When Bilbo the Hobbit Discovered Himself Have you ever visited a brand new place that made you have a whole new perspective on life, or an event that made you feel like a whole new person? It had such an impact on you or took so much out of you to accomplish, it made you realize what’s really important to you? Sometimes you learn things about yourself or do things you never knew you were capable of. A change of scenery is really all you need.
This very thing happened to a particular hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo lives in the lovely town of Hobbitton, nestled in a quaint little hobbit hole. Bilbo keeps to himself, and if asked, will never accept any challenge or adventure. This all changes one day when the wizard, Gandalf the grey and a team of dwarves pay Bilbo a visit. In J.R.R Tolkien’s story, The Hobbit, Bilbo has a call to adventure to assist Thorin Oakenshield and company, a team of dwarves, in reclaiming their fortune stolen from them long ago by the evil dragon Smaug.
He is hired to be their burglar. Doing so would include a treacherous journey, crossing into the wild, past the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood, all the way to Smaug’s current home, The Lonely Mountain. Bilbo will face many challenges along the way, including defeating goblins and escaping death. With the help of his magical invisibility ring he finds on the way, and a bit of wit and confidence he never knew he had, Bilbo grew many skills. His transformation from a respectable, conservative hobbit to an adventurous and wise hobbit is long but very evident by the end of the adventure. He set out on this journey with his eyes on the prize, craving that gold. He returned wanting nothing more than friendship and a nice warm bed. This example in the hobbit turns back to my opening statement, that yes, events and things that happen to you can definitely change who you are, Wakefield 2 or reveal things you never knew about yourself. In this novel, Bilbo grows to be a hobbit of a complex personality by developing himself as a burglar, as a leader and as a peacemaker. Bilbo is hired as a burglar, and from day one, he did, or at least attempted, exactly that. At the beginning of the book, he is still naive and inexperienced to anything really, especially stealing successfully. Bilbo’s experiences are when he tries to pickpocket the trolls, steals keys from the guards at the Elvenking gate and steals the Arkenstone from the Lonely Mountain. The first example of Bilbo trying his burglary is when he is sent ahead of the group to investigate a red light in the distance, and sees three trolls sitting around a fire. Bilbo doesn’t want to appear useless, so he attempts to pick the trolls pockets to not come back to the dwarves empty handed. When attempting, he gets caught and eventually gets the dwarves captured as well, being no help. The dwarves are clearly not enthused with his decision, “’Silly time to go practising pinching and pocket-picking’, says Bombur” (Tolkien 50). This shows that Bilbo was not successful his first attempt at burglary and the dwarves clearly seemed annoyed and were still questioning his ability to be their burglar, similar to the beginning of the story when they first met Bilbo. He accepts his failure and then uses it as experience for the future.
As Bilbo and the Dwarves move forward for some time, the dwarves find themselves captured in the Elvenking’s Gate for trespassing and Bilbo uses this opportunity to shine. Using his ring, Bilbo has his second chance at fulfilling his burglary title. After spending some time invisible in the Elvenking’s gate trying to create an escape plan for the Dwarves, Bilbo steals the keys to all the prison doors from the drunken guards and frees his team. “Then in crept the hobbit. Very soon the chief guard had no keys” (172). Bilbo identifies his surroundings and goes for it. The dwarves were nothing short of astonished in Bilbo’s accomplishment and Thorin was there to express his thanks. “’Upon my word!’ said Thorin, when Bilbo whispered to him to come out and join his Wakefield 3 friends, ‘Gandalf spoke true, as usual! A pretty fine burglar you make, it seems, when the time comes”. Since only a short time before then, Bilbo had failed in stealing from the trolls; Thorin still seemed a bit indecisive of Bilbo’s abilities. The statement, “it seems, when the time comes” shows Thorin believes his burglar abilities are not regular and seem to only happen every once and a while. The final and the arguably best act of burglary would be when Bilbo steals the Arkenstone from The Lonely Mountain. At this time, Bilbo is searching through the treasure in Smaug’s hoard and comes across the Arkenstone. It was a gem of significant value to Thorin, being in his family for generations. He decides to steal it and holds it a secret from the dwarves because he knows he deserves it for all his hard work. As he admires the gem and slips it in his pocket, he praises himself for the courage. “’Now I am a burglar indeed’, thought he” (255). By this, he meant he was finally in control of what he was doing; he made the decisions of the group from then on, because frankly, he had done all the work. Bilbo thought taking the Arkenstone would be valuable to him, and it proved true.
The opportunity arose where Bilbo offers out the Arkenstone to the Lake men of Dale to make up for their immense loss due to Smaug. They would then offer it to Thorin, being very important to him, and hopes he would accept it and resolve their disagreement. Bilbo’s decision proves unsuccessful because Thorin just gets angry with Bilbo, does not accept the stone, and goes on with the war like planned. In summary, Bilbo’s role as a burglar was displayed when he attempted to steal from the trolls and gained experience and what not to do next time, when he stole the keys from the Elvenking’s guards and escaped all of the dwarves and lastly, when he stole the Arkenstone from The Lonely Mountain to originally keep to himself but eventually gave up for the benefit of everyone else. Throughout the story, Bilbo’s growth of a leader is very evident. Even in simple things, such as going from trailing behind the group while walking, to proudly leading all the dwarves. Bilbo expresses his Wakefield 4 leadership by leading the Dwarves in defeating the spiders in Mirkwood, by escaping the Dwarves from the Elvenking Gate and entering the Lonely Mountain all by himself.
The first time Bilbo steps up and shows the most leadership on the journey would be when they encounter the spiders. Bilbo leads the dwarves in defeating the spiders in Mirkwood forest, by acting as a distraction; luring the spiders in his direction and running to untie his friends. Doing so provided Bilbo with much confidence and courage which are usually the primary aspects of a leader. Bilbo is clearly happy with his accomplishment of defeating these spiders, “somehow the killing of a giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of a wizard or the dwarves or anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person; much fiercer and bolder” (155). What the narrator meant by this was that defeating the spiders was a huge confidence burst from there, and it was arguably the time when Bilbo officially became the leader of this expedition. Bilbo finds it within himself to control the situation around him and uses his knowledge and problem solving abilities to solve the situation; also major attributes of a leader. Not long after that incident in Mirkwood, another opportunity for Bilbo’s leadership to shine arises. The dwarves have been captured by the Elvenking because he suspected them of trespassing, and Bilbo remains invisible for days, trying desperately to conduct a plan. Bilbo uses his cleverness and growing wit to help the Dwarves escape from imprisonment. This shows leadership because he does so all by himself, and under tremendous pressure; it is a major obstacle and even threatened the end to their journey. Escaping the dwarves awards a new respect from the dwarves towards Bilbo. From then on, they begin to look to him for leadership, support, and even what to do in every situation. Thorin shows his appreciation for Bilbo’s ability to escape them, “’Upon my word!’ said Thorin, when Bilbo whispered to him to come out, ‘Gandalf spoke true, as usual. Pretty fine burglar you make’” (173). This shows that the dwarves are continuing to be astonished by Bilbo’s abilities to get them out of trouble, and gain even more confidence in him. As I mentioned before, confidence is a major part of Wakefield 5 leadership, and the more confidence Bilbo gains from solving problems or defeating enemies, the more of a leader he becomes.
Thorin went from being very skeptical of Bilbo’s ability to be anything useful at the beginning of the book when they were captured by the trolls, to being confident in his abilities by this point when he escaped them. Therefore, Bilbo escaping the dwarves from the Elvenking gate was a large contribution to his leadership. The final major point of Bilbo’s leadership, and probably the bravest point as well, is when Bilbo enters the Lonely Mountain alone to search for the treasure. Bilbo makes this courageous and bold step when no one else will. Bilbo enters the Lonely Mountain alone, and on a side note, does so more than once. He is definitely intimidated but keeps moving forward because he is a true leader; doing it for the sake of his team. As Bilbo enters the mountain alone, he has fear, yet he still moves on: “He was trembling with fear, but his little face was set and grim” (204). Bilbo is literally shaking, as he is so terrified to go into this unknown place, with a deadly dragon lurking around any corner. Bilbo entered because he had all the aspects of a leader. Bravery and confidence, being able to go in there alone, and sacrifice, as he went in there solely for everyone else’s sake, and puts himself in danger so that the dwarves could stay out of it. Throughout these three events of Bilbo leading the dwarves to defeat the spiders, Bilbo escaping the dwarves from the Elvenking gate and Bilbo entering the Lonely Mountain alone, he shows immense leadership. Aside from being a leader and burglar, Bilbo did much to be considered a peacemaker. As the journey nearly ends, he begins to forget about the gold and fortune and focuses on friendship and fairness and Bilbo displays and develops is his role as a peacemaker. He does so in many situations, but more specifically when he is willing to negotiate with Bard, the enemy, when he gives up the Arkenstone to the enemy in order to make a fair deal and when he gives the Elvenking a necklace to symbolise thanks and a truce. When a war is about to arise, Bilbo shows his peacekeeping ways and knows he Wakefield 6 wants to do something to prevent this war.
Bard and his team of men from the Lake town have come to take their even share from the Lonely Mountain to make up for the amount of loss and devastation Smaug caused on their town. They are only denied by Thorin, who had gains an immense greed, and refuses to leave the mountain until a fair deal was made. Both sides of the disagreement remain at the mountain, getting nothing accomplished or solved. What Bilbo does next was his first peacekeeping act. Bilbo goes and attempts to negotiate with the enemy, Bard, to keep the peace and let them leave happily and safely. He offers them one of the fourteenth of the gold, and offers it before his own, meaning he believes their safety is more important than his wealth. “’A share in the profits, mind you,” he went on, ‘I am aware of that, personally I am only too ready to consider all your claims carefully, and deduct what is right from the total before putting in my own claim’” (255). Bilbo agrees more with Bard’s claim and reasoning as to why they deserve some of the profit over Thorin’s reason, simply because he inherited it, so he doesn’t hesitate to offer Bard some. This is considered peace keeping because if Bard were to take his offer, lives would be saved because a war would have been stopped. In the same example, while Bilbo is attempting to make a fair deal with Bard, Bilbo has an idea he is sure to win Bard over. Bilbo has the Arkenstone, the heart of the mountain in his possession, and it is Thorin’s most prized possession. Once the lake men would have possession of the stone, Bilbo thought Thorin would surely give in and end the war. “He [Thorin] values it above a river of gold. I give it to you. It will aid you in your bargaining” (256). Since it is of such a large importance to Thorin, Bilbo hoped he would choose the Arkenstone over all the rest of the gold, letting the lake men have their share, meaning everyone could leave unharmed, with no war. Bilbo’s third and final example of peacekeeping would be when he is on his journey home, and him and Gandalf pay a visit to the Elvenking. To symbolise a truce, and to just give thanks to him, he gives him a necklace. Bilbo felt obligated, and awkward for have being eating his food and drinking his wine for months on end without the Elvenking knowing, “’I beg of you’ Wakefield 7 said Bilbo, stammering and standing on one foot, ‘to accept this gift!’” (275). He knows it’s the least he can do for the Elvenking as he did live in his castle for months. Bilbo and the dwarves didn’t exactly start off on a great note with the Elvenking, being imprisoned, so giving him the necklace and creating a truce was the least Bilbo thought he could do.
Bilbo had the decency to realise the Elvenking was not his enemy, and that is a major part in peacekeeping, which makes Bilbo a great peacekeeper. In conclusion, Bilbo displays his immense peacekeeping abilities by trying to negotiate with the enemy, Bard of Dale, handing over the Arkenstone to Bard in order to stop the war, and giving the Elvenking a necklace to signify a truce. Looking back on Bilbo’s adventure really makes one realize how much he truly did change. On day one of his journey, Bilbo was intimidated and unsure of himself and his surroundings, always wanting to turn back towards home at every second. The same may happen in life. When you are pushed out of your comfort zone, you feel scared, and very uncomfortable. You wish for nothing but a safe place and people you trust around you. However when you have those traumatic experiences, they are what shape you; they are what make the traits in you arise, that you never knew you had. Like courage, bravery, and dedication. Because sometimes these situations are serious, life or death even, so you do whatever it takes to survive. Bilbo was in life or death situations every day, and used three main skills he found within himself to survive: burglary, leadership and peacekeeping. Those definitely weren’t the only traits Bilbo acquired while on this adventure, but they were the main ones and definitely lead to his success. Maybe it goes to show that putting yourself in a little danger may teach you a few things about yourself, and will allow you to have success, similar to Bilbo, later on in life? Now, with that in mind, do you think maybe you will step out of your comfort zone and truly become a new you?
Wakefield 8 Works Cited
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. Australia: George Allen & Unwin Australia Pty Ltd, 1975.
Cite this The Hobbit Overview
The Hobbit Overview. (2016, Jul 25). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-hobbit-overview/