Friday, October 10, 2014

Rebecca Rereads The Hobbit

I wrote the following right after finishing The Hobbit. I just sat down and wrote down all my feelings. I haven't edited at all, so don't judge too harshly.


How awesome was The Hobbit? I mean, pretty dang awesome. Freaking Gandalf. I just adore him. And I fell in love with Dori when he was all sassy and, “You almost chopped my head off with Orcrist—I’d like to see you not drop a hobbit!” He is my bro. As a main character Bilbo is approximately two hundred and thirty-nine times better than Frodo. The story is enchanting; I can wait to read it to my kids. It’s much more child-friendly than Lord of the Rings in the writing style. It’s a straightforward quest, with one main plot and one main goal: get that treasure. There is every needful ingredient for an adventure: stolen gold, many miles to journey, a noble company, elven and dwarfish songs, and of course, a dragon. We mustn’t forget the dragon. “Never leave a live dragon out of your calculations,” as Bilbo learned.

My grandpa is who got me into Middle Earth. He is a hardcore Tolkien fan. I remember him reading The Hobbit to me at six or seven. My grandpa is the best storyteller I know. Period. There’s no one I’d rather have tell me about Thorin, Smaug, and Bard. I am so grateful for those memories. As a child I was terrified by both Gollum and the giant spiders that beset the party in the forest. It’s one of their first trials—after the trolls—and I’m not ashamed to admit that at that point I would have turned around and been like, “Have fun with the rest of your suicidal mission! Rebecca out!” But luckily Bilbo is made of sterner stuff than I….must be that Took in his blood.

The end battle comes so unexpectedly. I mean, a lot of the ending is unexpected. Smaug is killed by a character we haven’t even been paying attention to; our heroes are completely oblivious to his demise until a little bird tells them. (Literally.) After all of Bilbo’s banter with the gold-hoarding dragon you kind of want him to be present when it all goes down. But that’s the reader in me speaking—as a player in the story I’m sure Bilbo was quite happy to be absent.

So the dragon is dead. Problem solved, right? Not so fast. The main obstacle might have been shot down, but the greed of man (and dwarves) is alive and well. Squabbling about ownership of this newly available treasure quickly erupts between the inhabitants of Laketown and our merry men. (That’s the one downfall of this book—there is not a single named female character. My feminist heart regrets this.) Thorin summons his kinfolk, the Elvenking arrives on the scene with his own army, chaos abounds. But disrupting this argumentative atmosphere is Gandalf, exclaiming that the goblins have suddenly appeared.

“What goblins?” you may ask. “Not the goblins that we left hundreds of pages ago?” The very same. Combined with the hideous Wargs they have come to wreak revenge for the death of their king. It may be construed as a fortunate event, again from a reader’s perspective. If a common foe had not appeared, who’s to say that our three “Allied” armies would not have spilled each other’s blood, in a civil war of sorts? Thorin was prepared to die to defend his gold, and Men have never been the most noble of creatures. Harsh words had already been exchanged between all parties, and bloodshed is not hard to imagine.

But that’s all academic, because the goblins did come, and a terrible battle resulted. Bilbo’s invisibility is both a help and a hindrance, the Eagles again save the day, and we lose three of our courageous dwarves: Thorin, Kili, and Fili. (For those of you who have only seen the movie, Thorin is the leader and Kili is the hot one.) I hated to see them go, but that’s one of those inevitabilities of war.

Humor in The Hobbit is one of my favorite things. The characters are real. There is that sibling mentality between the party members where they would defend each other to the death, but don’t you touch my stuff. Gandalf vanishes at his own convenience, Bilbo steals the Arkenstone (becoming an “honest burglar”) and everyone makes fun of Bombur for being fat. I had to struggle against laughing out loud as I read this at my desk on break.

I love this book. I love the talking ravens and Bilbo’s impromptu riddles and the bickering of the dwarves, and Gandalf in general. All I could think about as I reread this gem of a book for the first time in seven years was that I can’t wait to read this book to my children. I hope they are filled with the wonder of it as much as I was, and am, and expect to be again.

My thoughts on the Hobbit films maybe ought to be a whole ‘nother entry. I was initially quite excited to hear that Peter Jackson would be bringing this story to the big screen—the animated version was great, but somehow not as stunning as the New Zealand we all raved about in the Lord of the Rings films. But then it was announced that there wasn’t going to be a Hobbit film. There were going to be three. Some fans rejoiced, I groaned.

I don’t like “my” books being made into movies. It has seldom been done to my satisfaction. I especially don’t like them being made into blockbuster cash cows with love triangles and unnecessary Orc subplots and hot dwarves. (Okay, I don’t so much mind the hot dwarves.) It’s one of those sad instances where I so much wanted to fangirl over these films, but I always had the sinking sensation that it wasn’t going to happen. Martin Freeman was embraced by the internet as the unwilling protagonist of their dreams, but I don’t know. He just didn’t do it for me. We all love Ian McKellan, but he’s not as young as he once was. Was it strictly necessary to have the Necromancer, and Radagast, and the White Orc? And I doubt I’ll ever stop being angry about the love triangle inserted into part two.

Let’s face it, there is just not enough material in the book for three films. That’s part of why I love it! It’s a perfect one shot. It doesn’t need to be milked to put in every character that Tolkien ever wrote about. Reading the book brought back the simple joy that I had initially associated with The Hobbit, which I had lost watching Peter Jackson create twelve hours of footage out of a three hour movie.

To sum up a rambling and disjointed post, The Hobbit is enchanting and hilarious and seven hundred and eighty-two times better than the films.

No comments:

Post a Comment