The quote about Sam and Aragorn and love stories, in letter 131 is commonly quoted to imply this idea:
“But the highest love-story, that of Aragorn and Arwen Elrond’s daughter is only alluded to as a known thing. It is told elsewhere in a short tale, of Aragorn and Arwen Undómiel. I think the simple ‘rustic’ love of Sam and his Rosie (nowhere elaborated) is absolutely essential to the study of his (the chief hero’s) character, and to the theme of the relation of ordinary life (breathing, eating, working, begetting), and quests, sacrifice, causes, and the ‘longing for Elves’, and sheer beauty.” (Letter 131)
JRR Tolkien, Letter #131
This is with the general consensus being that the quest only succeeds because of Sam, who repeatedly saves Frodo from disaster (such as rescuing him at Cirith Ungol, and carrying him up Mount Doom).
He was also known as one of the two ring-bearers who surrendered the ring voluntarily, the other being Bilbo.
It is commonly stated that the quest only succeeded because of Sam due to him saving Frodo – carrying him up Mount Doom and fighting Shelob. And of course that is not to be dismissed, as without those feats the quest would not be successful.
However, as great as he is – he’s not the only reason why the quest succeeds.
Far from that.
One of the important ideas of the story in my opinion, is that it took a fellowship and also involving everyone in the story. (Photo: Fellowship of the Ring)
Going back to the moment of the ring’s destruction – If the quest really only succeeds because of Sam, then Frodo would claim the ring as his own, then Sam would be reaching out to Frodo and dropping the ring into the fire. Impossible, but that would be what that phrase really means.
However, this didn’t happen. While there might be a few deviations in the movies, we will be going by the context of the books by Tolkien.
“Once [Frodo] lost the power or opportunity to destroy the Ring, the end could not be in doubt – saving help from outside, which was hardly even remotely possible.” So Sam saving Frodo would be impossible by then.
What “really” happened (in the context of the story) would be that Frodo was attacked by Gollum, then he would be spared by a higher power (presumably, Eru).
“The Other Power then took over: the Writer of the Story (by which I do not mean myself), ‘that one ever-present Person who is never absent and never named…” (JRR Tolkien, Letter # 192)
This could be due to Tolkien’s personal and religious beliefs, as LOTR is a “fundamentally [Christian and] Catholic work” (L 151).
It took a while for Sam to see Frodo claiming the ring as his own. He looked up to see Gollum with an unseen foe. By then, Gollum was excited to grab hold of the ring by then, and Frodo was fallen upon his knees at the chasm’s edge with a finger bitten off.
By this point, Sauron would be aware of this, and Frodo would have to cast himself into the fiery abyss with the ring.
However, he didn’t have to cast himself into the fire as was feared. And one of the main reasons for this was his pity for Sméagol.
“His humility (with which he began) and his sufferings were justly rewarded by the highest honour; and his exercise of patience and mercy toward Gollum gained him Mercy: his failure was redressed.” (JRR Tolkien, Letter # 246)
It seemed that Tolkien decided to reward Frodo for his pity for Sméagol, as he even mentioned if Shelob’s Lair had not occurred, then “[Gollum] would then have sacrificed himself for Frodo’s sake and have voluntarily cast himself into the fiery abyss.” (L 246)
Did he and Bilbo surrender the ring voluntarily?
Sam and Bilbo are commonly known as the ones who surrendered the ring voluntarily. As great of a feat that is, it is also important to know that they all go through very different experiences. Thus it wouldn’t be fair to compare their strengths based on how well they were able to resist the ring – unless we were talking about hobbits as a whole.
While it is commonly known that hobbits were resistant to the ring due to their desire for simplicity, it can also be implied that it was because Sauron knew about them last – in chronological order compared to the Men (like Boromir), Wizards (Gandalf) and Elves (Galadriel).