J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit: An Unlikely Hero Driven to Heroism

Essai en anglais
Nathalie Giraud - 2009
Articles théoriquesArticles théoriques : Ces articles permettent d'avoir une vue d'ensemble du thème traité mais ils nécessitent une bonne connaissance des principales œuvres de J.R.R Tolkien.

Plan de l'article :
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit:
An Unlikely Hero Driven to Heroism

Part III - A Hero In Spite Of Himself

Borrowings from ancient heroic tales


As I said in my introduction, J.R.R. Tolkien was passionately fond of medieval and pre- medieval literature. He worked on the famous poem Beowulf, the English tale about a Danish hero, and the cycle of Arthurian legends. But more particularly he was attracted by Scandinavian ancient literature, including the Völsunga Saga (or “the saga of the Volsungs”), a compilation of Icelandic legends written around the thirteenth century, the Kalevala, a nineteenth century compilation of medieval Finnish epic poems, and The Eddas, Icelandic epic poems written from 1000-1300 A.D. Tolkien was very influenced by this large corpus of texts when he began to write legends himself. That is why The Hobbit, although it looks like a fairytale1), has a strong epic sub-text. This sub-text is created by a strong intertextual relationship between The Hobbit and ancient heroic tales. Intertextuality designates “the various relationships that a given text may have with other texts”2) as for instance adaptation or imitation: and in The Hobbit we can find many common points and borrowings from ancient epic tales. These resemblances must be treated with caution so as not to make extravagant parallels, but we can nevertheless find various similarities in characters, themes and plot elements.


As far as characters are concerned, Gandalf is one of those who seem the most connected with ancient archetypes. His appearance, an old man wearing a long cloak and a long white beard, as well as the tales which spread about his magical deeds tend to link him with Merlin The Enchanter, present in many Arthurian tales. Both of them have the role of a guide or a counsellor for the hero of their respective narratives. Gandalf may also be put in relation toVäinämöinen, the old wise man who appears in the Kalevala. Both wear a long white beard, possess magical powers and, at the end of their mission, leave for a sea journey from which there is no return3). Some critics compare Gandalf with the Nordic god Odin when he appears as a wanderer, with a long beard, a wide hat and a staff.

Gollum is a creature that has characteristics close to other mythic monsters. He can easily be compared to Grendel, the ogre who attacks the king Hrothgar’s palace in Beowulf. They are both humanoid creatures who live in or next to water. In The Hobbit, it is said “Deep down here by the dark water lived old Gollum”4) and in Beowulf it is said of Grendel that “the fell and fen his fastness was”5) and when deadly wounded by Beowulf, Grendel goes on a “blind flight for the monster’s mere-pool”6) and finally “here in his fen-lair he had laid aside his heathen soul”7). They both live in the dark Grendel is “dwelling in darkness”8) and “gliding in shadows”9) and Gollum is “as dark as darkness”10) because they have been exiled from their community. Grendel “had long lived in the land of monsters since the Creator cast them [Grendel and his mother] out as kindred of Cain”11) and Gollum, as we learn in the second chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, has been chased away from his clan because the ring had waken evil tendencies within him12). Another important similarity is that they are both cannibals. Grendel eats men: “He set his hands on a sleeping soldier, savagely tore at him, gnashed at his bone-joints, botted huge gobbets, sucked at his veins, and had soon eaten all of the dead man”13); while Gollum eats goblins: “He liked meat too. Goblin he thought good, when he could get it”14) and even plans to eat a hobbit: “I guess it’s a choice feast; at least a tasty morsel it’d make us, gollum!”15). Actually Gollum mixes the characteristics of the two monsters present in Beowulf: he is humanoid like Grendel and as greedy as the dragon. A striking detail we can find in these two characters is the light produced by their eyes, compared to a flame. For Beowulf: “out of his eyes stood an unlovely light like that of a fire”16) and for The Hobbit: “now the light in Gollum’s eyes had become a green fire”17). Even in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, it is said about the Green Knight: “his glance flashed bright as fire”18).

Smaug the dragon was obviously not invented by Tolkien but belongs to a long tradition of mythic creatures possessing more or less the same physical features and powers: a serpentine body and magical properties like talking human langage or spitting fire. Dragons appear in a very large number of human cultures and are traditionally associated with a treasure that they jealously guard and a hero meant to slay him, as is the case in The Hobbit. Bard the archer is, like Sigurd, the hero of the Völsunga Saga, a dragon-slayer. Smaug’s weak spot in the middle of his chest can remind us of Siegfried, the Germanic hero of the Nibelungenlied: Siegfried bathed in a dragon’s blood in order to be invincible, but a leaf felt on his back and so left a patch of skin vulnerable. Smaug and Siegfried are both killed because of this single weakness, Smaug with an arrow and Siegfried with a spear.

Smaug le Dragon (© John Howe)

The people of the Elves has not been invented by Tolkien either, since they were already present in the Kalevala as well as in Celtic tales. But contrary to folk culture which pictures Elves as tiny and winged creatures, Tolkien describes them as tall, immortal and wise persons deeply linked to Nature.

The magical ring, as far as we can evoke it as a character, is often present throughout scandinavian mythology in which it is a symbol of wealth and power. We can evoke for instance the ring called Andvarinaut of the Völsunga Saga, or Odin’s ring which allowed him to rule the entire world. Bilbo’s ring that has the power to make him invisible recalls Siegfried’s special cloak that has exactly the same property.

Tolkien was also inspired by nordic epic poems to give names to his characters. Humphrey Carpenter says that the name of Gandalf was taken from The Ancient Edda because it means in icelandic “elf-sorcerer” thus wizard19). We can specify that in Old Norse the name “Gandalfr” is composed of “Gandr” meaning “magic” and “Alfr” meaning “elf” or mythological being. Originally Gandalf was the name of the leader of the dwarves, but its signification led Tolkien to give it to the wizard. The latter was first called Bladorthin, but this name was finally given in The Hobbit to an Elf king who ordered some spears from dwarves long before the time of the setting. Thorin’s name, as well as all the other dwarves’ except Balin, was also taken from The Edda, more precisely the “Völuspá”, its best known poem. They also were dwarves’ names in the “Völuspá” since they belong to a section called “Dvergatal”, or “catalogue of dwarves”.

Themes and plot elements

Apart from these echoes in characters’ traits and names, The Hobbit also borrows themes and plot elements belonging to traditional epics. In Beowulf different motifs are present which can be found in The Hobbit as well as in most epic tales. Firstly there is the motif of the feast, present also in the very beginning of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which can correspond in The Hobbit to the company’s meal in Beorn’s house. Secondly we can find the motif of the sea crossing evoked when the company has to cross the dangerous stream of Mirkwood. Thirdly the motif of macabre details can be found for example in the mention of Bullroarer’s feats of arms “He (…) knocked their king Golfimbul’s head clean off with a wooden club. It sailed a hundred yards through the air and went down a rabbit- hole, and in this way the battle was won and the game of Golf invented at the same moment.”20). And finally there is the motif of the equipping of the warrior, in Beowulf from verse 1441 to 147221), in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from verse 566 to 58922) and in The Hobbit on page 278:

With that he put on Bilbo a small coat of mail, wrought for some young elf-prince long ago. It was of silver-steel, which the elves call mithril, and with it went a belt of pearls and crystals. A light helm of figured leather, strengthened beneath with hoops of steel, and studded about the brim with white gems, was set upon the hobbit’s head.23)

More than just themes and motifs, these texts share almost similar plot elements. In his adventure, Beowulf fights three consecutive battles: against Grendel, then Grendel’s mother and finally against the Dragon. Bilbo too carries on three fights: against the Trolls, then the giant spiders and finally, the Battle of Five Armies. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight there is also a sort of series of three fights, although the hero does not take part in them: when Lord Bertilak hunts the deer, then a boar and finally a fox. In these three texts the action begins and ends at the same place: in Beowulf it is in Denmark, and more precisely during a funeral ceremony, first Scyld’s then Beowulf’s; in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight the hero leaves and then comes back to Camelot, just like Bilbo leaves and comes back to the Shire hence the subtitle of The Hobbit, “There and Back Again”.

The introduction to these texts makes the reader immediately understand that they will deal with extraordinary exploits. The first three lines of Beowulf define the genre of the narrative: an epic poem. The Hobbit includes in the first paragraphs a prolepsis of what the whole narrative is about: “This is a story of how a Baggins had an adventure, and found himself doing and saying things altogether unexpected.”24) and the narrator of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight announces “And so I mean to unfold an actual adventure, such that some men consider it a veritable marvel, and an extraordinary episode from the strange tales of Arthur.”25)

A surprising detail shared by all these texts is the exterior appearance of the villain’s lair: they are all served or surrounded by a stream of water, as if it was a frontier to be crossed by the hero. In Beowulf, the hero sees “(…) in the wall a stone archway, and out of the barrow broke a stream surging through it, a stream of fire with waves of deadly flame”26) and the same landscape is described in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight when Gawain finally arrives at the Green Knight’s chapel: “He saw (…) what looked like a knoll, a rounded mound on the side of a slope by the water’s edge, near the channel of a stream which flowed there; the burn seethed and foamed in its bed as though it were boiling.”27). Bilbo’s first view of the Lonely Mountain is comparable to these landscapes: “(…) they could look out and see the dark cavernous opening in a great cliff-wall between the arms of the Mountain. Out of it the waters of the Running River sprang; and out of it too there came a steam and a dark smoke.”28)

Resemblances between The Hobbit and Beowulf do not stop here. Given Tolkien’s fascination for Beowulf, it is hardly surprising that he was particularly inspired by it for many details of his story. When he goes rescuing the king Hrothgar, Beowulf leaves with fourteen men “With fourteen men he sought sound-wood (…)”29) so they form a company of fifteen members, just like in The Hobbit, for they include thirteen dwarves, plus Gandalf, plus Bilbo himself. In the two texts, the main character is not named immediately. The author first introduces the context and background of the narrative: a retrospective of Danish history for Beowulf, a description of Bilbo’s house and family background for The Hobbit. For both Bilbo and Beowulf, their functions and kind are described before their names are revealed : Beowulf is at first called simply “one of Hygelac’s followers”30) and Bilbo is referred to as “the hobbit”. The dragon in Beowulf who seems to have no name and Smaug are also very similar. They are both watching over a treasure, and they are both robbed of a cup while sleeping: in Beowulf, “(…) one man did enter, went right inside, reached the treasure, the heathen hoard, and his hand fell on a golden goblet. The guardian (…) had been caught sleeping by the cunning of the thief (…)”31) and in The Hobbit Bilbo “(…) grasped a great two-handled cup, as heavy as he could carry (…) Then Bilbo fled. But the dragon did not wake (…)”32). And in both texts the dragons do not simply wait for the thief to reappear: they seek revenge by hunting and spitting fire around their lairs. In Beowulf it is said “At last day was gone, to the worm’s delight; he delayed no further inside his walls, but issued forth flaming, armed with fire.”33) and in The Hobbit “(…) Smaug came hurtling from the North, licking the mountain-sides with flame, beating his great wings with a noise like a roaring wind.”34).


To conclude borrowed plot elements, we can notice that in most heroic tales, the narrative generates itself. That is to say that the adventures of the hero give birth to a legend: the legend which is actually told. After Beowulf dies the Geats tell in feasts how their lord fought and fell using superlatives; and when Bilbo has returned back home he begins to write his memoirs entitled “There and Back Again, A Hobbit’s Holiday”. All of these elements allow us to say that The Hobbit belongs to a long tradition of mythological narratives. The intertextuality which exists between The Hobbit and ancient heroic tales reduces its “fairytale” aspect to a mere surface. Thus we will see how Bilbo is rather taken on a mythic quest just like a mythic hero.

A mythic quest


In the second edition of Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale, Alan Dunde says in his introduction : “Propp’s Morphology suggests that there can be structural borrowings as well as content borrowings.”35) In this sentence he is talking about borrowings that modern literature makes from myths and folktales. Indeed, “mythologically based modern literature”36) like The Hobbit is not only inspired by myths on the level of its content but also on the level of its structure.

According to Anne C.Petty37), most scholars of folklore, sociology and comparative mythology generally agree upon the fact that there exists a classic scheme applicable to most myths and folktales. This scheme includes three stages that form the hero’s quest: “separation (usually from the community) initiation (transition from childhood to maturity) return (knowledge gained)”38). It corresponds to Joseph Campbell’s three-stage quest composed of departure, initiation and return.

Anne C.Petty adds that this classic stucture can emerge either from what Carl Jung called the “collective unconscious”, that is to say “the inborn racial memory which he [Carl Jung] believed to be the primitive source of the archetypes39) or ‘universal’ symbols found in legends, poetry, and dreams”40), or just from the author’s familiarity with extant mythologies. That is to say that the hero’s quest is an universal quest which illustrates the different stages of human experience in general.

Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folktale deals with the structure of folktales, and Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces deals with the structure of myths. Both of these critical works describe the classical scheme of the traditional hero’s quest. By analysing The Hobbit in the light of these critical writings, we will see how it can fit to this scheme of the heroic quest.

The mythic structure of folklore

In his book Morphology of the Folktale, Vladimir Propp makes an analysis of the mythic structure of folklore, dividing it into successive steps, which can be easily encountered in the structure of The Hobbit. Propp based his theories on eleven Russian myths, and concluded that even if the names and attributes of the characters can vary from one myth to another, their functions are always the same, and all fairytales are of one type in regard to their structure. There are seven functions associated with characters and we can apply them characters of The Hobbit this way:

  1. The Villain : Trolls, Goblins and Wargs, Smaug
  2. The Donor : Elrond and Beorn
  3. The (magical) Helper : The Ring
  4. The Princess and her father (they can be undistinguished) : the treasure (as it is sought for during the quest and assigns a mission to the hero)
  5. The Dispatcher : Gandalf
  6. The Hero or Victim/Seeker hero : Bilbo
  7. False Hero / Anti-Hero / Usurper : The dwarves or Bard the Archer.

Now let us focus on the successive steps of the mythic structure as we can find them in Appendix I of Morphology of the Folktale41) and link them roughly to The Hobbit. Step 1 is called “initial situation”. It includes:

  • temporal and spatial designations : the first scene takes place in a hobbit-hole, in The Hill, and it was “one morning long ago”42),
  • family composition : we can remember the characteristics of the Baggins family and the story of Belladonna Took,
  • introduction of the hero : the definiton of “a hobbit”,
  • well-being before the prophecy : “In fact I will go so far as to send you on this adventure”43).

Step 2 is “the preparatory section”, including:

  • banning: if Bilbo leaves for an adventure, he will be discredited in his community.
  • absentation : Gandalf has disappeared,
  • entry of the villain : the Trolls,
  • the villain questions the victim and gains information : the Trolls try to know who is Bilbo and if he has any accomplice,
  • deception of the villain : Gandalf pretends to sound like one of them to keep them fighting until they get trapped by the break of dawn,
  • reaction of the hero : Bilbo has failed in his task.

Step 3 is entitled “the complication”:

  • first act of villainy : the goblins capture the company,
  • transition : Gandalf intervenes and kills the Great Goblin,
  • hero’s entrance into the tale : Bilbo finds the ring and escapes the goblins,
  • form of acceptance of the call of adventure : “And here’s the burglar!”.

At this point the first two stages of step 3 are doubled repetition is often present in folktales: a second act of villainy occurs when the goblins and the wargs trap the company in trees and the transition is brought by the rescue of the Eagles.

  • Dispatch of the hero : journey in the air.

Step 4 called “entrance of the donors” deals with:

  • journey to the home of the donor : Gandalf introduces the dwarves to Beorn one after the other,
  • attributes and appearance of the donor : “Standing near was a huge man with a thick black beard and hair, and great bare arms and legs with knotted muscles.”44),
  • transmission / Gift : Beorn gives ponies, food and good advice to the company.

Step 5 is “from the entry of the helper to the end of the first move or phase”:

  • details of the journey : tribulations in Mirkwood,
  • stuggle with villains : fight against the spiders,
  • entry of the helper : the ring is revealed to the company,
  • victory over the villains : the spiders give up the fight,
  • the fake hero : Thorin is captured by the Elves,
  • repair : Bilbo frees the dwarves from their prison,
  • pursuit : the company flees on floating barrels (it is not a pursuit but still a flight and they have to hide from the Elves),
  • rescue from pursuit : the company arrives in Laketown.

Step 6 “beginning of the second move” follows this pattern: it is a repetition, even a trebling of steps 3 to 5. Firstly, an act of villainy occurs in Bilbo’s theft of the cup and when Smaug consequently seeks revenge; then the stay in the tunnel is a transition; the hero’s entrance is when Bilbo uses cunning to find the dragon’s weak spot; the donors are the dwarves who give Bilbo a coat of mail and a helmet; then the struggle against the villain is Smaug’s attack of Laketown; the helper is the thrust that reveals how to kill the dragon, and victory over the villain is when Smaug is killed by Bard’s arrow. Secondly, an act of villainy is performed when Men and Elves come to claim a part of the treasure; the transition is the negotiations between them and the dwarves; the hero enters when he brings the Arkenstone to the enemy camp; the donor is Gandalf who reappears; then the struggle against the villain is the Battle of Five Armies, human races fighting the goblins and the wargs; the helpers are the ring for Bilbo and Beorn and the eagles for the armies, and victory over the villain is illustrated by the defeat of the goblins.

The final step is step 7 “continuation of the second (or final) move”:

  • hero’s arrival (often unrecognized) : Bilbo is found while he was invisible,
  • difficult task : Bilbo faces Thorin’s death,
  • recognition of the true hero : Bilbo is thanked and praised (“(…) O Bilbo the Magnificent! (…) I name you elf-friend and blessed.”11) and rewarded with gold,
  • transfiguration : on his way home, Bilbo creates a poem of his own and Gandalf remarks: “Something is the matter with you! You are not the hobbit that you were.”45),
  • punishment : Bilbo is thought dead and his goods are put up for auction,
  • return to society : Bilbo returns to his former life.

The three-stage quest

The Hobbit can also fit Joseph Campbell’s three-stage quest as follows:

1. Departure

  • The call of adventure: it is Gandalf who summons Bilbo to take the road of adventure in order to join the dwarves’ quest. He bears the role of the “herald”. This role is explicitly confirmed by Tolkien, since we learn in The Silmarillion that Gandalf occupies a rank in celestial hierarchy comparable to angels’, the gods’ messengers. Campbell’s herald “is often dark, loathly, or terrifying, judged evil by the world”46) : indeed Gandalf has a bad reputation in the Shire for throwing young people into “mad adventures”.
  • Refusal of the call: it is possible for certain heroes to refuse the call of adventure. It is the case for Bilbo, although he eventually chooses to answer. Supernatural aid: it is a protective and elderly figure acting like a parent, who provides the hero with special tools for his quest. Gandalf has indeed the appearance of an old man (to limit his powers on earth, Tolkien said in a letter of 1954) and provides Thror’s map and the silver key for the secret door, although indirectly.
  • The crossing of the first threshold: the hero must cross the frontier of the world he knows to pass into another. For this he must encounter the “threshold guardian”. It corresponds to Bilbo’s meeting with creatures he did not know: the Trolls.
  • The belly of the whale: the hero passes through “a sphere of rebirth”47) : Bilbo’s misadventure marks the starting point of his heroic journey, since he gets a weapon.

2. Initiation

  • The road of trials: the hero has to survive a series of obstacles (or “trials”), and he is helped by the “supernatural helper” he met before. Indeed, Bilbo is captured by the goblins and is saved by the unexpected intervention of Gandalf.
  • The meeting with the goddess & woman as the temptress: the hero meets a female figure and his marriage with her represents his mastery of life. Some critics said that the ring was a feminine figure: Bilbo takes it with him and will discover later in The Lord of the Rings its power of temptation.
  • Atonement with the father: the hero meets a father-like figure in which he reconciles the latter’s tyrannical and merciful aspects. Here Bilbo meets Beorn, who, although he looks threatening at first, eventually offers a precious help to Bilbo and the company.
  • Apotheosis: the hero attains a divine state. Bilbo becomes a true hero after his misadventures in Mirkwwod.
  • The ultimate boon: the hero finds what he was searching for. In addition to a moral transformation, Bilbo reaches his goal: the treasure in the Lonely Mountain.

3. Return

  • Refusal of the return: the hero may not want to go back to his familiar world. Here Bilbo refuses to listen his Baggins side and “Tookishly” decides to face the dragon.
  • The magic flight: “if the trophy has been attained against the opposition of its guardian, (..) then the last stage of the mythological round becomes a (..) pursuit”48). Despite his effort in offering the Arkenstone to the enemy side to avoid conflict, Bilbo is caught by war.
  • Rescue from without: the hero needs to be rescued by forces he met previously. Indeed Bilbo as well as the “human” races (Men and Elves and dwarves) are rescued by the Eagles and Beorn.
  • The crossing of the return threshold: the hero must accept that his mission in an unfamiliar world is over. Bilbo painfully realizes the end of his adventure facing his friend Thorin’s death.
  • Master of the two worlds: thanks to his new experience, the hero perceives both human and divine world. Bilbo is aware of the value of his familiar world (“(…) the sound of the kettle on his hearth was ever after more musical than it had been even in the quiet days before the Unexpected Party.”49)) but has still contacts with the supernatural world he discovered (“(…) for ever after he remained an elf-friend, and had the honour of dwarves, wizards, and all such folks as ever passed that way”50)).
  • Freedom to live: The hero bestows the boon to his fellow man. Here Bilbo chooses to go on with his former life and leaves the job of the adventurer to Gandalf. He also chooses to share the fabulous wealth he gained.


The Hobbit does not contain all of the stages described above, because actually very few myths includes all of these stages. My application of Joseph Campbell and Vladimir Propp’s theories to the structure of myth to The Hobbit is just a rough approximation destined to underline the fact that The Hobbit is actually narrating a mythic quest just like the epic hero narratives. As The Hobbit fits the classical scheme of the hero’s quest, we can say that this novel goes beyond its fairytale surface to reach the level of the heroic quest. Now we can understand in what respect its main character is an epic hero: not only thanks to favourable circumstances and help or unsuspected skills but also because he is an inherent part of the myth of the hero in general.

Bilbo’s return as a hero


All along his journey with the dwarves and sometimes with Gandalf, Bilbo the conservative hobbit experiences a considerable evolution. He progresses from a self-directed and materialist life to the status of an epic hero. He transforms in front of our eyes in an unexpected way until he becomes a totally different person at the end of the narrative. Although he is still a small creature stricken by fear, at the end of his adventure we can consider him as a true hero, even if it is an unusual kind of hero. This new experience has consequences for the hobbit, which can be considered as good or bad.

Bilbo’s heroism

I have said that Bilbo has turned into an epic hero because along his quest he proved that he had hidden qualities such as courage and leadership and because he himself progressively became aware of his new status as a hero. I have also said that the hobbit was the main character of a heroic quest worthy of being compared with traditional folktales and ancient mythologies. But there are additional elements which allow me to consider Bilbo as an epic hero. We noted that the bearing of special weapons contributed to the image of the epic heroes: just like them, Bilbo starts the journey by getting armed. After the episode of the Trolls, the company finds out their hoard and they pick swords, Glamdring for Gandalf and Orcrist for Thorin. As in ancient heroic tales, the swords wear a name and a genealogy is associated to them: Elrond reveals that Orcrist was called “Goblin-cleaver” and Glamdring “Foe-hammer” in the ancient langage of the lost city of Gondolin, where they were famous Glamdring was even worn by the king. Goblins themselves have heard about these swords: “They knew the sword at once. (…) They had called it Orcrist, Goblin-cleaver, but the goblins called it simply Biter.”51) and “This sword’s name was Glamdring the Foe-hammer, if you remember. The goblins just called it Beater, and hated it worse than Biter if possible.”52). Bilbo’s sword, although it looks like a knife for taller persons, was also made in Gondolin (“A sword, a blade which came out of Gondolin!”53) Bilbo says to Gollum) and has a very special propriety: it shines when goblins are near, which is a precious help for its bearer as he can prepare to face the danger. Moreover it wears a name from the moment when Bilbo calls it “Sting”54). It is important to note that this moment occurs almost at the exact middle of the book55), marking the second half of Bilbo’s journey, or the birth of a second Bilbo. Indeed, giving his sword a name marks a turning point for the hobbit: from this moment on, he transforms into a hero.

The ring should put on the same level as a special weapon: it has also a legend and a history, as we learn in The Lord of the Rings, and it has magical powers which help Bilbo to turn into a hero, just like the bearing of Excalibur makes Arthur become king. In Mirkwood, he has descended into the underworld like a mythic hero and he emerged as a new person without the help of his donor Gandalf. As an epic hero, he will fight alone, without counting on the help of the company: he proposes to go alone down into Smaug’s lair and as said by the narrator: “(…) he soon realized that if anything was to be done, it would have to be done by Mr. Baggins, alone and unaided.”56). We can also say that Bilbo has noble origins like epic heroes, since his family is very known and respected in the Shire: “The Bagginses had lived in the neighbourhood of The Hill for time out of mind, and people considered them very respectable (…)”57). Like an epic hero he will leave his roots and distinguish himself to eventually prove that he is not a generic representant of his family and his kind.

To say that Bilbo is an unusual kind of epic hero, we can refer to Northrop Frye’s essay “Historical Criticism: Theory of Modes” present in his book Anatomy of Criticism. In this essay Frye attempts to categorize different kinds of heroes in relation to their power of action:

  1. If the hero is superior in kind to other men and his environment, then the narrative is a myth, in other words a story about a god.
  2. If the hero is superior in degree to humanity and his environment, then he is the hero of a romance or a folktale.
  3. If the hero is superior to other men in degree but submitted to the laws of his natural environment, then the narrative belongs to the high mimetic mode, which include most epics or tragedies.
  4. If the hero is inferior both to humanity and his environment, then the narrative belongs to the low mimetic mode, in which the hero can be one of us.
  5. Finally, if the hero is inferior to ourselves in power or intelligence, then the narrative belongs to the ironic mode.

Traditional heroes like Beowulf or Sir Gawain thus belong to the category of romance and folktale, as they seem superhumans. But Bilbo is a more complicated case. On one hand, the hobbit seems to be inferior to men and helpless in front of his natural environment, which tends to correspond to the “low mimetic mode”. But on the other hand, his actions in Middle-Earth which turn him into a hero correspond to the “high mimetic mode”. That is why we can say that Bilbo is a special kind of epic hero. Finally, he is just as Smaug imagines in dream: “(…) a warrior, altogether insignificant in size but provided with a bitter sword and great courage (…)”58)

The completion of a heroic quest

The hobbit finally gains fame and creates a legend, but with heroic modesty: he does not claim his part of the treasure, and does not expect recognition: “He did not, of course, expect that any one would remember that it was he who discovered all by himself the dragon’s weak spot; and that was just as well, for no one ever did”59). But as I said before, the hobbit is still rewarded with generosity and, although he did not wish to become an adventurer, every one around him considers that he is a hero: the Elvenking himself says to Bilbo: “You are more worthy to wear the armour of elf-princes than many that have looked more comely in it.”60). This recognition is the true reward for Bilbo, since he will retain it (through his friendship with Elves, for instance) longer than the wealth he gained. As a hero, his reward is the completion of his quest. Anne C .Petty sums up his success this way:

The hero returns from peril as the bringer of the grail to humanity. Bilbo the burglar has freed the Lake people from Smaug’s tyranny of fear, reestablished Bard as lord in the ruined city of Dale, and brought into the community of Hobbiton fabulous wealth, which he gives away, as well as having helped reinstate the dwarves once more in their old halls under the Lonely Mountain.61)

Le Mont Solitaire (© John Howe)

The completion of the quest is for the hero a completion of himself. He originally went on the road of adventure in order to find something that he could not gain in his everyday life: Vladimir Propp says that the reason why the hero leaves his house is because he felt that something was missing, either a human being, a wondrous object, money, food, etc. Indeed for Bilbo it is self-esteem which was missing, and above all, he leaves to find his own place in the world.

Moreover, Joseph Campbell remarks:

The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there’s something lacking in the normal experiences available or permitted to the members of his society. This person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to discover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It’s usually a cycle, a going and a returning.62)

This cycle can be found in the structure of The Hobbit, and in the subtitle of the book, “There and Back Again”. The “life-giving elixir” is also an appropriate image since Bilbo gets a new life in his adventure, or rather he can live more fully after his adventure. Unconsciously he needed to go beyond the latent interdiction of the hobbits’ world to go for something perilous in order to find his own place and feel he is not living in the shadow of his family name anymore.

Access to a new world

In The Lord of the Rings, the end of the hero’s adventure is not a fairytale ending. When they finally go back home, the hobbits realize that the Shire has been devastated and their peers enslaved. Frodo suffers from his wounds and finally leaves his companions for ever, embarking for immortal lands, a metaphor of his death. Although The Hobbit is not as dark in its end, we cannot say that Bilbo enjoys a real happy ending either. After a war that was not expected after the completion of his quest, the hobbit wakes to learn that Thorin is dying and he receives his last words. Two other members of the company that he came to know well during the year died in the battle: Kili and Fili. Because of this Bilbo suffers the same loss and bitterness as epic heroes.

By this experience of death, Bilbo is “the quester, perhaps sadder but definitely wiser”63) that Anne C.Petty evokes. Thanks to his journey, the hobbit has become aware that another world really exists outside of the Shire and outside of books. He has come to know this world a little better and realized that it was not as he imagined it. Back in his former life, he is aware of the true worth of his comfort and of the luck he has to live in a quiet place far from dragons and battles. Thus it is not really his former life but an improved version of his former life: he has reached a new world, because he has acquired a new view of the world. Bilbo is more open-minded, since his prejudices about magic and “wretched adventures” have disappeared, and he has a contact with wizards, elves or dwarves in the Shire. At the end, his world is larger because it goes beyond the limits of the Shire. Bilbo is a hero who comes back to his original environment with a spiritual experience rather than fame and heroic legends, as his peers are not aware of his deeds. Joseph Campbell remarks: “Well, there are two types of deed. One is the physical deed, in which the hero performs a courageous act in battle or saves a life. The other kind is the spiritual deed, in which the hero learns to experience the supernormal range of human spiritual life and then comes back with a message.”64) Bilbo’s deed definitly belongs to the second kind.

The hobbits of the Shire have not evolved at all when Bilbo was away. The hobbit realizes that they are still as materialistic as they were before he left Bag-End. Contrary to them, he has evolved and thus he cannot be an inherent part of their community anymore. The proof is that Bilbo remains virtually “dead” for quite a long time even after he returns. He separated from society when he left, and he is still a marginal at his return, since he has lost his reputation and respectability. But thanks to his point of view enlarged by experience, these losses are not important for him. On the contrary, Bilbo shows that he is even more different than the other hobbits by becoming an artist instead of a down-to-earth farmer. He composes his first poem with Gandalf when he sees the Shire again after a one- year journey and then it is said that “he took to writing poetry”15 and he began to write his memoirs.


Indeed the little Bilbo has experienced an important personal evolution. He has progressively gained the qualities of a traditional epic hero, such as the bearing of special weapons or the solitary initiative. At the end he is still a “low mimetic” hero, or an “Everyman”, but his actions are worthy of a heroic quest: that is why he is a true hero despite his smallness. He has achieved the completion of a cycle, in which he has found what he was looking for: an experience of the real world. He has found his place in the universe and has reached maturity.

Bilbo’s memoirs play an important role in the history of Middle-Earth, that Tolkien wrote progressively after The Hobbit. In the first edition of The Hobbit, Tolkien wrote a different version of the riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum: in this version Gollum promises to give the ring to Bilbo as a present if he wins the game. When Gollum cannot find it (as Bilbo has already found it by chance) Bilbo asks him in exchange to show him the way out of the goblins’ tunnels. The second edition of The Hobbit was published while Tolkien was already working on The Lord of the Rings: in this “sequel” Gollum was a creature totally under the control of the ring, and would never propose it as a counter. So Tolkien wished to modify his first version of the riddle game: he explained that the first version was based on Bilbo’s memoirs, supposedly corrupted by the power of the ring, and that the present second version was the truth that Gandalf succeeded in snatching from

Bilbo after much questioning. Thus, we can see how Bilbo’s return as an artist contributes to the coherence of the world of Middle-Earth and how this simple tale of The Hobbit opens the way to a greater tale: The Lord of the Rings.


When Bilbo came out of Tolkien’s mind, the author was surely seeing his own children in him. In The Hobbit, this child has to face the outside world that he did not know. As Joseph Campbell points out, “this is a fundamental psychological transformation that everyone has to undergo”65). That is why we can consider this novel as a universal quest and an apprenticeship novel. From the beginning of the book until its end, the hobbit has passed from childhood to maturity and from fearfulness to bravery. What seemed to be a forced quest turns into a quest for identity. This small person was at first a fairytale creature that did not seem to possess the slightest quality that we can find in epic heroes: strength, courage, the unshakeable will to go forwards whatever the obstacles. On the contrary, Bilbo seemed a typical hobbit unable to distinguish himself and to fight evil. But from the moment when the hobbit is compelled to accept the “call of adventure” he progressively loses his anti-heroic attitude. With the support of new friends he found out that some heroic qualities were hidden inside him and circumstances forced them to surface. His race, which formerly represented a barrier to these qualities, eventually transforms into an advantage. Gradually he becomes the hero of his own quest and the leader of a troop. Finally his journey can be compared to a mythic quest and his new self to an epic hero.

This evolution was the point I decided to insist on in this dissertation. A hobbit and a hero, a fairytale and a mythic quest are contradictory terms and in my opinion it was particularly interesting to show how Tolkien succeeded in mixing them in one novel. As said above, it mainly deals with the transformation of the self and a quest for identity. This can be seen as a metaphor of adolescence, when an infantile personality transforms into responsible adulthood; other critics considered that this could be an image of the heroism that can be found in every one of us as human beings, or the heroism that was forced to surface during the context of the First World War, as Tolkien was deeply affected by this war. But while he was alive Tolkien always strongly fought allegories. He wanted no parallels to be made between any of his works and reality, because what he always wanted to do was to create myths and legends that had to be taken for what they are. Perhaps, his only true message is actually told in the novel by Thorin: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”66).

But Tolkien was not against the lessons we could get from Bilbo’s adventures for our own lives. The hobbit, with his fears, his needs and his forced confrontation with the real world, is like one of us. We can easily identify with him, contrary to Gandalf or Elrond who inspire our admiration more than our empathy. Thus Bilbo inspires adults as well as children because we encounter obstacles in the course of our lives at any age; and we can identify with fiction heroes at any age as well. I could even say that a novel like The Hobbit can be all the more effective nowadays: in our modern times, a more down-to-earth point of view of the self has replaced faith in myths. S.R. Hopper called this change “ a crisis of the imagination”67). Anne C.Petty evokes “the fact that the predominant focus of modern literature is stated in terms of the “countermyth” or antiheroical, seemingly futile projections that deny the value of traditional mythic images or, more precisely, the traditional meanings assigned to these mythological images and symbols.”68) In other words, modern readers are more interested in ordinary people than “larger-than-life” heroes. That is exactly how The Hobbit succeeds in reconciling another paradox: ancient myths and modern times.

Selective Bibliography

As I said in my introduction, most of critical works on Tolkien’s books only deal with his masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. That is why, despite a long list of references, I chose to gather in this bibliography only the works that are particularly relevant for the reading of my dissertation.

Works by J.R.R. Tolkien have been classified in the category “primary sources” by order of publication, but above all by order of importance. This category also includes texts that have been translated by Tolkien and that are quoted in this essay. The category “secondary sources” gathers Tolkien’s official biography and critical writings on Tolkien’s works including The Hobbit critical writings only dealing with The Lord of the Rings are not mentioned. More general critical writings have been classified in “general critical works”. Baldick’s Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms has been put separately as a “reference work”. Finally, the webliography includes articles, books and ancient numerised texts that can be found on the Internet.

Primary Sources

  • TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. 1937. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006. TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 1968. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002.
  • TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays. Ed. Christopher Tolkien.1983. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006.
  • Beowulf: A Verse Translation. Trans. Michael Alexander. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974.
  • BARRON, W.R.J. , ed. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1974.

Secondary Sources Critical works on J.R.R.Tolkien

  • CARPENTER, Humphrey. J.R.R.Tolkien, a Biography. 1977. London : Unwin Paperbacks, 1978.
  • FERRE, Vincent, ed. Tolkien, Trente Ans Après (1973-2003). Paris: Christian Bourgois, 2004. pp.49-73. pp.253-278.
  • GREEN, William. The Hobbit: A Journey into Maturity. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994.
  • ISAACS, Neil D. and Rose A.Zimbardo, eds. Tolkien and the Critics. Notre Dame and London: Notre Dame University Press, 1968.
  • PETTY, Anne C. One Ring to Bind Them All: Tolkien’s Mythology. University: The University of Alabama Press, 1979. pp.1-28.
  • SALE, Roger. Modern Heroism: Essays on D.H.Lawrence, William Empson and J.R.R. Tolkien. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1973. pp. 193-256.

General critical works

  • CAMPBELL, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. London: Fontana Press, 1993. CAMPBELL, Joseph. The Power of Myth. 1988. Betty Sue Flowers, ed. New York: Anchor Books, 1991.
  • FRYE, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973.
  • PROPP, Vladimir. Morphologie du Conte. Paris : Editions du Seuil, 1970.
  • CLUTE, John and John Grant, eds. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York: St Martin's Press, 1997.

Reference works

  • BALDICK, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.


Appendix - Chronology of events in the life of J.R.R. Tolkien

Taken from : CARPENTER, Humphrey. J.R.R.Tolkien, a Biography. 1977. London : Unwin Paperbacks, 1978. Appendix B. p.264-6.

1892: 3 January: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien born at Bloemfontein.
1894: Birth of younger brother, Hilary.
1895: Spring: Mabel Tolkien takes the two boys back to England, Arthur Tolkien remaining in South Africa.
1896: February: Arthur Tolkien dies. Summer: Mabel Tolkien rents a cottage at Sarehole Mill, Birmingham. She and the boys remain there for four years.
1900: Mabel Tolkien is received into the Catholic Church. She and the boys move from Sarehole to a house in the Birmingham suburb of Moseley. Ronald begins to attend King Edward's School.
1901: Mabel and the boys move from Moseley to King's Heath.
1902: Mabel and the boys leave King's Heath and move to Oliver Road, Edgbaston. Ronald and Hillary are enrolled at St Philip's Grammar School.
1903: The boys are removed from St Philip's. Ronald obtains a scholarship to King Edward's and returns there in the autumn.
1904: Early in the year Mabel Tolkien is discovered to have diabetes. She spend some weeks in hospital. In the summer she and the boys stay at Rednal. In November she dies, aged thirty-four.
1905: The boys move into Aunt Beatrice's house in Stirling Road.
1908: The boys move to Mrs Faulkner's house in Duchess Road. Ronald meets Edith Bratt.
1909: Autumn: Ronald's romance with Edith Bratt is discovered by Father Francis Morgan. Ronald fails to obtain a scholarship at Oxford.
1910: January: Ronald and Hillary move to new lodgings. Ronald continues to see Edith Bratt, but is then forbidden to communicate with her. March: Edith leaves Birmingham and moves to Cheltenham. December: Ronald wins an Exhibition at Exeter College, Oxford.
1911: Formation of ‘The T.C.B.S.’ Summer: Ronald leaves school. He visits Switzerland. Autumn: His first term at Oxford. Christmas: He takes part in a performance of The Rivals at King Edward's.
1913: January: Ronald's twenty-first birthday. He is reunited with Edith Bratt. February: He takes Honour Moderation and is awarded a Second Class. Summer: He begins reading for the honours School of English Language and Literature. He visits France with a Mexican family.
1914: January: Edith is received into the Catholic Church. She and Ronald are formally betrothed. Summer: Ronald visits Cornwall. At the out break of war he determines to return to Oxford and complete his degree course.
1915: Summer: He is awarded First Class Honours in his final examination. After being commissioned in the Lancashire Fusiliers he begins training in Bedford and in Staffordshire.
1916: 22 March: He and Edith are married. Edith moves to Great Haywood. June: Tolkien embarks for France. He travels to the Somme as a second lieutenant in the 11th Lancashire Fusiliers, and serves in action as Battalion Signalling Officer until the autumn. November: He returns to England suffering ‘trench fever’.
1917: January and February: While convalescing at Great Haywood he begins to write ‘The Book of Lost Tales’, which eventually becomes The Silmarillion. Spring: He is posted to Yorkshire, but spends much of the year in hospital. November: Birth of eldest son, John.
1918: Tolkien (now a full lieutenant) is posted to the Humber Garrison and to Staffordshire. In Nvember, after the Armistice, he returns to Oxford with his family and joins the staff of the New English Dictionary.
1919: He begins work as a freelance tutor. He and Edith move to 1 Alfred Street.
1920: He is appointed Reader in English Language at Leeds University, and begins work there in the autumn. Birth of second son, Michael.
1921: Edith and the family join him in Leeds, eventually moving into 11 St Mark's Terrace.
1922: E. V. Gordon joins the staff at Leeds. He and Tolkien begin work on their edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
1924: Tolkien becomes Professor of English Language at Leeds University. He buys a house in Darnley Road. Birth of third son, Christopher.
1925: The edition of Sir Gawain is published. In the summer Tolkien is elected Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, and takes up the appointment in the autumn. He buys a house in Northmoor Road, and the family returns to Oxford early in the new year.
1926: Tolkien becomes friend with C. S. Lewis. Formation of ‘The Coalbiters’.
1929: Birth of daughter, Priscilla.
1930: The family moves from 22 to 20 Northmoor Road. At about this time Tolkien begins to write The Hobbit. He abandons it before it is finished.
1936: He lectures on Beowulf: the Monsters and the Critics. The manuscript of The Hobbit is read by Susan Dagnall of Allen & Unwin, and at her suggestion Tolkien finishes the book. It is accepted for publication.
1937: The Hobbit is published in the autumn. At the suggestion of Stanley Unwin, Tolkien begins to write a sequel, which becomes The Lord of the Rings.
1939: Tolkien delivers his lecture On Fairy-Stories at St Andrews University. At he outbreak of war Charles Williams joins the Inklings.
1945: Tolkien is elected Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford.
1947: The Tolkiens move to Manor Road.
1949: Completion of The Lord of the Rings. Publication of Farmer Giles of Ham.
1950: Tolkien offers The Lord of the Rings to the publishing house of Collins. The family moves from Manor Road to Holywell Street.
1952: The manuscript of The Lord of the Rings is returned by Collins, and Tolkien passes it to Allen & Unwin.
1953: The Tolkiens move to Sandfield Road in the Oxford suburb of Headington.
1954: Publication of the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings.
1955: Publication of the third volume.
1959: Tolkien retires from his professorship.
1962: Publication of The Adventure of Tom Bombadil.
1964: Publication of Tree and Leaf.
1965: Ace books issue an unauthorised American edition of The Lord of the Rings. A ‘campus cult’ begins.
1967: Publication of Smith of Wooton Major.
1968: The Tolkiens move to Lakeside Road, Poole (adjacent to the town of Bournemouth).
1971: Edith Tolkien dies in November, aged eighty-two.
1972: Tolkien returns to Oxford, moving into rooms in Merton Street. He is awarded the C.B.E. and Oxford University confers an honorary Doctorate of Letters upon him.
1973: On 28 August he goes to Bournemouth to stay with friends. He is taken ill, and dies in a nursing-home in the early hours of Sunday 2 September, aged eight-one
1977: Publication of The Silmarillion, edited by Christopher Tolkien.

Sur Tolkiendil

1) Infra I.2. p. 13.
2) BALDICK, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. p. 112.
3) Gandalf embarks for the western immortal lands of Valinor at the end of The Return of the King.
4) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 84.
5) Beowulf. Trans. Michael Alexander. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974. p. 54 v. 103.
6) Ibid. p. 77 v. 843-4.
7) Id. v. 851-2.
8) Ibid. p. 53 v. 87.
9) Ibid. p. 73 v. 703.
10) , 14) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 85.
11) Beowulf. Trans. Michael Alexander. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974. p. 54 v. 104-7.
12) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings. 1968. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 2002. p. 52: “(…)he used it to find out secrets, and he put his knowledge to crooked and malicious uses. He became sharp-eyed and keen-eared for all that was hurtful. The ring had given him power according to his stature. It is not to be wondered at that he became very unpopular and was shunned (when visible) by all his relations.”
13) Beowulf. Trans. Michael Alexander. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974. p. 74 v. 741-5.
15) , 53) Ibid. p. 86.
16) Beowulf. Trans. Michael Alexander. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974. p. 73-4 v. 726-7.
17) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 97.
18) BARRON, W.R.J. , ed. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1974. p. 39.
19) CARPENTER, Humphrey. J.R.R.Tolkien, a Biography. 1977. London : Unwin Paperback, 1978. p. 182.
20) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 22.
21) Beowulf: A Verse Translation. Trans. Michael Alexander. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974. p. 96-7: “The Geat put on the armour of a hero, unanxious for his life. . . . This was not the first time that it had to do heroic work.”
22) BARRON, W.R.J. , ed. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1974. p. 57-8: “He remained there all that day, and next day prepared himself . . . . about his waist by a silken girdle.”
23) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 278.
24) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 4.
25) BARRON, W.R.J. , ed. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1974. p. 29.
26) Beowulf: A Verse Translation. Trans. Michael Alexander. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974. p. 131 v. 2544-5.
27) BARRON, W.R.J. , ed. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1974. p. 143.
28) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 236.
29) Beowulf: A Verse Translation. Trans. Michael Alexander. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974. p. 57 v. 208.
30) Ibid. p. 57. v. 197.
31) Ibid. p. 120-1. v. 2214-8.
32) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 250.
33) Beowulf: A Verse Translation. Trans. Michael Alexander. 1973. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1974. p. 124 v. 2307-10.
34) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 253-4.
35) Quoted in: PETTY, Anne C. One Ring to Bind Them All: Tolkien’s Mythology. The University of Alabama Press, 1979. p. 2.
36) Ibid. p. 1.
37) Ibid. p. 10
38) Id.
39) See Supra I.1. note n°1. p. 7.
40) BALDICK, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. p. 39.
41) PROPP, Vladimir. Morphologie du Conte. Paris : Editions du Seuil, 1970. Appendice I. pp. 146-54.
42) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 5.
43) Ibid. p. 9.
44) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 138.
45) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p.339. 12 Ibid. p. 347.
46) CAMPBELL, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. London: Fontana Press, 1993. p. 53.
47) Ibid. p. 90.
48) CAMPBELL, Joseph. The Hero With a Thousand Faces. London: Fontana Press, 1993. p. 197.
49) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 348.
50) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p.348.
51) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 76.
52) Ibid. p. 77.
54) Ibid. p. 181 : “ I will give you a name,” he said to it, “and I shall call you Sting.”
55) In my edition, on page 181 of 351.
56) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 203.
57) Ibid. p. 4.
58) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 252.
59) Ibid. p. 306.
60) Ibid. p. 315.
61) PETTY, Anne C. One Ring to Bind Them All: Tolkien’s Mythology. The University of Alabama Press, 1979. p. 28.
62) , 64) CAMPBELL, Joseph. The Power of Myth 1988 Betty Sue Flowers, ed. New York: Anchor Books, 1991. p. 152.
63) PETTY, Anne C. One Ring to Bind Them All: Tolkien’s Mythology. The University of Alabama Press, 1979. p. 10.
65) CAMPBELL, Joseph. The Power of Myth. 1988. Betty Sue Flowers, ed. New York: Anchor Books, 1991. p.152.
66) TOLKIEN, J.R.R. The Hobbit. p. 333.
67) Quoted in : PETTY, Anne C. One Ring to Bind Them All: Tolkien’s Mythology. The University of Alabama Press, 1979. p.14.
68) Id.
essais/personnages/hero-to-heroism-part3.txt · Dernière modification: 06/04/2020 18:47 (modification externe)
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