10

Gandalf confirms it would have happened to Frodo if untreated.

If they had succeeded, you would have become like they are, only weaker and under their command. You would have became a wraith under the dominion of the Dark Lord [...]

However, Dwarves are said to be immune to the effects of the rings.

For the Dwarves had proved untameable by this means [...] Though they could be slain or broken, they could not be reduced to shadows enslaved to another will [...]

If becoming a wraith means being under the Witch King's command by force of will, would a dwarf be immune? Would anything different happen to a Dwarf over a Hobbit or other race?

  • Initial guess would be no, they couldn't be. But I've nothing to back that up – user46509 Aug 3 '15 at 15:33
  • Does this mean that it's an issue that Thorin is so affected by the Arkenstone? (I haven't read The Hobbit for a long time and I'm not sure what was added/changed for the films - apart from 'a lot'). – ThruGog Aug 3 '15 at 23:07
7

We don't know; I'm inclined to argue "no", though my argument is less solid than I'd like.

The Morgul-spell

Unfortunately we know little about the enchantment placed on the Morgul-blades. What we do know is that it's tied very closely with the long-term effect of wearing a Ring of Power. The best description of this "wraithification" process comes from an early draft of what would become chapter 2 of Fellowship of the Ring:

Yes, if the Ring overcomes you, you yourself become permanently invisible - and it is a horrible cold feeling. Everything becomes very faint like grey ghost pictures against the black background in which you live; but you can smell more clearly than you can hear or see. You have no power however like a Ring of making other things invisible: you are a ringwraith; and your clothes are visible, unless the Lord lends you a ring. But you are under the command of the Lord of the Rings.

History of Middle-earth VI The Return of the Shadow Chapter III: "Of Gollum and the Ring"

This is a very early draft (1938ish), and the full text includes many details that were later changed, but the idea of a ringbearer slowly becoming wraithlike stayed in-place, at least with Men, so I'm inclined to take this description as it stands. In fact, it's worth comparing this to an observation of Frodo's, not long after he was wounded:

Frodo threw himself down, and lay on the ground shivering. His left arm was lifeless, and his side and shoulder felt as if icy claws were laid upon them. The trees and rocks about him seemed shadowy and dim.

Fellowship of the Ring Book I Chapter 12: "Flight to the Ford"

It would appear, then, that the effect of the morgul-wound is extremely similar to the "wraithification" effect of the ring1. In fact, in his early drafts, Tolkien suggests that the two effects (that of the wound and that of the Ring) feed off one another; he writes of a conversation between Gandalf and Bingo (proto-Frodo):

'What happened at the ford?' asked Bingo at last. 'It all seemed so dim somehow, and it still does.'

'Yes!' answered Gandalf. 'You were beginning to fade. They would have made a wraith of you before long - certainly if you had put on the Ring again.

History of Middle-earth VI The Return of the Shadow Chapter XII: "At Rivendell"

What about Dwarves?

As was already pointed out in the question, Dwarves appear immune to the wraithifying effects of the Rings of Power. This is another idea with a long history in the narrative; in an early draft, Tolkien writes:

The dwarves is is said had seven, but nothing could make them invisible. In them it only kindled to flames the fire of greed, and foundation of each of the seven hoards of the Dwarves of old was a golden ring.

History of Middle-earth VI The Return of the Shadow Chapter III: "Of Gollum and the Ring"

And in a later draft, he writes a slightly weaker version of the same:

The dwarves proved tough and intractable: for they do not lightly endure any obedience or domination (even of their own kind). Nor are they easily made into shadows.

History of Middle-earth VI The Return of the Shadow Chapter XV: "Ancient History"

Although I'm clearly engaging in some pretty heavy speculation here, it would seem likely that the Dwarves would, indeed, not be susceptible to that effect of the Morgul-blade2.


1 This may sound like me speculating, but I have Christopher Tolkien on my side; in his commentary some early drafts, he says:

[T]he idea has now entered that the wound of the Ring-wraith's knife produces, or begins to produce, a similar effect to that brought about by putting on the Ring: the world becomes shadowy and dim to Bingo [later Frodo], and at the end of the chapter he can see the Riders plain, beneath the black wrappings that to others cloak their invisibility.

History of Middle-earth VI The Return of the Shadow Chapter XI: "From Weathertop to the Ford"

2 Although, in fairness, it's not entirely clear who is susceptible. The spell certainly doesn't always apply, as Micah points out in an answer to a related question, but without a larger sample size we can't say much conclusive on the matter.

  • You are usually spot on in your answers Jason, but this time there is absolutely no basis for your conclusion of "no" in the body of your answer, not a single argument, unless maybe I missed something. – Joel Aug 6 '15 at 14:45
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    @Joel I've edited for clarity. Though I'm not exactly standing on solid ground, my argument is that the Dwarves aren't affected by the wraithifying effects of the Rings, so they're probably not affected by the Morgul-blade either – Jason Baker Aug 6 '15 at 17:40
  • Yes, much clearer. +1 :-) – Joel Aug 8 '15 at 17:18
1

When the dwarves were first created they were made with qualities to survive the evils of Morgoth,as it says in the Silmarillion.That's why they're so tough.Morgoth was far more powerful than Sauron ever was,so no I don't think it would be possible to turn one into a wraith.

  • Dwarves were the creation of Aule, only Eru had to breathe life and spirit into them. They were put to sleep in the mountains until the first children of Illuvatar had awoken. Sauron was a Maia under Aule, and said to be his greatest apprentice. When Sauron forged the ring, part of his essence was cast into it, meaning whoever possessed it would find themselves bent to it's will (being getting back to it's owner). Just like the Dwarven rings, the one ring likely would've turned them to greed for gold and possession. This is just their characteristic, not strength of will. Men like land... – John Bell Aug 18 '15 at 13:41

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