The Fellowship of the Ring
How we cite our quotes:
Bilbo drew his hand over his eyes. "I am sorry," he said. "But I feel so queer. And yet it would be a relief in a way not to be bothered with it anymore. It has been growing on my mind lately. Sometimes I have felt it was like an eye looking at me. [...]
"Then trust mine," said Gandalf. "It is quite made up. Go away and leave it behind. Stop possessing it. Give it to Frodo, and I will look after him." (1.1.105-6)
There's some serious foreshadowing in Bilbo's words about the ring – that it "has been growing on [his] mind," and that it is "like an eye looking at [him]." Clearly, this is an evil ring with mind-control powers. But besides Tolkien's skill at setting up the plot of the rest of the novel, this section is intriguing because of the friendship it portrays between Gandalf and Bilbo. Without Gandalf's help, Bilbo would never have been able to give up the ring willingly to Frodo. And later in the books, without Sam's support, Frodo would never be able to bear the burden of the ring. Even in this early scene, we can see that the bonds of friendship are one weapon against the evil powers of the ring.
But Sméagol returned alone; and he found that none of his family could see him, when he was wearing the ring. […] He became sharp-eyed and keen-eared for all that was hurtful. The ring had given him power according to his stature. […] He took to thieving, and going about muttering to himself, and gurgling in his throat. So they called him Gollum, and cursed him, and told him to go far away; and his grandmother, desiring peace, expelled him from the family and turned him out of her hole. (1.2.98)
Once Sméagol commits his sin of murdering Déagol, he immediately starts living a cursed life. We can't be sure what Sméagol was like before seeing the ring, since Gandalf specifies that he "became sharp-eyed [...] for all that was hurtful." Sméagol is twisted and corrupted by the ring; and yes, it's his own fault, since he murdered his friend to have the ring. But at the same time, if the ring hadn't appeared in front of Sméagol at that precise moment, perhaps he wouldn't have committed murder and become the Gollum we all know and despise today. It's such strange chance that Déagol happens to fish out the ring right then, on Sméagol's birthday, just at the right time to tempt Sméagol into ruining his life. No wonder Gandalf goes on to say that "it is a sad story" (1.2.103): Sméagol's fate (much like Frodo's own) is both cruel and unasked-for.
"If you don't come back, sir, then I shan't, that's certain," said Sam. "Don't you leave him! they said to me. Leave him! I said. I never mean to. I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon, and if any of those Black Riders try to stop him, they'll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with, I said. They laughed." (1.4.21-2)
The basis of Sam's loyalty to Frodo is a bit ambiguous: he promises Frodo that he'll follow him no matter where Frodo might go, and that he'll die if Frodo dies. But they are not social equals: Sam is Frodo's servant. So is Sam's loyalty to Frodo the loyalty of a friend to a friend? Or of a servant to a master? Does the nature of that loyalty change over the course of the novels? Do they become more like equals as they continue on their quest? Or does Sam continue to think of Frodo as his superior?