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Re: [mythsoc] Review

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  • David S. Bratman
    ... Oversimplification (though one which Jackson may have made). The Ring has a preserving effect, but your aging process doesn t suddenly screech to a halt.
    Message 1 of 5 , Feb 12, 2002
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      At 05:37 AM 2/12/2002 , Trudy wrote:

      > Since the rest of the review was subjective I won't get into
      >agreeing/disagreeing with various points, but will make one "objective"
      >observation regarding the above. Frodo would have stopped aging physically
      >on his 33rd birthday, the day he came into possession of the Ring. That's
      >the human equivalent of a 21st birthday (coming of age), so a 20-year-old
      >isn't a bad age-equivalent.

      Oversimplification (though one which Jackson may have made). The Ring has
      a preserving effect, but your aging process doesn't suddenly screech to a
      halt. Here's what the book says about Bilbo: "Time wore on, but it seemed
      to have _little_ effect on Mr. Baggins. At ninety he was _much the same_
      as at fifty." And here's what it says about Frodo: "As time went on,
      people began to notice that Frodo also showed signs of good 'preservation':
      outwardly he retained the appearance of a robust and energetic hobbit just
      out of his tweens." I read that as the equivalent of a man in his 30s who
      still gets carded, a strikingly youthful appearance rather than a rigid
      maintainance of his exact appearance at the time of the Party; notice the
      "just out of". I don't find a 20-year-old actor out of place for Frodo, as
      long as he's mature-looking for 20, and can _act_ more mature still. It's
      Bilbo whose actor is much older than the character should look. (Ian Holm
      just turned 70.)

      Gollum now, he probably doesn't look anything like what he did when he
      first got the Ring, so at least over a longer period "stopped aging
      physically" isn't an adequate description.

      But I agree with your age-equivalent calculations. Numenorean Men, now,
      Unfinished Tales makes clear that they grow up and decline at the same rate
      as normal Men: their expanded lifespans are a stretching of their
      middle-years. So Aragorn was as mature at 21 as any Man. But Hobbits not
      coming of age till 33 gives one pause. As their average lifespan is 100,
      and the traditional human span is 70, multiplying hobbit ages by .7 gives a
      decent enough result: Pippin at 29 should be seen as about 20; a
      33-year-old hobbit should be seen as about 23; a 50-year-old hobbit should
      be seen as about 35; the Old Took should be seen as breaking 90.

      Incidentally, I once saw a 6-year-old girl playing Bilbo in a stage play of
      "The Hobbit", and an amazingly good performance it was too. But that was a
      long time ago: she'd be about 30 now.

      Apologies for not saying this earlier, but I found Wendell's original
      "Review" post on the film to be entirely cogent, perceptive, and to the
      point. I agree entirely with about 80% of it, and don't really disagree
      with the rest.

      David Bratman
    • michael_martinez2
      The tweens and coming-of-age-at-33 tradition were Shire conventions. Tolkien never said or implied that all Hobbit communities shared them. He explained some
      Message 2 of 5 , Feb 12, 2002
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        The tweens and coming-of-age-at-33 tradition were Shire conventions.
        Tolkien never said or implied that all Hobbit communities shared
        them. He explained some of the differences between Gollum's people
        (the Stoors of the Gladden Fields) and the Shire-folk in one of his
        letters, especially concerning how families were governed and
        birthdays were celebrated. Gollum's people did not observe the
        custom of giving out presents to celebrate one's own birthday, but
        rather of receiving them.

        Gollum's folk are sort of the antithesis of the idealized Shire
        culture, but they serve as an example of the variation Tolkien
        conceived of within each race. Even the Dwarves and Ents experienced
        variation in appearance and points of view.

        Hobbits are really no different in that respect. I think the coming-
        of-age at 33 issue is taken too seriously by many people. It should
        not be identified with a biological point of maturity.
      • David S. Bratman
        ... But they re based on something. ... I do not say that non-Shire hobbitoids had the same concepts of coming of age, or the same ages if they do. (We can t
        Message 3 of 5 , Feb 12, 2002
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          At 10:26 AM 2/12/2002 , Michael Martinez wrote:
          >The tweens and coming-of-age-at-33 tradition were Shire conventions.

          But they're based on something.

          >Hobbits are really no different in that respect. I think the coming-
          >of-age at 33 issue is taken too seriously by many people. It should
          >not be identified with a biological point of maturity.

          I do not say that non-Shire hobbitoids had the same concepts of coming of
          age, or the same ages if they do. (We can't make up our own minds between
          18 and 21.) And I certainly don't maintain the .7 figure as a rigid
          calculation: it's a useful rule of thumb, no more. But I think that the 33
          is one piece of evidence in a consistent case that Hobbits age more slowly
          than we do, across the board. Here's some relevant biological and
          behavioral facts:

          1) Hobbits reach a hundred as often as not, so their aging process
          definitely differs from ours in an extended direction. Tolkien says Bilbo
          was "old even for Hobbits."

          2) Pippin seems awfully immature for 29, by our standards.

          3) Bilbo and Frodo both go on their Adventures at about 50. Both of them,
          notably Bilbo, who didn't have a Ring until then, seem awfully young and
          spry for 50, by our standards.

          4) If there's a human society that has its coming of age as great as 33, I
          don't know of it. Indeed, many societies (especially primitive and rural
          ones) often have comings-of-age that seem surprisingly young to us.

          This isn't proof: Hobbits don't exist, so nothing is proof. But it's a
          solid argument.

          David Bratman
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