Essay Topics for The Hobbit
Requirements are as usual for all other essays. Refer to handout.
1. Given his development throughout the book, does Bilbo belong in Hobbiton at the
end of the novel? He is not completely accepted by the hobbit community, but he
seems to be perfectly happy there. How do you think Tolkien views the relationship
between heroism and the simple life?
2. Many people assume Tolkien wanted Bilbo to be viewed as the hero and that the
story is of his transformation. However, given Beowulf's influence on Tolkien, Bilbo
is most likely not meant to a hero. Take a stance and argue for or against this
3. In many quest stories, the protagonist undertakes a double search. Even as he
labors to complete his mission, he seeks some possibility buried deep within himself.
Have the class discuss Bilbo's struggle to keep his timid Baggins side from
overcoming "the Tookish part." How does the Bilbo of Chapter XIX differ from the
hobbit who hosted "An Unexpected Party"? Is our hero's inner quest complete
when he enters the Lonely Mountain? (On page 192 we learn, "Already he was a
very different hobbit from the one that had run out without a pocket-handkerchief
from Bag-End long ago.") Or does he still need to grow in curiosity, courage, or
4. W. H. Auden's six basic elements of a quest adventure are: 1) a precious object, 2) a
heroic seeker, 3) a long journey, 4) fierce guardians, 5) tests that screen out the
unfit, and 6) supernatural helpers. Discuss these as pertains to their appearance in
the novel. Be sure to include evidence for a minimum of the five traits.
5. Explore Tolkien’s fascination with the Anglo-Saxon culture and discuss the
similarities between Beowulf and his novels.