Essay, Research Paper
Comparing and contrasting the novels
The Hobbit and The Sword of Shannara
as the reveal the conventions of a
middle-earth fantasy novel
The two novels The Sword of Shannara and The Hobbit are traditional earth fantasy novels. In both books characters encounter the forces of good and evil. The central heroes travel on great and dangerous paths to experience difficult situations. Magic plays a large role in both novels and saves the characters several times, which makes the story more exciting. The first novel is essentially a tale of good versus evil where as the former revolves around human nature. The element of adventure in both novels shows how characters find power within themselves not in others. The novels The Sword of Shannara and The Hobbit are similar in that they both travel on an “epic quest”.
The journey shows readers how the Hobbit and Shea increase their experiences through this adventure. They both gain endurance, bravery, appreciation of their lives, and many other valuable experiences which make them wiser. Shea is tested more severely than any one of his companions. When an earthquake strips him of everyone and everything he has relied on, Shea is suddenly left to his own devices. He reacts bravely when captured by Skull creatures and saves his Troll friends using: “the stones”. (Brooks 359) The magical stones have helped him more then once on his mission, but it was his strength and courage that triumphs. He learns the responsibility of manhood by conquering his fears and becoming a hero. Because he has failed to know himself, Shea failed to recognize the Sword of Shannara when it was in his grasp. After the Gnome absconds with the sword, Shea learns his responsibility and trusts his fate. When he enters Borona?s, he is ready to draw the sword and face the Warlock Lord. However, the nature of the sword’s magic prves to be unexpected. The Sword of Shannara possesses the power to reveal truth, Shea wonderes how truth alone can defeat the Warlock Lord. The answer lies in the nature of magic, which Allanon explains is illusion given substance by belief. This understanding would be useless to Shea if he had not yet learned to trust himself, and accept what he finds there: the Warlock Lord cannot. The Hobbit?s experience and mind expands enormously throughout the novel. The adventure changes his life dramatically, from being a scared little creature in a Hobbit hole, not having any knowledge of the world he becomes a hero. The Hobbit fails his first mission when he is sent to spy on the trolls. Even though he is considered a failure by others, he felt proud because he had the courage to do something he has never done. He shows great bravery when he out-smarts the Gollum. The Hobbit asked Gollum a simple question which has many answers: “what have I got in my pocket?”(Tolkien 87) This was the first time when the Hobbit success with no one?s help. He didn?t wait long to show his fellow companions that he is more then they think. He defeats the spiders with the help of his magical ring and saves his entire team for the first time. They gave him great respect and finally accept him as part of the team. He thought to himself: “I am a blast”.(Tolkien 161) The Hobbit receives great help from the use of his magical ring, which helps him do the unbelievable; it?s significant to his success. He become wiser because of the difficult situation he had to face. Soon, he becomes the leader of the group. He was forced to look out for any dangers and had to save his friends on several occasions. He became a very different person at the end of the novel. He took full charge when they reached the mountain of the dragon. He out- smarted the dragon to leave the mountain and had him killed. He made peace between all sides and prevented a war in where many would have died.
The characters soon come to realize that the “epic quest” is not something done for others but for themselves. The journey was for them to find courage and power within themselves not others. Shea learns to understand that the sword of Shannara does not have any magical power in it but holds the truth, which he had to learn and understand. He was forced to vanish when the monstrous Skull Bearer appeared in Shady Vale, dispatched by the Warlock Lord to kill him. He believed at the time that he had to kill the Warlock physically not mentally. This mission was to become stronger mentally and understand the past. He needed to conquer his fears and have faith in the truth in which he never had before. Carrying the three Elfstones given to him by Allanon- magical blue gems that were to protect him in his quest for the sword were used less often as Shea gained more courage to go through with his journey. They were given to him so that he could have something to protect him in the outside world. So that he could depend on something but as he got mentally stronger he found less use for them. The Hobbit was a chosen to attend the journey for more then one reason. The team needed a burglar and someone to watch over them when Gandalf was gone. The wizard found Mr.Baggins as the fourteenth member: “I chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him then you may guess, and a deal more then he has any idea of himself. You may all live to thank me yet.”(Tolkien 29) The other reason was that the hobbit had to find out who he really was and of what he was capable. He proved himself to the group many times throughout the novel as a burglar and as a friend like Gandalf said he would. He found himself a different person towards the end of the “epic quest”. He learned throughout the quest that he is worth more then he ever though he was and believed that he is capable to achieve anything if he wants to. He understands now that there is more to life then his Hobbit hole and his routine life. He is not scared anymore to face the world outside the Hobbit hole and experience more.
The two novels are slightly different in their approaches; J.R.R. Tolkien book is based on human nature where as Terry Brooks novel is essentially a good versus evil scenario. The Sword of Shannara is a novel in which the characters concentrate on mainly one thing defeating the Warlord and saving the world from evil taking over. Their main concern is to get the Sword at all cause and consequences. The only important person in the team is Shea since he is the only one who can defeat the Warlord. The Hobbit is more about discovery and learning. The characters take a challenge in order to fulfill their lives, especially the Hobbit. He has learned so much. He changed his prospective on thinking and the world. His life becomes fulfilled. J.R.R. Tolkiens quest was not based on winning or losing but achieving your goals. Everybody in The Hobbit got a chance to do that. Tolkien?s quest was about putting missing pieces into ones life.
In both novels the journey helped characters gain something from the epic quest.
They learned that courage, bravery and acceptance is something that you must work on. Character also began to understand that life is not easy but a challenge. The Hobbit and Shea build their knowledge and wisdom through harsh experience, which at times almost brought death about them. Both characters were forced to fight evil, Shea more then the Hobbit but both learned that it is mentality that helps u live through the hard times not physical power. These novels show us that from being simple people anybody could become a hero if they have the strength to handle it.
WORK CITED LIST
Brooks, Terry. The Sword of Shannara. Random House Inc. Toronto: 1978.
Tolkien, JRR. The Hobbit. Harper-Collins Publishers. London: 1993.