The Hobbit Summary

‘The Hobbit’ is one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s best-known works.

In this short novel, he tells the story of Bilbo Baggins and an incredible quest to retake a group of dwarves’ rightful home. 

‘Spoiler-Free’ The Hobbit Summary 

The Hobbit follows Bilbo Baggins, a peace and home-loving Hobbit, a race of small, jovial people who are approximately half the size of humans. He, like all Hobbits, loves the Shire, food, and drink. His world is changed when one day Gandalf, an old and wise wizard turns up and convinces him to go on an adventure. Specifically, he’s going to set out with a group of dwarves to retake their home, the kingdom under the Lonely Mountain. 

Bilbo is reticent at first but eventually comes to love and respect his companions as they face many perils and encounter many different races along the way. These include a group of trolls, the elves of Rivendell, the dangerous passages through the Misty Mountains, and Gollum a creature living in a cave, hoarding an incredibly precious item. 

Throughout the novel, Bilbo is forced to step far outside his comfort zone, realize his own potential, and help his friends reclaim their home from an ancient and very dangerous evil. 

The Hobbit Summary

The Hobbit Summary 

Spoiler alert: important details of the novel are revealed below

The Hobbit begins with an introduction to Bilbo Baggins, a half-human sized Hobbit who lives in a house called Bag End in the Shire. There, he enjoys going about his life peacefully and quietly. He doesn’t seek out anything out of the normal and when Gandalf, a wizard, turns up and tells him that he needs his help, he refuses.

Gandalf wants Bilbo to join a group of dwarves, which include sets of brothers, cousins, and friends who are all trying to help their rightful king, Thorin Oakenshield, back onto the throne of their land. Their home has been taken over by Smaug, a treasure-loving dragon who has been sleeping in their hoard under their mountain for years. 

Bilbo is given the job of “burglar” and he’s just as skeptical of his ability to help as the dwarves are. But, Gandalf is confident that Bilbo is the right person for the job. There is more to him, Gandalf alludes than first meets the eye. 

Not long after the group sets out, they’re captured by three enormous, cruel and not very intelligent trolls. They want to roast and eat the dwarves but before this can happen, Gandalf saves the day but tricking the dwarves into staying outside in the sunlight. This turns all three of them into stone. After, the group takes a key they stole from the trolls and discovers a cache of swords they take with them. Even Bilbo gets a small sword for himself. 

Elves, Goblins, Wargs, and Gollum

After this, the group moves on to Rivendell, an elvish city where Lord Elrond lives. He’s an incredibly wise and knowledgable person, helping them to learn the histories of their swords and read the moon signs on Thorin’s map. With this vital information in regard to Durin’s Day,  they learn what it is they have to do to get into the Lonely Mountain. The swords, Elrond reveals, were used in the Goblin Wars. 

Two weeks later, they continue on their journey, making their way through the Misty Mountains. While seeking shelter in a cave they are taken prisoner by a terrifying and ugly group of goblins set on torturing them to death. These creatures are known for their cruelty and lack of regard for any life. Gandalf saves the day by killing the Great Goblin and freeing Bilbo and the dwarves. Bilbo falls on the way out of the cave and loses consciousness, he’s accidentally left behind. 

When he wakes up he finds a ring that he can’t help but put into his pocket. He doesn’t think anything about it at the time but it’s a critical moment in the novel, and in the broader lore of the Lord of the Rings.

The ring, Bilbo soon discovers, allows the wearer to become invisible. It’s at this point that Bilbo finds Gollum, the previous keeper of the ring who is desperate to get it back. The two play a game of riddles and Gollum realizes that Bilbo has what he desires. Gollum races after Bilbo determined to take back his “precious.” It’s in this chase that Bilbo is able to escape from the cave system. Bilbo uses the ring’s power to his advantage in this scene and could’ve killed Gollum while invisible but decides not to. 

He tells his friends his story, gains their respect, and they are all forced to run from the Mountains. They’re pursued by Wargs, wolf-like creatures intent on tearing them to pieces. They climb trees to escape the wolves but the Goblins join in the hunt and try to smoke the group out. Gandalf calls on the Lord of the Eagles who swoops down, saves the group, and takes them back to his nest. They’re out of danger temporarily. 

Beorn, the Elvenking, and Lake-town

After this, they meet Beorn, a skin-changer, who has the ability to transform into a bear. Gandalf leaves them at the end of Chapter 7 before they go into Mirkwood forest. When they travel through the forest, the group encounters elves and a spider that tries to capture Bilbo. He fights it off with the sword they took from the trolls and uses the ring’s power to free the other dwarves who are wrapped in the spiders’ web. 

The dwarves are then captured by the Elvenking and taken to his palace. Bilbo, who is still invisible, manages to elude capture. He rescues the group and convinces them to escape by traveling in barrels down the river to Lake-town. There, they meet Bard and make their way to the Lonely Mountain. 

The Lonely Mountain and The Battle of the Five Armies

Bilbo uses the map to open the door to the mountain and engages Smaug in conversation. He also steals the most precious treasure from the hoard—the Arkenstone. Smaug flies out of the mountain range and destroys Lake-town. Bard kills him with a special arrow. 

In the final moments of J.R.R. Tolkien‘s novel, the group, along with groups of elves, other dwarves, and men, fight against goblins and orcs at the mountain in what is known as the Battle of the Five Armies. Thorin is killed and buried with the Arkenstone. The hoard of treasure is divided fairly among the remaining company members and Gandalf helps get Bilbo home. He finds that his house and possessions have been auctioned off, with the whole town thinking he’s dead. The novel concludes by mentioning that Bilbo lived out his life, sometimes visited by his previous traveling companions. 

About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.

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