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Old 06-16-2006, 01:14 PM   #1
MatthewM
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Tolkien True Hero: Frodo or Samwise?

This is a common debate amongst fans...here is some proof that, at least in Tolkien's eyes, Samwise is the true hero.

Tolkien himself said numerous times in the Letters that Samwise was the real hero. Letter #131 names Samwise as the "chief hero". In Letter #76 he cites him as the "jewel among hobbits". And in Letter #93, Tolkien writes to his son Christopher---

"Certainly Sam is the most closely drawn character, the successor to Bilbo of the first book, the geniune hobbit. Frodo is not so interesting, because he has to be highminded, and has (as it were) a vocation. The book will probably end up with Sam."

Now, if you're going by Tolkien's own word, then Sam is the true hero, not Frodo. If you're going beyond the words of the master, which I often like to do (with all due respect to him) then you can conjure up opinions if you believe Frodo is the true hero. It's true that if Sam convinced Frodo to slay Gollum then the fate of Middle-Earth would have ultimately been changed. But, the kindness and pity of Frodo prevailed and thus brought about the end of an Age. It's really just how it was supposed to unfold. You can say that Sam wouldn't have made it without Frodo, but that's just going in a circle....because you can also say that Frodo wouldn't even be alive if not for Aragorn after the accident at Weathertop.

So, I'm going to have to say Sam is the real hero here. I do give the utmost of credit to Frodo though, naturally. I just think Sam was more vital in the end.

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Old 06-16-2006, 02:50 PM   #2
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I'm not disagreeing with any specific point, but I'm just curious as to why you feel the need to determine who the "true hero" is. Aren't they both heroes, for braving the trials of Mordor against insane odds? Frodo was the first one to volunteer; Sam came out of loyalty to him, but Frodo went for the good of Middle-earth. It's true that Frodo may have wanted to free himself of the weight of the Ring, but the fact that he volunteered remains. It's as if choosing between them, picking who was "most heroic", detracts from the fact that they are both heroes who dared to, and succeeded, face down the Dark Lord himself before whom mighty men had quailed.
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Old 06-16-2006, 03:30 PM   #3
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I think you may be asking the wrong question. It is not really "who was the true hero" but "who do we learn from most?" You can argue that Frodo was a hero, because of his courageous choice and resolve. The same might be said about Sam, though his choice might have been less in order (he chose for the sake of his master, Frodo chose for the sake of the Shire/Middle Earth). However, when it comes down to it, Sam is the character you identify with, not Frodo. Frodo's role is tragic, because he does succumb in the end. By the time the ring was destroyed, the noble attitude that drove Frodo to make his choice was all but gone. The reader begins the story identifying with Frodo, but ends it identifying with Sam because he is more human. Frodo became a broken, changed hobbit, who's only hope in the end lied in going West across the sea. Sam, however, has a relatively happy ending. He does the deed, gets the girl, and lives a good life. Therefore, we are naturally more drawn towards Sam. He is the character the average reader has the most in common with (ideally, anyways).

I suppose the best way to think about it is by looking at the emotion you experience at the end of the books towards each hobbit. Personally, I feel sympathy and pity for Frodo (because, like I said, he is a tragic figure). But I admire Sam for his basic qualities of loyalty and love. In the end, who would you want to be? I'm sure most people would say, without hesitation, "Sam".

Of course I know that all this isn't fair. Any comparison between the principle Ringbearer and another character can't be. The Ring's influence on Frodo is the cause of all his tragedy, after all. But in the end, my point remains the same. Samwise Gamgee is still the hobbit you relate to, and Frodo is the one you pity. At least that's how I feel .
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Old 06-16-2006, 06:31 PM   #4
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But then, of Sam and Frodo, who sacrificed the most?
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Old 06-16-2006, 06:42 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiscott
I think you may be asking the wrong question. It is not really "who was the true hero" but "who do we learn from most?"
-----------------------
However, when it comes down to it, Sam is the character you identify with, not Frodo. Frodo's role is tragic, because he does succumb in the end. By the time the ring was destroyed, the noble attitude that drove Frodo to make his choice was all but gone. The reader begins the story identifying with Frodo, but ends it identifying with Sam because he is more human.
Well said Wiscott. But I also think there are some other problems here too. One of them is the "writing out the thing I'm after" -stuff by J.R.R..

What I mean is: look at the "main roles" in LotR. So full of life and character all of them! Bilbo with his earlier travels and the thirst to make all of his last days, his love of Elves, his past with the ring.... Sam with Rose in his head through the journey, his garden, the cooking, the empathy... Aragorn with his major internal fights between the woman and the Elven maiden (add all the symbolism here), the conflict between his "fate" and his initial nature... Boromir & Faramir with their father, contradicting loyalities and the similarities & differences in their personalities... And one could go on.

But what is there for Frodo? Just being the hero. As a character I see him as a shallow one, at least when comparing him to others (aside with Legolas, who's somewhat an empty "hero" too). Somehow Frodo never gets "the flesh over the bones" (as the Finnish idiom makes it) as he is just the vessel of the story. The hero without a personality, without affinities, without feelings that would relate him to the world around him.

Surely Tolkien spends a lot of time trying to make these connections, but often they seem to be more like abstract ideas or ideals dressed into the story (pity, accepting a preordained fate, standing for one's values etc.) than building a real living character in the story. So being a hero in a story with moral connotations thins the character?
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Old 06-16-2006, 06:55 PM   #6
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Good points, Nogod. It's true that Frodo often espoused a "love of the Shire", but it was Samwise who lived this love of his Shire...
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Old 06-16-2006, 09:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Surely Tolkien spends a lot of time trying to make these connections, but often they seem to be more like abstract ideas or ideals dressed into the story (pity, accepting a preordained fate, standing for one's values etc.) than building a real living character in the story. So being a hero in a story with moral connotations thins the character?
I see what you mean about Frodo. Thinking about it a little more, I have to say that Frodo could be the central "hero" in that his place is to make an enormous sacrifice. That is a real-world theme that Tolkien wove into the story through Frodo's character: the truly heroic act is one of sacrifice. Frodo ends up being the sacrifice by bearing the burden of the ring for the rest of his life - not only when he possessed the ring physically. In that way, Frodo is the noble, tragic hero of the story; and certainly Sam is not. If you think of Frodo's character always in light of his sacrifice, his place in the story makes more sense. Frodo was never meant to have the depth of character that most of the Fellowship has. His role is to be a sacrifice; this is actually emphasized by the lack of depth. There is nothing to distract you from one of the most important parts of the story this way.

That's Frodo's role, in my opinion. I still say that, though Frodo may very well be the principle (I avoid saying real) hero, Sam remains the central object of the reader. All the other characters have their very high, noble, and important purposes; Sam is just the plain little Hobbit who happens to be touched by their lives, and therefore is most like the reader. I may have been unconsciously illustrating this in my earlier post when I said that most people would want to be Sam, not Frodo: in fact, this is exactly what happens. The reader experiences the story vicariously through Sam in the fullest sense. In a way, the effect all the events have on Sam is the effect they are intended to have upon the reader (emotionally, at least).

Anyhow, that's a little more expansion on my view. Excellent points in this thread so far

EDIT: I guess my post has a lot to do with Sardy's question a couple posts back. Concisely, it is obvious that Frodo sacrificed more than Sam, and that is an important distinction between the two hobbits, in my opinion. Frodo's sacrifice saved Sam from suffering the same thing, even if Sam wanted to (he certainly longed to help his master bear the Ring on those last days to Mount Doom).
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Old 06-17-2006, 05:03 PM   #8
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Silmaril

Ultimately, there is no one single hero to Lord of the Rings. Its nine central characters, and many of the various people with whom they cross paths all have their struggles and their own heroic moments.

Now that that's said, for the sake of discussion, I'm going to narrow it down to just two characters for a moment: Frodo and Sam.

Frodo
If Lord of the Rings has a central character, it would be him. The beginning of FOTR is narrated with a definite slant towards him. Sam is nothing much more than a quirky sidekick, like Merry and Pippin. As the story travels on, Frodo becomes less reachable to readers: through his shouldering of the burden of the Ring, he becomes less "human", and more of something else. Yes, he suffers greatly, and that's a powerful thing, because he understood, and took it on anyway. But it's a distant, contained sort of suffering, high and sad, painful and beautiful, in its own right--like that of the Elves. Frodo's is the kind of sadness that hits you in the head, if you follow me...

One of my friends with whom I frequently talk Tolkien says that her favorite character is Frodo, because he suffered so much for the good of everyone else. I find Frodo slightly less accessable and easy to relate to for just that reason.

Sam
Somewhere along the journey, almost without my notice of the exact moment of change, Sam becomes less of the cute, bumbling sidekick, and more of a person, with depths of astonishing truth, hope, and wisdom. It's almost an inversion of Frodo. Sam becomes more reachable as the story travels on: Sam becomes less of a caricature and more of a "human" through his shouldering (once or twice literal, and many times figuratively) of the harsh burden of his own best friend. Sam, too, suffers greatly, but it is much more the heartbreaking kind of suffering, open and immediate and all too real, deep and powerful. His is the kind of sadness that hits you in the heart...

I disagree with my friend. My favorite character, and not just of the two, but of the whole book, is Sam, because he went through so much, not in the name of everyone else, but in the name of one person.

It may be Frodo who takes up the actual burden of the Ring...but it is Sam whose indomitable hope and belief in love and true friendship, and in simple things, like gardens and stars, who ensnares readers' hearts, and who makes me cry, every time.
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Old 06-17-2006, 06:07 PM   #9
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http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showthread.php?p=10496

Can I vote Gandalf??????
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Old 06-17-2006, 07:38 PM   #10
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Well, on surface level it would appear Frodo is more of a hero than Sam, as it's to him that the direct task of destroying the ring falls on.

But really, I agree that it's Sam. It depends on what the definition of "hero" is. According to dictionary.com (I know, not the trustiest of resources) the two most applicable definitions are: 1. In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
2. A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life
These are more descriptions of Frodo, but according to Tolkien, it's Sam who's the real hero. I think that's because in Tolkien's mind being a hero is more of a sacrifice. One of the things that Sam loses is his innocence, he's awakened to the harsh realities of his world by the trip to Mount Doom. But maybe the act of being a hero is the ability to still function after that. Despite this sacrifice, Sam can move on, fall in love, and hangs on to his optimistic outlook on life, even though he's suffered so much. It's the difference between Frodo and Sam, for Frodo is changed just as much...but he becomes mellow, subdued, and while we don't really have a clear access to his thoughts before leaving for the Gray Havens, it is obvious that there has been a major change in his countenance. He is more melancholy and reminiscent. Yet Sam still has in his heart the capacity to love and to live in this world. While it may just be because he was not so tainted by the ring as Frodo was, it still shows an aptitude and attitude that reflect on him as a hero, because he has hung onto that shred of optimism that within, courage and strength lie.
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Old 06-17-2006, 08:11 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Azaelia of Willowbottom
Frodo
If Lord of the Rings has a central character, it would be him. The beginning of FOTR is narrated with a definite slant towards him. Sam is nothing much more than a quirky sidekick, like Merry and Pippin. As the story travels on, Frodo becomes less reachable to readers: through his shouldering of the burden of the Ring, he becomes less "human", and more of something else. Yes, he suffers greatly, and that's a powerful thing, because he understood, and took it on anyway. But it's a distant, contained sort of suffering, high and sad, painful and beautiful, in its own right--like that of the Elves. Frodo's is the kind of sadness that hits you in the head, if you follow me...
.................................................. .................................................. ......................
It may be Frodo who takes up the actual burden of the Ring...but it is Sam whose indomitable hope and belief in love and true friendship, and in simple things, like gardens and stars, who ensnares readers' hearts, and who makes me cry, every time.

I agree with you, and I especially like your description of Frodo. Very well put, in my opinion.
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Old 06-17-2006, 08:38 PM   #12
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I think that, all in all, Samwise, over Frodo, is the hero. . .I didn't just read the entire thread (I'm sorry, Boromir88, if you happen to read this, but I don't have time, but I really want to post now and not later), but I glanced over the posts and I see where most people stand.

Sam is the ultimate cause of the Ring's destruction. Someone said (won't pull up quotes because that, too, takes time) that Sam would have killed Gollum if it hadn't been for Frodo and he really wanted to. I won't deny that, before he bore the ring himself for a little time, he would have, but after he did carry the ring, he realized something of what Gollum felt, and he did have mercy on him that one time that Frodo was not there to defend Gollum.

More than that, Sam was actually someone who over came the influence of the ring. He bore it for about twenty-four hours, and I know that's not a long time, but no one can say he wasn't terribly tempted when he looked out over Mordor with it on. Yet he over came it and gave it back to Frodo immediately (in the book) when he was asked.

Without Sam, Frodo really, honestly, couldn't have made it. Samwise Gamgee was Frodo's strength. It’s not so much who the readers sympathize and grow to like the most – that’s not the question – the question is, who, out of these two, was the hero. Frodo may have born the weight of the ring, but he didn't bear it well, and in the end, it over came him. Sam bore, in my opinion more than that. He felt, briefly, the power of the ring, so he knew what it was like. But Sam had to be the strong one. At times when there was absolutely no hope whatsoever, Sam had to be the one to still hope, to get up and make his master go on, even though he wanted to let Frodo rest. He had to be the one who watched Frodo transform from his beloved master to something that he hardly knew. And in the end, he had to carry him up the slope.

Another thing that strikes me is this. Often when I read books, and when I really like them, I would like to be able to find characters that point to Christ or other great people from the Bible. In the LotR it's extremely hard because Tolkien didn't write a direct allegory. There are several Christ like figures - Gandalf and Aragorn are two obvious ones. But is Frodo or Sam one as well? Sam is an excellent picture of an overcomer and just maybe a type of Christ, but what is Frodo? He may have born the burden, but he didn't succeed in the end. Sam saw his job to the end, but Frodo didn't. He failed. Does this make him not a hero? I don't know. It's just my opinion that Sam was more of a hero than Frodo.

But to differentiate between the two of them is hard, because it couldn't have taken place without one or the other.

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Old 06-17-2006, 11:54 PM   #13
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I go with Sam too. Interestingly enough, Tolkien seemed to have a "Sam" of his own:
Quote:
Originally Posted by War, Part two of "J.R.R. Tolkien A Biography", by Humphrey Carpenter
These old campaigners were ready to take advantage of any slip made by a recruit, and Tolkien reported that they treated him like an inferior schoolboy. He had more respect for the ‘men’, the N.C.O.s and privates who made up the other eight hundred or so members of the battalion. A few of them were from South Wales but most were Lancashire men. Officers could not make friends among them, for the system did not permit it; but each officer had a batman, a servant who was detailed to look after his kit and care for him much in the manner of an Oxford scout. Through this, Tolkien got to know several of the men very well. Discussing one of the principal characters in The Lord of the Rings he wrote many years later: ‘My “Sam Gamgee” is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognised as so far superior to myself.’
Sam seems to me the most simple and humble character; on this, Tolkien stated in letter #181 that LotR was planned to be "'hobbito-centric', that is, primarily a study of the ennoblement (or sanctification) of the humble", or, as he said in letter #163, paraphrasing the Magnificat canticle: : "Deposuit potentes de sede et exaltavit humiles": "He has put down the mighty from their seat and has exalted the humble and meek". He also called Sam "a jewel among hobbits", though most likely in a humorous sense . There is some quote, somewhere, I can't remember for the life of me, where Tolkien states that one of the most moving moments for him was when Sam carried Frodo.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Folwren
There are several Christ like figures - Gandalf and Aragorn are two obvious ones.
I would disagree; of Gandalf in particular it is said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Letter #181
Thus Gandalf faced and suffered death; and came back or was sent back, as he says, with enhanced power. But though one may be in this reminded of the Gospels, it is not really the same thing at all. The Incarnation of God is an infinitely greater thing than anything I would dare to write. Here I am only concerned with Death as part of the nature, physical and spiritual, of Man, and with Hope without guarantees.
and, in general, I might say there is no Christ figure at all:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Letter #297
I relate these things because I hope they may interest you, and at the same time reveal how closely linked is linguistic invention and legendary growth and construction. And also possibly convince you that looking around for more or less similar words or names is not in fact very useful even as a source of sounds, and not at all as an explanation of inner meanings and significances. The borrowing, when it occurs (not often) is simply of sounds that are then integrated in a new construction; and only in one case Earendil will reference to its source cast any light on the legends or their 'meaning' - and even in this case the light is little. The use of earendel in A-S Christian symbolism as the herald of the rise of the true Sun in Christ is completely alien to my use. The Fall of Man is in the past and off stage; the Redemption of Man in the far future.
Quote:
Sam saw his job to the end, but Frodo didn't. He failed.
Well, a matter of debate; in letter #246, Tolkien stated that "his real contract was only to do what he could, to try to find a way, and to go as far on the road as his strength of mind and body allowed. He did that".
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Old 06-18-2006, 12:07 AM   #14
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On this thread, people have talked about Frodo largely in terms of "sacrifice". While that is a large part of who Frodo is, Tolkien does give us other glimpses of his personality.

What about the Frodo who made a conscious decision to stay and try to rescue his friends at the Barrowdowns, despite the fact that he could have gotten away on his own, or the Hobbit with "perky cheeks" who danced and sang on a tabletop in the Prancing Pony? Then there's the Frodo who struck out with Sting against the Ringwraith at Weathertop or who escaped on Glorfindel's horse, crying out in defiance: "By Elbereth and Luthien the Fair,....you shall have neither the Ring nor me!" Or the Frodo who cried out "They cannot conquer forever" upon seeing the flower garland bound about the head of the king's statue as a token of hope. While we do not see enough of this high spirited Frodo, these references suggest he was surely there.

Secondly, Frodo is unique among Tolkien's characters (certainly among hobbits) in that he had one foot in the real world and one foot in Faerie (the world of the Elves), even more than his mentor Bilbo did. This "spiritual" aspect of Frodo was evident even before he took on the burden of the Ring. It can be seen in his attempt to learn Elvish and his wanderings about the Shire at night. It can also be seen in Frodo's dealings with Glorfindel and his later conversations with Faramir, especially his inherent feeling of shame that his own people did not stand and look to the West after their meals as the men of Gondor did.

I certainly do not doubt that Sam is a strong and compelling character, and that Frodo would have failed without his aid. Yet Frodo exhibits a poise, a gentleness, almost an other-worldliness that can't be found in Sam. Sam would likely have slain Gollum without Frodo's more gentle staying hand. More than anything else, it is this otherwordly quality that makes Sam love his master. We see this quality in Frodo through Sam's eyes. This is one of my favorite passages in the book.....

Quote:
The early daylight was only just creeping down into the shadows under the trees, but he saw his master's face very clearly, and the hands too, lying at rest on the ground beside him. He was reminded suddenly of Frodo as he had lain asleep in the house of Elrond, after his deadly wound. Then as he had kept watch Sam had noticed at times a light seemed to be shining faintly within ; but now the light was ever clearer and stronger. Frodo's face was peaceful, the marks of fear and care had left it; but it looked old, old and beautiful, as if the chiselling of the shaping years was now revealed in many fine lines that had before been hidden, though the identity of the face was not changed. Not that Sam Gamgee put it that way to himself. He shook his head, as if finding words useless, and murmured, "I love him. He's like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no."
Frodo a "thin" character? I think not. The light in Frodo's eyes is the same light that shows in the eyes of the Elves. While sitting beside the ill Frodo in Rivendell, Gandalf sees this light and actually compares Frodo to the Phial of Galadriel, a phenomenon that Verlyn Flieger discusses at length. And it is this same gentleness and light that almost brings Gollum to repentence, that causes him to reach out with love and touch the knee of the sleeping Frodo until he is chased off by Sam. Tolkien states in his Letters that this is a turning point in the story and that Sam's actions, though motivated by love, actually did great harm.

How could so many readers have overlooked or forgotten such scenes? Looking back on this thread, I sometimes fear that the Frodo people are referring to is not Tolkien's Frodo, but that of Peter Jackson. PJ did a disservice to Frodo by portraying him as a one-sided victim, who did nothing to try and combat the power of the Ring. PJ's Frodo is truly annoying---constantly swooning and keeling over, standing mesmerized in front of the Nazgul rider while actually offering him the Ring. I have said this before in other threads: I fear that readers of the LotR, especially new readers who saw the movie before they read the book, will never be able to see beyond PJ's limited depiction of Frodo.

I don't want to get into the discussion of "Who is the hero of LotR?" because there are many, many heroes -- not just Sam and Frodo. I think the question is inherently limiting. And while it's possible to point to one quotation in the Letters where Tolkien says Sam is the hero, it's also possible to point to others where Tolkien "complains" about Sam's limitations -- how Sam can not see even a glimmer of hope in Gollum, which Frodo does. My real concern in this post is not to identify a hero or downgrade Sam but to make sure that the different dimensions of Frodo's personality are not overlooked.

P.S. Frodo's "job" by the way was to take the Ring to the slopes of Mt. Doom. He was not asked to do what no one could do, which is to discard it after having been under its influence. Even Gandalf could not do that. Tolkien is very clear on this point in his letters -- no one could have done more than Frodo did. In that sense, Frodo very much succeeded in his task.
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Old 06-18-2006, 08:55 PM   #15
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A lot of good points and debates on this thread. One thing I want to clear up, to the first poster- this question is obviously commonly debated upon amongst fans of The Lord of the Rings. I am not personally advacating a single hero, as there are many in the story. But (as you can see from this thread) this question sparks up some good Tolkien talk.

I've read most of the posts here, and I see it's branched into somewhat of a morality thread, contrasting the characters of our "chief" hobbits Frodo and Sam. I like what one poster said, about the sacrifice of Frodo that somewhat gives way to a lightness of character. I do think we gain a lot about Frodo's character and internal mind however, starting from the beginning of the story until the end. As someone has said, Sam's character evolves from a side-kick to huge depth.

There is a certain pity that Frodo gives to all things that sets him apart from Sam. As Sam is more personal, Frodo isn't. He urges to spare the life of Saruman as he flees the Shire. Now, anybody else in that position I think would have ordered him dead. I would say that Sam would not spare him. Just something to think about when looking at the different kind of love present within Sam and Frodo.
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Old 06-18-2006, 11:48 PM   #16
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So good points this far that I'm almost afraid of putting my shallow scramblings here...

I very much agree with Child that Frodo's not a person who lacks character, though I think it's very easy to think so. Frodo is always a bit distant character to the reader, but the more I read LotR, the more I understand and admire him. He could nearly fit into an old ancient Greek tragedy.

Frodo's personality may seem something straightforwardly protagonist heroish. I agree to some point; I think the biggest problem with his character is the lack of faults and vices. That leads to that if the book is not carefully read, his character lacks nuances. I think anybody who thinks Frod's lacking character should read through the Bree-chapters. All that jumping on the table and singing...

Though I think Frodo has a personality of his own I still agree with Nogrod that he's one of the "thinnest" of the main characters. Partly restating Wiscott here, I think Frodo is, as well as the sacrifice in the story, the sacrifice for the story. His "general hero personality" works well to emphasise other characters' personal qualities. Also, he represents the Ring's power and the corruption it brings,; he represents fading (like the Elves) and putting other people before himself. A person with such a quality must seem very strange indeed; seldom we see people who can sacrifice themselves for others.

P.S. I'm aware of only agreeing and flip-flopping here - must have learned that from werewolf!
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Old 06-26-2006, 10:16 PM   #17
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Wow, what some great ideas and thoughts being tossed around here, wonderful thread.

First off to Folwren, I catch everything...sooner or later (and now it's often later) I catch everything.

Mathew, nice thread idea, and I would first like to say that it's not so clear cut as some would like to think. Just because Tolkien happened to think Sam the "chief hero" doesn't mean he necessarily is. There is a difference between Tolkien the author/omniscient narrator and Tolkien the reader/spectator. (Especially in his letters) Sometimes it's a little hard to spot, but the easiest ones is when he comes right out and says "I think..." then you know he's sitting back more, looking at it from a reader's perspective, instead of being our all knowning author. I at least feel the same way about Tolkien's thoughts on Sam. It's him sitting back sharing his thoughts from a reader's perspective, he is the character Tolkien most connected with as the "chief hero" and being "bilbo-esque."

It's certainly hard and there's a lot of things to consider. There's no doubt in my mind both are heroes. But, I think they are two different kind of heroes.

Frodo to me seems more of the tragic hero of the story, and for that because he ends the way he does, I sympathize for him, but it's not what you would expect from a "chief hero." Frodo, I think, shows the most courage of anyone in the entire story. He's the one who steps up to the plate and puts the fate of Middle-earth on his shoulders. He's the one who as Wiscott says makes that ultimate sacrifice. He takes on an impossible task, that could not be completed by anyone on Middle-earth, but he sacrifices himself for the good of Middle-earth. Here are actually Tolkien's thoughts on Frodo as a hero:
Quote:
Frodo indeed ‘failed’ as a hero, as conceived by simple minds: he did not endure to the end; he gave in, ratted. I do not say ‘simple minds’ with contempt: they often see with clarity the simple truth and the absolute ideal to which effort must be directed, even if it is unattainable. Their weakness, however, is twofold. They do not perceive the complexity of any given situation in Time, in which an absolute ideal is enmeshed. They tend to forget that strange element in the World that we call Pity or Mercy, which is also an absolute requirement in moral judgement (since it is Present in the Divine nature). In its highest exercise it belongs to God. For finite judges of imperfect knowledge it must lead to the use of two different scales of ‘morality’. To ourselves we must present the absolute ideal without compromise, for we do not know our own limits of natural strength (+grace), and if we do not aim at the highest we shall certainly fall short of the utmost that we could achieve. To others, in any case of which we know enough to make a judgement, we must apply a scale tempered by ‘mercy’: that is, since we can with good will do this without the bias inevitable in judgements of ourselves, we must estimate the limits of another's strength and weigh this against the force of particular circumstances.*

I do not think that Frodo’s was a moral failure. At the last moment the pressure of the Ring would reach its maximum - impossible, I should have said, for any one to resist, certainly after long possession, months of increasing torment, and when starved and exhausted. Frodo had done what he could and spent himself completely (as an instrument of Providence) and had produced a situation in which the object of his quest could be achieved. His humility (with which he began) and his sufferings were justly rewarded by the highest honour; and his exercise of patience and mercy towards Gollum gained him Mercy: his failure was redressed.

We are finite creatures with absolute limitations upon the powers of our soul-body structure in either action or endurance. Moral failure can only be asserted, I think, when a man's effort or endurance falls short of his limits, and the blame decreases as that limit is closer approached.~Letter 246
Again, I think this is Tolkien looking as a reader, and certainly one may not see Frodo as a "hero." It's all up to what your expectations are, what your definition of a hero is, and can it be supported. (Reminds me of horrendous reference sheets in college ). What's interesting here is this is basically all of Tolkien's opinion. What he feels as a hero, what he thinks of "morality," and how that all weighs in.

I'd like to point out Pity and Mercy, big themes throughout the book. Wiscott brought up sacrifice, but also let's not forget Frodo's pity...pity for Gollum. Gollum was not a completely lost character, he still had a "corner of his mind" that was not corrupted. What's interesting is to show that Gollum is not completely lost yet, is that he can still remember his name...he remembers Smeagol, where The Mouth of Sauron was noted as not being able to remember his true name. (Same with the unnamed Ringwraiths) The Mouth was completely enthralled into Sauron's service, he had no "corner" left, where Gollum still had that hope. And Frodo's pity was about to save him. I want to point out a key moment in the books. Where Frodo had nearly gotten through to Gollum, but it was actually Sam who mistakes Gollum's "pawing at Frodo," and naturally protects his master. However, Sam ends up causing more harm then good as now the "Smeagol" is completely gone and he goes beyond redemption. Tolkien felt like this and the cock crow when Rohan arrived were the most touching moments to him. For, it doesn't mean that Sam is mean or ill-intended, but it shows that even the best of people try to help too much, but end up causing harm that they just didn't anticipate and didn't intend to do.

Now, again it's whether you happen to agree with Tolkien's assessment of a "hero" or not. For me, Frodo does not fit the "chief hero" he fits more into the tragic hero. He gives it all he's got, he gets the Ring to the one place where it can be destroyed. He can't get it himself destroyed, but this was said to be impossible for anyone to resist the ring's power at that one "maximum point" to cast it into Mount Doom or claim it (Letter 183). I like to put it in a bit of a rhyme, Frodo failed the personal test, but he did not fail the quest. The quest was to destroy the ring, and the Ring was destroyed. Frodo personally did not drop it in, but he got it to Mount Doom to where it could be destroyed. I'd also like to note Frodo being the tragic hero, because he becomes completely enthralled to the Ring. He falls completely to the Ring and the Ring controls him. This is what Shippey speculate in Tolkien- The Author, one view in which I happen to agree with.

Before entereing the Sammath Naur:
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”No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark, Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades.”
It all goes back to the Gollum thing I mentioned earlier. Gollum still at one time had a bit of Smeagol left, he had a hope, he had memories of his name and his passed life. He Frodo is completely losing these memories, he loses everything except for of couse the Ring.
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The suddenly as before under the eaves of the Emyn Muil, Sam saw these two rivals with other vision. A crouching shape, scarcely more than the shadow of a living thing, a creature now wholly ruined and defeated yet filled with a hideous lust and rage; and before it stood stern, untouchable now by pity, a figure robed in white, but at its breast it held a wheel of fire. Out of the fire there spoke a commanding voice.

"Begone and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom."~Mount Doom
This is through Sam's eyes, as Frodo is unable to feel pity for Gollum, he is now "untouchable by pity." Frodo has clearly changed. And what Tom Shippey suggests is that Frodo has completely lost himself to the Ring. It's the Ring that speaks those words of "throw me into the Fire of Doom." For prior, Frodo had not had the strength to do it, now he suddenly has this strength. But it's actually the Ring driving Frodo to Mount Doom, for there is it's "maximum point of power," and it can get complete hold and domination over Frodo, to the final point where he claims the Ring as his own.

Frodo is a character that has many heroic qualities. He shows more courage than anyone else, he truly gives it everything that he has, and the Ring did get destroyed after all. However, Frodo to me this makes him a tragic hero. He loses himself completely to the Ring and he fails as a hero, despite the fact that he used everything that he had.
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Old 06-27-2006, 11:26 AM   #18
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A bit of a wormy thought here... What is a hero? Does a hero have to be perfect? Does he or she have to achieve their aims? Is it OK for a hero not to be perfect or even to not achieve what they set out to do?

I'm asking this as it seems to me that in LOTR there are no all-conquering heroes. Frodo and Sam are absolutely heroic, yes, but I question if they are traditional heroes. Frodo does not destroy the Ring, in fact he allows it to claim him, or else he claims it for himself; the latter is even worse than the former. In part, the memory of this is what ultimately destroys Frodo's future contentment. Sam too is flawed as he allows his anger to rule him in his judgement of Gollum; does he care too much for his master and not enough for the success of the quest?

Even amongst the other characters we see flaws. Aragorn can be high-handed and both Boromir and Faramir perhaps show a little too much loyalty to their father.

At the end of the book there is victory but it is tinged throughout with sadness. They have not regained a paradise in Middle-earth as much of it lies in ruins, and they are just one generation who have been victorious in fighting that 'long defeat'.

Maybe this shows how 'modern' LOTR is as a book. The traditional hero as a flawless, all-conquering figure doesn't exist in real life, and nor does it in this story. War is shown as something that can be won with effort and courage, but it is shown as something that does not 'elevate' people to the level of Hero.

Or does the book show that even ordinary people who are flawed and not at all perfect can at least act like a Hero?
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Old 06-30-2006, 11:52 AM   #19
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What is a hero? Does a hero have to be perfect? Does he or she have to achieve their aims? Is it OK for a hero not to be perfect or even to not achieve what they set out to do?~Lal
It all depends upon what someone thinks a hero is. It does get tricky because there are so many different classifications, and sub-classifications of heroes.

Let's start with the two main hero definitions...

1) The mythological hero/legend. Someone who is known for great feats of courage, bravery, and is praised for their achievements and accomplishments.
In this, I guess I am what Tolkien would call "simple-minded," as I do not think Frodo lives up to this definition of a hero. What is it that he acheived? What did he accomplish? Well we know what his goal was, and what he wanted to accomplish...destroying the Ring, but Frodo falls short. He gave it all that he had, but it wasn't enough. He got it to the cracks of Doom, but he could go no further and it was providence that had to step in:
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Frodo deserved all honour because he spend every last drop of his power of will and body, and that was just sufficient to bring him to the destined point, and no further. Few others, possibly no others of his time, would have got so far. The Other Power then took over: the Writer of the Story (by which I do not mean myself), 'that one ever-present Person who is never absent and never named'~Letter 192
So, Frodo deserves hounour and praise for doing all that he could, but he falls short of his goal. He, himself, does not destroy the Ring, he "came up short." It was Eru who took over.

2) The other definition is like a soldier. They have courage and nobility of purpose. They make the ultimate sacrifice, their life, for a "good purpose."
Here, I kind of think of as a moral hero, where Frodo succeeds...he did not fail morally (at least again in Tolkien's opinion, whether you agree or not is up to you ). Frodo took the fate of Middle-earth on his back, he sacrificed his life for the good of Middle-earth. Then he used everything that he had, he did all that he could, and it just so happened that it wasn't enough. But, in this definition I think Frodo fits best as a hero, he sacrificed his life, and he did not give up. Which is important, he didn't "throw in the towel", he had absolutely nothing he had done all that he could.

Then we get into all these sub-groupings like tragic hero, Byronic hero...etc. But, Lal, I think the bigger question is what exactly was Tolkien thinking as a "chief hero?" Is the "chief hero," the main, typical mythological type hero in novels? If that is the case, then I would say Sam does fit best as the "chief hero," because he does accomplish his goals, where Frodo falls short. It wasn't Sam's task to do the impossible and destroy the Ring. Sam made a committment to stick with Frodo, not "lose him," follow him to the end. And that is exactly was Sam does. All the heroism he displays along the quest (storming Cirith Ungol, kicking Shelob's butt...etc) and then above that he accomplishes what he, himself set out to do...go with Frodo until the end. So, Sam does fit in best to the first definition of a hero. And if that's what Tolkien had in mind as the "chief hero," the one readers can most easily see and connect with as the hero.

Quote:
Sam too is flawed as he allows his anger to rule him in his judgement of Gollum; does he care too much for his master and not enough for the success of the quest?
And that's the thing, everyone has their flaws. I think (but not sure) Tolkien mentions that Sam does end up getting "Pity and Mercy", but by this time it is too late, the damage to Gollum had already been done and it was because of Sam's mistake.

Quote:
Maybe this shows how 'modern' LOTR is as a book. The traditional hero as a flawless, all-conquering figure doesn't exist in real life, and nor does it in this story. War is shown as something that can be won with effort and courage, but it is shown as something that does not 'elevate' people to the level of Hero.
Or perhaps it's just the modern view of a hero. It's not like the mythological times, the legends that seemed all too great and powerful. Sam and Frodo all the modern day heroes. They have heroic qualities and display great courage...and all that hooplah, but they are flawed and are not "all powerful." They are not those fantastic knights that always seem to do the right thing and come out victorious.

Quote:
Or does the book show that even ordinary people who are flawed and not at all perfect can at least act like a Hero?
I actually do think they are heroes, or I consider them heroes. I think more of they are your everday, flawed individual, but what they did made them heroes. I'm reminded of the poem Hollow Men, by T.S. Elliot. Hollow Men meaning scarecrows that don't do anything, all they do is sit their and wait for their death. They have potential, but they do nothing with that potential. And the "Hollow Men," are your ordinary everday people that sit back, it is the "wide majority,"...which Elliot included himself as one. Then we get those few, that step out and want to make a difference, and try to make a difference. Whether it be for a good purpose or ill purpose, they step out of the majority and make themselves heroes, but still are your everyday individual with their flaws.

And backtracking a little bit:
Quote:
War is shown as something that can be won with effort and courage, but it is shown as something that does not 'elevate' people to the level of Hero.
Also, at what cost?
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Old 07-07-2006, 11:07 PM   #20
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But then, of Sam and Frodo, who sacrificed the most?
Frodo clearly.

Sam bore the ring but for a few hours.

Also remember, that Frodo never really got rid of the 'evil' - "The Shire was saved Sam, but not for me".

"Some wounds go too deep".
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Old 07-08-2006, 06:24 AM   #21
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I agree that Sam was the true hero. I think that it would take a person with a rare heart to stay with and care for Frodo as long as he did, and to face almost certain death when protecting the ones he cared about. Although the ring was part of it, Frodo showed much more faults and weaknesses during the story.
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Old 12-21-2007, 05:43 AM   #22
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Samwise, no question.
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Old 12-21-2007, 01:38 PM   #23
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Samwise, no question.
Great arguments.
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Old 12-21-2007, 01:50 PM   #24
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Samwise is the hero, i think.

And I don't think he is properly portrayed in the movies.

He is the first one to kill an Orc (but does get wounded, which just shows how much he had to suffer). He, when Frodo was failing against shelob, fought her. I don't think this is fully appreciated bu most people. Shelob is a descendant of Ungoliant, who along with Melkor, destroyed THE TREES. Imagine how powerful even Shelob was. I know sam didn't kill her, but still, I don't think even Aragorn with his manliness could do any better. And with the light of Earendil, all Frodo comes up with is "Aiya Earendil Elenion Ancalima" wherreas sam starts singing
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A Elbereth Gilthoniel
o menel palan-diriel,
le nallon si di'nguruthos!
A tiro nin, Fanuilos!
And he doesn't know what this means, but maybe Elbereth (Varda) did help. And it was probably Eru-inspired, so obviously he was favoured, and for a reason.
Sam stuck by Frodo, until the end, until the fires of Mount Doom, and boe the ring himself for a while. He saved Frodo and helped him through the Plains of Gorgoroth in the Land of Shadow then when Frodo collapsed, he carried Frodo up the Mountain of Doom. If this is not heroism, what is. Sam is the bilbo of LOTR because he starts off normal and simple and happy, and then becomes a hero.

In the movie they make Frodo seem more pure and kind, but also make him seem weaker. In the book he is much coarser, and for example orders people about, and thinks that he is the most important (though no doubt he is), whereas Sam has a more heroic modesty, and stays calm, and while he'se in cirith ungol, kills a few orcs.

Sam is a warrior, and a comforter, and a servant, at the same time, and near the end Frodo realises how much he needs Sam.

You know the saying, "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them" Sam is a mix of the last wo, whereas Frodo is definitely the first, destined to be a ringbearer. Sam had the greatness forced on him, but he achieved his mission, and become a hero.

I think it is trying to say that heros are not perfect, but if you stick to your goal then you can achieve it.

Or maybe: To achieve the high goal there must be sacrifices
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Old 12-21-2007, 01:54 PM   #25
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I agree with the points stated earlier that there is no one chief hero in LotR. The book begins with a focus on Frodo, with Sam one of the supporting cast. But over the length of the story Frodo grows more distant as Sam becomes more personal.

I would say that Frodo is a more heroic figure, because he was asked to do much more than Samwise. Frodo was given the impossible task of destroying the Ring, while Sam's duty was to support Frodo. Without each of them, the other would have failed.

That's my standpoint on it.
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Old 12-21-2007, 01:58 PM   #26
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Frodo was given the impossible task of destroying the Ring, while Sam's duty was to support Frodo. Without each of them, the other would have failed.
Yes, they do seem to support each other, and rescued each other from death, so they are both as important, but I think Sam was more heroic, because he had a choice, and he chose to help, whereas Frodo was destined to be ringbearer, so he (in reality) had to, whatever anyone says about his choice in the matter.
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Old 12-21-2007, 06:08 PM   #27
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Yes, they do seem to support each other, and rescued each other from death, so they are both as important, but I think Sam was more heroic, because he had a choice, and he chose to help, whereas Frodo was destined to be ringbearer, so he (in reality) had to, whatever anyone says about his choice in the matter.
Are you saying that Frodo had a destiny from which he could not deviate, but Sam essentially had no destiny? That Frodo was bound by his destiny to be the Ringbearer, but it was not Sam's intractable destiny to accompany Frodo? Why would this idea of predestination only affect Frodo's free will and not Sam's?
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Old 12-21-2007, 09:55 PM   #28
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Somewhere in Letters Tolkien points out that the great moment of Frodo's heroism was at the Council, where he said "I will take the Ring," and compares it to Mary at the Annunciation. Frodo perhaps was *meant * to have the Ring, but he was not *mandated* to take it. Elrond understood this, and therefore ranked Frodo with the greatest heroes of the Elder Days simply for shouldering the burden, with no guarantee, or even likelihood, of success.
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Old 12-22-2007, 09:45 AM   #29
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Both Frodo and Sam are "heroic" characters, but in my thinking Frodo is meant to be the main "hero" - because he chose to be the Ring bearer, and suffered greatly and permanently from this immense burden.

I see Sam more as the "everyman" character - a type of character that the reader can more relate to, in terms of motivations and reactions.
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Old 12-22-2007, 10:00 AM   #30
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I see Sam more as the "everyman" character - a type of character that the reader can more relate to, in terms of motivations and reactions.
Really? I won't generalize this one. Personally, when reading, I always could easier relate myself to Frodo than to Sam. So I would say this depends.
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Old 12-22-2007, 01:24 PM   #31
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I always could easier relate myself to Frodo than to Sam. So I would say this depends.
Yes, I agree, I may have over-generalized. I think I also felt more connected to Frodo than to Sam. But it seems like some people find Sam more relatable, and some here even think Sam is the true hero of LOTR. I disagree.

In clearer response to the primary thread question: it is clear to me that, if one must choose, Frodo is the main hero in the classical sense, not Sam. Frodo did not have to be the Ring-bearer. If Frodo had not volunteered to personally bear the Ring to Mordor, it is doubtful that Sam would have stepped forward and offered to do it. I think Sam would have been more than happy to forget the whole thing, turn around, and head back to the Shire. Then none of the hobbits would have been in the story beyond Rivendell. And I think it is clear that Frodo ultimately suffered more than Sam. Frodo's choice to undertake a suicide mission, and his greater suffering for that choice, make him the classical hero of the story. But that is not to say Sam was not also heroic.
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Old 12-22-2007, 01:40 PM   #32
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Well, conservative Catholics like Tolkien, fortified by professional Medieval studies, would I think tend to have a rather pre-Renaissance, pre-humanist view of things: a belief that life in this world, with all its suffering, is only a preparation for the next; and that random death is 'cruel' perhaps from a human perspective, but from the divine is merely a transition into another phase of existence.

I think Tolkien would naturally endorse the view held from Aquinas (or before) on down: world without evil would be a world without free will, a deterministic dictatorship. If Men are to be free, they must be free to do evil.

Nor can the Creator make a personal appearance (except in disguise) without effectively destroying free will, at least the freedom to reject Belief. As Pratchett says of the Discworld: witches and wizards don't believe in the Gods, because it would be rather like believing in the postman.





(He does however point out that the DW Gods love atheists- they make great target practice).
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Old 12-23-2007, 02:12 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hickli View Post
Well, conservative Catholics like Tolkien, fortified by professional Medieval studies, would I think tend to have a rather pre-Renaissance, pre-humanist view of things: a belief that life in this world, with all its suffering, is only a preparation for the next; and that random death is 'cruel' perhaps from a human perspective, but from the divine is merely a transition into another phase of existence.
I think your point receives tacit confirmation in the very ambiguous nature of the mortality of Men in Tolkien: the mystery of the fate of Men after death has always seemed to me a means of reconciling Middle-earth with our Earth, and with Tolkien's own idea of what would happen to him--where he would go--when he died.
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Old 12-23-2007, 09:38 PM   #34
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So, I'm going to have to say Sam is the real hero here. I do give the utmost of credit to Frodo though, naturally. I just think Sam was more vital in the end.
Perhaps the equation of "hero" with the essential nature of what the character does is a bit of an exercise in futility. For what would have become of our Fellowship had not the "small stones" come to Fangorn; if Gandalf the Grey had not fallen to rise again as Gandalf the White, if Eowyn of Rohan had not secretly ridden to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, if Faramir had not shown extraordinary insight and restraint at Henneth Annun. Frodo and Samwise had a host of supporting characters woven each into their essential roles. If one had been misplaced, perhaps Frodo and Sam together would not have prospered. I think Tolkien rates Samwise the "Real" Hero, while Frodo is the "mythical" Hero, Aragorn yet another type of Hero (I don't have references to hand--it has been so long since I read them they are in BOXES.)

I found an old (archived) thread from 2003 that addresses Samwise as Hero: http://forum.barrowdowns.com/archive...php/t-834.html I think I mentioned the merit of examining the heroic role of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins in that one...
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Old 04-04-2014, 12:03 AM   #35
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This is from one of the letters by Tolkien.
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By chance, I have just had another letter regarding the failure of Frodo. Very few seem even to have observed it. But following the logic of the plot, it was clearly inevitable, as an event. And surely it is a more significant and real event than a mere 'fairy-story' ending in which the hero is indomitable? It is possible for the good, even the saintly, to be subjected to a power of evil which is too great for them to overcome ¨C in themselves. In this case the cause (not the 'hero') was triumphant because by the exercise of pity, mercy and forgiveness of injury, a situation was produced in which all was redressed and disaster averted. Gandalf certainly foresaw this. See Vol. I p.68-69. Of course, he did not mean to say that one must be merciful, for it may prove useful later ¨C it would not then be mercy or pity, which are only truly present when contrary to prudence. Not ours to plan! But we are assured that we must be ourselves extravagantly generous, if we are to hope for the extravagant generosity which the slightest easing of, or escape from, the consequences of our own follies and errors represents. And that mercy does sometimes occur in this life.

Letter 192, The Letters of JRR Tolkien
Going beyond the words of professor isn't bad. It's just, you think differently than him.
I never really understood why would he say that Sam was his "chief hero" only because without him Frodo would have failed? Makes no sense to me. Among all the characters it is Frodo only who suffers most and sacrifices most. And not even gets the wanted "happy ending" i.e. Peace in his homeland and ends up leaving it for ever. Didn't Tolkien acknowledge any of this?
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Old 04-07-2014, 09:15 AM   #36
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Ring What Sam did with the Ring

I think the reason, Lotrelf, why Tolkien said that without Sam Frodo would have failed is because Sam, when he thought Frodo was dead, decided to continue the quest to Mount Doom without him, and took the Ring. It's clear, from what he said in the chapter, appropriately entitled 'The Choices of Master Samwise', that if Sauron got his hands on the Ring that the War would be lost, and everything he knew and loved would also be lost.

Not only did he take the Ring; he managed to resist its blandishments, using his hobbit common sense. He was successful until after he rescued Frodo and freely gave it back to him. He was one of only two people, including Bilbo, who were able to voluntarily give up the Ring.

Sam makes his decisions, particularly the one to take the Ring, completely on his own. He is in no position to ask anyone for advice; but he goes ahead and makes what turns out to be the right decision, the one that wins the War.
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Old 04-07-2014, 09:24 AM   #37
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Not only did he take the Ring; he managed to resist its blandishments, using his hobbit common sense. He was successful until after he rescued Frodo and freely gave it back to him. He was one of only two people, including Bilbo, who were able to voluntarily give up the Ring.
Frodo resisted the Ring too, for months. He, too, was able to voluntarily give up the Ring, until a good way into the Quest. The only reason he didn't was because he was appointed Ringbearer, and answered the call. He was willing to yield it up at the Council, and offered to give it to Gandalf in Bag End. He also, if you recall, offered it to Galadriel.

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Sam makes his decisions, particularly the one to take the Ring, completely on his own. He is in no position to ask anyone for advice; but he goes ahead and makes what turns out to be the right decision, the one that wins the War.
True, he does, and I won't take that away from him. He did make the right decision, and, together with other right decisions of other people, this led to the winning of the War.
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Old 04-08-2014, 05:49 AM   #38
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Are you saying that Frodo had a destiny from which he could not deviate, but Sam essentially had no destiny? That Frodo was bound by his destiny to be the Ringbearer, but it was not Sam's intractable destiny to accompany Frodo? Why would this idea of predestination only affect Frodo's free will and not Sam's?
That's been my question as well too all those who think Frodo was predestined to carry the Ring. Why was the Will of the Higher Power affecting only Frodo and not Sam? Be it Eru's or Valar's decision for Frodo's finding the Ring, carrying the Ring seems his own *free will*.
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Old 04-08-2014, 06:55 AM   #39
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I think the reason, Lotrelf, why Tolkien said that without Sam Frodo would have failed is because Sam, when he thought Frodo was dead, decided to continue the quest to Mount Doom without him, and took the Ring. It's clear, from what he said in the chapter, appropriately entitled 'The Choices of Master Samwise', that if Sauron got his hands on the Ring that the War would be lost, and everything he knew and loved would also be lost.
Actually, that's what I asked, why because of this reason Professor would say so? Frodo's decision and choices affected the quest most. He sacrificed and suffered most.
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Not only did he take the Ring; he managed to resist its blandishments, using his hobbit common sense. He was successful until after he rescued Frodo and freely gave it back to him. He was one of only two people, including Bilbo, who were able to voluntarily give up the Ring.
I'd like to correct you, Sam doesn't give up the Ring voluntarily. I'd post my thoughts that I had posted on another thread.

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Sam makes his decisions, particularly the one to take the Ring, completely on his own. He is in no position to ask anyone for advice; but he goes ahead and makes what turns out to be the right decision, the one that wins the War.
Absolutely! But it is Frodo who bears the Ring still. Sacrificing and giving up all he has. Sam becomes more active and Frodo more passive. But Frodo's battle is worse and not visible to the "ordinary" eyes, not even to his own Sam. Sam understands it, but not completly.
I read few posts and realized almost everything is said that was in my mind. And someone said, "Sam's task was hard while Frodo's was impossible." Frodo from the start knew what is going to happen to him, and still decided to undertake the task.
Sam being chief hero, as one of my friends says, is that he represents "fairy tale" hero. Goes on a quest, comes home grown and altered, builds his homeland, heals its wounds, and lives happily. Frodo, unlike Sam, sacrifices all he has. Gives up his life and everything "so that others may keep them," and becomes the biggest tragic hero of LotR. Main hero, this way is Frodo. Sam exhibits the qualities of a true friend, all those that you mentioned, instead of "the" hero.
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