22 Nov 2010

The History of The Hobbit (in simple words) - (Part 2)

Name : Baggins Bilbo  -Status : Gentlehobbit  

Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End, the very first and 'original' hobbit created by Professor Tolkien. Bilbo Baggins was born on September 22, 2890 of the Third Age, only son of Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took/Baggins , it is from his mother that Bilbo inherit some of the adventurousness of the Took's family. Since a very early age, Bilbo shows an unusual interest for adventures and the 'outside world' which brings him at odds with other , more traditional, hobbits. Gandalf is quick to take note of little Bilbo love for adventures on his frequent visits to the Shire - however, at the time The Hobbit 's events take place Gandalf meets Bilbo again but somehow finds him uneasy at the prospect of a real adventure. Bilbo comes from a very well-to-do family, he is 'gentlehobbit', and seem to like nothing better then smoke his beloved pipe between meals, and will take some convincing to follow some Dwarves to a mountain to face a dragon.

No Need For Adventures ?

Bilbo is not a 'traditional' hero, he was never to be seen as such. When we think about a 'hero' a short hobbit, round in the stomach and with hairy feet is not the first thing that comes to mind. Heroes have noble-sounding names, not funny ones like Bilbo Baggins. Professor Tolkien created the most unconventional hero and changed the notion of 'heroism' in his novels by giving 'his' hero compassion, kindness, and pity, little people that strives against all odds. If Bilbo was a 'conventional' hero he would slain Smaug , but Bilbo is not 'conventional' , Smaug is killed by Bard. The Hobbit is not only a book about an adventure, it is also a book about Bilbo's personal journey of development.

The 'gentlehobbit' we meet at the beginning of the story will gradually feel and act like a different person by overcoming his fears, and gaining confidence. By facing and killing spiders Bilbo gain the respect of the Dwarves, but it is only one part of Bilbo's transformation. Bilbo can kill but instead will show compassion and pity towards the creature Gollum , in an act that seems of little or no significance at the moment, but one that is central to the whole history of Middle-earth. By showing pity to Gollum, Bilbo does somehow rule the destiny of his world. Gollum, still alive thanks to Bilbo's pity, will do what Frodo is unable to do at the end. Gollum destroy the One Ring on Mount Doom.

Concerning Words and Names

And so one day the word 'hobbit' was written down on an exam paper, and this was the beginning of a wonderful adventure. " I thought I'd better find out what hobbits were like." Tolkien will note in his later writings about the origins of The Hobbit. Tolkien feels the need to seriously research this new word and give it a proper meaning and a place in his 'secondary world' which runs parallel with our world. The 'secondary world' must be described in every detail, so to make it credible, new words, names and languages are part of it.

" In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

Professor Tolkien is giving us an explanation in the very first sentence of his novel, as he creates an Old English sounding word 'holbytla' meaning 'hole-builder' to explain the origins of the word 'hobbit. It must also be noted that the English word 'hole' derives from the Old English 'hollow' and 'hollow' derives from the Old German word 'hobl' pronounced 'hole'. Professor Tolkien had a passion for names and words - the origin of the surname 'Baggins' can be traced to the Middle-English surname 'Bagg' mostly found in Sommerset, which means 'money-bag'. The Baggins are very respectable and wealthy hobbits . Bilbo's father Bungo builds Bag End, one of the finest and most luxurious holes in the Four Farthings. 'Baggins' also means 'afternoon tea/snack', something that Bilbo is very passionate about. The name 'Bilbo' most likely comes from the name 'Balboa', a Portuguese city where very beautiful swords and blades are made. In fifteenth century England, a 'bilbo' was a very delicate sharp and deathly little sword. This is of course , a very good description of the hobbit Bilbo's blade, the Elven knife Tolkien named Sting. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End , respectable hobbit and unlikely hero - a well-to-do hobbit , with a great passion for adventures , but also for his home-comforts - Bilbo is sharp, intelligent , and even a bit dangerous, just like his very own little sword. Next week in "The History of The Hobbit'" we will learn more about Gandalf and his role in The Hobbit.

To Be Continued...