Title: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Biographical information about the author: Tolkien was born in 1692 in South Africa, but his family moved back to England when he was four. He attended Exeter University, specializing in Anglo-Saxon languages and literature. During World War One, he served as a lieutenant, but was eventually released for illness. Before leaving the military, he married Edith Bratt in 1916. During the 1920s, Tolkien became a professor at Oxford, where he met C.S. Lewis and started writing The Hobbit, which was published in 1937. He later connected The Hobbit with another project of his, The Silmarillion, through The Lord of the Rings, which put them all in the same universe. Tolkien died in 1973, when he was 81 years old.
Characteristics of the genre: The Hobbit contains many fantasy elements--it’s set in an alternate medieval universe, and contains unrealistic elements such as magic, talking animals, and other races. It’s also an adventure story, filled with danger, action, and excitement.
Date of Publication: September 21, 1937
Historical information about the period of publication or setting of the novel: The Hobbit was published in the 1930s, the in-between period after WW1 and before WW2. At this point, Adolf Hitler was coming into power, and the world was reeling from economic depression. While some people drew parallels between The Hobbit and real events of the time, Tolkien insisted that nothing in The Hobbit was an allegory for reality.
Exposition: Bilbo Baggins is visited first by Gandalf, who tells Bilbo that he's searching for someone to "share in an adventure"...
Inciting Incident:...and then by thirteen dwarves, who ask Bilbo to accompany them on a quest to retake their homeland, the Lonely Mountain, and treasure, from the dragon Smaug. Bilbo, against his better judgement, agrees.
Rising Action: The Company sets off for the Lonely Mountain, encountering trolls, elves, giants, and goblins along the way. While crossing the Misty Mountains, Bilbo is separated from the rest of the group and finds a ring, which turns him invisible when he puts it on. Bilbo begins to pull his weight as the Company, now sans Gandalf, enters the forbidding forest of Mirkwood--when the dwarves are captured by hostile wood-elves, Bilbo devises a way to smuggle them out through the river. When the dwarves enter the Lonely Mountain, they send Bilbo inside to scout it out. Bilbo unwittingly angers Smaug, who attacks the nearby Lake-town--he is shot and killed by one of their bowmen.
Climax: Bilbo and the dwarves move into the Lonely Mountain. Thorin, whose greed is incited over the dragon's hoard, is insistent on keeping all of the treasure for himself. An army of elves and men, aided by Gandalf, lay siege to the mountain in order to force Thorin into giving up some of the treasure. Bilbo eventually joins them. All of the armies are forced to join forces when an army of goblins and wolves invades. In the following battle, Thorin puts aside his prejudices and defends the mountain, which ends up costing him his life.
Falling Action: As he lays dying, Thorin forgives Bilbo and renounces the treasure. The rest of the dwarves settle in the Lonely Mountain, reestablishing their kingdom, and the other races part ways as friends. Bilbo, wiser and worldlier, returns to Bag End.
Resolution: Bilbo is later visited by Gandalf and Balin, one of the dwarves, who bring him news on the wellbeing of his old friends, and the three reminisce.
Memorable Quotes (min. 3)
"Bless me, life used to be quite inter--I mean, you used to upset things badly in these parts once upon a time." (7) This quote, said by Bilbo to Gandalf in the opening scene, demonstrates that Bilbo's not as fond of quiet as he seems to be. Even in the beginning, Bilbo's got an adventurous streak, which is what Gandalf is counting on when he recruits him for the quest.
" 'I wish I was at home in my nice hole by the fire, with the kettle just beginning to sing!' It was not the last time that he wished that!" (30) This quote plays into the theme of home being important--unlike the dwarves, Bilbo has no personal stake in this quest. All he wishes, for the major part of the journey, is to be back in his cozy hobbit-hole--and in the end, even when the adventure is over, when Bilbo is more confident with himself, his greatest reward is still to return to Bag End.
"So began a battle that none had expected; and it was called the Battle of Five Armies, and it was very terrible. Upon one side were the Goblins and the Wild Wolves, and upon the other side were Elves and Men and Dwarves." (251) This quote demonstrates the black-and-white morality of Middle Earth--even though the three "good" armies are at each other's throats a day before, they unite easily when one of the "evil" races threatens them.
Stylistic Devices and/or Literary Techniques (min. 5)
-The narrator is a separate character--he explains things that non-Middle Earth natives wouldn't know ("I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us."(4)) as well as providing humorous commentary on characters and their actions ("Even decent enough dwarves like Thorin and his friends think [the elves] foolish (which is a very foolish thing to think), or get annoyed with them."(46-47)). This makes the tone of the novel rather informal.
-Symbols: The Arkenstone and the Ring symbolize greed. Thorin is obsessed with the Arkenstone ("He values it over a river of gold."(244)), and this obsession causes him to alienate and risk the lives of his friends, but in the end he renounces it. Like Thorin, Gollum is obsessed with the Ring--it is the only thing of value he owns--although most of the details concerning him are in The Lord of the Rings. Bilbo, notably, comes across both of these items, but he doesn't place a great value on them--he hands over the Arkenstone without a fuss, and the Ring he stashes away and "chiefly uses it when unpleasant callers come."(271)
-Tolkien utilizes a deus ex machina when the Company is trapped by the goblins--at this point, even Gandalf has given up, and he is ready to go down fighting...but, at the very last second, "the Lord of the Eagles swept down from above, seized him in his talons, and was gone"(98). This also ties into the "mythology" feel of the story.
-Tolkien likes to add in songs and riddles (12, 68, 145). This lightens the mood of the story (as well as giving Tolkien a chance to show off).
-Foreshadowing: While in Rivendell, the elves say about Bilbo, "Mind [he] doesn't eat all the cakes! He is too fat to get through keyholes yet!"(48). Later in the mountain, when Bilbo is fleeing from Goblins, he does indeed get stuck between a crack. Tolkien takes what seems like an innocent joke and gives it a much more serious meaning.
-Gandalf's warning to stick to the path; naturally, the dwarves do not listen, and are lured off the path by the temptation of food. In mythology and fairy tales, this happens again and again--the hero is given a warning not to do something, but when tempted he does that very thing. In every case, this gets the hero in trouble.
-Tolkien also utilizes common phrases not usually found in an alternate medieval universe ("putting on his thinking cap"(70)). This subverts the grandiose, high-fantasy atmosphere that he's so well known for, and gives his characters and narrator some relatability to us.
Significant Characters (min. 5)
Bilbo Baggins (protagonist)--Most definitely not a flat character. The whole book's plotline is focused on his character development, and how he is changed by his quest. He's a homebody, but he's also humble and, when he rises the occasion, a trickster hero.
Thorin Oakenshield (deuteragonist)--While Bilbo's the most important character to us, the readers, in-universe, it's Thorin who's regarded as the most important--after all, it's his quest which drives the plot. Thorin also serves as a foil to both Bilbo and Smaug--like Bilbo, Thorin's actions are motivated by his desire to return to his homeland, but his stubbornness and pride contrast with Bilbo's logic. Like Smaug, Thorin is drawn to the treasure in the lonely mountain, but unlike Smaug, Thorin ultimately rejects it.
Gandalf (mentor)--Recruits Bilbo for the quest and, for the first half of the book, accompanies the Company on their quest. Eventually leaves, which at the same time causes Bilbo to take a more proactive role. Is a flat character, despite his prominent role. Can be described as mysterious, clever, and insightful.
Smaug (antagonist)--Despite being the main villainous character, Smaug is killed before the climax, so whether or not he's the main antagonist is up to debate. He does serve as the main threat to Bilbo and the dwarves, and is more three-dimensional than your typical dragon--in addition to typical dragon traits like greed and temper, he's also snarky and clever, engaging in witty banter with Bilbo and deducing from their conversation that Bilbo had come from the Lake-Town.
Bard the Bowman--Bard is a rather flat character, although he plays the traditional heroic role--he is the one to slay the dragon. He can be considered a counterpoint to Bilbo--Bilbo isn't a traditional, sword-slinging hero, but to the readers, he is the hero. Bard may be a Hero, but he isn't our hero. He can be summed up in three words: pessimistic, reasonable, and brave.
Significance of Setting
The story is set in Middle Earth, a fantasy universe based off Norse Mythology.
-Since Tolkien is writing the story in the style of an old myth, this is important.
-The Middle-Earth of The Hobbit, though, is different from the Middle-Earth of old ("Warriors are busy fighting one another in distant lands, and in this neighborhood heroes are scarce, or simply not to be found. Swords in these parts are mostly blunt, and axes are used for trees, and shields as cradles or dish-covers; and dragons are comfortably far-off (and therefore legendary)". (21)) Middle-Earth has had its age of heroes, but now that age is over; therefore, Gandalf must turn to a different sort of hero: a trickster hero. This is why he goes to Bilbo.
Significance of the Opening Scene
The opening scene introduces both Bilbo and Gandalf, establishing the former as a homebody and the latter as eccentric. It provides an ironic contrast to the closing scene, where Bilbo also receives Gandalf as a guest, but his attitude is very different. The opening scene also explains the nature of hobbits, which most readers aren't familiar with.
Significance of the Ending/Closing Scene
The ending scene provides an ironic contrast to the opening. In both scenes, Bilbo is at home and is visited by Gandalf. But in the first scene, Bilbo is frightened at the very thought of adventure (what would the neighbors think?) and brusquely tries to turn Gandalf away. In the last scene, Bilbo is changed--he's now confident, having experienced the world beyond the Shire. His neighbors think him odd and "no longer respectable," but Bilbo no longer cares. When Gandalf arrives this time, Bilbo welcomes him inside and inquires about what has happened at the Mountain; he now cares about the world beyond the Shire.
Possible Themes – Topics of Discussion (min. 3)
Importance of Home
The idea of home is what drives the plot--Thorin is trying to reclaim his homeland, while Bilbo is kept going by the thought of his cozy little hobbit hole. It's rather telling that Thorin and Gollum, the two most mentally unstable characters in the novel, have both lost their homes--this makes them more susceptible to temptation, greed, and selfishness.
Good vs. Evil
The Hobbit both plays this straight and subverts it. On one hand, there's a clear defining of "good" races and "evil" races--Elves are good, Goblins are evil, Men are good, Dragons are evil, etc. On the other hand, those "good" races don't always act in the morally right. The Elvenking is petty, greedy, and prejudiced against Dwarves, and the whole siege leading up to the Battle of the Five Armies can basically be defined as Men, Dwarves, and Elves squabbling over treasure. There's black and white, but there's also morally grey.
The Hobbit is questing at its finest. Bilbo leaves home to journey into the unknown, without even knowing a clear reason why. Along the way, he encounters challenges, both physical and mental, and through a series of episodes he slowly reaches his goal--the Lonely Mountain. While the quest's official purpose is to take back the Lonely Mountain, the focus is on Bilbo--how he changes through his journey, eventually reaching self-determination.
Biographical information about the author:
Date of Publication:
Historical information about the period of publication or setting of the novel:
Characteristics of the genre:
Plot Summary: Do not cut/paste from a website, which is a form of plagiarism.
Consider Exposition, Inciting Incident, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action & Resolution
Memorable Quotes/Passages (at least 3 – more is better)
Cite Quotations / Passages
Explain the Significance or how it Relates to the Work as a Whole
Stylistic Devices and/or Literary Techniques
Explain the Significance or how it Relates to the Work as a Whole
(Metaphors, Symbols or Motifs, etc.)
Role in the story and Significance…
…because Purpose or Function (round / flat?)
3 Adjectives that Describe him/her
Significance of Setting
Significance of the opening scene
Possible Themes – Topics of Discussion (elaborate) minimum of 3
Significance of the ending / closing scene
AP English: Literature and Composition- Major Works Data Sheet