Bilbo Baggins is visited outside his hobbit hole by wandering wizard Gandalf, who is seeking an adventurer. Bilbo refuses the call, but reflexively invites Gandalf back for tea the next day while dismissing him. Gandalf shows up the next day with thirteen dwarves, who mightily abuse Bilbo’s hospitality and ultimately invite him to be their burglar as they attempt to dislodge a dragon from their historical kingdom. He refuses again, but when he finds them gone the next morning, he suddenly decides to accept after all and chases after them.
Why Bilbo might be hard to identify with: He’s an unusual fantasy adventure hero to be sure. 50 years old, respectably middle class, content in his station, and desiring no adventure.
- He and his world have a unique look we’ve never seen before.
- He loves two breakfasts, lunch, tea time, two dinners, and several good smokes a day. He has no family, but he has a life he enjoys, which makes him feel like a real person.
- Our hero has two legacies (his mother’s family, the adventurous Tooks and his father’s family, the unadventurous Bagginses) and must choose between them, which is so much better than having a prophesy he must fulfill.
- It always makes heroes feel more real when they interrupt themselves while speaking, which in this case reveals much. When Bilbo talks about the adventures Gandalf used to bring to the village, he says, “Bless me, life used to be quite inter - I mean, you used to upset things badly in these parts once upon a time.”
- It’s always good to hurt your hero in a way that would only hurt your hero, and they abuse something that is especially important to him: his hospitality.
- Nobody ever listens to him, which is a universal feeling.
- We can see that he certainly doesn’t have the skills he needs for this journey, not having the training nor inclination to be a burglar, but we can also see that he has a good head on his shoulders, handling his guests’ demands skillfully.
- Crucially, though this whole adventure shows up very much unbidden, they then leave him and he has to chase after them when he decides to commit after all. We can put up with passive heroes as long as they get a chance to definitively and voluntarily commit.