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Hobbit Attitudes Towards Gollum
Gollum is, all can agree, a disgusting, horrible creature who has been destroyed by the Ring. Yet while the hobbits are aware of Gollum’s nature, they are divided on their opinions and treatment of him.
Bilbo is disgusted and scared by Gollum. He tricks Gollum, but cannot accept that, because he is enthralled and controlled by the Ring and he wants to explain to himself how he got it. He uses Gollum to escape, and is grateful for that, but because of his treatment of Gollum, he has made an enemy. His treatment of Gollum greatly influences the outcome of the book, because it is only through Gollum that Sauron knows who has the Ring, and where the Ring is.
Sam hates Gollum. He finds it very difficult to dredge up any sympathy for Gollum, but instead generally grumbles that Gollum is disgusting and untrustworthy. Sam is right; Gollum is both disgusting and untrustworthy. Sam’s hatred and disgust at Gollum also affects the story. While it is lucky that Gollum does not fall prey to Sam’s wish to kill him, Gollum does fall prey to Sam’s treatment. Gollum grows to respect and trust Frodo, but never feels the same way about Sam because of how Sam treats him. Sam’s distrust is shown to be a good thing when Gollum leads them to Shelob.
Frodo’s sympathy towards Gollum is pivotal to the outcome of the book. If he had listened to Sam, Gollum would have been killed or never would have led them as far as he did. Frodo is also disgusted by Gollum, but it is tempered by an urge to be protective of him. He feels that Gollum is what he might have become if he had been corrupted by the Ring. Because of letting Gollum live, and because he convinced Gollum to trust him, Gollum does, for a time, work for the party and seems to be at least somewhat turning a corner towards the good again. When Gollum believes himself to be betrayed – a scene that makes much more sense in the book than in the movie – he changes again back to his old ways. He still leads the party, but decides to commit treachery and kill them. Luckily for the world, he fails at his first attempt, but succeeds at the second. If he had not been allowed to live, and if he had not first gained trust and then lost it, he would not have been around to attack Frodo at the end and take the Ring down into the fires of Mount Doom.