Author: help (---.academicplanet.com)
Date: 04-10-05 11:30
Can't I just enjoy it as a good story sad smiley ?
Sure, why not?
As I recall it, Isildur was being hunted by orcs when, while fording the Baranduin (Brandywine), the Ring betrayed him by slipping off his finger; the orcs then filled him full of arrows. I'm not sure how much time passed before the incident where Smeagol kills his friend (cousin?) for possession of the Ring; he then uses the Ring to assist with his furtive, reprehensible activities among his own people, who cast him out. After that, he (under the influence of the Ring, since now light is increasingly painful to him) finds a deep, dark hole to crawl into, and there he stays until the meeting with Bilbo. Since at the time of The Hobbit, Sauron is starting to stir about (which Gandalf finds out about in his "off-screen" wanderings) and gain power, the Ring abandons Gollum for Bilbo, so as to get back out in circulation again, with an eye (make that Eye, pun intended) to making its way to Sauron. Which is the lead-in to LOTR.
In his story The Rats (or was it its sequel Lair?) James Herbert has a couple who have an adulterous and, um, how shall I put it, 'adventurous' love affair which they conduct in Epping Forest (?). This couple end up on the Rats menu - horribly messily so... (these books are not for the squeamish - or the prudish).
Some folks said that Herbert was writing an allegory about faithfulness, with the couple being 'punished' for their immoral behaviour, or some such.
James Herbert refutes this completely, saying, iirc, that it was no such thing and was simply part of a gruesome story - no morals, just good old fashioned horror.
I've read, I think, that Tolkien made up The Hobbit for his children as he went along.
I suppose some people need to see allegory in the stories they read, some don't.
Me? I haven't the imagination to see allegory in anything, beyond the clearly intended.
> If this is the story of Bilbo's change, one of the
> main questions I have in that dimension is: how
> are the steps of the challenges he faces
> increasing in difficulty or danger?
I think that this is something that each reader could work out for himself!
> Why should the Golum be the source of the magical
Why, I wonder, is this question being asked at all, especially in those terms? Gollum wasn't the "source". As Damian quoted above, Tolkien's view of the Gollum/Bilbo/Ring situation changed over time. In my view, the most fascinating aspect of this question is seeing the author's mind at work, and the way in which a tale that had its roots in a children's adventure story became a saga. (It's said that he wrote the first sentence of TH on a sheet of exam paper that someone had left blank ... and it developed into something capable of generating a multi-million dollar fortune. Amazing.)
> What is Gandalf in this story? If he is as
> powerful as he sometimes demonstrates, why does he
> not simply solve the dragon problem for the
> dwarves himself and get on with his business -
> whatever that is?
Well, the author wanted to tell a story that involved Bilbo finding out that he was capable of much more than he thought, not Gandalf sorting everything out with one wave of his magic wand! Anyway, as has been pointed out elsewhere, Gandalf as he appears in TH is a different figure from the one who appears in LOTR. Can you imagine the Gandalf of TH fighting the Balrog? Not really on, is it? AFAICR, in TH, the dwarves pay Gandalf for his services, and he helps them until he's called away elsewhere.
As J remarks above, there's a great deal to be said for just enjoying the story!
Yes, sometimes a story is just a story.
Yes, I agree completely. And the same is true in chapters 6, 7, and 8 of the first book of TLOTR when we return briefly to this whimsical, inscrutable, dangerous and wonder-filled world of @!#$ tale.
Chapter 6; "The Old Forest". The hobbits flee their familar and beloved Shire and, crossing the Brandywine River, are lost in the Old Forest. They are overcome and snared by the enchantments of Old Man Willow and are rescued by a creature as strange or stranger, Tom Bombadil.
Chapter 7; "In The House of Tom Bombadil".
'Fair lady!' said Frodo again after a while. 'Tell me, if my asking does not seem foolish, who is Tom Bombadil?'
'He is,' said Goldberry, staying her swift movements and smiling.
Frodo looked at her questioningly. 'He is, as you have seen,' she said in answer to his look. 'He is the Master of wood, water, and hill.'
'Then all this strange land belongs to him?'
'No indeed!' she answered, and her smile faded. 'That would indeed be a burden,' she added in a low voice, as if to herself. 'The trees and the grasses and all things growing or living in the land belong each to themselves. Tom Bombadil is the Master. No one has ever caught old Tom walking in the forest, wading in the water, leaping on the hill tops under light and shadow. He has no fear. Tom Bombadil is master.'
Chapter 8; "Fog on the Barrow Downs". Immediately after the hobbits leave the protection of Tom Bombadil, Tolkien adds a twist to the traditional ending of the @!#$ tale. The hobbits are *again* ensnared by enchantment and must again be rescued by Tom. But after this second rescue, when the the hobbits beg Tom Bombadil to continue with them-- at least as far as The Prancing Pony in Bree-- he refuses, saying:
Tom's country ends here: he will not pass the borders.
Tom has his house to mind, and Goldberry is waiting!
These three chapters are a wonderful revisitation to the style and worldview of The Hobbit, but better still, they initiate us and the hobbits from out of @!#$ tales to the wider adult world of TLOFR where, beginning with the Prancing Pony in Bree, they will have have to deal with the world of Men.