The Hold of the Ring

Arielle Glatman Zaretsky '07, English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2003

When Shelob renders Frodo unconscious, Sam mistakenly believes him dead and removes the Ring from his neck, intending to finish the mission himself. When the orcs bear Frodo away, Sam realizes Frodo is still alive and rushes after the orcs in order to rescue him. When he rescues Frodo, Frodo's thoughts turn immediately to the Ring. At first he begins to despair its loss, however Sam shows him the Ring around his neck.

"You've got it?" gasped Frodo. "You've got it here? Sam, you're a marvel!" Then quickly and strangely his tone changed. "Give it to me!" he cried, standing up, holding out a trembling hand. "Give it to me at once! You can't have it!"

"All right, Mr. Frodo," said Sam, rather startled. "Here it is!" Slowly he drew the Ring out and passed the chain over his head. "But you're in the land of Mordor now, sir; and when you get out, you'll see the Fiery Mountain and all. You'll find the Ring very dangerous now, and very hard to bear. If it's too hard a job, I could share it with you, maybe?"

"No, no!" cried Frodo, snatching the Ring and chain from Sam's hands. "No you won't, you thief!" He panted, staring at Sam with eyes wide with fear and enmity. Then, suddenly, clasping the Ring in one clenched fist, he stood aghast. A mist seemed to clear from his eyes, and he passed a hand over his aching brow. The hideous vision had seemed so real to him, half bemused as he was still with wound and fear. Sam had changed before his very eyes into an orc again, leering and pawing at his treasure, a foul little creature with greedy eyes and slobbering mouth. But now the vision had passed. There was Sam kneeling before him, his face wrung with pain, as if he had been stabbed in the heart; tears welled in his eyes. [890-891]

Questions

1. Although Sam does feel a degree of reluctance when returning the Ring to Frodo, it stems from not wanting "to give up the Ring and burden his master with it again" [890]. Do all other bearers (or even those who don't have the chance to carry it, but desire to) want the Ring for themselves? How does Sam avoid the selfish reasoning?

2. What is Sam's relationship to Frodo? To the Ring? How do these relationships change one another?

3. Would Frodo have been more willing to share the burden of the Ring if he had not had the vision of Sam as an orc, or does the vision come from his subconscious need to have the Ring all to himself?

4. How do Frodo's actions here differ from Gollum's acts, especially when Gollum tries to take back the Ring and save it from destruction (925)?

References

Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. Houghton Mifflin, Boston: 1966.


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Last modified 28 February 2004