In every fantasy novel, there is always a protagonist and an antagonist with other characters that are either good or bad. The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien is a novel about a rich, small and timid hobbit, called Bilbo Baggins, who was chosen by a wizard, Gandalf to join thirteen other dwarves on a nighly impossible adventure to retrieve the treasure that was stolen by Smaug the dragon. Throughout the novel, the races Tolkien invented in The Hobbit are either good or evil, and none in between.
The first race that is mentioned in the book is the hobbit. The only hobbit that was given in the novel is Bilbo Baggins. The first description of the hobbit is given in the first chapter. It quote “They are a little people, about half our height, and smaller than a bearded dwarves.” This gives the reader the impression of the hobbit being small and vulnerable, which make them harmless and tame. Another example that emphasis that reinforce that Bilbo is good is that he is respected by others as seen in the following quote “people considered them very respectable, not only because most of them were rich…”. Bilbo is also labelled as being kind, brave, heroic and smart through his action. Throughout the novel, Bilbo smart thinking and brave act has saved the dwarves countless times. One example of this is Bilbo rescuing the dwarves from the Wood-elves. Bilbo secretly took the key from one of the drunken guard and freed the dwarves from their prison cells. After that, he smartly escaped the castle with the dwarves using the barrels and the river. This again reinforces the idea of Bilbo being good, brave, heroic and smart. However, the kindest act that Bilbo made in the whole novel was trying to make peace between the dwarves and the mortal men from Lake Town by sacrificing his share of the treasure. As a result of this kind offer by Bilbo, he is view as a peacemaker by the reader. At the end of the novel, it’s clear that Bilbo’s action has allow the reader to view hobbits as good, brave, heroic and smart.
Another race that Tolkien invented is Smaug the dragon. Dragons are viewed as evil and wicked, which make Smaug the antagonist in the novel. In the novel, Smaug is described as a greedy, strong, wicked and gold- loving dragon by the dwarves. These are the characteristic of a villain, which emphasis the idea of dragon being evil. Another example of Smaug being evil is that he is a cold-blooded killer as it stated in this quote “Later he used to crawl out of the great gate and come by the night to Dale, and carry away people, to eat, until Dale was ruined, and all the people dead or gone.” This again reinforce that Smaug is evil as he kill and eats people. Dragons also have a reputation as wily talkers, and Smaug ranks among the best of them. He never says what he means and even his polite words can carry veiled menace. At one stage of the novel, Smaug skillfully plays on Bilbo’s doubts, to trick him into giving himself away, so that he could kill him. This again reinforces the idea of Smaug being wicked as he tried to kill Bilbo. Through Smaug’s action, it’s clear that Tolkien wants the reader to view Smaug and dragon being evil and wicked.
Lastly, Tolkien invented other races in the novel that are either good or bad. Some races include elves, wargs, goblins and eagles. Elves and eagles are considered good in the novel, as they helped Bilbo and the dwarves along the way to Lonely Mountain. One example of the elves helping them is providing shelter and food to the dwarves, as the following quote said “Their bags were filled with food and provisions light to carry but strong to bring them over the mountain passes.” Elrond- the master of the elf’s house also helped the dwarves to read the moon letters about the secret door that were on the map. The eagles on the other hand, saved the hobbit and the dwarves from the wargs when they were trapped on the trees. Both the elves and the eagles, also help the dwarves to defend the treasure in the Battle of Fives Armies. All of these examples above show the reader that elves and eagles are good. On the other hand, goblins and wargs are view evil and wicked like the dragon in the novel. At one stage of the novel, Bilbo and his company were capture by the goblin and taken to the Great Goblins, only to be dump into the dark holes full of snakes. Dumping innocent into dark holes full of snakes is a wicked act and this reinforces the idea of goblin being wicked. Wargs are described as evil wolves by Tolkien. They worked together with the goblins to raid village, and take villagers as their servants. This is quoted in the novel “But now they had planned with the goblins’ help to come by night upon some of the villages nearest to the mountains. If their plan had been carried out, there would have been none left there next day; all would have been killed except the few the goblins kept from the wolves and carried back as prisoners to their caves.” This again reinforces the idea that both the goblins and the wargs are evil. At the end of the novel, Tolkien made it clear to the audience which races he invented as good or evil.
The Hobbit is written in such a way that the reader is absolutely clear on which race Tolkien invented as good or bad. Hobbit, eagle and elves are viewed as the good races in the book, while dragon, wargs and goblin are labelled as villains by the reader. Even though none of these races Tolkien invented exists, The Hobbit is still an interesting novel that displays the power of good and evil.