Tolkien’s description of the Hobbits provides a humorous picture of these
The opening Chapters are designed to project the cozy life of these
Halflings as they till the earth and enjoy frequent parties involving large quantities of food and drink.
The whole point of the forthcoming battles and conflict against Sauron is to
maintain a world where such as Hobbits can live out their lives in peace. In fact, the Rangers, led by Aragorn, have protected unknown to the Hobbits, their way of life up until now.
So, right at the start, we have a humorous view of the Hobbits. Once
Frodo and his companions have left the Shire, they meet many hazards, and they enjoy a brief respite at the Prancing Pony in Bree, another Hobbit stronghold.
The four Hobbits are quick to revert back to their party-going ways and they enjoy reveling with the locals in the Inn. Frodo cannot resist, no doubt with the assistance of alcohol, getting up onto a table and singing a song. It is Tolkien’s brilliant play on the Nursery Rhyme “Hey Diddle, Diddle” ''.
“There is an inn, a merry old inn
Beneath an old gray hill
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
One night to drink his fill.
The ostler has a tipsy cat
That plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he runs his bow,
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
Now sawing in the middle. '''''
With a ping and a pong the fiddle strings broke!
The cow jumped over the moon,
And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
With the silver Sunday spoon.”
.. that provides a comic break amidst the trials that the Hobbits have faced.
Of course Frodo gets so carried away that he cannot resist using the Ring to
disappear in front of the crowd gathered there.
To get the full effect, the poem should be read in its entirety.
Chapters 4 and 5 of Book 2 provide the reader with a slow increase in
tension as the Company of the Ring pass through the Mines of Moria and are forced into conflict with Orcs, Cave Trolls and then the Balrog.
Tolkien is also at his descriptive best in these Chapters.
The Company has been forced to take this route due to the supernatural weather on the mountain passes. When they arrive at the door to the mines, they require a password in order to cause the door to open. The door’s threshold is next to a lake in which there is a many-tentacled creature. Just as they manage to release the door, the creature attacks and although they gain entrance to the mines, they lose their beasts of burden and the doors are sealed and they cannot return that way.
The mines are huge and Gandalf is not sure of the correct way.
They also know that a party of Dwarves entered these mines and were never heard of again. As they travel further, they hear a tom-tom-tom beat from deep below them. Eventually, the Company comes across the bones of the Dwarves and the remnants of their diary, which provides ominous reading. It is clear that the room that they are in was the scene of their last battle, and now suddenly, the Company is caught in the same trap.
The reader has some inkling of what an Orc is, but a Cave Troll is a new
creature, and Tolkien provides a great description '..
“There was a blow on the door that made it quiver; and then it began to
grind slowly open''.a huge arm and shoulder with a dark skin of greenish scales was thrust through the widening gap.
Then a great flat toeless foot was forced through below. Boromir leaped forward and hewed at the arm with all his might; but his sword rang and glanced aside and fell from his shaken hand. The blade was notched. '''. Frodo felt a hot wrath blaze up in his heart. He stooped and stabbed with Sting (his sword) at the hideous foot. There was a bellow, and the foot jerked back nearly wrenching Sting from Frodo’s arm. Black drops dripped from the blade and smoked on the floor.”
Again the Troll attacked together with a number of large Orcs, and they
burst in. Some were slain by arrows from Legolas’ bow, and Gimli struck lethally with his axe, but they were outnumbered. Frodo was hit with a lance and thrown against the wall.
Aragorn picked him up assuming he was dead, and the Company made a hasty exit through the other door. Gandalf sealed the door with a spell, and the Company fled away down the stairs. Frodo told Aragorn that he was able to run, and Aragorn nearly dropped him with surprise. Frodo had been saved by Bilbo’s gift. Underneath his clothes he wears a waistcoat made out of the finest mithril.
The book is littered with scenes like this, which provide authenticity to
the action, and help fuel the reader’s imagination.
Part of the tension is released with this climax, but it is soon piled on
again as the reader realizes that there is a further evil to be faced in this place.
Gandalf and the Company are confronted with the Balrog on the Bridge of
Khazad-Dum, the only exit. The tension is fully released, but at the cost of Gandalf’s life.