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Essay: The Education of the Hobbits in the LotR


Jun 9, 7:34pm

Post #1 of 5 (2657 views)
Essay: The Education of the Hobbits in the LotR Can't Post


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!

(This post was edited by Attalus on Jun 9, 7:34pm)


Jun 9, 10:22pm

Post #2 of 5 (2630 views)
Some good thoughts there - and some missed links [In reply to] Can't Post

I liked Seeley's exploration of what 'education' and 'training' means in the context of the classical world. Clearly he himself is a classical educator from the conservative tradition that Tolkien embraced.

I was surprised at the number of times he digressed into an unnecessary (as far as I could see) comparison of Tolkien's ideas with Peter Jackson's. I guess he suspected some of his audience just will not have read the book, and so he felt compelled to explain to them why one aspect or another of his argument did not appear as such in the films.

I also think he somewhat dropped the ball regarding Merry and Pippin. His theme is the idea that the hobbits, all four of them, had been 'trained' by the quest to set the Shire to rights at the end of the adventure. Yet Seeley's analysis of the text focused entirely on Frodo's (and Sam's) experiences and education on their part of the quest. But Merry and Pippin are the leaders in the Scouring, and I really expected him to give as much attention to what the two of them went through in the War in the West, while Frodo and Sam were taming Gollum, learning from Faramir, and daring to enter Mordor. He never did, and then just assumes we understand where Merry and Pippin acquired their military and leadership skills, and their 'gallantry' and 'tales' in the epilogue.

He also missed, at that point, a chance to explain why exactly the other hobbits defer to Frodo when it comes time to sentence Saruman. Seeley admits that they do, because Frodo's 'education' has been of a higher order than their own. But what does that mean? Is it just that the danger of Mordor was somehow greater than the danger of Isengard or the Witchking? Or is that Frodo had fallen into evil at the end -- that he had experienced what it was to be Saruman or Sauron, when he claimed the Ring at Mount Doom? Having survived that, his 'training' was indeed of a far higher order than the heroism shown by the other three. Seeley doesn't even touch this idea, and frankly I thought he would have, given the excellence of his essay up until the end.

Thanks for posting this. Obviously 'The Imaginative Conservative' is a Tolkien-friendly journal!

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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Jun 9, 10:33pm

Post #3 of 5 (2627 views)
Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

I think that's one of the more interesting and insightful essays that I've seen on the topic of LotR.

"I may be on the side of the angels, but do not think for one second that I am one of them." - Sherlock


Jun 9, 11:02pm

Post #4 of 5 (2618 views)
Thanks! [In reply to] Can't Post

To both of you! Smile

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!

Tolkien R.J.J

Jun 9, 11:59pm

Post #5 of 5 (2611 views)
Great stuff [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To

Great stuff thanks.

“I am a Christian, that fact can be deduced from my stories.”
-J.R.R Tolkien

“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late.”
J.R.R Tolkien

“Tolkien was a lifelong enemy of big government in every form, not just the harsher forms we find in soviet communism, German Nazism, or Italian fascism, but also as it manifested itself in British democratic socialism and the mongol state capitalism in other parts of the west.”
-Jonathan Witt and Jay W The Hobbit Party: The vision of freedom that Tolkien got and the west forgot


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