In J.R.R. Tolkien’s timeless Middle-earth saga, many questions have intrigued fans and prompted countless debates among the devotees of the lore. One query, often posed by readers of ‘The Hobbit’, is: How did Gollum deduce that Bilbo Baggins had come into possession of the One Ring?
How did Gollum realize Bilbo had the Ring?
When Bilbo asked his final riddle, Gollum was enraged, as he thought that the riddle was unfair; from his perspective, there was no way he could’ve known what was in Bilbo’s pocket. The Gollum took his time, but after a while, Bilbo forced him to give an answer, but Gollum demanded three guesses, which Bilbo ultimately accepted.
Gollum tried with Bilbo’s hands, a knife, and the last answer which was “String, or nothing!”, but all of them were wrong. And so, Gollum lost the game and Bilbo insisted on him keeping his promise.
Although Gollum seemingly agreed, he had no intention of letting Bilbo go, until – at one point – he realized his Ring was missing. He became completely mad, confusing Bilbo, as the latter had not known either that the Ring he had was Gollum’s, or that it was that valuable.
While crying in a paranoid fit, Gollum realized that Bilbo’s riddle might have referred to the Ring and he demanded to know the answer to Bilbo’s last riddle, growing very suspicious of the Hobbit and his behavior. Bilbo wanted to know that Gollum had lost, but the creature insisted and Bilbo decided to act.
How did Bilbo trick Gollum?
Not knowing what would happen, Bilbo put the Ring on his finger and disappeared, as per the Ring’s magical ability. As Gollum wandered around the cave, looking for Bilbo, the Hobbit was confused as he was not aware that he had disappeared thanks to the Ring.
Gollum thought that Bilbo was on his way out of the caves – he even thought that Bilbo knew the exit all along and that he was just there to steal the Ring – and decided to meet him there, a fact Bilbo used to his own advantage. He followed Gollum to the exit and then slipped away unnoticed, tricking Gollum.
As he was leaving, he heard the Gollum crying out: “Thief, Thief, Thief! Baggins! We hate it, we hate it, we hate it forever!”