The Ring of Temptation

Temptation. We have all suffered from it. J.R.R. Tolkien knew this when he wrote the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Tolkien didn’t hide it or prettify it. He births it way back in the Hobbit with the ring Bilbo finds while being a Burglar for the Dwarfs who are trying to reclaim their mountain from the fire-breathing dragon Smaug. The hobbit uses it to his advantage and is able to thwart the dragon and keep the Thorin from leading his own downfall. Years later, though, Bilbo scares himself when the ring’s influence brings out his ugly side before he gives it up to his heir, Frodo, proving he is not unaffected by the ring’s power after all. (Galadriel photo courtesy of Stack Overflow.)

Smeagol and the ring
Photo courtesy of theonering.net.

The Ring is the central plot point for the LOTR. As with any temptation it is fairly innocuous in its introduction in The Hobbit, being only a magical ring of invisibility, first for Smeagol, then for Bilbo. Smeagol, however, is a grotesque figure with a personality disorder who covets the ring. It is revealed throughout the books that Smeagol had been immediately drawn to the ring, so much so that he killed his fishing companion to get it, thus becoming a twisted version of the hobbit he originally was.

In Tolkien’s tales, the One Ring was forged by the Dark Lord Sauron in the fires of Mount Doom to gain dominance over Middle Earth. Suaron aided the Elven smiths in creating the rings, nine for men, seven for the dwarves, and three for the elves. These rings had no power, however, so Sauron created one ring in which he placed his own power in so it would have power over the others.

Boromir tempted
Photo courtesy of Angelfire

Corruption was the ultimate end of those who wore the ring. As with any temptation, the longer it has hold of you, the more it corrupts you. The ring was powerful enough to tempt both Boromir and Faramir who only wanted to redeem their lands to their former glory and possibly impress their dad, the King. However, the evil that inhabited the ring in the form of Sauron’s own magic would’ve corrupted even the most  noble purposes. Samwise himself, my biggest hero of the series, wondered what a grand garden he could create if he were to use the ring to his own benefit.

In the end it was only due to Smeagol’s selfish desire to get the ring back from Frodo, who was under the ring’s influence, that it was indeed destroyed in the fire of Mount Doom. Frodo returned home to the Shire, but he was never the same. He couldn’t escape the pain from his wounds and the inner scars from having been a Ring Bearer for so long.  Frodo heads to the Undying Lands (an Elven form of Heaven) with Bilbo, the Elves, and Gandalf.

Temptation can be innocuous or noble at times. We can find ways to justify giving into these fine reasons, but in the end all temptation does is bring destruction to those who continue to court it. And even in some cases, if we are able to get out from beneath the influence of temptation, we suffer the recourse from having courted it in the first place.

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Dawn Ford

Dawn is a young adult fiction author, creating authentic stories that cut through the lies we hide behind to break through to our inner truths. Her passions are her faith, family, shoes, purses, things that sparkle, and anything steampunk. Keep up with Dawn's news and events at dawnfordauthor.com.

16 thoughts on “The Ring of Temptation”

  1. Terrific lesson on temptation. As you know, I’ve never read the books, but it’s fun seeing the different themes in the books that affected the readers.

    1. I admit I haven’t read them all, but my oldest son is a walking LOTR Wikipedia. So while I have read a couple of them, I”ve seen all the movies numerous times and through them all my son has given commentary to fill in the parts the movie doesn’t cover for me. They are good tales.

  2. Ugh. Temptation. Something we humans (and hobbits and elves, it seems) have a life long struggle with. Loved that synopsis and the way you sum up the aftermath of giving in to temptation. There’s amazingly deep layers in Tolkien’s writing, isn’t there?

    1. I would love to be able to pull off the intricate world Tolkien did. And his fellow writer C.S. Lewis was his critique partner. They wrote back and forth about their stories and helped to raise the bar for each other. What a powerful duo!

  3. Perfect analysis, Dawn! Like Kav said, it’s amazing how may layers Tolkien has in the LOTR books. I’ve read them a couple of times, but not for many years. What an amazing author!

  4. I love how the Ring brings out the inherent character of each person in the story, whether they are “important” or not. Like Galadriel, who was tempted to take the Ring from Frodo to be all powerful (“Instead of a Dark Lord you will have a Queen!”), while Sam was tempted by the Ring so he could make the best garden he could. I love how Tolkien shows that, for the most part, most of the characters just wanted the Ring to do something good, but its corruptibility is where the evil lies. Only a very few were able to pass it up: Bilbo, in giving it up freely, Galadriel, Gandalf, Sam, and in one of my favorite moments in the Peter Jackson films, Aragorn.

    I love it when Frodo offers it to him, and he looks at it carefully, considering. The Ring whispers his name, “Aragorn.” And then in a lovely moment “Elessar,” which is Aragorn’s name when he becomes King of Gondor. The Ring is showing him that he can achieve his life’s work of reclaiming his throne by simply taking the Ring as his own. But Aragorn refuses the power, and gently closes Frodo’s hand over it. He knows he is strong now, but he might not be able to resist the lure of the Ring through a long journey. “I would have gone with you to the very fires of Mordor.”

    LOVE IT!!!

    1. I do love Aragorn’s answer! And the fact that Galadriel considered it and in a moment of truth and understanding herself turned it down.Even Gandalf would not try it because he knew what it would do to him. Each character to his own inner temptation. Sounds like someone we know, huh?

  5. Great lesson about temptation Dawn! I have learned we must avoid temptation. In Frodo’s case, he couldn’t avoid it all together with the task at hand, but he surrounded himself with people who could help him carry the burden and keep him accountable.

    1. Good point, Nichole! Frodo was surrounded by loyal people who helped him along the way. From Samwise to Galadriel who gave him the light that helped him in a dark place. So true in real life. God sends people to us when we need them most, gives us light in our dark place, to keep us on our journey.

  6. That’s a great post 🙂 I love the part when Boromir realizes that he is tempted by the ring and then tries to repent from it. Temptation is a big part of the heroes journey as it is a big part of our lives. We have to fight it everyday just like the characters of LOTR 😉

    1. Thanks, Samantha! It is a daily struggle, isn’t it? And isn’t it great that when we overcome we get stronger because of it!

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