One of the high points of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, or There and Back Again is Bilbo’s killing of the giant spider in the cursed forest of Mirkwood in chapter 8. Bilbo, separated from his companions, awakes to find himself bound in a spool of sticky thread. Although he initially felt fearful, he overcomes this and succeeds—with great difficulty—to free himself and slay the giant spider that held him hostage.
The quotation below shows us his feelings in the aftermath:
Somehow the killing of this giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark ... made a great difference to Mr. Baggins. He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath. “I will give you a name,” he said to it, “and I shall call you Sting.”
Here, we can see that, turning away from his domestic hobbit nature, Bilbo is able to disregard his hunger and perform heroic deeds. He himself is pleasantly surprised with this newfound courage.
Additionally, Bilbo’s naming of the sword is a significant trope in the fantasy genre. With it, he effectively embraces the call for adventure and declares himself a warrior. This trope is famously observed in the legendary King Arthur and his Excalibur, the sword in the stone.
Afterwards, Bilbo put on the enchanted ring to become invisible and set forth to find his dwarf companions. He found that they, too, were bound in thread and held hostage by giant spiders. He then uses his wit to scare the spiders away and free his companions. Hence, Bilbo, who was previously derided and belittled by the dwarves, proved to be as useful and heroic—if not more—as any of them.
This is one of the high points of the novel as it is a significant turning point in Bilbo’s character development. Previously, he had been too fearful and reluctant to actively participate in the dwarves’ quest. With his killing of the spider, however, Bilbo found in himself the courage and potential to be a true hero—something that truly is fulfilled later in the novel.