By: Jen The Hobbit tells the story of a comfortable, friendly creature named Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo, like most hobbits, is similar to a human, but about half the size, and much more nible because they have leathery soles on thier feet, and not nearly as loud. Bilbo gets caught up in mysterious affairs much greater than his own hobbit-life affairs when, at the recommendation of a mysterious old wizard named Gandalf, he is hired as a “burglar” by a group of dwarves. These dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield, son of Throror, son of Thrain are going to the Lonely Mountain in the East to reclaim their family’s massive treasure from the great dragon Smaug who lives deep in the bowls of the lonely mountain.
Along the way, the company gets into trouble with goblins who live in the misty mountains, spiders who live in Mirkwood forest, and other destructive and harmful creatures, and they often escape only because of the assistance of Gandalf and other good creatures they meet. Bilbo proves himself essential to the quest, saving the dwarves on many occasions with his valor and skill. His success is partly due to a magic ring that he takes from a strange, dark creature named Gollum, who lives in the dank, dark caves below the Misty Mountains. Gollum is clammy and slimy and he refers to his ring as my precious.
Bilbo even manages to discover Smaug’s weak spot, the bare area under his ear, which allows the dragon to be killed and the treasure divided. However, the dwarves cannot enjoy the gold alone, since it lures humans and elves, some of whom have a just claim to a portion of it. Thorin’s unwillingness to share the treasure almost leads to war between the dwarves and the elves and humans, but instead war is forced upon all of them by the goblins and wargs (wild wolves). All the good races(dwarfs, men, elves, eagles, and Dain’s soldiers) are thus forced to unite against their common enemies. They succeed in defeating the evil creatures, but at the cost of the life of Thorin and many others. After the battle, the good races enjoy the treasure in peace rather than fighting over it. Bilbo, weary but happy to have played a part in great affairs, returns to his quiet home at Bag End in the Shire.
Because of his unhobbit-like adventures, he is never really accepted back into the community of Hobbiton. Though Tolkien’s world is one of fantasy, he designed it to reflect certain truths about the real world. The Hobbit addresses the problem of determing the “right” way for a hobbit to live, not what society tells us to do. Should he or she concern himself with great deeds and wars, and risk losing the humble perspective afforded by the simple life? Or should the ordinary person never look outside his or her own quiet existence, and risk ignoring the larger perspective that might have allowed him to do great things for the common good? The truth that emerges from The Hobbit is that, if one is called on to play a part in great affairs–as we all are, at least according to Tolkien’s Christian perspective–then one should not shirk one’s duty. To perform that duty well, however, one must never lose sight of one’s own insignificance in the larger scheme of things, nor lose respect for the value of the simple life. Word Count: 570