The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1) The Fellowship of the Ring discussion

Smeagol/Gollum Question

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay, I'm fairly new to the LOTR fandom, and might I say that I love it very much. I'm 14 years old, and I feel I completely understand it. I've currently watched all the films more than once, read Fellowship of the Ring, and read the Hobbit. I have yet to start the Two Towers. But I do have one question, and pardon if it might be stupid, as I haven't read the rest of the series yet.

The One Ring grants unnatural long life to the bearer, correct? The question that has been driving me crazy for the past month is the aging process for Smeagol/Gollum.
Okay, so Bilbo obviously grew older at a visibly faster rate once the ring was given to Frodo, as shown in Fellowship of the Ring and in Return of the King. By Return of the King, you could tell he was practically about to die any second, hence him leaving to the Undying Lands. By then Bilbo had only gone without the Ring for, well, I'm honestly not sure how much time had passed between films, but we'll just say several months just for the heck of it. I'm not sure.
So the main question I have is: If Bilbo only went without the Ring for like seven months and already had shown a HUGE aging difference without the benefits of the Ring, how come Gollum/Smeagol went 60+ years without the Ring, yet appeared practically the same with no noticeable aging differences?

Sorry if it's worded funny or hard to understand. What I'm trying to say is how come Gollum didn't die shortly after the Ring was taken away from him? I remember in the introduction to Fellowship they said he had been rotting away in the Misty Mountains for around 500 years. From my basic knowledge, that's far exceeding a Hobbit's lifespan, and from how Bilbo reacted after the Ring was taken away from him, I just wanted to know why Gollum didn't have the same.

I don't know if it might just be a small flaw or I'm just missing something.

message 2: by Sophie (last edited Dec 26, 2012 10:51PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sophie It might be a flaw, but I was thinking that maybe that since the ring affected Gollum (You know, when he was a hobbit thing but then the ring changed him), it made him so he wasn't normal anymore - thus a theoretical longer life span. But, that is just me - I have no idea if that is true. Sorry :(

Carina Hey,

I always took it that the use of the ring has an effect. Bilbo never really uses it outside of The Hobbit and Fellowship and when I read the books I always had the impression that he kept it close but never put it on much. Compare that to Gollum who has the ring in his possession for a *lot* longer than Bilbo and probably used it more (plus Bilo kept it in his pocket which Gollum couldn't do so for him the ring was in constant contact with his skin) - and it always struck me as that is why the huge difference in 'after' effects.

That is my opinion anyhow.

Donna-lee Faure So Gollum carried the ring the for 500 years, mostly direct skin contact and using it as he pleases. Bilbo carried it for less that a fifth of that time, mostly in his pocket and rarely using it. So if I should guess, the lasting effect on Gollum is at least 5 times more. There is definitely also a permanent effect on both of them even tho they didn't have the ring anymore.My perception/opinion of Gollum is that he had the ring for such a long time that it gave him infinite life even tho he didn't carry it anymore.

Gianluca First off, Bilbo's departure from the Grey Havens to the Undying Lands takes place 20 years after his 111th birthday, so his aging rate isn't quite as dramatic as one might think while watching the movies.
Secondly, looking at Gollum, I can't honestly say that he was not physically affected by his time (with and) without the Ring. I mean, he's basically a walking corpse.
The biggest difference is that Gollum was corrupted by the One Ring and he's no longer a hobbit. Age doesn't affect it anymore, I think - not in the same way as regular creature, at least. Bilbo, however, was not corrupted, and never really changed until he had to give the ring up. I don't think "he aged faster" after that. The ring simply stopped affecting him and his age just caught up to him.
It's also worth noting that Gollum kept the ring for something like 400 years, while Bilbo only had it for 100 or so.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay, that totally cleared it up for me. Thanks guys!

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Gollum/Smeagol is my favorite character... I aspire to be just like him when I grow up!

23skadoo40 could be the ring recognized Gollum as one of its own kind,the darkness was already there---Smeagol was mischievous before he stole the ring

M.R. Graham Bilbo also gave up the Ring freely, which broke its influence over him.
It was stolen from Gollum, and he remained deeply attached to it. It's possible that the Ring's influence has less to do with proximity and more to do with possession - whom it possesses, rather than who possesses it.

Damon Wakes M.R. wrote: "Bilbo also gave up the Ring freely, which broke its influence over him.
It was stolen from Gollum, and he remained deeply attached to it. It's possible that the Ring's influence has less to do with..."

There are some good answers to an interesting question here, but I think this is my favourite. Still, I wonder if losing the ring really does have any significance. Bilbo happily decides to leave it to Frodo, but has second thoughts when the time comes to actually let go. Frodo carries it all the way to Mount Doom, then refuses to drop it. Isildur does much the same thing.

Since Frodo's change of heart is particularly uncharacteristic (whereas Bilbo does manage to let go), I suspect that either the ring consciously corrupts people who are about to destroy it, or that the attempt to destroy it has some effect on them directly (perhaps they can't bear to waste its power). However, this change of heart doesn't seem to have any lasting effect. Frodo doesn't appear to miss the ring, even though it was taken from him. However, despite having given it up willingly, Bilbo does somewhat.

message 11: by Mark (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mark Kaye I believe it is 80 years between The Hobbit, and LOTR. And 2 years from the begining when the Hobbits leave The Shire to arriving back at The Shire. But it has been awhile since I read the books, I am probably wrong lol.

William Harlan i don't think the ring does the same thing for and to everyone.
it has a mind of its own. it slips off people's fingers if it feels like it.
i don't think smeagol was a hobbit either. his race was merely similar to hobbits.
also, in the fellowship of the ring, if i remember correctly, bilbo is physically described as unnaturally preserved.
he just feels old or thinned out, "like butter spread over too much bread."
tolkien might be hinting that the ring drains your soul away.

Damon Wakes William wrote: "i don't think the ring does the same thing for and to everyone.
it has a mind of its own. it slips off people's fingers if it feels like it.
i don't think smeagol was a hobbit either. his race was ..."

In Fellowship, it's explained that Gollum started out as a hobbit (whose name was Smeagol). If I remember rightly, it was his friend/brother who actually found the ring: Smeagol killed him in order to take it. But I suspect that Tolkein hadn't thought of this detail when he wrote The Hobbit: I understand that, up until Lord of the Rings was written, The Hobbit didn't mention anything about Bilbo's ring being the One Ring (though later versions do).

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

The only hint in The Hobbit that the Ring might be something more than just a random magic ring is something like "It was a turning point in [Bilbo's] career, though he did not know it", and this could just refer to the events of the rest of the book.

message 15: by William (last edited Jan 02, 2013 08:18AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

William Harlan gandalf already suspects something about the ring, but i think at that time tolkien only intended to write about the ring of gyges:

its an ancient moral dilema; would you do the right thing if you could never be caught?
tolkien just went with the lord of the rings from there, i suspect.

Amber @William - Smeagol is a hobbit, specifically a Stoor Hobbit, which were stronger, broader, and the only hobbits to swim and use boats.

I believe Bilbo and Frodo qualify as Harfoot Hobbits.

There is a third kind as well, the least populated, called Fallohide Hobbits.

Also - I have to say, this is a very astute question for 14 years old. Good to know their are still young people out there who use their noggins.

William Harlan sick knowledge, amber!

Amber LOL - Thank wikipedia. I have a horrible addiction to clicking "random page" and picked that up not long ago.

William Harlan i've reached a point of laziness that defies even wikipedia's seductive lure.

message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

Amber wrote: "@William - Smeagol is a hobbit, specifically a Stoor Hobbit, which were stronger, broader, and the only hobbits to swim and use boats.

I believe Bilbo and Frodo qualify as Harfoot Hobbits.


Thank you very much! I try to read a lot, like my mother, so it's nice to read something like Tolkien's amazing work.

And thank you to everyone who helped me with my question! It's nice to finally understand it; the question had been bothering me for ages, and none of my fellow Ringers knew a full answer.

message 21: by [deleted user] (last edited Aug 21, 2013 07:04PM) (new)

He lived for years because of the ring.... my mind is a little rusty but I think he found the ring after he was no longer a real "hobbit" anymore. At first he is just described as a dark, slimy creature.

Perhaps the producers just didn't feel like making Gollum look older, considering how complex the set-up was. Or maybe he was so corrupted his appearance no longer had the ability to change.

Maybe Gollum didn't have enough time to react? Sorry, I don't remember a lot. But LOTR is very complex. Tolkien spent a long portion of his life creating a detailed history of the world he created. I recommend the Silmarillion, although it's very hard to read. I still can't understand all of it, but it will give you an idea.

P.S. It's great you're asking questions! I know so many people who just watch the movies and don't get the info but hardly care.... Tolkien would be proud! Lol sorry if that was random...

Geoffrey Plus the fact he lived in a world without sun. His emaciation came from the lack of fish in the underworld and his poor eating habbits. Then of course he became psychotically schizophrenic which affected his physique as well.

The implication throughout the novels is that the Hobbits were not power hungry which is why Bilbo never used it with the exception of disappearing tricks.

As for the ring draining away his "soul", I would substitute the word "psyche". His soul was intact. But then we get into a heated discussion as to what the "soul" consists of.

message 23: by Paul (new) - rated it 5 stars

Paul Howard The major difference between Gollum and Bilbo is the relationship that they had to the ring. It seized Sméagol from the start and he took possession with an act of murder. It consumed him, body and soul, until he was as completely under its spell. Like the Nazgul, he had no life of his own once it took possession of him. "Slinker", the side of Gollum that quarreled, was the last remaining spark of his being, but had no independent will left of his own. Bilbo, on the other hand, took possession of the ring after it abandoned Gollum, and he stayed his hand. As Gandalf described it: Bilbo's first action was to show compassion. This is what saved Bilbo from a sinister fate. He could only carry the ring, but it couldn't possess him. He was the only long-term bearer who gave it up freely. Frodo, was not so much consumed by the ring until the weight of it overcame him(after being wounded by a Morgul Blade), he didn't have the will to destroy it. In fact, nobody did. Even Gandalf and Galadriel feared this. So did Elrond. The only creature who was completely immune to its power was Tom Bombadil. Only an act of fate could unmake the One Ring. Gandalf dimly forsaw this. "Who knows what role Gollum may yet play?"

message 24: by S (new)

S NO, it's not logical, but we're dealing wirh a fantasy here. Of course, you saw the prologe to ROTK, where we see Smeagol evolving from Andy Serkis into Gollum. And, as bad as The Hobbit film was, the SFX on Gollum is even better than in LOTR.

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