by John Whitley
The Hobbit J.R.R. Tolkien John Whitley Book Review Ms. Ayers Due March 19, 2012 The Hobbit was published in 1937. It was written by J.R.R. Tolkien. It is a fantasy novel and has 320 pages. Tolkien was born in South Africa in 1892. Growing up he had some hard times. He was bitten by a large baboon spider. He moved to England with his mother and brother after his father died. He taught Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University as well. Some consider Tolkien as one of the greatest writers and scholars of the twentieth century. I thought The Hobbit was a detailed book. The author describes everything down to its exact point. The characters Tolkien describes from head to toe. Bilbo Baggins is described as a hobbit that doesn’t wear shoes, lives a quiet life, and lives in a hole. He doesn’t wear shoes because his are basically indestructible. There are some very interesting excerpts in The Hobbit. In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort. This talks about where Bilbo lives in Bag End. This is the very first line in the story and goes ahead and gives you a good description on where Bilbo Baggins lives. The second excerpt is, "I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone." Then Bilbo comes in and responds to Gandalf saying, "I should think so — in these parts! We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!" Gandalf wants Bilbo to come on an adventure and Bilbo talks about how he doesn’t want to go on an adventure. "I should like to know about risks, out-of-pocket expenses, time required and remuneration, and so forth" - by which he meant: "What am I going to get out of it? And am I going to come back alive?" Bilbo is questioning whether or not he should go on the adventure with Gandalf and the dwarfs. He doesn’t think he will get anything out of it and thinks there is a lot of danger in going. The fourth and final excerpt is this, “He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment.” This is when Bilbo is in the Misty Mountains and stumbles along the ring. He doesn’t know it will make one invisible but it turns out the ring is very valuable. There are a lot of different settings in The Hobbit. It starts out in Bag End in Bilbo’s small home. The dwarfs and Bilbo stay at the elfish stronghold of Rivendell as they are on the way to reclaim their treasure from the marauding dragon Smaug. Rivendell is a fantasy setting. In Rivendell, they have elves that will sing around a campfire. It stood out though because it was only of the few safe places the dwarfs and Bilbo could stay. After the dwarfs stay in Rivendell they have to go through the tunnels and Bilbo gets lost. While he is lost he stumbles across a ring. The ring gives power so that one can turn invisible. This ring starts to make Bilbo a little bit greedy. They meet a man named Beorn and stay under his care. He can change from man to a bear. He has a little cabin on the edge of Mirkwood Forest and they stay there. This is obviously unbelievable because he changes life forms. While they are there they get some food and rest. When they head into the forest they are attacked by giant spiders. Here is when Bilbo starts to grow up and act like the burglar the dwarfs expected him to be. All the dwarves are trapped in the spider’s webs and Bilbo saves them using the ring and his sword which he comes to call Sting. They then are captured by a group of wood elves and Bilbo helps them escape again by hiding them in barrels which float down the river. They all then arrive at Lake Town which is under the Lonely Mountain where Smaug lives. Bilbo again is starting to become cleverer and talks to Smaug and finds out he has a weak patch under his stomach. Bilbo steals some of the treasure and Smaug finds out and burns Lake Town down to the ground but a heroic archer named Bard kills Smaug. Every place the dwarfs and Bilbo go the reader gets a complete description. One theme of the story is Bilbo’s heroism. Every time the dwarfs got in a tight situation Bilbo saved the day. If it hadn’t been for Bilbo there is no way they would have made it to the Lonely Mountain and defeat Smaug. In today’s world we have heroes. Your hero can be a sports player, a movie actor, a singer, or even your parents. I think you need a hero, someone you can look up to and want to be like when you grow up. Bilbo was a hero and without him the dwarfs wouldn’t have been able to get their treasure back. Another theme is race, lineage, and differences in character. All of the characters have different strengths. Bilbo is very powerful because of the ring. Gandalf, a wizard, helped them out a great deal. Beorn can change races which make him very valuable. They had to team up to defeat Smaug and everyone played a role. Having different strengths is great. If Bilbo hadn’t had the ring he basically would have been useless. Having the power and strength spread around is definitely a good thing. In a sports reference, a team can’t win with one player. It takes multiple pieces for them to succeed. “I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes.” This quote comes from Gandalf. It comes in the beginning when the dwarfs don’t think Bilbo will be a good burglar but does. “It’s got to ask uss a question, my preciouss, yes, yess, yess. Jusst one more question to guess, yes, yess.” This quote comes from Gollum when Gollum and Bilbo partake in a riddle game. Gollum is trying to guess what is in Bilbo’s pocket which is Gollum’s ring. “Somehow the killing of this giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. This is just a quote by Tolkien. This is when Bilbo starts to get some confidence in himself. “The most that can be said for the dwarves is this: they intended to pay Bilbo really handsomely for his services; they had brought him to do a nasty job for them, and they did not mind the poor little fellow doing it if he would; but they would all have done their best to get him out of trouble, if he got into it. The fourth quote shows what respect the dwarfs have for Bilbo. At the beginning they didn’t have much respect for him but at the end they did. “There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” The last quote comes from Thorin when he is dying and talking to Bilbo. It shows how he has come to like him. One symbol was the naming of the swords. Swords with names are the marks of great heroes. The swords named Orcrist and Glamdring that Thorin and Gandalf win from the trolls symbolize their heroic deeds. A hobbit is a symbol in a way too. The nature of hobbits is based on the rural, middle-class English people among whom they lived. It allows the author to contrast between ancient and modern times. It lets Tolkien do this because he uses modern times principles but also brings in ancient times. Tolkien seems to think that the modern time is better. I think he thinks this because that was the time period he lived in. The ring represents power. It helped Bilbo when he was in a lot of tight situations. Power can be a good thing but it can quickly tear you apart. With power comes great responsibility. If someone would have gotten jealous of Bilbo all the dwarfs could have been fighting for the ring. Overall, The Hobbit was a fantastic book. It gave great detail and was just a great book. This is a book for thirteen year olds and up. If the only books you like are romantics then this isn’t the book for you. But if you enjoy a fantasy or adventure novel The Hobbit is the book to read. There was a lot of action which kept you interested in the book even though it was long. I would definitely read this book.