Find a quote that shows one or several characteristic language features of the novel The Hobbit. Explain and analyze the language, and describe the feelings that it creates for the reader.

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Using a complex narrative structure is one way that J. R. R. Tolkien involves his reader in the novel. His approach is characteristic of western European storytelling, in which a narrator gives the impression of addressing a specific audience while often maintaining a neutral stance. The narrative perspective is primarily third-person omniscient, which enables the narrator to convey information that is not known to any of the characters.

An example of the narrator knowing a character’s thoughts occurs when Bilbo steals the cup from Smaug. He is proud of himself for having taken such a daring risk, which others have told him was out of character. Although he is anxious about getting caught, Bilbo clutched the cup, and his chief thought was: "I've done it! This will show them. 'More like a grocer than a burglar' indeed! Well, we'll hear no more of that."

In contrast to the third-person overall perspective, the narrator often speaks in the first person, giving their own opinion or seeming to connect with the reader’s concerns, and sometimes encouraging their identification with the narrator.

The initial information that the narrator provides about hobbits follows this pattern, as they start with “I” and include the reader as part of “us”:

I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of Big People, as they call us.

Other devices that Tolkien employs are songs, which flesh out the cultural traditions of the various groups and interrupt the possible monotony of a sustained narrative. In addition, he creates interest by using riddles. In his encounter with Gollum, Bilbo must correctly answer five riddles. Tolkien raises the reader’s interest and increases their identification with the protagonist by having them guess the answers along with him. Bilbo also inverts the process with a straightforward question, which Gollum interprets as a riddle: “What have I got in my pocket?”

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