Notes on Characters from The Hobbit

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The Hobbit Major Characters

Bilbo Baggins: The main character and protagonist of the tale. For unknown reasons, it is Bilbo that Gandalf chooses to be the fourteenth member of the journey to Lonely Mountain. Although the tale is about a journey, it is also about the slow change of Bilbo from a provincial hobbit into a world-weary hero. It is his bravery and wisdom that rescues the dwarves on multiple occasions and makes it possible for them to make it to the end of their journey. Early in the tale, he finds a magic ring that makes him invisible. This ability helps Bilbo become brave. He frees the dwarves from the spiders and wood-elves. He is the only one of the party with the gall to face the dragon. Although he lapses momentarily into greed, his thoughts ultimately return to serving his friends in the best way he can, even if it is against their wishes. Bilbo is profoundly altered by his journey, but when he returns home again, he is happy to live a simple life.

Gandalf: Gandalf is the wizard of the tale. He is an enigmatic figure and the conductor of the entire affair. He not only gives Thorin the map and the idea to return to the mountain, but he also strangely couples thirteen dwarves with a hobbit who has never left his region before. Gandalf saves the group when they are in trouble, until he leaves them for other missions. Even though he is strong, he is not invincible. He cannot fight all the wards and goblins alone. At the end of the tale, he stops the dwarves from fighting the men and elves and turns their attention to the coming hoards. They tale ends as it began, with Bilbo and Gandalf alone.

Thorin Oakenshield: Thorin is the leader of the dwarves and heir to the title 'King under the Mountain.' He has not seen Lonely Mountain since his people were pushed from it when he was but a child. Although the dwarves look to him for leadership, he really provides very little until the end. It is Gandalf and Bilbo that lead the group across the world to Lonely Mountain. Thorin shows himself to be nothing but stubborn. He refuses to make good with the Elvenking. When they get to the mountain, he wants Bilbo to go in first and does not enter the lair himself until he sees that everyone else is all right. His worst moments come near the end of the tale, when he refuses to make a treaty with the men and elves, and he threatens Bilbo. It is only in death that he sees the error of his ways and apologizes.

Smaug: Smaug is the dragon of Lonely Mountain and the antagonist of the tale. He is the feared end of the journey. Although he is not present for most of the story, his existence looms. His attack on Lonely Mountain displaced an entire people and several towns. His death comes at the hands of Bard, a noble descendant of the people of Dale. His conversations with Bilbo expose him as an arrogant and hateful beast who loves treasure only for the sake of having it.

Minor Characters

Dwalin: The first of the fourteen dwarves to come to Bilbo's house. He is the third most important of the dwarves after Thorin and Balin.

Balin: Balin is the second in command of the dwarves. Whenever Thorin is not present, he makes the decisions.

Kili: One of the two youngest dwarves, Kili is almost always shown doing something alongside Fili. The pair are practically inseparable. They die together in the battle at the end of the novel.

Fili: Another of the two youngest dwarves, Fili is almost always shown doing something alongside Kili. The pair are practically inseparable. The die together in the battle at the end of the novel. Fili has the best sight of all the dwarves. He is the one who throws the hook at the end of the rope when they must cross the stream in Mirkwood.

Dori: Another of the dwarves, Dori is the on who drops Bilbo while carrying him in the tunnels of the misty mountains. The rest blame Dori for losing Bilbo. When they are caught by the Wargs in the trees, it is Dori's legs that Bilbo grabs.

Nori: Another of the dwarves.

Ori: Another dwarf.

Oin: Yet another dwarf.

Gloin: One of the thirteen dwarves.

Bifur: One of the thirteen dwarves who is almost caught by Smaug when he bursts from Lonely Mountain.

Bofur: Another of the dwarves who is almost caught by Smaug when he bursts from Lonely Mountain.

William the Troll: William is the leader of the trolls that the travelers encounter early on in the tale. Bilbo tries to steal something from his pocket and is caught. Unlike the other trolls, William wants to release Bilbo. He dies when the dawn comes early.

Elrond: Elrond is an old elf who lives in Rivendell. In this tale he always plays the part of a gracious host. Elrond reads the moon letter on the map that no one detected previously. These instructions make it possible for the dwarves to enter the mountain.

Great Goblin: Great Goblin is the leader on the goblins in the Misty Mountains. He allegedly imprisoned and killed Thorin's father. Gandalf kills the goblins king and helps the travelers escape from an almost certain doom. It is this murder that causes the goblins to gather and plan to pursue the dwarves.

Gollum : The underground creature Bilbo meets after he gets lost in the tunnels of the Misty Mountains. It is Gollum's ring that Bilbo finds on the ground when he first wakes up. Bilbo wants Gollum to show him the way out, but Gollum gets increasingly more interested in eating Bilbo. He tells the Hobbit that he received the ring as a birthday present. The two have a riddle contest and Bilbo wins. He follows Gollum out of the caverns.

Beorn: The skin-changing man who lives near the edge of Mirkwood. He gives the travelers shelter and supplies when they show up at his home. He investigates their story and when he finds out that it is true, he offers them more help. He appears at the end of the tale and bursts into the battle to kill Bolg, the leading goblin. Bilbo and Gandalf travel east with him at the end of the tale.

Bombur: Bombur is the fat dwarf who is often messing things up. In Mirkwood, he falls into the stream of forgetfulness and falls to sleep for many days. His companions must carry him. When he wakes, he has forgotten everything since they left the home of Bilbo. He is almost caught by the dragon when it bursts from the mountain.

Elvenking: He is the king of the wood-elves. He has a natural distrust of dwarves and refuses to release the travelers until they tell him exactly why they are traveling through Mirkwood. At the end of the tale, he helps the lake-men after Smaug has destroyed their city, and he leads an army to Lonely Mountain to claim a part of the treasure. He wants to delay the battle when Bard wants to begin. In the end, he wants Bilbo and Gandalf to come and stay at his home, but Bilbo does not want to re-enter Mirkwood.

Master of the town: He is the leader of Esgaroth. He doesn't really believe Thorin's tale, but he humors him to make the people happy. When the dragon has destroyed the town, he tries to shift the blame onto the dwarves. He ends up dying with a great amount of treasure that he had stolen from the Lake-men.

Bard: Bard is a descendant of the royal line of Dale. He does not appear until Smaug attacks the town, but he makes a brave stand with a small group of townspeople. He understands the words of the thrush, and slays the dragon. Afterwards, the people want to make him king, but Bard does not want to start trouble, so he stays quiet. He leads an army of men with the Elvenking to Lonely Mountain He fights well in the war, and ends the tale by re-establishing Dale.

Roac: The old Raven who carries the message to Thorin that Smaug has died. For the rest of the tale, Roac serves as a messenger for the dwarves, even though he vocally disagrees with their plans. He is the chief of many messenger Ravens.

the Old Thrush: The bird that fulfills a part of the omen read by Elrond. It is with his knocking that Bilbo realizes it is the time to find the keyhole and open the tunnel door. He also observes Bilbo telling the dwarves about the dragon's weak spot. He carries this information to Bard in Esgaroth. Alter on he tells Roac that Smaug is dead and Roac tells the dwarves.

Dain: Thorin's cousin who leads an army of dwarves from a week's march away to help the other dwarves. His entrance changes Bard's thoughts on the state of the conflict. Without the dwarves, the goblins may have overcome everyone else. Dain becomes king after Thorin dies, and is a very gracious leader. He gives a portion of the treasure to the men and elves.

Lord of the Eagles: The leader of the eagles who helps the travelers escape from the Wargs. He also brings them as far as the Carrock. At the end of the tale, he appears with an army of eagles to help them fight the goblins.

Bolg: The son of the Great Goblin, he seeks revenge against Bilbo and party, who killed his father. He comes with an army of goblins seeking treasure and revenge. Despite being grossly outnumbered, the party is saved at the last minute by Beorn, the skin-changing man who lives near the edge of Mirkwood.

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