Recently polled classmates of mine, when asked if Frodo or Aragorn was the bigger hero of the LOTR triliogy, ,many responded very vehemently that I was leaving out the contributions of Samwise Gamgee. I was interested that so many felt he was because I personally feel that while Sam had some hero-like tendencies, he really does not do anything of importance, in my opinion. I admit that he does take the ring from Frodo at the end of the Towers with the intention of taking it himself to the mountain when his master fails. Yet he chickens out and says he cannot be the ring-bearer; that Elrond and the rest will have to understand even if it means that Sauron will get the ring. He acts only because of his devotion to Frodo, not because he wants to save Middle Earth. Could this be interpreted as being a hero, I’m not convinved.
So it brings to mind the question: Is Samwise Gamgee really a hero or does he merely have moments of bravery? I personally think it is the latter. I think that Sam is essential for the morale of Frodo to keep pushing him along and ensuring that he does what he is supposed to do. He takes the role of the conscience to Frodo, a bit like Jiminy Cricket for Pinocchio. Just like the cricket in Pinocchio, Sam fails in his attempt to steer Frodo towards the “right choice” when he decides that the ring is his and he will not do that which he had come to do. One thing I thought was interesting was when Sam is admonished by Frodo for trying to take the ring, almost as if to say the he was acting about his station. This is a sentiment that Sam recognizes as well. Sam is one of the two bearers of the One Ring who gives up the Ring voluntarily (the other being Bilbo); Sam concludes that he doesn't really have the wherewithal to wield the Ring, as he is a lowly and none-too-bright gardener and all. That is, it's almost as though Sam's class status helps him resist the Ring's power, even though he is in Mordor when he puts it on. SO is Sam a hero? Again I’m not convinced but I give him credit for trying.