Bilbo Baggins is the title character and protagonist of J. R. R. Tolkien's 1937 novel The Hobbit, as well as a supporting character in The Lord of the Rings. In Tolkien's narrative conceit, in which all the writings of Middle-earth are translations from the fictitious volume of the Red Book of Westmarch, Bilbo is the author of The Hobbit and translator of various "works from the elvish" (as mentioned in the end of The Return of the King).
J. R. R. Tolkien's illustration of Bilbo Baggins
|First appearance||The Hobbit|
|Last appearance||The Lord of the Rings|
The critic Tom Shippey notes that "Baggins" is close to bæggin, bægginz in Huddersfield dialect, meaning a substantial meal eaten between main meals, most particularly at teatime in the afternoon; and Mr Baggins is definitely, Shippey writes, "partial to .. his tea".
In The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit in comfortable middle age, is hired as a "burglar" – despite his initial objections – by the wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves led by their king, Thorin Oakenshield. The Dwarves are on a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain and its treasures from the dragon Smaug. The adventure takes Bilbo and his companions through the wilderness, to the elf haven of Rivendell, across the Misty Mountains, through the black forest of Mirkwood, to Lake-town in the middle of Long Lake, and eventually to the Mountain itself. There, after Smaug is killed and the Mountain reclaimed, the Battle of Five Armies takes place. In that battle, a host of Elves, Men, and Dwarves - with the help of Eagles and Beorn the shapeshifter -defeated a host of Goblins and Warg. At the end of the story, Bilbo returns to his home in the Shire to find that several of his relatives - believing him to be dead - are trying to claim his home and possessions.
During his journey, Bilbo encounters other fantastic creatures, including Trolls, Elves, giant spiders, Beorn (a man who could change into a bear), Goblins, Eagles, Wargs, and a murderous creature named Gollum. Underground, near Gollum's lair under the Misty Mountains, Bilbo accidentally finds a magic ring of invisibility that, unbeknownst to him, belongs to Gollum. After playing a riddle game with Bilbo, Gollum plans to use the Ring to kill and eat Bilbo. Upon discovering that he has lost the Ring, Gollum deduces that Bilbo had it from his last riddle - “What have I got in my pocket?” - and chases after him, but by then Bilbo has discovered the Ring's power and disappeared. Bilbo at first thought to kill Gollum, but spares his life out of pity and leaps over him to escape.
By the end of the journey, Bilbo has become wiser and more confident, having saved the day in many precarious situations. Bilbo's journey has been compared to a pilgrimage of grace. The Hobbit can be characterized as a "Christian bildungsroman which equates progress to wisdom gained in the form of a rite of passage". He rescues the Dwarves from giant spiders with the magic ring and a short Elven-sword that he had acquired. He uses the magic ring to sneak around in dangerous places, and he uses his wits to smuggle the 13 Dwarves out of the Wood-elves' prison. When tensions arose over ownership of the treasures beneath the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo uses the Arkenstone, a stolen heirloom jewel, as leverage in an unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a compromise between the Dwarves, the Wood-elves, and the Men of Lake-town. In so doing, Bilbo strains his relationship with Thorin; however, the two are reconciled at Thorin's deathbed following the Battle of the Five Armies. In addition to becoming wealthy from his share of the Dwarves' treasure, Bilbo finds that he has traded respectability for experience and wisdom. At the end of the book, Gandalf proclaims that Bilbo is no longer the Hobbit that he had been.
The Lord of the RingsEdit
The Lord of the Rings, begins with Bilbo's "eleventy-first" (111th) birthday, 60 years after the beginning of The Hobbit. The main character of the novel is Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's cousin.[nb 1] who celebrates his 33rd birthday and legally comes of age on the same day. Bilbo has kept the magic ring, with no idea of its significance, all that time; it has prolonged his life, leaving him feeling "thin and stretched". Gandalf the wizard discovers it to be the One Ring forged by the Dark Lord Sauron. At the party, Bilbo tries to leave with the ring, but Gandalf persuades him to leave it behind for Frodo. Bilbo travels to Rivendell and visits the dwarves of the Lonely Mountain before returning to retire at Rivendell and write books. Frodo and his friends find him, now obviously aged in Rivendell. When they destroy the ring, they return to Rivendell. Two years later Bilbo accompanies Gandalf, Elrond, Galadriel, and Frodo to the Grey Havens, there to take ship for Tol Eressëa across the sea.
Poems and songs written by BilboEdit
Tolkien attributed the following poems and songs to Bilbo:
- "A Walking Song"
- "All that is gold does not glitter"
- "The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late"
- "The Road Goes Ever On"
- "Bilbo's Last Song", published posthumously and illustrated by Pauline Baynes, describes Bilbo's contemplation of his forthcoming voyage to the Undying Lands. The illustrations evoke his last ride in the company of Elrond from Rivendell to the Grey Havens, as described in The Lord of the Rings.
The Christian writer Joseph Pearce's 2012 Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning of The Hobbit describes The Hobbit as "a pilgrimage of grace, in which its protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, becomes grown up .. in wisdom and virtue". Liang Xu sees the story rather as a psychological journey, the anti-heroic Bilbo being willing to face challenges while firmly continuing to love home and discovering himself. Along the way, Xu sees Jungian archetypes, talismans and symbols at every turn: the Jungian wise old man Gandalf; the devouring mother of the giant spider, not to mention Gollum's "long grasping fingers"; the Jungian circle of the self, the ring; the escape from the dark underground imprisoning chambers of the wood-elves and Bilbo's symbolic rebirth into the sunlight and the waters of the woodland river; the dragon guarding the contested treasure, itself "an archetype of the self, of psychic wholeness".
In Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings, Bilbo was voiced by Norman Bird. Billy Barty was the model for Bilbo, as well as Frodo and Sam, in the live-action recordings Bakshi used for rotoscoping.
An unlicensed Soviet version, called Сказочное путешествие мистера Бильбо Бэггинса, Хоббита ("The Fairytale Journey of Mr. Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit") appeared on the Leningrad TV channel in 1985.
Throughout the 2003 video game The Hobbit the players control Bilbo, voiced by Michael Beatie. The game follows the plot of the book, but adds the elements of platform gameplay and various side-objectives along the main quests.
In The Lord of the Rings Online (2007) Bilbo resides in Rivendell, mostly playing riddle games with the Elf Lindir in the Hall of Fire. The game also includes multiple storylines about Bilbo's adventures.
In Peter Jackson's films The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) and The Return of the King (2003) Bilbo is played by Ian Holm, who had played Frodo in the BBC radio series 20 years earlier. The movies omit the 17-year gap between Bilbo's 111th birthday and Frodo's departure from the Shire; as a result, Bilbo mentions in Rivendell that he was unable to revisit the Lonely Mountain before his retirement.
In Peter Jackson's The Hobbit film series, a prequel to The Lord of the Rings, the young Bilbo is portrayed by Martin Freeman while Ian Holm reprises his role as an older Bilbo in An Unexpected Journey (2012) and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014).
The Tolkien scholar Jason Fisher notes that Tolkien stated that hobbits were extremely "clannish" and had a strong "predilections for genealogy". Accordingly, Tolkien's decision to include Bilbo's family tree in Lord of the Rings gives the book, in Fisher's view, a strongly "hobbitish perspective". The tree also, he notes, serves to show Bilbo's and Frodo's connections and familial characteristics, Bilbo being "a Baggins and a Took". Bilbo's family tree is as follows:
|Balbo Baggins||Berylla Boffin|
|Laura Grubb||Mungo||Pansy||Fastolph Bolger||Ponto||Mimosa Bunce||Lily||Togo Goodbody||Largo||Tanta Hornblower|
|Bungo||Belladonna Took||Belba||Rudigar Bolger||Longo||Camellia Sackville||Linda||Bodo Proudfoot||Bingo||Chica Chubb||Fosco||Ruby Bolger|
|Bilbo Baggins||Otho Sackville-Baggins||Lobelia Bracegirdle||Falco Chubb-Baggins||?||Dora||Drogo||Primula Brandybuck||Dudo||?|
|Lotho||Poppy||Filibert Bolger||Frodo||Daisy||Griffo Boffin|
The Tolkien critic Tom Shippey notes that Tolkien was very interested in such names, describing Shire names at length in Appendix F to The Lord of the Rings. One category was the names that had no meaning to the hobbits "in their daily language", like Bilbo and Bungo; a few of these, like Otho and Drogo in the family tree, were "by accident, the same as modern English names". Shippey observes that the name Sackville-Baggins, for the snobbish branch of the Baggins family, is "an anomaly in Middle-earth and a failure of tone".
The International Astronomical Union names all colles (small hills) on Saturn's moon Titan after characters in Tolkien's work. In 2012, they named a hilly area "Bilbo Colles" after Bilbo Baggins.
Notes and referencesEdit
- Although Frodo calls Bilbo his "uncle", they were in fact first and second cousins, once removed either way (his paternal great-great-uncle's son's son and his maternal great-aunt's son).
- Shippey cites Haigh, W. E. (1928). Glossary of the Dialect of the Huddersfield District. Oxford University Press., noting that Tolkien had written the Prologue.
- Shippey, Tom (1982). The Road to Middle-Earth. Grafton (HarperCollins). p. 66. ISBN 0261102753.
- Pearce, Joseph (2012). Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning of the Hobbit. Charlotte, NC: Saint Benedict Press. ISBN 978-1618900586.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "A Long-expected Party", ISBN 0-395-08254-4
- Tolkien, J.R.R. "Prologue, Of the Ordering of the Shire". The Lord of the Rings.
- Epps, Peter G. (December 2014). "Review [of Bilbo's Journey: Discovering the Hidden Meaning of The Hobbit]". Christianity and Literature. 64: 122–126. JSTOR 26194807.
- Xu, Liang (2016). "The Psychological Journey of Bilbo Baggins ——Tolkien's The Hobbit from a psychoanalytic perspective" (PDF). Atlantic Press.
- Beard, Henry (2001) . Bored of the rings : a parody of J.R.R. Tolkien's The lord of the rings. London: Gollancz. ISBN 978-0-575-07362-3. OCLC 47036020.
- Barnett, David (8 February 2011). "After Tolkien, get Bored of the Rings". The Guardian.
- Nicol Williamson on IMDB
- Marshall, Colin (14 August 2014). "The 1985 Soviet TV Adaptation of The Hobbit: Cheap and Yet Strangely Charming". Open Culture.
- White, James (22 October 2010). "Martin Freeman Confirmed As Bilbo!". Empire. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
- Fisher, Jason (2007). Drout, Michael D. C. (ed.). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. Taylor & Francis. pp. 188–189. ISBN 978-0-415-96942-0.
- Tolkien, J. R. R. (1955), The Return of the King, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), "Appendix C, Baggins of Hobbiton, ISBN 0-395-08256-0
- Shippey, Tom (2001). J. R. R. Tolkien | Author of the Century. HarperCollins. pp. 182–183. ISBN 978-0261-10401-3.
- Shippey, Tom (2014). The Road to Middle-Earth: How J. R. R. Tolkien Created a New Mythology. HMH. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-547-52441-2.
- "Categories for Naming Features on Planets and Satellites". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
- "Bilbo Colles". Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 14 November 2012.