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Literary Criticism Of The Literary Elements In "The Hobbit" By J.R.R. Tolkien.

1419 words - 6 pages

In classical children's novel, the main characters are usually unimposing individuals who are easily overlooked, but manage to have great and successful journeys. Such is the case in Bilbo Baggins from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. Mr. Baggins is a simple hobbit that is swept away into a dangerous but exciting journey. In the trip, he becomes a heroic symbol of the common man or child making a name for himself. In the children's classic, The Hobbit, Tolkien uses an unusual point of view, fantasy world setting, archetypal characters and symbols, and vivid characterization to show to children and adults that a seemingly petty individual can fulfill his potential to become a leader.In the novel, Tolkien clearly speaks to two separate audiences. His first and most obvious is of course the younger crowd. To help the kids through the book he demonstrates an obtrusive narrator. It is a friendly and sociable point of view that is uncommon in the traditional classic novel. Also, the fairy tale land setting and archetypal characters keep the children interested. The other group the novel associates with is older men. Its characterization helps them relate to the fifty year old hobbit. The moral is also at two different levels. For adults, it would be the destruction of greed as well as the complications of rights. Tolkien gives this message through Thorin who is on his death bed," If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. But sad or merry, I must leave it now. Farewell" (273)! At a child's level, it would simply be you shouldn't fight over who owns what (Kocher 48). The Hobbit definitely contains messages to two very different audiences.To both perspectives, however, Bilbo is not a traditional hero. He is viewed as a "low- mimetic hero" (Crabbe 55). This means that he is no better than the common man in stature or in height. This helps the reader identify with him. On the contrary, Gandalf is a "high-mimetic hero." He is grand in stature, raising seven feet tall, and in power. He is larger-than-life and mysterious, but he never abandons you (Crabbe 56). Bilbo has none of these qualities. This is why Tolkien didn't have Bilbo kill the dragon or have a big part in the Battle of Five Armies. It would go against his persona (Matthews 69-70). The rest of the company is not classified as heroes but as loyal and durable folk (Crabbe 58).His most heroic attribute is his reliability. When the company was imprisoned in the Wood-elves' halls and "he was not as hopeful as they were," he always kept his head (Tolkien 170). At Smaug's lair, Bilbo said, "Personally, I have no hope at all..." (Tolkien 225). He still kept his head up and the company survived. At the end though, Tolkien reminds the reader one last time of Bilbo's true status through Gandalf," You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!" Bilbo responded," Thank...

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