The Fellowship Of The Ring Essay, Research Paper
The Fellowship of the Ring
Lord Acton once said, “Power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He was probably referring to the powerful kings and queens who held power over many people. But, we could see how power is something many of the characters in Tolkien’s story are trying to have and hold onto in some form or another. In The Fellowship of the Ring J.R.R. Tolkien tells us a story about Frodo Baggins who is ordered by Gandalf to destroy the powerful ring discovered accidentally by his older cousin, Bilbo. Like the rest of the hobbits, Frodo has lived quite peacefully and well, not having to worry about how dark and dreary the rest of Middle Earth was becoming under Sauron’s growing power. Now, Frodo, a small, serene creature, will have to combat the most powerful force on Middle Earth, Sauron, and, in doing so, save Middle Earth from being destroyed completely. Tolkien is telling us that power motivates many of us in our lives. However, he seems to be warning us against how corrupting and evil power can become, as some misuse the ring (the symbol of this power) continuously in this story. We should be more like Gandalf and Galadriel in knowing what power truly is. Power is found inside of ourselves and in our heart and not by defeating others and ruling over them by word or through deeds.
Both Gandalf and Galadriel know what power is and do not try to gain more and more of it. They know that having too much power can harm them in the end and would make them evil creatures, working for Sauron. In telling Frodo about the possible journey up ahead, Gandalf warns him about the ring and states, “I should not make use of it, if I were you” (59). The powerful wizard knows that the ring is full of power. He is wise, as all wizards are, to know how too much power can be dangerous. We can see this more clearly when Gandalf says, “It is far more powerful than I ever dared to think at first, so powerful that in the end it would utterly overcome anyone of mortal race who possessed it. It would possess him” (70). After having said this, he tells Frodo how this ring of doom originated. Clearly, Gandalf is wise enough to know that behind all that power lies weakness and evil. Even if one might first use the ring for something good and meaningful to others, it will eventually possess that person and make that person the slave to the ring. Galadriel even knows this quite well. Frodo offers her the ring, since he believes she deserves it the most and also knows how to control it. When Frodo tells her this, Galadriel seems to be strongly tempted to take the power offered by Frodo. She tells him, “For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold!” (431). The exclamation point reveals to us how Galadriel might be really taken in by the thought of power at this moment and how raptured she is in this thought. But, she too is wise as Gandalf is. In the end, she even tells Frodo, “We will not speak more of it” (431). She knows that even speaking about such power can bring about destruction. Interestingly though, Galadriel seems to be almost crazy at this moment, presenting herself to Frodo while relating to him what “good” she could bring to her elves. The ring is so alluring. Too much of a good thing cannot last long. She is wise enough to stop thinking about this ring of power that Frodo has to destroy on this terrible journey to Mount Doom. So, in relating this to my own life, I sometimes act like Gandalf and Galadriel in trying to stay focused on what is most important in my life. Yes, I might want to rest and lounge around on the sofa and watch television or rent a video but I try to make sacrifices knowing that doing an English essay is more important for me, as saving Middle Earth and the elves was important for those two! In this story Gollum thinks that the ring is something that pleases him. Power is pleasure for Gollum, and the ring gives him pleasure. Actually he is very obsessed about it. But, Gandalf is not. Galadriel is not also. I try to sacrifice what is pleasing in the short run to work on this essay so as to be happier later.
However, Boromir does not truly know how evil the ring can be. He thinks that he could do great things for his people if he were to use the ring. He is thinking in terms of conquering evil forces in battle and combat. He thinks that, if he were king or lord and were to have enough power to maintain his position, all the problems in Middle Earth would dissolve. Boromir thinks out loud to himself and says, “But if you wish to destroy the armed might of the Dark Lord, then it is folly to go without force into his domain; and folly to throw away” (435). Boromir is referring to the ring when he states “and folly to throw away.” Actually, as we read later, Boromir did not intend to say this but he himself made a “folly” in saying this out loud so Frodo, who is nearby, can hear. Frodo is now able to see a clear picture of Boromir and what he might be capable of in his quest to gain power. Frodo “caught something new and strange in Boromir’s glance”(435). Obviously, Boromir was too quick to be making his thoughts loud enough for Frodo to hear. The power of the ring would definitely not suit Boromir. He would clearly misuse it, even though he might think that he is using it properly. What Boromir does not understand is that the ring can make him evil, as Gandalf clearly knows and as Frodo is beginning to understand. While Gandalf and Galadriel view “power” as something they can hold onto and something that brings peace and happiness to everybody on Middle Earth, Boromir thinks that power is something that grows and grows. Power for more power for more power. In the end, power itself will conquer him. I can relate, in some way, how my own father was like Boromir once. My father used to smoke everyday. When his friends came to the house, he would smoke with them outside in the patio and would not stop smoking until they left. Smoking is something that he has started to do and is something that grew on him. He was not able to stop, even if he wanted to. Power is very obsessive, as it was for Boromir. Here, my father was addicted to smoking cigarettes, and this power of smoking controlled him in almost every way. He might have thought that he would be able to control smoking, as Boromir thought that he could control the power of the ring. I am grateful, though, that he does not smoke any more. Unfortunately, he had to learn it the tough way by suffering a minor heart attack.
So, both Gandalf and Galadriel knew what power really was. The ring was something that could have destroyed the whole of Middle Earth. And, no army in the whole of Middle Earth would be able to fight against the evil forces of Sauron. Gandalf even knew that he was no match for Sauron. So, they had to believe in Frodo, a simple hobbit. They had to view power as something that came from inside them. They had no choice but to believe and hope in Frodo and continue to hope that he would make it to the top of Mount Doom. When Gandalf had chosen Frodo to save Middle Earth, he placed a lot of hope in him, believing that he was the only one who could do it. However, as I showed in this essay, Boromir only saw how he himself could gain power. What he did not know was that, once he had power, he would be thirsty for more. And, it would not be just any kind of power but a power to do whatever it would take to maintain his power, like Gandalf’s old friend and wizard Saruman. Tolkien would definitely not approve of Boromir and how he tries to gain power for himself. Frodo Baggins would have to suffer the most to destroy the evil power represented by the ring of doom. It would be the hardest for Frodo to resist this power. The author probably knew that when he wrote the book. It would take courage and strong will on his part to go all the way to Mount Doom to destroy the ring. Frodo is small, not as strong as Boromir is and not as wise as Gandalf is, but he still had that power inside of himself. Although The Fellowship of the Ring ends with Frodo continuing on his journey with his companions, he will be able to destroy the ring because of the hope he has. He has no choice but to hope in himself because he knows near the end of this story that he is the only one who could destroy the ring. And, Frodo must destroy the ring because he must save Middle Earth. He has no choice but to believe that power is something inside himself and not found by defeating others and ruling over them as Boromir had thought.