A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J. R. R. by Matthew Dickerson

By Matthew Dickerson

Knowledgeable at the Hobbit and The Lord of the earrings trilogy indicates how a Christian worldview and subject matters undergird Tolkien's vintage works

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Sample text

We get this in such simple statements as, “Day drew on” (Hobbit, 343). As for description of the fighting itself—swords whacking off body parts, spears plunging into enemies, or any of the sort of visual detail we might expect in a modern video game—there is almost none. In over twenty paragraphs that narrate the battle, there are only a handful of descriptions that might be called graphic: “The rocks were stained black with goblin blood” (Hobbit, 341). “Many of their own wolves were turning on them and rending the dead and the wounded” (Hobbit, 342).

Rather, the real narrative action takes place within the city and focuses on how the characters respond to the siege: what they feel, what they think, what they say. The battle Tolkien describes in most detail is the battle against despair, and especially the ability of Gandalf and the Prince of Dol Amroth to bring hope to those who have lost it. When the narrative finally switches from the spectators within the walls of Minas Tirith to the fighting outside the walls, the one scene Tolkien chooses to emphasize is the battle between Éowyn and the Nazgûl, and the subsequent death of King Théoden: a microcosm, but an important one, within the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Now it is certainly possible that one could agree with the moral principle suggested above by Caldecott, that war itself does not justify use of the evil devices of the enemy (like the One Ring), and yet simultaneously argue that torture itself is not fundamentally evil. By way of illustration, consider the use of swords (or any other physical weapons). Orcs use swords. So do the Southrons who are in service of Sauron and attack Minas Tirith. So also do the men of Minas Tirith, the Riders of Rohan, Aragorn, Gandalf, and even the hobbits (though at the end of the tale Frodo alone completely eschews even the use of the sword).

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