One Ring to Rule Them All, and in the Darkness Binds Them

434px-john_howe_-_the_one_ring.jpg    From ancient times on, a mystical aura has surrounded circles. Ancient tribes drug thousand pound rocks over two hundred miles to create a perfect circle in an open field. The Romans created the largest structure in their era, a circular Colosseum. We wear bands around our fingers to symbolize the eternal devotion to another. The perfect circle has forever been this symbol of perfection, of strength, and of unity. This theme is also very strong in the novel that we are reading, the Lord of the Rings.

    The very imagery starts in the title, a ring. But nevermind the countless imagery, i have selected a pivotal part of the novel in which the sacred symbol takes on a deeper meaning. This scene i wish you to recount is  the very first scene when Bilbo and Gandalf are considering the fate of the ring. Gandalf, ever weary around the ring, thinks to burn it, and destroy the dark lord’s chances of returning to power. In its current position, the ring is enclosed in an envelope, a carbon jailcell. Gandalf thrust the package into the fire, and watches as the paper burns, curling inward and turning black, flaking away from the ring. The ring sits on the embers of the intense heat, not blemishing, but only shining brightly, an eerie text appearing on its surface. The text spells a tale, O”One ring to rule them all, and in the darkness binds them” (the third and final line of the ring, but most important for my analysis).

    I first wish to asert the foreshadowing of the symbol. The fellowship that is later created is consisting of the ring of humanity. In the council of Rivendall, the races of Middle-Earth collect, each race coming from the corners of the world to convene and decide the future of the world itself. If one drew a map of their relative homelands, it would create a circle. Secondly, they all stand in a circle in this scene, each equivalent and remarkable in their own right. This is why i equivocate the ring in the fire as the fellowship itself. The Ring is enclosed withing the envelope, which I interpret as the world that surrounds them , or Middle-Earth. When thrust into the fire, or when the world is thrown into chaos (caused by the looming dread of the dark lord’s return), the outside world begins to crumble, to turn in on the fellowship. The ashes that trickle into the fire turn black and join in the fire that is the dark lord. But as the outside world crumbles in, the ring stands strong, never melting, never wavering.  The fellowship stands strong, thrusting away power-thirsty princes, Urk-Hai, balrogs, and goblin-infested caves. Though separated, the ring stands. 

    On its face the fellowship almost brags, one ring to rule them all, and in the darkness binds them. While there are many interpretations of this line, i read it slightly differently. I see it as the fellowship once again. To me the first segment refers to the ring as the ring of mankind, destined to succeed. Those nine people would rule over the dark lord as the questing heroes always did. In the darkness binds them to me brings to mind the trials they would face would bring them closer together, making them only stronger. To me, as i read more of the text, this scene still stood in my mind. The text kept reinforcing my idea. Effectively, Tolkien foreshadows the novel, maybe even the trilogy vaguely in the second chapter. Because of his depth, this was the most impressive section to me.

Matt Shelton

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~ by mattshelton on September 20, 2007.

One Response to “One Ring to Rule Them All, and in the Darkness Binds Them”

  1. Circles — no beginning — no end… also goes back to our Auden and Chance discussions. Most endings are just new beginnings…

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