Magical Rings in The Hobbit


J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the main character Bilbo Baggins experiences an exile from his hobbit hole when he forced to go on his perilous adventure with the dwarves. At first he complains inwardly, wishing to go back home on various occasions, but as he becomes entangled in the encounters along his adventure, Bilbo finds himself rather committed to the overall goal and thinks back to his home less and less. He also develops several talents along the way such as his riddle telling/solving ability with Gollum – which comes in handy with Smaug – his bravery and combative aptitude in fighting the giant spiders of Mirkwood, and his burgling acumen when freeing the dwarves from the Elven king. These experiences are alienating because the little hobbit becomes a very different person than he expected himself to be, let alone his family and neighbors. The experience is also enriching because Bilbo enjoys the changes (once all the danger has subsided) and appreciates the rewards that the adventure merits him: not just talents but treasure as well! The largest change he goes through is in his moral decisiveness, which is shown when he gives the Arkenstone of Thrain to Bard thinking it will settle the conflict and avoid a battle. This alienates and enriches him, for as a result of his treachery Thorin expels him from the company that he has grown so close to throughout the story. But Bilbo is confident that he made the right decision with the best intention in mind, showing that his journey was not only into danger but also into maturation. This sheds light on the whole meaning of the novel; how an adventure can be a journey into one’s self. It may take great courage to battle giant spiders, but even more to betray one’s family.

The novel begins with describing a hole in the ground, the hobbit hole, which is reached through a specifically round door. Beginning the story in this place of comfort and homeliness sets up the lesson Bilbo must learn, which is that he cannot learn anything without leaving his comfortable home and explore the world and its real dangers. The dwarves don’t have the luxury he has, and he realizes they want that feeling of home that he already has. In the end, he returns to his home and comfort, having learned all he did. He calls his tale “There and Back Again” which suggest a circular image, like the shape of his door, and the magical object he obtained on the way. The theme of rings and circles is present throughout the work and gives it so much more life.