One of my favorite book series turned movies growing up was J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic trilogy, Lord of The Rings. I haven’t read the books in well over a decade, but after listening to Dan Carlin’s series on World War I I have been wanting to revisit the books. Carlin explained how Tolkien was a veteran of the first world war, and how much of the imagery and themes from the book were influenced during his time in the war.
With this in mind I have been looking to reread the series, not just to be entertained, but also with a more critical eye on what lessons Tolkien is sharing with his readers. This blog series will start with “The Hobbit” through the full trilogy. I hope you enjoy it.
Three Lessons From the first third of The Hobbit:
- When you see potential in someone, sometimes you need to throw them into the fire and see them rise to the occasion. At the beginning of the book Gandalf runs into Bilbo and asks him if he wants to go on an adventure. Gandalf saw what Bilbo’s ancestors were capable of, and he was sure Bilbo could serve the job he was looking for. Bilbo balked at the idea, so what did Gandalf do? He said, you might not believe in yourself, but I do – and he put him into a position where the only way was forward.
- Give your people enough room to fail, and learn a lesson, but not so much that they don’t have any support. Early on in the adventure Gandalf leaves the Dwarves and Bilbo as he rode ahead to see what lies ahead on their journey. Later that evening the cold & wet crew saw a fire off in the distance. By the time they realized it was a hungry trio of trolls it was too late! Gandalf was back in time to outsmart the trolls and set his comrades free, but the message was sent – these were dangerous roads and they all needed to be more careful.
- Comfort will betray you. When Bilbo escapes from Gollum, he is only able to do so because Gollum is afraid of pursuing him. Gollum got so used to worshipping the ring and not leaving his dungeon – that once it was taken from him he was too afraid to even go after it. Ultimately, it was his love for this ring that led to him losing it.
Hobbit by Rodrigo Vidinich from the Noun Project