How has Bilbo changed throughout The Hobbit?
Bilbo's development as a 'respectable hobbit' to an adventuring hero occurs gradually throughout The Hobbit. In the earlier chapters of the novel, Tolkien characterizes Bilbo as a respectable hobbit who prefers the comforts of home to the wild outdoors. He scarcely knows how to handle himself in the situation with the Trolls; however, as the plot progresses, Bilbo begins to settle into his new role as a burglar and hero. One turning point in the development of his character occurs when he cunningly outwits Gollum in a game of riddles and finds his way out of the goblins' mountain lair. Gandalf's words ring true when he concludes that "Mr. Baggins has more about him than you can guess" (86).
One of Bilbo's most defining moments occurs in Chapter Eight, when the dwarves become lost in Mirkwood forest and then prisoners of large, fierce spiders. In this scene, Bilbo frees the dwarves and fights off the spiders singlehandedly, and in doing so, finally recognizes his own true potential for bravery. After killing his first giant spider, Bilbo reflected that he "felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach" (142). From this moment on, Bilbo takes a much less passive role in the action; he truly becomes an instrumental member in the company of the dwarves.