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Articulo, Jesselle Kayla C.

AB Eng-II

A REFLECTION OF TOLKIEN’S WORLD: BIBLICAL SIMILARITIES IN J.R.R. TOLKIEN’S THE HOBBIT

CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

Most of the studies conducted for Tolkien’s books are on certain similarities between his

fiction and various mythical, folklore and other kinds of stories. For most critics and researchers

the archetypal approach has been a better choice for the analysis of Tolkien’s work over other

types of approaches. Different archetypes have been utilized and supported Tolkien’s fiction in

aspects such as the spiritual, political and cultural. Since Tolkien himself was a devout Christian,

this study will have its major discussion in the spiritual aspect of his masterpiece The Hobbit

specifically, the archetypes with Biblical similarities using the archetypal approach. The Hobbit

novel is chosen for this study mainly because most researches pertaining to Tolkien’s work have

always been based on his Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion novels.

Tolkien’s The Hobbit is the 1st part to his Lord of the Rings trilogy with Bilbo Baggins, a

simple hobbit and an unlikely hero to this incredible story as its main character. In a tale set in

Middle-earth, Bilbo lives the quiet and easy life of a hobbit until a sudden day the wizard

Gandalf enters at his hobbit hole with a company of dwarves embarking on an adventure to

regain a long-stolen treasure. Bilbo finds himself entangled into their dangerous journey, and
must find the courage he didn’t know he had especially, the encounter with the peak of all the

challenges, defeating the notorious dragon Smaug.

Tolkien created a world that few fantasy writers can equal. It’s a world that is very

recognizable yet mysterious, out of the ordinary and full of magic. The story for the sole

purpose of entertainment is magnificent and a page-turner, but there are also many lessons

that can be learned, if one pays attention especially, lessons on Christian life. This study may

not go into details of Christian lessons because the goal is to site biblical themes and ideas that

will help relate better the story and along the way give enhanced understanding of the lessons

it wanted to impart to the reader. Once these themes and ideas are known, one does not have

to try very hard to see how literature often echoes even if imperfectly stories and lessons in the

Bible.

Objectives of the study

The general objective of the study is to identify and compare archetypes with Biblical

similarities in the novel with the Bible to better understand the story.

The specific objectives of the study are:

o To select archetypes with Biblical similarities in the novel.

o To provide Biblical support such as stories which are apparent to the novel based

on the selected archetypes with Biblical similarities.


Theoretical Framework

The study is anchored on the Archetypal Theory. The Archetypal Theory states that it

relies on the idea of the “collective unconscious,” a set of mythic experiences that repeat

themselves throughout human history. The writer and reader are assumed to share these

experiences; the writer reveals patterns that make the work comparative to and distinct from

other works.

Through this theory the reader is given the Biblical themes which are universally known

and thus, giving the novel a better understanding and also a whimsical way of relating to the

concept.

Summary/Abstract

Most of the studies conducted for Tolkien’s books are on certain similarities between his

fiction and various mythical, folklore and other kinds of stories. For most critics and researchers

the archetypal approach has been a better choice for the analysis of Tolkien’s work over other

types of approaches. Different archetypes have been utilized and supported Tolkien’s fiction in

aspects such as the spiritual, political and cultural. In this study the spiritual aspect of Tolkien’s

masterpiece The Hobbit will be its main discussion specifically, the archetypes with Biblical

similarities using the archetypal approach.


Importance of the study

Many people do not know and read about novels such as The Hobbit because they

cannot relate. Literature is meant to and should be universal in order to appreciate, discover,

and share the deep realizations of human experiences through it. Tolkien’s The Hobbit entails

significant Christian lessons and by being able to reflect on them in the light of the Bible

through its Biblical themes will echo and give an enhanced understanding of the great stories

ever told. When this relation is met many people would be more interested in reading

literature and its creativity.

Scope and Limitation

The study utilized content analysis of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien. The story is analyzed

using the archetypal approach in selecting the archetypes. The archetypes were selected based

on the combined lists of sighted archetypes by proponents C. G. Jung, Northrop Frye and

Joseph Campbell then further narrowed down to archetypes with Biblical similarities.
CHAPTER II

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

In accordance to Miluše Jedlinská’s master’s diploma thesis on Mythical and Cultural

Archetypes in J.R.R. Tolkien that it has been perceived that there are certain similarities

between Tolkien’s fiction and various mythical stories. For most critics the logical explanation is

1) either that Tolkien consciously used mythical elements as he was very well acquainted with

them, 2) or that he used these elements unconsciously. This thesis suggests that there is

another explanation: the similarities between Tolkien’s stories and mythology are caused by

mythical and cultural archetypes. The first part deals with the numerous approaches to

archetypes and provides a brief history of archetypal criticism in literature. There are also

reasons stated why it is better to choose this kind of approach for the analysis of Tolkien’s work

over other types of approaches. The second part deals with Joseph Campbell’s theory of

monomyth and its relation to The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, with

occasional digressions to Jungian psychology and archetypal criticism, as presented by Northrop

Frye. The main focus is on tracing the archetypal structure in the paths of the following of

Tolkien's heroes: Beren and Lúthien, Eärendil, Frodo, Gandalf, Aragorn and Bilbo. From this

thesis the archetypal structures of the main characters Gandalf and Bilbo of The Hobbit are

selected and analyzed to extricate the Biblical implications surrounding them for this study.

Also this thesis briefly discussed the Christian perspective of Tolkien’s work although it touches

only the book The Lord of the Rings but never the less still significant for the Hobbit is after all

the prequel of the trilogy. Miluše Jedlinská mentioned that when looking at The Lord of the
Rings from the Christian perspective, there are also some interesting things to consider. The

Ring is destroyed on 25 March. It is believed that the Annunciation and the Crucifixion took

place on this day, ―the two events that, alongside the Resurrection, constitute Christ‘s

Redemption of fallen humanity (Drout 562). If the Ring is to be taken as the symbol for original

sin (and sin in general), then Frodo emerges as Christ-like figure who takes up his burden (his

Cross) and walks through Mordor (Death) to Mount Doom (Golgotha - the place of the Skull)

where the power of the Ring (Sin) to enslave the people of Middle-earth (humanity) to the will

of Sauron (Satan) is destroyed (Drout562). In the Christian reading Frodo‘s journey thus can be

viewed as a reminder of Christ‘s archetypal via dolorosa. In a way Bilbo Baggins may also be

likened to Christ in terms of carrying the burden of the Ring although not as particularly similar

to Frodo’s.

In an article written by Stan Williams he expressed that Tolkien spent a life time sub-

creating (as he called it) a Middle-earth that contains physical entities representing all that is

good and bad in our Earthly journeys. There are Dwarves, Elves, Orcs, Wizards, Hobbits, Ents,

Trolls, Wraiths, Uruk-hais and at least one Balrog — all with their own languages, cultures,

history, and myths — to mix it up with humans in a grand and epic battle with evil. But a battle

against evil alone does not make The Lord of the Rings fundamentally Christian and Catholic;

and yet there are many ways that it is. Stan Williams sited some of the ways Tolkien’s work is a

Christian myth however for this study only items that belong to The Hobbit are enumerated.
 The One Ring illustrates how evil can entice and enslave. Beautiful gold rings are enticing

to wear. But when we slip them on our fingers we announce our devotion and loyalty to

their owner.

 Gandalf and Saruman, while not analogous, have traits, goals, and experiences similar to

those of Jesus and Satan. Gandalf is even tempted in a battle with Saruman not unlike

Christ is tempted by Satan in the wilderness.

 Evil is parasitic and can only destroy that which was created. Everything that IIuvatar

(God) created in Middle-earth (and in our world) is good. It is the perversion and

corruption of what was created that is evil. Good can exist on its own. Evil can only live

off what is good.

 In the Shire, the Hobbits come naturally to living a beatific life that Christ calls Christians

to live by. The Hobbits are the meek that inherit the earth, the merciful who receive

mercy, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers. (Mt. 5:3-12)

 Like all Christians, Tolkien's characters are called to play roles in a story that is much

greater and more important than they are aware. Just as we are not aware of all that

has happened before us, so Gandalf, at the end of The Hobbit, says to Bilbo, "You don't

really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere

luck, just for your sole benefit? You are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after

all!"

 The protagonists pursue absolutes, rejecting any willingness to compromise or to be

relative. In Middle-earth there is an absoluteness of what is right and wrong. There is no

hint of moral relativism that separates the different peoples, races, or creators of the
free lands. Aragorn says to A’omer: "Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor

are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among men."

 The Shire, described as the ideal community, reflects the social teachings of Catholicism.

The Hobbits benefit from a community structure with little formal organization and less

conflict. They work only enough to survive and otherwise enjoy each other's company.

There is no jealousy, no greed, and rarely does anyone do anything unexpected. There is

a wholeness and graciousness about it that seems to come naturally out of selflessness.

 Gandalf, the steward of all things good in the world, reflects the papacy. Gandalf is

leader of the free and faithful. He is steward of all things good in the world, but he

claims rule over no land. As the Popes of history did with kings and emperors of our

world, so Gandalf crowns the king and blesses him to rule with justice and peace.

In Patrick Grant’s essay Tolkien: Archetype and Word which has been centrally concerned

with the analogy between Tolkien and Jung, but it is not simply an "archetypal" assessment of

Tolkien’s work especially of The Lord of the Rings that the trilogy seems to correspond so fully

to the Jungian classification certainly redounds to the mutual credit of Tolkien the teller of tales

that he should intuit the structure of the psyche so well, and to Jung the analyst that he should

classify so accurately the elusive images of the poets. For both, man participates in the spiritual

traditions of his culture, and in a period of history such as the present the Christian expression

of such participation must be an especially private and "inner" one. Tolkien, in his theory, is

aware of this, and an explication of the trilogy in terms of Jung provides some insights about

the structure and dynamics of Tolkien's epic of "interior space." Yet Tolkien believes that his
"inner" world partakes of spiritual truth which has found a special embodiment in history: the

Word, as Archetype, was made flesh. Consequently, Tolkien insists on the "real" truth of Faerie,

and his “eucharistic” understanding of literature causes him, in The Lord of the Rings, to expend

great pains on the historical and linguistic background to Middle-earth. We must believe that it

is true, and its truth must involve history, as well as the great themes deriving, in literature,

from the fundamentally important Christian story which is basic as both archetype and history.

We find the morality of the story not in doctrinal formulations which are the staples of allegory,

but in the traditional and implicit motifs of Christian heroism, obedience, charity, and

providence. Just as, historically, the simmering stock in the cauldron of story is substantially

flavored by the Christian ingredient, so are the archetypes in Tolkien’s work.

In an article from the website www.byrdthistledown.com Biblical Parallels XIII. Secrets of

the Ring stated that the One Ring is shaped by the will of its maker into something like what he

chose to be, one that rejects good's creativity good for evil's destructiveness. As the

embodiment of Sauron's will the One Ring ensnares the will of everyone who wears it. Even

Bilbo, the ring bearer least affected by its evil, begins his ownership of it with a lie. As readers of

The Hobbit recall, he told Gandalf that he had got the Ring, not by finding it on a cavern's floor,

but by winning it from Gollum in a game of riddles. Still, Bilbo is the only ring bearer who ever

had the strength of character to give up the Ring. His strength of character, a small thing

confounding the wise (I Corinthians 1:25-29), is part of the divine providence that allows the

Free Peoples of Middle-Earth victory over the Shadow.


CHAPTER III

METHODOLOGY

Research Design

This study is content analysis using the archetypal approach. The archetypes in The

Hobbit are analyzed using the archetypal approach. The archetypes are selected based on the

combined lists of archetypes by its proponents C. G. Jung, Northrop Frye and Joseph Campbell.

The archetypes are then further filtered and narrowed down to archetypes with Biblical

similarities. The characters, items and imageries from the novel with Biblical similarities are

identified with the appropriate archetypes from the list then are compared to the characters,

items and imageries from the Bible given the discussion and analysis.