Man sitting on a rock

Mirror, Mirror On the Water

The mind is a beautiful thing. It allows us to keep falling even when the bottom is surpassed. It can raise us higher than we have ever been, from the highest highs to the lowest lows. An emotional rollercoaster it can put us on. There is no telling what sordid schemes it can produce just as well as the most harmonious and benevolent results it can muster. To understand it in its entirety is to study it for a lifetime, and still, it could surprise us. 

Decisions, decisions

Whatever we decide and however we go about resolving our issues, it becomes our ally. After the pros and cons have been weighed and our fate decided, it is only a matter of following instructions.

When the fear of the consequences strikes, the mind finds the best arguments to logically overcome that fear. Although we still might feel it, there seems to be no objective reason why it should ever exist. Therefore, we simply plow on in our intentions, fully confident that our mind will protect and serve us.  

The fear we feel, however, lets us know about the righteousness of the course we are taking. It is the compass within us, the little voice, that alerts us of our well-being. Our every decision can have the most plausible arguments supporting them, but that doesn`t mean they are right for us.

When the little voice inside fades, our minds compensate to rationalize our every move, giving us an ally in a confusing situation. We can always rest assured that our minds will help us with any decision we make. However, it cannot guide to the right one.  

The mind is a powerful thing. It creates alternate realities for us to demonstrate the choices of different paths we could follow. And every single path will have supportive arguments in their favor. So all we have to do is choose.

Another masterfully filmed scene in which a monologue is perfectly choreographed against a pool of water so as to suggest a dialogue. Simple, yet very powerful.

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The reality of dreams

Too risky. Too risky. Thieves. They stole it from us. Kill them. Kill them. Kill them both. Shh! Quiet! Mustn`t wake them. Mustn`t ruin it now. 

Gollum/Sméagol

The fact that Gollum`s dreams revolve around the plan of killing the Hobbits to get to his Ring is a testament to how deep his need goes. People dream things because on some level they want to sort out the happenings of the day and process them. Gollum apparently does the same only with only one thing in mind.

Even in his sleep, the altercation between his two personas takes place. This temporary unconscious state of mind reveals secrets about our personalities that we are not aware of or don`t want to admit to ourselves. Although this secret is one that Gollum is conscious of, it permeates his consciousness in the most intensive way. 

A lack of courage

Sméagol: “But they knows. They knows. They suspects us.” 

Gollum: “What`s it saying, my precious, my love? Is Sméagol losing his nerve?”

Sméagol: “No. Not. Never. Sméagol hates nasty Hobbitses. Sméagol wants to see them dead.”

Gollum: “And we will. Sméagol did it once. He can do it again. It`s ours! Ours!”

Sméagol: “We must get the precious. We must get it back.”

Sméagol gives objective risk factors to Gollum`s vicious goals. Not only that, but he also presents him with his own fears and cowardness about his plans. Gollum is using the old argument, “you killed once, you can do it again” routine, but Smeagol is hesitant. He pauses, changes expression and gulps as he says the word “dead”. He is unsure of accomplishing the task, given the relationship he has formed with Frodo. 

Gollum intimidates Sméagol by implying he is weak. As Sméagol does not want to appear weak in Gollum`s eyes, he timidly reassures Gollum of his non-existent strength. Sméagol doesn`t want to cause Gollum any displeasure with himself, so he fervently defends his stand although he does not believe in it.

Dominance and submissiveness

This relationship between these two personas is much like a toxic friendship people should generally avoid. There is the dominant and the submissive. One couldn`t exist without the other. The dominant personality unconsciously or consciously searches for a submissive counterpart to live out its complexes. In order for the dominant to avoid feeling any weakness or self-doubt, it needs the submissive to mirror those exact feelings, so that the submissive would feel the way the dominant does not want to feel.

The submissive on the other hand does what it is told. It is always a people-pleaser and harmony-establishing personality. Conflict resolution is not either of these personalities’ strength, for the dominant does not want to concede and the submissive would rather apologize for everything that isn`t their fault than risk losing the dominant counterpart. Both parties are governed by fear of loss. 

As it usually happens, the dominant grows tired of having someone attached to their every move and word, so they become disinterested in the other party, leaving the submissive blaming themselves for the relationship not lasting.

The flashback scene to the strangling of Déagol leads Gollum/Sméagol into anger. It triggers the same impulse of possession and violence he once felt. This unites the two personas and their common interest in retrieving the Ring from Frodo.

The switch between Sméagol and Gollum is seen in the widening of his pupils. Sméagol is a kind of playful child with big blue eyes almost begging with widened pupils. Gollum`s pupils retreat into small dots. This gives us a clear differentiation between the two, simultaneously providing the two with distinctive features accentuating their personalities.

The plan

Gollum: “Patience! Patience, my love. First, we must lead them to her.”

Sméagol: “We lead them to the Winding Stair.” 

Gollum: “Yes, the stairs. And then?”

Sméagol: “Up, up, up, up, up the stairs we go until we come to the tunnel.”

Gollum: “And when they go in there`s no coming out. She`s always hungry. She always needs to feed. She must eat. All she gets is filthy Orcses.” 

Sméagol: “And they doesn`t taste very nice, does they, precious?”

Gollum: “No. Not very nice at all, my love. She hungers for sweeter meats. Hobbit meat. And when she throws away the bones and the empty clothes then we will find it.”

Sméagol and Gollum go over the plan that takes the Hobbits to Shelob. As Sméagol goes step by step of the plan, it shows how much he tries to please Gollum, hopefully giving the right answers as he goes. His expression shows a people-pleasing, fun-loving, and a happiness achieving person when getting an answer right. He is like a kid in school trying to please his mean teacher.

Correcting the incorrigible

Sméagol: “And take it for me!”

Gollum: “For us.”

Sméagol: “Yes. We meant “for us”.” 

Gollum/Sméagol: “Gollum. Gollum.” 

Gollum: “The precious will be ours once the Hobbitses are dead!”

Sméagol`s excitement grows as he visualizes the ensuing plan. It also leads him to the conclusion that excludes his co-conspirator. Gollum sets Sméagol straight right away, calmly and passive-aggressively reminding him of his boss-like role in this entire scheme.

A choice of sides

Sam: “You treacherous little toad!”

Sméagol: “No! No! Master!”

Frodo: “No, Sam! Leave him alone!”

As Sam attacks Sméagol, he screams for Frodo to protect him. And as instinctively and as fervently as a parent protects a child, Frodo leaps in front of Sam exclaiming on whose side he stands.

Sam: “I heard it from his own mouth. He means to murder us.”

Sméagol: “Never! Sméagol wouldn`t hurt a fly. He`s a horrid, fat Hobbit who hates Sméagol and who makes up nasty lies.” 

Sam: “You miserable little maggot! I`ll stove your head in! Call me a liar? You`re a liar!”

Sam overhears the mono-/dialogue, confirming his suspicions about this wretched creature. He is not acting out of care and protection for his friend but for himself as well. He is terrified of having to live in fear of being killed while sleeping. With his friend`s general state of mind declining, he is the only one to look out for the well-being of both of them. 

The fear Sam feels over Gollum`s oncoming attempt at murder drives him to react as violently and as impulsively as Gollum himself. If it weren`t for Frodo`s involvement in the scene, Sam might have taken Gollum`s life right then and there.

Fire and water
Image by Jonny Lindner from Pixabay

Reasoning

Frodo: “You scare him off, we`re lost!”

Sam: “I don`t care! I can`t do it, Mr. Frodo. I won`t wait around for him to kill us.” 

Frodo: “I`m not sending him away.” 

Sam: “You don`t see it, do you? He`s a villain.” 

Frodo: “We can`t do this by ourselves, Sam. Not without a guide. I need you on my side.” 

Sam: “I am on your side, Mr. Frodo.” 

Frodo: “I know, Sam. I know. Trust me. Come, Sméagol.”

Of trust, fear, and drama

Frodo reacts in a very objective and matter-of-factly way. He doesn`t even consider listening to Sam`s arguments, which presupposes him losing trust in his friend. If he had believed Sam and taken his side, he could have still held peace by rationalizing that they need Gollum for guidance. However, siding with Gollum only widens the dissonance between him and Sam. 

Sam`s face expresses genuine fear and terror. Frodo, on the other hand, is angered at Sam`s reaction. However, without attacking Sam, as he did in the forests of Ithilien, he now uses logic to assert his position. Frodo calms the situation in his logical and mature state of mind.

Sméagol overdramatizes his part when Sam overhears him. There is a second of preparation and breath intake as he screams unnecessarily out of fake fear. He accuses Sam of wanting to hurt him, whereas Sam points out rightly enough that Gollum is trying to kill them both. As Frodo walks away holding Smeagol`s hand, Gollum gives a treacherous look to Sam. 

Frodo holding Gollum`s hand provides an image of a parent protecting their child. The need to take care of him and help him is still strong within Frodo. Although his argument was objective, Frodo`s ultimate reasoning behind his act was Gollum`s rehabilitation and hope at Frodo`s own psychological survival.

What does the night bring for the company at Edoras? What new revelations will it unveil?

The answers to these questions are found in my next post.

Feature photo by Elise Zimmerman on Unsplash

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