Lord of the Rings: Why Gollum Rarely Wore the One Ring? Explained

In Peter Jackson's films, Gollum never wore the One Ring. The novel offers multiple reasons that Gollum did not want to wear the One Ring.

Published on Jul 08, 2024  |  07:09 PM IST |  21.9K
Exploring Why Gollum Rarely Wore the One Ring In Lord of the Rings
Gollum in Lord of the Rings (YouTube, Lord of the Rings)

In The Lord of the Rings, the One Ring entices its wearers to wear it, causing them to appear invisible. However, Gollum, the most affected character, is only shown wearing the Ring once in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies. He only holds his Precious after discovering the Ring as Sméagol. In J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit novels, Gollum is not shown wearing the Ring, but Tolkien explains why he doesn't usually need it and why he avoids it whenever possible.

Sméagol used the One Ring a lot

Sméagol frequently used the One Ring before becoming Gollum, as described by Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring. After killing Déagol for it, Sméagol put the Ring on his finger, and upon returning home, he realized it made him invisible.

Sméagol, a cruel and unscrupulous character, was predisposed to murdering his friend Bilbo upon seeing the One Ring, whereas Bilbo, a good-natured hobbit, remained unaffected by its influence, even over decades, despite his cruel nature and the One Ring's influence on him.

Because he was already predisposed to acting viciously, Sméagol used his newfound powers of invisibility to commit heinous acts against his hobbit neighbors. He began his reign of terror by spying on and stealing from them, but this soon devolved into attacking his community outright.

Gollum in Lord of the Rings (PC: YouTube, Lord of the Rings)

Because of these crimes, Sméagol's grandmother exiled him, forcing him to wander the wilderness for the rest of his days. He continued to use his invisibility to catch fish more easily with his bare hands. As Sméagol transformed into Gollum, he grew averse to warmth and light, so he dwelled in the caves of the Misty Mountains.

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Gollum grew less reliant on the One Ring due to his desire for invisibility under darkness. He occasionally used it to hunt Goblins or attack Orcs, but this was rare. Despite his obsession with the One Ring, he rarely used it, a reason further explained in The Lord of the Rings.

The One Ring grew tired and wore Gollum out

The One Ring took a physical and mental toll on its bearer. In the chapter Riddles in the Dark from The Hobbit, Tolkien explained, "Gollum used to wear it at first, till it tired him; and then he kept it in a pouch next his skin, till it galled him; and now usually he hid it in a hole in the rock on his island."

In The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo compares the One Ring's negative effects to butter being spread too thin. This leads to Gollum's transformation into a formless wraith, similar to the Nazgûl Frodo. Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey highlights Gollum's obsession with the One Ring, removing the aspect of him hiding it in a hole. Bilbo finds it when it falls out of his loincloth during battle.

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Gollum had complex feelings towards the One Ring, as described by Gandalf in The Shadow of the Past. He both hated and loved the One Ring, reflecting his self-hatred and internal conflict. Gollum's half was a vicious monster, willing to do anything for the Ring, while his other half longed for connection and friendship with other living creatures.

Gollum's desire for the One Ring was akin to addiction; he knew to an extent that the One Ring was harmful, and he battled against his craving for it but could not help himself. Despite his vile acts, Gollum was a tragic figure in The Lord of the Rings, as he was a victim of the One Ring's corruption.

Gollum in Lord of the Rings (PC: YouTube, Lord of the Rings)

The One Ring, a sentient being in The Lord of the Rings, aimed to return to Sauron, seeking escape from bearers who wouldn't support its return, as Tolkien often treated it as a sentient being capable of making decisions.

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Gollum was unlikely to encounter a Sauron servant due to his solitary nature. He often encountered Orcs in his caves but killed them quickly, making it difficult for them to apprehend or inform Sauron. Gollum's low ambitions made him difficult to manipulate, unlike other characters in The Lord of the Rings.

It also made him more pathetic to the Ring, which may account for at least part of the constant friction between the two personalities. Jackson picked up this theme in The Two Towers. When Gollum contemplated what he would do with the One Ring's power, he only thought of feasting on copious amounts of fish. Not long after that, Sméagol and Gollum argued while Frodo and Sam were asleep. Sméagol called on dignity but forgot he had to tell Gollum to leave. Gollum did, and for a short time, Sméagol was free.

Gollum, despite returning to Sméagol, had a personal need for the ring, fearing Sauron would regain it and cast Gollum aside. Sméagol couldn't tolerate this and Frodo's plan to destroy it. Caught between the two, Gollum pursued the ring, likely knowing it would not benefit him.

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