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Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » Is Sam the main character in The Lord of the Rings? (Page 1)
Author Topic: Is Sam the main character in The Lord of the Rings?
Mithrandir
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Is Sam the main character in the Lord of the Rings?
http://greenbooks.theonering.net/quickbeam/files/030101.html
now this is only an opinion, but a strong one at that. it states that Sam is the true character of LoTR, and has some valid points for it....read it and post your perspective on it.

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Warg
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To me it just sounds like some Sam fan rambling. His points do not make much sence and I did not find it convincing.

This, ofcourse, is just my oppinion.

------------------
Anar caluva tielyanna!


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Tinelwen
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That certainly does present some valid points, but also some debatable ones. I never really thought of Frodo as being the main character of LotR; I always thought of it as having a great ensemble cast. All the members of the fellowship along with others met along the way contribute a great deal to the plot, and all of them transform a great deal over the course of the story. That is certainly not a thing that Sam alone goes through. It is true that Sam makes many profound statements that not only aid in the plot development, but also present the themes of the story, but all the other characters add to these themes in their own way. So basically, I guess what I'm trying to say here is that I don't necessarily think that LotR has a "main character." One can see this in Tolkien's use of the omnicient point of view, meaning he gives insight into all the character's thought processes and thoughts, not just one.
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Mithrandir
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right, i imagine you could take any of a multitude of characters and prove well that there the main character.
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Nimruzir
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Letter # 93
'Sam is the most closely drawn character, the successor to Bilbo of the first book, the genuine hobbit. Frodo is not so interesting, because he has to be highminded, and has (as it were) a vocation.'

Letter # 131
'I think the simple 'rustic' love of Sam and his Rosie (nowhere elaborated) is absolutely essential to the study of his (the chief hero's) character, and to the theme of the relation of ordinary life (breathing, eating, working, begetting) and quests, sacrifice, causes, and the 'longing for Elves', and sheer beauty.'


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Mithrandir
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no wooksie, frodo has by far a larger portion in his perspective. but sam has the more cruical moments, and the beginning and endings one. thank you kindly again Nimruzir
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Roll of Honor Marcho Blackwood - MSS
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Once again, thanks, Nimruzir!

I always felt that it was a multi-cast book. I think you could take any particular character of the Fellowship, pull his story out of the rest of the book and have a decent story. Sam's would be, in my opinion, the most interesting of the stories.

The true beauty of LotR is that Tolkein wove together all these individual stories, and filled in the history and society behind it all in one monumental work.

But in the end, the ballad is about Frodo of the nine fingers.

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Marcho Blackwood
#16 Brookshade Close
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The Shire

This message has been edited by Marcho Blackwood on 03-20-2001 at


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White Gold Wielder
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Excellent thread.

There may be a place in the Library for this issue.

Is Sam the main character in LotR?


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Mithrandir
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I am now convinved, yes. Look at that guys stars wars parralel, saying that Darth Vader was the main character. Also, if you look back...Frodo doesn't have the insight on many of the most dramatic moments, its always Sam. and Sam is the one who goes from a normal gardener to hero, instead of relative of hero, to hero, see?
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Roll of Honor KingRichard
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But what is he really saying? That somehow Tolkien meant for him to be the 'hidden' main character?

The main character was Frodo, the Ringbearer. It's true that Sam was a little more relateable to us, the common folk, but in the end it's Frodo's quest, Frodo's burden (for the most part), and thus Frodo's story.

Frodo goes through the majority of the toil and tumolt in the story. He is a more noble, more hero-like, (although Sam of course had his moments) more mythical character than Sam is. Sam's too common to ultimately be the "main character" of the books.

Just because a certain character is more relateable to the people reading it, it doesn't mean that therefore he is the main character of the story.

IMHO.

I also don't buy that Vader story. Luke was the 'chosen' one, destined to save his father, and the rebellion. The original trilogy was his story - from his humble beginnings, to the discovery of his origins, to his growth as a Jedi, and finally to the redemption of his father. Luke's story.

(This current trilogy is Vader's story)

All Hail,
KingRichard


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Mithrandir
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as i slept on it...i also thought of this: perhaps...perhaps Tolkien wrote it in a way so that anyone might be a main character, depending on who you were...for a beginner, Frodo might, for another, it might be Sam, for another, it might be Gandalf, for another, it might be Aragorn, so perhaps he did that so as to create an "option" if you will, for the role of main character, and each person choosing what suits him best.


also, read the quote by Nimruzir.

This message has been edited by Mithrandir on 03-21-2001 at


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Roll of Honor Fingolfin of the Noldor
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lotr was about the fellowship as a whole not a single person(why else would tolkien follow all separate journies of the different sub-groups of the fellowship when it was broken). Frodo was not the main character but since he was the ring bearer the story revolved arround him.
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Bungo
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What a beautiful and welcome thread.

Having always loved Sam the most, I suddenly see that he is the answer to a common (and perhaps troubling) question bantered about these days: "Are you the hero of your own life?"

I, for one, have never aspired to be the hero. In fact, I've been married for 22 years to a glorious lady and best friend who is a cross between Mother Teresa and Lucille Ball, and I am always thought of as the warm, grounded, encouraging side-kick, although my name comes first when we are referred to. My wife should have a musical soundtrack running under her life because of the amazing things that happen around her, and I am always there, going along for the ride.

Returning to our subject, I don't know if it is accurate to say that "it's about Sam" but he truly does carry it, whatever it is about.

Most moving of all is way he expects to remain unknown and unimportant, as shown in his words to Frodo in that wonderful passage referred to in the article, (and quoted by Earendilyon in the thread 'Favorite LOTR Quotes'):

'...people will say: "Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring! " And they'll say: "Yes, that's one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn't he, dad?" "Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that's saying a lot."

Sam is me. From beginning to end I can feel it. That's me on the Bucklebury ferry where:

"Sam was the only member of the party who had not been over the river before. He had a strange feeling as the slow gurgling stream slipped by: his old life lay behind in the mists, dark adventure lay in front. He scratched his head, and for a moment had a passing wish that Mr. Frodo could have gone on living quietly at Bag End."

Sam carries us all the way. And he reminds me that it is good, and it is heroic,
not to be the hero, but to be the one who carries the hero.

------------------
Eldameldor! A laita, laita te!

This message has been edited by Bungo on 03-21-2001 at


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Miturian
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I heard some where that the strength of LOTR ,and all the other stuff concerning that, was that Tolkien didn't write "to finish the story", but because he loved the whole ME, and wanted to tell about it. If this is true, which I think it is, it proofs that there is no "real main character", but instead several. If I had to chose, though, I would say that Frodo and Sam makes a wonderful partnership.
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Warg
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I like your point Mithrandir.
To me Frodo is the main character. But to some it might be Legolas, or Gimli, or even Merry or Pipin. It is who appeals to you the most, I think.

Good Point Mithrandir.

------------------
Anar caluva tielyanna!


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Earendilyon
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I'm with Fingolfin in saying, LotR is about the Fellowhip: it tells about why the Felloship came into being, what it did, and what happened with its members after it had fulfilled its mission.
I'm with King Richard (the real one was a real basterd BTW) when he says, Sam's very relatable to us, and therefore very popular.
What I'm missing in this discussion is the fact, that LotR can't be seen seperated from the rest of JRRT's work: it's a grand epos about the Children of Iluvatar!

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"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words Bother me."


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elanor
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If one considers LoTR a Hero's Journey archetype or a "quest" story, then it is obvious that the main character or "hero" is Frodo. It is he who is given the quest of destroying the one ring. Sam accompanies him on this quest. However, if Frodo had not gone, would Sam have undertaken the quest himself? I think not. If Sam had not gone, Frodo would have continued the journey; in fact he tried to do this on two separate occasion-when he first left the shire and after Boromir's betrayal. Also, the argument that Sam changes the most does not ring true with me. In fact, of all the hobbits, I would say that he changes the least. He is the one least affected by the events through which he has passed.
Also, I agree with KingRichard about Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. Luke is the hero of that adventure-absolutely!
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"It is best to love first what you are fitted to love."

This message has been edited by elanor on 03-25-2001 at


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Earendilyon
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Maybe the title of the book denotes the real central character of the story in JRRT's mind: it's the LORD of the Rings. It's not entitled 'the bearer of the ring' or 'the destroyer of the ring' or something like that! Without Sauron, there wouldn't have been any Fellowship, and no War of the Ring at all!
To put it somewhat else: in every story about the battle of good vs evil, the evil opponent is the main character! Whitout them, there's no reason for the good guys to act, and so there's no reason for the existance of the story.

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Bungo
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You make a good point, Earendilyon, and that's why most actors like to play the villian once in a while, because good can be boring. (!) But really, the antagonist is almost never the central character, especially when he has no lines!

This whole topic is probably a trick question, (and I wonder if it is actually the Ring that this story is about. Hence such wonderful chapter titles like: "The Ring Goes South" It is the Ring that causes the whole story, not the lowlife in the tower.

But as characters go, it is Sam who captures the feelings of all of us. Our enchantment with elves, our discovery of the wide world across the Brandywine, our concerns and dread and longings and hopes. I could go on. We can't quite relate to Frodo as he is stretched and hammered down by the Ring, but we can deeply relate to Sam as he watches it all and stays true to the end.

And when Sam comes back alone at the very end and returns to the life most of us are already living, we also are "back". He may not carry the story, but he carries us.

So, it's a trick question without a real answer, but I'm thankful for the light that is shining on my hero Sam as a result.

------------------
Eldameldor! A laita, laita te!


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Roll of Honor Marcho Blackwood - MSS
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Okay, this may be getting really deep, but here goes!

As Joseph Campbell points out in "Hero with a Thousand Faces," every society or social group creates stories about heros. They are a focal point of legends and, in Campbell's mind, they can all be distilled down into the same basic story parts.

Within the hero story, there is typically a good vs. evil plot, a hero who comes of age and shoulders the burden and a happy ending. Campbell believed that Star Wars was the legend of a new generation that transcended most of the boundries of culture and society, a hero set for the new world.

I see most of these same concepts in LotR. There is no doubt that there is good vs. evil. And there is a happy ending. The difference I see is that there are many coming of age stories within the book. Frodo accepts the burden, Sam moves on alone after the incident with Shelob, Gandalf is reborn, Aragorn accepts the responsibilities of becoming king, etc., etc.

And while the focus of the stories seems to indeed be the One Ring, there are heroes everywhere, from the Ring Bearers to Lobelia Sackville-Baggins and her umbrella.

One of the beauties of this incredible work is that each reader can choose his own hero, a person that they identify with. More than your typical hero, sidekick and object of desire, there are many heroes to choose from.

I love Sam. But my heros have always been Merry and Pippin. To be like them, loyal to the end in their friendships, calm in the face of crisis, clear thinking even in the worst of times, and incredibly heroic when it counts most. Truly something to aspire to!

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Marcho Blackwood
#16 Brookshade Close
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Goldberry Slinks Back In
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Good article! The writer's opinion was strongly stated, and backed up with examples. I hate people who just ramble on, saying, "I think this, I think that, I like this, I hate that!" That gets annoying. But this was well backed up and well-written.

------------------
O slender as a willow-wand! O clearer than clear water!
O reed by the living pool. Fair river-daughter!
O spring-time and summer-time, and spring again after!
O wind on the waterfall, and the leaves' laughter!
~Frodo, to Goldberry


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Caranthir
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Also, I hate people who post without actually adding to the discussion, don't you Goldberry?

I don't think Tolkien meant to make anyone a main character, but I feel that Sam is more strongly emphasized during the story. During the last leg of the journey, Frodo isn't doing a whole lot, Sam pretty much takes over the quest even though he doesn't have the ring. In the first half of the book, Frodo is more the main character, but near the end Sam is, in my opinion. Anyway, I don't think there really is a main character of Lord of the Rings.

Most of this has probably already been said, I haven't read each post as thoroughly as I could've... sorry if I'm just regurgitating information that's already been said.


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White Gold Wielder
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I feel that the way Frodo faded out of the story is like the Elves fading from Middle Earth. Sam's taking over of the story is like the beginning of the Dominion of Men.

Frodo was always more elvish and Sam always more like Men. The way Frodo slips quietly from the front of the story and Sam, almost naturally, becomes the focus is a beautiful literary device of Tolkien's that really makes you feel like the Third Age is ended as we come to 'The Grey Havens'.


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Banazîr
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Nice discussion.

I agree that The Lord of the Rings is not based on one main character. However, I do not think that this means every person in the company had equal share of importance in the plot.

Most of them, however, give a message to the reader in different levels.

Boromir, for instance, was slain early in the story, however, JRRT could convey to us through him the fact that even good people would become evil because of greed, a message that might sound simple, but it shaped the rest of the story.

Gandalf, shows us that power is not everything. Although he is extremely powerful, as such he said about himself "Indeed my friends, none of you have any weapon that could hurt me", and still, he didn't dare take the ring himself.

Legolas and Glimi do not really seem as a very essential part of the plot, although some might find them important. I think they were part of the story to give JRRT the chance to include their memories and old history of places they visited, and to give us an example in which raceial problems do not count between friends. So JRRT was so frank to us when he included them in the company as representitves of their races.

Aragorn was an essential part of the sotry, however, as mentioned in previous posts, it wasn't his story. Still, however, there is much to consider about the message JRRT sent through Aragorn. In Bree, he was an unwanted stranger, looked at with some scorn, however, as the story develops, he ever grows more important, and ends up having the third part of the story named after him, he ends up being a King! This obviously shows us that we shouldn't use looks to jduge people we don't know, and this theme repeats itself with many other characters, especially the Hobbits.

Pippin and Merry are special in their own way, they always appear to us as useless or additional, and still do wonders. A good example of their importance in the story is the jobs they did in the war, for instance, I think that Merry is the hero of the War of the Ring, since he killed the witch king.

Frodo, our ring bearer, was not a hero. JRRT pictured him as a helpless weak hobbit, who rarely did good, but usually depended on others to make his way. He did accept the quest, which was one positive action he did, but then, he only got into that because of his family, not because of his personality, his actual part of the story wasn't better than gollum's, but the actual job was done by someone else in the background, Sam.

Sam wasn't any special, but he guided the course of the story, he got into it because he has over heard some discussion, and because of him Merry and Pippen happened to be part of the Company. He sounded like a foolish kid at the beginning, but as the end of the story drew near, he turned to be a hero, it wasn't his story either, no, it wasn't anybody's story but the ring, which had wore as well. He was one who could give the ring willinginly after actually using it, which shows his strength, especially that he was very close from the Cracks of Doom, making the Ring way stronger, and giving the ring up way harder than it was far in Bag End.

Sam carried Frodo and the ring, and both weren't heavy for him, that wasn't only real weight, JRRT had a point there, he was showing us that Sam actually carried the ring, he just didn't hold it himself.

I am a fan of Sam obviously, and that might explain some of my position towards him. However, I still do not say he is the sole hero of the story, but he is the most important character, and he sends the most important message to us.

Sorry for using so much of your time and space, hope that made any sense []

Khalid

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Roll of Honor Snaga
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Hi, Marcho Blackwood. Anyone who invokes Campbell (so appropriately) deserve a response!!!

Perhaps thinking of main characters is a less useful than doing what you are doing - thinking about heroes and types of heros. I think you really nailed something here. So many characters represent archetypal heroes and you mentioned all the biggies. Theoden might be another one. Boromir, Saruman and Denethor were more of the traditional Greek or Shakespearean tragic hero - meaning they were in control of their fate, but made poor choices. I'm sure you could find something in Campbell to tie to any major character in LotR and the Silmarillion too. Do you know if Campbell ever discussed LotR? He sure spent a lot of time on Star Wars with Bill Moyers, but I can't ever recall his mentioning Tolkien. I'm going to do some searching on this.

[ 03-24-2003, 05:21 PM: Message edited by: Snaga ]

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Create a New Topic  Reply to this Topic Minas Tirith Forums » Library Council of Minas Tirith » Is Sam the main character in The Lord of the Rings? (Page 1)
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