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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
**Queer Lodgings**: The Sojourn.

Pryderi
Rivendell

Aug 23 2012, 2:51pm


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**Queer Lodgings**: The Sojourn. Can't Post

Hi all and welcome to The Sojourn. The post will deal with the text up to the time when the company leaves Beorn's house.


Bilbo wakes up late to find that Gandalf, as well as Beorn, is “out and about somewhere”. Apart from breakfast nothing much seems to happen until Gandalf returns in the evening. Gandalf has already reported that Beorn does not eat his domestic animals and that he does not “hunt or eat wild animals”. So Beorn is vegetarian and the meals in his house are vegetarian ones. In fact we have been told that Beorn “lives most on cream and honey”. Was the breakfast menu the same as the previous evening meal? Tolkien often tells us the menu for meals eaten by his characters, as with the, decidedly non vegetarian, meals with the eagles. Why has he not done so here?


When Gandalf returns he insists on supper and this time we are told what he eats: Bread, butter, honey and cream. All as expected but there is no mention of any fruit or veg. How nutritious is Beorn's diet?


Gandalf has been tracking Beorn who is in bear form and heading for the mountains. He had a sort of Bearmoot the previous night and seems to have another on the next one. What do they discuss? They all go their separate ways after the moots and we hear no more about them. Bilbo thinks that Beorn has gone to fetch the Wargs and goblins to kill them and Gandalf is so cross that he sends Bilbo to bed, but not without his supper I hope. Is Gandalf justified? I think that Bilbo, naïve though he still is, should have realised by now that Beorn is on their side. What do you think?


The next morning Beorn returns in a fine mood as he has established the truth of their tale. He had caught a goblin and a Warg in the woods and interrogated them. What form did this interrogation take? I hope he was gentle with them but I fear not because he shows them the goblin's head outside the gate and the Warg's skin nailed to a tree. Is this savagery or just the only sensible way to deal with such creatures? Just in passing: Why do Wargs get a capital letter while goblins do not?


After lunch the party leave Beorn's house and head towards Mirkwood but not before Beorn has given them provisions for the journey and some good advice. He also lends them ponies to ride as far as the entrance to Mirkwood. Beorn is now their ally and I, for one, would not welcome him as an enemy. Is Beorn a good guy? A bad guy? A conflicted anti hero? Or what? Beorn advises them to take a different route through Mirkwood from the one they had planned and outlines some of the difficulties they may come across. He mentions “straying from the path” through Mirkwood and says: “This you MUST NOT do, for any reason. Oh dear! They are absolutely going to do that aren't they?


Finally I want raise the theory about Beorn's nature, that I mentioned in my previous post, to see what people think about it. Those with long memories may recall that I have mentioned it before and I apologise if I seem needlessly repetitious. The theory is put forward by Susan Hancock in an article entitled “Fantasy, Psychology and Feminism: Jungian Readings of Classic British Fantasy Fiction”. I found it in a book called “modern children's literature an introduction” edited by kimberley reynolds. Don't ask me why there is no upper case. I'm just the messenger. The book is published by Palgrave Macmillan, at least in the UK.


Hancock compares The Hobbit with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and comes to the perhaps surprising conclusion that The Hobbit is by far the more feminist of the stories despite its lack of female characters. Perhaps even more surprising is her use of Beorn to support her case. I will offer some quotes although they will probably not do justice to the whole. She writes: “Beorn offers a goal to the individuating psyche in the Hobbit in that ideas of masculinity and femininity are drawn close together in this powerful and ambivalent figure.” again: “Beorn is portrayed as being, simultaneously a gentle and a warlike figure” and finally: “Beorn is presented as a metaphorical representation of a union of opposites, offering, as governing archetype, a godlike self that is capable of uniting the ideas of fighting, strength and violence, with loving, caring and nurturing, joining together roles more traditionally and stereotypically assigned to separated masculine and feminine spheres at the time of his creation.”


If I interpret the Jungian vocabulary correctly I think she is saying that while Beorn is extremely masculine in some matters he is also extremely feminine in others. That he endorses female attributes as well as male ones. I'm still not sure that I buy into this entirely but the longer I reflect on the idea the more persuasive I find it. Thoughts on any or all of that would be more than welcome.


That's all for now, Pryderi.

Subject User Time
**Queer Lodgings**: The Sojourn. Pryderi Send a private message to Pryderi Aug 23 2012, 2:51pm
    Late Answers sador Send a private message to sador Aug 28 2012, 6:50pm
    No 'taters? dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Sep 3 2012, 2:08am
    Hancock's theory Beren0nehanded Send a private message to Beren0nehanded Oct 2 2012, 6:33pm

 
 
 

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