I am wondering why after Smeagol first saw the ring, without even touching it, he was immediately prepared to kill his friend to get it. Bilbo had the ring for many years and yet he was willing to give it up after some minor persuasion from Gandalf. I just thought there might be an explanation written somewhere that I haven't seen.


This question is not a duplicate. This question is predicated on 'first contact' with the ring, not the effects after 'longstanding possession' of it that the other question is asking. We can see that Aragorn and Faramir, both mortals, resisted the 'call' of the Ring and wouldn't take it, much less by force even when they easily could have. Yet others are so enthralled without ever touching it that they would kill their own mother to possess it.

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    Smeagol was a bad hobbit from the start, so the ring had more power on it? – SJuan76 May 20 '14 at 18:31
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    in Smeagol's defense, it WAS his birthday. If a buddy finds a ring on your birthday and doesn't want to give it up, no matter how peaceful a person you are, it's strangling time. There's really no way around it. – coburne May 20 '14 at 18:35
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    @Richard That's not a dupe. The question you linked asked why Bilbo didn't get addicted (even though he did). Shaun has asked why Smeagol became addicted instantly. – Moogle May 20 '14 at 19:32
  • @Moogle - Substantial elements of the likely answers to the question (e.g. Bilbo's personal strength, Smeagol's weakness of character, etc) have already been explored at length in the previous question... – Valorum May 20 '14 at 19:39
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    This question is not a duplicate. This question is predicated on 'first contact' with the ring, not the effects of 'longstanding possession' of it. – Morgan May 20 '14 at 23:36

This is covered in Shadow of the Past (FotR Chapter 2):

'But this is terrible!' cried Frodo. 'Far worse than the worst that I imagined from your hints and warnings. O Gandalf, best of friends, what am I to do? For now I am really afraid. What am I to do? What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!'
'Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.'

Earlier in the same chapter we also have Gandalf discussing how a Ring of Power affects a mortal:

Yes, sooner or later – later, if he is strong or well-meaning to begin with, but neither strength nor good purpose will last – sooner or later the dark power will devour him.

It's therefore clear:

  • Smeagol began his ownwership of the Ring with greed and murder,
  • Bilbo began his own ownership with pity.
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    All of which reminds me of the classic Bored of the Rings take on it: "pity I've run out of bullets". – user8719 May 20 '14 at 18:44
  • Smeagol killed Deagol before he even touched the Ring (very much). Bilbo did not even think of hurting Smeagol, much less killing him, and he had had the Ring on his person for a couple minutes, at least. Therefore, Smeagol was pretty evil to begin with: he didn't need the Ring to become so. Perhaps Smeagol was closer in ancestorship to Men than Bilbo, and that's what did it? – trysis Jun 5 '14 at 4:10

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