I'm not doubting that Gollum was corrupted by the ring and that he wanted it completely for himself. However, In the movie "The Two Towers", when Frodo and Sam arrive at the black gate, Gollum stops them from entering after the army. He eventually says something along the lines of "He wants it, always seeking, and the precious wants to go back to him."(I don't remember the exact line). So clearly, Gollum understands the danger reuniting Sauron and the ring would pose. So my question is, in Gollum's own narcissistic way, was he actively trying to keep the ring to himself so that it never fell back into the hands of Sauron? After all, he didn't learn what Frodo was actually trying to do until much later in their journey.

2 Answers 2


Yes and no.

This sequence is in the books too, in the Two Towers chapter The Black Gate is Closed, and here Smeagol/Gollum's words are stronger:

'No, no, master!' wailed Gollum; pawing at him, and seeming in great distress. 'No use that way! No use! Don't take the Precious to Him! He'll eat us all, if He gets it, eat all the world.'

It's notable that, while Gollum claims a motive of wanting to prevent danger to the world, this is also exactly the point at which he suggests the alternative route through Cirith Ungol.

Later in the same passage Gollum expands on his motive a little more:

So Smeagol is very afraid. He does not want to lose nice master. And he promised, master made him promise, to save the Precious. But master is going to take it to Him, straight to the Black Hand, if master will go this way. So Smeagol must save them both...

(Note that when Gollum says "Precious" with an upper-case "P" he's referring to the Ring, with a lower-case "p" to himself.)

From this it's clear: Gollum knows the risk of Sauron regaining the Ring and very much does not want that to happen. As to the reason why: so that he can have it instead, or for a more altruistic motive, we don't really have sufficient information at this point in the narrative (although it's also clear that at a later point it was so he could have it, but this reason could have changed from the earlier time).

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    There is no ambiguity behind his desire for Sauron not to have it. He is also wily enough and malicious enough to exploit Frodo and Sam in terms they understand and fear. At the moment he begs them not to 'let him have it' he knows he cannot by force take it - yet - so instead emotionally blackmails them and buys time to work out his plans with the giant spider a few days up ahead. Every one who dealt with Gollum was to a degree 'taken in' and his blackest actions only turned to good due to the unseen hand of Eru. This dude eats babies in their crib... You cannot come back from that!
    – user38114
    Dec 14, 2014 at 23:34
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    @GemmanAster - you're forgetting that at one stage Gollum did come close to genuinely repenting. Tolkien notes this in Letter 96 - "the tragedy of Gollum who at that moment came within a hair of repentance – but for one rough word from Sam" - and the scene is in The Stairs of Cirith Ungol. This isn't a matter of "opinion" or "interpretation" - it's what Tolkien actually wrote.
    – user8719
    Dec 15, 2014 at 0:25
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    Gollum understands that should Sauron obtain the Ring, Gollum will never see it again. Sauron is far too powerful and far too attached to the Ring to give Gollum any chance of stealing it.
    – Philipp
    Dec 15, 2014 at 11:51
  • Nice. I knew capitalisation of certain terms was important, but I never noticed Precious vs precious. Dec 18, 2014 at 21:03

I don't think so. My impression of Gollum is he is very childlike in his mind. I felt that he just wanted to keep the ring to himself because of a childish possessiveness, rather than some innate knowledge to keep the ring from Sauron. However you do bring up a good point. Unfortunately the only way we would really know is to ask Tolkien, but that isn't going to happen.

By the way, I'm going from knowledge of the books. I've never seen the films, nor do I desire to.

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    You really should see them. For all their faults, they're excellent films.
    – Valorum
    Dec 14, 2014 at 18:52
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    I think we share an opinion there @Timothy!!! Nonetheless I have seen them and bought the various disks in so many different formats... Jackson has made money from me!!! However, I have done so because here and there - sometimes only flickeringly - we get a glimpse that IS authentic and makes me think 'Yes, that is what it was like.' Sometimes this makes obscenities like a small company of Sindar fighting at the Hornburg a little easier to stomach!! Also - yes J.R.R. is gone - but remember it is literature we are talking about, not math. Our own interpretations are the key.
    – user38114
    Dec 14, 2014 at 19:09
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    I agree. Losing the ring to Sauron would have been as much of a blow to Gollum as it would have been for Sam and Frodo, so in a sense, they were allies. However that is about where the similarities end. Gollum would not have hesitated to kill them both and take the ring had he been able, and Sauron would have had nothing to do with it.
    – Neil
    Dec 15, 2014 at 12:56
  • I watched only the first movie at the Cinema, then I read the book. I tried later to watch the trilogy but every time I managed to watch less and less, bored by the numerous (and IMHO unnecessary) changes made by Jackson. Same happened for the Hobbit. :(
    – algiogia
    Dec 15, 2014 at 13:45

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