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Sam's Servitude

Diabless

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I always wondered about Sam's servitude. Was he a servant who got paid or was there slavery?
Was it like a feudal system where the person whould work for the master in return for land, food, and a place to sleep?
I know that Sam ended becoming like a little brother to Frodo (I read that on this forum) but what was his and the Gaffer's real realation to Frodo?

I would appreciate any comments on this:)
 

Dhôn-Buri-Dhôn

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I've always assumed that this was a British class-system thing.

Bilbo and Frodo represent the landed gentry: wealthy property owners who have servants to handle the mundane chores of gardening and housekeeping.

Sam and the Gaffer are members of like the lower classes; Hamfast is an old retainer, now reduced to light maintenance chores, with young Sam taking over the heavy lifting.

Sam felt for Frodo what a young servant might have felt for his master in 19th-century Britain -- or rather, what the upper classes expected their inferiors to feel toward them. I imagine the reality was a bit different.
 

Goro Shimura

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Sam seems to refer to Pippin and Merry as "Master" as well....


You could do worse than be a slave for the peculiar Baggins family... but then again, not everyone had the integrity of that particular family.

I'm not sure it's possible for society to exist without slaves in a pre-industrial setting, though. (Ancient Egypt, Rome, Greece, Israel... hmm... the kingdoms of Europe.... China....)
 

Thorondor

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I would never think of Sam, or other hobbits as being "slaves". But if that was the case, I think the more proper term for it would be Serf, not slave, even though there probably isn't much difference.

Anyway, back to the topic. I do not think that it adds up that Sam is a serf. Why would Bilbo give Sam the last of his Smaug gold to Sam if he ever wanted to start a family, if Sam wasn't a free man? Sam lives with his father on a seperate parcel of land not connected to the Baggins land(in the RotK it says that Lotho and his men have no right to destroy Bagshot row). To me is sounds like Sam is just a poorer young hobbit, with Frodo as his friend and employer.
 

Diabless

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That sounds more believable. I believe he was just a poorer hobbit who worked for Frodo so was he never apyed? Tolkien just never writes, "Here, Sam, 3 shillings, now you can bye that new spade you always wanted." Tolkien never mentions Sams payment or the Gaffer's. I think he is more of a Serf. He lives on Baggins land and gets some of the crop and in return work for them. But then Sam gets married. Does he keep working for Frodo afterwards. Maybe it's just understood that they've been through so much that Sam does not have to work for him anymore.

Mor thoughts on this please:p
 
G

Gaffa Gamgee

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My lad Sam was never a surf, he was brought up to be respectful, and was ever glad that the Baggin’s took him on as gardener, the thing Sam was best at. But they were good mates, Frodo and Sam, and with Merry and Pippin too, but even though the boys told Sam on many occasions not to be “too formal” and to drop the “sir and master” stuff, Sam felt it his duty to behave that way. He felt more comfortable knowing his place. I blame his mother!
 

Beleg Strongbow

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Originally posted by Diabless
That sounds more believable. I believe he was just a poorer hobbit who worked for Frodo so was he never apyed? Tolkien just never writes, "Here, Sam, 3 shillings, now you can bye that new spade you always wanted." Tolkien never mentions Sams payment or the Gaffer's. I think he is more of a Serf. He lives on Baggins land and gets some of the crop and in return work for them. But then Sam gets married. Does he keep working for Frodo afterwards. Maybe it's just understood that they've been through so much that Sam does not have to work for him anymore.

Mor thoughts on this please:p


I think he was payed a salary and (Sam) and just refered to Frodo as sir because he was being polite and Frodo was his boss. He also doesn't live on bagginses lad he lives in bagshot row a lane/road near Bilbos/Frodo's hole. I also think that working for Bilbo wouldn't be that bad with him giving presents on his birthday. Also didn't everyone try and help each other out in the Shire. I personally think that it was Sam's profession being a gardener. I also think he got paid like everyone else eg blacksmith, millworker
 
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Tauerwen

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Agreeing with Gaffa G., I think Sam was both friend and employee.

My mom was from a farming family and they often had hired men to help out. There was no thought of af anyone being 'better' than anyone else or of a higher social class, the hired man was usually just the son of a neighboring farmer. Sam may have felt that Frodo, Merry and Pippin were better than he because they came from families who owned land or were more well-off or something, but its hard for me to believe that the Hobbits were really a class society, I think that was just Sam. He may have called Frodo 'master' to be polite or because Frodo was the master of Bag End. Relationships between other Hobbits reflect mutual respect in most cases, not differing social planes. The Shire reminds me a lot of the rural America that I heard about from my mom...


Tauerwen
Hiding out in Middle-Earth

PS- Welcome Gaffa Gamgee!
 

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