97 pages 3 hours read

J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1955

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.

Symbols & Motifs

The One Ring

The One Ring is the most significant object in the novel and symbolizes evil and the temptation of absolute power. Regardless of the wearer’s intentions, the Ring holds a corruptive strength, and each character’s interaction with it becomes a test of their willpower and integrity. Elrond explains, “Its strength […] is too great for anyone to wield at will, save only those who have already a great power of their own. But for them it holds an even deadlier peril. The very desire of it corrupts the heart” (261). Elrond, Galadriel, and Gandalf, the wisest beings in Middle-earth, refuse to take the Ring because they understand that it will pervert their extraordinary powers of good and degrade them with equal strength into evil. The Ring functions as a warning, not necessarily against a desire for power but against the abuse of power.

The Ring’s power also involves forcing the individual’s will into servitude, an exercise of absolute control. Because the strength of its influence is relative to the wearer’s own powers, the Ring is safer in the hands of the hobbits. The hobbits represent qualities that constitute goodness: nature, autonomy, peace, humility, craftsmanship, pleasure, simplicity, contentment, and song.