The True Hero Of 'The Lord Of The Rings'

The True Hero Of 'The Lord Of The Rings'

How Gollum is the ultimate tragic hero.
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In today’s culture, there are a few things that are assumed to be considered “common knowledge” in the world of popular culture. Among them are "Forrest Gump," "Harry Potter," "Twilight," "The Great Gatsby," and "The Lord of the Rings." What I mean by common knowledge is that the majority of people are familiar with them in some way or another, regardless of if they have actually seen the movies or read the books. Most people will probably be able to identify characters or portions of the plots of these stories as well. For "The Lord of the Rings" in particular, I think it is fair to say that people who haven’t had much exposure to the story would be able to recognize the following characters: Gandalf and Frodo. I can say this fairly because, up until recently, I was one of those people without much exposure to the story. Nevertheless, it would be a stretch to presume that most people who are unfamiliar with the tale would have heard of or know much about the character of Samwise Gamgee. While this may seem logical since he is frequently thought of as a secondary character when compared to Gandalf or Frodo, it is actually quite ironic since many people who know the story of "The Lord of the Rings" and know it well (Tolkien included), would argue that Sam is actually the true hero and perhaps even the most essential character in the book.

For a story such as "The Lord of the Rings," the question of “Who is the true hero” is a loaded one, since so many play an integral role in the success of the journey and the (spoiler alert) ultimate destruction of the great ring of power. Among the characters who aided in the quest are Frodo, Gandalf, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Legolas, Gimli, Boromir, and Aragorn. These characters stand out among the masses because they were the 9 included in “the company” who seek out to destroy the ring. Despite their varying contributions—which all aided greatly in the fall of Sauron—as well as the profound impacts of heroes not included in this company, I decided to focus on someone a bit more unconventional in my argument of the question “Who is the true hero of "The Lord of the Rings?""

Personally, I have always been someone who is overly trusting and idealistic when it comes to characters or people with flaws. I spent a lot of time trying to rationalize giving traditionally "bad guys" the benefit of the doubt. What if their circumstances had been different? Did they genuinely believe in the righteousness of their actions? I think my open-minded, and perhaps naïve, hopes for people to be misunderstood results from a personal fear. What if that were me? What if I had been put in the same situations they were? The term “victim of circumstance” is one I use somewhat liberally to justify people’s actions that are otherwise unjustifiable. That said, I like to believe that there is a goodness inside of all people—even those traditionally thought of as bad.

Therefore, I am going to attempt to make a case for one of these misjudged characters.

Smeagol—a hobbit whose discovery, and subsequent infatuation, with the Ring led to isolation, physical decay, and the transformation into “Gollum”—is a character in "The Lord of the Rings" who is frequently thought of as a creepy, sneaky, manipulative, and obsessive. While it may be true that he embodies these qualities, there is much more to the character than is on the surface. Because without these qualities dominating the character, the Ring would have never been destroyed.

Even when overlooking his other contributions, it must be addressed that Gollum was the one who destroyed the Ring in the end. If he had not been there, the Ring never would have been destroyed. Since this was the objective of the entire story, Gollum is the hero. *drops mic*

Quite seriously, however, the character of Gollum is one who, without his presence in "The Lord of the Rings" the entire story would completely fall apart. To begin with, if he hadn’t found the ring, it never would have ended up with Bilbo and, later, Frodo. Quite possibly, it could have been found by either Sauron or another who sought complete power. In this case, the story would have been over before it even started. Gollum’s isolation—a factor that resulted in the development of some flawed personality traits (as mentioned earlier)—was actually essential for keeping the Ring safe for hundreds of years! This is a feat which many could not have accomplished—as exemplified by Bilbo, who was unable to protect the secrecy of the Ring for even a few decades.

Furthermore, Gollum guides Frodo and Sam to Mordor. The two were in desperate need of guidance and were on a time-crunch. They couldn’t have relied on finding their own way, and they knew this—enough to put their lives in the hands of someone they didn’t trust. Despite Gollum’s ulterior motives of leading the two to their ultimate demise at the hands—or, rather, eight legs—of a giant spider, the reality is that without his guidance, they never would have made it to Mordor.

Taking all of these things into account, there is no denying that Gollum’s presence is essential to the entire plot of "The Lord of the Rings" to hold up and for the quest of destroying the Ring to be successful. However, it may seem that Gollum cannot be the hero because he didn’t have heroic intentions. The reason that he kept the Ring safe and out of Sauron’s sight was because he was so possessed by it that he wouldn’t allow anyone else to know about it for fear that he would lose it. He isolated himself for this same reason—allowing the power that the ring had over him to control him. He offered to guide Frodo and Sam so that he could get them killed and then keep the Ring for himself. Finally, he destroyed the Ring because he was so outraged that Frodo declared it as his own that he bit off his finger and, successively, plummeted into the fires of Mount Doom.

I get it, Gollum is not the most wholesome guy. But being a hero is not about being a wholesome guy; it’s about getting the job done and, in this case, saving the world---which Gollum did.

However, since I like to give people the benefit of the doubt, I must make a case for Gollum’s character as well.

Gollum’s long-lasting internal struggle and ultimate destruction make him one of the most tragic heroes in literature. He struggles to not only battle external forces, but internal ones that are stacked against the success of his character. The inhabitants of Gollum’s body—Gollum, the creature, and Smeagol, the hobbit—are constantly at odds with one another. Gollum’s presence makes it impossible for Smeagol to succeed in overcoming the power of the Ring and behaving in a humane manner. Conversely, Smeagol makes it difficult for Gollum to ever be entirely successful in his endeavors as many of his intended plots for sabotage fall through. Because Smeagol exists within Gollum, I refuse to believe in the complete maliciousness of the character. Despite the plotting, manipulative creature that the Ring seduced him into, there is still a piece of Gollum that holds onto his life before the Ring and perhaps even desires it. This is highlighted through Gollum’s conversations with Smeagol.

All in all, everything that Gollum did with bad intentions was a result of his obsession with the Ring. The Ring’s great power was enough to scare even Gandalf. It was enough to possess Bilbo for years. It was even enough to lead Frodo to choose to forfeit the entire quest at the very end. Clearly, the Ring is powerful enough to conquer anyone and, therefore, Gollum cannot be blamed for falling victim to it.

Despite the impurity of his intentions at times, Gollum’s actions were heroic in establishing the success of the quest. The possession of the Great Ring of Power created the multidimensional creature of Gollum—a character whose complexity proved to be just what was needed for the Ring’s destruction, making him a hero.

Cover Image Credit: FanPop

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What Your Hogwarts House Says About You

Get yourself sorted and find out where you belong in the world of witchcraft and wizardry.
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Sorting at Hogwarts is a big deal. Being sorted into a house is essentially being placed into a family while you are away from home learning about witchcraft and wizardry. Your house is made up of the people you will live with, go to classes with, play Quidditch with and everything in between. You basically spend 24/7 with them. Your Hogwarts house is your home away from home.

When you get sorted into a house, it is based on your personality traits. The people in your house are typically like-minded people who display the same characteristics as you.

When you’re a first year at Hogwarts, the minute you set foot in the castle you are swept into the Great Hall to have the ancient Sorting Hat placed on your head. This Sorting Hat decides which “family” you’ll be spending your seven years with.

For some, it is very obvious which house they will be in, due to certain personality traits they possess. For others, they may exemplify traits that fit a multitude of houses and are uncertain where they may end up.

To find out where you belong, you can take the official "Harry Potter" Sorting Hat quiz at Pottermore.com. For all you muggles out there, these are the characteristics that the houses possess and what your house says about you:

Gryffindor: The house of the brave, loyal, courageous, adventurous, daring and chivalrous. Those who stand up for others are typically Gryffindors. Brave-hearted is the most well-known Gryffindor characteristic, and Gryffindors are also known for having a lot of nerve.

Gryffindors are people who hold a multitude of qualities alongside the ones listed, making them a very well-rounded house. People who are Gryffindors are often people who could fit nicely into another house but choose to tell the sorting hat they want Gryffindor (there's that bravery). "Do what is right" is the motto Gryffindors go by.

Being a Gryffindor means that you're probably the adventurous and courageous friend, and you are usually known for doing what is right.

Ravenclaw: The house is known for their wisdom, intelligence, creativity, cleverness and knowledge. Those who value brains over brawn can be found here. Ravenclaws often tend to be quite quirky as well. "Do what is wise" is the motto they strive to follow.

Though Ravenclaws can be know-it-alls sometimes, they most likely do know what the wisest decision is.

If you are known for being the quirky friend, the smartest in the group or just great at making wise decisions, you're definitely a Ravenclaw.

Hufflepuff: This house values hard work, dedication, fair play, patience, and loyalty. Hufflepuff’s are known for being just and true. "Do what is nice" is their motto.

Hufflepuff is known as the “nice house” and believes strongly in sparing peoples feelings and being kind. This is not to say that Hufflepuffs aren't smart or courageous. Hufflepuffs just enjoy making others happy and tend to be more patient towards people.

If you ever find that you are too nice for your own good and cannot bear to hurt someone’s feelings, congratulations, you are a Hufflepuff.

Slytherin: This is the house of the cunning, prideful, resourceful, ambitious, intelligent, and determined. Slytherin's love to be in charge and crave leadership. "Do what is necessary" is the motto of this house.

Slytherin is a fairly well-rounded house, similar to the other houses. They are loyal to those that are loyal to them just as Gryffindors are and are intelligent as Ravenclaws.

Slytherin house as a whole is not evil, despite how many dark wizards come out of this house. That is merely based on the choices of those wizards (so if your friend is a Slytherin, don’t judge, it doesn’t mean they are mean people). Slytherins do, however, have a tendency to be arrogant or prideful. This is most likely due to the fact that everyone in Slytherin is exceedingly proud to be there.

What Hogwarts house you’re in says a lot about the person you are, the traits you possess and how you may act in some situations. But in the end, your house is really just your home that is always there for you. Always.


Cover Image Credit: Warner Bros Pictures

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Poetry On Odyssey: I was I am

A poem for those struggling with who they were.

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it seems almost like a page

in someone else's book now


how there was

a time that i thought

i could have been happy

with someone like you


a million years before

i knew who i was

and that i should mean so much more

than i ever did to you


i almost can't remember

the way you held your elbows or

the way you said the letter o or

the way you told me goodnight


it seems now

that all i can recall

are my relentless tears and

the fear that this was the love

that everyone spoke about


the fear that this

was what id have to live with

for the rest of my life


i remember those late nights

just you and i

you always got what you wanted

i was always too afraid to upset you

looking back i wonder why

i couldnt leave you then


but you kept me

my misery maintained until

i felt like nothing


that night was the record scratch

When I knew my life

Shouldn't be like this.


It wasn't until I finally broke our ties

That I started to remember

Who I am.

But my mind is clear now.

I can remember

How strong I am,

How perfectly happy I am

On my own.


It seems almost like a page

In someone else's book now.


You're finally fading away.

I just wish my scars could fade as quickly.

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