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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Gollums Ageing

iandea14
Rivendell


Sep 7 2012, 4:38am

Post #1 of 7 (790 views)
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Gollums Ageing Can't Post

So when Bilbo gives up the ring to Frodo he ages extremely quickly but after over 50 years after Gollum lost the ring he hasn't aged much and he's some 500 years old. So I'm confused why Gollum isn't dead from old age or having to use a hover around to get places.


DanielLB
Immortal


Sep 7 2012, 7:38am

Post #2 of 7 (307 views)
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He had an amazing beautician, or so I've heard [In reply to] Can't Post

Since we're in the Reading Room, I presume you mean in context of the books, rather than the films? You have to remember that Gollum had the ring a lot lot lot longer than Bilbo had the Ring. Gollum had kept it for so long that he had grown so old with age he actually changed in appearance. Gollum wouldn't have changed much between TH and FOTR. Gollum is not longer Smeagol - and that is the process of change he underwent.

Gollum kept the Ring long enough to be consumed by it, which Bilbo was not. The Ring had been prolonging Bilbo's life. The Ring was keeping Gollum alive.


dreamflower
Lorien

Sep 7 2012, 2:31pm

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Different strokes for different folks... [In reply to] Can't Post

Gollum had the Ring for 500 years or so, and as Gandalf pointed out, he'd never "faded". Nor did Bilbo "fade". Perhaps it takes longer for "fading" to take effect on mortals-- we don't know how long it took for the Ringwraiths to become actual wraiths, do we?

But Gandalf seems to attribute it to hobbit "toughness"-- something in hobbits that resists at least the physical fading (although Smeagol was transformed into something quite different than a hobbit by the end-- Gollum was called a "creature", and not in a good way) but we do see the bare beginnings of the emotional and spiritual fading in Bilbo after 50 years: he's feeling "thin and stretched like butter over too much bread".

The Rings were originally intended for Elves. Different Races seemed to react differently to them, to have different "side effects" so to speak-- Dwarves didn't fade and couldn't be dominated, other than having their greed exacerbated. Men were easily deceived and dominated and quickly faded. Hobbits, apparently did not fade physically and it took a long time for the Rings to affect them (unless, like Smeagol, they were already inclined to unpleasantness).


Solicitr
Lorien

Sep 7 2012, 5:43pm

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And frequency of use, and its residual power [In reply to] Can't Post

Remember also that the rate of "fading" was dependent on the amount of time a mortal spent actually wearing the Ring and being in the invisible "wraith world" state. Bilbo wore it very infrequently; and Tolkien wrote somewhere that once Smeagol took up residence in the dark caverns, he didn't actually put it on that often.

However, at least as important and probably more is the fact that Bilbo's accelerated aging really took place after the Ring had ceased to exist; it was its destruction which eliminated its effect from the world: undoing the foundations of Barad-dur, the power of the Nine to keep the Nazgul 'alive' (note that they personally hadn't possessed those rings for centuries), and nullifying the Three Rings as well.

Bilbo at the time of the Council of Elrond seems little changed from how he had been 17 years earlier when he left Hobbiton; it's when Frodo returns to Rivendell 11 months later and a mere six months after the Ring's destruction that Bilbo seems much aged and somewhat senile.


dreamflower
Lorien

Sep 7 2012, 6:14pm

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You are right [In reply to] Can't Post

How often it was used was probably also a factor, and to me another one that may figure in is the state of mind of the wearer when it was in use. Gollum wore it to steal and to murder; he was full of malice when he used it. Bilbo wore it during his Adventure for the survival of himself and his Dwarf friends, and occasionally in the Shire to avoid unwanted guests. His use of it was more innocent and innocuous.

Some might say the fact that Sauron was unaware of it at the time was a factor-- but that was a factor shared by both Bilbo and Gollum.

Frodo's experience was much different, since Sauron was actively seeking it.

But still, the One was never made with hobbits in mind, and their reactions were, I think, quite different from what its maker might have anticipated.


Elizabeth
Valinor


Sep 7 2012, 10:40pm

Post #6 of 7 (272 views)
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I think it was the destruction of the Ring... [In reply to] Can't Post

...that caused Bilbo to age, as you say.


In Reply To
However, at least as important and probably more is the fact that Bilbo's accelerated aging really took place after the Ring had ceased to exist; it was its destruction which eliminated its effect from the world: undoing the foundations of Barad-dur, the power of the Nine to keep the Nazgul 'alive' (note that they personally hadn't possessed those rings for centuries), and nullifying the Three Rings as well.

The other effects are less important, and very hard to document. Who knows how often Gollum put it on? And Bilbo seemed to use it quite casually to disappear when needed.






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Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Noel Q. von Schneiffel
Rivendell


Sep 8 2012, 7:04pm

Post #7 of 7 (451 views)
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I completely agree [In reply to] Can't Post

And I think Peter Jackson got that wrong when he showed Bilbo already significantly aged and less agile during the Council of Elrond.

It is also interesting what Gollum thinks about it, when he tries to talk Frodo out of killing him on the slopes of Mount Doom:

'Don't kill us,' he wept. 'Don't hurt us with nassty cruel steel! Let us live, yes, live just a little longer. Lost lost! We're lost. And when Precious goes we'll die, yes, die into the dust.' He clawed up the ashes of the path with his long fleshless fingers. 'Dusst!' he hissed. (LotR, Mount Doom)

I see no reason to assume that Gollum was wrong here. Having long outlived the lifespan of his kind, Gollum would probably have died instantly at the Ring's destruction - even if he hadn't died anyway from falling into lava.

In contrast, the loss of the Ring to Bilbo had actually invigorated him, as Gandalf tells Frodo. Gollum did feel old, true, but he did not appear to suffer any physical effects of old age:

After a year or two he left the mountains. You see, though still bound by desire of it, the Ring was no longer devouring him; he began to revive a little. He felt old, terribly old, yet less timid, and he was mortally hungry. (LotR, The Shadow of the Past)



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