The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hobbit | Plot Summary

See Plot Diagram


Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit living a comfortable, ordinary, and very Bagginsish (or simple and monotonous) life. His existence is mainly inspired by his father's side of the family. However, when the wizard Gandalf, an old friend of his mother, Belladonna Took Baggins, appears Bilbo is reminded of his Tookish side, which is both courageous and adventurous. Soon after Gandalf's arrival he and his dwarf companions recruit Bilbo as a burglar on a very long and dangerous journey. They will be guided on their journey by an ancient map created by one of the dwarves' ancestors.

Bilbo sets out with 13 dwarves and a wizard to recover a trove of gold that had been stolen years ago by a greedy, murderous dragon named Smaug. On their first day out, they realize that adventure can certainly have its downsides. They are cold and hungry, and because of the rain the band is unable to make a fire. A glowing fire is seen in the distance, and Bilbo is chosen to go check it out. Bilbo, with his ability to walk silently in a forest, comes upon three large trolls roasting a dinner of mutton over a fire. Bilbo is faced with the choices of warning his friends, stealing from the trolls, or killing them before they kill him. He craftily steals a purse from one of the trolls; unfortunately the purse is magical and alerts the trolls to the thief. Bilbo and the dwarves are captured and will be the impending meal for the trolls, but the trolls start arguing, thanks to Gandalf's instigation. Eventually the trolls end up turning to stone when the sun comes up over the horizon.

The group travels on with the new treasures obtained from the trolls, including two old and powerful swords. They encounter the elves and the Last Homely House, where they stay for a couple of weeks. Elrond, a high elf, hears of their plans and also detects some moon writing on the map that gives Bilbo and the dwarves clues as to how and when to enter the door to the treasure. They must ready themselves quickly and set off again.

The dwarves and Bilbo run into a tremendous and dangerous storm and fear that if they aren't struck by lightning, they will be taken by a giant or crushed by the giants throwing rocks. They enter a cave for shelter—but it is the front porch of the goblins that live in the mountains. They are captured and soon to be enslaved or eaten when Gandalf saves the moment and the powerful swords do away with the Great Goblin.

As they run for their lives, Dori, one of the dwarves, gives Bilbo a piggyback ride. However, Bilbo slips and falls off. He hits his head and is knocked out. Upon waking he finds himself alone, deep in the mountain. He gathers the courage to walk lower and lower and happens upon a ring that he puts in his pocket. Eventually he finds himself at a dark and scary lake bartering with a creature named Gollum over riddles. If Bilbo guesses all Gollum's riddles correctly, Gollum must lead him out of the caves. However, if Gollum guess Bilbo's riddles correctly he will eat the hobbit. When Bilbo wins the riddle contest, Gollum tells him he must wait while Gollum fetches some of his belongings. Gollum goes to get his invisibility ring, intending to put it on and then capture Bilbo. Arriving at his hiding place, Gollum realizes the ring is missing. He decides Bilbo must have it and, enraged, charges toward the exit, where he believes the hobbit will be. Bilbo puts on the ring and leaps over Gollum, who is guarding the gate, and narrowly squeezes out the door. Once outside the mountain, the dwarves, Bilbo, and Gandalf regroup, and Bilbo tells of his encounter with Gollum without revealing the ring and its powers.

Soon enough the group is being chased by hungry wolves (wargs). The wargs and the goblins are in cahoots, and they try burning the party alive as they climb into the trees to save themselves. The eagles see all the commotion and, because of their hate for goblins, rescue Gandalf, Bilbo, and the dwarves. The eagles provide shelter and then take them to Beorn's utopia. Beorn is both human and bear. After much rest, Beorn follows them to Mirkwood and warns them of the danger that lurks there. Gandalf leaves the group.

After days in Mirkwood, the dwarves and Bilbo run out of food and water and are captured by giant spiders. Bilbo gains confidence as he uses his sword and his invisibility ring to save the others. As they search for food and water, they see lights and a party of elves, but the elves turn out the lights each time the dwarves try to present themselves. Eventually, feeling threatened, the elves capture the dwarves and take them to their caves. Bilbo again manages to save the dwarves. They make their way to Lake-town after freeing themselves once again, and Thorin Oakenshield presents himself to the Master of Lake-town as the royal heir to the treasure on Lonely Mountain. Meanwhile the Lake-men share the songs of old that tell about the dragon and the dwarves who died, as well as the savior who will take back the mountain.

The group makes it to Lonely Mountain to find they have no real plan for what to do next. Bilbo sneaks in and steals a golden goblet from the dragon. The dragon is furious, and he burns Lake-town and traps the group in the secret entrance. Bard learns about Smaug's weak spot from Old Thrush, a bird whose language Bard understands. Knowing just where to aim, Bard kills the dragon with his last remaining arrow. Birds that witness Smaug's death quickly inform their friend, the Elvenking, and Bard's messengers arrive shortly afterward requesting the king's aid for Lake-town. Concern for the people of Lake-town spurs the king and some of his elves to mount a rescue mission for the Lake-people. Fearing for the safety of Thorin and his followers, a group of elves and men also heads to the mountain to see if the dwarves have survived. In the meantime the dwarves, still very much alive, have breached Smaug's lair. Upon entering, Thorin is blinded by greed at the sight of the vast treasure.

When Bard finds that Thorin and his team are alive, he asks for a portion of the treasure on behalf of the Lake-people. Thorin doesn't reward Bard or see why the treasure should be used to rebuild Lake-town. Bilbo uses Thorin's most-prized treasure, the Arkenstone, which he found and pocketed, to help broker a deal between the dwarves and the group of humans and elves. Thorin is enraged at Bilbo and no longer calls him a friend. The elves and men are getting ready to do battle with the dwarves when a vast army of goblins and wargs turns up to avenge the Great Goblin's death and to take the treasure. The Battle of Five Armies ensues, and Thorin is mortally wounded in the conflict. It appears good will be conquered by evil, when the eagles come and rescue the elves, men, and dwarves. Thorin redeems himself on his deathbed. Dain is a gracious leader who shares the treasure generously. Peace and prosperity are restored, and Bilbo, forever changed, goes back to Bag End to live out his days writing poetry and his memoirs.

The Hobbit Plot Diagram

Falling ActionRising ActionResolutionClimax123456789101112Introduction


1 Bilbo enjoys his quiet life in the Shire.

Rising Action

2 Gandalf selects Bilbo as "burglar" on an adventure.

3 Various beasts attack the troop; they escape.

4 The team rests at Rivendell.

5 Bilbo finds the ring and escapes from Gollum.

6 Gandalf leaves the troop.

7 Dwarves are attacked; Bilbo saves them.

8 Bilbo learns of Smaug's weakness.


9 Bilbo steals from Smaug; Smaug is defeated.

Falling Action

10 The Battle of Five Armies takes place.

11 Thorin forgives Bilbo.


12 Bilbo returns to his home in the Shire.

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