Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sam instead of Frodo

I have a fairly simple question to pose for everyone, but one that may require a complicated answer. When Frodo is poisoned by Shelob's stinger and taken captive by Orcs, Samwise Gamgee carries the ring for fairly long period of time. Obviously, Frodo has to take the ring back because he is the Ringbearer and that is the way Tolkien wrote the story. However, in an alternate timeline where Frodo does not exist do you think Samwise possesses the necessary strength of will to resist the evil of the Ring and do you think the quest could have been fulfilled if Sam and Frodo's places had been exchanged?


Aulë said...

First off, I love this question! Sam is there for the whole journey of the ring, and as you said, he even carries it for a while, so what if he was the one who had to take it? I have mixed feelings about it. For one, Sam is a loyal and I would say innocent character in that it seems the Ring doesn't really have much to grab on to in Sam to twist and corrupt him. Becuase of this, I think it is feasible for Sam to have the strength and goodness in himself to bear the ring. However, Sam is loyal to Frodo. He is a support system for his master, and even though he maybe doesn't fully grasp the ideaof Sauron and the Ring, he knows Frodo has a job to do and that he will be there to help his master see it through to the end. That being said, in a case where Sam had to take the Ring, it would probably mean Frodo had died somewhere along the way (on Weathertop, in the Mines of Moria, at the Falls of Rauros, at Shelob's hand, etc.), and that would change everything for Sam. Without Frodo there, needing his steadfastness and protection, I don't think Sam would have been the same. He isn't the type of character to become a brave hero for himself; he serves, helps, and sacrifices for others. Sam needs Frodo just like Frodo needs Sam, and even if Frodo died and Sam took the Ring, things could never be the same. I have a feeling that the Ring would start its work on Sam even more quickly through his pain, loss, fear, confusion, and anger at Frodo's death.

Vana said...

I guess it depends on the situation. A character like Sam taking the lead role in a story where Frodo doesn't exist at all would feel like a tragedy. Sam embodies such innocence and loyalty that I think my feelings about the entire trilogy would be marred were Sam to have to carry the ring. However, I believe he could do it. He is Sam the brave. He's a servant with, I believe, a hidden well of strength in the face of adversity.
That said, Tolkien dealt very wisely with a character like Sam, whose strengths are highlighted as a companion to Frodo.

Tulkas said...

Personally, I don't see Sam as being strong enough to carry the ring; at least not in the kind of strength that it would require. My reasoning for thinking this is primarily based on Gandalf and his judgment. We know from The Hobbit that Gandalf possesses the keen ability to observe a person and see their hidden strengths and talents. He looked at Bilbo and saw a Baggins and a Took. He looked at Frodo and saw someone who was resilient enough to carry the ring. He looked at Sam and saw someone who was brave enough to carry Frodo to the end. This is enough for me to think that Sam could not have done it. On the same note, Frodo could not have done it without Sam. We talked about Sam being the real hero because he's the one that actually does everything. Frodo just follows along. These personality traits, Sam's industriousness and Frodo's single-mindedness, are what make them perfect for the roles they play. The ring is so taxing on a person that it is all they can focus on if they hope to be successful in controlling it. Therefore, someone else must pick up the slack. Frodo is the master in their relationship therefore he's used to letting others do things for him. Sam is the servant and therefore accustomed to doing things for others. It would not have worked if Sam were in Frodo's place. He could not focus his attention on himself.

Nessa said...

I think that one important difference between Frodo and Sam, other than those already listed, is that Frodo has always yearned for adventure and danger like Bilbo, whereas Sam has always felt drawn more toward the Elves and the peace that they carry with them. Frodo is brave and Tookish, and Sam is simple and good.

That being said, I think that if Sam had been given the Ring, it would be because he was meant to have the Ring--just as Frodo was meant to have it. In this way, yes: I think that Sam could carry the Ring. He has so much of selflessness and goodness in him that I think he could have withstood a great deal of temptation.

However, in the end, he was not given the Ring, and I think that was because he is so much better as a servant than a master.

Oromë said...

Sam and Frodo obviously have very different strengths, and although Sam is able to temporarily carry the ring, I do not think he has the qualities necessary to endure it for an extended period of time. Sam's character, in many ways, provides a stark contrast to Frodo, meaning if Frodo has the traits necessary to successfully endure the ring, Sam likely does not.

Perhaps more importantly though, for Sam to carry the ring would diminish the role that he plays in the story as a whole. If Sam were to have the ability to carry the ring, Frodo's significance in the story would be eliminated, and Sam's steadfast support would be unnecessary. The success of these two characters in the story depends on their being different in order to provide mutual fulfillment. Frodo's achievement depends on Sam's support; and Sam's moments of glory depend on Frodo's need for support. The strengths of each are highlighted in the shortcomings of the other.

Estë said...

It is certainly interesting to consider, Sam as the Ringbearer instead of Frodo. I do wonder how the story would be different if he were given the task in Frodo’s place. They both have very different personalities and I am not sure that things would have gone the same way because Sam probably would not have volunteered to take the Ring in the same way that Frodo did. It was through the hardship of the journey that Sam’s strength developed, and it’s because of this developed tenacity and internal strength that he continues on the quest even when Frodo can’t. It would seem that Sam is the one to finish the job but probably not the one to volunteer and do the bulk of the work. His allegiance to his master is what brings him along on the prolonged journey. His love and devotion to their friendship is what wins the battle, in the end, but it’ Frodo’s self-sacrifice and perseverance that Sam so valiantly follows and supports.