Temptation and Its Pull
Temptation is a strong force in this novel that, at one point or another, shows itself to each of the main characters when they are weak and most willing to give in - Temptation and Its Pull introduction. The things they are tempted with are usually what they most desire in their hearts, making it much more difficult not to give in. Temptation; however, is not used solely for evil in this novel. It can bring people to do much good on occasion by affirming their sense of morality and ability to resist evil. Never the less, they each must partake in a battle with temptation and must choose to either overcome it, or give in to it.
In this novel, Tolkien uses temptation as the main driving force for the development and maturation of his characters. Frodo Baggins is the most obvious character that develops through his temptations. There are many occasions on which the powerful ring, that Frodo carries, tempts Frodo, but one specific incident is when Frodo is confronted by Ring Wraiths in a surprise ambush. Here Frodo is, “hardly less terrified than his companions,” however, “his terror [is] swallowed up in a sudden temptation to put on the ring” that compels, “him to disregard all warnings” given to him by Gandalf (191).
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Frodo is changing significantly because before he wouldn’t have even dreamed of ignoring Gandalf’s advice and didn’t feel as strong of a desire to put the ring on. Frodo is losing some of his identity and innocence in the ring. It is not that Frodo put the ring on out of fear, which would be more understandable; he put it on out of desire to feel the power associated with the Ring. With the ring Frodo feels selfish and hateful desires; even toward Bilbo, his closest relative, when he has the ring. However, not all of the temptations faced degrade Frodo’s character.
After a failed attempt at crossing the Caradhras Mountains, Frodo is given a choice as the ring bearer, to either,”’ go on, or return to Rivendell (287). ’” Frodo remains resolute in his duty to carry the ring saying, “I wish I was back there… But how can I return without shame- unless there is no other way, and we are already defeated (287)? ” Through this temptation it is shown that Frodo is loyal to his mission just as Sam is loyal to him. Frodo is given the option between paradise and a long hard journey and he chooses the hard journey in order to help save Middle-Earth.
He considers the safety of others above his own comfort, proving not only that he is strong in will, but that Hobbits are made of tougher stuff than what people think. Many of the characters that are met in this story are faced with temptation and grow, as opposed to degrade, because of it. Such as in the Shire after Frodo learns the importance of the ring and offers it to Gandalf because he thinks it would be safer with him. Gandalf immediately cries, “’No! … With that power I should have power too great and terrible. And over me the Ring would gain a power still greater and more deadly (60).
” With this temptation, Gandalf’s wisdom, and strength to resist, is shown and eventually comes to help him when he is trapped by Sauroman in Isengard. While there he is given a choice, “This then is the choice before you, before us. We may join with that power. It would be wise, Gandalf. There is hope that way (253). ” Because of the previous temptations, Gandalf is able to create his own choice, choosing to defy Sauromon rather than join with him. The complete defiance of temptation in Gandalf throughout the story matures him into the driving force of good in the story.
The final, and perhaps the most influential denial of the Ring is made by Galadriel when Frodo says, “I will give you the One Ring, if you ask for it. It is too great a matter for me (356). ” She responds by saying, “You will give me the Ring freely! In place of a Dark Lord you will set up a Queen… I pass the test… I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel (356-357). ” Through this encounter the will power and strength Galadriel has is shown as she denies incredible power for herself.
The power that could have been gained by accepting the Ring would rival that of even the Dark Lord. This victory over temptation develops Galadriel’s character as one that resembles an impenetrable wall of good and hope. She may fade away, but she will never be broken by the enemy. However there are some in the story not affected by the pull of the ring. Tom Bombadil, a powerful being in his realm, “put [the Ring] to his eye and laughed… Then Tom put the Ring round the end of his little finger and held it up to the candlelight…
Then they gasped. There was no sign of Tom disappearing (130). ” Tom’s resistance to the Ring not only develops his own character, but develops Frodo’s character too, although in a bad way. This makes Tom’s image in the likeness of Christ because evil has no hold on him. However, Frodo now becomes greedier in regards to the ring and it causes him to put on the ring for the first time. This signifies the beginning of the slippery slope Frodo has stumbled upon; on which, he will be tempted many more times to put on the ring.
All of these examples come together to present a vast wave of temptation that affects most of the characters’ thoughts and actions throughout this novel. Tolkien brings to light new things about each character through their trials and tribulations. Their ability to resist their desire for power and wealth are tested to the maximum when the characters are at their breaking point. In order to prevail from the experience, the characters must be pure in heart and strong in will. Those that do not have what it takes are weeded out and their true intentions are exposed.