So my younger brother (he’s a teenager, but I dubbed him ‘Kiddo’ years ago) is doing a book report on The Hobbit. He told us last week that his plan was to do a diorama, but he had no specific idea in mind. So I started throwing out suggestions. The great thing about The Hobbit is that it has plenty of things that are perfect for dioramas. In fact, we got so many ideas that… well… we decided, why pick just one? We kinda got excited (‘we’ meaning myself, the brother in question, and a few of my sisters). So currently, we have it worked so that we have a mulit-scened diorama. We have three boxes back to back (as close as you can get to ‘back-to-back’ with three boxes), for Bilbo’s house, Gollum’s cave, and Smaug’s treasure hoarde. If we’re really on top of things, we’ll figure out how to set up a sort of forrest on top of the boxes, for some of the important scenes above ground. We’ve already collected a toy bear, and a couple of those plastic spider rings, just in case we find out a way to stick them in. We also have a toy barrel to set somewhere for Bilbo. It’s been a fun project. Why have none of my book reports been this awesome?
I’ve read The Hobbit twice. The first time I read it… I wasn’t so into it. I mean, it was all well and good, I suppose, but not quite what I wanted. Now that I think about it, maybe it was the lack of girls. I like my books to have at least a little bit of romance in them, and I always enjoy witty banter if I can get it. I’m generally very character oriented. But there was something else. I remember reading the killing of Smaug, and going “Wait, that’s it?!” And then there were still all those pages afterwards. It felt so incredibly… anti-climatic. You would think that killing the dragon would be the big finish! Well, it wasn’t, and it threw me for a loop.
Then I read it for my Homer to Tolkien class, and I liked it much better the second time through. I knew what to expect for the end, so that didn’t throw me off, and I was reading it while we were learning about the Heroic Journey. That was one of the things I especially loved about my first Humanities class, learning about Joseph Campbell’s Heoric Journey Monomyth. It’s so wonderful, because you can see it in your average entertainment, it’s not some obscure concept that only literary gurus can see and decipher. Shakespeare can challenge some, but if it’s taught right then everybody can see elements of the Heroic Journey whatever movie they choose to watch that Saturday night.
But that was a side note. The point is that when I read it, I remembered that one of the things that I liked about Bilbo is that he really wasn’t the adventuring type. He loved all the comforts in life; a chair, a fire, and regular meals. I could connect with that. It made Bilbo seem more real to me. So, if we thought about this from the perspective of the Heoroic Journey, we could say that Bilbo was tempted to refuse the call because he liked to be comfortable. And if he had chosen to stay within the lines of what was comfortable, he never would have gone on the journey. My Humanties teacher once said, “The Heroic Journey is not the journey the hero makes, it is the journey a person makes to become a hero.” And then there is of course what everybody says, growth doesn’t come in one’s comfort zone. That, for me, was the ‘insight’ that I gained from reading The Hobbit again (see, that particular Humanities teacher was really big into the idea of rereading a piece of literature, or relistening to a peice of music, and to gain insight, so that you can become truely educated instead of merely ‘schooled. He was a great teacher, very animated, and he truely loved what he was teaching).