Tuesday, July 11, 2017

"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Over Hill and Under Hill

We now come to the most dangerous part of the early adventure Bilbo finds himself on. The title of the chapter, "Over Hill and Under Hill" emphasizes the contrast of the dangers. One is on top of the mountains and the other is below and inside the mountains. Both are equally dangerous.

While on the mountains, the traveling company find themselves in the middle of warring rock giants who hurl giant boulders at one another. This is no safe place for anyone, especially for a hobbit like Bilbo. The answer is to find shelter in the midst of the mountains. Shelter is found in a cave that is briefly explored. This decision leads them down a dark path to the vile goblins.

While resting in the cave, the floor opens and the company find themselves amidst a nation of goblins who wish them ill. What is most dangerous is that Bilbo, the one most ill-fit for adventure, is he will eventually be separated from the rest of the fellowship. Nevertheless, the goblins are portrayed as violent, metal-making, bloodthirsty creates. They loathe the dwarves in general and Thorin in particular. The weapons they yield are particularly dangerous because of the history they tell.

What is most interesting is the parallels between the dwarves and the goblins. First, they live inside the mountain like dwarves and continue to mine. Secondly, Tolkien describes them as gifted smiths whose skill rival the dwarves. Yet unlike the dwarves, they do not make any beautiful things, but only military tools. Tolkien describes these goblins in the following paragraph:
There in the shadows on a large flat stone sat a tremendous goblin with a huge head, and armed goblins were standing round him carrying the axes and the bent swords that they use. Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones. They can tunnel and mine as well as any but the most skilled dwarves, when they take the trouble, though they are usually untidy and dirty. Hammers, axes, swords, daggers, pickaxes, tongs, and also instruments of torture, they make very well, or get other people to make to their design, prisoners and slaves that have to work till they die for want of air and light. It is not unlikely that they invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, for wheels and engines and explosions always delighted them, and also not working with their own hands more than they could help; but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far. They did not hate dwarves especially, no more than they hated everybody and everything, and particularly the orderly and prosperous; in some parts wicked dwarves had even made alliances with them. But they had a special grudge against Thorin’s people, because of the war which you have heard mentioned, but which does not come into this tale; and anyway goblins don’t care who they catch, as long as it is done smart and secret, and the prisoners are not able to defend themselves.
Many have noted here that we may have an insight here of Tolkien's view of war and war machines. It is unfortunate that inventions take a leap forward during times of war as man becomes more creative on how to kill, destroy, and torture other men. The goblins embody that. The orcs in the Lord of the Rings do very much the same especially from Treebeards perspective.

The goblins, then, give us a better perspective of what motivates the fellowship of the dwarves. Their motivation is not violence or even greed (though greed will be a major theme that Tolkien will develop later). We must not confuse the dwarves with the goblins who are fully depraved. In the end, the goblins fear light and hide in the security of the mountains. The dwarves on the other hand, must do all they can to seek it out.


The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - An Unexpected Party
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Roast Mutton
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Short Rest"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Over Hill and Under Hill
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Riddles in the Dark
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Queer Lodgings
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Flies and Spiders
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Barrels Out of Bond
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Warm Welcome
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - On the Doorstep
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Inside Information
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Not at Home
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Fire and Water
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Gathering of the Clouds
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - A Thief in the Night
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Clouds Burst
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Return Journey
"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - The Last Stage


For more:
"The Hobbit" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
A Few Thoughts on The Battle of the Five Armies
"The Fellowship of the Ring" by J. R. R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Two Towers" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
"The Return of the King" by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Review
Longing for Eden: Tolkien's Insight into the Longing of Every Human Soul
An Encouraging Thought: Gandalf on Providence
How to Read J. R. R. Tolkien
Clash of the Gods: Tolkien's Monsters Documentary
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy Dramatized Audio
"Beyond The Movie": A National Geographic Documentary on the Lord of the Rings   
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