The morning of a new day arrives. The place where Beorn’s house was built and filmed is called Paradise, and from what can be seen on screen it truly lives up to its name. The meadow where the horses neigh lies directly before a lake that stretches out of sight, ending in breathtaking mountains. It is only appropriate that Beorn should live here.
It’s a secluded, lonesome place where he can dedicate his life to what he enjoys best, taking care of animals and living in a symbiotic relationship with nature. The serenity and lightness of the morning are cut short with the swing of an ax through a piece of wood. A sudden dose of reality where the Dwarves find themselves at the moment.
Face or flee
Dori: “Don’t blame me!”
Bofur: “Come on, Dori!”
Nori: “Well, I say we should leg it. Slip out the back way.”
Dwalin: “I’m not running from anyone, beast or no.”
The Dwarves are already up and about the lodge, gathered together before the doors that lead to the back yard. Bilbo had taken his time to sleep as much as he could, given the late hour at which he was still awake, curiously eyeing the Ring. Two huge bees awaken Bilbo by landing on his nose, distracting his sleep. He jumps into a sitting position as he takes in the size of the bees. Nothing he had ever seen before. But then again, everything is out of proportion in Beorn’s house, why not bees as well?
As opposed to Nori and probably a couple of other Dwarves, Dwalin finds it impossible to run from anything, no matter how dangerous it might be. Therefore, a suggestion that they should run for it, save themselves from the beast is not an option. Dwalin takes his position very seriously, and as such he cannot show or feel fear, and he definitely won’t be seen running from it.
Gandalf: “There is no point in arguing. We cannot pass through the Wilderland without Beorn’s help. We’ll be hunted down before we ever get to the forest. Ah, Bilbo. There you are. Now, this will require some delicate handling. We must tread very carefully. The last person to have startled him was torn to shreds. I will go first and Bilbo you come with me.”
Bilbo: “Is this a good idea?”
It seems a dangerous mission in itself to simply walk up and talk to Beorn. Gandalf’s warning to the Dwarves is very well received. They have a healthy respect toward the beast not wanting to arouse him in a way that would make him volatile.
It is of no surprise that Gandalf picks Bilbo to be his companion in this introduction. As opposed to the Dwarves, Bilbo has manners and good breeding, and more than that his pride and judgment aren’t as developed as that of the Dwarves. And Gandalf is in no danger of experiencing embarrassment or shame for having taken him along on the quest.
Bilbo, however, is wrought with fear over this introduction. He does not want to face the beast in any way and finds himself feeling inadequate for the job at hand. Thorin nudges Bilbo into action. If Gandalf wants him to be his wingman, then that is what he shall do.
Gandalf: “Yes. Now, the rest of you, you just wait here and don’t come out until I give the signal.”
Bofur: “Right. Wait for the signal.”
Gandalf: “And no sudden moves or loud noises, and don’t overcrowd him. And only come out in pairs. Right. No, actually, Bombur you count as two so you should come out alone. Remember, wait for my signal.”
Bofur: “The signal. Right. What signal would that be?”
Gandalf gives clear points of behavior the Dwarves must follow which they take seriously. The only problem left to clear now is the signal they should follow. That particular issue is moot since Gandalf had already left with Bilbo outside. Bofur can now only guess what the signal could be. He will have to play it by ear.
The fact that Bombur has to come out alone is more than obvious. There is no need for explanation as he himself acknowledges that fact by holding a carrot in his hand and a bib around his neck.
Bilbo: “You’re nervous.”
Gandalf: “Nervous? What nonsense. Good morning. Good morning.”
Beorn: “Who are you?”
Gandalf: “I am Gandalf. Gandalf the Grey.”
Beorn: “Never heard of him.”
Gandalf: “I’m a Wizard. Perhaps you’ve heard of my colleague Radagast the Brown. He resides in the southern borders of Mirkwood.”
Bilbo has good perception and can tell when someone is experiencing some emotional upheaval, like Gandalf is now. There is a healthy dose of fear and respect toward Beorn but also nervousness as he cannot predict what the man will do. Would he transform into a beast and slay them all or will he be reasonable and temperate enough to come to a compromise with the company?
Bilbo is nowhere to be found in the shot. He has hidden behind Gandalf, too afraid to face the tall man standing before the Wizard.
Beorn: “What do you want?”
Gandalf: “Well, simply to thank you for your hospitality. You may have noticed that we took refuge in your lodgings here last night.”
Beorn: “Who is this little fellow?”
Gandalf: “Well, this would be Mr. Baggins from the Shire.”
Beorn: “He’s not a Dwarf is he?”
Gandalf: “Why, no. No, he’s a Hobbit. A good family and unimpeachable reputation.”
With all the grace and politeness possible Gandalf expresses his gratitude toward Beorn. Beorn, on the other hand, does not even try to sound nice or pleasant. His form may be human but his attitude is still bearlike. In any human interaction there is a need for civility and pleasantness that come naturally to the conversationalists.
It is a need that stems from the want to bond and create as pleasant an environment as possible for oneself. The nicer one is to others, the more possible it is that they will be accepted and acknowledged into the community.
Beorn obviously does not want to be accepted anywhere. He is his own man, living alone and happy about it. Encountering a Wizard like Gandalf, one would probably feel immediate comfort and ease around him. As this is not the case with Beorn, it could mean that he had spent so much time on his own that he does not know how to bond with another creature, except for his animals of course.
This is something he has in common with Radagast. Although a completely different type of person, a bit quirky and confused, Radagast is also one to prefer the company of animals to others.
There is nothing inherently bad or wrong about wanting to spend your life alone. However, it does take from refining one’s social skills, or in Beorn’s case, completely disowning them. He has become hostile to all human beings it seems. Not even a Wizard is reason enough to behave himself a bit more humanely.
Follow me to my next post.