The Many Sides of Sam Gamgee, a little hobbit from Hobbiton

Casey Lieb '07, English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2003

Sam Gamgee has shown signs of becoming a Gollum like character. He speaks to himself using third person, something that Gollum constantly addresses himself using:

"Don't be a fool Sam Gamgee," came an answer in his own voice. "He won't go another day like that, if he moves at all. And you can't go on much longer giving him all the water and most of the food."

"I can go a good way though, and I will."

"Where to?"

"To the Mountain, of course."

"But what then, Sam Gamgee, what then? When you get there, what are you going to do? He won't be able to do anything for himself." [918]

In the end however, Sam shows he is different from Gollum by giving the ring away freely and does not kill because of its presence:

"Now!" said Sam. "At least I can deal with you!" He leaped forward with drawn blade ready for battle. But Gollum did not spring. He fell flat upon the ground and whimpered.

"Don't kill us," he wept. "Don't hurt us with nasty cruel steel! Let us live, yes, live just a little longer. Lost lost! We"re lost. And when Precious goes we"ll die, yes, die in the dust." He clawed up the ashes of the path with his long fleshless fingers. "Dusst!" he hissed.

Sam's hand wavered. His mind was hot with wrath and the memory of evil. It would e just to slay this treacherous, murderous creature, just and many times deserved; and also it seemed the only safe thing to do. But deep in his heart there was something that restrained him: he could not strike this thing lying in the dust, forlorn, ruinous, utterly wretched. He himself, though only for a little while, had borne the Ring, and now dimly he guessed the agony of Gollum's shriveled mind and body, enslaved to that Ring, unable to find peace or relieve ever in life again. But Sam had no words to express what he felt.

"Oh, curse you, you stinking thing!" he said. "Go away! Be off! I don't trust you, not as far as I could kick you; but be off. Or I shall hurt you, yes, with nasty cruel steel."

Gollum got up on all fours, and backed away for several paces and then he turned, and as Sam aimed a kick at him he fled away down the path. [923]


1. How do Sam's words contrast that of Gollum's? Sam uses negative language such as "won't," "can't," and "don't" in this section. How does Sam's use of language in this passage and Gollum's use of language compare?

2. Why is Gollum portrayed as lying in the "Dusst"? How does that contrast Gollum's actual death?

3. When Sam approaches Gollum in this passage, Gollum "whimpered . . . wept" and then "fled." Why chose such weak words to describe Gollum, who has been monstrous and cunning for the rest of The Lord of the Rings? Why is Gollum no longer ever addressed as Smeagol? Is there a comparison between Smeagol and the words used to describe Gollum in this passage?


Tolkien, J.R.R. The Return of the King. Houghton Mifflin, Boston: 1966.

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