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The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Hobbit | Quotes


There is a lot more in him than ... he has any idea of.

Gandalf, Chapter 1

Gandalf says this when selecting Bilbo as burglar for the adventure, despite the dwarves' hesitation. It is a reminder of Gandalf's authority (and respect, given that his selection is honored) and begins Bilbo's character growth.


Even the ... plans of wise wizards ... go astray sometimes when you are ... on dangerous adventures.

Narrator, Chapter 4

This line indicates that even Gandalf, the wisest in the group, is concerned about the treacherous situations they will face as they travel from Rivendell over the Edge of the Wild. Gandalf's wisdom tells him that although he knows a great deal, he doesn't know everything—and that there will be unexpected hazards ahead.


They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones.

Narrator, Chapter 4

This quote establishes the goblins as symbols of pure evil. It also presents the topics of the beauty of nature and the dangers of industrialization.


Take them away to dark holes ... and never let them see the light again!

Great Goblin, Chapter 4

This line clearly illustrates the symbolism of light (good) and darkness (evil). The Great Goblin wants to drag the dwarves into the dark to kill them (taking their life and light).


A sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo's heart.

Narrator, Chapter 5

Even though Bilbo has the opportunity to kill Gollum, he doesn't—suggesting that Bilbo is a moral hero and that Gollum's character is complex—he is not pure evil, but a creature worthy of pity.


Either go through or give up your quest. ... There are no safe paths.

Gandalf, Chapter 7

This gem serves as a life lesson to Bilbo. It is symbolic of sheer determination and the struggles one must undergo on any journey. For Bilbo this is also symbolic of his transition into a literary hero.


He felt a different person ... fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach.

Narrator, Chapter 8

This is the first time Tolkien shows Bilbo as a hero—his transition is slow, but he is beginning to think and feel more like a hero (despite his homely hang-ups)—a reminder that heroism is not born overnight.


My teeth are swords, my claws spears ... my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!

Smaug, Chapter 12

Here Smaug establishes himself as the symbol of greed and its corruption. Smaug is fierce and evil but, despite his strengths, has a weakness that leads to his demise.


If more [people] valued food and cheer ... above ... gold, it would be a merrier world.

Thorin Oakenshield, Chapter 18

On his deathbed Thorin has a change of heart and realizes that amassed treasure (greed) has no worth in the end. He can't take his treasure with him in death and now realizes that happiness is more valuable than wealth.


Roads go ever ever on .../... feet that wandering have gone/turn at last to home.

Bilbo Baggins, Chapter 19

For Bilbo, even though the adventure is complete, life's journey carries on. His wandering feet have led him home for now, but the roads that go ever on foreshadow the adventurous trilogy to follow.

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