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

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Why is Bilbo not a hero in The Hobbit? What are some quotes from the book that prove it?

Bilbo is not a hero in The Hobbit, or at least not a traditional one. While a traditional hero, as from Greek or Anglo-Saxon myth, might jump into every possible battle and return home changed, Bilbo is more like a regular person. He shows a mixture of bravery and cowardice, and he is eager to return home as his adventures end. As he says, "I wish now only to be in my own armchair!"

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Bilbo is certainly not a traditional hero in The Hobbit, but it might be a stretch to argue he is no hero at all. He does display cunning in how he tricks Gollum out of the ring (which is Tolkien's way of showing that a hero does not need to have brawn over brains to succeed in facing down monsters), and he does display courage when he saves the dwarfs from the spiders and the trolls. It must also be mentioned that Bilbo is the one to face down Smaug in Smaug's own territory, which is quite a heroic feat.

One could perhaps argue Bilbo is not a hero because he is peripheral during the final battle. In traditional heroic stories, from Greek epics to modern superhero movies, the hero usually challenges the antagonistic forces head-on in a final battle to the death. However, during the Battle of the Five Armies, Bilbo chooses to remain among the elves on Ravenhill, not entirely out of danger, but still very removed from it.

It is true that he does this partly for practical (some might say...

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