“Fantasy is escapist and that is glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape? If we value the freedom of mind and soul if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!” This quote is by J.R.R. Tolkien, the author and creator of the middle-earth themed novel, the Hobbit. Tolkien explains the innocence of fantasy fiction novels. The Hobbit wasn’t written as a way to subliminally praise black magic and wizardry, rather to provide a literary “escape” for readers of all kin. Since the book’s birth, The Hobbit has been banned countless times in numerous countries for insane reasons. These reasons stretch all the way from sorcery, to violence, and even include an act as minor as the use of tobacco. Although The Hobbit contains violence, wizardry, and other questionable material, this award-winning classic should remain in every library across the globe.
Tolkien had several reasons for creating the novel set in middle-earth, (but The Hobbit was mainly designed to create an escape for his vast amount of readers). Tolkien provides his wide audience with many crucial life lessons throughout the 279 pages in this award winning fantasy novel. Contrary to the belief of many, this novel by J.R.R. Tolkien was not written as a way to promote witchcraft, violence, or even greed, but rather allow his readers an escape from everyday life. “All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost, the old that is strong does not wither…” (Tolkien). J.R.R. Tolkien’s quote from The Hobbit covers not only the fact of materialism, but the act of escape, and perseverance. The lessons taught in this novel do not resemble that of a book that deserves to be banned, but rather this novel should be taught to students everywhere.
Tolkien provides many positive themes in this novel that include heroism, surveillance, courage, and of course the most notable of all, quest. The first theme of The Hobbit, is perhaps the most recognizable, Heroism. Bilbo contains unperceivable amounts of inner strength that go unnoticed when they first begin their journey. Combining the acts of successfully stealing Gollum’s ring, exterminating the giant spider, saving the dwarves form the woods, and even confronting Smaug the dragon face-to-face provide the Hobbit with a chance to test his resolve. Bilbo starts to arise as a hero as he obtains self-confidence and ingenuity. The facets combine to balance the magic of the story. Surveillance also plays a crucial theme in The Hobbit. Throughout the novel, the need to hide one’s self is prevalent, and surveillance is certainly a major attribute to distinguish their group from that of an ordinary set of wayfarers. The ring that the heroic hobbit escaped with from Gollum, enables the wearer of the ring to become invisible.
This sense of invisibility goes hand-in-hand with the theme of surveillance because Bilbo uses the ring to hide from lurking monsters while remaining invisible. The decisive issue of surveillance is also very closely associated to the issue of captivity, as the group is captured on numerous occasions. With the limitless power of the ring, Bilbo acts a hero because he can use the invisibility to rescue his group from captivity. The important theme of quest, does not only represent the physical journey made Bilbo, Gandalf and 13 dwarves, but also acts a parallel to the personal growth of Bilbo. The Bilbo Baggins portrayed in the first chapters is a hobbit of little adventure and minimal change in his everyday life. He begins the journey very fearful and feels a sense of incompetence. Bilbo seems to act as a burden to the group, but the hobbit develops ingenuity, courage, and heroism under the guidance of Gandalf. “…Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.
The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells…”
This riddle chanted by the dwarves is just one of the many throughout this novel. Tolkien uses this ritualistic riddle as a way to set the theme of the chapter, in this case, quest. The characteristics of this book are unlike any other novel ever produced. These themes are relevant not only in The Hobbit, but also in life and have a positive influence on the readers.
The Hobbit has been seen as “evil” and promoting witchcraft and magic. This novel is, in fact, the exact opposite, and can be interpreted as a parallel to the life of Christ. In this novel, Bilbo is the one chosen to conduct the journey. Bilbo’s group consists of Gandalf and thirteen dwarves. Among Filli and Killi, the dwarves resemble the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. Giving guidance throughout the journey, Gandalf acts a parallel to God himself. As an elder man who knows everything, I see many similarities. Later in the Lord of the Rings saga, Gandalf is killed, and later resurrects. This resurrection is a very strong parallel to Jesus’ resurrection in The Bible. The Hobbit also incorporates many symbols that portray those in the bible. Perhaps the ring itself could be seen as the epitome of evil and greed. Heck, Tolkien himself has been quoted specifying that this series was a religious work. This should be a disclaimer for anyone trying to ban the book for being evil and supporting witchcraft.
There have been multiple times that The Hobbit has come into question, but to this book would be absolutely naïve. Although this novel contains wizardry, violence, and the act of greed and materialism, the positive lessons outnumber the negatives without question. Many people have questioned this novel for wickedness and wrongdoing, but the author himself disclaims the theory that The Hobbit is evil and worships sinfulness and in fact, Tolkien quoted this novel being “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work”. One of the best fictional novels of all time deserves to be read by any reader young or old, male or female. Preventing anyone from reading this classic novel would be nothing short of insanity.
How could a famous novel, which won multiple awards, be banned? The Hobbit is an important novel, in not only American literature but all across the world. How could a novel that has been translated into eighty-nine languages possibly be banned? “This is a book with no age limits. All those, young or old, who love a fine adventurous tale, beautifully told, will take ‘The Hobbit’ to their hearts.” Anne T. Eaton, a former journalist for the New York Times, says it as well as anyone can. The Hobbit has reached the realm of the all-time greatest fantasy-fiction novels. The Hobbit should be available to anyone in the world with the desire to ‘escape from reality’ and read this once in a lifetime novel.
Carpenter, Humphrey. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. N. pag. Print. I read through this biography by Humphrey Carpenter and it really let me examine the life of Tolkien and his religious views. This helped me create my third paragraph about the biblical connections. This biography also allowed me to incorporate the amount of awards The Hobbit won. Eaton, Anne T. “A Delightfully Imaginative Journey.” Editorial. New York Times [New York] 13 Mar. 1938: n. pag. Nytimes.com. New York Times. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. This editorial gave me a great spark to include a quote from Anne Eaton into my persuassive essay as a positive opinion over The Hobbit. It was a great article also. Good Reads Inc. “J.R.R. Tolkein Quotes.” GoodReads.com. Good Reads, n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2012. This source helped me incorporate a few very important quotes from the author, J.R.R. Tolkein, into my persuassive essay.