Looking Back On The Hobbit

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By: Mary Rakas

The Hobbit is a classic work of literature. It’s a light-hearted yet instructive tale about courage and friendship appealing to readers of all ages. It’s a must-read for any fan of J.R.R. Tolkien or his epic, The Lord of the Rings.

The tale follows Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit thoroughly content with the comforts of home. He lives in a hole in the ground surrounded by comfortable furnishings and sizable pantries. He enjoys simple things: walking through the meadows, making smoke rings, and cooking food. He is unwillingly thrust into the world of magic, dragons, and adventure when Gandalf the wizard comes knocking at his door.

Bilbo’s adventure is one of self-discovery and awareness. In his travels with the dwarves (Thorin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Fili, Kili, Dori, Ori, Nori, Oin, Gloin, Balin, and Dwalin), Bilbo finds the world is a much bigger place than he imagined. At first, it’s unpleasant. Not long after setting out, he and his companions are captured by trolls, and lie helpless while the trolls discuss how best to cook them.

Gandalf saves them in the nick of time, and leads them to the Elvish city of Rivendell. Bilbo there sees for the first time how magical the world is. The music and laughter of the Elves is more beautiful and mirthful than he ever dreamed it could be. He also discovers the kindness of strangers when the lord Elrond aids the dwarves, who continue their journey through the Misty Mountains.

The respite is a brief one. The travelers are captured by goblins and brought before the Great Goblin in the deep tunnels of Goblin Town. Gandalf again comes to the rescue. He and the dwarves fight their way through the tunnels, but accidentally leave Bilbo behind!

Bilbo is knocked unconscious and awakens to darkness and solitude. It’s a pivotal moment toward his self-discovery. His strength is tested by sheer circumstance. With neither wizards nor dwarves to save him from trouble, he is forced to take action. As he gropes through the darkness, Bilbo picks up a golden ring and unknowingly changes the course of history. Alone he faces the creature Gollum on the shores of a lake. Following a perilous game of riddles Bilbo, with a little luck and help from his new magic ring, narrowly escapes with his life and reunites with the dwarves. Wolves attack the company, but eagles bear Bilbo, Gandalf, and the dwarves to safety.

To the disappointment of the dwarves, Gandalf leaves the party at the eaves of Mirkwood. For Bilbo, he passes the point of no return. From that moment on, he transitions from a nervous, introverted homebody worried about his dishes being broken to a courageous leader. The dwarves who once thought Bilbo more trouble than he was worth now hold him in the highest regard. They look to him for guidance and counsel.

Bilbo uses his newfound courage, as well as taunts like ‘Lazy Lob’ and ‘Attercop,’ to singlehandedly fight off dozens of evil spiders to free the dwarves from captivity. When Thranduil, king of the Elves of Mirkwood, imprisons Thorin and company, no other than Bilbo hatches an escape plan. He packs his less-than-thrilled friends into barrels and rolls them into the river, which sweeps them away to Laketown. When the travelers climb the Lonely Mountain and open the hidden door, it’s Bilbo who goes in alone to confront the dragon, Smaug the Terrible.

This feat is the epitome of the old saying that courage isn’t the absence of fear, but acting in spite of it. Going into the dragon’s den is a dangerous task, a daunting task. Bilbo is terrified, but nonetheless he faces his fear. By his bravery he discovers a weak spot in Smaug’s scales. It’s inside information that helps Bard the Bowman, a man of Laketown and a descendant of the lords of Dale, slay the dragon and free the land from his carnage.

Unlike most of the dwarves, Bilbo isn’t enamored with the recovered hoard of gold. In fact, he’s more than willing to give up his share to broker peace among the Elves of Mirkwood, the citizens of Laketown, and the dwarves, who quarrel over the treasure following Smaug’s demise. Bilbo is interested in neither riches nor status. His biggest concern is keeping his new friendships from breaking apart, and also getting back to the fireside of his hobbit hole.

The story is ultimately a happy one, though there is some sorrow in the end. Everyone puts aside their differences to defend against an army of goblins and wolves. Bilbo doesn’t take part in the Battle of Five Armies. He’s knocked unconscious for the second time. Thorin, Fili, and Kili are killed; before his final breath, Thorin repents of his greed and asks for Bilbo’s forgiveness. Bilbo gives it willingly, and departs for home with a heavy heart. Other than some trouble when he at last reaches his hobbit hole (his house and his belongings are auctioned off because he’s presumed dead), everything works out.

The Hobbit is an enchanting tale, one that will charm readers for generations. It showcases the wonder of adventure and self-discovery while emphasizing the important things in life. Accept new challenges. Explore the world outside your comfort zone. Face your fears. Only then can you discover your true strength and unlock your potential. But always appreciate your roots and bonds of friendship. Food and cheer and song are worth more than hoarded gold.


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