Gollum is the most mysterious and contradictory character
in the fantasy adventure "The Lord of the Rings". He got his nickname from
a clicking sound he made from time to time with his throat which sounded
like "gollum". Such noises could express practically anything: excitement
and delight, sadness and fury, and other feelings.
Gollum's life can be divided into several periods, although
gathered information is not that reliable. Before the Ring came into his
possession, Gollum was a hobbit of the tribe of the Stoors, who lived near
the Gladden Fields. His actual name was Smeagol, a translation of his Westron
name, which means "burrow-deep". Once Smeagol with his friend Deagol went
fishing and they fished the One Ring out of the Anduin. No one suspected
its destructive force at that time. But the ring perniciously worked on
the hobbit's consciousness and Smeagol even strangled his friend in order
to get the Ring. The Ring, possessed much greater powers and influences over the two hobbits, unlike any common copper or tungsten rings would. However he called the Ring his birthday present and said
it came from his grandmother, who had lots of beautiful things of that
Smeagol came from a big and well-off family, where grandmother,
strict and faithful to old customs, was a matriarch. Smeagol was rather strong
and crafty. But he never aimed to be first at anything, "his head
and his eyes were downward". Possessing the Ring, it corrupted him in such
a way that Smeagol even became an outsider and, hating the sun and its
warmth ever more, took refuge in a cave under the Misty Mountains. His
constant telling of lies became one of his main qualities, which he wouldn't
part with throughout the story. Only fear and Sauron's tortures made Smeagol
say something close to the truth. Here what Gandalf says about Gollum:
"Gollum is a liar, and you have to sift his words".
Being a hobbit, Gollum got a kind of absolute power which
entirely seized his thoughts. He found that no one in his family could see
him, when he was wearing the Ring. He was very pleased with his discovery
and he concealed it; and he used it to find out secrets, and he put his
knowledge to crooked and malicious uses. Because of this, his relatives
were not too fond of him. "His grandmother, desiring peace, expelled
him from the family and turned him out of her hole". After that Gollum
lived in a cave, dreading the sun light. The Ring made him its slave.
Gollum is a self-centred and egoistic creature. This is
proved not only by the above-mentioned facts but also by his betrayal of
Frodo and Sam. Gollum swore on "his precious" and broke his oath.
Gollum's favourite food was fish and goblins, which could
be found in the Misty Mountains. He dwelt on an island, as slithery as
he was, near a mountainous cold lake. Although the Ring was sucking his
energy out, it extended his life but changed his appearance completely.
Gollum became wild, he himself looked black, with big shimmering eyes and
big paddling feet.
More than anything he liked Riddle-games. Once, a very long
time ago, before the Ring came into his hands, he liked to give them to
his friends. When Bilbo accidentally met Gollum in his cave he gave Bilbo
some riddles but eventually lost the contest. At that time Bilbo could
easily do away with this creature, but didn't do that. As though Providence
itself prompted Bilbo not to kill Gollum.
Gollum played his own special role in "The Lord of the
Rings". He showed Frodo and Sam a secret way to Mordor. If he hadn't been
on Orodruin at the right time, Frodo would have become a new Master of
the Ring. However, Gollum bit off Frodo's finger along with the Ring, but,
having slipped, fell into the fire.
It is difficult to judge Gollum and his acts unequivocally.
"Even 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 actually pleasant,
I think, to hear a kindly voice again, bringing up memories of wind, and
trees, and sun on the grass, and such forgotten things. But that, of course,
would only make the evil part of him angrier in the end — unless it could
be conquered. Unless it could be cured." — says Gandalf; it is difficult
not to agree with him.
His longing for the Ring made Gollum wander through the
lands of Middle-earth. In T.A. 3017 he was caught by Sauron. Having being
tortured, Gollum told him about the Ring's fate. What Sauron learned from
Gollum was the name of Baggins and the Shire.
Shortly after that Aragorn caught Gollum and brought him to
Gandalf. Gollum was terribly afraid of everything and his tale was incoherent,
"together with much snivelling and snarling". He had strange hopes towards
Evil and thought he "had good friends now, good friends and very strong.
They would help him. Baggins would pay for it".
Gollum's primary objective was to take revenge on Bilbo
Baggins and regain the Ring. During the journey of the Fellowship of the
Ring, he followed them and traced "his precious". Gollum even escaped from
the realm of the elves, into whose guard he was given. Being a slave of
the Ring, hating the sun, he stealthily followed the Company.
Gollum wormed himself into Frodo and Sam's confidence. He
did all that he was asked to do, although reluctantly, uttering creaking
sounds. Gollum brought the hobbits to Shelob's web, to a huge and wicked
spider whom Gollum had promised to bring victims. He hoped that the monster
would get rid of the things, including "his precious". However, Sam saw
a trap in that and everything turned out to be fine.
We cannot but admire Gollum's restlessness. He reached
Orodruin and there took "his precious" into his possession — that time
Of course, Gollum is a negative character. Although, he
hates both Good and Evil, he takes neither side. In the War of the Ring
he plays for himself, strives to reach only his aims. He can be tamed,
but, for the sake of what?
We can only sympathize with Gollum. During all his life
he was under the Ring's influence. Together with it, celebrating the regaining
of his precious, he falls into the fire. This outcome is rather predictable.
He successfully accomplishes the Company of Nine's mission, although not
desperately wanting to save the world.