thoughts on tolkien's little folk, as represented by peter jackson
for a long time i'd thought of hobbits as a race of small peaceable folk living in the idyllic shire until it occurred to me - a vegan - that all the bacon they consumed would require someone to be slaughtering pigs in pre-industrial, knife wielding style. not a very peaceable thing to be doing at all.
of course we dont see large hairy feet paddling in pools of fresh animal blood, and it's reasonable to question how much background we should indulge in making up ourselves given this is a fantasy with orcs and goblins. but it would seem fair to draw a few definite conclusions from the world in which they live. if they eat bacon they kill pigs, for example.
the primary and false image of the harmless hobbit stems from the fact that they are small and unwarlike compared to the many other races and characters in the hobbit / LOTR stories. and that the essentially good hobbit nature allows two of them (3 in fact) to carry the ring over great time and distance. against the ultimate evil of sauron, we have the (ultimate) good of the hobbit. but the hobbit isnt ultimate good, it is lesser evil. and this is the essential lesson. hobbits, despite resisiting great evil, perform minor evil on a daily basis and it is only by accident, in the end, that their lesser evil defeats sauron.
the greatest crime of the hobbits is their ordinariness, a state of being based on early C20th or C19th english country life. pipes, tweeds, braces and walking down the lane with a pig on the end of a piece of rope. milking cows by the wayside, sweeping the step with switches, getting drunk on homebrew ale, singing and dancing in the meadow. we come at this culture from our own ordinariness and in a way, hobbiton life seems idyllic. it is peaceful and bountiful and lush and good neighbours.
but our concept of idyllic, a better version of our corrupt selves, is in itself corrupt.
how the hobbits came by their benign sheen is anyone's guess. the shortest of glances shows that they can be thieves, drunkards, liars, sneaks, gluttons, unquestioning hierarchicalists, angry little folk, cloying sentimentalists, not very bright, largely banal and cruel to animals.