Fantasy Motifs and Themes as Found in Literature and Film
Humanity is driven by a series of bilateral forces that under certain circumstances can either turn into a transformational constructivism, or crushing and degrading destructivity. One of these forces is the power. This paper discusses the quest for power theme through the prism of various literary aspects in the novel “Hobbit”, and intercepts with the main ideas illuminates if the film “Avatar” on the same account. Novel “The Hobbit, or There and Back again” written by John Ronald Ruel Tolkien in 1937 tells a story about how a small, and at first glance, meaningless creature from the Middle Earth and twelve other companions become a tool for uniting and creating the source of goodness in the quest for power. Similarly, the film Avatar () directed by James Cameron, explores the different sides of how power can be used to create the balance and the connection within the peoples of Pandora planet to defeat invading human race, who were seeking to use the power for their own interests. On the example of both fantasy pieces the duality of the quest for power is discussed. At the end, the power can only be used and controlled for constructive reasons, for the power due to the reasons of destructive matter is not kept long, and is always defeated by the good force.
At many instances, the power can be viewed as an element that can enhance a character with extraordinary abilities that give one person more advantages over the others. Such power is granted to a character by unique sources and can help one to achieve one’s goals successfully. There are quite a few instances, where the power is used for individual’s success. First, in “The Hobbit”, at many instances Bilbo finds himself at the culminating point where he has to take over and become responsible either for life of his friends, or leave them dying. Another symbol of power is the Arkenstone. The gnomes are trying to get the Arkenstone back from the horrible Smog who is now in possession of it, along with other cultural relicts. Second, in the film “Avatar”, Jake, the human representative and protagonist in the story finds himself at the intersection of choices where he has either to follow his people, which he belongs by blood; or to lead the people of Pandora, which he is connected by soul. Also, Colonel Miles Quartrich having a high status is in command of an operation. His quest of power is secured in his personal interest.
In the plot of both stories, each seeking power individual has a common trait, which is interest. Some of them put their own interests first, like Thorin Oakenshield and Colonel Miles Quartrich. Others like Bilbo Baggins and Jake has other people’s safety and happiness at stake. For instance, in “The Hobbit”, Thorin Oakenshield’s quest for power is enclosed in the desire to possess the Arkenstone, which would restore the mightiness of the gnome kingdom under the mountain. At the same time, the journey had become a quest for power for Bilbo, which by accidental encounter with Gollum in the caves finds a ring that makes the hobbit invisible. In “Avatar” the symbol of power for Jake that represents the enhancement of personal success is his avatar, which makes him intrude into Pandora’s Na’vi as one of them. While for an already influential Colonel Miles Quartrich the symbol of power is his geed to possess the life-giving material of the Na’vi, which will earn him gazillions of dollars.
Putting the characters under the same circumstances each story teaches us about the transformation through obtaining a power by a character in one way or another. In the “Hobbit”, for Bilbo the ring of invisibility was the symbol of his transformed throughout his journey. This ring becomes handy throughout their quest at various near-death experience instances. Having the ring, Bilbo often becomes the only one who is able to get out of any situation and is challenged to save his friends. Not only it gave him an extra ability, which helps him throughout to succeed in dangerous situations, but also a symbol of transformation of self-identity necessary for hobbit’s individual success. On the contrary, Thorin’s greed for gold and lust for revenge was not a successful combination for a mighty king, and couldn’t keep him from death, as well. While getting used to his avatar on Pandora, Jake obtains the possibility to become an influential worrier that can manipulate various objects, animals and people. Nonetheless, in contrast to Colonel Miles Quartrich, who just like Thorin from the Middle Earth, gets lost in his greed and lust for more power, Jake finds a way to accept the power that was granted to him in the name of a greater purpose of protecting what is good and life reassuring.
In such a way, power is a fragile, yet mighty force that can either save or crush depending on the hands that take the lead forward. In the course of the essay it was proved that the quest for power drives the personal interest to a disastrous end, while the good intentions are rewarded. On one hand, Tolkien’s Thorin Oakenshield along with Cameron’s Colonel Miles Quartrich depict the role of antagonists that get devoured by their striving for power to get what they want for themselves, disregarding the interests of the others. On the contrary, Bilbo Baggins from the novel “The Hobbit” and Jake from “Avatar” represent the protagonist characters that use the power granted to them in the interest of others are rewarded with personal transformation, which makes them both become better. In both pieces, the theme of the quest for power depicts similar elements: with great power comes great responsibility. The power destroys those who have bad intentions, as they are unable to control, while it changes positively those who use it for a better purpose.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1937). The Hobbit, or There and back again, London: George Allen and Unwin.
- Franglen, S. & Horner, J. (Producer), & Cameron, J. (Director). (17 December 2009). Avatar [Motion picture]. USA: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.