Tolkien Lectures: Week Four


These notes were originally written by Erik Tracey, transcribed to MS Word by Erik Tracey, and HTMLized by Scott Powers. Enjoy!


Essay for paper: good argument and knowledge of material and organization

Thematic issues: good vs. evil, doom vs. free will

Final Project:
Other works
Source Material
Comparison of C. S. Lewis and reaction against/to secular modernism
Examination of popular explosion in '60s.

Hobbits have no part in Fisrt and Second Age.

The Hobbit is a drastic change in style: much cosier

Myth vs Faerie Tale
Myth= tragic w/ some Hero as central figure ->some major theme involved. Main character starts high and ends low.

Faerie Tale= start w/ a humble character, using cleverness and luck, reaches a higher plateau -> achieving the goal.

Hobbits are an anachronixm -> they are late 19th century English rustics, while rest of ME is medieval.

Tolkien had a little contempt for Hobbits (as seen from his Letters). [I thought he was v. fond of Hobbits and thought of himself as one]

Hobbits are smug and parochial, things done differently was "odd or queer".

BUT, there is more to Hobbits than meets the eye.

Hobbits have simple needs =>they appeal to children, therefore they make for good children's story.

Maslow Psychology Scale:

Scale Heroes/Types
ADULT: Intellectual Spiritual Ghandi/Martin Luther/Jesus
ADOLESCENT: Peer Respect Self Conan
CHILD: Sex, Food, Security Hobbits/Bugs Bunny/cartoons


HObbits don't have vices, rather follies. Supposed to represent the average Englishman

Hobbit ->'Hob'(hobgoblin) + 'rabbit'

The Hobbit is a tale of coming of age. "There is no race less likely to be heroes" [the vehicle to show how the low are made aware of the high/noble]

After publication of Hobbit, Tolkien feverishly is retrfitting the Hobbit into the older material (eg The Quest for Erebor). Backwards Creation ->revisions to the Hobbit incorporate the older material: eg original version of Riddles in the Dark.

Character Development of Bilbo:

  1. Troll encounter: Bilbo shows little courage
  2. Spider encounter: more courage, but he also has the Ring (luck)

Why didn't Sauron "notice" Bilbo when he put on the RIng in Mirkwood, which is so close to Dol Guldur? Tolkien explains Sauron was looking south and not North. [isn't the attack on Dol Guldur about this time?]

Also, the effect of the Ring is quite different from the Hobbit to LotR. In the Hobbit the RIngs is a simple "magic token" confering invisibility. This is later explained as entering the Shadow World of Sauron.

Point: Tolkien expended a lot of effort in retro-subcreation: trying to retro-fit the Hobbit into the older mythos.

Eagles = deus ex machina (machine of god), sometimes thought of as a "cop out" since the eagles seem to be in the right place all the time - this seems to imply predestination.

Glimpses of the First Age in the Hobbit description of Wood elves. Also, old feud of elves and dwarves (Thingol and Dwarves of Nagrod/sack of Doriath)

Psychoanalysis of Dwarves on pg 21

Pride and Greed: the two major transgressions in Middle-earth conscious element in Tolkien's work ->which was an act of sub- creation. He didn't want to succumb to the temptation of viewing his mythos as his -> possessiveness. Otherwise, he was doing the work of Morgoth. That's why he downplayed his role as "creator" as opposed to "historical recorder".

West vs. East Dragons
East = wise, advisers, luck
West = evil, ancient force of nature, acquisitive
"Dragons are evil incarnate"

Dragon/Tolkien/Beowulf In Beowulf, the Dragon ravages the countryside after theft of cup -- same as Hobbit


This page is maintained by:

Scott Powers
NCSA X Mosaic Lead