The Hobbit Book
“The Hobbit” is considered to be one of the best books written by J.R.R. Tolkien. Created in the tradition of a fairy tale, with author’s effort to integrate two interests, stories for his three sons and a mythology of England, the book has had a corner in hearts of many readers since it was first published in September, 1937. Being Tolkien’s first published work, The Hobbit book is often marketed as a prelude to his masterpiece “The Lord of the Rings”, published 17 years later.
The book’s plot and characters reflect the author’s thoughts about the complexity of human being combined with the ideas of Scandinavian epics he studied and the echo of middle class England in which Tolkien lived. His main hero, Bilbo Baggins (the “Hobbit” of the title), represents the pattern of a rural Englishman of that time. The novel’s unicity and sophisticated humor lie in transplanting a typical representative of English society of the 1930s into a medieval hero. In many ways, “The Hobbit” can be marketed both as an introduction in the fantasy world of Middle-earth and as a link between the events, taking place in “The Silmarillion” and “The Lord of the Rings”.
Bilbo Baggins lives his calm and peaceful life in a comfortable hole, some may compare to quaint OC apartments, near the bustling hobbit village of Hobbiton, smoking a pipe, drinking good bear and looking for a meal. His life style and interests are typical for hobbits – small and chubby people about half the size of humans who usually dress in bright colors and wear no shoes, because their large feet grow thick brown hair, and feel great love to good food and drink. In the beginning of the story Bilbo has a very weak character; his main features are shyness and fear susceptibility. Like most of his kind, he is fond of gardening and doesn’t wish any excitement or adventure.
One day the situation is changed by the arrival of a mysterious old wizard Gandalf who is looking for someone to join him and a group of thirteen militant dwarves on their quest to reclaim the treasure stolen by Smaug, the most awful dragon in all Middle-earth. In this dangerous adventure Bilbo Baggins is intended to be an active participant, although, the dwarves are very skeptical about Gandalf’s choice and the hobbit is scared.
After the heroes begin their journey, all of them, except Gandalf, are caught by three hungry trolls who plan to eat them. But Gandalf appears and initiates a quarrel between the trolls, so they stay outside, until the sun rises and the sunlight turns them to stone. With a key found by Bilbo the group unlocks trolls’ secret cave, takes magic swords and travels to the place called Rivendell, where the heroes have a rest at home of Elrond, a friendly elf leader.
Lord Elrond translates the inscriptions written on the swords that Thorin Oakenshield, a king of dwarves, and Gandalf found in trolls’ cave, and the group sets out to cross the Misty Mountains. Soon a terrible snowstorm begins, so the heroes find their shelter in a cave (that turns out to be the Great Goblin’s cave), where all of them, except Gandalf, are captured by goblins. But Gandalf appears, kills the Great Goblin, using Glamdring, a magic sword, and frees his friends. Trying to escape, the group accidentally leaves behind Bilbo who falls on his way out and loses consciousness.
Roaming about the tunnels, Bilbo finds an unusual golden ring and puts it into his pocket. Shortly after he faces Gollum, an ugly and hissing creature, who lives in caverns and hunts fish and goblins. Gollum wants to kill Bilbo, but Bilbo wins the fight and realizes that the ring is magic and is Gollum’s favorite possession. He puts the ring on and becomes invisible. Bilbo finds a short way leading up out of the goblins’ tunnels and meets Gandalf and the dwarves who have already escaped. The group travels further, but the giant wolfs, known as Wargs, pursue them, and they have to climb up trees to survive. The situation gets worse when goblins come, but luckily Bilbo and his comrades are rescued by a group of great eagles who fly them to their safety nest.
Next morning Gandalf takes his companions to the house of Beorn, a creature who can metamorphose from a man into a bear, and he helps the travelers to outfit for the next step of their journey through the forest of Mirkwood. At the edge of this dark and dangerous forest Gandalf leaves Bilbo and the dwarves, warning them not to turn off the path. On their way through Mirkwood the travelers use a boat to cross a bewitched lake and rescue Bompur, one of the thirteen dwarves, from a magic power of the lake which sends to sleep everyone who falls into its water. Time goes by, provision ends, and the group decides to ignore Gandalf’s advice and leaves the path.
They are captured by giant spiders, but Bilbo frees himself and kills a giant spider with the sword found in the trolls’ cave, he names it Sting. With the help of the ring Bilbo becomes invisible, frees the dwarves from the spider’s webs and reveals a secret of the magic ring. Shortly after the fight with spiders, the group, except Bilbo, is caught by the wood elves living near the river which runs through the forest. Bilbo spends weeks, wandering around the palace of the Elvenking and thinking over a plan to free his companions. Using the ring, Bilbo helps the dwarves to slink away from the elves; he hides them in empty wine barrels and floats down the river to Esgaroth or Lake-town, a human town near the Lonely Mountain, where the dragon lives.
Spending a week in Esgaroth, the group goes to the Lonely Mountain and sees the door to Smaug’s den, but they can’t open it until Bilbo discovers the clue in Thorin’s map and uses the key of Thorin’s grandfather. Hand over head Bilbo talks to the awful dragon Smaug who unwittingly coughs up that despite the impenetrable scales has a weak spot near his heart. The dragon gets into a rage, when Bilbo escapes with the precious gem, the Arkenstone, stolen from the hoard, and leaves the mountain to burn Esgaroth. Smaug destroys the town before he is killed by Bard, a heroic archer, informed about the dragon’s weak point from a message delivered by a thrush.
With the dragon dead, the humans of Lake Town and the elves of Mirkwood turn steps to the Lonely Mountain in search of the treasure as compensation for their losses, but Thorin refuses to ally, and Bilbo gives Bard the Arkenstone to use it in negotiation with the leader of the dwarves. When Thorin knows about Bilbo’s deed, he becomes very angry, but Gandalf appears and safes the hobbit from the dwarf’s blind fury. At this time, an army of Wargs and goblins approaches the mountain, so the humans, elves and dwarves have to unite, and The Battle of Five Armies begins. The heroes nearly lose, but Beorn and the eagles arrive and help them win the battle. Thorin is hurt and before he dies he expresses regrets for his actions against Bilbo; the leader of the dwarves is buried with the Arkenstone and Orcrist.
After this dangerous journey, Bilbo and Gandalf come back to Hobbiton, where the Hobbit continues to live. Despite Bilbo is rejected by hospitable hobbit society, he is happy to communicate with elves and wizards and enjoys his simple and comfortable life.
The storyteller of “The Hobbit” is Bilbo who narrates about the actions he takes part in, the thoughts he has and feelings he experiences. At the very beginning Bilbo appears as a weak and timid hobbit, but his personality develops getting over the difficulties he meets over a period of the journey, and at the end of the story we see a hero with the strongest character. He is not confused to express his own ideas and learns to overcome his fears. The author describes the changes in Bilbo’s character very carefully as much as to tell us: don’t let your fears be obstacles in your path.