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Old 08-26-2002, 09:17 PM   #1
Lhunbelethiel
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Question Compassion and Redemption...

These questions occurred to me as I re-read the Two Towers. What role does Frodo's compassion play in his trusting of Gollum to take him to Mordor? Sam is very much suspicious of Gollum from the beginning, but Frodo reacts differently toward the former Smeagol. Why is this? Is it in Frodo's nature to be trusting, and compassionate-- or is he a fool? He does not kill Gollum as Sam suggested, nor does he act cruelly toward him. Indstead, he is sometimes almost friendly to the miserable creature. Again, is Frodo's compassion just that- pure compassion- or is he simply foolish enough to trust the devious creature?

This brings me to another point. Does Gollum redeem himself of his terrible deeds by doing what he does at Mount Doom? (which I won't give away in case some readers haven't reached that part [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]) Though he goes back and forth between the "slinker" and "stinker" personas, he does indeed do what he promised-- which was to take Frodo into Mordor. Though he still lusted in his heart for the Precious, is his end enough to redeem him for all his wrongs?

Many apologies if these topics have been raised. Even if they have, perhaps some new insights would be interesting. Thanks! [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 08-26-2002, 09:47 PM   #2
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I believe that the reason Frodo is so tolerant with Gollum is because Gandalf's words weight so heavily on him ("It's pity that stayed Bilbo's hand..."etc.)

He, as well as others, take Gandalf very seriously and I think that he believed deep inside that Gollum was truly serving a purpose of some sort. Which he surely does.

As for Gollum's redemption. Well, I wouldn't necessarily call it that. It's just that his part was completed. I wouldn't call it redemption because it was his greed that strove him to attack Frodo. Gollum had no intention of throwing into Mount Doom himself. I think it was just his fate. Others will surely disagree, but that is just my opinion (I am not a Gollum fan as others here are... sorry guys [img]smilies/frown.gif[/img] )
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Old 08-26-2002, 10:59 PM   #3
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I think it was not only the teachings of Gandalf that led Frodo to extend compassion to Gollum, but also the fact that Frodo knew that, through the influence of the Ring, he could very well have become Gollum.

No one but Frodo could understand the overwhelming curse that the power of the One Ring could lay on its bearer, particularly as he got closer and closer to Mordor. I'm sure Frodo would have agreed completely with the old saying "There, but for the grace of God, go I."
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Old 08-26-2002, 11:12 PM   #4
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What I got from the book was that Frodo was purely compassionate. For instance, we see how he treats Sam. Of course, Gandalf's words also have a lot to do with how Frodo treats Gollum, but I think a major part of it is the compassion that is already in Frodo. If he weren't compassionate, why would he agree to go on the quest? He could have stayed in the Shire. I think that just the very fact that he went on the quest is a sign of his compassion; he underwent a lot of personal suffering during it, all of which could have been spared by staying home, but he went on because he couldn't bear to have the Shire people come to doom. He sacrificed a lot for others' happiness. Now, I don't know about you, but that's what I call compassion. Of course, another possibility for his agreeing to go on the quest is that he realized if he didn't, then he'd just be in the same boat with everyone else. It's all a matter of opinion, I suppose. But still, I believe it was mainly compassion that drove Frodo to treat Gollum the way he did. If I remember correctly, I don't think Frodo is much of a gullible character.

As for Gollum. I think, in some weird, twisted way, Gollum embodies humanity, and how easy it is for us to fail. Adam and Eve, for instance. In my opinion, whole character of Gollum is basically those two wrapped up in one. The lure of the ring drove him on, and, like Eve, Gollum could never really be happy until he'd had that ring in his hands. Or paws.


Ugh. I always knew I couldn't write coherently at one in the morning.

[ August 27, 2002: Message edited by: Merri ]
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Old 08-27-2002, 10:36 AM   #5
Lhunbelethiel
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1420!

Thank you for your feed back, you all made interesting points. I think I agree that Gollum did not "redeem" himself as such. I believe, as someone mentioned, that he simply played out his part in the story-- helping to complete the task of taking the ring back to Mt. Doom. Though he had his moments of clarity and near kindness, his greed at the end is typical of his Gollum self and does not make up for his occasional acts of normalcy. I like the idea of him being part of a larger story and simply being a player rather than one who coudl determine his own fate. (though he could have, he didn't) Also, the aforementioned idea that he is meant to show the weakness of people is a provocative thought...

As for Frodo's compassion, I think he is admirable for his selflessness in taking on the task of being the ring bearer. There was not much for him to gain in the beginning, but as the heft of his task grew, he came to understand the sheer necessity of taking the ring back to Mordor. His interaction with Gollum still fascinates me, and I am glad some of you pointed out the fact I had forgotten-- that Gandalf had warned Frodo against being cruel to him as he had a distinct and important part to play in his quest. Like many people in our real lives, though they may seem unimportant or even a nuissance, they all are in our lives for a reason. They all contribte something to our own quests and affect the choices we make. An interesting thought...

Thanks again for your insights. I love the Barrow Downs for allowing these kinds of discussions about something so trivial, yet so very important to us all. More ideas and discussion on this topic would be most welcome.
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Old 08-27-2002, 03:21 PM   #6
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I think that Frodo's compassion is inherent in his character and that this, combined with his memory of Gandalf's words about pity for Gollum are a large part of the reason for his treatment of him. There's also the fact that Gollum at one point swears 'by the precious' to help the Hobbits, and Frodo believes, at least up to a point that this oath will hold good for a while, as indeed it seems to do, as in the time when both Hobbits go to sleep, and Gollum has his 'slinker and stinker' debate.

As to Gollum's redemption, I would say that if, indeed he was redeemed, then it was not a concious action that caused it. Gollum had no intention of destroying the Ring, or himself for that matter, and whilst, in fact he did both, thus in effect saving both Frodo and Sam at the expense of his own life, the involuntary nature of the act implies to me that he had no intention of trying to 'be a better person', and was acting from purely selfish motives, hardly a recommendation for redemption, I would have thought.
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Old 08-29-2002, 06:24 AM   #7
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Sting

Most of you have discussed compassion but overlooked his trust in Gollum. I think it is quite understandable, and quite fitting with Frodo's personality, like was previously said, to feel for the poor creature - but to completely trust him, now that's something I find quite hard relating to.
And it sounds like Frodo does believe in Gollum's inner goodness and that Gollum will be faithful to the end.
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Old 08-29-2002, 11:40 AM   #8
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Evisse, you raise a good point. Frodo does trust Gollum- I guess because he has to- he had no other way of getting to Mordor without him. However, I think it is interesting that Tolkien gave Frodo a side kick like Sam who doubts Gollum so much. Do you think Gollum would have taken advantage of Frodo had Sam not been there??
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Old 08-29-2002, 12:16 PM   #9
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Frodo also needed Gollum. Before he betrayed them, he served as their guide. Frodo says that they never would have made it through the marshes without Gollum. Gandalf also says that Gollum still has a part to play.
I think a lot of Frodo's compassion is because Gollum was willing to help them. He makes a statement or thought along the lines of "The servant has the right to expect loyalty from the master" when he is debating whether to let Faramir's men shoot Gollum for coming to thier hideout.
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Old 08-29-2002, 12:52 PM   #10
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I must courteously but strongly disagree with a number of points made so far.

First, Frodo pitied, but did not trust Gollum. Sam feared that Frodo did blindly trust Gollum, then was quite surprised and pleased to hear Frodo give a very stern warning to Gollum on two occasions, the first being when Gollum insists on swearing by the Ring, and the second (I forget the incident but I think) having to do with the time between meeting up with Faramir and going into the Stairs of Cirith Ungol.

Frodo does, however, understand the power of the Ring, and he knows that by binding his oath to It, Gollum brings upon himself a powerful force that will yet be his doom, which is what Frodo warns him of. So Frodo does not trust Gollum, but is sure that the Ring will prove a sufficient bond on Gollum's oath, though that very oath gets twisted in Gollum's mind, leading to the whole incident with Shelob and Frodo's subsequent capture.

I also cannot agree that Frodo has compassion on Gollum because he is willing to help them. He is only willing after he has bound himself by the Ring, which, again, Frodo understands. Frodo's compassion runs deeper; as one of you said, it is an inherent part of his character, though it does grow through the trials of the quest. It is true, however, that Frodo's compassion probably makes Gollum hold to his oath longer than he might have otherwise done.
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