January 17, 2012

Vagabond Hobbits in the Shire

Just what exactly is the deal with the wagons in Waymeet?

And if you hear Cher start singing in your head every time you ride through here, you are most definitely not the only one.

One of the many, many things I enjoy about Professor Tolkien's writings is the attention he spends on cultural and social issues.  This is woven throughout his writings on Middle Earth, in both broad and fine strokes.  From the differences between the races of Middle Earth to the the social hierarchies among Hobbits, such as we see between even Sam and Frodo, these distinctions permeate life in Middle Earth and make the stories all the richer.

So what is the deal with Waymeet?  Here we have Hobbits living in what seems to be a temporary and unsettled fashion (although we do have gardens and yards that obviously require some time and care), instead of living in a cozy hole or typical Hobbit-style house.

This seems to be the LOTRO version of Professor Tolkien's "tramps" of The Shire's socio-economic strata - "Some, doubtless, were no better than tramps, ready to dig a hole in any bank and stay only as long as it suited them." 

We also see mention of the different socio-economic classes of Hobbits in the "Concerning Hobbits" prologue:  "All Hobbits had originally lived in holes in the ground, or so they believed, and in such dwellings they still felt most at home; but in the course of time they had been obliged to adopt other forms of abode.  Actually in The Shire in Bilbo's days it was, as a rule, only the richest and the poorest Hobbits that maintained the old custom.  The poorest went on living in burrows of the most primitive kind, mere holes indeed, with only one window or none; while the well-to-do still constructed more luxurious versions of the simple diggings of old."

Perhaps it was too difficult or confusing to try to represent a Hobbit "tramp" hole in the game, and these colorful wagons were a compromise.  The fact that they were added at all when in no way do they come close to being part of the essential and basic storyline attests to how well Turbine has included such seemingly irrelevant elements of lore.  They do shout, "I'm here - for now!  Where I'll be tomorrow, who knows!"

Even if this is a group of less prosperous Hobbits, they still face the same day-to-day concerns as everyone else - what dress to wear to a party, how those Minstrels can't be trusted.  And I particularly enjoy the hospitality of their campfires when it is time to cook!

Sources:  The Fellowship of the Ring


  1. It's a trailer park!

  2. I dig your blog and the depths into which you delve. That is all.

  3. If I had to guess, I would say that this little area is a market community. Perhaps it is sort of like a swap-meet, where people come from different places to trade goods with one another. With a name like "Waymeet", I don't feel that such an idea would be too far-fetched. The fact that they have yards may throw this notion into question, but maybe the yards don't belong to any one hobbit. They could just be pens that are kept here so that traders have a place to keep their livestock while in the area.