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Old 12-18-2003, 01:55 AM   #1
Rindoien, elf of Lothlorien
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Sting Was Bilbo Over-rated?

Having read the Hobbit a long long time ago, it seems to me that compared to what others thought of him in LotR he wasn't all that great.

- He was a silly old hobbit at the beginning and reluctant to go off.

- He didn't fight at all it seems and was much a coward.

- He got the dwarves in trouble with the trolls by being stupid

etc. etc.

But it seems to me that in Lord of the Rings he is sort of 'worshipped' as a great adventurer and values himself in a manner of speaking, by teaching Frodo things like 'The Road Goes Ever On and On'.

Feel free to discuss and disagree with me [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 12-18-2003, 02:17 AM   #2
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But it seems to me that in Lord of the Rings he is sort of 'worshipped' as a great adventurer
Only in the Shire, really, and as a guest of Elrond. Any 'success' that he's known for is something apart from the reasons you listed - to simply go on such an adventure was something exciting and extraordinary for a hobbit. Additionally, his success in fooling Smaug, finding his weakness, simply being a part of the battle (only one had ever been fought in the Shire), and having all of that gold - too much to carry home, even.
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Old 12-18-2003, 02:27 AM   #3
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So have I noticed. I haven't really read The Hobbit fully (I fell asleep after a few chapters [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img] ) but it seemed to me that he was highly respected in LotR. Maybe during the time of The Hobbit, he was like Merry and Pippin during LotR, being "stupid" and not much of a help and a burden and all that, but after being able to do outstanding things (Bilbo's adventure, Merry stabbing the Witch-King, and Pippin fighting at the battle before the gates of Mordor), they became the respected hobbits that they were and should be.

Hope I was able to help. [img]smilies/biggrin.gif[/img]
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Old 12-18-2003, 04:43 AM   #4
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Sorry, I just have to step in here to defend the reputation of one of my favourite characters. [img]smilies/wink.gif[/img]

Having read the Hobbit a long long time ago, it seems to me that compared to what others thought of him in LotR he wasn't all that great.
No, Bilbo did nothing heroic ...

... apart, of course, from rescuing the Dwarves from a bunch of giant spiders, rescuing the Dwarves from Elven captivity, confronting a Dragon (and discovering the weakness which led to the said Dragon's death) and helping to avoid a war between Men and Elves on the one side and Dwarves on the other.

Of course he was little help at first. Who wouldn't be in his situation? He had never left the Shire before and was understandably naive and inexperienced. One of the central themes, if not the central theme, of the story is the way in which, while he is little more use than spare baggage at first, he develops throughout the Quest until in the second half of the book he is carrying out true acts of heroism. Of course, there is the small matter of a Ring of Invisibility to help him, but all heroes need their magic items.

It is the last of those mentioned above that, for me, is Bilbo's greatest deed. While everyone else (including, I might add, a King of the much vaunted Elves) is greedily squabbling over the spoils of Samug's hoard, he offers to give up his share of the booty, and the most precious article in the hoard, to avert the seemingly inevitable battle.

I have no doubt that, when all is said and done, Bilbo thoroughly deserved his reputation, both in the Shire and in Rivendell. [img]smilies/cool.gif[/img]
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Old 12-18-2003, 07:13 AM   #5
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Well said, Saucepan. Bilbo's actions become more heroic throughout the story, culminating in what I think is the supreme act of heroism: the theft of the Arkenstone.

To rescue one's friends may be heroic, but to defy them for their own good is even more so. Let's not forget the 'Dragon sickness' that comes over many of the characters towards the end of the story. Thorin is all set to bring about open war with those who should be his allies when Bilbo passes to the other camp the one thing that might make him negotiate; voluntarily relinquishing both his share of the dragon's hoard and the friendship of his companions in so doing. His actions probably make the difference between the utter destruction of everyone by the Goblin horde and the victory that they eventually share in the Battle of Five Armies. Bilbo's role in the physical fight doesn't have to be that great. He has played his part in the victory before the first blow has even been struck. Without Bilbo's unselfish action, the area around Erebor at around the time of the War of the Ring would have been dominated by Orcs, and the co-operation of Dwarves and Elves, particularly the likes of Gimli of Erebor and Legolas of Mirkwood would be completely impossible.

All of which demonstrates the great importance of reading a book all the way through before voicing opinions about it. It really is worth persevering with it to the end.
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Old 12-18-2003, 12:22 PM   #6
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Saucepan and Squatter have done an admirable job of defending Bilbo's accomplishments, and defining the true nature of his heroism.

I will just add that Bilbo's reception at Rivendell, and the respect with which he is regarded, probably have more to do with the One Ring than with anything he did in his long-ago adventures with Thorin and Company.

After all, by the time we arrive at Rivendell to see how Bilbo is treated, Elrond is well aware of the significance of the Ring; and of Bilbo's part in its aquisition.

The fact that Bilbo is a serious student of the Elvish Language, and a well-respected poet in that language, is another factor.

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Old 12-18-2003, 12:33 PM   #7
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I think we must all remember that Bilbo was a genial old Hobbit, a one of a kind in Rivendell, and that Elrond would probably love and respect him simply for this.

What Elrond thinks, others will think as well.
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Old 12-18-2003, 03:45 PM   #8
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Of course, you have to remember that only a few people in the shire held a good opinion of Bilbo after he came back. Adventuring wasn't something for a hobbit to be proud of. Of course, it excited the young hobbits who would later have an even greater adventure than he did. I don't think he would have been up to the quest of the ring, even when he was younger. I don't think "over-rated" is the right term at all, though.

Bilbo was a sort of anti-hero hero, because the things which made him succeed were simple things. He always got in trouble when he tried to push himself beyond his limits (pickpocketing trolls, teasing smaug, etc.). Tolkien was pointing out that among all the elves, dwarves, wizards, etc, a small, sensible hobbit had underrated qualities that they didn't.

Those of you who haven't should really read the Hobbit all the way through. I still like it just as much as LotR, you just have to realize it's a different type of book. Sooooo much fun. [img]smilies/smile.gif[/img]
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Old 12-18-2003, 06:18 PM   #9
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I agree that Bilbo's poetry is one of the main reasons he is so respected. Not only did he preform all of the previously mentioned feats, which are particularly great because he was a Hobbit (Not to sound prejudiced against Hobbits- I simply mean that few Hobbits adventure, so few could accomplish what Bilbo did.), he also exhibited great prowess in the arts of language and music, which are esteemed by the Elves.

In short, I agree with just about everyone.
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Old 12-18-2003, 08:05 PM   #10
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Then, of course, there is the simple factor of affection. Bilbo was a kind, simple, good person. By the time he went to Rivendell he was open minded, interested in learning, creative, and unconcieted. In short he was the kind of person (or hobbit) that elves would understand, respect, and like. For the hobbits he was a sort of beloved old uncle who told good stories and gave good presents. They had grown up looking up to him and hero-worshiping him for his adventures, and that sort of ingrained view of someone doesn't change quickley or easily. Bilbo was entirely lovable even appart from all of his accomplishments, thus he was love and respected for himself as well as for them.
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Old 12-19-2003, 07:48 AM   #11
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Defiitely not overated (and one of my favorite characters).

For another look at Bilbo and his contributions, take a look at this older thread.

Bilbo Baggin's Testimonial Day

<font size=1 color=339966>[ 8:50 AM December 19, 2003: Message edited by: Child of the 7th Age ]
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Old 12-19-2003, 06:07 PM   #12
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It seemed to me when I first read the book, (and have re-read many times since), that the defference shown Bilbo was more due to the fact that he was not only a bearer of a ring of power, he bore THE ring of power for an extended period of time and was able to resist it's evil to a degree. It also seemed to me that the elves were being kind to old hero and elf-friend. *emphesizes "Elf-friend"*

Justa thought

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Old 12-19-2003, 07:51 PM   #13
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When I first read LOTR, which was after I read the Hobbit, I thought Bilbo in Book I seemed like Bilbo in the beginning of the Hobbit. It's like his personality changed midway through FOTR.
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Old 12-21-2003, 01:44 PM   #14
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What Saucepan and Squatter said.

Also would like to add that in some ways Bilbo's later deeds are really enhanced by the fact that he's completely unprepared for this sort of life and doesn't know the first thing about it - yet somehow he manages to draw on himself and do necessary things that certain other, far-more-used-to-adventuring groups hadn't quite caught onto. Bilbo doesn't know any of their histories or relations between Elves and Dwarves, etc, aside from what he picks up in scraps here and there from the Dwarves, yet somehow at the end he manages to pull all his information together and make a pretty reasonable hypothesis about what actions will avert disaster - and then he goes and actually does it! Basically he comes into the world as ignorant of it as a newborn, and in less than a year he's up there with the best of them strategically. That's quite a handicap to overcome, and he did it marvelously. He deserves every bit of what he gets.
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