Use of Symbolism in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings
"One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
and in the Darkness bind them"
(1 Lot R II, 2 The Council of Elrond)
One of the masters of British Literature, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien has the unique ability to create a fantasy world in which exists a nearly endless supply of parallelisms to reality. By mastering his own world and his own language and becoming one with his fantasy, Tolkien is able to create wonderful symbolism and meaning out of what would otherwise be considered nonsense. Thus, when one decides to study The Ruling Ring, or The One Ring, in Tolkien's trilogy "Lord of the Rings", one must not simply perform an examination of the ring itself, but rather a complex analysis of the events which take place from the time of the ring's creation until the time of its destruction. Concurrently, to develop a more complete understanding of the symbolic nature of the ring, one must first develop a symbolic understanding of the characters and events that are relevant to the story.
This essay begins with a brief background of Tolkien's life, followed by a thorough history of the "One Ring" including its creation, its symbolic significance, its effect on mortals, and its eventual destruction. Also, this essay will compare Tolkien's Ring to the Rhinegold Ring of Norse mythology, and will also show how many of the characters in the trilogy lend themselves to Christ-figure status. By examining the Ring from these perspectives, a clearer understanding of its symbolic significance will be reached.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, an English scholar and storyteller, became fascinated by language at an early age during his schooling at, particularly the languages of Northern Europe, both ancient and modern. This affinity for language did not only lead to his profession, but also his private hobby, the invention of languages. He was also drawn to the entire "Northern tradition", which inspired him to study its myths and sagas thoroughly. His broad knowledge eventually led to the development of his opinions about Myth, its relation to language, and the importance of stories. All these various perspectives: language, the heroic tradition, and Myth, as well as deeply-held beliefs in Catholic Christianity work together in all of his works, including The Lord of the Rings (Lot R).
The creation of the "One Ring" or the "Ring of Sauron" goes back to the years following the fall of Morgoth. At this time, Sauron established his desire to bring the Elves, and indeed all the people of Middle-Earth, under his control. It was his opinion that Manwë and the Valar had abandoned Middle-Earth after the fall of Morgoth. In order to bring the Elves under his control, Sauron persuaded them that his intentions were good, and that he wanted Middle-Earth to return from the darkness it was in. Eventually the elves sided with Sauron, and created the Rings of Power under his...