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Hobbit’s hope

Rich Lowry on The Lord of the Rings: "The story’s hobbits are meant to be like us, middle class and unprepossessing. At four-feet tall or less, they seemingly stand no chance in a hostile world of wizards and monsters. But they soldier on and, in remaining true to their duty, help save the world. For all their weakness and failings, they are part of something larger that infuses their struggles with purpose. This is what we all want to believe of our own lives, and when we do, we have hope."

Discussions - 6 Comments

Lowry is wrong. Fans of the books know that it is men who most resemble us - capable of honor, but terribly flawed and subject to corruption. All of the non-human characters in the books represent various ideals and traits, nothing more. Tokien has gone on record as saying this. Hobbits represent hope. And while it might be romantic to imagine ourselves as Hobbits, we (modern day man) resemble much more closely the Orcs and Uruk Hai.

I respectfully disagree with Mr. Goodman in the sense of the fact that all of Tolkien’s characters, whether human or demi-human, have something to teach us about human nature. Boromir’s deep corruption, Aragorn’s humility and strength, the hobbits’ great resilience, Sam’s steadfastness, loyalty, and brotherhood, Legolas’ and Gimli’s ability to overcome differences of race, Sauruman’s betrayal, Gandalf’s wisdom, etc. What makes the story a great piece of literature is that like the work of Homer, Shakespeare, the Bible, etc., it probes the height of humanity’s beauty and virtue and the depth of its evil and corruption. In the end, it is by following the paths of virtue, character, steadfastness, and goodness that allows humanity to conquer the evil that resides in our own hearts and externally in the world.

I am very confused by Mr. Williams’ disagreement with my post, since he seems to agree with just about everything I said in it. I did not claim that the LOTR characters/races had nothing to teach us. In fact, I went so far as to acknowledge that all of the characters/races possess "human" traits (some of which are good, others not so good).

Where I disagreed with the original author was in his assertion that the Hobbits somehow represent mankind. Both Tolkien and his son Christopher were quite clear that they do not.

Like I said, in dark days such as these, its appealing to want to think of ourself as Hobbits, rather than men. The hobbits were pure of heart, and there was never any doubt about the honor of their mission. Characters like Boromir, Theoden, Denethor and Saruman (though the latter was not technically a human being) are far more complex, prideful and capable of being corrupted... much like modern man.

I agree, but what I was disagreeing
with was what I understood to be your statement that it is only men that represent us rather than hobbits. Whatever Tolkien may have said, it seems evident, as you stated, that they do represent something about men and the human condition (whether intended or not).

What I was trying to say (and perhaps did not say as well as I would have liked) was that Tokien’s men are intended to represent man. At the same time, the various other characters and races are representative of various aspects/traits of the human condition.

Excellent point and one that I would wholeheartedly endorse! Anyway, what a fantastic trilogy in print and a representation on film that probably surpassed all of our expectations. Truly, a great, sweeping epic of the battle between good and evil. Now, there’s something we’ll all agree on!

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