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Sam’s remarkable heroism in Book VI consists of courageous
action that is tempered by love and spontaneity. Aragorn and the
Riders of Rohan fight without restraint, as though they have always
done so and know little else. As a Hobbit, Sam tends merely to stumble
into adventurous deeds, and his plodding pursuit to save Frodo echoes with
the running self-commentary Sam performs in his head. We do not
just watch Sam run through the gates of Cirith Ungol brandishing
the phial of Galadriel; we hear Sam prepare himself and see him shrug
his shoulders and fumble absentmindedly for the magic phial. We
know that Sam is not really an imposing Elf-warrior, as the Ring’s
power causes the Orcs to see him. Instead, we see the Orcs from
Sam’s perspective, sharing his dismay when they turn to run from
him in fear. Sam offers a model of the hero whose heroism lies not
in impulse, but in the choices he constantly and consciously makes
to perform heroic deeds. Sam’s heroism is comical, for he is consistently
surprised by his success.
Sam’s playfulness as a surprised hero is tempered by his
genuine devotion to Frodo. All heroes must have first principles—the -inspiration
of their actions. Sam possesses such a strong tacit love for Frodo
that he becomes united with the object of his service. As Sam climbs
Mount Doom, carrying Frodo, the comrades appear to be only one hobbit
climbing, not two. The ascent of Mount Doom is emblematic of Sam’s
friendship with Frodo. Sam’s sacrifice produces true friendship,
for he loses all thoughts of himself in his devoted care for his
companion and master.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Return of the King!