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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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• THEMES

1. How does Tolkien develop his theme of the nature of
heroism? Give examples.

2. Discuss elements of elitism in Tolkien's books. Explain
why some people criticize this elitism, while others defend it.
Be sure to include examples of what some readers see as
Tolkien's male, upper-class prejudices.



3. The Shire, Rivendell, and Lorien all represent various
aspects of Tolkien's ideal society. Compare and contrast these
different societies. Which would you prefer to live in? Why?

4. Discuss Tolkien's concept of the relationship between free
will and destiny. Relate it to philosophical and theological
debates about this question. Do you think man has free will?

5. Examine the relationship among loyalty to an individual,
loyalty to a small group, and loyalty to all of mankind in
Tolkien's books. Especially examine instances where loyalties
conflict. How do the characters resolve their dilemmas? What
implications can you draw about Tolkien's beliefs from these
instances?

6. Make a list of the qualities associated with the forces of
good in The Lord of the Rings and those associated with the
forces of evil. Discuss any interesting patterns that emerge. For
instance, do good and evil form a mirror image of each other?
How do these qualities relate to Tolkien's themes?

7. Discuss the relationship between man and nature expressed
in Tolkien's books. Mention characters that Tolkien uses to
represent nature.

8. Look at how Tolkien developed the Everyman theme in his
books. Compare Tolkien's hobbits with the characters who
appear to function as Everyman in other novels.

Table of Contents


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