The Hobbit Read-Along discussion

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WWI and The Hobbit

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message 1: by Kizzia (new)

Kizzia (kizzia30) | 2 comments LoTR often gets discussed in light of Tolkien's experiences in WWI (when he served as a communications officer during the Battle of the Somme) but the idea that The Hobbit may also have been influenced by this doesn't seem to get discussed as much or as seriously. Given that Tolkien lost two of his three closest friends during the war I think this might have been the catalyst for him having Thorin, Kili and Fili die in the Battle of the Five Armies. And Bilbo going off to cry a small expression of his own grief. Does anyone else see any links?


message 2: by Claire (new)

Claire P | 1 comments I think it's also interesting to look at the quest itself: it starts off as an adventure, something connected with the excitement of the unknown, a little dangerous but tempting. Bilbo has no real idea of the danger of the quest till later, he goes off to seek the great unknown and to help his new friends on their noble quest. Except the journey becomes dark quickly, there are foes hidden everywhere and it ends in battle and death and sickness and grief. Greed destroyed a leader and the lives of too many dwarves and elves and men (Smaug's greed, Thorin's greed, the greed of the orcs, the reticence of the elves). There is a certain amount of disillusionment involved in the entire quest, a loss of innocence, being faced with death and chaos and destruction. This could be seen to mirror what Tolkien himself and his contemporaries experienced- joining the army with high hopes and the best intentions and realizing that the world is a much more complicated place...


message 3: by Kizzia (new)

Kizzia (kizzia30) | 2 comments Claire wrote: "I think it's also interesting to look at the quest itself: it starts off as an adventure, something connected with the excitement of the unknown, a little dangerous but tempting. Bilbo has no real ..."

Yes, this definitely makes sense. I think going into the army as a junior officer and seeing the mess of the battlefield would certainly have disillusioned him and I can absolute see all the reflections of this in the book that you highlight. I think the film loses some of that element - offering far more of the "glorious hero" trope than Tolkien's words contain.


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