Sam Finds Frodo in the Tower of Cirith Ungol

I was rather charmed last week when I found that my post on Sam’s song in the Tower of Cirith Ungol was “liked” by some fellow bloggers who write about beauty and fashion. Such affirmation both amuses and, slightly, impresses my daughters (23 and 19) who find it difficult to associate their ageing father with such a world. At first I could noty understand why I was attracting such interest but then I realised that I had tagged my post with the word, beauty, as I reflected on Sam’s spiritual journey, quoting C.S Lewis when he said that we do not wish merely to see beauty but to bathe in it. Just in case any of these bloggers have decided to return this week I offer my prayer for them that they will eventually find the Beauty that transcends all of the beauty that we seek here upon the earth.

Those who know The Lord of the Rings well will know that this is Sam’s journey in the story. It begins with Sam lamenting the passing of the Elves from Middle-earth as Ted Sandyman jeers at him, and when Gandalf tells him that he will go with Frodo when Frodo leaves the Shire part of his joy lies in the possibility that he might see Elves.

Throughout the journey Sam deepens his appreciation of beauty as he first meets the company of Gildor Inglorion within the boundaries of the Shire itself and then stays in Rivendell and Lothlórien. But his most profound encounters with beauty are in the darkest places; the Star Glass of Galadriel in the darkness visible of Shelob’s Lair, the song that he finds within himself in the Tower of Cirith Ungol that is given to him at the moment of despair. And there will be one more on the deathly plains of Mordor that is yet to come.

And one day Sam will see the Beauty that transcends even these moments and will recognise it (and the Beauty will not be an it but a thou) to be what he was always seeking. The thou will be both a homecoming and also an invitation to go deeper and ever deeper.

But Sam has been nourished by another guiding light that does not contradict but deepens his longing for beauty. Sam is guided by his love for Frodo. This transcends the social divide that exists between them and it survives Frodo’s descent into darkness that takes place as he falls under the power of the Ring as they approach Mount Doom, the place of its forging. Nothing can diminish Sam’s love and it is this which has carried him into the orc fortress overcoming all his fear and finally brings him to Frodo’s prison at the very pinnacle of the tower.

And so he finds him at last.

” ‘Frodo! Mr. Frodo, my dear!’ cried Sam, tears almost blinding him. ‘It’s Sam, I’ve come!’ He half lifted his master and hugged him to his breast.”

Sam’s love for Frodo is such that words like master and servant no longer have any meaning for him. If Frodo were to treat him in a demeaning manner Sam would still love Frodo, not out of some slavish desire to somehow gain his approval, but out of an unquenchable desire for Frodo’s wellbeing.

The theologian, Elizabeth Wyschogrod, once wrote that the saint is marked by “a wild desire for the beautitude of the Other”. I do not think that we need to feel any embarrassment in ascribing this quality to Sam. Just as in his longing for beauty Sam will eventually find the Thou that both includes all that he has ever desired and utterly transcends it so too will Sam find in the same Thou all that he has ever loved, and will ever love, without having to make distinction between them. In the Thou there will be but one equal love and yet each of Sam’s loves will be utterly fulfilled and utterly transcended. Sam’s moment of ecstasy in his finding of Frodo will never diminish his love for Rosie Cotton or Elanor or any of his children even though as he grows in love he will for a time find himself torn in two between them.

But just now we will leave him in his ecstasy of joy, free from all growing pains, as he holds Frodo in his arms for a brief moment before the journey has to go on.


4 thoughts on “Sam Finds Frodo in the Tower of Cirith Ungol

  1. This is just so beautiful! My favorite scene in the whole book!! You simply must come out with your book on the beauty and wisdom from Middle-earth. The world is in such desperate need of it and this post just screams it. Cheers!

    Namarie, God bless, Anne Marie 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Anne Marie. It is a glorious moment in LOTR and I was affected deeply as I wrote about it.
      I agree that the work of the Inklings speaks directly to our times. I know that C.S Lewis believed that God leaves pictures/images from popular culture in human hearts at different moments in history . I am convinced that their work is one of those in our times.
      Thank you for your encouragement. Every blessing.

  2. I am enjoying reading and re-reading past posts from my favourite blogs at the moment; I am finding a few gems that I missed altogether, like this one. Thank you for articulating Sam’s development through the story as one of recognising, finding and better understanding beauty. That is a lovely way to define his emergence as a hero in the tale. You also highlighted the constancy of Sam’s love for Frodo, not only as they journey through Mordor, but even at the start of the story – which made me wonder, Sam changes but does his love for Frodo change at all? Frodo too changes in the story, and perhaps becomes more deserved of Sam’s love. But why Sam loves his master so dearly at the start of the story is not made obvious; what is the foundation of that love to start with?

    • Thank you so much for reading my work and for your encouragement.
      I think that, as with us all if we keep on doing the work, what Sam finds in Mordor at those moments of epiphany such as the star glass in Shelob’s Lair, his song in Cirith Ungol and the star above the smoke as they cross the dark land is what has always been within him.
      The Lord of the Rings begins with the Gaffer worrying about Sam. Looking after the garden at Bag End is a proper thing to do but not learning to read and write or listening to romances. I think that it is this contrast in Sam’s early experience, the contrast between the unimaginative, critical and mean spirited world of the Gaffer and the warm, generous and exciting world of Bilbo and Frodo, that shapes Sam’s heart for life. First Bilbo and then Frodo open his heart to beauty and a desire for adventure. What do you think?

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