Classic Novel Essay

A classic is a novel that is of great quality, timeless, renowned, proper, and has a style that is both reserved and sophisticated. The Hobbit, a classic novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, is a story about a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins who finds himself unexpectedly as the fourteenth member and burglar of an adventuring party of Dwarves attempting to reclaim their stolen treasure. During the novel, the party finds themselves fighting every sort of antagonist - from goblins, ogres, and giant spiders to greedy forest Elves. In the end, the party is forced to form a union with their former enemies to defeat a large group of goblins that threaten the existence of everyone in the Battle of the Five Armies. The Hobbit is considered a classic because it fits into the description of three of the five elements of a classic novel: universality; effective language; and morality/social issues.

This novel has universality because it truly could take place in any variety of cultures or times of our world. This is because in any culture there will be a person who is experiencing confusion over whether or not to conform to everything they've been taught or rebel against it, and possibly be disrespected, as Bilbo was upon his return to Hobbiton, for breaking tradition. It is just as easily said that this occurrence could take place in any time - there will always be a black sheep in a family, whether one is looking at the Middle-Ages (to which the world of Middle-Earth closely resembles), our current time (in which many people find themselves rebelling against customs of their family and society), or the future (which, considering our past, will hold similar events). Moreover, a member any culture can easily relate to this story because they need no background information to understand the story. E.g., with another book a Canadian citizen may have a hard imagining or relating to a story because it takes place in other country, such as India, because of the different culture and customs - with The Hobbit, everyone who reads it has the same amount of knowledge about Middle-Earth; anything they need to know for comprehension, Tolkien diligently explains.

The Hobbit has effective language by the way Tolkien wonderfully describes all events and occurrences, and seems to make the dialogue pour out from the page, making the reader able to completely visualize everything that the protagonists are dragged through to reach their goals and dreams. Tolkien's writing does match with the time during which it was written (late 1920's to early 1930's), as the reader can tell by the presence of phrases such as "for ever" instead of the form of our time "forever." The following is an example Tolkien uses a large range of similes and metaphors (excerpted from The Hobbit, page 3): "It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle of it." Tolkien also has a very personal way of writing - while it may be presumed as the third person, because of, for the most part, the lack of "I" out of dialogue and thoughts, he often will suddenly say to the reader something like (excerpted from The Hobbit, page 5) "If you had heard only a quarter of the what I have heard about him, and I have heard very little of all there is to hear, you would be prepared for any sort of a remarkable tale." This completely catches the reader off guard and once again restores a feeling of closeness between the author and the reader, somewhat like having the storyteller standing directly in front of the reader - even years and years after the book was originally published in 1937.

Morality/social issues are another element The Hobbit has because of its morality - the traditional story of the forces of Good vs. the forces of Evil - and its portrayal of disillusionment of society. The morality of The Hobbit is shown through the protagonists actions of Good - their attempt to retrieve their stolen treasure, while killing the dragon Smaug, a creature that has installed decades of misery, both through the siege laid on Dwarves' former home, the Lonely Mountain, and through the constant raids on nearby villages and their people, including the Men of the Lake-town. The Evil, which opposes the Good and is defeated, is shown through the dragon Smaug, as it is with the other terrible creatures the adventurers face, such as goblins, Wargs, ogres, giant spiders, etc. The Evil is also shown, albeit more subtly, through the feeling of greed that led some of the fourteen adventurers, including their Dwarven leader, Thorin Oakenshield, to the Lonely Mountain. His greed for the Arkenstone of Thrain ends his relationship with Bilbo, which lasts until he calls for Bilbo while on his deathbed, and asks for his forgiveness, realizing the lack of importance of silver and gold, and the true value of the friendship of his companions. Tolkien also explores Bilbo's disillusionment with society in The Hobbit. This begins when Bilbo reveals his thoughts on adventuring in an early talk with Gandalf (excerpted from The Hobbit, page 7): "'Not the Gandalf who was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures?'" While at the beginning of adventures, Bilbo is reluctant to be audacious like his companions, he begins to find the Tookish side of him, the side he inherited from his mother, Belladonna Took, who was born into a family who were constantly going on quests. Soon into their journey, Bilbo finds himself going all out, doing things he would never allow himself to do in Hobbiton - things he didn't know he could do. By the end of his voyages, a year after he originally left his hobbit-hole, he is completely changed, not at all the quiet and proper hobbit he was once, but a fun and quick-thinking one, as even Gandalf comments when their roads fork away from the other. Of course, once he comes home, being "Presumed Dead" because of his abrupt disappearance, most of the hobbits in Hobbiton label him as "queer", save the Took family, and no longer respect him, because of their traditional beliefs that proper hobbits are not adventurers. However, Bilbo couldn't be happier: although he lost his good reputation with the residents of Hobbiton, he was, by then, an honoured friend of both Eleven and Dwarven kind, and began to write and tell the story of his miraculous adventures in the Far East - a truly joyful outcast of hobbit society.

The Hobbit fits the definition of a classic, because it uses three of the five elements of a classic novel: universality, effective language, and morality/social issues. It fits the universality element because the events of The Hobbit are able to take place in any sort of culture because of the existence of outcasts everywhere. It fits the effective language element of a classic novel because of the author's, J. R. R. Tolkien, use of common language of the time, metaphors and similes, and a variety of writing techniques that effectively draw the reader into his story. The Hobbit fits the classic element of morality/social issues because of the use of a Good vs. Evil, channelled through the protagonists, the members of the adventuring party, and the antagonists, the different creatures of darkness that attempt to end their lives, and because of Bilbo's disillusionment of hobbit society - the importance of traditions and being a respectable citizen. These different factors which cause The Hobbit to be considered a classic novel.