Bilbo Had A Ring

Bilbo had a ring.

That’s how it starts. Arguably the greatest work of fiction ever written. A nondescript little hobbit in the back end of nowhere called The Shire had a ring. I’ve started re-reading ‘The Lord of the Rings’ again and, some time ago, promised to share my thoughts on it with you all. Those of you who ‘don’t do’ Tolkien may want to look away now, the rest of you welcome to my take on all things Middle Earth.

Addiction and jealousy. No, not the plot from some 21st century soap opera, but these are the themes that leapt from the pages of the first 50 pages of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring.’ Most of Hobbiton is jealous of the mysterious Mr. Baggins. His neighbours gossip over supposed treasures hidden away in his home at Bag End. The related Sackville-Baggins covet his hobbit hole and mutter darkly about it being left to his young nephew, Frodo.

They covet what does not belong to them. When Bilbo vanishes into thin air at his eleventy first birthday party there is a near riot the following day as half The Shire descends upon chez Baggins to plunder and pilfer what is not theirs. Young Frodo, a mere 33 years old, does his best to stem the tide of greedy hobbits flooding into the hobbit hole in search of family heirlooms and dragon’s gold. It’s an ugly scene, reminiscent of many post funereal disputes over a contested will.

Bilbo is long gone, off adventuring again with three dwarves on the road less traveled. He left without the ring, but not without a fight. Gandalf had to reveal a hint of his true self to ensure ‘my precious’ did not depart with him. The hobbit’s obsession with it showed a darker side to his nature, as its evil power warps and distorts even the purest of souls. It destroyed Sméagol and there, but for Gandalf, Bilbo was also headed until he reluctantly departed without the one true ring.

Is there a one true ring in your life? It could be alcohol, drugs or food? A person in your life who is sucking you dry? An addiction ruling your every waking thought and, try as you might, you cannot walk away. Compulsions which hang heavy round your neck as the ring later hung heavy round young Frodo’s neck on the tortuous trek through Mordor towards Mount Doom. But for his best friend it would have destroyed him. Gollum never had a Samwise.

Such addictions dazzle and enthral at first, they are magical, and lift you high above the drudgery of daily existence. They make you feel special, a cut above the rest, providing the buzz or kick you’ve been missing your entire life. How did you survive this long without it? You’re flying high, at 40,000 feet, and nothing or nobody can stop you. For you know best and those that intervene are nothing but jealous party poppers.

An intervention in the Shire. For that’s what it was. Tough love from the most powerful wizard in Middle Earth. Yet even he struggled to break the hold this piece of dwarfish forged metal had on Master Baggins. That is addiction. It brings all to their knees if allowed to infiltrate defences and boundaries. It becomes the blackest most malignant force at the swirling centre of your out of control existence. It destroys everything in its path.

Addiction and jealousy. Two themes that run throughout this epic tale. Two themes that my teenage self no doubt glossed over when I first read the trilogy many moons ago. Funny what a few decades difference can make. If only I had known then what I know now. On second thoughts, scratch that thought. Leave young Stephen alone to enjoy the magic of Tolkien. There will be plenty of time for the other stufff in the years to come.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

25 thoughts on “Bilbo Had A Ring

  1. I read The Hobbit first. Then I read Lord of the Rings because everyone else was reading it – and in those days I read everything to the end, however turgid it was in places (probably why I’m such a scanner now. Altogether I’ve read the trilogy three times and I still couldn’t tell you what came where – or even if it was in there or some other book).
    When we first meet Gollum in The Hobbit I recognised him from my nightmares. There was something undefined about him that made me shudder. Smeagol in the trilogy was never so frightening. Like most of our horrors, I suppose, once we get to know them better.


  2. How wise you are to quickly dispense the ‘if only’. That in itself can become a weight around our necks as we try to rise above our current place. The value of our lives is not in the past, but in the present. Good stuff, my friend.


  3. Very clever, I never thought of the ring in terms of addiction or unhealthy attachment. It makes perfect sense, of course, and that’s likely what Tolkien designed. Do you ever wonder WHAT makes Lord of the Rings so enviably beloved? Perhaps people already know… (I have never read The Lord of the Rings. When I was a child I read the Hobbit but remember nothing about it). Is it because he spent so much time crafting his world? His linguistic abilities? I often wonder what makes one writer better than the others. Obviously, some people are far better at verbiage than others but once you reach a certain level of skill, what differentiates authors?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A telling parallel, nicely explained. I still haven’t read the book, but have watched the film, several times. Your analysis suggests I’ve missed out on a lot of detail. Maybe I need to make it my ‘summer read’ for next year.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love those last two sentences…

    Tolkien’s work is incredible. I’ve read LOTR maybe four times throughout my life (so far) and I glean different things from it each time as well. Now that’s the sign of a good book(s)!
    Also—fun fact: did you know that Tolkien led C. S. Lewis to Christ?
    Blew my mind when I learned that! I knew they were close friends and part of the Inklings, but didn’t know that part of the story.


  6. That’s an interesting take, I’d never thought of those themes before. I’d always read the themes of Tolkien’s writing in the scope of his experiences in The Great War. Have fun reading! I just finished reading The Silmarillion (again).


  7. Very enjoyable post. As a Christian Science fiction writer I spent good part of the other day thinking over the subject of addiction. It’s physical and spiritual effects, even decades after, but I never thought of it from a Tolkien perspective. Thank you for the insight.


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