Picking on Sam (How I’m Not the Only One)
By Colin Doberstein
In my first post, you may remember that I poked fun at one Samwise Gamgee for being essentially useless, except as moral support for Frodo. As far as the movie version of The Fellowship of the Ring goes, I maintain that this characterization is true (don’t worry Merry and Pippin, you two are also mostly useless. I haven’t forgotten you). In the book, however, Sam’s character is more than just part of a hobbit comic relief trio. For those of us who use Sam’s feckless portrayal in the LOTR movies as a running joke in their blogs (don’t all jump at once), it is just a bit disappointing to read Tolkien’s text and see that Sam is capable of both acting and thinking independently from Frodo.
In the Green Dragon scene from the movie, Sam’s role is to make eyes at the fetching female bartender while the older hobbits around him discuss the troubling events outside of the Shire. As he leaves (with Frodo, of course) Sam forlornly watches a drunken hobbit flirt with his crush (not Frodo, the bartender girl). Frodo reassures Sam that she “knows and idiot when she sees one”, which leaves poor, simple Sam even more confused one he realizes that Frodo could just as easily be mocking him as comforting him.
In the book’s version of events, Frodo does not even make an appearance in the action of the scene. Instead, Sam debates Ted Sandyman on the swirling rumors of the increasingly unstable outside world. Even though most of the hobbits present disregard Sam’s position as fairy tales, the reader is presented with a thoughtful side of Sam, who, we are told on page 56: “had a good deal to think about.” From looking at these two visions of this scene, it becomes clear that the movie is setting Sam up to be the butt of most of its jokes, while the book wants him to be something of a contributor to the party. Have no fear though, Haters of Samwise, as long as there is life in my fingers, I swear to you that I will still attempt to mock everyone’s second favorite hobbit of questionable sexuality at every opportunity. That is my promise (that, and something about a white city. But that one seems less important).