My paper explores continuities in the institution of male friendship from the Middle Ages
to the First World War and then looks at contemporary explorations and understandings of the
central male friendship in The Lord of the Rings, that of Frodo and Sam. I look at some examples
of medieval forerunners before examining the nature of male friendship in World War One through
the perspectives of critics such as Sarah Cole, Santanu Das, Joanna Bourke, and Allen Frantzen.
I focus my discussion of The Lord of the Rings on the Cirith Ungol scene, in which Frodo and Sam
sleep together, and on the Mount Doom scene, in which Frodo asks Sam to hold his hands, a gesture
that I argue mimics the medieval ritual of swearing fealty to a lord. I then examine the contemporary
reception of the Frodo-Sam relationship in the Peter Jackson films and in reactions to them. I conclude
by considering slash fan fiction and its version of male friendship.