One Ring's Power

Author: Dreamflower

Nominator: SurgicalSteel

2008 Award Category: Genres: Non-Fiction - First Place

Story Type: Non-Fiction  ✧  Length: N/A

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: Was the One Ring really as powerful as we've been led to believe? A close observation of the events shows that perhaps it was not...

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Reviewed by: Dawn Felagund  ✧  Score: 10

Dreamflower's essay takes a popular interpretation of Tolkien's works--that the One Ring was unsurpassed in power and could corrupt nearly anyone--and thoroughly studies that basis of that claim. "The Myth of the One Ring's Power" is a thorough and well-documented essay (with exhaustive citations and footnotes so that, if you don't take Dreamflower's word for it, you can see for yourself!) that makes a strong point for revisiting how many of us view this all-powerful artifact. But the true strength of this essay, I thought, was Dreamflower's reasoning about *why* the One Ring held sway over some but not others, and why some were able to resist, whereas others were briefly corrupted (as with Boromir), and others were ruined entirely (as in Gollum and Saruman). The connection between the Ring's/Sauron's desires and the desires of it various bearers--and how the One Ring could, indeed, fail to provide those desires--is soundly argued. Furthermore, this interpretation underscores the strength, honor, and nobility of most of the citizens of Middle-earth so that, in the end, even the One Ring in all of its evil stands, ultimately, as a symbol of hope. This essay is a must-read for anyone interested in the deeper meanings in Tolkien's works, as well as for anyone who wants to examine more closely the common assumptions and fanon that have developed around readings of those works.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 10

I love this examination of the One Ring, and the determination Dreamflower has made that both the Ring and Sauron appear to have overrated Its power. That Sauron had long ago lost the ability to truly empathise with others is a theme I myself explored somewhat in my own story "Lesser Ring," and I postulated that this was why he must have most of the rings of power created by Celebrimbor--he'd found his own attempts to create rings intended to rule others had proven failures, as he could not imbue them with the ability to understand others necessary to command willing obedience. That the Ring's own miscalculations lost It the help It desired to get Itself back to Its Master's hand is obvious to us, but seems to have not been appreciated by either Ring nor Sauron. Once he realized that Sauron had created the Ruling Ring within his own great forge in Orodruin, Celebrimbor immediately warned the recipients of the Three to remove their rings; Isildur realized he'd become bound to the Ring but regretted it and did not willingly don It when ordered by his son Elendur to use Its power to help him flee; once comfortably hidden from the world beneath the Misty Mountains Smeagol/Gollum refused to go further; it was a similar scenario once Bilbo returned to the Shire, and certainly, in spite of his desire to follow Bilbo Frodo made no true move to leave until he must. So many were strong enough to turn aside from the Ring, once they realized they either accepted from the outset the danger possessing It would pose or realized they were being moved beyond their natures. It tended to push Its intended victims over the top, at which time they realized they were being manipulated and resisted. Not until Frodo was within the Sammath Naur could It fully take him, although we have seen all along the way how It tried to compel him, sometimes managing to get him to wear It, at least briefly. An excellent, thought-provoking essay.

Reviewed by: pandemonium_213  ✧  Score: 10

Anyone who begins her thesis with [I know it sounds a bit controversial] and then proceeds to pick apart a myth with such precision has my admiration. Dreamflower writes a well-executed argument that not only debunks the apparent misconceptions within fandom concerning the One Ring's power, but also sheds light on the various personalities and motivations of those touched by the One Ring from its inventor to its destroyer. Dreamflower's essay is very well-written and referenced beautifully. She creates her argument in a steady logical progression with which she reaches a most satisfying conclusion. Her arguments convincingly illustrate that the One Ring works through the characteristics of those who are tempted by it -- and fall to it -- or to those who are able to reject it. I also read this as commentary on how myth can obscure fact, such as they are in a mythopoeitically* created world. Just like Elendil at an alleged 8 feet in height stands at a truly larger than life in myth (and in the "reality" of JRRT's secondary world was probably much shorter), so the One Ring's influence is not all encompassing, or "generic," if you will, but instead individualized. Excellent essay, Dreamflower, and quite thought-provoking. *Yes, a goofy neologism. I can't resist them.

Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

Wow, Barbara, this was one facinating essay! I'm glad I came across it. What a very astute examination of the exact nature of the ring. I was particularly interested in the concept of the ring's "blind spot". You are right, it could only overwhelm people who were already much in the same "mould" as Sauron. Likewise, it is very conceivable that its lures failed because they were so over the top. Especially in Sam's case that is very evident. I would like to add to this a more formal thought: The talk of the absolutely irresisteble power of the ring is a hyperbole that is necessary to perpetuate the plot. The epic story of LOTR could not have been based on a ring that was merely said to be *rather* powerful and dangerous - just like in a fairy tale you would never talk of a princess being merely "quite a nice looking lass". On the other hand, the ring *had* to be flawed and limited, because otherwise it *would* have overwhelemed everybody and then there would have been no story. The tension betwen the perception of the ring as being all-powerful and the reality of it not quite getting a hold of people is the catalyst by which the story is developed. Mind you, I would never have thought of it in this way, had I not read your clever essay!

Reviewed by: SurgicalSteel  ✧  Score: 6

Dreamflower has written an extremely intriguing essay in which she explores the possible nature of the One Ring's power. She postulates that perhaps is was not quite as powerful as some individuals might have believed. Her working hypothesis is that the power of the Ring is flawed because of the manner of its creation - that because Sauron allowed some of his power to flow into it, it behaved in the same way its creator would, and therefore has the same blind spots and flaws as its creator. The essay is well-researched, as I would expect from Dreamflower, copiously footnoted with reference to the original text which back up her point - but more importantly, it's a thought provoking and interesting read. Extremely well done!

Reviewed by: Inkling  ✧  Score: 6

Dreamflower offers an insightful and carefully referenced analysis of the strengths and limitations of the One Ring's power, and the various motivations of those who experience its seduction. It is thought-provoking in the way a good essay should be, causing me at various times to agree, disagree, and wander off on tangents. I absolutely agree with the basic premise of the Ring's--and Sauron’s--blind spot regarding the appeal of power. However, I'm not so sure that Boromir's fall was temporary, but rather his repentance that might have been short-lived had the Ring once again come within his range. And the tangent: Grishnákh is a fascinating case, as Dreamflower so observantly notes. We are indeed left to speculate [and I look forward to discussing him when we get to that point in the reading group!]...

Reviewed by: Moreth  ✧  Score: 6

This is an excellently researched and well written critique of The Ring as 'an irresistible shiny'. Aside from the carefully presented argument (well backed up by references!), I especially like the way in which Dreamflower links The Ring's abilities to those of its maker, particularly with the observation that both The Ring and it's master have a 'blind-spot' that limits their prediction of other's behaviour. Dreamflower leaves the reader with a Ring which, while it may not possess absolute and irresistable power, is nevertheless (like it's maker) obsessed by absolute power. It may be less potent then its myth, but it is seen to be darker and more malicious for that... An excellent analysis! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Reviewed by: Lily  ✧  Score: 6

This is a fascinating essay on how much power the One Ring really had. Her essay offers a deeper insight into Tolkien's various mentions of the Ring and for a time it has the reader doubt whether It actually had some power at all or if the professor, although he mentioned it many times, might actually have forgotten to show the Ring's influence. But Dreamflower then carefully guides the reader through the various times when the Ring shows its power though not usually in an obvious way and with different approaches based on the character It tries to tempt. Her essay answers all the questions concerning the Ring I have ever wondered about in a plausible way, and the Ring's subliminal influence on those around it - which Dreamflower marvellously describes - to me makes it even more evil.

Reviewed by: Linda Hoyland  ✧  Score: 5

Fascinating thoughts clearly expressed to make a most interesting and enjoyable essay.. I personally think the fact the idea of the Ring is taken from Norse myth causes some of the condradictions about it.Gollum is like Fafnir the giant who turns into a dragon and does nothing but watch the Ring for endless years. I have often thought about both Tolkien's and Wagner's use of the same myth of the magic Ring which promises supreme power but brings only misery for whoever owns it. I think the point of myths about magic objects is that it is the owner's soul that counts,whether it be good or evil. I enjoyed this essay very much and reccomend it to all thoughtful readers of LOTR.

Reviewed by: Cathleen  ✧  Score: 4

As usual, Dreamflower is able to present a thoroughly thought out and logical premise for her arguement about the One Ring's power, that I would be hard-pressed to dispute. She is a master of the essay and I am a true fan of each one she has written. I find them all highly informative and exceptionally challenging to ponder. I do hope she will continue to add to her delightful collection!

Reviewed by: nancylea  ✧  Score: 4

but, dreamflower, the biggest part of the threat was that as evil and mean as he had proved himself to be when he says the ring makes him even MORE we have terrifing images to magnify our fears. the threat of soviet dominance couldn't have held water if our leaders had pointed out everytime they talked about it that there was no way for them to survive either; no our leaders had us practice air raids and bomb scares.only sauron knew the rings potential and he wasn;t into sharing things was he? it seems basic character makes or breaks a carrier.

Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 4

In this essay, Dreamflower provides a comprehensive and fascinating review of the power of the One Ring and its effect of those who came into contact with it and knew about its existence. With delightfully clear prose, she steps the reader carefully through the logic of her argument and lays bare the nature and source of the limitations on the One Ring's power. An excellent exploration of one of the major themes of the Lord of the Rings – well done!

Reviewed by: NeumeIndil  ✧  Score: 2

A well-reasoned argument. It could use a going through for typos, but I think the author has won this point. The Ring does not seem to be the all powerful thing so many people feared.

Reviewed by: crowdaughter  ✧  Score: 2

A very interesting essay, and very well thought out. I love the clear arguments, and also the conclusion. Well done!