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Why Lord of the Rings’ Hobbits Don’t Wear Shoes and Have Such Hairy Feet

J.R.R. Tolkiens beloved creations were noted from the beginning for their bare furry feet. What did that bring to The Lord of the Rings saga?Besides their short stature and love of creature comforts hobbits are perhaps best known for their bare feet leathery and hairy rendering the need for shoes moot.

Its become a signature part of the species so much so that Peter Jacksons Lord of the Rings trilogy used prosthetic feet for the actors. Indeed hobbits feet have come to define them over other sylvan characters both in J.R.R. Tolkiens Middle earth books and elsewhere.Why he made their feet that way is another question entirely one which does not necessarily have an answer. They contribute to the general feel of hobbits in several making them at once practical and otherworldly. And they subsequently helped separate Middle earth from the tangle of faerie tales and myths that Tolkien drew from in The Lord of the Rings making it a self contained universe with its own rules and lexicon. But why make them barefoot? Only the author himself knew for certain though he spelled out the specifics in his book The Hobbit.

The book actively hinges on the readers curiosity to pull them in. As creations of Tolkien hobbits would not have the cultural cache of elves or dwarves. People would have preconceived notions of such figures and be less inclined to stay with Tolkien as he prepared them for his fantasy universe. But a hobbit unknown and yet the literal title of the book promised a mystery just by filling the reader in on what they were.Tolkien actively draws upon sylvan themes and images in describing his creation which is where the bare feet come in. In his initial description the author points out that they wear no shoes because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads. Besides giving them visual distinctiveness it helps emphasize several of their other traits that were important for the story. That includes their status as creatures of the woodlands and countryside a slight hint of wildness in their otherwise genteel natures.

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