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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
I never thought of that


Jan 19 2013, 7:39pm

Views: 1467
I never thought of that [In reply to] Can't Post

I never thought of that - and I still don't. Here's why.

I don't think we need to look to Gandalf's "magic" to explain Bilbo's sudden psychological shift from stay-at-home to questing burglar. All the previous evening he was torn back and forth between the two sides of his personality, one expressed in his Baggins respectability, and one latent in his Took adventurism. He went to bed certain he wanted to stay at home, and he woke with the same determination. But when he discovered that the dwarves truly wanted him to come along, and in fact had already left, leaving him with almost no time in which to catch up with them or else lose the last chance for an adventure that had finally come his way, something snapped rather suddenly.

In a way, Bilbo temporarily lost his senses, but not his consciousness. Such an experience is not easy to undergo. It seems to me to be very accurate and perceptive for Tolkien to point out that mind and memory often block traumatic moments like Bilbo's epiphany by his mantlepiece. He forgets the moment of transition so that he can keep the two sides of his self safely separated in his memory and his self-image.

Gandalf's role is to force him to make the decision by reminding him that he has no time left to think: he has only time to follow his real feelings at last.

In my readings of these books, I don't ever feel that Gandalf is not playing fair by using magic that the narrator doesn't invite us to witness. It's just not Gandalf's way to use a "spell" or "hocus-pocus" to make folk do things they should do. In The Lord of the Rings, of course, this principle is stated explicitly: the Istari are forbidden to use force in the struggle against Sauron. Now in The Hobbit, Gandalf is nowhere so grand or magnificent and is more of a "trickster", as Curious so often reminds us here in the RR. But even so, his tricks are those of omission: he disappears, withholds information, refuses to help or explain himself, etc. It's not his style anywhere else in The Hobbit to enchant people, and I can't imagine that we are supposed to think that is what he has done to Bilbo here.

squire online:
RR Discussions: The Valaquenta, A Shortcut to Mushrooms, and Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
Lights! Action! Discuss on the Movie board!: 'A Journey in the Dark'. and 'Designing The Two Towers'.
Footeramas: The 3rd (and NOW the 4th too!) TORn Reading Room LotR Discussion; and "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
squiretalk introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

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Subject User Time
Referring to the incident with the dragon Al Carondas Send a private message to Al Carondas Jan 19 2013, 5:39pm
    I never thought of that squire Send a private message to squire Jan 19 2013, 7:39pm
        Squire said it perfectly--agree with all points.// CuriousG Send a private message to CuriousG Jan 19 2013, 9:42pm
        Good points, Squire Al Carondas Send a private message to Al Carondas Jan 23 2013, 12:28am
        Beautifully said, and afterall - One Ringer Send a private message to One Ringer Jan 23 2013, 7:30pm
    Incident with the dragon Eowyn3 Send a private message to Eowyn3 Jan 20 2013, 10:38pm
        "...and so for a whole mile or more." squire Send a private message to squire Jan 21 2013, 1:50am
            Magic mile Eowyn3 Send a private message to Eowyn3 Jan 21 2013, 3:37am
    inspiration Daughter of Nienna Send a private message to Daughter of Nienna Feb 7 2013, 7:27pm
        Cool Al Carondas Send a private message to Al Carondas Feb 11 2013, 1:49am


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