In Chapter 19 of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, what are good quotes that use literary devices to help characterize Bilbo?

Expert Answers info

Eleanora Howe eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write653 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

Chapter 19 of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit concludes one of the most influential fantasy stories of all time. As such, we can expect to find some significant indications that the formerly prudish and meek hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, has matured significantly (one cannot emerge triumphant from encounters with fire-breathing dragons without getting a boost in self-esteem, after all). Below, you'll find some quotes from the chapter that use literary devices to show Bilbo's growth as a character.

"'But our back is to legends and we are coming home'" (page 282). In this quote, Bilbo uses a mild form of personification with the word "legends." Though legends are an abstract concept, Bilbo references them here as if they were a physical, geographical location on a map. He does so in order to illustrate the fantastic places he has been to and the incredible adventures he has been through. By marking "legends" as a physical place on the map, Bilbo efficiently describes the mythic qualities of his quest. It also suggests that Bilbo has become a stronger, more confident individual, as he's gone from hiding in his kitchen to participating in legendary adventures.

"If Balin noticed that Mr. Baggins' waistcoat was more extensive... Bilbo also noticed Balin's beard was several inches longer..." (page 286). In this phrase, Tolkien uses a mild form of euphemism to describe the aging process of his characters. Rather than saying that Bilbo and Balin were getting older, he alludes to Bilbo's expanding girth by referencing a more generous waistcoat, while he takes note of Balin's more abundant facial hair. By doing so, he uses gentle phrases to illustrate a process that tends to make some folks uncomfortable (i.e., getting older and fatter). However, it's worth noting that Mr. Baggins' waistcoat size also lets us know that Bilbo has gotten quite rich, as his prosperity has provided him with plenty of exquisite food. Thus, we're given a subtle insight into the development of Bilbo's character.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial