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Thread: Am i the only one who pities Gollum?

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I pity Gollum, of course I do. Just as much as I pitied Bilbo when he had a hard time givig the ring up and Frodo for having to be the ringbearer.

I don't think it was Gollums fault for taking the ring, I think the ring wanted to be found, it made Deagól go down and fetch it and it made Sméagol strangle his friend, just to get the ring.
It also made Sméagol go into the mountains where it waited. When Bilbo came there, it left Sméagol of its own free will and it made Bilbo find it. Everything just to get back to its master. All of the ringbearers where just bricks on its way back to Sauron.
Hullo, Eowen.

I guess i do pity Gollum a bit for what was happening to him-and the ring and all, though that was his choice-at first-he could have not taken the ring, and not hid with it, and not keep it to himself.
Though Frodo had to have the ring, and accually, at the end, he does get a bit tooo atached, and ,,, well, i'll let you read it for yourself Wink Smilie to not spoil it . Big Smile Smilie

Wiggle Smilie
Very very true Aire, WOW-that just makes me realize(one more step closer)how extreemely powerfull the ring is- Sauron was extreemely bad!!!
Imagine is Melkor made that ring-i don't even wanna think about how more powerfull that one would be-
Anyways, I also pity bilbo- and even Sam since he got the ring for only a bit- though i think Sam was really strong about it, and didn't let the ring get to him.

Wiggle Smilie
Hello Eowen(I told you to correct that Smile Smilie
Well you are not the only one who feel's pity about Smeagul...but he is tricky which make's him kinda bad
I think that is a very good point, Aire. The ring made him do everything he did. It was because of the ring he leads them to Shelob. The only thing is that he is sly, so you have to watch your back!!!
I really do pity Gollum too, because part of him (Smeagol) is trying to be good - even though his Gollum persona takes over in the end. I think Smeagol could have had a chance if he hadn't felt that Frodo had betrayed him, but that would have led to a chain of events with cataclysmic consequences.

However I do think that Smeagol had an evil streak to begin with... I don't think that Bilbo or Frodo would have murdered their best friend to get the ring before they'de ever even owned it for a while. I mean Smeagol seemed to be a bit too easily influenced by the rings powers.
Of course Sméagol was easily influenced by the ring. You've gotta remember that not all people have a strong mind and the power to resist the will of the Ring.
I don't think he would have strangled Deagól if it would have been any other ring. But since it was The One Ring and Sméagol had a weak mind...


And as for his personalities, I think Gollum is the one obssesed with the Ring, because when the Ring leaves Gollum, Sméagol was able to come back again. Sméagol probably didn't wanted to be obsessed by the ring and therefore he had to project the obsession to someone else, and when there were noone, he made someone up, Gollum.

Gollum and Sméagol are constantly struggeling eachother over who should have the power over the body. Sméagol was the weaker one and therefore Gollum was able to take control. When Frodo lets Gollum out of the ropes, Sméagol comes forth and takes the control.

I also think Sméagol had an evil streak, just like everyone has got an evil streak. When he made Gollum up he projected all of his evil thoughts and desires over to him, as well as the obsession with the Ring. Unfortunately with this his also projected the major part of his power to decide and therefore he became the weaker one.
I do pity him, I understood what the ring did to him the very first time i read the book, it started to touch me deeply when i read it for the 56th time. ehehehe, anyway, I think that he deserves all of our love because he is the one that got hurt with Frodo and all those who found or had to carry the Ring, Sam too. Since I like him so much I would was wondering if you guys here at the forum could do me a favor and call him Smeagol, I find that calling him Gollum is mean, because Gollum is not who the character really is. Smeagol wasn't made, in my opinion, to make us all wonder about Gollum, but to make us understand how material things can hurt us. And how the Ring really deeply hurt the poor Smeagol.
I have much pity for Gollum! He is a very bittersweet character. In TTT you see the struggle between Gollum and Smeagol which makes you want to encourage him to exorcise his demons. And in the movie, those poor eyes, you know that Smeagol has not forgotten what he used to be and appreciates that Frodo sees it too but he just can't seem to get a grip and pull himself back to what he once was.

Maybe you all are tired of my comparisons and symbolism but I will just out with it and qualify my thoughts by saying that I don't know what Tolkien tried to say about anything. However, this helps me understand things better...I think the Ring has HIGHLY addictive properties and those affected by it are, in a way, JUNKIES to it. In the same way that addictive things (drugs, alcohol, etc etc) sometimes take a perfectly wonderful person and turn them into something we don't recognize, so has Gollum become what he never should have been. And I agree with those of you who have been thinking how hideous it is that when the Ring was done with Gollum it abandoned him in his madness... Sad Smilie
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I have much pity for Gollum! He is a very bittersweet character. In TTT you see the struggle between Gollum and Smeagol which makes you want to encourage him to exorcise his demons. And in the movie, those poor eyes, you know that Smeagol has not forgotten what he used to be and appreciates that Frodo sees it too but he just can't seem to get a grip and pull himself back to what he once was.


Well said, Musicimprovedme! Orc With Thumbs Up Smilie
I already pitied Gollum while reading the books, but the acting of Andy Serkis (I wonder why I haven't heard from him before... he's just doing a great job! Actually, I liked Gollum best in TTT... Wink Smilie definitely gives it a tangible dimension. At a visual level, you see how the mimicks of Gollum and Smeagol differ... precisely how Tolkien tried to create that split personality by using a different kind of speech.
According to that point of view, Airecristiel came up with a very interesting thought:

"I also think Sméagol had an evil streak, just like everyone has got an evil streak. When he made Gollum up he projected all of his evil thoughts and desires over to him, as well as the obsession with the Ring."

I think you're right. The Ring brings out the worst of his bearers. Of Bilbo, as we can see in the first movie, but of Frodo too. He nearly kills Sam although he's the most loyal friend you can imagine. And this happens more than once! In TTT, Frodo threatens Sam when the latter witholds him to give the ring to the Nazgûl. In the third book of the trilogy, Sam frees Frodo from orc tortures in a tower of Baradhur and instead of gratitude, his master's first reaction is 'Thief!'... Very similar to Gollum, isn't he?

It seems to me that Gollum is perhaps one of the most 'human' characters in Lord of the Rings.That torn personality is something all ringbearers have in common and that's exactly where Tolkien starts writing literary history instead of a fantastic epic. I mean, in an epic generally you have heroes, black and white characters, absolute good and absolute evil. They are omnipresent in Tolkien's work, but the corruptive power of the Ring adds a human dimension.
How beautiful to see that the symbol of pure evil transforms a book into a legend by allowing the reader to identify with the truely human characters of the ringbearers... because we all have that evil streak...
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It seems to me that Gollum is perhaps one of the most 'human' characters in Lord of the Rings.That torn personality is something all ringbearers have in common and that's exactly where Tolkien starts writing literary history instead of a fantastic epic. I mean, in an epic generally you have heroes, black and white characters, absolute good and absolute evil. They are omnipresent in Tolkien's work, but the corruptive power of the Ring adds a human dimension.


Very well said, Dernhelm!

It is true that all humans have both sides, even though we are much, much more variable than that. We're quite suppressed by our superego, which won't allow those evil streaks and "not suitable" thoughts to come out in the daylight. Every once in a while they make themself heard anyway, but we're quick on suppressing them, so they go away. Sometimes we won't even admit to ourselves we've got those evil thoughts and desires.

What Tolkien did was to show the world that it's not always your own fault that those nasty thoughts comes out, it's not always something you can controle.
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He nearly kills Sam although he's the most loyal friend you can imagine. And this happens more than once! In TTT, Frodo threatens Sam when the latter witholds him to give the ring to the Nazgûl.
Sorry to butt in folks, but that incident never happened, it is something Peter Jackson made up from thin air. Only he and God know why; to find that out, I suppose we will have to wait for the extended DVD.

Frodo never threatened or raised his voice to Sam until after his capture by the Orcs when Sam tried to give the ring back, and again later on when he offers to carry it for Frodo, but never in TTT. Also the closest Frodo, Sam, and Sméagol come to Osgiliath was the crossroads and they turned east, away from the ruined city and towards the Valley of the Wraiths, where the weight of the ring first started to bear down on Frodo. He was in complete control until he entered that evil vale.

Angry Elf Smilie Peter Jackson will have much to answer for at the Pearly Gates if the happenings in his movies supplant the written word of Tolkien. Bad! Smilie

Okay, you may have the soapbox back. Cool Elf Smilie
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It is true that all humans have both sides, even though we are much, much more variable than that. We're quite suppressed by our superego, which won't allow those evil streaks and "not suitable" thoughts to come out in the daylight. Every once in a while they make themself heard anyway, but we're quick on suppressing them, so they go away. Sometimes we won't even admit to ourselves we've got those evil thoughts and desires.
What Tolkien did was to show the world that it's not always your own fault that those nasty thoughts comes out, it's not always something you can controle.

I kind of understand what you mean about the good and bad in everyone, we all have an evil streak, etc. And I speak from experience because I have my share of vices that make me identify with Gollum on a very intimate level. I am a smoker among other things. And it has caused me not only to jeopardize my health but to literally set perfectly good money on fire and alienate people who don't like smoking. Am I a horrible person? NO. Am I in control of it at this point? NO. On the other hand, there was that moment, way back in my past where smoking had no hold on me (IN FACT, I hated it because my parents did it.) AND YET I CHOSE TO BUM A CIG FROM MY FRIEND AND I WILLINGLY SMOKED IT!! That was the moment, I think where my evil side showed itself, and I am completely to blame for it. I think Gollum had his own moment of choice where he could have resisted, it may not have lasted very long, the Ring might have made it very difficult to hear the little voice but it was there. Gollum pays dearly (and rightly so if we are looking for justice) for his choice. Still, I think after Gollum lets the Ring get him it's all downhill from there and out of even his own hands...and that is very sad, it's hard to hold him accountable for much of anything after that. If you disagree, maybe you should develop a good addiction to something and then cut yourself off from it, and SEE WHAT YOU DO NEXT! I'm telling you that Ring was Middle Earth's version of CRACK! hahaha.

(Grondy merely fixed the quotes.)

[Edited on 3/2/2003 by Grondmaster]
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If you disagree, maybe you should develop a good addiction to something and then cut yourself off from it, and SEE WHAT YOU DO NEXT! I'm telling you that Ring was Middle Earth's version of CRACK! hahaha.
Neither addiction to nicotine, alcohol, crack, nor any other drug is a laughing matter, nor would addiction to The One Ring be; however, your point is well taken. After wearing The One Ring, one would become addicted to it, and very few can shake an addiction by themselves. Bilbo was able only with the intervention of Gandalf; Sméagol was not. He was ridden by that monkey on his back all the way to his death. Very Sad Smilie
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If you disagree, maybe you should develop a good addiction to something and then cut yourself off from it, and SEE WHAT YOU DO NEXT! I'm telling you that Ring was Middle Earth's version of CRACK! hahaha.
Neither addiction to nicotine, alcohol, crack, nor any other drug is a laughing matter, nor would addiction to The One Ring be; however, your point is well taken.
I didn't mean to offend anyone by poking fun about the addictive power of things or people's/Middle Earth creature's falling prey to it...If I meant any harm it would have been directed at myself as much as anyone else, since I used myself as an example of having a good heart and good intentions in the midst of weakness. If anyone thinks I was speaking harshly please forgive me as I take back the hahahaha part.

What I do think is important to remember is that usually we, at some point, and maybe Gollum too, have FREE WILL in regards to good and evil, and what we do with it while we have it, we can be held accountable for. After a need takes hold, well...then who's to say whose fault our actions become? We learn that Gollum/Smeagol both loves and hates himself and the Ring, as do all of us who find ourselves bound to something that is not good for us. Who can find happiness in a situation that brings both euphoric joy and horrible pain? It is a pity-able situation at that point no matter who is to blame.

I think what may be the missing link and may let Gollum off the hook somewhat, and this has been mentioned a lot in our discussion, is the fact that the Ring itself makes its own choices, and it's call is very strong and very tangible. It seems to have the ability to sneak up on its keepers unaware. Who is to say whether Smeagol, there on the bank of the river where his cousin (?) found the Ring, was snagged before he knew it?

I do know that Gollum's character touches me deeply, and he does indeed remind me of our human frailty and complex human nature, as many of us have said through this discussion...and he is a humbling reminder to me about a lot of things, not the least of which is how easy and harmful it is to pass judgment. Tolkien makes this very clear in the story through Gandalf's warning that "those who deserve death often live and those who deserve life often die". Bilbo's act of pity (NO YOU AREN'T ONLY ONE EOWEN!!) by not killing Gollum at the exit of the cave, and instead only using the Ring to disappear and escape, had monumental influence on how much power the Ring would ultimately have over Bilbo. Bilbo took the Ring not by force out of greed, but in a contest where the stakes were extremely unequal and to spare his own life, and used no extra power that the Ring would have given him in order to dominate or harm Gollum...and so I think in this way, Bilbo from the very beginning of his experience with the Ring, set up certain boundaries about the Ring that would protect him from its addictive properties and keep his free will intact.

Indeed, Tolkien has given us beautifully rich and complex characters to learn from, neither all good nor all evil, and this makes them easy to identify with and very believable as personalities that may have existed...actually, a part of all the characters seems to have the potential to live within us. Still, I'm finding that the characters in the story that I consider heroes are the ones who realize that they have weaknesses and keep plugging away for the common good, doing the best they can.

In fact, I think it's safe to say that the whole process of getting the Ring to Mordor is compromised in a MAJOR way at least once by all of the GOOD characters in a mistake that seems to exactly contradict their personal strengths...and yet, the mission is possible because of them all compensating for each other's weaknesses. Consider these things: Gandalf, a great and wise wizard, completely overlooks the Ring being in the Shire for 60 years and then even when he puts it all together he lets the matter rest, almost until it's too late. Butterbur of the Prancing Pony, a well-respected businessman who is used to dealing with many tasks at one time, FORGETS to send Gandalf's postBody to the Shire insisting that Frodo leave at once, and we can presume that Butterbur, knowing Gandalf, would have considered any errand for Gandalf to be important, given the nature of Gandalf's business. Frodo, a happy-go-lucky hobbit with no apparent need for power, finds himself often and with more urgency, bending to the will of the Ring, even using it after Gandalf's warnings NOT TO, and after knowing from his own experience that the Ring does not allow him to escape anything at all but actually calls danger and evil to him. (To that, I can only say, "THANK YOU SAM!!")Boromir, a great and noble warrior with power and prestige among his people, whose driving ambition is to help return his homeland to its former glory and security, is completely oblivious to his inability to wield the power of the Ring for his own purposes. Tom Bombadil even has a weakness in my opinion, he is extremely well adjusted, "The Master" even, but only in his own domain. Furthermore, even if we don't know exactly what Bombadil is, it's safe to say that he seems to have a divineness about him and he is probably a better cut out for this errand than Frodo. But even moreso than Frodo (and that is saying a lot since Frodo is a home-loving hobbit), Bombadil is unwilling/unable to leave his familiar territory, and we wonder if his only reason is that he can't won't leave his girlfriend?? What kind of discussion can you all make with this? Do you see similar weakness in other characters? What about Sam, Merry, and Pippen? The Ents? Legolas and Gimli? Aragorn? Elrond and Galadriel? It is indeed a beautiful thing that Tolkien's characters are all so fully dimensional. I love them all the more for it.

(Grondy merely fixed the Quotes.)

[Edited on 3/2/2003 by Grondmaster]
Your posts are really good musicimprovedme! I agree with you on many of your points and I believe I've posted something similar...somewhere Thumbs Up Smilie

You have very insightful and well written posts...a good quality!

[Edited on 3/2/2003 by Celebrian]
I think you resumed adequately what was said about pitying Gollum, Musicimprovedme!
Congratulations, you did a great job by posting that last -long- one of yours Big Smile Smilie
In discussing the character Sméagol/Gollum you all touched that special feature that makes the works of J.R.R. Tolkien so unique: the profoundness of character drawing lifting up his writings to a (not yet?) unchallenged level of epic fantasy. Maybe even beyond the level of epic fantasy: Tolkien's character elaboration is much to much profound to fit the common norms usually applied in this genre. Like you said, musicimprovedme:

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What about Sam, Merry, and Pippen? The Ents? Legolas and Gimli? Aragorn? Elrond and Galadriel? It is indeed a beautiful thing that Tolkien's characters are all so fully dimensional. I love them all the more for it.


Let me add some other characters from LotR, the Sil en HoME: Beren, Fëanor and his sons, Maeglin, Grima Wormtongue, Isildur, ... . They all failed to withstand the power of Evil (with or without ring!) for a short period or for the rest of their life on ME. Not to speak about whole races of men who where misled by Morgoth or Sauron (even one of the higher Istari got corrupted: Saruman).

Thereby the reader can identify him/herself with the personae in Tolkiens' books. Like Dernhelm (Wink Smilie) said:

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It seems to me that Gollum is perhaps one of the most 'human' characters in Lord of the Rings.That torn personality is something all ringbearers have in common and that's exactly where Tolkien starts writing literary history instead of a fantastic epic. I mean, in an epic generally you have heroes, black and white characters, absolute good and absolute evil. They are omnipresent in Tolkien's work, but the corruptive power of the Ring adds a human dimension.


By adding this 'human dimension' (Is it just a 'human dimension', couldn't it be a general feature of 'Beings', a universal distinction of 'Being' we can discern because we can think rational, have 'Ratio'?) Tolkien indeed wrote more than epic fantasy. This ambiguity of the 'human condition' is at the very fundamentals of Western literature. In Greek tragedy/mythology for instance we have many figures who posses this condition. Think of Hera, Hesphaistos, Apollo, Kreoon, Oedipus, ... . In German/Nordic/Icelandic mythology you have the same type of characters (the god Hod who, deceived by Loki, killed his brother Baldr; Brynhildur who betrayed her father ...). Therefore Tolkien's work, embedded in Western tradition, makes us think about our own character/condition, much more than every other work of epic fantasy/SF does.

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I think what may be the missing link and may let Gollum off the hook somewhat, and this has been mentioned a lot in our discussion, is the fact that the Ring itself makes its own choices, and it's call is very strong and very tangible. It seems to have the ability to sneak up on its keepers unaware. Who is to say whether Smeagol, there on the bank of the river where his cousin (?) found the Ring, was snagged before he knew it? [musicimprovedme]


Sméagol/Gollum is indeed a very tragic character. A torn twisted, confused personality in trouble with it's own past possesed by the will of a mighty power it fails to be freed from. Smeagol is burdened with his own pride (projected on the ring). The pride ( ùbris in Greek) that made him kill his friend Déagol. Unfortunately (really unfortunately? no! Remind that Tolkien is telling us an orchestrated story - everything that happens is meant to happen!) he found this One Ring. The One Ring that has a will of it's own (you could say: the Evil that has a will of it's own). A will that Sméagol won't be able to withstand, that will force him upon his past (the murderer of Déagol). To forget that past, Sméagol splits his character in two parts: the stronger but obsessed one (with raw or cunning sounding voice), that supresses memory an seeks hail in evil, the proud half that cherishes the One Ring as an acquired jewell (seen upside down as te weak part howling with the wolves, thinking away his guilt, influenced by the power of Evil) Gollum, the weaker but reasonable one (with smooth, lovely voice), reminding his guilt, fearing the tempting power of Evil, trying to regain his former virtuousness (seen upside down as the strong part, trying to follow own norms and values and getting rid of the deceiving 'beauty'/power of Evil). Summarized: it is not the Ring that really makes Sméagol 'a bad guy', it was his ' ùbris' that did the trick (see the tragedy of Oedipus or Austen's Pride and Prejudice). The Ring is only actualising the dark side of his character (think of Isildur and Boromir in regard to this assertion). The One Ring keeps him bound (~marriage!) to his fate. The One Ring HAS an own Will: the Will to Power, the essence of Evil. But that essence can only be actualised/potentialised through a tangible 'existens', an actor. Like you said, musicimprovedme:

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...and so I think in this way, Bilbo from the very beginning of his experience with the Ring, set up certain boundaries about the Ring that would protect him from its addictive properties and keep his free will intact.


The fact that 'it wants to be found' becomes easy to explain now: " Evil seeks greater Evil".

That's what makes Sméagol/Gollum so recognizable for all of us. 'Men are weak'. Yes, indeed, we are (think about the telling of Adam and Eve in the Bible!). That's why many readers fall in love with characters like Legolas (image: kneeling when Gandalf the White reappears), Aragorn (humbly serving King Theoden), Gandalf (admitting: 'there are things even the wisest persons on Earth don't know'): they can show weakness and bear it in a great but modest way.

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Still, I'm finding that the characters in the story that I consider heroes are the ones who realize that they have weaknesses and keep plugging away for the common good, doing the best they can. [ musicimprovedme]


That's why 'even the smallest person can change the course of the future', why Tolkien chose a hobbit to carry the Ring: the - supposedly - weakest race in ME.

It is that one truth it's all about:

'Proud people bread sad sorrows.' - Ch. Brontë, Wuthering Heights


[Edited on 3/2/2003 by Heorogar]
I was completely swept away, Heorogar! Tongue Smilie

Evil seeks greater evil, you're right... as the proverb goes: birds of a feather flock together.
I agree,the one will of the Ring is indeed the will to Power (one Ring to RULE them all... or how it's said by Galadriel at the beginning of FotR: 'and in this ring he poured all his malice and his desire to ENSLAVE the world'). But the greater power a person has, the greater danger he represents when corrupted by the ring.
As Galadriel points out when Frodo freely offers her the ring:

"Instead of a dark lord, you should have a queen (...), stronger than the foundations of the earth. All should love me and DESPAIR."

As Gandalf says:

"Through me, the ring would wield a power too great -then I forgot a part Sad Smilie - even if I should use it from the wish to do good."

So another Istari, Saruman, when corrupted, represents a serious danger to the fellowship and a considerable ally to Sauron. But if power corrupts, absolute power (represented by the Ring) corrupts absolutely, and Saruman, out of his own desire for power, his hybris even, badly wants the ring for his own use and he betrays Sauron. So, in the end, the ring indirectly betrays even its creator, after having betrayed Isildur and Gollum, amongst others.

Gosh, didn't think I'd still find something to say after your post, Heorogar! Pixie Smilie
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Summarized: it is not the Ring that really makes Sméagol 'a bad guy', it was his ' ùbris' that did the trick (see the tragedy of Oedipus or Austen's Pride and Prejudice). The Ring is only actualising the dark side of his character (think of Isildur and Boromir in regard to this assertion). The One Ring keeps him bound (~marriage!) to his fate.


This is a something that I haven't heard as yet, Heorogar, and it is said VERY eloquently. The Ring didn't make these people who they are and didn't need to create characteristics in anyone it touched, it merely sought out what was already there and encouraged/magnified it, thus ensuring that the evil side of the character navigates the character's destiny.


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But if power corrupts, absolute power (represented by the Ring) corrupts absolutely, and Saruman, out of his own desire for power, his hybris even, badly wants the ring for his own use and he betrays Sauron. So, in the end, the ring indirectly betrays even its creator, after having betrayed Isildur and Gollum, amongst others.


Dernhelm, are we sure that the Ring betrays its creator? Maybe I don't see because I'm not there in the story yet...but it seems to me that whatever evil happens through or because of something smaller actually benefits the larger evil no matter what.

I guess I can't help but think in terms of sin and satan which is what I was raised to equate with evil. If I am greedy, dishonest, malicious, manipulative, hateful with ANYONE including Satan and his followers, this is not how God would have me act and therefore I am serving the very evil that I say I hate. In this way, evil serves itself and never anything else.

And from this point in the story, I just don't see how even Saruman could be any match for Sauron, would he not be a puppet being used? Isn't Saruman under the influence of the Ring too? but don't tell me until I get there myself. Wink Smilie
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Dernhelm, are we sure that the Ring betrays its creator? Maybe I don't see because I'm not there in the story yet...but it seems to me that whatever evil happens through or because of something smaller actually benefits the larger evil no matter what.
...

And from this point in the story, I just don't see how even Saruman could be any match for Sauron, would he not be a puppet being used? Isn't Saruman under the influence of the Ring too? but don't tell me until I get there myself. Wink Smilie


No, Musicimprovedme, I'm not sure. It's just an interpretation of mine. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough so I'll try to explain why I said that. I was focussing on Saruman in my palantir and by doing so, I might have skipped a part of my argumentation Angel Smilie

Off we go... I'll try hard to offer you a satisfactory explanation without giving away the entire plot of Rotk Wink Smilie

Evil always serves itself and the Ring answers to that maxim. Saruman becomes a puppet, but although Sauron's pulling his strings, the puppet is not entirely in controll. Saruman wants the Ring for his own use and this secret desire will end by dividing the companies of orcs between the white hand and the red eye. It comes to a confrontation in Baraddhur, which offers Sam the opportunity to free Frodo. Indirectly, Saruman's desire for power thus enables the ringbearer to fulfill his quest.
The puppet betrays the puppeteer for wanting to rise above him, which is only possible with the Ring.
So, by inspiring Saruman, the Ring -still more indirectly... my goodness, I start thinking in mise-en-abyme! Blame it on 18th-century French novels - makes possible its own destruction. That could be seen as a way of betraying its creator, methinks...

OH.
My god! I just discovered this thread and read it top to bottom in one sitting. Needless to say, I'm exhausted!

I don't think there's much more that I can add on this particular topic. Those who've been around for some time and know me a little better know that Gollum is a character very near and dear to my heart for the reasons so eloquently outlined above.

I particularly like musicimprovedme's analogy to drug addiction which is very much how I've always looked at Gollum and his relationship to the Ring. It's the relationship between junky and drug; between alcoholic and alcohol. I think this is another place where the term "applicability" comes in. I doubt Tolkien was thinking in these terms when he wrote these characters but his characterizations were complete enough that we can apply these analogies so freely and confidently.

Now I would like to comment on something a little, teensy weensy bit off topic. I noticed something while reading all the above posts- some of you seem to be making analyses, at least in part, based on the films. Am I wrong here?

I hope not, because this would certainly support my assertion that Peter Jackson and co. have captured very well the essence of the story and characters, thus far. The very specifics of the story ( the precise what's and when's) are not so important as the soul of Tolkien's story which makes such insightful, moving, and compelling arguments as the one above, possible. I've noticed most of the quotes above could be either from the book OR the film. Just some food for thought. Again, am I wrong here?
I think you're quite right Prog... When I was reading the posts, it does seem like a lot of the analysis was based on the film rather than the book.

The discussions were good and informative, but there's just one thing I'm not quite sure I would agree on...

Heorogar, in your insightful analysis of Gollum, you mentioned pride as the motivating factor or the driving force that made Gollum who he was. Is that really true? In what sense was Smeagol consumed with pride?

The concept of covetousness, and the lust of material things and the classic illustration of jealousy (what does my neighbor have that I don't) are exemplified in the scene where Smeagol demands the ring from Deagol and ultimately murders him. Greed was what drove Smeagol to murder. He wanted that which he thought was precious that his friend had.

After he had murdered Deagol, guilt for the act of murder was once again replaced by his deep lust for the ring, hence Smeagol made up a story to justify his possession of the ring, resulting in his split personality. Was it pride that continued to drive Smeagol into a character that was loathful and thieving, resulting in him being ostracized? No. It was really the knowledge of his new found ability and his desire to obtain more. Once again, covetousness is the key motivation. In this sense, evil seeks greater evil.

Is Gollum then inherently evil? No. He was merely tempted at one point in his life, just as we all are at some point. Yet just one wrong decision, succumbing to one small temptation can result in the destruction of a whole life. Is Gollum to be pitied then? Yes and no. Yes, because he can never turn back again. No, because ultimately, he chose the path that he had to take when he allowed the temptation of the ring to take control of his life.

We can try to refute that by saying that the One Ring could have exerted such a great temptation on him such that he is unable to resist. But that would have been an inaccurate statement. The Ring simply amplified the feelings of desire in a person. Hence it will not affect Tom Bombadil, who had absolutely no desire for such an item. Neither did it have much effect on Sam, who was humble to the point of being contented with a simple life and acknowledging his own weaknesses. If the ring really had such great temptation on everyone, then it would be safe to say that everyone would have fallen under his power, which is as we know, untrue.

You could say Boromir wanted the ring out of pride, which led to his demise. You could say that Feanor in the Silmarillion fell because of pride. They would be true. But to say that Gollum's greatest fault was pride? Not at all. His greatest fault was GREED. Up till the very point where he died. If pride was the driving force, do you think he would behave like a wretched beast and swearing to serve Frodo who was the owner of the ring?



[Edited on 5/2/2003 by Erkenbrand]
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I don't think there's much more that I can add on this particular topic.
I've been following this one avidly for a few days now, but the arguments have been complete enough that I haven't felt there was much I could add either.

My post won't be as long or as eloquent as some of those above, except to say I see Gollum's craving for the Ring very much like a drug addict's addiction to drugs too. I think like an addict that accepts he is an addict, he knows the Ring is destroying him, but the craving is too strong for his fragile will power to overcome. Because he gets no pleasure from the Ring anymore, like many addicts stop getting pleasure from the drugs they take, he hates it as well as loves it.

In my opinion it was greed that drove Smeagol to kill Deagol. He must have been very weak willed for the Ring to effect him that quickly and so strongly. For that act alone, I am inclined to say he deserved what he got, but what it did to him is punishment beyond anything murderers get sentenced to now days. I think I can feel pity for the Smeagol side of his personality, but not for the Gollum side.

As a side note, there is a lot of talk about how Frodo, Sam and Bilbo handled the Ring. Nobody really mentions what Gollum did with it, though. He had the Ring for a long time, but never attempted to use it to rule the world or vanquish his enemies etc. What sort of nature did Smeagol have just to crawl into a hole with this powerful weapon and have no ambitions of domination.
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What sort of nature did Smeagol have just to crawl into a hole with this powerful weapon and have no ambitions of domination.


Valedhelgwath, I think we can assume that in hobbit neighborhoods, there were issues of social standing just like every other community...we see that there are socioeconomic factors that put people somewhat in their place, we know that there are bickerings among the more learned or adventurous hobbits and those who are content to know what they know and be where they are, and you can bet that there is plenty of gossip over the fence or a pipe, since the hobbits are fond of their storytelling and conversation. In that context, it follows that there are probably hobbits that are misunderstood and less than popular, and I think that Smeagol was probably one of those hobbits who never really fit in...some kind of nerdy isolate before this whole Ring business. He wasn't much of a people person, Tolkien described him as a loner kind of fellow concerned with the origins of things who would go looking for the beginnings of rivers and the roots of trees, it reminds me of a geeky kid who takes apart a toaster to see how it works and if he can put it back together again. I can see Smeagol, if he is indeed this kind of hobbit, having few if any social skills to act appropriately with his peers. We wonder if he is just merely tolerated by his family and neighbors and doesn't actually have anyone who enjoys his company. So when he does murder Deagol, he might already have a grudge that is twisted by the Ring into actually carrying out his hard feelings. And then after the murder, he is outcasted by his family altogether. Like other hobbits, he had little need for power, so it's no surprise to me that when the Ring took hold of him, he didn't seek power. So...if we are correct in thinking that the Ring brings out the most destructive parts of a person's character, then I can see no other way for a creature like Smeagol to react to it...he went into exile. He let the mountain become his home, which in the early stages, was probably just fine with Smeagol given that there was plenty to tinker around with and discover (streams and deposits and caves and whatnot). He abandoned his social ways, eating raw food, etc, similar to the way it is more acceptable to drop airs when other people are not around (burp, fart, stink, eat peanut butter and hershey syrup sandwiches for dinner) and maybe also because he was losing his self respect as a result of the Ring. As a creature who was probably very insecure from the beginning, we can assume that the Ring would only heighten his social inadequacies. A fair question is...why would Gollum's personality NOT be more vengeful, the equivalent of someone who goes on a vigilante rampage? A possible answer is that perhaps the Ring, for Gollum, never was a source of power, and if it is, I don't think he would recognize it as such. In fact, for Gollum, the Ring has not given power, only TAKEN it from him.
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Nobody really mentions what Gollum did with it, though. He had the Ring for a long time, but never attempted to use it to rule the world or vanquish his enemies etc. What sort of nature did Smeagol have just to crawl into a hole with this powerful weapon and have no ambitions of domination.
As he was of the original hobbit stock, he had no worldly ambition and only used it to gather a hobbits only known vice, that being food.
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... Gollum used to wear it at first, till it tired him; and then he kept it in a pouch next to his skin, till it galled him; and now usually he hid it in a hole in a rock on his island, and was always going back to look at it. And still sometimes he put it on, when he could not bear to be parted from it any longer, or when he was very, very, hungry, and tired of fish. Then he would creep along dark passages looking for stray goblins. He might even venture into places where the torches were lit and made his eyes blink and smart; for he would be safe. Oh yes, quite safe.

No one would see him, no one would notice him, till he had his fingers on their throat. Only a few hours ago he had worn it, and caught a small goblin-imp. How it had squeaked! He still had a bone or two left to gnaw, but he wanted something softer.

From The Hobbit, about two-thirds into Chapter 5, entitled 'Riddles in the Dark'.
Cat Smiling Smilie
Wanted to add a couple things here, as if I haven't said an awful lot already...

First, we have been talking about the Pride vs. Greed issue of how Smeagol got the Ring in the First place. I have set up the opinion, and I am sticking with it, that Smeagol probably had a lower than average self-esteem so I don't think pride is an issue with him, if anything, I would say that Smeagol could use a little pride. Greed does also seem to better describe his initial motivation...but after a while, I would say that Gollum's greed was replaced by an even greater motivation to keep the Ring and that is NEED...which may be what carried him to the edge of Mt. Doom and struggle to the death with Frodo for it...Frodo was trying to take away his Precious forever. The difference between greed and need? I couldn't tell you...except that greed seems to indicate a WANTING, whereas need indicates, well...NEEDING. haha. I guess at some point wants and needs overlap, and where one can say that this happened for Gollum is anyone's guess.

The other thing I wanted to add is somewhat of a correction on my own post. When I was speculating about Smeagol's personality before he got the Ring, I went on and on about him as if he was a true hobbit. I don't know if it was the book, movie, a person's analysis, or some other supplemental material, but I now distinctly remember getting the idea that Smeagol was of a race LIKE hobbits but not altogether the same.

Still my point holds up, I was discussing that Smeagol probably came from a fairly typical small village, much like any small town that you know of, with its share of cliques and gossip, and that Smeagol probably did not fit in.

Is Smeagol's race an extinct one, or a glimpse of what hobbits used to be like or maybe a hybrid of hobbits and something else (men perhaps?)?
Here is a really good passage from LOTR (FOTR) that talks about Smeagol's earlier experiences before the Ring and soon after it began to possess him...

I won't quote the whole thing here, but it is in the chapter The Shadow of the Past (p51 if you have the one volume edition with the Black Rider on the cover)...and it begins with Gandalf telling Frodo:

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"Long after, but still verfy long ago, there lived by the banks of the Great River on the edge of Wilderland..."


For the next several pages, Gandalf talks about Smeagol's background including a LOT of things that we have all been talking about here...
woohoo we made it to page 2 of this thread!!
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woohoo we made it to page 2 of this thread!!
Yeah, but who wrote the bulk of the text to get us on page 2? Elf Sticking Tounge Out Smilie

Elf With a Big Grin Smilie Nothing personal, Musicimprovedme; you use your long-winded posts to make well thought-out points, which I appreciate reading. Happy Elf Smilie
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Is Smeagol's race an extinct one, or a glimpse of what hobbits used to be like or maybe a hybrid of hobbits and something else (men perhaps?)
Gollum was a strain of Stoor Hobbit. In TA 1600 the Shire was founded and most hobbits (of all three strains that had evolved) moved there or to Bree. Some, however, remained as a small colony by the Gladden Fields and became isolated from the others.

As Gollum was born around TA 2430, this group had been isolated for 800 years or so by the time he was born. As 800 years represents about 40 generations of hobbits, it is not really long enough to change them significantly from being recognisable as Stoor Hobbits, although there might be some minor evolutionary changes beginning to occur (a few inches of height, hair/eye colour etc).

What would be significantly more noticable, however, from a group isolated for 800 years are such things as language dialects, social behaviour and everyday fashions.
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Very very true Aire, WOW-that just makes me realize(one more step closer)how extreemely powerfull the ring is- Sauron was extreemely bad!!!
Imagine is Melkor made that ring-i don't even wanna think about how more powerfull that one would be-
Anyways, I also pity bilbo- and even Sam since he got the ring for only a bit- though i think Sam was really strong about it, and didn't let the ring get to him.

Wiggle Smilie

And did you read Morgoth's ring? They said if morgoth would be to make a ing of power, It will be middle-earth itself!
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I already pitied Gollum while reading the books, but the acting of Andy Serkis (I wonder why I haven't heard from him before... he's just doing a great job! Actually, I liked Gollum best in TTT... definitely gives it a tangible dimension.


Dernhelm, I agree completely, if you watch the special features DVD that accompanies LOTR, they talk about how Gollum is the most actor-reliant animated character ever created for a movie. Serkis did VERY well, Gollum's movements were very expressive and I don't think you would get that from a character that was completely animated, in any format (speaking here of cartoons, digital animation, and clay or paper animation). Having said that, I think the people responsible for showing us what Gollum looked like are the animators and they just blew my mind with their interp of Gollum. I will say it again, those EYES! He did look completely hollowed out and pathetic...and pity-able. Very Sad Smilie

[Edited on 12/2/2003 by musicimprovedme]
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And did you read Morgoth's ring? They said if morgoth would be to make a ing of power, It will be middle-earth itself!


Nope I haven´t read Morgoths ring....isn´t that the work of Christopher Tolkien? Because if it is I haven´t seen any of those books here in Sweden Sad Smilie and that is badSad Smilie really bad
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isn´t that the work of Christopher Tolkien?
They are bits and pieces of stories pieced together by Christopher, taken from JRR's original drafts, notes scribbled in the margins etc. Basically, they show how JRR created and changed the world he was making for LotR and the Silmarillion.
Remember it was pity that kept him alive. And in the end what he longed for was finally his downfall. The ring always betrays its wearer. You have to feel sorry for Gollum. He is a creature/hobbit who has lived for so long with the ring it is in his every thought. He cannot live with it or without it. It eats away at his soul, mind and body so pity him for that is all you can do for him.
Yea I dont like gollum eaither but its a sham just a small stupid ring could make someone like smeagol turn into a sick figure additcted to it like someone who is a major drugie that hasnt had their dew yet
I definitely pity Sméagol...
and Andy Serkis did a GREAT job as Gollum!
Since you were talking about the Stoors and their differences from other Hobbits (sorta), and Andy Serkis as Gollum, I wanted to post this link to a favorite site entitled [url=http://fan.theonering.net/middleearthtours/specialtygollum.html] From Sméagol to Gollum .
It has new pictures from RotK (spoiler alert) showing Serkis as Sméagol (yes, SERKIS, not CGI), Déagol with the Ring, and Sméagol's change to Gollum (appearance-wise). I love that site! Tongue Smilie
You are not the only one who pities Gollum. He couldn't help what the Ring did to him. He didn't really know. Sad Smilie Elf Smilie
I pity Gollum very very much. Just like I pity every other corrupted good guy. The Ring did do all these things to him, indeed I think death would be better than becoming a creature in the darkness who lives solely for his next fish (or Orc, yuck). If the Ring has one power, then it's the power to awake the desire in people's hearts and make them lust for...something.

Didn't someone say that there's no sin like greed? Every other sin seems to be awaken from it. Evil always uses natural human greed to corrupt others (look at Feanor, Saruman, Maeglin ect). Gollum's just another case. Only Gollum is slightly better than the others. He actually repented for a time.

It seems the greater you are when you get corrupted, the harder it is for you to turn back. Which is why hobbits got to be the Ringbearers. For the naive halflings, who are used to simple ways of living, the line between good and evil is quite clear. It's a sort of instinct I think. Even Gollum hated himself as Gollum. And Frodo, also, despised the moments when hhe felt himself unable to cast the Ring away. They have an instinct which tells them what's good and what's not. For the naive this instinct would be stronger, because the more you think about such things the more blurred good and evil become. Saruman, for example, was considered very wise, but when he fell into the webs of greed he couldn't get out of it, either. In fact, he still thought he was doing the right thing. Just like Feanor, who thought he was avenging his father and doing the right thing when he was obviously just leading everyone into madness.
I do not pity him more along the lines of I just want to give him a hug and care for him. The poor stoor has been through a lot of sheet and deserves and applause. He was the most important character in the lotr and he saved middle earth. Yeah, it wasn't frodo that saved middle earth, it was all gollum! Frodo just stood there and was like the ring is mine, and gollum bit his finger off ( good boy!) and fell in...sad but yay that he saved the world! I actually cried when he died bc he was so dear to me. Now that their making the hobbit....I'm so happy I can see him again without having the fear of a horrible and sad ending where my favourite character falls into mt doom..... I love gollum and wish I knew him, I would have been his friend........sad Sad Smilie

i for one do not pity Gollum. I think he was used and mutilated by the Ring but i cannot pity him. He is twisted and a subject of great evil yes but he was evil even before the Ring found him. If you dig into his past you will find that he was a thief and a liar. he was scorned by all his family save his grandmother. So no, i do not pity him. I apologize if i offend anyone.

oh, and one last comment, For the record, the Elves were just as Evil in some ways as Sauron. Not intentionally mind you. They simply brought about Evil consequences by tinkering. Has anyone thought about the fact that Sauron did not want to destroy, but to create? his first, last, and greatest creation was the Ring and we all see how that turned out. While the Elves do not wish to hold dominion over Middle-Earth, they do want to remain the greatest beings created. Make no mistake, they are NOT evil, but they do some rather bad things from good intentions.