Samwise Gamgee: True Hobbit, Unlikely Hero

Samwise Gamgee is the only ordinary hobbit of the four.  Frodo is a Baggins, part Took and raised in Buckland.  Merry is a Bucklander and Pippin is a Took.  All are in some way associated with the “un-hobbitlike” behaviors.  Tooks have always been considered odd and prone to adventuring.  Bucklanders are odd for their liking of boats.  Also Buckland, to some hobbits, is outside the Shire, being across the Brandywine and under the shadow of the Old Forest.  Sam, on the otherhand, has no predispositions or oddities excepting a desire to see elves.

Sam is essentially the exemplar hobbit.  He has an aversion for adventure and boats, all he wants is to lead a simple life with a garden of his own.  Even his name is against him; Samwise means “halfwit.”  This is what makes Sam’s commitment and strength in the quest so outstanding.  He has no special virtues or abilities.  He is just a plain hobbit, with much hobbit sense.  His lowly station sets the stage for his unparalled devotion and love for Frodo.

This is what makes Sam so different.  He is like us, unwilling and unprepared for adventure.  His greatest asset is his love and loyalty.  If not for Frodo, Sam would never have left the Shire.  If not for Sam, Frodo would have never made it to Mount Doom.

This is why I think Sam is so often overlooked, for his “hobbitness.”  He is ordinary in a field of extraordinary characters.  The extraordinary deeds of Aragorn or Gandalf are plausible, their abilities coincide with their actions.  Sam’s actions, on the other hand, so exceed expectations they’re almost hard to believe.  He’s so ordinary it’s often hard not to overlook him.  And yet, in many ways, he is the heart and soul of the story.


10 thoughts on “Samwise Gamgee: True Hobbit, Unlikely Hero

  1. That is very interesting about his name’s origins. ‘Samwise the Brave’ has always been a top favorite for me, but that makes a very interesting twist. It just makes me love him all the more!
    (seremela felagund nenharma)

  2. Samwise (being my favorite character) reminds me that the most admirable qualities in a person are those typically not celebrated. He was not rich or flamboyant, or particularly witty or scholarly. He was an average “joe” with steadfast loyalty and a strong sense of what is really important in life: friendship, love, and the pure and simple beauty that life has to offer. Qualities I would love to have in a lifetime companion!

  3. The behind-the-scenes documentaries on the DVDs point out that the relationship between Frodo and Sam is very much like that of an officer and his batman, a relationship that Tolkien was of course familiar with having fought in the First World War.

    Personally I also see a comparison with Vladimir and Estragon from Beckett’s Waiting For Godot – the brain and the body, intellect and instinct. Frodo is a ‘gentlehobbit’, a landed noble. Sam is close to being his servant, always pottering about in the Bag End gardens. The quest would not have succeeded without Frodo’s strong will and keen wit. But neither would Frodo, whose battle is chiefly an inner psychological one, have survived without Sam’s ‘let’s just get on with it’ common-sense to the point of thickheadedness approach.

    Excellent analysis. Fascinating tidbit about the meaning of the name Samwise. Bravo.

  4. Sam is by far my favorite character. It is his faith and loyalty that are his strengths even when the stronger characters waver, he is stedfast yet never arrogant about it, in fact he is timid. His love for everyone is what makes you fall in love with his character and makes you feel so bad when Froto leaves him behind in the end (something Sam would never do to Froto). And yet he is still loyal and happy for Froto. If only we were all a little more like Sam it would be a better world!!!

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