Gollum/Sméagol: “We needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses, wicked, tricksy, false. No, not master . . . Master’s my friend. You don’t have any friends. Nobody likes you. Not listening. I’m not listening. You’re a liar. And a thief. Murderer. Go away. . . . I hate you. . . . Leave now and never come back.”
—The Two Towers
Though this passage appears to be a dialogue, it is actually a monologue, and it exemplifies the internal debate that consumes Gollum. In The Two Towers, Gollum has agreed to lead Sam and Frodo to Mordor. This particular internal argument occurs one night as Sam and Frodo sleep, but it is not the only passage of its kind, and we might assume that this is only part of an ongoing debate in Gollum’s mind. Whenever Gollum has a quiet moment, this debate overtakes him. The conflict is between his good and bad intentions, and these intentions manifest themselves in his double identity, Gollum/Sméagol. Sometimes the doting, kind Sméagol seems to genuinely like Frodo, who has shown him pity and kindness, and to want to help him. Gollum, however, seems to be merely biding his time with the hobbits, waiting for the perfect moment to steal the ring of power, by force if necessary.
This particular debate between Gollum and Sméagol bodes both good and ill for Frodo and his mission. It shows clearly the anguish the ring causes its bearer, and Gollum’s pathetic existence is a constant reminder of what may be in store for Frodo. However, this debate also shows clearly how different Frodo and Gollum are. As Gollum understands it, his choice is between the ring, which he calls his “precious,” and Frodo, his “master.” In other words, he must choose between two things of value, both of which are worth more than he himself is. Whatever he chooses, Gollum will remain inferior and subservient, and he hints at the reason for his low opinion of himself in the penultimate line, in which Gollum accuses Sméagol of being “a liar. And a thief. Murderer.” We don’t understand until The Return of the King that Sméagol killed his friend to get the ring. Because of the guilt Gollum continues to feel about this act, he’ll never be free from his need for the ring. Frodo, on the other hand, who has acquired the ring in a much more innocent way, might not have to undergo a similar struggle. Frodo has never been reliant on or covetous of the ring, and, if he completes his mission successfully, he never will be. For Gollum, it’s too late.