that by refusing to accept the power of the Ring she will be helpless to maintain the elvish presence in Middle-earth. Galadriel thus represents one answer to the immoralist's challenge of Plato. She refuses to let the possibility of power corrupt her soul. Boromir and Galadriel demonstrate two different responses to the problem posed by Plato concerning the relationship between power, personal choice, and morality. With these two characters, unlike Gollum, we see the actual moment of choice. But although the responses of Boromir and Galadriel are different, one aspect of their choices is the same: neither ever physically possesses the Ring. What of the characters that do choose to use the Ring? Do the actions help us understand the relationship between power, corruption, and morality? Here we must turn to Tom Bombadil, Frodo, and Sam.The Use of the Ring Perhaps the most interesting being that uses the One Ring is Tom Bombadil, the Master
of the Old Forest. Bombadil is, unfortunately, cut from the movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring, but readers of the book will remember the arduous journey of the four hobbits through the Old Forest, and their eventual rescue (two rescues, actually) by Bombadil, a being who appears to have complete command over all the living things of the Forest. Who is Bombadil? No clear explanation is ever given in The Lord of the Rings. He is not a wizard, nor an elf, nor a mortal man. His wife, Gold berry, describes him to Frodo quite simply: "He is, as you have seen him . . . . He is the Master of wood, water, and hill" (FR, p. 140). And Tom describes himself as "Eldest . . . here before the river and the trees." He remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn, made pathsbeforetheBigPeopleandsawthelittlePeople arriving." He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless-before the Dark Lord came from Outside" (FR, pp. 148-4 9). Tom is called "Iarwain Ben-adar" by Elrond during the Council, a name that means "oldest and fatherless" (FR, p. 297). Whoever he is, he is surely one of the most powerful and benign characters that the hobbits meet in their journey acrossMiddle Earth. In the midst of their conversations together, Tom asks to see the "precious Ring." Frodo, "to his own astonishment," draws out the Ring from its hiding place and simply hands it over to Tom. Tom laughs as he holds the Ring, looks through it with one eye, offering the hobbits "a vision, both comical and alarming, of his bright blue eye gleaming through a circle of gold." But then the most extraordinary event occurs: Tom puts on the Ring and does not disappear. It has no power over him, and he gains no power from it. He does a quick magic trick with the Ring, spinning it in the air and causing it to momentarily vanish, so that when Frodo gets the Ring back he is a bit perturbed. Is it the real Ring? Frodo puts the Ring on, and vanishes from sight- but not from the sight of Tom.