The final misuse of the One Ring –some more baggage for the Bagginses.
Frodo’s curse not only refers to the doom of the Ring Bearer, but also what our beloved Mr Frodo Baggins laid on Gollum. A fatal curse.
Cast your mind back to The Return of the King, Book 6, Chapter 3:
March 25, in the year 3019 of the Third Age, Mordor…
On the slopes of Mount Doom, Gollum sneaks up on Frodo and Sam. He knocks Sam down and attacks Frodo. Frodo casts him off and, clasping the ring, he speaks in “a commanding voice.”
“Begone and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again. you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.”
Natch on the next page (spoiler alert) Frodo enters the Sammath Naur and claims the ring for himself. Gollum gets some finger biting action happening, and … wait for it…dah dah daaaah! stumbles OF HIS OWN ACCORD into the fires of Mt Doom.
Now many would say it was Gollum’s fate to assist Frodo over the final hurdle and destroy the ring along with himself. The Valar and/or Eru Illuvatar willed it. It was the hand of Providence. It was his doom. And maybe it was just Frodo foretelling Gollum’s, soon to be realised, destiny.
But probably it was Frodo saying, in modern parlance “Touch me again mofo and, by the power of the One Ring, I curse you to throw YOURSELF in fucking lava!”
And sure enough Gollum does more than just touch Mr Frodo again. Bites off more than he can chew I would say, because BAM!! He gets the ring (+ bonus finger) and into the Crack of Doom he goes!
Now sure, he could’ve tripped naturally, or been nudged the hand of Illuvatar, but JRRT wrote, only the page before, “…you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.” Tolkien chose those words. The redundancy of “…you shall be cast yourself …” specifically hints that he throws himself in. Not to mention the description of Frodo clutching the ring as he says it, whilst Sam sees the vision of the lordly Frodo “robed in white” and holding “a wheel of fire” commanding the grovelling evil Gollum. So nice work Frodo – even if you don’t destroy the ring, Gollum will. And it casts a literary echo back to when Bilbo and Gollum had a riddle game of wits where Gollum intended lethal consequences, except here it is the good hobbit using his wits for lethal effect.
Now this is cool. Well, not cool for Gollum. And not cool for Frodo either: not only has he failed to destroy the Ring himself, he has also used the One Ring to command, curse and kill a sentient being. But it IS cool in that Frodo solved the impossible conundrum of anyone voluntarily dropping the ring in the pit. And it gives yet another huge reason for Frodo to seek the healing of the Undying Lands. On top of the insidious recurring wounds of Morgul Blade, Spider bite, and the corrupting influence of an uber-powerful, demon enchanted artefact, he also has GUILT !!
Yes, yes you say, he already has guilt for failing to relinquish the ring at the end. But I reckon Gandalf probably told him “chill dude, even I couldn’t have let the Ring go in the heart of Sauron’s realm.” But he also has guilt for using Smeagol to complete the quest. A Smeagol that Frodo could see there was a chance of redemption for. Well Smeagol got his redemption. Just not the kind Frodo would have wished on him.
So Frodo in all probability wielded the Ring as it was intended to be used by its creator- like a murderous, dominating, overlord sonavabitch! Frodo Baggins used the power of the One Ring to order Gollum, in advance, to cast himself into the fire. And perhaps Eru also intended that this chain of events should happen as part of the cosmic plan aka the Song. Either way – nasty!
Anyways, top marks to JRRT for yet another layer of ambiguous subtlety in his magnum opus.
Postscript (for avid Tolkienites):
Now sure, Tolkien in letter part of letter 192 Tolkien suggests that Eru nudged or predestined the fall of Gollum into the fire.
“Frodo deserved all honour because he spent every drop of his power of will and body, and that was just sufficient to bring him to the destined point, and no further. Few others, possibly no others of his time, would have got so far. The Other Power then took over: the Writer of the Story (by which I do not mean myself), ‘that one ever-present Person who is never absent and never named’”
And again in letter 181 he suggests that the Christian Lords Prayer “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” reflects Frodo’s earlier pity towards Gollum and Eru’s deliverance.
“The Quest … was bound to fail as a piece of world-plan, and also was bound to end in disaster as the story of humble Frodo’s development to the ‘noble’, his sanctification. Fail it would and did as far as Frodo considered alone was concerned….” “…But at this point the ‘salvation’ of the world and Frodo’s own ‘salvation’ is achieved by his previous pity and forgiveness of injury. At any point any prudent person would have told Frodo that Gollum would certainly betray him, was a piece of folly, or a mystical belief in the ultimate value-in-itself of pity and generosity even if disastrous in the world of time. He did rob him and injure him in the end – but by a ‘grace’, that last betrayal was at a precise juncture when the final evil deed was the most beneficial thing any one cd. have done for Frodo! By a situation created by his ‘forgiveness’, he was saved himself, and relieved of his burden.”
OK yeah sure, right from the horse’s mouth. And yet…
I propose that Eru predestined Gollum’s fall AND that Frodo used the Ring to fulfil Eru’s plan. Why both? Well firstly we have JRRT saying as much in letters. The letters seem to contradict the books. One could argue the letters were written much later and he had forgotten the cool oath and curse stuff he had written, but I’d rather not put the great man down. Check out the groundwork he laid for Gollum’s fall…
‘Sméagol,’ said Gollum suddenly and clearly, opening his eyes wide and staring at Frodo with a strange light. ‘Sméagol will swear on the Precious.’
Frodo drew himself up, and again Sam was startled by his words and his stern voice. ‘On the Precious? How dare you? ‘ he said. ‘Think!
One Ring to rule them all and in the Darkness bind them.
Would you commit your promise to that, Sméagol? It will hold you. But it is more treacherous than you are. It may twist your words. Beware!’ –TTT, The Taming of Smeagol
‘…But I warn you, Smeagol, you are in danger.’
‘Yes, yes, master!’ said Gollum. ‘Dreadful danger! Smeagol’s bones shake to think of it, but he doesn’t run away. He must help nice master.’
‘I did not mean the danger that we all share,’ said Frodo. ‘I mean a danger to yourself alone. You swore a promise by what you call the Precious. Remember that! It will hold you to it; but it will seek a way to twist it to your own undoing. Already you are being twisted. You revealed yourself to me just now, foolishly. Give it back to Smeagol you said. Do not say that again! Do not let that thought grow in you! You will never get it back. But the desire of it may betray you to a bitter end. You will never get it back. In the last need, Smeagol, I should put on the Precious; and the Precious mastered you long ago. If I, wearing it, were to command you, you would obey, even if it were to leap from a precipice or to cast yourself into the fire. And such would be my command. So have a care, Smeagol! -TTT The Black Gate is Closed
Smeagol!’ said Frodo desperately. ‘Precious will be angry. I shall take Precious, and I shall say: make him swallow the bones and choke. Never taste fish again. Come, Precious is waiting!” -TTT The Forbidden Pool
Sheesh that’s a fair bit of foreshadowing to write off just because Tolkien says that Eru nudges Gollum into the pit. Thus to simultaneously satisfy both Tolkienite sticklers AND curse proponents, I contend that this ‘nudge’ by Eru is manifested in the form of Frodo’s curse.