Samwise Gamgee, as played by Sean Astin, is my favorite character from “Lord of the Rings” (affiliate link) because Sam always chooses the right path. He doesn’t calculate the risks. He doesn’t weigh the pros and cons, and he doesn’t worry about the consequences, even when they are dire and staring him right in the face.
- Frodo: Go back, Sam. I’m going to Mordor alone.
- Sam: Of course you are, and I’m coming with you. (Sam wades out into the water.)
- Frodo: You can’t swim. (Sam begins to drown.)
- (Frodo pulls him out of the water.)
- Sam: I made a promise Mr. Frodo. A promise. Don’t you leave him, Samwise Gamgee. And I don’t mean to; I don’t mean to.
Sam’s courage isn’t that of a warrior. It’s that of a friend who knows what he needs to do. He makes a promise. He keeps it. It’s simple for him.
When Sam believes that Frodo is dead and orcs are coming into the cave, he grabs the ring for safe keeping. However, he doesn’t leave his friend’s body. When he finds out Frodo lives, he follows the orcs to save Frodo. The ring only affects him a little as he pauses in reluctance to give it back to Frodo after Sam rescues him.
When Frodo falters on the Mount Doom, Sam says, “I can’t carry it [the ring] for you, but I can carry you.” He picks up Frodo and carries him step by step up the mountain where Frodo can destroy the ring.
None of this means that Sam doesn’t have his faults. He treats Gollum terribly. He knows that Gollum will betray Frodo, and he would much rather kill the creature than continue on with him, even if they have no other way into Mordor. Still, Sam has the wisdom to defer to Frodo (and Gandalf) in the matter.
However, Samwise Gamgee’s ability to choose the right no matter what is who he is. It’s natural. He doesn’t accomplish his tasks and isn’t heroic because he seeks glory. He accomplishes them and is heroic because he does it for the love of his best friend. If we could all be a little more like him, this world would be infinitely better. We would choose our friends over our fate, and we would choose right over wrong without letting anything get in our way. (I started thinking about this because we did the Weta Workshop tour in Wellington.)