Why Does the One Ring have Such an Obsessive-Possessive Effect?

The One RingA questioner over on sci-fi.stackexchange asked this question on regards to the One Ring in J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings asks “Considering the ring wants to return to its master, why do current possessors of the ring feel such a strong desire to keep it?”I believe it comes down to the desire of power and control beyond established and ordained limits, and the loss of identity and inability to see into the hearts of others if you succumb to it.

As explained, those who already are powerful are more readily tempted to try to use the ring for their own purpose. Slightly different but interrelated, the desire for control (“binding”) is great in those who already have power – especially among the wise of Middle Earth among whom rightly should have passed to the West already.

The Nazgul had a desire of power and control, as mortal kings among Men. The later Numenorians wanted to be able to thwart death and become immortal like the elves. This is to establish control that is contrary to the gift of mortality. Their mortality and short life spans made them especially attractive targets.

Sauron was a Maiar originally; like Morgoth (the most powerful Valar), his original boss, Sauron wanted to establish a grand kingdom that encompassed all of Middle Earth, and for that matter, Arda, perhaps to stave off Fate. With each defeat, Sauron became less able to control his outer appearance, eventually being defined only by his most singular feature of power and control: the Eye of Sauron. The desire for power and control consumed his individuality. What was left is exactly what was in the One Ring, which is the endless desire for power and control. Those who wear it, therefore, are tempted based on scale with their initial nature.

Because of the loss of identity, the One Ring, much like the blindness of Sauron (blind to the possibility that anyone would want to destroy the One Ring) afflicts the long term wearer, but otherwise doesn’t have much sophistication beyond its own simple, evil, but overwhelming drives. It cannot place complicated suggestions into the minds of the wearer, but it can enhance what is already in the wearer. Like Paul suggests, it cannot roll its way to Mordor; at best, it can expand and contract, grow heavier or lighter, in the presence of those who are closer to its nature. It didn’t go crazy when it was close to Mt Doom, the only place it could be destroyed. It did however detect the power there.

In short, the One Ring inspires the desire of power and control in anyone, because it doesn’t possess the ability or wisdom to choose to withhold it.  The overwhelming desire for power and control is contrary to the natural order, intelligence and choice.

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