My friend Kenny Chumbley who from time to time writes pieces under the title: The Prairie Papers, (KLChumbley@aol.com) and who ramrodded the production of the book and the stage-play of The Green Children, made me aware of something Tolkien disclosed that I think you’ll find interesting and moving.
You’ll remember in the screen adaptation of The Fellowship of the Rings the scenes that show a renewed Gollum in a wrestle with the other side of Gollum—something I experienced this very day when I was out for a walk and found myself shouting at myself in stern rebuke.
A fear-filled Sam didn’t trust Gollum and had no sympathy for him. As Kenny pointed out to me, Gollum and Frodo were both ring-bearers and both had suffered greatly as a result of it so Frodo saw Gollum from a different perspective than the loyal-to-Frodo Sam did or could. Frodo had compassion on the ring-tormented Gollum who had been seduced into evil that led him to murder and to the worship of the evil power of the ring. Frodo says to Sam:
- Why do you put him down all the time?
- There’s nothing left in him but lies and deceit.
- You have no idea what it [the ring] did to him; what it’s still doing to him. I want to help him, Sam.
- Because I have to believe he can come back.
- You can’t save him Mr. Frodo.
A rope was put around Gollum’s neck to control him, it tormented him, Frodo removed it and Gollum is softened toward Frodo.
When Gollum warns of danger Sam, in savage distrust wants Gollum driven off but Frodo says, “He has been true to his word.” Gollum is thrilled with the faith expressed in him and begins to see Frodo (“the master”) in a different light.
In another scene Frodo speaks gently to Gollum, “Who are you?” and the answer comes:
Gandalf told me that you were one of the River Folk. You were not so far from a Hobbit, once, were you?! Gandalf told me your life was a sad story. (Gollum is sad, as if reminiscing; like a traveler far from home.)
Your name was Smeagol.” (Gollum slowly raises his head, eyes widening.)
- What did you call me?
- That was your name once, wasn’t it? A long time ago?
- My name! [whispering as if remembering with awe] My name…(hesitatingly and then with a faint smile), “Smeagol.” Compassion, confessed brotherhood and a gentle reminder of a happy life before the loss of innocence, was working a marvelous change in him and he begins to act that way.
Then there are the scenes when the evil side of Gollum begins to dialogue with the newly awakened Smeagol side that now seeks to believe in and serve “the master” in the mission to destroy the ring of evil.
- Wicked hobbits, (says Gollum)
- Not the master (says Smeagol)
- They will cheat you, hurt you, lies…
- The master’s my friend.
- You don’t have any friends. No one likes you
- (holding is ears) Not listening, Not listening.
- You’re a liar, a thief…a murderer.
- (greatly distressed) No, go away!
- (Scoffing) Go away?
- I hate you, I hate you, (holds head, agonized)
- Where would you be without me? Gollum, Gollum; It was me, I saved us. We survived because of me..”
- Not anymore!
- What did you say?
- Master looks after us now. We don’t need you.
- Leave now and never come back.
- Leave now and never come back. (again, stronger): Leave now and never come back!
- Gollum vanishes and Smeagol is startled and then to his better self he says, We told him to go away and way he goes. (He begins to whirl and dance) shouting SMEAGOL IS FREE!
Then as Tolkien told it, Sam misinterprets Smeagol/Gollum and drives him off, back into the world of evil and torment and ultimate loss. When Tolkien finished writing that section, Kenny informed me, Tolkien confessed that he wept!
(Holy Father, somewhere down in so many of us is Gollum and Smeagol. Sometimes just by compassion and long patience Smeagol longs to emerge and be free. Many of us are able to look back on those who in the image of your Holy Son took the rope off our necks and credited us with an honest attempt at keeping our words and they called us by another name, a name we would have forgotten if they hadn’t told us of our past before our loss of innocence. Some of those we well remember and consciously thank you for and there are many who treated us that way when we weren’t able to recognize it and we thank you for them too. Give us a sense of brother and sisterhood, grant us a compassionate spirit and the awareness that we are all ring-bearers. Give us Sam’s love for and loyalty to the Frodos in life and their commission but deliver us we pray from an excess of zeal for the divine purpose that would blind us to the truth that that purpose includes compassion on Smeagols that sometime sit alone in the darkness fighting the darker side of themselves and who without help will be overcome by what they love but hate. We so need your help here that we might be wise as well as empathetic and patient. This prayer in Jesus Christ.)