Does Sauron accomplish what Morgoth could not; break the unat and penetrate the barrier of unwill?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Gandalf seems to imply that Sauron can command the Three (even against the unwill of their bearers) and lay bare all that they have wrought (despite the resistance of unwill). "He only needs the One; for he made that Ring himself, it is his, and he let a great part of his own former power pass into it so that he could rule all the others. If he recovers it, then he will command them all again, wherever they be, even the Three, and all that has been wrought with them will be laid bare, and he will be stronger than ever."

The Ring inscription (incantation) also points to this objective: “One Ring to rule them all. One Ring to find them. One Ring to bring them all. And in the Darkness bind them.”

So, has Sauron managed to find a way to break the resistance of the unwill? Does he do it by Ring of Power, (two Rings of Power – his and his target’s) which the target has already accepted and used?

Or, was Sauron deluded? His Ring Magic could not work against unwill? It only worked on the Mortal Men to whom he gave Rings because they were willing? It did not work on Dwarves or Elves because they were not? In this case, is Gandalf wrong when he says that if Sauron recovers the One Ring, “then he will command them all again, wherever they be, even the Three, and all that has been wrought with them will be laid bare, and he will be stronger than ever.”?

Indeed, has Sauron realized that his Ring Magic failed to break the barrier of unwill? Gandalf says that Sauron, “knows now that it has not perished, that it has been found. So he is seeking it, seeking it, and all his thought is bent on it. It is his great hope and our great fear.” But, is Sauron bending all his thought on it? Is he ‘seeking it, seeking it’? We have evidence that Sauron is not seeking the Ring very urgently. It was at least a year (maybe much more) between Sauron learning that the Ring existed (from Gollum) and having the Nazgul cross the Anduin. Even then, it was about three months after crossing the Anduin before the Nazgul crossed the Isen and headed to look for ‘Baggins’ in The Shire. Did Sauron realize that repossessing the Ring was both useless to him, and unnecessary to his plans? Did Sauron only get urgent about reclaiming the Ring due to worry about it falling into the hands of someone powerful enough to set themselves up as a rival Ring-lord?

How are we meant to relate JRRT’s conception of the impenetrable barrier of unwill in ‘The Nature of Middle-earth’, to the conception in TLOTR that Sauron, through the One Ring, can ‘bind’ and ‘rule’ the other Rings, and, presumably, their bearers?
 

Halstein

Active Member
I interpreted the unwill to stop others to look into your mind, and to communicate. As I see it, even if I might well be wrong, Sauron might discover what the other rings have wrought, and the location of their wearers, but not look into the ring-wearers minds. Maybe "listening in" on their planning and doing at most.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
I interpreted the unwill to stop others to look into your mind, and to communicate. As I see it, even if I might well be wrong, Sauron might discover what the other rings have wrought, and the location of their wearers, but not look into the ring-wearers minds. Maybe "listening in" on their planning and doing at most.
Hi Halstein,

I think 'Rule them all', and 'In the darkness bind them', on the Ring inscription, imply the intent to penetrate the barrier of unwill, and dominate, reveal, and rule the samar of the unwilling. That is the power for which Sauron traded "a great part of his own former power," when creating the Ruling Ring.

Either Sauron, with his Ring magic, was clever enough to achieve what Morgoth could not, or, Sauron's sacrifice of a part of his former power was in vain, as the Ring Magic did not work, and the unwilling (in this case, Dwarvish and Elvish Ring-bearers) remained impenetrable (in which case, some of Gandalf's assumptions were wrong).

Of course, all this is if we interpret TLOTR in light of JRRT's thoughts transmitted by 'The Nature of Middle-earth'. This is always a dubious endeavor, as we have seen that JRRT's musings post LOTR changed frequently, and we do not know what his ultimate thoughts or interpretations might have been.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
How are we meant to relate JRRT’s conception of the impenetrable barrier of unwill in ‘The Nature of Middle-earth’, to the conception in TLOTR that Sauron, through the One Ring, can ‘bind’ and ‘rule’ the other Rings, and, presumably, their bearers?
We do see the Sauron cannot even break Gollum's unwill towards himself. He had to torture him. So I highly doubt he could conquer the unwill of the elven lords and ladies involved.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
We do see the Sauron cannot even break Gollum's unwill towards himself. He had to torture him. So I highly doubt he could conquer the unwill of the elven lords and ladies involved.
Hi Odola,

In your example of Gollum, Sauron could not break Gollum's unwill, but he did not have the double Ring magic to deploy to do so. The question is whether Sauron's Ring Magic gambit could circumvent the inviolate nature of unwill through the work around of using two Rings (one held by the target, the other being the Ruling Ring, held by Sauron) to lay bare and dominate the minds of others despite unwill?

I doubt that Sauron could break the inviolate nature of unwill, as this would mean breaking the nature of Eru's world. However, if thus, then Gandalf would be wrong in many of his statements in 'The Shadow of the Past'.

What I actually think is that JRRT would have cottoned on to this problem and thrown out or revised his 'Osanwe-Kenta' essay and come up with something different.
 

Odola

Well-Known Member
Hi Odola,

In your example of Gollum, Sauron could not break Gollum's unwill, but he did not have the double Ring magic to deploy to do so. The question is whether Sauron's Ring Magic gambit could circumvent the inviolate nature of unwill through the work around of using two Rings (one held by the target, the other being the Ruling Ring, held by Sauron) to lay bare and dominate the minds of others despite unwill?

I doubt that Sauron could break the inviolate nature of unwill, as this would mean breaking the nature of Eru's world. However, if thus, then Gandalf would be wrong in many of his statements in 'The Shadow of the Past'.

What I actually think is that JRRT would have cottoned on to this problem and thrown out or revised his 'Osanwe-Kenta' essay and come up with something different.
I think the ring works more via channeling of power, not via the "will" route. Because the powerfull are the most vulnerable and the powerless less so. And power is easily manipulated and usurped.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
I think the ring works more via channeling of power, not via the "will" route. Because the powerfull are the most vulnerable and the powerless less so. And power is easily manipulated and usurped.
'Rule them all', seems to me to imply subjugation of the will as the intent of the Ruling Ring.
 
My guess is that Sauron indeed made the rings in order to enter the minds of their bearers and circumvent their unwill. But at the same time entering the an unwilling mind is an únat. I guess that he didn't know that it was an únat, or maybe he didn't care and could not do other than try nevertheless. Also his master Melkor tried to change únati in vane and "from this proceeds unceasing and unappeasable rage". It is like his meaning and purpose of life, he just can't stop trying.
Let's not forget that the Ring verse, the last stancas of the Ring poem are made by Sauron. So they don't tell the truth, only his hope.
Gandalf's quote I interpret likeHalstein. Furthermore Gandalf is wise but not unfailing.
 

Forodan

Active Member
This is a fun one. While I can't formulate a conclusive answer, there is some evidence that has not been considered:

First, as Tolkien writes in the Letters:
"The Ring of Sauron is only one of the various mythical treatments of the placing of one's life, or power, in some external object, which is thus exposed to capture or destruction with disastrous results to oneself. If I were to 'philosophize' this myth, or at least the Ring of Sauron, I should say that it was a mythical way of representing the truth that potency (or perhaps potentiality) if it is to be exercised, and produce results, has to be externalized, and so as it were passes, to a greater or lesser degree, out of one's direct control. A man who wishes to exert power must have subjects, who are not himself. But he then depends on them."
-- Letters, #211, p. 279
We see the same principal applied many times in Tolkien's work. Yavanna cannot create new Trees once the vital and unique Two are killed. Feanor knows he cannot make the Silmarils again. (And also, honestly, in Miriel's total exhaustion in giving birth to Feanor is the same idea.) The ships of the Teleri that Feanor callously steals and then burns are also such unique works. This principle holds for any great work, not only for 'evil' or 'exploitive' works.

Therefore it seems that the great "Ring Smiths" of Eregion put something of their souls into the Rings of Power (at least the Great Rings) in some sense and were then committed in a way that could not be revoked or recalled. Thus they could not bring themselves to destroy the Rings when:
As soon as Sauron set the One Ring upon his finger they were aware of him; and they knew him, and perceived that he would be master of them, and of all that they wrought. Then in anger and fear they took off their rings. But he, finding that he was betrayed and that the Elves were not deceived, was filled with wrath; and he came against them with open war...
-- The Silmarillion, Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age
And it therefore seems unnecessary for Sauron to have "penetrated the barrier of unwill" to enslave the Ring-wearers. They had invested themselves, their 'souls', into the Rings or would invest themselves into what they were going to do with them if they weren't the original creators. The very essence of the project of the Rings of Power was to 'externalize' the powers of the soul/spirit somehow in order to gain greater power over the physical world. The Elves were putting themselves at risk for power as much as Sauron was. Sauron merely hoped to 'envelope' their own creations in his greater creation, The One Ring. But as the text says, they were aware of him. He didn't anticipate the reciprocity of the link.

Based on this alone, I don't think it is necessary for Sauron to have broken the barrier of unwill. The intended victims were putting their own necks into the chains, and he was merely receiving their submission. Or would have, if it had gone according to plan.

The next problem is a bit different. The Rings turned out to be capable of completely enslaving mortals to Sauron's will. But does that mean their wills were directly 'overcome' by the Rings? They seem rather to have become exhausted. As mortals, their "life energy" in the world was limited, and when it ran out they 'merely continued' as Gandalf puts it. If in this state of exhaustion they no longer had the will to resist, does that really violate the principle of 'unwill' being absolute? But this was plainly not the intended effect. All of the Rings were intended for Elves, and it was only after Sauron repurposed some of them that this 'unintended consequence' emerged.

Again, this doesn't seem to me to require the violation of that principle of the individual will being absolute over one's own mind.

But there is one more possible reference that is much more difficult to refute: the Witch King's threat to Eowyn:
“Come not between the Nazgûl and his prey! Or he will not slay thee in thy turn. He will bear thee away to the houses of lamentation, beyond all darkness, where thy flesh shall be devoured, and thy shriveled mind be left naked to the Lidless Eye”
-- The Witch-King of Angmar to Éowyn in The Return of the King, The Battle of the Pelennor Fields
That sure does sound like the violation of the mind regardless of will. Hmm... but he doesn't give a time frame. Perhaps Sauron could hold a prisoner's "soul" much like the Rings held the Nazgul if he had direct physical custody? And over centuries, a similar sort of exhaustion of the will might occur. Or maybe the author just didn't have the issues fully sorted out in his own mind. :)
 
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Jim Deutch

Well-Known Member
But there is one more possible reference that is much more difficult to refute: the Witch King's threat to Eowyn:
Perhaps it was an empty threat (or at least exaggerated). Eowyn might have held up as well as Hurin, and defied Sauron until it was he that was exhausted!
 
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