27

I seem to vaguely recall Gandalf explaining at some point in the books a prolonged use of the Ring would slowly change the user into a wraith, save for very powerful beings which could actually control the Ring instead of being controlled by it.

I also recall the books stating that Gollum stayed in that state because he stopped using the Ring. Eventually it became his treasure but he’d even venture out and leave it back in his hiding place.

Is there any information about why Gollum decided to stop using it? As far as I recall Frodo can hardly resist the urge to use it.

  • I'm pretty sure Gandalf said at one point he reckons the ring chose to leave Gollum. Seems plausible enough that this was the beginning of it. – leftaroundabout Jun 29 at 0:55
35

The primary reason would be that Gollum resented the Ring, and to an extent hated it.

Gollum used to wear it at first, till it tired him; and then he kept it in a pouch next to his skin, till it galled him; and now he hid it in a hole in the rock on his island, and was always going back to look at it. And still sometimes he put it on.
The Hobbit, Chapter V: Riddles in the Dark

As we can see from the above quote for a time Gollum did wear the ring, however he then moved to keeping it on his person, and finally left it on the island. For as Gandalf said "He hated it and loved it". It would appear from The Hobbit that Gollum stopped wearing the Ring as it tired him. This could be related to Bilbo's experience with the Ring where he says it made him feel "thin and stretched". Another option is proposed by Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings in which he states that Gollum had no real need for it in the dark under the mountain.

For it was long since he had worn it much: in the black darkness it was seldom needed. Certainly he had never "faded". But the thing was eating up his mind, of course, and the torment had become almost unbearable...

...'He hated it and loved it, as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter."
The Fellowship of the Ring, Book I, Chapter 2: The Shadow of the Past

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  • 9
    One could also speculate that the Ring put more pressure on Frodo than either Bilbo or Gollum because Sauron was moving. Before then it was biding its time. – Mary Jun 27 at 14:02
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    This is true, but I've tried to refrain from speculation, even if it is incredibly likely. I don't think the answer loses out by not including the concept of the activity of Sauron, as that had no real effect on Gollum and his time with the Ring. – Edlothiad Jun 27 at 14:15
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    It was essentially a toxic addiction that he couldn't stand but couldn't end. I wonder if partly this was to aid in the ring's escape from Gollum. – Mark Rogers Jun 27 at 21:46
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    Good thought. It seems as if nobody can easily get rid of the Ring, but it doesn't try to get them to wear it unless there's a special reason. Frodo is really only "tempted to put on the ring" under special conditions - when the Riders are nearby looking for him, say, or when he and Sam get extremely close to Barad-dur. It appears as if the Ring only does that when something is actively "calling" for it and it's trying to reveal itself (it's clear from the book that Sauron and his servants can't sense the Ring itself when it's not being worn, only the mind of somebody wearing it). – A. B. Jun 27 at 22:36
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    @Ewan : Certainly it was not yet the One Ring when the original edition of The Hobbit was written. But Chapter 5 was extensively rewritten once Tolkien decided that it was the One Ring, so if anything is in that chapter in the form that we have it today, then it should reflect Tolkien's revised understanding. – Toby Bartels Jun 28 at 7:32

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