The Fellowship of the Ring
by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring Compassion and Forgiveness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph) / (Prologue.Section.Paragraph)
Even Gollum was not wholly ruined. He had proved tougher than even one of the Wise would have guessed – as a Hobbit might. There was a little corner of his mind that was still his own, and light came through it, as through a chink in the dark: light out of the past, it was actually pleasant, I think, to hear a kindly voice again, bringing up such memories of wind, and trees, and sun on the grass, and such forgotten things. (1.2.107)
Gandalf suggests that Frodo should have compassion for Gollum. After all, Gollum may once have been a lot like the Hobbits; his life took an extremely bad turn, but he has also "proved tougher than even one of the Wise would have guessed" in resisting the Ring. Gollum is an intriguingly ambiguous character. Most of the evil in this book is all evil – there's no ambiguity. The Orcs are hideous and the Ringwraiths are terrifying. The fact that Gollum is mostly evil but still has "a little corner of his mind" that thirsts after sunlight differentiates him from nearly every other villain in the Lord of the Rings series. Do you share Gandalf's compassion for Sméagol/Gollum? What do you pity him for?
Pity? It was Pity that stayed [Bilbo's] hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity. (1.2.145)
Tolkien's moral lesson here is so clear he may as well be dropping anvils on our heads: Sméagol begins his ownership of the Ring with a murder. He becomes a strange, wasted, miserable, crawling creature as a result. Bilbo starts his possession of the Ring by refusing to murder Gollum, even though Gollum was a threat to Bilbo. And Bilbo goes on to live a long, mostly happy life. Clearly, compassion is one of the great virtues in this book.
"Just this, my dear old Frodo: you are miserable, because you don't know how to say good-bye. You meant to leave the Shire, of course. But danger has come on you sooner than you expected, and now you are making up your mind to go at once. And you don't want to. We are very sorry for you."
Frodo opened his mouth and shut it again. His look of surprise was so comical that they laughed. "Dear old Frodo!" said Pippin. "Did you really think you had thrown dust in all our eyes?" (1.5.51-2)
When Frodo talks to the High Elf Gildor Inglorion about his journey, Gildor counsels Frodo not to go alone, but only to take companions who are trustworthy and want to go. Here, Merry and Pippin prove that (a) they know Frodo well enough to know when something is wrong, (b) they are trustworthy enough to keep their speculations to themselves since they know he's worried, and (c) they are willing to help him in any way they can. Merry and Pippin's compassion for poor Frodo provides the foundation for their decision to accompany him on his journey, thus changing both of their fates forever. Compassion plays a huge role in the Lord of the Rings in determining what will happen to our protagonists – it's one of the main motivators of the novel.