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Character Influences On Bilbo In The Hobbit Essay, Research Paper

Usually in life, once you conquer evil, you become mightier and more confident in yourself. As a result it prepares you for further occurrences with evil. This was the case in J. R. R. Tolkien?s novel, The Hobbit. Throughout the novel, Bilbo is greatly affected by the characters and groups he meets. Each character or group increases Bilbo?s confidence and prepares him for the final battle with Smaug. Gollum, the spiders, and the dwarves are the three most significant characters or groups that Bilbo meets throughout the novel. Each one of these characters or groups greatly advances Bilbo?s courage and prepares him for the next step in his adventurous journey.

The first significant character that Bilbo meets is Gollum. Deep down in the Goblin caves was where Gollum lived. He was a small slimy creature ?as dark as darkness, except for two big round pale eyes in his thin face? (p. 71). A very cautious and blind Bilbo was nearby trying to find a way out of the caves. He was left behind while riding the Dori?s back. The dwarves were running away from the Goblins when out of nowhere, the Goblins unexpectedly grabbed Dori who was at the back of the line. Being on his back, the hobbit rolled off his shoulders into the blackness and remembered nothing more: ?When Bilbo opened his eyes, he wondered if he had; for it was just as dark as with them shut? (p. 68). This is why he was roaming the dark, still tunnels of the Goblins. While Bilbo was slowly feeling his way through the tunnel, Gollum?s hiss emerged into his ear: ?The hobbit nearly jumped out of his skin ?? (p. 72). After a bit of negotiating, Gollum and the hobbit decided to have a contest with riddles. If Bilbo could not solve the riddle, he would have to be eaten. If Gollum could not solve the riddle, he would have to guide the hobbit to the way out of the caves. At this point, Bilbo already gains a bit of self-confidence. He believes that he can beat Gollum in a game of riddle solving. To prove this, he places his own life on the line with practically no questions asked. Both Gollum and Bilbo successfully answered a long series of riddles, but now it was Bilbo?s turn. What Bilbo asked wasn?t really a riddle but in fact, a question. One which you would pretty much have to be a physic to answer: ??What have I got in my pocket??? (p. 78), asked Bilbo. He gave Gollum three chances to answer. After three unsuccessful answers, Bilbo demanded he be told the way out. To Bilbo?s surprise, Gollum did not jump at him and begin to give lousy excuses. Instead he agreed, but not until he went back to look for something. Not long after, Bilbo heard Gollum bickering about some birthday present he had lost. Gollum hastily came back and repetitively asked Bilbo what was in his pocket but Bilbo would not answer unless he showed him the way out. This maddened Gollum greatly. As Gollum was on his way back to the island, Bilbo knew that Gollum was up to no good and felt murder was closely on Gollum?s mind. Just in time, Bilbo turned and ran blindly back into the dark passage, keeping close to the wall. Bilbo had his hand in his left pocket and slipped the cold ring on his groping forefinger. He looked back a saw Gollum approaching from behind him. He then looked forward and began to run until he struck his toe on a snag in the floor falling flat on his face. Soon after, he looked up and noticed Gollum above him but before he could do anything, Gollum had passed him without even noticing the lucky hobbit. Bilbo?s courage shows off greatly when he decided to follow Gollum. The hobbit did not know whether Gollum simply could not see him or whether Bilbo was indeed invisible. He took this chance and bravely began to pursue Gollum: ?Perhaps if he followed him, Gollum might lead him to some way of escape without meaning to? (p. 83). The hobbit uses this technique later on when he is faced with the challenge of walking down the black tunnels of the lonely mountain all alone, not knowing what awaits him in front. What perplexed Bilbo was why Gollum could not see him. Suddenly, Bilbo noticed that Gollum had sat down and began to weep. Bilbo immediately flattened himself against the tunnel wall. Bilbo gallantly listened in to Gollum who appeared to be arguing with himself:

?Yes, but if it?s got the present, ? then the goblinses will get it ? One of the goblinses will put it on, and no one will see him. He?ll be there but not seen ? and he?ll come creepsy and tricksy and catch us, gollum, gollum!? (pp. 84-85)

At this point, Bilbo knew that the ring he had on was indeed magical and it could make him invisible. When Gollum arrived at the beginning of the passage of the way out, he stopped right in front of it, not giving any chance for Bilbo to get beyond him. Bilbo stopped and stiffened up. He waited a while and thought to himself while Gollum was there standing. Bilbo was desperate. All of the sudden, Bilbo courageously jumped over Gollum and landed behind him: ?No great leap for man, but a leap in the dark. Straight over Gollum?s head he jumped, seven feet forward and three in the air ?? (p. 86) This was a very courageous act for Bilbo to do. Once he landed, he never looked back and kept running ahead until he saw daylight seeping through a stone door. There was one minor problem that Bilbo had to surpass and that was the Goblins. There were two of them standing in front of the stone door. Using a little maneuvering and expertise with his soft hobbit feet he was able to bravely lunge past the Goblins with only split seconds to spare. So as you can see, Gollum evidently gave Bilbo a mental and physical challenge. Figuratively speaking Bilbo had no choice but to accept the challenges set forth by Gollum, and to use them to his own advantage. Bilbo later demonstrates the convenience of his soft feet when he is faced with the challenge of stealing a two handled cup from Smaug in the Lonely Mountain.

The next most notable group were the spiders. Playing the part of a man with distinguished valor was indeed Bilbo. With the help of the ring that he found earlier on, Bilbo was able to make battle with the spiders and end victorious. He was faced with the challenge of saving the rest of the dwarves from the evil spiders. First of all, courage is demonstrated by Bilbo when he decides to throw rocks at the pernicious spiders. The first thrown rock was at the spider beside Bombur: ?The stone struck the spider plunk on the head, and it had dropped senseless off the tree, flop to the ground, with all its legs curled up? (p. 157). He next used his skillful throwing skills against a spider sitting in the middle of a big, thick web: ?? taking off the spider sitting in the middle of it (web), whack, dead? (pp. 157-158). Bilbo also uses this to his advantage when he is later faced with the challenge of saving his fellow dwarves from the wood elves. He must think quick and react to what he sees. An example is when all the other dwarves are placed in barrels, ready to be thrown into the water. Bilbo can not put himself into a barrel so he reacts quickly and decides to grab on to the last barrel (with his ring obviously on) as it is being thrown: ?In despair and not knowing what else to do, poor little Bilbo caught hold of it (the last barrel) and was pushed over the edge with it? (p. 183). The next courageous exploit by Bilbo was when he had to find a way to distract the spiders other than throw rocks. Bilbo decided to infuriate and lure the spiders toward him. He also did this to let the dwarves hear his voice:

Old fat spider spinning in a tree!

Old fat spider can?t see me!

Attercop! Attercop!

Won?t you stop,

Stop your spinning and look at me! (p. 158)

Using his superb riddle creating, Bilbo was able to distract the spiders and have them moving into a direction opposite of the dwarves. He kept moving them further and further away until he felt it was time to quietly lurk past the spiders and save the dwarves.

Bilbo uses this technique in the Lonely Mountain when he is face to face with the baneful Smaug. He uses riddles with Smaug so that he could primarily intimidate him: ??I am friend of bears and guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider,? went on Bilbo beginning to be pleased with his riddling? (p. 221). Bilbo?s final courageous accomplishment with the spiders was when he at last freed his fellow dwarves. Bilbo knew he had precious little time. Using his heroic qualities, Bilbo was able to climb the long branch where the bundles of dwarves were dangling. Bilbo arrived to the top, ??only to meet an old slow wicked fat-bodied spider who had remained behind to guard the prisoners, and had been busy pinching them to see which was the juiciest to eat? (p. 160). Before the spider knew what was happening it felt his sting and rolled off the branch dead. Bilbo began to free Fili using ?Sting? the sword. Once Fili was freed, he helped rescue more of the dwarves until all were free. There was one more little problem that Bilbo had to face and that was the spiders. They were all coming back. Bombur who was on the ground, was beginning to be tied up again and dragged a way. With the help of Sting, Bilbo charged through the spiders in front of him killing about half a dozen. The rest of the dwarves jumped down from the trees to assist Bilbo in the battle. Closer and closer, hundreds of spiders surrounded the dwarves but they continued to fight back. Anytime a spider got closer to Sting, Bilbo would swing and kill them. This battle went on for a couple of hours until the spiders were so scared of Bilbo and Sting that they finally gave up. Bilbo ended up triumphant again. Bilbo gained a great deal of confidence from the spiders. He played the part of a worthy leader which seemed to be a great asset in the end. They prepared him for what was awaiting him in the Lonely Mountain. At this stage Bilbo learns techniques and ways of battle. The spiders greatly advanced Bilbo?s confidence and prepared him for Smaug.

The final and most valuable group were indeed the dwarves. The dwarves helped Bilbo a lot. Bilbo took advantage of the positive words that were said by the dwarves. As for the negative words, Bilbo just accepted these and tried to improve his performance so that those negative words would soon change to positive. An example of some contrary words were when Bilbo was about to sneak up on the trolls and steal a wallet. The dwarves did not talk positively to him: ??You must go on and find out all about the light and what it is for ? now scuttle off, and come back quick ? If not, come back if you can?? (p. 34). The dwarves wording was not all exactly very polite. You will also notice that the dwarves did not ask him to snatch a wallet from the trolls. Their simple instructions were just to go in and find out what?s going on. Once Bilbo arrived there, he decided that, ?? he could not go back to Thorin and Company empty-handed? (p. 36). After a bit of thinking, Bilbo decided to pick the pocket of one of the trolls. The hobbit?s intent in doing this was to prove to the rest of the dwarves that he was in fact a useful asset to Thorin and Company. This could have also changed the dwarves beliefs and feelings about Bilbo. Although Bilbo is unsuccessful in stealing the wallet, he uses the words of the dwarves to his benefit by trying to prove his worthiness. It took a while but Bilbo did indeed prove his worthiness. It wasn?t until the battle of the spiders when the dwarves had begun to show great respect for him: ?From which you can see that they had changed their opinion of Mr. Baggins very much, and had begun to have a great respect for him (as Gandalf had said they would)? (pp. 164 – 165).


Tolkien, J. R. R. (1989). The hobbit. New York: Ballentine Books.

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