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Subject: Did Gollum Have to Die? A Philosophical Discussion rss

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Rob
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Was it necessary for Gollum to die for the Fellowship to succeed? Could he have had a redemptive moment, ala Vader, and become a force for good? Or was he thoroughly evil - like a D&D orc baby - and the only logical solution was his demise?

Discuss.
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Matthew M
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Sinister Dexter wrote:
Was it necessary for Gollum to die for the Fellowship to succeed? Could he have had a redemptive moment, ala Vader, and become a force for good? Or was he thoroughly evil - like a D&D orc baby - and the only logical solution was his demise?

Discuss.


He absolutely could have been redeemed. The fact that he wasn't is what makes him a tragic character.

Would they still have succeeded had he not ironically lead to the ring's destruction due to succumbing to his obsession? Who knows...but it made for a good story.

I haven't read the books.
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除名山 蔵芽戸
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Yep. "You bite the finger off Frodo, into the hot lava you go."
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Julius Waller
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He had to die for plot reasons. There was this discussion between Frodo and Gandalf:

Quote:
"It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance."

"Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many."


There is another exchange where it is implied Sauron may have thought the same after he captured Gollum and had put him to torment. He too let him go because he sensed a 'greater doom' for Gollum. Hence Gollum had to die in the book thereby fulfilling this fate. All this occurs quite near the beginning and so is relevant plot building by Tolkien. It would have been a big loose end if Gollum just redeems himself and joins the forces of light.

Just my 0.02$
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Matthew M
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For plot reasons is different than what I interpret Rob's question to be, though (correct me if I'm wrong, Rob!)

He needs to die for plot reasons because the plot is written that way - I don't think any would argue against that. But was the character capable of being redeemed at all in the world of the story, independent of the needs of the plot? That's what I think Rob is asking.
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Gollum had been twisted by the ring to become its slave. If the ring had been destroyed, what would happen to gollum? Would he be freed to be a "normal" hobbit again? Would he have died also? My guess is that he probably would have known immediately that the ring was destroyed, and would have fallen into a fatal near-catatonic depression. Without the ring, there wouldn't have been much left of him.

So whether he died with the ring, or soon after, I don't think it matters much. And him inadvertently destroying the ring made for a great scene, as others have mentioned.
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I've never dug too deep into the lore, but would the same argument (for either yes or no) apply to the Nazgul as well? Seems that the Nazgul were once Men who succumbed to the control of Sauron, and that Gollum is on the path to becoming the same. It would appear that he is still redeemable, since he hasn't made the complete transformation, however, he was far enough along to be utterly insane. While insanity doesn't necessarily make an individual evil, it can make them dangerous. In Gollum's case, I don't think he was ever truly evil, just has an insanity about his precious. If he were forcibly removed from the trigger of his condition and worked with some skilled elven psychologists, he could possibly be re-integrated into society.

Obviously you've skipped the latest trends in RPGs - races aren't evil, just different. I'm not sure who the first group of adventurers were that decided there was something to do with orcs other than murder them all in the name of good, but I'm pretty sure they're the ones that put us on the slippery slope that leads to sparkly vampires who don't eat people and are just misunderstood. #$%#ing new age BS.

Sinister Dexter wrote:
thoroughly evil - like a D&D orc baby - and the only logical solution was his demise?

I love it - classic RPG stuff there.
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As far as good storytelling goes, I think that Gollum dying and destroying the Ring was great.

However, 'in Middle Earth', I think that he could have been redeemed. I do not think that he had been thoroughly corrupted. The following quote from TTT, at the end of The Stairs to Cirith Ungol chapter, is a major reason:

"And so Gollum found them [sleeping] hours later, when he returned...

Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes, and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him, and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate. Then he came back, and slowly putting out a trembling hand, very cautiously he touched Frodo's knee - but almost the touch was a caress. For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far from his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing."

In addition, there are all of the debates between 'Slinker' and 'Stinker' which point to a mostly corrupted being, but one who still had some sense of goodness buried deep.

(edited for punctuation and formatting)
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Gollum does appear to have been redeemable. The Christian foundations for the allegory help me to understand that behind what has been written and discussed.

But Gollum exercised his free will when he chose evil, so we're not really intended to mourn for him when he dies. We're to recognize that he chose his fate despite the chance to choose good offered to him.

That may sound harsh, but that's what I think Tolkein was after there in a theological sense, beneath the scene we see unfold.
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Moshe Callen
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Sinister Dexter wrote:
Was it necessary for Gollum to die for the Fellowship to succeed? Could he have had a redemptive moment, ala Vader, and become a force for good? Or was he thoroughly evil - like a D&D orc baby - and the only logical solution was his demise?

Discuss.

Gollum might have been redeemed of course.

What sealed his fate though when he tried to take the Ring was his ealier encounter with Frodo who as Ringnearer with full command of the Ring told him that if he took the Ring he should be cast into the fires of Orodruin himself.

The magic of the Ring itself worked its own destruction in the end.

EDIT:
Thanks for someone pointing out a silly typo.
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Moshe Callen
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Octavian wrote:
Sinister Dexter wrote:
Was it necessary for Gollum to die for the Fellowship to succeed? Could he have had a redemptive moment, ala Vader, and become a force for good? Or was he thoroughly evil - like a D&D orc baby - and the only logical solution was his demise?

Discuss.


He absolutely could have been redeemed. The fact that he wasn't is what makes him a tragic character.

Would they still have succeeded had he not ironically lead to the ring's destruction due to succumbing to his obsession? Who knows...but it made for a good story.

I haven't read the books.

Read them. The movies are in comparison a travesty.
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I say yes he had to die.

Bilbo and Frodo only carried the ring for a short period of time and it harmed them so badly in the end it caused them to not live out the rest of their lives naturally.

Even if Gollum would have been pacified he would have left with Bilbo and Frodo anyways.

Also he had a chance to help with the ring but only got in the way when it didn't benefit himself. I say burn...


Edit::
Wait maybe it was the sword wound that did Frodo in and not the ring. I can't remember. Also Bilbo already was un-naturally old because of the ring and it caught up to him right? hmmm I think my first point is invalid.
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Matthew M
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whac3 wrote:

Read them. The movies are in comparison a travesty.


I've tried. Even if I do try again, I doubt it will cause my appreciation for the movies to diminish. Different mediums naturally lead to different storytelling.
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Octavian wrote:
whac3 wrote:

Read them. The movies are in comparison a travesty.


I've tried. Even if I do try again, I doubt it will cause my appreciation for the movies to diminish. Different mediums naturally lead to different storytelling.

The problem is that in many ways the movies didn't even tell a similar story; they changed so much so bzarrely for no reason.

I'm not saying not to enjoy the movies if you do but to enjoy the books (one novel) too. Of course, they're modeled on old Germanic epics. So the style is differnet than a lot of people are used to; it's supposed to be.
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Ken Shogren
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Octavian wrote:

He absolutely could have been redeemed. The fact that he wasn't is what makes him a tragic character.

Would they still have succeeded had he not ironically lead to the ring's destruction due to succumbing to his obsession? Who knows...but it made for a good story.

I haven't read the books.



A world WITH Gollum would ensure he was a tragic character indeed. The world WITHOUT Gollum also met the world without the ring. The fact that Gollum died, and in the manor that he did, is the only way he could have been redeemed, and as such was.

There is no chance that Frodo and Sam would have succeeded without Gollum. The fact that Frodo recognized this when he did is what makes him heroic.

I have read the books... and far too many books on the history of the writing of the book (There is quite an extensive and at times quite interesting series of books written by Christopher Tolkien that outline the history and the creation process Tolkien went through in writing the book. For absolute fans, its quite good. For the majority of folks that just like the story, its the definition of 'bored of the ring'.)
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Gollum had to die.

No other "person" had the ring longer then Gollum. It would then be proper to say that the ring was his. It certainly had complete influence over him.

Therefore, to destroy the ring IS to destroy Gollum.
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I believe, by the very nature of the ring, not even the most strong-willed being could choose to drop the ring into the fires of Mount Doom. While some (like Frodo) can temporarily resist the ring's will, it's self-preservation power is irresistible. So, without Gollum's struggle to recapture the ring, and accidentally falling into the flames, the ring never would have ended up getting destroyed. Now I do believe Gollum could have had a redemptive moment, but the Fellowship would have failed if he did.
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Blott wrote:
I believe, by the very nature of the ring, not even the most strong-willed being could choose to drop the ring into the fires of Mount Doom. While some (like Frodo) can temporarily resist the ring's will, it's self-preservation power is irresistible.

This point is important and is why my point about Frodo's unintended command to Gollum is so important; only by using the power of the Ring to its own detriment could the Ring be destroyed in the end.
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This is a fun exercise. What if Frodo and Gollum were fighting over the ring and it flew from their grasp and rolled off the cliff and into the lava to be destroyed. What would happen to Gollum?

Would the darkness lift eventually? Frodo still carries some baggage from the ring and so does Bilbo, but they kind of get better. I liked that last line by Bilbo where he would like to see his old ring again.

We do know that Bilbo's age caught up with him after the ring went away. I would assume that Gollum wouldn't have much of a life becaues he would very quickly age to his actual age, which is many hundreds of years.

Would Gollum be awarded a place on the boat that sails to the Elven undying lands with Frodo and Bilbo? I think in the books Sam gets to go after he has his life in the Shire, but I could be mistaken.

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Chuck Singer wrote:
This is a fun exercise. What if Frodo and Gollum were fighting over the ring and it flew from their grasp and rolled off the cliff and into the lava to be destroyed. What would happen to Gollum?

I think Gollum would have jumped in after the ring.
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whac3 wrote:
fires of Orthanc

Mount Doom?
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The destruction of The Ring is one area where I think the films were superior to the book...

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Frodo and Gollum fighting to the death is far more in keeping with what The Ring does to a person, and provides a hint of The Ring ultimately being the author of it's own downfall. In the book Gollum literally falls into the lava by accident. Nowhere near as satisfying.
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Christopher Yaure
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TrustyJules wrote:
He had to die for plot reasons. There was this discussion between Frodo and Gandalf:

Quote:
"It's a pity Bilbo didn't kill him when he had the chance."

"Pity? It was pity that stayed Bilbo's hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play yet, for good or ill before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many."




This quote always makes me think of what a dark view of beings Gandalf had. To me, "many" > "some". So Gandalf thinks the number of those who live but deserve death > the number of those who die but deserve life.

Perhaps that comes of consorting with wizards (as well as being one).
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Yes, Gollum could have been redeemed. It's hard to know what would have happened if he had I think Dallas and Ben nailed it, above: Gollum came close, in that weary moment; but it was just then that Sam awoke and accused Gollum of something sneaky, and the moment died. And that may not have been entirely coincidence.

There's a strong theme of "God helps those who help themselves" in the book. There is a God in Tolkien's world, although he is barely alluded to in the text of LoTR. The elves call him Ilúvatar. "I can put it no plainer, Frodo, than to say that Bilbo was meant to find the ring," said Gandalf (quoted from memory). Because the ring could not be casually destroyed, Ilúvatar needed a selfless hero type or two to take it as far as possible. Bilbo did his part by finding the ring, and sparing Gollum. Frodo was appointed for the rest; he did his best, and Ilúvatar provided the bit of luck needed at the end to finish the job.
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JoelCFC25 wrote:
whac3 wrote:
fires of Orthanc

Mount Doom?

Oops. That's what I get for typing when I desperately need to go to sleep. Orodruin, IIRC but certainly not Orthanc
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