In the Lord of the Rings, the One Ring corrupts the people near it, and it seems to have a stronger effect on anyone who sees it or touches it. Sauron and the Ring Wraiths also seem to be able to sense the One Ring when someone wears it.

Once the Council of Elrond decided to destroy it, why did they not take additional steps to help their people resist the temptation of the ring?

Put the ring into a small lockbox. Or, better yet, solidify molten metal around it. Do something so that the One Ring cannot be worn, seen, or touched without great difficulty. You can still cast the container into the Crack of Doom, and the ring would be destroyed along with it.

There are clear literary reasons for the lack of such preparations, but if there are in-story reasons not to take any such steps, I would like to know.

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    I think the literary reasons are one and the same; can you expand on that? Often mentioned is "the strength of men" and that it has failed. Nothing will avail you except your own perseverance. Locked in a box, Boromir might have away-ed with it, to deal with the packaging in secret, in due time. It must be dealt with in the open. Secrets, lies, obfuscation; these are the things that lead to the dark side.
    – Mazura
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 18:50
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    "In story" is irrelevant for two reasons. (1) Because JRR Tolkien wasn't a D&D playing munchkin, (2) nor was he an engineer (he was a philologist). . Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 20:16
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    @KorvinStarmast Couldn't the same be said for all storytellers and their stories? This entire Stack is meant to be answered with in-story/in-universe answers. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 20:34
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    @ToddWilcox Fair point. I think my inner point was that since Tolkien never asked and answered that question himself, which he did for a lot of other elements behind the tale, the question is as well out of context, like "Why didn't Einstein invent a space travel method?" Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 20:43
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    There is a significant difference between the movies and the books, because in the movies, Frodo uses the ring in a situation were it turns out to be not a good idea and never uses the ring again. This renders the ring completely useless and indeed better encased the way you suggest, however, in the books, the ring is not that useless and will be used in some situations, when there is no other choice, hence, it was really bad if the ring was encased in solid metal in these situations. Of course, in-universe, the characters don’t know what will happen and could consider to encase it…
    – Holger
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 9:58

4 Answers 4


It would possibly have had a negative effect on the bearer if they could not see it.

I tried locking it up, but I found I couldn’t rest without it in my pocket. I don’t know why. And I don’t seem able to make up my mind.’ A long expected party

Here we see Bilbo getting anxious because the ring is locked (presumably in just a chest)

It also would not have altered the ring's malevolent hold over the bearer's mind, as Gandalf says to Denethor

Denethor; yet if you had received this thing, it would have overthrown you. Were it buried beneath the roots of Mindolluin, still it would burn your mind away, as the darkness grows, and the yet worse things follow that soon shall come upon us.’ The Siege of Gondor

In addition, (credit to user void_ptr) the bearer of the ring would have struggled to accept such an attack on the ring.

Frodo is unwilling to hand the ring on its chain to Gandalf and is distressed by it being heated in his fire.

‘Well then, look!’ To Frodo’s astonishment and distress the wizard threw it suddenly into the middle of a glowing corner of the fire. Shadow of the Past

This is a similar reaction to early words of Isildur.

and maybe were the gold made hot again, the writing would be refreshed. But for my part I will risk no hurt to this thing: of all the works of Sauron the only fair. It is precious to me, though I buy it with great pain. The Council of Elrond

In short, it wouldn't have done much good and would have risked destabilising the bearer even more so.

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    To add to this (I'm only speculating though), the ring would likely have resisted encasing it in molten metal, etc. - to the point where no one would have actually been able to do that. From what I remember (don't have quotes handy), it was incredibly hard to even try to harm the ring - even with something which would have done no harm to it at all. The ring appeared utterly beautiful and precious to everyone.
    – void_ptr
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 21:29
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    The Ring also expanded or shrank in order to fit the bearer. In Isuldur's case, it expanded in order to fall from the finger of the bearer. It may have had additional capabilities that would have resisted encasing, as hinted at by @void_ptr . Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 15:18
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    An even better question might be, what exactly does putting the ring on one's finger do? E.g., how is this different from holding the ring in one's hand? Or perhaps even putting it on some other appendage?
    – void_ptr
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 19:37
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    @void_ptr I hope you're thinking of toes!
    – user46509
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 19:38
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    They sent Frodo to destroy the ring, when he could not even stand to let it be sealed away. Now that's a hopeless scenario (which good fiction demands, of course).
    – Keen
    Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 8:07

I think everyone has touched nicely on the problems. Even buried in a hunk of metal, there were going to be people who would worry and obsess over the thing. Mind experiment: Imagine the paranoia of the bearer of the hunk-embedded Ring, when others start walking around with THEIR hunks of metal claiming that the One Ring was inside. Eventually, the ring's hold on its victims would force someone to break the hunk of metal-- just to see if the Ring was still there!

Once you accept the literary concept of the One Ring bearing a terrible spell, bending the minds of its victims, it pretty much limits what anyone other than Tom Bombadil (or other resistant entities) can do with it.

The reason Elrond and Gandalf and Galadriel wanted to destroy (and not "hide") the Ring is they could sense the threat it held, even to them-- the threat it could EVENTUALLY seduce them into believing they could do good with it. This threat shuts off any attempt to hide it, move it, bury it, encase it or whatever. Because someone would know where it is. And, at the very elemental level, its former Master and his servants could always sense it and would be forever seeking it.

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    Also the fact that destroying the ring was the only way to win. Sauron had an army that was going to destroy mankind whether he retrieved the ring or not. Hide the ring? Lose. Sauron gets the ring? Double lose. Destroy it? Win. Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 22:37
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    @PremierBromanov True, though I'm pretty sure that throwing it into Mt. Doom will be equally effective, even if it is encased in a little metal.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 5:37
  • @PatrickM well then its a logistical problem, and thats a can of worms im gonna avoid lol Commented Jan 13, 2016 at 15:18
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    The OP wasn't suggesting hiding it instead of destroying it. The suggestion was to help resist temptation while carrying it to be destroyed. This answer seems to be answering a different question than the one asked. Commented Jan 14, 2016 at 16:53
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    There is no need to encase the ring in metal, just to fill it with metal.
    – Joshua
    Commented Sep 29, 2016 at 18:33

Excellent answers, but I would like to add one additional point: had the Ring been unable to be worn, say at Rivendell, the quest would have failed. The Ring was worn to good effect twice:

  1. When Boromir tried to take the Ring, Frodo used it to escape him.
  2. Sam used it to escape orcs in Minas Morgul.

In both of these cases, it is highly likely the Ring would not have been destroyed. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. But the Fellowship at least had the freedom to use the Ring as a last resort, and it proved needful.


There are some good answer here, especially user46509's top-ranked answer. I'd like to add two related reasons not to do this:

First, what Men (or Elves) can do they can undo. Asking Frodo to carry a Ring he could not touch would have just made the temptation all the worse (just tell someone that they can't have the goodies set out before them and the goodies' attractiveness increases). And the Ring would have played on this human foible and made it worse.

Before he got to Mordor, Frodo would have been battering the chunk of metal with rocks trying to get at the Ring inside. Even if he failed -- very likely -- this would have distracted him from his task and would likely have called unwanted attention to him.

Second, unless it was done very carefully, this would have seemed to Frodo a sign that he was not really trusted by the Council. Not a good way to motivate people to do their best!

Sometimes trust is the best strategy.

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    "just tell someone that they can't have the goodies set out before them and the goodies' attractiveness increases" -> As a parent of a 4yr and 2yr old, this is too accurate Commented Jul 11, 2023 at 14:41

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