• Study Guide

Chapters 6–7

Summary Chapters 6–7

Analysis: Chapters 6–7

Although the eagles and Beorn help the company tremendously, they both express that hatred for goblins, rather than love for dwarves, is their main reason for helping the company. Neither Beorn nor the eagles have any interest in the dwarves’ gold, but as representatives of pure nature, they are the sworn enemies of corrupted nature, represented by the goblins and Wargs. The eagles generally keep distant from the affairs of other races, and Beorn can be downright cruel to those who displease him. When he finds a goblin and a Warg prowling about in the woods, for instance, he puts the goblin’s head on a stake and the Warg’s pelt on a tree outside his house as a warning. Beorn and the eagles show all the brute force of nature and, in fact, seem to be part of it. Gandalf surmises that, long ago, Beorn was born from the mountains themselves.

By the end of Chapter 7, the episodic nature of The Hobbit narrative becomes increasingly clear. Like successive episodes of a popular television show, each chapter brings a new setting and a new set of adventures. Chapter 2 involved the trolls, Chapter 3 introduced us to Elrond and Rivendell, Chapter 4 involved the goblins, Chapter 5 chronicled Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum, and so forth. Once an adventure is completed, it generally has relatively little bearing on the rest of the novel. The one continuous thread, however, is that the changes Bilbo undergoes as a result of each adventure affect his behavior in subsequent adventures.

Moreover, until the group nears its destination at the Lonely Mountain, the particular adventures that they face have little to do with their ultimate goal of regaining Thorin’s treasure. Dangers like the goblins and the tempest are merely incidental obstacles the characters encounter on the way to their destination. These impediments make up The Hobbit’s cast of antagonists, each of whom predominates in a single adventure. Examples of particular antagonists include the Great Goblin, the spiders of Mirkwood, and the great dragon Smaug.

The novel’s overall tone grows darker and more ominous the farther the company travels, so that the solace they find in Beorn’s lair after escaping the goblins seems grim and violent compared to the solace they found in Rivendell after escaping the trolls. Even after the company escapes the goblins, the coming journey into Mirkwood seems so perilous that the road ahead seems more frightening than the road behind. This gradually darkening tone builds tension. It also transforms the novel’s dynamic from a lighthearted children’s story into a more serious epic. This gradual change corresponds to the reader’s immersion into the tale and to Bilbo’s transformation into a true hero. As Bilbo travels farther from the safe and familiar comforts of Hobbiton, the dangers he faces heighten, and he evolves from a humble hobbit into a noble protagonist heroically negotiating his way through evil.