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Thread: The Hobbit - Sol?

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Over in the C.S. Lewis section Joe-v and I have been discussing whether or not Tolkien's "7 books" (meaning The Hobbit plus the 6 books of the LoTR) can be analyzed in the same way that Michael Ward has analyzed the 7 Chronicles of Narnia in his book "Planet Narnia".

The brief synopsis: Ward claims that Lewis intentionally filled each one of the Chronicles with symbolism from a different medieval "heaven". (Each "heaven" contained one of the 7 pre-Copernican planets that include the sun and moon, along with mercury, venus, mars, and jupiter. What we call astronomers and astrologers today were pretty much one and the same in the medieval period, and it was thought that each "heaven" or "planet" exerted influence on people and metals here on earth). According to Ward, Lewis's "Sun" (or "Sol") influenced book is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. According to Joe-v, Tolkien's "Sun" book is the Hobbit.

If anyone else is interested, I'd like to hear:

1) Do you see similarities in imagery between The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Hobbit?

2) Ward summarizes Sol as associated with : * DAY: Sunday * METAL: Gold * QUALITIES: wisdom; liberality; generosity; freedom; riches; enlightenment; opposition to greed. The influence of Sol is that he brings about "fortunate events" and illuminates the mind. The Greek equivalent of Sol was Apollo, who was known variously as "mouse-catcher" "golden-locks" and "lizard-slayer" (in this case a "lizard" could also be a serpent or a dragon). Sol was considered to hold an honored position in the "middle" of the planets like a heart or a king. Which Valar would fill this role in Tolkien's Middle-Earth?

3) Do you think The Hobbit embodies the ideas related to the medieval concept of Sol? If it does, do you think Tolkien did this on purpose? Joe-v seems to think yes and yes, I however am not so convinced: I think maybe and probably not.

Discuss! Smile Smilie
According to what you've listed, yes. But I don't think Tolkien constructed his work around a planetary theme, and if you read about his personality, I think you'll find it highly unlikely he gave a damn what anyone else thought about how his work should be written or edited. I think you can apply the qualities the astrologers gave to the planets to any great story, because they are some of the ingredients that make a great story.
I also think there's inherent danger in taking a set of characteristics and trying to force them to apply to a specific item, in this case each of Tolkien's books. The example that I recall from a statistic course is that is akin to shooting bullets at a barn wall, and then drawing the bulls eyes around the largest groups.
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I also think there's inherent danger in taking a set of characteristics and trying to force them to apply to a specific item,


Yes, the thing to do would be to draw out the main themes of the Hobbit first, without reference to any list like I made above, and then compare it to the list afterwards.

On the other hand, if you're not good at drawing themes out on your own, a list of characteristics or personalities or types might help you clothe your feelings about the story in language.

I think Mithrandir would agree with me:

When you disassemble a story down into its basic parts for analyzation, you will lose forever any enjoyment whenever you try to reread that story in the future. Some of the extraneous foreign bits from your analysis will then come creeping into the story as you are again reading it, breaking its underlying spell.
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"And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom." - Gandalf to Saruman in 'Many Meetings' from FotR
Quite so, didn't JRRT in his preface also say he "disliked all forms of allegory" or words to that effect.
Yes he did.
I'm not sure that it's entirely proper to label the identification of mere similarities "allegory".

Isn't allegory when it's pretty clear and specific that a character "is" something else?

For example, the Giant Despair in The Pilgrim's Progress "is" the state of mind or emotion called "despair". "Christian" in the Pilgrim's Progress "is", similarily, the person who is a christian.

But what I presented above is more like discovering archetypes than identifying allegory.
I didn't think anyone but myself still read John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. My copy I picked up for one dollar in a second hand shop back in the late seventies. It is a Macmillan's Pocket Classic that originally cost 25 cents. The book is illustrated and edited with notes by James Hugh Moffatt Professor of English Literature, Central High School, Philadelphia. According to the inscription inked on the flyleaf, in 1911 it was studied in Mrs. Blevino's 8th grade class by Blanche Brown. However, the book has a 1905 copyright and is a January 1913 printing, so the inscription must be from a later date.

Anyway, I have read it two or three times since I bought it; and like and laugh about many of the descriptive character names. I don't think you can go wrong by practicing what it preaches.
We read Pilgrim's Progess as a family. It strengthened us, but I must admit it also made me feel mentally exhausted! Still, to know that someone, somewhere in this world actually fights the good fight until the bitter end is so encouraging, and I love to live like that. We only had a small nondescript edition but it sufficed.