Author: help (---.academicplanet.com)
Date: 04-09-05 16:29
I put your questions to people on another board, and here are a couple of responses that might help.
The Hobbit was written before the LOTR iirc, and the LOTR was probably written around the ideas from the Hobbit by Tolkein.
It was intended as a childrens tale, and is not targetted at the same audience as the LOTR. The basic idea of the tale is that there is adventure and excitement in life, and that you never know when it will arrive at your door. In fact it encourages people to get out there and see what is beyond the end of the garden path, and see what other people/races are out there, and what they have to offer. The idea of the separate races is a product of the period the book was written in.
I dont remember where the gold came from, but the idea of the relevance of ancient history, mythical animals, etc being real and relevant probably comes from Tolkein's studying of ancient languages, and seeing how the present was shaped by the past.
The origin of the ring isnt discussed in the hobbot, but I think that gollum and the ring are analogies of the dark side of human nature, a sort of alter ego of Bilbo from which he never really escapes, but fights back till the end.
> I hope to have some help on understanding how
> Tolkien's "The Hobbit" has become so popular, its
> "meaning" apparently so commanding.
Because, at its most basic level, it's a good story that holds the reader's attention, and makes them want to find out what happens next!
> Some of the questions I ask about this work are:
> Is this an allegory of some kind?
Nope. Tolkien made it abundantly clear in the preface to LOTR that he detested allegory.
>If so, what is
> the real substance of it and how does that real
> "message" require so extended a recitation?
> If the story is Bilbo's discovery of his courage
> through adventures directed by Gandalf, how are
> the episodes *in turn* to be explained as
> effecting that?
Deconstructing "The Hobbit" ... why should anyone want to do that, I wonder?
>Would it matter if many of them
> were interchanged?
The poor author has gone to all the trouble of designing a story, which works perfectly well as it is ... why would anyone think that the episodes should be swapped about? Yes, it would matter if they were ... they'd be out of sequence!
> Where did the dwarves get the gold held now by the
> dragon, and why is Gandalf, whose powers suggest
> he is above material concerns, aid them in their
> retrieving it?
Well, that's a very interesting point. Sharing out Smaug's treasure after his death represents a real moral and legal quandary of the sort often found in the real world. Basically, the gold was obtained through various acts of plunder and theft, until it's almost impossible to say who it originally belonged to; no one's got any absolute right to it. Then there's all that fuss over Bilbo taking the Arkenstone, and poor Thorin Oakenshield dies ... along with Fili and Kili, IIRC. Such a shame: you don't expect characters of that sort to die in this kind of story, but they do ... AFAICR, I think the dwarves just hired Gandalf to come along and help ... except he disappears part the way through to go and pursue other matters elsewhere.
> Why is the Golum the owner of the magical ring,
> and why does that episode occur when it does in
> Bilbo's story?
Another interesting point. The copy of TH that I first read in my school library when I should have been swotting for "O" level Geography was evidently a very early edition, because the riddle-asking episode was quite different to the edition that's doing the rounds now. Everyone who's seen LOTR 3 knows how Gollum came to possess the Ring (he murdered a friend who'd found it, and then stole it). But, when Tolkien first wrote TH, the ring was just an ordinary magic ring that conferred invisibility. It was only later that it occurred to him that it might not have been just any old magic ring. TH and LOTR weren't conceived at one fell swoop; Tolkien realized that what he'd written as an adventure story could be re-cycled into the epic form that he was so keen to try his hand at.