‘This is the story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected….’
Drawves and goblins and so much more
I have recently finished reading The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien, and I have certainly felt like I should have a week or so gap before starting my next book, as this tale seems to have rooted itself within me somewhere. It now ranks as one of my favourite books of all time…. EVER. What’s not to love, its a tale of drawves, a brave and plucky hobbit, a dragon under a mountain, goblins, trolls, wizards and much more. Tolkien does a grand job of bringing the characters to life on the page and you get to know them as you move further through the story.
The moral values and lessons underpinning the story are possibly one of the more emotive aspects of the book, highlighted by Thorin stating to Bilbo on page 263 ‘If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world’ and you can imagine the orchestral music playing in the background after this interaction between the 2 of them. In fact the relationship between Thorin and Bilbo is an interesting one, that changes and takes many unexpected turns. Thorin see’s Bilbo as a burden for much of the first part of the journey, he protects him and keeps Bilbo as part of their group despite this, but certainly does not see the advantages initially of Bilbo tagging along. The dwarves including Thorin slowly gain respect for Bilbo however, this can be seen on page 152 ‘You can see that they had changed their opinion of Mr. Baggins very much, and had begun to have a great respect for him (as gandalf had said they would).’ This change of heart came after the battle with the spiders in the dark forest of Mirkwood, whereby Bilbo proved his worth and saves the dwarves from a nasty end. Moving towards the end of the story Bilbo is held in great admiration by the dwarves, Thorin himself manages to part on good terms with Bilbo and express kind feelings towards the Hobbit and the other dwarves certainly have a lot of respect for him, and would not again underestimate a Hobbit.
An Adventurous Tale
The Hobbit is an adventurous tale, from the misty mountains, to Lake Town and beyond to the lonely mountain, the adventures come thick and free flowing. On page 48 the overarching theme of story telling and tales is highlighted, ‘Things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable, palpitating, and even gruesome, may make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.’ Tolkiens love of story telling is stitched into the very pages of this story, the songs sung by the dwarves and some of the other characters along the way tell stories in themselves. The dwarves periodically tell tales of old to each other and to Bilbo, the enchanting aspect of this story telling all the way through is heartwarming for me as a lover of stories and books and one that can truly appreciate it.
Good and Evil
We are shown that both good and evil indeed dwells inside all of us; Thorin, and the master of lake town are examples of this, even old smaug himself appears at points to have some endearing qualities. We also see Bilbo, the ‘good guy’ take the Arkenstone of Thrain from the hoard of gold in the lonely mountain with no clear plan at that point why or what he will do with it. This certainly makes the tale more interesting and blurs the boundaries between good and evil, and indeed reflects on how we feel about ourselves and the internal battle we have within us of selfish vs altruistic actions. In contrast to this we are very briefly introduced to the ‘necromancer’ within The Hobbit, who is spoken about as of there is no good whatsoever there. This character features heavily in the follow on takes of The Lord Of The Rings by J R R Tolkien, and we then find out that sometimes, rarely, but defiantly present, we are introduced to truly evil characters in story telling and in life, I love how fiction reflects reality and the parallel of such are good to point out.
In terms of the ending of the tale, we come to the final pages with a deep love for Bilbo and certainly a warm fuzzy feeling in our hearts for the dwarves. The weakness of men is hanging ever present in the air towards the end of the story, and finally Bilbo gets to go home to ‘His comfortable chair before the fire in his favourite sitting-room in his hobbit-hole’ page 44. The quaint use of language is heartwarming in this tale, the story is enchanting and its a book that becomes part of you for the time your reading it. It’s hard to think of any negatives, so I won’t insult the story by pushing for any when nothing negative instantly comes to mind. This shall remain on my bookshelf and most certainly be re-read again and again.