PAPER 3: Worldview and Tolkien’s THE HOBBIT
3 December 2014
HOW TOLKIEN’S WORLDVIEW INFLUENCED THE HOBBIT A person’s worldview evolves from whence they came. In other words, one’s world view is an amalgamation of all the life experiences and beliefs a person has come to perceive as dependable information. This information becomes reliable data for reacting to and experiencing the world in which one is participating in. Tolkien’s worldview was a catalyst for his writing of the Hobbit and perceiving fiction as well as reality.
Therefore, John Tolkien’s life experiences formed his world view which gave birth to his imaginative writing and famous stories. These experiences which formed his worldview, influenced his writing. This influence began as a student; then soldier, lexigraphy, professor, and even as a writer of fairytales to his own kids. Tolkien was born January 3, 1892 at Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State of South Africa (J.R.R. Tolkien). His imaginative worldview created a place most of us know as “Middle-Earth”.
There are many key factors that shaped Tolkien’s worldview. Here, I will cover three of those factors. The first factor is his childhood. A person’s childhood and early raising is the start of his/her socialization into our world which one must make decisions about and participate in. Early socialization is a reference pool from which a world view begins to form. In Tolkien’s case, that socialization began in Africa. His childhood wasn’t that unusual for an urchin from that time period. Tolkien’s father was a banker and had moved his family to South Africa for financial gain. (J.R.R. Tolkien).
It was the beginning of all things perceived by Tolkien in his world. It was the very start of his world view. He was raised in South Africa with his mother and father. Here, Tolkien lived amidst a harsh environment of hot sand and scraggly desert rocks and plants. This no doubt influenced his worldview with regard to his love for the lush greenery of England. (13 Horne). It was later in his childhood before he ever saw anything growing green. His time, as a child in Africa, helped to shape some of the fundamental aspects of his worldview as did the diverse wildlife such as elephants and large predatory birds.
The second factor is that Tolkien developed an early imaginative fascination with Old English literature. Specifically Anglo-Saxon literature during his childhood that continued to show through his whole life. An example of this is, that as an adult, Tolkien wrote “Beowulf and the Critics” which was an essay about the story of Beowulf. Tolkien’s imaginative worldview was no doubt formed by the animals and life forms he encountered as a youth in South Africa. When he was twelve years-old he was bitten by a large baboon spider. This can be correlated to his writings about spiders being associated with evil and fear. This brings to mind the Ungoliant from The Silmarillon. Ungoliant is translated as “the great spider destroyer” (Tolkien 353) and is known for destroying the trees of Valinor with Melkor.
The third factor is the effect of acculturated religion on the formation of Tolkien’s worldview. Tolkien’s mother depended on faith after the loss of her husband. Tolkien’s mother was a devout Roman Catholic. Therefore, Catholicism was an important part of the reference group which helped to form Tolkien’s worldview. Tolkien would have no doubt been schooled in the creation story of the bible which was written in the old King James English. This style of writing showed up in Tolkien’s works because, as stated, he developed an early fascination with this type of storytelling and writing. The overall themes in Tolkien’s work seem to always have an overtone of “things will get better” and “one should believe in a higher power”. This is eluded to in a remark by Thomas W. Smith in his, “Summation of Tolkien’s Work”. Here, Smith seems to make the argument that “perseverance and moral high