The One Ring was only willingly given up twice in its existence. Once by Bilbo when he gave the Ring to Frodo, and once by Sam when he returned the Ring to Frodo (He put it on a few times in the books).
There are a few more instances where the temptation of the Ring was resisted but for Today we will only look at the people who wore it, as well as giving it up willingly.
Who Handled the Ring:
– Déagol: (Gollums brother)
– Gandalf: Gandalf holds the ring for a somewhat shorter period of time in the movie than he does in the books. And it’s in an envelope when he does so, so it’s arguable that he didn’t really “hold” the ring at all.
– Boromir (in the movies): Holds only the ring-chain not the actual Ring
Official Ring bearers that wore the ring on their fingers:
– Sauron: He forged the One Ring for himself in c.1600 (Second Age) and bore it for c.1,840 years until his defeat in the Siege of Barad-dûr in 3441 (Second Age).
– Isildur: Against the advice of Elrond and Círdan, he took the Ring for himself. He did not bear it long – two years later, Isildur was ambushed by Orcs and the One Ring was lost in the Anduin, where it lay hidden for most of the Third Age.
– Gollum: He took the Ring from Déagol, and soon hid with it in the roots of the Misty Mountains. He bore it in the dark for almost five hundred years.
– Tom Bombadil: He wore it on his finger for a moment on 27 September III 3018, but was famously unaffected by it. The reason that Tom was immune to the effects of the Ring remains an abiding mystery.
– Sam: Sam did not wear the ring on his finger in the movie. He just wore the necklace. But in the books of The Two Towers and Return of the King, he does spend some time (two days) with the ring on, hiding from the Orcs who come and take Frodo’s unconscious body to Cirith Ungol.
The question then remains how did Bilbo and Sam manage to give up the ring?
Sam may have had the following contributing factors that made it “easier” for him to give up.
- Hobbits are naturally more resistant to the influences of the ring than other races. As Gandalf the Grey noted:
“Soft as butter they can be, and yet sometimes as tough as old tree-roots. I think it likely that some would resist the Rings far longer than most of the Wise would believe.”
The Ring tends to have the greatest impact on people with desires of being powerful and having strength of which Hobbits have none. This can be for a good reason or bad.
- Sam had only been carrying the ring for a short time, the longer the ring is in someone’s possession, the more addicted they become to it.
- Sam’s love for Frodo was too great for the ring to corrupt.
- The ring may have sensed that it had a greater chance of returning to its master through the already corrupted Frodo, rather than having to start fresh with Sam.
As for Bilbo, one needs to consider additional factors:
– Bilbo: At the time Bilbo became At this time Sauron believed his Ruling Ring was lost so he was not exerting all of his Maiar powers to find it, or the person who found it. This means Bilbo may not have felt the entire power of Sauron pulling at him through the ring
– Frodo: By contrast, poor Frodo Baggins had to deal with the fact that Sméagol/Gollum had tipped Sauron off not just to the fact that his Ruling Ring had been found, but where it was being held. As Gandalf the Grey told him:
“Mordor draws all wicked things, and the Dark Power was bending all its will to gather them there. … Yes, alas! through him the Enemy has learned that the One has been found again.”
It is thus understandable that Bilbo would have been able to give the Ring away easier than poor Frodo, who would have had it the most difficult of them all.