Friday Fiction Faves: My Preciousss...
Let's take a post to appreciate one of my favourite fictional characters of all time: GOLLUM.
Featured in J.R.R. Tolkien's, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Gollum is the unfortunate victim/villain combo that everyone loves to hate. The long-time keeper of the evil One Ring, he is a demoralized, dehumanized, savage creature whose entire existence has become an obsession with the Ring, its power, and himself. An unnerving blend of terrifying and adorable, Gollum is an integral part of Tolkien's fictional world, and if you'll bear with me I'll endeavor to explain why he deserves his place atop the Favourites List.
1. He's iconic. Even without having read the series, everyone knows the eerie line for which Gollum has become famous, and everyone can experience that little twinge of fear when they hear the chilling words, "My preciousssss..." It's almost as if Gollum is a mascot for the series, a symbol of Tolkien's world, representing all that is unique and ingenious and profound and chilling and intense about the series.
2. He's tragic. Part of what makes Tolkien's epic so incredible is the unmistakable degree of gravity. Gollum's tragic backstory and plotline are crucial parts of this tone in the story, not only explaining his descent into savagery but capturing the reader's pity and empathy throughout the series as well. It's a testament to Tolkien's brilliance as a writer that such a wretched and selfishly-motivated character can evoke such empathy.
3. He's CRUCIAL to the plot. I've heard it said that the most important character in Star Wars is not Yoda or Luke Skywalker, but the overlooked droid R2D2. Why? Because almost everything he does has a pivotal impact on the story. In my opinion, Gollum fills the same crucial role. Love him or hate him, what he does has a HUGE ultimate effect on the outcome of the series—perhaps a greater effect than the protagonist himself . . .
But no spoilers.
4. He's a stroke of author brilliance. As a writer, I appreciate originality—in plot, in setting, in character. I love this character, not only for being a perfect blend of frightening and fascinating, but for being such a unique representation of greed, selfishness, and the disease of sin. Tolkien wields this character and his backstory masterfully to create a perfect paradox: a character torn between evil and good, wickedness and innocence, loneliness and hate. Like I mentioned before, everyone loves to hate him, and yet, it's impossible not to feel a twinge of pity. Not only that, but he's amusing, quirky, and a brilliant mix of childishness and cunning, all of which make him the frightening, funny, original character he is. Genius!
And finally . . .
5. He's symbolic. What I love most about Gollum's character is his powerful symbolic role in the series. He is the embodiment of a life that is warped, polluted, and controlled by sin, a reminder of the danger in allowing our desires to become the rulers of our hearts and minds. We see in Gollum the tragic reality of what happens when sin takes control, that even the smallest lust, when held tightly for too long, can become the lord of our lives and betray us, ultimately, to death.
Gollum reminds us in his own tragic way that the only precious thing in our lives should be the Saviour. For that alone, I'd say he's worthy of his place as a fictional favourite, wouldn't you?