Happy Hobbit Day! Have a Post Re-read Retrospective

I just finished re-reading The Hobbit yesterday (just as a refresher before the first movie this winter). It’s sadly been several years since I last traveled with thirteen dwarves and a burglar to the Lonely Mountain, so I figured it was time. And it’s interesting how different it is reading it as a sort-of-adult, and how much of it is like coming home.

It’s been so long since I’ve thought on Middle Earth, and on The Hobbit especially, that a lot of it was new again to me. Spiders in Mirkwood, the men of Esgaroth, Beorn, the Arkenstone, and the fact that no one in the original fourteen has anything to do with actually killing Smaug.

I’d also never realized how totally sassy Bilbo Baggins is. By the end of the journey he takes no crap from anyone about anything, and it’s kind of hilarious. I just have this mental image now of Martin Freeman snapping in a circle at Thorin.

And although I’ve always known that no story is perfect, and although I’ve always found The Hobbit a little too narrator-driven and lacking in some continuity between it and the trilogy (the elves of Rivendell especially are more mischevious and jolly than stern and regal; almost all the animals talk, etc.) it’s interesting to look at the story from a more feminist perspective for the first time.

Did you know there’s not a single female character in The Hobbit?

Nope, not one. It isn’t even a case of having a token damsel, or a love interest waiting at home. The Hobbit lacks any of the lovely Arwens (for Arwen is nowhere near as kickass in the novels), the demure Rosie Cottons, or the willful and strong Eowyns, or the powerful Galadriels of the trilogy. Just no ladies.

So even though I am usually grumpy about people tweaking my favorite stories when they’re adapted for film, I’m actually happy that we’ll see Galadriel in the upcoming movie. I’m also happy that Peter Jackson has added a female elven lieutenant as an original character in Elven-king Thranduil’s forces. I look forward to seeing what he does with the characters.

I don’t usually like to re-read books too close to their movie adaptations. I think that doing so usually just sets up the reader to be disappointed, because the movies will never be the same as the books. However, I encourage readers to glance back through their Hobbitses before seeing the movie in December—Peter Jackson has always been a stunning exception to the novel-to-movie adaptation rule, and I can’t wait to see what he does with this fantasy classic.