The Analysis of Patterns in the Arguments, Theories, and Methods of Scholarship in Tolkien’s Work Primarily ‘The Hobbit’ or ‘There and Back Again’ The works of J. R. R. Tolkien have inspired countless volumes of fictional as well as scholarly literature…
R. R. Tolkien’s writing style and inspiration. In a quest to examine the kinds of scholarly works inspired by Tolkien’s novels especially ‘The Hobbit’, I have selected five articles that used different perspectives in the treatment of the book and its contents. I do not intend to review Tolkien’s work but I want to present through this article the vast ways scholar’s like us have examined the book. The five articles were evaluated for the theories that they presented the manner in which these theories were revealed, and my own experience in reading the texts. The purpose for the analysis is to better appreciate the different perspectives that one can use to understand a work and the complexities in the themes and messages that can be derived from any form of literature which includes even fantasy novels and children’s books. Baptizing the Imagination: The Fantastic as the Subversion of Fundamentalism By Mara E. Donaldson The first article we will examine is one by Mara E. Donaldson. Fundamentalism can exists for many topics or ideologies like capitalism, communism, racism, and socialism, however, fundamentalists is are more recognized as fanatics of different religions – imposing that theirs is the only way to salvation while those that oppose are evil incarnate. As implied by the title, Donaldson’s take on The Hobbit juxtaposes two ideologies Openness against Fundamentalism especially with regards to religion. She presents that the fantasy world that Tolkien creates in ‘The Hobbit’ is a defiance of earlier interpretations of the book as allusions to religion. Religious fundamentalists interpreted the existence of a clear cut boundary between good and evil in the book as a reference to the existence of absolute good and absolute evil in the real world. However, Donaldson argues that instead of interpreting the book with a fundamentalists’ point of view, a reader is encouraged to be critical and open. Though J. R. R. Tolkien is a devout roman catholic, it does not mean that his writings should be interpreted with a Christian point-of-view only. Though Tolkien himself said that many of his inspirations are from religious text, he also ascribed to the belief that mythology is the divine echo of truth and truth must be sought and not just blindly followed. The Politics of Fantasy: The Hobbit and Fascism by Peter E. Firchow To those familiar with ‘The Hobbit’ and the different races in middle earth, it is close to preposterous for someone to associate fascism to hobbits. Hobbits bear about themselves a natural, in-born, innocence that makes them highly incorruptible. Yet, the essay of Peter Firchow suggests otherwise – well, not so much as to explicitly label hobbits as fascists but to specifically point out that there are certain themes in ‘The Hobbit’ and the Lord of the Rings that endorses fascism or more appropriately fascist tendency (Firchow, p.15). Firchow’s discourse was inspired by the work of Robert Plank on the second to the last chapter of The Return of the King, wherein he (Robert Plank) contemplated on whether the Wizard Saruman and his minions should or could be seen as fascists or communists. Firchow applied this concept in analysing the actions of the characters in ‘The Hobbit’, especially the actual hobbit Bilbo Baggins. Firchow was consistent with Plank in not taking the trouble to categorically find a definition of fascism that can incorporate beings in the nature of hobbits but he (Firchow) focused more on ...
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