The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit was published in 1937 by J. R. R. Tolkien. Tolkien wore many hats. He was a university professor, poet, writer, and philologist (Carpenter 2). It has been difficult to reach a consensus on whether the book is a novel, a romance, a fable, an epic, a fantasy, or a fairy. This could be the reason why the book has maintained its appeal to date, even being transformed into a movie. The uncertainty that surrounds the classification of the book also goes a long way into showing its potential strengths and weaknesses. This paper will briefly tell the story of the Hobbit with the aim of understanding what type of work it was.
The story of the hobbit is one with a lot of adventure. It is a fantasy novel. It gives the story of a hobbit called Bilbo Baggins who is after getting a share of treasure protected by a dragon called Smaug. Although Bilbo loves staying at home, his quest for the treasure forces him to move from the comfort of his rural environment to a menacing territory. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” (Tolkien 1). Even though his house was a hole in the ground, it was tastefully furnished. “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 hobbit would not be expected to leave the comfort of his home and venture into unknown grounds. However, a wizard named Gandalf one morning passes by Bilbo’s hole, “looking for someone to share in an adventure.” Bilbo has no interest in the adventure and adamantly refuses by telling Gandalf, “Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not Today. Good morning! But please come to tea -any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Good bye!” However, he somehow finds himself forced into it when the wizard returns the next day with thirteen dwarves led by Thorin.
Bilbo is forced into this unexpected journey because Gandalf had advertised that Bilbo was a burglar for hire by placing a mark on his door that led the dwarves to believe the lie. They embark on a journey to look for treasure they believe is hidden in a mountain where Thorin’s ancestors used to live. The dwarves believe they have to fight for the treasure because the dragon called Smaug took what belongs to them through their ancestors. “A box without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.” This is how Thorin tried to convince the rest of the treasure that lies ahead.
Throughout the entire journey, the crew is faced with numerous scary adventures in the wild. They are caught by goblins and taken to unknown underground territory. Gandalf later rescues them but the rest of the crew is separated from Bilbo while fleeing the goblins. Bilbo gets lost but later rejoins the dwarves. They regain their confidence in him once he finds them. The goblins do not give up the chase. They trace the dwarves and Bilbo but eagles save them and deliver them to a safe house owned by Beorn. As they get into the black forest, they are no longer in the company of Gandalf. They are attacked by giant spiders and then by wood elves. However, Bilbo saves them from all these attacks. When they get to the mountains, they are welcome by human beings who hope that they will be able to kill Smaug and give them back their freedom.
In summary, The Hobbit is somehow not easy to classify because of its nature. In a way, it sounds like a fairy tale because it gives a story of imagined scenarios such as people living in holes in the ground that are well furnished. There is some level of fiction because a lot of things such as the existence of a dragon are also imagined.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. Anderson, Douglas A., ed. The Annotated Hobbit. London: HarperCollins, (2003) . Print.
- Carpenter, Humphrey. Tolkien: A Biography, New York: Ballantine Books, 1977. Print.