Contents. • Life of J.R.R. Tolkien. • Magical Worlds Stamps. • Various Facets of
The Hobbit. • Recurring Themes in The Hobbit. • An Analysis of the Genre of The.
J.R.R. TOLKIEN’S THE HOBBIT Understanding and Sharing Its True Meaning
Contents • • • • • • • • • •
Life of J.R.R. Tolkien Magical Worlds Stamps Various Facets of The Hobbit Recurring Themes in The Hobbit An Analysis of the Genre of The Hobbit Characteristics of Fairy Stories The Value of The Hobbit Suggestions for Engaging the Culture and Sharing Its True Meaning. Selections from Tolkien’s “On Fairy Stories” A Portrait of Gollum
Tolkien’s Parents • Arthur Reuel Tolkien and Mabel Suffield. • Married in Cape Town Cathedral on April 16, 1891. • Lived in Bloemfontein (“fountain of flowers”), the capital of the Free State Province where Arthur managed the Bank of Africa. • Arthur was intensely happy but Mabel came to passionately dislike Bloemfontein.
Arthur & Mabel Tolkien’s Sons • John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892. His parents and, later, his wife used the name Ronald. As an adult, his closest friends called him Tollers. • He was christened in Bloemfontein Cathedral on January 31, 1892. • Hilary Arthur Reuel Tolkien was born on February 17, 1894.
Back to England • Ronald’s health was the reason for a visit to Cape Town, followed by a visit to England. • Mabel and the boys left for England at the beginning of April, 1895, arriving at Southampton three weeks later. In a few hours, they were in Birmingham. • Arthur contracted rheumatic fever in November, suffered a severe hemorrhage and died February 15, 1896.
Sarehole • Ronald, Hilary, and Mabel lived with her parents for a time. • In the summer of 1896, they moved out of Birmingham to the hamlet of Sarehole. • The area influenced Tolkien’s description of the green and peaceful country of the Shire as presented in his books. • This was “home” to Tolkien. His mother taught him Latin and French.
Tolkien’s Home in Sarehole
Sarehole • Mabel gave serious thought to becoming a Catholic – and they left the Anglican Church in the spring of 1900. • She discovered the Birmingham Oratory and enrolled the boys at the St. Philip’s School. Father Francis Xavier was the parish priest who had such a significant impact on Tolkien. • However, they went back to King Edward’s school for a better education.
Sarehole • Learned Greek, read Chaucer, was taught to play chess, etc. • Tolkien’s mother was diagnosed with diabetes (type I) and the boys were sent away to relatives. Insulin would not be discovered for two more decades. • Mabel’s condition deteriorated, she sank into a diabetic coma and died six days later on November 14, 1904 (Tolkien was 12).
Birmingham • J.R.R. and Hilary moved in with their Aunt Beatrice Suffield in Birmingham. • The Oratory church was near where the boys attended early morning mass. Afterwards they would eat breakfast and go to school at King Edward’s. • Tolkien began to develop an interest in the general principles of language – philology, the science of words.
Anglo‐Saxon • Tolkien was interested in Anglo‐Saxon, also called Old English (Beowulf). • He discovered Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Old Norse, Gothic, and had a deep love for the look and sound of words. • He started inventing his own languages. • Diary entry: “Did a lot of private lang.”
Edith • Father Francis moved the boys to a more pleasant home in Birmingham in 1908 – Mrs. Faulkner. • Edith Bratt, an orphan, lived on the first floor beneath the boys’ bedroom. • Tolkien and Edith struck up a friendship – he was 16 and she was 19. • In 1909, they decided they were in love – but would have to wait… “I shall not see her again perhaps for three years.”
1910 • Tolkien worked hard to prepare for an Oxford Scholarship. • He devoted much time to the Debating Society: held a debate entirely in Latin; spoke entirely in Greek; broke into fluent Gothic; spoke in Anglo‐Saxon. • On December 17, 1910, he was awarded an Open Classical Exhibition to Exeter College.
1911 • Entered Oxford, Exeter College • Joined the Essay Club, Dialectical Society, and the debating club. • He was now firmly dedicated to a pipe. • He was reading Classics, while paying attention to handwriting and calligraphy. He had a different style of handwriting for each of his friends.
Exeter College, Oxford
Marriage • On January 3, 1913, Tolkien sat up in bed and wrote a letter to Edith, renewing his declaration of love. • Edith wrote in reply that she was engaged to be married to George Field. • On January 8, Tolkien traveled by train to see her at Cheltenham. By the end of the day, she declared that she would give up George and marry Ronald Tolkien.
War • England had declared war on Germany. • Tolkien began to drill in the University Parks with the Officers’ Training Corps. • June 1915, Tolkien achieved First Class Honours. • He took up his commission with the Lancashire Fusiliers in July at Bedford. • Ronald married Edith on Wednesday, March 22, 1916.
War • On June 4, 1916, Tolkien set out for London and, from there, to France. • On Friday, July 14, Tolkien and “B” Company went into action – Battle of the Somme. • On Friday, October 27, trench fever struck Tolkien. • On November 8, he was put on a ship for England.
The Silmarillion • Tolkien wanted to create an entire mythology. He was now back with Edith at Great Haywood (convalescing) and began to write. • “Middle‐earth is our world,” he wrote. “I have (of course) placed the action in a purely imaginary (though not wholly impossible) period of antiquity, in which the shape of the continental masses was different.”
Christianity & Tolkien’s Stories “Some have puzzled over the relation between Tolkien’s stories and his Christianity, and have found it difficult to understand how a devout Roman Catholic could write with such conviction about a world where God is not worshipped. But there is no mystery. The Silmarillion is the work of a profoundly religious man. It does not contradict Christianity but complements it… Tolkien’s universe is ruled over by God.”
Tolkien’s Mythology • He wanted it to be remote and strange. • He did not want it to be a lie. • He wanted to express his own moral view of the universe. • He wanted God to be worshipped. • While God is present in Tolkien’s universe, He remains unseen.
J.R.R.’s & Edith’s Children • John Francis Reuel Tolkien (November 16, 1917 – January 22, 2003). • Michael Hilary Reuel Tolkien (October 22, 1920 – February 27, 1984). • Christopher John Reuel Tolkien (November, 1924 ‐ ). • Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel Tolkien (June 18, 1929 ‐ ).
Oxford & Leeds • Late in November, 1918, Edith and Ronald took up residence in Oxford. He had been invited to join the staff of the New English Dictionary (“I learned more in those two years than in any other equal period of my life”). • He applied for a post at the University of Leeds and became Reader in English Language – then a professor in 1924. He was 32.
Early 1925 • The Professorship of Anglo‐Saxon was coming vacant at Oxford University. • Tolkien applied. • He was backed by many people. • At election time, the votes were equal – between Tolkien and another man. The Vice‐ Chancellor had to make the decision with his casting vote. He voted for Tolkien.
Humphrey Carpenter’s Summary “Tolkien came back to Oxford, was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo‐Saxon for twenty years, was then elected Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, went to live in a conventional Oxford suburb where he spent the first part of his retirement, moved to a nondescript seaside resort, came back to Oxford after his wife died, and himself died a peaceful death at the age of 81.”
Tolkien, the Hobbit “I am in fact a hobbit in all but size. I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humor (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.”
The Origin of The Hobbit • Sometime after 1930, Tolkien scribbled on a blank page of a student’s exam: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” • He did nothing with it for a long time and only got as far as the production of Thror’s Map. • The manuscript suggests that the actual writing of the main part of the story was done over a comparatively short period of time.
The Origin of The Hobbit • Christopher Tolkien remembers, “Daddy wrote it ages ago, and read it to John, Michael, and me in our Winter “Reads” after tea in the evening.” • It is a children’s story. • In 1936, Susan Dagnall of Allen & Unwin’s staff visited Tolkien and asked for the typescript. He obliged. She took it back to London… • It was published on September 21, 1937.
Last Years • After Edith died in November of 1971, Tolkien returned to Oxford and moved into rooms in Merton College where he was elected Merton Professor of English Language and Literature in 1945. • On August 28, he went to Bournemouth to stay with friends, became ill, and died in the early hours of Sunday, September 2, 1973.
Tolkien’s Home, Oxford 1953‐1968
Tolkien’s Home, Oxford
Tolkien’s Home, Oxford
J.R.R. & Edith Gravesite
Royal Mail Mint Stamps
Oxford Royal Mail Launch, The Sheldonian Theatre, Tuesday, July 21, 1998
Magical World Stamps • Through the Looking Glass (1872) – Lewis Carroll • The Phoenix and the Carpet (1904) – E. Nesbit • The Hobbit (1937) – J.R.R. Tolkien • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) – C.S. Lewis • The Borrowers (1952) – Mary Norton
The Hobbit Stamp
Various Facets of The Hobbit • Poetry (16 poems in the book, plus 8 riddles). • Tolkien’s artwork. • The peoples and places from his invented mythology (Elrond, Mirkwood, and the Necromancer, Sauron). • The style of his writing for children. • A kind of playfulness drawing on his knowledge of medieval language and literature.
Recurring Themes in The Hobbit • • • • • • •
Life as an adventure Abandoning the path Attitudes towards obstacles and hindrances Longing for comfort A renewed appreciation for beauty Good luck The unexpected
Recurring Themes in The Hobbit • • • • • • •
God’s grand metanarrative Turning points Eucatastrophe Resourcefulness Moral crisis Character development and growth Moral depravity
Recurring Themes in The Hobbit • • • • • • •
Gratitude Internal struggles and values Detours Darkness Enchantment Courage Tragic misunderstanding
Recurring Themes in The Hobbit • • • • • • •
Companionship and friendship Living in concert with nature Dependence Prophecies Reality of evil Emotional volatility Competence
Recurring Themes in The Hobbit • • • • • • •
Hopelessness Aloneness Values Resoluteness Dragon‐sickness Hope Conscientiousness
Recurring Themes in The Hobbit • • • • • • • •
Prosperity Self‐protection Leadership Suffering Sympathy Insensitivity Pride Risk
What Kind of Book Is It?
C.S. Lewis “The first qualification for judging any piece of workmanship from a corkscrew to a cathedral is to know what it is – what it was intended to do and how it is meant to be used.” ‐ C.S. Lewis
The First Demand of Art “We sit down before the picture in order to have something done to us, not that we may do things with it. The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. Get yourself out of the way.” C.S. Lewis 1898‐1963
‐ An Experiment in Criticism
What Is The Hobbit? • The Hobbit is a fairy story. • J.R.R. Tolkien wrote an essay entitled On Fairy Stories in which he defined a fairy story as “one which touches on or uses Faerie, whatever its own main purpose may be, satire, adventure, morality, fantasy.” • C.S. Lewis: “I hope everyone has read Tolkien’s essay on Fairy Tales, which is perhaps the most important contribution to the subject that anyone has yet made.”
“He who would enter into the Kingdom of Faerie should have the heart of a little child.”
Tolkien on Fairy Stories “The definition of a fairy‐ story…does not, then, depend on any definition of historical account of elf or fairy, but upon the nature of Faerie, the Perilous Realm itself, and the air that blows in that country. I will not attempt to define that, nor to describe it directly. It cannot be done.”
Characteristics of Fairy Stories • They are not stories about fairies. • They are not allegories. • They have a lively and somewhat mysterious atmosphere. • They reflect the author’s attitude to the world. • They bear a strong sense of reality. • “A fairy‐story is one which touches on or uses Faerie, whatever its own main purpose may be: satire, adventure, morality, fantasy” (Tolkien).
Characteristics of Fairy Stories • They have many ingredients, but analysis will not necessarily help us discover the secret of the whole story. • The virtue of fairy stories is found in “the satisfaction of certain primordial human desires” (Tolkien). • They cannot tolerate the idea suggesting that the whole story in which they occur is a figment or illusion.
Characteristics of Fairy Stories • One of the primal desires that lies near the heart of Faerie is the desire of men to hold communion with other living things. • They are very ancient. • They throw illumination on our Primary world. • They evoke literary belief (“willing suspension of unbelief”). • They offer a piercing glimpse of Joy.
Characteristics of Fairy Stories • The sub‐creator makes a Secondary World which one’s mind may enter – it becomes “true,” that is, it accords with the laws of that world. You believe it while you are, as it were, inside the story. • The magic, or art, fails when disbelief arises. You are then out in the Primary World again. • They are not primarily concerned with possibility, but with desirability. If they awaken desire, they succeed.
“Man may, if he pleases invent a little world of his own, with its own laws; for there is that in him which delights in calling up new forms – which is the nearest, perhaps, he can come to creation…His world once invented, the highest law that comes next into play is, that there shall be harmony between the laws by which the new world has begun to exist; and in the process of his creation, the inventor must hold by those laws. The moment he forgets one of them, he makes the story, by its own postulates, incredible.”
What The Hobbit is Not • A Traveler’s Tale: these tales report many marvels, but they are marvels that can be seen in this mortal world in some region of our own time and space; distance alone conceals them (e.g., The Time Machine, Gulliver’s Travels, etc.). • The Machinery of Dream: the dream may be Faerie, but the waking writer cheats the primal desire at the heart of Faerie (e.g., Alice in Wonderland).
What The Hobbit is Not • A Beast‐fable: the animals are the heroes and heroines, while the men and women, if they appear, are mere adjuncts; the animal form is only a mask upon a human face (e.g., Peter Rabbit, The Three Little Pigs, etc.).
The Value of Fairy Stories • Our minds and hearts are enriched. • Our worldview is challenged and we are invited to examine our own thoughts and lives in the light of God’s eternal truths. • We are given the opportunity to think analogically (God’s thoughts after Him) in order to interpret our lives in the light of His Word, the Scriptures.
The Value of Fairy Stories • Tolkien opens our eyes to astonishing things we never expected to see in order that we may be filled with wonder. • The interesting and well‐developed characters to whom we are introduced have much to teach us about the joys and challenges of living life in a broken, fallen world.
The Value of Fairy Stories • They serve as schools of virtue and repositories of truth. • They can give us a better understanding of our true humanity and dignity and propel us back into the full romance of living life under the Lordship of Christ.
Tolkien’s Four Values 1. Fantasy: sub‐creation; story‐making in its primary and most potent mode; “Enchantment produces a Secondary World into which both designer and spectator can enter, to the satisfaction of their senses while they are inside, but in its purity it is artistic in desire and purpose” (Tolkien). “Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.”
Tolkien’s Four Values 2. Recovery: Before we reach the states of boredom and anxiety to be original, that may lead to manipulation and overelaboration of old material, we need recovery. “We should look at green again, and be startled anew…We need, in any case, to clean our windows – so that the things seen may be freed from the drab blur of triteness or familiarity.”
Blaise Pascal “How vain painting is, exciting admiration by its resemblance to things of which we do not admire the originals!” ‐ Blaise Pascal
Tolkien’s Four Values 3. Escape: “There are other things more grim and terrible to fly from than the noise, stench, ruthlessness, and extravagance of the internal combustion engine. There are hunger, thirst, poverty, pain, sorrow, injustice, death.” 4. Consolation: The consolation of the Happy Ending; Eucatastrophe = a sudden and miraculous grace, never to be counted on to recur. Joy and deliverance – the heart’s desire.
Eucatastrophe Eucatastrophe is “a sudden and miraculous grace, never to be counted on to recur. It does not deny the existence of dycatastrophe, of sorrow and failure: the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance; it denies universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.”
Eucatastrophe “The Gospels contain a fairy‐story, or a story of a larger kind which embraces all the essence of fairy‐stories. They contain many marvels – peculiarly artistic, beautiful, and moving, ‘mythical’ in their perfect, self‐ contained significance, and among the marvels is the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe. But this story has entered History and the primary world, the
Eucatastrophe desire and aspiration of sub‐creation has been raised to the fulfillment of Creation. The Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy.”
Suggestions for Engagement • Read and re‐read The Hobbit, becoming familiar with the story and contrasting it with this world’s enticements. • Learn Tolkien’s four values of fairy stories: fantasy, restoration, escape, consolation. Be prepared to share these in your own words. • Ask your friends how real life can be better understood in the light of Faerie.
Suggestions for Engagement • Become comfortable with the idea that The Hobbit can serve as a school of virtue and a repository of truth. • Living in an age that has largely dismissed the cardinal virtues of goodness, beauty, and truth (in favor of inclusivism, multiculturalism, and environmentalism), how can The Hobbit refocus one’s attention on important themes,
Suggestions for Engagement messages, and morals to give us a better understanding of our true humanity and dignity and propel us back into the full romance of living life in relationship with God through Christ? Reflect on this question and be prepared to discuss this with your friends. • Some important themes: simplicity, friendship, hospitality, faith, sacrifice, temptation, failure, humility, providence, imagination, courage, etc.
Suggestions for Engagement • Be prepared to discuss the following concepts with your friends: enchantment, desirability and awakened desire, the need for recovery, freedom from the drab of triteness or familiarity, the potency of words, wonder, eucatastrophe, and sub‐creation. • Listen carefully to determine if your friends remained in the Primary World or entered the Enchantment of The Hobbit. Seek to lead them back into the Secondary World.
Suggestions for Engagement • Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you as you engage your friends and seek to present the message of the gospel to them. Pray that the Lord will use the film and your words to lead others into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Additional Notes From Tolkien’s Essay “On Fairy Stories”
In Tolkien’s Own Words “The realm of fairy‐story is wide and deep and high and filled with many things, all manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever‐present peril, both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveler who
In Tolkien’s Own Words would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should be shut and the keys be lost.”
In Tolkien’s Own Words “Fairy‐stories are not in normal English usage stories about fairies or elves, but stories about Fairy, that is Faerie, the realm or state in which fairies have their being. Faerie contains many things besides elves and fays, and besides dwarfs, witches, trolls, giants, or dragons. It holds the seas, the sun, the moon, the sky, and the earth, and all things that are in it: tree and bird, water and stone, wine and bread, and ourselves, mortal men, when we are enchanted.”
In Tolkien’s Own Words • “Fairy‐stories were plainly not primarily concerned with possibility, but with desirability. If they awakened desire, satisfying it while often whetting (render more acute) it unbearably, they succeeded.” • “If fairy‐story as a kind is worth reading at all, it is worthy to be written for and read by adults. They will, of course, put more in and get more out than children.”
In Tolkien’s Own Words • “In this inheritance of wealth there may be a danger of boredom or of anxiety to be original, and that may lead to a distaste for fine drawing, delicate pattern, and pretty colors, or else to mere manipulation and overelaboration of old material, clever and heartless…Before we reach such states we need recovery. We should look at green again, and be startled anew by blue and yellow and red.”
In Tolkien’s Own Words • “We need, in any case, to clean our windows, so that the things seen clearly may be freed from the drab of triteness or familiarity.” • “Creative fantasy, because it is mainly trying to do something else (make something new), may open your hoard and let all the locked things fly away like cagebirds.”
In Tolkien’s Own Words • “It was in fairy‐stories that I first divined the potency of the words, and the wonder of the things, such as stone, and wood, and iron, tree and grass, house and fire, bread and wine.” • “There are other things more grim and terrible to fly from than the noise, stench, ruthlessness, and extravagance of the internal combustion engine. There are hunger, thirst, poverty, pain, sorrow, injustice, death.”
In Tolkien’s Own Words • “Tragedy is the true form of Drama, its highest function, but the opposite is true of Fairy‐ story. Since we do not appear to possess a word that expresses this opposite – I will call it Eucatastrophe. The eucatastrophic tale is the true form of fairy‐tale, and its highest function.”
In Tolkien’s Own Words • “It is the mark of a good fairy‐story, of the higher or more complete kind, that however wild its events, however fantastic or terrible the adventures, it can give to child or man that hears it, when the ‘turn’ comes, a catch of the breath, a beat and lifting of the heart, near to (or indeed accompanied by) tears, as keen as that given by any form of literary art, and having a peculiar quality.”
A Portrait of Gollum
Gollum’s Early History • Gollum’s name had once been Smeagol, a kind of hobbit “akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors, for they loved the River, and often swam in it, or made little boats of reeds.” • Smeagol was the most inquisitive and curious‐ minded in the family. “He was interested in roots and beginnings; he dived into deep pools; he burrowed under trees and growing
Gollum’s Early History plants; he tunnelled into green mounds; and he ceased to look up at the hill‐tops, or the leaves on trees, or the flowers opening in the air: his head and his eyes were downward.” • His friend was called Deagol, “sharper‐eyed but not so quick and strong.” • Smeagol and Deagol took a boat and went down to Gladden Fields; Deagol fished while Smeagol nosed about the banks.
Gollum’s Early History • A great fish took Deagol’s hook and he was dragged out of the boat and down to the bottom of the water. • He saw something shining in the river‐bed and grabbed it. It was a beautiful golden ring that shone in the sun. • Smeagol, who had been watching him from behind a tree came up softly behind him.
Gollum’s Early History • “Give us that, Deagol, my love,” said Smeagol. • Deagol refused and Smeagol strangled him and put the ring on his finger. • No one ever found out what happened to Deagol because he had been murdered far from home and his body was cunningly hidden.
Gollum’s Early History • Smeagol used the ring to find out secrets; he put his knowledge to crooked and malicious uses. He became sharp‐eyed and keen‐eared for all that was hurtful. • He became very unpopular and was shunned by all of his relatives. • He began to steal and went about muttering to himself, and gurgling in his throat (Gollum).
Gollum’s Early History • The family expelled him and turned him away. • He wandered in loneliness, journeyed up the River, caught fish in deep pools and ate them raw. • After shaking his fist at the sun, he saw the tops of the Misty Mountains and wanted to live under them in the cool and shade of a cave.
Gollum’s Early History • “So he journeyed by night up into the highland, and he found a little cave out of which the dark stream ran; and he wormed his way like a maggot into the heart of the hills, and vanished out of all knowledge. The Ring went into the shadows with him, and even the maker, when his power had begun to grow again, could learn nothing of it.”
Gollum’s Connection to Hobbits • Frodo: “I can’t believe that Gollum was connected with hobbits, however distantly.” • Bilbo’s story of Gollum suggests the kinship. • Gandalf notes that “there was a great deal in the background of their minds and memories that was very similar…Think of the riddles they both knew, for one thing.”
The Effect of the Ring on Gollum • Gollum was not wholly ruined; there was a little corner of his mind that was still his own. • Light from the past would come to his mind but that would make the evil part of him angrier. • The Ring ate up his mind and the torment was almost unbearable.
Physical Appearance The average Hobbit size (slightly larger than Sam). A small, slimy creature. As dark as darkness. Large feet and long fingers. Pale skin, but wore dark clothes and was often seen in poor light. • Had pockets for goblin teeth, tooth‐sharpening rock (6 teeth), and a scrap of bat wing.
• • • • •
Parting with the Ring • Gollum “hated it and loved it, as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter.” • The keeper of the Ring never abandons it. • The Ring left Gollum. It was trying to get back to its master. When its master was awake once more and sending out his dark thought from Mirkwood, it abandoned Gollum.
In Theaters December 14, 2012