Betrayal or Mercy?

by Overlithe

Frodo and Sam...on the stairs~~Betrayal or Mercy?

In the film adaptation of ROTK, Gollum pits friend against friend reminiscent of his own betrayal and Murder of his friend Deagol. Smeagol has inserted himself strategically between Sam and his charge and Master.

He plants additional seeds of doubt in Frodo’s mind when he whispers in Frodo’s ear, “he wants it I can see it in his eyes the fat one will take it from you. Very soon he will ask you for it.”

At first glance I saw only Frodo’s sudden mistrust of Sam, a potential rival for the ring. Perhaps at this stage true, yet only in Frodo’s mind. The direct reference to the ring is what spawns the look of mistrust as he gazes back at Sam but did Frodo believe it?

What was Frodo’s greatest fear? What was his reasoning for attempting to leave Sam behind to begin with? The Ring was at work in the company and Frodo feared beyond all else that the Ring would ruin his friends. Gollum was not only successful in triggering Frodo’s “ring lust”, but also in bringing back that old nagging fear. The fact that the ring may very well be at work in his simple Gardener was a fear Frodo did not wish to entertain, and yet there it was before him.

Sam’s confrontation of Gollum seems to form a rift, a rift that only existed in the mind of Sam and Gollum. I don’t think that Frodo ever really chose Gollum over Sam; it was an act of preservation. Gollum was to Frodo, a necessary evil, and a guide through a land uncharted.

When Frodo finally dismisses Sam,

“No Sam, its you.”

“He’s poisoned you against me.”

“Go home Sam.”

Sam, I am sure, does not note the tears that have formed in Frodo’s eyes, standing unshed for those who would, to see.

It never occurred to me before that Frodo’s action was not one of choosing between Gollum and Sam. I, in fact, thought this one of the most Un-Frodo like things in the film. Never in a million years would Frodo do that to Sam. Suddenly like a revelation it hit me. Frodo fears for Sam, hence his calm, commanding demeanor, his sadness and tears. He is not enraged that Sam would take the ring from him he fears that indeed Sam perhaps is finally succumbing to the call of the ring. Mayhap he sent him “packing” for his own welfare, regardless of the effect the choice would have on him or the quest.

Sam overcome with grief would of course never see the subtle difference. And it takes the jarring fall and finding of the lembas to bring him back to reality and to find the courage to follow his master wanted or not. Echoes of Sam telling Frodo, “don’t you leave him Samwise Gamgee, I don’t mean to…”

As Frodo is deserted in Shelob’s lair to fend for himself, he whispers an apology to Sam. I first thought an apology for mistrusting him, and it could still be true, but also could it be a simple apology for just hurting him as he knew he had. I am very sure that at that particular moment Frodo is just very sorry that he sent Sam away and that he must face this fear alone.

Sam is not in time to save his master, as we know both film and book agree quite well, Sam is grief stricken. Another dimension is added however in the film if one follows the above thoughts. Sam believes Frodo is dead and that his master thought that he would betray him, and that he left him.

But Sam, dear Sam, he believes he has been rejected and yet he holds no grudge. He sets out to finish the quest then to save his Master as soon as he knows he is not dead.

The softness in Sam’s eyes contrasts starkly to the animal anger as he slays the Orc guard who is threatening Frodo. Frodo’s first words…an excited “SAM!” followed by a heart felt, “I am so sorry.”

The short discussion about the fate of the ring, followed by Sam’s guilty admission that he took it, “only to keep it safe!” His fear is obvious; will Frodo send him away again? Then he feels the power which Frodo fears, the Ring speaks to him, and for a brief moment he almost desires to keep it from his master, perhaps to spare Frodo any further harm. Finally he extends it to Frodo, who takes it just as he did from Boromir, hungrily, desperately.

Have Frodo’s fears been put to rest? Or has he just come to terms, finally, that he can’t do this with out Sam. I’d say the latter, as Frodo takes the ring back from Sam he says, “Understand Sam, the Ring is my burden, it would destroy you.”

Frodo is perfectly willing to be destroyed but he will not have Sam go down that road with him. Anyway just a little muse on the possible emotional undercurrents intended by Peter but hidden by the more obvious conflict…