J.R.R. Tolkien’s legendarium represents different archetypal myths that constitute a diverse treasury of literary genres. Tragedy in variegated forms also appears in many of his mythological tales and characters. Gollum in The Lord of the Rings experiences a unique instance of tragedy when it is compared with Tolkien’s earlier sketches of the genre. We demonstrate that the character Gollum sustains a twofold type of tragedy that originates from Tolkien’s perception of medieval and modern spirits of thought. Raymond Williams in Modern Tragedy draws upon historical traditions of tragedy to survey different characteristics of “modern tragedy”. According to him, the cornerstones through which modern tragedy, and in particular liberal tragedy, digresses from prior traditions are as follows: “order and accident”, “the destruction of hero,” “the irreparable action,” and “the emphasis of evil”. Williams also describes the medieval tragedy in view of the “feudal rank” and “the wheel of Fortune”. This paper argues that Gollum’s tragic experience reverberates with both liberal and medieval definitions of tragedy. To this end, the elements of the two traditions are scrutinized with respect to the character’s actions and mental status.
Copyright held by Artist