The Hobbit - The Unexpected Journey of Fantasy
December 13, 2012
The Hobbit is going to be released in theaters this week, and many fans are very excited. It got me to thinking about how the view of fantasy has changed so much over the years. There was a time when most people considered fantasy to be primarily for children, and there really was not much quality fantasy being created for adults. Most were simply versions of myths and legends that had been passed down for generations, like Beowulf or King Arthur. That is certainly not the case now, and I think that the person we really have to thank for this is J.R.R. Tolkien.
While there had been very successful and innovated fantasy stories before him, like Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz, Tolkien was the first to create realms that were so detailed they really felt like they existed. The world of Middle-Earth is so finely crafted that it even has its own complete language (Elvish) and history. Never before had such care been taken to make sure that the setting in which a fantasy adventure took place looked and felt as real as our world.
Today, we are used to very detailed fantasy worlds, but in Tolkien’s time, this was rare. Even more extraordinary, however, was the way Tolkien was able to create characters that felt relatable, even if they had pointed ears or Hobbit feet. We truly feel for Bilbo the Hobbit who secretly longs to leave his predictable life for adventures that no self-respecting Hobbit would ever undertake. And the corruption of Gollum can be seen as a reflection of the greed that can take over anyone’s life.
The world, of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were always meant to be an allegory of our own modern society and everything that we may have lost through industrialization and war. There was a time when this kind of comment could only be made in realistic stories set in our own world, but Tolkien proved that you can send a powerful message in an otherworldly setting with characters that fascinate at the same time. Not to mention a fun rip-roaring adventure as well.
So if you have never actually read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, or much fantasy at all, now might be a good time to take the plunge. MCPL has fantasy that ranges from the romantic and humorous to the serious and thoughtful. In fact, there truly is something for everyone in fantasy today. So make sure to remember this genre is no longer just for children.