Why So Gollum, Chum?

Exactly what is Gollum? The text of The Hobbit isn’t entirely clear on this point, which led to a lot of different interpretations by artists. This post provides a lot of pictures of the creature. J.R.R. Tolkien himself was known to have said most illustrators made him look too monstrous, and eventually gave a more specific description of Gollum.

And in an appendix to Lord of the Rings, it’s revealed that Gollum was originally a Stoor, which is a sort of proto-hobbit. The story of how Smeagol, who would become Gollum, came to possess the One Ring was filmed as an introduction to the Peter Jackson film adaptation of The Return of the King. On Smeagol’s birthday, he and his brother Deagol were out fishing. Deagol found the Ring in the water, and Smeagol demanded it from him. When Deagol refused to give it up, Smeagol gave in to the corrupting influence of the Ring and killed his brother. Over the years and centuries, the power of the Ring and Smeagol’s new home in the middle of a lake in a dark cave warped both his mind and body. According to Tolkien, Gollum was small, slimy, and light-skinned, with a large head and eyes and webbed feet. Contrary to what some artists drew, he never went naked, instead favoring dark rags as clothing. Based on part of this description, it’s not too surprising that some illustrators made him rather frog-like, which is how he appears in the Rankin-Bass animated version of The Hobbit.

Really, though, he’s more closely related to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins than to an amphibian.

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3 Responses to Why So Gollum, Chum?

  1. Pingback: Baggins of Fun | VoVatia

  2. Pingback: Food and Cheer Over Hoarded Gold | VoVatia

  3. Pingback: Where There’s a Will, There’s a Wisp | VoVatia

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