1. Bainespal says:

    Why do you think Bilbo, despite all his protests, find himself on an adventure?

    Bilbo’s involvement in the adventure was all Gandalf’s doing. I think Gandalf knew that Bilbo’s Tookish half would ultimately lead him to willfully accept the adventure.

    Bilbo was sadly reflecting that adventures are not all pony-rides in May-sunshine … (page 32). Imagining this, and perhaps recalling our own trips, is this sad or amusing, or both?

    It’s amusing because it is true to our experience during real-life “adventures.” Just as Tolkien depicts the reality of depravity in The Lord of the Rings, here he depicts the reality of petty awkwardness and bad attitudes. Despite the glorious vision that Tolkien writes of, his works are also very down-to-earth and real.

    How do the Dwarves, and Thorin in particular, seem to regard Bilbo? How do their apparent attitudes add tension? Which makes the story more interesting, and thus keep us reading — “outward” struggles like the weather, or “inner” struggles?

    Based on the previous chapter, we know that the Dwarves aren’t confident in Bilbo’s ability to fulfill the role in which Gandalf has placed him. Bilbo’s own internal struggle is his ongoing reluctance, which I believe is continually brought up — “It was not the last time that he wished that!” (p. 32). Therefore, the internal tension is that both the Dwarves and Bilbo do not fully trust Gandalf’s plan.

    Yes, I am afraid trolls do behave like that, even those with only one head each (page 34). Tolkien “speaks” to readers as if trolls are real (same with hobbits). Is that confusing?

    I think Tolkien uses direct narrative interludes like this to refer to the cultural fairy-tales that were regarded disdainfully as children’s stories at the time when The Hobbit was published. In doing so, he’s both treating the fairy-tale tradition with respect and also subtly hinting that his own work is much more carefully constructed than the shallow treatment given to organic fairy-tales. The phrase “even those with only one head each” very subtly insinuates that Tolkien’s worldbuilding is above the simple level of fairy-tales in which one might encounter unrealistic three-headed trolls.

    Unlike the dumb monster trolls of that epic, these trolls talk, bicker, have names like “Bill Huggins,” and have possessions — including a talking purse! Is this at all weird?

    As in LotR, Tolkien is translating for his readers here, I beleive. The Common Tongue is not really English; it is only “translated” into English for our convenience. Rohirric isn’t really Old English/Anglo-Saxon, but it is rendered that way in the narrative of LotR. I’m guessing that The Hobbit is just being “translated” one step further than LotR

    Finally, here we see Gandalf doing some “magic” for the first time — how does this “magic” strike you?

    I have no idea how Gandalf’s magic works, but he does seem to have supernatural intuition. Gandalf returned just in the nick of time because he “had a feeling.” He knew exactly how the trolls would react when he mimicked their voices. I wonder if the micking of the voices might have been through perception; he was able to make the trolls hear what he wanted them to hear, rather than actually changing his voice. A professor told me that he thought Gandalf’s real power (whether “magical” or mundane) is his ability to influence and to guide people. I can see that here.

What do you think?