Monday, October 26, 2009

There and Back Again: An Addict's Tale

The Lord of the Rings covers many various themes throughout the trilogy: brotherhood, spirituality, good vs. evil. In class we covered many of these themes and beat them to death in discussion and in-class writings. We never really touched on a theme that I found to be prominent throughout the three books: addiction. Tolkien claims to not have any sort of premeditated social comentaries inserted into the books but I don't know if I can possibly ignore the fact that the Hobbits are definitely going through problems that seem like drug addiction.

Bilbo's reaction to Gandalf's taking of the Ring and making sure it goes to Frodo is one of the most prominent parts of the series that touches on addiction. According to , a non-profit health website, some mental and emotional signs of addiction include "increased irritability, agitation and anger, paranoia, delusions, and lowered threshold for violence." During the scene I've chosen from The Fellowship of the Ring Bilbo seems to have many if not all of these symptoms towards Gandalf. He becomes suspicious and annoyed of Gandalf even suggesting leaving the Ring behind for Frodo to watch over.

The more the Ring is put on Frodo it seems to consume him more and more. The burden becomes heavier both mentally and physically. Gollum is a character that seems to be the user so consumed by his addiction that it is all he cares about. He killed for it and is willing to do anything for it, much like an avid drug addict.

This theme never deteriorates but is prominent even to the destruction of the Ring. Frodo journeys for three books to destroy his addiction, but in the end he seems to "relapse". He does not let go of the Ring even when he's about to finish his task and can't bear to part with it. It is only Gollum's strong lust for the Ring that destroys it.

I may be going out on a limb with this blog, but I've always felt this theme was not only prominent but also one of the stronger themes of the story. Tolkien may claim to have no premeditated themes or societal reflections but I don't know if I completely believe him.

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