Essay on Hobbit: The Hobbit and Bilbo

Submitted By Jee_Willikers
Words: 1252
Pages: 6

Will Jordan
Professor Mishou
13 April 2014
Tolkien’s Use of the Word “Hate” in The Hobbit As a passionate linguist, JRR Tolkien makes very calculated decisions with every word choice within his novels. There is a reason behind each word he uses. One example of JRR Tolkien’s meticulous word choice revolves his use of the word “hate” in The Hobbit. The story within this novel is one centered on various conflicts, making it prime for the use of the word “hate”; however, Tolkien uses it very sparingly. He does this in order to maintain the integrity of this powerful word. The definition of the word “hate” can be found in the dictionary as “to feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward an object”(“hate”). The being said, too often this word is over used, resulting in a distorted and less significant meaning. JRR Tolkien clearly realized this which is why he only used the word “hate” fifteen times within The Hobbit and by doing so was able to capture the truest form of the word. Each time the word is used, it expresses one of the characters’ deep felt hostility toward a particular object or action. The first example of this word choice is when the dwarves use it while they are fixing up Bilbo’s hobbit hole. Here, “hate” is presented in the form of lyrics within a song when the dwarves sing, “Chip the glasses and crack the plates! /Blunt the knives and bend the forks! /That’s what Bilbo Baggins hates”(Tolkien 18). Though some may argue that the reason for Tolkien’s use of the word in this example is simply because it rhymes with plate, one cannot denied the weight it carries and its relevance. Tolkien is trying to express Bilbo’s true feelings toward disorder and reckless behavior. He needs the reader to be able to come away with this understanding so that he can illustrate the significance of Bilbo’s actions when he agrees to take on this adventure, which is completely out of character for him. Bilbo has an extreme dislike for things out of the norm and dangerous since hobbits are creatures who love structure, order, and peace which Tolkien is demonstrating in this scene with the word “hate.” With that being said, if Tolkien had not used this word sparingly then the reader would have a distorted interpretation of this scene, resulting in a less comprehensive understanding of the character of Bilbo. Bilbo is completely out of his element when these obnoxious dwarves take over his home and present him with such daring mission. Ultimately, the reader understands that this is just the kind of situation that Bilbo despises, which in turn, brings a greater significance to his reluctance to accept the offer of joining the dwarves on the mission. Just as Tolkien uses the word “hate” to express Bilbo’s true feelings towards disorder, so too does he use it to describe the goblins’ aversion to sword of Thorin the dwarf that they had seized. This sword, which adopted the name of Goblin Cleaver, has brought the goblins significant grief since it responsible for slaying many of their kind (Tolkien 54). Through the use of the narrator, Tolkien illuminates that the goblins “hated [the sword] and hated worse anyone that carried it (Tolkien 65)”. This quote indicates to the audience that sword represents the deep-seeded animosity between the cultures of the dwarves and the goblins. It is imperative to the story that the reader understands this prejudice, which is why Tolkien chooses the powerful word of “hate” to be the vehicle in making this point. In this example by using the word hate, one can feel the true underlining scorn behind it. If Tolkien had gone with a different word choice then the reader might not grasp that this sword once symbolized one of the greatest threats that the goblins have faced. There is no other word that could serve as a substitute for the word “hate” in this scenario that would have the same powerful conviction. Knowing this, Tolkien successfully got the intended message across by making