Though wedding rings are normally symbols of unity, Lucy’s ring represents division and the perversion of marriage, as well as the way in which Lucy is objectified. Whereas in traditional monogamous marriages, the father peacefully “gives” the bride to the groom during the ceremony, the Mormons kill Lucy’s father John Ferrier in order to abduct her and force her into a shameful polygamous marriage with Enoch Drebber. Though the act of “giving away” one’s daughter in marriage is itself a form of objectification – in that it treats a woman as an object to be passed from father to husband – the forced marriage and the manner by which it is achieved amplifies Lucy’s objectification by treating the marriage primarily as a form of theft. Drebber and Stangerson kill John Ferrier in order to steal his “property” — both Lucy herself and Ferrier’s extensive farmlands. As a result of the marriage, Lucy is forever torn from her beloved fiancé, Jefferson Hope, and soon dies, presumably out of grief or a broken heart. For Hope, the ring not only reminds him of his lost love but of the burning obsession with revenge that fuels him for the next twenty years. It is for the sake of this revenge that Hope uses the ring to remind Drebber of his crimes during his dying breaths.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Lucy’s Wedding Ring appears in A Study in Scarlet. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 3: The Lauriston Garden Mystery
Part 1, Chapter 4: What John Rance Had to Tell
Part 1, Chapter 5: Our Advertisement Brings a Visitor
Part 2, Chapter 5: The Avenging Angels
...mourn Lucy, a wild-looking Jefferson Hope barges in, kisses Lucy’s forehead, and takes her wedding ring off her finger, exclaiming that she won’t be buried in it. Hope lives for months... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6: A Continuation of the Reminiscences of John Watson, M.D.
Part 2, Chapter 7: The Conclusion
...had previously revealed, the writing on the wall was clearly a blind. The woman’s wedding ring convinced Holmes that the murderer was taking revenge for a private wrong over a woman.... (full context)