. Alas, not me: Wile E. Coyote and the One Ring

05 March 2021

Wile E. Coyote and the One Ring

 What does Wile E. Coyote have to do with the One Ring? Consider the words of Gandalf in The Shadow of the Past:

It was not Gollum, Frodo, but the Ring itself that decided things. The Ring left him....

The Ring was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from Isildur’s hand and betrayed him; then when a chance came it caught poor Déagol, and he was murdered; and after that Gollum, and it had devoured him. It could make no further use of him: he was too small and mean; and as long as it stayed with him he would never leave his deep pool again. So now, when its master was awake once more and sending out his dark thought from Mirkwood, it abandoned Gollum. Only to be picked up by the most unlikely person imaginable: Bilbo from the Shire!
Thus Gandalf provides us with the strongest argument for the supposed agency and sentience of the One Ring. Let us review, however, the events the old wizard is summarizing:
  1. The Ring leaves Isildur as he is swimming across a great river, at the bottom of which it remains lost for 2,500 years.
  2. Discovered by Déagol, it is taken from him by his murderer, Gollum, who hides in the dark beneath the Misty Mountains with it for another 500 years.
  3. Finding Gollum no longer useful -- after 500 years in the dark beneath the Misty Mountains -- it fell out of his pocket to lie on the ground in the same dark beneath those same Misty Mountains, until someone should happen by to pick it up.
If we believe that the Ring consciously chose to leave Isildur, consciously chose Sméagol over Déagol as more apt, and consciously chose to fall out of Gollum's pocket, then the Ring is an idiot on a par with Wile E. Coyote. Every choice the Ring makes ends like one of the Coyote's plans to catch the Road Runner. 

 More to come.

And, yes, Wile E. Coyote does look like he's holding onto a finger.


  1. Hyperborealis, please resubmit your comment. I accidentally deleted it when I meant to publish it. My apologies for the mistake.

  2. On beyond brilliant. Your best yet.

    Devil's advocate :). Ring biding time until Sauron reconstitutes himself. Should it stay aboveground then inevitably someone would have used it to supplant Sauron, which the Ring, as Sauron's, does not want. But leaving Gollum once Sauron is stirring again, presumably to be picked up by one of the orcs Gollum dines on, seems quite canny. Just saying!

    What agency has evil? Tolkien needs it here in a literary sense, to be able to hint by at the providential agency underlying this deeply Catholic book. But possibly he needs it theologically as well. This seems to me to be the real issue you are debating in coming back to the Ring's sentience again and again.

    David Joslin

    1. David,

      There is something to what you say, but what I have come to think is that men and elves find the ring so tempting because of the power it seems to offer to defy death and hold back time. It also obviously offers the power to attain one's goals. That power is like a gravity well that pulls everything towards it, and the greater the thing pulled upon, the greater the attraction.There's so much more to say here. I am working on it