Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield are the two hobbit characters who experience the most significant changes in their outlook, behavior, and personality. Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist of The Hobbit, is humanlike and displays typical behaviors such as chewing pipes, hosting visitors, and consuming modern foods such as tea and cakes. He is also incredibly fastidious, and he is enraged by the mess dwarfs to make at his place. He loves the peace and warmth of his hobbit-hole and is not very interested in traveling (O’neill 77). However, he finds that he is naturally curious and must thus continue to explore. Bilbo is exceedingly cowardly and frequently regrets joining the dwarfs on a journey. He is perpetually in a state of fear. However, Bilbo quickly accepts his new situation and devises means to survive. He steals the key to the troll’s secret cave and assumes ownership of their magic sword, marking the beginning of his character transformation.

Bilbo finds the ring of invisibility and proves a formidable challenger of Gollum; one of the key antagonists (Tolkien and Rateliff 39). He is tempted to vanquish Gollum but resists his impulses as he recognizes that the offender is grossly disadvantaged and unarmed. His full transformation occurs when he frees himself from the spider’s web and begins to feel different and more self-aware. He names his sword, a gesture widely synonymous with heroes and great leaders. He is depicted as brave and intelligent as he develops a plan for the dwarves to Esgaroth’s escape. Bilbo’s bravery is also shown in his descent into the Smaug the dragon’s lair, stealing the Arkenstone from the hoard, and opening the door to the lonely mountain. He returns home after the Battle of the Five Armies and leads adventurous life thereafter.

Thorin Oakenshield is the leader of dwarves. He is aware of his position as the grandson of Thror, the King under the Mountain. He is brave, intelligent and highly respected. Thorin’s leadership is largely unchallenged with some of his subjects being so loyal as to die in the Battle of the Five Armies for him. However, he exhibits a growing and unquenchable thirst for treasure. He develops pride and blatantly refuses to reconcile with the elves, choosing instead to go to war where he dies.

The following except best explains Bilbo’s explicit transformation from an extremely timid to a courageous and heroic being.

“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 (Tolkien 195).’”

Bilbo’s experience in the spider’s web increased his level of self-awareness and consciousness to his immense power and responsibility. He became ferocious and fearless, going on to release himself and secure the release of his captured dwarf companions.

In terms of similarities, Thorin and Bilbo are brave and intelligent. They have impeccable leadership skills that earn them the respect of their populace. However, while Bilbo gains his courage after a serious of unfortunate events, Thorin is inherently valiant as a consequence of coming from a royal family and having the immense responsibility of leading his subjects.

The except below shows the transformation of Thorin from a just, wise, and brave leader into a proud, lustful and greedy individual, attributes that would eventually lead to his demise.

“Long hours in the past days Thorin had spent in the treasury, and the lust of it was heavy on him. Though he had hunted chiefly for the Arkenstone, yet he had an eye for many another wonderful thing that was lying there, about which were wound old memories of the labors and the sorrows of his race (Tolkien 253).”

Like Bilbo, Thorin is depicted as being fascinated with the prospect of being immensely rich by being in possession of Smaug’s treasures. Though there are many other items he wished he would have, he is especially interested in the Arkenstone. Bilbo had initially protested the idea of joining the dwarves on their quest. However, the idea of gaining riches quickly compelled him to change his mind.

Author’s Intent

Tolkien’s primary intent in portraying Bilbo as timid and cowardly at the beginning of the story was arguably designed to set the character for extreme behavioral change. His depiction as indolent and fastidious is meant to demonstrate his compulsive tendencies and unpreparedness to lead. Tolkien’s use of humanlike mannerisms and physical form to define Bilbo is intended to make the audience further identify with the creature (O’neill 80). As he is the protagonist, it was imperative that the author presented Bilbo as humanly as is possible. His gradual but extreme change in outlook adds immense creative value to the story. It is intriguing as the reader is increasingly uncertain of the fate of the Bilbo and his comrades but is eventually reassured by their seemingly incremental wins.

Thorin is presented a well-respected and greatly adored leader who has been successful in leading his subject for a long time. He is aware of his royal ancestry and is keen to present himself as such. He appears to be a progressive leader whose sole purpose is the welfare of his community. Tolkien is careful to portray Thorin as such so as to make any subsequent changes exceedingly visible, a feat he successfully accomplishes (O’neill 82). Thorin’s impeccable record is tainted by his raw desire and unquenched greed for treasure. He is possessed by the prospect of enriching himself at the expense of his followers. He is overcome with pride and refuses to reconcile or even associate with the elves, leading to a huge war that claims his own life.

The elaborate changes exhibited by the two characters are especially critical to the development of The Hobbit’s plot. They are the very fundament of the narrative as it describes the rise of heroism from a fairly unexpected source and the fall of equally great leadership as a result of greed. Bilbo’s compassion and sense of justice are also significant parts of the plot as they build onto the protagonist’s eventual character.

Significant Moment in Hero’s Journey/ Significance of Character

Bilbo

The character is invaluable to the development of the plot as he represents a hero’s journey from an average individual to the epitome of greatness. The moment that best represents Bilbo’s transformation is when he is captured by giant spiders and is imprisoned in their cold, dark web. He discovers that no one can help him and strives to secure his own release. He is successful and becomes emboldened to assume leadership of the dwarves and region (O’neill 86). The lesson learnt from this passage is belief in one’s own abilities. This lesson is important and fits faultlessly into CIT claim as it encourages individuals to understand that they are active authors of their own fate. It reassures persons that they are destined for greatness and that it is up to them to pursue and attain it.

Thorin

Thorin’s moment represents the decline of a hero’s influence and power. It begins when he begins to actively longing for treasures and resolves not to stop at anything to attain it. His fascination with the Arkenstone would later prove to be his undoing (O’neill 88). Thorin proudly disregards the interest of his subjects when he refuses to commit to a truce that would have prevented conflict with the elves resulting in a great war that led to his death. The moment shows the impact of negative values such as pride and greed to a person’s wellbeing. The lesson learnt from Thorin’s experience is moderation and modesty even in the face of greatness should never be dispensed. The lesson is especially important and fits into the CIT claim as it implores upon people to avoid being overly ambitious and to stay grounded even if they wield massive influence and power or have attained great success.

Works Cited

O’neill, Timothy R. The individuated hobbit: Jung, Tolkien, and the archetypes of Middle-Earth. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), 1979.

Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel. The hobbit. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012.

Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel, and John D. Rateliff. The History of’The Hobbit’. HarperCollins, 2011.

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