Am I the only one to feel sorry for trolls?
I don't mean the malign keyboard psychos who write vile things on yon internet. But dubbing such persons "trolls" kind of makes my point.
When I was a child I'd a small troll I stuck on the end of my pencil. Maybe that's where I first felt some affinity for them. But first, I suppose, we ought to define them.
If we define trolls as ugly folk who shun the sun and human society then, sure, they have my sympathy. But not if we define them instead as malign thieves and scoffers of human flesh.
A common picture from folktale and myth has them living in caves or underground. They're certainly a bit earthy, and one imagines they might pong. Fair to say they're strangers to shampoo. But that's no crime: look at Boris Johnson.
Consider their noses: huge, warty things. Their posture's pretty bad too. Maybe their looks are what made them outcasts. They feature in Scandinavian myth, and your Nordic type generally fancies himself when it comes to appearance.
Perhaps the trolls were Celts or neanderthals or Bigfeet. Some suggest they were non-Christians eventually frightened into non-existence by the ringing of church bells.
In other stories, they're solitary beings of fairly normal appearance. Not joiners-in. And while they're usually depicted as big lads, strong as bears, in Tove Jansson's books, the Moomintrolls are loveable little creatures who live a simple life.
Three individuals of a more malign type feature in The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien, and they turn to stone when caught in sunlight. Indeed, if you see a large, upright stone while you're on a walk, chances are it's a troll similarly caught. Give him a pat on the heid. They're not all bad.
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