Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**LOTR Read-through Book IV, Chapter 1: The Taming of Smeagol Part 4: Frodo, Sam and Smeagol/Gollum - disparate or complementary characters?

noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 8 2016, 11:15am

Post #1 of 12 (1841 views)
Shortcut
**LOTR Read-through Book IV, Chapter 1: The Taming of Smeagol Part 4: Frodo, Sam and Smeagol/Gollum - disparate or complementary characters? Can't Post

So here we are in a fantasy situation that has become quite a trope: a group of disparate people thrown together for a quest. Except that....

..well I can't phrase it better than this article by 'Limyaael' (whose real-life name I don't know) on 'Tolkien Cliches'. (Same article that we discussed in Part 1 about Frodo not being a 'special' in the sense of having overt magical or Superhero powers):

Quote
4) The wildly disparate band of people going on the Quest is not what actually happened in Tolkien.

Everyone in the Fellowship has a reason for being there- choosing to go along (Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Sam), representing their race (Gimli, Legolas), or being aided along their own Quest (Aragorn, Gandalf, Boromir). There are no random people added to the pile as obvious foils for the hero, comic relief, Token Character of This or That Persuasion, etc. The closest token characters are Gimli and Legolas, and their inclusion is a political decision, not authorial whim.

They also manage to function fairly well together, in spite of some snapping and debates. I always wondered how some of those groups that consist of a fussy princess, a taciturn guardsman, a flighty mage, a calm priestess, and the token dwarf or elf character actually got along. Their personalities clash, and a lot of them have, “Oh, well, I’m just going along with you because I want to!” reasons.

Fantasy groups in general should be better-designed, and when the danger gets tough, the hero or heroine’s going to need people who really have reasons to be there. What’s to prevent them from saying, “See you?” and fleeing otherwise?

'Limyaael' https://curiosityquills.com/...ael/tolkien-cliches/



What do you think? How about Frodo, Sam and Smeagol/Gollum as a set of complementary rather than disparate characters? (Also feel free to look back on the Book II Fellowship if you like for a similar analysis.) I’m just going to invite your observations on how their characters compare and contrast. For the current Ringbearer's shard of the original Fellowship, Is the relationship we see in this chapter how it stays, or do things change, in your opinion?


Gollum - and Smeagol, who (I think) begins to emerge in this chapter: Do you see him/them as bringing anything other than navigation know-how (and rabbit-hunting) to the mission? How essential is this Gollum creature anyway? If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend this post by Darkstone in Part 3, suggesting Gollum-free plot lines that would still bring the Ring to the Cracks of Doom http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=891376#891376 I was interested to read that because I realised that I had bought into Tolkien's assumption that Gollum is essential.

But maybe Gollum is 'essential' in a way other than pure plotting? Here’s a psychological reading for you to consider if you want: Ursula K LeGuin has suggested in essays that Frodo and Sam are so inseparable that they are effectively one character, and that Gollum is interesting in that he is like Frodo’s shadow self - I’d welcome your thoughts about this:


Quote
J R R Tolkien, Lewis's close friend and colleague, certainly shared many of Lewis's views and was also a devout Christian. But it all comes out very differently in his fiction. Take his handling of evil: his villains are orcs and Black Riders (goblins and zombies; mythic figures) and Sauron, the Dark Lord, who is never seen and has no suggestion of humanity about him. These are not evil men but embodiments of evil in men, universal symbols of the hateful. The men who do wrong are not complete figures but complements: Saruman is Gandalf's dark-self, Boromir Aragorn's; Wormtongue is, almost literally the weakness of King Theoden. There remains the wonderfully repulsive and degraded Gollum. But nobody who reads the trilogy hates, or is asked to hate, Gollum. Gollum is Frodo's shadow; and it is the shadow, not the hero, who achieves the quest. Though Tolkien seems to project evil into "the others", they are not truly others but ourselves; he is utterly clear about this.

This review, entitled "The Dark Tower by C S Lewis" was originally published in The New Republic, 1977, and is anthologised in "Dancing at the Edge of the World" (Grove Press 1989)

BTW - OK to disagree with Ms LeGuin here: for all that she is (arguably) one of our greatest living fantasy writers. Be brave! We are talking interpretations - what is yours?


Finally, this being the last of my posts about the chapter, I’d like to say what great fun I'm having in discussion of this chapter this week. Please feel free to air anything else you have been thinking about but haven’t posted yet. I think we have enough to keep us busy for what is left of this week. And there's lots to look forward to in the read-through: next week (starting Sunday-ish), Oliphaunt leads us out across the marshes. Get your boots on!

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

Links to earlier posts in this read-through:
week starts # Chapter # Chapter name # leader # URL of thread
03-Jan-16 # I # The Taming of Smeagol # noWizardme Part 1: http://goo.gl/wvyAOx 2: http://goo.gl/6ks0JV 3: http://goo.gl/l0iuEz


A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


enanito
Lorien

Jan 8 2016, 7:12pm

Post #2 of 12 (1784 views)
Shortcut
If Gollum is "redeemed", Frodo can hold out hope for himself against the Ring [In reply to] Can't Post

Gollum as a shadow of Frodo

Hmmm. Maybe in the sense of Gollum being one of those "Mirror of Galadriel" potential futures of Frodo, a projection of something that might come to pass.

One aspect of Gollum's continued presence is perhaps to provide Frodo with a tangible reference for hope. Being weighed down by the ever-present evil of the Ring, it's obviously a constant struggle for Frodo. Although I believe next chapter is the first time that we see Frodo speak of not having hope of escape after completing the quest, he still is striving to have hope that he can withstand the corruption of the Ring. If Smeagol can do it, so can I !!

And by having Gollum tagging along during Book IV, we get to see evidence of the long-term effects a struggle against the Ring would have on Frodo (Gollum foreshadowing what a future Frodo could possibly be like, still battling the lingering influence of Sauron's power).


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jan 9 2016, 12:21am

Post #3 of 12 (1772 views)
Shortcut
Comic relief [In reply to] Can't Post

Pippin?


Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Jan 9 2016, 12:29am

Post #4 of 12 (1770 views)
Shortcut
Split personalities [In reply to] Can't Post

It is an interesting plot device having split personalities. I can think of a few other examples. Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde. In fact I did recently see a production of that and thought that the acting was a bit like Gollum/Smeagol! Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader from Star Wars, or even a character from Discworld who was quite a decent person when he was himself, but unfortunately could turn into not just two but multiple people. Some of whom were distinctly unpleasant so he was always treated with caution by people he knew.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 9 2016, 10:21am

Post #5 of 12 (1754 views)
Shortcut
Gollum as Frodo's future self, and as an alternative present? [In reply to] Can't Post

I do agree with that reading - Frodo may see that Gollum is further down the 'progression' of corruption by the Ring. He may hope that, by redeeming Gollum he is proving there is hope for himself. Or, if Frodo thinks that he is likely to die by achieving the quest, he might be thinking that curing Gollum is a legacy he could leave.

Gollum might represent an alternative present for Frodo as well as a possible future state. Frodo has kept the Ring for some years, and it is only in the last six months or so that there have been outward signs of unwholesome influences (and, of course a bunch of people chasing him around trying to get it). But perhaps it is Frodo's behaviour that has helped the Ring be 'slow to evil' as Gandalf put it. Suppose Frodo had behaved in a more Gollum-like manner - murdered Bilbo to get the Ring, used the Ring to cover that up and gone on to commit many acts of petty spite and minor crime (exactly as Smeagol did). I speculate that Frodo would be in a much worse state now.

meanwhile I see that I haven't explained all this "shadow" business at all clearly - I'll write a second attempt.

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

Links to earlier posts in this read-through:
week starts # Chapter # Chapter name # leader # URL of thread
03-Jan-16 # I # The Taming of Smeagol # noWizardme Part 1: http://goo.gl/wvyAOx 2: http://goo.gl/6ks0JV 3: http://goo.gl/l0iuEz


A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 9 2016, 11:51am

Post #6 of 12 (1753 views)
Shortcut
shadow selves - a second attempt at explanation [In reply to] Can't Post

I realise that I haven't explained this "shadow selves" idea all that well. So I wanted to try again.

Firstly, it would have helped had I extended the le Guin quote I gave earlier. Here's the next bit:

Quote
Though Tolkien seems to project evil into "the others", they are not truly others but ourselves; he is utterly clear about this. His ethic, like that of dream, is compensatory. The final "answer" remains unknown. But because responsibility has been accepted, charity survives. And with it, triumphantly, the Golden Rule. The fact is, if you like the book, you love Gollum.

In [CS] Lewis, responsibility appears only in the form of the Christian hero fighting and defeating the enemy:a triumph not of love but of hatred. The enemy is not oneself but the Wholly Other, demoniac.


Review, "The Dark Tower by C S Lewis" by Ursula K Le Guin. It was originally published in The New Republic, 1977, and is anthologised in "Dancing at the Edge of the World" (Grove Press 1989)


Secondly, I should have said that I think Le Guin is returning to a theme she has written about elsewhere - Science Fiction (or another term if you prefer!) as modern mythology, or a sort of publicly-available dream. This idea turns up in the works of Joseph Cambell for example. Campbell analysed many "Hero's journey" myths and identified a common schema to them (here's a short explanation of Campbell's thinking done via an animation - good and concise, though because it is intended for a young audience I'm afraid the narrator can seem a little patronizing: https://youtu.be/Hhk4N9A0oCA).

There is a Jungian and Freudian psychology among these ideas, and I don't understand that all that part well. But I think it might explain why an author can come up with some fantastical idea (dragons, Gollum, The Ring, The Force, etc.) and have it be completely comprehensible to a wide audience - we have at base similar imaginations, and so a storyteller tapping into the dreamlike part of his or her imagination can produce a story others can understand.

So where this all gets us to (I think) is that one possible interpretation of Frodo's journey with Gollum is that it isn't only a physical journey, it can also (and at the same time) be seen as a theme of Frodo confronting what is evil in himself.

I wouldn't want to suggest that this is is a compulsory way to read the story. I don't think it is "the answer" to the story as a puzzle (I don't think the story is supposed to be a puzzle). I don't think this is the One Reading To Rule Them All. But I think that viewing the story in this way can lead to some interesting thoughts.

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

Links to earlier posts in this read-through:
week starts # Chapter # Chapter name # leader # URL of thread
03-Jan-16 # I # The Taming of Smeagol # noWizardme Part 1: http://goo.gl/wvyAOx 2: http://goo.gl/6ks0JV 3: http://goo.gl/l0iuEz


A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 9 2016, 11:57am

Post #7 of 12 (1750 views)
Shortcut
True, but... Pippin is not Jar Jar Binks [In reply to] Can't Post

Pippin does provide some comic relief and is The Character Most Likely To Hold The Idiot Ball (http://tvtropes.org/...i.php/Main/IdiotBall ) - including at one point, being idiot enough to hold a certain ball quite literally.

But Pippin isn't one of those annoying Disney characters or anime mascots that spend all their time trying to be cute and funny (and to me are just irritating). The Star Wars character jar Jar Binks is perhaps a good example - I didn't find him amusing and one wonders why the other characters in his party put up with him. Pippin, by contrast, has (and develops) a serious and cmpetent side as teh story progrsses.

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

Links to earlier posts in this read-through:
week starts # Chapter # Chapter name # leader # URL of thread
03-Jan-16 # I # The Taming of Smeagol # noWizardme Part 1: http://goo.gl/wvyAOx 2: http://goo.gl/6ks0JV 3: http://goo.gl/l0iuEz


A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 9 2016, 3:36pm

Post #8 of 12 (1741 views)
Shortcut
Whole-hearted agreement [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
One aspect of Gollum's continued presence is perhaps to provide Frodo with a tangible reference for hope. Being weighed down by the ever-present evil of the Ring, it's obviously a constant struggle for Frodo. Although I believe next chapter is the first time that we see Frodo speak of not having hope of escape after completing the quest, he still is striving to have hope that he can withstand the corruption of the Ring. If Smeagol can do it, so can I !!

And by having Gollum tagging along during Book IV, we get to see evidence of the long-term effects a struggle against the Ring would have on Frodo (Gollum foreshadowing what a future Frodo could possibly be like, still battling the lingering influence of Sauron's power).

Very well-stated, enanito, and I'll agree and add that I think Gollum is morally/spiritually essential for all these reasons.

Frodo sees in Gollum both what he could become (evil) if he succumbs to the Ring, and also his chance for redemption (Smeagol) if he resists it. While Sam is Frodo's main bulwark against decline, Gollum plays a supportive role too, though not intentionally.

I think Gollum is essential in a larger sense of showing Frodo's growth. Without Gollum, we'd have endless Shire banter on the road to Mt Doom, which is cute but not very mind-stretching. With Gollum along, we see Sam struggle with his own mixed emotions of suspicion of foreigners, loyalty to Frodo and protection of him, and his own decency that wants to give Smeagol a tiny chance. More importantly, with Frodo-Gollum interactions, we see Frodo stake out a new moral high ground of pity, patience, and redemption for a fallen creature in a wonderful act of generosity at great personal risk. It would have been much more sensible and risk-free to kill Gollum in the wild and avoid further treachery, and the world would not have mourned him. Frodo didn't look upon him and think, "I'll need him to bite off my finger and complete the quest." He just thought saving his life and offering redemption was the right thing to do, just as the disparate group of travelers thought accompanying Frodo was the right thing to do.


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 9 2016, 3:39pm

Post #9 of 12 (1740 views)
Shortcut
If George Lucas had directed LOTR, Pippin would = Jar Jar. ARRRRR!!!!!!!!!! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


CuriousG
Half-elven


Jan 9 2016, 3:49pm

Post #10 of 12 (1742 views)
Shortcut
The Shadow Self per Le Guin [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the extended elucidation. Though it's been years since I read it, that strongly recalls "The Wizard of Earth-Sea" where Ged thinks he has to confront and destroy an evil shadow that first seems unrelated to him, then it becomes clear that it's his "evil twin," and he variously seeks to escape it and defeat it and finally has to reconcile with it. Which is a pretty mature way of looking at psychology, because even the nicest person has a dark side, and if they don't accept it in some manner, it comes out in ugly, unpredictable ways.

So I agree with that concept, but think it only partially applies to Frodo and Gollum. Gollum made his own choices in life, and they're starkly different from Frodo's. I think instead that Frodo in his post-Galadriel's Mirror self sees himself caught up in a cosmic flow of events, and he sees Gollum caught up in the same flow: just as helpless, just as unwilling, and just as lost and uncertain on how to escape it all. That's one aspect.

The other aspect is that back in Bag End, Gandalf sternly threw down the moral gauntlet at Frodo's feet that you can't go around killing whom you think deserves it, and that Bilbo had shown Gollum pity, and maybe Frodo better grow up and learn some pity too. So in this part of the story arc, Frodo, who still thinks Gandalf is dead in Moria, is in some way honoring that memory, and the memory of Bilbo, and living up to this higher standard that was set for him.


noWizardme
Valinor


Jan 9 2016, 6:51pm

Post #11 of 12 (1728 views)
Shortcut
Wait- this post has an EE? [In reply to] Can't Post

Should I post some "deleted scenes"? Wink

Or is THIS post from the blooper reel?

More seriously though, you are quite right - these kinds of ideas are a definite theme as I read Wizard of Earthsea; through his unfortunate inability to resist showing off, Ged releases a dreadful thing which he alone must confront as it is part of him.

~~~~~~
The Reading Room read-through of The Two Towers Book IV has started!

Two chapters of our Book IV read-through still need volunteers to read them - see http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=887613#887613
If you are potentially interested in leading, but not sure what leading a chapter involves, see here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=884122#884122

Links to earlier posts in this read-through:
week starts # Chapter # Chapter name # leader # URL of thread
03-Jan-16 # I # The Taming of Smeagol # noWizardme Part 1: http://goo.gl/wvyAOx 2: http://goo.gl/6ks0JV 3: http://goo.gl/l0iuEz


A set of links to our Book III discussions can be found here: http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=886383#886383

A wonderful list of links to previous read-throughs is curated by our very own 'squire' here http://users.bestweb.net/...-SixthDiscussion.htm


Darkstone
Immortal


Jan 11 2016, 7:52pm

Post #12 of 12 (1706 views)
Shortcut
The Taming of Samwise, or The Choices of Master Smeagol [In reply to] Can't Post

So here we are in a fantasy situation that has become quite a trope: a group of disparate people thrown together for a quest.

Sorta like The Second Breakfast Club.


Except that....

..well I can't phrase it better than this article by 'Limyaael' (whose real-life name I don't know) on 'Tolkien Cliches'. (Same article that we discussed in Part 1 about Frodo not being a 'special' in the sense of having overt magical or Superhero powers):

________________________________________ Quote ________________________________________
4) The wildly disparate band of people going on the Quest is not what actually happened in Tolkien.


They were all the same, only disparate.


Everyone in the Fellowship has a reason for being there- choosing to go along (Frodo, Merry, Pippin, Sam), representing their race (Gimli, Legolas), or being aided along their own Quest (Aragorn, Gandalf, Boromir).

One recalls the careful membership selection of Mission: Impossible or Ocean’s Eleven. Indeed, one suspects the entire Fellowship shared an unspoken thought at Frodo’s faltering at the edge of the Cracks of Doom: “You had one job!!”


There are no random people added to the pile as obvious foils for the hero, comic relief, Token Character of This or That Persuasion, etc. The closest token characters are Gimli and Legolas, and their inclusion is a political decision, not authorial whim.

Actually the entire selection seems to be a PR hack’s dream:

As branding is everything, the leader is a distinguished member of the Wise, known in many lands by many names, so he’s probably the most universally known celebrity in Middle-earth.

Two mature leaders of Men are chosen, one from the North, one from the South, just like the two candidates in American presidential tickets were traditionally chosen for cross-country appeal.

Two youthful heartthrobs were chosen for sex appeal to She-Elfs, Dwarven-Maids, and Man-Ladies everywhere.

Scions of the two better known hobbit families (better known at least as far as Bree) were carefully chosen to represent the dignified face of the Shire to the world.

One working class stiff was chosen to represent The Great Unwashed.

Which leaves one guy for plucky comic relief: 'Oh, they're both cracked,' said Ted. 'Leastways old Bilbo was cracked, and Frodo's cracking. If that's where you get your news from, you'll never want for moonshine.’ (-The Shadow of the Past)


They also manage to function fairly well together, in spite of some snapping and debates.

The time to worry is when there is no snapping or debates. That’s when the knives are out.


I always wondered how some of those groups that consist of a fussy princess, a taciturn guardsman, a flighty mage, a calm priestess, and the token dwarf or elf character actually got along. Their personalities clash, and a lot of them have, “Oh, well, I’m just going along with you because I want to!” reasons.

Every Dungeon Master knows whereof you speak.


Fantasy groups in general should be better-designed, and when the danger gets tough, the hero or heroine’s going to need people who really have reasons to be there. What’s to prevent them from saying, “See you?” and fleeing otherwise?

'The others go with him as free companions, to help him on his way. You may tarry, or come back, or turn aside into other paths, as chance allows. The further you go, the less easy will it be to withdraw; yet no oath or bond is laid on you to go further than you will. For you do not yet know the strength of your hearts, and you cannot foresee what each may meet upon the road.'
`Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens,' said Gimli.
'Maybe,' said Elrond, `but let him not vow to walk in the dark, who has not seen the nightfall.'
'Yet sworn word may strengthen quaking heart,' said Gimli.
`Or break it,' said Elrond.

-The Ring Goes South


What do you think?

Pie is an absolute good.


How about Frodo, Sam and Smeagol/Gollum as a set of complementary rather than disparate characters?

There does seem to be similarities. They’re hobbits, they each have a favorite food (mushrooms, taters, fish), they’re considered a bit strange by their respective communities, they all have a bit of an obsession with something or someone that leads them into dangerous adventures, they all become really skinny, they’re all bachelors, they’re all short.

This means something.


For the current Ringbearer's shard of the original Fellowship, Is the relationship we see in this chapter how it stays, or do things change, in your opinion?

Given the comparison of both Sam and Gollum to dogs, I’d say both begin “resource guarding”, with Frodo’s attention, the Ring, and food all being triggers of aggressive behavior.


Gollum - and Smeagol, who (I think) begins to emerge in this chapter:

I thought he emerged from the Anduin.


Do you see him/them as bringing anything other than navigation know-how…

He only leads them to the wrong entrance to Mordor, gets them captured in Ithilien, gets them almost killed at Shelob’s Lair, and then captured again at Cirith Ungol.

He’s more Alferd Packer than Sacagawea.


…(and rabbit-hunting) to the mission?

Well, Bugs Bunny is nothing without Elmer Fudd except when he is.


How essential is this Gollum creature anyway?

He’s essential in Tolkien’s square of opposition: Frodo doesn’t fall to the ring but does later, Sam doesn’t fall and later doesn’t fall again, and Gollum falls to the Ring and finally falls again. (If you want to complete the square, Galadriel falls to the Ring, then doesn’t.)


If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend this post by Darkstone in Part 3, suggesting Gollum-free plot lines that would still bring the Ring to the Cracks of Doom

Don’t trust Darkstone. He’s a philatelist and his wife’s a known thespian.


I was interested to read that because I realised that I had bought into Tolkien's assumption that Gollum is essential.

I would imagine the only things Tolkien found essential were Death and Inland Revenue.


But maybe Gollum is 'essential' in a way other than pure plotting?

I’m sure his mother thought so.


Here’s a psychological reading for you to consider if you want: Ursula K LeGuin has suggested in essays that Frodo and Sam are so inseparable that they are effectively one character, and that Gollum is interesting in that he is like Frodo’s shadow self - I’d welcome your thoughts about this…

We could get Freudian and talk about them as the Super-ego, the Ego, and the Id.


But nobody who reads the trilogy hates, or is asked to hate, Gollum.

Baby eating seems a good enough reason to hate.


Gollum is Frodo's shadow; and it is the shadow, not the hero, who achieves the quest.

Frodo did exactly what he said he would:

'I will take the Ring,' he said, 'though I do not know the way.'
-The Council of Elrond

And Frodo did exactly what Elrond charged him with:

'The Ring-bearer is setting out on the Quest of Mount Doom. On him alone is any charge laid: neither to cast away the Ring, nor to deliver it to any servant of the Enemy nor indeed to let any handle it, save members of the Company and the Council, and only then in gravest need.’
-The Ring Goes South


Note Elrond names Frodo “Ring-bearer”. Frodo could only have been considered to have failed if he had been named “Ring-destroyer”, which he wasn’t.

Frodo bears the Ring to the Cracks of Doom. He succeeded.

Gollum doesn’t destroy the Ring, an act of Providence ex machina does.


Though Tolkien seems to project evil into "the others", they are not truly others but ourselves; he is utterly clear about this.

Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle. There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us. Forward!
-Walt Kelly, The Pogo Papers (1953)


BTW - OK to disagree with Ms LeGuin here: for all that she is (arguably) one of our greatest living fantasy writers. Be brave! We are talking interpretations - what is yours?

I’d think Gollum was the shadow self of Sam. Both none too scrupulously dug for secrets:

‘Then we formed our conspiracy; and as we were serious, too, and meant business, we have not been too scrupulous. You are not a very easy nut to crack, and Gandalf is worse. But if you want to be introduced to our chief investigator, I can produce him.'
'Where is he?' said Frodo, looking round, as if he expected a masked and sinister figure to come out of a cupboard.
'Step forward, Sam!' said Merry; and Sam stood up with a face scarlet up to the ears. 'Here's our collector of information! And he collected a lot, I can tell you, before he was finally caught.’

-A Conspiracy Unmasked

'No one ever found out what had become of Deagol; he was murdered far from home, and his body was cunningly hidden. But Smeagol returned alone; and he found that none of 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…
-The Shadow of the Past


Both were known as sneaks:

"Hey you!" he said roughly. "What are you up to?"
"Nothing, nothing," said Gollum softly. "Nice Master!"
"I daresay," said Sam. "But where have you been to - sneaking off and sneaking back, you old villain?'

-The Stairs of Cirith Ungol

”Got him!” hissed Gollum in his ear. "At last, my precious, we've got him, yes, the nassty hobbit. We takes this one. She'll get the other. O yes, Shelob will get him, not Smeagol: he promised; he won't hurt Master at all. But he's got you, you nassty filthy little sneak!"
-Shelob’s Lair


Both wept and acted dog-like when threatened by force into accompanying Frodo:

'I shall have to go. But' – and here he looked hard at Sam – 'if you really care about me, you will keep that dead secret. See? If you don't, if you even breathe a word of what you've heard here, then I hope Gandalf will turn you into a spotted toad and fill the garden full of grass-snakes.'
Sam fell on his knees, trembling. 'Get up, Sam!' said Gandalf. I have thought of something better than that. Something to shut your mouth, and punish you properly for listening. You shall go away with Mr. Frodo!'
'Me, sir!' cried Sam, springing up like a dog invited for a walk. 'Me go and see Elves and all! Hooray!' he shouted, and then burst into tears.

-The Shadow of the Past

For a moment it appeared to Sam that his master had grown and Gollum had shrunk: a tall stern shadow, a mighty lord who hid his brightness in grey cloud, and at his feet a little whining dog. Yet the two were in some way akin and not alien: they could reach one another's minds. Gollum raised himself and began pawing at Frodo, fawning at his knees.
"Down! down! ' said Frodo. "Now speak your promise!"
"We promises, yes I promise!" said Gollum. "I will serve the master of the Precious. Good master, good Smeagol, gollum, gollum!" Suddenly he began to weep and bite at his ankle again.

-The Taming of Smeagol


Both left Frodo for dead, but came back:

’Good-bye, master, my dear! ' he murmured. "Forgive your Sam. He'll come back to this spot when the job's done - if he manages it. And then he'll not leave you again. Rest you quiet till I come; and may no foul creature come anigh you! And if the Lady could hear me and give me one wish, I would wish to come back and find you again. Good-bye! '
-The Choices of Master Samwise


So who is Frodo’s shadow self? I’d suggest the long dead Deagol, which opens up a really interesting can of worms vis-a-vis Sam.


Finally, this being the last of my posts about the chapter, I’d like to say what great fun I'm having in discussion of this chapter this week.

Thanks for leading! Great week!

******************************************

Fimbrethil, Warrior Entwife


 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.