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The Hobbit

The Hobbit

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Published by catmahaffey

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Published by: catmahaffey on Feb 26, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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MahaffeySean Mahaffey
The Hobbit 
October 4, 2009Word Count: 591Religious Symbolism in:
The Hobbit The Hobbit 
, by J.R.R Tolkien, contains many different literary elements, but themost prominent of them all is that it is an allegory. The entire book is full of symbols thatall point back to one thing. In the world conceived by Tolkien, magic is a substitute for religion. The people in this world worship sorcery and monsters.Every religion has a god or superior being of some sort. In this book, it is a wizardnamed Gandalf. This is true for many reasons. First, he seems to appear only whenneeded and vanishes without warning when he is not. This is a characteristic he shareswith a savior. This is best expressed when he appears seemingly out of nowhere andsaves Bilbo and the Dwarves from some hungry Trolls (Tolkien 39-41). Which leads meto my next reason; he only helps the good guys. Nowhere in the book is he seen helpinganyone who could remotely be considered “bad.” Furthermore, he helps only those whoare good by means of his magic, which is always some sort of flash or light, and light is asymbol for good or purity. This is proved when the Dwarves are once again attacked, thistime by Goblins. Gandalf kills some of these Goblins with a flash of bright light. Thenhelps the Dwarves escape by providing light to see in the tunnels (60-65). These elements point back to the fact that Gandalf is a savior or god of some sort.In every religion, there is someone or something that opposes civilized life or good in some way. In this book, it is the many monsters that have an undying hate for the1
Mahaffey“good guys.” The first ones encountered in this book are Trolls, who love the taste of Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, etc., which proves their opposition to “good.” Also, they turn todust if they are exposed to light, which is a symbol for good in this book (35-41). WhileTrolls may be the first monsters, they are not the only ones. There are also cave dwellingGoblins who, on many occasions, attack the humans and have gone to war with theDwarves several times (102). They also thrive in the dark and avoid the sunlight at allcosts (96). All the monsters in this book show the same characteristics as the Goblins andTrolls. This shows that the monsters in this book are symbols for “demons.”The last thing missing from this “magic” religion is an ultimate evil of some sort,some opposing force that is as strong if not stronger than Gandalf. That opposing force inthis book is Smaug. There are many characteristics about Smaug that are evil. He cold- bloodedly killed an entire city of Dwarves and stole their treasure (23-24). Furthermore,he is tricky and seems to even be able to put thoughts into people’s heads(225). He does just that in a conversation with Bilbo in his cave. Smaug is nearly immortal(23) and veryhard to kill(226-227). His very name represents poison and evil. All these things makehim the perfect opposite of good.In conclusion, this book is an allegory which represents religion. Almosteverything in
The Hobbit 
can be related back to some aspect of religion, be it good, evil,or neither. Gandalf symbolizes goodness and purity in all aspects, while the bad side ismade up of monsters or demons, Smaug being the greatest of them all. It is for all thesereasons that this book was challenged; it was perceived as an attack on religion.2

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