Ideas for Reports and Papers

1. Consult a good dictionary for definitions of hero and heroism. According to these definitions, to what extent is Bilbo a hero? Include in your response references to specific actions in the book.

2. Both Gandalf and Bard share with Bilbo the role of “hero,” but in different ways. Why are they heroes? How is their heroism different from Bilbo’s?

3. The dwarves share many traits. Some dwarves, however, have distinctive traits. Select four dwarves that stand out in some way and analyze both common and distinctive traits.

4. Bilbo is presented as a hobbit, and the reader never forgets this for long; but in many ways Bilbo’s character reflects traits shared with humans. Analyze this blend of hobbit and human natures, including in your analysis examples for each trait you identify.

5. In his essay “On Fairy-stories” Tolkien says, “We find it difficult to conceive of evil and beauty together…. In Faerie one can indeed conceive of an ogre who possesses a castle hideout as a nightmare, but one cannot conceive of a house built with a good purpose that is yet sickeningly ugly.” How does The Hobbit exemplify Tolkien’s theory that in fairy stories evil is ugly and good is beautiful?

6. In “On Fairy-stories” Tolkien explained fantasy as the art of subcreation, the art of creating a Secondary World that has the inner consistency of reality necessary to produce Secondary Belief. It is the consistency of principles governing the “unreal” world which evokes “secondary belief” in the reader. How does the consistency of Tolkien’s world in The Hobbit contribute to the reader’s secondary belief?

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