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The Hobbit, parallel on WWI

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Olivia Spyth

on 24 June 2013

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Transcript of The Hobbit, parallel on WWI

J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit"
1. Tolkien and WWI

2. Tolkien's influence on literature

3. Tolkien's writing style

4. War themes in "The Hobbit"

5. Discussion
1. Tolkien and WWI
after graduation he enlisted as a lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers
served during the Battle of the Somme in 1916
began to write "The Book of Lost Tales"
(later "The Silmarillion")
Tolkien's influence on literature
showed early interest in language
Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford
published influential academic essays, e.g. "Beowulf, the Monsters and the Critics" or "On Faerie Stories"

War Themes in "The Hobbit" (1)
Do Bilbo and the company of Dwarves represent soldiers?
departure from peaceful and untroubled surroundings
journey through hostile and dangerous parts
experience of desolate and troublesome landscapes
Route of the company
"To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-tick or any money, or anything he usually took when he went out; leaving his second breakfast half finished and quite unwashed-up, pushing his keys into Gandalf's hands, and running as fast as his furry feet could carry him down the lane, past the great Mill, across The Water, and then for a mile or more. "

The Hobbit, Chapter II
" "Bother burgling and everything to do with it! I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing! " It was not the last time that he wished that! "

The Hobbit, Chapter II
War Themes in "The Hobbit" (2)
How does Bilbo change?
scared and disoriented

proves courage and saves company of Dwarves
takes over leadership
becomes more mature

Tolkien's writing style
inspired by traditional epics and writings
solemn and alliterative language
inverted sentence structure -> Beowulf
vocabulary rich of stable and reliable values
"To say that Bilbo's breath was taken away is no description at all. There are no words left to express his staggerment, since Men changed the language that they learned of elves in the days when all the world was wonderful. Bilbo had heard tell and sing of dragon-hoards before, but the splendour, the lust, the glory of such treasure had never yet come home to him. His heart was filled and pierced with enchantment and with the desire of dwarves; and he gazed motionless, almost forgetting the frightful guardian, at the gold beyond price and count. "

The Hobbit, Chapter XII
A Parallel on WWI?
War Themes in "The Hobbit" (3)
Does "The Battle of Five Armies" represent the Somme?
overwhelming experience for Bilbo
fear of being outnumbered by foe
vast landscape with countless scattered bodies
attacks come from every direction
"Soon they could see the lands before the Mountain's feet black with a hurrying multitude. [...] the goblin army had gathered behind the resisted vanguard, and poured now in rage into the valley, driving wildly up between the arms of the Mountain, seeking for the foe. Their banners were countless, black and red, and they came on like a tide in fury and disorder."

The Hobbit, Chapter XVII
""It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them [...]."

The Hobbit, Chapter IV
throughout the journey
Although Tolkien denies connection to WWI, it must have had an influence
Different genre than his contemporaries
Through influence and topics might be considered as a parallel on WWI
"Personally I do not think that either war (and of course not the atomic bomb) had any influence upon either the plot or the manner of its unfolding. Perhaps in landscape."

Tolkien, Letter 226, 1960
Thank you for listening!

Now it is time for the discussion!
Full transcript