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In the early parts of The Lord of the Rings, Sam
comes across as a rather flat character, a sidekick to the more
interesting and dynamic Frodo, whom he serves. But from a psychological
point of view, Sam is among the most interesting and complex characters
in the novel. Like his probable namesake, Pickwick’s servant Sam
in Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers, Frodo’s
Sam is earthy and commonsensical, fond of his beer and his bread,
clever though sometimes forgetful—as when he forgets he has a magic
Elf rope in his bag. Over the course of The Two Towers, Sam
changes more than any other character. Initially, he is subservient
and not quite capable of independent judgment. His constant references
to Frodo as “Mister Frodo”—a formal title that other characters
do not use even when addressing kings or Wizards—makes us wonder
whether Sam suffers from a sense of inferiority. Frodo never orders
Sam around as a master would command a servant, yet Sam continually
speaks of himself as serving Frodo.
Eventually, Sam is a servant no more. By the end of The
Two Towers, when his master lies speechless and paralyzed,
Sam is forced to affirm his own strength and assume the role of
Ring-bearer himself. In being forced to make his own decisions,
he becomes his own master, thereby becoming a symbol of the potential
for leadership and heroism that may lie dormant in the most unsuspecting people,
perhaps even ourselves.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Two Towers!