Tolkien's hobbits show basic goodness of people
by Noelle Hay
Page 1 of 1
During a discussion I recently had with a Tolkien fan, he informed me that
we are all like Gollum, selfish and prone to evil. I think he missed Tolkiens
message in LOTR. Certainly we are all tempted by evil, but the moment Tolkien
introduced us to Samwise Gamgee he was saying quite the opposite. No character
is as clearly prone to good as he is. Down to earth and common as the soil he
worked in, Sam ws Tolkiens tie to his readers. He wasn't the noble son of a
king, or the adopted son of an eccentric millionaire. He was a gardener, like
his father before him and the one character in the book we could all
Sam. Even his name is simple. Not so complicated as Meriadoc Brandybuck nor
so noble sounding as Peregrin Took. Uncomplicated as his name, no character is
either hated or loved with such pasion as Samwise Gamgee. Perhaps the reason he
evokes such passion is that he reflects those traits in ourselves we either
hate or love.
Tolkien made his first impressions of Sam those we could relate to most. Sam
was ever interested in Bilbo's tales, in the same things that interested us in
the Hobbit. His Gaffer even says: "Elves and Dragons! I says to him.
Cabbages and potatoes are better for me and you." Suddenly we *are* Sam.
Being told like children who read books with a flashlight under the covers to
get our head out of the clouds. But it's too late, for us and Sam. We are
already in the story.
Sam appeals to that nitpicking side of us that asks: "Where do they go to
the bathroom?" You know what I mean. Sam is practical. He thinks of things that
are necessary and even essential. Frodo while understanding his quest certainly
wasn't prepared. He had nothing but the ring. It was Sam who was ready for the
journey: Rope and cooking utensils. They hardly seem important, but anyone who
has been on a camping trip without them knows you can not survive without them.
Sam was also the optomist. He didn't lead Mordors horros darken his heart.
He proves to be the constant motivator for Frodo. While Frodo mourns for the
loss of friends Sam is there to reassure him that they will be seen again. When
Frodo complains of the burden or the ring and insists he must still carry it,
Sam does not try to talk his master out of the task. Instead of letting Frodo
bear it alone, he bears it's burden by carrying Frodo.
Sam is the only ring bearer to emmerge unscathed by the ring. The ring so
changed Bilbo that he left the Shire. Those who saw Frodo after the quest could
not help but realize the mark the ring had left on him was the same that had
been left on Sauron. It is Sam who understands the ring and he who bears it
While we fret for poor Frodo throughout the book, without Sam the ring is
forfeited to evil and the hero dies.
People mistakingly think that The Lord of the Rings is about Frodo and the
one ring. It is is not. Aragorn will be King. Gandalf will become the great
wizzard we always imagined him to be. Legolas and Gimli will continue their
lasting friendship. Merry and Pippin will be great hobbit warriors. Sam, who
remains remarkably unchanged throughout the book, will continue to be the
simple hobbit he is.
Sam is given the respect he is due by his superiors, but nothing more. In
the end, he is left without much further concern, to take care of remaining
problems without aid. Frodo's says, "The rest I've left for you to finish." We
never wonder how Sam will fare. We know he will do well.
Tolkien's love for the simple and hard working people he knew was never more
clear than when he created Sam. The admiration for the people he served with in
WWII could not have been more evident. No finer tribute could he have made them
than the creation of Samwise Gamgee. In him we see the people we can and should
be. Good people who can destroy evil, where others have struggled for years
with swords and magic, with frying pans and rope.
Copyright© 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 Noelle Hay, sffworld.com. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the author.