J. R. R. Tolkien

Start Free Trial

Student Question

What is the moral reconciliation in The Hobbit?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The moral reconciliation of a story is the lesson the character or characters have learned as a result of the events that transpired in the book. In other words, how have the events of the story caused them to reevaluate their morals or perceptions?

In The Hobbit, we have several examples of characters with changed perceptions as a result of their adventures. The first is Bilbo Baggins. When we first meet him, Bilbo is not at all interested in doing anything unexpected, out of the ordinary, or adventurous. In the first chapter, when he meets Gandalf the wizard, Gandalf says:

I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it's very difficult to find anyone.

Bilbo responds:

I should think so - in these parts! We ... have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!

Clearly, Bilbo here believes that adventures or unexpected activities of any sort have little value and wants no part in them. Yet by the end of the novel, Bilbo is quite changed. Though he still likes his life in the Shire, we learn that he

remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folk as ever passed that way: but he was no longer quite respectable... he took to writing poetry and visiting the elves; and though... few [hobbits] believed any of his tales, he remained very happy to the end of his days.

At the end of the novel we see that Bilbo cherishes his adventure. He hangs his sword above the mantle and writes a book about his experience. His moral evaluation of adventures and life outside the Shire is transformed. 

Another character who undergoes a moral reconciliation is Thorin. At the beginning, the dwarf is obsessed with regaining his family's treasure in the Lonely Mountain. He feels the treasure has been stolen by Smaug the Dragon. However, before his death at the end of the novel, he says:

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. 

He has been influenced by Bilbo as well as the events of the novel and has reevaluated his moral perceptions of the gold he spent the whole novel pursuing. 

The moral reconciliation of The Hobbit, therefore, is that Bilbo comes to appreciate adventure and excitement as enriching life, and that Thorin, in his final moments, recognizes the value of enjoyment and experiences above gold and riches. 

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial