Let the Hobbit Happen "Click Here"

Search the Web

	                        TOLKIEN FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS LIST (part 2 of 2)

	        7) Was the northwest of Middle-earth, where the story took place, meant
	  	    to actually be Europe?

	  	        Yes, but a qualified yes.  There is no question that Tolkien had
	  	    northwestern Europe in mind when he described the terrain, weather,
	  	    flora, and landscapes of Middle-earth.  This was no doubt partially
	  	    because NW Europe was his home and therefore most familiar to him and
	  	    partially because of his love for the "Northern tradition".  As he
	  	    said himself: "The North-west of Europe, where I (and most of my
	  	    ancestors) have lived, has my affection, as a man's home should.  I
	  	    love its atmosphere, and know more of its histories and languages than
	  	    I do of other parts; ..." (Letters 376 (#294)).  Thus, the environment
	  	    of Middle-earth will seem familiar to dwellers of that region of
	  	    Europe (see the second letter excerpted in FAQ, Tolkien, 6 (#183)).

	  	        However, the geographies simply don't match.  This was the result
	  	    not so much of a deliberate decision on Tolkien's part to have things
	  	    so but rather a side-effect of the history of the composition: the
	  	    question did not occur to him until the story was too far advanced and
	  	    the map too fixed to allow much alteration:

	  	      ... if it were 'history', it would be difficult to fit the lands and
	  	      events (or 'cultures') into such evidence as we possess, archaeo-
	  	      logical or geological, concerning the nearer or remoter part of what
	  	      is now called Europe; though the Shire, for instance, is expressly
	  	      stated to have been in this region [FR, 11].  I could have fitted
	  	      things in with greater versimilitude, if the story had not become
	  	      too far developed, before the question ever occurred to me.  I doubt
	  	      if there would have been much gain; ...
	  	                                                       Letters, 283 (#211)

	  	      ... As for the shape of the world of the Third Age, I am afraid that
	  	      was devised 'dramatically' rather than geologically, or paleonto-
	  	      logically.  I do sometimes wish that I had made some sort of agree-
	  	      ment between the imaginations or theories of the geologists and my
	  	      map a little more possible.  But that would only have made more
	  	      trouble with human history.
	  	                                                       Letters, 224 (#169)

	  	        The remark that there probably would not "have been much gain" is
	  	    characteristic and perhaps indicates Tolkien's own approach, which
	  	    would seem to have been to focus on the environmental familiarity at
	  	    the "local" level (in the sense that any particular scene might have
	  	    come from somewhere in Europe) and to simply overlook the lack of
	  	    "global" identity.  On the other hand, he made some attempt to address
	  	    the difficulty in the quote from the Prologue (FR, 11), where it was
	  	    said: "Those days, the Third Age of Middle-earth, are now long past,
	  	    and the shape of all lands has been changed...".  The conclusion is
	  	    that it is a matter for each individual reader as to how important is
	  	    the lack of geographical fit and where one comes down on the continuum
	  	    between "Middle-earth was northwestern Europe" and "Middle-earth might
	  	    as well have been northwestern Europe" (or, as Tolkien might have
	  	    said, "Middle-earth 'imaginatively' was northwestern Europe").  [Thus,
	  	    recent attempts to force the M-e map to fit the map of the Eurasian
	  	    land mass, such as in _Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia_ by David
	  	    Day, should be discounted.]

	  	        In one letter he provided indications to help in visualizing the
	  	    circumstances of various locales, but this does not help in resolving
	  	    the above matter, since again northwestern Europe was used for
	  	    comparison rather than equation:

	  	         The action of the story takes place in the North-west of 'Middle-
	  	      earth', equivalent in latitude to the coastlands of Europe and the
	  	      north shores of the Mediterranean. ...  If Hobbiton and Rivendell
	  	      are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then
	  	      Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence.
	  	      The Mouths of Anduin and the ancient city of Pelargir are at about
	  	      the latitude of ancient Troy.
	  	                                                   Letters, 375-376 (#294)

	  	  References: FR, 11 (Prologue);
	  	              Letters, 376 (#294), 239 (#183), 283 (#211), 224 (#169).

	  	  Contributors: WDBL, Carl F. Hostetter


	  	  8) Was the Shire meant to be England?

	  	        In this case, the balance between "actually *was*" and "was based
	  	    upon" is entirely tipped towards the latter.  There is no hint that
	  	    the Shire was in any sense supposed the be the country now called
	  	    England in an ancient state.  On the other hand, there is plainly a
	  	    very strong resemblance between the Shire and the rural England of
	  	    about a century ago.

	  	        More precisely, the Shire plainly could not *be* England in any
	  	    literal sense: England is an island, and even changes in "the shape of
	  	    all lands" (FR, 11) is insufficient to explain such a discrepancy
	  	    (especially since even the westernmost part of the Shire was some 200
	  	    miles from the Sea).  Nevertheless, the Shire was more exactly based
	  	    on England than any other part of Middle-earth was based on any part
	  	    of our world: the climate, place-names, flora and fauna, terrain,
	  	    food, customs, and the inhabitants themselves, were all English.  In
	  	    effect the Shire was an idealized version of the rural England of
	  	    Tolkien's childhood.  Some of his comments on the matter were:

	  	      [The Shire] is in fact more or less a Warwickshire village of about
	  	      the period of the Diamond Jubilee ...
	  	                                                       Letters, 230 (#178)

	  	      But, of course, if we drop the 'fiction' of long ago, 'The Shire' is
	  	      based on rural England and not any other country in the world...
	  	      [Later in the same letter he implied that the Shire was "an imag-
	  	      inary mirror" of England.]
	  	                                                       Letters, 250 (#190)

	  	         There is no special reference to England in the 'Shire' -- except
	  	      of course that as an Englishman brought up in an 'almost rural'
	  	      village of Warwickshire on the edge of the prosperous bourgeoisie of
	  	      Birmingham (about the time of the Diamond Jubilee!) I take my models
	  	      like anyone else -- from such 'life' as I know.
	  	                                                       Letters, 235 (#181)

	  	    See also RtMe 31-33 for a fascinating suggestion that certain compo-
	  	    nents of Tolkien's early philological studies may have contributed to
	  	    his later conception of the Shire.  Shippey has also suggested that
	  	    Tolkien's motivation in changing Gandalf's supper request in ch 1 of
	  	    _The Hobbit_ from "cold chicken and tomatoes" in the first edition to
	  	    "cold chicken and pickles" in the revised edition was linguistic: that
	  	    to Tolkien's extraordinarily sensitive ear "tomato" sounded out of
	  	    place in a country that was a mirror of English, since tomato only
	  	    entered the language in the sixteenth century and moreover originally
	  	    came from some Caribbean language.  Likewise, tobacco, used in _The
	  	    Hobbit_, was changed to "pipeweed", and "potatos" were usually spoken
	  	    of only by Sam, who called them "taters" (RtMe, 53-54; Annotated
	  	    Hobbit, 19).
	  	                      *            *            *

	  	        Finally, great care must be taken not to confound the idea of the
	  	    Shire's having been based on England with a concept found in Tolkien's
	  	    earliest writings, that Tol Eressea (Elvenhome) eventually *became*
	  	    England.  This appeared during his early work on the Book of Lost
	  	    Tales (which eventually evolved into the Silm).  Very probably it had
	  	    been supplanted even before he stopped work on the Lost Tales (1920)
	  	    (BoLT I, 22-27).  In any case, it had long since been abandoned by the
	  	    time LoTR was begun in 1937, and plays no part in the 'history' of
	  	    Middle-earth as presented in LotR, Silm, _The Hobbit_, etc.

	  	  References: FR, 11 (Prologue);
	  	              Letters, 230 (#178), 235 (#181), 250 (#190);
	  	              RtMe, 31-33 (2, "Survivals in the West"),
	  	                    53-54 (3, "Creative anachronisms");
	  	              BoLT I, 22-27 (I, "Commentary on _The Cottage of
	  	                    Lost Play_");
	  	              Annotated Hobbit, 19 (ch 1, note 7).

	  	  Contributors: WDBL, Wayne Hammond Jr, Bill Taylor


	  	  9) What were the changes made to _The Hobbit_ after _The Lord of the
	  	    Rings_ was written, and what motivated them?  [This question refers to
	  	    the major revisions made to the Gollum chapter, "Riddles in the Dark",
	  	    not to the multitude of minor changes made elsewhere.]

	  	        In the original 1937 edition of _The Hobbit_ Gollum was genuinely
	  	    willing to bet his ring on the riddle game, the deal being that Bilbo
	  	    would receive a "present" if he won.  Gollum in fact was dismayed when
	  	    he couldn't keep his promise because the ring was missing.  He showed
	  	    Bilbo the way out as an alternative, and they parted courteously.

	  	        As the writing of LotR progressed the nature of the Ring changed.
	  	    No longer a "convenient magical device", it had become an irresistable
	  	    power object, and Gollum's behavior now seemed inexplicable, indeed,
	  	    impossible.  In the rough drafts of the "Shadow of the Past" chapter
	  	    Gandalf was made to perform much squirming in an attempt to make it
	  	    appear credible, not wholly successfully.

	  	        Tolkien resolved the difficulty by re-writing the chapter into its
	  	    present form, in which Gollum had no intention whatsoever of giving up
	  	    the Ring but rather would show Bilbo the way out if he lost.  Also,
	  	    Gollum was made far more wretched, as befitted one enslaved and tor-
	  	    mented by the Ruling Ring.  At the same time, however, Bilbo's claim
	  	    to the Ring was seriously undercut.

	  	    [   Care must be taken when noting this last point.  There are two
	  	    issues involved, well summarized in the Prologue: "The Authorities, it
	  	    is true, differ whether this last question was a mere 'question' and
	  	    not a 'riddle' ... but all agree that, after accepting it and trying
	  	    to guess the answer, Gollum was bound by his promise" (FR, 21).  Thus,
	  	    it was Bilbo's winning of the game that was questionable.  Given that
	  	    he had in fact won, albeit on a technicality, he was fully entitled to
	  	    the prize, which, in the old version, was the ring.  In the new
	  	    version, however, he had no claim to the Ring at all, whether he had
	  	    won or not, because the Ring was not the stake of the game. ]

	  	        The textual situation thus reached was that there now existed two
	  	    versions of the episode.  Tolkien deftly made this circumstance part
	  	    of the story by suggesting that the first time around **Bilbo was
	  	    lying** (under the influence of the Ring) to strengthen his claim.
	  	    (Bilbo had written this version in his diary, which was "translated"
	  	    by Tolkien and published as "The Hobbit"; hence the error in the early
	  	    editions, later "corrected".)  This new sequence of events inside the
	  	    story is laid out clearly in "Of the Finding of the Ring" (Prologue)
	  	    and is taken for granted thereafter for the rest of the story (e.g. in
	  	    "The Shadow of the Past" and at the Council of Elrond).

	  	        _The Hobbit_ as now presented fits the new scenario remarkably
	  	    well, even though Tolkien, for quite sound literary reasons, left this
	  	    entire matter of Bilbo's dishonesty out (it was an entirely irrelevant
	  	    complication which would have thrown everything out of balance).  The
	  	    present attempt to step back and view the entire picture is made more
	  	    involved by the fact that there were two separate pieces of dishonesty
	  	    perpetrated by Bilbo.

	  	        The first, made explicit, was that when he initially told his
	  	    story to Gandalf and the Dwarves he left the ring out entirely -- this
	  	    no doubt was what inspired Gandalf to give Bilbo the "queer look from
	  	    under his bushy eyebrows" (H, 99).  Later, (after the spider episode)
	  	    he revealed that he had the Ring, and it must have been at this point
	  	    that he invented the rigamarole about "winning a present" (an incred-
	  	    ible action, given the circumstances).  There is, however, no hint in
	  	    the text of this second piece of dishonesty (as noted above, it would
	  	    have been a grave literary mistake).  Readers are therefore given no
	  	    indication that when "Balin ... insisted on having the Gollum story
	  	    ... told all over again, with the ring in its proper place" (H, 163)
	  	    that Bilbo didn't respond with the "true" story, exactly as described
	  	    in Ch V.  In this regard, "Of the Finding of the Ring" in the Prologue
	  	    is a necessary prelude to LotR.

	  	  References: Hobbit, 99 (Ch VI), 163 (Ch VIII),
	  	                      "Riddles in the Dark" (Ch V);
	  	              Annotated Hobbit, 104 (Ch VI, note 2), 176 (Ch VIII,
	  	                      note 11), 325-327 (Appendix A: the original
	  	                      version is given here);
	  	              FR, "Of the Finding of the Ring" (Prologue);
	  	              Biography, 203 (V, 2);
	  	              RtMe, 59-60 (3, "The Ring as 'Equalizer'");
	  	              The Return of the Shadow (HoMe VI), 75, 79-81, 84-87
	  	                      (First Phase, III), 261-265 (Second Phase, XV).

	  	  Contributors: WDBL, Wayne Hammond Jr



	  	  1) Were Hobbits a sub-group of Humans?

	  	        Yes, beyond question.  There were three statements to this effect.
	  	    The first, from the Prologue, is probably less definite because it was
	  	    intended to be the editor speaking.

	  	          It is plain indeed that 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.
	  	      But what exactly our relationship is can no longer be discovered.
	  	      The beginning of Hobbits lies far back in the Elder Days that are
	  	      now lost and forgotten.
	  	                                                         FR, 11 (Prologue)

	  	      The Hobbits are, of course, really meant to be a branch of the
	  	      specifically *human* race (not Elves or Dwarves) -- hence the two
	  	      kinds can dwell together (as at Bree), and are called just the Big
	  	      Folk and Little Folk.  They are entirely without non-human powers,
	  	      but are represented as being more in touch with 'nature' (the soil
	  	      and other living things, plants and animals), and abnormally, for
	  	      humans, free from ambition or greed of wealth.
	  	                                            Letters, 158 (footnote) (#131)

	  	      Firstborn, The.  Title of the Elves.  Translate.  ('Firstborn',
	  	          since the Elves appeared in the world before all other 'speaking
	  	          peoples', not only Men, but also Dwarves, of independent origin.
	  	          Hobbits are of course meant to be a special variety of the human
	  	                                          Guide, entry for "The Firstborn"

	  	  References: FR, 11 (Prologue, "On Hobbits");
	  	              Letters, 158 (footnote) (#131);
	  	              Guide, entry for "The Firstborn".

	  	  Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams


	  	  2) Did Hobbits have pointed ears?

	  	        Only slightly.  Tolkien described Bilbo thusly for purposes of
	  	    illustration in a letter to Houghton Mifflin (c. 1938):

	  	          I picture a fairly human figure, not a kind of 'fairy' rabbit as
	  	      some of my British reviewers seem to fancy: fattish in the stomach,
	  	      shortish in the leg.  A round, jovial face; ears only slightly
	  	      pointed and 'elvish'; hair short and curling (brown).  The feet
	  	      from the ankles down, covered with brown hairy fur.  Clothing: green
	  	      velvet breeches; red or yellow waistcoat; brown or green jacket;
	  	      gold (or brass) buttons; a dark green hood and cloak (belonging to
	  	      a dwarf).
	  	                                                        Letters, 35 (#27)

	  	    The Annotated Hobbit cites this letter and includes a reasonable
	  	    illustration based upon it.  [Note that Tolkien's use of the word
	  	    "elvish" here refers to the elfs of popular folklore, who were often
	  	    pictured with pointed ears.  The Elves of Middle-earth (except for
	  	    the Silvan Elves in The Hobbit) were at the time of this letter known
	  	    to only a few people.]

	  	  References: Letters, 35 (#27);
	  	              Annotated Hobbit, 10 (Ch I, note 2).

	  	  Contributor: WDBL


	  	  3) When was Bilbo and Frodo's Birthday?  To what date on our own
	  	    calendar does it correspond?

	  	        The date on the Shire calendar was September 22 (FR, 29).  Both
	  	    the different definitions of the months and the different correlation
	  	    of their calendar with the seasons (the summer solstice fell on Mid-
	  	    year's Day, the day between June and July, not on June 21 as on our
	  	    calendar (RK, 388 -- Appendix D)) must be Taken into account.  The
	  	    discrepancy in September is found to be 10 days, giving September 12
	  	    on our calendar as the equivalent date.  (This result has some signi-
	  	    ficance for the story.  Events occur ten days earlier in terms of the
	  	    seasons than the dates would suggest to us: when sleeping outdoors in
	  	    autumn, ten days can make a large difference.)

	  	        [In Appendix D Tolkien gives detailed information about long-term
	  	    inaccuracies in the Shire Reckoning, which they dealt with differently
	  	    than we do.  Based on this, it is possible to conclude that the SR at
	  	    the time of the story had accumulated either two days or four days of
	  	    error, depending on how careful the Hobbits were about making long-
	  	    term corrections, which we aren't told.  This result would make the
	  	    equivalent date either September 14 or September 16, but other consi-
	  	    derations raise questions about the accuracy of such calculations, so
	  	    September 12 is probably the most straightforward choice.]

	  	  References: FR, 29 (I,1);
	  	              RK, Appendix D.

	  	  Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams


	  	  4) Was Gollum a hobbit?

	  	        Yes, beyond all doubt.  Gandalf's opinion alone: "I guess they
	  	    were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors"
	  	    (FR, 62) should be sufficient to settle this, but it is confirmed in
	  	    several other places.  The Tale of Years (RK, Appendix B) has the
	  	    following entry for the year TA 2463: "About this time Deagol the
	  	    Stoor finds the One Ring, and is murdered by Smeagol." (RK, p. 368).
	  	    Since it was explained in the Prologue that Stoors were one of the
	  	    three branches of hobbits (FR, 12), it is clear that the compiler of
	  	    this entry, evidently either Merry and/or Pippin's heirs (FR, 24-25),
	  	    accepted this conclusion.

	  	        In "The Hunt for the Ring" (UT, Three, IV) it is told that Sauron
	  	    concluded from his interrogation of Gollum that Bilbo must have been
	  	    the same sort of creature (UT, 342) (indeed, Gandalf concluded the
	  	    same thing from his talks with Bilbo (FR, 63)).  The following passing
	  	    reference shows that the author of "The Hunt for the Ring" accepts
	  	    Gollum's hobbit origin: "Ultimately indomitable [Gollum] was, except
	  	    by death, as Sauron guessed, both from his halfling nature, and from
	  	    a cause which Sauron did not fully comprehend ..." (UT, 337).

	  	        Perhaps Gandalf's archaic diction contributed to the uncertainty.
	  	    When a reader suggested that perhaps '(1) Smeagol's people were *not*
	  	    "of hobbit-kind" as suggested by Gandalf', Tolkien dismissed the
	  	    suggestion.  He added:

	  	      With regard to (1) Gandalf certainly says at first 'I guess'
	  	      (FR, 62); but that is in accordance with his character and wisdom.
	  	      In more modern language he would have said 'I deduce', referring to
	  	      matters that had not come under his direct observation, but on which
	  	      he had formed a conclusion based on study. ...But he did not in fact
	  	      doubt his conclusion: 'It is true all the same, etc.' (FR, 63).
	  	                                                   Letters, 289-290 (#214)

	  	  References: FR, 12, (Prologue), 24-25 (Prologue, "Note on the Shire
	  	                  Records"), 62-63 (I,2);
	  	              RK, Appendix B;
	  	              UT, 337 (Three, IV, i), 342 (Three, IV, ii);
	  	              Letters, 289-290 (#214).

	  	  Contributors: WDBL, Craig Presson



	  	  1) Did Elves have pointed ears?

	  	        They were evidently somewhat pointed; more so that human ears, at
	  	    any rate.  The only place this matter is addressed directly is in The
	  	    Etymologies, published in _The Lost Road_.  There, the following two
	  	    entries for the element 'las' are given [Q == Quenya, N == Noldorin]:

	  	      Las (1) *lasse  'leaf': Q lasse, N lhass;  Q lasselanta  'leaf-fall,
	  	        autumn',  N lhasbelin (*lassekwelene),  cf. Q Narquelion [ KWEL ].
	  	        Lhasgalen  'Greenleaf' (Gnome name of Laurelin).  (Some think this
	  	        is related to the next and  *lasse  'ear'.  The Quendian ears were
	  	        more pointed and leaf-shaped than [human].)

	  	      Las (2)  'listen'.  N lhaw  'ears' (of one person), old dual  *lasu
	  	        -- whence singular  lhewig.  Q lar, lasta-  'listen';  lasta
	  	        'listening, hearing'  --  Lastalaika  'sharp-ears', a name,
	  	        cf. N  Lhathleg.  N  lhathron  'hearer, listener, eavesdropper'
	  	        ( < *la(n)sro-ndo ) ; lhathro  or  lhathrando  'listen in,
	  	                                                      (The Lost Road, 367)

	  	    Some have rejected the conclusion on the grounds that these entries
	  	    were written before LotR was begun and therefore may not apply to it.
	  	    It is thus significant that the element 'las' retained both its
	  	    meanings, as is shown by examples in LotR itself, such as Legolas
	  	    ('Green leaf') (TT, 106, 154), 'lassi' (== "leaves") in Galadriel's
	  	    Lament (FR, 394), and Amon Lhaw (Hill of Hearing) (FR, 410).

	  	  References: FR, 394, (II, 8), 410 (II,9);
	  	              TT, 106 (III,5), 154 (III,8);
	  	              Letters, 282 (#211);
	  	              The Lost Road (HoMe V), 367 ("The Etymologies").

	  	  Contributor: WDBL



	  	  1) Did Dwarf women have beards?

	  	        It seems they did.  In the note on Dwarf women in Appendix A it
	  	    was told:

	  	      It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no
	  	      more than a third of the whole people.  They seldom walk abroad
	  	      except at great need.  They are in voice and appearance, and in garb
	  	      if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes
	  	      and ears of other peoples cannot tell them apart.
	  	                                                           RK, 360 (App A)

	  	    Since beards were part of the appearance, not the garb, of dwarf-men,
	  	    we must conclude that dwarf-women did in fact have beards.

	  	        The question has been raised as to whether all dwarf *men* neces-
	  	    sarily had beards (the above conclusion depends upon this premise).
	  	    Insofar as the matter was mentioned at all, it was shown through
	  	    either direct statements or casual references that at least Thorin,
	  	    Dwalin, Balin, Fili, Kili, Gloin, Bombur, and Gimli all definitely had
	  	    beards (Hobbit, 20-22, 159, 186, 198; FR, 240; RK, 148); it is natural
	  	    to assume that the others did as well.  While no definite statement
	  	    about the beard status of dwarf-men in general was ever presented as a
	  	    matter of lore, a thought which reflects the assumed view was given to
	  	    Bilbo early in _The Hobbit_ : [as Bilbo rode along wearing Dwalin's
	  	    hood] "His only comfort was that he couldn't be mistaken for a dwarf,
	  	    as he had no beard." (Hobbit, 42)  In any event, the notion of bearded
	  	    dwarves seems an assumption with fairly firm foundations.

	  	  References: Hobbit, 20-22 (Ch I), 42 (Ch II), 159 (Ch VIII),
	  	                      186 (Ch X), 198 (Ch XI);
	  	              FR, 240 (II, 1);
	  	              RK, 148 (V, 9), 153 (V, 9), 360 (Appendix A, III).

	  	  Contributors: WDBL, Peter Hunt


	  	  ISTARI (Wizards)

	  	  1) Who were the Istari (Wizards)?

	  	        The Wizards were Maiar (spiritual beings of lower "rank" than the Valar)
	  	    sent to Middle-earth by the Valar in human form as Messengers to help in the
	  	    struggle against Sauron: the term "incarnate angel" is approximately correct.
	  	    Being incarnated limited their power, and intentionally so, because their
	  	    mission was to organize the resitance and to inspire the peoples of Middle-
	  	    earth to help themselves, not to do the job for them.  Their main temptation,
	  	    then, was to try to speed up the process by dominating other free wills -- a
	  	    principle reason for their mission was to prevent such actions by Sauron.

	  	        It was said that there were Five Wizards in the Order, but only three
	  	    came into the story:

	  	          -- Saruman ('Man of Skill') the White
	  	                    [Sindarin: Curunir ('Man of Skill'); Quenya: Curumo]

	  	          -- Gandalf ('Elf of the wand') the Grey (later the White)
	  	                    [Sindarin: Mithrandir ('Grey Pilgrim'); Quenya: Olorin]

	  	          -- Radagast the Brown    [Quenya: Aiwendel]

	  	    Gandalf was the only one who remained true to his missison, and in the end
	  	    succeeded in bringing about Sauron's defeat.  He was also the keeper of the
	  	    Elven Ring Narya, the Red Ring (the Ring of Fire).


	  	  2) Of the Five Wizards, only three came into the story.  Was anything known
	  	    about the other two?

	  	        Very little.  No names given them in Middle-earth are recorded, just the
	  	    title Ithryn Luin, 'The Blue Wizards' (for they were clad in sea-blue) (their
	  	    names in Valinor were Alatar and Pallando).  When the Istari first arrived in
	  	    Middle-earth, Saruman and the Blue Wizards journeyed into the east, but only
	  	    Saruman returned.  The Essay on the Istari says: "whether they remained in
	  	    the East, pursuing there the purposes for which they were sent; or perished;
	  	    or as some hold were ensnared by Sauron and became his servants, is not not
	  	    known." (UT, p. 390)

	  	        Tolkien speaking as himself was only barely more explicit.  In a letter
	  	    he said that he knew "nothing clearly" about the other two: 'I think they
	  	    went as emissaries to distant regions, East and South, far out of Numenorean
	  	    range: missionaries to enemy-occupied lands, as it were.  What success they
	  	    had I do not know; but I fear that they failed, as Saruman did, though
	  	    doubtless in different ways; and I suspect they were founders or beginners
	  	    of secret cults and "magic" traditions that outlasted the fall of Sauron.'
	  	    (Letters, p. 280).


	  	  3) What happened to Radagast?

	  	        Radagast was said to also have failed his mission, but it's tempting to
	  	    think that his "failure" was not as bad as that of the others.  The Essay on
	  	    the Istari: "Indeed, of all the Istari, one only remained faithful, and he
	  	    was the last-comer.  For Radagast, the fourth, became enamoured of the many
	  	    beasts and birds that dwelt in Middle-earth, and forsook Elves and Men, and
	  	    spent his days among the wild creatures." (UT, p. 390)

	  	        Radagast certainly never became evil.  The above quote suggests, however,
	  	    that his mission was not just to relate to wild creatures but also to build
	  	    bridges between them and Elves and Men.  He did, in fact, have his friends
	  	    the birds gather much information, but since they were reporting to Saruman
	  	    as the head of the Council that wasn't altogether helpful.  On the other
	  	    hand, it has often been suggested (though there is no direct textual evidence
	  	    of any kind) that the way Eagles kept showing up at opportune times may have
	  	    been partially his work.

	  	        We know nothing of what happened to Radagast after the end of the Third
	  	    Age.  It seems conceivable, though, given the more ambiguous nature of his
	  	    failing, that he might have been allowed back to Valinor eventually.



	  	  1) What was the relationship between Orcs and Goblins?

	  	        They are different names for the same race of creatures.  Of the two,
	  	    "Orc" is the correct one.  This has been a matter of widespread debate and
	  	    misunderstanding, mostly resulting from the usage in _The Hobbit_ (Tolkien
	  	    had changed his mind about it by LotR but the confusion in the earlier book
	  	    was made worse by inconsistant backwards modifications).  There are a couple
	  	    of statements in _The Hobbit_ which, if taken literally, suggest that Orcs
	  	    are a subset of goblins.  If we are to believe the indications from all other
	  	    areas of Tolkien's writing, this is not correct.  These are: some fairly
	  	    clear statements in letters, the evolution of his standard terminology (see
	  	    next paragraph), and the actual usage in LotR, all of which suggest that
	  	    "Orc" was the true name of the race.  (The pedigrees in  _Tolkien: The
	  	    Illustrated Encyclopedia_ are thoroughly innaccurate and undependable.)

	  	        What happened was this.  The creatures so referred to were invented along
	  	    with the rest of Tolkien's subcreation during the writing of the Book of Lost
	  	    Tales (the "pre-Silmarillion").  His usage in the early writing is somewhat
	  	    varied but the movement is away from "goblin" and towards "orc".  It was part
	  	    of a general trend away from the terminology of traditional folklore (he felt
	  	    that the familiar words would call up the wrong associations in the readers'
	  	    minds, since his creations were quite different in specific ways).  For the
	  	    same general reasons he began calling the Deep Elves "Noldor" rather than
	  	    "Gnomes", and avoided "Faerie" altogether.  (On the other hand, he was stuck
	  	    with "Wizards", an "imperfect" translation of Istari ('the Wise'), "Elves",
	  	    and "Dwarves"; he did say once that he would have preferred "dwarrow", which,
	  	    so he said, was more historically and linguistically correct, if he'd thought
	  	    of it in time ...)

	  	        In _The Hobbit_, which originally was unconnected with the Silmarillion,
	  	    he used the familiar term "goblin" for the benefit of modern readers.  By the
	  	    time of LotR, however, he'd decided that "goblin" wouldn't do -- Orcs were
	  	    not storybook goblins (see above).  (No doubt he also felt that "goblin",
	  	    being Romance-derived, had no place in a work based so much on Anglo-Saxon
	  	    and Northern traditions in general.)  Thus, in LotR, the proper name of the
	  	    race is "Orcs" (capital "O"), and that name is found in the index along with
	  	    Ents, Men, etc., while "goblin" is not in the index at all.  There are a
	  	    handful of examples of "goblin" being used (always with a small "g") but it
	  	    seems in these cases to be a kind of slang for Orcs.

	  	        Tolkien's explanation inside the story was that the "true" name of the
	  	    creatures was Orc (an anglicized version of Sindarin *Orch* , pl. *Yrch*).
	  	    As the "translator" of the ancient manuscripts, he "substituted" "Goblin" for
	  	    "Orch" when he translated Bilbo's diary, but for The Red Book he reverted to
	  	    a form of the ancient word.

	  	        [The actual source of the word "orc" is Beowulf: "orc-nass", translated
	  	    as "death-corpses".  It has nothing to do with cetaceans.]



	  	  1) Who or what was Tom Bombadil?

	  	        This question has been a widely debated, sometimes far too vehemantly.
	  	    Part of the difficulty is the complexity of Tom's literary history.  Tom was
	  	    originally a doll (with blue jacket and yellow boots) owned by Tolkien's son
	  	    Michael.  The doll inspired a story fragment, such as he often invented for
	  	    his children's amusement.  That fragment was in turn the basis for the poem
	  	    "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil", published in 1933, which also introduced
	  	    Goldberry, the barrow wights, and Old Man Willow (the poem was the source of
	  	    the events in Chapters 6 through 8 of Book I).  In a contemporary letter
	  	    (1937) Tolkien explained that Tom was meant to represent 'the spirit of the
	  	    (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside'.  (Letters, no 19)

	  	        Tolkien introduced Tom into LotR at a very early stage, when he still
	  	    thought of it as a sequel to _The Hobbit_, as opposed to _The Silmarillion_
	  	    (see LessFAQ, Tolkien, 1).  Tom fit the original (slightly childish) tone of
	  	    the early chapters (which resembled that of _The Hobbit_), but as the story
	  	    progressed it became higher in tone and darker in nature.  Tolkien later
	  	    claimed that he left Tom in he decided that however portrayed Tom provided
	  	    a necessary ingredient (see last paragraph).  Some very cogent reasons are
	  	    produced in a couple of wonderful letters  (Letters, nos 144 & 153).

	  	    As to Tom's nature, there are several schools of thought.

	  	      a) He was a Maia (the most common notion).  The reasoning here is plain:
	  	        given the Middle-earth cast of characters as we know it, this is the most
	  	        convenient pigeonhole in which to place him (and Goldberry as well) (most
	  	        of the other individuals in LotR with "mysterious" origins: Gandalf,
	  	        Sauron, Wizards, and Balrogs did in fact turn out to be Maiar).

	  	      b) He was Iluvatar.  The only support for this notion is on theological
	  	        grounds: some have interpreted Goldberry's statement to Frodo (F: "Who is
	  	        Tom Bombadil?"  G: "He is.") as a form of the Christian "I am that am",
	  	        which really could suggest the Creator.  Tolkien rejected this inter-
	  	        pretation quite firmly.

	  	      c) T.A. Shippey (in _The Road to Middle-earth_) and others have suggested
	  	        that Tom is a one-of-a-kind type.  This notion received indirect support
	  	        from Tolkien himself: "As a story, I think it is good that there should
	  	        be a lot of things unexplained (especially if an explanation actually
	  	        exists); ... And even in a mythical Age there amust be some enigmas, as
	  	        there always are.  Tom Bombadil is one (intentionally)."  (Letters,
	  	        p. 174)  There are scattered references to other entites which seem to
	  	        fall outside the usual picture.

	  	    Whichever of these is correct, Tom's function inside the story was evidently
	  	    to demonstrate a particular attitude towards control and power.  "The story
	  	    is cast in terms of a good side, and a bad side, beauty against ruthless
	  	    ugliness, tyranny against kingship, moderated freedom against compulsion that
	  	    has long lost any object save mere power, and so on; but both sides in some
	  	    degree, conservative or destructive, want a measure of control.  But if you
	  	    have, as it were taken 'a vow of poverty', renounced control, and take delight
	  	    in things for themselves without reference to yourself, watching, observing,
	  	    and to some extent knowing, then the question of the rights and wrongs of
	  	    power and control might become utterly meaningless to you, and the means of
	  	    power quite valueless." (_Letters_, p. 178).  Tom represented "Botany and
	  	    Zoology (as sciences) and Poetry as opposed to Cattle-breeding and Agriculture
	  	    and practicality." (Letters, p. 179).


	  	  2) What became of the Entwives?

	  	        No definite answer was given to this question within the story.
	  	    However, Tolkien did comment on the matter in two letters, and while
	  	    he was careful to say "I think" and "I do not know", nevertheless the
	  	    tone of these comments was on the whole pessemistic.  Moreover, he
	  	    doesn't seem to have changed his mind over time.  The following was
	  	    written in 1954 (in fact before the publication of LotR):

	  	      What happened to them is not resolved in this book. ... I think that
	  	      in fact the Entwives had disappeared for good, being destroyed with
	  	      their gardens in the War of the Last Alliance (Second Age 3429-3441)
	  	      when Sauron pursued a scorched earth policy and burned their land
	  	      against the advance of the Allies down the Anduin.  They survived
	  	      only in the 'agriculture' transmitted to Men (and Hobbits).  Some,
	  	      of course, may have fled east, or even have become enslaved: tyrants
	  	      even in such tales must have an economic and agricultural background
	  	      to their soldiers and metal-workers.  If any survived so, they would
	  	      indeed be far estranged from the Ents, and any rapprochement would
	  	      be difficult -- unless experience of industrialized and militarized
	  	      agriculture had made them a little more anarchic.  I hope so.  I
	  	      don't know.
	  	                                                      Letters, 179 (#144)

	  	    Note that the above reference to a "scorched earth policy" by Sauron
	  	    makes the destruction of the Entwives' land seem a much more serious
	  	    and deliberate affair than was apparent from the main story, in which
	  	    Treebeard merely said that "war had passed over it" (TT, 79 (III, 4)).

	  	    The following was written in 1972, the last year of Tolkien's life:

	  	      As for the Entwives: I do not know. ... But I think in TT, 80-81 it
	  	      is plain that there would be for the Ents no re-union in 'history'
	  	      -- but Ents and their wives being rational creatures would find some
	  	      'earthly paradise' until the end of this world: beyond which the
	  	      wisdom neither of Elves nor Ents could see.  Though maybe they
	  	      shared the hope of Aragorn that they were 'not bound for ever to the
	  	      circles of the world and beyond them is more than memory.' ....
	  	                                                       Letters, 419 (#338)

	  	     [ The reference to TT 80-81 is to the song of the Ent and the
	  	       Ent-wife, as recited to Merry and Pippin by Treebeard; the speech
	  	       by Aragorn which Tolkien quotes is from RK, 344 (Appendix A). ]

	  	        While the above comments do not sound hopeful, there nevertheless
	  	    remains the unresolved mystery of the conversation between Sam Gamgee
	  	    and Ted Sandyman in The Green Dragon.  It took place during the second
	  	    chapter of FR and has been pointed to by many as possible evidence of
	  	    the Entwives' survival:

	  	          'All right', said Sam, laughing with the rest.  'But what about
	  	      these Tree-men, these giants, as you might call them?  They do say
	  	      that one bigger than a tree was seen up away beyond the North Moors
	  	      not long back.'
	  	          'Who's *they*?'
	  	          'My cousin Hal for one.  He works for Mr. Boffin at Overhill and
	  	      goes up to the Northfarthing for the hunting.  He *saw* one.'
	  	          'Says he did, perhaps.  Your Hal's always saying that he's seen
	  	      things; and maybe he sees things that ain't there.'
	  	          'But this one was as big as an elm tree, and walking -- walking
	  	      seven yards to a stride, if it was an inch.'
	  	          'Then I bet it wasn't an inch.  What he saw *was* an elm tree,
	  	      as like as not.'
	  	          'But this one was *walking*, I tell you; and there ain't no elm
	  	      tree on the North Moors.'
	  	          'Then Hal can't have seen one', said Ted.
	  	                                                           FR 53-54 (I, 2)

	  	        Now, this conversation takes place early in the story, when its
	  	    tone was still the "children's story" ambience of _The Hobbit_ (see
	  	    LessFAQ, Tolkien, 1).  When it is first read the natural reaction is
	  	    to accept it as "more of the same" (i.e. another miscellaneous "fairy-
	  	    story" matter).  However, once one has learned about the Ents it is
	  	    impossible to reread it without thinking of them.  This impression is
	  	    strengthened by Treebeard's own words to Merry and Pippin:

	  	      He made them describe the Shire and its country over and over again.
	  	      He said an odd thing at this point.  'You never see any, hm, any
	  	      Ents round there, do you?' he asked.  'Well, not Ents, *Entwives* I
	  	      should really say.'
	  	          '*Entwives*?' said Pippin.  'Are they like you at all?'
	  	          'Yes, hm, well no: I do not really know now', said Treebeard
	  	      thoughtfully.  'But they would like your country, so I just
	  	                                                           TT, 75 (III, 4)

	  	        Taken together, these two conversations make the notion that what
	  	    Halfast saw was an Entwife seem at least plausible.  However, as far
	  	    as can be determined Tolkien never explicitly connected the matter
	  	    with the Entwives, indeed never mentioned it at all.  So we are left
	  	    to speculate.  (The fact that a creature described as being "as big as
	  	    an elm tree" couldn't be an Ent doesn't prove anything one way or the
	  	    other.  It could indicate that the story is just a fabrication by a
	  	    fanciful hobbit, but it is equally possible that a fourteen foot tall
	  	    Ent might look gigantic to an unprepared hobbit and that the story was
	  	    exaggerated in the telling.)

	  	        Nor is textual analysis helpful.  Tolkien himself, in a discussion
	  	    of his methods of invention, mentioned that the Treebeard adventure
	  	    was wholly unplanned until he came to that place in the story:

	  	      I have long ceased to *invent* ... : I wait till I seem to know what
	  	      really happened.  Or till it writes itself.  Thus, though I knew for
	  	      years that Frodo would run into a tree-adventure somewhere far down
	  	      the Great River, I have no recollection of inventing Ents.  I came
	  	      at last to the point, and wrote the 'Treebeard' chapter without any
	  	      recollection of any previous thought: just as it now is.  And then I
	  	      saw that, of course, it had not happened to Frodo at all.
	  	                                                       Letters, 231 (#180)

	  	        The rough drafts in HoMe confirm that Sam and Ted's conversation
	  	    was composed long before Ents ever entered the story (Return of the
	  	    Shadow, 253-254; Treason, 411-414).  Thus, Tolkien could not have had
	  	    them in mind when he wrote it, and it must indeed have originally been
	  	    a random, vaguely fantastic element.  On the other hand, as he said of
	  	    Tom Bombadil, who also entered the story early: "I would not have left
	  	    him in if he did not have some kind of function." (Letters, 178)  The
	  	    implication is clear: everything in the early chapters which was
	  	    allowed to remain was left in for a reason.  When he did so with the
	  	    Sam/Ted conversation he must have known how suggestive it would be.
	  	    But how it fits in with the darker speculations expressed in his
	  	    letters is not clear (unless he changed his mind later).

	  	        This may be a case of Tolkien's emotions being in conflict with
	  	    his thoughts.  T.A. Shippey has noted that "he was in minor matters
	  	    soft-hearted" (RtMe, 173).  (Thus, Bill the pony escapes, Shadowfax
	  	    is allowed to go into the West with Gandalf, and in the late-written
	  	    narratives of UT Isildur is shown using the Ring far more reluctantly
	  	    than the Council of Elrond would suggest (UT, 271-285) and a way is
	  	    contrived so that Galadriel might be absolved from all guilt in the
	  	    crimes of Feanor (UT, 231-233)).  It may be that, lover of trees that
	  	    he was, Tolkien wished to preserve at least the hope that the Ents
	  	    and Entwives might find each other and the race continue.  But the
	  	    unwelcome conclusions from what he elsewhere called "the logic of the
	  	    story" must have proven inescapable.

	  	  References: Letters, 178-179 (# 144), 231 (#180), 419 (#338);
	  	              FR 53-54 (I, 2);
	  	              TT, 75 (III, 4), 79 (III, 4), 80-81 (III,4);
	  	              RK, 344 (Appendix A, I, v, "The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen");
	  	              UT, 271-285 (Three, I), 231-233 (Two, IV);
	  	              Return of the Shadow (HoMe VI), 253-254 (Second Phase, XV);
	  	              The Treason of Isengard, 411-414 (Ch XXII);
	  	              RtMe, 173 (7, "The Dangers of Going on").

	  	  Contributors: WDBL, Paul Adams, Mark Gordon
	  	  Send corrections/additions to the FAQ Maintainer:

This site is maintained and updated by fans of The Lord of the Rings, it is non-profit making, non-income taking, and is in no way affiliated with Tolkien Enterprises or the Tolkien Estate. Copyrights and trademarks for the books, films, articles, and other promotional materials are held by their respective owners and their use is allowed under the Fair Use Clause of the Copyright Law.