Oct 5 2007, 3:05am
It's quite over the word limit! But in honor of the Anniversary, may I present, for your enjoyment:
Well...this doesn't really qualify as an entry...
On the leporine characteristics of Hobbits
Hobbits must be related to rabbits, and may possibly even be a type of rabbit.
Tolkien, of course, denied this vehemently. In Letter #24 he states, “Nor indeed was [Bilbo] like a rabbit. He was a prosperous, well-fed young bachelor of independent means. Calling him a “nassty little rabbit’ was a piece of vulgar trollery, just as ‘descendant of rats’ was a piece of dwarfish malice - deliberate insults to his size and feet, which he deeply resented.”
But was this a mere insult? Why is Bilbo constantly compared to a rabbit, throughout The Hobbit? Consider:
- Hobbits are hole-dwellers, in their natural state, as are rabbits.
- The words “hobbit” and “rabbit” have two-thirds of their letters in common.
- A rabbit-eared bandicoot is called a “Bilby”.
- From Chapter 2 of The Hobbit, “Roast Mutton”, we have the quote referred to above:
"’P'raps there are more like him round about, and we might make a pie,’ said Bert. ‘Here you, are there any more of your sort a-sneakin' in these here woods, yer nassty little rabbit,’ said he looking at the hobbit's furry feet; and he picked him up by the toes and shook him.”
Now, a Troll would have known (and eaten) many different kinds of animals; why did he select “rabbit” as his assumption, for what kind of animal Bilbo was?
- From Chapter 6, “Out of the Frying-Pan”, we have Bilbo’s actions as he tries to climb to safety, and a mention of ‘holes’:
“And Bilbo? He could not get into any tree, and was scuttling about from trunk to trunk, like a rabbit that has lost its hole and has a dog after it."
- And this one, in which he compares himself to a rabbit:
“Soon another eagle flew up. ‘The Lord of the Eagles bids you to bring your prisoners to the Great Shelf,’ he cried and was off again. The other seized Dori in his claws and flew away with him into the night leaving Bilbo all alone. He had just strength to wonder what the messenger had meant by 'prisoners,' and to begin to think of being torn up for supper like a rabbit, when his own turn came.”
- From Chapter 7, “Queer Lodgings”, it seems that the sharp-eyed eagles also see a resemblance:
"’Don't pinch!’ said his eagle. ‘You need not be frightened like a rabbit, even if you look rather like one. It is a fair morning with little wind. What is finer than flying?’”
(And these Eagles know their creatures: “But eagles have keen eyes and can see small things at a great distance. The lord of the eagles of the Misty Mountains had eyes that could look at the sun unblinking, and could see a rabbit moving on the ground a mile below even in the moonlight.”)
- From Chapter 17, “The Clouds Burst”, why is the word “rabbit” used, rather than, say, “carpet”?
"’You! You!’ cried Thorin, turning upon him and grasping him with both hands. ‘You miserable hobbit! You undersized-burglar!’ he shouted at a loss for words, and he shook poor Bilbo like a rabbit.”
- Chapter 1, “An Unexpected Party”, shows an interesting relationship between Hobbits and rabbits in sports:
“If you have ever seen a dragon in a pinch, you will realize that this was only poetical exaggeration applied to any hobbit, even to Old Took's great-granduncle Bullroarer, who was so huge (for a hobbit) that he could, ride a horse. He charged the ranks of the goblins of Mount Gram in the Battle of the Green Fields, and knocked their king Golfimbul's head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.”
And here is a most important piece of evidence! I had concentrated on the instances where the word “rabbit” was used; but there are other words which refer to the same creature. I now present proof, that Bilbo Baggins is, indeed, a rabbit. From Chapter 7, “Queer Lodgings”, Beorn, that being most knowledgeable in animals, states this fact:
“Next morning they were all wakened by Beorn himself.
"’So here you all are still!’ he said. He picked up the hobbit and laughed: ‘Not eaten up by Wargs or goblins or wicked bears yet I see’; and he poked Mr. Baggins' waistcoat most disrespectfully. ‘Little bunny is getting nice and fat again on bread and honey,’ he chuckled. ‘Come and have some more!’"
Now, can there be any doubt, of the rabbit-like nature of Hobbits?
In conclusion, allow me to present the American Heritage Dictionary definition: "hob’bit (hob'it) n. An imaginary creature resembling a diminutive human being, having some rabbitlike characteristics, and being naturally peace-loving, domestic, and sociable."
If it says so in the dictionary, then it's got to be true! Wouldn't the Professor agree?
"Only I hear the stones lament them: deep they delved us, fair they wrought us, high they builded us; but they are gone. They are gone. They sought the Havens long ago."
(Avatar pic: The Calanais stones, Isle of Lewis)
"It struck me last night that you might write a fearfully good romantic drama, with as much of the 'supernatural' as you cared to introduce. Have you ever thought of it?"
-Geoffrey B. Smith, letter to JRR Tolkien, 1915