Be Like a Hobbit

Central characters to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings beloved franchise are no less than hobbits. Namely, Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. A race of people from a branch of humans, they are as short as dwarves, measuring between two and four feet and have slightly pointy ears like elves. (Spoilers ahead)

Well, by the title, I do not mean to be physically like hobbits or adopt their way of life but to simply learn from those created characters, focal in Tolkien’s best-selling fantasy books. For instance, most hobbits do not know how to swim nor are fond of travels and newfangled things outside of their ease.

Simplistic in nature, “they love peace and quiet and love tilled earth”, they enjoy the gifts of nature.  Although they are skilled with tools, machines as hard to manipulate as forge bellows and water mills are not of their interest. They are described as “merry folk” with “good-natured” faces. They love parties and give presents “freely and accept[s] them”. Importantly, hobbits are peaceful: “At no time had hobbits been warlike, and they had never fought among themselves”.

Made iconic by the Peter Jackson’s trilogy are hobbit holes. Holes where hobbits traditionally dwell below ground. During the third age of Middle-earth, they adapted to changing conditions and started building above ground where the land was flat and because of their increasing numbers in those places. Finally, Hobbits like to smoke pipe-weed in their pastime which they call an ‘art’.

They live in what we would call subsistence farming. Only growing what they eat, and this took the largest share of their labor. To be able to survive with this system, they were “generous and not greedy, but contented and moderate”. In the shire, they don’t have a centralized government but every family minds their own business. What governs their way of life are not laws but ancient traditions. Their most historic and meaningful laws are the laws of free will which they call “The Rules” because they are “ancient and just”.

The only elected office in the shire was the mayor whose job was to preside at banquets and to manage the Messenger Service and the Watch. In normal words, the post office and the police.

Now let’s go to our first protagonist, Bilbo Baggins of Bag End. He was chosen by Gandalf to be a burglar in the mission of the Thorin and company of dwarves to reclaim his long-lost house in the Lonely Mountain and its treasure from the dragon Smaug. In his adventure “There and Back Again”, Bilbo shows some unimaginable courage and crucial significance to the success of the mission. Namely, rescuing the dwarves from the giant spiders and later from the prison of the elves of Mirkwood.

The most notable point in Bilbo’s journey is how he tries to make things right, although he might lose so much in the process; friendship and rightful reward. Bilbo was ready to sacrifice his fourteenth share of the hoard to keep all the parties satisfied: elves, humans, and dwarves. So, Bilbo sneaked out at night and gave the Arkenstone to Bard to help the negotiations. As a result, this not only delayed the war between the three armies until they fought against Wargs and Goblins, but got the acknowledgement of Thorin II Oakenshield, King under the Mountain in his last words before he died: “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

Likewise, our second protagonist Frodo Baggins made his mark in The lord of the Rings. There is not much to add except that he bore the One Ring to Mount Doom and there destroyed it. He did something no other man, dwarf or elf could do and secured Middle-earth from the evils of Sauron. In the epic novel, the road was far from easy and he was ready to sacrifice his life for the greater good. The mere nightmare and deadly thought of the Scouring of the Shire showed by the mirror of Galadriel haunted his mind and pushed him to accomplish his mission and destroy the One Ring. Although Frodo wanted to give the Ring to Galadriel, she showed him how it would corrupt her, albeit she is one of the most powerful person in Middle-earth. Of course, not forgetting the support he got from the fellowship, Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took and particularly his gardener Sam Gamgee who carried Frodo on his back part of the way to Mount Doom among other heroic acts.

The most important lesson I get from Tolkien is that the simplest people are capable of the most heroic acts. Even as supporting characters such as Sam, Merry and Pippin, they are crucial to the mission of Frodo.

Consequently, knowing that hobbits didn’t play any important role in the story of Middle-earth until the third age, they are the reason why middle-earth will have years of peace and that Tolkien wrote those legendary books with epic worldbuilding. The characteristics of hobbits are peculiar in nature but are among the most coveted features of human nature. Pleasing and peaceful people who are one with nature. Isn’t the connotation nice?

Firstly, be a person of principle, seek what is True, good, and beautiful and thrive for it like many hobbits. Secondly, be heroes when the world needs you the most like our Bagginses. Thirdly, don’t doubt yourself; even the company of dwarves were skeptic of Bilbo and he himself didn’t know what he was capable at. And finally, be merry.

 “This day does not belong to one man but to all. Let us together rebuild this world that we may share in the days of peace.”

Aragorn

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