I would think the major moral lesson that can be learnt through this great story is through the character of Bilbo Baggins and his slow transformation from a bumbling individual who seems to be more of a hindrance than a help into the true hero of the story. Perhaps this is most clearly seen towards the end of the novel, when he steals the Arkenstone and gives it to the army of men and elves so that he is able to prevent bloodshed and a damaging war between them. This shows Bilbo at his moral best, as he is able to identify the gold fever that is turning Thorin into such an unresonable and implacable individual and he is able to see that the greater moral good calls him to effectively betray his comrades. Even though he does this, he still returns to his friends, the dwarves, showing a disregard for his personal safety and a deep abiding loyalty that does him credit.
Bilbo's action manages to prevent lots of unnecessary bloodshed and shows how he is able to act independently for the good of all characters, even though some of them lack the awareness to see how this can be true. The relation of this to normal human life is clear. There are times when, to do the right thing, we have to act in ways that may seem to betray our nearest and dearest, but actually is necessary to maintain our own sense of moral uprightness and virtue.
There are lots of them, and here are the ones I've compiled up:
- Money is not the most important things in life. We learn that dwarves would rather starve than share their wealth. But as Thorin was on his deathbed, he realizes the error of his ways too late. His last words were, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
- Say yes to adventure. Bilbo Baggins wasn’t looking for adventure, but once he followed his own journey, he ended up with wealth that he used to make his friends and family happy. In turn, he made himself happy. If you say no to unkown tasks and callings, you might miss out on a big opportunity to be happy.
- Too much of something is bad for you. King Thror was so obsessed with gold, and it ends up with him losing Erebor because of Smaug’s attack of Erebor. Smaug is also obsessed with gold and that causes him to take Erebor.
- It is the experiences we have in life that build our self-esteem and confidence. When we overcome an obstacle, hurdle, or quest, we change and become stronger. Bilbo, even if he didn’t have any knowledge about quests at the start, becomes better and more self-assured after each challenge.