The Hobbit Summary

The Hobbit is a novel by J. R. R. Tolkien about Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit who embarks on an adventure with the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves.

  • Bilbo joins Gandalf and the dwarves on their journey to the Lonely Mountain, the dwarves' ancestral home, to defeat the dragon Smaug.

  • On the way, Bilbo and his companions face many hardships, including encounters with trolls, elves, goblins, and a creature called Gollum.

  • Bilbo takes Gollum's ring, which makes him invisible, and uses it to steal from Smaug's hoard. The dragon is killed, and after the Battle of Five Armies, the dwarves retake their mountain home.


Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novel The Hobbit tells the story of an unlikely hero, the eponymous hobbit Bilbo Baggins, and his episodic quest, along with thirteen dwarves and the wizard Gandalf, to reclaim gold from the dragon Smaug. Each chapter of the book introduces a new creature of Wilderland which the company has to face in order to continue on to their goal.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Hobbit Study Guide

Subscribe Now

At the beginning, readers are introduced to Bilbo Baggins, a respectable homebody who isn’t known for his daring. Gandalf comes by and decides to send Bilbo on an adventure, but Bilbo refuses. The next day Bilbo unwillingly hosts Gandalf and thirteen dwarves, including Thorin Oakenshield, their leader. The dwarves sing of reclaiming their “long-forgotten gold,” which belonged to their forefathers, from the dragon Smaug in the Lonely Mountain. Gandalf shows the company a map and a key leading them to the door in the Mountain where the gold is hidden. Thorin and Gandalf tell Bilbo that he has been chosen to come along with them as a burglar to help steal back the gold.

Soon after their departure, the company runs into a group of trolls eating around a fire. The trolls catch the dwarves and put them in sacks. The trolls are arguing over how they will cook them when Gandalf appears and tricks the trolls into prolonging their argument. As a result, they remain above ground until dawn and, struck by the sun’s rays, turn to stone.

The company then comes to Rivendell, home of Elrond the half-elf. Elrond discovers “moon letters” on their map, revealed only in moonlight. Elrond instructs them to “stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks,” at which point “the setting sun with the last light of Durin’s Day will shine upon the keyhole.”

In the next leg of their journey, the company is seized by goblins and brought to the goblins’ caves, leaving Gandalf behind. When the goblins plan to kill the company, Gandalf arrives and helps them escape from the goblins, but Dori, one of the dwarves, is seized by an unseen goblin. Bilbo, who had been riding on Dori’s back, falls off, hits his head, and blacks out.

Bilbo wakes in the goblin caves, finds a golden ring, and puts it in his pocket. He comes upon a mysterious creature named Gollum. At Gollum’s request, Bilbo agrees to play a riddling game. If Bilbo wins, Gollum will show him the way out. When Gollum loses the riddling game to Bilbo, Gollum rushes off to find his ring so that he can return invisibly and kill Bilbo. He is enraged when he realizes that Bilbo must have stolen it. Bilbo runs off and Gollum tries to follow, but Bilbo slips on the ring, disappears, and escapes out the back door.

Bilbo ends up on the other side of the Misty Mountains. He soon rejoins the company but omits mention of the ring. The company shelters in a forest, where they run into a pack of giant wolves called Wargs. The company hides in the trees; Gandalf sets the Wargs on fire, and the beasts run away. Then the goblins arrive and ignite a ring of fire beneath the dwarves. At this point the Eagles swoop down and carry Gandalf and the company away from danger.

Gandalf leads the company to the home of Beorn (a shape-shifter who can take the form of either man or bear). Beorn gives them a place to sleep, as well as ponies and food for...

(The entire section contains 1309 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Hobbit study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Hobbit content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Chapter Summaries
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Analysis
  • Critical Essays
  • Teaching Guide
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Chapter Summaries