The Use Of Symbolism In The Hobbit English Literature Essay

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Facing the obstacles and difficulties of life helps individuals to mature. The Hobbit concerns itself with tension between balance and change. Through the consequences at full force leading to the awakening of evil, Bilbo is forced to choose between his own greed and the welfare of not only The Shire; but the world. J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit uses a symbolic journey to reveal how the integrity of an individual can help one overcome life's temptations and deter from greed and evil.

Tolkien's distinct and precise use of characters throughout the novel truly set the stage for an epic adventure filled with fantasy. Gandalf, a mighty wizard, ageless and wise recognizes the potential inside of the main character, Bilbo Baggins. Though seemingly all-knowing, Gandalf keeps his plans and powers under wraps. As an example it is never known as to why he chooses help Thorin on his quest because he seems to not have an interest in the treasure. Both inspiring and dangerous Gandalf is more than an old man in a silly hat; the wizard seems to be the sole protector against evil. According to Shmoop Editorial Team, "Gandalf is also more powerful than everyone else in the book" and they go on to say "he seems to know everything that's in Bilbo before Bilbo knows it himself" (Shmoop.com). Novels for Students says that "Bilbo Baggins is the protagonist of the story" (99-113). Although he himself is not quite a hero, he is only along for the ride as instructed by Gandalf. Unlike the other characters, Bilbo is logical and generous, almost completely ordinary. In fact, the only outlandish thing about this humdrum hobbit is his luck that always seems to get him out of situations that seem to be out of his hands. With all of his good traits Bilbo has one nasty habit, he's a thief. One of the more dangerous of his thefts is with the dragon Smaug, from whom of which he stole a golden cup from. Smaug can only be described as "greedy, strong, and wicked" dragon that captured the giant treasure of Lonely Mountain (Tolkien 123).

The apparent references to religion, specifically Christianity are all throughout Tolkien's novel. Since a young age religion has been a large part of the author's life. "In 1903 Tolkien won a scholarship to the prestigious King Edward VI School in Birmingham" and due to the tragic death of his mother at age twelve he and his brothers were raised by "a catholic priest, Father -Francis Morgan" (Novels for Students 99-113). In The Hobbit the most obvious reference would be the dispute of good and evil. Every religion has a higher power, in this book that higher power is Gandalf. Just as Catholicism views God, Gandalf isn't always around. He seems to come and go as he is needed the same characteristics that are of a savior. Never in this novel is Gandalf's assistance use to aid evil. And in the cases he saves the fellowship he does so with his magic powers which always seem to be a flash of light, and generally light is symbol or purity or good. This theory is proved when the dwarves are attacked by goblins and Gandalf uses a flash of light to help them escape. (Tolkien 60-65) In conclusion almost everything in this book can be related back to some kind of religion. Gandalf is a symbol of purity and good in numerous ways.

There are many noticeable similarities between J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and H. Rider Haggard's King Soloman's Mines. According to William H. Green "The Hobbit is King Soloman's Mines reinvented in Tolkien's great linguistic and geographical sub creation, Middle Earth" and went on to conclude "even though Tolkien apparently did not describe himself as imitating Haggard many… argue that Haggard's work fed Tolkien's creative process" (Twentieth Century Literary Criticism 53-64). The first of the similarities stars with the main characters, Bilbo Baggins and Allen Quartermain. The two have been described as both "small and timid but are nevertheless, hardy, strong-willed, and ethical" (Twentieth Century Literary Criticism 53-64). The adventures in both stories are not proposed by the main characters but by a tall bearded stranger. In The Hobbit that stranger is known as Gandalf, and in King Soloman's Mines this man is Sir Henry Curtis. Also the same in both novels the strangers happen to know the adventurers life, and history well enough to trust them with such an important voyage.

"Tolkien's wartime experiences had a significant impact on the young writer." (Literature and Its Times 152-58) Tolkien's story also features tragic deaths, in which could recall to his time in World War 1, the two youngest dwarves are killed in battle. One of the more hidden symbols would be Smaug the dragon. Smaug in the novel was infamously known for being greedy. During this time in World War 1, Nazi Germany also had a reputation for being violent, powerful, and greedy. Smaug in this story represents Germany's greed and need to be feared by others.

In conclusion, Tolkien's adventure fantasy novel is packed full of symbols ranging from religion to past wartime experiences.

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