Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"The Hobbit": Blogging Through Tolkien's Classic - Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire

Our heroes have made it out of the dark mountain. Gandalf and the dwarves have escaped the goblins while Bilbo has finally escaped Gollum. Now they begin their journey together again . . . or so they think. It doesn't take long before, having survived the frying-pan, they jump right into the fire.

We see early in the chapter Bilbo learning to use the ring to his advantage. For the first time he is earning the respect of the dwarves. Up to this point, the dwarves have considered him to be a burden and distraction. They all doubt Gandalf's wisdom in inviting Bilbo to join them. But coming out of the goblin-infested mountains changed all of that.

While the fellowship still must battle with the goblins, the threat of the mountains is largely behind them. What is before them is the world of the wild and it will dominate their adventure for the next few chapters. The first threat in the wild (beside the hunting goblins of course) are the wolves. "There were no wolves living near Mr Baggins' hole at home," Tolkien tells us, but Bilbo "knew that noise." (91) We all do. The problem for Bilbo, however, is that
Even magic rings are not much use against wolves - especially against the evil packs that lived under the shadow of the goblin-infested mountains, over the Edge of the Wild on the borders of the unknown. Wolves of that sort smell keener than goblins, and do not need to see you to catch you! (91)

Gandalf leads the fellowship to find shelter in the top of trees - a place where the wargs cannot get them. The problem, of course, is the the wolves are waiting to meet the goblins who are mourning the death of their chieftain. Gandalf knows that once they arrive, they are in serious danger.

It is here we meet the eagles who become important characters later in the story and in the Lord of the Rings. As has been the pattern of the last two chapters, I wonder if we are expected to compare the wargs and the eagles. Both are wild creatures and both have opposite dealings with the goblins. The wargs cannot reach the fellowship in the trees, but that is no challenge for the eagles. To the wargs, an enemy of the goblins must be an enemy of the wargs. To the eagles, an enemy of the goblins must be friends of the eagles. Neither the wargs or the eagles are kind, but the latter are not unjust. Finally, food becomes a literary tool. In the goblin song while the fellowship are stuck in the trees, the goblins suggest they are going to eat "the birds" (a metaphor for Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves). Later, while in the company of the eagles, the company eat to the full.

The wild, then, is a place of adventure. None of it is safe, even among those who are good. The same could be said of the next character they meet: Beorn.


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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