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.




11 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Hobbit, and The Symbolism of The Great Eagles

  1. Pingback: Movie Review: The Hobbit, and The Symbolism of The Great Eagles | Normative Narratives

  2. The notion of the great eagles symbolizing the USA is as old the books are. As teenagers my friends and I used to argue about it back in the 1970s too.


    • Hi Tracy,

      Thanks for the insight. I couldn’t find anything online about that connection, maybe it is so obvious it’s never been published.

      Anyways, thanks for the comment. How about these Hobbit movies? Something else huh?


  3. Tolkien said that nothing in his works was allegorical as such but I find it too closely linked to be mere coincidence. I think it basically sums up that they made significant contributions towards ending the war and supporting the allies but ultimately should have got involved in the war much sooner than they did.


  4. Tolkien considered his work “Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary” as his magnum opus rather than “The Lord of the Rings”.

    He also loathed allegories, Tolkien has flat out said that The Lord of the Rings is not an extended metaphor of WWII publicly and numerouslys. The ring is not the Atomic Bomb, Mordor is not Nazi Germany, Wormtongue is not Neville Chamberlain.

    Tolkien did however use representation, Elrond represented wisdom and knowledge, the Eagles represent courage and purity, they have long since existed in Northern European mythology as this personification, long before being adopted as American symbolism, and obviously European mythology was Tolkien’s great passion.

    He didn’t have a problem with people anaylsing the Lord of the Rings as WWII, as long as people realised that was their own personal interpretations. Tolkien did not go down the C.S Lewis route and basically write a metaphor of Christianity or anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Funny-I was just thinking the same thing as I was watching a re-run of the Hobbit-the Eagles are a symbol of the US of A in Tolkien’s experience


  6. I have always thought this. Tolken and cs Lewis were pen pals at one time even. During the war


  7. I absolutely believe this to be the case. I came up with this theory on my own and did a search to see if anyone else thought the same….and found your article here.


  8. I very much agree with you! I was watching The Hobbit II yesterday and I have also noticed this. It fits very much the historical context Tolkien was inserted in.


  9. I believe the deeper symbolism is found in Exodus 19:4: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” As a Christian, Tolkein drew on biblical imagery and ideas in crafting his Hobbit and LOTR narratives. Whenever the characters come to the end of themselves or find themselves in a dead-end of desperation in battling evil, the Eagles arrive. Certainly, a moral to the story: Salvation is of God and comes solely from him as he works to defeat the rule of evil in this world, and the human heart.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.