Tolkien’s The Hobbit: Bilbo’s Quest for Identity and Maturity

The Hobbit Tolkien’s The Hobbit: Bilbo’s Quest for Identity and Maturity 

By Lýdia Rezničáková

Bachelor’s Thesis, Masaryk University, 2013

Abstract: The aim of this thesis is to explore a few selected phenomena that can be found in The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien that constitutes the primary source for this essay. As far as the structure of the thesis is concerned, it is divided into three main chapters. Chapter 1 focuses on Tolkien’s biographic sketch, professional interests as well as the publication details of The Hobbit. It also examines Tolkien‟s view of fantasy as a literary genre by analysing his essay “On Fairy-Stories”. This is followed by the attempt to clarify the term “fantasy”. The psychic transformation of the main character, Bilbo Baggins, is of paramount importance to Chapter 2. Bilbo undertakes a change from a person whose only concern is to secure his physical comforts, to a courageous mature leader. Chapter 3 focuses on aspects that can be attributed to The Hobbit‘s popularity.

Two sides of Bilbo‟s personality, the Baggins, comfort-loving features and the Tookish adventurous impulses are reconciled as the story nears its end. There are three turning points in this process of transformation: the incident with the trolls, confrontation with Gollum and the slaying of the spider. The profound change in Bilbo‟s position in the story occurs after this part of the adventure as Bilbo evolves to a mature leader. Although Bilbo possesses numerous anti-heroic qualities such as ordinariness and comfort-loving character, he can be seen as a symbol for an average individual. Similarly, his quest may be seen as a symbolic psychological development of a common man. Therefore it is easy for the readership to identify with the hero. Numerous Celtic and Anglo-Saxon folkloric motifs (runes, riddles, wizards, bears, birds and elves for example) are prerequisites for the appeal to the English reader. The story may also attract any nation that cherishes adventurous journeys because these constitute fundamental part of individual folklore.

Click here to read this thesis from Masaryk University

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