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

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What does Bilbo Baggins in Tolkien's The Hobbit look like?

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Philip Arrington eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In the beginning of the classic fantasy The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Bilbo Baggins has the appearance of a typical hobbit. He does not vary drastically from his normal looks until The Fellowship of the Ring, when the ring of power, which he has possessed for a long time, begins to make him long-lived and appear thin and stretched out. The events in The Hobbit happen much earlier than this. Tolkien describes what a hobbit looks like early on in the first chapter.

They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards.

They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colors (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly), have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it).

In the prologue of The Fellowship of the Ring, which is the first volume of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien gives more details in the section called "Concerning Hobbits."

For they are a little people, smaller than Dwarves: less stout and stocky, that is, even when they are not actually much shorter. Their height is variable, ranging between two and four feet of our measure. They seldom now reach three feet; but they have dwindled, they say, and in ancient days they were taller.

Their faces were as a rule good-natured rather than beautiful, broad, bright-eyed, red-cheeked, with mouths apt to laughter, and to eating and drinking.

We can assume that at the beginning of The Hobbit, the appearance of Bilbo Baggins would match that of a typical hobbit, but as the story goes on, his appearance subtly changes. Because he runs out of his house to meet the Dwarves without packing a bag, Dwalin the Dwarf gives him a spare hood and cloak, and the traveling clothes of the dwarves are more subdued in color than typical hobbit attire. Additionally, during the course of Bilbo's travels he loses a lot of weight so that by the end of the book, he doesn't look like an average, fat, stay-at-home hobbit but is more lean and rugged.

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit. That means that he approximately three feet tall. He does not have a beard. he does have brown hair. He is fairly stout, especially before the start of his journey, although he slims down and gets a bit more muscular by the end. He has brown eyes, and generally appears cheerful. Hobbits' feet have leathery soles and are covered with brown curly hair; they often go barefoot. He is able to move silently, and is seen smoking a pipe when he can do so. His ears are slightly pointed.

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