Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Hobbit - IV. Over Hill and Under Hill

This chapter is quite brief and fast paced following the party through the mountains as they encounter a powerful thunderstorm. The narrator uses very poetic language to describe the "thunder battle" that is a clash between two rival thunderstorms from east and west. The imagery works quite well.

Seeking respite from the storm and stone giants the party finds shelter in what appears to be a small cave but turns out to be the entrance to a goblin tunnel kingdom. The introduction of goblins to the story is interesting and I am still unsure of their relationship to orcs. Perhaps orc is just another name for goblin in another tongue. I couldn't tell you which language orc or goblin belongs to though.

Goblins at the very least don't seem to be as cruel as trolls as they seem to have no intention of eating either the dwarves or the hobbit. They also are quite adept at manufacturing. I am sure if they normalized their relations with the outside world and opened their doors for trade they could have a bustling economy without the need to resort to robbery. Unfortunately they are ruled by what seems an absolutist monarch with no rule of law or respect for property rights so their economy is quite primitive, relying on slavery and threats to achieve their goals. This lack of respect for property rights diminishes productivity and is likely what leads to the low standard of living among the goblins and resorting to eating productive animals like horses and ponies.

I feel somewhat sorry for the goblins. While they are quite intelligent and adept at manufacturing they are stuck in a tribal world view without the concept of individual liberty or rights. They have such potential and yet squander it on pillaging and hatred of outsiders.

No comments:

Post a Comment