Gollum slipped and fell in the fires of the Sammath Naur because...

Poll coming in a moment or four but don’t let that slow you down.

… YOU asked for it!

There may well have been a supernatural element in it, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Gollum simply being Gollum is a perfectly adequate explanation.

I’ll have chocolate, thanks.

Too much elemental narrativium at that particular location.

I know this was meant facetiously, but just pointing out that the Gollum-seizing-the-Ring-at-the-last-minute-and-then-getting-a-lava-bath scene absolutely had to have been deliberately chosen by Tolkien for his denouement, quite early on in his plotting the work.

All that “Gollum may yet have a part to play before the end” foreshadowing in earlier parts of the trilogy was clearly hinting at the notion that Gollum’s actions would be crucial in ultimately fulfilling the Quest.

“Simple clumsiness born of excitement; nothing superantural about it at all.” - That sums it up for me.

Gollum being Gollum, through the actions of Frodo and the ring allowed himself to become the agent of a divine redemption allowing the author to get the hell out the corner he was going to wind up being in.

Or more quickly … a wizard did it.

Gollum gets the ball rolling by giving Bilbo the ring in the Hobbit, so it’s only fitting he brings the saga to end. Writing 101, nothing more.

Right, nothing about the use of uniquely potent superheated Lava of Doom to destroy a magical Ring of Power that confers invisibility and magically sustains the physical existence of all the evil works and incarnating body of a semi-divine evil spirit requires a supernatural element. :wink:

(Yes, I know you meant “supernatural according to the norms of Middle-earth”, but I think Middle-earth norms blur the distinction between natural and supernatural more than ours do. I’m not sure you really can say whether or not any specific event in LOTR is being influenced by Unseen Powers in some way. Which means that the OP’s poll questions should perhaps include an “All of the above” option somewhere in there.)

We’re going to have to get into a philosophical discussion about the nature of causes, here. The direct cause was his non-supernatural happy dance. However, his earlier oath made on the Ring was what made it inevitable that there would be a nonsupernatural direct cause for him ending up in the lava. Once he made that oath, his fate was sealed: He could have slipped in and fallen, he could have been bull-rushed in by an angry Sam, the ground could have given away beneath his feet: Any of those could have happened. But any scenario where he did not fall in was simply not in the set of possible futures.

I think it’s somewhere between “simple clumsiness” and “direct intervention by Eru.” There seems to be a definite implication in LotR that the events are in some sense foreordained, but necessarily at the micromanagement level. That’s one of the things that I prefer to remain tantalizingly vague.

One thing that I found especially striking when I read “The Return of the Shadow” was how much of the first part of LotR Tolkien wrote without having any real idea of how the rest was going to go. IIRC, he went as far as Rivendell with no inkling of Aragorn, and indeed only the vaguest notion of Gondor.

Oh, as per your new sig, when did you ever worship Thor?

Eru. This is the Eucatastrophic moment that was at the core of JRRT’s theosophical vision.

:confused: That would be a pretty good trick, considering that Aragorn accompanies the other main characters to Rivendell from Bree. Did you mean to write “Bree”, or do you mean that Tolkien originally drafted a version of the narrative where the hobbits got to Rivendell on their own? (I haven’t read “Return of the Shadow”.)

I don’t think this is right. Sure, Gollum doomed himself by his oath - but I’m not sure this meant that he (and the ring) had to end right then and there. Mortals in LoTR enjoy free will. Sure, to a certain extent there may be predestination - but it’s extremely limited, or else why would the Fellowship have even needed to worry about their quest?

Gollum’s fate was sealed more or less in the sense that ours is: We will all die, someday. We can defer the day of our death, make some deaths likelier than others, even choose specific deaths if we wish - but death is inevitable. By a similar token, I think that a prudent Gollum could have had many, many years with “my Precioussssss” if he had avoided his damned stupid happy dance.

LoTR is ultimately a story about people making choices - some very good, some very bad. Gollum made bad choices, and died.

Sounds more like he’s saying Tolkien didn’t have Aragorn as he was finally portrayed in mind for Strider until later in the process.

And back to your reply to my post (which I lost my reply to, by closing the wrong tab)…I was speaking, specifically, of Gollum’s physical fall at the end. Gollum’s nature - grabby, twitchy, and careless - is a perfectly adequate explanation for what happened. That he was that way due to the ring’s influence is pushing the question of ‘why’ a bit far back for reason, and, barring an in-text reference to the ring or Illuvatar acting in that moment, assuming that they did is complicating the situation needlessly.

I doubt it. Sauron was now aware of the Ring’s presence on his doorstep, and sending the Nazgul to retrieve it. I think that Gollum’s time with the Ring would have been measured in minutes.

If you read the History of Middle Earth you’ll find that the early drafts of the LoTRs was much more like “The Hobbit”. While there was a guide to Rivendell it was a hobbit, with wooden feet, that had escaped from Mordor or Dol Goldur caller Trotter.

In the first draft of LOTR there was no Aragorn. His role was originally taken by another Hobbit called Trotter.