Notes on The Hobbit Themes

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The Hobbit Topic Tracking: Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis 1: Bilbo starts the tale not even interested in Gandalf's adventure. In fact, he is somewhat repulsed by the idea of traveling beyond the range of his knowledge in the face of incomprehensible danger. Gandalf is unwilling to take no for an answer. He returns with the dwarves the next day and they all tell Bilbo about the journey. Although he faints when he first thinks of it, he ends the first chapter planning to go with them and meaning to make an early start. He thinks that this is just his adventurous side surfacing.

Metamorphosis 2: Bilbo has never tried to steal anything in his life. When the dwarves force him to approach the trolls and see what is going on, he feels obligated to try to bring something back. Instead of stealing food, he dares to try to pick the pocket of the lead troll. He gets caught when he tries this.

Metamorphosis 3: In a short space of time, Bilbo has seen two creatures he had only heard of in stories before Gandalf appeared at his door: goblins and trolls. He sees the great hall of the goblins and witnesses the death of their leader. Because he cannot keep up, he is carried by Dori and dropped when a goblin attacks. He passes out and is alone in a strange place.

Metamorphosis 4: Bilbo's isolation marks a big step in his development. He is able to function alone and he is not disabled by his fear. When he meets Gollum, he defeats him in a game of riddles, and follows the creature through the tunnels. The ring gives Bilbo a new sort of confidence. When he is invisible, he is willing to attempt feats of daring that he would balk at otherwise.

Metamorphosis 5: Bilbo rejoins his friends and tells them the story of his departure from the mountain. He excludes everything about the ring. This is the first time that Bilbo lies in the tale, but not the last. His companions are impressed with his escape, and they begin to look at him in a different way. This is one of the first times that they think him to be competent.

Metamorphosis 6: In the forest, Bilbo begins to assume the role of leader more frequently. It is his keen sight and advice that gets them over the river of forgetfulness. When he wakes and kills the spider, it is truly a milestone in his development. He is brave and daring. He attacks all the spiders and leads them away. After he frees his friends, when bravery will not defeat the spiders, he tricks them and taunts them. Without Bilbo, the dwarves would surely have died in the forest.

Metamorphosis 7: Bilbo comes to the rescue of the dwarves once again. He spends weeks wandering the halls of the elves until he comes up with a plan. At first he is frustrated with himself because he can think of no way to get his friends out. He comes up with the barrel plan after careful thought. The dwarves are beginning to look to Bilbo for all answers and solutions, just as they once looked to Gandalf.

Metamorphosis 8: The dwarves continue to look to Bilbo for advice and leadership. When he does not know the answer or solution to something, they get very frustrated with him. He ends up remembering the omens that Elrond read from the map, and alerts the dwarves to the fact that they must look for the moonlight and put the key in the keyhole. Without Bilbo, once again, the dwarves would most likely be lost.

Metamorphosis 9: Bilbo is the only member of the expedition brave enough to enter the cave. He does this aided by his magical ring. He steals a cup and takes it to the dwarves. He hears the sound of the dragon coming, and gets the dwarves to go back into the tunnel, and because of him, they survive. He also reenters the lair of the dragon and keeps his wits about him enough to speak to the dragon and find its weak spot.

Metamorphosis 10: Bilbo is still the only one brave enough to enter the hall of the dragon even after the dragon has left. He finds the Arkenstone and pockets it, knowing how much Thorin values it. The dwarves begin to look to Thorin once the dragon is gone. Thorin takes command and Bilbo just sort of follows around not wanting to be there anymore and worrying about the dragon.

Metamorphosis 11: Bilbo changes from the group leader to a quiet malcontent as the armies approach. He thinks that this behavior over the treasure is absolutely foolish and he is unwilling to put up with it any longer. He knows that peace would be the best outcome for his friends, so he betrays them and takes the Arkenstone to their enemy. He refuses to join the enemy, however, because he thinks he should stand with his companions.

Metamorphosis 12: Bilbo at first tries to make peace by offering his share of the treasure to Bard and the Elvenking, but Thorin will not accept this. Bilbo tries to hide from the battle, but ends up fighting in it anyway. When he goes to Thorin's side, he cries at his death. Thorin's plea for forgiveness shows that he underwent a change right before his death. After so long, Bilbo wants only to go home. Nothing weighs heavier on his mind than his need to travel home.

Metamorphosis 13: Bilbo's journey changes him profoundly. The other hobbits sense this and are no longer comfortable with him. This does not bother him. He occupies his time with his memoirs, poetry, and an occasional visit to the elves. He is also entertained by his pipe. The need to journey never comes over him again and he is happy to live a simple life in his hole.

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