In this course, Professor Joseph Pearce shows that Tolkien's own words about The Lord of the Rings being a "fundamentally religious and Catholic work" also apply to The Hobbit.
Professor Pearce guides you through various life lessons discovered through an in-depth reading of The Hobbit:
- Bilbo grows in maturity, wisdom, compassion, self-sacrifice, and heroism over the course of his journey to the Lonely Mountain. At the end of the novel, Gandalf proclaims that Bilbo is no longer the hobbit he was, and we know that he is changed for the better. The meaning of life is to grow in virtue and holiness by learning the lessons of our adventures so that we can return "home" to God in Heaven.
- In The Hobbit, Bilbo is time and again protected and rewarded by "luck" or "good fortune." The "luck" present in The Hobbit is nothing other than the hand of providence and grace. In order to survive our life's journey like Bilbo, we need the supernatural assistance of grace and providence.
- Over and over again in the book, Tolkien presents characters who have fallen prey to dragon-sickness: pride and lust for gold or other material possessions. The Hobbit serves as a cautionary meditation on Matthew 6:21: "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Tolkien's profoundly Catholic worldview allows us to transcend a simply literal reading of the story and discover its theological richness. Bilbo Baggins and his adventures can serve as a mirror for our journey through life. Even though we won't find ourselves traveling through goblin-infested mountains, chased by spiders, or threatened by trolls, we can see that virtue is only attained through grace by slaying the monsters and demons which try to prevent our passage into eternal glory.