The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum


Visit The *EVEN NEWER* Barrow-Downs Photo Page

Go Back   The Barrow-Downs Discussion Forum > Middle-Earth Discussions > The Books
User Name
Password
Register FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read


Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-09-2017, 08:21 PM   #1
Balfrog
Haunting Spirit
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 55
Balfrog has just left Hobbiton.
The Hobbit Trolls - A Clever Parody?

Well eighty years have passed – and I haven't ever seen a decent explanation published on why Tolkien named The Hobbit trolls – 'Bill, Bert and Tom'. Ms. Seth has come up with a brand new idea and claims it was based on a parody of three Elizabethan playwrights: William Shakespeare, Robert Greene & Thomas Nashe - apparently reflecting a famous incident. There are certainly strengths to the proposition; but I'll let the reader decide whether her solution “fits like a glove”!

https://priyasethtolkienfan.wordpres...lorful-pair-4/
Balfrog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-07-2017, 10:10 PM   #2
Balfrog
Haunting Spirit
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 55
Balfrog has just left Hobbiton.
The essay has been further updated to include much more evidence regarding the parody theory. In particular it discusses the role of the Elizabethan playwright Robert Greene and his ‘Coney-catching’ pamphlets, and how aspects of these became part of the troll scene with Bilbo. Also speculated upon is the reason behind why Tolkien much preferred to use ‘rabbit’ instead of ‘coney’ in The Hobbit, despite the fact that ‘rabbit’ is a later word in historical evolution terms.
Balfrog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-08-2017, 07:52 AM   #3
Nerwen
Wisest of the Noldor
 
Nerwen's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: ˙˙˙ssɐןƃ ƃuıʞooן ǝɥʇ ɥƃnoɹɥʇ
Posts: 6,247
Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.Nerwen is a guest of Galadriel in Lothlórien.
Send a message via Skype™ to Nerwen
Pipe

Interesting article- though I would say the sheer commonness of the names is a point against the theory. Also, might Tolkien have used "rabbit" in preference to "coney" in "The Hobbit" simply because the latter word is archaic enough to be potentially confusing for children?

Good catch on "Huggessen". And I agree that the treatment of troll section of "The Hobbit" seems to have much in common with English fairytales about ogres and giants - even though the trolls do show their traditional weakness of turning to stone in sunlight. (It should be remembered, however that supernatural beings in folklore are generally much less defined and codified than in literature and modern popular culture).

"Ogres" as such, though mentioned as figures in Hobbit folklore, seem not to actually exist in Middle-earth- perhaps they were too much of a fairytale element?
__________________
"Even Nerwen wasn't evil in the beginning." –Elmo.
Nerwen is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2017, 09:33 PM   #4
Balfrog
Haunting Spirit
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 55
Balfrog has just left Hobbiton.
Nerwen

To your first point - possibly, but I think it’s actually a positive for the theory. Given The Hobbit is littered with unfamiliar names - Bill, Tom & Bert stand out like a sore thumb. Why? – one might ask oneself.

And then of course there could have been a host of additional short names chosen. Why not Ted or Ben or Fred or Jim etc. etc. ? Why these particular three?

Mere chance? If chance you call it!


As for the 'rabbit issue' - your logic appears reasonable – yet Tolkien does use the word coney (actually ‘conies’). And thus we have to deal with it. So why use it all? And to add to the matter he employs it in a confusing manner – namely involving squirrels. Given that - the inquisitive child would have had to look up the definition in a dictionary any way.

Ms. Seth doesn’t bring this point out strongly enough – but ‘conies’ is associated to a ‘furrier’ by Bilbo. And a ‘furrier’ is one who is involved in ‘skinning’. It’s a nasty trade that makes me think Tolkien was in a way poking fun of the same terminology used by Elizabethan coney-catchers.

My own feeling is that the Roast Mutton Chapter is a piece of Tolkien genius. The whole troll episode looks carefully contrived. Again Ms. Seth does not bring this out – but if one were to review the drafts (see John Rateliff’s: The History of the Hobbit), there are very few made against the Troll scene compared to say similar length sections in other chapters. It’s almost as if Tolkien drafted and practically perfected it out separately and then just neatly slotted it in.

I’m sure you would agree that if Tolkien wanted to create a parody – he was well capable of doing so. The troll scene is a comic masterpiece – and I just have this feeling that it’s just a touch out of place. Let’s just say, there’s an awful lot of individual coincidences if it isn’t a parody and all that Ms. Seth pointed out is purely accidental.

"Huggessen" - Thanks – my proof-read second time round!

I don't have any problem with the rest of your views. Yes I agree - Ogres don’t make much of a showing. But Bilbo does mention them in The Hobbit. So presumably there they existed within 'The Hobbit mythology'.
Balfrog is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2017, 07:31 PM   #5
Morthoron
Curmudgeonly Wordwraith
 
Morthoron's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Ensconced in curmudgeonly pursuits
Posts: 2,256
Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.Morthoron is lost in the dark paths of Moria.
Actually, the trolls, profound thinkers that they were, were named after the great scholastic philosophers Thomas Aquinas, Albertus Magnus and William of Ockham. Legend has it that there was a 4th troll, a female named "Betty", named after Boethius. But that was perhaps merely a joke among the Inklings.

P.S. The Huggins surname derives from the Old French "Hugh" and was brought over to England by the Normans after 1066. It would evidently delight Tolkien the philologist to no end to consider that a troll was of Norman stock.
__________________
Please visit my newly resurrected blog...The Dark Elf File...a slightly skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.

Last edited by Morthoron; 07-26-2017 at 07:40 PM.
Morthoron is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-02-2017, 06:20 AM   #6
Faramir Jones
Ghost Prince of Cardolan
 
Faramir Jones's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Lonely Isle
Posts: 678
Faramir Jones is a guest at the Prancing Pony.Faramir Jones is a guest at the Prancing Pony.
Boots Thick but very dangerous

Balfrog, I agree with you that the scene with the trolls is 'a comic masterpiece'; because Tolkien still made them very dangerous despite them being 'thick'. While their stupidity was obvious, and was later exploited by Gandalf to ensure they turned into stone, Tolkien made it clear that once anyone got into their clutches, that person would later end up in their stomachs... If Gandalf hadn't been there...
Faramir Jones is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:17 PM.



Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.9 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.