The Hobbit By: J.R.R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien… John Ronald Reuel Tolkien *born on January 3, 1892 in South Africa *died September 2, 1973 *English father worked as a bank manager in South Africa - died unexpectedly of complications from rheumatic fever when Ronald was 4 yrs. old * His mother didn’t return to South Africa - moved with her young children to be near her own family in Birmingham and began to educate Ronald and his brother, Hilary, at home *Mrs. Tolkien died in 1904 of complications related to diabetes, leaving the two boys in the guardianship of a benevolent Catholic priest, Fr. Francis Morgan.
* Ronald became interested in the study of language and began to invent languages of his own. * When he was sixteen, he met Edith Bratt, but she was 3 yrs. 0lder – Father Francis forbid them to see each other – Ronald reluctantly obeyed * In 1910, on his second attempt, Ronald Tolkien succeeded in winning a scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford, where he studied philology with the legendary Joseph Wright. * On his 21st birthday, he wrote to Edith and renewed their relationship – they became engaged * WW I broke out in 1914 - Tolkien enlisted in the armed service in a special program that allowed him to complete his degree. In 1915, he took a First in English at Oxford, an accomplishment that assured him of a professional academic position.
* Edith & Tolkien were married in March 1916 - in June he joined the war in France. * He was engaged in active combat at the front - in November he was sent back to England to recover from trench fever - he suffered a relapse and was never sent back to France. * During his recovery he began writing the work that was eventually published in 1977 as The Silmarillion. He called it The Book of Lost Tales and conceived it on an epic scale as a mythology for England. * Their 1st child, John, was born in November 1917. * Year later, he took a job as a researcher for the Oxford English Dictionary project – they moved to Oxford.
* Their 2nd child, Michael, was born 1920 and their 3rd , Christopher, in 1924. * In 1925, Tolkien was appointed Professor of the English Language at Leeds - in the same year, he was hired as Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. * They moved back to Oxford, where their youngest child, Priscilla, was born in 1929. * Edith died in 1971 from complications of gall-bladder illness - Tolkien moved back to Oxford, where he died in 1973.
Writing The Hobbit… The origin of The Hobbit is almost a fantasy story in itself. Tolkien graded School Certificate exams in the summers to supplement his rather meager faculty salary. It was boring work, and one day, finding a blank page in one of the exam booklets, he wrote impulsively, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." Nothing much happened to that sentence for several years; Tolkien continued to tell stories to his own children, to write poems, and to do scholarly work. In the early 1930s, he began to write down much of what he had been telling his children in an effort to integrate it with his more intellectual interest in mythology, and it became the book that is now known as The Hobbit. It was published by the British firm of Allen & Unwin in 1937 with eight of his own illustrations. To a remarkable degree, the tale of the hobbit does constitute a kind of mythology of the English people, whose history Tolkien knew well as a scholar and as an Englishman of his generation. He once said, "I've always been impressed that we are here, surviving, because of the indomitable courage of quite small people against impossible odds."
* The Hobbit was quite successful as a children's book, and for the next twelve years, Tolkien worked on The Lord of the Rings trilogy in an effort to create an epic-scale context for the adventures recounted in The Hobbit. When The Lord of the Rings was finished in 1949, he toyed with the idea of finding a different publisher for it. Ultimately, however, the trilogy was published in 1954 (The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers) and 1955 (The Return of the King) by Allen & Unwin. It became an astonishing international bestseller, and Tolkien achieved world renown as a literary figure.
Key Facts of The Hobbit… * full title · The Hobbit, or There and Back Again * author · J. R. R. Tolkien * type of work · Novel * genre · Fantasy, heroic quest, satire, comic epic, children’s story * language · English * time and place written · Roughly between 1929 and 1936in Oxford, England; since the story was first told orally to Tolkien’s children, there is some doubt as to the exact dates of its composition. * narrator · The anonymous narrator is playful and humorous. He tends to speak in a comic voice with frequent asides and humorous descriptions of the characters. Bilbo, for instance, is often called Mr. Baggins or “the poor little fellow.”
* point of view · The novel is narrated in the third person, almost exclusively from Bilbo’s point of view. The narration is omniscient, which means that the narrator not only relates Bilbo’s thoughts and feelings but also comments on them. * tone · The narrator’s tone is light and casual, and he encourages his readers not to take his story too seriously by making frequent jokes at his characters’ expense. The narrator’s tone periodically becomes darker when the company faces great danger or defeat (as in the chapters taking place in Mirkwood), but for the most part, the story is brightly and warmly narrated. * tense · Past * setting (time & PLACE) · The Third Age of Middle- Earth, 2941–2942 - various locales in the imaginary world of Middle-Earth
* protagonist · Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit * major conflict · Bilbo’s timidity, complacency, and uncertainty work against his inner strength and heroism. As he travels and embarks on adventures, he must gradually learn to rely on his own abilities and to take the initiative to do what he feels is right. * rising action · Gandalf visits Bilbo and orders him to act as the burglar for the dwarves’ expedition to regain Thorin’s treasure from Smaug. Bilbo reluctantly departs, and with each increasingly difficult adventure, he accepts more responsibility for the welfare of the group. * climax · After Bilbo kills a spider in Chapter 8, he finally has enough confidence in his own abilities as a leader and hero. The Battle of the Five Armies in Chapter 17 is the climax of the expedition.
* falling action · Bilbo and Gandalf begin the journey home after regaining the treasure, resolving the differences between the dwarves, elves, and men, and defeating the Wargs and goblins. They first spend time with Beorn, then sojourn in Rivendell before returning to Hobbiton. Bilbo has a newfound appreciation for the comforts of his dwelling, but he recognizes that his view of society and his surroundings has undergone profound change. * themes · Bilbo’s heroism; race, lineage, and character, contrasting worldviews, the nature and geography of Middle-Earth * symbols · Named swords, hobbits
Key Terms… * Oral Tradition: universal human practice of memorizing & performing stories – ie: myths, folktales, heroic epics * Faerie (fay-ree): dangerous realm of magic & enchantment that overlaps human sphere **Tolkien argued that a “fairy story” is characterized not by diminutive sprites called “fairies” but by an encounter between human & Faerie realm – from Faerie spring dragons, ogres, giants, trolls, gnomes, elves, dwarves, witches, wizards, & goblins * Myth: traditional story about relationship between mortal beings & supernatural realm of gods, goddesses, wizards, enchantresses, & monsters * Folktale: traditional episodic narrative transmitted orally w/in a society & between cultures
* Heroic Epic: long poem recounting deeds of valiant warrior or courageous ruler – hero represents best in nation * Eucatastrophe (yew-cat-as-tro-fee): term invented by Tolkien for “good catastrophe” that typically resolves plot of a Faerie narrative – is joyous & wholly unexpected turn of events that delivers hero or heroine from disaster
Characters & Races… As you read, keep track of specific details on the following: Characters: Races: Bilbo Baggins 1. Dwarves Gandalf 2. Elves ThorinOakenshield 3. Humans Gollum 4. Trolls Smaug 5. Goblins Bard 6. Wargs Beorn Elrond Dark Lord Sauron Thror