The Hobbit

book report: "The Hobbit" (J. R. R. Tolkien)
1. information on the author
1.1 the life of J. R. R. Tolkien
1.2 books of J. R. R. Tolkien
2. summary of contents of his work "The Hobbit"
3. aspects of analysis
4. the significance of Tolkien's work
5. personal statement
John Ronald Roar Tolkien, the author of "The Hobbit" was born in Bloemfontein/South Africa on the 3/1/1892 as the first son of Mabel and Arthur Tolkien. His entire childhood was spent in England, to which Mabel Tolkien returns four years later, upon the death of Arthur Tolkien. Besides, Tolkien's mother does not agree with South Africa's climate. In England, Mabel Tolkien converted to the Catholicism. Since 1908, Ronald and his little brother lived at a Mrs. Faulkner in Birmingham. There he fell in love with Edit Bratt, who was three years older. Two years later, his guardian forbad him to see Edit again. She moves away short time later. This was a very hard stroke of fate for him.
He received his education at King Edward's School, St. Philip's Grammar School, and since 1911, at Oxford University, where he studies philology and history. First poems of him were published. One year later, he gets in contact with an english translation of the "Kalevala", the Finish national epic. During his studies he made far - reaching experiences with mythological literature and germanic culture. In 1915, he graduates.
When he came of age, he went to Edit Bratt and in 1916, they marry. Only few weeks later, he joins the Britsh Army and saw action in the Battle of the Somme. He was eventually discharged after spending most of 1917 in the hospital suffering from "trench fever". It was during this time that he began The Book of Lost Tales.
During the next 42 years, Tolkien occupied many academic positions:
    staff member of the New English Dictionary (1918 - 20) Reader, later Professor of English Language at Leeds, 1920 - 25 Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo - Saxon at Oxford (1925 - 45) Merton Professor of English Language and Literature (1945 - 59)
His principal professional focus was the study of Anglo - Saxon (Old English) and its relation to linguistically similar languages (Old Norse, Old German, and Gothic), with special emphasis on the dialects of Mercia, that part of England in which he grew up and lived, but he was also interested in Middle English, especially the dialect used in the Ancrene Wisse (a twelfth century manuscript probably composed in western England). Moreover, Tolkien was an expert in the surviving literature written in these languages. Because of he simultaneously read the texts as linguistic sources and as literature, he got very detailed knowledges of this type of literature.
From an early age he had been fascinated by language, particularly the languages of Northern Europe, both ancient and modern. From this affinity for language came not only his profession but also his private hobby, the invention of languages. He was more generally drawn to the entire "Northern tradition", which inspired him to wide reading of its myths and epics and of those modern authors who were equally drawn to it, such as William Morris and George MacDonald. His broad knowledge inevitably led to the development of various opinions about Myth, its relation to language, and the importance of Stories, interests which were shared by his friend C.S. Lewis. All these various perspectives: language, the heroic tradition, and Myth and Story (and a very real and deeply - held belief in and devotion to Catholic Christianity) came together with stunning effect in his stories: first the legends of the Elder Days which served as background to his invented languages, and later his most famous works, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien was really a great admirer of germanic respectively nordic culture and because of this he hated Adolf Hitler, who, according to his opinion, abused the nordic mind/culture. [By the way, ancestors of J. R. R. Tolkien came from Germany.]
Tolkien and his wife Edit got three sons: John (*1917), Michael (*1920), Christopher (*1924) and a daughter, Priscilla (*1929).
In 1930, he starts writing of The Hobbit, which was completed in 1936. Soon his work became well - known as a substitute of new kind of literature, the fantasy literature.
In 1959, Tolkien retired from the public life. 12 years later his wife died and on the 9/12/1973, he died in Bournemouth as well.
For his fantasy literature Tolkien created a fictional world, which is called Middle - earth. His best - known works take place in Middle - earth.
Many of his books were first published postum.
Tolkiens works could be structured into 3 main parts:
Principal works
His principal works include The Hobbit and the trilogy The Lord of the Rings.
The Hobbit
The Hobbit was originally published by Allen & Unwin in 1937, many editions in many languages are currently available. Originally written for Professor Tolkien's own children, The Hobbit met with instant critical acclaim when published. It is a complete and marvellous tale itself, but it also forms a prelud to the Lord of the Rings.
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings was originally published by Allen & Unwin in 1954 - 55, a revised edition appeared in 1965. Sometimes it is published as one volume but generally as three, although it is according to J. R. R. Tolkien not a real trilogy.
The Lord of the Rings consists of the following three parts:
    The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King
Related Middle - earth Works
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981)
This compilation consists of many letters which contain background material to Middle - earth.
The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle (1967)
Poems by J.R.R. Tolkien set to music by Donald Swann
A Tolkien Compass (1975)
This book gives an survey of Tolkien's fictional world. It includes J.R.R. Tolkien's "Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings" (prepared for publication by Christopher Tolkien).
The Silmarillion (1977).
This was the work Tolkien worked on the longest time and which has been not completed. It was published and edited by Christopher Tolkien, his son.
Unfinished Tales (1980)
This book contains also unfinished tales which were edited by Christopher Tolkien.
important short works and other books
    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (edited by J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon; 1925) Farmer Giles of Ham (1950) The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses From the Red Book (1963) Bilbo's Last Song (1974) The Father Christmas Letters (1976; edited by Baillie Tolkien) Poems and Stories (1980) Mr. Bliss (1983) Oliphaunt (Beastly Verse Board Book; 1989)
Besides J. R. R. Tolkien wrote many other books about Middle - earth and philology - related topics like a dictionary of middle - english.
Since 1984 Christopher Tolkien has been presenting parts of his father's unpublished writings, entitled as The History of Middle - earth.
Tolkien's book The Hobbit is about the adventures of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who takes part in a dangerous quest for a valuable treasure.
Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit (or in common fantasy literature called halfling) lives in his comfortable little hobbit hole. Hobbits are a very civilized, intelligent and nimble race with half human's height and partly brown hair. Bilbo Baggins is a respected hobbit. Apart from a little part of relatives, the traditional fundamental attitude of his family is very indigenous and no one has ever thought of adventures or uncomfortable thinks like that except his Tookish relatives [their family name is Took].
Bilbo Baggins is once sitting at his door and smoking a pipe, when Gandalf appears. Gandalf, a well - known and powerful magician visits him and asks him for taking part in adventure he arranges. Because of his family tradition, he refuses the idea very strictly, but he invites Gandalf for tea two days later.
Two days later he opens the door, but there is no Gandalf but a dwarf, who introduces himself as Dwalin and enters the hole. Few minutes later, other dwarves appear gradually, who introduce themself as Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur and Thorin Oakenshield. Finally Gandalf, the magician, arrives.
They all are members of the adventure, Gandalf and Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarves, have arranged. They wanted to recapture their nation's great treasure, which has been captured by Smaug, a great dragon, who has destroyed their kingdom, the Kingdom Under The Mountain, few generations ago. Smaug now lives in the old dwarvish palace, but Thorin has got a map of the region and a key of the palace. Bilbo does not agree to this idea, because he does not want to leave the comfort of his hobbit hole and dare a dangerous adventure, but after the dwarves have sung many songs and told many songs of their ancient kingdom, (and after they have ate nearly Bilbo's whole foodstuffs) Bilbo agreed to their suggestion to take part in the quest as a burglar (this because of his nimbleness and cleverness).
The next day, they leave the hobbit - land for the land far away where Smaug's mountain lies. But soon, Bilbo has to realize, that adventures are not as heroic and great like they are depictet in the old songs, they are rather strenuous and uncomfortable and the journey is really long.
One evening they want to camp near a little forest when they see a light. Bilbo, as the nimble burglar of the party, went on examining the light. The light was caused by the camp of the three trolls Bill, Bert and Tom. Trolls are very huge creatures, who eat humans and die of the sunlight. Unfortunately Bilbo is captured by them and gradually they capture all of the 13 dwarves. Gandalf is the only one who remained free. By using some of his spells, he keeps the trolls busy until the sun rises and when the first ray of lights shine on them, they stiffen to stone. Gandalf frees the others and Bilbo finds the key to the troll hole. In this hole they find many weapons and clothes and among other things two blades of a very good quality with runes which are taken by Gandalf and Thorin. Bilbo takes a very little sword, which he later names sting.
Few days later they arrive at the house of Elrond, the last civilized house before the Wild. Elrond is a wise and powerful man, an elf - friend. At his house they meet elves and other friendly creatures from all over the region. Elrond and his servants take care of them and Elrond explains the runes on the two swords of the trolls to them. Both swords are elf - made and their names are Orcrist, the Goblin - cleaver and Glamdring, the Foe - Hammer.
The next day the party moves on and after a lot of days they arrive in the mountains, where they spend the night inside a cave. Suddenly Bilbo wakes up and screams: goblins, big, ugly und uncivilized creatures have entered the cave and carry off all the dwarves and Bilbo to their own caves, because the dwarves are numbered six to one, only Gandalf can escape. The Great Goblin gets very angry when he sees Thorin's sword Orcrist, which has killed many of them in ancient wars. Exactly in this moment Gandalf appears in a blue glowing smoke and by using the element of surprise they escape from the goblins. When Gandalf and the dwarves get out of the big cavern system, they loose Bilbo, who get knocked out, and when he wakes up, he finds himself in cave and his friends are far away. In this cave he finds at first a magic ring and then he escape from an ugly monster which called himself Gollum. To save his life he aks and guesses riddles with this creature. When he has won the last riddle, the creature wants to kill him, but because of his nimbleness and his sword, he can escape and by following the monster get information about the magic of the ring and find the way out.
Outside of the cave, he meets his friends and soon they get the next problem. In the evening a large horde of goblins and wargs, which are very brutal and dangerous wolfs, assaults them. The whole party despairs, because against such superiority, they do not have any chances. Then suddenly a group of eagles appears and helps the party to escape.
After a dangerous and exciting journey they arrive at the house of Beorn, an excentric man who loves animals and lives with them and who takes care of the dwarfs, Bilbo and the magician.
From Beorn, they travel through a dangerous forest without Gandalf (who remains at Beorn's house), have a fight with spiders and finally they were captured by elves and brought into the elevenking's dungeon without any real reason. The situation seems to be very bad for the party. Because of his magic ring, Bilbo can escape, but the others are locked in their cells. That goes on for more than a week, until Bilbo has developed a plan to escape from the elvenking's dungeon. During a great celebration, they escape by using an underground tunnel full of water, which is usually used for the shipment of barrels.
From the elves' palace they go directly to Esgaroth, the Lake - Town, a town of fishermen, which has once belonged to the kingdom of Thorin's grandfather Thror. They march into the town, and Thorin and his friends are welcomed warmly as the new King under the Mountain and his followers. They rested a few days in the town, being spoilt by the inhabitants, who think that the old legends and songs of a new King under the Mountain come true.
Then they remember their task and sail with a ship of the town the last part to the lonely mountain, where Smaug the dragon still lives. Sometimes he comes down from his mountain and terrorizes the people of the surrounding villages and farmsteads.
When they arrive at the mountain with new equipment, they found the big mountain and after a short time. But there was no entry,. where they could use the key! After long searches and many days, Bilbo finds the keyhole and he can get into the palace. Bilbo dares to examine the palace and soon he finds the dragon in the bottom - most dungeon hall next to huge amounts of gold, weapons and jewels, where he sleeps. Bilbo steals a little goblet and runs back to his friend, which become very happy. Extremely unhappy gets Smaug, when he wakes up and realizes that a little part of his treasure has been stolen. He comes out of the mountains and tries to find the thief, but (fortunately) Bilbo and his friends can hide.
The next day Smaug flies away to search the thief and destroy Esgaroth, where the thief obviously has been from. The dwarves and Bilbo go into the caves and examine the treasure. For a long time, he does not return, so they wonder about his whereabouts.
The same time, the dragon attacks Esgaroth to take revenge for the thief. It was a very hard battle, but in the end, the inhabitants of Esgaroth can defeat him under their new leader Bard.
It does not take long, since all the people of the region are informed about the dragon's death. The elves and Bard are marching with their troops to the mountain. Thorin Oakenshield, who gets the information by friendly birds, informs his cousin Dain in the Iron Hills, who contracted well - armed troops to support Thorin. Bard and the king of the elves talk to Thorin, but he does not want to share with them. It seems that there would be a war between the dwarves and the humans and elves. Bilbo tried to prevent a war by talking himself to the king of elves, but there is no chance.
The suddenly large hords of wargs and goblins arrive. At this point, Gandalf appears and oders Elves, Dwarves and Humans to fight together against the evil wargs and goblins. And so they do. After a long and hard battle, wargs and goblins are defeated by these troops and by the eagles, who appear again in a critical situation.
Thorin, Fili, Kili and many other humans and elves die in this battle. Dain becomes new King under the Mountain and the treasure is shared fair with the other groups. Bilbo takes only a small part of the treasure, but it is still a huge treasure for a small hobbit.
After more than one year, he arrives back home, but when he arrives, an auction is in full swing. Because he has been so long absent, his relatives have pronounced him dead. It is very difficult to cancel this auction but with his money Bilbo achieves it.
After the quest, Bilbo has got much richer, but he spends most of the money in presents. Few years later, he starts to write his memoires, entitled "There and Back Again - a Hobbit's Holiday".
The main motif of Tolkien's book "The Hobbit" is the changing in Bilbo Baggins. Before the adventure he was a very conservative, inflexible and lazy hobbit, but after the adventure he was really lively and his fundamental attitude has changed. This has happened, because he was set a task which was completely new to him.
Besides the author would like to mention problems of the society and of humanity like the greediness and the lacking understanding of each other, which could lead to conflicts as he shows with the problems between humans, dwarves and elves about sharing the treasure.
Moreover there are many little conflicts which are worth mentioning but which could not be mentioned in the summary because of lacking room.
The constellation of figures is simple. On the one hand there are Bilbo, Gandalf, the dwarfs and their friends, and on the other hand there are goblins, wargs, trolls, creatures like Gollum etc..
The only conspicuous thing is the position of the wood elves and of the humans of Esgaroth. At the beginning, the wood elves are the enemies who capture innocent travellers, but in the end, they fight together with the dwarves. The Humans of Esgaroth were at the beginning friends, then changed to enemies, and at the very end, they became friends of the party again.
Because Tolkien has created a new fictional world, there are many neologism in the text. These new words are in part related to germanic languages.
Anyway, there are many parallels in this story to mythology, like the creatures, the existence of Magic etc.
Tolkien's work was one of the earliest work of a relatively new type of literature: fantasy literature. Together with T. H. White, Mervyn Peak, Naomi Mitchison and Evangeline Walton Tolkien has developed the fairy tale roman to this new genre.
The Hobbit, which was originally written for children, met with instant critical acclaim when published. For example The Times jugded: "A flawless masterpiece". Many people asked J. R. R. Tolkien for new stories placed in Middle - earth; this was the reason for writing the Lord of the Rings, which was a great success.
Many authors used basic ideas and character classes from Tolkien. Even successfull role playing games like Ed Greenwood's AD&D (TSR) were mainly based on Tolkien's basic ideas of a fantasy world.
In my opinion, The Hobbit is a marvellous work and its story is really interesting.
It is by far not as difficult to read as I had expected. I have looked up only between one and two dozen words in the dictionary and deduced the rest from the context which was not difficult.
However, it is very difficult to sum up the content of the book, which is very complex in only two pages.
All together, I can only recommand to read it.
The book:
"The hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien (HarperCollinsPublishers, London)
ISBN: 0 - 261 - 10221 - 4

3396 Worte in "deutsch"  als "hilfreich"  bewertet