Written for my LIS 6080 collaborative technology project.
As with just about any work of classic fiction, there is a protagonist and antagonist at work in the plot. For obvious reasons, the protagonist captures the heart and admiration of readers and often remains in their long-term memory when pondering the age-old “good versus evil” scenario.
Thanks to Hollywood and the silver screen, a beautiful piece of renowned classic literature, The Lord of the Rings by British author J.R.R. Tolkien, the dust has been brushed off and the piece reintroduced to new generations.
Readers and watchers of the silver screen know all about the primary protagonists, the Hobbits, Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee (Sam), and my two favorites, Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry), and Peregrin Took (Pippin) in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, but how much is known about the antagonist Sméagol otherwise known as Gollum?
Being familiar with Tolkien’s work, Sméagol and his dark tale is first introduced to readers in the masterpiece titled The Hobbit and is further clarified and directed in subsequent works The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Sméagol, or more commonly known as Gollum, was once a Hobbit like Frodo, but while out fishing with Déagol they happened to stumble upon a mysterious ring. The fishing trip ended with Déagol’s murder at the hands of Sméagol who was demanding the ring as a birthday present. This particular scene is dramatically portrayed in the film version of The Fellowship of the Ring and explains the transformation that Sméagol experiences thus rendering him a cursed and spiteful creature (Gollum).
Gollum, at times, can play with the heart of the reader and a sense of pity can overcome, but he has one motive: to recapture the ring, or as he refers to it, “Precious”, at any cost, from Frodo and his friends who received it from Frodo’s cousin Bilbo Baggins. Throughout what is commonly known as the trilogy (LOTR was originally penned as six books), Gollum, at times becomes redeemable and then homicidal the next moment causing readers and film watchers, alike, to sigh in frustration.
The last scene of conflict between Frodo and Gollum is best summed up by the Gollum’s Wikipedia entry as: “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.”
Summing up Gollum’s character, he proved to the reader that he valued power and material possessions over friendship and love when he murdered Déagol. Despite his ability to occasionally show the Sméagol-side of his personality, which was redeeming, he quickly fell back into the sociopathic role once his eyes fell upon the coveted ring. Gollum is beyond redeemable with the ending of the book (and movie) touching on themes of poetic justice.
Tolkien’s masterpiece, The Lord of Rings, is recommended to any reader who enjoys vivid literary detail, epic battle scenes, and of course, the age-old tale of good versus evil. The Lord of Rings can be found in a single volume or in the trilogy format. Literature to film critics have given positive praise as to the movie’s fidelity to Tolkien’s printed works; however, on the otherhand, criticism has been given as to the films’ running time of 178 minutes, 179 minutes, and 201 minutes respectively.