The Hobbit

singnificance of gollum

in the story of hobbit

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Bilbo’s unintentional heroism is most evident in his discovery of the magic ring. In the history of Middle-Earth, this discovery is the most important event in the novel. Though neither Bilbo nor Gollum (the ring’s previous holder) are aware of it, the ring is in fact an object of awesome power. Created by the Dark Lord Sauron, who appears in The Hobbit as the Necromancer of Mirkwood, the ring is central to Sauron’s attempt to conquer and corrupt the world. The ring is pivotal to the plot of The Lord of the Rings. In The Hobbit, its greater importance is only hinted at when Tolkien cryptically comments that Bilbo’s discovery of the ring is a turning point in his career.

Gollum’s whiny, hissing style of speech marks him as one of the novel’s most unique and memorable characters. Gollum’s riddle game is itself another example of Tolkien’s interaction with epic literature in The Hobbit. Riddles and riddle games are familiar features of Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian epics, in which heroes are defined almost as much by their prowess with words as they are by their prowess with swords. In fact, many of the riddles exchanged by Bilbo and Gollum come directly from ancient Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon poems. Bilbo’s victory in the riddle game is an important step in his development, but the eccentric manner in which he wins is closer to that of modern comedy than to that of ancient epic. Bilbo baffles Gollum with the question, “What have I got in my pocket?,” which is, of course, not a true riddle at all. A true riddle must contain clues necessary to solve it. Gollum, with his purely ancient sensibilities, cannot even challenge Bilbo’s question, let alone answer it.


Gollum - A strange, small, slimy creature who lives deep in the caves of Moria beneath the Misty Mountains. There, Gollum broods over his “precious,” a magic ring, until he accidentally loses it and Bilbo finds it. We never learn exactly what kind of creature he is. Apparently, his true shape has been too deformed by years of living in darkness to be recognizable.