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The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | Prologue (Concerning Hobbits) | Summary

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Summary

"Concerning Hobbits" offers some background on hobbits, especially for people who have not read The Hobbit, but also for those interested in or delighted by hobbits in general.

It describes hobbits as those creatures who "love peace and quiet and good tilled earth" and who live life simply and without complex machines. He notes they may be smaller than Dwarves ("ranging between two and four feet") and a bit chubby but they are also nimble and can disappear quickly and quietly when "Big Folk" are nearby. Hobbits of the Shire are a merry folk who like bright colors and rarely wear shoes, which makes sense because their hairy feet have tough, thick soles like shoe leather. They love to eat, drink, laugh, and love to give and receive presents.

The origin of hobbits traces to Middle-earth, referring to legends as well as later written records of the ancestry and movements of the original hobbit families: the Harfoots, who live near the mountains, the Stoors, who prefer riverbanks, and the Fallohides, who are slightly taller than the other two groups. "Concerning Hobbits" explains how hobbits moved from the vales of Anduin, to Eriador, and finally to the Shire. It describes how hobbits of the Shire were caught up in the events of the War of the Ring.

Analysis

Tolkien describes the relationship between humans and hobbits: "in spite of later estrangement Hobbits are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than Dwarves. Of old they spoke the languages of Men, after their own fashion, and liked and disliked much the same things as Men did." This reminds readers it is not the wizards, Elves, and other powerful beings they should identify with, but rather the common, silly, food-loving hobbits.

The hobbits, as simple folk, are thrust into the spotlight of history for a time, due to the crucial part they played in the events recounted in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings: "But in the days of Bilbo, and of Frodo his heir, they suddenly became, by no wish of their own, both important and renowned, and troubled the counsels of the Wise and the Great." The idea the fate of the world should rest on the small and seemingly unimportant is a central idea found throughout the story.

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