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, now focusing on “The Fellowship of The Ring”, I hope you enjoy it.
When you stand out, people get uncomfortable.
In the first chapter of The Fellowship, we learn a lot about The Shire that gets left out in the movies. We learn about the history of The Shire and how the hobbits got there in the first place. We also learn that, in general, hobbits do not leave The Shire.
In walks our hero from the previous story, Mr. Bilbo Baggins. We also get to know his adopted nephew, Frodo. As Tolkien introduces us to the dialogue of the town we learn that people are uncomfortable around the Bagginses, because they’re “odd”. They talk with people outside The Shire, and Bilbo even left at one point for over a year! To Bilbo, who has seen much of the world, the blindfold has been lifted and he can see what else is out there; much like Plato’s cave.
The rest of the community is not impressed with Bilbo’s travels, and acts in accordance with what New Zealanders call tall poppy syndrome. I’ve heard it explained like this: when you see a proper poppy field, it is a beautiful thing spread out over the land; however, if one poppy is taller than the rest it takes away from the beauty of the entire field – so the person tending to the field will want to chop it down so it can be in line with the rest.
When standing out, know that people will get uncomfortable.