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Month: December 2016

Could Sauron have Unmade the One Ring?

Could Sauron have Unmade the One Ring?

ANSWER: As given above, this question does not adequately represent exactly what I was initially asked but it would make a ridiculously long short article title. Here is the original message sent by a reader numerous months back, in its entirety. I shall do my finest to answer it completely:

Michael, do you think that, if Sauron ever restored the one ring, he might have “broken” or “un-forged” it so as to launch and regain the excellent part of the power that was intrinsic in him from the start? Just like Feanor breaking the Silmarils and releasing the light of the 2 trees.

Maybe he would lose the ring-wraiths, but he already had enormous powers over his servants and other individuals of middle-earth at the time of the War of the Ring, while not being in possession of the ring.

It seems like a Sauron with all the powers he had in the First Age would be unstoppable, and he would not have a vulnerability through a separate, physical ring that could be lost, drawn from him, or damaged.

Do I think Sauron would have wished to unmake the One Ring? No. The way Tolkien composes Sauron’s character, destroying the Ring never ever strikes him. He is just intent upon restoring it so that he can be whole once again according to the method he intended himself to be.

sauron-e1348474315182That is, when Sauron made the One Ring in the top place it was to improve his own personal power, to make himself more like Morgoth. Sauron wanted to increase his power, not reduce it. Here is how Tolkien described the result of the Ring in Letter No. 211:

… You can not press the One Ring too hard, for it is of course a mythical function, despite the fact that the world of the tales is developed in more or less historic terms. The Ring of Sauron is just one of the different mythical treatments of the placement of one’s life, or power, in some external object, which is therefore exposed to catch or destruction with devastating lead to oneself. If I were to ‘philosophize’ this misconception, or a minimum of the Ring of Sauron, I must say it was a legendary method of representing the fact that potency (or maybe rather potentiality) if it is to be worked out, and produce outcomes, has to be externalized therefore as it were passes, to a greater or less degree, out of one’s direct control. A male who wishes to put in ‘power’ must have subjects, who are not himself. But he then depends upon them.

Considered that he never noticed the danger that Frodo’s mission represented, Sauron never considered the possibility of ruining the Ring. So Tolkien informs us.

Naturally, what we are asked to consider is not whether Sauron would simply damage the Ring however whether he would think about aiming to recuperate the power he had actually bestowed upon the Ring to himself. Is that possible inning accordance with the undeclared guidelines of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth?

I don’t think there is any definitive answer to this concern. In my opinion Sauron’s choice was irrevocable. If he could have recuperated the power from the Ring, why didn’t he do so when it was unmade? He was rendered helpless. Had he tossed the One Ring into the fire himself I do not think his fate would have been any different. However could he have just willed the power back into himself? Perhaps with long and mindful study he might have created a way to transfer power from the Ring to himself. Tolkien discussed in a note released in Morgoth’s Ring that Morgoth had distributed a few of his power into the creatures that served him. Hence, the transfer of power from one reasonable being to another is possible in Tolkien’s world.

The Ring was a rational being, or part of a rational being. It acted with its own will and purpose, but that was actually Sauron’s will and purpose. Some individuals have actually compared Sauron and the Ring to a multiple personality, where one personality remained Sauron (deteriorated) and the other personality ended up being the Ring (likewise damaged). Together they were more powerful than the initial personality.


Sauron’s strategy was always to keep the Ring with him. He never planned to lay it aside or be parted from it in any way. Tolkien says that when NĂºmenor was damaged Sauron’s spirit was easily able to carry the Ring with him back to Mordor, where he incarnated himself once again. Hence, when Isildur took the Ring from Sauron’s dead body, prior to his spirit might recover its focus sufficiently to take the Ring to security, Sauron’s scheme fell apart. He had no contingency prepare for recovering the Ring.

It might be that Tolkien felt Sauron didn’t understand that he would become weaker with each death. Tolkien notes that it took Sauron longer and longer to re-incarnate himself each time. Had he merely been killed at the end of the Third Age, without the Ring being damaged, he would presumably have actually needed much more than a thousand years to become strong enough to form a brand-new body once again.

Here is an excerpt from “Note on Motives in the Silmarillion”, a philosophical essay Tolkien composed in 1959 or later on, in which he talked about a few of the distinctions between Sauron and Morgoth:

Sauron was ‘greater’, successfully, in the Second Age than Morgoth at the end of the First. Why? Since, though he was far smaller by natural stature, he had actually not yet fallen so low. Eventually he likewise squandered his power (of being) in the endeavour to gain control of others. However he was not obliged to use up a lot of himself. To gain supremacy over Arda, Morgoth had let the majority of his being pass into the physical constituents of the Earth– for this reason all things that were born upon Earth and survived on and by it, monsters or plants or incarnate spirits, were liable to be ‘stained’. Morgoth at the time of the War of the Jewels had actually ended up being permanently ‘incarnate’: for this factor he was afraid, and waged the war nearly entirely by methods of gadgets, or of subordinates and dominated creatures. Sauron, however, acquired the ‘corruption’ of Arda, and only invested his (much more minimal) power on the Rings; for it was the animals of earth, in their minds and wills, that he desired to dominate. In this way Sauron was also better than Melkor-Morgoth. Sauron was not a newbie of discord; and he probably understood more of the ‘Music’ than did Melkor, whose mind had always been filled with his own plans and devices, and provided little focus on other things. The time of Melkor’s greatest power, for that reason, remained in the physical starts of the World; a large demiurgic lust for power and the achievement of his own will and designs, on a fantastic scale. And later on after things had actually become more stable, Melkor was more interested in and capable of handling a volcanic eruption, for example, than with (say) a tree. It is undoubtedly probable that he was just unaware of the small or more delicate productions of Yavanna: such as little flowers.

To state that Sauron was more powerful in the First Age than toward the end of the Second Age is a mistake. His power was always with him until the Ring was taken from him. While he wore the Ring Sauron was more powerful than he had actually been prior to the Ring’s making. Even if he thought it might be possible to restore himself to what he had actually been in the past, he would have viewed that as an action backwards and away from his desire. He just would not have actually done it.