The Hobbit


Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit and the protagonist of the novel. Like all hobbits, he enjoys peaceful, pastoral surroundings, a cozy home and good food. Bilbo’s character is shaped both by his heritage and by the events of the novel. As a Baggins, Bilbo tends to be conventional and suspicious of travel and adventure. However, Bilbo is also influenced by the Tooks, on his mother’s side, a notoriously eccentric and adventurous family of hobbits. Throughout the novel, Bilbo’s yearning for adventure collides with his longing for the simple comforts of home. As the quest takes Bilbo through a series of challenging situations, he becomes increasingly self-confident, clever, and daring without ever losing his common sense and essential moral goodness.

Bilbo’s reason for joining the dwarves’ quest has little to do with gaining a share in their treasure. Rather, he is inspired by his (usually repressed) longing to see the world. He also feels compelled by pride to prove himself to the dwarves when he overhears them expressing their lack of confidence in his abilities. The hero within Bilbo is stirred by the dwarves’ song of faraway lands and adventure and, with the aid of Gandalf, the homebody Bilbo is dragged along for the ride. Throughout his hero’s journey—even in moments of fear or anxiety—Bilbo never abandons his friends or behaves in an unethical way. He spares Gollum’s life out of pity and fairness, and he even repays the Elvenking with jewels for the food and drink he was forced to steal from his palace while the dwarves were imprisoned there.

Bilbo’s essential goodness is an important factor in the plot of the novel, and it underscores the useful lesson which may be taken from it. Bilbo, unlike Thorin, is not bedazzled by treasure, and he is not greedy. He gives away much of his treasure at the end, only keeping what he thinks he can use in his lifetime. For Bilbo, the quest has been about discovering the deep reserve of heroism and strength within his generous personality, and about forging lifelong...

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Essays About The Hobbit