Use of Symbolism in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

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Use of Symbolism in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

"One Ring to rule them all,

One Ring to find them,

One Ring to bring them all

and in the Darkness bind them"

(1 Lot R II, 2 The Council of Elrond)

One of the masters of British Literature, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien has the unique ability to create a fantasy world in which exists a nearly endless supply of parallelisms to reality. By mastering his own world and his own language and becoming one with his fantasy, Tolkien is able to create wonderful symbolism and meaning out of what would otherwise be considered nonsense. Thus, when one decides to study The Ruling Ring, or The One Ring, in Tolkien's trilogy "Lord of the Rings", one must not simply perform an examination of the ring itself, but rather a complex analysis of the events which take place from the time of the ring's creation until the time of its destruction. Concurrently, to develop a more complete understanding of the symbolic nature of the ring, one must first develop a symbolic understanding of the characters and events that are relevant to the story.

This essay begins with a brief background of Tolkien's life, followed by a thorough history of the "One Ring" including its creation, its symbolic significance, its effect on mortals, and its eventual destruction. Also, this essay will compare Tolkien's Ring to the Rhinegold Ring of Norse mythology, and will also show how many of the characters in the trilogy lend themselves to Christ-figure status. By examining the Ring from these perspectives, a clearer understanding of its symbolic significance will be reached.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, an English scholar and storyteller, became fascinated by language at an early age during his schooling at, pa...

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...ublishing Co., 1970.

Grundy, Stephan. Rhinegold. New York: Bantam, 1994.

Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. New York: Ballantine, I--1954, II--1955, III--1956.

(References to The Lord of the Rings (LotR) are by volume, book number, chapter number and chapter title.)

Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. The Silmarillion. New York: Ballantine, 1995. (References to The Silmarillion are by chapter name)

Works Consulted

Carter, Lin. Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings. New York: Ballantine, 1969.

Kocher, Paul H. Master of Middle Earth. New York: Ballantine, 1972.

Petty, Anne C. One Ring to Bind Them All: Tolkien's Mythology. Mobile: Univ. of Alabama Press, 1979.

Ready, William. The Tolkien Relation. Chicago: Henry Regenery Co., 1968.

Schlauch, Margaret. The Saga of the Volsungs. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1978.
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