Hobbits: Tolkien’s Unlikely Heroes

Patricia Briggs writes in her novel entitled Blood Bound that “even after all this time, I keep forgetting that heroes can be found in unlikely places and persons.” We tend to expect heroes to come in mythical shapes and sizes, blasting onto the scene with strength like the Hulk, gadgets like Iron Man, or a thirst for justice like Batman. J.R.R. Tolkien’s famed trilogy The Lord of the Rings and its prequel The Hobbit are set up to follow this paradigm of a mythological-sized hero. The stories detail a world full of elves, dwarves, men, wizards, dragons, and most other expected players in such a fantasy series. Amidst these known entities, Tolkien places a new species of creature called hobbits into his Middle Earth and builds around them a quest for the fate of an entire age. These four works follow the path of the One Ring (a ring with the ultimate power to rule and destroy), as it emerges out of antiquity and the threat of the dark lord Sauron grows. It is a hobbit that finds the Ring, and a hobbit that must destroy it for the sake of all in Middle Earth.

Hobbits are unexpected protagonists in a work of such epic proportions for they are small and wholly unknown. They dwell peacefully in the land of the Shire away from most of the concerns of the rest of Middle Earth, and they are not factors in the great legends of the days of valor. There are no songs sung in the great halls of Rohan or Gondor of the deeds of hobbits, for many do not even know of hobbits at all outside of the Shire. It is with these smallest of creatures, however, that the true essence of courage and valor is found in the novels. J.R.R. Tolkien builds The Lord of The Rings around hobbits rather than any other bigger, notoriously more valiant species because hobbits bring an element of realism for the reader into a fantasy of such an epic scale.

Despite the existence and dominance of men within the series, hobbits are the most humanlike of all the characters when it comes to the experience of emotion. Hobbits enjoy nothing quite as well as they do the comforts of home: they love naught more than the camaraderie of good food, beer, and pipe weed. Their fears center on the potential for things to disturb the peace of the land that they have cultivated. Hobbits do not like change and do not know much of the world outside the borders of the Shire. Tolkien describes hobbits in the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring as “an unobtrusive but very ancient people” who find their delights in “peace and quiet and good tilled earth” (Tolkien 2). Their world is their own, the Shire wholly untouched by the dealings of the so-called greater races of Middle Earth.

The four hobbits prepare for battle in the depths of Moria.
The four hobbits prepare for battle in the depths of Moria.

The men of Middle Earth are tall and grim, hardened by the wild and by battle with orcs and forces trying to subdue them. The dwarves are stout, hearty folk and staunch defenders of their lands. The elves are perilous and fair, untouched by either good or evil, a step above the reckoning of any mortal race. Men, dwarves, and elves are known figures within fantasy tales for centuries before Tolkien’s work; a sense of their characterization and history is already present in the minds of most readers before even opening one of Tolkien’s books. Hobbits, however, are Tolkien’s creation. They are unknown to the reader of his works, as well as wholly unknown to the world into which Tolkien places them.

By the narrative of The Hobbit taking place through Bilbo’s eyes, the reader is introduced to Middle Earth through a meeker perspective than one might otherwise expect. Hobbits possess both the innocence of children and the wisdom of elders when it comes to interacting with the world outside the Shire. Hobbits make the fantasy real for the reader. They open up Middle Earth not just for themselves but for the audience as well. Apart from hearing stories from outsiders such as Gandalf, Bilbo (nor any other hobbit for the most part) has never seen things such as the majesty of the elves nor experienced the terror of a dragon’s might.

Bilbo Baggins sets out on the quest to reclaim Erebor
Bilbo Baggins sets out on the quest to reclaim Erebor.

Not until Bilbo steps out his front door to join Thorin Oakenshield, the dwarf, on the quest to reclaim Erebor from Smaug the dragon does Bilbo actually glean any experience of the world outside the Shire’s borders. Bilbo becomes the lens through which the reader experiences these adventures, and they become familiar with the fantastical creatures through a pair of certainly unheroic eyes. The reader learns through Bilbo’s naïve and sensible reactions and responses how to experience logical emotion through Bilbo’s certainly illogical and terrifying plight. Bilbo’s trepidation on setting out on the dangerous quest for Erebor is contrasted by Thorin’s relentless determination to do whatever he can to reclaime his homeland. This shows just how perlious these types of quests are. Bilbo may only be a little speck in comparison to the scope of the vast Middle Earth, but he still has a hand in making the prophecies come true.

In The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the same notion of making the unreal accessible to the reader can be said of the narrative perspective of Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin. In these works, however, the hobbit’s points of view are not the sole narrative voice, unlike Bilbo’s perspective that dominates the pages of The Hobbit. When the fellowship breaks, and the members of the company scattered across different parts of the realm to save Middle Earth, the voices of the hobbits are contrasted by that of Legolas, and Aragorn, and Gimli’s valiant deeds of war. The hobbits are set adrift in this world of heroism. Their struggle to step outside of their smallness to aid in this quest of bigger people, in both stature and deed, to save Middle Earth is a very real fear. One of the riders of Rohan laughs that hobbits are but “only a little people in old songs and children’s tales out of the North” (Tolkien 434).

The hobbits find themselves amidst the conflict of a world that already possesses expectations about the worth of a hobbit, a force which is almost as daunting as orcs, Saruman, or Sauron himself for them to overcome. The four hobbits are the ones that in the end have the greatest hand in purging the kingdom of evil so that Aragorn can resume the throne again: Merry kills the leader of the Nazgul; Pippin rescues Faramir from Denethor’s madness; Frodo and Sam despite all odds trudge through Mordor and destroy the ring for good. In the midst of waiting for battle amongst the forces of the Rohirrim, Merry “felt small, unwanted, and lonely” (Tolkien 830). The hobbits have no established tradition of valor, and they are easily overlooked in the world of men preparing for war. They are isolated from even each other and must strive to find their place in the world of which songs and legends of the age will be written about. Without the four hobbits, however, the fortunes of the war would have been quite different.

Samwise Gamgee attacks Shelob as he tries to rescue Frodo from her clutches.
Samwise Gamgee attacks Shelob as he tries to rescue Frodo from her clutches.

The hobbits must rise to the challenges posed by this tumultuous environment in which there are no established roles and places for them. They are forced by the sheer horrors of war to cast off the innocence that they had taken for granted in the Shire. Pippin remarks that “already it seemed years… since he had sat there before, in some half-forgotten time when he had still been a hobbit, a light-hearted wanderer touched little by the perils he had passed through” (Tolkien 807-808). The intensity of the struggle of the hobbits to cast off the purity of their experiences to do these formidable tasks makes the toil of the quest palpable to the reader more so than would being given solely the point of view of Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli as they slay countless orcs and achieve battlefield successes.

Experiencing the contrast of fear through the eyes of the hobbits versus the eyes of the already hardened heroes makes the terror and the horror palpable to the reader. The hobbits arise from relatively nothing legendary to make themselves into heroes despite fear and unreasonable odds, and it is this destruction of their innocence that becomes so relatable. Hobbits make the pain of war more of a reality than solely a fantasy to the reader, people who most likely have never been in any sort of war and will certainly never labor on the fields of Pelennor against hosts of Mordor.

Bilbo struggling to acclimate to the strangers in his home
Bilbo struggling to acclimate to the dwarven strangers suddenly appearing in his home

The addition of hobbits brings to Tolkien’s Middle Earth a sense of realism amidst the fantasy. For the reader, the hobbit is the most humanlike out of all the species because their struggles are that of retaining innocence when faced with the horrors the world can contain. The reader is much like Bilbo at the start of The Hobbit, lost and overwhelmed by the depth of unfamiliarity and danger posed by the quest. The other species that inhabit Middle Earth come from traditions both in Tolkien’s universe and in mythology itself that give to men, elves, dwarves, and wizards preconceived notions of glory and valor.

Hobbits, however, show the full trajectory of what courage actually means: starting from a place of innocent fear, acknowledging the fear and its limitations, and then harnessing those fears to do what must be done for the greater good. Hobbits, the smallest of creatures, save Middle Earth from Sauron’s destruction. Without the lens of a hobbit’s view, the reader would find themself adrift in an unfamiliar world and alienated by the very nature of fantasy being a story of otherworldly struggles. Hobbits, while not a purely human species, give back the realism of human emotion into the narrative. As the hobbits learn to navigate and surmount the trials of Middle Earth, so too does the reader learn what courage really means. Heroes are found in the most unlikely of places – in a hole in a ground in Bag End or right there sitting in front of a computer screen reading this article.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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43 Comments

  1. We must remember the hobbit was written before WWII when heroes weren’t needed as much as later. The hobbit’s middle-earth is a peaceful land. Maybe Tolkien himself matured with the course of events.. and his heroes gained the titanic status.

    • Frye differentiates the second heroic type as “romantic,” since he saw it as a necessary outgrowth of the romantic period’s general tearing-down of sacred cows from government to religion to the arts. I do not think he thought such figures were less effective, only that their aims were anti-institutional rather than pro. Shelley’s ‘Prometheus Unbound’ is a romantic hero, though a titan, because he’s opposing the status quo (Jupiter’s power). Given that definition of heroism, how is Tolkien’s “little guy” approach to heroism in the Hobbit less “mature” than his Let’s-re-establish-the-hereditary-monarchy ubermensch fantasy in LotR?

    • Chadwick
      0

      Why would a post WW1 Europe, fresh from the slaughter, be in less need of heroes than a post-WW2 Europe? At least as much so, I should think.

  2. Sam is my favorite character. Without him, Frodo would never have made it to Mt. Doom alive or out of it. I wonder if they had to switch rolls and Sam was the ring bearer, if Sam would have made it without the moral support.

    • ThierryLea

      I have also thought about this. I wondered also if Sam is supposed to be recognized as the true “hero” of The Lord of the Rings.

      • I think they are meant to be viewed as synergistic entities, with neither able to complete the task alone. Community and friendship are very hobbit-like traits, so it makes sense they would be needed to save Middle Earth.

  3. Thi Moe
    0

    Boromir is my favorite, and of course Hobbits are Heroes. Samwise is the biggest hero of them all, he never quit, and never let Frodo quit.

  4. Candice Evenson

    Isn’t this the truth! It seems as though super heroes arise in worlds where the world is familiar to us and we crave the extraordinary, a miracle, a secret weapon to defend it. And yet….we are also fond of the “unlikely hero.” In these fantasy worlds, having characters who are overlooked makes it possible to show how courage will pull through, even when it seems that the conventional methods have failed to overcome a crisis. In The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, these characters are Hobbits, who like you say are very human-like. I never thought about that much before, because there were humans all around them! But, perhaps the humans like Boromir (jealous, seeking redemption) and Aragorn (heroic, uncertain of taking on great responsibility) show us one side of what it means to be human, and the hobbits like Frodo and Sam, keep us connected to what we often overlook as being valuable in ourselves.

    • I think you’re onto something here by contrasting humans and hobbits. Boromir, Aragorn, Faramir, etc. all depict the heroic qualities of humanity, while the hobbits like Sam, Merry, Pippin, etc. represent domesticity. It’s a crossroads between war and peace, the city and the country, the traditional hero and the Enlightened (speaking of the literary period) hero.

      Since Tolkien comes out of England and studied Anglo Saxon texts, along with numerous other works of English literature, no doubt, it could be that he’s playing off of John Milton’s heroic martyrdom on some level. Tolkien is no longer glorifying the acts of war, revenge, and kingship, but instead praising the simple life.

      His description of the Shire and its denizens is always positive, and those of Gondor and Rohan are almost always negative. Frodo does not defeat Sauron by fighting him. He defeats him by destroying his most powerful weapon. And the last word, spoken by Sam in the midst of his family, “Well, I’m back,” shows how much Tolkien esteems the domestic life over the life of war. It is a relief to be at peace.

      So I’m not sure if these two factions represent what it means to be human. Rather, I think Tolkien is trying to glorify peaceful behavior and criticize warlike behavior. It’s a call to change our views of heroism.

      • Helen Parshall

        That’s a really interesting perspective, thank you for sharing! I read somewhere that hobbits and the shire are representative of Tolkien’s England, and I think that really shows- especially through the juxtaposition you posit.

  5. Greg Beamish

    Hi Helen,
    Nice article. After decades of cultural diffusion of Lord of the Rings it seems readers and viewers simply take the existence of Hobbits for granted. We do need to take a step back and consider the fact that Hobbits are one of the only original creatures in Tolkien’s cast of characters. There is significance in this and I think you are wise to attempt to unveil that.

    I think your notion that Hobbits provide a relatable perspective for the reader is accurate. As Middle Earth is revealed to the reader it is also discovered by the Hobbits. Their reactions of awe and admiration to the world outside the Shire adds a sense of identification for the reader. However, I don’t think it’s accurate to say “Hobbits are the most humanlike of all the characters…” I would say Hobbits are
    created to reveal the shortcomings of mankind in and out of the tale of the Ring.

    You claim Hobbits show “the true essence of courage and valor” and I agree with you. However, men also show these qualities. For both of these creatures we need to examine where it is courage and valor come from. For men, valor comes from fear. Fear of destruction. Men are mortal. Tolkien’s “Silmarillion” describes mortality as the “gift of men”. For over an age men strove to overcome death for that is what they fear. Men fight to survive and to defeat death. Hobbits on the other hand are fueled by a different kind of power. Hope. I challenge you to read through the Lord of the Rings and tally every mention of hope within the three books. I guarantee the word is used over a hundred times, especially in reference to a Hobbit. It is pure hope for a better life that drives Hobbits forward and that is why they alone have the ability to carry the ring across Middle Earth without giving into it’s power.

    Hobbits are small. We know this. Though, instead of considering Hobbits small, I like to think of them as physically dense. They are small but incredibly resilient to despair. Think of Frodo surviving so long after being stabbed by a morgul blade or Merry and Pippin sitting down for a quick snack and making jokes outside of Fangorn Forest after escaping a band of Orcs. Even after horrible experiences hope allows Hobbits to overcome almost any hardship.

    Something to think about with regards to Hobbits is the trio of Frodo, Sam, and Gollum/ Smeagol. All three are hobbits. All three have the resilience I mentioned before. One (Smeagol) has been tormented by the Ring for hundreds of years. Another (Frodo) is beginning to feel the torment of the ring as he carries it across Middle Earth. Finally Sam is the pure essence of a Hobbit. He is the embodiment of hope. He is the hope that the Ring is sucking from Frodo as time wears on. Gollum is not an evil character, he is pitiable. “Pity” is the word that is several times used to describe Gollum. He is pitiable because for centuries he has suffered the torments Frodo is only just beginning to feel. However, it is through Gollum that we can truly comprehend the resilience of the Hobbit. Even after an age of falling under the despairing power of the Ring, Gollum is still able to recall his former self. Smeagol, for a time, breaks from the bonds Gollum holds over him. This mental leap is astounding and defines the true qualities of Hobbits.

  6. Lovely piece of content. The funny thing though about The Hobbit as a fantasy tale is that none of the protagonists really set out to do heroic deeds, and for the most part they don’t do any.

    • My thoughts exactly. They are not going off to save anyone from Smaug. They just want their gold back.

    • Prinkles
      0

      I think Bilbo does develop a streak of true heroism over the course of the story. From the start he is deeply loyal to his companions, and once he stops relying upon the others he is both brave and resourceful.

  7. McQueen
    0

    What about smeagle? Yea he wasn’t perfect but still it would have been highly unlikely even more so than it already was that sam and frodo would have made it into mordor! And what of deagle he was the one who found it after all. Speaking of small let us not forget about the small roles as well ^_^

  8. Amanda Dominguez-Chio

    Excellent article! I’ve been meaning to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit for the longest time now, and now I think I will finally start. I enjoyed your character analysis of the hobbits, proving to be very enlightening :)Nice job!

  9. Jamie Tracy

    Great job.
    Your extra work on the article has paid off.

    I love the term mythical-sized hero.

  10. Liz Watkins

    I think fantasy continually explores this idea of heroes found in unlikely places. In the Harry Potter series, the were many great supporting characters, and even Harry was just the boy in the “cupboard under the stairs”.

  11. Danny Cox

    Hey Helen, this was an interesting study. I remember reading “The Hobbit” when I was about ten, and although I probably didn’t understand all of it, it was very illuminating and was one of the books that got me into reading. Nice Job!

  12. Bilbo is my favourite character. I love his sassyness and the way he used his wits to save the dwarves countless times. Yes, he had the whole thing with the ring, but there’s just something about him that makes me want to go on an adventure with him. And besides, without him we wouldn’t have a story in the first place!

  13. Amena Banu

    So much is said and written about Tolkien; yet I feel you have a fresh take in your article!

  14. It’s also important to relate Tolkien’s place in history to his creation of the hobbits. His abiding mistrust of the industrial war machine, and his fear of the clash of massive forces in bloody political, social and economic war, shape his perception of the need for a place of refuge and peace, peopled by a gentle folk who can change the future because of their tender hearts and stubborn courage. Middle Earth is a place that can only be understood by it’s contrast to Earth in the Middle of the Great Wars, and Tolkien is saying that a different way will be necessary to heal the damage man and machine have brought to the Earth, and the hobbits represent that way.

  15. Hstacey

    This was an interesting breakdown of the Lord of the Rings series. I am a new fan of the series and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on all the different characters within the story.

  16. I have grown up with these stories, meaning I have taken them for granted. I have never once sat down to think, “Hmm, the narrative structure in The Hobbit is far different from that of Lord of the Rings.” I am so glad you brought this up and pulled me out of that bubble of mine. It’s really interesting to think about how Bilbo’s first person gives us a character we can easily relate to, and even how the comparisons to the perspective of Pippin and Merry versus that of Legolas can open up a whole other world of observation. I’ve always called myself Bilbo Baggins because of our similar traits without thinking how exactly this opinion got pressed upon me.
    Also, I absolutely adore the last line. It was such a fell-good ending!

  17. I love the role of the Hobbit in Tolkien’s books! Your article was well written and easy to follow! I love the role Hobbits play in these books. It helps draw the point of “small things bring about big things.” Each of us might think we are small and insignificant in this world, but we can truly make a difference. I think that is a great message from Tolkien we can take away.

  18. jddehart

    This article was an excellent precursor to my reading of Hero with a Thousand Faces.

  19. The Hobbit is much less serious of a book than The Lord of the Rings, and that’s reflected in the narrative style of the two (much more the films, which descend to near infantile exploits of cinematic spectacle). Hobbits, in their banality, become the means whereby the reader can best engage with the text. We more easily place ourself into the narrative.

  20. Monalisa08033

    I am an avid supporter and lover of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, as well as the latest Hobbit films. I love the way in which the hobbit is viewed as a race that is for all intents and purposes unknown, fearful, safe, not prone to stepping outside the calm of their hobbit holes. That a hobbit could essentially save all races of middle earth, whilst being known as a small and unlikely hero, it creates a lot of parallels with racial stereotyping in contemporary society at large.

    I myself, being a full-blooded Puerto Rican woman, which my father always used to say was a “double whammy”, am a published writer of art historic subject matter at the age of 26. How many people can say that? There are always somewhat skewed world views of certain races, what they can accomplish, what they are good at, and their intrinsic value. And what better way to dispute that world view than to show on the big screen that “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.”

  21. Nof

    I have seen all three of the Lord of the Rings but not the Hobbit, maybe I will give it a try!

  22. Ben Brzowski

    Beyond being the most human-like example of life in Middle Earth for the reader, Tolkien also clearly portrayed hobbits as one of the more durable, incorruptible race in the world. The hobbits, including Frodo in particular, are able to resist the influence of the One Ring and its master much longer than any others. Through the race that was intended to provide the closest correlation to the human condition, was he trying to communicate another message there as well? Was Tolkien showing us that even in a world filled with terrors and insatiable evils, there is still a force of good in the world? I think so. And yet, no one is immune. Frodo has his moment of weakness in the heart of Mount Doom. It takes true courage, and sometimes the help of true friends, to win against the darkness.

  23. this was amazing. i’ve only seen the movies just this past year, and still have to read the books, but this was so cool to read. considering the hobbits as the perfect lense through which the readers can connect with the alternate universe is eye-opening. and truly, one is able to more accurately relate to just what such heroic ventures entail for ‘normal’ people. bilbo is tormented by the ring for years to come, haunted by his quest even after returning home (just like a lot of soldiers, i feel). and frodo ends up nearly breaking down from the strain entirely, kept afloat only by the help of sam. instead of the stanch individualism that encompasses so many of today’s heroes, the team work that the hobbits utilized and depended on really shows a much more realistic and attainable ideal. very thought provoking!

  24. I very much enjoyed this article, and I think you have an interesting point about how the Hobbit in the stories can, in some ways, be more human to us than even the men of Middle Earth.

    However, I’ve always sort of felt like each species of the book is sort of supposed to represent a different kind of human or human trait, encompassing both the good and evil of the human spirit. For example, the dwarves–particularly in The Hobbit–encompass diligence and determination. And while determination in and of itself is a good trait to have, it can sometimes warp into stubborn pride that can blind individuals to the needs of those around them. But that may just be my opinion.

    Otherwise, I thought the article was very well written. My only suggestion would be to maybe break your paragraphs up a little more and shorten up some of your sentences. Some of them seem like they might function better broken into a few individual clauses instead of leaving them as a compound of multiple strings.

  25. I re-read the books before LoTR came out and one thing that struck me was the ending in which the Hobbits return to the Shire only to find that a group of Sauromon’s soldiers have taken over and enslaved the population. The four friends who left the Shire filled with fear and naivety have no problem handling a group of bullies after winning the war. I hated this part as a kid- I felt the story needed to end where it did in the movies. As an adult, I was sad to see it left out.

  26. I am a huge Tolkien fan. I’m pretty sure I would be Hobbit, I relate to them on many levels. Hobbits are the perfect heroes for many reasons, and Tolkien knew what he was doing when he made them such central characters. Everyone can relate a little bit to a Hobbit–to someone who is unprepared, and afraid, and eager for adventure but also begrudging to leave their home. There is something very familiar about Hobbits, and that is why they make the very best heroes. Spot on review.

  27. Joslyn Robinson

    In many classic myth and fairytale, the hero archetype is the “dumb son”. The youngest son out of (usually) three who goes on the hero’s quest and restores order to the kingdom. According to classic Jungian interpretation, the “dumb son” is that naive, pure aspects of the psyche that has the faculties to seek (without Ego) what is needed within the perilous landscape of the deep unconscious Self. He (or she) is able to battle the Shadow and find the treasure and return it to the conscious mind and integrate the two (Return of the King).
    Our love of the Hobbits comes from our own connection to the “Hobbit within” and we can connect to and access our inner psychic journey through their external one in Middle Earth. Tolkien was a genius in the richness, depth and layers to his writing.

  28. Greenwalledtower

    Obviously the world of Middle-Earth is rich and epic, but I think it is mainly because of the Hobbits that it has become as popular as it is. It’s hard to imagine the story without them, told only from the perspective of the Elves or Dwarves.

  29. Nice article

  30. Many people have tackled the question of why Tolkien chose hobbits to be the creature that ended up saving the day. My personal belief is that he chose hobbits to illustrate the idea that no matter how small or insignificant you feel in the world, you can make a difference. Sure, you may need help along the way, like Frodo needed, but he was still responsible for destroying the ring. He was the most unlikely of heroes, and yet he succeeded. The inspirational story highlights the fact that if you set your mind to something, you are capable of accomplishing it.

  31. i totally agree with you the story would have not ended the way it did if it wasn’t for the hobbits. they inspired the other characters with those amazing acts of valor from them, even Gandalf said you could learn a lot from a hobbit.
    On my perspective i think the hobbits represent more how humanity or simply put anyone grows. At first when you are young you see everything green and peaceful and the hobbits illustrated how we grow when we decide to go out and experience or take risk, we encounter suffering, war, hate, famine, and also disappointment in one self. regardless of all these, as the hobbits, one must hold on and continue taking a step at time still going forward, learning, and becoming stronger each time, and also it doesn’t matter how gloomy is the world never let you get down. Where if you continue this path you can end turning into an inspiration as Frodo, and adventurer as Bilbo, a true friend and soldier like Merry and Pippin, or a hero (in my own opinion) as Sam

  32. Tolkien really was an outside-of-the-box author. His tales will always be held dear to me. And the movie renditions are fabulous even though some characters are missing! I mean what happened to Tom Bombadill?!

  33. arcade13

    I’ve always found LOTR interesting because I’ve found that in many books (especially since the release of the movies), it is almost stereotypical to chose the least likely person to be the hero. There is now a fascination that comes from having the predictable leader shown as the weakest and having the weakest team member rise to a challenge. I think of books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, all of which tend to ridicule and dehumanise those who are obvious picks for heroes.

    I enjoy Tolkien’s works because it is a genuine story of the weakest gaining emotional and physical strength. Sometimes it feels like, these days, people try too hard to make every situation the opposite so that it feels fresh and interesting.

  34. It makes perfect sense that the Hobbits are the heroes of the LOTR trilogy. Tolkien was undoubtedly a true Romantic author.

  35. Sarah

    I love this article for three reasons. One, because HELLO who doesn’t love J.R.R. Tolkien and the world of Middle Earth. Two, because this article was your ordinary take on ‘routing for the underdog. And three, because I felt like Parshall was passionate on her take of hobbits, her options were both emotional and informational since she backed her claims with cited quote sand tidbits from Tolkien’s, Lord of the Rings series and The Hobbit. I agree with her wholeheartedly that most readers seem to take the true essence of a hobbit for granted. She states early on that “Hobbits enjoy nothing quite as well as they do the comforts of their home: they love naught more than the camaraderie of good food, beer, and pipeweed. Hobbits do not like change and do not know much of the world outside the borders of the Shire” (Parshall). It is this that makes a hobbit such as Bilbo, Frodo, Samwise, Pippen, Merry such remarkable creatures. The Fellowships journeys failures and victories so not break their spirit but rather gives them to the courage to overcome the most trying of perils. “The hobbits arise from relatively nothing legendary to make themselves into heroes despite dear and unreasonable odds, and it is this destruction of their innocence that becomes so relatable. They show the full trajectory of what courage means. Starting from a place of innocent fear, acknowledging the fear and its limitations, and them harnessing those fear to do what must be done for the greater good” (Parshall). The smallest most peaceful of Middle Earths creatures have the biggest transformation. Though naïve to the dangers surrounding them, at first anyways, their heart and resilience win out. Combined with the loyalty of and to their companions, they are able to take on great responsible in the face of death and destruction effectively earning the heroic title.

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