The Maturation of Bilbo Baggins

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In J. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins faces numerous obstacles that propel his personal growth. His encounters with these challenges allow him to mature at a faster pace than the peaceful atmosphere of the Shire would have permitted. Prior to the arrival of Gandalf and the dwarves at his doorstep, Bilbo led an uneventful life as a typical hobbit who prioritized his own affairs and was punctual for meals. However, their unexpected arrival initiated a series of life-altering events for Bilbo, completely beyond his influence or control.

As Bilbo progressed on his journey, he became more open to the world around him. Initially, in the shire, he was somewhat naive, unaware of the evil that existed beyond his own realm, except for what he had heard in stories. There were numerous instances that demonstrated how Bilbo transformed from a simple person into a hero. The entire book can be seen as a gradual change, showcasing how someone can be transformed by embarking on an adventure with new companions and experimenting with new experiences. From transitioning to a new life to confronting death directly, Mr. Bilbo’s growth and maturity are evident.

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Baggins is unmistakably highlighted and must not be ignored by the reader. Embarking on a new adventure was an unfamiliar experience for this hobbit, not merely different but entirely alien to him. Mr. Baggins commences this narrative devoid of any interest in Gandalf’s plan. Bilbo does not embark on journeys frequently, if at all, at least not to the extent that this particular expedition demanded. In order to embark on this quest, he would have to confront an unprecedented peril, something that he would eventually grow accustomed to as the novel progresses. “The subsequent day, Gandalf had almost slipped from his memory.”

He struggled to remember things unless he jotted them down on his Engagement Tablet, like this: Gandalf Tea Wednesday. The previous day he had been too flustered to accomplish such a task. This quote exemplifies how Bilbo still possesses childlike qualities. He cannot rely on his memory alone and requires reminders. Similar to a young child before a major sporting event against their biggest rival team, Bilbo is not excited about the upcoming adventure and will still have to endure it.

During the troll chapter, Bilbo undergoes a transformation as he is compelled to steal from the trolls. This task is crucial for the survival of the group. It marks a new experience for Bilbo since he has never engaged in theft before, especially not from fellow trolls. However, due to their perception of him as a burglar, the trolls pressure him into stealing from their own kind. Unfortunately, Bilbo’s lack of thievery skills leads to a mistake. In his desperation to retrieve something from the trolls, he tries to pickpocket one of them without realizing that this particular troll possesses a talking wallet. Consequently, Bilbo gets caught and unknowingly becomes responsible for capturing all the trolls.

Once again, Bilbo attempts to impress the dwarves by facing the goblins. However, his efforts result in him being thrown into a hole and ending up in a gloomy underworld alongside Gollum. In this desolate cave, Bilbo engages in a riddle contest with Gollum, hoping to secure his assistance in leaving the damp and dismal place. Eventually, Bilbo outwits Gollum, discovering a ring that grants him invisibility. Now faced with the task of escaping, he follows Gollum towards the exit and leaps over him, a daring move in the darkness.

Straight over Gollum’s head he leapt, covering a distance of seven feet forward and three in the air. In fact, he narrowly avoided hitting his skull on the low arch of the passage (Chapter 6, pg. 107). When Bilbo catches up with the dwarves, he recounts his side adventure to them, omitting any mention of the ring. The dwarves are astounded by his tale and begin to regard him as more than just a hobbit whose purpose was to eliminate an unlucky number. As the group enters the forest, Bilbo takes on the role of leader more frequently. This results in his accelerated growth and maturation.

Bilbo demonstrates bravery and courage by killing a giant spider and saving his friends who were trapped. His actions prove vital for the survival of the dwarves in the forest. The experience of killing the spider alone empowers Bilbo, transforming him into a fiercer and bolder person. This pivotal moment also leads to the naming of his sword, Sting, highlighting his personal growth throughout the story. In their journey to the mountain, the dwarves rely on Bilbo to open the door despite their initial frustration and annoyance with him. It is through Bilbo’s recollection of Elrond’s guidance that they are able to progress. Once again, the dwarves remain oblivious to Bilbo’s contributions.

Bilbo is forced to be the one who enters the cave to Smaug. None of the dwarves are courageous enough to accompany Bilbo, but Bilbo is more intelligent than the dwarves would have anticipated. He puts on his ring and goes into the cave in order to deceive the dragon without being recognized. Regrettably, Bilbo makes the error of removing the ring and revealing his true identity to the dragon. Additionally, when Bilbo speaks, he unintentionally hints to the dragon that he is from Laketown, which triggers Smaug’s aggression and leads him to attack Laketown.

Bilbo is the sole individual courageous enough to venture into the dragons hall once the dragon has departed, where he discovers and pilfers the Arkenstone, aware of Thorin’s fervent desire for this jewel. Subsequently, Bilbo becomes increasingly anxious about the dragon and resolves to depart from the vicinity. Meanwhile, the dwarves rely on Thorin for guidance on their next course of action. Bilbo swiftly transitions from being the group leader to a silent observer, who remains on the sidelines and absorbs everything that unfolds. The conduct of Thorin and his companions greatly distresses him as he deems it childish and imprudent.

Despite betraying his companions by giving the Arkenstone to the enemy, Bilbo remains loyal to the group and refuses to join them. During the battle of the five armies, he expresses his dislike for the battle and considers it foolish. He remarks, “Misery me! I have heard songs of many battles, and I have always understood that defeat may be glorious. It seems very uncomfortable, not to say distressing. I wish I was well out of it” (Chapter 17, pg. 288).

During the battle’s conclusion, Bilbo stays by Thorin’s side until his final moments, weeping as Thorin passes away. Despite exhibiting childlike emotions, Bilbo is undergoing personal development and maturation that he would not have encountered if he had stayed in the Shire. Throughout the book, Bilbo displays bravery, honesty, and determination. Very few individuals could have achieved what Bilbo did and endured for such a long time. Fortunately, he persisted and thus disproved the doubts of both the dwarves and potentially all readers.

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The Maturation of Bilbo Baggins. (2017, Feb 16). Retrieved from

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