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Tolkien's Middle-earth:

Lesson Plans for Secondary School Educators

Unit Four: One Ring to Rule Them All

Content Focus: The Lord of the Rings, Book One
Thematic Focus: Power, Corruption, and Responsibility


Although the Dark Lord, Sauron, bears the plural epithet "Lord of the Rings," the plot of Tolkien's novel turns primarily on the last such artifact to be forged: the infinitely malevolent and endlessly ambiguous One Ring. In the opening chapters, Tolkien lays out this astonishing concept in sufficient detail that students can immediately begin grappling with its thematic implications.

Learning Goals

By the end of Unit Four, the student should be able to:

• Distinguish among the One Ring's various metaphysical aspects.

• Appreciate Lord Acton's insight into the corrosive effects of power.

• Explain why Bilbo "took so little hurt" from his ownership of the Ring.

• Suggest why the murder of Déagol will resonate through the rest of the novel.

• Theorize about Frodo's willingness to assume responsibility for the Ring.

Unit Four Content

Comments for Teachers
Preliminary Quiz
Key Terms
Discussion Topics
Suggested Activities

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These lesson plans were written by James Morrow and Kathryn Morrow in consultation with Amy Allison, Gregory Miller, Sarah Rito, and Jason Zanitsch.

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