Gollum is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He was first introduced in the author's fantasy novel The Hobbit, and later became an important supporting character in its sequel, The Lord of the Rings.
Gollum speaks in an unusual manner, usually speaking in the first person plural when referring to himself. He also uses his own versions of words similar to the original words. For instance, he would say "tricksy" in lieu of tricky. He usually adds -es to the end of a plural, resulting in words such as "hobbitses" instead of hobbits or "birdses" instead of birds.
Originally known as Sméagol, this character was later named Gollum after his habit of making "a horrible swallowing noise in his throat". His life was extended far beyond its natural limits by the effects of possessing the One Ring. His one desire was to possess the Ring that had enslaved him. He pursued the Ring for 76 years after losing it to Bilbo Baggins.
During his centuries under the Ring's influence, he developed a sort of split personality: "Sméagol" still vaguely remembered things like friendship and love, while "Gollum" was a slave to the Ring who knew only treachery and violence. In The Two Towers, Samwise Gamgee named the good personality "Slinker" (for his fawning, eager-to-please demeanour), and the bad personality "Stinker" (for obvious reasons). The two personalities often quarrelled when Gollum talked to himself (as Tolkien puts it in The Hobbit, "through never having anyone else to speak to") and had a love/hate relationship, mirroring Gollum's feelings for the Ring and for himself.
Gollum is first introduced in The Hobbit, where the protagonist Bilbo Baggins stumbled upon Gollum's lair and found the Ring which Gollum had lost in the network of caves leading to the lake.
Gollum had lived under the Misty Mountains for many years, living on a small island in the centre of a lake at the roots of a mountain. 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.
After the famous Riddle Game, he pretended to want to show Bilbo the way out as promised, but actually desired to kill and eat the Hobbit. When he went to get his "birthday present", he found it was gone. He suddenly realized the answer to Bilbo's last question — "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 cave system. Bilbo at first thought to kill Gollum, but was overcome with pity, and so merely leapt over him. As Bilbo escaped, Gollum cried out, "Thief! Thief, Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!!"
In the first edition of The Hobbit, Gollum did not appear quite as wretched or murderous, and indeed showed Bilbo the way out after losing the riddle-game. Tolkien changed his characterization in the second edition, to fit the concept of the ruling Ring which he had developed during the writing of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien then explained that the version given in the first edition was a lie that Bilbo made up to justify to the Dwarves and Gandalf his possession of the Ring.
The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume of The Lord of the Rings, introduces the idea that Gollum had once been a member of the secluded branch of the early Stoorish Hobbits and had been named Sméagol. 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 demanded it as a birthday present and strangled Déagol when the latter refused him. Sméagol accordingly used the Ring for thieving, spying and antagonizing his friends and relatives. His people 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 malign influence twisted his body and mind, and prolonged his life well beyond its natural limits. He called the Ring his "precious" and his "birthday present"; the latter was a justification for killing Deágol, a crime which haunted Gollum.
Gollum left the Mountains 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, but he revealed only the words "Baggins" and "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 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 the hated 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 Sam across the Emyn Muil when they struck out on their own towards Mordor.
In The Two Towers, the Hobbits confronted Gollum in Emyn Muil, who 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 the "Sméagol" personality, and Gollum 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, Gollum felt betrayed and his "bad" personality took control once again. 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, the Hobbits were asleep, and the sight of Frodo sleeping nearly moved Gollum to repent. However, Sam woke up and spoke cruelly to him, calling him a "sneak", 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 stabbed by the giant spider, taken prisoner by Orcs, and hauled to the Tower of Cirith Ungol.
In The Return of the King, Sam single-handedly 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 the volcano Orodruin, or Mount Doom. 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. Frodo then used the Ring to lay a curse on Gollum; that Frodo would cast him into the Crack of Doom if he ever troubled them again. 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 fires of Mount Doom, taking the Ring with him with a last cry of "Precious!" Thus, the Ring was destroyed and Sauron defeated. Samwise later cursed Gollum after his death, but Frodo urged his friend to forgive him, as without him the quest would have failed.
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. Despite these details, he is generally depicted wearing a loincloth or naked in illustrations and adaptations.
Gollum's appearance also changes slightly depending on which personality is dominant: his luminous eyes would appear pale yellow when calm or when Sméagol is in control and green when angry or when Gollum was in control. In the films the personality changes were represented as changes in the size of Gollum's pupils: when Sméagol was in control they would be dilated, and when Gollum was in control they would be contracted.
Gollum is described as 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 Gollum wrestles with Sam.
Besides his appearance, in personality Gollum, or Sméagol is described by Tolkien in the chapter "The Taming of Sméagol", after he has 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.||”|
In the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings, it is said that the One Ring was found in year 2463 of the Third Age. Considering Sméagol was probably not yet of age, and assuming a similar coming of age time to that of the Shire, he was around 580 by the time of The War of the Ring. The same information is used in the movies, where it is said that "For 500 years, it (The One Ring) poisoned his mind."
Sméagol's "real" name in Westron (one of Tolkien's invented languages) is "Trahald", of the meaning "burrowing". In both Westron and Old English, Sméagol's name is related to Smaug's: Smaug's name in "true Dalish" was Trâgu, and thus trâgu (trah-) is translated to the Germanic stem present in both Sméagol and Smaug (with a meaning of squeezing through a hole). Tolkien gave the Old English word smygel, meaning "burrow", as a basis for the name, with its spelling altered to resemble "Déagol"; the word is also related to the Hobbit-language word smial, which also means "burrow".
This quote is from Letter #212 "I go frequently to Ireland (Eire: Southern Ireland) being fond of it and of (most of) its people; but the Irish language I find wholly unattractive".
Many believe[who?] that during one of these visits he investigated ‘Poll na Gollum’ which is 5 km northeast of Lisdoonvarna in County Clare, ‘Poll na Gollum’, is Ireland’s longest cave with more than 12 km of mapped passageways and that this served as the source of the name "Gollum".
In the 1981 BBC radio adaptation, Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated film, and in the Peter Jackson movies, Sméagol is pronounced /ˈsmiːɡɒl/, although in his recordings of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien pronounced it /ˈsmiːɡɒl/ or /ˈsmiːæɡɒl/. Tolkien had a habit in his writing of putting diacritics in varying places, as can also be seen in the name Eärendil, which also occurs spelled Ëarendil.
In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, Gollum is a CGI character voiced by actor Andy Serkis. Barely glimpsed in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), he becomes a central character in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). The CGI character was built around Serkis's facial features, voice and acting choices. Andy Serkis based his voice on sounds made by his cat. Using a digital puppet created by Jason Schleifer and Bay Raitt at Weta Digital, animators created Gollum's performance using a mixture of motion capture data recorded from Serkis and the traditional animation process of keyframing, along with the laborious process of digitally rotoscoping Serkis' image and replacing it with the digital Gollum's in a technique coined rotoanimation. This work required a large number of digital artists.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Serkis himself appears in a flashback scene as Sméagol before his degeneration into Gollum. This scene was originally earmarked for The Two Towers, but was held back because the screenwriters felt audiences would relate better to the original Sméagol once they were more familiar with who he became. The decision to include this scene meant that Raitt and Jamie Beswarick had to redesign Gollum's face for the second and third movies so that it would more closely resemble Serkis'. The brief glimpses in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring are of an earlier model of Gollum.
Gollum's split personality is emphasized in Jackson's films; screenwriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens included scenes in The Two Towers and The Return of the King in which "Gollum" and "Sméagol" argue, with Serkis slightly altering his voice and body language to play the two as separate entities. While Tolkien wrote similar scenes, the conflict between the two personalities is more intense in the films; "Sméagol" even "banishes" "Gollum" for a while after Frodo shows him kindness. The animators further delineated the two personalities through facial expressions and changing eyes — small, narrow pupils for "Gollum", and large, round ones for "Sméagol".
A minor controversy arose when Serkis was not nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Serkis and Gollum appeared on the 2003 MTV Movie Awards, when Gollum won "Best Virtual Performance" and went on to deliver an obscenity-laden acceptance speech in character. This clip can be found as an easter egg in the The Two Towers DVD. Wizard Magazine rated Jackson's Gollum as the 62nd greatest villain of all time, from among 100 villains from film, television, comics and video games.
These film adaptations have varied in how they depicted Gollum visually. In Bakshi's film, Gollum is dark, bald and gangly. The Jackson films depicted Gollum similarly, though pale. In contrast, in the Rankin/Bass adaptations, he is a pale green, frog-like creature with huge, pupil-less eyes.
) in the Cincinnati production of The Lord of the Rings (2002).]]
In the United States, Gollum was portrayed by Aretta Baumgartner in the Cincinnati productions of The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003) for Clear Stage Cincinnati. Baumgartner received a 2002 Cincinnati Entertainment Award for her portrayal of Gollum in The Two Towers. At Chicago's Lifeline Theatre, Gollum was played by Phil Timberlake in The Two Towers (1999) and Robert Kauzlaric in The Return of the King (2001).
Gollum appears in a three-part comic book adaptation of The Hobbit, scripted by Chuck Dixon and Sean Deming and illustrated by David Wenzel. It was first published by Eclipse Comics in 1989. A reprint collected in one volume was released by Unwin Paperbacks in 1990 and by Del Rey Books in 2001.
during a promotion for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy (June 14, 2004 )]]
In Sierra Entertainment's The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring, a real-time strategy game based solely on the book, Gollum is a playable hero unit for the Minions of Sauron. Legolas and a guard of archers track him through Mirkwood, fighting giant spiders along the way.
In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring video game by Surreal Software, also based only on the book, Gollum appears in a cutscene when the Fellowship of the Ring is within Moria, and is shown half hidden behind debris muttering to himself. He also appears during the final level at Amon Hen; when the user is playing as Aragorn, Gollum appears on a cliff edge muttering to himself and walks away, and then does the same on another cliff edge. Then the player heads to a small island and a cutscene can be shown with a conversation between Aragorn and Gollum, in which Gollum throws a fish at him; it becomes his weapon for the final mission, as well as the most powerful weapon in the game.
He also appears in Electronic Arts' games based on the Jackson films. In the real-time strategy game The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth, Gollum is a playable hero unit for Mordor. In its sequel, The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-earth II, which is also based on the film series, he is not playable. Instead, he walks around the map cloaked, carrying the Ring. When killed, he drops the Ring for a player to claim. When the Ring is returned to the player's fortress, they may summon a special "Ring Hero" — Galadriel for good factions and Sauron for evil. He also appears in the action game based on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, accompanying Frodo and the player as the game progresses, but at Mount Doom becomes the final boss, whom the player must throw into the lava below. In the Game Boy version of The Return of the King he is a playable bonus character.
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