The Bitter Ways Of Betrayal
“We’ll be nice to them, very nice, if they’ll be nice to us, won’t we, yes, yes.”
~ Gollum from The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 1 ~
When I First Saw Gollum I…
Gollum is perhaps the most complex and conflicted character within Tolkien’s works. Sharing Frodo’s humble origins, the character of Gollum is one that began not so different from a hobbit. That is a bit hard to believe though isn’t it? At a first glance of Gollum, it is likely a number of you may feel what I did.
Looking at this peculiar creature, I felt a combination of things.
- Repulsion – Samwise and Faramir both seemed to exhibit this behavior from the moment in which their paths crossed Gollum. Neither really showed a great deal of kindness to the strange creature. Instead, both regarded him with doubt as well as suspicion. Gollum’s rather gangly and almost decrepit appearance likely played a huge part in this, for when I first saw him on screen…I admit I was disgusted and immediately thought, ‘This guy is bad news.’
- Amusement – Despite Gollum’s apparent lowly state, there are moments although fleeting, where you can see a curious and almost child like innocence in Gollum’s character. His love for fish along with some of his interactions with Samwise on the subject of food during their journey to Mordor gives a glimpse into the type of person Gollum (aka Smeagol) might have once been. His playful singing and rather random spurts of kindness as well as disgust leave viewers as well as readers perplexed. Is this character one deserving only of our repulsion, scorn, and disdain? Or is there perhaps a little more here than meets the eye? These are the questions I asked a lot and do even now as I consider the complexity of this rather sad Lord of the Rings character.
- Pity – Seeing the transformation of Smeagol into Gollum, it was hard for me not to feel a little compassion. It came as no surprise then that Frodo too, felt pity for Gollum. He too acting as a ring bearer and feeling the allure of the One Ring and also the weight in which that burden entailed, Frodo was perhaps the only one who could truly understand Gollum. Save for one other, who also carried the ring for a time, that being his kin…Bilbo Baggins. The One Ring, in its time in the possession of each of the three had some very apparent effects on them.
- Bilbo Baggins: “I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”
- Frodo Baggins: “I can’t recall the taste of food, nor the sound of water, nor the touch of grass. I’m naked in the dark. There’s nothing–no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I can see him with my waking eyes.”
- Gollum: “And we wept, Precious. We wept to be so alone. And we forgot the taste of bread, the sound of trees, the softness of the wind. We even forgot our own name.”
His desire to obtain and maintain the One Ring of power however, puts this conflicted soul on a rather treacherous path as his only true alliance is to himself. It is from this same self serving attitude that our lesson comes.
Relationships Built On Conditions Ultimately Betray You
Gollum’s relationship with Frodo was built purely on conditions.
- If the hobbits are nice, he in turn, will also be likewise.
- However, should the hobbits prove tricksy or false, he too will begin to scheme and plot even if it means planning their demise.
How can we possibly relate to Gollum? You are likely wondering. The truth is…at times, perhaps we all have been Gollum.
Conditions Of Our Relationships
Have you ever had the mindset that:
I will do this for him or her because, he or she will do this for me…
If he or she supports me, I will return the favor and show some support….
If he or she will lend me money, I will lend them some…
Has your relationship with God ever looked like this:
I will stand up for God if I can maintain my image.
I will tithe if God gives me more income.
I will go into ministry if God will give me the recognition I deserve.
Let’s face it, at some point, we all have been Gollum. Whether it is with a family member, friend, church member, boyfriend, girlfriend, or God… we all have sometimes given or placed unspoken conditions on our relationship with others. A relationship that is based on conditions or terms…becomes more like a contract. A contract unkept, is an obligation unfulfilled. Neither lead us anywhere good.
What Does The Word Tell Us?
Matthew 26:14-16 King James Version (KJV)
14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
Matthew 27:1-5 King James Version (KJV)
27 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor. 3 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4 Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. 5 And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
Matthew 6:24King James Version (KJV)
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.