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**Queer Lodgings**: Beorn.


Aug 23 2012, 10:59am

Views: 832
**Queer Lodgings**: Beorn. Can't Post

Hi Folks and welcome to this next posting. Today I want to talk about the chapter from the party's arrival at Beorn's house to the following morning.

Gandalf and Bilbo go through Beorn's gate and approach his house leaving instructions for the dwarves to follow them at intervals, which they do arriving mostly in pairs. This is the same strategy as that adopted by the dwarves (or was it Gandalf?) for the Unexpected Party. Except that this time Gandalf arrives first and back then he arrived last. Why does Tolkien choose to repeat the scene? Is the repetition effective as a literary device? Why does Gandalf change his time of arrival from last to first?

As Bilbo and Gandalf approach Beorn's house they encounter his horses “very sleek and well groomed”. We have already met Beorn's “giant bees” who seem industrious but not hostile. The horses “trot up” to them and “gallop off” to warn Beorn of their arrival, Gandalf thinks and of course he's right. Already we see that Beorn cares for his animals and that they respond with loyalty. How does this sit with the fearsome image of Beorn built up earlier?

When we meet Beorn he is in man form but a large and impressive man and he laughs “a great rolling laugh”. He is refreshingly direct in his speech after all the dwarves courtesies and “That is the polite thing to say among eagles”. “Who are you and what do you want?” he asks “gruffly”. As the dwarves gradually arrive Beorn seems to become increasingly irritated by all the at your services they offer and tells Balin and Dwalin straight: “I don't want your service just now, only your names”. Are courtesies redundant in life or is Beorn just plain rude? Or is there a “third way”? Beorn does though expect the courtesy of their names. This is a rather big question but here goes: Why are the names important to Beorn (and to everybody else it seems)?

Gandalf retells the story we have all read to Beorn as the dwarves arrive. I wouldn't be here if I didn't enjoy the whole section myself but is the repetition strictly necessary? For what it's worth I think that we get to know Beorn a lot better in this section and that Gandalf's description of the events previously “narrated” are interesting in themselves. How about you?

Beorn is impressed by the story even though he thinks, and tells them, that they “may be making it all up” and invites the whole party to eat with him. During the meal we meet more of Beorn's animals who seem to serve as domestic servants, in this case waiters. I remember seeing performing animals as a young boy at the circus. I recall being particularly impressed by a troupe of dogs that had been trained to “walk” on their hind legs etc. I believe that this sort of performance may now be illegal here in the UK. It is certainly politically incorrect and circuses no longer feature performing animals. I get the impression that it is thought to be cruel to train animals to behave in ways which are not natural to them and I do tend to agree with that. Is Beorn cruel to his animals? Paradoxically perhaps I think that nothing could be further from the truth. Beorn cares for his animals and they offer him their loyalty in return. What do you think?

After the meal tales are told, songs are sung etc. and Beorn offers advice about Mirkwood. The dwarves start being dwarvish and Beorn gets bored. He does not have much time for metal. In due course Beorn leaves although we do not find out where he is going until later. Gandalf warns them all not to leave the house during the night and they go to sleep in the beds that Beorn (probably his animals?) had prepared for them. In the night Bilbo wakes and hears “...a growling sound outside, and a noise as of some great animal scuffling at the door.”. Bilbo speculates that it is Beorn in bear form, which it almost certainly is. He is panic stricken and, very sensibly, hides under the blankets until he falls asleep again. Any comments on any of this?

I had intended to use this post to discuss a theory about Beorn's nature that I came across some time ago and which I found quite interesting. This post is quite long already though and, on reflection, it might be better to raise the point in my next post which will cover the rest of the party's stay in Beorn's house. So I suppose this is a bit of a “teaser trailer” for The Sojourn. See you then I hope.


Subject User Time
**Queer Lodgings**: Beorn. Pryderi Send a private message to Pryderi Aug 23 2012, 10:59am
    don't get him a bearskin rug PhantomS Send a private message to PhantomS Aug 23 2012, 5:33pm
        Beds and bedding dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Sep 3 2012, 1:40am
            rumpled feathers telain Send a private message to telain Sep 5 2012, 1:18am
    Late answers sador Send a private message to sador Aug 28 2012, 1:49pm
    a few tangents telain Send a private message to telain Aug 30 2012, 4:38pm
    Regarding trained animals... Elizabeth Send a private message to Elizabeth Sep 5 2012, 6:52am


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