How does the setting reflect Bilbo's character in The Hobbit?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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In The Hobbit, Tolkien uses the details of the setting the hobbit hole to reveal more about the character and preference of Bilbo Baggins. The novel begins with the narrator's focus on the construction of Bilbo's home, noting that "it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort" (3).  The "perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny brass knob" suggests numerous aspects about Bilbo's character.  First, the "perfectly round" quality of the door reveals that Bilbo may be a perfectionist, if he settles for no less than perfection with the shape of his door.  He has a firm sense of aesthetics and prefers tranquility, as indicated by the green hue of his door.  The "shiny brass knob" indicates that Bilbo is a financially secure hobbit, one who can afford more expensive hardware.  

Further details such as the "lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats" in Bilbo's hobbit-hole provide more insight into his character (3).  Bilbo enjoys socializing and entertaining; he has multiple pantries and ample room for friends and guests.  Tolkien's wealth of detail in the exposition of The Hobbit leave the reader with a clearly defined picture of a cheery protagonist, who enjoys his comforts in his cozy hobbit-hole.

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