The Atomic bomb was an extremely destructive uranium-type nuclear weapon which was used during the end of World War II. Atomic Bombs were invented by the Manhattan Project between 1942 and 1945, during World War II. They exploited the fact that Uranium is unstable in more than tiny quantities and will naturally begin a cascade of ever-accelerating reactions in which the atoms fall apart explosively. Neutrons released trigger other atoms of uranium to collapse and soon the whole thing explodes. The United States used these weapons to end the war, and the bombs became both a deterrent to attack in the 20th and 21st centuries, and a threat used by the two major superpowers during the Cold War (the USA and USSR).
The A-Bomb and the One Ring
- "I cordially dislike allegory."
- —Tolkien's famous quote
Many people thought that the One Ring was the symbol standing for the Atomic bomb. This is incorrect; Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings in 1937, long before the start of the Manhattan Project. Some say that though it isn't the symbol of the Atomic Bomb, it could symbolise something like it. Besides that, Tolkien loathed allegory in all its forms, so it is highly unlikely that he made this reference. Many have found in Tolkien's masterpiece a story that condemns power, destructive acts, autocracy, and intolerance. Although others think that the opposite could be lurking just underneath.
Tolkien's famous quote about how he disliked allegory has had profound and rippling effects throughout the decades on Tolkien scholarship and the way his books have been read. However, it could be argued that in seeking to insist that he did not write an "allegory", he in fact reduced the "applicability" of his work. His statement "I think many confuse applicability with allegory may have been built on a basis of false mutual-exclusivity. There is, indeed, a certain pattern of one-to-one substitutions that is of interest when reading, Lord of the Rings, although it is one that requires coming at the story from a slightly different angle than usual.
Other interpretations for the Ring have came up too: Tom Shippey has compared it to a narcotic drug, and the ring-bearers behavior to an addiction; Adam Roberts has likened it to a wedding ring, playing on Tolkien's use of the world "bound"; Robert Eaglestone has related it to technologically enabled invisibility, trough, in Tolkien's day, bureaucracy, and, more recently, trough the internet and CCTV.
That being said, Tolkien intensely disliked the weaponry of modern war, often referring to it as 'Orc-work'. His comment on the airplanes, which his son Christopher piloted during World War II: "My sentiments are more or less those that Frodo would have had if he discovered some Hobbits learning to ride Nazgûl-birds 'for the liberation of the Shire'." (Carpenter, Humphrey, ed., JRR Tolkien, author, Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (USA: Houghton Mifflin, 2000 AD), Letter 100, p. 115.) He condemned the atomic bomb in a letter to his son Christopher Tolkien, on 9 August 1945: "The news today about 'Atomic Bombs' is so horrifying one is stunned. The utter folly of these lunatic physicists to consent to do such work for war-purposes: calmly plotting the destruction of the world!" (Carpenter, Humphrey, ed., J.R.R. Tolkien, author, Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (USA: Houghton Mifflin, 2000 AD), Letter 102, p. 116.)
An Act of Mass Destruction
On the day the Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, it came as a genuine surprise. The Japanese radar had picked up the planes, but because there were only seen to be a small number, three, and air raids warnings were cancelled; due to the demand on their resources by the war, the Japanese could not commit themselves to intercepting, or properly identifying the purpose of, small formations.
When the bomb, followed by the Fat Man at Nagasaki three days later, was dropped, the destruction in the cities was total, and the war was conclusively ended. America was by then the unchallenged military power in the world.
Let us establish the equivalents for each of these details. That Sam, Frodo, and Gollum are akin to the three planes is obvious enough: small targets, sneaking in, detected but allocated no significant resources afterwards due to the war still being in full swing. The Ring is undiscovered.
Now when the Ring is dropped (accidentally) its end is a purposeful and desired act of mass destruction. Take what Sam sees upon exiting Mount Doom: "and then all passed. Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like and overwhelming wave and its wild crest curled and came in foaming down upon the land".
A beautiful description, but one, of an event involving enormous, sweeping, total destruction. Moreover, take Tolkien's description of what happened when Sauron realises what was going on: "throughout his realm a tremor ran, his slaves quailed, and his armies halted, and his captains suddenly steerless, bereft of will, wavered and despaired". It is an event with society-wide implications: it is the event that will win the war, not just due to its physically destructive effect, but also because of the effect of total demoralisation.
Afterwards, Aragorn II establishes the promised autocracy: he mimics the global activities of post-war Allies as he "pardons" the Easterlings, "gives" the slaves of Mordor their land, and generally calls on people to participate in "perceiving the mercy and justice of the King". That is instead of demanding reparations and punishing economic hardships on those who waged war on the West, he begins with a clean slate and makes active efforts to build wholesome, healthy economies, just as the Allies did with Japan and Germany and financial assistance.
- Atomic bomb at Wikipedia
- One Ring - Symbolism of the One Ring: Encyclopedia II - One Ring - Symbolism of the One Ring, part I article at Experience Festival
- One Ring - Symbolism of the One Ring: Encyclopedia II - One Ring - Symbolism of the One Ring, part II article at Experience Festival