Ecclesiology and the Hobbit
What does Ecclesiology mean? It’s certainly not a word people hear often. Well, I’m here to tell you it means the study of churches. But even that definition is vague, to truly understand what ecclesiology means we must first dive into the meaning of the word church. Now, you may be telling yourself “oh i know what a church is,” but there’s much more to it than just a building where people go to worship. Church signifies a variety of things such as a community, a place for people to confess their sins, and a safe haven for those who have nowhere else to go. We will investigate more in depth of what church symbolizes while at the same time connecting it to The Hobbit to see if there are any relations to be explored. A community is having a sense of fellowship with the surrounding people.
Everyone within a community has a goal, and therefore, it is up to the people to achieve that goal. For a Christian church community, they read a psalm every day, and spread love and joy around to be closer to God etc, but what’s important is the fact that they do it together. When someone strays from the group or is in error, it’s up to the community to correct him. In The Hobbit, Bilbo and the company of dwarves symbolize their own community in a way, once Bilbo signed the contract to be the fourteenth member he has been accepted into the group, and in their brotherhood they always look out for each other. When Bilbo escapes the spiders in chapter 8, his first thought is to go and find his friends who could be in danger. Everyone is always looking out for one another and the moment someone decides to do something for his benefit or only listens to his ideas, he is then straying away from the community. Within the church it is everyone’s duty to listen to one another, especially during confession of sin. If the church symbolizes a community and there is no one who listens or cares to listen to the confession then we aren’t doing our jobs within the community. We have no right to judge each other for one sins, and therefore, it’s important to understand the idea of listening to them and helping correct them. For example, when Bilbo is telling the story of how he escaped the goblins and Gollum, he never mentions the ring because he may believe that the dwarves may think less of him if he had a ring of power to aid him in his escape. Or he didn’t want to say how he basically sinned in a way by cheating the sacred game of riddles. But in chapter 8 Bilbo finally lets them in on the ring and told them the true story of how he acquired it.
This could be seen as a confession in some way, but the main idea here is that the dwarves listened and didn’t think less of Bilbo that he used the ring or had some luck involved with his escape and were kind of amazed with Bilbo. They main point is they didn’t judge him for his actions. Singing can play a big part within a community, it brings people together, makes everyone feel more secure and safe, and when people sing it tends to spread joy around or lift spirits. In The Hobbit more than once the dwarves would sing together, and normally it would be during a feast or if the dwarves were in a safe place. The first part being Bilbo’s home, before they all began their adventure. They sang about the dangerous journey to come and even though the particular song wasn’t a joyful song because it was about the dragon taking their home, it still brought the dwarves together in a sense, and reminded them of their one common goal, which of course was to take back the mountain. Another example being the time when the dwarves were taken in by Beorn’s hospitality. They were given food and they sang and ate once again about the journey ahead of them. In this case, the song described the dark and shadowy forest of Mirkwood and the evil creatures that lurk there, which the dwarves couldn’t have possibly known because they have never been there. So this song could symbolize foreshadowing of what’s to come.
It wasn’t only the dwarves that connected together through the songs, but also the goblins and elves. Now, the goblins of course are evil creatures but if we look past their evilness its still plain as day to see that the goblins were singing to boost their morale and united in way against the dwarves, although they wish only malice upon the dwarves they still shared a common goal, even though it wasn’t a good intention. The elves also sang back when the dwarves arrive in Rivendell. They sang and they feasted. In chapter 8 it was a great autumn feast for the elves and they sang songs all night long.
The point is singing is a way for people to understand each other and create harmony as we have seen in The Hobbit so far. Dwarves, elves, goblins, good and bad, they all did something in common which was sing. Now that we mentioned a few key aspects of what a church is, we can now ask ourselves the same question once again on what is ecclesiology? Ecclesiology and the study of churches revolves more around the idea of a united community that share common beliefs. A church is not just a building, really it’s the people that form the church. The idea of listening to one another, singing, worshiping, and helping each other are all deeper interpretations of the church. Through these ideas we have developed a more clear definition of what Ecclesiology really means, and to help back this reasoning up, we have linked ecclesiology and the church with The Hobbit to help us better recognize connections and themes between the two.
An Insight into Female Empowerment in J.r.r. Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings
Although seldom studied as a commentary on femininity, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings offers prolonged insight into female empowerment. Tolkien’s representation of women in his 1954-55 sequel has long been the focus of preeminent controversial debate. Many people have regularly lodged a protest against the scarcity of female characters and their subordinate roles in his narrative which, in fact, is true. Nonetheless, aside from the lack of female roles, the author certainly did not founder to symbolize them as morally good, heroic, and aristocratic individuals, as well as declaring righteous leadership roles. Tolkien’s personal history always had something to do with how critics viewed his manner towards females. Many of whom went as far as to state that Tolkien was a misogynist. His oeuvre, hence, has been analyzed considering how these detractors were convinced he thought of women. It was not uncommon for men to perceive women as the community saw them, since Britain had a very distinct character for women to play in the first 1900s, whether as wives or mothers or seamstress.
Throughout Tolkien’s university life, he was mostly accompanied by men because of the lack of women’s presence in universities at the time. He had a strong sensory of male camaraderie owing to the fact of the all-male schools. Tolkien further established this sense when he served in the British Army during World War One which, also, was all-male. Women seemed to move in diverse spheres from those where he trained for his army duties. At some point, Tolkien concurred that women could not really go as far as men intellectually, yet, as a university professor, he managed to never treat his students, unequally, regardless of their sex. Tolkien’s marriage life was far from perfect, but, it was clear that he had so much respect and honored his wife, Edith. Moreover, Humphrey Carpenter, a prominent novelist and a friend of Tolkien, explained that Tolkien was “capable of sympathizing with the plight of a clever woman who had been trapped by marriage into leading an intellectually empty life”. However, despite all societal impacts, at Tolkien’s era, he saw more in women than the stereotypical stay-at-home mom: he saw strength. He saw power and ability. He saw powerful and noble roles which are present in his novel sequel The Lord of the Rings.
The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R Tolkien, tells the story of the civilization’s future which lies in the destiny of the One Ring, which has been missing for centuries. Powerful forces continue in the search for it; however, fate placed the Ring in the palms of Frodo Baggins, a young Hobbit, who becomes heir to the Ring and steps into legend. The plot-lines are developed with the wars and battles that occur between the people of the Middle-Earth and Sauron, the Dark Lord, for jurisdiction of the One Ring and dominion over the continent. With the rise of conflicts came the lack of the female characters in the novel sequel which caused great dissension over the tale. However, the reality that the female roles are far fewer than the male, helps appreciate each woman’s uniqueness and significance in the narrative.
Despite the clear misinterpret of the female sex in the British community during the author’s life, he ascribed to a considerable amount of power to the women of Middle-earth (the fictional setting of his novel sequel). Many of J.R.R Tolkien’s female characters are originated from the powerful women of Old Norse and Germanic literature, which aided him in shaping his own judgment on women. West, Tolkien’s workmate, agreed that “Tolkien is far from being a feminist author, [but] his women characters are stronger than they are often made out to be”. Regardless of his dubious beliefs towards women’s intellect, he portrayed his women characters with an exceptional amount of wisdom and intelligence, especially, his female protagonists Galadriel and Arwen. These are not the at most qualities that Tolkien accredited to the women in his novel. He extended their attributes of bravery, sacrifice, and strength. There are three dominant, ageless female characters in The Lord Of The Rings: Galadriel the Lady of the Golden Wood, Goldberry the River-woman’s daughter and Arwen the Elf princess. Each of which symbolizes a diverse aspect that Tolkien represents perfectly as a part of his use of the Middle Age’s motions, and all of them stimulate and positively impact the most prominent male characters in a way that helps them rid Medieval Period of evil. He also presented Éowyn, another significant female character, who is not ageless yet with the immense amount of bodily strength despite her slender and small size. As the theme of femininity progresses in The Lord of the Rings, Éowyn rapidly becomes an important role indeed. Tolkien first introduces Éowyn in his novel by stating that “grave and thoughtful was her glance, as she looked on the king with cool pity in her eyes. Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver; but strong she seemed”.
The author is found to make women seem grave and even standoffish by portraying them as durable and impressive — even soldier-like, and in this case, Éowyn. In spite of that, Tolkien describes her as stern as steel and fair and cold. Not one of these expressions makes her seem very human. It’s as though Tolkien condemns Éowyn’s aspiration for glory. Nevertheless, the author makes this anti-ambition message very distinctive and complex, with regards to Éowyn, by Boromire, Captain of the White Tower, and his company, striving with their own souls to find an internal stability between virtue and their aspiration for glory. Éowyn cannot pursue her own glory in battle owing to external motives; she is a female in a world full of males. Seeking power may evoke immorality in this moral society; however, Éowyn’s role does not seem to be wrongful by desiring the equivalent amount of power as everyone else; seeking power is seen as seeking equality. Éowyn alone is frequently capable to convince Tolkien’s audience that he isn’t the misogynist that many denounce him to be. Éowyn’s character evolves when she begs to be permitted to go to the combat, like her brother. She then fights for the rights of women to attend army battles: “If you must go, then let me ride in your following. For I am weary of skulking in the hills, and wish to face peril and battle.” “Your duty is with your people,” [Éomer] answered. “Too often have I heard of duty,” she cried. “But am I not of the House of Eorl, a shieldmaiden and not a dry-nurse? I have waited on faltering feet long enough. Since they falter no longer, it seems, may I not now spend my life as I will? […] Shall I always be chosen [to stay behind with those who cannot fight]?” she said bitterly. “Shall I always be left behind when the Riders depart, to mind the house while they win renown, and find food and beds when they return? […] All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honor, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.”Although she is not granted permission, Éowyn defies her male relatives and rides to battle with her male comrades anyway. In fact, she is the one who deals the mortal blow to Sauron’s most powerful minion, the Witch-King of Angmar.
Notwithstanding her brother’s refusal, Éowyn still disobeys the orders and rides to war with her male companion. Tolkien’s theme of femininity is, in fact, fortified at this point of the novel sequel as the Witch King of the Nazgul states that no living man can kill him, she proclaims that “But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am”, immediately before she slays him. The author makes here a captivating point: Éowyn’s victory is no passive feminine win, but alternatively comes from the dominion of masculinity of a woman, and not a man. Clearly, the writer could not resist the desire to idealize the feminine, and so Éowyn is also given her share of ordinary characterization of her beauty, yet, she is permitted to be both attractive and strong — “her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver”. She is often described by her status as a pretty woman. Éowyn is a maiden, and her virgin clarity is highlighted as one of her key attractions. She is portrayed as “fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood”. Despite that, she is disregarded from the assembly of men —“Go, Éowyn sister-daughter!” said the old king, “the time for fear is past” – and yet, after she demolishes the Witch-King utterly, whom is told that no man could put to death, Aragorn tells her, “Alas! For she was pitted against a foe beyond the strength of her mind or body”. For each approach in which Éowyn is given exceptional ability, she is, as well, given a shove back toward standard female roles. This emphasizes the theme of femininity in The Lord of the Rings and how the author has not allowed Éowyn to have an impeccable victory. She nearly wrecked herself by the immorality that is brought upon her through her impudence to kill a male enemy. Although she eventually recuperates from her injuries, it is the power of a man that relinquishes her former ways, as a replacement for her role as a traditional mother and wife. This is established once she falls in love with Faramir and so her chilly, unwomanly soul fades. Yielding to the implied typical way of life, she states: “I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren. […] And would you [Faramir,] have your proud folk say of you: “There goes a lord who tamed a wild shieldmaiden of the North!”.
As the theme of femininity further enhances in The Lord of the Rings, Galadriel instantly becomes a significant character. The Lady Galadriel was an Elven Queen of remarkable beauty, with timeless qualities and golden river of hair. Galadriel was exceptionally commended for her charm, particularly that of her hair, which was rich and radiant gold, touched with silver. Tolkien stated that, “even among the Eldar she was accounted beautiful, and her hair was held a marvel unmatched. It was golden […]”. As well, she was the tallest of elf-women. Owing to her wisdom and abilities, she had a very momentous part throughout the historical events of Middle-earth, especially during the War of the Ring. Tolkien described her as “tall beyond the measure even of the women of the Noldor; she was strong of body, mind, and will”. Her intelligence caused her to be one of the very few who were not deceived by Sauron, the Dark Lord, in the Second Age, and consequently suggested to Celebrimbor, another character, to hide the Three Rings. When Frodo put forward the One Ring, she still succeeding in the rejection of the indisputable temptation, for she was wise enough to be aware that, notwithstanding the fact that she might commence with good intentions with the One Ring in her control, she would at most end up as a cruel ruler as dreadful as Sauron. This could be viewed as Tolkien’s portrayal of female’s, specifically Galadriel’s, testament to their outstanding understanding of the seductive nature of power, as well as their consciousness of their personal restrictions. Galadriel depicts both traditional masculine and traditional feminine attributes. She is initially introduced as assembling “side by side” with Celeborn, the male Elven ruler. Tolkien describe both characters as “Very tall they were, and the lady no less tall than the Lord, and they were grave and beautiful”. Designating both the male and female rulers as ‘grave’, a traditionally male-oriented trait, and ‘beautiful,’ a description traditionally female-oriented. Thus, Tolkien portrays these characters to suggest that both the male and female characters are equivalent in state and that they both contribute to masculine and feminine qualities.
The juxtaposition of Galadriel’s characteristics suggests that masculinity and femininity are not clearly defined ways of being; there can be movement between masculine and feminine characteristics which can be admired, no matter whether a male or female portrays them. As Tolkien progressed the plot of his novel, Galadriel became more powerful and self-governing. Galadriel appeared to not to have existed up till Tolkien wrote the relevant sections of The Lord of the Rings. The inception of her was mysterious and puzzling yet very beautiful, a real forest monarch. She, however, desired the Ring in order to grow into a great queen. Nevertheless, she had the power of will to refuse. Therefore, Tolkien symbolizes her as Elven-ness: its sadness, its mystery, its almost unimaginable beauty.
The elevating veneration of Galadriel was somehow a signal to the author’s respect for females specifically his thoughts of his mother, who was placed on a very high plinth. It was, of course, Tolkien’s mother who turned to the Catholic Church and the influence for him to do so. Tolkien’s Catholic faith was a very significant feature of his being and progressed into Galadriel’s character. Tolkien once wrote that Mary, whom he believed is Mother of God, gave him his comprehension of “beauty in majesty and simplicity.” In Catholicism, it was believed that she was born with no sin, lived and passed without ever sinning. In many attributes, Galadriel epitomizes Mary’s qualities.
Primarily, Mary is frequently portrayed in the same way as Galadriel: delicate, soaked in light, sympathetic, beautiful, and inspirational. Tolkien viewed both as a queens: Galadriel as the Queen of Lothlorien and Mary as Queen of the Catholic Church. Numerous in the history of the Catholic Church have been changed and reconciled by Mary’s gracefulness and compassion. Likewise, Gimli, a Dwarf, a nation that loathe the Elves, has a move of opinion after meeting Galadriel. Tolkien stated: “And the dwarf . . . looked up and met her eyes, and it seemed to him that he looked into the heart of an enemy and saw their love and understanding. Wonder came into his face and he smiled in answer”. She conveys what perfect religion is to Tolkien, and that perfection fits perfectly within the guidelines that the Middle Age’s anchoresses followed. By doing so, Galadriel manifest her sagacity and virtue, which remains in sharp contrast with the actions of some of the male heroes in Tolkien’s novel sequel. The juxtaposition of Galadriel’s attributes proposes that femininity and masculinity are not clearly interpreted ways of being; there can be motion between male and female attributes which can be admired, no matter whether a male or female depict them.
Similarly to Galadriel, who was allured by Frodo’s offer of the One Ring yet successfully declined the temptation, Goldberry, Tom Bombadil’s wife in The Lord of the Rings, makes the One Ring disappear in order to advocate the hobbits. Likewise, Goldberry is also an evidence of her wisdom: she can identify the boundaries of her own abilities and powers. Goldberry, also known as “River-woman’s daughter,” possesses capabilities and powers associated to nature, she goes beyond the limits between the material and spiritual world. Therefore, it can be recognized that Tolkien based more than one female character on his own respect for Mary. It is into this particular aspect of the story that the author brought Goldberry, a role strongly linked to nature, if not more so, than her husband, Bombadil. She is very present as the River-woman’s daughter; when Tom Bombadil interrupts the creatures of the river with his singing, she swims up and rebukes him, just to be rapidly persuaded to “sleep again where the pools are shady”. Goldberry is, then, both significant to Tolkien and linked, not only to nature but in his mind to England. If Bombadil is the landscape, then Goldberry is England’s vital spark. It is no fortuity that Tolkien made her the River-daughter. It is, certainly, strenuous to portray an individual’s idealizations of nature, however, Tolkien does his best to convey that through Goldberry, his sense of national pride. She provides more than enough food for the travelers, just as she protects them from the misery and distress that menace their welfare. And in Tolkien’s use of Shelob, the female giant spider, as a foil of kind, he reveals his strong sensation towards England, both in his constant commitment to his country and his objection against industrialization. Thus, Goldberry’s characteristics helps Tolkien make clear that although the spirits, in The Lord Of The Ring, are constantly inclined to be a service to those in need, their powers and their interests do not expand beyond the borders of their land, the Old Forest. Therefore, Tolkien persuades his readers that no matter what calamities man impose upon England, his ideal – a sense of a powerful country that protects the significance of nature – is enduring, waiting to be occupied with and appreciated once again.J
ust like Galadriel, her granddaughter Arwen is another very significant female character in Tolkien’s writings, the elven princess in love with the soldier Aragorn. In The Lord Of The Rings, the immortal role of Arwen demonstrates the more gentle virtuousness of femininity: she’s attractive, benevolent, and patient. Her virtue was present even in her simple movements, Tolkien states: “She took a white gem like a star that lay upon her breast hanging upon a silver chain, and she set the chain around Frodo’s neck. ‘When the memory of the fear and the darkness troubles you,’ she said, ‘this will bring you aid.” Waiting for her love to come back from his voyage, she shows faith and loyalty, trusting beyond all suspicion that they will be reunited.
The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug. Book Versus Movie Comparison
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is based off of the middle section of the novel The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. However, there are quite a few differences between the movie and the book. The director, Peter Jackson, made many changes and also added to the plot and characters. The changes that he made while directing both positively and negatively affected how the viewers analyzed The Desolation of Smaug. Smaller details of the book were turned into important subplots of the movie, drastically changing the storyline. After Thorin and Company enter in Mirkwood and encounter the wood elves, many changes take place consecutively. How the dwarves and Bilbo enter into Lake Town and who they encounter when they get to the Town are both different from the book. Furthermore, the Arkenstone is glorified to an extreme in the movie whereas in the book is a minor reason to take back the mountain. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug has many changes from The Hobbit novel that negatively and positively influences the storyline.
Thorin and Company are captured by wood elves while walking through Mirkwood, and are taken prisoner in the wood elves residence. Bilbo creates an escape plan, which involves being sealed into a giant barrel and riding the river to the nearest town. In the book, the company climbs into the barrels are fully sealed by Bilbo. The elves release the barrels, not knowing what was inside. After riding the river, they safely enter Lake Town. However, the barrel scene is drastically different in the movie. After Bilbo helps the dwarves into the barrels, they are immediately rolled into the river before being sealed. This is because Bilbo releases them, which varies from the book. Bilbo then jumps in after them, and they go down the river with their heads poking out the top. Also, they are being followed and shot at by orcs, which are nonexistent in the book. They do not enter into Lake Town without overcoming various obstacles, therefore the barrel scene in the movie and the book are completely different. This positively affects the movie because the viewers are able to see the reactions of the dwarves, adding comedy to the plotline. However, there are negative affects because it is an unnecessary change that was added to the story. This scene was only different in order to add length to the movie. After the dwarves and Bilbo enter into Laketown, the plot begins to shift even more.
Laketown plays a major role in housing the dwarves and Bilbo before they take on the task of killing the dragon. However, the Laketown scenes are significantly different when comparing the novel and movie. In the book, Thorin and Company enter into Laketown, and after telling the men who they are and why they are there, a celebration begins due to feat that the dwarves are about to take part in. Then, for many days, the company is treated like royalty and given supplies to help them with their journey. On the other hand, the movie alters this scene severely. First off, Bard the bowman catches the dwarves before they enter into the gates of Laketown. This alone is very different because in the book, Bard is not mentioned until the chapter that he kills the dragon. To carry on with the Laketown scene, the dwarves are snuck into the gates by Bard, and then have to live in secret for some time. After complications and fights with Bard and the people of Laketown, the dwarves begin the journey to the Lonely Mountain. However, due to Fili being sick, him and his brother stay behind which does not happen in the book. The Laketown scenes in the movie and book have nothing similar about them. Although different, this scene positively adds to the story. It allows depth in the movie, and expands the personalities of each character. The only negative effect is that it does not allow Fili and Kili to complete their journey, which takes away from Thorin and Company. Once the dwarves, specifically Thorin, reach Laketown, their true desire becomes clear.
The Arkenstone is the also known as the Heart of the Mountain and is described by Thorin as “A globe with a thousand facets; it shone like silver in the firelight, like water in the sun, like snow under the stars, like rain upon the Moon!” In the book, the Arkenstone is a motivating factor to reach the mountain, but not the most important aspect. In the book, this specific stone was the most prized by Thorin, so much that he was willing to give up 1/4th of the treasure for it. Adding on from the definition in the book, the movie portrays the Arkenstone as the object that can bring the kingdoms of dwarves together, and a great source of power. This is not mentioned in the book, and therefore adds a definition to the stone. The major change from the book is the way Thorin reacts to the Arkenstone. Once he gets closer to the Mountain, it becomes the only thing Thorin is worried about. He becomes lustful over this stone, and is willing to risk the life of Bilbo so that he can grab hold of the Arkenstone. This negatively affects the movie, because it points out the inhumanity of Thorin, and shows the greedy side of the dwarves. Although some people believe the changes to be negative, there are positive changes because it adds a more definite reason to go to the mountain. The significance of the Arkenstone adds a motivator in the story of Thorin and Company.
J.R.R Tolkien and Peter Jackson teamed up to create two pieces of literary excellence that had the same story, but contained many changes that negatively and positively affected the story. The story of the 12 dwarves and Bilbo are told first by Tolkien in The Hobbit, which was the book that changed the way literature was viewed. Peter Jackson turned this book into a movie to show the true fantasy of The Hobbit. However, Jackson made several changes to the movie that differed from the true script of the book. He made changes to the plot and characters and also added subplots. The movie had many differences in the barrel scene and the story of Laketown. Furthermore, he changed the significance and power of the Arkenstone. These changes both positively and negatively affected the storyline. In the long run, the movie is able to successfully fulfill the expectations that the novel left behind.
The Motif of Justice in Literature (tolkien’s the Fellowship of the Ring and Shakespeare’s Hamlet)
In this essay, I, will be focusing on how justice is portrayed in Hamlet by William Shakespeare and also The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien by looking at how the ghost in Hamlet influences him to agree to committing murder in the name of justice, whilst with taking a look at how the protection of the ring in The Fellowship of the Ring is providing justice in its own way as they are keeping it out of the wrong hands.
These two texts were written in two completely different times, by two people who led life’s that couldn’t be more dissimilar. However, despite this the two texts portray justice very clearly. Shakespeare’s use of displaying justice as a kind of revenge abides by the face that during the 1500 and 1600s, when this was written revenge tragedies were very popular among writers and even though the play does focus on revenge mostly, I feel that justice as I will explain more, later, is just another type of revenge. Also, at the time that Shakespeare was writing ‘Hamlet’, it was common to take previous works by other people and incorporate them into your own, which Shakespeare does with ‘Hamlet’. Whereas, when Tolkien was writing, ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ this would have been regarded as plagiarism and anyway Tolkien did not want to retell other old myths or legends, he wanted to create his own that was purely his own ideas rather than somebody else’s. Furthermore, Tolkien’s use of portraying justice through the protection of the ring, I feel abides by the time in which he was writing as he began writing in the 1940s and as it took him twelve years to complete the trilogy means that he would have been writing during the entire Second World War. This could be where Tolkien got his idea from to keep the ring out of Sauron’s hands to provide justice as at this time the allies, France, England and America would have been trying to keep Hitler from taking over countries such as Poland as a way to provide justice for all those who lived there. So, my point is that even though, we see the novel as this fantastic fantasy that transports you to another world, if you focus enough you see aspects of what life was like during the time Tolkien was writing. Also, you get an insight of what the world was experiencing at this time, which could be why he uses the ring and Sauron as an extended metaphor for Hitler and his urgency to invade other countries as they’re both trying to obtain something that it not theirs in order to gain power.
In ‘Hamlet’ justice is portrayed through his father’s ghost as he wants justice for what has happened to him. However, he wants vengeful justice, “So art thou to revenge when thou shalt hear” // “The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown” (1.5 7//39) meaning that in order for Hamlet to serve justice for his father he would have to murder his uncle instead of just exposing him. In these quotes, the ghost is telling Hamlet who murdered him and what he wants doing which is revenge however, it is also justice as the ghost was wrongfully murdered in the first place by his own brother. In addition, Shakespeare uses Hamlet’s contemplating to portray justice and revenge as two similarities and show that the line between the two is blurred, however though, when you do think of justice it has quite positive connotations as it tends to be seen as the right thing to do whereas revenge has quite negative connotations as it seems more brutal and dark. Furthermore, Hamlet’s contemplating between whether afflicting the revenge of murder upon Claudius is a good or bad thing is shown when he says, “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;” (3.3) this highlights that the line between good and evil is blurred but even so, deep down in Hamlet’s subconscious he knows that what the ghost is asking for is wrong, and therefore making Hamlet second guess whether he’d even go through with the act of justice for his father, King Hamlet due to his own conscience making him a coward.
Whereas, in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ justice is portrayed through the protection of the ring as by keeping it out of Sauron’s hands they’re maintaining peace therefore providing justice. The following quote, “It is no small thing to have come so far, and through such dangers, still bearing the ring” is from book two of ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ however, even though is isn’t telling Frodo that he must protect the ring in order to gain justice it is highlighting how dangerous this journey is but yet also an achievement for Frodo and his team. This is because the ring has the ability to change an honest person into a selfish and conniving person along with having an evil wizard like Sauron after it, to come this far and face so much danger all while still protecting the ring is an accomplishment. Therefore, with it being an accomplishment it means that they are also providing justice to all who would be affected if Sauron were to obtain the ring. Even more so, critics have said “that Ring, is not merely an essential part of the plot: it is, in fact, the pivot of the whole work” (13). This furthers what I previously stated as it is showcasing that justice is portrayed in this novel through the protection of the ring as if the ring was not in this story then there would be no need to protect it, therefore no need for any justice and in turn there would be no story.
Throughout Hamlet, there is a prominent theme of religion and a recurring theme of contemplating the afterlife which only highlights the confusion centred around religion in the sixteenth century. As, around this time many protestant reformers believed that the devil would frequently choose a form such as a dead friend or family member which only emphasises the idea that the apparition that visits Hamlet is not his father but in fact, the devil, which could be why the ghost is so determined to inflict murder upon Claudius and using the act of justice and revenge to hide his other motives. The ghost even says, “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” (1.5 25) which instantly stresses how this act is evil which is something that the devil himself would try and persuade people to do in order to darken a pure soul, especially though the conniving and invective way of making Hamlet believe that what he is doing is for his dead father’s benefit and for the greater good of everyone involved. However, due to Hamlet being unsure of what to do and contemplating whether this act of justice and revenge is actually the right thing to do as either way he would still be committing murder, critics have said that this “reinforces his weak and unstable nature” (Emmerichs, 1) This, however does go against my previous point as even though the apparition came back as Hamlet’s father, King Hamlet, Hamlet may not listen to his orders of revenge and justice and not actually go through with the murdering of his uncle which would therefore mean that the devil would not be getting Hamlet to do wrong, then he would still be a pure soul.
Additionally, justice is again portrayed in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ when Frodo leaves to continue the quest on his own. This is portraying justice as a positive thing as everyone will be safe and won’t become corrupted by the ring as they won’t be in any contact with it whatsoever, as Frodo can see that some are beginning to become manipulated by it already such as Boromir as when speaking to Boromir, Frodo notices that he has a “strange gleam in his eyes, yet his face still kind and friendly” (2, 10 398) but then within minutes, Frodo says that “his fair and pleasant face was hideously changed; a raging fire was in his eyes.” (2, 10 399). Therefore, only reinforcing that Frodo’s decision to go on alone is for the best for everyone, it is as though he is providing justice to them before they realise that they need it. Furthermore, Frodo is then confronted by Sam asking him what happened to which Frodo replies, “Go back, Sam. I’m going to Mordor alone.” (2, 10 406). This is supporting the good, kind and gentle person that Frodo is as he would rather put his own life at risk if it means he would be protecting everyone around him as he is avoiding them becoming obsessed with the ring, which can be seen as a type of justice as he is saving them before they need to be saved.
Furthermore, ‘Hamlet’ portrays justice through the death of Polonius. This is because Polonuis’ wrongdoing is the reason behind his downfall, as if he would not have been eavesdropping on Hamlet, then Hamlet would not have accidentally stabbed him. However, when describing Polonius’ death, Laertes says that he was “justly killed” (5.2 337) this reinforces how justice is portrayed in the play because even though he got murdered, if he hadn’t of been listening into Hamlet’s private conversations from behind a curtain then he would have been safe and stayed alive. Thus, this goes onto provide Hamlet with justice in a way due to there being one less person to spy on him and report back to Claudius which then also gives him a better chance of exposing his uncle and plotting his revenge thoroughly.
Furthermore, justice plays a role in war, seen in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. As, in ‘Two Towers’ Frodo is resistant of an unjust war which leads to him telling the hobbits not to kill unnecessarily. This only supports my point that Frodo knows right from wrong he knows that justice is achievable without having to commit murder. Also, it is bringing about the idea that Frodo could be an epic hero. Now, going back to ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, the novel ends when Sam joins Frodo to go to Mordor, so we actually don’t get to see what happens unless we read the next book but, I feel that this is supposed to be like this. This is because it allows the reader to come up with their own theory about what may happen along with leaving them with a feeling of happiness as Frodo has been able to achieve justice by keeping the ring out of Sauron’s hands throughout the entire novel. But, it also makes the reader feel uneasy as they are left on a cliff hanger which means maybe in the next instalment, Frodo might not be able to provide justice so easily. This then links to the beginning of this paragraph when I mentioned the third book in the series, ‘Two Towers’ as we get a glimpse that there is a war but yet, we also see Frodo as the man we know him to be by protecting people by telling them and learning them they do not need to kill therefore this means that he himself has gained justice as he has not been taken over by the power of the ring, which is a good thing.
In addition, the seventeenth – century philosopher, Francis Bacon condemned revenge as ‘a kind of wild justice’. Which reinforces an earlier point that the line between justice and revenge is blurred. So, it could also be insinuating that even though the ghost of King Hamlet specifically asks for revenge, it would mean that if Hamlet went through with the murder, he would also be supplying his dead father the justice he deserves, wild justice but still justice. Moreover, I would also say that when thinking about Ophelia’s death it would be sensible to describe it as unjust and unfair. This is because all throughout the play, all she does is obey and follow what her father tells her to do, proven when she says, “I shall obey, my lord.” (1.4 135). This then could be what plays a significant part in her death, as if she would never have obeyed her father and began to spy on Hamlet, maybe he would not have began to send her mixed signals in order to confuse her so she would have nothing to report back to Polonius. Therefore, I feel she can be described as just a piece in the battle between Hamlet and Claudius as, the constant demands of her father, and the mixed signals of Hamlet along with the then death of her father are all major factors in her losing her sanity and then of course, her life. Which is why her death is unjust and unfair, as she is just an innocent bystander that gets swept up in all of this madness that led her to lose her mind and then eventually lose her life and no justice comes from Ophelia’s death, it is just an unfortunate event as she doesn’t do anything wrong throughout the play.
Although, it may not seem like it I believe that there are many similarities in regarding to justice within ‘Hamlet’ and justice within ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. For example, when looking at the protagonists from these two texts, you can see that they just want to do good and the right thing. However, in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, Frodo appears more headstrong compared to Hamlet, this is because unlike Hamlet, Frodo knows what he has to do in order to obtain justice, which is go to Mordor alone, with the ring. This is proven when he says, “I must go now or I shall never go. I shant get a chance again. I hate leaving them, and like this without any explanation. (2,10 402). This is showcasing Frodo’s heroism, as he is torn about leaving his companions behind but he will not let it stop him from doing what is right therefore he is humbling himself to protect others along with sacrificing himself to go on alone. These are all heroic acts of justice which could be why some people have described Frodo as an “epic hero” (Lisa Walters, Lecture). On the other hand, in relation to Hamlet, he does want to do good, like Frodo, he isn’t able to make a clear and concise decision like Frodo’s decision to leave his companions. This could be because he doesn’t understand whether killing Claudius would be the best or worst thing to do. This is also the reason for his constant and consistent contemplating of whether he should go through with the act of murder. This can be seen in one of the most famous soliloquys of the play when Hamlet says, “To die, to sleep, No more, and by a sleep to say we end // To sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come” (3.1 59-65). So, as seen here, he is saying that death would just be like going to sleep which isn’t so bad but then within seconds he is arguing with himself and saying that the sleep may be peaceful at first but it would soon get taken over by nightmares. This could be seen as an example of Hamlet’s contemplating right or wrong as it is showcasing his confusion which is why he is so unsure whether killing Claudius would be the right thing to do. Furthermore, this could be why in order to avoid having to murder his own uncle, he creates a play in hope that it would force Claudius to admit what he has done. Which in turn, would provide justice to his dead father, King Hamlet along with all the people of the land as they would finally know the truth of what Claudius has done.
Overall, I believe that justice is portrayed very differently in these two texts. For example, in ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, justice is applied through the protection of the ring and the lengths Frodo would go to keep it out of Sauron’s hands. Whilst, in ‘Hamlet’ justice is seen mostly at the end when Claudius is finally killed as it is what the ghost wanted all throughout the play.
Norse Influences on J. R. R. Tolkien’s Tales
The Influence of Northern Mythology in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Narn i hin Hurin
J.R.R. Tolkien is an author known famously for his masterful craftsmanship of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. The Norse influences on Tolkien’s writing cannot be denied; Norse elements are woven throughout most, if not all, of his works. Narn i hin Hurin, or “The Tale of the Children of Hurin”, is one of the most direct examples of Tolkien’s usage of Old Norse lore and is fraught with themes similar to those which are heavily emphasized in Viking sagas. Honor, shame, power, heroism, and tragedy are only a few of the numerous ideas that these tales and The Children of Hurin have in common. Along with Norse mythology, a Finnish epic poem finds a way into this novel through Turin’s death. Truly, if every trace of Norse and Finnish lore were removed from the text of The Children of Hurin, the tale would merely concern a foolish man with a knack for making poor decisions. Themes of sword lore, powerful helms, and death by suicide run deep within both Tolkien’s imagined mythology and Northern story telling, fundamentally shaping the dark and captivating nature of Tolkien’s most tragic tale ever published.
Helmets are often viewed as little more than a protective piece of armor that can be decorative or simple and functional. Tolkien takes the basic helmet and enhances it, creating the Helm of Hador. The concept of the Helm of Hador may be inspired by the “Helm of Awe”, which can be found within the Saga of the Volsungs (Clair 71). This helmet is most often referred to as a “Helm of Terror” and it is best represented with this ominous title. When Sigurd encounters Fafnir, the two hold a tense conversation, during which the topic of Fafnir’s Helm of Terror is brought to the surface. Fafnir boasts proudly of this helmet’s ability to bring about victory due to its magical ability to strike great fear into the hearts of those who set eyes upon the helm. Sigurd dares to contradict Fafnir, stating: “This Helm of Terror you speak of gives victory to few, because each man who finds himself in company with many others must at one time discover that no one is the boldest of all” (Volsung 64). Sigurd wisely acknowledges the fact that if the fear caused by this helm can only be overcome by the very bravest men, many weak-hearted men will flee in terror from the wearer’s side. Though Sigurd seems to think rather unfavorably of the helmet, after he defeats Fafnir, Sigurd does return to the serpent’s treasure hoard and, where he takes “from there the Helm of Terror” (Volsung 66). Tolkien’s version of the magical helmet, The Helm of Hador, which Turin inherits, defends the wearer from “wound or death” and deflects any weapon that comes into contact with it (Tolkien 78). Unlike the Helm of Terror, the Helm of Hador has a very specific description of its appearance: “That helm was made of grey steel adorned with gold, and on it were graven runes of victory…It had a visor…” (Tolkien 78). The helmet is described majestically and from the materials used to create the helmet it is apparent that this particular piece of armour was made for an especially great warrior. In the description of the Helm of Hador, Tolkien references “runes of victory”, a detail also mentioned in the Saga of the Volsungs. Brynhild teaches Sigurd about magic runes and in the poem she recites to him, she chants:
“Victory runes shall you know
If you want to secure wisdom
and cut them on the sword hilt,
on the center ridge of the blade…” (Volsung 68)
The tradition of carving victory runes on swords is transferred to the Helm of Hador, which has a grand reputation in battle. The Helm of Hador is visible across the battlefield, which is a beneficial trait that gives the wearer a great advantage, for it strikes “fear into the hearts of enemies”, just as the Helm of Terror does (Tolkein 78). Apart from these runes, the most prominent feature of the physical helmet is that “upon its crest was set in defiance a gilded image of Glaurung the dragon”, a symbol that foreshadows Turin’s eventual defeat of the dragon (Tolkien 78). Both the Saga of the Volsungs and The Children of Hurin prove that the importance placed upon of the Helm of Terror and the Helm of Hador lies not only within the traditional protective uses of armor, but also in their unusual, magical properties and history that is contained within each of these helmets. The Helm of Hador’s rich history, which is described in immense detail in The Children of Hurin, identifies the helmet an honored possession, and it is therefore the greatest heirloom that Turin owns. Likewise, the Helm of Terror embodies Sigurd’s victory over the serpent Fafnir, showing him to be a worthy opponent, brave ally, and dangerous foe.
One of the most common examples of valor and heroism in Tolkien’s works is the sword, a weapon that requires great strength to wield with precision and skill. Sigurd’s sword Gram in The Saga of the Volsungs bears many similarities to Turin’s sword Gurthang in The Children of Hurin. The most significant sword in Turin’s tale was first wielded by Beleg Cuthalion, an Elf of Doriath, the realm over which King Thingol presides. He requested it to aid him in his quest to find Turin, who had fled the realm after an incident for which he had believed there was no pardon. Beleg’s purpose was to go seek Turin and inform him that Thingol had forgiven him and that he was welcome once more within the city. The sword Beleg selected was created by Eol, the Dark Elf. Eol was the one who gave Anglachel to Thingol, who then allowed Beleg to take it. King Thingol’s wife, Melian, knew from the moment she set eyes on the sword that the blade was evil, stating frankly that “There is malice in this sword”. She goes on to say that the “heart of the smith dwells in it, and that heart was dark” (Tolkien 97). Melian is referencing Eol’s corrupt nature here, implying that the craftsman of the sword passes on a part of himself through the weapon he has created. It can easily be determined that “Eol’s counterpart may be Regin, the smith-tutor whose machinations set in motion the multiple curses and adventures” in The Saga of the Volsungs (Clair 71). Sigurd, son of Sigmund, goes to the Regin in search of a sword that has no equal, a sword strong enough to defeat the dragon Fafnir. Regin fails twice to make a sword that Sigurd approves of and finally Sigurd goes to his mother and asks her if his father, King Sigmund had given her “the sword Gram in two pieces”. She gives him the broken sword and Sigurd takes it to Regin to be reforged. With these shards, Regin “made a sword” that “seemed to the apprentices as if flames were leaping from its edges” (Volsung 60).
The description of flame-like edges on the reforged sword is used in The Children of Hurin, when the “sword Anglachel was forged anew” for Turin, the son of Hurin, after he mistakenly murders his friend Beleg Cuthalion. The incident came about when Beleg attempts to free Turin from the clutches of the servants of the Dark Lord Morgoth. Beleg “drew his sword Anglachel and with it he cut the fetters that bound Turin” but as the Elf Queen Melian predicted based upon the sword’s dark past, the blade betrayed Beleg and “slipped in his hand, and pricked Turin’s foot” (Tolkien 154). Turin had been drugged in his captivity and was delirious, so when he saw a shape “standing over him with a naked blade” he assumed that his captors had returned to torment him. Turin wrestled with Beleg and “seized Anglachel, and slew Beleg Cuthalion thinking him a foe” (Tolkien 154). After Beleg’s death, the elf who had been travelling with Beleg through the woods, Gwindor gives “the sword Anglachel into [Turin’s] hands” and thus the sword becomes Turin’s to bear. The blade has become dull and black after slaying its former master and Gwindor explains this by telling Turin that “It mourns for Beleg even as you do” (Tolkien 157). Turin and Gwindor travel to Nargothrond where Anglachel is reforged. Despite being remade, the blade remained black but “its edges shone with pale fire”. Turin then renames the sword “Gurthang” or “Iron of death” (Tolkien 160). Anglachel’s reforging is just like Gram’s reforging: the sword “takes on a new identity” (Clair 71). Anglachel, now called Gurthang, “partakes of the characteristics of heroic-literature swords” that carry a reputation of being unable to be sheathed “without first drinking blood” (Clair 71). The blood-thirsty nature of Gurthang drives Turin’s story forward, bringing Turin closer and closer to his fate.
Turin’s “doom” is a curse brought down upon his family by the Dark Lord Morgoth, who is similar to the modern concept of a fallen angel (an example of which would be Lucifer), because of his father Hurin’s defiance against Morgoth’s evil. Morgoth speaks this curse to Turin’s father hurin: “But upon all whom you love my thought shall weigh as a cloud of Doom, and it shall bring them down into darkness and despair. Wherever they go, evil shall arise. Whenever they speak, their words shall bring ill counsel. Whatsoever they do shall turn against them. They shall die without hope, cursing both life and death.” (Tolkien 64). This curse bodes very ill for Turin, who at the time is a young boy. His life from the time of the curse and onwards is now beset with misfortune and failure. Turin does not know that his family has been cursed, but when Gwindor says to him, “…rumor runs […] that [Hurin] still defies Morgoth; and Morgoth has laid a curse upon […] his kin.”, Turin says that he believes it, for his life has been filled with terrible incidents (Tolkien 158). The doom that lies over Turin is perceivable by may who know him, and a man named Brandir even speaks to Turin’s lover Nienel and tells her of his concerns surrounding the man: “…there lies a shadow on this man, and I am afraid.” (Tolkien 219). With Turin and Nienel’s hopeless suicides, Morgoth’s sinister curse is fulfilled. After Turin throws himself upon the blade of Gurthang, it fragments apart, perhaps signifying in a physical way the end of Morgoth’s curse. Throughout the second half of Turin’s tale, this sword proves to be a truly wicked object. Gurthang’s role in Turin’s death ties together a long series of events leading up to the demise of Hurin’s son.
There is a curse within the context of a Viking saga that is somewhat similar to the curse Morgoth placed upon Hurin’s family, though the motivations behind the curse are slightly different. Egil, in Egils saga Skalla-grimssonar, turns a curse upon the spirits of King Eirikr’s land, raising a hazelnut wood “pole of infamy” and shouting, “I turn this infamy against the spirits of the land, that inhabit this land, so that they all lose their way” until King Eirikir and Queen Gunnhild are driven from the land (Gallo 130). In both Tolkien’s work and in Viking lore, curses seem to hold a certain power over revenge and spite. Curses provide a driving force behind Viking stories to give the hero a challenge to overcome. In the case of the Children of Hurin, a curse is not simply an obstacle, it is prophetic and seems to dictate the fates of those who have been cursed.
Turin’s “doom” lies at the core of his misfortunes, producing his hubris and his rash nature. Turin’s downward spiral begins when he discovers that his wife Nienel is his long lost-sister, who forgets her former life as the daughter of Hurin when she is placed under a “spell of dumbness” by the serpent Glaurung (Tolkien 254). Nienel discovers the wrongness of her marriage first when the spell over her is broken and her memories return. At the same time, she believes her beloved husband and brother to be dead, slain by the dragon Glaurung. Broken hearted, Nienel casts herself from the edge of a cliff and into a river, effectively taking her own life. Turin proves to be quite alive, but his survival is discovered too late to save Nienel. When Turin hears of his wife’s demise he goes to the cliff where Nienel threw herself into the swift currents of the river below and follows her example; Turin commits suicide by throwing himself onto the blade of his sword and dies “without hope”, just as Morgoth’s curse dictated (Tolkien 254). Turin and Nienel’s tragic deaths directly mirror two suicides that occur within the Finnish epic poem titled Kalevala. Though not truly a “Viking” poem, one particular stanza bears critical similarities to the relationship between Turin and Nienel. The poem involves a man named Kullervo and the young maiden that he woos. One scholar puts these similarities into simple terms, summarizing what transpires within the tale: “Kullervo seduces a young maiden, they discover they are siblings. His sister kills herself first and ‘In great distress, Kullervo killed himself at the same place.” The scholar then elaborates: “the female was greatly distressed and[…] she drowned herself” (Pridmore, Ahmadi and Majeed 322). Kullervo’s fundamental character traits even resemble Turin’s in the sense that “Kullervo was a tragic individual”, a trait of Turin’s that is mentioned repeatedly throughout the novel (Pridmore, Ahmadi and Majeed 322). Kullervo’s suicide can be set side by side with Turin’s and very few differences can be found between the two. Turin’s blade speaks to him as he prepares to kill himself. Turin asks of the sword Gurthang, “Will you slay me swiftly?” and the sword replies, “Yes I will drink your blood, that I may forget the blood of Beleg my master, and the blood of Brandir slain unjustly”. The sword then agreeing to be Turin’s instrument of death, admitting: “I will slay you swiftly” (Tolkien 256). This phenomenon is rare, even in Tolkien lore, and is unheard of in Viking lore. This type of personification of a lethal object is very unique to Turin’s tale and seldom reused in Tolkien’s other narratives. However, Kullervo questions similarly to his blade as he prepares to die, asking “Tell me, O my blade of honor, dost thou wish to drink my life-blood, drink the blood of Kullerwoinen?” (Crawford 147). The sword replies in a manner akin to Gurthang, “Why should I not drink thy life-blood, blood of guilty Kullerwoinen, since I feast upon the worthy, drink the life-blood of the righteous?” (Crawford 147). The ability to compare The Children of Hurin to the Kalevala is not the only significant comparison that can be made between lore and Tolkien’s writing. The image of a cliff is commonly associated with suicide and this is no different in Viking Sagas.
The deaths of two members of the House of Hador, Turin and Nienel, occur on the edge of a cliff, which raises the idea that perhaps another connection can be made between Turin’s tale and Gautrek’s saga. Gautrek’s family has a strange tradition where members of the family would leap to their deaths from a “precipice called the Gillings Bluff” that is close to their home to “cut down the size of our family whenever something extraordinary happens” (Gautrek 27). “Something extraordinary” includes anything from a shortage of food to minor illness. The family uses the cliff to avoid misfortune and die without suffering. The cliff in The Children of Hurin is symbolic simply in the way it looks over the river where Turin slew the dragon Glaurung and where Nienel fell to her death; it could easily be said that the cliff represents the reduction of Hurin’s family. Turin is buried like a viking, being laid in a mound with his broken sword beside him. His body is left unchanged and runes are engraved upon a marker which reads, “Turin Turambar Dagnir Glaurunga” and below this inscription the carved the name “Nienor Nienel. Turin’s name is followed by one of his other names as well as a description of one of his most iconic deeds. The name of his sister Nienor who is also his wife, Nienel, is written under his in memory of her death (Tolkien 257). This is where the tale of The Children of Hurin ends, at the site of Turin’s grave.
J.R.R. Tolkien masterfully works Northern mythology into his work, using it to craft the themes surrounding the legend of Turin. Turin’s sword Gurthang, the weapon that should have embodied the definition of trustworthiness and loyalty, indeed proves to be a traitorous object with personified characteristics that spur the story on, providing yet another burden for Turin to carry. Indeed, Northern lore inspired most, of not all, of Turin’s woes through curses and dragons, hubris and helms, and dramatic scenarios worthy of the greatest Viking hero. The Saga of the Volsungs provides the model of an epic hero that inspires the character and nature of Turin, making him fierce, bold, and somewhat sinister in personality. The influence of the Kalevala shaped the arrival of Turin’s inescapable fate, inspiring Turin and Nienel’s grave acts of suicide. Gautrek’s saga brings forth an interesting perspective on the symbology of the cliff and how it corresponds with the loss of family by suicide, not only in Norse mythology, but in Tolkien’s work and modern culture. Tolkien’s manipulation and handling of the Saga of the Volsungs, the Kalevala, Gautrek’s saga, and Norse burial traditions brings to light the best aspects of Northern literature and culture. The Children of Hurin is, without a doubt, one of the gloomiest legends created for Tolkien’s world and observing the deep-running Northern roots that permeate the novel allows for a clearer, fuller, and more enjoyable appreciation for one of Tolkien’s most sorrowful tales.
The Hero’s Journey in J.r.r. Tolkien’s the Hobbit
J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is an excellent example of Joseph Campbell’s archetype, a Hero’s Journey. This archetype identifies ten stages in which an unlikely hero might go through to become a likely hero. In this novel, a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins is the unlikely hero. Bilbo hates any kind of adventure or anything unexpected, so you would not render him as a “hero” at first. Bilbo goes through many stages of Campbell’s a Hero’s Journey including: The Call to Adventure, Refusal of the Call, Meeting the Mentor, Crossing the First Threshold, Belly of the Whale, The Road of Trials, The Woman as a Temptress, Atonement with the Father/Abyss, Apotheosis, The Ultimate Boon, Rescue from Without, The Crossing of the Return Threshold, and Freedom to Live.
The first stage of this archetype is The Call to Adventure. The Call to Adventure is where the “hero” of the story is at first shown in a normal situation and is then called to do something that differs from his/her normal life. Bilbo Baggins is a respectable hobbit that never does anything unexpected or goes on any adventures. One day his life was interrupted by a wizard by the name of Gandalf. This wizard had decided that Bilbo was the perfect candidate to be a burglar on an adventure that he was planning, since Bilbo was very capable of sneaking around quietly. Bilbo replied to Gandalf’s request by saying, “Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea – anytime you like! Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Goodbye!” So, the second stage of this archetype, Refusal of the Call, has also been fulfilled, since the unlikely hero has refused to go on the adventure that he was called to. After Bilbo’s refusal, Gandalf marked his door with his staff, which would indicate that he would like to go an adventure. The next day, many dwarves showed up on his doorstep, and Bilbo soon accepted the adventure.
The next stage is Meeting the Mentor. In this stage, the hero has committed to the adventure and has met his mentor or guide. Bilbo has already met his “mentor”, Gandalf. Gandalf is a wizard that can perform magic spells, which will help Bilbo and the dwarves in the future while on their adventure. On many occasions, Gandalf has helped Bilbo and the dwarves stay alive. He saves them from trolls in chapter two, he leads them through dangerous lands to the Last Homely House in Rivendell, he leads them through the dangerous mountain pass and saves them from goblins when they are captured in chapter four, he fights the vicious wargs and deals with the great eagles in chapter six and seven, and he finally leads them to the borders of Mirkwood at the end of chapter seven where he has to leave them.
The next stage is Crossing the First Threshold, which is the point where the hero crosses into the actual adventure, leaving behind the normality that they are used to. Bilbo and the dwarves cross the first threshold when they begin their adventure. They lost large portions of their resources when the pony carrying the resources was dragged into a river and they could only save the pony. Gandalf has disappeared, and they need more resources, so they send Bilbo to inspect a campfire in the distance. Bilbo sees that the campfire is being used by trolls that are roasting mutton and tries to sneak around them to get some of their food, but he is captured soon after. The dwarves wait for his return and become impatient, so they go to where the trolls are and soon after, they are captured as well. At the last minute, they are saved by Gandalf, who tricks the trolls into waiting by the fire until morning so that they turn into stone.
The next stage is Belly of the Whale. This stage represents the permanent split of the hero’s known world and self. Entering this stage, the hero is willing to undergo a change. Bilbo goes through this stage when he and the dwarves are navigating the Misty Mountains. They are disrupted by dangerous storms and stone-giants, which forces them to take cover within a cave. While they sleep in this cave, Bilbo is the only one that notices a crack in the back of the cave, since he had dreamed about goblins pouring out of it. He screams, waking up Gandalf, to which he vanishes in a flash. Bilbo and the dwarves are then taken by the goblins that poured out of the crack in the wall to Goblin-Town. Gandalf re-appears and saves the group by killing the Great Goblin, who was planning on eating them, with a sword. They all flee from the remaining goblins, but Bilbo falls and is knocked unconscious when one of the goblins sneakily grabs at them from behind. The group unknowingly leaves him behind, and continue to flee. Bilbo awakens and is afraid of being alone, but continues through the dark tunnels for a long time. Since he was willing to continue on the adventure, even after being alone, he has allowed himself to change which fulfilled the fifth stage.
The next stage is the Road of Trials, which is a series of tests that the hero must go through to begin his transformation. This stage could be represented by the time after Bilbo and the dwarves escape from the mountains. After Bilbo escapes from the mountains and finds the group, they continue on their adventure, but are trapped by large wolf-like creatures called wargs. The goblins appear, too, but Bilbo and the others were carried away by the great eagles before anything bad could happen. The group goes to Beorn’s upon Gandalf’s request and obtain more resources and ponies to travel with. They travel to Mirkwood, where Gandalf parts with them at the border to attend to other business. Bilbo and the dwarves are by themselves now and face many “trials” such as being captured by spiders, from which Bilbo rescues them, and then being captured by the Wood-elves’ King, but then being rescued by Bilbo once again.
The next stage is The Woman As Temptress. In this stage, the hero faces either physical or pleasurable temptations that might lead him to abandon his quest. “Woman” is a metaphor for the material temptations of life. After Bilbo defeated Smaug, he searches through the great hall where all the dwarves’ treasures were gathered when he comes across a beautiful gem: the Arkenstone. He’s content with the power of the gem, so he pockets it and figures that he would just take that and nothing else as his fourteenth share. Thorin searched for the stone for days, but Bilbo has kept it hidden from him. The Arkenstone is Bilbo’s woman as temptress because it has the power to make the worst out of the hero and ruin the whole adventure.
The next stage is Atonement with the Father/Abyss. In this stage, the hero will confront whatever has the ultimate power in his life. The “father” in this stage is usually represented by a father figure to the hero. Bilbo’s father figure, in this case, is Thorin. He has challenged Thorin by giving the Arkenstone to his enemies. Bilbo hasn’t achieved this stage, though, because Thorin only pretends to agree with the deals for the negotiation while he waits for his cousin, Dain, to lead an army to battle the men and elves. Only after the battle, when Thorin was dying, did he and Bilbo finally understand each other.
The next stage, Apotheosis, represents the realization of greater understanding. The hero, in this stage, has new knowledge and understanding and is ready for more of the adventure. In this case, Bilbo recuperates after the loss of many of his friends and regains the strength for the return journey.
The next stage is The Ultimate Boon. This is the achievement of the goal of the quest. Bilbo achieves the goal of his quest when there is finally peace between the races (men, elves, and dwarves) and the evil races (goblins and wargs) have been defeated. He has also achieved this when the Lonely Mountain is not a resistance against the armed forces of men and elves, but is the ground where they fought a battle against their true enemy.
The next stage is Rescue from Without. This stage is where the hero must be brought back to everyday life with the help of a powerful guide. Bilbo, tired and hurt, was returned back home accompanied by Gandalf at first, then Beorn and the elves, then Beorn and Gandalf, and finally just Gandalf.
The next stage is The Crossing of the Return Threshold, which is described as being the knowledge and wisdom gained on the quest integrated into the hero’s ordinary life and possibly sharing it with the world. As Bilbo is being returned home, Gandalf comments that he is “not the hobbit that you were”. Through this adventure, Bilbo has gained more knowledge and wisdom, which has transformed him.
The last stage is the Freedom to Live, which is when the hero is free from fearing death. Years later, Bilbo receives unexpected guests once again: Gandalf and Balin. They reminisce their past adventure and the current affairs of Lake-town. Bilbo showed no regrets about his past in the end, which truly shows that he now has the freedom to live.
In conclusion, Joseph Campbell’s archetype, the Hero’s Journey, fits J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit very well. Bilbo Baggins follows through with just about every stage of the Hero’s Journey, which took him through many trials and tribulations. From his experiences, he gained wisdom and knowledge and was also transformed into a likely hero.