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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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1. Explore the elements of the old traditions of mythology,
legends, and folklore that Tolkien drew on. Then discuss his
changes to make these traditions acceptable to a modern

2. Around the time that Tolkien was writing The Lord of the
Rings, he also wrote a lecture, "On Fairy-stories," which can be
found under "Tree and Leaf" in The Tolkien Reader (New
York: Ballantine Books, 1966). Discuss the ideas he presents in
that lecture, and show how he applied them to The Lord of the

3. Discuss the ways in which The Hobbit seems designed for
children. Compare The Hobbit to a children's classic, such as
The Wind in the Willows, or to another book supposedly
written for children but also enjoyed by adults, such as Alice in

4. Although Tolkien isn't the first writer of fantasy novels, he
is often considered the "father of fantasy." Review the history
of the fantasy novel, and examine Tolkien's contributions to the

5. Discuss similarities between The Hobbit and The Lord of
the Rings. In what ways may The Lord of the Rings be said to
be an expanded version of The Hobbit? In what ways is it more
than just an elaborated version of The Hobbit's plot?


1. Discuss elements of Christianity that appear in the trilogy.
Also discuss the belief of some readers that The Lord of the
Rings is a Christian allegory. Tell whether or not you agree,
and why.

2. While he was writing his books, Tolkien read them aloud to
a group of friends called the Inklings. Two other authors of
fantasy also belonged to the Inklings, C. S. Lewis and Charles
Williams. Pick a fantasy novel by one of these authors and
compare it with Tolkien's work. How are they similar, and how
are they different? Point out where you think the authors may
have influenced each others' works.

3. In what ways did Tolkien's life influence his books?


1. Compare the characters of Frodo and Bilbo. Then discuss
the significance of the differences between the two characters.

2. The different races in The Hobbit and The Lord of the
Rings each have their own "personalities." Choose three of
these races, and briefly describe their characteristics. Be sure to
include at least one strength and one weakness for each race.
Then compare and contrast the three races.

3. Choose two of Tolkien's evil characters and show how they
fit into his concept of evil. Next, discuss how Tolkien's ideas
about evil can be applied to events in the world today.

4. Compare and contrast the characters of Frodo and Aragorn
as they develop through the course of The Lord of the Rings.

5. It has been commented that Tolkien's books are written in
such a way as to invite comparisons between characters.
Choose two characters and show how Tolkien draws
comparisons between them. Discuss the implications of these

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The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes

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