4.6. Conclusion on the Ring
The significance of the Ring can be summarised in the following ways:
4.6.1. Both tangible and symbolic
The Ring at once is the reality of Evil in the world, and symbolises, in all its nefarious ways the very nature of evil and the way that it works.
4.6.2. a real embodiment of evil for acceptance or rejection
Its presence personifies the opportunity that all people have for the exercise of free will and choice, and to make morally correct or incorrect decisions
4.6.3. a symbol of power - evil and unbridled power - harnessing the evil will
It is a symbol of the nature of power and control which will lead to the destruction of a free person's ability to choose the path that he or she may take. The exercise of unbridled power and domination is the antithesis of free will and free choice.
4.6.4. the harnessing of evil to do "good" - the means dictates the end
No good will come from the exercise of an evil means, but evil can be averted if it is not used and the acquisition of the evil object is not accompanied by evil means. Moral goodness will prevail over the evil will.
4.6.5. operates on a physical and a spiritual level
Evil can operate on the physical level to the destruction of others, and on the spiritual level to the destruction of the self. Evil action, accompanied by evil will is totally destructive of freedom
4.6.6. is both real and symbolic typifying evil manifested by behaviour and motive and evil as an inchoate anti-moral force
Evil is a reality in terms of behaviour and motive. It can be observed and demonstrated. At the same time, it is also a concept, the antithesis of moral action and will and is therefore ever present until the Last Battle and the end of all things.
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The Tolkien Encyclopedia
The Art of Tolkien
One Ring to Rule Them All by David Harvey
Hypertextual System by FMI Publishing, 1995