If I have to find one "flaw" about The Lord of the Rings, it may be the fact that Sam is more or less the slave of Frodo, albeit a willing servant. This fundamentally bothers me, for some reason. Perhaps because I'm essentially Sam in terms of social status, if even that.
Although he ends up being extremely heroic and important, and (spoiler warning) eventually becomes the long-time mayor of Hobbiton, during the entire epic journey, he is always somehow "below" Frodo, and Frodo is always the "obvious" leader, even though he barely seems to have any more wits than Sam in most situations.
It's heavily implied that Sam isn't the sharpest individual, but I mostly don't notice any of this supposed stupidity. Perhaps I'm failing to see it just because I want him to be "normal" or on "equal terms" with Frodo?
With this in mind, is there any particular reason that Tolkien decided to not just make Sam Frodo's close and trusty friend, who might do work for him but isn't in any way a "servant" or "slave"? Would this really have changed the story in a major way?
Is there some specific point in making Sam play the role he has? Could it be that it's simply his (perhaps largely imagined) low intelligence that makes him so submissive toward Frodo? As in, "good ol' Frodo is so smart, so he'd better call the shots"? Low self-esteem, perhaps as a result from being talked down to all his life in Hobbiton by the older hobbits?
I'm not at all ignorant about actual history, and I know that until very recently, this kind of relationship was extremely common. Especially here in Europe. And it even makes perfect sense. Still, there's something about it which makes me uncomfortable. Since Hobbits are fictional entities, it wasn't strictly necessary for Tolkien to have such as "master/slave" tradition included in the story, at least among Hobbits. Hobbits seem like they all mostly live in peace and harmony, with not many power struggles and things of that nature.
Perhaps Tolkien made Sam a "slave" specifically for there to be a maximum contrast once he has been through all the trials and comes back as a leader? Although, even then, he still seems like he looks up to Frodo, in spite of basically carrying Frodo to Mount Doom.
The entire character of Sam basically confuses me.