A Faithful Servant Named Sam

Zine Title
Item Type
Year
Issue Info
Pages
15-17

[page 16] Fiercely loyal manservants named Sam appear in both _The Lord of the Rings_ and another famous literary work: Charles Dickens's _Pickwick Papers_. Indeed, the likeness extends well beyond their names, though there are differences, of course. Sam, son of the Gaffer, Hamfast Gamgee, is, like his father, a gardener when we first meet him. Sam, son of the coachman, Tony Weller, is employed as a bootblack when first we make his acquaintance. Sam Weller has been called by many learned men "the greatest creation in all fiction," and a personality unequalled in energy and vitality. Sam Gamgee's claims are more modest, but he is undoubtedly one of the most memorable of the Fellowship. If the hobbit lacks young Weller's bounding humor, he shares in full measure the other's courage and steadfastness. Both Sams are ready to fight hopeless odds on behalf of their respective masters. Sam Gamgee draws sword against Orcs twice his size as readily as Sam Weller takes on all the special constables in Ipswich. Both Sams follow their masters into depressing and dangerous situations. Sam Weller is at Mr. Pickwick's side in the grim debtor's prison -- the Fleet. Sam Gamgee carries Frodo up the mountain of horror, Orodruin, and faces the might of Sauron himself. The Pickwickians, like the hobbits, love food, and Sam Weller is occupied as often as Sam Gamgee at setting up and serving big breakfasts, hearty lunches, and substantial suppers (although Sam Gamgee gets more help). Both Sams find love in the course of their adventures. We hear nothing of Sam Gamgee's Rose Cotton until almost the end of his travels. She appears thereafter often enough to be known to us when, at the end of the tale, Sam settles down to the responsibilities of marriage and a family. Sam Weller's pretty Mary appears about halfway through the earlier narrative, and we follow the romance through all the latter part of it. As in the case of Frodo, Mr. Pickwick promptly becomes the responsibility of wife as well as husband. Mr. Weller finally becomes the father of two sons; Sam Gamgee ultimately heads a larger family, and his eldest is a daughter. In both servants, and both masters, there is a love and loyalty that turns the @wh@ whole master-servant relationship inside-out. In certain moments, it is Sam who leads while Mr. Pickwick (or Frodo) follows. Yet no matter what kind of scrape Frodo (or Mr. Pickwick) gets himself into, from which Sam must rescue him, the respect - never slavish or fawning - remains. The question is worth the asking: Is Tolkien's Sam Dickens's Sam come to life again? (We recognize that both Sams might make a small bow in literary heaven, in the direction of a corpulent Spaniard named Sancho Panza.) Certainly, Sam Weller had enough life in him for a second literary existence. If _I_ were asked to journey into Mordor, and given a chance to resurrect a companion for the venture, I'm sure I could do no better than take someone like Tony Weller's loquacious offspring along. It does seem as though Sam Gamgee is at least a legitimate descendent of Sam Weller -- the Cockney speech is gone, tamed dowm to a common "plain" English, but the Cockney heart is there when Shelob wants stabbing. @The@ The aforementioned loyalty is there, and the ingenuity and resourcefulness, and the honest mixture of respect and friendliness toward the mighty. Finally, we can be sure, on examining the two great works, that all that would need doing in _Pickwick Papers_, Sam Gamgee would have done had he been there; and in his [page 17] place, Sam Weller would have brought Frodo into Mordor and stood by him there in the same fashion. For, whether or not they be kin, they are both stout heroes, for whom our heritage is richer. On Frodo's behalf, Sam Gamgee might echo what Sam Weller said about his master: "If I can help it, I won't have him put upon by nobody, and that's all about it!" <Handwriting: Richard H. Eney>

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer