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Is there any indication about whether the split-personality relationship between Smeagol and Gollum was a direct result of the Ring's influence? Obviously it had an incredibly powerful effect on him, but in most other Ringbearers (like Isildur and Bilbo) it seemed to smoothly bring out their greed and paranoia, rather than having it erupt sideways into a second personality while the original, kinder personality remained largely intact.

Was that duality an inevitable result of the Ring's influence, and Smeagol was the only Ringbearer who held on long enough to get there? Or did Smeagol just get SO lonely down in that cave for hundreds of years that, like Tom Hanks and his volleyball, he just started going a little nuts?

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    "[Gollum was] a little nuts" might be the understatement of the year for this SE.
    – DampeS8N
    Jan 15, 2014 at 18:10

4 Answers 4

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I read this as being a result of Smeagol's resilience to the influence of the Ring. Gandalf mentions this in Shadow of the Past during his discussion of the riddle game with Frodo:

Even Gollum was not wholly ruined. He had proved tougher than even one of the Wise would have guessed - as a hobbit might. There was a little corner of his mind that was still his own, and light came through it, as through a chink in the dark: light out of the past.

This "little corner of his mind" was subsequently brought further forward by Frodo's kindnesses to him, and then he becomes quite conflicted: on the one hand he wants his Precious back, on the other hand he wants to help "nice master". There's even a third part of him that does not want Sauron to have the Ring, and would even be prepared to tolerate Frodo keeping it as a fair exchange:

Don't take the Precious to Him! He'll eat us all, if He gets it, eat all the world. Keep it, nice master, and be kind to Smeagol.

(As an aside: this shows that Smeagol is quite well aware of exactly what the Precious is.)

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  • I think you meant "Bilbo's kindnesses to him" as Frodo had not yet physical met Gollum at this point in the story.
    – JustinM
    Jan 16, 2014 at 0:07
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    I do mean Frodo's; the "little corner" was always there, but after the Taming of Smeagol it was Frodo's kindnesses that brought it forward more.
    – user8719
    Jan 16, 2014 at 0:11
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    Ahh, ok I see that now; I was mislead by your quote of the little corner.
    – JustinM
    Jan 16, 2014 at 0:14
  • I can see how that could happen; I've edited a little to clarify better. Thanks!
    – user8719
    Jan 16, 2014 at 0:17
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    This comment exchange should be used as a screenshot to illustrate "civilized discourse online."
    – Nerrolken
    Nov 19, 2014 at 0:40
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Quoting from ‘Riddles in the Dark’:

‘What iss he, my precious?’ whispered Gollum (who always spoke to himself through never having anyone else to speak to).

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  • ...and that was because of the ring, the loneliness, or something else?
    – phantom42
    Jan 15, 2014 at 21:19
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    It was through never having anyone else to speak to, @phantom42.
    – TRiG
    Jan 15, 2014 at 21:23
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    This is good, but I believe that there are two different things being talked about here. One is Gollum just talking to himself in general (which this answer gives the reason for), the other is the Smeagol/Gollum conflict that emerges following the Taming in TT.
    – user8719
    Jan 15, 2014 at 21:27
  • I believe it was pointed out (more directly in the original, pre-LOTR version), that he was referring to the Ring as "precious", and it was the Ring that he spoke to, even when it wasn't present. The Ring was his Wilson (to keep with the Cast Away theme), but this shifted greatly after he met Frodo to fully-fledged split personality.
    – user44330
    Apr 22, 2015 at 21:05
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Good question. It could be that Smeagol's mind was so weak it could have been a byproduct of both the influence of the Ring and the loneliness combined. He was alone with the Ring where the others actually had other people around them, allowing the Ring to work on his mind more than everyone else.

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  • Good point. Most humans go way more than a little nuts in prolonged solitary Jan 15, 2014 at 20:05
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The talking to himself was probably from loneliness, but refering to himself as two people was probably from the ring. I watched the movies again last year after not having done so for a long time and at first i thought his "us" was himself and the ring. Which would make sense if he personified the ring and attributed a whole aspect of his life to it.

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