Our Sponsor Sideshow Collectibles Send us News
Lord of the Rings Tolkien
Search Tolkien
Lord of The RingsTheOneRing.net - Forged By And For Fans Of JRR Tolkien
Lord of The Rings Serving Middle-Earth Since The First Age

Lord of the Rings Movie News - J.R.R. Tolkien
Do you enjoy the 100% volunteer, not for profit services of TheOneRing.net?
Consider a donation!

  Main Index   Search Posts   Who's Online   Log in
The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
The Hobbit discussion schedule chapter one part two

Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Jul 12 2012, 8:56am

Post #1 of 14 (856 views)
Shortcut
The Hobbit discussion schedule chapter one part two Can't Post

Welcome to part two of chapter one. It is Wednesday tea-time and Bilbo has totally forgotten about his invitation to Gandalf for tea. Forgetful Hobbit. Was it just Gandalf or did he often forget he invited people for tea? Might explain his lack of friends!
But it isn't Gandalf it's a dwarf, Dwalin. With a blue beard and dark-green hood. Hood colours are important! Or are they? How accurate should a certain film -maker keep to this text? And a blue beard! Does Tolkien mean literaly blue? How does a dwarf beard get blue? None of the others seem to have blue beards, not even Gandalf.
So why Dwarves? Why did apart from Hobbits, Tolkien decided to focus upon Dwarves rather than Man or Elves his main love? I suppose that Dwarves are good enough to be trusted by Bilbo but have their tricksy little ways, room for future conflict.
Anyway as has been mentioned this entrance is very similar to the trick Gandalf pulls on Beorn. Though maybe not exactly the same. Perhaps the Dwarves did come individually to Bag End from their various halls!
13 dwarves and finally Gandalf arrives. Though is every Dwarf hood accounted for? I don't think I can find 13 hoods in the text. It is now we get our first hint that all might not be well in this fairy tale world with Balins and Dwalins talk of Goblns, Wolves and Dragons.
Though Bilbo is ore concerned that he might run out of seed-cake. That will soon be the least of his worries! Still does anyone have a recipe for seed-cake? Sounds a bit like carrot cake. He must have quite a full larder even for a hobbit to be able to cater for13 at short notice. Did they have freezers in the Shire?
One point I noticed is that Bombur asked for Pork-pie and salad. Hmmmm Pork-pie I understand but Bombur doesn't strike me as a salad person! Now when I had this tale first read to me at lower school, my teacher asked us how is it that Gandalf knows so much snout Bilbos larder? I wonder what anyone here thinks and I can compare answers Bilbo does attempt to wash up by himself quite a noble act, but the Dwarves help and sing a song as they do. Has anyone any ideas as to the tune of this song?
Once cleared up the Dwarves start to sing another song whereby they explain the meaning of this visit!


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 12 2012, 4:09pm

Post #2 of 14 (527 views)
Shortcut
Thoughts. [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
Was it just Gandalf or did he often forget he invited people for tea? Might explain his lack of friends!

It was Gandalf. Bilbo has an appointment book and often has visitors, but Gandalf flustered him, as the narrator tells us. At the beginning of the book, it appears that Bilbo has many social acquaintances and an excellent reputation, meaning he is not the type of person who would forget he invited people to tea. Whether they are true friends is another matter.


Quote
But it isn't Gandalf it's a dwarf, Dwalin. With a blue beard and dark-green hood. Hood colours are important! Or are they? How accurate should a certain film -maker keep to this text? And a blue beard! Does Tolkien mean literaly blue? How does a dwarf beard get blue? None of the others seem to have blue beards, not even Gandalf.

Tolkien makes highlights hood and beard colors in this chapter, and then, IIRC, we rarely hear about them again. The unusual beard colors, some not normally found in nature, help make the dwarves seem cute and comic rather than alien and foreboding. Like Bilbo and Gandalf, the dwarves are strange, but not in a scary or monstrous way -- although in the case of Gandalf, appearances can be deceiving.

However, Tolkien manages to give the dwarves various descriptions without really giving them distinct personalities. Only Thorin, Bombur, and maybe Balin stand out from the crowd, and only Thorin has a real character arc. Dwalin is generally remembered only as Balin's brother because their names rhyme. This could be considered a flaw or a feature, depending on how much you like the way The Hobbit is different from LotR. The multitude of extra dwarves are like a comic chorus, like the Keystone Cops, trailing along for comic effect without ever really offering much assistance. Oh, and they do provide an excuse to add Bilbo to the party as the lucky number 14.


Quote
So why Dwarves? Why did apart from Hobbits, Tolkien decided to focus upon Dwarves rather than Man or Elves his main love? I suppose that Dwarves are good enough to be trusted by Bilbo but have their tricksy little ways, room for future conflict.

Good question! Perhaps to make Bilbo seem more human? Perhaps just for comic effect? It's really hard to say. Most of Tolkien's fantasy stories are not about dwarves, so it's not an obvious decision.


Quote
Anyway as has been mentioned this entrance is very similar to the trick Gandalf pulls on Beorn. Though maybe not exactly the same. Perhaps the Dwarves did come individually to Bag End from their various halls!

Same trick, very different reason. Here the idea is to avoid scaring Bilbo; with Beorn the idea was to avoid angering him. It's like the difference between tricking a rabbit or a bear.


Quote
Though is every Dwarf hood accounted for? I don't think I can find 13 hoods in the text.

I'm not sure, but that's another sign that it isn't really important, except perhaps to gloss over the fact that most of the dwarves are just filler.

1615 recipe for seed cake. Old recipe with picture. Seed cake is an old recipe. Apparently it is like a pound cake with seeds. Caraway seeds, poppy seeds, or anise seeds may be used, although in England apparently caraway seeds are traditional. It's not like carrot cake.

I'm sure Bilbo did not have a modern freezer. Cake doesn't need a freezer unless there is a dairy product like cream cheese icing involved. Bilbo was already underground, and his pantry was naturally cool, but not cold. If the Shire had snow or ice, it could have been stored in an ice house. The problem is that the Shire is modeled on England, which does not have snow-covered mountains, and I doubt that anyone was importing ice from outside the Shire. More likely Bilbo just ate well and had visitors frequently, so he always had food on hand.


Quote
Hmmmm Pork-pie I understand but Bombur doesn't strike me as a salad person!

I think the idea was to require a highly varied set of foods for comic effect. And I'm sure English salads were heavy on dried fruits and nuts and maybe sugar or eggs. But you are right, it doesn't seem appropriate for Bombur. Maybe he was trying to cut back, but couldn't resist the pork pie.

Gandalf knows Bilbo's larder because Bilbo is a very predictable hobbit, as we have been told, who loves to eat and frequently has visitors. Bilbo probably has a little of everything that is normally served to last-minute visitors.

Tolkien's rhymes often have four beats per line, without much variance. I prefer more irregular beat patterns. However, the washing-up song is made interesting by the teasing tone and the threat of mayhem, or at least of a mess. It's like the lullabye "Stay Awake" in Mary Poppins, with the words at variance with the activity.

The dragon song is made interesting because it actually tells us what the quest is about, which is why Thorin is confused when Bilbo still has questions afterwards. And what is the quest about? One part treasure, one part revenge on the dragon. But the treasure is important, and sung about at length.

Of course the question is, why would Bilbo care about treasure or the dragon?





(This post was edited by Curious on Jul 12 2012, 4:13pm)


sador
Half-elven


Jul 13 2012, 12:49pm

Post #3 of 14 (493 views)
Shortcut
Answers [In reply to] Can't Post

Was it just Gandalf or did he often forget he invited people for tea?
Gandalf. He normally didn't forget people - perhaps the S.B.s later, but that's because he wanted to forget them.

Might explain his lack of friends!
No. He keeps a good enough larder to ensure he will always have friends (this sounds like a late Victorian social comedy, does it not?).


Hood colours are important! Or are they?
I suspect at first they were, but then Tolkien quietly dropped the subject. In the drafts he did confuse the colour of Balin's hood though, only catching his own mistake in the galley proofs (per Rateliff).

How accurate should a certain film -maker keep to this text?
He might as well. But if this is the only change - I'm sure the truist purist will forgive him.

And a blue beard! Does Tolkien mean literaly blue?
It's not true blue, it's indigo.

How does a dwarf beard get blue?
I seem to remember reading some explanation of a bluish hue in some black beards just beginning to grey; but I have no doubt that Curious is correct, and this was intended for a comic, or at least startling, effect.


So why Dwarves?
Tolkien came across that cool list in the Elder Edda, and couldn't resist.

Why did apart from Hobbits, Tolkien decided to focus upon Dwarves rather than Man or Elves his main love?
Not his main love. Just one children's story, which later became suddenly a masterpiece.

I suppose that Dwarves are good enough to be trusted by Bilbo but have their tricksy little ways, room for future conflict.
I have always been fascinated by Tolkien's connecting the Dwarves to Jews, and also by their evolving from allies of Melko to the one race which Evil finds most hard to subdue.

Do the evil Dwarves of The Book of Lost Tales reflect better the Dwarves of Norse legend?
Was it a sudden awareness of this identification which he wanted to "correct", or did his own opinion of the Jews improve as he grew older (as Joyce's did)? Or did he make the connection only later?
But at any rate - Dwalin is the first dwarf Tolkien ever conceived of as a positive character; coming after Mim, Naugladur and Bodruith - this is no minor achievement!

Anyway as has been mentioned this entrance is very similar to the trick Gandalf pulls on Beorn.
But coming to Beorn they start with the most important first, to Bilbo the leaders come last.

Perhaps the Dwarves did come individually to Bag End from their various halls!
No... I'm pretty sure they came from an inn somewhere in the Shire. The Green Dragon is a probable candidate (was it named in The Quest of Erebor? I think it was, but am not sure), as is The Ivy Bush, in which the first scene of The Lord of the Rings takes place (but is small).


Though is every Dwarf hood accounted for? I don't think I can find 13 hoods in the text.
Yes, I'm pretty sure they are:
Dwalin's is dark green
Balin's is scarlet
Kili and Fili both wear blue
Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin and Gloin hang two purple hoods, a grey one, a brown and a white on the pegs.
Bifur, Bofur and Bombur have two yellow hoods and a pale green one.
Thorin has a sky-blue hood with a long silver tassel.

Though Bilbo is ore concerned that he might run out of seed-cake. That will soon be the least of his worries!
But it will return to haunt him.

Still does anyone have a recipe for seed-cake?
No.

Sounds a bit like carrot cake.
Carrot is a root! And I don't like carrot cake.
Here we do have several seed-cookies and pastries - probably an influence of the Turkish cuisine.

He must have quite a full larder even for a hobbit to be able to cater for13 at short notice. Did they have freezers in the Shire?
No, but Bilbo had multiple pantries. (forgot the 'r', and corrected it at the very last minute... Blush)


One point I noticed is that Bombur asked for Pork-pie and salad. Hmmmm Pork-pie I understand but Bombur doesn't strike me as a salad person!
I love Bombur. And I am afraid he will be portrayed wrongly in the coming movies. See here for my (slightly heretical) thoughts about him.

Now when I had this tale first read to me at lower school, my teacher asked us how is it that Gandalf knows so much snout Bilbos larder?
"snout" sounds like the correct answer. Cool

Has anyone any ideas as to the tune of this song?
I don't. And I suspect that after hearing the movie version I will have one - of Howard Shore's idea.


"I personally still think of The Hobbit as a brilliant story aimed specifically at older children, with its own theme about growing up, that has little to do with the epic of the Ring that followed it."
- squire.



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for An Unexpected Party!


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 13 2012, 3:15pm

Post #4 of 14 (500 views)
Shortcut
I think Bombur has a happy ending. [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree that he was actually pretty sensible and even helpful until he fell into the magic stream, fat but also strong and feisty, like an overweight offensive linesman. I also think he was pretty sensible at the end of the story, certainly compared to Thorin. After all, when Thorin says "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world," what dwarf fits that description better than Bombur?

And even when he was obsessed with food because of the effects of the magic stream, it proved fortunate for the party, because they needed to leave the path in order to make it out of the woods. As with Pippin, even Bombur's most foolish moves turned out to be good moves.

Excellent point about the leaders coming last to Bag End, rather than first to Beorn's hall. I wonder how Gandalf arranged it? He couldn't very well have said "this Burglar I've chosen will be scared of you if we all come at once."

I like to think Tolkien connected dwarves to Jews not because of dwarves' greed, but because of their private language and customs. But I'm not sure I'm correct about that. At any rate, many of Tolkien's sweeping generalizations about the races of Middle-earth break down when he focuses on individual characters, because he has a hard time writing stereotypical characters. Mim, for example, is a fascinating, complex character, and Thingol is hardly faultless in his own demise. Similarly, the Elvenking modeled on Thingol is hardly faultless in his dispute with Thorin.


(This post was edited by Curious on Jul 13 2012, 3:15pm)


Modtheow
Lorien


Jul 15 2012, 6:16pm

Post #5 of 14 (512 views)
Shortcut
Comedy and enchantment [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that the many different combinations of colours in the descriptions of the dwarves mainly have a comic effect, and the same goes for the food and drink orders. The hood and beard and belt colours aren’t there to distinguish individual dwarves so much as to work together to create a cumulative sense of comic turmoil. My mind gets “bewildered and bewuthered” trying to keep track of the combinations of beards and hoods until it all seems a confused swirl of colours. The food and drink orders work in the same way. Bombur asking for pork-pie and salad isn’t meant to say anything about him specifically; it just adds to the cumulative turmoil of food orders that Bilbo has to deal with. But I do think that there’s an individualizing touch when, after all the other visitors have ordered tea, coffee, ale, and porter, Gandalf and Thorin both ask for a little red wine. They suddenly seem extra important figures – somehow more sophisticated than the other visitors. And Thorin’s “sky-blue” hood “with a long silver tassel” also marks him off from the rest of the throng.

As for the song “Far over the misty mountains cold” I can’t help but hear the bit we’ve heard of that music from The Hobbit movie trailer. It seems to strike the right note there. Bilbo’s reaction is typical of Tolkien’s description of people who listen to music/songs/poetry and are moved by what they hear. I love the description of the song’s effect on Bilbo! Like Frodo listening to songs in Rivendell, Bilbo is completely enchanted, as if he’s been removed to another world. He “felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him...” Even the ordinary world around him turns into a kind of enchanted vision: the stars outside“make him think of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns” and a wood-fire makes him think of dragons setting The Hill aflame. It’s as if the song transforms his vision of his world, even if only momentarily before he comes out of the enchantment and becomes “plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End.”

“Confusticate” is one of the words that I like in this chapter, especially the words in these two phrases: “bewildered and bewuthered” and “Confusticate and bebother.” I usually take their meanings for granted based on their context, but today I decided to look them up in the dictionary. “Confusticate” is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as meaning “to confuse, confound, perplex” and there are only two examples of its use, one from 1891 as an American slang expression, and the other being Tolkien’s use of it. The be- prefix in the other words is usually used as an intensifier. For example, in the case of “bebother” the OED says that it’s used with the sense of “thoroughly ... soundly, much, conspicuously, to excess, ridiculously.” To “wuther” means to “move with force or impetus, to rush; to make a rushing sound, to whizz; to bluster or rage, as the wind” (e.g. “Wuthering Heights”). That makes sense as a description of Bilbo, who is “bewuthered” – rushing around, getting angry and upset, and being pushed around by piles of dwarves falling in on his doorstep. I’m sure someone has commented on these meanings somewhere, but it’s a lazy kind of Sunday afternoon and I’m too becalmed to get up and check.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 1:30am

Post #6 of 14 (540 views)
Shortcut
Bewuthered and Belladonna [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
That makes sense as a description of Bilbo, who is “bewuthered” – rushing around, getting angry and upset, and being pushed around by piles of dwarves falling in on his doorstep. I’m sure someone has commented on these meanings somewhere, but it’s a lazy kind of Sunday afternoon and I’m too becalmed to get up and check.


This is what I was angling at here. Just a little strange that Belladonna is the cause and also the cure for being bewildered and bewuthured.


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jul 16 2012, 1:33am)


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 16 2012, 2:04am

Post #7 of 14 (459 views)
Shortcut
I love your comments about the comic confusion. [In reply to] Can't Post

That's an excellent explanation for the colored beards and hoods and varied food orders. It's impossible to determine personalities based on seemingly random details, except that Thorin and Gandalf act as if they are a class apart -- Gandalf with some justification, Thorin maybe less so.

What I have seen in the trailer for The Hobbit is very different from the book, where the hobbits bring their own orchestra, which will then never been seen again. It reminds me of this scene from Mel Brook's Blazing Saddles. Of course, the movies may improve upon the book by evening the tone from start to finish, but they are still different.

Tolkien always uses a few words in each chapter that are worth looking up. They always fit the way they are used, and in The Hobbit they are often words that sound like made-up nonsense but in fact exist. I wonder if Tolkien made a list of such words for his own amusement, or kept track of them in any way.


Modtheow
Lorien


Jul 17 2012, 2:18am

Post #8 of 14 (433 views)
Shortcut
Thanks for the clip! [In reply to] Can't Post

Very funny, as is the dwarf orchestra that materializes out of nowhere in the book. Would evening the tone in the movie be an improvement though? In the book, I enjoy the comedy of the bringing-out of instruments (the fiddles and flutes out of bags and coats seems plausible; the drum in the hallway -- maybe Bilbo didn't notice when everyone came rushing in; the clarinets among the walking sticks -- ok, pretty clever. But then to top it all off, huge viols and a golden harp from outside! that's just over the top!). But after that funny stuff, the mood gets serious, I think, with the dark, shadowy, "deep-throated" singing -- and that's the part I think we see in the trailer. It doesn't look like the comedy of the instruments will be included in the movie. Too bad, I say.


Modtheow
Lorien


Jul 17 2012, 2:47am

Post #9 of 14 (448 views)
Shortcut
Belladonna's two sides [In reply to] Can't Post

I definitely think there are two sides to the meaning of Belladonna's name -- one is the romantic "pretty lady" with a name that sounds more exotic than most English flowers, and the other is the dangerous side suggested by the poisonous plant that you describe. Attractive and dangerous I imagine Belladonna to have been in her prime when she was willing to go on adventures. If you use her name as a stand-in for Tookish adventurousness, then I suppose you can make associations with Bilbo's bewildered state -- adventure is what is bewildering him but it's also going to be what cures him? (I have no idea if Tolkien knew of the medicinal uses of the plant). Is that the way you connect up these ideas?


Curious
Half-elven


Jul 17 2012, 2:49am

Post #10 of 14 (463 views)
Shortcut
Honestly, I'm less attached to The Hobbit text. [In reply to] Can't Post

Or at least I like to think I am. Or more resigned to the changes I know are coming. We will see.


sador
Half-elven


Jul 17 2012, 5:20am

Post #11 of 14 (435 views)
Shortcut
Just mentioning [In reply to] Can't Post

In The Lay of Leithan Tolkien mentions this plant in connection with Taur-nu-Fuin (which might, or might not, have been the origin of Mirkwood).
But there he calls it "deadly Nightshade".

"I personally still think of The Hobbit as a brilliant story aimed specifically at older children, with its own theme about growing up, that has little to do with the epic of the Ring that followed it."
- squire.



The weekly discussion of The Hobbit is back. Join us in the Reading Room for An Unexpected Party!


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Jul 18 2012, 2:13am

Post #12 of 14 (435 views)
Shortcut
Yes, exactly [In reply to] Can't Post

Belladonna is a pretty lady and a pretty, though suprisingly common, plant



It is more commonly known as deadly nightshade, or just nightshade, but this is the name of the family of plants it belongs to (includes tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers and tobacco). Very likely Tolkien, who used both names in his work (nod to Sador), knew they meant the same thing. Perhaps not as likely, though considering how often he bothered to mention flora in his work (and sometimes their uses) it is somewhat likely that he was aware of Belladonna's complex nature. Has anyone written about Tolkien's obvious interest in herbs and flowers, and whether or not that interest included herbal medicine?


Hamfast Gamgee
Gondor

Jul 22 2012, 9:03am

Post #13 of 14 (445 views)
Shortcut
Wizards and hobbit larder [In reply to] Can't Post

Your answer is a good one and I suppose another one is that as Gandalf has known Hobbits for millennia he is aware of their eating habits. As it happens, however the answer we gave at lower school was a collective, 'because he's a Wizard!'. Which I suppose is true as well.


squire
Valinor


Jul 24 2012, 1:14am

Post #14 of 14 (564 views)
Shortcut
Gandalf knew the hobbits for how long? [In reply to] Can't Post

It might seem that Gandalf has known the hobbits for millennia, and maybe he has; the Tale of Years in the LotR appendices says that the Istari appeared in Middle-earth at just about the period that the halflings first did, roughly 1000 Third Age, or almost 2000 years before the events in The Hobbit.

But the first documented encounter between Gandalf and the hobbits was in 2758-59 T.A., during the Long Winter, when 'Gandalf came to the aid of the Shirefolk', as the annals put it. This is expanded upon in the Unfinished Tales collection of texts that became the 'Quest of Erebor'. The version that Christopher Tolkien calls B has Gandalf recollecting about the hobbits of the Shire: "I began to have a warm place in my heart for them in the Long Winter..." This seems to suggest that Gandalf did know of them before 2758, but not in the intimate and interested way that we are familiar with from the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Since hobbits are hobbits, it would seem odd to me if he had spent much time among them before that crisis - had he done so, surely he would have developed a "warm" feeling for them simply due to sufficient acquaintance, given the books' premise that the hobbits' true qualities only become apparent over time, leading so many of their antagonists to underestimate them. I'm not sure we should say so boldly that Gandalf 'knew' the hobbits for millennia, in the sense of collecting extensive "hobbit-lore" as he puts it to Frodo, even though by the time line it was possible.

On the other hand, their "eating habits" as you put it are pretty easy to perceive - hardly the kind of thing that millennia are needed for a wizard (or anyone else) to become aware of!



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


= Forum has no new posts. Forum needs no new posts.

 
 

Search for (options) Powered by Gossamer Forum v.1.2.3

home | advertising | contact us | back to top | search news | join list | Content Rating

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. We in no way claim the artwork displayed to be our own. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the fair use clause of the Copyright Law. Design and original photography however are copyright © 1999-2012 TheOneRing.net. Binary hosting provided by Nexcess.net

Do not follow this link, or your host will be blocked from this site. This is a spider trap.