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Gollum

Gollum


Gollum, a fictional character created by J.R.R. Tolkien, and appears in his legendarium. This character first appeared in The Hobbit, Tolkien’s novel published in 1937. After that, this character gained a role of importance in The Lord of the Rings. Gollum was initially called as Sméagol or Trahald. He was actually a Stoorish hobbit, one of the three breeds of hobbits, living in the Misty Mountains. He is supposed to have been born in TA 2430. Due to the effect of having possessed the One Ring, the creature Gollum lived for a much longer time than natural and is supposed to have died at the age of 589, on March 25, 3019.

Even though he was a hobbit once, his body and mind that had been enslaved by the One Ring had become twisted and deformed. Since he found the One Ring and fell prey to its powers, he was obsessed with it. His primary motive was to have the One Ring in his possession, and he spent many years trying to regain possession of it when the One Ring abandoned him in and was found by Bilbo Baggins in the Misty Mountains in TA 2941. In the movies, he is transformed from a character of deuteragonist into one that is the secondary antagonist.[1]

Origin

Sméagol lived the early part of his life with his extended family near the Anduin. His people had moved to the Gladden Fields and were people of river lands. They usually lived with a head Matriarch. Sméagol and Déagol, his cousin lived under their grandmother, who was the Matriarch of the family. During the year TA 2463, the two of them went fishing, on the day of Sméagol’s birthday in the Gladden Fields. Déagol was pulled by a large fish out of the boat and into the water, where he found the One Ring. Sméagol is instantly affected by the power of the One Ring and asks Déagol to present it to him as a birthday present. Déagol did not want to give the Ring to Sméagol, which led to Sméagol becoming angry and, in a rage, started fighting Déagol for the Ring. He choked Déagol to death and took the Ring for himself. He was the fourth person to be the Ring-bearer, following Sauron, Isildur, and Déagol. People started calling him Gollum after this incident because of the gurgling noise he began to make after this.[2]

Gollum

Since then, the power of the One Ring started affecting and corrupting the mind of Sméagol. This eventually led to him being banished by his own people and was chased out of his home by his grandmother. After this, he had to find a place to stay, and around the period of TA 2470, he started living in a cave in the Misty Mountains. The powers began affecting him and transformed his body into a twisted form, degraded his mind, and he spent all his time obsessing over the One Ring and referring to it as his “precious”, and his “birthday present”. He justified killing Déagol by calling the Ring his birthday present, which Déagol refused to give him. His life was extended by the power of the Ring, much longer than any Hobbit had lived. He managed to survive for over four hundred years, living on raw fish which he managed to catch, bats when he managed to get any, and goblins from a Goblin-town that was nearby. He had become used to eating only these things, that later, he found food of the Hobbits and Elves repulsive. His body had become maligned and disfigured, and his mind and body had borne a huge toll. His mind had been under the powers of the ring and led him to develop a kind of dissociative identity disorder. His “good’ side, which still had a vague recollection of the relations he had, friendship and love, was Sméagol. His “bad” side, Gollum, was bound to the power of the Ring, willing to take extreme measures to guard it and keep it in his possession.

In TA 2941, when the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins happened to venture into the area of Gollum’s residence while on a quest, he found the Ring that Gollum had lost. It is said that the Ring has a will of its own and that it abandoned the creature Gollum. Gollum was almost completely mad by this time. Bilbo and Gollum faced each other and got into a game of riddles. Gollum did not reveal the escape route to Bilbo and was planning to kill him, but then realized that Bilbo had the One Ring, and started to chase him. During this chase, Bilbo discovered the invisibility power of the Ring and used it to escape from the tunnels. Bilbo was thinking to kill Gollum but then decided against it, feeling pity for the creature. Gollum did not follow Bilbo out of the cave because he feared being caught by goblins.

His obsession over the Ring made him overcome his fear and hatred of things outside his cave, and he finally left to recover the Ring from Bilbo, but he was unable to track him. He then traveled to Mordor, where evil things were going at that time. He was then captured by the Nazgûl, who tortured him and forced him to reveal information about the Ring. He revealed just two words, “Shire”, and “Baggins”. After this, by the year TA 3017, Gollum was released by Sauron and his spies, even though he showed no loyalty, nor had any use for Sauron. He was then captured by Aragorn, who handed him over to Gandalf. Gandalf then interrogated Gollum and elicited some of the unknown parts of the Ring’s history. He then placed Gollum under the care of Silvan Elves who lived in Mirkwood, in the kingdom of Thranduil. In the year TA 3018, the Orcs attacked the Mirkwood Elves and facilitated the escape of Gollum. After this, Gollum began looking for the Ring once again. He started to look for the Shire and made it into Moira. He was unable to go further as he could not find a way to pass through the Doors of Durin.

Gollum waited at Moria and picked up the trail of the latest Ring-bearer, Frodo Baggins. Gollum had somehow managed to track the Fellowship of the Ring and began to follow them. Frodo had even spotted him and heard him many times. In January of 3019, it so happened that the fellowship was split up when Gandalf disappeared during a fight with a Balrog. Gollum kept with following the rest of the Fellowship. He somehow had managed to get across the Bridge of Khazad-dûm and followed them into Lothlórien. He followed their boats as they traveled to Rauros, down the Anduin by holding onto a log. After that, he kept after Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee as they traversed across the Emyn Muil, a vast stretch of rocky crags, as they journeyed towards Mordor. In the following confrontation, Gollum managed to bite and almost strangle Sam. Frodo managed to overcome the creature and threatened to kill him with an Elvish blade, Sting. Gollum recognized the knife, which had previously belonged to Bilbo. In order to put a leash on Gollum, Frodo then tied an Elvish rope around the creature’s ankle. The touch of the rope itself caused Gollum pain. Frodo took pity on the creature and made him swear that he would help them. Gollum agreed and swore by his “precious” itself. He was then released, and the three of them continued on their way to the Mordor’s entrance, the Black Gate.

The kindness Frodo had showed appealed to Sméagol, the better personality of the creature, and it tried to keep good on its promise. Gollum had lived in the darkness of a cave for so long that he had come to fear both the sun and the moon. He called the sun as the ‘Yellow Face’ and the moon as the ‘White Face’. Frodo and Gollum were both Ring-bearers and hence seemed to share some kind of a strange bond. Frodo could see his possible future in the creature. He felt the need to help Gollum so that he would save himself in the process. Gollum was fearful of Frodo, and also knew that if he helped Frodo, Sauron might not get the Ring. The only people to have shown kindness to the creature Gollum were Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, and Frodo Baggins. Gollum had been hated as soon as anyone met him, whether it was the Orcs of Cirith Ungol or the Ithilien Rangers.[3]

They found that the Black Gate was heavily guarded when they arrived there. Gollum was successful in convincing them to avoid that path, or else they would be captured, and that the Ring would fall to Sauron. He wanted to take them through another path in the south where he said was another entrance to Mordor. Faramir captures Frodo and Samwise. Gollum still manages to follow them, but when Frodo let Sméagol be captured by Faramir, it brought out the “Gollum” in him. Gollum had been taking Frodo and Sam to Cirith Ungol, where the giant spider Shelob resided. Frodo and Sam were warned by Faramir about the danger of Cirith Ungol. Faramir left the three of them, and they climbed the stairs of Cirith Ungol which were located in the Ephel Duath mountains. Gollum was intending to betray Sam and Frodo by leading them to Shelob for her to devour, the giant spider and the spawn of Ungoliant. For this, he then met Shelob without the knowledge of the Hobbits and managed to make an alliance with the giant spider. It is surprising that an arrangement was reached between the two of them since Shelob would usually kill and eat anything she saw.

Sam and Frodo were sleeping when Gollum returned to them. When he saw the sleeping Frodo, Gollum’s motives almost turned, and he might have begun to repent, but then Sam, who had woken up, started to speak in a harsh tone to Gollum. This particular action took things back to how they were, and any chance for redemption was nullified. Frodo and Sam were taken to the lair of Shelob by Gollum according to his plan. Gollum was called as “Shelob’s Sneak” by the orcs for this particular action of his. Frodo had already warned Gollum that when he betrays his oath, he will face his downfall. Sam and Frodo manage to escape from Shelob’s lair and made it to the fiery Orodruin volcano, the Mount Doom. The creature Gollum had again followed them till the Mount Doom and was looking for a chance to get the Ring from them by surprise. When the Hobbits were close to their destination, Gollum attacked but was not able to get the ring. Samwise had hated the creature from the beginning, and tried to kill Gollum, but was unable to do so due to pity and disgust for the creature.

Following this, Frodo was in the process of doing what he had come for, to destroy the One Ring finally. The power of the Ring was too powerful, and Frodo was could not bring himself to destroy the Ring. He wanted it for himself and wore the Ring. Gollum attacked once again, trying to get back the Ring. Frodo had turned invisible by the power of the Ring. Sam got knocked out by Gollum, who hit him with a rock. Gollum could track Frodo’s footprints and managed to jump onto him. They were both engaged in a fight, and in the end, Gollum managed to completely bite off Frodo’s finger. Gollum then loses his balance as he moves near the edge of the pit, and falls in along with Frodo’s finger and the Ring, crying out “Precious!”, at having finally regained possession of the One Ring. The Ring and Gollum both fall into the lava and perish in it. All the times that Gollum’s life had been spared finally led to him playing a part in destroying the One Ring that he was so obsessed with. Frodo had also fallen to the powers of the Ring, which wanted to return to its master. Sauron had detected Frodo’s location when he put on the Ring, so there was a possibility that Sauron would have been able to get back the Ring.

Legacy

Gandalf explains to Frodo that he could have met the same fate as Gollum if the Ring had not been destroyed by Gollum itself and that despite his actions Gollum was not an evil creature that deserved death, but actually was just a poor being. He had been bound to the power and will of the Ring. Frodo’s action of putting on the Ring instead of destroying it was the effect of the power of the Ring, and it was the same power that had poisoned the mind of Gollum for so many years. Frodo finally forgives Gollum after years had passed since the death of Gollum.

Gollum had experienced the most suffering due to the One Ring, his life extended by it, while it put tremendous pressure on both his body and mind, disfiguring both over the course of many years. The creature which had suffered so much due to the Ring was finally the one who destroyed the Ring.

Appearance

Tolkien does not describe the size of Gollum in the initial editions of The Hobbit. He was considered to be very large by many, but then Tolkien explained that he was a Hobbit-sized creature, a little taller than Samwise. He is supposed to be pale or dark. He is said to wear dark clothes and resides in poorly lighted conditions. He is said to be keen-eyed and a good fisherman due to this, and being quick of hand. He was capable of living by catching fish in the dark caves and could eat anything that was edible.[4]


He had the capacity to survive on raw and uncooked food. He was reduced to a deformed state by the Ring, becoming pale with eyes that were large, long hands and fingers. His sense of smell and hearing had become improved over the years he spent in the caves and underground. He was able to move silently and was able to follow the fellowship and the Hobbits unnoticed. Even though he had only a few teeth left, he could bite Frodo’s finger, severing it.

Personality

Gollum was a curious Hobbit and was very inquisitive. He showed interest at the beginning of things and the root of things. During the long years he spent alone under the power of the Ring, his two selves, Sméagol and Gollum would argue and quarrel with each other, having nobody to speak to. He showed a love-hate relationship for the Ring, and it was also how he saw himself. The journey of Gollum with the Ring began with him committing a murder, which was the first act he performed when he was affected by the power of the Ring. He hates everything that is made by Elves.

The Elvish rope that is used to bind his ankle when he is captured hurts him by just touching him, and he would or could not eat the lembas bread that Sam and Frodo had. He calls himself ‘we’, indicating that he had a split personality. When he calls himself ‘I’, it is understood that Sméagol side has taken control of the mind of the creature. He uses his own altered version of words and uses plurals with an -es at the end.

Etymology

Sméagol is a word from Old English. It is meant to be used for “creeping, penetrating”. This is also given as a title to Cain by the Anglo-Saxons, for Cain murdering his brother. Sméagol stands as a translation of Trahald, which means “burrowing, creeping in”.[5]

Adaptations

In 1977 The Hobbit and The Return of the King in 1980, Gollum is portrayed as looking like a frog that has large eyes and is shown to wear nothing but a loin-cloth. In the 1978 animated film directed by Ralph Bakshi, The Lord of the Rings, Gollum is portrayed as a dark creature with big eyes.

In The Lord of the Rings film series by Peter Jackson, Gollum has been made by CGI and is performed and voiced by Andy Serkins. He has few scenes in the first movie but is a main character in the latter two movies. Andy Serkins plays the role of Sméagol in a flashback scene. The split characters of Sméagol and Gollum were portrayed as childlike and evil respectively. When the creature argues with itself, it is seen that the character alters his body language and voice while switching from Sméagol to Gollum and vice versa. The two different personalities are also characterized by the size of the pupils.[6]

The character won the “Best Virtual Performance” award in the 2003 MTV Movie Awards. It has been rated among the top 100 villains of movies, TV series, video games and comics of all time by the Wizard Magazine, occupying the 62nd position. Serkin’s Gollum portrayal occupies the 13th place among “100 Greatest Movie Characters of all Time” by Empire. Gollum is seen to lose the ring while trying to kill a goblin in the 2012 film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in which Andy Serkins portrayed the character. In the prequel to Peter Jackson’s films, The Hunt for Gollum directed by Chris Bouchard, Gollum is a CGI character that was taken from the Gollum character in Peter Jackson’s films itself.

In 2006, a 3-hour stage production of The Lord of the Rings opened in Toronto, in which Gollum is played by Michael Therriault. The character also finds mention in a comic book adaptation by Chuck Dixon and Sean Deming, The Hobbit. The illustration for this was done by David Wenzel and was first published in 1989.

References

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Gollum

Biographical info


Other Names (a.k.a)
Smeagol, Stinker
Titles
Ring Bearer
Birth
c. T.A. 2430
Death
25th March T.A. 3019
Age
589 Years

Physical information


Race
Hobbit
Gender
Male
Eyes
Blue-Gray
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