J.R.R. Tolkien's Riddles: International Traditions, The Exeter Book Riddles, and The Hobbit
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This dissertation analyses the riddles Tolkien composed for his novel The Hobbit. It examines in which ways the function of the chapter ‘Riddles in the Dark’ coincides with the use of riddles in a narrative context in other cultures. To accomplish this, a basic sketch is made of the functions of riddles in Chinese and African cultures. The language of the Exeter Book riddles is considered and analysed and some major strategies that create ambiguous language are identified. This dissertation analyses the different influences of the Exeter Book riddles on Tolkien’s riddles. The language of the riddles of The Hobbit is compared to that of the Exeter Book. The different strategies that are used to create ambiguity in both works is then examined and set out against each other. It also considers Tolkien’s riddles as independent and analyses them as an independent unit. It explains how the solutions to the riddles of The Hobbit are paradoxical and how they exemplify the major theme of the work and Tolkien’s other works. Finally, it creates an image of the way in which Tolkien uses riddles to create a unique, deeply metaphorical work.