Category Archives: Response 2

Ideally It Would Always be Spring

When Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy enter the world of Narnia, they open their eyes to an alternative universe where animals have the ability to speak, a half jinn half giant rules the land, and the battle between good and evil is easily defined. This war creates not only a vertical racial hierarchy that ascends and descends based on intelligence or wisdom but a horizontal plotting of characters as to how good or evil their character is. Aslan would be plotted on the far left as the ideal good and the White Witch on the far right as the ideal evil.

Going from Aslan, the next truly good being in Narnia would be the Daughters of Even, Lucy and then Susan followed by the Sons of Adam, Peter then Edmund. This would be because, as Father Christmas explained to Susan when giving her the bow and arrows, “’You must use the bow only in great need’” and then to Lucy when presenting her with a small dagger, “And the dagger is to defend yourself at great need. For you also are not to be in the battle’” (Lewis 118, 119). In this way they do not become involved with the slaying of enemies which means they are superior to the Sons of Adam in goodness. Edmund is inferior to Peter only because of his initial betrayal when he first entered Narnia. Next would come all of the good animals, trees, dwarfs, giants, satyrs, dryads and the like. All of these creatures had their choice and watched some of their kind side with the White Witch which brings us over the neutral line between good and evil.

On the opposite side are the evil trees and dwarfs, werewolves ogres, wolves, Hags, Wraiths, Sprites, Ettins and other horrible creatures. Once the children take their rightful place as Kings and Queens of Narnia they saw to it that “all that foul brood was stamped out” (Lewis 200). This shows that these creatures were almost as bad as the Witch herself; they contained no love in their hearts and did not have the potential or the motivation to become good again. The White Witch herself is the ultimate evil in this novel possessing only an understanding for the cruel, betraying, hateful and fearful qualities characteristics creatures can express. This in the end led to her final downfall.

Bilbo’s Heart of Gold

Greed becomes a dominant trait in the dwarves when they nominate Bilbo to and become a burglar to steal treasure from the dragon Smaug. Bilbo gladly accepts the challenge and slips on his ring to go into the dragon’s lair. Bilbo’s accepting of this offer shows that he is taking the initiative to show off his newfound characteristics that he has gained from being on this journey with the dwarves. He has gained the ability to be courageous, clever, and heroic. He shows to be courageous when he goes to the dragon and succeeds in taking a golden cup. Normally, Bilbo would not have normally done something like this and would have been too afraid to even consider being the burglar.  He then goes back into the lair one more time to try his luck and take more things from the dragon. He slips on his ring and the dragon knows that he is there because he can smell him. Bilbo then uses his cunning and clever tactics to keep the dragon from killing him by answering the dragon in riddles. From the riddles that Bilbo says to the dragon, the dragon figures out that Bilbo and the dwarves are linked to the men of Lake Town. The outcome of this is the dragon dying because he goes down to kill the men of Lake Town to protect his treasures and it ends up backfiring on his part. The dwarves then regained the “lost gold” and become overwhelmed with greed that it almost sparks a war between the three races: dwarves, elves, and men. Bilbo saw this as a horrible thing because he wanted to help the dwarves in the purpose of regaining their gold from the dragon but instead it sparked conflict between the races and Bilbo didn’t see that as right so he stepped in and took action. He ended up settling peace throughout the races without a fight by giving everyone a fair share of the wealth that they could all agree on.  Thorin received the Arkenstone while the rest received their fair share of the gold. Bilbo was brave and courageous in his act because he was going against his own company to try and settle peace and it worked in his favor. Everyone was at peace again and all was right in Middle Earth.

 

Precious Treasures

Smaug and Gollum are two creatures that seem to be independent, but very lonely. Although Gollum only has one treasure, and Smaug has many, they both treat those treasures in the same way, they guard them all the time and if something is lost, they will stop at nothing to get it back. Both are similar in many different ways, possessing qualities that cause them to be disliked or pitied. Two of those qualities are curiosity and greed.

When Gollum first encountered Bilbo, his first thought was “I guess it’s a choice feast” (Tolkien 81). He was ready to eat Bilbo, but not after he found out who Bilbo is. Gollum also wanted to find out what he was carrying in his hands. The only thing that Gollum could think of before deciding if he wanted to eat Bilbo or not, was ask him riddles. Gollum believed that Bilbo would get the riddles wrong, and then he would have made his decision, but Bilbo answered each riddle right, making Gollum angrier and angrier. Gollum loves his ring so much that he will do anything to get it back when he realizes that he lost it. He only has his mind set on getting back his ring. In the end Bilbo realizes that Gollum wants to kill him for this reason, and that Gollum became more irrational and dangerous, trying to kill him.

Bilbo’s encounter with Smaug is almost exactly the same as his visit with Gollum. Smaug knew that someone was trying to take his treasure. When he senses that Bilbo is near, he asks him questions. Bilbo was smart with Smaug, and “was not quite so unlearned in dragon-lore (241 Tolkien). Smaug is trying to figure out who Bilbo is, and just as Gollum used riddles to buy time, and figure out what Bilbo was doing, Smaug used clever questions to find out more about Bilbo, and assumed that Bilbo was in his cave only to steal his treasure, ready to spring on him once he told the truth. Just as Gollum thought that all Bilbo wanted was his ring. In the end, Smaug became angry because he could not figure out who Bilbo is.

Both Smaug and Gollum live in lonely places, only thinking about their treasures and guarding them with their life. If they were to encounter anyone who seemed suspicious, they would only believe that person was after one thing. With Bilbo, they were curious and tried to get as much information out of him and the truth, before killing him. They cannot control themselves once they learn that their ring, or treasures are missing, and their greed takes over and causes them to only want to hurt and kill.

From Invisible to Invincible

Throughout the story Bilbo develops and changes so much during his adventure with the dwarves. In the beginning Bilbo was more worried about his home and his possessions than the adventure, but in the end he realized there was more to life and himself than the things he thought were important. In the book it says, “Already he was a very different hobbit from the one that had run out without a pocket-handkerchief from Bag-End long ago.” (232) This passage shows that others had noticed the change that Bilbo had gone through, for it was a significant one.

Bilbo’s title was a burglar, but the dwarves did not see that and they did not understand why Gandalf had chosen him of all people. To the dwarves, Bilbo was just a burden. They always had to carry him and feed, which is something they did not like. It took some time for Bilbo to prove to them and himself that he really did belong on this adventure. It is pretty obvious that Bilbo’s courage and strength did not build up until after he had found the ring. The sense of being invisible made him feel invincible.

 

 

When Bilbo defeats the spiders, he does it while he is invisible because he has the ring on. Although at first he hesitates because he is not sure whether or not he should reveal the existence of the ring to the dwarves, but at the same time he has to in order to save them. While he has the ring on, he feels more powerful. I’m sure that since he is a hobbit, and as we know hobbits are quite small compared to the other creatures in the story, I’m sure that he might get intimidated sometimes and I’m sure others don’t see him as a challenge, so while the ring is on, it might make him feel like he a whole other person, one that is not afraid to step up and defend his friends and defeat others.

After Bilbo defeats the spiders, the change in him is clearer. He feels a sense of empowerment that no one can take away and the dwarves see him as another person as well. Bilbo definitely matures throughout the story. In t end, I feel as if he is seen as a real man. He has gone out and experienced the real world, he had the courage to step out of his hobbit hole and take on a big life changing adventure that had its ups and downs, but in the end it was worth it. He transformed into a new person, someone like his ancestors.

 

Treasure and Wealth: The main priority

Treasure and wealth is the main focus in “The Hobbit”.  It is what the voyage and adventure is for.  Gandalf wanted Bilbo to become the burglar and he does just that.  In fact, Bilbo does do what he is assigned but does not care for the treasure as much as others.  The dwarves are after the treasure from Smaug.  As well as Thorin’s relatives, the goblins, Wargs, and man.  Thorin believes it belongs to him because it was in the family until Smaug killed Thror.  The goblins and Wargs want the treasure to become wealthy.  It becomes so significant to them, they end up fighting for the treasure once they hear Smaug has been killed by Bard of Lake Town.  Bard has wanted the treasure and wants an agreement with Thorin to share it.  Since Thorin does not accept the offer, Bilbo decides to give the Arkenstone to Bard.

Since Bilbo was rewarded with his fair share, he decided to take what Thorin wanted the most.  This is an act where one of the characters stays immune to the treasure.  Bilbo shows how it is not of importance to him when he gives the Arkenstone away.  Once the Battle of Five Armies is over, Bilbo is then granted treasure from Bard.  Gandalf is also another character who shows no affection towards the treasure.  He fights off the Necromancer in order for him to not enter the forest and give the dwarves a higher chance in receiving the treausure.  Beorn also does not care for any wealth.  Since he is great friends with Gandalf, he knows what the dwarves are in search for.  He does help in many ways, like Gandalf but does not ask for any of the gold.  The same goes for the eagles who helped throughout the novel in order for the dwarves to be safe.  They played the key role in helping kill the goblins and Wargs but had never asked for any wealth.

Smaug did have the treasure and was in control of it.  It does not seem to be beneficial in the end though for the dwarves once they receive it.  In one of the harmful ways, the dwarves lose dear friends.  Fili, Kili, and Thorin all die from the fight with the goblins and Wargs.  In the end, it was not as beneficial as the dwarves had hoped.  They did not expect on losing anyone on the voyage and Thorin was their main leader.  Even though Thorin did take the treasure out of Smaug’s possession, he did not insist on dying.  He fought for what he thought would be beneficial but turned out to be not so much for himself.

Blame Not the Insane

Gollum

Although he is clearly a villain, the character of Gollum is one of the most pitiful and sympathetic villains ever to grace the pages of novels.  This is especially true from the point of view of Bilbo Baggins, one of the few characters to face off against Gollum directly.  When compared to the other villains in The Hobbit, this becomes even more obvious.  Bilbo first encounters the trolls.  There are only three of them, but the fact that they are “very large persons” gives them a large advantage over all the dwarves and of course the very small Bilbo (39).  The goblins, on the other hand, have the advantage by sheer strength in numbers.  They “were six to each dwarf,” giving Bilbo and his comrades no chance of escape or victory (67).  Meanwhile, Gollum is actually at a disadvantage, it is “not a fair fight” to him, for it is one on one, and Bilbo has a sword and the ring at his disposal, while Gollum’s only weapons are his own hands and feet (96).  Then we come to each villain’s immediate reactions to Bilbo and the dwarves.  Upon capturing Bilbo, the trolls immediately want to know if you can “cook ‘em” (41).  The goblins treat their prisoners cruelly, they “were very rough,” and “took out whips and whipped” Bilbo and the dwarves, and also presented no plans other than to eat their prisoners (67,68).  Gollum is quite different.  Though it is clear to the reader that he plans to consume Bilbo, that fact is quite unclear to the hobbit himself, as Gollum “was anxious to appear friendly,” and starts off by playing a riddle game, providing Bilbo an opportunity for escape (81).  Also,  “Gollum had not actually threatened to kill” Bilbo (96).

Then of course comes the executions of the plans of the villains.  The trolls make for poor villains, as they have “a gorgeous row” among themselves and waste a lot of time “arguing” how to cook their victims (42, 45). They are clearly stupid, and cause their own doom when easily tricked by Gandalf.  The goblins are much more clever than the trolls, but in the end, their downfall is caused by a simple fear of two weapons.  Gollum is also rather clever, coming up with riddles and being able to answer Bilbo’s riddles.  In fact he is never truly tricked by Bilbo, though he does have some mistaken ideas.  Something else leading to Gollum’s haplessness is his clear insanity.  He calls himself “my precioussss,” and even has “an argument with himself” (80, 93). Finally, Gollum is just a sad creature who brings Bilbo’s “heart to his mouth” (96).  Gollum “was miserable, alone, lost,” which gained him “a sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror . . . in Bilbo’s heart” (96).  In the end it is Gollum’s intense sadness mixed with insanity that garners him much pity in both Bilbo and the readers’ eyes.  It is difficult to blame such a pitiful creature for his actions.

Home Sweet Home

In the novel titled “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien, the main character, Bilbo Baggins, seems to often get a little homesick as he is out on his adventure with the dwarves and Gandalf.  As hobbits are not explained by Tolkien to not be the adventurous type it is only natural that Bilbo would constantly wish he were in the safety and comfort of his own home, rather than encountering the dangers he faces along his travels in the novel.  As the story progresses there appears to be a pattern as to when and why Bilbo reminisces about his cozy little house in the hill.

At the start of the adventure, Bilbo is quite content with how the easy the journey appears to be.  He enjoys the nice ride on the back of a pony through the nice, warm summer weather.  But all good things must come to an end and soon Bilbo and his companions experience some unpleasant weather.  This begins Bilbo’s desires to be back in his home by the fireplace with the tea kettle coming to a boil.  Bilbo constantly refers back to his hobbit-hole whenever he experiences an unfortunate circumstance.  Not only does he wish to be back home, but he thinks about what would make him feel the most comfortable.  When it was raining he thought of his fire and tea, when he was tired he reminisced about his comfortable chair, and when he was hungry he envisioned his many pantries stuffed with food.

These reminders of his home serve as motivation for Bilbo to survive.  He is not interested in the gold, he just wants to return to his hobbit-hole in one piece.  That is rewarding enough for him.  The memories of his house and comfortable old life keep him moving forward in his adventure with the dwarves and Gandalf.

Bilbo Baggins is just like any other normal person who would much rather be in the safety of their own home than to be put under the excruciating tasks he is faced with on his journey.  But it is only during these difficult incidents that he finds himself wishing to be back in his little home in the hill. If he had wished he were home every second of the adventure, then he more than likely would have abandoned the dwarves and Gandalf as soon as he could.  That would obviously not have made for a very good story.

 

Playing House

Hunter and gatherer, the most basic and antiquated gender roles, perfectly describe the characters of Peter and Wendy in J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Peter, the eternally youthful boy, lives in constant pursuit of adventure and fun while Wendy is assigned the role of “mother”. Emotionally distant and concerned more with his own amusement than looking after the many lost boys in his command, Peter realizes that Wendy could fill the role of maternal caretaker.

Peter is the leader of Neverland’s lost boys, but his boyish tendencies make him an unfit father figure. His role is providing for Wendy and the boys. When Wendy first arrives at Neverland, Peter immediately feels the need to present her with shelter. He orders the boys to “build a house around her” (2.1.272). This shows Peter’s basic instinct to provide the basic needs to Wendy, but does not overtly express affection. He clearly cares for Wendy, seeing as he wants to give her a home. But, his affection can only be interpreted from his actions rather than a verbal or physical demonstration of his emotions.

When Peter tells Wendy that he does not have a mother, she tries to embrace him. He coldly withdraws, saying, “No one must ever touch me” (1.1.353). Not only unable to express his emotions, he acts confused by any physical or verbal means which would aim to do so. For instance, later in the play Wendy asks Peter about the nature of their relationship. Though Wendy thinks he understands that she is in love with him, he tells her that he is merely her son. Peter understands that Wendy wants more from him, because he knows “there is something or other she wants me to be, but she says it is not my mother” (4.1.124-126). Peter acts as a strong, but emotionally distant protagonist. For this, the lost boys look up to him but. So, even though the boys depend on him for many things, the one thing Peter cannot give them is the care and attention of a mother.

Peter first invites Wendy to Neverland, intending for her to be a mother to him and the lost boys. Peter tells her that the lost boys are orphaned, and that none of them know any stories. She immediately offers up her parenting services, telling Peter, “I know lots of stories. The stories I could tell to the boys!” (1.1.492-493). Wendy, being the only girl, always plays the mother when the children play house. While Peter is out “hunting game” to bring back for the family dinner, Wendy minds the lost boys at home. She becomes so attached to the role that she truly believes she is their real mother. Peter asks her to clarify if they are really just pretending to be the parents of the lost boys and Wendy admits it to be merely a game. But, she also adds that “they are ours, Peter, yours and mine” (4.1.114-115).

Peter, the provider, and Wendy, the homemaker, fall into predictable gender roles. The male protector of the house, Peter, gives orders to the lost boys while Wendy reads to them as to provide them with care and attention.

J.M. Barrie. Peter Pan. Modern Library, 2004.

Is it Wise to Forever be a Child?

At times we all feel like we would like to always be children or maybe go back to that stage in our lives. It seems like such a wonderful thing to be able to experience that carefree lifestyle that is childhood once again. This is one of the reasons why the story of Peter Pan is so fascinating. It takes us right back to that sense of childhood wonder and fear. At first glance it seems like Peter Pan has achieved the ideal life because he is always going to be a kid but there are some negative things associated with always being a child.

To start out, in the beginning the book makes being a kid seem better than being an adult. While the kids only have to deal with the usual things of not wanting to go to bed or taking medicine their parents have to deal with real life struggles like paying the bills and keeping a job. Even the simplest of things like tying a tie just about sends the children’s father off the deep end. It seems at this point in the text that the children are being introduced to what adult hood is like and being told to grow up. “Be a man, Michael.” (Barrie 15) When the parents seem to be the most stressed over their lives Peter Pan comes flying in through the window and takes their children away on a wonderful adventure.

Peter is the kid’s rescue from the hectic world at home because he is forever a kid. He doesn’t have the responsibilities that adults have and he is free to do whatever he wants. The coincidence that Peter can also fly is probably not unintentional at all. Barrie wants the reader to see how wonderful Peter’s eternal childhood is by giving him the gift of flight through his friendship with the fairies.

There are also many negative things about eternal childhood that the author wants the reader to see. Because Peter has been a child for so long he will not ever be able to function in the real world. He doesn’t know how to do simple tasks that adults teach children like sew or know what soap is for. He is also incredibly boastful and it seems to perturb the children whenever he acts that way. Peter Pan is also careless about the things that he does throughout the story like when he is flying with the children and is constantly abandoning them to go have fun. Another good example is when one of the children begins to fall out of the air he waits until the last minute to catch them, “…and you felt it was his cleverness that interested him and not the saving of human life” (Barrie 35). As a result of forever being a child Peter Pan will forever have the nature of a child when it comes to serious issues.

Mother Dearest

Neverland is supposed to be the land of eternal childhood, a place where children can go if they want to stay children forever. This is true for all children except one: Wendy. In his tale, Barrie creates Wendy to be a loving girl who is always eager to help with her brothers. Her eagerness to help, however, can be a bad quality as well as a good one. Wendy has a very maternal personality and she can’t wait to grow-up, have children, and be like her mother. Ironically, Wendy chooses to go to Neverland because it offers her a chance to grow-up instead of staying a child.

Wendy’s desire to grow-up first becomes evident in the way Peter convinces her to come to Neverland. For John and Michael, talk of pirates, redskins, and adventure is enough to lure them away, but Wendy needs something more. Although she is intrigued and excited by the idea of meeting a mermaid, Peter really convinces her to come when he says slyly, “You could tuck us in at night…and darn our clothes and make pockets for us.”(28) Wendy loves the idea of becoming a mother to the boys and getting to take care of them. She loves the responsibility and importance it gives her. However, she does briefly rethink her decision once she gets to Neverland. Upon her arrival, the boys build her a house and ask Wendy to be their mother. She answers, “Of course it’s frightfully fascinating, but you see I am only a little girl. I have no real experience.” (62) This quote shows that Wendy reconsiders becoming mother to the lost boys because she is only a young girl herself. Again, it is Peter, who convinces her by saying that they really only need a mothering type and they knew she would be a good one.

By becoming a mother to the boys Wendy forfeits her own innocence and childhood. Peter and the boys have many marvelous adventures, but Wendy can’t participate because, “Those rambunctious boys of hers gave her so much to do.” (67) Instead of enjoying being a child, Wendy is stuck inside doing housework and trying to keep everything just so while taking care of all of the boys. At first Wendy enjoys these tasks and the grown-up feelings of importance and responsibility that accompany them. Sometimes, smiling “she would fling up her arms and exclaim, ‘Oh dear, I am sure I sometimes think spinsters are to be envied.’” (67), because it made her feel like a real mother.

After a while though, pretending to be a mother and a housewife ceases to be a game. Wendy loses the childlike pretention because she is trying too hard to be the perfect housewife and begins to half believe that their Neverland family is real. She refers to Peter as “Father” and refuses to let Michael sleep with the big boys saying “I must have somebody in a cradle…a cradle is such a nice homely thing to have about a house.”(93) This shows her insistence on making their house as real as possible. She also begins to wish that the kids really belonged to her and Peter and confuses Peter’s feelings for her. She asks “Peter…what are your exact feelings to me?”(94) and is let down when Peter replies, “Those of a devoted son, Wendy.”(94) In her excitement to grow-up, Wendy has taken their game far too seriously for a young girl and becomes upset when Peter doesn’t feel the same way she does about their “family.”

Wendy does not fully realize that she has lost her childhood until she gains it back once she returns home. Before leaving, Peter tries to convince her to come back with him and be his mother again. “But he does so need a mother,” (151) Wendy argues with her mother, “So do you, my love,”(151) her mother responds. This reminds Wendy she is still a child herself and that she will grow up soon enough without having to run off to Neverland.