Monday, July 18, 2016

The Place of Small People in The Lord of the Rings

From the Tolkien SocietyCarefully read the book you want to work from if you have not already done this. Note down and think about how children and young people shown in the story. Are they the same as small people? Do they all behave in the same way? If not, how do they behave differently? Are they treated differently? Is there any confusion? Is it nice to be a child or young person in the story you have chosen to read? Do they have adventures? Is it nice to be a small person? Do other people treat them differently?

For this essay I'm going to focus mainly on small people, particularly Hobbits.

Hobbit...isn't that a cute word?  I've heard, written, and said that word a billion times but I just hit me that it's a really cute word.  Hobbit.


Hobbits are often confused for small children and are sometimes treated as such.  Often characters speak down to Hobbits or expect them to be less mature.  In Gondor, for instance, Pippin is sent to go explore the city with Beregond, a teenager.

Why doesn't Pippin get to walk with an adult?  Pippin at that point had seen a lot of battle, death, and was probably more wizened and experienced than the majority of adults in Gondor and certainly more experienced than most of their children!  Beregond understands that though Pippin is small he is worthy of immense respect because of what he has been through.

And yet, Men often have a hard time distinguishing height from maturity.  Though Hobbits are small in stature, they are valiant.

Aragorn, for one, greatly respects Hobbits.  He finds their ways charming, but when it comes down to it he is willing to sacrifice his life for them.
“But I am the real Strider, fortunately. I am Aragorn son of Arathorn; and if by life or death I can save you, I will.”
Galadriel holds Frodo in high regard as well and even gives him one of her most precious gifts, the Phial:
“And you, Ring-bearer,’ she said, turning to Frodo. ‘I come to you last who are not last in my thoughts. For you I have prepared this.’ She held up a small crystal phial: it glittered as she moved it, and rays of white light sprang from her hand. ‘In this phial,’ she said, ‘is caught the light of EƤrendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out. Remember Galadriel and her Mirror!’
Frodo took the phial, and for a moment as it shone between them, he saw her again standing like a queen, great and beautiful.”
Faramir also has appreciation for the Hobbits:
“If you took this thing on yourself, unwilling, at others' asking, then you have pity and honour from me. And I marvel at you: to keep it hid and not to use it. You are a new people and a new world to me. Are all your kin of like sort? Your land must be a realm of peace and content, and there must gardners be in high hounour.”

Hobbits are often overlooked. It can be a bad thing, and it can be frustrating for them to be held in low esteem as shown by their indignation at being called Halflings, but it can also be a very good thing. The small size and humble appearance of Frodo and Sam no doubt made it easier for them to get into Mordor.
By the end of The Lord of the Rings, Hobbits were being treated very differently because of their major achievement in destroying the Ring.  They were held in high honor and the people of Gondor made lots of little songs for them.  Theoden speaks to Merry in a very kindly manner at the time of his death and holds the Hobbit in high regard.  The Elves of Rivendell all have a good ol' time with Bilbo in their company, though they find his poetry a bit tiresome and they tease him.
"'Well, Merry People!' said Bilbo looking out. 'What time by the moon is it? Your lullaby would waken a drunken goblin! Yet I thank you.'
'And your snores would waken a stone dragon - yet we thank you,' they answered with laughter."

All in all, small people are sometimes underestimated in The Lord of the Rings, but in the end, one of the major lessons is that small people can do big things.  The small people, the Hobbits, are then accepted and understood to be valiant despite their small size.