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Recently I watched the first Lord the of the Rings movie, Fellowship of the Ring. Gandalf takes a envelope and throws in the fire, and picks it up and gives it to Frodo and asks him if he can see any writing on the ring.

Initially the script does not show on the ring and eventually the Elvish (As Frodo says) script becomes visible. When Frodo says he can actually see it, Gandalf appears to be upset/disappointed that he can. What does this mean? It seems like the One Ring chooses its bearer. I'm strictly speaking from the Movie and his reaction, does Tolkien ever go into more depth about this?

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4 Answers 4

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Gandalf is upset because the fact that Frodo sees the writing means that it is The One Ring. It's as simple as that, as that (throwing in the fire) was the test to determine if it was in fact The One Ring.

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I think the implied question is: why is Gandalf upset that Frodo can see the writing, since Gandalf can see the writing for himself and determine whether it's the One Ring anyway? –  Theodoros Chatzigiannakis Aug 3 at 19:16
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Wasn't Gandalf trying to keep it as far away from himself as possible at that point? I got the impression he was asking Frodo because he couldn't actually see it himself. –  mskfisher Aug 3 at 23:30
    
@mskfisher and there's angle. Depending on how he was holding the Ring, the writing on it may have been obscured to Gandalf but not to someone standing a few feet away from him. –  jwenting Aug 4 at 8:12
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Using the mordor speach is what is painful/ should not be done. As we see later in the movie (cant remember if he does this in the book) Gandalf starts to speach in mordor tongue in the last homely house and shadows descend and his voice booms and everyone gets scared and nervous, elrond even scolds gandalf for using it. –  Himarm Aug 4 at 13:57
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@TheodorosChatzigiannakis Gandalf does not wish to touch the one ring so he has frodo put it into the fire and take it back out then, he askes frodo if writing apears... Knowing that IF writing appears that proves once and for all that it IS the One Ring. –  Himarm Aug 4 at 14:00

In the books Gandalf already knows the ring is the One Ring, or at least he's pretty sure it is. Immediately before he throws the ring into the fire the conversation is:

"Revenge?" said Frodo. "Revenge for what? I still don’t understand what all this has to do with Bilbo and myself, and our ring." "It has everything to do with it," said Gandalf. "You do not know the real peril yet; but you shall. I was not sure of it myself when I was last here; but the time has come to speak. Give me the ring for a moment."

So the point of throwing the ring into the fire is to show Frodo that it's the One Ring. In the book Gandalf is not disappointed to find Frodo can see the letters because he already knows what the ring is. It's a long time since I saw the film and I remember little about it, but presumably in the film Gandalf's disappointment is for dramatic effect.

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In the book Gandalf just returned from an extended research-trip concerning the one ring. He interrogated Gollum and he has good reason to assume, that it's the ring. And assuming he does. But I always thought, that throwing the ring into the fire was one last test, maybe an unnecessary one, but one that makes it irrefutable. –  Einer Aug 3 at 8:01
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@Einer Gandalf is specific about that. Well before they put the ring in the fire, he says to Frodo: "There is a last test to make. But I no longer doubt my guess." –  Daniel Roseman Aug 3 at 11:06

At that point Gandalf knew that if it's the one ring, it must be destroyed. And he knew, that only the fires of Mount Doom can do that. And he knows, that it will not be easy to accomplish that: Probably good people will die in this course. And if they (whoever the fellowship would be) succeed everything will change in middle earth, for example he and the elves will leave it. If they don't succeed... nightmare!

That all of this is now going to happen, becomes apparent when the inscription becomes visible: It is the one ring! Gandalf's fears became true. And that upsets him.

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He's not upset that Frodo can read it; he's upset that it can be read at all.

He suspected that it was the One Ring and now anticipates that Frodo's fate is now tied to it, for better or for worse. His visible response is resignation: that is it the One Ring; that it is a problem that must be dealt with; and that the solution will be costly.

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