posted by Dave Freer
“Humble must he constant be
Where the paths of wisdom lead
Distant is the shadow of the setting sun.”
A comment Stephen Simmons made a little while back about Samwise Gamgee got me thinking about the nature of heroes who stay with us. I thought of those that really got to me and stuck – and Sam was one. I conclude you’re either a Samwise person or a Frodo person (I at the moment feel like a very old Bilbo-person. Thin and stretched… but that is aside from the point).
I suppose this comes down to question of self identity as well ‘the kind of person I would like to have as a friend/companion’ — because we’re inclined to identify with people we either would like or are like ourselves. And the strength, simplicity-of-purpose (he’s not simple, and is quite a complex character) and mostly the loyalty of Sam’s character call to me strongly. In bleak times that’s what you need at your back.
Essentially Tolkien painted Samwise as ‘the loyal Servitor who becomes almost a friend’. I actually got quite peeved with Tolkien about it, feeling Sam didn’t get enough credit, while Frodo would have benefited a bit from some of Sam’s backbone, but your milage may vary! 🙂
So why does this sort of self-effacing hero appeal? Is it the loyalty to others? What is it that makes us care? Is this something we can tap into as authors? I’ve written – partly thanks to JRRT two of these characters. I’ve never really had feedback, and I don’t know if I’m alone in caring.