The Two Towers

by: J. R. R. Tolkien

Book IV, Chapter 1

Frodo’s taming of Gollum highlights a potential for sternness and authority in the hobbit that we have not yet seen, as he uses the knife in a fearless and even somewhat violent manner. As we continue to see in the following chapters, Frodo displays a surprising and forceful mix of suspicion and compassion in his interactions with Gollum, fully aware of the creature’s motivation to retrieve the Ring, but sensing that he would not do anything to harm the hobbits overtly. This aura of suspicion and mistrust parallels, on a small scale, the overall atmosphere of apprehension that Sauron’s evil has cast over the whole of Middle-earth. In the character of Gollum, Tolkien injects a significant element of uncertainty into the plot, as even Gollum himself appears unsure of what he will do or what his goal is. This sense of utter unpredictability and potential danger pushes the narrative forward, keeping us in suspense throughout the entire remainder of The Two Towers as Gollum travels with the hobbits. Tolkien’s technique effectively places us in Frodo’s and Sam’s shoes: much like the hobbits, though we are aware that the wretched Gollum has selfish intentions, we have no idea when or how he might act upon them.