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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Post-hobbit stress syndrome


Nov 15 2012, 5:19pm

Views: 876
Post-hobbit stress syndrome [In reply to] Can't Post

How do Bilbo’s words come across? They seem to be somewhat passive, or plainly observant; almost unimpressed. Is Bilbo committed to the battle at all? It seems that had Bilbo known his fortune in the Ring he might have not been around at all, or is there some other meaning to it?

Bilbo seems to be in the same dazed, observant state that Merry is on the Pelennor Field after the battle has swept past him. There's something about hobbits that makes them anticlimactic after big events, such as Merry & Pippin napping on the ruins of Isengard after the big battle there. It might be Tolkien intentionally trying to bring big events back down to the level of average individuals who aren't so emotionally connected to the full meaning of events, as Gandalf and Aragorn are. When there are no hobbits on hand, he uses other racially isolated characters, such as Legolas and Gimli at Helm's Deep and the Paths of the Dead.

Though I wouldn't say Bilbo is unimpressed; I agree with passive. I recall in The Red Badge of Courage, which was based on interviews of Civil War veterans to paint a realistic picture, that the main character stumbles around blankly with other soldiers toward the end of one battle, not sure who was winning or if it was even over. Bilbo seems to be in the same state.

Is there something a bit vain about Gandalf? Given the narrative and his reaction, does he assume that if he walks away from battle with a sling, that Bilbo should be dead? Note the emphasis on “I am glad!”. Why else wouldn’t he be?
I wouldn't say vain, but he has a healthy ego, to be sure. As for assuming Bilbo should be dead, it's a fair enough conclusion: Bilbo isn't battle-trained, and it's the green recruits that usually die first in a battle. For the "I am glad," I think he's just verbally italicizing his words for emphasis, the same as "I am very glad! I am so happy to see you!"

Bilbo himself has learned something of adventures, but perhaps Thorin has learned something more. Is there something significant that the overall moral of the story has been displayed by Bilbo before the adventure had been fully realised? What was the purpose of his adventuring? Who learned the most in the end?
As a peace-lover in the real world myself, I really like Thorin's line, and it comes as a surprise, because he hasn't shown any previous sign in the book of thinking hobbits might have a better way of life than his own. Or a "merrier" one. That statement seems to pack a lot of things into it. With the eyes of mortality, Thorin seems to feel some regret about his gold-lust and stubbornness, which were contributing to a war already without the goblins and wolves. I would think he feels some responsibility for the death of his nephews also.

Bilbo learned the most in the end, certainly. But Thorin learns something here, and it seems that Bilbo's friendship with Balin influences that dwarf (within this book) to appreciate hobbits more.

Subject User Time
**The Return Journey** Part One - Comings and Goings One Ringer Send a private message to One Ringer Nov 5 2012, 1:50pm
    Answers sador Send a private message to sador Nov 5 2012, 4:30pm
        My bad, One Ringer Send a private message to One Ringer Nov 6 2012, 2:03pm
    Post-hobbit stress syndrome CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Nov 15 2012, 5:19pm


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