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Gollum - good or evil?

daisy

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In the trilogy, there were many characters who easily fell into either the 'good' or 'evil' category. Yet Gollum cannot be placed in a clearcut category.

Any thoughts? Gollum - a good character with 'issues' or an evil character bent on destruction?

And give reasons!!!:cool:
 

lilhobo

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there are no such thing as 'good or evil" :eek:

one man's "freedom fighter" is another man's "terrorist"
 

Eonwe

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Gollum was kind of screwed up from the beginning. He's digging in holes, getting to the roots of things, perhaps starting to enjoy a good worm or two, and then Deagol's birthday comes along. He's not too good.

It seems like perhaps Deagol wasn't completely in love with his brother (little evidence either way I guess), and Gollum has this thing about gifts for his birthday. He's even worse.

That's the original Gollum.

With the Ring he "deserves death" for some of the things he has done, including the murder of Deagol.

When Bilbo has the riddle game with Gollum, Gollum plans in the back of his mind to get this little juicy man. He is darn right evil.

With the Ring stolen, he searches, wanders, and whines about his position in life, feeling the stretch in years the Ring has given him. He still is nasty, and enters Mordor.

I would submit that something good remained in him, which can be seen in his conversations with Frodo in the dead marshes and after the Emyn Muil. I think that something changed in him a little after Sauron put him on the rack. I think maybe he felt the evil behind the Ring and understood it better. So from this point out, he perhaps a tad less evil, just lustful for the Ring.

His plan to have Frodo and Sam gobbled up by Shelob, and then for him to get the Ring after Shelob forgets about it, is similar to his plans perhaps at the end of the riddle game, find an easy way to kill to solve the problem.

And finally hunting Sam and Frodo down on the plateau of Gorgoroth, again lustful for the Ring.

I think its a hard question to answer, but he was both really, constantly pulling himself from side to side. I think overall he was a 7 out of 10 on the evil meter, with a standard deviation of 2.
 

Kuduk

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Geez, Daisy, you sure are a hard poster to keep up with. I haven't even answered your Gandalf threads properly, and now you've already moved onto Gollum! (Were you an aerobics instructor once? Maybe drill sergeant? Hey, just kidding! You can put away the knife, or fork, or whatever utensil you're favoring right now!:D ) I guess I need to spend more time here and less in the real world.....

I like to apply W.H. Auden's interpretation of Tolkien's depiction of good and evil in ME. He feels that the chief difference between good and evil in ME is a lack of imagination. Good can imagine itself becoming Evil, while Evil can't imagine anything else but itself. When Good forgets this, it has set out on a course to become Evil. However, this course is not necessarily irreversible. Good and evil may be seen like being rich and poor... in that at any given moment a character is either one or the other, but the potential for the other still exists. Of all the characters in LotR I think Gollum/Smeagol illustrates this idea most eloquently.

As you say, Gollum is not clear cut and Eonwe's well-stated (albeit statistically suspect :)) answer illustrates well the conflict of Smeagol vs. Gollum (or as Sam put it, Slinker vs. Stinker). In the story, this is most intensely shown during Book IV in TTT, particularly in the passages where Sam overhears, during the passage of the Dead Marshes, Gollum's internal debate about whether to betray Frodo, and then again in Cirith Ungol just before they enter Shelob's Lair when Gollum goes to wake the two hobbits:
Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously he touched Frodo's knee - but almost the touch was a carees. For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.
I find this to be one of the most heartbreaking paragraphs in the book. This is probably the clearest statement that despite Smeagol's fall from grace into the evil Gollum, even then, there remained some small, minuscule potential to return to Good. The chance was small he would, but probably no smaller than the chance that Frodo would succeed in destroying the Ring.... Difference is Gollum wasn't quite as lucky.

How's that for reasons, Daze? (If you don't like being called 'Daze' just poke me with that fork of yours. I'll get the hint quickly enough!)
 

lilhobo

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sounds a bit like a certain fall from grace guy called darth vader :D

DARTH SMEAGOL: i am your father, Frodo. Search your feelings you it to be true

FRODO: gandalf why didnt you tell me??

DARTH SMEAGOL: give me the ring Frodo, and together we can rule the universe! The valar have forseen it
 

daisy

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Frodo...you have a sister....

I have to say, Kuduk, that so far i lean towards your posting. Of course, as lilhobo mentioned, there are few things clear cut as good or evil, but you have to say that most characters in LOTR are pretty clearly one or the other. I get NO evil vibes from Arwen, the hobbits ( except for Bilbo's annoying cousins), Legolas...some characters are a little more complex, like Boromir, Saruman, Theoden...
But even though Smeagol killed Deagol because he wanted the ring, is there any evidence that he was nasty before the ring was found?
If not, can we blame the ring for Gollum's dark heart?

And Eonwe, eating worms ain't too bad! Woops, i've revealed too much..... :p
 

My_Precious

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Hmmmmm......... Gollum was corrupted by the ring, that's why he did what he did. About Deagol (they were brothers???? - translators in my book put that they were friends) - maybe he was that kind of a brother that tears up your homework, draws tattoos with your mascara, and tells your friends to [email protected]#$ off... :eek:

*My_Precious gives her little cousin hungry evil look* :D

My conclusion is - Gollum was not as bad as some people think.
 

Greenleaf

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I don' think that it was Gollums intent to save any thing except the ring. It was an accident that he fell. He was consumed by it. Any part of him that was once good had all but disappeared. He is really a very sad character though.:(
 

Walter

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Well, Gollum was - as he himself put it so well - "poor Smeagol". Certainly not good, but not evil to the bone either...torn!
 
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SarumansTreason

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Gollum is both good an evil purposefully. (Tolkien intended this.)

"Sam's guess was that Smeagol and Gollum halves (or what in his own mind called Slinker and Stinker) had made a truce and a temporay alliance: neither wanted the Enemy to get the ring; both wished to keep Frodo from capture, as long as possible- at any rate as long as Stinker still had the chance of laying handson his 'Precious'."
Lord of the Ring, Page 665

Also recall the "Good vs Evil" conversation.

"Smeagol promised," said the first thought.
"Yes, yes my precious," came the answer, "we promise: to save our Precious, not to let Him have it- never. But it's going to him, yes, nearer every step. What's the hobbit going to do with it, we wonders, yes we wonders."
" I don't know. I can't helo it. Master's got it. Smeagol promised to help the master."
"Yes, yes, to help the master, the master of the Precious. BUt if we was the master, then we could help ourselfs, yes, ad still keep promises."
"But Smeagol said he would be very very good. Nice Hobbit! He took cruelrope off Smeagol's lef. He speaks nicely to me."
....................etc....
To read the rest of he conversation please see Page 658 of the Lod of the Rings.

Yup. Gollum was both evil and good. No doubt about it.
 

DreamingDragon

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I think that gollum was what is usually referred to as the classic "innocent bystander". He found the Ring, took it and was swayed by it's power. That doesn't make him bad or good...Gandalf was good, but didn't want to be tempted by the Ring because he knew it would corrupt him. Elrond and Galadriel had the same convictions. Gollum, while in the presence of the Ring, both hated and loved it. But once parted from it's power, began "healing", as Gandalf explained to Frodo.

Good or bad? No more than most of the characters in the books. Bad luck??? You bet....
 

YayGollum

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Yay people defending Gollum! You handled it well! I don't have anything else to say except that I really hated what Eonwe said about Gollum wanting to eat Bilbo. He only wanted to after he figured out that Bilbo had stolen his ring. Also, let's not forget that it's all Sam's fault that Gollum won out in the end when he got mad at him for just looking at Frodo!
 

Eonwe

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Sorry yAyGoLlUm, the first thing Gollum says to Bilbo is:

"Bless us and splash us, my precioussss! I guess it's a choice feast; at least a tasty morsel it'd make us, gollum!"

He wanted to eat Bilbo like a sheet pizza and wings...

That was before he found out that Bilbo had the Ring... :(
 

andromeda

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well, he's good AND evil. he did get sam and frodo to mordor. but then betrayed them. so i would say more evil than good
 

Elanor2

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I can really say that Smeagol was good. He did murder his friend, with very little provocation. Of course the ring gave a nudge in the right direction, but there must have been a bad part in Smeagol to begin with, or he would not have fallen so easily.

Bilbo, for example, did not kill Gollum, and he had a better ground for it. He was alone and threatened by Gollum, he had clearly heard that Gollum wanted to kill him and Gollum was barring him from freedom. A heavy temptation that he controlled, because Bilbo had more goodness in him than Smeagol ever had.

I do not think that we can blame the ring for all of Smeagol's disgraces (That's what Smeagol would do!!! :) ) Smeagol had a very bad side from the beginning, I fear, and that bad side came to dominate him and made him (with the help of the ring) into Gollum. In the Smeagol/Gollum dialogs we can see how Gollum is winning more and more.... I find it surprising that the Smeagol part managed to have enough presence to discuss with the more powerful Gollum side. Nevertheless, I liked the double-personality parts. They were funny and interesting.

But I am with Sam on this. I would not trust either of them! ;)
 

Lantarion

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I agree with DreamingDragon, I don't think Gollum was particularly evil, at least before the Ring came along. He was nosy, curious and liked to explore unexplored places, with perhaps some glint of mischief in his mind. But I think his mind was so open to everything, and all new things and knowledge it could aquire, that he was so prone to the evil power of the Ring (which was reverbitating rather tremulously at the time, because it was looking for a new Hand for itself) that he became ensnared in its trechorous trap. His evil side was brought out and maximised, and perhaps it even grew during his ownership of the Ring. But I don't think he was evil before that.
And even with the Ring, he did try to fight its influence (as we can see from Slinker, ie. Sméagol). But the Ring did have the upper hand for the most part, and ever more so when he, Sam and Frodo drew nearer and nearer to Orodruin. Gollum was desperate, and confused, and was being controlled by the evil urges and needs controlled by the Ring; and funny enough these 'needs' brought Gollum to Sauron, even though he was not wearing the One.
But on the whole, Gollum was a nice guy, and sometimes even likable (remember his jokes and cackles with S&F), but the Ring had corrupted him far from aid, and even though he might have wanted to be free of the seething curse, the need for the One Ring, he could not. *sniff*
 

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