Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gollum's Oath

On Thursday while discussing Frodo's success or failure, the topic of Gollum's oath on the Ring and his ultimate demise in Sammath Naur came up at the end of class.  The subject of the oath never explicitly arises again after it is made.  Tolkien was never one to include a scene that did not have some signifcance.  As such, it is safe to assume that the oath is working behind the scenes somehow.  Many believe that the oath, and therefore the Ring, are the cause of Gollum's attack on Frodo.  I can see two possible explanations:

1. Smeagol says, "Smeagol will swear never, never, to let Him have it."  This is fairly clear, and more difficult for the Ring to twist.  It would make sense that when Frodo puts on the Ring, Gollum sees that he will take it to Sauron or that it will eventually makes its way Him of its own accord.  The Ring then compels him to attack Frodo and prevent this from happening.

2. Another possibility (one that I think is more likely), is that the Ring is tempting Gollum to break his oath.  This has more to do with the ambiguity of Smeagol's promise to serve the master of the Ring.  We know that Gollum has already broken his oath to Frodo when he lead them into Shelob's lair, and yet the Ring did nothing about it.  It seems likely to me that the Ring is looking for an excuse to kill Gollum.  It wants him to break his oath so that it can exact some sort of punishment on him.  Once they are in the Cracks of Doom, the Ring tempts Gollum to betray his master once more, only this time it forces him over the edge.

The second possibility is a little more complex and devious on the Ring's part, and it seems more plausible.  Either way, it is my opinion that the Ring is the driving force behind its own destruction.  What do you think?  Is the Ring an active force in this scene? How so? Could there be another reason it is compelling Gollum to attack Frodo?

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