|~ Gollum's most famous quote (about his doomed obsession with the One Ring) and also one of the most famous quotes in cinema history.|
Gollum, originally known as Sméagol or Trahald, is a creature of Hobbit origin and a major antagonist in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth legendarium.
He is an obsessed and murderous schizophrenic, who has two different personalities, one which is kind, trustworthy and keeps promises, but his other side is a cruel and uncaring lunatic, who will do anything to get the Ring of Power.
Gollum served as a major antagonist in the Lord of the Rings novel, and as a minor antagonist in the Hobbit novel The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, before enlarging his role as an anti-hero in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and as the secondary antagonist of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
He was portrayed by Andy Serkis, who also played Capricorn in Inkheart, Supreme Leader Snoke in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Spike in Flushed Away, and Ulysses Klaue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise.
Early life and and acquiring the Ring
Originally a Stoor Hobbit, Sméagol spent the early years of his life living with his extended family under a Matriarch, his grandmother. His birth can be estimated to have happened in the year TA 2430, as the majority of the hobbit species was 33, Sméagol found the Ring in 2463 and he was very insistent about the Ring being his birthday present.
Around the year TA 2463, Sméagol became the fourth Bearer of the One Ring, after Sauron, Isildur, and Déagol. Déagol was his cousin, and on Sméagol's birthday, they went fishing in the Gladden Fields north of the mountains.
After being pulled into the water by a large fish, Déagol finds the ring underwater, and does nothing but stare at it, Sméagol laughs and comes over, but the smile drops when he sees the ring, almost immediately the two get corrupted, Sméagol wants the ring as a birthday present but Déagol refuses so he can have it to himself, leading to a fight over it, which quickly turns from horseplay to trying to murder each other, Sméagol manages to strangle his cousin after Déagol tried doing the same.
Banished by his people for the murder, Sméagol was forced to find a home in a cave in the Misty Mountains in around TA 2470. The Ring's malignant influence twisted his Hobbit body and mind and prolonged his life far beyond its natural limits. He called it his "Precious" or his "Birthday Present", the latter as a justification for killing Déagol.
Living in the Misty Mountains
He lived in the Misty Mountains for nearly 500 years, living on raw blind fish (which he caught from his small row boat) and Goblins when he could get them. In later years, he found Hobbit and Elven food repulsive. His life was extended far beyond its natural limits by the effects of possessing the One Ring.
During his centuries under the Ring's influence, he developed a sort of dissociative identity disorder: Sméagol, his "good" personality, still vaguely remembered things like friendship and love, while Gollum, his "bad" personality, was a slave to the Ring and would kill anyone who tried to take it. Years later, Samwise Gamgee would name the good personality "Slinker" (for his fawning, eager-to-please demeanor), and the bad personality "Stinker". The two personalities often quarreled when he talked to himself (as Tolkien put it, "through not having anyone else to speak to") and had a love/hate relationship, mirroring Gollum's love and hatred for the Ring and for himself.
In July, TA 2941, during the Quest of Erebor, the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins stumbled upon the subterranean lake on which he lived and found Gollum's Ring. Gollum had lost the Ring while following an imp goblin in the network of caves leading to the lake, though in fact it is more proper to say that the Ring abandoned Gollum, for it was known to have a will of its own. As Gandalf says later, it looks after itself, trying to get back to Sauron. After the infamous Riddle Game, during which Gollum was unaware of his loss, Gollum refused to show Bilbo the promised way out and plotted to murder him.
When he went to get his "birthday present", however, he found that it was gone. He suddenly realized the answer to Bilbo's last riddle — "What have I got in my pocket?"— and flew into a rage. Bilbo inadvertently stumbled across the Ring's power of invisibility as he ran, allowing him to follow Gollum to the back entrance of the cave. There, Bilbo at first thought to kill Gollum, but was overcome with pity, so he jumped over him to escape. As Bilbo ran, Gollum cried out, "Thief! Thief, Baggins! We hates it forever!"; he did not immediately follow Bilbo out of fear of being caught by the goblins, and so lingered in his cave. His chief desire was to possess the Ring that had enslaved him, and he pursued it for many years after Bilbo Baggins found it while walking in the Misty Mountains in the book The Hobbit.
Search for the Ring
Gollum eventually left the Mountains and pursued Bilbo a few years later, but the trail was cold. He made his way south into Mordor where all evil was being drawn at the time, discovering the secret stair located near Minas Morgul and surviving an encounter with Shelob. He was captured on his return and taken to the enemy's stronghold and forced to reveal under torture what he knew about the Ring. Gollum was then strangely freed, as he shows no particular loyalty towards Sauron, but caught by Aragorn, then interrogated by Gandalf, who placed him in the care of the Silvan Elves living in Thranduil's kingdom in Mirkwood. Assisted by orcs he escaped them, and set off looking for the Shire. He passed through Moria, but could not make it out of the East gate. Seemingly he then just waited there until he got lucky when the Fellowship passed through. However, as Frodo was a ring-bearer he might have foreseen the passing of the ring. Alternatively, some of Saruman's or Sauron's spies may have revealed to him the Fellowship was heading towards Moria.
Shadow of Mordor
Gollum feel the presence of the ring which led him to the ring designer Celebrimbor who was spiritually merged with ranks named Talion. Talion follow the trail of Gollum and grabbed, Gollum was strangely able to see Celebrimbor because nobody else apart Talion could not see. Gollum decides to help them find a mystical artifact allowing Celebrimbor to regain his lost memory.
The War of the Ring
|“||Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.||„|
|~ Gandalf to Frodo, about that killing Gollum would not be the right thing to do.|
Gollum met and started following the Fellowship of the Ring in Moria, and was spotted and heard by Frodo on several occasions. On January 15, 3019 the Fellowship was divided when Gandalf disappeared while fighting a Balrog (though he later returned). Gollum continued trailing the remaining members. It is unknown how he crossed the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, but he came with them to Lórien without their knowing. Gollum followed their boats down Anduin (floating on a log) to Rauros and pursued Frodo and Sam across the Emyn Muil when they struck out on their own towards Mordor. Gollum followed them, but after a confrontation (in which he bit and nearly strangled Sam) Frodo subdued him. Frodo tied an Elven Rope around Gollum's ankle for a leash, but the mere touch of the rope pained him.
Taking pity on the wretched creature, Frodo made Gollum swear to help them. Agreeing to the oath, Gollum swore by the "Precious" itself and Frodo released him. The unlikely company, guided by Gollum, made its way to the Black Gate, the entrance to Mordor. Along the way it was revealed that Gollum, having lived in a cave for hundreds of years, feared both the sun and the moon, calling them the 'Yellow Face' and the 'White Face', respectively.
Frodo's kindness brought out the "Sméagol" personality, and he made at least some effort to keep his promise. The two had a strange sort of bond from both having been Ringbearers; in Gollum, Frodo saw his possible future, and so wanted to save him so he could save himself. Apart from Gandalf and Bilbo, Frodo is the only person known to have shown kindness towards Gollum, who is hated instantly by everyone he meets, being perceived as filthy, slimy, sneaky and suspect by groups as different as the orcs of Cirith Ungol and the Rangers of Ithilien.
When the Black Gate was reached and found to be well guarded, Gollum convinced them not to go that way, saying that they would be caught and Sauron would regain the Ring. Gollum said he would lead them south, where he knew of another entrance into Mordor.
Frodo and Sam were caught by Faramir, and Gollum followed them. When Frodo allowed Faramir to briefly take Gollum prisoner, however, he felt betrayed, allowing the "Gollum" personality to take total control. Faramir found out that the place Gollum was taking them was called Cirith Ungol. He then warned Frodo and Sam of the evil of that place.
Frodo, Sam, and Gollum left Faramir and began crossing the pass of Cirith Ungol in the border-mountains of the Ephel Dúath (Mountains of Shadow). Gollum visited the great spider Shelob, child of Ungoliant, because he was planning to betray the Hobbits to her and then get the Ring for himself. That Gollum managed to forge an alliance with Shelob is also remarkable, as she was otherwise known for devouring and killing everything on sight. When he returned the Hobbits were asleep. The sight of Frodo sleeping nearly moved Gollum to repent. However, Sam woke up and spoke harshly to Gollum, and all hope of redemption was lost. Gollum followed through with his plan and led Frodo and Sam into Shelob's Lair.
Just as Frodo warned him, Gollum's betrayal of his oath ultimately led to his undoing, for Frodo and Sam escaped from her lair. They came against all odds to the fiery volcano Mount Doom (Orodruin). Gollum followed them all the way, seeking a chance to surprise them and take the Ring. When Frodo and Sam had almost reached their destination, he attacked, but failed to get the Ring. Sam, who had hated Gollum on sight, tried to bring himself to kill him, but relented out of sheer pity and disgust, turning his back on the beaten (but still wily) creature.
Moments later, Frodo was standing on the edge of the Crack of Doom, but, unwilling to destroy the Ring, claimed it for himself and put it on. Then Gollum attacked the hobbits again. Gollum knocked out Sam whilst Frodo was invisible. But Gollum was able to track his footprints and jumped on Frodo. The two fought and finally Gollum bit off Frodo's finger.
Here Bilbo's long-ago kindness in sparing Gollum's life was rewarded, for Gollum then teetered on the edge of the great pit, lost his balance and fell in, taking the Ring and finger with him along with a final, joyous cry of "Precious!" He perished in the lava, and the Ring was destroyed with him. Had Gollum not lived to play this final part, there was a good chance that Sauron would have regained his Ring, as he knew where Frodo was as soon as he put it on.
According to J. R. R. Tolkien's notes, it was Eru Ilúvatar who intervened to destroy the Ring by causing Gollum to fall into the Crack of Doom.
Gollum was an extremely corruptible Hobbit who fell into the Ring's control as soon as he laid eyes on it. While other Hobbits such as Frodo or Bilbo met with the ring they were able to at least fend off its full effect whereas Gollum completely succumbed to it, remorselessly murdering his cousin Deàgol when he discovered it during Sméagol's birthday. Gollum surrendered nearly immediately to Sauron's torture after being captured although in his defense he was capable and willing of extreme brutality.
Though he rarely acknowledges himself by his true name, Sméagol, Gollum does possess fragments of his old personality which occasionally surface. An obvious trait would be his love for riddles, and when meeting with Bilbo underneath Goblin Town engages in a game with him which would either end with Gollum showing him the exit or him eating the Hobbit. Gollum appeared to enjoy fishing with his cousin, Deàgol and after his transformation he was seen singing while grabbing a fish however this could be coincidental. He has shown to be an adept survivor, able to escape an encounter with Shelob (which very few people are able to do) and even strike a deal with her to bring the spider food, earning his nickname "Shelob's Sneak." He has no qualms against cannibalism, presumably due to forgetting or rejecting his Hobbit ethnicity, he was perfectly comfortable with eating Bilbo Baggins if he lost their games of riddles
Despite his dissociative nature Gollum was also capable of being intelligent and cunning, especially in regards of using trickery and lies. He was able to deduce that Bilbo had stolen the One Ring when he gave the riddle, "what have I got in my pocket?' during their game and had knowledge of Middle-Earth such as knowing a passageway into Mordor and being able to live undetected underneath Goblin Town, surviving off whatever weary goblin would fall to him. A prime example was when he tricked Frodo and Sam into thinking that Shelob's lair would grant them safe passing into Mordor when they would simply be dead and allow him to steal the Ring from their corpses. Gollum was aware that Samwise would get in the way of his plans and as such framed him for eating their food, knowing that as he couldn't eat Hobbit food he wouldn't be considered a suspect and was able to manipulate Frodo's induced paranoia. However he was also reckless in regards of laying out his plans, outright formulating his idea to lure Sam and Frodo into Shelob's lair, in clear view of the Hobbits which Samwise actually heard.
However Gollum does possess a human side to him, years of obsession about the Ring caused him genuine sadness when he discovered he had lost it, something which allowed him to be spared at the hands of Bilbo. He was easily able to make others pity him, a factor of how he was able to survive for so long. When being sworn to serve the "master of the Precious" Frodo allows him to be free and even while at the mercy of Samwise, a person who loathed Gollum to the very beginning, atop Mount Doom he allows him to live because he pitied him.
|“||They cursed us. ‘Murderer’, they called us. They cursed us, and drove us away. And we wept, precious. We wept to be so alone. And we forgot the taste of bread, the sound of trees, the softness of the wind. We even forgot our own name… My precious.||„|
|~ Sméagol, recounting about his transformation into Gollum.|
|“||What's this…? Crumbs on his jacketses — he took it! He took it! I seen him; he's always stuffing his face when Master's not looking!||„|
|~ Gollum, accusing Samwise Gamgee of stealing the rest of the lembas bread (when he had in fact taken it).|
|“|| Gollum: (points at Shelob's lair) In there.|
Frodo: What is this place?
Gollum: Master must go inside the tunnel.
Frodo: Now that I'm here, I don't think I want to.
Gollum: (smirks) It's the only way! Go in, or go back.
Frodo: I can't go back. (walks into Shelob's lair, with Gollum grinning and following him) Ugh! What's that smell?
Gollum: Orcses filth. Orcses come in here sometimes. (passes Frodo as the latter goes further and further into Shelob's lair, then goes completely out of Frodo's sight) Hurry! This way!
Frodo: Sméagol? (voice echoes)
Gollum: Over here!
Frodo: (notices a huge spider web and touches it, then shakes it off his hand) It's sticky! What is it?!?
Gollum: You will see. Oh, yes. You will see.
Frodo: (shudders) Sméagol? (eyes widen in fear) SMÉAGOL!!! (looks around, even more scared than before) SMÉAGOL!!!!!
|~ Gollum leading Frodo straight into Shelob's lair and leaving him to be eaten by her so Gollum himself can get the One Ring back. Frodo was so weak-minded that he would have trusted Gollum and not Sam, and now realizes what a fool he was.|
|“|| Frodo: But you swore… you swore on the precious! Sméagol promised!|
Gollum: Sméagol lied.
|~ Gollum ambushing Sam and Frodo on top of Mount Doom where he admits he lied to them. (Extended edition only).|
- The name "Gollum" is derived from the disgusting gurgling, choking cough he made.
- His death date is given as March 25, 3019.
- At the time of his death, Sméagol was about 589 years old, a remarkable age for a creature that was once a Hobbit, but he had been deformed and twisted in both body and mind by the corruption of the Ring.
- Bilbo sparing Gollum's life is a very important part of the story. Had Bilbo killed Gollum, the latter wouldn't have been there to bite Frodo's finger off. Therefore, Frodo would've likely kept the Ring until the Nazgûl killed him. The Nazgûl would then have given the ring to Sauron, and Sauron would have eventually conquered all of Middle-earth.
- In The Fellowship of the Ring, when Gandalf learns that Gollum had been following the Fellowship, he stated that he believed that Gollum had some unforseen role to play in their tale, and that “the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.” Ultimately, he was right.