Thread: The Change of Attitude
Well, since the Tolkien Forums have been pretty quiet lately, I thought I would bring this up, something that has been bugging me lately. Why did Tolkien have such a personality change between The Hobbit and the rest of his books? My own assumption was he wrote The Hobbit to get people's attention, of almost all ages, saying "Hey! Read my stuff!" And apparently it worked. But, I just don't see why he would choose to go from child-oriented-ness to a more serious tone in his books... focusing on the struggle of life and death, judgment and pity, Death and destruction... it just seems so different, am I wrong in seeing this as odd?
The thing is, the Hobbit was originally a story for Tolkien's kids, apparently unrelated to his Life's Work.So it started out being written in that style, but there is a discernable shift in tone towards the end of the book, after the death of Smaug, as Tolkien weaves the Tale into the Tapestry of Middle Earth. The Battle of 5 Armies foreshadows the more mature and darker nature of LotR.
Even more than a story written for his children, the tales of Bilbo were bedtime stories he would tell his children. Eventually turning them into a single book.
While making the popular book and then launching into his own English Mythology is what happened. I don't think he intended it.
Looking back it seems like a well crafted and skillful plan. Pulled of by an expert in literary world.
Reality I think is more blind luck and a wonderful use of the opportunity presented by a requested book [i:1jhhsdv5][size=85:1jhhsdv5]meaning that publishers asked him to write the Hobbit 2, and Tolkien instead providing LotR[/size:1jhhsdv5][/i:1jhhsdv5].
Considering that Tolkien was tasked with writing a follow up childrens novel and instead gave a mature, masterful, dense and intense story like Lord of the Rings, he was either a literary genious, or [i:1jhhsdv5](as the British say)[/i:1jhhsdv5] one cheeky bastard.
[i:1jhhsdv5]British members of the board, feel free to correct my attempt at British English. I'm sure I'm terrible at it.[/i:1jhhsdv5]
As GB and Show have said, Hobbit was written for kids, and more specifically, Tolkien's kids. It was just a fun fairy tale. Then the publishers asked for a sequel. Tolkien obliged. But what was supposed to be just a sequel to a children's story turned into a huge three-volume epic. I firmly believe that Tolkien had no idea what he was getting into. The story, as he wrote it, just kept getting longer, and longer, and longer. Some things he planned out from the beginning, but others forced themselves in. Tolkien created the bare-bones of the story, and the story itself took it from there. The story did, in truth, write itself. Tolkien was just on for the ride.
So I don't think that Tolkien was sitting in his study thinking, "Ok, I'm going to write a seemingly innocent children's story, and then follow it up with the greatest work of my entire life." No. LOTR wrote itself.
Love the addition to your siggy Beren
. I thought I was the only one who caught the unintended Bilbo reference in McCain's speech. I even posted about it months ago myself (somewhere on this forum possibly). There is a big difference though--Bilbo's sentence actually makes sense if you follow it carefully
(no offense to McCainiacs).
And as far as LotR went, you and Show fleshed out my point nicely. I just haven't had the time for more thorough posts lately
. Still, it leaves some stuff for other people to write
To... I suppose sum up what the previous have said, I would look at The Hobbit being Tolkien's book that grasps everyone's attention and reels them in. I imagine that Tolkien had... more fun? writing The Hobbit then he did The Lord of the Rings. The magic of The Hobbit was that it was like no other book before it, it was fun, creative, fantasy-filled, though serious, yet appealing to children! Though I believe Lord of the Rings was for Tolkien to do for himself, to raise his standards as an author, to create a more... ''professional'' book to carry on the series as a whole.
I believe Tolkien had a good idea with The Hobbit, and he couldn't truly support his series as well as he did without the strong-boned, lore filled books of Lord of the Rings, as opposed to, (Comparing this to the Trilogy), the flimsy Hobbit.
And always remember: Tolkien was a perfectionist. That's partly why there was a 17-year gap between the Hobbit and FOTR. He couldn't stop editing, adding, refining, switching stuff around, refining again, taking stuff out, putting it back in, taking it and putting it in a different place, etc. He was never satisfied, and he made it exceedingly complex. This complexity resulted in an "imperfect" manuscript going to publication. Somehow, he finally just decided that it was as good as it was going to get, and published it.
[quote="Gandalfs Beard":27ggxqsk]The Battle of 5 Armies foreshadows the more mature and darker nature of LotR. [/quote:27ggxqsk]
Can we really say that given that TH was written before LOTR? To me at least, calling it foreshadowing implies intent by the author, and as was mentioned earlier in this thread it was not Tolkien's intent to have TH be part of the stories of Middle-earth (or to have a sequel at all).
[quote="Merriam-Webster":18pc1ngm]Foreshadow: to represent, indicate, or typify beforehand : PREFIGURE[/quote:18pc1ngm]
This strongly implies the intent of the author, so I am inclined to agree with you, Eldorion. The Battle of Five Armies was the culminating battle of Hobbit, and served as the climax of the story. And it was written in a way that is a lot more innocent than LOTR. The elves, men, and dwarves were bickering amongst themselves and were pretty much at a stalemate when the orcs came and everyone had to unite against them. In the end, it becomes a curtain call. Beorn shows up, along with the Eagles, more dwarves, and Gandalf. It's somewhat absurd, in it's own little way. And that is what makes it the Hobbit. In LOTR, there is nothing absurd about the battles. They are all very important battles, and are battles that were written in the history books for thousands of years afterwards. They had high stakes, and they weren't there to show off all kinds of fairy tale creatures.
Foreshadowing doesn't [i:2wivab4c]necessarily[/i:2wivab4c] imply intent (LotR wasn't intended at first to become so dark). But War by nature is Dark, and Battles are Ugly Affairs (to borrow a chunk of Lewis
) even if the reasons are Absurd (and they usually are
). There is a distinct change in tone in The Hobbit after the death of Smaug. I re-read the book near the end of last year. And the end definitely struck me as more Serious than Whimsical, departing a fair bit from the tone of the rest of the book.
I'm afraid I don't agree [b:112khznk]GB[/b:112khznk]. In addition to [b:112khznk]Beren[/b:112khznk]'s definition, I also found this one:
[quote="[url=http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/213447/foreshadowing:112khznk]Britannica[/url:112khznk]":112khznk]the organization and presentation of events and scenes in a work of fiction or drama so that the reader or observer is prepared to some degree for what occurs later in the work[/quote:112khznk]
I don't really see how an author can prepare the reader for something which will come later if the later events are not even conceived of yet.
Well it's largely a semantic issue. I wasn't intending to imply intent... *what did I just say?
*...on Tolkien's part
. But his stories had a life of their own, and the Battle of 5 Armies definitely presages what will follow in LotR. I didn't really mean "Foreshadow" in it's narrowest sense as a Literary Device. I probably should have used the word "Presage" (as I just did
) as it more accurately means what I wanted to say.
So you're saying that the story itself hinted at what was going to come, and not even Tolkien picked up on the "Presage" until he actually saw LOTR being written.
And please, GB, if you're going to use THAT C.S. Lewis quote, at least quote it in its entirety! "Battles are ugly affairs [u:3dvng66s]when women fight.[/u:3dvng66s]"
. Many artists and authors have experienced this phenomenon. Are they writing the story, or is the story using them as a vessel to escape from he Imaginal Realm?
As to quoting Lewis, I just happen to think Battles are ugly affairs period
(and I got the impression Tolkien thought so too). Though Medieval Battles and Kung Fu fights look awesome on-screen
of course they are ugly affairs, but one of my pet-peeves about the LWW film was that Father Christmas left out the part that says "when women fight." I also CRINGE every time I hear him say "but the hope that your majesties have brought has finally started to weaken the Witch's power." AGGH!! but I digress.
What can I say
? Adamson was just tweaking the dialogue to make it a little more acceptable for a broader modern audience. Oh well.
Tolkien was not a professional writer, and had so many other things to occupy him that I think constant rewrites (without word processors!) weighed him down. So both the Hobbit and LoTR starts off like children's books, then migrate into the adult realm. I think if he had time he would have fixed the shifting tone.
But in the end I feel it worked in his favor. In both books LoTR the reader starts with the innocence of hobbits but slowly discovers a deeper, darker world. I think this unintended effect is part of what made them classics.
I basically agree with your assessment Halfwise
. I have made a number of posts on various threads saying much the same thing.
Much as I try, I don't see much difference in the tone from start to end. Thorin, as an example, is Thorin throughout. Maybe you guys were a little confused by the fact there is not an applicable song during the Battle of Five Armies. As I am helpful, I'll help by giving you one:
Here come the goblins under a cloud,
Made up of bats, shouting all loud!
Tra la lally we'll fight in the valley,
This arvo ha ha.
Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
Beyond lakes with fountains bold,
We must fight away until end of day,
To keep our pale reflective gold!
Snap! and Snarl!
Go get 'em Karl!
Chop 'em and mop 'em,
Kick 'em and mock 'em,
Then take take back their gold
To Goblin Town,
Yippee yi yey!
Growl, growl, growly,
Growly, growl, growl,
Bark, bark, bark...![/i:gmx38hd3]
....Now, if the above was inserted somewhere in the battle, you'd realize the tone hardly changes (if indeed, it changes at all).
Well Yes!!! [i:1bmalen2][b:1bmalen2]IF[/b:1bmalen2][/i:1bmalen2] one added those delightfully charming ditties I could quite see your point
However; without those "Lost" Epic Ballads
, that entire segment of the book, post Smaug, has a markedly more serious (and I dare say more "grown-up"
tone than anything previous. Having just re-read large swathes of the Hobbit, and the denouement in particular, whilst researching for my Fan Fic; I feel quite confident in characterizing it thusly
I just think you're being difficult now. I must withdraw and plan a new starategy - but I haven't given up on saving you, GB, though I suppose Tolkien would have by now! Then again, as you might already have worked out, I'm not Tolkien...