Three Times Samwise Gamgee was the true hero of The Lord of the Rings

By the Collectress

Perhaps it’s because I just booked my trip to New Zealand, or because the soundtrack is on repeat all day while I work, or maybe because my friend Lacey was part of the most epic LotR cosplay group ever, but Samwise Gamgee has been on my mind lately. In particular, Sam’s earnest goodness and unrelenting sense of hope has been a beacon in my life, and pretty much the reason I finally caved and decided to go to Middle-earth with the option of never returning. 

Samwise Gamgee has always been my most favoritest of hobbits, and I think it’s about time I did a shout out to all the wonderful things he accomplished in the story that maybe don’t get as much appreciation as he deserves. So, without ado, here are three things we should all love Sam for doing.

Leaving the Shire

If you didn’t know: hobbits do not like to leave the Shire. They’re very much the New Yorkers of Middle-earth; they do not like to leave home and when they do, they only think of how lacking the rest of the world is when compared to the Shire and how much they’d like to get home again. In this clip from the film The Fellowship of the Ring, Gandalf pretty much shoves Sam out the door as Frodo’s companion, but in the book, things go down a little differently:

‘Well, sir,’ said Sam, dithering a little. ‘I heard a deal that I didn’t rightly understand, about an enemy, and rings, and Mr. Bilbo, sir, and dragons and a fiery mountain, and–and Elves, sir. I listened because I couldn’t help myself, if you know what I mean…I would dearly love to see them. Couldn’t you take me to see Elves, sir, when you go?

Sam’s reaction to Mr. Frodo’s leaving of the Shire is longing for adventure (specifically, the opportunity to see the Elves). Whereas Frodo, and Bilbo before him, are more reluctant, as is typical of a hobbit, Sam refuses to leave Frodo’s side, saying that he was ‘so upset’ when he heard that Frodo was leaving. In fact, Sam is likely the only one who is excited to go on this quest, even if he doesn’t know exactly what he’s signed up for.

Shelob’s Lair

In the film The Return of the King, Frodo sends Sam away after being manipulated by Gollum, yet Sam returns to save his friend from Ungoliant’s bastard spider-child, Shelob. In the book, The Two Towers, however, it goes down differently: Sam never leaves Frodo, and they enter the lair together. It is Sam’s level-headedness that gets them through Shelob’s lair: he remembers that they have Galadriel’s gift of the light of Earendil, and he navigates them through the tunnels until Gollum succeeds in forcefully separating him from Frodo. Similar to the film, when Sam finds Frodo’s seemingly lifeless body, he takes on the burden of the Ring, willing to finish the quest though it will cost him his life. He infiltrates an Orc fortress by himself in order to save Frodo when he finds out his best friend is alive.

Again, Sam’s loyalty and earnest desire to do the right thing earns him the designation of ‘beautiful cinnamon roll too good for Middle-earth.’

Sam heard the sound of feet receding. He was recovering from his shock, and now a wild fury was on him. ‘I got it all wrong!’ he cried. ‘I knew I would. Now they’ve got him, the devils! The filth! Never leave  your master, never, never: that was my right rule. And I knew it in my heart.

The Grey Havens

Though Sam fights Orcs, trolls, and goblins, and helps to defeat a Dark Lord, perhaps the bravest thing he does comes at the end of the story. It’s one thing to face the world with your best friend by your side, it’s something else to face it on your own. When Frodo tells Sam that he’s leaving Middle-earth for the Undying Lands, Sam’s response is the same as it was in The Fellowship of the Ring: can’t I come with you? Yet he accepts it when Frodo tells him he has to stay, at least for a while, and his tearful goodbye to Frodo will always make me cry. Sam’s purpose is to help shape the new world that he and Frodo helped to create, so saying goodbye and fulfilling his own destiny is probably the most courage that Sam demonstrates throughout the books.

It must often be so, Sam, when things are in danger: some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them…you will read things out of the Red Book, and keep alive the memory of the age that is gone, so that people will remember the Great Danger and so love their beloved land all the more. And that will keep you as busy and as happy as anyone can be, as long as your part of the Story goes on.

Sam is brave, noble, and a true friend. And if you’re wondering, according to the appendices of The Lord of the Rings, Sam travelled to the Undying Lands to reunite with his best friend in the year 1482 of the Fourth Age of Middle-earth–exactly sixty years after Frodo.

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