Bilbo Baggins; Zero to Hero

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How does one define a “hero?” By classic definition, a hero is a man of great strength, valor and swordsmanship who fights evil even in the face of insurmountable odds to defend the lives of the innocent and those that can’t protect themselves. Indeed it is these very attributes which separate heroes from the common man. However, the word “hero” takes an entirely different connotation in J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic tale The Hobbit, in which the hero of the story is a furry-footed, complacent, hole dwelling hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. At first glance, Bilbo is very much the “un-hero” and more like an everyday average person than a hero. Unlike the classic definition of a hero, Bilbo’s strength is not measured by the might of his sword (though…show more content…
While walking down the tunnel towards the dragon, Bilbo hears the great beast snoring. “Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.” (214) It is because of Bilbo’s courage that he is able to conquer the greatest fear of all – the unknown. Bilbo’s willingness to persevere given the choice between certain doom and ending his journey and turning around is what separates Bilbo Baggins from the common man and is what defines him as a true hero. Loyalty is Bilbo’s greatest strength and the linchpin of his heroism. His un-yielding commitment to his friends and staunch sense of selflessness is what elevates Bilbo to a level purely reserved for heroes. This act of heroism is manifested throughout the book. From his rescuing of the dwarves from the savage spiders of Mirkwood, to his aid and abetment in rescuing the dwarves from an eternal imprisonment in the cave of the Wood-Elves, Bilbo remains loyal to his friends. However, Bilbo’s greatest test of loyalty is his handing over of the Arkenstone to Bard on the eve of “the Battle of Five Armies.”

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