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The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien

By

Title and Publication

The Hobbit was first published in Great Britain in 1937 by George Allen & Unwin. It was published just before the outbreak of WWII in Europe, and the book acts as a prologue of sorts for the great trilogy, The Lord of the Rings.

Author

J.R.R. Tolkien

Setting

The novel takes place in the fictional land of Middle Earth, following the lead characters as they travel from the small village of Hobbiton through wild forests and goblin infested and dragon inhabited mountains.

Main Characters

Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit and the protagonist of the story.
Gandalf, a wizard who initiates Bilbo’s journey with the dwarves. Gandalf causes Bilbo to set aside his reputation for cautious respectability to go on an adventure that will change the hobbit forever.
Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of a group of 13 dwarves who wish to recover a treasure horde stolen by a dragon.
Smaug, the dragon and antagonist of the story.

Plot and Storyline

Bilbo Baggins begins as a cautious and conservative hobbit, well respected and considered a pillar of the hobbit community.

When he reluctantly sets out on a quest to recover the stolen treasure of a band of dwarves, he encounters dangers of all descriptions. His adventures, which figure prominently in a prophecy of the dwarves, are like stepping stones on the inner journey Biblo must take to find his courage. Bilbo faces trials which again and again force him to look deep inside himself for the strength and resourcefulness he needs to complete the task expected of him.

Questions to Ponder

Is Bilbo his own biggest enemy?
How does the greed of Thorin contribute to Bilbo’s growth as a character?
How does the confidence or lack of confidence others have in Bilbo influence him?
Gandalf may be described as a catalyst. Explain this term and how it might relate to the changes Bilbo experiences.
In what way does Bilbo’s identity as a thief help him build the courage he needs to face a dragon?
Do prophesies predict the future or just set the stage for events to unfold?

Beginning Sentences

If you have trouble getting started on the essay, you may consider starting with something like the sentences below. This list may help you form a thesis.

  • The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is a story of self discovery.
  • In the darkest times, one only has oneself to rely on.
  • Labels often influence personality.
  • The songs and poems of The Hobbit are of great value in revealing character and plot.
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