Bilbo Baggins - a Hero’s Journey

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 1403 |

Pages: 3|

8 min read

Published: Apr 8, 2022

Words: 1403|Pages: 3|8 min read

Published: Apr 8, 2022

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Bilbo's Journey
  3. Notion of Heroism
  4. Bilbo Baggins in Comparison to Harry Potter
  5. References


The journey of a hero is an imperative part of any quest narrative. It shows not only the development of the character but allows the reader to feel part of the story. Within this essay I will be analyzing Bilbo Baggins journey as well as describe Bilbo in relation to an archetypal hero. Lastly I will be making a comparison between Bilbo Baggins and Harry Potter; what similarities and differences they may share.

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The hero’s journey consists of 12 steps that the hero goes on; venturing between known and unknown worlds. I will briefly discuss the ways in which Bilbo Baggins experienced the hero’s journey below.

Bilbo's Journey

Step one is the ordinary world. Bilbo Baggins, who is a Hobbit, lives in a warm and comfortable home underground. Hobbits love a peaceful life, idling away and eating most of the time. Here he sits outside his Shire, smoking a pipe and enjoying the fresh morning air (Tolkien. 1996).

Step two is the call to adventure. Bilbo then meets the wizard, Gandalf, for the first time and is rather annoyed by the strangers visit, for he does not like unfamiliarity (Kuswidyasari. 2019:5-12). However; Gandalf identifies himself as an old family friend and that is when Gandalf invite Bilbo for an adventure; he feels Bilbo is the perfect candidate (Tolkien. 1996).

Step three is the refusal to the call. Bilbo detested the idea of adventures. So, when Gandalf asked him to participate in one, he politely refused but also invited him to tea the very next day (Tolkien. 1996).

Step four is meeting the mentor. The following day Bilbo opens his door to an extremely large party of Dwarves who made themselves comfortable in his home. Gandalf, who accompanied them, explains that they are on a quest to the Lonely Mountain to retrieve the stolen treasure from the wicked dragon Smaug. Bilbo would be given the name “Burglar” (Tolkien. 1996).

Step five is crossing the first threshold. Next morning Gandalf arrives and hurries Bilbo along to meet up with the Dwarves at the Green Dragon Inn (Tolkien. 1996). Bilbo leaves his comfortable burrow, leaves everything he holds dear and where he feels safe to travel into the unknown (Kuswidyasari. 2019:5-12).

Step six is tests, allies and enemies. Here Bilbo faced many challenges along the way. He encounters allies in Elrond at Rivendell, the Eagles, Beorn who gives them shelter and Gandalf of course who uses his magic from time to time. There were plenty of enemies namely, the Trolls who captured Bilbo, the Goblins who tortured them, and the Wargs who hated all Dwarves, Gollum the slimy creature and Smaug (Kuswidyasari. 2019:5-12). All of these tested and the Dwarves.

Step seven is the approach. Bilbo and the group eventually reached Lonely Mountain; once a place of glory (Tolkien. 1996). They decided to camp near the door in the center of the mountain (Kuswidyasari. 2019:5-12).

Step eight is the ordeal. Bilbo is the one who has to face Smaug so he approached Smaug and tried to talk to him however; Bard was the one to eventually kill the dragon.

Step nine is the reward. Bilbo is rewarded in many ways. He gets the elfin blade, “Sting.” He also settles the dispute between Thorin and the Lake Town people by giving away the Arkenstone. Bilbo gets one fourteenth of the treasure which has been promised to him too.

Step ten is the road back. Bilbo begins to travel home to Hobbiton. There is a conflict between the Dwarves and the Lake Men because they feel they need to be compensated for the part they played in the war.

Step eleven is the resurrection. The Battle of the Five Armies broke out. There was a war between the Goblins and the Wargs and their hated enemies the Dwarves, Elves and Men (Kuswidyasari. 2019:5-12).

The final step is return with elixir. Bilbo returns home with the magic ring and his share of the treasure. He buys gifts for his family and the ring helped him when he had unwanted guests (Kuswidyasari. 2019:5-12). Bilbo realized that the journey had changed him in ways he could not explain.

Notion of Heroism

I will speak about the notion of heroism and whether Bilbo Baggins identifies as an archetypal hero. There are various interpretations of what constitutes a hero. It is generally felt that a hero is one who faces danger or difficult situations with courage (Wiklander. 2011:4-15). In literature heroes are strong, brave and have the appeal of attractiveness both physical and emotional. In the fantasy world there are unforgettable heroes (Wiklander. 2011:4-15). For instance, Hercules is a hero who is known for his strength and courage.

If one should look at the traits of an archetypal hero they are as follows: “Unusual circumstances of birth, leaves family and lives with others, traumatic event leads to quest, has a special weapon and gets supernatural help (Wiklander. 2011:4-15).”

Bilbo is very different from the recognized ideas of a hero. He is small and fat, uncertain and does not participate in any spectacular acts (Wiklander. 2011:4-15). Nevertheless he is a hero. He completes a difficult quest, acquires a weapon, makes very brace decisions and is finally rewarded with wealth and fame.

When Bilbo accepts the terms offered by the Dwarves and joins them on the quest, he displayed heroism for it took great courage to leave home. Although warned about Beorn who was portrayed as cruel and impatient, Bilbo bravely joined him and they became good companions (Wiklander. 2011:4-15). By sparing Gollum’s life, Bilbo proved to be a man of compassion and one who hated violence. He was aware of the danger he but it did not deter him. Then, when he returned with his wealth and gave part of the treasure to the people in need (Wiklander. 2011:4-15).

While Bilbo did not slay dragons and defy death in any battles, he played a crucial part in every stage of the quest and proved to be a hero. Below I have chosen to focus on Harry Potter because I feel that both Bilbo and Harry share similar journeys. I will be now be comparing their similarities and differences.

Bilbo Baggins in Comparison to Harry Potter

Both characters are worried, nervous and without confidence. Harry because he is afraid that he won’t be chosen for Gryffindor, but is proved wrong and Bilbo who does not want to go on a dangerous adventure but he chose by Gandalf to do so. Each character acquires something with magical powers. Harry Potters gets a cloak which makes him invisible and Bilbo a ring with invisibility powers too. Both of these items help get each character out of tricky situations they may find themselves in.

Another similarity is that each has a magical mentor. Gandalf becomes the mentor to Bilbo and Dumbledore becomes the mentor to Harry (Fricka. 2019). Both of these characters grow in confidence, begin to accept responsibility and become braver at the end of it all. They realize that that although the journey was tough, it taught them valuable lessons.

In contrast to the above mentioned are the differences the characters share. One of the greater contrasts is that Harry has more support from his friends who encourage him and try to keep him out of trouble (Fricka. 2019). Bilbo, however, has no real close friend since that is the way Dwarves function (Fricka. 2019).

Another difference is that both characters have different experiences when facing dragons. Bilbo has to face his dragon alone knowing what danger awaited him, while Harry enters the trap door not aware or prepared for what was in store (Fricka. 2019). After each incident and test in Harry Potter and Bilbo Baggin’s journey, both the characters had immense internal growth.

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In conclusion, it is safe to say that Bilbo Baggins, while he may not have the physical appearance of a stereotypical hero, he is a hero nonetheless. His bravery and determination through the 12 steps proves that he was determined for greatness. It is evident that Bilbo and Harry share various similarities resulting in both characters coming out with a new outlook on life.


  1. Fricka. 2019. Harry, Bilbo and their rights of passage. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20/10/2019]
  2. Kuswidyasari, R. 2019. The Hobbit: A Life-Changing Journey of Bilbo Baggins. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20/10/2019] pg 5-12
  3. Reedsy. 2018. The Hero's Journey: an Author's Guide to Plotting. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20/10/2019]
  4. Tolkien, J. 1996. The hobbit. London: Harper Collins. Pg 3-265
  5. Wiklander, C. 2011. The Image of Heroism in Tolkien’s The Hobbit. [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20/10/2019] pg 4-15
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Bilbo Baggins – a Hero’s Journey. (2022, April 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“Bilbo Baggins – a Hero’s Journey.” GradesFixer, 08 Apr. 2022,
Bilbo Baggins – a Hero’s Journey. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 10 Dec. 2023].
Bilbo Baggins – a Hero’s Journey [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 08 [cited 2023 Dec 10]. Available from:
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