The Hobbit Questions and Answers
by J. R. R. Tolkien

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How does Bilbo show leadership and courage in The Hobbit?

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Bilbo’s increase in confidence and courage is the defining aspect of his character arc. At the beginning of the novel, he is shut away content in his Hobbit hole, happy to remain separate and coddled from the rest of the world. In the movie, Bilbo chooses to join the dwarves on their quest out of a sense for adventure. In the book, however, Bilbo wants nothing to do with them and only joins because he had been duped into signing a contract. Despite being on the adventure somewhat against his will, Bilbo still proves himself time and again, saving the dwarves from the spiders, the trolls, and a number of other dangers they encounter along the way. Bilbo’s character arc has even been cited as a sort of Christian metaphor for the growth of the soul, though how much Tolkien intended on this front is up for debate.

From a thematic standpoint, the ring of invisibility also plays into Bilbo’s brand of bravery. If Hobbits are the overlooked creatures of Middle Earth, then it is noteworthy...

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