Friday, March 25, 2011

Objects suggest Audience?

In The Hobbit, the Arkenstone (the most significant item) is unselfishly given up for peace – a positive gesture. In Smith, the star is given up by Smith so that others can enjoy it – a positive gesture. Both the Arkenstone and the star are items that symbolize concepts on the good (as in not evil) spectrum and are given up unselfishly. In LOTR, the ring is extremely difficult to give up (excluding Bombadil); its bearer wants to use its power selfishly and for evil purposes, an extreme contrast to Smith and the Hobbit. The pattern I am seeing here is that when the content is dark and is obviously intended for adults (such as LOTR), Tokien’s most significant object symbolizes evil and provokes selfishness. When the content is lighter and is intended for children (such as the Hobbit and Smith [Smith may be intended for children, since Tolkien gives children so much credit]) the most significant objects symbolizes good intentions and provoke unselfishness. Even though Tolkien throws in adult content into his children stories (like in the Hobbit), does the way he characterize these objects hint at his primary audience (children)? Simply put, do the significant objects Tolkien depicts suggest his intended audience for his works?

1 comment:

Luthien said...

You've brought up a really interesting contrast/comparison! I wouldn't have thought of Tolkien's use of objects in this way, but I think you've got a very good argument here.

The only thing I'd add to this is that both with Bilbo and the Arkenstone and Smith and the star, their involvement with their objects isn't exactly all selfless or clean-cut. Bilbo originally takes the Arkenstone for himself and doesn't tell the others that he has it, even when he knows that it's the most precious treasure under the Mountain. But, he does realize that he can use it to bring about peace - or so he thinks, for it's really the arrival of the goblins that unites everyone in the end. Smith doesn't want to give up the star at first, though after he is told who will get it, he is very compliant.

So along with what you said, I would add that the use of objects in these two stories can show children how keeping something for yourself can be both bad (even when you try to make it right, as in the Hobbit) and good (as in Smith, when he realizes he cannot hold onto the star forever and must pass it on).