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In the Appendix F to The Lord of the Rings, the name Sméagol is said to be a "translation" of the actual Middle-earth name Trahald (having to do with the idea of "burrowing", and rendered with a name based on Old English smygel of similar meaning).
The Ring, which Gollum referred to as "my precious" or "precious", extended his life far beyond natural limits. Under centuries of the Ring's influence, Gollum had come to love and hate the Ring, just as he loved and hated himself. Throughout the story, Gollum was torn between his lust for the Ring and his desire to be free of it. Bilbo Baggins found the Ring and took it for his own, and Gollum afterward pursued it for the rest of his life.
Gollum first appears in The Hobbit. He lived on a small island in the centre of a lake at the roots of the Misty Mountains. He survived on cave fish, which he caught from his small boat, and small goblins who strayed too far from the stronghold of the Great Goblin. Over the years, his eyes adapted to the dark and became "lamp-like", shining with a sickly pale light in the dark.
Bilbo Baggins stumbled upon Gollum's lair, having found Gollum's ring in the network of caves leading down to the lake. At his wits' end in the dark, Bilbo agrees to a riddle game with Gollum on the chance of being shown the way out of the mountains. In the early editions of The Hobbit, Gollum was characterized as being less bound to the Ring than in later versions; he offered to give the Ring to Bilbo if he lost the riddle game, and he showed Bilbo the way out of the mountains after losing. But to fit the concept of the ruling Ring that emerged during the writing of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien revised later editions of The Hobbit: the version of the story given in the first edition became the lie that Bilbo made up to justify his possession of the Ring to the Dwarves and Gandalf. In the new version Gollum pretended that he would show Bilbo the way out if he lost the riddle-game, but he actually planned to use his ring to kill and eat the hobbit. Discovering the ring missing, he suddenly realized the answer to Bilbo's last riddle — "What have I got in my pocket?" — and flew into a rage. Bilbo inadvertently discovered the Ring's power of invisibility as he fled, allowing him to follow Gollum undetected to a back entrance of the caves. Gollum was convinced that Bilbo knew the way out all along, and hoped to intercept him near the entrance, lest the goblins apprehend Bilbo and find the ring. Bilbo at first thought to kill Gollum in order to escape, but was overcome with pity, and so merely leapt over him. As Bilbo escaped, Gollum cried out, "Thief, Thief, Thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!"
The Lord of the RingsEdit
The Fellowship of the RingEdit
The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of The Lord of the Rings, explains that Gollum's real name was Sméagol, and he had once been a member of the secluded branch of the early Stoorish Hobbits. He spent the early years of his life with his extended family under a matriarch, his grandmother. On Sméagol's birthday, he and his relative Déagol went fishing in the Gladden Fields north of Lothlórien. There, Déagol found the Ring after being pulled into the water by a fish. Sméagol fell immediately under the Ring's spell and demanded it as a birthday present, strangling Déagol when the latter refused him. Sméagol used the Ring for thieving, spying and antagonizing his friends and relatives, who nicknamed him "Gollum" and banished him. Under the influence of the Ring, he retreated to a deep cavern in the Misty Mountains. The Ring's malignant influence twisted his body and mind, and prolonged his life well beyond its natural limits.
Gollum left his cave in pursuit of Bilbo a few years after losing the Ring, but the trail was cold. He made his way to the edge of Mordor, where he met the monstrous spider Shelob and became her spy, worshipping her and bringing her food. He was eventually captured by Sauron's forces and tortured, revealing to Sauron the names of "Baggins" and "the Shire". His testimony alerted the Dark Lord of Mordor to the existence and significance of Hobbits in general and the Baggins family in particular. He was freed, but was soon caught by Gandalf and Aragorn, who interrogated him about the Ring and placed him in the care of the Wood Elves of Mirkwood. He escaped custody (with the help of Sauron's Orcs) and descended into Moria.
Gollum began following the Fellowship of the Ring in Moria, and was spotted or heard by Frodo Baggins (younger cousin and heir of Bilbo, as well as the Bearer of the Ring), Gandalf, and Aragorn on several occasions. Gollum continued trailing the Fellowship to the edge of Lórien. Gollum began following them again as they left and followed them all the way to Rauros, then pursued Frodo and Samwise Gamgee across the Emyn Muil when they struck out on their own towards Mordor.
The Two TowersEdit
In The Two Towers, Frodo and Sam confronted Gollum in Emyn Muil; he nearly strangled Sam, but Frodo subdued him with his Elvish sword, Sting, which had once belonged to Bilbo. Frodo tied an Elvish rope around Gollum's ankle as a leash, but the mere touch of the rope pained him. Taking pity on the wretched creature, just as Bilbo once had, 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 their way to the Black Gate, the main entrance to Mordor.
Frodo's kindness brought out Gollum's better nature, and he made at least some effort to keep his promise. Sam, however, despised Gollum upon sight, and often warned Frodo of the creature's deception and slipperiness.
When they reached the Black Gate and found it well-guarded, Gollum offered to lead them toward an alternate entrance into Mordor. Along the way, Frodo and Sam were seized by Faramir, and Gollum slipped away uncaught (but not unseen) and followed them. When Frodo allowed Faramir to briefly take Gollum prisoner in order to spare his life, Gollum felt betrayed, and began plotting against his new "master". Faramir found out that Gollum was taking them to Cirith Ungol, and warned Frodo and Sam of the evil of that place, as well as the treachery he sensed in Gollum.
Frodo, Sam, and Gollum left Faramir and began climbing the stairs to Cirith Ungol in the border-mountains of the Ephel Dúath. Gollum slipped away and visited Shelob, planning to feed the Hobbits to her and then get the Ring for himself when she was done. When he returned, he found the Hobbits asleep, and the sight of Frodo sleeping nearly moved Gollum to repent. However, Sam woke up and spoke harshly to him, and the opportunity for redemption was lost. Gollum followed through with his plan and led Frodo and Sam into Shelob's Lair. There, Frodo was stung by the giant spider, taken prisoner by Orcs, and hauled to the Tower of Cirith Ungol.
The Return of the KingEdit
In The Return of the King, Sam singlehandedly rescued Frodo from Cirith Ungol and, dressed in scavenged Orc-armour, the two began to make their way across the plateau of Gorgoroth. They finally arrived, against all odds, at Mount Doom, the only place where the Ring could be destroyed. However, Gollum had secretly followed them all the way, seeking a chance to surprise them and take the Ring. When Frodo and Sam had almost reached their destination, Gollum attacked them, but Frodo threw him down. Sam faced Gollum on his own, letting Frodo continue up the mountain to finish their mission. Like Bilbo and Frodo before him, Sam spared Gollum's life out of pity, and turned his back on the beaten (but still wily) creature and followed Frodo.
Moments later, Frodo stood on the edge of the Crack of Doom, but was unwilling to destroy the Ring, claiming it for himself and putting it on. Gollum struck again, and struggled with the invisible Frodo. Finally, Gollum bit off Frodo's finger and seized the Ring. He gloated over his "prize", dancing madly, but stepped over the edge and fell into the lava, taking the Ring with him with a last cry of "Precious!" Thus, the Ring was destroyed and Sauron defeated. Sam cursed Gollum after his death, but Frodo urged his friend to forgive him, as without him the quest would have failed and the war would have been lost.
Physical appearance and characteristicsEdit
In the first edition of The Hobbit, Tolkien made no reference to Gollum's size, leading several illustrators to portray him as being very large. Tolkien realized the omission, and clarified in later editions that he was of average Hobbit size. The Lord of the Rings characterizes him as slightly larger than Sam.
Tolkien describes Gollum as either dark, bone-white or sallow (pale yellow); at one point the Men of Ithilien mistake his silhouette (seen from a distance) for a tailless black squirrel. In a manuscript written to guide illustrators to the appearance of his characters, Tolkien explained this by saying that Gollum had pale skin, but wore dark clothes and was often seen in poor light. The Hobbit states he has pockets, in which he keeps a tooth-sharpening-rock, goblin teeth, wet shells, and a scrap of bat wing.
The Hobbit describes him as thin, with only six teeth sharpened into points. Comparing him to Shelob, one of the Orcs describes him as "rather like a spider himself, or perhaps like a starved frog."
Gollum is described as "a small slimy creature" (in The Hobbit), and emaciated and gaunt, but possessing a vicious, wiry strength. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Aragorn states "his malice gives him a strength hardly to be imagined." In The Two Towers, Gollum's grip is described as "soft, but horribly strong" as he wrestles with Sam.
Besides his appearance, in personality Gollum is described by Tolkien in the chapter "The Taming of Sméagol", after he had been captured by Sam and Frodo:
- For that moment a change, which lasted for some time, came over him. He spoke with less hissing and whining, and he spoke to his companions direct, not to his precious self. He would cringe and flinch, if they stepped near him or made any sudden movement, and he avoided the touch of their elven-cloaks; but he was friendly, and indeed pitifully anxious to please. He would cackle with laughter and caper if any jest was made, or even if Frodo spoke kindly to him, and weep if Frodo rebuked him.
Gollum spoke in an idiosyncratic manner, often referring to himself in the third person, and frequently talked to himself — "through having no one else to speak to," as Tolkien put it in The Hobbit. He also used his own versions of words similar to the original words. He usually added -es to the end of a plural, resulting in words such as "hobbitses" instead of hobbits or "birdses" instead of birds.
Gollum hated everything Elf-made. In The Two Towers, Sam bound Gollum's leg with Elven rope, which caused Gollum excruciating pain. He was also unable or unwilling to eat lembas bread.
Due to the influence of the One Ring, Gollum's life was extended far beyond that of other members of his clan. There is a gap of 556 years between the finding of the Ring in T.A. 2463 and its destruction in T.A. 3019, making Gollum between 570 and 600 years old.
Gollum is made of a totally unique body piece, with rare arm pieces. He has different expressions in the two sets he features in. He is not a traditional minifigure (LEGO character) as Gollum is mainly found crawling.