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The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
Only a thought

Hamfast Gamgee
Grey Havens

Mar 21 2018, 10:28pm

Post #1 of 8 (2028 views)
Only a thought Can't Post

And my take on the Tolkien legendruim in general. Now this is a little light-hearted and maybe not quite totally accurate, but as the reading room is a little quiet, I thought I would post my thoughts on Tolkien's world works in general.
The Hobbit
In essence a children's fairy tale story. Yes, there are bits that are a bit deeper and it is a good tale, at it's core it is a children's story. The going on a quest part, the returning home safely (mostly) and the brief glimpses into Middle Earth, but these are not substantatied in this one and this is basically a happy, happy tale.
Lord of the Rings
More of the same really. Maybe for older children, even younger adults and does explore Tolkien's world in greater detail and bad things do happen but it has in general a happy ending with messages about fighting evil and even against insumountable odds, good triumphs eventually and has to keep fighting when things seem hopeless, etc etc.
The Silmarillion
Even though this was never published in Tolkien's lifetime. But sorry, this one is for adults. Now, the world gets nasty. Good does not always triumph in the end. There often is no happy ending. And when it does happen, it is so jaded one wonders if it was worth it. But that is life. How the world is. It is, at least for many people a case of suffering with no last minute triumph. If you do happen to believe that there is an afterlife in Eru where everything is going to be perfect, fine, but a bit tough if you don't . One has to make compromises. A bit like real life.


Mar 22 2018, 12:29am

Post #2 of 8 (1999 views)
I'm thinking, I'm thinking... [In reply to] Can't Post

I see where you're coming from, but I'm going to respectfully disagree with you that The Lord of the Rings is a "happy ending, good triumphs eventually" tale in contrast to The Silmarillion's "adult, no happy ending" story or stories. The Sil has a far greater scope, and occupies a far more mythical space - but if Earendil going to Valinor and bringing about the Downfall of Morgoth and the placing of a Silmaril in the sky as a sign of future divine favor to the oppressed isn't a happy ending, I don't know what is. Likewise, if the heroes of Lord of the Rings respectively live a few years in misery until he flees the mortal world in search of relief from pain, or alternately faces death forthrightly so that his wife despairs and lies down in a pile of leaves to die alone and forsaken, I don't see how that story, even though the Ring is destroyed and Sauron defeated forever, is a Young Adult story with a happy ending.

Both stories, to me, show Tolkien in two different modes. He encompassed both optimism and pessimism in his ideas about fairy tales and mythologies. The LotR is better written and is complete in its epic scope; the Sil is insanely ambitious and fails thereby. Both are absolutely, and entirely, for adults. However, the greatness and weakness (in a way) of LotR is that it is more accessible to young people who latch onto it and often fail to revisit it more thoughtfully later in life.

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'.
Archive: All the TORn Reading Room Book Discussions (including the 1st BotR Discussion!) and Footerama: "Tolkien would have LOVED it!"
Dr. Squire introduces the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: A Reader's Diary

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Mar 22 2018, 4:13pm

Post #3 of 8 (1899 views)
I have to agree w/ Squire here [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
Maybe for older children, even younger adults and does explore Tolkien's world in greater detail and bad things do happen but it has in general a happy ending with messages about fighting evil and even against insumountable odds, good triumphs eventually and has to keep fighting when things seem hopeless, etc etc.

Older children and younger adults may certainly enjoy LOTR as far as a single reading may take them. Yet the multiple nuances may be lost with a single reading (adult or child). As for a ‘happy ending’ we could say that for the most part all turns out well, depending on your point of view. Yet a happy ending (“and they lived happily ever after”) is very subjective. I can’t read the ending of LOTR (incl. the appx.) without a tear forming. It’s very poignant and even sad to have lost our ‘main’ heroes: Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn, et al, quite apparently for good and all. Yet in a way their tales continue on, in some way, in our heads. So, I might say, it’s not particularly a ‘happy ending’ but just a ‘good’ ending. The most heartbreaking thing about LOTR is that an ending exists at all!

‘. . . the rule of no realm is mine . . .
But all worthy things that are in peril . . . those are my care.
For I also am a steward. Did you not know?'

Gandalf to Denethor


Mar 22 2018, 4:41pm

Post #4 of 8 (1897 views)
I've always found the ending of The Hobbit a bit sad. [In reply to] Can't Post

This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected. He may have lost the neighbours’ respect, but he gained-well, you will see whether he gained anything in the end.
-An Unexpected Party

Indeed Bilbo found he had lost more than spoons – he had lost his reputation. It is true that for ever after he remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk as ever passed that way; but he was no longer quite respectable. He was in fact held by all the hobbits of the neighbourhood to be ‘queer’-except by his nephews and nieces on the Took side, but even they were not encouraged in their friendship by their elders.
-The Last Stage

"Now the Star-bellied Elves had bellies with stars. The Plain-bellied Dwarves had none upon thars."

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 22 2018, 8:40pm

Post #5 of 8 (1864 views)
I find the end of LOTR to be very sad [In reply to] Can't Post

Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin returned to the Shire, but Frodo never really belonged there any more. They came home to a Shire that was damaged by Saruman, and while the hard work of all the hobbits fixed the outward damage, it was never really the same. Frodo could not stay, and eventually had to leave.


Mar 22 2018, 9:05pm

Post #6 of 8 (1854 views)
I'm with Squire. [In reply to] Can't Post

I have read TLotR over fifty times since my first reading at sixteen (a "young adult") till last year (at 68, a "senior citizen") I have enjoyed it each and every time, but I do not feel that the ending is happy (Frodo is hurt beyond healing in this Middle-earth, Celeborn loses his "treasure," and Arwen dies alone and forsaken). I have read The Hobbit several times as an exercise in nostalgia, but it is not among my favorite books, and Sil'77 has several passages of great beauty (Elwing's flight) but it is also not one of my favorites. I enjoy tragedy ( Hamlet, Oedipus Rex, and the Orestiad) but they are more coherent. Sil'77 has a feel of scrapbookery to me, like Bilbo's Tales From the Elvish.

We are the fighting Uruk-Hai! We slew the great warrior! Well, yeah, first he killed a bunch of us and another whole lot of Mauhúr's lads, and we had to shoot enough arrows into him to drop a Műmak. But we got him!

Superuser / Moderator

Mar 22 2018, 9:23pm

Post #7 of 8 (1845 views)
LOTR leaves me feeling melancholy. / [In reply to] Can't Post


Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Ataahua's stories

Forum Admin / Moderator

Mar 23 2018, 1:17pm

Post #8 of 8 (1780 views)
Yes, but at the same time, [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm sad to leave Middle-earth. Toward the end, I read more slowly, savoring the experience. I read all the Appendices, delaying the moment I have to close the book.


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