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“The Hobbit,” written by J.R.R. Tolkien, is a classic of children’s literature and a prelude to his later work, “The Lord of the Rings.” This enchanting tale follows the journey of Bilbo Baggins, a comfort-loving hobbit who prefers a quiet life in his cozy hole at Bag End. Bilbo’s world is turned upside down when he is unexpectedly swept into an epic quest by Gandalf the wizard and a group of dwarves led by the formidable Thorin Oakenshield. Their mission is to reclaim the dwarves’ homeland, the Lonely Mountain, and its treasure from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Throughout the adventure, Bilbo faces numerous challenges and fantastical creatures, including goblins, trolls, and giant spiders. He also discovers a mysterious, magical ring that holds a power beyond his understanding. “The Hobbit” is not only a story of adventure and daring but also a journey of self-discovery and courage, as Bilbo transforms from a timid and provincial hobbit into a clever and brave hero.
“The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien offers several life lessons that readers can apply to their own lives. Here are three significant lessons:
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone: The protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, lives a comfortable and predictable life until he is thrust into an unexpected adventure. This journey teaches the importance of stepping out of one’s comfort zone. It’s in new and challenging situations that we often discover hidden strengths and talents, similar to how Bilbo finds his own courage and resourcefulness during his quest. This lesson highlights the value of embracing change and the unexpected in life.
Understanding the True Value of Life: A key theme in “The Hobbit” is recognizing what truly matters in life. The story contrasts the destructive nature of greed, as seen in characters like Smaug the dragon and Gollum, with the more enriching values of friendship, adventure, and personal growth. Thorin Oakenshield’s realization that “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world” underlines the importance of appreciating simple joys and connections over material wealth.
Courage in the Face of Fear: Bilbo’s journey is marked by moments where he must confront and overcome fear. The story illustrates that courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to act despite it. This lesson is exemplified when Bilbo decides to face the dragon Smaug, understanding that bravery involves confronting one’s fears and taking action, even in the most daunting circumstances.
It is important to note that Tolkien’s works are a synthesis of various mythological, literary, and historical influences, and while there are parallels with Greek mythology, they are part of a larger canva of inspirations that shaped his Middle-earth universe.
The influences of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, including “The Hobbit,” are extensive and varied, incorporating elements from a wide range of sources. While there is no direct evidence of specific Greek mythology influences in “The Hobbit,” there are some thematic and conceptual parallels between Tolkien’s works and Greek mythology:
The Valar and Greek Gods: In Tolkien’s mythology, the Valar bear resemblance to the pantheon of Greek gods in their behaviors and actions. Like the Greek gods, the Valar in Tolkien’s universe deliberate on the fates of elves and humans, interact with them to bring about providential plans, and can intervene in Middle-earth in various forms, such as through messengers like Gandalf or through natural entities like eagles.
Themes of Fate and Divine Intervention: Both Greek mythology and Tolkien’s mythology explore themes of fate and divine intervention. In Greek mythology, the gods often intervene in the lives of mortals, shaping their destinies. Similarly, in Tolkien’s universe, the Valar and other divine beings exert their influence on Middle-earth, often covertly, to guide events according to their designs.
Númenor-Atlantis Parallel: Tolkien himself drew a parallel between his fictional realm of Númenor and the myth of Atlantis from Greek literature. In Plato’s account, Atlantis is a powerful and advanced civilization that ultimately falls due to its hubris, similar to the story of Númenor in Tolkien’s legendarium. The tale of Númenor in Tolkien’s works reflects the narrative of a perfect world that becomes corrupt and is eventually destroyed, mirroring the myth of Atlantis.
Influence of Classical Literature: While not directly tied to Greek mythology, Tolkien’s works, including “The Hobbit,” show a broader influence of classical literature, including elements from works like Homer’s “Odyssey” and Virgil’s “Aeneid
Other work of Literature that inspired from Greek Mythology
Many contemporary books, both in fiction and fantasy genres, draw inspiration from Greek mythology, either by reimagining these ancient tales or by weaving mythological elements into their narratives. Here are a few notable examples:
- “Percy Jackson & The Olympians” by Rick Riordan: This popular young adult series is directly based on Greek mythology. It follows Percy Jackson, a teenager who discovers he is a demigod, the son of Poseidon. The series is well-known for its modern-day reinterpretation of Greek myths and characters.
- “Circe” by Madeline Miller: A reimagining of the story of Circe, a minor goddess and enchantress in Greek mythology, best known for her role in Homer’s “Odyssey.” Miller’s novel delves deep into Circe’s life, exploring her journey from an outcast to a powerful sorceress.
- “The Song of Achilles” by Madeline Miller: Another novel by Madeline Miller, this book retells the story of Achilles and Patroclus, characters from Homer’s “Iliad.” It’s a poignant exploration of their relationship set against the backdrop of the Trojan War.
- “Mythos” by Stephen Fry: Stephen Fry retells the ancient Greek myths in his own unique and humorous style. The book covers a range of famous myths, offering fresh perspectives on these timeless stories.
- “The Silence of the Girls” by Pat Barker: This novel gives a voice to the women of the “Iliad.” It’s told from the perspective of Briseis, a queen turned Achilles’ slave, offering a new angle on the famous epic.
- “Gods Behaving Badly” by Marie Phillips: In this humorous take, the Greek gods are living in modern-day London and struggling with diminished powers and human dilemmas.
- “Lore” by Alexandra Bracken: A standalone novel that blends modern-day New York City with ancient Greek mythology, particularly the lore surrounding the Olympian gods.