“Let’s have no more argument. I have chosen Mr. Baggins and that ought to be enough for all of you. If I say he is a Burglar, a Burglar he is, or will be when the time comes. There is a lot more in him than you guess, and a deal more than he has any idea of himself. You may (possibly) all live to thank me yet.”
Gandalf speaks these words in Chapter 1 shortly after Bilbo faints from terror at the prospect of going on the quest with the dwarves. After Bilbo’s display of fear, the dwarves are skeptical that Bilbo will make a good addition to the party, and Gandalf gives this speech to ease their doubts. The speech is important both because it exemplifies Gandalf’s habit of insisting that his own authority be taken as definitive proof and also because it foreshadows Bilbo’s transformation into a hero. The trajectory of the novel from this point forward essentially involves Bilbo’s discovery of the “lot more in him” that even he does not yet know.
“It’s got to ask uss a question, my preciouss, yes, yess, yess. Jusst one more question to guess, yes, yess.”
Gollum speaks these words during his riddle game with Bilbo in Chapter 5. These sentences perfectly capture Gollum’s corrupt, sibilant, hissing form of speech. He never addresses Bilbo directly but speaks only to his mysterious “precious,” calling Bilbo “It.” Gollum’s infatuation with his precious also acts as a bit of foreshadowing. “Precious” turns out to be the magic ring that Bilbo had discovered and placed in his pocket. Gollum’s devotion to the ring highlights its extreme, seductive powers.
“Somehow the killing of this giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark . . . made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath. ‘I will give you a name,’ he said to it, ‘and I shall call you Sting.’ ”
This passage from Chapter 8 depicts Bilbo’s reaction to his narrow escape from the giant spider of Mirkwood, one of the novel’s major turning points. Defeating a foe in combat gives Bilbo a taste of the confidence that he has not previously enjoyed, making him feel “much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach.” From this point forward, Bilbo shows that he is capable of taking the initiative and acting in the best interest of the company rather than his own self-interest, as his ability to ignore his hunger shows. He upstages Thorin as a leader and establishes himself as a hero.
Bilbo’s decision to name his sword is also symbolic. Named swords are marks of reputation and prowess in ancient epic literature, and Bilbo’s naming of his sword essentially represents his laying claim to the mantle of heroism.
“The most that can be said for the dwarves is this: they intended to pay Bilbo really handsomely for his services; they had brought him to do a nasty job for them, and they did not mind the poor little fellow doing it if he would; but they would all have done their best to get him out of trouble, if he got into it. . . . There it is: dwarves are not heroes, but calculating folk with a great idea of the value of money; some are tricky and treacherous and pretty bad lots; some are not, but are decent enough people like Thorin and Company, if you don’t expect too much.”
In this passage from Chapter 12, the narrator makes an apology for the dwarves’ bad behavior in sending Bilbo into the dragon’s lair all alone. The narrator implies that the dwarves’ cowardice is not really their fault. Their character—their greed and deceptiveness—is inherent to their race. Tolkien’s apologetic explanation indicates the extent to which race is treated as a powerful determinant of identity in his Middle-Earth. No character is capable of breaking past the boundaries set by birth—goblins are all evil, elves are all good, and so on. It is important to note, however, that race in Middle-Earth is not the same as race in the real world.
“There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Thorin speaks these words in Chapter 18, just before he dies, asking Bilbo’s forgiveness for his harsh words to him before the Battle of the Five Armies. Thorin acknowledges that, though in his greed he has looked on Bilbo’s simple goodness with contempt, the world would be a better place with more Bilbos and fewer Thorins. This quotation places the book’s contrast between the simple life of modernity and the grim heroism of the ancient epic in a new light. Bilbo initially felt that the rigors of heroism would force him to abandon the complacency of his simple life at Hobbiton. At the conclusion of the novel, we see that if everyone led a simple, hobbitlike life, the world would be free of evil, and heroism would, in effect, be unnecessary. This new understanding lies behind Bilbo’s decision to return to Hobbiton at the end of the book and is Tolkien’s closing moral position in The Hobbit.
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This has helped me a lot when I first started reading the book it was a little confusing but this has really helped me understand better.
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Study the vocabulary words and the chapter summaries for the big test on September 9th, because we will not go over this in class!!!!
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