Megan N. Fontenot, A Weapon With a Will of Its Own: How Tolkien Wrote the One Ring as a Character, Tor.Com, Science fiction. Fantasy. The universe. And related subjects, Jan 1, 2020
In September 1963, Tolkien drafted yet another of a number of letters responding to questions about Frodo’s “failure” at the Cracks of Doom. It’s easy to imagine that he was rather exasperated. Few, it seemed, had really understood the impossibility of Frodo’s situation in those last, crucial moments: “the pressure of the Ring would reach its maximum,” Tolkien explained…
The fact was that the Ring had become far more than an artifact or even a semi-sentient being with its own corrupt motivations. It was, Tolkien wrote in 1958, “a mythical way of representing the truth that potency (or perhaps rather potentiality) if it is to be exercised, and produce results, has to be externalized and so as it were passes, to a greater or less degree, out of one’s direct control. A man who wishes to exert ‘power’ must have subjects, who are not himself. But he depends upon them” (Letters 279). This statement—that power is in fact the potential for action and that it must be external to the one who exercises it—is in fact a remarkably sophisticated political theory, one that later, renowned socio-political philosophers like Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, and Giorgio Agamben would write about in great depth.
Megan N. Fontenot