12 November 2012
Bilbo: A True Hero?
What is a hero? Is it someone who possesses great strength and bravery, or is it someone who attains fame and wealth? In the world of Middle Earth that J.R.R Tolkien has created, Bilbo Baggins shows us that a hero can be quite the opposite. He is offered (and partially set up by Gandalf the wizard) to partake in an adventure as a burglar to help reclaim the bearded Dwarves’ homeland from the dragon Smaug. The little hobbit is frightened by the mere thought of danger, but the adventure in him ignites and causes him to agree. Through a series of events, Tolkien uses Bilbo’s characterization and ethics to portray the overall theme of heroism. Bilbo certainly does not possess the attributes seen in a typical hero. In most heroes, physical brute strength that aids in the heroic quest is given. Tolkien describes hobbits as “a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves,” as well as stating “hobbits are just like rustic English people, made small in size” which brings about an image of a creature not likely to accomplish much, let alone defeat a dragon (Tolkien 4). He also is not aware of much outside of his home, shown in perhaps one of the most famous lines: “Bilbo had never seen or imagined anything of the kind” in his ventures across new landscapes and mountains. Second, a sense of courage is what accompanies a typical hero on their journey, to which Bilbo does not show just yet. It is easy to see his lack of courage when “a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo's heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering” overtook him after he had received the invitation to go on the journey (Tolkien 5). However, his lack of heroistic qualities described in these beginning pages of the novel create a vision of an ordinary being, one that is relatable to everyone; and maybe that’s just what...
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