Lord of the Rings, and now, The Hobbit, always gives me a headache when I’m watching them. And not just because The Hobbit is shot in 48 frames per second, although I hear that has given absolutely everyone a headache. It’s because I think I was trained that J.R.R.Tolkein was writing an allegory for The World Wars.
Now, whenever I watch the movies, I’m always trying to match up the different characters with the nationality they’re supposed to represent. The Shire is America, right? And the elves are English? And I don’t know about the Orcs. That just seems kind of mean.
And Gollum? Gollum just represents the deepest, loneliest, most frightened part of every unattached man or woman, right? Gollum is what happens to us when we have no one to love.
I really think Gollum is the fearful thing that unites us as people.
I guess the other fearful thing according to the Lord Of The Rings series is supposed to be the Atomic Bomb, maybe, but that’s beside the point.
Think about it. Gollum loses the person and thing he loved the most, and afterwards, he is forced to live forever alone, in darkness. He’s driven mad for want of a ring that he can never have, ever. He has only himself for company, and he does not particularly like himself. This is the most heartbreaking idea in the world. Everyone who is not a sociopath is afraid of that.
It’s possible that some people who are sociopaths are afraid of that, just because you need other people to do sociopath stuff with.
Gollum’s existence is everyone’s nightmare at the worst moment of your break-up. It’s that moment when you are convinced that you’re just going to have to sit around in darkness, longing for things that you cannot have. Always longing.
It’s not even a matter of the fact that you’re going to die alone. It’s the idea of a long, endlessly lonely life. With absolutely no one for company, at least, not anyone who you can have a meaningful connection with though I think Gollum tries. I think other people are just really bad at wordplay and frankly not able to keep up with him. Hobbits are kind of more into eating than they are into riddles.
There are other fish in the sea? Not for Gollum.
The most interesting parts of the whole series, for me, really, because I do not care about any manner of wizardry, or explosions, are when Gollum remembers what is was to have loved ones. Because that happens, sometimes. And it’s heartbreaking. Apparently in his youth he led a life filled with pretty wonderful people. Now he just sits around coming up with riddles to tell himself, as Tolkein says, “through not having anyone else to speak to.”
To be fair, Gollum brings this on himself. I think he could probably have chosen to reject the ring and go forward on his life and stop obsessing over it except… he couldn’t. Think of this the next time one of your friends tells you that she can’t stop facebooking her ex all the time. It’s basically like that.
I am going to bet Gollum spent hundreds of years live-journaling poetry, listening to “I Am A Rock” and coming up with decorative raincoats for his pet fish to wear (before he ate it). (I’m assuming it’s a fish. The surrogate-child-pet a semi-immortal-hobbit would adopt is obviously up for debate).
I think, despite the fact that he’s duplicitous and mad and evil, that’s why we feel affection for Gollum. Because he is everything we are afraid to become. That, and he has absolutely enormous eyes, like a baby or a Joan Didion character.
Basically, if you’re going through a difficult break-up, don’t be like Gollum. Don’t be enslaved to a ring you can never have. I’d say try JDate, but I also hear really good things about OK Cupid.
Picture via Wikipedia, Lord Of The Rings