J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit (1937)

 

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973)

Born in South Africa where his father worked.

1896 His father died in Africa.

1904 His mother died in England.

Attended King Edward’s School then Oxford. Showed interest in philology, the study of languages and started forming his own language (language of The Hobbit’s Middle-Earth)

1916 Married Edith Bratt and received his degree.

1925-45 Oxford professor of Anglo-Saxon language.

Started writing his mythology of Middle-Earth that developed in The Hobbit, combining the Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian epics he studied with his own middle-class rural English, Bilbo Baggins being a pattern of the rural Englishman of his time.

1945-59 Merton professor of English language and literature where he began writing The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

 

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again (1937)

                    Gandalf, Bilbo and 13 dwarfs, plan to reclaim Lonely Mountain from Dragon Smaug.

                    Company is captured by goblins, rescued by Gandalf except for Bilbo who becomes lost.

                    Bilbo finds an invisibility ring. He wins a game of riddles with a creature (Gollum).

                    Bilbo, assisted by his magic ring, saves the dwarfs when they fall in trouble, so the company learns to trust him in the absence of Gandalf.

                    Bilbo barely wins and with the help of the ring, which confers invisibility when worn, he saves himself for the first time, and rejoins the company.

                    While the dwarfs enter the mountain through a secret door, Bilbo scouts the dragon’s lair and learns of a weakness in Smaugs armour and tell the town so they have him slayed.

                    Bilbo finds the prized Arkenstone gem and hides it away. The Lake-men and Wood-elves request payment for their aid but Thorin refuses and banishes Bilbo. War looms inevitable.

                    Gandalf reappears to warn all of an approaching army of goblins and Wargs. The dwarves, men, and elves defer their differences and band together, and a fierce battle ensues.

                    The eagles and Beorn arrive and the Battle of Five Armies is won. Thorin recognises Bilbo's wisdom and selflessness, and dies.

                    The treasure is divided fairly, but, having no need or desire for it, Bilbo refuses most of his share. Nevertheless, he returns home with enough to make himself a very wealthy hobbit.

 

Themes

                    Bilbo connects the modern and antique worlds through language and tradition. Gollums riddles are taken from old historical sources, while those of Bilbo from modern nursery books. This idea of a superficial contrast in characters linguistic style leading to an understanding of the deeper unity is a constant recurring theme throughout The Hobbit.

                    Parable of WWI: hero plucked from rural home, thrown into far off war where traditional types of heroism are shown to be futile and as such explores the theme of heroism.

                    Jungian concept of individuation (open-ended process of psychological maturity usually attained in the second half of our lives) reflected through theme of growing maturity and capability. Author contrasts Bilbo's personal growth against the lack of that of the dwarves.

 

 

 

 Taken from Wikipedia.com & Sparknotes.com