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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Who could have fully mastered the One Ring?
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Morthoron
Gondor


May 19 2010, 1:24am

Post #26 of 43 (226 views)
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It is all conjecture really... [In reply to] Can't Post

But the two obvious choices out of the 'Great' to oppose Sauron directly with the One Ring would be Gandalf the White and Galadriel, primarily because they are both ring-wielders, both are immortal and both command inherent power.

I would consider immortality to be a necessary component of being able to wield such a power, particularly since we have seen that even the lesser rings forced the Nazgul, men of greatness and power in their mortal lives, into subservience and a netherworldly half-life, and the One Ring eventually consumed those mortals who bore it in one manner or another.

Would Gandalf wield the One Ring? If, at the end of all things, the choice was laid upon him by exigent circumstance, I can only assume he would. Galadriel, too, eschewed the Ring when it was offered to her, but she would have been far more formidable than a mortal such as Aragorn, given her natural inclination to rule, her inherent supernatural abilities and her long acclimation to a Ring of Power. with her prescience she foresaw the type of being that she would become:
certainly a daunting foe for Sauron, who knew fear and was humbled and defeated before.

It is a nice discussion piece, certainly; but, as I said, it is all conjecture, really. Wink

"I was crazy back when being crazy really meant something. Nowadays everybody's crazy." -- Charles Manson


Desicon9
Bree

May 19 2010, 4:25am

Post #27 of 43 (193 views)
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"Mastering?" [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder now just what do we mean by "mastering?" The One Ring was created to act as a focus of Power and Dominion over others. To be able to control the Ring, to use it, as Sauron intended it to be used, required training one's will to the domination of others. But is this really "mastering" the Ring, or simply surrendering to its corrupting influence. Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond, Aragorn all refused the thing, realizing that in the end It would master them. The only way to really "master" the Ring, it seems to me, is to not covet power and dominion in the first place -- only Tom Bombadil had so strong, so self-sufficient a personality that he truly was unaffected by this device. Tom rendered the Ring useless, it could not affect him, corrupt him, use him. Tom remained himself, stayed under his own control even while wearing the Ring, the Ring that was purposefully designed to gradually gain power over all who sought to "master" It in the conventional sense. Tom, I think, truly "mastered" the Ring by remaining the master of himself despite its potent seductions. After all, self-control, self-mastery, isn't that the real and final goal of true power?


CuriousG
Valinor


May 19 2010, 7:14am

Post #28 of 43 (214 views)
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Don't forget Treebeard [In reply to] Can't Post

I did until just now. As we talk about mastering the Ring, and whether that means harnessing its power or remaining immune to it, I'd put Treebeard in the same camp as Bombadil. It's hard to see how the Ring could gain sway over him, or what he'd be tempted to use it for. I could be wrong, but his personality seems similar to Bombadil's: content with himself, not ambitious, and happy to live in the realm he has and maintain it as is (yes, he wants Entwives and he doesn't want Saruman chopping down his trees). Significantly, Gandalf tells the hobbits on the way home that Bombadil wouldn't be too interested in their adventures except for what they had to say about the Ents, as if those are the people that Tom would have the most in common with and most concern for as kindred spirits. I'm not saying at all that Bombadil is an Ent or that Treebeard has Bombadil's powers, only a shared psyche.

Which brings up the tangent: if Bombadil was partial to the Ents, and if an Entwife was seen walking in the nearby Shire, and Bombadil was in close touch with Maggot, why didn't he do anything to reunite them? Then again, Fangorn had never changed location, so if the Entwives really wanted Ent-husbands again, they presumably would have gone back to them since they knew where it was. How could they forget it was the big shaggy forest near the Anduin, a river that's pretty hard to miss?


PhantomS
Rohan


May 19 2010, 11:46am

Post #29 of 43 (142 views)
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Treebeard the 'Master' [In reply to] Can't Post

Technically, while sentient the Ents do not have ambition or grand dreams. Treebeard is nostalgic for the grand old days, but he is not thinking of a world covered in trees. Unlike Sam, he doesn't plant his seeds in the ground, he depends on nature and tends growing trees- a garden is still an artificiall thing, hence Sam would think of making one while Treebeard would probably not. he's a Shepherd, not a Breeder of the Trees.


Curious
Half-elven


May 19 2010, 12:06pm

Post #30 of 43 (166 views)
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Good point. [In reply to] Can't Post

But simply surrendering to the Ring is not enough to grant Dark Lord powers. The Ring grants powers to those with power -- the question is whether anyone had enough power to use the Ring to defeat Sauron.


Curious
Half-elven


May 19 2010, 12:11pm

Post #31 of 43 (219 views)
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Some trees did succumb to the Shadow. [In reply to] Can't Post

Old Man Willow did. And Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin that in some parts of Fangorn the old Darkness -- presumably Morgoth's -- has never lifted. There's also Mirkwood. So I'm not sure ents are immune to the Ring.


Kangi Ska
Half-elven


May 19 2010, 12:18pm

Post #32 of 43 (135 views)
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You speak to my thoughts eloquently. [In reply to] Can't Post

The Idea of mastering, as presented in the initial question of this thread, is my sticking point. My first response was Sauron but the power of the one ring was a part of what Sauron once was. It is true that it was made to enhance his capabilities but it was his essence, his will that made it. Using it did not corrupt him for the corrupting power of the ring had its source in him. The ring completed him and made him greater. There was no mastery involved. It would have been more like a symbiotic relationship where both parts, working together create something greater than the whole.
As to the others that might have the strength of spirit and will to use the ring all save Saruman rejected its use as ultimately corupting. The desire to use the ring opened the door to eventual corruption. So the rejection of the ring by Gandalf, Galadriel, Elrond and Aragorn came from the recognition that the ring was in essence evil and would corrupt them in the end.
Bombadil was the only one who had no desire for the ring one way or the other because he was the complete master of himself. His focus was upon a small realm that he had chosen to be his world and within it he was master. He was happy there and the problems of the outside world had no effect on his happiness.
So I would say that the true mastery of a corrupting influence requires one to move beyond any temptation or desire. (A very Buddhist idea.)

Kangi Ska

There is no place like the Shire...There is no place like the Shire...There is no place like the Shire...

At night one cannot tell if crows are black or white.


Man on Fire


Desicon9
Bree

May 19 2010, 4:48pm

Post #33 of 43 (147 views)
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Buddhist Koan? [In reply to] Can't Post

I like KangiSka's implied "Buddhist" connection here. Is JRRT presenting us with a koan? "A puzzling, often paradoxical statement or story, used in Zen Buddhism as an aid to meditation and a means of gaining spiritual awakening."

How does one truly "master" something like the One Ring, and how does one truly "defeat" a Sauron? Using Sauron's Ring to defeat his evil with the power that is in it will merely replicate that evil, replace one Dark Lord with another -- as Galadriel made plain to Frodo. So, while there were many of the "good guys" who had enough power of their own to bend the Ring to their uses, (though face-to-face with Sauron I agree only Gandalf/ Galadriel/ Elrond/ Glorfindel might have survived) none of them, even Gandalf, had enough power to keep the Ring from eventually corrupting them. In the final analysis, no one in Middle-earth's Third Age* had the personal power to use the Ring without finally becoming enslaved by it. Hence, the only option is to not use the Ring, and other means for securing Sauron's defeat must be found -- the humble hobbit Frodo (though in the end, even he is corrupted and only a "chance" act of Gollum's saves the day).

I think JRRT was trying to show us that meeting power with overwhelming power does not allow a true defeat of the spirit that propels Sauron and enthuses his Ring -- the real answer to the koan of the Ring is to not play the power game at all. In this regard, only Bombadil seems to find the solution within his own nature, and thereby he negates the Ring's power entirely. Unfortunately, this negation of power applied only to Bombadil, and he could not, seemingly, pass on this protection to others -- hence, the Ring still existed even after it passed through his hands, and everyone else in Middle-earth was still threatened by the Thing, everyone else still had to solve the koan of the Ring in their own personal fashion. The Ring Quest was the measured, judgmental response of the Council to this paradox, and I think it showed an acceptance of the idea that the only way to truly master the Ring was to avoid using it, rejecting the power game in the attempt to simply destroy It. Of course, as events in Sammath Naur were to show, the Ring had great "survival instincts" of its own.

________________
*The Valar were still, in some sense "in" Middle-earth even in the Third Age, but they seem content to watch, and intervene only indirectly in the playing-out of the world's history, but, I assume their own superior powers would have made them immune to Sauron's Ring?


In Reply To
But simply surrendering to the Ring is not enough to grant Dark Lord powers. The Ring grants powers to those with power -- the question is whether anyone had enough power to use the Ring to defeat Sauron.



Desicon9
Bree

May 19 2010, 5:02pm

Post #34 of 43 (118 views)
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What about Treebeard? [In reply to] Can't Post

RE CuriousG: "As we talk about mastering the Ring, and whether that means harnessing its power or remaining immune to it, I'd put Treebeard in the same camp as Bombadil."

CuriousG, this intrigues me too. There does seems to be some sort of parallel between Tom Bombadil's nature and that of Treebeard. Hmm, might make a good separate topic, I think in his earlier manuscripts JRRT posed a closer connection between Treebeard/ Ents and Bombadil, but much of that material did not make the final cut for the LOTR publication.

Could the "tree-folk" -- Old Man Willow types, black-hearted Huorns, and even the Ents themselves -- have been "human" enough to covet power, and therefore be susceptible to the lure of the One Ring? Could Old Treebeard have slipped the Ring upon a twig and turned himself invisible? Would he, or any true Ent have had the desire to do so, or would they, like Bombadil, be immune to its petty blandishments of power?

Hmm, this also brings up something for another separate topic, just who or what is Old Man Willow? LOL. need to hit the books!


Curious
Half-elven


May 19 2010, 5:37pm

Post #35 of 43 (146 views)
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It's a riddle. [In reply to] Can't Post

Tolkien loved riddles. But I'm not sure he would have thought of it as a koan.

Also, isn't a koan a riddle which has no solution, like what is the sound of one hand clapping? Or many solutions, with a different solution for each person considering the question? The puzzle of the Ring is hard, but I'm not sure we can say that it has no solution, or is designed for meditative contemplation.


xy
Rohan

May 19 2010, 7:43pm

Post #36 of 43 (124 views)
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Two choices [In reply to] Can't Post

The maker of the ring, Sauron.

Fellow Maia, like Gandalf and Saruman.

No one else.


PhantomS
Rohan


May 20 2010, 5:25pm

Post #37 of 43 (136 views)
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darkness and then there's darkness [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Old Man Willow did. And Treebeard tells Merry and Pippin that in some parts of Fangorn the old Darkness -- presumably Morgoth's -- has never lifted. There's also Mirkwood. So I'm not sure ents are immune to the Ring.

Trees are different from people in that without the Ents or Wood-Elves to tend to them, they become wild and wicked, thus inviting the Darkness to settle into their woods as it suits their purposes. Lothlorien is a place, for isntance where no deadly darkness lies mostly due to Nenya and the wood-elves who live there; the Old Forest and parts of Mirkwood are by contrast where the very wildlife seems to fight with the trees (spiders in particular) and there is a constant struggle between light and dark. Fangorn itself is quite dark as Huorns look menacingly at intruders, even the wood elf Legolas. I'd think Old Man Willow was a very old, very neglected tree that decided to hate life and eat stray creatures. As a tree he is not really good or evil, but no one has really persuaded him to be nice to anyone, either.

I'm not saying Treebeard is immune to the Ring, but unlike the Free Peoples he might not understand what it is trying to stir in him; Ents think slowly and patiently. He doesn't want power, land, gold, his own garden (he already has a forest!), or even revenge ("mmmm....but Saruman is a neighbour..."). The Ring might work on him eventually and turn him into the Evil Ent Emperor but he would take an awful long time to come up with the ideas that would suit him. Unlike the Free Peoples Treebeard has a noted purpose in the world, and the Ring is unlikely to help him in that endeavor apart from deluding him.

I also think of Bilbo, who owned the Ring for 50 years- the Ring must have been frustrated at having such a lazy, ambition-less owner who sat in his house all day and wrote letters to people, and worse, keeping it in his pocket. Even with his odd Ring-less wanderings it was a sense of wonder and open-mindedness; Bilbo got lost even on the way to Rivendell and was lucky to get there via the High Pass. The Ring did affect him by slowing down his ageing, but it seemed to do little else- much like the Dwarf Rings, which 'malfunctioned' much so Sauron's consternation.

In the end no mortal can probably wield the Ring; Galadriel has a fair shot given who she is, but that's in combination with her Nenya- Saruman needed the Ring to fully challenge Sauron, and his powers were great enough already. Aragorn is a candidate of many but in Gandalf's words, no one would recognize him anymore if he did take the Ring for himself.




Curious
Half-elven


May 20 2010, 7:16pm

Post #38 of 43 (132 views)
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The Ring is most tempting to those used to power. [In reply to] Can't Post

The hobbits are perhaps least used to power, and therefore least tempted by the Ring, except for Bombadil, if you accept Gandalf's explanation of Bombadil's powers. As the leader of the Ents Treebeard does have power -- great power, when it is finally aroused -- but as you note he is extremely reluctant to use it. So that might make him resistant to the Ring, but maybe not as resistant as the hobbits or Bombadil.


FarFromHome
Valinor


May 21 2010, 7:20am

Post #39 of 43 (143 views)
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About the "fading" [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't think anyone addressed the point about mortals fading. My opinion would be that yes, all mortals would fade, even Aragorn or Denethor, over time. It's the general rule about the cost of the apparent immortality conferred by the Ring. You don't die, but since you can't obtain more life, the life you have gets stretched thinner and thinner until you "fade". It would take longer for Aragorn, presumably, because his own natural mortal life would be long. But I don't believe any mortal could escape it in the end. Certainly not Denethor, if we are to believe Gandalf who claimed that the Ring would "burn [Denethor's] mind away" even if he hid it away and did not use it.

They went in, and Sam shut the door.
But even as he did so, he heard suddenly,
deep and unstilled,
the sigh and murmur of the Sea upon the shores of Middle-earth.
From the unpublished Epilogue to the Lord of the Rings



Curious
Half-elven


May 21 2010, 10:23am

Post #40 of 43 (318 views)
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Not dwarves. [In reply to] Can't Post

You say "all mortals" but I would change that to "all mortal men." Apparently dwarves are too attached to the physical plane to turn into wraiths.


GAndyalf
Valinor

Jun 6 2010, 2:49am

Post #41 of 43 (167 views)
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having read this entire thread... [In reply to] Can't Post

Much is made of the One making (people) disappear. The reason all the creatures we know wield the one "disappear" is because they are all hobbits - except Bombadil. I've seen lots of commentary but most seem to agree that Bombadil is probably a Maia, and what's more, not a Maia who was constrained to have less power for the purpose of rallying Middle-earth against Sauron but one that strayed to that part of Middle-earth in the Elder Days and was the only Maia at "full-strenght" in Middle-earth except for Sauron before the latter forged (and let a great amount of his former power pass into) the Ring. Therefore I postulate that any of the Wise (or Great) would not disappear when wearing the One. It is stated that the Ring "...gives power according to the stature (of the bearer)". That is also our greatest clue as to who could truly challenge Sauron directly wielding the One. It is interesting to me that while the hurts of the One and the Morgul blade that pierced his shoulder there was one gift the One bestowed on Frodo that's never mentioned - wisdom, which according to many traditions is only gained from a great sorrow such as the burden of being a Ringbearer when Sauron's Will was awake and actively working on him through the Ring ceaselessly and increasingly at shorter range until the end at the Sammath Naur. It seems to me that here is our second clue. No one who takes the One is instantly transformed into a slavering dictator bent upon evil conquests. What the Ring appears to do is get a being acclimated to using Power to achieve their ends. Once addicted to using Power in such a way THEN the Ring slowly instructs the wielder that the answer to all questions is Power, which is indeed the way to evil.
I think the part of this thread attributing Buddhist principles to Bombadil is very probably close to the mark though I doubt Tolkien ever studied Buddhism nor knew much about it, but that same type of dissociation of worldly things is well-known in Catholicism as well as several orders of monks have contemplated that sort of thing for centuries. This appears especially apt when Gandalf warns that eventually Bombadil would simply forget about the One and it would be found and returned to Sauron without Bombadil so much as worrying about what had happened.
Given that the Ring gives power according to the stature of the wielder it's a really cruel trick of the Ring's to tempt people like Frodo all the way up to Aragorn who would theoretically have the power within their grasp to defeat Sauron when facing him, but because the source of the power that they would actually need to do so was directly linked to Sauron himself in the end they would be betrayed by "their" power which was only borrowed from Sauron after all. If that premise is accepted as true, then the only ones that might be able to challenge Sauron would be those who in their own Being WITHOUT the One might prove a challenge to Sauron WITHOUT the one. Those, in my mind would be Gandalf the White, Saruman the White (but possibly not Saruman of the Many Colours as it seems to be hinted that when he left the path of wisdom that Saruman became less than he was, though I don't know that there's any documentation to prove that theory), Galadriel, Elrond, and Glorfindel, (and interestingly, quite possibly Gildor Inglorion, the Noldo that Frodo meets in the woods of the Shire as he and his company are heading to the Havens), and Cirdan. I am firmly in the camp that no one among the mortals could have managed it because none of them were remotely close to the power of Sauron without the Ring (and hence my argument about Sauron's own Power betraying them when they needed it most).

Lastly, one of the more telling arguments comes from Tolkien himself on an entirely different topic (and therefore treacherous to trust as his meaning in our context isn't clear), but in refuting whether the tale was an allegory of WWII Tolkien stated that if the tale were such a metaphor then, "the Ring would have been seized and not destroyed and Sauron would not have been annihilated but enslaved." Again this does not address the context of this thread but it appears to support that there would be a few among the Great who could have enslaved Sauron, for surely even in all our debates here, defeating Sauron would not be destroying him because the Ring's existence would not allow that. So in all of this exercise Sauron would continue, enslaved by the Will of the Ring's new master, always waiting for one moment of weakness to destroy his usurper and regain the Ring and his own former might.

"Be good, be careful, have fun, don't get arrested!"
---Marcia Michelle Alexander Hamilton, 7 Nov 1955 - 19 Nov 2009

sample


Elizabeth
Valinor


Jun 6 2010, 3:07am

Post #42 of 43 (155 views)
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Interesting analysis, thanks!// [In reply to] Can't Post

 






Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


GAndyalf
Valinor

Jun 6 2010, 3:58am

Post #43 of 43 (179 views)
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<wry grin> Thanks for the compliment... [In reply to] Can't Post

But with no commentary on it I'm not certain whether to take it as such? <laughs> For all I know it could well be, "Thanks for coming out. Have a mint!" No worries, I had fun reading everyone's take on it and fun writing my reply.

"Be good, be careful, have fun, don't get arrested!"
---Marcia Michelle Alexander Hamilton, 7 Nov 1955 - 19 Nov 2009

sample

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