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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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GOLLUM (SMEAGOL)

Gollum, the miserable creature who owned the Ring before
Bilbo, reappears in The Lord of the Rings. He reveals the
location of the Ring to Sauron, who sends the Black Riders
to the Shire after Frodo. Much later in the trilogy, Gollum
guides Frodo into Mordor and betrays him by leading him
into the lair of Shelob the spider. Even so, neither Frodo
nor Sam can bring himself to kill Gollum. Their mercy is
rewarded, for Gollum brings about his own destruction as
well as the destruction of the Ring.

Many people think of Gollum as Frodo's doppelganger, or
alter ego. A doppelganger is a character who is strongly
connected to the main character, and who seems to
represent a hidden facet, often the darker side, of the main
character's personality. While doppelgangers are used as a
literary device, they also appear often in folklore. Gollum's
connection to Frodo is through the Ring. They have both
possessed the Ring, though Gollum uses it selfishly for evil
purposes, while Frodo unwillingly accepts it in order to
destroy it. Frodo, unlike the other characters, can
understand Gollum's obsession with the Ring and the
misery it has caused him, for Gollum represents what may
happen to Frodo if he succumbs to the Ring's power. In
Frodo, Gollum sees what he might have been, had it not
been for the Ring. Gollum's grief at the loss of the Ring
foreshadows Frodo's own pain and unhappiness after the
Ring is gone. In the end, like most doppelgangers, Gollum
is finally destroyed, representing the destruction of the evil
that Frodo has had to struggle with in himself.



Some people see Gollum as a tragic figure. He has not been
completely corrupted by the Ring. A part of him
remembers his old life, and by implication, he can then still
remember and comprehend good, something that characters
such as Sauron, who are totally evil, cannot. Because part
of his old self remains, he's tormented. He both hates the
Ring and craves it desperately. The conflict between his
two sides is revealed as he alternates between his original
hobbitlike personality (Smeagol), speaking normally and
eager to please, and his Gollum side, nasty and treacherous.
But Gollum seems doomed from the beginning, for his
destiny, as has been hinted throughout the trilogy, is to be
destroyed with the Ring.

Do you sympathize with Gollum? Why or why not? Do you
think he deserves his fate?

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