30 October 2015

Gollum before The Taming of Sméagol (IV)



What the reader learns about Gollum by the end of The Council of Elrond comes in two parallel phases at the beginning of Books One and Two. In each book a scene in which we may infer much about Gollum from the behavior of Bilbo and Frodo precedes the more open and direct telling of a tale about him within the larger Tale. In A Long-Expected Party possession of the Ring leads to a tense moment between Gandalf and Bilbo (FR 1.i.33-36), which is balanced by one between Bilbo and Frodo in Many Meetings (2.i.232). Likewise the story Gandalf tells in The Shadow of the Past (1.ii.52-60) finds its counterpoise in the stories of Aragorn and Legolas in The Council of Elrond (2.ii.253-256). In the first instance the two scenes suggest a dark and dangerous character for Gollum; in the second the two scenes establish that character by accounts of his actions. Both times the subject of Gollum vanishes from the narrative as soon as the tale within the Tale is done.


And yet The Council of Elrond contains one piece of information that makes a critical difference: Gollum has escaped the custody of the Elves, but, as Gandalf declares, it is too late for anything to be done about it (FR 2.ii.256). And there the matter of Gollum, which is given so much importance whenever it is raised, again slips away. The Company sets out, facing not only the hardships of a journey in winter, but threats of detection (FR 2.iii.284-85, 290, 294) and destruction (FR 2.iii.287-94; iii.297-99, 308-09), before they even enter 'the long dark of Moria.' Here, on the road that Gandalf led them to 'against their fears' (FR 2.iv.311), Gollum at last approaches the stage, fittingly and in hindsight almost predictably, in the darkness beneath the Misty Mountains:
Yet Frodo began to hear, or to imagine that he heard, something else: like the faint fall of soft bare feet. It was never loud enough, or near enough, for him to feel certain that he heard it; but once it had started it never stopped, while the Company was moving. But it was not an echo, for when they halted it pattered on for a little all by itself, and then grew still 
(FR 2.iv.312)
and then again

As the road climbed upwards' Frodo's spirits rose a little; but he still felt oppressed, and still at times he heard, or thought he heard, away behind the Company and beyond the fall and patter of their feet, a following footstep that was not an echo. 
(FR 2.iv.314)

'Approaches the stage' is precisely it. For all the hints and descriptions, for all the inferences about Gollum we may draw from the behavior of Bilbo and Frodo, even now Gollum himself still hangs just out of reach, like the 'ghost that drank blood [and] ... slipped through windows to find cradles' (FR 1.ii.58). Note how the two descriptions which assert that the sound Frodo heard was 'not an echo' echo each other, and how the certainty that 'not an echo' proclaims is balanced by the uncertainty in phrases like 'to hear, or to imagine that he heard' and 'heard, or thought that he heard.'

It is a wonderful evocation of the darkness and mystery of Moria, playing what the character and the reader do not yet know off against what the narrator will not yet reveal, as well as of the fear of an unknown and unseen pursuer. Gollum becomes one of those elusive secrets that he himself had once wished to discover beneath the mountains (FR i.ii.54). Nothing else may be told at this point. On a first reading we cannot know that the pursuer is Gollum, thought we can reasonably guess that he is no friend to the Company.

And, if anything, the first remote glimpse of him we get makes Gollum seem less real, but more frightening:
A deep silence fell. One by one the others fell asleep. Frodo was on guard. As if it were a breath that came in through unseen doors out of deep places, dread came over him. His hands were cold and his brow damp. He listened. All his mind was given to listening and nothing else for two slow hours; but he heard no sound, not even the imagined echo of a footfall.

His watch was nearly over, when, far off where he guessed that the western archway stood, he fancied that he could see two pale points of light, almost like luminous eyes. He started. His head had nodded. 'I must have nearly fallen asleep on guard,' he thought. 'I was on the edge of a dream.' He stood up and rubbed his eyes, and remained standing, peering into the dark, until he was relieved by Legolas. When he lay down he quickly went to sleep, but it seemed to him that the dream went on: he heard whispers, and saw the two pale points of light approaching, slowly. He woke and found that the others were speaking softly near him, and that a dim light was falling on his face.
(FR 2.iv.318)

'Not even the imagined echo of a footfall' supplies an obvious link to the other two passages, but leans more on the character's belief that he may have been imagining things than on the narrator's surety that he was not.[1] '[G]uessed' and 'fancied' pick up on this in turn, and lead straight to Frodo's conclusion that what he thought he saw was not real. Then, from thinking himself 'on the edge of a dream' while on watch, he seems to move into an actual dream once Legolas takes his place. Even without the feeling of dread that had already come over Frodo, it would be hard to describe this dream as anything but a nightmare. It is reminiscent of the dreams Merry and Pippin had in Bombadil's house (FR 1.vii.127-28), and of the parts of Frodo's dreams at Crickhollow and at Bombadil's that touch upon the Black Riders (FR 1.v.108; vii.127).[2]

But Frodo's dreams are often more than merely dreams, as his vision of Gandalf has already revealed (FR 1.vii.127; 2.ii.261). Something is in fact 'approaching, slowly' – note the emphatic comma, of horror – and only Frodo seems at all aware of it. Yet even now the smoothness with which Frodo slips from waking into dreaming and back again casts doubt on the sounds he has heard. Are the whispers in his dream actually the voices of his friends talking to each other while he sleeps? Are they Gollum? Or just a bad dream?

For now, however, these questions remain unanswered because the tale once again leaves Gollum behind, as more urgent and imminent dangers threaten the Fellowship. The day to which Frodo awakes swiftly leads the companions to the Chamber of Mazarbul, to the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm, and the woods of Lothlórien: Frodo and Sam are injured in an attack by Orcs; a Balrog comes; Gandalf falls; and strife briefly flares between Aragorn and Boromir over entering the enchanted wood (2.iv.318-vi.338). Yet just when they have found refuge with the elves and the danger seems to have passed them by – quite literally, the Orcs having pursued them from Moria – the echo that was not an echo, the dream that was not a dream, emerges from the renewed darkness and silence.
There were no more sounds. Even the leaves were silent, and the very falls seemed to be hushed. Frodo sat and shivered in his wraps. He was thankful that they had not been caught on the ground; but he felt that the trees offered little protection, except concealment. Orcs were as keen as hounds on a scent, it was said, but they could also climb. He drew out Sting: it flashed and glittered like a blue flame and then slowly faded again and grew dull. In spite of the fading of his sword the feeling of immediate danger did not leave Frodo, rather it grew stronger. He got up and crawled to the opening and peered down. He was almost certain that he could hear stealthy movements at the tree's foot far below.

Not Elves; for the woodland folk were altogether noiseless in their movements. Then he heard faintly a sound like sniffing: and something seemed to be scrabbling on the bark of the tree-trunk. He stared down into the dark, holding his breath.

Something was now climbing slowly, and its breath came like a soft hissing through closed teeth. Then coming up, close to the stem, Frodo saw two pale eyes. They stopped and gazed upward unwinking. Suddenly they turned away, and a shadowy figure slipped round the trunk of the tree and vanished.

Immediately afterwards Haldir came climbing swiftly up through the branches. 'There was something in this tree that I have never seen before,' he said. 'It was not an orc. It fled as soon as I touched the tree-stem. It seemed to be wary, and to have some skill in trees, or I might have thought that it was one of you hobbits.’

(FR 2.vi.345)
Here again, as in Moria, the silence is profound, and certainty elusive. But doubts about the existence of a pursuer, who here follows in the wake of the Orcs just as in Moria he had preceded them, soon vanish. Whoever the pursuer may be, he is no longer ‘far off,’ but right at hand ‘scrabbling,’ ‘sniffing,’ ‘climbing,’ and ‘hissing.’ As before, he is approaching ‘slowly.’ Only now the ‘two pale points of light’ seen in Moria are not ‘almost like luminous eyes’ (emphasis mine). They are eyes; Frodo has no doubt. With the report of Haldir, we receive not only a confirmation that Frodo was not dreaming in Moria (at least not at first), but also a suggestion that the figure tracking the company was something like a hobbit, which harmonizes with Gandalf’s assertion back in The Shadow of the Past that Gollum was of hobbit kind, a claim that Frodo had rejected as ‘an abominable notion’ (FR 1.ii.54).

One wonders how to read these last details. Frodo would have known better than anyone that Gollum had pale luminous eyes. Not only had he seen Bilbo’s account of his adventures in his book, but he had likely heard Bilbo tell it multiple times, always at length no doubt, most recently at the Council of Elrond (FR 1.v.105; 2.ii.249: ‘at full length’; Hobbit 82, 88, 93-97). Nor is there any sign that Haldir’s innocent comparison of Gollum to a hobbit provoked any reaction in Frodo. With this information Frodo the character should have been able to recognize Gollum.[3] Yet Frodo, both as character and narrator, remains silent, which places the emphasis of this moment on what we can see of the pursuer, who comes close on the heels of the Orcs, who can climb as they do, who has eyes that glow in the darkness, who sniffs after his prey like a Black Rider (FR 1.iii.75-76), and who now comes closer than ever before: to Frodo he seems even more dangerous than the Orcs themselves.[4] He’s seen by the Elves again the following day, apparently in company with the Orcs or close by them when they are destroyed.[5]

Then he is gone again, for the entire duration of their month’s stay in Lothlórien. Not until the companions have been on the Anduin for four days does he reappear, in two consecutive scenes, each of which we will consider in turn.
As dusk drew down on the fourth day, he was looking back over the bowed heads of Frodo and Aragorn and the following boats; he was drowsy and longed for camp and the feel of earth under his toes. Suddenly something caught his sight: at first he stared at it listlessly, then he sat up and rubbed his eyes; but when he looked again he could not see it any more. 

That night they camped on a small eyot close to the western bank. Sam lay rolled in blankets beside Frodo. 'I had a funny dream an hour or two before we stopped, Mr. Frodo,' he said. 'Or maybe it wasn't a dream. Funny it was anyway.' 

'Well, what was it?' said Frodo, knowing that Sam would not settle down until he had told his tale, whatever it was. 'I haven't seen or thought of anything to make me smile since we left Lothlórien.' 

'It wasn't funny that way, Mr. Frodo. It was queer. All wrong, if it wasn't a dream. And you had best hear it. It was like this: I saw a log with eyes!' 'The log's all right,' said Frodo. 'There are many in the River. But leave out the eyes!' 

'That I won't,' said Sam. ''Twas the eyes as made me sit up, so to speak. I saw what I took to be a log floating along in the half-light behind Gimli's boat; but I didn't give much heed to it. Then it seemed as if the log was slowly catching us up. And that was peculiar, as you might say, seeing as we were all floating on the stream together. Just then I saw the eyes: two pale sort of points, shiny-like, on a hump at the near end of the log. What's more, it wasn't a log, for it had paddle-feet, like a swan's almost, only they seemed bigger, and kept dipping in and out of the water. 

'That's when I sat right up and rubbed my eyes, meaning to give a shout, if it was still there when I had rubbed the drowse out of my head. For the whatever-it-was was coming along fast now and getting close behind Gimli. But whether those two lamps spotted me moving and staring, or whether I came to my senses, I don't know. When I looked again, it wasn't there. Yet I think I caught a glimpse with the tail of-my eye, as the saying is, of something dark shooting under the shadow of the bank. I couldn't see no more eyes though. 
'I said to myself: "dreaming again, Sam Gamgee," I said, and I said no more just then. But I've been thinking since, and now I'm not so sure. What do you make of it, Mr. Frodo?'


'I should make nothing of it but a log and the dusk and sleep in your eyes Sam,' said Frodo, 'if this was the first time that those eyes had been seen. But it isn't. I saw them away back north before we reached Lorien. And I saw a strange creature with eyes climbing to the flet that night. Haldir saw it too. And do you remember the report of the Elves that went after the orc-band?

'Ah,' said Sam. 'I do; and I remember more too. I don't like my thoughts; but thinking of one thing and another, and Mr. Bilbo's stories and all, I fancy I could put a name on the creature, at a guess. A nasty name. Gollum, maybe?'

'Yes, that is what I have feared for some time,' said Frodo. 'Ever since the night on the flet. I suppose he was lurking in Moria, and picked up our trail then; but I hoped that our stay in Lorien would throw him off the scent again. The miserable creature must have been hiding in the woods by the Silverlode, watching us start off!'

'That's about it,' said Sam. 'And we'd better be a bit more watchful ourselves, or we'll feel some nasty fingers round our necks one of these nights, if we ever wake up to feel anything. And that's what I was leading up to. No need to trouble Strider or the others tonight. I'll keep watch. I can sleep tomorrow, being no more than luggage in a boat, as you might say.'

'I might,' said Frodo, 'and I might say "luggage with eyes". You shall watch; but only if you promise to wake me halfway towards morning, if nothing happens before then.'

(FR 2.ix.382-83)
This scene brings back three elements we’ve seen before: uncertainty about whether the shadowy figure is a dream or real; luminous, lamplike eyes; and the narrowing of the gap between pursuer and pursued. Only now the approach of the pursuer is not ever slow and ever stealthy as it was in Moria or Lothlórien (FR 2.iv.318; vi.345), but is marked by increasing speed. Gollum is not just keeping pace with them, or coming closer while they are stopped. He is overtaking them, ‘coming along fast now,’ up behind an armed party with four warriors, including Aragorn, who had not been ‘gentle’ to him the last time they had met.[6] Here is the measure of Gollum’s desire for the Ring, and consequently of the threat he poses, that he would risk so much to come close to his Precious when he could have no present hope of regaining it.

Now Frodo and Sam’s conversation about Gollum is also quite intriguing. Sam, presented with much the same evidence that Frodo had possessed, quickly concludes that he has seen Gollum and hesitates only momentarily to name him. Frodo at once agrees, revealing that he had ‘feared’ Gollum was on their trail since their first night in Lórien. So Frodo did not fail to identify Gollum, but rather to name him. This initial refusal to name Gollum, especially after Haldir’s reminder that Gollum is a hobbit-like creature, is a quieter echo of the vehemence with which Frodo scorned Gandalf’s suggestion that Gollum was of hobbit kind, that what had befallen him could have befallen others hobbits he had known, and that he was a miserable creature who should be pitied (FR 1.ii.54-55, 59-60). Without a name, Gollum remains a thing, a creature, a shadow, eyes glowing in the darkness; as an uncertainty he may be frightening, but he is also not quite real.[7] Once Sam speaks up, Gollum can no longer be just a bad dream. He becomes a very real threat that Frodo must confront and cannot deny, as the next scene shows.
In the dead hours Frodo came out of a deep dark sleep to find Sam shaking him. 'It's a shame to wake you,' whispered Sam, 'but that's what you said. There's nothing to tell, or not much. I thought I heard some soft plashing and a sniffing noise, a while back; but you hear a lot of such queer sounds by a river at night.'


He lay down, and Frodo sat up, huddled in his blankets, and fought off his sleep. Minutes or hours passed slowly, and nothing happened. Frodo was just yielding to the temptation to lie down again when a dark shape, hardly visible, floated close to one of the moored boats. A long whitish hand could be dimly seen as it shot out and grabbed the gunwale; two pale lamplike eyes shone coldly as they peered inside, and then they lifted and gazed up at Frodo on the eyot. They were not more than a yard or two away, and Frodo heard the soft hiss of intaken breath. He stood up, drawing Sting from its sheath, and faced the eyes. Immediately their light was shut off. There was another hiss and a splash, and the dark log-shape shot away downstream into the night. Aragorn stirred in his sleep, turned over, and sat up. 

'What is it?' he whispered, springing up and coming to Frodo. 'I felt something in my sleep. Why have you drawn your sword?' 

'Gollum,' answered Frodo. 'Or at least, so I guess.' 

'Ah!' said Aragorn. 'So you know about our little footpad, do you? He padded after us all through Moria and right down to Nimrodel. Since we took to boats, he has been lying on a log and paddling with hands and feet. I have tried to catch him once or twice at night; but he is slier than a fox, and as slippery as a fish. I hoped the river-voyage would beat him, but he is too clever a waterman. 

'We shall have to try going faster tomorrow. You lie down now, and I will keep watch for what is left of the night. I wish I could lay my hands on the wretch. We might make him useful. But if I cannot, we shall have to try and lose him. He is very dangerous. Quite apart from murder by night on his own account, he may put any enemy that is about on our track.' 

The night passed without Gollum showing so much as a shadow again. After that the Company kept a sharp look-out, but they saw no more of Gollum while the voyage lasted. If he was still following, he was very wary and cunning.


(FR 2.ix.383-84)
Once again we begin with Frodo struggling on the margins of sleep, between the ‘deep, dark sleep’ from which Sam wakes him and the ‘dark shape, hardly visible’ of Gollum approaching. Suddenly, however, the verbs become more active and forceful. Gollum’s hand ‘shot out and grabbed’; his eyes ‘shone’ and ‘peered.’ He and Frodo are but a few feet apart, looking straight at each other. The threat has never been greater, and Frodo draws his sword.

As with Sam’s naming Gollum, a threshold is crossed when Gollum comes close enough for his eyes to meet Frodo’s. In the first place Frodo is compelled to admit what he must have known; in the second he is compelled to take action against the threat. It is no surprise after this that Frodo, when asked by Strider why he has drawn his sword, tells him straight out. The surprise – which is of course of the head-shaking, chagrined, no-surprise-at-all kind – is that Aragorn knew Gollum was there all along.

Now if we had only one scene in which either Sam or Aragorn had revealed that he knew about Gollum, I would not find that suggestive. But we have two such scenes in succession, involving the two members of the Company whom Frodo trusts and relies upon most now that Gandalf is gone. In a way that will become entirely clear by the end of the next chapter, The Breaking of the Fellowship, Frodo is isolated and alone because of the Ring, much like Gollum who pursues him like some shadow self from a fairy tale.[8] We have seen previously in A Long-Expected Party, The Shadow of the Past, and Many Meetings how the Ring undermines friendship, love, and honesty even in a good person;[9] and even before learning the truth about the Ring, Frodo had come to spend a worrisome amount of time alone.[10] As we have also seen, moreover, Gollum’s ‘longing for the Ring’ and his desire for revenge on the thief who stole his precious draws him to Frodo (FR 1.ii.57-59). So the Ring drives Frodo away from others, just as it brings him and Gollum together.

Aragorn’s last words on Gollum in this scene also merit our scrutiny: ‘Quite apart from murder by night on his own account, he may put any enemy that is about on our track.’ Not only do they exemplify the danger Gollum poses, but they suggest an erratic and irrational enemy who can veer between contradictory extremes.[11] For, knowing how much Sauron wants the Ring back, the last thing Gollum should do is tell the enemy where the Company is. Yet the link between him and the enemy has been established since The Shadow of the Past (FR 1.ii.59); Orcs rescued him from the Elves (FR 2.ii.255-56); and he and the Orcs have never been far from each other since Moria. 

Indeed from this point on cooperation between Gollum and the Orcs is openly assumed. When Aragorn notices several days later that the birds along the River seem strangely disturbed, he ‘wonder[s] if Gollum had been doing some mischief and the news of their voyage was now moving in the wilderness’ (FR 2.ix.385). Later that night Orcs do attack the Company, and Sam has no doubt it is ‘Gollum’s doing’ (FR 2.ix.386). 

On the night the before the Fellowship is broken, though Gollum has ‘remained unseen and unheard,’ Aragorn ‘nonetheless’ is ‘uneasy’ and cannot sleep: sure enough, Sting reveals that Orcs are nearby (FR 2.x.395). ‘Nonetheless’ dismisses Gollum’s seeming absence as irrelevant. The connection between him and the Orcs remains relevant. And the next day Aragorn states plainly and prudently that ‘we must fear that the secret of our journey is already betrayed’ (FR 2.x.402). Everything tends to confirm his earlier assertion that Gollum is ‘very dangerous’ (FR 2.ix.384).

The last passage about Gollum before his full entry into the story in The Taming of Sméagol confirms this connection to the Orcs. Merry and Pippin, captives of Saruman’s Uruk-Hai, finds themselves being searched by Grishnákh, the leader of a contingent of Mordor Orcs who have crossed the Anduin. Realizing that he knows about the Ring, the hobbits decide to play a perilous game with him (TT 3.iii.455):
For a moment Pippin was silent. Then suddenly in the darkness he made a noise in his throat: gollum, gollum. 'Nothing, my precious,' he added.

The hobbits felt Grishnákh's fingers twitch. 'O ho!' hissed the goblin softly. 'That's what he means, is it? O ho! Very ve-ry dangerous, my little ones.'
Nothing could demonstrate more clearly that Grishnákh knows precisely who Gollum is, and has therefore very likely been in contact with him.[12] The Orc had only recently crossed the river and was likely among the Orcs who were present when Legolas shot the Nazgûl from the sky (FR 2.ix.386-87; TT 3.iii.446-47, 451-52). All of what Aragorn said and feared about Gollum appears to be true.

The passages I’ve considered in this study differ from those in A Long-expected Party, The Shadow of the Past, and Many Meetings/The Council of Elrond in one very important way. There, Gollum is always part of someone else’s tale – that of Bilbo, Gandalf, Aragorn, and Legolas, but not of Frodo – and the possibility that he might enter his tale is never more than hinted at. In The Shadow of the Past, for example, Frodo is not yet prepared to accept that ‘we’re in the same tale still’ (TT 4.viii.712), and he resists Gandalf’s attempt to persuade him otherwise almost as vehemently as Bilbo had resisted Gandalf’s attempt to make him let go of the Ring. 

Here, Gollum, complete with all the unsavory and dangerous characteristics previously laid before us, is on the point of entering Frodo’s tale whether he wishes him to or not. He comes shrouded in darkness and shadow, echoes and dreams, passing from the underworld of a long dead and demon-haunted civilization to the borders of an enchanted realm, Lothlórien, the dream-flower, where ‘the ancient things lived on in the waking world’ (FR 2.vi.349).[13] So he approaches Frodo like some dream, or more properly, some nightmare out of the past, which Frodo seems reluctant to admit is real. It is only when Sam confirms his reality, only when Gollum’s hand seizes some tangible, undeniable part of Frodo’s world (FR 2.ix.384), that Frodo has no choice but to confront his existence and respond properly to the threat, by drawing his sword and telling Aragorn. That Strider has known all along, and is grimly amused – ‘Ah…. So you know about our little footpad, do you?’ (FR 2.ix.384) – reveals Frodo’s denial as much as Aragorn’s watchfulness.

So in the final scenes before Gollum at last enters the narrative in The Taming of Sméagol we see him repeatedly portrayed as a dream or a nightmare, a portrayal which seems to mirror the reluctance of Frodo to accept him as part of his tale. But Gollum’s own increasingly close and bold pursuit of the Ring, when added to Sam and Strider’s clearer assessments of the dangers Gollum poses, compel Frodo to face Gollum more like the threat that he is than a nightmare one is trying to shake off. The next time Gollum comes this close to Frodo, about ten days later,[14] all of that danger will be in play, and Frodo, drawing his sword once more, will at last have the chance to take the step he once wished Bilbo had taken on Gollum: ‘What a pity Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!’ (FR 1.ii.59). Yet in those ten days Frodo will experience two events that will allow him to see Gollum differently.






[1]  For Frodo the character the source of the footsteps is at this point an unknown, though he will soon enough guess who it is (FR 2.ix.383-84).  Frodo the narrator of course knows well that this is Gollum. The certainty that the footsteps are not imaginary is far more the narrator’s than the character’s.  This will soon change, however.

[2]  In her too brief study, Dream Visions in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien Studies, 3 [2006] 49), Amy M. Amendt-Raduege cites the use of the word ‘snuffling’ in the Crickhollow dream and later of Gollum (TT 4.i.604, 613; vi.688), to support the assertion that Frodo is here dreaming, prophetically, about Gollum.  She ignores, however, that Frodo is dreaming about "creatures" not a "creature," plus, as we all know, Frodo knows there are at least two Black Riders pursuing him by the time he reaches Crickhollow, one of whom seems to rely rather noticeably on his sense of smell (FR 1.iii.75, 76, 78; iv.87).  Frodo's next dream, moreover, clearly identifies the pursuit he fears as the Black Riders (FR 1.vii.127). So, while it is true that Gollum both sniffs (FR 2.ix.345) and snuffles, it seems far more likely that Frodo is dreaming of the immediate and frightening threat posed by the Black Riders.  On ‘creature’ in The Lord of the Rings, where it is used of both Gollum and the Black Riders, see my Again That Vile Creature, with a Special Guest Appearance by Grendel

[3] Note the process of elimination in this passage, going forward but leading nowhere. Frodo knows that the creature is not an Elf. Haldir declares that it is not an orc, but something like a hobbit.

[4]  At 2.ix.383 Frodo reveals that he had thought it was Gollum ‘ever since the night on the flet.’

[5]A strange creature also had been seen, running with bent back and with hands near the ground, like a beast and yet not of beast-shape. It had eluded capture, and they had not shot it, not knowing whether it was good or ill, and it had vanished down the Silverlode southward’ (FR 2.vi.349-50).

[6] Not gentle: FR 2.ii.253. Cf. Gollum’s reaction to the mention of Aragorn’s name by Frodo later on: TT 4.iii.643.

[8] Consider not only Frodo’s solitary confrontation with Boromir and his consequent decision to go to Mordor alone, but the feeling within the Company that Frodo should say whether they should go to Mordor or Minas Tirith, stay together or split up.

As for the role of shadow, there is of course Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Shadow, but perhaps more relevant would be George MacDonald’s Phantastes in which Anodos, the hero, is stalked and ultimately imprisoned by his own shadow. Peter Pan’s shadow may also be relevant, since the play was quite popular in Tolkien’s youth and he said of a performance he saw of it in 1910:  ‘Indescribable but shall never forget it as long as I live. Wish E[dith] had been with me’, quoted in Carpenter, Tolkien, A Biography (Boston 1977) 47-48.

[9] Three examples will suffice: in A Long-Expected Party Bilbo accuses Gandalf of wanting his Ring and threatens him with his sword (1.i.34); in The Shadow of the Past Gandalf tells Frodo how Sméagol murdered his friend, Déagol, to obtain the Ring and was then driven out by his own family (1.ii.52-54); in Many Meetings Frodo momentarily sees Bilbo as a Gollum-like creature after his Ring and wishes to strike him (2.i.232). For further discussion, see the first, second, and third studies in the present series.

[10] FR 1.ii.42-42: [Frodo] lived alone, as Bilbo had done; but he had a good many friends…. Frodo went tramping all over the Shire with them; but more often he wandered by himself, and to the amazement of sensible folk he was sometimes seen far from home walking in the hills and woods under the starlight. Merry and Pippin suspected that he visited the Elves at times, as Bilbo had done.

As time went on, people began to notice that Frodo also showed signs of good ‘preservation’: outwardly he retained the appearance of a robust and energetic hobbit just out of his tweens. ‘Some folk have all the luck,’ they said; but it was not until Frodo approached the usually more sober age of fifty that they began to think it queer.

[11] Contradictions within Gollum where the Ring is concerned are fundamental, and have been long in evidence: ‘He hated and loved it, as he hated and loved himself’ (FR 1.ii.55).

[12] Gollum will later admit to Frodo and Sam that he had in fact spoken to Orcs ‘before he met master,’ but he tries to place it in the context of his travelling far and speaking to ‘many peoples’ (TT ­­4.iii.642).
[13] The ancientry (to borrow a term from Faramir) of Khazad-dûm receives stress of course in Gimli’s song about Durin the Deathless (FR 2.iv.315-317).  Galadriel’s knowledge of how ‘fair were the many-pillared halls of Khazad-dûm in Elder Days before the fall of mighty kings beneath the stone’ (FR 2.vii.356); and her echo of the song’s words about the fall of Nargothrond and Gondolin makes clear how ancient she and Celeborn, ‘the Lord of the Galadhrim,’ are also (FR 2.vii.357).

[14] Gollum and Frodo come face to face on the banks of Anduin on the fourth night out of Lothlórien, which the Company departed on 16 February.  Frodo and Sam capture Gollum on the eastern side of the Emyn Muil on 29 February. See Appendix B in RK 1092.

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