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“Long anguish and self-murdering thought”: Gollum and the figure of Jealousy in The Faerie Queene

— Anne Acker, Department specialist, British Literature, Tusculum University

Paper given 1 August 2021 at Mythcon 51 Session 10

This paper argues that Gollum’s story has parallels to the story of Malbecco in The Faerie Queene, and that Gollum should be read as an exploration of jealousy and its relationship to power, represented by the Ring that Gollum covets. In Spenser’s allegory, Malbecco is cuckolded and robbed and retreats to a cave in the mountains where he is transformed into the inhuman shape of Jealousy. While The Lord of the Rings is not an allegory and should not be read as one, Smeagol’s transformation into Gollum has striking similarities to this and other strange metamorphoses of characters who represent jealousy or suspicion. Recognizing this can help us identify traits in Gollum that allow him to be inwardly consumed by lust for the Ring. It is also possible to identify in hobbits character traits, such as generosity, fidelity, and friendship, that counter jealousy and allow them to resist the Ring’s power.

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date recorded 📅2022-01-23
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