The first installment of director Peter Jackson’s long-awaited film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings prequel, The Hobbit, is now in theaters. Jackson’s gorgeously rendered movie trilogy The Lord of the Rings has given Tolkien fans the joy of seeing the epic story’s “applicability” (a term Tolkien loved) discussed anew in the public square. The Lord of the Rings shares with us some insights into a value dear to the American heart: freedom.
Montesquieu famously wrote, “Countries are well-cultivated, not as they are fertile, but as they are free.” The Shire, home of the Hobbits, is both: self-governed, minimally, in a culture of hearth, home, and pride in cultivating one’s own garden. Hobbits distrust intruders. Though generous with each other, no doubt they would agree that a Hobbit’s hole is his castle.