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The Lord Of The Rings A Fairy Story In A Tale Of Faërie

1803 words - 7 pages

The Lord of the Rings (abbr LOTR) offers insightful commentary on J. R. R. Tolkien’s definition of heroism. Tolkien has clear expectations of the heroes within his subcreated world. This is particularly seen in the Hobbits that drive the stories within his cannon. Frodo Baggins first emerges as the main character within the story; however this shows not to directly translate to him taking on the role of the primary hero throughout. The story evolves to highlight Samwise Gamgee as the more evident fairy tale hero within the story. In an analysis of Tolkien’s works, it is clear that the development of Sam as a heroic figure follows similar patterns seen in both Bilbo and Frodo previously. Tolkien acknowledged that this decision arose from his belief that Frodo developed into a character “too ennobled and rarefied” to fit his understood definition of hero (Tolkien 88 “Letters”). As Frodo’s character morphs and becomes an ill-fit as a hero, Sam blossoms into the role. This choice fits and follows many of Tolkien’s tropes of heroism; Sam is the ultimate unlikely hero. A gardener from the shire, a bumbling half-wise hobbit and, Tolkien admits, sometimes a source of lighthearted comedy, it is oddly enough these aspects which enable the character to take on Tolkien-heroism (Tolkien 88 “Letters”). Sam comes to exemplify Christian values of reverence and humbleness, knowing just how small he is in the whole scheme of things. His personality makes Sam relatable to readers and also allows him to become a symbol of fertility and hope— things which are disallowed Frodo following his struggle with the Ring. Tolkien uses Sam as a version of his definition of heroism and in this way Sam becomes the main character of the narrative.
Hobbits in their conception were meant to be relatable, though in their first appearance in The Hobbit they were conceived as being relatable to an adolescent readership, who hobbits mimicked in stature and innocent likings, this can also be said of LOTR with a more mature audience in mind. Hobbits are simple beings, and on the whole are surely more relatable to readers than any man, elf, dwarf, or wizard that is portrayed. In both stories Tolkien set out to tell the story of the unlikely hero. Along these same lines it is Sam, the most modest even among hobbits, who follows this standard. In his start Sam is a gardener a humble profession for a humble hobbit, even from this detail sprouts Sam’s likeness to Tolkien’s motif of heroism through unlikeliness. Much along these lines it is widely acknowledged that “bumbling Samwise Gamgee who experiences the largest moral growth. He begins as the unquestioning servant and naïve tagalong eager to see the elves and “oliphaunts.” With his peasant grammar and manners and imagination, Sam is an unlikely candidate for heroism” (Wood 85). Tolkien acknowledges these characteristics are what results the shift of heroism in the text. In a letter to his son Christopher ten years before the...

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