Sunday, November 15, 2015

Frodo and Gollum

In class on Tuesday, my group discussed the strange relationship between Frodo and Gollum.  Frodo clearly pities Gollum, and Gollum clearly respects Frodo to a certain extent.  Both want to trust each other but can never fully bring themselves to do so.  The dynamics of this relationship obviously demonstrate the hold of the ring on its bearers, but in what way does the power of the ring manifest itself?

I have always seen Frodo's ability to pity Gollum as an example of Frodo's resistance to the ring.  Gollum, who bore the ring for decades, has no pity left inside him and thinks only of himself.  Frodo, on the other hand, has not yet allowed the ring to consume his desires.  He may feel its effects, but he doesn't lose the ability to care about others.

One of the other members in my group though saw this pity a different way: as an example of how the ring has begun to take control of Frodo.  Because Frodo is succumbing to the ring's influence, he feels a connection between himself and Gollum, thus allowing him to feel pity for this creature who lost the ring.  The ring ties them together and allows Frodo to relate to Gollum's suffering.

What do you all think?  Is Frodo's pity for Gollum evidence of his resistance to the ring or his succumbing to the ring?  Or is there some way for both to influence Frodo's actions?


Ulmo said...

I think that Frodo's pity for Gollum shows resistance towards the ring, but I'd actually disagree with the statement that Gollum shows no pity. I would say that he has pity for himself. He is constantly upset over the fact that he cannot have the ring for himself, and firmly believes that he would appreciate the power much more than anybody else. He also beats himself up (physically and mentally) when he misses his chances to steal the ring back. By these reasons, Gollum is very selfish, and also pities himself whenever he doesn't recognize the true power of the ring or fails to bring it back into his possession.

Vairë said...

I believe that Gollum is redeemable. As such, Frodo's belief in the same strikes a chord with me. However, I believe that idea can be supported on an analytical level too. Without trust in Gollum, Frodo's would have been dead. As well, his trust shows that he is willing to develop towards a character that could have given up the ring. That he did not, in the end, is perhaps the tragic ending to a story in which Gollum was never trusted enough.

Lórien said...

I would argue that Frodo is resisting the ring throughout but I would say his attitude towards Gollum changes from one of pity and sympathy to a deeper understanding. The shared experience of the ring has created an empathetic link between him and Gollum. This is clearly the work of the power of the ring, it comes as a side effect from carrying it for too long. On one hand this link allows him to see the value of Gollum and raises his respect for life of all kinds, however lowly. On the other hand, that empathy completely blinds him to the traitorous side of Gollum. This is in part what the ring wants, it knows that if it can trick Frodo into trusting Gollum than it will eventually fall back into Gollum's hands and therefore comes ever closer to Sauron. At the very least Gollum would not destroy the ring.