Monday, February 28, 2011

Servant or Peer?

Frodo and Sam develop a close friendship as The Lord of the Rings progresses, but  their relationship begins as a master/servant one (Sam is Frodo's gardener). How does the text play off this relationship? How does Tolkien remind us of this relationship throughout the narrative? Would the story be any different if Sam and Frodo were peers, or are they peers by the time the Fellowship breaks or by the end of the last book?


Fingolfin said...

The text starts us off with Sam as Frodo's faithful servant, and Sam's dialogue and actions mostly reflect that. However, as Frodo comes to rely on Sam more and more, he has to think for himself and he eventually becomes Frodo's equal. The most dramatic change comes when Frodo is attacked by Shelob and Sam has to make his own choices based on what he feels is right, and his choices ultimately help him develop as a hero and Frodo's peer.

Radagast said...

I have always thought of Sam as Frodo's peer even though I know that he is technically Frodo's servant. However, I believe if Sam really were Frodo's peer, a lot in the story could have changed. Sam's moral throughout the Lord of the Rings is that he must stay with his master and protect him and follow him. Had they been peers, Sam might have been more willing to assert himself. He might have had more of a say in whether or not Gollum came with them - which, as we have said in class, would drastically change the story. So, I think that Tolkien needed to write Sam as a servant to Frodo for the story to develop in the way it did.

As I said, I've always felt they were or should be peers when I'm reading these books, but I'm really not sure they ever reach that point. I do believe Frodo and Sam both have a deep respect and friendship with each other, but Sam still says Mr. Frodo; he is still Frodo's gardener; he still serves him. So, I don't really know. It really bothers me that they don't seem to be peers, but I just can't seem to convince myself that they really are.

Haleth said...

Having watched the movies first, my idea of Sam and Frodo's relationship was pretty skewed when I started reading the books. The movies don't emphasize too much the fact that Sam is Frodo's servant first and friend second. So once I finally read the books, I was a little uneasy about their relationship. The movies worked just as well--in my opinion at least--without choosing to clearly state that Sam is "below" Frodo class-wise.
Throughout the text you can see this relationship through the way Frodo speaks to Sam and how he thinks of him.
I don't think the actual story would have changed much had Sam and Frodo just been friends. I think Sam is a loyal person and would have help Frodo no matter what.

Elendil said...

Well, Sam does call Frodo "master" throughout mostly the entire text, and sometimes they take me totally by surprise because I forget that Sam is technically Frodo's gardener. I think Tolkien does that on purpose: phases out that certain detail and then brings it out during rare moments later on, in order to illustrate how far they've come from being a master/servant relationship to a best-friendship. And I think that progression is really important to the story. If they began the story as friends or peers it would not be nearly as rewarding as watching that friendship progress.