Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
Frequent Contributor
oldBPLstackdenizen
Posts: 633
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

[ Women in "The Hobbit" ]
 
lorien ---
do you think these same comments of yours should also be added to the
"Tolkien And The Female Gender" Thread? ( they seem appropriate to go into that discussion ) - not that you have to add them - if you don't want to - it's entirely up to you, of course ... And it's not like we all don't already have enough "Threads" coming out of our ears anyway - and it isn't necessarily necessary to be catagorizing every thought or comment into its respective "proper" column, anyway...
 
There is a dearth of females in "The Hobbit", for sure ... I think there might be a passing reference to "the women and children" of Lake Town, and then, there is the case of the  evil Giant Spiders - which appear
( perhaps ) to be female, as well ( not a very flattering role for females in the book, in that instance! ) ---
 
[  but, the whole business of Spiders in general in JRRT's works opens up another can of worms...
I still recall reading an essay in the "ORCRIST" Fanzine - ( over 35 years ago, now ) - where the essayist attempted to show how Tolkien showed an unusually strong "prejudice"  against spiders throughout his writings - describing them as "loathesome creatures" - and getting the actual physical characteristics of real spiders down inaccurately  in the descriptions of his fantasy spiders... ( which was unusual for Tolkien to do, whereas he normally would describe animals in a way that showed he was familiar with the way the animals actually were in real life - and could usually describe their physical characteristics in a more accurate way ) ...
Perhaps Tolkien had some very bad experience with spiders during his very early childhood, down in South Africa?...
 One might hope that his apparent contempt  of spiders was not also mixed with some kind of subconcious misogyny? ( after all - Shelob is a female, as well )...
But perhaps this could come from the idea that some female spiders  ( like the Black Widow ) kill and eat their mates? And that - "Ipso Facto" - female spiders are more "vicious" than their male counterparts? -
Or even simply the "preconception" that most spiders are female, anyway, to begin with?  ... I am no Bioligist, myself - I don't know if that "preconception" has any basis in Nature, or not ...]
 
I had some personal thoughts to share on the matter I had started out to discuss, but after all this business with the spiders, I think I should send those in a separate letter....        Ardo    
 
  
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

oldBPLstackden…

You may be hitting to the heart of it Ardo. In world mythology their are no evil spiders. Spiders are weavers or tricksters, not ravenous beasts. Most definitely a personal Tolkien preference.
Frequent Contributor
oldBPLstackdenizen
Posts: 633
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

Dear TiggerBear, lorien, ( and everybody )...
 
Yes, I think there can there be little doubt that Tolkien had a "prejudice" against spiders, but I made a terrible blunder when I ascribed female characteristics to the Giant Spiders in "The Hobbit" - and this is how that came about:
I had previously read [ H ] so many times before, that this time I was only listening to that Rob Inglis - narrated "Recorded Books" performance of the story...
And Mr. Inglis gave those spiders definately female-sounding voices in that performance...
Whereas, in the book, JRRT only refers to these spiders as [ it(s)] - not [she(s)] or [he(s)] -
But I think Mr. Inglis can be forgiven, as, in his reading, he tried to give a unique, individual "voice" to just about every speaking part in the book - ( with different levels of deepness, tone and inflection, and different dialects, etcetera ) - so it could be he "ran out of ideas" when it came to "making up" voices for the spiders...
( after having done so many different "male" voices already )...
I think he might have gotten his clue, however, ( for how to do the spider-voices ) from the description that JRRT gives of them when they are first encountered
( in the "Flies And Spiders" Chapter ) :
 
[      "...Their voices were a sort of thin creaking and hissing..."       ]
 
And it could be too, that he had in mind that same "preconception" that spiders are predominately female?
I guess I'm going to have to do a little quick research on that subject, too - because now I'm not even sure if that "preconception" exists - or is that something I made up in my own mind?           Ardo 
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
Frequent Contributor
oldBPLstackdenizen
Posts: 633
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

for lorien: ( a bit more concerning Women in "The Hobbit" ) ---
 
Bilbo's mother does get mentioned at the beginning of the story - but she is already ( sadly ) dead - along with Bilbo's father, as well ... but perhaps that circumstance would not be all that unusual for a hobbit of Bilbo's age at the time ( of about fifty years of age ) - or indeed, even for many people in the Real World -
especially for Tolkien's generation - as I think the phenomenom of people leading longer and longer lives has increased only in the most recent of times...
I was a young boy when I first read [ H ] , and I don't think I ever really noticed the glaring absence of female characters in the story, or concerned myself with that absence very much, at that time...
There are so few females even mentioned ( and no female characters at all, aside from Bilbo's mother, who is only mentioned in passing ) - it does almost seem like females in theis early representation of
Middle-earth - and in a book written for children ---
( and is it possible, that JRRT only had MALE children in mind when writing the story? Or, maybe that he assumed a relatively violent action-story like [ H ] - and with some of its "darker" undertones - would not be "proper" reading material for the sensitive minds of "innocent" young girls? )
Either way, it does seem like the entire subject of Sex ( or even just the presence of "the nurturing female" )  itself is completely avoided in the story, in almost any way, shape or form...
It doesn't appear that there are any female Elves in Rivendell or in The Elven-King's kingdom, or female Dwarves, or even females among the Goblins... And Bilbo is the only hobbit we meet "in person"...
 
When I first read [ H ], I was either eight years old ( or else had just turned nine )- and lived alone with my mother in a somewhat secluded ( if not often reclusive ) situation, in some rooms at the back of an old house, that had been converted into a sort of apartment...My mother's brother-in-law's mother ( an elderly lady ) owned the house, and one of my uncles roomed in the front of the house. ( I'd say he was my main "father-figure" at the time, in the absence of my paternal father )...Anyway, when I first read the story, I wanted to identify with Bilbo from the very beginning ( which I think is what one tends to do, when reading almost any story - wishing to identify with the hero or central character in the story - and the story is told mainly from Bilbo's viewpoint - even if it is told "in the third person" form )...
Anyway, I think I was a little shocked, in a way, when I read, right off the bat, that Bilbo's parents were both already dead ( and especially at the thought of his mother already being gone )...
I think I settled on the noton that Bilbo's existence could be considered as being the same as
"Adult Independence" ( which I then hoped to someday enjoy, without necessarily having my parents completely out of the picture! )...
 
It's possible, too, that JRRT decided it would just complicate matters too much to give Bilbo a wife, -
but, I thought I noticed that in his first rough drafts of LOTR, Frodo ( "Bingo" ) was supposed to have been Bilbo's son! This would mean there would have to have been a Mrs. Baggins after Bilbo returned home from his Adventure ... ( and it would seem like he would have been a very "eligible bachelor" - in spite of the way the more conservative, "respectable" hobbits tended to look down their noses at him - on account of his
"un-hobbit-like" activities and proclivities - simply because of being a very rich hobbit, in spite of all that )
I have to wonder if JRRT would have kept "Bingo's mother" in the story, however - he manages to make Frodo an orphan, ( just as Bilbo had no parents left when the story opens in [ H ]...      Ardo 
 
   
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
Frequent Contributor
oldBPLstackdenizen
Posts: 633
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

Good Morning...
 
Well, I did do a little bit of research on spiders, and it turns out that they are not necessarily predominantly female - but, generally speaking, the female spider tends to be much larger than the male spider... In some cases, it looks like up to ten times larger! ( which is why the scientist who was studying one particular species of spider said he only kept females for his investigations - the males were too small to be bothered with - as it was easier to examine the females - they were so much larger )... This could possibly account for the "preconception" that most spiders are female - since nine times out of ten, those would be the ones you are seeing! I still don't know if anyone else has heard about this same "preconception", however - or if it was a concept that I only imagined as existing in other people's minds...                       Ardo 
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

Ardo

Also possible; that since with exception of African myths, that every mythological spider he ever read about was female.

But in the forest I always got the impression of a mixed colony.
Frequent Contributor
oldBPLstackdenizen
Posts: 633
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

TiggerBear ---
 
Until I heard that pefrormance/rendering, I think I never thought of the Giant Spiders as being "One way or the other" - just sort of asexual, really. ( Gender Neutral, I guess you could say ) --- Ardo
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

[ Edited ]
Ardo

curious, do you typically think of insects and arachnids in asexual terms, in general?


Not just in literature, but in life?

Message Edited by TiggerBear on 04-22-2008 09:27 PM
Frequent Contributor
oldBPLstackdenizen
Posts: 633
Registered: ‎12-19-2007
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

TiggerBear -
 
I just now stumbled across your question here concerning my perceptions of the sexuality of insects...
I'd say, yes, just as a general rule, I tend to think of insect  and arachnids ( in real life ) in terms of being "asexual" ( whenever I see them ) ---   Ardo
                                        
"Middle-earth Is A State Of Mind"
^^^^^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^^^^

Ardo Whortleberry
Distinguished Bibliophile
TiggerBear
Posts: 9,489
Registered: ‎02-12-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

Ardo
I wonder if has to with childhood science lessons.
Contributor
TrueBlue
Posts: 7
Registered: ‎09-06-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Hobbit: Chapters 16-19

I thik of all spiders as female, I don't know why it might have something to do with schooling.
Users Online
Currently online: 50 members 258 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: