Concerning Hobbits: How the Smallfolk Saved Middle Earth

By Thomas Adams

Warning: If you have not seen the rest of the Lord of the Rings series and do not want it spoiled, do not read this post.
After watching the extended edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, I was inspired to finish the rest of the series (again, for like the 5th time). So I went on to watch the extended edition of The Two Towers and The Return of the King. This time, instead of watching for pure entertainment, I was watching to learn – about the world, character development, the motivations of peoples, and many other things. Near the end of The Return of the King, the four hobbits (Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin) start to bow to Aragorn, the new King of Gondor. However, Aragorn stops them and says, “My friends, you bow to no one” and bows before them. The rest of the people around follow suit.

I don’t think it can be understated how true Aragorn’s statement is and how important the hobbits were in saving Middle Earth. Let’s look at each one individually.

Merry

At the end of Fellowship of the Ring, Merry is capture by Uruk-hai, along with Pippin. When the Uruk-hai and Orc begin fighting with one another, the two escape into Fangorn Forest where they meet up with Treebeard, a tree-herder. Once Merry learns of this new race of trees, he tries to get Treebeard and his ent company to fight against Sauron and Saruman. Eventually, the council of trees decides that this is not their fight to fight. When he begins taking Merry and Pippin back home to the Shire, Merry convinces Treebeard to take the south route, which goes right past Isengard. Merry says this would make the most sense, since Saruman would least expect it and Treebeard obliges. As they continue on the path, Treebeard comes to an opening in the should-be forest. He realizes that his tree friends have to cut and burned down to fuel the fires of Isengard. Unsurprisingly, this angers him greatly, and Treebeard calls upon his tree friends to fight Isengard. The destroy a dam, flood Isengard, and win the battle to take control of Isengard. Merry’s part in the story here cannot be understated. He single-handedly convinced tree beard to take the route that would lead him to see the destroyed forest and make Treebeard realize that this was their fight. If Merry had not convinced Treebeard to turn around, Isengard would have been left unscathed and many of the following events would have never occurred and the rings may never had been destoryed.

Pippin

in The Return of the King, Pippin accompanies Gandalf to Minas Tirith to convince the Steward of Gondor to ready his armies for battle and call to Rohan for aid. This battle would be the last battle to determine the survival of Men in Middle Earth. After a conversation with the very stubborn steward of Gondor, Gandalf is unable to convince him to light the Beacons of Gondor, which would signal to Rohan that Gondor calls for military aid. Gandalf has another plan. Using Pippin’s size to their advantage, Gandalf instructs Pippin to climb the beacon’s spire and light the flame himself. Pippin is able to do this successfully and alert Rohan to their need for help. Eventually, the message reaches Rohan and they ride out for battle. If Pippin did not accompany Gandalf to Minas Tirith (the reason for which is another story in itself) and if Pippin was not able to successfully light the beacon unseen, Rohan would have never made it to the battle for Minas Tirith, and the Realm of Men would surely have fallen.

Sam

There’s so much that can be said about Sam that it is really difficult to focus on one particular instance that had the most influence. But after watching the Return of the King, there is definitely one that comes to mind. After Sam is banished from the quest by Frodo (for supposedly eating all the lembas bread and wanting the ring for himself), Frodo and Smeagle venture into the Spider’s tunnels. Smeagle did this so the Spider would eat Frodo, and Smeagle could then take the ring for himself. As Sam is venturing back down the Stairs, he sees the lembas bread remains that Smeagle threw over the edge. This was the turning point for Sam, as he knew Smeagle had ulterior motives and would end up killing Frodo for the ring. Sam starts back up the Stairs to save Frodo. Sam gets there just in time to stop the Spider from eating Frodo (who is paralyzed at this point). He battles with the spider and eventually wins, defending Frodo for the time being. Unfortunately, some Orc come near, Sam hides, and they take Frodo’s body to their nearby tower and Sam follows. Once again, the Uruk-hai and Orc begin fighting among each other. Sam takes this opportunity to head up the tower and defeat a few foes before getting to Frodo just in time. Had Sam not gone back to help Frodo, and successfully fought off the Spider and Orc, Frodo would have never made it out alive and the ring would have not been destroyed – and worse, would have probably fallen right into the hands of the Enemy.

Frodo

Since Frodo’s main purpose is to carry the ring and destroy it, it would make sense that this is his most important task. Frodo did not have as many “breakout” moments as the other hobbits in the movie. On the contrary, he slowly just became more and more corrupted by the ring and eventually tried to take the ring for himself while standing at the edge of the fires of Mt. Doom. However, against all odds and with the help of a few friends, Frodo was able to get the ring to Mordor and get the ring destroyed, ending the battle against Sauron and his forces – solidifying the victory for Man. Frodo was never suppose to make it to Mordor alive, much less actually destroy the ring, but he did it. And that’s the most important thing that could have been done.

When the Men of Gondor bow to the four hobbits at the end of the Return of the King, it is very much deserved. Their actions throughout the story single-handedly turned the tides of battle back into their favor and eventually ended the war. Had they not been successful with their respective tasks, Middle Earth would have surely been taken over by Sauron and his evil forces. Of course, many other characters had influence on the outcome of Middle Earth, but it is most certainly true that the smallest persons had the largest impact.

Hot Vampires vs. Vapid Hobbits is A No-Brainer to Me

For someone who isn’t a huge fantasy watcher, or reader (or gamer for that matter), I feel like my outside perspective may be of interest to those who share my common burden. Never having read any of the usual childhood loving novels for my own pleasure, or finding any type of online game or video game remotely interesting, along with finding it almost impossible to stay awake through the extended version of an already ridiculously long movie, might make me sound like such a pessimist. Even so, I’m quite fascinated by how passionate people can be about their games, and books and movies.

To me, a movie is just a movie. Whether or not it lives up to the expectations of the book or not, I could care less, I just want to watch a good movie. Passionate People might argue that Lord of the Rings is by far a better made movie then Twilight, because the book is known for being one of the most epic fantasy stories ever created. But think about it, what would you rather watch; 3 ½ hours of a journey that doesn’t end, or an arousing tale of a vampire fighting for the girl he loves?

Yes, I have to admit the realism of Lord of the Rings is quite breathtaking. The directors really knew what they were doing by making the movie look so real and making sure that every scene sent out just the right message for people to comprehend. And yes, I cannot deny that in Twilight, the shimmery glitter does look pretty awful when Edward Cullen’s character steps into the light. But the Twilight budget for filmmaking was far less then LOTR, and overall it is of nearly the same quality. And why doesn’t anyone complain about Elijah Woods over acting huh?

Who knows whether the movie Twilight lived up the standards of the book or not; they’re making the second movie so it obviously couldn’t have been that bad. A Passionate Person might say that I’m stupid to try and compare a movie/book like Lord of the Rings to a movie/book like Twilight because they are obviously on different rungs of the ladder. However, being the underdog in this class due to my lack of knowledge in books movies or games, I find it appropriate to support the epic love story of Twilight for it’s sexy vampires, blood hungry villains, and its massive appeal of a fantastical world to the younger generation.

~Adriana

Watch Out! There Might be Hobbit Burgler Immediacy Behind You

 

By: Dan Nockels

I like playing video games, there are many things that I enjoy about them but one that I have recently come to acknowledge more is the ease of control.  Depending on the genre of game being played that sensation can vary but personally my favorite example is Super Smash Bros. (a fighting game made by Nintendo). For a person initiated with the controls making the motions in your mind pass into the reality of the game is seamless and easy. I like it more than other fighting games because it doesn’t have button combos (such as up up b b down up to fire your laser). This game is about as high immediacy as one can expect from a simple consol game.

In the Lord of the Rings Online game there is a lot more potential for immediacy, such as personal attachment to a character, you have been the same character all along and have built him/her up during the course of the game. Having a consistent class and race and merely powering those characters up is a good way to maintain an attachment to ones character. This being said in the actual playing of the game it is difficult to feel the same sense of immediacy that one does in SSB. I would say not just because of an inferior control system but also because of certain features of the game itself.

In my experience as a hobbit burglar, having the ability to stealth is reminder of the video games externality. For me this is because first in real life I can stealth but also because I am reminded of the information dichotomy in programming between private and public. Public features are those that people use when they use computers entering test into something clicking return and getting a result are both examples of public information. Private features are those that do the actual work but that the user cannot access. Now that is not to say that going into stealth is as simple as making my character private but when ever I stealth I am reminded that I am playing a game on a computer.

Quickly mentioning the other part of remediation, hypermediacy, I’m pretty sure that the number of things on the players screen don’t change varying between races and class only the specifics. 

Tolkien was a RACIST!!!

By – Kyle Osborne

I knew it would come to this. I knew at some point this issue would be forced out into the open, and I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m not going to play it safe or pull any punches. In the land of LoTRO, all races are not equal. I know it’s appalling and I sound like a racist, but please bear with me.

                It’s just the truth, a simple matter of fact, not every (or any) young hobbit can fulfill his dream to become the next great Lore-Master. Before you tell me that I’m putting the hobbits down and stifling their dreams, let’s analyze the source, Tolkien’s works. Where in The Fellowship of the Ring does Tolkien comment that hobbits share a love for the history of Middle Earth? If you can find it let me know. From what I read, hobbits rarely care much for their own lore, hate to leave the shire, and care nothing for the history of other races. In their agrarian society this knowledge holds little value. From what Tolkien has written it seems unlikely that a hobbit, or a Dwarf for that matter, would ever consider being a Lore-Master. To save face with any hobbit or dwarf out there I will say that I find the races with more limited class choices to be the most interesting around; men and elves can be pretty boring at times.

                Tolkien was intent on creating an interactive and living world, filled with various cultures and a rich social structure between races. Given the fact that they were imitating a master, the game designers of LoTRO did a decent job. As necessary the various free peoples of Middle earth, work together against their common enemies, but thankfully the designers didn’t stop with only these basics. Evidenced as early as the Epic Prologue, there is a tension between the dwarves and the elves that was ever present in the novels. They are quick to consider blaming each other when an elven envoy is kidnapped, even though neither party was to blame. As in the books, the rangers of the north are looked down upon or spoken ill of by others. Their secrecy and isolation makes them suspect for conspiracy. In the game the rangers have their encampment away from others in the North Downs. These are only a couple of examples of the complex social structure of Middle Earth, which was graciously included in LoTRO.

                Whether or not they suggest racism, these limitations, characteristics and interactions of the different races of LoTRO help to draw the gamer into the plot and the mechanics of the game. I am willing to admit that when it comes to the representations of Middle Earth, I am a racist. How about you?

Where are the Drunken Hobbits?

By – Kyle Osborne

Maybe it is appropriate that the inn and pub in the Shire is named The Green Dragon.  Dragons in and outside of Tolkien’s world are often represented in different ways.  In a similar fashion, I felt that the Green Dragon was treated differently across the three forms of media used to portray The Fellowship of the Ring.  

                The movie version of The Green Dragon is probably the most well remembered of all of the representations. A fun and invigorating scene full of laughter, ale, and tipsy hobbits. It all starts with a great drinking song by two of my favorite hobbits and manages to keep this light mood throughout the scene. Even as the conversation turns to darker topics the characters treat it lightly and manage to throw in some hobbit wisdom. The Green Dragon catches your attention and holds it as tales of strange things and Sam’s possible love interest are introduced. Although this portrayal is a lot of fun, it draws a stark contrast to The Green Dragon in the novel and game.

                The novel treats this conversation in a more somber and serious manner. Sam, who is the focus of this passage, has a conversation concerning the “strange happenings” around the Shire. While the argument itself is not necessarily dark, the passage seems dark. First of all there weren’t any dancing hobbits, but the reader also knows that foul things are afoot in Middle Earth and can’t help worrying as these hobbits ignore sign of danger. Sam’s demeanor also plays a large role in the mood of the passage. Sam is contemplative and quiet after his discussion, which also seems to dampen any of the drinking song feeling that might have been present in the passage.

                While the novel’s portrayal is dark, the game’s is boring. All of the life and vitality that is present in the movie was sucked out for the game. I understand that you can’t have a whole house of hammered hobbits, but they can at least be moving around. Not only are the NPC’s uninteresting, there are also very few of them. Instead of the fun and engaging setting of the movie, I walk into the lifeless area in the game and feel sad. The way the inn is presented in the game, it fails to draw me in or make me want to see it again. In a sad, but ironic realization, I found that the Forsaken inn is much livelier than the Green Dragon. At the Forsaken Inn at least I can sit around and listen to the sarcastic waitress tell customers to get their own drinks or speak with many of the people who inhabit the space.

                In these completely different portrayals of the same place, it was interesting to see how the different media caught or failed to catch the interest of the audience.

                Honestly, I just wanted to be able to walk into the Green Dragon and see drunken hobbits dancing.