How does one define a “hero?” By classic definition, a hero is a man of great strength, valor and swordsmanship who fights evil even in the face of insurmountable odds to defend the lives of the innocent and those that can’t protect themselves. Indeed it is these very attributes which separate heroes from the common man. However, the word “hero” takes an entirely different connotation in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic tale The Hobbit, in which the hero of the story is a furry-footed, complacent, hole dwelling hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. At first glance, Bilbo is very much the “un-hero” and more like an everyday average person than a hero. Unlike the classic definition of a hero, Bilbo’s strength is not measured by the might of his sword (though “sting” does prove to be a formidable ally,) the number of enemies he’s slain, or his ability to protect the innocent (in fact, Bilbo needs a great deal of protection himself.) Instead, Bilbo’s strength and heroism lay in his cunning intelligence & quick thinking, courage and above all else his loyalty to his friends.
Bilbo’s quick thinking and cunning intelligence plays an integral part in his success in becoming a hero. Early on Bilbo encounters a creature by the name of Gollum whose intent as we come to find out, is to eat Bilbo. In an effort to buy more time, Bilbo enters a game of riddles with the creature of the dark. Both agree that if Bilbo should win, Gollum will escort Bilbo to the exit. However, should Gollum win, Bilbo’s fate is sealed as Gollum’s next meal. After exchanging numerous blows, it is Bilbo’s wit that prevails by asking the question “What have I got in my pockets?” (Tolkien, 78) Similar to Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum is his confrontation with Smaug. This time however, Bilbo is facing a far more formidable opponent. Smaug attempts to lure Bilbo into his hall by telling Bilbo that there is plenty of treasure to go around. Bilbo however, having knowledge of dragon-lore sees through Smaug’s frivolous attempt...
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