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How long did Smeagol have the ring until his personality split into his good former self and the evil Gollum? At the time Bilbo took the ring from him (T.A. 2941) he had the split personality. However, he still refers to the ring as "my precious" like when he first took the ring from Deagol, rather than "our".

On the other hand he already referred to himself as "us" at one occasion when he demanded the ring from Deagol and he still used plural for the time after "chasing off" the evil Gollum when accompanying Frodo and Sam in Ithilien, until being captured by Faramir in Henneth Annûn where the evil Gollum returned.

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    The Deagol dialogue is only in the film, isn't it?
    – OrangeDog
    Apr 24 at 16:57
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    @OrangeDog The Deagol dialogue is only in the film, but something similar exists in The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 1, the Shadow of the Past. When Gandalf recounts some information about the ring, he mentions how Gollum got the ring. Quote
    – orbit_key
    Apr 24 at 17:35
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    Right, that's the quote I mean: "Give us that, Déagol, my love" He refers to himself in plural even before becoming ring-bearer.
    – Wingfoot
    Apr 24 at 17:49
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    The quotation of Sméagol's words to Déagol was from hundreds of years later than the event. The odds are that Gollum didn't remember it exactly, and substituted "us" for "me". The LOTR novel does not include conclusive information to answer the question. Apr 24 at 19:58
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    @Wingfoot it's relatively common in parts of England to use "us" for first person singular. It's necessary to understand Gollum's speech as a dialect.
    – Spencer
    Apr 24 at 20:48

1 Answer 1

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According to The Hobbit, Gollum constantly talked to himself because he had nobody else to speak to. This started before he was expelled from his home. According to Gandalf in the Shadow of the Past, after finding the Ring

... he [Smeagol] became very unpopular and was shunned (when visible) by all his relations. ... He took to thieving and going about muttering to himself, and gurgling in his throat. So they called him Gollum, and cursed him, and told him to go far away...

[emphasis mine]

Notably, Gandalf obtains this information from Gollum himself, but Gandalf is aware that Gollum is a liar, and is able to extract the truth from him. In any case there is no reason for Gollum to lie about this, since it is of no benefit to him. On the other hand, finding out that Smeagol quickly lost his mind after taking the Ring would be important to Gandalf, since it's a strong indication of the Ring's power.

According to the Tale of Years, Deagol found the Ring around TA2463, and Smeagol hid in the Misty Mountains around TA2470. That gives an upper bound of eight years, though the dates are approximate.

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    Talking to yourself isn't the same as having a split personality.
    – pboss3010
    Apr 26 at 16:51
  • @pboss3010 agreed, and I cannot support this in answer form, but I think this is just another case of Peter Jackson taking things way too literally. I never understood Gollum in the books to have split personality. He spoke to himself a lot and was "of two minds" when conflicted about something, but there weren't literally two Gollum personalities living without him. The movies took this concept and ran off with it, hammering it over our heads.
    – Andres F.
    Apr 26 at 21:56
  • @AndresF. We do have a long conversation between Sméagol and Gollum in the Two Towers, the book. Sam who witnessed it, named them Slinker and Stinker. Clearly Sam thought two personalities lived in Gollum.
    – Eugene
    Apr 28 at 1:51
  • @Eugene I realize it's impossible to settle this, but like pboss3010's comment above states, talking to yourself isn't the same as having a split personality. Being "of two minds" about something isn't either. And Sam is not exactly the best judge of character; his aggressiveness towards Gollum certainly doesn't help matters! But I agree this is subjective. I'm not saying PJ was wrong, just that he chose the most literal possible interpretation, whereas the text of LotR is often subtler and less literal about things. Another example of this is the "eye of Sauron" in PJ's interpretation.
    – Andres F.
    Apr 28 at 1:58
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    @AndresF. I agree about the eye, but see the quote in my comment above. Gollum not only argued with himself, each thought took control of the body when it spoke. I don't think the Movies overdid the conversations between Gollum's two minds.
    – Eugene
    Apr 28 at 2:18

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