The Importance of Being Bilbo

Author: Dreamflower

Nominator: Lindelea

2008 Award Category: Genres: Non-Fiction: Character Studies - Honorable Mention

Story Type: Non-Fiction  ✧  Length: N/A

Rating: General  ✧  Reason for Rating: N/A

Summary: An essay about the importance of Bilbo Baggins to the development of The Lord of the Rings, and how The Hobbit influenced the latter story, both externally and internally; as well as an argument for more Bilbo-centric fic!

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Reviewed by: Virtuella  ✧  Score: 10

What a very interesting essay! You’ll know by now that I’m always looking for what you call the “story-external” and what I call the “structural” issues, and I was surprised at what you unearthed here in the way of similarities between The Hobbit and LOTR. Coming to think of it, there are also similarities in themes, most notably the idea that the different races of Middle-earth need to overcome their estrangement in order to overcome evil. As far as the story-internal side is concerned, I have always thought it one of the weaknesses of the LOTR plot that the timescales covered are so little convincing. What I mean is mostly that a whole seventeen years pass after Bilbo’s party, during which Gandals seems to amble about finding tidbits of information, and then all of a sudden Frodo leaves basically the minute a Black Rider comes to his doorstep. That kind of coinicdence seems a bit contrived to me, as does the whole fact that the hobbits escape at all, particulalry after the events in Bree. But I’m getting side-tracked. The role of Bilbo as a tutor for Frodo is certainly a crucial one, and I would like to add that Bilbo also functions as a link between Elves, Dwarves and Men, which again nicely connects to the theme I mentioned above.

Reviewed by: Larner  ✧  Score: 7

A wonderful reason to reread this essay! A good look at the nature of Bilbo Baggins and his importance to both "The Hobbit" and LOTR, and the many similarities between the two stories. If Bilbo hadn't had his own adventure, LOTR would not have happened either, which is a point Dreamflower hammers home while pointing out the wonderful sense of the Hobbit freed from expected Hobbit decorum one gets in following Bilbo's career. And now some of the plotbunnies sparked by her essay are beginning to mature and be shown forth, some by her and at least one by me, one that will posted soon enough, I must suppose. This is marvelously thought-provoking and well worth the read, and I hope it sparks others too to add to the relatively small library of stories focussed on our first love among Bagginses. Primsong, Lindelea, and a few others besides Dreamflower have written to the subject; now it's time for the rest of us to weigh in!

Reviewed by: NeumeIndil  ✧  Score: 6

I never really noticed the similarities in plot arc between "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" before reading this, but now I feel rather foolish for missing them. However, I would point out that I don't think this narrative path is unique to Tolkien; if I remember my legends properly, the now both famous and infamous "Beowulf" epic follows a similar path. The feasting at the mead hall of Hrothgar (a party) draws the wrath of the monster Grendel and causes the hero Beowulf to embark on a dangerous quest to rid one part of the world of a certain danger, part of which is dealt with in a set of caves and a swamp. Tolkien being a professor of Olde English and Anglo Saxon, he was of course familiar with the epic poem, and was apparently influenced by it in some ways, at least. I enjoyed this essay. Thanks for making me think.

Reviewed by: Lindelea  ✧  Score: 6

Dreamflower writes meticulously crafted, richly detailed stories. They are obviously researched with care, and she brings an historical perspective to her writing that adds depth and believability. Her nonfiction is no exception. This essay on Bilbo explores both the obvious facts and the nuances that tie The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings together. Her literary analysis is respectfully done, with an eye to author's intent, and without trying to stretch a point to fit some postmodernist theory or other. It is clear that she endeavours to deal with "just the facts, ma'am, just the facts" and yet even within this constriction new possibilities and speculations arise, leading to the discovery of new lodes for the mining. As usual, excellent work and well-worth repeated reading.

Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon  ✧  Score: 4

An excellent essay about Bilbo Baggins, his story, his background, the gaps that could be filled by fanfiction. Dreamflower's pointing out the similarities in plot between The Hobbit and LOTR was a revelation - I had remembered the Eagles' role in both, but the other parallels never occurred to me. Of course, Dreamflower is right - Bilbo is a fascinating character in his own right. It is indeed a shame that there is not more Bilbo-centric fanfiction! Well-reasoned; and a delight to read.

Reviewed by: dkpalaska  ✧  Score: 3

Dreamflower's essay is a very fond but clear-headed presentation of some important reasons to not overlook TH or its main protagonist on our way to the more famous sequel. I enjoyed the look at parallels between the two stories, some quite eye-opening; and especially appreciated the acknowledgement of how critical Bilbo's presence was in Frodo's life.

Reviewed by: Claudia  ✧  Score: 3

I had never seen this essay before and was pleased to come upon it here. I for one am so glad that Bilbo went on that quest and came back alive from it and was able to take Frodo as an heir! Bilbo is very important indeed!

Reviewed by: Tanaqui  ✧  Score: 3

This is a delightful essay that pulls together some scholarship of which most Tolkien fans are probably not aware and then builds on it. Dreamflower makes a very convincing case for writing more fiction about Bilbo and her list of areas for further exploration at the end is dangerously enticing! A very enjoyable read -- well done!