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The yellow and white faces

ArwenStar

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Ok. Gollum hates the yellow and white faces (aka sun + moon). Why? Is it beacause he spent 500 years under ground, or just why? And he once or twice called them sun and moon, so why the inconsistency?
 

Starbrow

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I think it is symbolic of his evilness, i. e. evil things hate the light. Very evil things are hurt by the light, such as trolls and orcs.
 

Squint-eyed Southerner

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This is true, and there's another way of looking at it. As Gandalf reconstructs it:

'. . .as he was bending over a pool, he felt a burning on the back of his head, and a dazzling light from the water pained his wet eyes. He wondered at it, for he had almost forgotten about the Sun.'

And later:

'Even Gollum was not wholly ruined. . .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.'

So, as you say, Gollum wasn't wholly evil. We could read his pain and fear of the two "faces" as a sort of symbolic metaphor for the pain felt by someone possessed of a conscience -- however we want to define that -- who nevertheless does evil; a sociopath, say, would have no such compunctions. And his physical deterioration, though it has a "rational" explanation, nevertheless follows the symbolism; he slowly becomes "eaten up" by loneliness and guilt.

Dickens was fond of this sort of symbolism, even down to names; think of Mr. Scrooge, whose name seems to suggest "screwed", "ruthless", and maybe "squeezed", and whose physical description and actions demonstrate all these things. He had "squeezed" the humane part of himself down to invisibility, yet it was still there; he was capable of being redeemed, as indeed happened.

And as almost happened with Gollum. That he came so close, yet fell, is what makes his story a tragedy, rather than merely the defeat of a stock villain.

It's also a warning to us about careless words!
 
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Alcuin

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Consigned to the salt mines of Núrnen…
I’ve probably read Lord of the Rings nigh on one hundred times, sometimes straight through, often in pieces. (I rarely read other fiction any longer, only non-fiction.) But not until now have I considered Gollum as a “moral creature” or “moral agent”, though clearly he is.

Gandalf told Frodo (“Shadow of the Past”) that, “The murder of Déagol haunted Gollum,” indicating that his betrayal and wanton murder of his friend dug deep into his psyche, unbalancing him. And as Squint-eyed Southerner notes, “Even Gollum was not wholly ruined… 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.” And he goes on opine that Gollum found it “actually pleasant … to hear a kindly voice again, bringing up memories of wind, and trees, and sun on the grass, and such forgotten things.”

Frodo addresses the Valar* (and perhaps even Eru?) concerning the captured Gollum in “The Taming of Sméagol”,
Very well. … But still I am afraid. And yet, as you see, I will not touch the creature. For now that I see him, I do pity him.
He orders Sam to release him, and
At once Gollum got up and began prancing about, like a whipped cur whose master has patted it. From that moment a change, which lasted for some time, came over him. He spoke with less hissing and whining, and he spoke to his companions direct, not to his precious self. He … was friendly, and indeed pitifully anxious to please. He would … caper … if Frodo spoke kindly to him, and weep if Frodo rebuked him.
Much later, Gollum, returning from his visit to Shelob, finds Frodo and Sam asleep at the top of the second climb in “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol”.
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 caress. 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.
Of this and Sam’s subsequent rebuke that causes Gollum to relapse into evil, Tolkien writes in Letter 246 that
For me perhaps the most tragic moment in the Tale comes … when Sam fails to note the complete change in Gollum’s tone and aspect. … His repentance is blighted and all Frodo’s pity is … wasted. Shelob’s lair became inevitable.
Gollum’s redemption was not beyond hope, as Gandalf foresaw, but neither was it to be. Frodo’s pity, however, was not “wasted”: Gollum in his gleeful possessiveness overstepped and destroyed both himself and his Precious.

───◊───

* Frodo, Sam, and Legolas all call on Elbereth at various places in the story; but I think the only other direct address to the Valar in Lord of the Rings is Éowyn’s in the Gardens of the Houses of Healing: “I stand in Minas Anor, the Tower of the Sun…”
 

Squint-eyed Southerner

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Characters do call upon Elbereth, usually in times of crisis.

Frodo could have been talking to the Valar, or his own conscience, or even to "The Rules", as Gandalf put it in an early draft. But if we examine the context:

It seemed to Frodo then that he heard, quite plainly but far off, voices out of the past:

What a pity that Bilbo did not stab the vile creature, when he had a chance!

Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need.

I do not feel any pity for Gollum. He deserves death.
.
Deserves death! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.


'Very well,' he answered aloud, lowering his sword. 'But still I am afraid. And yet, as you see, I will not touch the creature. For now that I see him, I do pity him.'
I think it's clear that in this instance, he's replying to the "spirit", or at least the memory, of Gandalf. And in a way, perhaps, to his own former self, the self-righteous and ignorant Frodo of the protected Shire, before the quest taught him the meaning and consequences of suffering. I find this a very moving sequence, in a book filled with them.

BTW: was this scene in the movie? I can't remember. And did a "Ghostly Gandalf" appear? If so, we can at least be grateful PJ didn't have him say "Frodo! Use the Force!" *

* At least I hope he didn’t! :p
 
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ArwenStar

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Yes the scene is in the movie. And no ghostly Gandalf, just a flashback to when Gandalf said it being alive. (Does my explanation make sense?)
 

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