“THE VALUE OF DOOMED RESISTANCE”. There is a bleakness to THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. I had always ascribed it to the impact on Tolkien of World War I and World War II. Things turned out better than they could have, but at the time it was plausible that evil might prevail and continue to prevail for hundreds of years (a thousand year Reich, for example). Rather than current events, as Richard Fernandez points out, Tolkien himself said that his greatest source material came from BEOWULF. Fernandez quotes a passage from Tolkien’s 1936 lecture on BEOWULF (link here) which summarizes the world view of the author of BEOWULF: “He could view from without, but still feel immediately and from within, the old dogma: despair of the event, combined with faith in the value of doomed resistance.” THE HOBBIT is like THE LORD OF THE RINGS in telling of heroes who are overmatched by powerful forces, whose resistance may well be doomed. One of Tolkien’s master strokes is that his hobbit heroes are small. Fernandez quotes Gandalf: “Saruman believes that only the great can face evil. Yet I believe it is often faced down by those familiar with simple things, the warm hearth-fire, who hear laughter among friends and know daily acts of love and kindness.”

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