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The Badder Bad Guy

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Who is the badder bad guy: Gollum or Grima Wormtongue?

Born in the South Africa, John R.R. Tolkien is an English writer, who is best-known for his novel-trilogy The Lord of the Rings. From the first sight it could seem that this trilogy is nothing more than a fairytale, but it is not true. Inside the books one can find a whole new world that consists of different other worlds with their unique nations and theirs heroes, with different languages and stories, with the courageous, kind characters, and the ones who are weak and born in the darkness. In the trilogy The Lord of the Rings one can discover the new, unknown before world – the world of John R.R. Tolkien. Not everyone knows that through this trilogy, and the other Tolkien’s books that are in one way or another alike with the The Lord of the Rings story, author shows his own world and his own life that is metaphorically used to be described as Sheer and hobbits in his books. However all characters in The Lord of the Rings are not just  interesting, but also very unique to explore, probably one of the most complicated and the most troublesome, the characters that even after knowing everything about them, one still has a lot of questions, are villains Grima Wormtongue and the creature many of the readers love to hate – Gollum. What can be so similar between them both and what is so different? Can one actually consider Grima and Gollum as villains, or there is something good present in them too? What is in Tolkien’s understanding can be considered as evil? Are there some connections with nature or Tolkien’s life? What factors make readers to consider Grima Wormtongue and Gollum as the evil in The Lord of the Rings?

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As Tolkien was born in South Africa, but raised in England, from the early childhood he understood what does it really mean to enjoy the beauty of different landscapes, different countries and their natures. After his returning to England with his mother, Tolkien moved to a small village that was called Sarehole. This village was situated quite far from the big city and was considered to be along with its nature as a sort of isolated beauty. Exactly after living in this village, Tolkien grew in him the love to nature and hate to everything industrialised. His passion to nature, trees, picturesque landscapes, one can see in every Tolkien’s work. In his work John Tolkien describes nature as something alive and bright; he describes it as some separate character. For example, everyone remember Ents described as alive trees with their own language and community in Tolkien’s trilogy The Lord of the Rings. Moreover Ents in the whole story took an essential, one of the main part as the separate characters. Every page of Tolkien’s The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings shines brightly with the “greenness” and greatness of nature. However even being described so powerfully, it does not mean that the nature is pure. In Tolkien’s books often nature is used by the hands of the evil. Moreover one needs to understand that evil is also can be considered as the “child of the nature”. Evil in Tolkien’s tales has a destroying character. Everyone remembers Mordor described as a dark, burnt and bleak land with no life and no plants. Sauron is symbolized in The Lord of The Rings as a dark smoke and an evil eye entwined with the fire flames, when Saruman is symbolized as evil magician, who destroyed whole forests just for his war needs. In Saruman, by the way, one can see the means of industrialization, its core and the result of it to the glowing nature. While living in industrialized Birmingham, Tolkien hated the city, its dirty streets all in smoky fog, destroyed by war and industrialized by the new world. Human weakness to power, to the opportunities to have the whole world under one’s rule and all put in just the ring that was desired by almost everyone and rejected by Hobbit – this is how Tolkien described two World’s Wars’ goals and his attitude towards them; this is what he thought is evil except the industrialization process.


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If to return to The Lord of the Rings and its characters, then not only Sauron or Saruman are considered to be evil, but also the creature Gollum and Grima Wormtongue. However, are they fully evil or even these weakest characters could be saved? Both miserable creatures, both sided with evil, but still both so different in their fates. Speaking about Gollum, no one can forget that he was not so bad from the beginning and even when he was under ring’s power Gollum tried o be good for his Master, for Frodo, he tried to help him. The things he has done in the end only show us that he was fully under the ring’s power, his soul was corrupted by it. Everyone remembers that Gollum was the hobbit named Smeagol long ago before he, being in the power of the ring, killed his friend. Through the whole trilogy Gollum would cause different emotions and feelings in you, from hate to compassion mostly. Dealing with the eternal struggle inside himself, Gollum still tries to redeem his soul, but he appears to be too weak to fight and with time and manipulations the ring again took power over him. Grima Wormstongue, on the other hand, has nothing as it seems good in him. From the very beginning one sees him as some not only weak, but a pathetic slave, dog of Saruman. He is greedy and he is a coward, but in the same time with no god trace of character in himself, Grima has pride as once he could not stand Saruman’s treatment and words. Grima was the one who killed Saruman, yet he was also the one, who was killed by hobbits. Grima had dignity. He was probably the weakest creature from the whole trilogy and yet who was able to burts with rage at once and kill his Master, whom no one dared to kill just like that simple before. Knowing even that he would die, Grima cared only about his pride. Being a worm in this world, a miserable “poisonous” worm, Wormtongue could care only about his dignity. The more one reads the book, the better he understands that Gollum is somehow even the noble creature as he did not mean anything bad, he was just consumed by the greatest evil, when Grima Wormtongue is considered to have nothing good in him because he killed the villain Saruman in the name of his dignity, not others’ needs, but till he cried when he saw the army of Uruk-hai that was coming to kill every man. That means the hope to find the light in the shadows of Grima’s souls still exists. And there is no clear answer who is badder bad guy from them and who is a better man, even though all facts for the badder guy in Grima’s favour. Through the whole trilogy, both of these creatures are trying in one way or another to justify themselves and their deeds, but the truth is one of them cannot be justified in any case, why other is justified and almost every his deed the reader took with compassion.

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As it seems from the first sight both Gollum and Grima Wormtongue are just primal animal, dangerous animals. However both these creatures are enchanting more and more readers with their complexity: Gollum as the consumed by shadows and power weak creature, and Grima Wormstongue – pathetic, weak for the smooth voice of Saruman, yet man with a strong dignity and the dim of light inside his dark soul.

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