A good person always enjoys one advantage over an evil person namely that while a good person can imagine what it would be like to be evil an evil person cannot imagine what it would be like to be good. Elrond Gandalf Galadriel and Aragorn are able to imagine themselves as Sauron and can therefore resist the temptation to use the Ring themselves
but Sauron cannot imagine that anyone who knows what the Ring can accomplish his own destruction among other things will refrain from using it let alone try to destroy it.
- W. H. Auden
4 Objective To show how Tolkien uses motive and circumstance in relation to free-will and individuality to demonstrate the corrupting power of the ring over different people(s) in his Middle Earth. More specifically how does free-will and individuality allow the ring to interact with characters in order to try to dominate Middle Earth 5 Students will research and chart the the history of the ring and the progression of ownership from Sauron to Mt. Doom.
Water (2500 years)
6 Students will determine circumstance and motivation of the ring-bearer and evaluate the level of influence and power of corruption over each ring-bearer.
Sauron (he creates the ring to Rule Them All)
Isildur (battle in which he can easily grab the ring to have all power over men of Middle Earth)
Deagol (found the ring while fishing wants to keep it)
Smeagol/Gollum (fishing with Deagol selfishness)
Bilbo (finds it in a cave thinks it is precious and wants to keep it)
Frodo (given to him by Bilbo to get it out of the Shire)
Sam (thinks Frodo is dead to finish the quest/task)
7 Students will study the Fellowship (9 entities) to evaluate and prove the theory that the length of time and motive for desiring the ring increases the rings corruptive power.
Four (4) Hobbits (Frodo Sam. Merry and Pippin)
Two (2) Mortals ( Aragorn and Boromir)
One (1) Drawf (Gimli)
One (1) Elf (Legolas)
One (1) Wizard (Gandalf)
8 Student will study other non-Fellowship entities who were (1) unaffected by the ring (2) somewhat interested in the ring (3) possessed the ring or (4) became obsessed with the idea of ownership.
Non-Fellowship entities reactions to the ring
(1) Tom Bombadil
(2) Faramir and Galadriel
(3) Sauron Isildur Smeagol/Gollum
Ring has Some Effect Ring Corrupts Ring has no Effect 10
The Ring As Its Own Entity
11 The Shadow of the Past (The Fellowship of the Ring Ch. 2)Students will use the following passages from the text to discuss and then create an essay onThe Ring As Its Own Entity
Clearly the ring had an unwholesome power that set to work on its keeper at once. Gandalf (pg 47)
A Ring of Power looks after itself Frodo. It may slip off treacherously but its keeper never abandons it. Gandalf (pg54)
It was not Gollum Frodo but the Ring itself that decided things. The Ring left him. Gandalf (pg 54)
The Ring was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from Isildurs hand and betrayed him then when a chance came it caught poor Deagol and he was murdered and after that Gollum and it had devoured him. It could make no further use of him he was too small and mean and as long as it stayed with him he would never leave his deep pool again. Gandalf (pg54)
Addictive Power of the Ring
13 On Gollum
During the many years he possessed it its possession brought him no pleasure.
And after losing the Ring his life becomes one long torment mental and physical. In part his very wretchedness is due to the fact that he has not become wholly evil.
W. H. Auden
14 Cite mental and physical changes in Smeagol/Gollum as he continues to remain obsessed with getting the ring back.
Students should find examples (mental and physical ) in all three novels which support Gollums increased degeneration up to the point on Mt. Doom where he takes the Ring into the fire.
15 Find examples of physical descriptions and actions Tolkien gives Smeagol/Gollum to support the idea of degeneration.
Smeagol inquisitive and curious-minded interested in roots and beginnings dived into pools burrowed under trees and growing plants tunneled into green mounds starts to lie keeps secrets put knowledge to crooked and malicious uses sharp eyed and keened eared became unpopular and was shunned kicked and bit people took to theiving and muttering to himself wandered in lonliness weeping found a cave wormed his way like a maggot into hills
16 ContinuedSmeagol/Gollum transformation
Gollum loathsome little creature pale luminous eyes heart was black covered with slime cunning lurking in Moria hiding in the woods creepy down on sticky pads like some large prowling thing of insect-kind like a nasty crawling spider on a wall pawing at him seeming in great distress wringing his hands and squeaking groveled on the ground in a pitiable state hissed crouched down huddled himself together like a cornered spider whiffling and twitching
17 On the Ringwraiths
They are thus the undead specters who should be dead but who are held in existence by the cruel will of their master Sauron and an undying lust for the Ring. They pursue Frodo because he possesses the Ring and their existence is consumed completely by the desire to get it. At the Ford of Bruinen a watery torrent washes away the horses they are riding but the Nine are not drowned. The horses are lost but the undead cannot die and that is part of their punishment for their greed.
18 Find examples of the physical description Tolkien gives the Ringwraiths and discuss their shadow-like appearance.
In addition students should notice the verb choices Tolkien uses when he describes their entrances into an area. What connotations are associated with the verbs
Students might discuss some of the following descriptions as leads into an elaborated essay on the Ringwraiths
19 Possible descriptions and actions for discussion
crossed secretly a cry faint but heart-quelling cruel and cold shadowed and invisible sniffing to catch a scent long-drawn wail evil lonley creature high piercing note black specs moving slowly shadows black like black holes in the deep shade threatening statues stood up menacing a black cloud grown to a vast menace of despair shadow of despair presence could be felt as a deepening shadow and dimming of the sun rending the clouds with a ghastly shriek cry of woe and dismay
What was J.R.R. Tolkien trying to show his readers about virtue and integrity
How does our character either help or hinder us when we are faced with a difficult task
How do you think J.R.R.Tolkien viewed loyalty and responsibility
How do you actively use your free-will to make the world a better place
21 In The End
On the edge of the crack of Doom Gollum wrestles with the Hobbit. Finally he overcomes the weakened Frodo. He viciously bites off the Hobbits ring finger. Then seizing the One Ring Gollum topples backward into the fiery abyss. The One Ring is destroyed. In the end it is not the power of the mind nor the strength of the body but the instincts of the heart that save the world. It is the simple human capacity for mercy that finally allows evil to be overthrown. -David Day
22 Never the End 23 Works Cited
Auden W.H. Good and Evil in The Lord of the Rings. Critical Quarterly 10 (1968) 138-142
Bassham Gregory and Eric Bronson. The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy One Book to Rule Them All (2003)
Davis Bill. Choosing to Die The gift of Mortality in Middle- earth. The Lord of the Rings and PhilosophyOne Ring to Rule Them All (2003)
Day David. Tolkiens Ring. New York. Barnes and Noble. 1999
Shippey Tom. J. R. R. Tolkien Author of the Century. London Harper Collins 2000
Tolkien J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings.Boston.Houghton Mifflin Co. 1994
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