More Scholarly Fun
Omar Ha-Redeye and Jacob Kaufman reveal The Lord of the Rings's true nature as an epic story of property law at Law is Cool:
The novel The Lord of the Rings was a phenomenon. The movie trilogy based upon it has grossed over a billion dollars and won a slew of Oscars.
But what’s really interesting about the work is that it is about property law.
Here's a snippet from the post:
Hierarchy of Ownership and PossessionThis is just the kind of stuff that I'd be doing if I was in law school.
The Lord of the Rings story is that of a property hierarchy with one owner and a series of possessors.
[The Ring] is mine isn’t it? I found it.
He seems to be laying a claim of ownership through finding. But finding only lets a finder hold possession in a thing. It does not extinguish the rights of those higher up on the hierarchy.
In Anderson v. Gouldberg it was found that “possession is good title against all the world except those having better title.” It does not matter that several of the possessors of the Ring like Isildur and Sméagol obtained possession by violently dispossessing others. That circumstance does not change the dispossessor’s rights vis-à-vis a third party.
The fact that all parties subsequent to Sauron hold only possession in the ring is acknowledged in the text. When Gandalf forces Biblo to give up the Ring, he tells him to,
[s]top possessing [the Ring].
After discovering that Aragorn is the heir of Isildur Frodo exclaims that the Ring really belongs to Aragorn. Aragon corrects him:
It does not belong to either of us, but it has been ordained that you should hold it for a while.
Frodo later elaborates that the Ring,
does not belong to any mortal … though if any could claim it, it would be Aragorn.
Here he demonstrates his understanding of the property hierarchy – with Sauron at the apex as owner and Aragorn as next highest as a descendent of the first possessor after Sauron.
Read the whole thing over at Law is Cool.