Cave with a single light

The Forbidden Pool

Betrayal and torture, not complete unknowns to Sméagol. Before Frodo ever set off on his perilous journey, Gollum was captured and tortured for information about the whereabouts of the Ring, hence the whipping scars on his back. It only follows the logic that he should be careful and suspicious of any company besides his “master`s”.

That he would endure torture after being betrayed, was not something he expected from his friend. It shouldn`t surprise us then that his fragile personality would crumble under such strain. 

An enjoyable moment

The Forbidden Pool. Sméagol enters it in order to catch a fish and feed himself. Frodo, with pity and fear in his eyes, watches as Gollum jumps into the Forbidden Pool. Captain Faramir upon seeing his reaction, has been proven right in his earlier assumption. The gangrel creature really did belong with their company. Faramir tempts Frodo`s bond with Sméagol, and his admittance to knowing him, by essentially saying Sméagol would be shot if Frodo didn`t rescue him. Faramir`s Company does not suffer anyone to enter the Pool. 

The rock and pool
Is nice and cool
So juicy sweet
Our only wish 
To catch a fish
So juicy sweet


Sméagol is having the time of his life, having caught a fish. He sings out of joy calm and comfort he feels at that particular moment. 

This creature is bound to me, and I to him. He is our guide. Please let me go down to him.


Faramir believes Frodo, although the fact of Sméagol being their guide intrigues him. Frodo hastens to the Pool to take Sméaagol with him.

Master and servant

Frodo: “Sméagol. Master is here. Come, Sméagol. Trust master. Come.”

Smeágol: “We must go now?”

Frodo: “Sméagol, you must trust master. Follow me. Come on. Come. Come, Sméagol. Nice Sméagol. That`s it. Come on.”

Now, the way in which Frodo approaches Sméagol is very different than we have seen so far. He sets a different kind of bond between them, namely that of master and servant. Up until now, Sméagol had been the one to put himself in the servant`s position, calling Frodo his master.

But Frodo maintained a close bond with him, one in which he would freely express his emotions and opinions towards however Sméagol/Gollum acted, conversing with him as if they were on the same social level. He had been afraid of Gollum`s actions at times. However, ta trusting relationship formed and Frodobegan to see more of himself in Gollum than he might have liked, the relationship between them started to change.

In this particular moment, Frodo chooses to stoop to Sméagol`s level of discourse to have him listen to him, in order to save his life. The way he approaches him resembles that of a tamer approaching a caged lion, fearful and struggling to have the creature move at his command.

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One`s own views reflected

Since Sméagol had left them to be captured, upon seeing Frodo now, he might have thought it wouldn`t be safe. He knows that if he were someone`s captive he would not trust any sudden niceties. Suspicion of an ensuing trap makes Sméagol reluctant.

The way one perceives a particular action or decision is directly proportional to how one sees the world reacting in the same situation.

The wickedness is there in him, whether he is in his Sméagol persona or not. There is no escaping it. And it is only natural for him to be thinking this way. 

To use the word “trust” to lure Sméagol into obedience only to have it discredited, is the worst thing that could happen to Sméagol. In any situation, that would be a cause for the betrayed party to quit the relationship. If there is no trust, there can be no relationship of any kind. Once the trust is broken, nothing can repair the damage, not time, not words. 

On the other hand, Sméagol responds particularly well to this kind of discourse. He doesn`t want to leave the Pool because of its provided nourishment. Frodo wants him to leave the Pool right at the height of his pleasure, eating. Sméagol is indecisive for a brief moment, deliberating having to leave the fish behind or taking it with him, but since Frodo didn`t specify, he took it with him.

Smeágol has a full-on puppy dog look in his eyes as he approaches Frodo carefully, timidly, as if awaiting some kind of treason. And then it happens, Faramir`s company catches him, holds him by his neck only to put a cloth bag over his head to disorient him.

Betrayal and capture

Frodo: “Don`t hurt him! Sméagol, don`t struggle. Sméagol, listen to me.”

Sméagol: “Master!”

With this one word but an entire world of pain in his eyes, Sméagol looks at Frodo. He had been betrayed by the one person he found to trust and have as a friend in the world. He begs for help in this one word, but Frodo stands frozen. 

Frodo`s look to Sméagol is that of fear, apology and a sense of betrayal. Frodo isn`t the type of person to even consider betraying anyone, but in this particular instance, he feels what it means to hurt someone by pretending to be their friend and luring them in only to have them taken and tortured. 

There could have been a way for him to deal with this situation differently, more honestly, more openly. If he only told Faramir of Sméagol in the most understanding way possible, this whole situation may have been avoided. But as he is bound to secrecy of his mission, the true reason behind them having Gollum as a guide had to be hidden.

Knowing what he knows of Men`s corruptibility, he could not have taken a chance to reveal more as it was absolutely necessary so as to keep himself and Sam alive. The same goes for Sméagol. 

Smeágol, however, does not share the same view of the situation. 

A man in fetal position
Photo by mwangi gatheca on Unsplash


As they blind Sméagol, Frodo looks up at Faramir with a begging look in his eye to give the order for his company not to treat Sméagol in that savage manner. Faramir only looks at Frodo with a sense of superiority and coldness.

From his point of view, Frodo lied about even knowing this creature and now, he reveals to be bound to him. That only leaves Faramir distrusting and questioning Frodo`s integrity, which, given the current state of affairs in the land, is only natural he would. 

Faramir`s men beat Sméagol, throwing him on the ground then pulling on his leg, inflicting pain purposefully to make him eligible for truthful answering of questions. The fact that Faramir looks the other way, as his men as torturing this poor creature, brings anger to my heart.

This creature, although unknown to them, had not caused them any harm. He had only entered a pool of water he himself didn`t know was forbidden. But to be treated as the lowest of the low because of trespass is not in my rule book.

I detest violence in physical as well as in any verbal manner. And Faramir having his back to this cruel action says to me that him giving orders to hurt another being is okay, so long as he does not witness it himself. 

Seeing someone suffer a beating stirs pain in a compassionate being`s heart. It is the same feeling that makes people help other people who have found themselves in that position. To feel pain, or show any kind of weakness at this moment would be inopportune for Faramir, for then this weakness could be used against him.

An action undeserved

I understand why he turned away but allowed the torture. The entrance alone into the Pool is punishable by death, as he himself said. So, this is actually letting Sméagol off easy.

What he doesn`t know is, that Sméagol does not see it that way. He was unaware of the rule of the Forbidden Pool and he now suffers for something he himself didn`t know. Moreover, his own “master” let it happen. 

What happens next, has already happened before. But the last time the creatures positive characteristics prevailed. This time, however, that would seem not to be the case. Read on in my next post. 

Featured photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash.

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