Chapter VII: Queer Lodgings
" 'You had better go to bed, your wits are sleepy.' "

So to be entirely honest about my exposure to The Hobbit, it actually did not begin with the book. I grew up watching the Rankin/Bass cartoon, and in 4th grade finally picked up the book for myself. So this chapter was a huge and quite pleasant surprise to me, as there is absolutely none of it in the cartoon. I can understand why it was edited out, but if you speak to most people who have read the book, they will often cite the introduced character in this chapter as one of their favorites.

Beorn is a man; Beorn is a bear. " 'Some say that he is a bear descended from the great and ancient bears of the mountains that lived there before the giants came. Others say that he is a man descended from the first men who lived before Smaug or the other dragons came into this part of the world, and before the goblins came into the hills out of the North.' " He immediately draws the interest of the reader, as he is an uncanny fellow. Here is another place where you begin to feel a hint of a greater story that Tolkien feels, even if he has not completely unfolded it.

And the little game Gandalf plays in order to keep in the good graces of Beorn is straight out of the mischief of myth and fairy tales. It is an entertaining game of trickery without lying.

It is also of vast importance that Gandalf, aka the crutch, leaves the party here. They are entering perhaps the darkest part of their journey (excepting perhaps being held captive by the goblins) and the one who has pretty much carried them all the whole way is leaving. The dwarves are like disgruntled selfish children about it as well.

He also leaves a comment which fits with much of what I have been talking about so I should reference it: " 'We may meet again before all is over, and then again of course we may not. That depends on your luck and on your courage and sense; and I am sending Mr Baggins with you. I have told you before that he has more about him than you guess, and you will find that out before long.' "

Additional Notes:

I wonder if the movies will make a bigger thing out of the Goblins and Wargs planning an assault on the Men who are settling the Wild lands. It would definitely make sense for expanding the story out some as well as pulling more towards the tone of the trilogy.

Tolkien has a lot of ill-tempered characters. I think this very well might be due to his personal disposition.

" 'Before you could get round Mirkwood in the North you would be right among the slopes of the Grey Mountains, and they are simply stiff with goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs of the worst description.' " The first mention of orcs. There is one later which I believe is a bit more descriptive. The hobgoblins throwaway is never clarified in anything I am aware of. I believe by The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien just decides to call them all orcs. I don't think there is any longer a distinction.

Radagast. Gandalf calls him his "good cousin." Interesting that he views wizards as familial to each other. I have no idea if Tolkien had any conception of what he would make his wizards out to be. And this is the most descriptive he gets. In other sources he would say that Men believed him to be an Elf. But The Hobbit narrator never gives a clue as far as I can tell.

Favorite Quotation: There were a few possibilities amidst none that really stood out strong. But I just liked the language in Gandalf's response here.

" 'Farewell!' they cried, 'wherever you fare, till your eyries receive you at the journey's end!' That is the polite thing to say among eagles.

'May the wind under your wings bear you where the sun sails and the moon walks,' answered Gandalf, who knew the correct reply."

1 comment:

Skip said...

As much as I am interested in Gandalf I am just as interested in the wizards as a whole. Even though, I think I remember correctly, Tolkien makes Radagast a simpleton in some regard, I was still interested to see what he was up to, given Gandalf's example of what wizards predispose themselves to.

Beorn is awesome but I will say that as a casual reader his chapter annoyed me and intrigued me at the same time. As I become more learned I think there is much more to appreciate there.