frodo and sam’s love for each other is literally the only thing keeping middle earth from just spontaneously combusting
No, but like, that’s literally it. Gandalf straight-up says to Elrond this Quest can’t succeed by force or wisdom, but by friendship. If Frodo and Sam hate each other even a little, Middle-Earth is doomed.
And it gets more terrifying when you realize that one of the strongest powers of the Ring is to turn people against each other, and that even if it didn’t, the Ring and the Quest still put Frodo in a psychological state where he can barely keep himself sane, let alone love anyone or anything other than the Ring. In fact, I’m fairly sure the Ring tried to persuade Frodo to kill Sam far more often than the books shows – the Ring tends to encourage murder, from what we see. Instead of listening to the Ring, Frodo somehow manages to keep in the back of his mind that he can trust Sam more than he can trust himself, and I have no idea how Frodo can resist the temptation to think his trust is misplaced.
And sure, one could say, “Oh, but Sam has to understand it, so it’s not all that bad” but you have to remember Sam is a plain, non-Tookish hobbit with no inclination or skills for adventuring around and yet he has to become the entire Fellowship. Name one thing the Fellowship did for Frodo that Sam doesn’t also do. He has to advise, guide and protect him as well as keep his hope alive and remind him of who he is. The amount of pressure he’s under is incredible, and unlike, say, Aragorn, he has no experience to draw from. Plus, Merry and Pippin tend to rely on each other, while Frodo relies on Sam, but Sam himself hardly seems to have anyone to turn to for strength. I’m not saying Frodo doesn’t support him as well as he’s able – actually, Frodo is remarkably consistent about taking care of Sam from Book I to Book VI. But what Frodo is capable to offer (see the paragraph above) is far from being all that Sam needs. And actually, in the last stages of the Quest, Sam is basically living a one-sided relationship under the worst possible conditions, and that his devotion doesn’t even waver despite that just blows my mind.
That the Quest was successful is one of the most incredible and beautiful things that Tolkien wrote. Frodo and Sam walked straight into the Land where no love can exist and managed to become closer to each other than they had been. It’s the biggest fuck you Sauron probably ever got. No, seriously. Frodo and Sam beat a Maia basically by cuddling a lot and talking about food. Like, what the fuck??? I mean, if I told you someone could write a 1000 pages novel in which a pacifist and his gardener beat a minor god via supporting each other emotionally, would you believe me?
It’s classic Tolkien: the surprise element (i.e. flawed creatures can be incredibly noble even under unspeakable distress) might overcome even the most carefully thought out plots devised by powerful evil lords. (See also: the entire Silmarillion, pretty much.)
“A pacifist and his gardener beat a minor god via supporting each other emotionally”
I would read 50 books with this premise. I don’t love all 1,000 pages, but this is the heart that keeps me rereading