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Old 10-27-2015, 09:10 AM   #11
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
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This more fits on an adaptational level, but one thing which has occurred to me is that both texts were changed in order to shift the general tone and focus. Allow me to explain.

Some (excuse the weasel words) critics, reductively in my opinion, and usually deriving in some respects from the works of Northrop Frye, define a 'novel' and a 'romance' more or less as follows:
A 'novel' is character-driven and its narrative is the story of a character's development.
A 'romance' is plot-driven and its narrative is the story of a series of grand events: a journey, quest, war, etc.

That's over-simplified, but enough to get my point across.

In that sense, The Hobbit is, while in many respects heavily romantic, at a fundamental level a 'novelistic' text, as its primary focus, I would argue, is Bilbo's character development.

The Lord of the Rings, by contrast, is more overtly romantic, as it deals with the efforts of both individuals and whole societies to resist the Shadow. It is, of course, to an extent 'novelistic' according to the above definition as characters do change, but its focus is arguably different.

Turning to the films:
The films of "The Lord of the Rings" make the 'romantic' text more 'novelistic' by focusing more on character development: Aragorn, particularly, has to overcome self-doubt and embrace his responsibilities. (In hindsight, however, in Jackson's films many characters actually develop less than they do in the source material, if I think about it - Merry and Frodo stand out as characters who actually seem to develop less in the film)

The films of "The Hobbit", by contrast, make the 'novelistic' text more 'romantic' by focusing on the grandiose: grand strategies of war drawn up by Sauron, Thorin's desire not just for revenge and gold but a re-established homeland, etc. Bilbo's personal character arc falls seriously by the wayside because this film broadens its focus.

In that way, I would argue, it's possible that as adaptations both sets of films try to hybridise the source material with a different "mode" of text. I admit it's not the most robust argument ever formulated but I think it has something.
"Since the evening of that day we have journeyed from the shadow of Tol Brandir."
"On foot?" cried Éomer.
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