Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Study Questions

The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again Questions

  1. Tolkien's work has been criticized for having basically no major women characters (except maybe Luthien Tinuviel, in the Silmarillion, which was published after Tolkien's death). This is particularly true in The Hobbit, where the only woman mentioned by name is Bilbo's mother, Belladonna Took. How might Tolkien's tone and content change if he included a few lady hobbits, elves, or dwarves in this adventure? Why do you think he didn't include them?
  2. In his two-volume book The History of the Hobbit, John Rateliff discusses Tolkien's failed efforts to revise The Hobbit to fit the tone and style of The Lord of the Rings in 1960. How does our current version of The Hobbit differ from Tolkien's later works? What effect does The Hobbit's style have on your reading experience of the novel?
  3. New Line's planned film of The Hobbit has hit some definite production snags, what with Guillermo del Toro (director of Hellboy II and Pan's Labyrinth) leaving the project (source). So we're still keeping our fingers crossed that the film will actually be made. But here's our question: New Line will be splitting the story of The Hobbit into two full-length features. Where do you think they'll make the cut? If you were producing a film of The Hobbit, would you spread it over more than one film? What might be some of the advantages and disadvantages of trying to film the complete story of The Hobbit in two movies?
  4. Although The Hobbit has stayed alive in popular culture for many decades, it's much older than any of the other bestsellers on our list here at Shmoop. After all, the first edition appeared over seventy years ago! Are there elements of The Hobbit that seem dated, odd, or old-fashioned to you? Does The Hobbit read differently from more contemporary fantasy novels like the Harry Potter novels or Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series?
  5. Tolkien's goblins and elves seem to embody evil and good. It would appear to be impossible for a goblin to be good or an elf, evil. What do you think of the morals of this concept? Should genetics really have so much power over individual morality?
  6. What elements of Tolkien's Middle-earth seem most popular in the fantasy literature that has grown up after Tolkien? How much of Tolkien's world would still look familiar to you if you had never read The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings?

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