The Character of Sméagol in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

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The Character of Sméagol in Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings

Although JRR Tolkien is notorious for his numerous, and often seemingly irrelevant, minor characters - the necessity of an index of names in The Return of the King proves this without a doubt - one of the most crucial and fascinating characters of The Lord of the Rings physically appears in barely more than one-sixth of the novel. The character Sméagol, often referred to by his alter ego Gollum, on a basic level serves only to guide Frodo and Sam to Mordor, as well as to destroy the Ring when Frodo cannot. However, in the course of doing so, we are revealed, hint by hint, of the enigmatic and contradictory character who "hates the Ring and loves the Ring - just as he hates and loves himself" (Sibley 170). In The Lord of the Rings, JRR Tolkien uses the character Sméagol, forged from a collection of historical and historically mythological tales, as a foil for the central hero Frodo Baggins as well as the Christian example of hope, despite the powerful corruption of evil.

Tolkien, Oxford's Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, was an avid fan of history; the ancient past of his beloved Europe fascinated him to such a degree that it is little wonder the history of Middle-Earth mirrors our own. Sméagol's lust for, reverence to, and even fear of the One Ring bases its roots, most especially, in the ancient practice of Dactyliomancy, or the use of rings for divination and magic. In the first century AD, Apollonius of Tyana, a major figure in the Gnostic religion and early alchemy, received seven rings from the Brahman Indian prince Iarchus, which he believed gave him healing powers if he would "[revere] them as divine... and...

... middle of paper ...

...ous power of evil, but the everlasting, and far greater, power of good.

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Sibley, Brian. The Lord of the Rings: The Making of the Movie Trilogy. New York:

Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002. 170, 171.

Tolkien, JRR. The Letters of JRR Tolkien. Ed. Humphrey Carpenter. Boston: Houghton

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