Essay about The Unsuspecting Hero of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit

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The Unsuspecting Hero of The Hobbit

Our tendency to romanticize it notwithstanding, childhood is tough. It is not, primarily, the time of nonstop games and fun that we would all like to remember. Childhood is marked by fun and games, to be sure, but it is also marked by a feeling of powerlessness in the face of larger and older adults. These adults are in full control of nearly every aspect of children's lives. From when they go to bed to what they eat, children are allowed to make very few choices of any significance. Because they are smaller, younger, weaker, and less trusted to be able to make wise decisions than are adults, children can easily feel powerless or even unimportant in comparison with these adults.

The Hobbit, J.
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The historical facts surrounding the creation of Tolkien's novel suggest that he was, indeed, even more directly concerned with the child audience for The Hobbit than are most children's authors. Tolkien's great concern for his audience had little or nothing to do with authorial duty, however. The Hobbit was originally written as a bedtime story for Tolkien's three sons, John, Michael, and Christopher (Carter 254). His three sons having outgrown the story before it was fully complete, Tolkien wrote the final fifty pages or so of the novel without the direct motivation to write for his children, but the themes of the novel were well-established by this point (Crabbe 20). Undoubtedly, Bilbo's diminutive stature and heroic transformation were detailed in such a way as to bring the most pleasure and delight to Tolkien's own children, a decision which provided the novel with a healthy amount of 'can't-miss' appeal for all children.

While an understanding of Tolkien's intended audience undoubtedly helps us to understand his novel in greater depth, we need to look at the novel itself in order to understand how it brings pleasure to children today, more than sixty years after its initial publication. The novel opens with a charming and much-needed introduction to hobbits in general, the Baggins family in particular, and Bilbo Baggins most specifically. The similarities between hobbits and children are readily apparent from the first few
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