Anyway, as some could probably assume it was the innate fascination that bears inspired that prompted J.R.R. Tolkien to create the character Beorn and his subsequent offspring for his novel The Hobbit and the world of Middle Earth. A mountain of a man who could change his shape into that of an enormous and extremely aggressive bear that can shred apart enemies with his great jaws and talons, even Gandalf himself seems wary of the shape-changing man instructs the dwarves to be cautious when speaking to him.
Some avid readers of Tolkien’s work can probably point out that Beorn was probably inspired by the Berserkers of Norse mythology and folklore, especially considering that most of his work was probably inspired by the Berserkers of Viking lore, unstoppable warriors who often ignored even the most serious of injuries, were utterly ferocious and savage and were even said to froth at the mouth when in the throes of their rage. The word “berserker” actually means either “bear skin” as some of these warriors often decorate themselves in bear skin which was thought to be the source of their fighting prowess or “bare-shirted” as they were sometimes known to charge into battle without armor any form of clothing. Thus, berserkers were often associated with the primal fury of bears and other ferocious animals like wolves (although the latter was often termed “ulfsark”) and some believed that they could even take the form of the animals they were often associated with.
While a Berserker in his own right, Beorn proves himself to be quite the fellow in Tolkien’s stories and, although he was capable of great violence and a bitter enemy of the orcs, he was often nice to guests and even prepared a hale and hearty meal for Bilbo’s party once they arrive at his home in the mountains. This perhaps shows a gentler side to the idea of bears, what with the protectiveness and kindness mother bears often show their cubs.
In the film adaptations of The Hobbit by Peter Jackson, Beorn will be portrayed by Mikael Persbrandt, a Swedish actor known for playing the part of “tough guys” from no-nonsense cops to embittered individuals. Whatever the case, it seems there’s already quite a number of fans of both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit who are quite eager to see the character’s first appearance in the up and coming second installment of The Hobbit entitled Desolation of Smaug coming this December.