- Bilbo Baggins
character_name = Bilbo Baggins
character_alias = Multiple, see below
character_culture = Shire-hobbit,
September 22, ME-date|TA|2890
September 29, ME-date|TA|3021
character_death = ME-date|Fourth|?
Book(s) = "
The Lord of the Rings"
Bilbo Baggins is the protagonist of "
The Hobbit" and also makes an appearance in " The Lord of the Rings", two of the most well-known of J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The story of "The Hobbit" featuring Bilbo is also retold from a different perspective in the Chapter "The Quest of Erebor" in "The Book of Unfinished Tales",
In Tolkien's narrative conceit, in which all the writings of Middle-earth are 'really' translations from the fictitious volume of "The Red Book of Westmarch", Bilbo is the author of "The Hobbit" and translator of "The Silmarillion".
"The Hobbit" relates how Bilbo (in comfortable middle age at 50 years old), in spite of himself, is hired as a burglar, by
Gandalfand 13 dwarves led by their exiled king Thorin Oakenshieldon a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountainand its treasure from the dragon Smaug. His adventure takes Bilbo through the wilderness, to the haven of Rivendell, through the black forest of Mirkwood, to town in the middle of Long Lake (Ironically named Lake-Town) which dwells under the shadow of the mountain, and eventually reaching the Mountain itself. Here, after the mountain has been reclaimed, and the dragon killed, the Battle of Five Armies takes place.
In his journey, Bilbo encounters other fantastic creatures like trolls, elves, giant spiders, a man who can change into a bear, and a mysterious, murderous creature named Gollum. In Gollum's underground lair, Bilbo finds a magic ring of invisibility, which he uses to escape from Gollum after winning a riddle competition.
While Bilbo initially is a mild-mannered, easygoing bumbler, he grows confident and wiser as the story progresses. He rescues the dwarves from giant spiders with a short sword he acquired and his magic ring. He also uses his ring to sneak about hostile areas like the Wood-elves' stronghold; he later uses his wits to break the dwarves out of the elves' prisons. He is able to hold his own in conversation with the wily Smaug. When tensions arise regarding the ownership of the recovered treasure he unsuccessfully tries to get the opposing sides to bargain, using a stolen heirloom jewel as leverage. Though this strains his relationship with Thorin they later part as friends. Bilbo also impresses leaders of men and elves, as well as Gandalf, who knew there was more to him than it seemed.
At the end of his adventure, Bilbo becomes even wealthier from his share of the treasure. Upon his reappearance, he loses his and his family's respectability among his neighbours.
"The Lord of the Rings"
"The Lord of the Rings" begins with Bilbo's "eleventy-first" (111th) birthday, 60 years after "The Hobbit". The main protagonist of the novel is
Frodo Baggins, Bilbo's kinsman.
In 2989 (SR 1389), Bilbo, a lifelong bachelor, adopted Frodo, the orphaned son of his first cousin Primula Brandybuck and his second cousin Drogo Baggins, and made him his heir. Though Frodo was actually "his first "and" second cousin once removed either way", [ME-ref|fotr|"A Long-expected Party"] the two regarded each other as uncle and nephew.
All this time Bilbo had kept his magic ring, with no idea of its significance. He had mostly used the ring to hide from his obnoxious cousins, the
Sackville-Bagginses, when they came to visit. Gandalf's investigations reveal it to be a Ring of Power, the very Master-Ring, or One Ring, forged by the Dark Lord Sauronto corrupt and dominate the bearers of the other Rings, and by extension their races.
The Ring had prolonged his life beyond normal hobbit limits, and at 111 he still looked 50. While the Ring didn't initially corrupt him as it had its previous owners, it did have some negative effects upon him; over the years, he began to obsess over it, losing sleep and feeling "stretched out and thin" ["The Fellowship of the Ring", book I, Chapter 2: "The Shadow of the Past".] , as he says to Gandalf, when he was out of its sight.
On the night of his birthday party, he reacts with panic and suspicion when Gandalf tries to persuade him to leave the Ring behind with Frodo along with his other belongings. Bilbo refers to the Ring as his "precious" — the same name the wretched Gollum gives it in "The Hobbit". Gandalf loses his temper with his old friend, putting some sense into him. Bilbo then admits he would have liked to be rid of it, and leaves it behind, becoming the first person to do so voluntarily.
Bilbo leaves the Shire that night, leaving the Ring and all the rest of his estate, including his home,
Bag Endin Hobbiton, to Frodo. He puts on the Ring and vanishes from sight at his own birthday party, and is never seen in Hobbiton again.
This, coupled with his (for a hobbit) eccentric doings and a flash that Gandalf, in on the joke, sets off at the moment of his disappearance, leads to him being immortalized in hobbit folklore as "Mad Baggins", who disappears with a flash and a bang and returns with gold and jewels.
Bilbo travels to
Rivendell, where he lives a very pleasant life of retirement: eating, sleeping, writing poetry, and working on his memoir, " There and Back Again", known to us as "The Hobbit". He also wrote a book called "Translations from the Elvish", which formed the basis of what is known to us as " The Silmarillion".
At the end of "The Lord of the Rings", Bilbo accompanies Frodo, Gandalf,
Elrond, and Galadrielto the Grey Havens, there to take ship for Tol Eressëaacross the sea, on September 29, 3021. He had already celebrated his 131st birthday, becoming the oldest living Hobbit ever in Middle-earth.
According to the Appendices of the "Lord of the Rings", Bilbo was born to
Bungo Bagginsand Belladonna Tookon September 22, 2890, or SR (Shire Reckoning) 1290, of the Third Ageof Middle-earth. The Bagginses of Bag-End were one of the oldest, wealthiest, and respectable hobbit families in Hobbiton until the year 2941 (SR 1341), when Bilbo inexplicably disappeared and was thought dead. He had in fact, gone on an "adventure" arranged by the Wizard Gandalf the Grey.
The poem "
Bilbo's Last Song", illustrated by Pauline Bayneswas published after Tolkien's death.
Names and titles
In "The Hobbit" Bilbo calls himself "Ring-Finder", "Ring-Winner", "Luck-Wearer", "Lucky Number", "Stinging Fly", and "Barrel-Rider" in front of Smaug, who is pleased by the riddling.
He is later dubbed "Ring-bearer", and Elf-friend
Going by the
conceitthat Tolkien's books were translated from the Red Book of Westmarch, his true name in Westronwas Bilba Labingi. Labingi is related to the Westron laban, bag.
Portrayals in adaptations
In the 1966
BBC Radioserialization of "The Hobbit", Bilbo was played by Paul Daneman. Nicol Williamsonportrayed Bilbo with a light West Countryaccent in the 1974 performance released on Argo Records. [ [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0932116/otherworks Nicol Williamson on IMDB] ]
In the 1977
Rankin/Bassanimated version of "The Hobbit", Bilbo was voiced by Orson Bean. Bean also voiced both the aged Bilbo and Frodo in the same company's 1980 adaptation of "The Return of the King".
Ralph Bakshi's 1978 animated version of "The Lord of the Rings", Bilbo was voiced by Norman Bird. Billy Bartywas the model for Bilbo, as well as Frodo and Sam, in the live-action recordings Bakshi used for rotoscoping.
In the BBC's 1981 radio serialization of "The Lord of the Rings", Bilbo is played by
John Le Mesurier.
Appearances in popular culture
Leonard Nimoyreleased a record, "The Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy," which contained the song " The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins."
In 2004 Christian Metalcore band
Underoathreleased a song from their album They're Only Chasing Safetyentitled Its A Dangerous Business Walking out your front Door. The name of which is a direct quote that Bilbo says in the Lord of the Rings Book The Fellowship of the Ring
In 2006, The TV Show "
Class of 3000" came out. In one episode the class is looking for Sunny's home. While looking in a deep forest the main character Li'l Dbumps into an invisible thing which turns out to be Bilbo Baggins with the stolen ring from Gollumon. Philly Philacknowledges him, but no one listens. There were also other mentions of J. R. R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" in the episode.
In the episode of the TV show , one of the many crossed out spellings of a new student's name (Bolbi) was Bilbo, an apparent reference to Bilbo Baggins.
In the Simpsons episode "Please Homer, Don't Hammer 'Em" Principal Skinner is blackmailed with peanuts to suckle a Bilbo Baggins action figure in the Comic book store window.
*For an alternate, fuller, version of Bilbo's family tree see [http://engine.rodovid.org/wk/Special:Tree/1314 Rodovid Engine] .
* [http://www.tolkien-online.com/bilbo-baggins.html A brief character study of Bilbo Baggins]
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