R TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is the first book in the fantasy-based trilogy of the Lord of the Rings. The book begins with Bilbo Baggins celebrating his one hundred and eleventh birthday. After his party, he then decides to leave everything behind and join a Fellowship, which has a task of destroying the Ruling Ring, which will give Supreme Power to whoever has possession of it. Just before he leaves, Gandalf asks Bilbo for this ring. Due to the power in which the ring possesses while the ring is in his possession, he does not want to give it up. The novel ends with the destruction of the Fellowship due to the power in which the ring contains. One of the prime facts of the Middle Earth is power. Power is not neutral, but is always evil. It gives wicked the chance to dominate. The good is corrupting and inescapable (Levitin 575). This is shown repeatedly throughout the novel, from when Bilbo gives up the ring, to when Boromir tries to take the ring, and finally, to seeing the control that the ring has over Frodo.
One incident in the book, which corresponds with how power is evil, would be when Bilbo had to give up the Ring. The ring is very powerful. The power is so enticing that Bilbo is very weary to give up that ring. When Gandalf asks Bilbo if he wishes to give up the ring, Bilbo seems unsure saying yes and no. When it came to having to give it up he didn’t like parting with it at all and didn’t see why he should have to (Tolkien 55).
Due to the power in which Bilbo feels that the ring had given him, he doesn’t want to part with it. By no means does Bilbo want to use the power in an evil manner to dominate all. It is just the thought of power itself that causes this greed to come over him. Although Bilbo in general is a good character, the power of ring corrupts his ways, showing his thirst for power, which he deserves.
Another incident, which portrays this corruption of goodness to evil, is when Boromir approaches Frodo and tries to take the ring from him. Boromir has authority, which is being heir to the throne of Gondor, but not the supreme power that he desires. This is yearning for both power and authority is what gives him a turn for the bad. When Boromir and Frodo are talking about possession of the ring, Boromir screams in an outrage saying that if any mortal is going to have the ring it going to be the men of Numenor, and not Helflings. He says how the ring should be his (Tolkien 470). This shows that the power of the ring has made Boromir thirsty for power. Even though he is a good man, this incident leads to his departure from the Fellowship.
The evil power of the ring is seen once again in this book when Boromir is chasing Frodo. Frodo hears the ring chanting to him to use its power. At this point he does It was the only thing left he could do. He pulled out the ring upon its chain and slipped on his finger with Boromir leaping at him (Tolkien 470). Due to the fact that Frodo listens to the evil chanting ring, he decides to pull it out and use it’s power for himself. After realizing the power it gives him, he becomes greedy and uses it again and again throughout the course of the novel. This realization causes him to leave the Fellowship and keep the ring for himself.
The idea of power only being evil, instead of neutral, is seen throughout The Fellowship of the Ring time and time again. No matter whether the characters, in general, are good or evil, the thought of having the supreme power makes them greedy. It doesn’t matter whether you want the power to do good or bad, the thirst for power always makes you appear evil through the eyes of others.
Levitin, Michael. “J.R.R. Tolkien” Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol. 12. Detroit:
Gale Research Company, 1980.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Fellowship of the Ring. New York: Ballantine Books, 1982.