This question, asked yesterday, put a somewhat related question into my mind. As quoted in that question:

‘In the days of fair weather we led Gollum through the woods; and there was a high tree standing alone far from the others which he liked to climb. Often we let him mount up to the highest branches, until he felt the free wind; but we set a guard at the tree’s foot. One day he refused to come down, and the guards had no mind to climb after him: he had learned the trick of clinging to boughs with his feet as well as with his hands; so they sat by the tree far into the night.’

Now, it is quite well-established that Gollum’s long and gradual transformation and eventual retreat into the pits of Moria had entailed a deep and unwavering fear and hatred of the Moon and—especially—the Sun (even the stars he is suspicious of). Even in the parts of The Two Towers and Return of the King where his Gollum persona is less prominent and his long-forgotten Sméagol persona comes to the fore, he mistrusts the ‘Yellow Face’ and always prefers to lie in hiding during the day and on clear, moonlit nights; so this phobia of celestial bodies is not purely a Gollum thing that goes away when Gollum goes away.

And yet, if we are to trust Legolas, when he was held captive by the Elves in Mirkwood—a place quite sheltered from sunshine and one where he ought to be quite happy, apart from the presence of elves—he apparently enjoyed something so out of character as

  • climbing a tree that stood alone, exposed, and unprotected,
  • climbing up so high that he could feel “the free wind” (i.e., presumably so high that he was above the forest itself and exposed to the sky),
  • doing all this “in the days of fair weather”, when the Sun must be assumed to be out.

How can this be?

  • 4
    Very good question. Very unlike Gollum to do these things. But perhaps he intended to make himself visible to the orc spies and perhaps even to bird-spies of Sauron, which would lead to his rescue. – Maksim Aug 2 '15 at 14:22
  • Perhaps his fear and hatred of the Elves and all things Elven overrode his fear of the sun? – user46509 Aug 2 '15 at 14:42
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    @JanusBahsJacquet - he was allowed to have these outdoor "sessions" repeatedly, and I think he figured out that if he made himself more visible to any potential spies, he'd get a rescue. But yeah, that's just my theory. The other question you linked to quotes that "Now Sauron learning of the capture of Gollum by the chiefs of his enemies was in great haste and fear." So, even if there wasn't a direct sequence of Gollum being spotted by the spies and rescued, Sauron did order orcs to attack Elves in Mirkwood (something which I'm sure they wouldn't do of their own accord)... [to be cont.] – Maksim Aug 2 '15 at 15:36
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    and Gollum seemed to figure out that if he sits high up in the tree, out of the Elves' reach, there will come an attack from orcs, which will give him a chance to escape. – Maksim Aug 2 '15 at 15:38
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    My two cents: Gollum did not pick the remote tree he was allowed to climb. Knowing Gollum would immediately scamper away through the tree tops, his captors would have chosen an isolated tree or none at all. I would think Gollum liked the exercise and the illusion of freedom. I think he was resigned to climb that tree because it was the only tree he was allowed to climb. – Major Stackings Aug 2 '15 at 16:08

Here is my non canon two cents worth of an opinion: Gollum did not pick the remote tree that he was allowed to climb. Knowing Gollum would immediately scamper away through the treetops, his captors would have chosen an isolated tree or none at all. I would think Gollum liked the exercise and the illusion of freedom, but I think he was resigned to climb that tree because it was the only tree he was allowed to climb in order to get the exercise and illusion of freedom.

  • Non-canon, but good speculation and good point. Worth a +1, at least. :-) – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 2 '15 at 16:46
  • +1 great point, hadn't considered that the elves would see climbing tree in bunched area would be risky – user46509 Aug 2 '15 at 18:02
  • Accepting this, because it looks like it’s as much of an answer as we’re likely to get. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 22 '15 at 23:54

Gollum had just been tortured at length by Sauron in a deep, dark pit under Mordor. I guess that for a while that changed his attitude to the open air and sunlight. He must have been severely traumatised by his recent experiences and thus acting out of character.

  • He was released from Mordor a whole year before this happened, and immediately after escaping from Mirkwood, he goes back to live in Moria, where he doesn’t leave until the Fellowship pass through. I’d say it’s quite unlikely that his trauma caused such a very fundamental change in his personality to last for a whole year (including through his interrogation at the hands of Gandalf and Aragorn), only for it to then vanish immediately afterwards. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 2 '15 at 17:18
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    He doesn't go to live in Moria, he was attempting to pass through to the West in search of 'Baggins', but couldn't figure out how to open the West gate doors. (IIRC Tolkien says in "Unfinished Tales" that he just wasn't strong enough to push them open.) One might theorize that after his 'rescue' by the Orcs, they took him to Moria to elude Elvish pursuit, and he escaped them along the way. – jamesqf Aug 2 '15 at 17:30
  • @jamesqf He doesn't go there in order to live there, no; but he does stay there, so he goes back to living there (previous comment should have had a participle instead of an infinitive, that's true). – Janus Bahs Jacquet Aug 3 '15 at 1:59
  • @Janus Bahs Jacquet: But staying is not entirely his choice. He can't get out the west door (which he badly wants to do in order to get to 'Baggins'), going back east would take him away from his goal, and he'd have to go through all those Orcs and risk being recaptured. So he's caught between a rock and a hard place, unable to decide what to do, when along come our heros. Who were themselves only driven to take this path because the mountain pass was closed... – jamesqf Aug 3 '15 at 17:34

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