How did Gollum not become a Wraith despite having the Ring for so long?

Discussion in '"The Lord of the Rings"' started by BalrogRingDestroyer, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. BalrogRingDestroyer

    BalrogRingDestroyer Member

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    He had the One Ring even longer than the Nazgul men had the Lesser Rings yet didn't become a Wraith. From what I'm reading, Gollum didn't wear it all the time (maybe he came to hate it) and had only had it on when he had lost it to Bilbo because it was ideal to wear the Ring when attacking goblins.
     
  2. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    I'll try an answer since you haven't had a reply yet. Gandalf was knowledgeable in hobbit-lore; he had discovered i.a. that hobbits were resilient to evil, in particular to the power of the Ring:

    Among the Wise I am the only one that goes in for hobbit-lore: an obscure branch of knowledge, but full of surprises. Soft as butter they can be, and yet sometimes as tough as old tree-roots. I think it likely that some would resist the Rings far longer than most of the Wise would believe.

    Gandalf also found out that Gollum was originally either a hobbit or else very closely related to hobbits:

    ‘I can’t believe that Gollum was connected with hobbits, however distantly,’ said Frodo with some heat. ‘What an abominable notion!’
    ‘It is true all the same,’ replied Gandalf. ‘About their origins, at any rate, I know more than hobbits do themselves. And even Bilbo’s story suggests the kinship. There was a great deal in the background of their minds and memories that was very similar. They understood one another remarkably well, very much better than a hobbit would understand, say, a Dwarf, or an Orc, or even an Elf. Think of the riddles they both knew, for one thing.’

    Based on this, and also on Gollum’s infrequent use of the Ring, Gandalf explained that Gollum's mind was still not entirely overcome by the power of the Ring:

    Gollum was not wholly ruined. He had proved tougher than even one of the Wise would have guessed – as a hobbit might. There was a little corner of his mind that was still his own, and light came through it, as through a chink in the dark: light out of the past.
    [...]
    It was long since he had worn it much: in the black darkness it was seldom needed. Certainly he had never “faded”. He is thin and tough still. But the thing was eating up his mind, of course, and the torment had become almost unbearable.
    […]
    He was altogether wretched. He hated the dark, and he hated light more: he hated everything, and the Ring most of all. […] He hated it and loved it, as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter.

    PS - Maybe I recite a bit much from JRRT texts but I think that this helps to remain close to the author's original thoughts.
     

  3. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    Indeed, whatever conception Tolkien had in mind during the writing of The Hobbit, it's clear that by the time of LOTR, he had become a hobbit, as befits his role as Frodo's "shadow", in both story terms, and the Jungian sense.

    And as Meroe points out, hobbits were resistant to "fading", much as the Dwarves.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2018
  4. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    I know you are right about mentioning the Dwarves in this context, Squint-eyed Southerner, also because I remember having read that too "somewhere".

    Could you remind me where you had this from?
    I quite forgot, I'm an old man, remember. :)
     

  5. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    I'm not near my library at the moment (and won't be for another few days), so I'm afraid I can't give the proper citation.

    But from my memory of rereading it recently, added to a little on-line checking, it's likely to be found in "On the Rings of Power and the Third Age" in the Silmarillion.

    One question I don't recall seeing a specific answer to, is whether this resistance of the Dwarves would prevent their Rings from making them invisible. Anyone know?
     
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  6. gentleDrift

    gentleDrift New Member

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    I couldn't find much there on fading at all, but I would guess that you recall Gandalf's comments to Frodo in Rivendell - in "Many Meetings", he tells Frodo about the Morgul-knife:

    It is gone now. It has been melted. And it seems that Hobbits fade very reluctantly. I have known strong warriors of the Big People who would quickly have been overcome by that splinter, which you bore for seventeen days.

    This is of course not fading due to wearing a Ring of Power, but due to being stabbed by a Morgul blade. But the two don't seem wholly dissimilar to me, as Gandalf goes on to say:

    They tried to pierce your heart with a Morgul-knife which remains in the wound. If they had succeeded, you would have become like they are, only weaker and under their command.

    So seemingly the effect of being pierced by Morgul-kife (Frodo) and wearing a Ring of Power for a long time (Ringwraiths) is the same - being permanently transported to the wraith-world. Therefore I think the Hobbit's resistance to the one kind of fading can safely be assumed to also pertain to the other.

    As for the Dwarves: I can't recall any passage mentioning wether they turn invisible when wearing their rings. That in itself indicates to me that they behaved just like anybody else in that situation. But now I wonder wether their rings even made their bearers invisible at all? The Elven rings certainly did not seem to make their bearer invisible (or maybe that is because their bearers were Elves (and Gandalf) who lived already partly in the wraith-world?). But on the other hand they almost have to have made their bearers invisible to explain Gandalf's uncertainty about Bilbo's ring - in "The Shadow of the Past" he says

    I wondered often how Gollum came by a Great Ring, as plainly it was - that at least was clear from the first.

    If none of the other Great Rings made their bearer invisible, it is very hard to explain why it took Gandalf so long to realize that Bilbo's ring was the One. I guess it could potentially have been one of the Nine - oh well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
  7. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    The Three didn't make Elves invisible, certainly; they were made "by Celebrimbor alone", and so were different from the others. Whether they would have made a mortal invisible who put one on, that's a question; if so, it would also raise the question of whether the other rings made Elves invisible. These rings, remember, were made, at least as far as the Elves knew, by them for their own use; they were unaware, at the time, of Sauron's "taint" of them. Whether the invisibility was caused by the taint, or because they were simply too powerful for mortals, and "overwhelmed" them physically, is another question for which I have no answer.

    I would tend to think they were not intended by the Elves to make them invisible; why, really, would they feel any need for that ability?

    As for fading, "On the Rings of Power" does address this: Men

    "became for ever invisible save to him that wore the Ruling Ring, and they entered into the realm of shadows.

    To the Dwarves, we have:

    The Dwarves indeed proved hard and tough to tame; they ill endure the domination of others, and the thoughts of their hearts are hard to fathom, nor can they be turned to shadows.

    I've seen this sentence cited as evidence that they did not become invisible, but as it stands, I don't believe that is implied; rather, they would not "fade" -- that is, become invisible permanently.
     
  8. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    In letter 131, with respect to the Elven rings, Tolkien describes the rendering of the body invisible, and making things of the invisible world visible, as "other powers, more directly derived from Sauron."

    So that clears that up cough ;)

    Perhaps more of Sauron's cozening comes in here, I mean, sometimes don't we all just want to disappear for a while cough sorry?
     
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  9. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    Argh, there's that darn Letter 131 again -- always trips me up! :(

    Seriously, thanks for reminding me; I've read, underlined, and made notes on, that letter numerous times over the years, but tend to forget anyway. It's probably why the idea of the "taint" was floating around in my subconscious mind.

    Still, it sounds as if the invisibility wasn't intended by the Elves; I wonder if they considered it just an odd "side effect"? In any event, that passage appears to make it clear that, except for the Three, all the Rings made all who wore them, even the Elves, invisible; and that would, of course, include Dwarves. So you're right-- it clears that up -- thank goodness.

    Aha -- here's a question: in the next paragraph, he tells how, on learning of the One, the Elves hid the Three, and then goes on to say "the others they tried to destroy" (my emphasis). Why were they unsuccessful, do you think?

    Something else to chew on! :D
     
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  10. Galin

    Galin Registered User

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    Just to add: my "clears that up" was only in reference to Tolkien's "more directly derived" statement, especially the "more" part. In other words, I was poking fun at Tolkien's choice of words there, not anyone here.

    In case that's not clear :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  11. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    Well, that clears that up! :p

    I sometimes wonder if some of Tolkien's ambiguities are there because he wasn't sure himself.
     
  12. Merroe

    Merroe Active Member

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    I am currently not at home and therefore unable to consult my books, but if my memory serves me right then Thrain was wearing his ring during the battle at the gates of Moria when he was captured by the enemy.

    If so, then I would find it unbefitting to a dwarf of his high eminence to enter a battle invisibly and the conclusion that dwarf-rings made them invisible too a little questionable...!? :oops:
     
  13. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Skulking near Archet

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    Thrain wasn't captured at Azanulbizar. Perhaps you're thinking of Thror.

    . . .among the kindred of Durin's Heirs it was believed (wrongly) that Thror wore it when he rashly returned there.

    Appendix A III, Durin's Folk

    Which also says:

    But the possessors of the Ring did not display it or speak of it.

    So it seems unlikely he would have been wearing it.

    Thrain was captured some 40 years later, as he wandered north of Mirkwood.

    As Gandalf tells Gloin's at the Council:

    'Balin will find no ring in Moria,' said Gandalf. 'Thror gave it to Thrain his son, but not Thrain to Thorin. It was taken with torment from Thrain in the dungeons of Dol Guldur. I came too late'
     
  14. Gilgaearel

    Gilgaearel Member

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    The Nazguls never got the One Ring. They took the other less powerful rings that were controlled by the One Ring.

    But those rings could corrupt, control the mind and overwhelm someone according to his character and power. Those who were the most powerful in position or abilities were more vulnerable to the powers of the lesser rings and in time became Wraiths under the power of the One Ring.
    The One Ring now, didn't turn its keeper to a Wraith but it brought forward the worst characteristics of his character and that happened because the One Ring was literally a part of the the evil spirit of Sauron.

    That is the reason why Sauron needed the One Ring in order to regain his powers and perhaps his physical form.

    The Gollum now was initially just another Hobbit. He had no special powers, he didn't have any social or other position. ( he wasn't a leader or a King/Lord or similar).
    When he got the One Ring and when this started to affect him, he just took it inside a cave to keep it there for his self.
    Hobbits as it is clear from the LoTR were not associated with the other races of Middle Earth, Elves, Dwarves or Men.

    The One Ring could corrupt them but the Hobbits themselves couldn't make any particular damage to any other else other than themselves. They were not even able to control the Nazguls something that I think that any of the most powerful characters in the books would be able to do if they had in their possession the One Ring.