In The Lord of the Rings Gandalf said to Saruman:

There is only one Lord of the Ring. And he does not share power.

In the conversation between Frodo and Gandalf, when Frodo offered the ring to Gandalf, he said:

I would use this ring from a desire to do good... But through me, it would wield a power too great and terrible to imagine.

What is he speaking about here that would happen if either Gandalf or Saruman had the ring? Ultimately, would it land to Sauron or would each one of them have turned to another Dark Lord?

  • 6
    Isn't this the basis of the entire plot… that the ring corrupts. [I think every character who holds it gets their own special 'all the lights go dark & my eyes go staring mad' cutaway, just in case we hadn't got that yet.]
    – Tetsujin
    Nov 2, 2022 at 17:41

1 Answer 1


Both scenarios you suggest are what Gandalf fears if they do not destroy the ring, either:

  • The ring is kept by someone weaker, like Bilbo or Boromir. They are eventually overpowered by Sauron's forces, and the ring is returned to Sauron who will use it to overpower Middle Earth.

  • The ring is taken by someone who is powerful enough to wield it, initially for good, but because of the corrupting nature of the ring, will eventually fall and become no better than Sauron.

This second scenario is most clearly shown in The Fellowship, in two occasions when Frodo offers the ring first to Gandalf:

  You cannot offer me this ring.

  I'm giving it to you!

  Don't tempt me, Frodo. I dare not take
  it, not even to keep it safe.

  Understand, Frodo...I would use this Ring
  from a desire to do good...but through
  me, it would wield a power too great and
  terrible to imagine.

And secondly to Galadriel. This scene is particularly telling because it shows how much the ring tempts people with power, and that Galdriel knows that it would essentially possess her, and that she would no longer be herself:

            FRODO (V.O.)
  If you ask it of me, I will give you the
  One Ring.

  You offer it to me freely...I do not deny
  that my heart has greatly desired this.

Galadriel suddenly seems to rise in stature before Frodo's
eyes. Frodo is suddenly afraid of her.

            GALADRIEL (CONT'D)
  In place of the Dark Lord, you would have
  a Queen, not dark, but beautiful and
  terrible as the Dawn. Treacherous as the
  Sea! Stronger than the foundations of
  the earth...all shall love me and

Galadriel suddenly laughs...a slender Elf-woman once more,
clad in simple white, her voice soft and sad.

            GALADRIEL (CONT'D)
  (gently) I pass the test.
  (laughs) I will diminish and go into the west and
  remain Galadriel.

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