Comparative Essay on the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit
A fantasy is an imaginary world where all things imaginable can be brought to life. J.R.R Tolkien portrayed fantasy through his use of skilled craftsmanship and a vivid imagination, which was presented in each piece of literature he wrote. In Tolkien's two stories The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings we see the theme of fantasy brought to life through three essential elements, heroism, magic and retribution. Heroism is shown through the character's courage and bravery in situations where conflict arises and this enables them to be seen in a new light. Magic is a form of extraordinary power seemingly through a supernatural force; it is used in a combination of combat and mystical items to aid the companions on their journey. Retribution is paid to the evil forces for the wrongs society had to endure while they were allowed to dominate. This system allows opportunity for physical and mental development in the characters and the aspect of fantasy to come to life.
During the character's quest, weather they were headed to the Lonely Mountains or to the Cracks of Doom, they always experienced a form of heroism. In the story The Hobbit, we see heroic deeds being accomplished by the main character Bilbo. This occurs when the companions do battle with giant venomous spiders in Mirkwood forest. Bilbo finds depth and strength in his nature that he was surprised was there and smote these villainous creatures all on his own, saving his friends and adding to his stature among those in the group. "Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the Dwarves or anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins." (144) There are numerous other opportunities to experience heroism in The Hobbit, one of which is near the conclusion of the tale when the brave and noble Bard kills the sinister dragon Smaug. As a child this character encountered Smaug for the first time while fleeing the ruination of their city; now even though Bard was overcome with the fear that every mortal has when they are near one of these tremendous beasts, he was determined to stand his ground due to the love he had for their small town. He was able to accomplish this impossible task because a small thrush perched on his shoulder and told him of the one weak spot of the dragon, the hollow of its left breast. Bard then inflicted death upon the terrible Smaug with his last arrow and was nearly killed himself by the tremendous weight of the beast in the process, but he jumped out of the way and into the water just in the nick of time. "With a shriek that deafened man, felled trees and split stone, Smaug shot spouting into the air, turned over and crashed down from high in ruin." (229)
A character that displays the traits of heroism is one who overcomes the odds through the use of unique and valuable qualities; this remains just as true in The Lord of the Rings as it does in The Hobbit. One truly heroic act occurred when Gandalf the Great, determined to defend the fellowship took on a Balrog, this huge, bat-like source of evil stood on the bridge to freedom and did battle with the poor mage. Gandalf, stricken with fear caused the bridge to collapse and with it fell the Balrog. However, with one last effort the beast threw one final lash with his whip catching Gandalf and dragged him into the abyss where they would do battle. "With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard's knees, dragging him to the brink." (430) Another portrayal of heroism in The Lord of the Rings takes place when Sam, a quiet but honorable hobbit, conquered the dark and grotesque horned spider, Shelob. His master Frodo was in immense peril and in a desperate attempt to save him Sam savagely attacked her until she was forced off his dear friend. His fury...
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