The Hobbit

Who is Beorn? What is Beorn's attitude towards nature?

chapter 4-7

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Beorn is half-bear and half-man. He is a fearsome protector who provides lodging and food for the dwarves and helps defend them against the wolves.

The most important thing to identify in "Queer Lodgings" is the role that Beorn's house plays in Tolkien's merging of Christian and Anglo-Saxon literary tradition. The company of travelers can be considered as an Anglo-Saxon troop of warriors who have arrived at a great mead-hall, akin to Heorot in Beowulf. Certainly, this allusion is evidenced by the descriptions of the interior and the martial aspect of the proprietor, Beorn. The Christian symbolism, oddly enough, does not come in the supper scene, but first, in the equation of Beorn's house as a way-station for pilgrims united against a common evil; second, in Beorn's role as a larger-than-life protector who offers a safe and restricted space; and finally, in the departures of the two saviors, Beorn and Gandalf, leaving their followers with blessings and warnings. Beorn's house is the image of heaven but the restrictions he establishes and the warnings regarding the forest, aptly illustrate the parallel between Eden and destruction. So, to sum up Tolkien's Christianized Eden/Forest/Path motif: we can see Beorn as a God who lives in a secure heaven-like lodging, setting the individuals into the forest with the promise that they may always return. As an intermediary between Beorn and the others, Gandalf travels a little further than Beorn, and though it is obvious and foreshadowed that the group will stray off of the path, Gandalf plays Messiah by warning them not to stray. In terms of Tolkien's own system of symbols, note that Gandalf heads for the West and this is where good souls spend their eternity, and in sync with the alluded ascension of Christ, Gandalf went "away and was soon lost to sight," leaving his disciples behind. In a very literal way, these novices need to stay on the path and because they don't, the upcoming chapter "Flies and Spiders" is not very pleasant.