The Hobbit

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Bilbo Baggins Character Analysis

The protagonist of The Hobbit, Bilbo initially seems content with his peaceful life in hobbit-town, but Tolkien hints that he secretly desires adventure and excitement (as is his birthright from his notoriously adventurous grandfather Old Took). Over the course of the novel, Bilbo journeys to the Lonely Mountain with the dwarves, and discovers his talents for riddling, fighting, and burgling, and even finds a magical ring of invisibility, even as he continues to wish for his home. In the end, he learns to balance his love for peace and tranquility with heroism and adventurousness.

Bilbo Baggins Quotes in The Hobbit

The The Hobbit quotes below are all either spoken by Bilbo Baggins or refer to Bilbo Baggins. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Ballantine Books edition of The Hobbit published in 2012.
Chapter 1 Quotes

This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins
Page Number: 2
Explanation and Analysis:

In this early quotation from the book, Tolkien establishes the basic plot: the protagonist, whose name is Baggins, will go out into the world and discover that he's capable of doing and saying new, exciting things. The quotation is written in a simple, almost fairy tale-like style ("This is a story"). But although the quotation might seem simplistic, it establishes an important and complex theme of the novel: the relationship between external travel and internal change. Baggins will travel a great distance in order to have his adventure. And yet the real adventure will occur within him: as he encounters new people and places, Baggins will discover new things about himself.

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As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves. Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walkingstick.

He looked out of the window. The stars were out in a dark sky above the trees. He thought of the jewels of the dwarves shining in dark caverns.

Suddenly in the wood beyond The Water a flame leapt up – probably somebody lighting a wood-fire-and he thought of plundering dragons settling on his quiet Hill and kindling it all to flames. He shuddered; and very quickly he was plain Mr. Baggins of Bag-End, Under-Hill, again.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Smaug
Page Number: 15-16
Explanation and Analysis:

In this early scene, Bilbo invites a group of dwarves, led by the wizard Gandalf, into his home. The dwarves begin dancing and singing about their ancestral treasures—beautiful objects made from gold and jewels. As Bilbo listens to the songs, he feels a deep stirring of desire to go out into the world and explore the unknown. But suddenly, Bilbo feels a flash of fear, and abruptly stops fantasizing about adventure.

The quotation is important because it establishes that Bilbo has the potential to be a great adventurer, even if he's untrained. As Tolkien puts it, Bilbo has a trace of the "Tooks"—his wilder, more adventurous ancestors—in him. More generally though, he discovers here that he does have a secret desire to go off on adventures, a desire that few in his peaceful, complacent community would support. The passage also suggests how fear and routine act as barriers to happiness and curiosity. Bilbo might desire to explore the world, but right now he's too afraid of danger to translate his desire into reality.

Chapter 3 Quotes

The master of the house was an elf-friend-one of those people whose fathers came into the strange stories before the beginning of History, the wars of the evil goblins and the elves and the first men in the North. In those days of our tale there were still some people who had both elves and heroes of the North for ancestors, and Elrond the master of the house was their chief. He was as noble and as fair in face as an elf-lord, as strong as a warrior, as wise as a wizard, as venerable as a king of dwarves, and as kind as summer. He comes into. many tales, but his part in the story of Bilbo's great adventure is only a small one, though important, as you will see, if we ever get to the end of it.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Elrond
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Tolkien describes Elrond, the master of the Elves. Elrond is wise, extremely old, and noble. He gives shelter to the dwarves and Bilbo on their way to Smaug, proving that he is a good, respectable person. Moreover, Elrond's presence in this scene provides evidence that Bilbo's story, while important, is only one insignificant part of the history of Middle Earth—the fictional universe in which Tolkien's novels are set. As Tolkien writes, Elrond is unimportant in Bilbo's tale, although he's enormously important in some of the other tales of Middle Earth (as Tolkien makes clear in his other works). Tolkien's observation reinforces the vastness and complexity of his novel: it's as if Bilbo, as he ventures farther and farther from his home, is becoming gradually more and more aware of the world's size and scope. In short, Bilbo is constantly discovering more about his world, and his encounter with Elrond is a milestone in the path of discovery.

Chapter 4 Quotes

The goblins were very rough, and pinched unmercifully, and chuckled and laughed in their horrible stony voices; and Bilbo was more unhappy even than when the troll had picked him up by his toes. He wished again and again for his nice bright hobbit-hole. Not for the last time.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins
Related Symbols: The Misty Mountains
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

Bilbo and the dwarves stumble into a cave where they're attacked and arrested by goblins: the cruel, violent inhabitants of the underground world. At this early point in the novel, Bilbo is still uncertain about his role as an ally and friend to the dwarves. While he's excited to go off on adventures, he's still so used to his life as a hobbit that when danger strikes, his first reaction is to pine for his hobbit-hole—a womb-like place where everything was uneventful and complacent, but also warm and safe.

Bilbo's love for his home undergoes many changes during this novel. In this quotation, Bilbo's love for home eclipses his love for adventure. He's still an "armchair adventurer"—someone who has vague fantasies of exploring the unknown, but doesn't know how to go about doing so, and who finds himself longing for home when the adventure turns dangerous.

Chapter 5 Quotes

"Both wrong," cried Bilbo very much relieved; and he jumped at once to his feet, put his back to the nearest wall, and held out his little sword. He knew, of course, that the riddlegame was sacred and of immense antiquity, and even wicked creatures were afraid to cheat when they played at it. But he felt he could not trust this slimy thing to keep any promise at a pinch. Any excuse would do for him to slide out of it. And after all that last question had not been a genuine riddle according to the ancient laws.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker), Gollum
Related Symbols: The Misty Mountains
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Bilbo, who is trapped beneath the Misty Mountains, exchanges riddles with Gollum, a frightening, mysterious cave-dweller. Although Bilbo and Gollum have almost nothing in common (or so they think), they do abide by a common set of rules: they believe in the importance of words and language. As a result, the game of riddles they play with one another has a "sacred" side to it. Gollum promises to show Bilbo the way out of the mountains if Bilbo can stump him; now that Bilbo has won the game, Gollum is "bound" to honor his agreement.

And yet as the passage makes clear, language can be twisted and manipulated to suit people's needs. Here, Bilbo is afraid that his victory in the game of riddles isn't binding, at least not in the sacred, "ancient" sense. Based on the passage, it's clear that Gollum is dangerous to Bilbo, and moreover, his dangerousness is closely related to his refusal to keep his word. In the world of Middle Earth, honor and honesty are of the utmost importance; no creature who breaks his word can be "good."

In the absence of rules—the rules of riddle-telling, in this case—Bilbo must learn to depend on a new set of skills; namely, his abilities with a sword. Thrown into danger, Bilbo is forced to master the art of language, and then, when language fails him, he's forced to resort to physical fighting. Because it proves that he's a versatile, multi-talented person, Bilbo's interaction with Gollum represents a milestone in his journey to becoming a hero.

Bilbo almost stopped breathing, and went stiff himself. He was desperate.

He must get away, out of this horrible darkness, while he had any strength left. He must fight. He must stab the foul thing, put its eyes out, kill it.
It meant to kill him. No, not a fair fight. He was invisible now. Gollum had no sword. Gollum had not actually threatened to kill him, or tried to yet. And he was miserable, alone, lost. A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo's heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Gollum
Related Symbols: The Ring
Page Number: 86-87
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Bilbo contemplates killing Gollum, whom he knows to be dangerous, but then hesitates. Without warning, Bilbo feels a sudden burst of sympathy for Gollum, a creature who's forced to live a hard, lonely life under the mountain. It's because of his sympathy that Bilbo decides to spare Gollum's life.

Bilbo's behavior indicates that he's becoming a more confident, mature adventurer; moreover, it suggests some important things about heroism in general. Only a few chapters ago, it would have been easy to imagine Bilbo panicking and striking Gollum with his sword out of fear. The fact that Bilbo hesitates suggests that he's become calmer and more clear-thinking; he's growing used to the life of adventure. More generally, though, Bilbo's behavior reminds us that heroism is about being merciful and gentle as much as it is about physical prowess and bravery. At times, heroes are forced to kill their opponents, but only in self-defense. As he journeys through the mountains, Bilbo learns a lot about fighting and survival, but he never allows these "lessons" to interfere with his decency or mercy. 

Chapter 6 Quotes

He crept still nearer, and suddenly he saw peering between two big boulders a head with a red hood on: it was Balin doing look-out. He could have clapped and shouted for joy, but he did not. He had still got the ring on, for fear of meeting something unexpected and unpleasant, and he saw that Balin was looking straight at him without noticing him. "I will give them all a surprise," he thought, as he crawled into the bushes at the edge of the dell.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Balin
Related Symbols: The Ring
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Bilbo shows a penchant for theatricality and mischief that he hadn't often displayed before. Having made his way out of the Misty Mountains, Bilbo stumbles upon his fellow travelers, the dwarves. Instead of immediately greeting them, he decides to surprise them. By choosing to surprise the dwarves, Bilbo displays his "machismo" and panache; he makes it clear that he's not dependent on the dwarves in any way, but rather that he can come and go as he pleases.

In a broader context, Bilbo's behavior marks an important turning point for the novel. Bilbo has survived a terrifying adventure in the Misty Mountains, and more importantly, he's survived on his own, without the help of Gandalf or the dwarves (but with the help of the magic Ring). Invigorated by his success, Bilbo begins to genuinely enjoy the thrills of exploring new places. His enjoyment is palpable in this scene—after braving Gollum and the goblins, he's not the least bit frightened, and decides to keep his secret weapon (the Ring) a secret in order to surprise his friends.

Chapter 7 Quotes

Mr. Baggins saw then how clever Gandalf had been. The interruptions had really made Beorn more interested in the story, and the story had kept him from sending the dwarves off at once like suspicious beggars. He never invited people into his house, if he could help it. He had very few friends and they lived a good way away; and he never invited more than a couple of these to his house at a time. Now he had got fifteen strangers sitting in his porch!

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf, Beorn
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Bilbo watches as the wizard, Gandalf, tricks a powerful man named Beorn into letting a large number of dwarves into his home. Gandalf tells Beorn a colorful tale, which Beorn is too interested in to ignore entirely. As Gandalf tells Beorn this tale, he mentions dwarves, and they enter one or two at a time. Because of his interest in the story, Beorn has no choice but to let the dwarves into his house, despite his dislike of visitors.

Gandalf's tactics are a good example of how the characters in the novel use language as well as physical force to get their way. At various points in the book, characters obtain food and shelter and even save their own lives by telling interesting stories. Furthermore, the scene illustrates the basic "tit for tat" of hosting and hospitality in Middle Earth. On many occasions, one character will seek lodgings from another. In order to "pay" for his lodgings, the character will sometimes tell an entertaining story, just as Gandalf does here. In The Hobbit, the most villainous characters are often the worst hosts (the goblins, Gollum, Smaug, etc.). Therefore, the fact that Beorn is reluctant to take in the dwarves but does so anyway clues us into his being a grumpy but basically trustworthy character.

Chapter 8 Quotes

He looked at the 'black emperors' for a long time, and enjoyed the feel of the breeze in his hair and on his face; but at length the cries of the dwarves, who were now simply stamping with impatience down below, reminded him of his real business. It was no good. Gaze as much as he might, he could see no end to the trees and the leaves in any direction. His heart, that had been lightened by the sight of the sun and the feel of the wind, sank back into his toes: there was no food to go back to down below.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Bilbo and the dwarves are trying to make their way through the dark, dangerous Mirkwood Forest. Unable to determine which way to go, they send Bilbo to climb a tree. Bilbo climbs up past the thick layers of branches and leaves, and is surprised to find that (beyond the forest) it's bright and sunny. Bilbo is exhilarated by the sun, but feels depressed once again when he's forced to climb down to the ground.

Bilbo's behavior in this scene illustrates that he's halfway through his personal transformation. After many adventures across Middle Earth, Bilbo is becoming more comfortable with the role of adventurer. And yet there are many moments—such as this one—in which he feels a longing to escape back home: to forget about his promise to journey to Smaug's lair with the dwarves. Bilbo's desire to escape back to his hobbit-hole isn't as clear-cut as it was in the earlier chapters, suggesting that he's now caught between total nostalgia for home and total commitment to the quest. By now Bilbo is still partly a complacent armchair adventurer and partly a real hero.

Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard or the dwarves or of anyone else, 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."

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sting
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

In this important scene, Bilbo kills a giant spider, using the sword he acquired during the course of his earlier adventures. Standing over his defeated opponent, Bilbo feels like a new hobbit: braver, stronger, and more independent than ever before.

It's important to note that although Bilbo has owned his small sword for some time now, it's only now that he chooses to give it a name. Bilbo's decision to name his sword reflects his emergence as a full-fledged hero: a brave, intelligent warrior who defends his friends (in this scene, the dwarves, who have been captured) from evil. Previously, Bilbo had the potential to become a bold adventurer (just as his sword had the potential to kill), but now his potential has become a reality, as reflected by his new sense of courage. Bilbo seems to be naming his sword, but he might as well be rechristening himself: he's a hero now.

Chapter 12 Quotes

"If you mean you think it is my job to go into the secret passage first, O Thorin Thrain's son Oakenshield, may your beard grow ever longer," he said crossly, "say so at once and have done! I might refuse. I have got you out of two messes already, which were hardly in the original bargain, so that I am, I think, already owed some reward. But 'third time pays for all' as my father used to say, and somehow I don't think I shall refuse. Perhaps I have begun to trust my luck more than I used to in the old days" - he meant last spring before he left his own house, but it seemed centuries ago -"but anyway I think I will go and have a peep at once and get it over. Now who is coming with me?" He did not expect a chorus of volunteers, so he was not disappointed.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker), Thorin Oakenshield
Page Number: 212-213
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Bilbo Baggins is surprised to learn that Thorin and the other dwarves intend for him to sneak into Smaug's cave alone, in order to explore the area. Bilbo knows full-well that this is a dangerous mission, suggesting that the dwarves aren't as brave as they presented themselves to be. In spite of his annoyance, Bilbo decides to explore the cave, anyway.

Bilbo's behavior in this scene reminds readers how much he's changed in only a few months; the mention of the "old days" illustrates that Bilbo thinks of his old life in the hobbit-hole as a distant memory. Moreover, the passage shows readers that Bilbo both is and isn't the hero of the novel. On one hand, Bilbo has become exceptionally brave in a short period of time: he's learned how to fight and talk his way out of almost any situation. (Although he's reluctant to enter the cave by himself, it's not because he's particularly frightened.) And yet Bilbo also isn't a typical hero at all: he can be sarcastic and irritable, reminding the dwarves of their cowardice in a rather petty way, and much of his "bravery" stems from the fact that he secretly possesses a magic ring of invisibility. Perhaps the passage is meant to suggest that the people whom one thinks of as traditionally heroic—like Thorin Oakenshield, with his gravitas and ancestral ties to the land—are rarely as brave as they seem, while those who don't appear particularly heroic, such as Bilbo, are often stronger and braver than they appear.

"I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I as chosen for the lucky number."
"Lovely titles!" sneered the dragon. "But lucky numbers don't always come off."
"I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no bag went over me."

"These don't sound so creditable," scoffed Smaug.
"I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider," went on Bilbo beginning to be pleased with his riddling.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker), Smaug
Page Number: 223
Explanation and Analysis:

Bilbo has snuck into the dragon Smaug's lair. There, he toys with Smaug, identifying himself with a series of clever nicknames that allude to his impressive exploits across Middle Earth. Bilbo's behavior in this passage suggests a number of things about his progress as a hero and an adventurer. By this point in the novel, Bilbo has had some significant experiences as an adventurer--and he knows it. Impressed with his own bravery and resourcefulness, Bilbo sings his own praises, giving himself epithets like those in Classical poems like Homer's Odyssey.

At the same time, Smaug's reaction makes us wonder if Bilbo's self-satisfaction has any point, or if Bilbo is in fact becoming overly confident and arrogant. Unlike Bilbo's clever wordplay with the spiders or with Gollum, his speech in this scene doesn't help him in any discernible way: it doesn't confuse or frighten Smaug, and his phrase "Barrel-rider" even inspires Smaug to attack Lake-town. So although Bilbo's behavior here proves how far he's come in the novel, Tolkien is also setting Bilbo up for a defeat connected to his own hubris (pride as a fatal flaw). Indeed, in the final few chapters of the novel, Bilbo's actions will prove largely futile, and he'll be reminded of his own smallness and weakness.

Chapter 15 Quotes

Bilbo thought that Thorin would at once admit what justice was in them. He did not, of course, expect that any one would remember that it was he who discovered all by himself the dragon's weak spot; and that was just as well, for no one ever did. But also he did not reckon with the power that gold has upon which a dragon has long brooded, nor with dwarvish hearts. 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.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield, Smaug
Page Number: 265
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Thorin shows his true colors, and muddies Tolkien's definition of what a true hero is. Although Bilbo has helped the dwarves reclaim their treasure in dozens of different ways (saving their lives; finding out how to defeat Smaug; sneaking into Smaug's lair), Thorin is remarkably ungrateful for Bilbo's contributions. As Tolkien explains it, Thorin is too greedy for his treasure to listen to reason: he's too obsessed with possessions to hand any of them over to Bilbo. Thorin's behavior here reminds us of how one's connection to a home or other particular place can be a barrier to heroism and virtue. Thorin feels a deep, ancestral tie to his treasure—it's partly because of this ancestral bond (and righteous sense of victimhood, as this home and birthright was stolen from him) that he feels perfectly justified in treating Bilbo badly. Although Bilbo seems to feel an equally profound connection to his hobbit-hole, he doesn't let this connection interfere with his heroism. But Thorin is also dealing with forces and a history Bilbo doesn't have to face, and Tolkien further draws an implicit comparison between Thorin's lust and possessiveness regarding his ancestral treasure, and Bilbo's regarding his Ring.

Chapter 17 Quotes

“Misery me! I have heard songs of many battles, and I have always understood that defeat may be glorious. It seems very uncomfortable, not to say distressing. I wish I was well out of it."

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker)
Page Number: 286
Explanation and Analysis:

Near the end of his adventures with the dwarves, Bilbo has a sudden change of heart. After hundreds of pages, during which he's come to truly enjoy the daredevil thrills of adventure, Bilbo decides that he's had enough of danger and violence. Bilbo has heard from books and songs that war is a noble thing, but up-close, he finds that it's anything but. (In real life, Tolkien fought in some of the bloodiest battles of World War I, and critics have often interpreted this passage as Tolkien's gloss on his own experiences as a soldier.)

In a broader sense, the passage suggests that Bilbo is sick of being a hero and an adventurer. While he's enjoyed himself at many points in his quest, he's also come to see that many of the things he associated with glorious heroism, such as battle and treasure, actually cause more suffering than they're worth. Largely for this reason, Bilbo decides to turn his back on the world of quests and treasure. While he gains some material wealth as a result of his travels, his most valuable "takeaway" is the newfound courage he acquires over the course of the novel—courage that outstrips that of the dwarves who roped him into adventuring in the first place.

Chapter 18 Quotes

From that treasure Bard sent much gold to the Master of Lake-town; and he rewarded his followers and friends freely. To the Elvenking he gave the emeralds of Girion, such jewels as he most loved, which Dain had restored to him. To Bilbo he said:
"This treasure is as much yours as it is mine; though old agreements cannot stand, since so many have a claim in its winning and defense. Yet even though you were willing to lay aside all your claim, I should wish that the words of Thorin, of which he repented, should not prove true: that we should give you little. I would reward you most richly of all."
"Very kind of you," said Bilbo. "But really it is a relief to me. How on earth should I have got all that treasure home without war and murder all along the way, I don't know. And I don't know what I should have done with it when I got home. I am sure it is better in your hands."

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker), Bard (speaker), Dain, The Elvenking
Page Number: 293
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Bilbo and Bard—the brave leader who slays Smaug—discuss the future of the treasure that the dwarves have claimed for themselves. Bard is now a leader of the men, and has been charged with distributing the share of gold that Thorin, on his deathbed, bequeathed to him. As Bard discusses his decisions with Bilbo, it becomes clear that he and Bilbo are rather similar, and are two of the most "heroic" characters in the novel. They're both modest, intelligent, and fairly uninterested in material wealth. (Unlike Thorin, Bard leads his followers without selfishly claiming a "right" to treasure—on the contrary, he gives away large quantities of treasure, and says that he would like to give even more to Bilbo.) Both Bard and Bilbo also feel a strong connection to a particular place: Bard to his hometown, and Bilbo to his hobbit-hole.

But where Bard's connection to a place leads him to become a leader, Bilbo's nostalgia for home draws him away from adventure and back to a life of peaceful complacency. As Bilbo explains here, he wants to return to his hobbit-hole, and has no real interest in treasure anymore. Bilbo has received something more valuable than treasure: an unforgettable experience.

Chapter 19 Quotes

"Then the prophecies of the old songs have turned out to be true, after a fashion!" said Bilbo.
"Of course!" said Gandalf. "And why should not they prove true? Surely you don't disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don't really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!"
"Thank goodness!" said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar.

Related Characters: Bilbo Baggins (speaker), Gandalf (speaker)
Page Number: 305
Explanation and Analysis:

Years after Bilbo's adventures in Middle Earth, he's back in his hobbit-hole, and gets a surprise visit from Gandalf the wizard. Gandalf suggests to Bilbo that he was being "helped" through his adventures by powerful, invisible forces. (At various points in the novel, it's suggested that these "forces" are simply fate, the gods of Middle Earth, or even Gandalf himself.) Surprisingly, Bilbo doesn't dispute Gandalf's suggestion at all—he acknowledges that he's simply not that strong and independent, and is "only quite a little fellow in a wide world."

It's especially surprising that Bilbo agrees with Gandalf's statement since he's admitting that he's not really much of a "hero" in the end. Bilbo has proven himself to be a capable, intelligent adventurer. And yet Bilbo ultimately comes to reject the world of traditionaly heroism—the world of treasure, battle, and centuries-long feuding. In spite of his talents, he washes his hands of adventure, and retires. And yet Bilbo's adventures with Gandalf and Thorin haven't been for nothing. On the contrary, his adventures have made him a more confident, capable hobbit, with a wealth of wisdom and experience.

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Bilbo Baggins Character Timeline in The Hobbit

The timeline below shows where the character Bilbo Baggins appears in The Hobbit. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: An Unexpected Journey
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
The hobbit’s name is Baggins, and he belongs to a well-to-do family of hobbits that never gets involved in adventure.... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Bilbo Baggins, the Baggins about whom The Hobbit is written, is the child of the hobbit... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
One morning, Bilbo is sitting outside his home smoking, when Gandalf passes by. Gandalf, an old man who... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
Gandalf tells Bilbo that he will give him what he has asked for; when Bilbo says that he... (full context)
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
The next day, Bilbo has almost forgotten about tea. So he’s surprised to hear a knock at his door... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The Power of Language Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
...their home, and now they must quest to reclaim their home and their treasure. As Bilbo hears this song, he’s momentarily filled with a desire to go on adventures, but this... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
Thorin rises from his seat and praises Bilbo, who he calls the dwarves’ co-conspirator, for his hospitality. He alludes to a great adventure... (full context)
Heroism Theme Icon
...but found that warriors were too busy fighting, and for this reason chose a burglar, Bilbo. He also gives Thorin the key to the secret passageway. (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Greed, Trust, Fellowship Theme Icon
Heroism Theme Icon
Bilbo, who loves maps, asks for an explanation of the dwarves’ quest. Thorin explains that the... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
Bilbo suggests that the dwarves go to the Mountain and try to reclaim their treasure, and... (full context)
Chapter 2: Roast Mutton
Home and Birthright Theme Icon
Bilbo jumps out of bed in the morning and goes into his kitchen, where he sees... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
At the Green Dragon, the dwarves greet Bilbo, and tell him that they must be going and that he can borrow a hat... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...for the evening. They see a faint light in the distance, and decide to send Bilbo to investigate what it is, giving him a complicated signaling system if he’s in danger.... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
The trolls ask Bilbo if there are others near their fire; Bilbo says yes at first, then no. William,... (full context)
The Power of Language Theme Icon
...The stranger, who turns out to be Gandalf, frees the dwarves from their sacks, and Bilbo comes out of his hiding place. Gandalf suggests that they explore the trolls’ underground treasure... (full context)
Chapter 3: A Short Rest
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...sing or laugh; they’ve begun to feel the increasing danger and weight of their quest. Bilbo sees a great mountain in the distance, which belongs to the chain called the Misty... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
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The group stays in Rivendell for two largely uneventful weeks—Bilbo would have stayed much longer. Elrond, the elf-lord, examines the map that Gandalf gave to... (full context)
Chapter 4: Over Hill and Under Hill
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...climb high up, they can see back to the West, back in the direction of Bilbo’s home, the Shire. Bilbo thinks longingly of the harvests taking place in the hobbit-lands. (full context)
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In the middle of the night, Bilbo wakes up to a creaking sound, and sees a crack growing in the side of... (full context)
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The goblins lead Bilbo and the dwarves to their leader, the Great Goblin. The Great Goblin asks Thorin to... (full context)
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...and Orcrist, Gandalf and Thorin kill many goblins, then turn back and continue running away. Bilbo thinks to himself that he was wrong to ever leave his hobbit-hole. Dori is carrying... (full context)
Chapter 5: Riddles in the Dark
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Bilbo wakes up and finds himself alone in a cold, dark cave. He finds a small... (full context)
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Bilbo is in a “tight place,” the narrator notes, but he has the advantage of being... (full context)
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...and also eats fish. He paddles through the water in a small boat, and notices Bilbo before Bilbo notices him. Gollum thinks that Bilbo, who’s clearly not a goblin, would make... (full context)
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Bilbo becomes aware of Gollum and, frightened, points his sword at him. Gollum, who always talks... (full context)
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Bilbo and Gollum tell each other a series of riddles. Bilbo’s riddles have answers that reflect... (full context)
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Gollum says that he’ll show Bilbo the way out, but first he must paddle back to his lair and retrieve some... (full context)
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Gollum slips away, and Bilbo is afraid that he will attack and eat him. He slips on the ring without... (full context)
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Gollum continues toward the way out, with Bilbo secretly following behind him. Though Gollum can’t see Bilbo, he smells him in the dark.... (full context)
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In the goblins’ lair, the goblins see Bilbo—he has taken off his ring. Bilbo slips it back on just in time, and hides... (full context)
Chapter 6: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire
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Bilbo finds himself on the other side of the Misty Mountains without a pony, buttons, or... (full context)
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Gandalf is arguing with the dwarves; the dwarves are annoyed that Bilbo couldn’t stay with them, and had to get himself lost, while Gandalf insists that they... (full context)
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...lost their supplies and ponies to the goblins, but the company proceeds on their route. Bilbo is enormously hungry, and the path is difficult. After a long time, the group hears... (full context)
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...the dwarves out of the trees before they’re burned down. As an eagle carries Dori, Bilbo hangs on to Dori’s ankles, and lets go just as the eagles drop them in... (full context)
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...but Gandalf convinces them to take him and his friends much closer to their destination. Bilbo says that he is hungry, and the eagles bring the group hares, rabbits, and sheep... (full context)
Chapter 7: Queer Lodgings
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The eagles take Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves to a far-away place with woods and a river. Bilbo is afraid... (full context)
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...strange “Somebody,” of whom they must not ask too many questions. This person, Gandalf tells Bilbo, is a shape-shifter, and sometimes assumes the shape of a bear. He adds that he... (full context)
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The group comes to the Carrock, and Gandalf leads Bilbo to the home of a man so huge that Bilbo can walk between his legs... (full context)
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...a few more of the dwarves to come, until finally, Beorn has agreed to accommodate Bilbo and all of the dwarves. Bilbo is impressed that Gandalf has managed to convince Beorn... (full context)
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...he feeds them food and tells them tales of the dark forest, Mirkwood, through which Bilbo and the dwarves must soon travel. Beorn’s story makes everyone feel nervous for the journey... (full context)
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The next morning, Bilbo finds Gandalf, who explains that he found bear tracks outside, leading toward the woods from... (full context)
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...for his advice and hospitality, and set off toward Mirkwood. As they travel that night, Bilbo thinks that he sees the figure of a huge bear that might be Beorn, but... (full context)
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...through the forest. Gandalf announces that he is leaving them to attend to other business. Bilbo is especially sad to see Gandalf go, and wishes that he were going with him.... (full context)
Chapter 8: Flies and Spiders
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Bilbo and the dwarves march in single-file through the forest along the path. They quickly come... (full context)
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...don’t swim in the stream, but throw a rope across to pull the boat over. Bilbo and the dwarves go across two or three at a time, with Bombur, the fattest,... (full context)
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The dwarves send Bilbo to climb a tree in the hope that he’ll be able to see the end... (full context)
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...food. Thorin is irritated with this news, since the group’s supplies have almost ran out. Bilbo and the dwarves see lights, and what appears to be the king of the woodland... (full context)
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Bilbo falls asleep, and when he wakes up from dreams of food and home, he finds... (full context)
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Bilbo puts on his ring and follows the sounds of yelling, and, with a little luck,... (full context)
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Bilbo realizes that he’ll have to explain his ring to the dwarves; he tells them that... (full context)
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...are often hostile to visitors but are not evil like goblins. They are curious about Bilbo’s story, and ask him many questions. It is at this time that they begin to... (full context)
Chapter 9: Barrels Out of Bond
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 Bilbo and the dwarves wander through the woods, desperate for food. Just then a party of... (full context)
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Bilbo walks, invisible, though the elves’ prison, not wanting to abandon the dwarves. He is cautious,... (full context)
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After a week or two of searching, Bilbo finds Thorin in a special prison cell; Thorin has been so miserable that he was... (full context)
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One night, Bilbo overhears the elves talking about an upcoming great feast, full of wine and revelry. Bilbo... (full context)
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The barrels run aground at a nearby town, where they’re stored overnight. Bilbo swims ashore and uses his ring to steal some food and wine; the next day,... (full context)
Chapter 10: A Warm Welcome
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Bilbo, who has developed a cold in the water, floats along with the dwarves, still in... (full context)
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Long after the sun sets, Bilbo swims to the shore and lets the dwarves out of their barrels; they are extremely... (full context)
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Men take the dwarves and Bilbo to see the Master of Lake-town, who is at a feast. He is astounded to... (full context)
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For the next two weeks, Bilbo and the dwarves enjoy the town’s hospitality, and regain their strength. After this time, Thorin... (full context)
Chapter 11: On the Doorstep
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Bilbo and the dwarves make use of the supplies and ponies the men of the town... (full context)
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...and Balin note sadly that the Dale was green and beautiful before Smaug destroyed it. Bilbo sees smoke rising from the Mountain, and assumes that Smaug must still be there. Balin... (full context)
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...afraid of what they’ll encounter in the mountain, and have little spirit for their quest. Bilbo, surprisingly, is eager to use the map to find the secret passageway. However, after many... (full context)
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...Lonely Mountain, there is a new moon in the sky and the sun is setting. Bilbo sees a thrush knocking a snail against the rock, and this sight reminds him of... (full context)
Chapter 12: Inside Information
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Thorin announces that it is time for Bilbo to earn his pay by investigating the interior of the Mountain and acting as a... (full context)
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Bilbo climbs down into the mountain, where he notices a red light. As he gets closer... (full context)
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...more vulnerable position. Thorin insists that they rescue them by pulling them up with rope. Bilbo and the dwarves then run through the door into the mountain. They sleep there for... (full context)
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...no way of killing Smaug, which was the flaw in their plan all along, and Bilbo points out that he can hardly be expected to steal the huge amount of treasure... (full context)
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Bilbo again travels down to Smaug’s lair, to which Smaug has returned. Smaug looks asleep to... (full context)
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Smaug asks Bilbo for his name, and Bilbo replies that he is clue-finder, web-cutter, barrel-rider, and various other... (full context)
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Smaug, eager to show off his impregnability, rolls onto his side so that Bilbo can see his diamond armor. Bilbo notices, however, that there is a large hole in... (full context)
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...the moon. The group then hears a roar in the middle of the night, and Bilbo urges Thorin to shut the door in the side of the mountain. Just as Thorin... (full context)
Chapter 13: Not At Home
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The dwarves begin to despair, since they have no way out of the mountain. Strangely, Bilbo feels more hopeful than he had before—he urges the dwarves to follow him down the... (full context)
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Bilbo explores Smaug’s pile of treasure, and urges Oin and Gloin to make fire; while they... (full context)
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...and fill their pockets with whatever they can carry. Thorin wears regal armor and gives Bilbo a mail coat, which he accepts despite thinking that he must look ridiculous. (full context)
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Thorin guides Bilbo and the dwarves along the Running River, which leads from the inside of the Lonely... (full context)
Chapter 14: Fire and Water
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...at Smaug. In the middle of Smaug’s destruction, the same thrush that was listening to Bilbo when he told the dwarves about Smaug’s weak point, flies to Esgaroth and tells Bard... (full context)
Chapter 15: The Gathering Storm
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Back on the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo and the dwarves are trying to determine where Smaug is. They notice the thrush that... (full context)
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...with an army, and orders his own group of dwarves to fortify the Lonely Mountain. Bilbo points out that they have only a little food, and thinks to himself that their... (full context)
Chapter 16: A Thief in the Night
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Bilbo offers to take Bombur’s position as night watchman. While the other dwarves sleep, he puts... (full context)
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Bilbo travels back to the Lonely Mountain, escorted up to the Gate by the elves. He... (full context)
Chapter 17: The Clouds Burst
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The day after Bilbo gives him the Arkenstone, Bard, the elves, and an old, cloaked man march to the... (full context)
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Bilbo tries to justify himself to Thorin. He explains that Thorin told him he could choose... (full context)
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Bilbo is unimportant during the Battle of the Five Armies; he wears his invisibility ring the... (full context)
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...elves, in particular, suffer great losses, since they didn’t bring enough troops to begin with. Bilbo stands with the elves, since he would prefer to ally with them. He thinks that... (full context)
Chapter 18: The Return Journey
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When Bilbo regains consciousness, he is alone. He stumbles around, and sees that the goblins have been... (full context)
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On his deathbed, Thorin tells Bilbo that he regrets calling him a traitor and expelling him. He promises Bilbo his one-fourteenth... (full context)
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Bilbo learns what happened at the end of the Battle of the Five Armies. The Eagles... (full context)
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...Bard one-fourteenth of the treasure, which Bard uses to help his people rebuild. Bard tells Bilbo that he would have given him a huge amount of gold, except that Bilbo’s share... (full context)
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Over the course of the next year, Gandalf and Bilbo travel back to hobbit-town. While they have many adventures on the way back, the way... (full context)
Chapter 19: The Last Stage
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On May 1st, Bilbo and Gandalf pass through Rivendell, where the elves sing songs of Smaug’s defeat and the... (full context)
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As Gandalf and Bilbo get closer to hobbit-town, Bilbo remembers his adventures, which seem to have occurred a decade... (full context)
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When Bilbo arrives in hobbit-town, he is surprised to learn that he has been presumed dead, and... (full context)
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Years later, Bilbo is working on a memoir about his journey to the Lonely Mountain, called “There and... (full context)
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Bilbo says that the prophecies that the rivers would one day run with gold have come... (full context)