The Hobbit is a story of companionship and facing off against great odds. It follows the tale of a Hobbit, a mythical race of short of stature and hardy people, named Bilbo Baggins. He is tricked by a wizard named Gandalf the Grey into hosting a party for a company of dwarves. These dwarves recruit Bilbo on a quest to retake their homeland, located in the Misty Mountains, from it's dreaded conquerer, a dragon named Smaug.
The Hobbit is a book filled with great adventure, and the themes found within it reflect as such.
Heroism and Bravery
Jeremy Barnett and Jared Criswell, circa 1989, colorized
The themes of heroism and bravery is shown throughout this book. From the very beginning this is shown as Bilbo, portrayed as meek and mild-mannered, accepts the invitation to join the dwarves on what is very obviously a dangerous journey and task to retake their home. This continues through the book, as Bilbo fights multiple battles, all up to Bilbo facing the greatest challenge of all, being alone in the Misty Mountains against the wrath of Smaug.
"Let's have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet."
Good vs Evil
Good vs Evil is a common theme found in many forms of literature, with The Hobbit being no exception. Bilbo and his company are seen as the good in the book, on a noble mission to reclaim their home that was taken from them. Characters like the dreaded Smaug, Gollum, or the brutish orcs are the adversaries they face along the way, and are generally sinister in their actions.
"Elrond took the map and gazed long at it, and he shook his head; for if he did not altogether approve of dwarves and their love of gold, he hated dragons and their cruel wickedness, and he grieved to remember the ruin of the town of Dale and its merry bells, and the burned banks of the bright River Running."
Wealth is one of the biggest themes to be seen in Tolkien's novel. Wealth, and the pursuit thereof, is basically the motivation for almost every character in the book. The dwarf company pursues the Misty Mountain not only out of honor for their home, but for the great wealth in gold and jewels that it holds. Smaug originally attacked the dwarven city for that exact wealth. Even the elves in the book are motivated by this, wanting a share of the treasure.
"In ancient days the Wood-elves had had wars with some of the dwarves, whom they accused of stealing their treasure. It is only fair to say that the dwarves gave a different account, and said that they only took what was their due, for the elf-king had bargained with them to shape his raw gold and silver, and had afterwards refused to give them their pay. If the elf-king had a weakness it was for treasure, especially for silver and white gems; and though his hoard was rich, he was ever eager for more, since he had not yet as great a treasure as other elf-lords of old"
The Hobbit was a very well recieved book in it's time. The book however, does not have many awards. As to why this is, this book was released in 1937, yes it's that old! At this time book awards were not as common as they are today. However, in April 1938, The Hobbit was recognized by the New York Herald Tribune for the best juvenile story of the time. In 2000, The Hobbit was given the Keith Barker Millennium Book Award for most significant children's book published between 1920 and 1939. In the year it was published, 1937, The Hobbit was nominated and just narrowly lost the esteemed Carnegie Medal.
About the Author
Tolkien was born January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. J.R.R. Tolkien moved to England as a child and he studied at Exeter College. He went on to teach at the prestigious Oxford University and published The Hobbit while doing so. He later published the Lord of the Rings trilogy in light of the success of his first novel. These books have garnered an international fan base and have been adapted into multiple award-winning films. Tolkien then died in 1973 at the age of 81.
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