Normative Narratives


Movie Review: The Hobbit, and The Symbolism of The Great Eagles

Two thumbs up, really a great adaptation of a classic novel. I am very excited that they are doing The Hobbit as a trilogy, and cannot wait for the next two installments.

One thing that caught my attention was the use of “Great Eagles” to rescue the company of Thorin from the evil Pale Orc. I then remembered that Eagles also saved Frodo at the end of the Lord Of The Rings Trology. Is there any significance to these creatures being “Great Eagles”. Why not Dragons, or Griffons, or something more mystical to fit the theme of Middle-Earth?

My theory here, and I call it my theory but it may well have been explored before, is that the “Great Eagles” represent the United States of America. A quick series of Google searches did not yield any results, so I believe this may actually be a case of a rare “original thought”.

Think about it, Tolkien was English. “The Hobbit” was originally published as a book in 1937. In 1918, when Tolkien was 26 years old, the United States saved the Allied Powers from the “evil” Central Powers. At 26, it is very possible that Tolkien himself was a soldier in WWI and benefited from American support. I have not studied Tolkien’s life at all, it is possible these issues are addressed in his biography.

Still not convinced the Eagles represent America? How about this; “The Lord of the Rings” was published in 1954. At the end of the Lord of The Rings, Eagles save Frodo from the steps of Mt. Doom in Mordor (basically the center of evil in middle earth). A few years earlier, the American’s again helped turn the tide of a World War by helping the Allied Powers defeat the Axis Powers.

Perhaps this is all just a coincidence, and Tolkien admired eagles for other reasons. Eagles have long been considered a symbol of strength and courage. I think the timing of the books, in a historical context, as well as Tolkien’s English origins make the use of Eagles too much of a coincidence to not be a personal “thank you” from Tolkien to America–a timeless tribute to the immeasurable help the U.S. provided during WWI, WWII, the Marshall Plan, etc.

Any Tolkien buffs out there? Anybody read his biography? I have to imagine this possibility has been explored at some point in the almost 60 years the books have been out. Tolkien passed away long ago (1973), so if these ideas were never explored, they may remain a mystery forever.